Digi Domi

Sharing my passion for technology and learning.

Fat Ugly Emo Kids Who Photoshop Their Pictures!

I was just talking to my colleagues about how cruel teenage girls can be. As a former teenage girl myself, and one that went to an all girls school, I know all too well how cruel teenage girls can be. This isn’t necessarily their faults entirely, there is a lot of hormones and new feelings whirling around, all whilst you are trying to find out who you are.

This can lead to same bad decisions, including bullying. This has always been true and will always be true. To a certain extend there is nothing wrong with it, as it builds us to be who we are, there are extremes of course. Not talking to a girl for a week because she flirted with your boyfriend is one thing, stalking and harassment are another ball game, and never acceptable. The issues of things such as bullying are only compounded by social media. Whereas you may have traditionally suffered at school, but been able to get away from it at the end of the day, this is no longer true.

I was lucky to be a teenager when social media was only starting to emerge, when we used MySpace and MSN messenger. Even still I remember getting phone calls on my mobile at all hours of the night, sometimes by drunken friends calling at 2 am, sometimes just abuse. I also remember a MySpace group being set up by a girl I knew, not from school funnily enough, called ‘Fat Ugly Emo Kids Who Photoshop Their Pictures!’ It contained pictures of my friends and I, taken from our profiles, and aimed to shame us for being posey scene kids* who Photoshopped their pictures. At the time I just found it amusing, mostly because I hadn’t edited any of my pictures, and so clearly have a natural beauty that looks like a Photoshopped version of a fat kid. Now days I can’t even begin to imagine how I would cope being a teenage girl with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr in existence.

The ‘burn book’ or ‘bonfire book’ is a long running tradition among teenagers, this is bad enough in paper form, as illustrated in the film Mean Girls (I never had access to the bonfire book among my friends, which suggests I was in it). Now these books of abuse can be created online, and shared with those inside! Those who post to them can have that bad mark against them forever, even though ti was just an ill-informed decision as a teenager when it might have felt like an innocent way to vent or gain popularity.

It is not only bullying that must make being a teenage girl these days horrible, it is also the age when you are beginning to explore your sexuality. This can lead to the posting of some fairly provocative images on social media. I know I myself was guilt of the high-angle-selfie-that-means-viewers-can-just-peek-down-your-top. Or the pajamas/high makeup shot, so it looks like you are naturally always gorgeous. These types of images have recently lead to a controversial ‘slut shaming’ open letter from a woman name Mrs Hall entitled, FYI (if you’re a teenage girl). There have been many responses and you can easily Google search to find them. It is just another example of how the trials and tribulations of being a teenager are now being stored online forever. This means people could hold the fact you went through the exact same stage as everyone else, against you.

Possible solutions could be to agree as a society that anything done before the age of 21 is automatically ignored when you are an adult, unless it has legal ramifications. Or perhaps it could become part of the ‘right of passage’ of turning 21 that all your previous social media posting are wiped from existence forever, unless you request otherwise. Almost EVERYONE born since the invention of the teenager in the 1950’s did at least one really dumb, ill-advised thing when they were growing into themselves. We’ve all said something misinformed or ignorant, we’ve all explored (to varying degrees) our own sexuality, and we’ve all tried to be accepted. This shouldn’t be held against people who are both fortunate and unlucky enough to be born in a digital age.

*If you are not sure what a scene kid is then it is a cross between emo, indie and goth. We invented the pouty high angle selfie, the mirror shot and throwing up a peace sign. We brought back drain pipe (skinny) jeans in a wide array of colours. We also brought back leggings. We wore skinny fit band tee, checkered (cowboy) shirts and anything with a nautical star.  Around our necks we would often sport an afghan scarf or perhaps a bandanna. We sported massive side fringes, bows and heavy eye make-up. Gender didn’t necessarily make a difference in what we wore.

—UPDATE——

I found this web-comic online that I thought added to this post, so I wanted to share it here: http://xkcd.com/1370/

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Terms of Service; Didn’t Read

At the E-Assessment Scotland TeachMeet I gave a short presentation on T&Cs for social media and posed the question; whose responsibility is it to check these when using a site in an educational context?

After this I started to think how nice it would be if someone could go through all the popular social web services and break down the Ts&Cs, maybe even given them ratings, to make it easier to digest. Although this was a brilliant idea, and those I discussed it with agreed, it was clear it would be a lot of work and so I logged it in the nice idea but not realistic section of my brain. Well, today I find out that someone else has had the same idea, and the resources/ will power to make it a reality!

Terms of Service; Didn’t Read does exactly what I had imaged a good site would, it gives you a rating system from A – E and pulls out the good and bad aspects of Tc&Cs such as; whether you own copyright, can you delete your account, are their Ts&Cs likely to change. Not only this but there is also a web-browser plugin so you can get the information when you need it, without having to open up another tab/ window!

I’ve only had time to look at this fairly briefly but so far I am very impressed. The only downside seems to be that I can’t take credit for it in any way!

Here is how it works through the plugin:

tosdnr_soundcloud

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Women should…

I recently read an article on the Guardians Comment is Free blog about a new UN Women ad series, based on negative Google search results. Terms like ‘Women should…’, ‘Women need’ and ‘Women should not…’ were all searched and the actual results pasted over the mouths of women. The ad revolves around the Google auto-complete feature that runs an algorithm to predict your search term based on popular searches from other users. This gives a terrifying glimpse into how much sexism still exists, with terms such as ‘Women should not vote’ returning via the algorithm.

I took the article and the ad with a pinch of salt, but was horrified by the results I got, when I tried this myself earlier today!

terryinging_google_results

 

An alarming set of results by any standards, for some reason the first result ‘Women should be seen and not heard’ particularly struck a cord with me. Perhaps its because I grew up having the term repeated to me every time I visited my grandparents. Not that they didn’t love me, they just grew up with Victorian parents and had certain traditional values drilled into their own brains. This meant my brother and I would go and play out of sight, so that they could not complain. This idea that people feel women should be silenced, that they do not have interesting or valid opinions, as a woman of the social media age this really upset me. I generally don’t get upset or offended by much, life is too short as it is, but those seven words have made me really rather emotional!

As a slight side note I would like to add that emotion is not a sign of weakness, and so contrary to traditional belief expressing it, does not make women (or anyone else) weak. In some cases it might make them stronger, as it can take courage to expose yourself rather than to hide away. Of course there is a time and a place and knowing this is a skill that not everyone possess.

However, lets not forget the men. Although the top result for ‘Men need to…’ is ‘ejaculate’ the results are not all in their favor. At 15:20 on 22/10/2013 I did two Google searches, one for ‘Women should not…’ and one for ‘Men should not…’ the results were quite interesting.

should_not

 

While the results for women continue a pattern of out-dated and sexist view points the men’s results aren’t much better. Apart from two items claiming men are not designed for monogamy and one saying they should not vote,  the rest of the results deter men from expressing anything slightly feminine. Wearing skinny jeans, shorts, Ugg boot or crying are all traditionally more female pursuits, although these days are not unusual things to see men engage in. This brings me beautifully back to my previous post about men having to be men, and having no role models if they wish to express anything nontraditional. So what if a guy wants to wear skinny jeans or cry? Neither of them are necessarily unhealthy (although the tightness of the skinny jeans could have some effects I’m sure), nor do they signify sexual preference. I suspect there appearance in the results is as much due to catty women as it is uptight men.

At the end of the day they only things that should auto-complete for either of these search terms should be medical, as there is nothing about gender that should limit us other than biology. In future we should be discussing auto-completes for ‘people should not…’ and addressing issues of humanity not issues of gender!

people_should_not

 

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Not going to uni.

I was shown this video a while ago and found this half written blog post in my drafts, so I though it was time to publish and pass it on.

(Thanks to my colleague Rod for sharing that with me.)

Raises some interesting questions about the value of assessment etc. Was this easier for him because he had already done a formal course (so knew how it was supposed to work)? It would be interesting to see how self-learning is affected by age/ speed for learning/ previous education and so on.

You can read more on his blog:

http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/mit-challenge/

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Respect and obey

Okay, so I promise now that this blog is not simply a way for me to retort to my friend Nick and his various podcast co-hosts….having said that I was recently listening to the latest episode of his podcast ‘Unanswered’ which is co-hosts with his friend Steev. They were talking about the term ‘jobsworth’ and discussing how it often emphasises a lack of empathy in our society as people cannot put themselves in someone else’s shoes to see, they are just doing a job and probably don’t have the agency to make decisions. However it prompted me to reflect on an issue I have recently dealt with in my own life, the difference between respect and obedience. Outside of personal relationships this is probably better described as the different between having a voice and getting compliance. This is an issue that I feel is only compounded by technologies ability to afford most of Western society with a voice.

One of the many successes of modern technology, a thing we should celebrate, is that it allows people to have a voice. It allows them to feel like they are talking directly to a company with a compliment, concern, complaint or even just a suggestion. The first point is that it makes them feel they are talking to a company, which we will come back to later. But before we look at the responsibilities lets consider the massive misconception that seems to be plaguing much of society. There appear to me to be confusion between having a voice and getting compliance. It  might be a right in a democratic society to have our voices heard, this is not the same as people complying with those opinions. Yes they should pay more than lip service, and any opinions or concerns raised should be thoughtfully considered but that doesn’t mean they are going to be reasonable, possible or favorable. This may be a confusion of language, with demands getting confused for commands. Demands are a list or set of outcomes that someone desires and they will refuse to do something, say shopping with a particular company, unless these demands are met. The company then has a choice to comply with the demands or to ignore them and face the consequences. A command is something given out perhaps by a monarch or army commander. It implies a level of extreme authority which means there is no option other than to comply.

Having a voice is a great thing, and could be considered a human right rather than a privilege. However, just as Peter Parker had to learn, with great power comes great responsibility. The responsibility in having a voice comes from how you use it.

  • Consider what you are saying, before you say it, especially if it is on a public platform.
  • Consider who you are saying it to, and by this I am not talking about hierarchy or respect, I am talking about empathy. Is the person you are moaning at really the one responsible for your problems? Or are they just the face, the receptionist, the Twitter account manager (aka intern)?
  • Consider how you’d feel if a customer/ client acted this way to you in your job.
  • Consider that the person you are dealing with is not you! Just because you would go above and beyond, or even have the ability to do so, doesn’t mean the person you are ‘voicing your opinions’ to does.

At the end of the day this struck a cord because I have had to deal with family members not understanding that making choices opposed to their advice does not mean I lack respect for them, it simply means respecting and obeying are separate things. The respect is exemplified in the fact I do not take lightly choices to go against their wishes, and consider them fully before making my decisions. The final decision does not indicate whether your are respected or whether you have been heard, it is the process that indicates this but at the end of the day we all have to make our own choices, and this includes privately owned companies.

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