Happy #WomanCrushWednesday !

It seems like there is a different hashtag floating around social media for every day of the week… and that’s because there is. There’s #ManCandyMonday





and #SelfieSaturday or #SelfieSunday

There are different variations of these, but these are the ones I see popping up in my news feed most often. You can check out Statigram to browse all the different Instagram photos with one of those tags and find statistics about your own Instagram account’s growth history… if you really care that much.


Oxford Dictionary dubs “selfie” Word of the Year

Oxford Dictionary dubs “selfie” Word of the Year

Selfies are the physical manifestation of the pandemic of narcissism that social media has created. You can’t peruse any Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or even Pinterest feed nowadays without coming across at least a couple of selfies. Hell, I’ve even posted a selfie or two.

There is no way to reason that posting a selfie is anything but narcissistic. You wouldn’t post a photo of yourself online for anyone to see if you didn’t think your hair was totally on point that day, or that your eyes look amazing.

The unfortunate thing about social media is that it creates this illusion that our every thought is of the utmost importance. Looking through my own Twitter feed, right now I see tweets about Anna’s crazy dream last night, Beth is so excited that there are smoothie samples on campus, and Ashley can’t wait for a home-cooked meal on Thanksgiving. None of these thoughts are groundbreaking, earth-shattering epiphanies. So why do we make them public?

Same reason why we take photos of ourselves in the bathroom mirror.

Not another feminist rant

Not that Ryan Holiday is my favorite person in the world, but his book, Trust Me, I’m Lying has got me nodding my head and scoffing in agreement on every page. I posted last week about the drastic changes in the news industry, using “The Onion”‘s move to an online-only format as a prime example of the effect our Internet/blogging culture has had on the news. I also quoted Holiday on this post.

Well, Holiday, it’s your lucky day. I’m talking about you again.

I keep seeing angry Facebook statuses (stati?) by my female colleagues featuring a brief feminist rant and a link to a controversial, misogynistic blog post. First, it was Matt Forney’s “The Case Against Female Self-Esteem,” then yesterday it was Total Frat Move’s “Why Girls Should Not Cut Their Hair Short.”

I, of course, saw my friends share these ridiculous posts and, like hundreds of other people, clicked on them to read them. Of course I was livid. Of course I hate the authors’ guts. I know I’m not alone in these sentiments, because Forney’s post has over 2000 comments, and TFM’s has reached over 400 comments in just one week. And they all say (basically) the same thing.

I’m not going to waste time dissecting the posts. I just wanted to bring up the fact that the authors of these posts got exactly what they wanted. Clicks.

Ryan Holiday admitted to performing stunts like this in his media manipulator days as well. It’s a tactic he knows all too well. Make people hate you by doing something controversial, and everyone will talk about you. And, in the end, that’s what these blogs want. It doesn’t matter to them if a comment is negative or if it’s in agreement. A comment is a comment. A pageview is a pageview.

So, ladies…

I know you’re trying to get these douchebags the bad rep they deserve, but you’re actually doing them a solid. Ignore the idiocy, and, hopefully, it will go away.

Everyone’s a photojournalist now

Photojournalists suffer most in newspaper layoffs

A study released by the Pew Research Center shows that photographers and videographers have been hit the hardest from the layoffs in the news industry over the last decade.

This trend is indicative of the drastic changes technology has had on the news industry. It’s easier for a reporter on site to snap a few quick photos with their iPhone than to drag a photog with them to cover a story.

The death of ‘The Onion’?

‘The Onion’ To Halt Decades-Long Assault on Trees

Print newspapers have been struggling for the last two decades, with many of them going bankrupt, stopping production or moving to web only versions in response to the dwindling sales numbers and even more scarce advertising revenue. This is not a joke, guys… even “The Onion” is stopping print production of its paper.

The paper’s last print version will be distributed in December, after which content will be available online only.

Is this symbolic of the death of the news industry as a whole? Let’s take a quick look at the health of the news as of today:

The news industry has fallen under critical eyes throughout history, but especially recently, as papers scramble to scrape up ad revenue and cut corners to cut costs at the printer. A major criticism of the news industry today is that it’s all about which stories will sell over the stories that matter.

While that’s true (news organizations cannot function without raking in some money, and since no one seems willing to pay for the news online, it’s gotta come from somewhere), the public doesn’t seem to care that all they read about now are scandals. Think about how many articles are shared on your Facebook feed. I’m willing to bet most of them are scandals, controversies or cute animals. How many of them are about the school district? Or Syria? Or typhoon Haiyan? The numbers don’t lie; stories like this get more “clicks.” And more “clicks” = more moolah.

Self-proclaimed media manipulator Ryan Holiday’s book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, touches on this “clicks over content” theory:

“A click is a click and a pageview is a pageview […] The headline is there to get you to view the article, end of story. Whether you get anything out of it is irrelevant — the click already happened.” (73)

We complain that the news industry isn’t what it should be; objective, impartial and unconcerned with dollar signs, but the fact of the matter is that we perpetuate this cycle by contributing our “clicks,” which reinforce news sites’ posting of content that we say we don’t want, but ultimately read and share.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t “real” news stories being produced. The unfortunate truth is that most people just don’t care to find these “real” stories. They want twerk videos and baby pandas.

So, is the print “death” of “The Onion” and other papers indicative of the beginning of the end of the news industry as we know it? I don’t think so. As Holiday discussed later in his book, the news industry saw a similar fight in the late 1900’s with the advent of yellow journalism. News organizations are simply facing a period of confusion as they change from a print medium to an online one.

Terrifyingly distasteful Halloween costumes

It’s almost Halloween, my favorite time of year… and before I’ve even started the seasonal festivities, I’m already brought down by some… disappointing (to put it lightly) costume choices. People are (rightfully) fuming. Trust me, it’s all over my Twitter feed.

Let’s start first with Julianne Hough’s costume no-no. The actress dressed up as Crazy Eyes from the popular show, “Orange is the New Black” for a Halloween party last Friday. That costume idea alone wouldn’t have been so bad, if it weren’t for the fact that Hough went so far as to wear blackface as part of her costume, which made social media users respond via Twitter rants and Facebook bashings. Hough has since apologized for her serious lack of judgment.

Julianne Hough has since apologized for dressing up as Crazy Eyes from 'Orange is the New Black' on Friday.

The character in the show is played by an African American woman, Uzo Aduba.

Next, and more disturbing, are the photos circulating the Internet of (white) people dressing up as Trayvon Martin. There have been a few different photos going through the social media vine, but almost all of them look the same. White men dressed in hoodies with Skittles and iced tea in their hands and a bloodstain on their chest. Oh, and they’re wearing blackface too. Aside from the shockingly casual use of blackface we’ve seen here, do I really need to explain what else is wrong with this costume?

Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in February of last year.

Blackface was used in the 19th Century as entertainment for working-class white Americans. Minstrel performers would paint their faces black and sing songs, and these performances grew more and more racist over time.

Just because almost 200 years have passed since these racist shows were used for entertainment does not make it acceptable to bring them back. The history of blackface makes it impossible to be thought of as a joke, no matter how much time has passed.

Roxanne Gay’s article in the Opinion section of the L.A. Times hit the nail on the head:

“I choose to believe the[se people] don’t know how blackface was used to create offensive, degrading caricatures of black people — the exaggerated features, the buffoonery, the shuck and jive. The imagery from the 20th century was emblazoned across advertising and children’s toys. Time and again, black people in this country were told: ‘This is how we see you. This is what we think of you.’ Very little has changed.

Racist Halloween costumes are nothing new. Each year, people try to push the envelope. They think they’re being funny, but really, they’re using the freedom of Halloween, the pass we all get to indulge our secret selves, to say, to people of color: ‘This is how we see you. This is how we think of you.'”

I’m glad we live in a society in which people who do things like this can and will be called out for their actions. Our constant connectedness creates a sort of communal accountability; if you post something online that’s controversial, people will voice their opinions to you. The people donning these costumes probably had no inclination that the whole world would be talking about them. Well, they’re infamous now. Their photographs are being spread through almost any social networking site you can think of. Thanks to social media.

Timeflies Tuesday

YouTube has made it easy for just about anyone with a webcam and microphone to take a shot at impressing the world with the power of music. One group in particular has made a household name for itself on the video sharing platform in what seems like an instant.

Timeflies Tuesday is a music group that can attribute a great deal of its popularity to YouTube. I remember first catching on to Cal and Rez, the hip hop/rap/electro/pop/dubstep duo in fall of 2010, soon after they first began posting videos of covers to popular songs (every Tuesday) online. The first video I viewed was a hip hop remix of “Under the Sea,” a song from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” The originality and authenticity of the beats and accompanying music created by Rez paired with Cal’s dreamy vocal cords and creative freestyle rapping changed the way I’d think of this Disney song forever — in a good way.

And, after four years, over 160 thousand Twitter followers, and a Timeflies Music App for smartphones, I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Yes, you heard correctly. I said a smartphone app dedicated to the group, the music, the concerts, and even access to exclusive content.

Timeflies isn’t the only group who owes YouTube a lifetime of gratitude. Mashable pointed out that other contemporary musicians first found fame on the site, including Justin Bieber and Cody Simpson.

The “spreadability” of YouTube’s platform facilitates this instant stardom. As Jenkins, Ford and Green put it in their book, Spreadable Media, media content is most likely to spread if it can belong in each of these categories: available when and where audiences want it, portable, easily reusable, relevant to multiple audiences, and part of a steady stream of material.

Well, I’d say that’s YouTube. The authors of the book even touched on the video sharing site, rehashing Susan Boyle’s popularity after her performance on Britain’s Got Talent. (Even as I’m sharing the link to this video in this very post, I’m relieved at how simple it is to do so. Simple click “share” and copy the link, or click the icons to post the video to your Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Stumbleupon, Reddit… need I say more?)

I hate using the word “ratchet,” but…

It seems Miley Cyrus has been dominating the news feeds of every social media site since her infamous VMAs performance two weeks ago. While I agree that that outfit definitely stripped (excuse the pun) her of any lingering Hannah Montana qualities, it seems to me that the majority of the public is missing the real issue surrounding Miley’s recent 180 degree flip to the other side of stardom.

Miley was not the only performer prancing around just shy of naked at the VMA’s.


Lady Gaga’s outfit (if you can call it that) is actually worse than Miley’s, although I think we can all agree that the mother monster did more squats than Miley to prepare…


The point is that, after the general shock of seeing your old teen idol’s almost-naked body parts sets in, you should still be left with a bad taste in your mouth. And that’s because Miley’s making moolah off of commodifying a culture that she never belonged to in the first place.

“Ratchet culture” first came into our pop culture vernacular in late-90s hip hop music. Starting in the neighborhoods of  working-class African Americans, it was a word with negative connotations used to describe women with a lack of “home training,” or common sense. Recently, as writer John Ortved states, black women have come to reclaim the term to essentially reduce the harshness of the insult. However, this reclaiming of the word works to further stereotype the women associated with it. As Michaela Angela Davis tells Ortved, “We’re only seen through this narrow sliver, and right now that sliver is ratchet. We don’t get to be quirky and fun and live in Willamsburg. Wolves don’t fall in love with us.”

Other culture critics notice Miley’s commodification of ratchet culture, too. Bené Viera describes her as “accessorizing her videos with blacks.” Responding to allegations that Miley told her producers she wanted something that “feels black,” Viera quips, “Yes, because something that ‘feels black’ can be worn for commodification and taken off when it no longer benefits her.”

Miley’s “makeover” misappropriates ratchet culture, and Smilers (what she calls her fans) are jumping on the bandwagon. Twerking videos are popping up all over Instagram, Vine and elsewhere. As Viera calls them, “culture vultures” are turning this ratchet culture into the “latest trend;” a collective identity in which young white girls get to use their privilege to imitate a culture without any real repercussions, while those who actually live this culture are ridiculed and insulted.

Just to be clear, I actually am not a Miley-hater. I simply disapprove of her “new” persona, because I think it is insulting to a majority of Americans. Her song Wrecking Ball is worth a listen, if you can ignore the awkward naked, swinging-on-a-ball parts.