Since the beginning of the semester, the meaning of digital citizenship has transformed from a scholarly idea to a more personal one. I previously regarded digital citizenship as something closed off to the general public. Millions of people have Facebook and twitter accounts, but it always seemed to me that they had such a small impact, with words and photos one posts being seen by a small circle of friends. Now I know that videos can circulate around social media such as the Dear Future Generations: Sorry video brought up by Gloria. Citizens are able to express their ideas and have an impact on viewers with social media. Now we can share video across the world whereas in the past television was controlled by a few broadcasting companies.
Another way my view of digital citizenship has changed was in writing my own blog. My previous experience with blogs was researching artists’ blogs, and finding that some artists don’t have time to respond to students. Thus I believed bloggers put forth their views and didn’t create a conversation with others. I enjoyed creating a blog and participating in classmates’ blogs where we conversed with each other. We were able to see other viewpoints and discuss how social media relate to these topics.
I encountered political discussion in my research with health care and social media. I learned that there were new ways that citizens could voice their concerns about politics by making comments on representatives’ and leaders’ Facebook and twitter profiles. Most figures don’t have time to respond personally but when hundreds or even thousands express a concern, it can’t go unnoticed. People can even compare stories or build on others’ ideas in a way that they couldn’t when letters were the primary form of contact with representatives.
One of the downsides to the internet is that there is false information, and information that is not available or hard to find. When reading about a World Health Organization (WHO) report that processed meats can lead to cancer, I had to take the WHO’s word for it as there were no scientific reports published. The WHO is a world renowned organization of scientists and a credible source, but what happens when one finds information from a source that isn’t credible? Howard Rheingold in Net Smart offers the technique of backing up your source with two other sources, or “triangulating” I think it is important to not only back up your sources but to find criticism for a source of information. Now I see the value in reading user comments at the end of an article that support or discredit it.
What I will take with me from Digital Citizenship class is that I would like to continue my presence on the web with my blog. I’ve seen other bloggers go inactive for long periods of time and I hope to avoid that, as well as the standoffishness from those who start to make a name for themselves and don’t engage with readers. Also, in my research and dramaturgy studies, I will look for credible sources, and when I find a blog or a little-known source, I will back it up with other sources. All in all, Digital Citizenship class allowed me to examine social media as an contributor, not an outsider, and has prepared me to be the contributor I hope to be.
After reading this article from THE Journal and watching this video of Michael Wesch’s TEDx talk, I notice the similarities on how to prepare being a digital citizen from a young age.
Michael Wesch, a professor at Kansas State University, calls attention to the idea that “media are not just means of communication, they mediate relationships.” He elaborates this point by explaining that when television was introduced it became the centerpiece of the family living room. Jeff Livingston of McGraw-Hill, says that today, the internet allows us to form relationships in a “geographically untethered digital community” where distance makes no difference.
Susan E. Metros, a professor at the University of Southern California adds that students are taught to read and speak, “so why don’t we teach them to see? We have a responsibility to give them, not only the skills, but the theory and the context to understand the ethical implications of media.”
Michael Wesch says “we need to go beyond critical thinking,” and I think these examples show that we have. One way youths participated in online culture positively this year was the #DearMe campaign this past March on YouTube, where young women and girls were asked to upload a video to offer advice in the form of a letter to their younger self. The YouTube marketing manager Cathy Tang speaks of YouTube as Michael Wesch described the impact of television a half-century ago. “YouTube is a place where people can come together, share interests, relate experiences and offer each other support.”
Occuring every summer since 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a viral video campaign to raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. With celebrities and everyday people taking the challenge to dump a bucket of ice water on their head and nominate others to do the same, Facebook and YouTube hosted thousands of videos that ultimately raised awareness of the disease, as well as money for research into a cure. “Understanding that what a person sees on a screen is a construct created by somebody–perhaps even oneself–is part of “building a scaffold toward digital citizenship,” Wesch says, “and the next step beyond critical thinking, information literacy, and creative thinking.” I think in response to this viral video, Michael Wesch would say that good digital citizens would see the video and take the initiative to upload their own video to do their part to help raise awareness of ALS.
For all the ways people use social media for good, there are many more who bring a negative presence. I think K-12 education and parents can take part in introducing children to ways to be positive citizens through social media, but also their peers, as it is the younger generation who is increasingly conversing over social media and ultimately deciding how we communicate.
Once again, for my Digital Citizenship class, I engaged with others over the topic of health care on social media, noticing for the first time how lack of adequate health care coverage in the United States affects the individual.
Throughout the week, I kept my eyes open for health care stories that were popular on social media. I noticed that people were talking about Trevor Noah’s recent hospital stay for an appendectomy surgery. In a video clip from the Daily Show, you can see his bemusement at having to sign papers and fill out forms while in the emergency room awaiting surgery. I posted this news story to a Facebook group that I am a part of but gained only likes, no comments.
Next, I searched health care on twitter and came across Bernie Sanders’s twitter with a November 9th tweet about health care. I responded to his tweet, asking if one should also have access to preventative health care.
What interested me most was reading others’ responses to Bernie’s tweet. While some twitter users responded doubtful about where the money is going to come from, most were in favor of what he said and excited to see it happen. One twitter user poster, Terry, was resigned to the fact that he can’t pay for his surgery and said that he started a gofundme to raise the money.
Finally, I tweeted Terry to let him know I support him and will spread the word and donate if I can. After several weeks of lurking and engaging, I stumbled upon someone who has a potentially life-altering need for surgery that he can’t pay for. I applaud his and others with this problem for their ingenuity in launching crowdfunding campaigns to earn the money for their surgery.
During another week of viewing and engaging with health care discussion on social media sites for my Digital Citizenship class, I discovered more views on the subject but not the reasons behind them.
First, on twitter, I followed and engaged with the efforts of healthcare.gov to spread the word about open enrollment beginning November 1st with #MillennialMonday. Questions were posed by @YoungInvincible and @HHS.gov answered. Other twitter users got involved, either to air their complaints or share what they like about the plan. When it was posted that getting covered means preventative health care, I responded with “What preventative health care should we invest in? Physical or psychological health care or both?” to no avail. I received no answer or comment when I practically gave them the answer.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, the White House also posted about the open enrollment period for the public option health care plan. Despite the White House’s enthusiasm to get new people enrolled for 2016 and to get returning customers, the comments were not kind to Mr. Obama. Without a doubt, people are frustrated by the Affordable Care Act and state that it does quite the opposite to making health care affordable. Some Facebook users wrote in the comments that their health care insurance went up 400%. Others stated that their monthly payment went up to more money than they make in a week. Although most comments were negative, one user posted that thanks to the coverage she didn’t have to worry about being uninsured once she was rushed to the ER.
People certainly like to post their grievances but rarely engage others: my question asking if you would prefer more coverage at the high price they’re paying or little coverage at the price they once paid went unanswered. Despite not getting any feedback, these posts opened my eyes to some of the challenges people are facing with the implementation of the ACA. These voices are drowned out by all the politicians and presidential candidates getting attention for standing by or against the ACA just to follow the party line.
As I continue delving into health care news, blogs, and message boards for Digital Citizenship class, I notice more and more areas of health care that interest me. I remain interested in the United States’ Affordable Care Act, October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and more, but I engaged in social media on a topic that I consume every day: food.
Two recent news articles I’ve seen about hot dogs have grabbed my attention. First, Facebook’s trending topics included the report of an independent test lab that discovered that 10% of products marketed as veggie dogs actually contained meat, and that 2% of hot dogs had traces of human DNA. Second, a Reuters article stating that experts say bacon and other processed meats can cause cancer was posted in the #Millennial Podcast Fan Group on Facebook. The article was posted by one of the podcast hosts as part of an ongoing topic about turning to vegetarianism for the last three months. This sparked a collection of responses from vegetarians who stated that they didn’t need a new report to know that processed meat was unhealthy. Others replied that they didn’t care about the news, but they will still eat bacon. I responded that I believe it’s not just processed meat that is unhealthy, but all processed food we are inundated with at fast food restaurants and campus vending machines. Minutes after my response, another Facebook user in the group noted that there should be a distinction between factory farmed and pasture raised animals.
By engaging in this community I learned that there aren’t just the opposite views of vegetarians and meat-eaters but that some believe that moderation is the key, and still others that believe it is better for the environment to be raising fewer livestock animals that need space and food of their own. With an article I originally thought to be about nutrition I encountered two topics I am also interested in, ethics and environmentalism.
To continue lurking in online forums for UNIV349 class, I browsed the US Message Board in their Healthcare and Obamacare forums.
Over this second week of lurking, I observed that the discussions continuing on whether or not the Affordable Care Act is working. One user posted an article from the New York Federal Reserve Bank, a reputable source, that states that ACA is working. Some users pointed out that the New York Fed could be biased and are putting a positive spin on their report. The opinions in this thread were polarizing, but could lead one lurking see this article in a different light. For example, a user stated that the Employer Mandate has not been enacted yet. With a side search on Google, I was better informed about the mandate that employers with a certain amount of employees must provide health care. After this user’s commentary and some further research, I was concluded that the Fed’s optimism on ACA is premature, as not all elements of the act have been implemented yet.
I also read a thread that provided a news article about a DC area hospital closing. The user tried to claim that the ACA and even past liberal policy was responsible for the hospital’s closure. I doubted this line of thought, but read the article to get more information. The article brought up the problem this country has with rural hospitals losing funding, and acquiring a sicker, poorer pool of patients as demographics change. I came to the opinion that there were greater forces at work here than just the recently enacted ACA.
By lurking in these threads, I was informed about health care news that I hadn’t heard about elsewhere. The two extremes of opinions I saw helped me see how different sides see the issues, and thus get more out of the article than I would have by just reading the one author’s opinion. I’d like to see more of these types of articles but not necessarily engage in discussion on this type of forum.
Continuing my research in health care for Digital Citizenship class, I explored the web for message boards related to this topic. I kept in mind what I learned about crap detection and search engines.
First, I conducted a Google search using the term “healthcare message boards,” resulting in boards designed for both healthcare professionals and consumers. I also used this same search term with site:.gov to restrict the results to government websites. From the first search results, I selected USMessageBoard where I expected to find discussion on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I was not disappointed, discovering a user’s reaction to a Washington Times article that states that the 10 million government health care enrollees at the end of last year must double by the end of 2015 to meet budget projections. Users responded with skepticism, others understood it as proof that ACA was doomed to failure. Others, like myself were left wanting more information. Most of these posts were made just the last couple days, yet the board isn’t very active, this being the only thread posted in recently. I wasn’t impressed with some of the personal attacks and partisan politics of the users. My only gain in accessing this site was discovering the reputable Washington Times article.
I was interested in finding a message board on a .gov site, and in my search I found change.gov, the site for President-Elect Obama. Needless to say, this site was in effect over six years ago, and discussions there are outdated. The question posed: What worries you most about the healthcare system in our country? garnered 3,700 comments. The question is still applicable today, but a search of whitehouse.gov resulted in no open discussions or user submitted content, although links to White House on social media were provided.
After lurking in the two sites, I don’t believe I would post in either. I wouldn’t like to get involved in a thread where liberals and conservatives fight and blame each other for current policy. I would only use the site to find which issues are coming up in the news that I my be missing. I also wouldn’t contribute to a discussion that years old, as it’s unlikely there are others to engage with that still use the discussion board. At this point I remain only a lurker, as these two sites are not places to engage in meaningful discussion.