For many businesses both online and off, internet ads are a great way to get the word about your product out to consumers all across the world. However, the consumer itself doesn’t always enjoy ads the same way. People often find that pop-ups or sidebar videos are distracting or annoying. The question on a lot of people’s mind is, “Are ads ethically right or wrong?” Personally, I believe that while we may find them annoying as a consumer, ads are a necessary evil. As stated above, ads are oftentimes the only way in which owners of a business can get the word out about their product. By removing that ability through apps such as the “Ethical Ad Blocker”, you can damage or remove that person’s ability to make a living.
In China, the Chinese Communist Party severely restricts what can be said on the internet. Using word filters, Internet police, and scare tactics, the CCP actively seeks to keep a sort of stranglehold on talks of dissent and political strife within China. To combat this, users in China have developed a secret “lingo”, full of words with double meanings that allow them to communicate their message despite the efforts of the CCP.
Here in the United States, I feel like ours is an Internet much less restricted. Essentially, we’re free to say what we want without the immediate response of the government. I say immediate because, while we are free to say what we want, our government does have the ability to discover who it is that is saying certain things. Therefore, do we really have complete freedom?
Either way, I feel that we should be grateful for the freedom that we do have. Its far greater than other places in the world.
The purpose of this blog entry is to compile notes on the scholarly essay entitled, From Grass-Mud Equestrians to Rights-Conscious Citizens: Language and Thought on the Chinese Internet by Perry Link and Xiao Quiang.
Example: A Train Wreck
In 2011, a train wreck occurred in China that resulted in the deaths of 40 people with upwards of 200 being injured. Information about the incident was first unleashed onto in internet via a tweet, which caused the government to release a statement asking people not to talk about it. A poll later asked Chinese citizens why they thought information about the incident was being covered up. 98% thought it was to destroy evidence of something while a mere 2% believed official government statements.
Government Control of the Internet
The Chinese government attempts to control the activity of its citizens on the Internet through the use of things such as word filters, hotlines for the public to call to report issues and even an Internet police force tasked with carrying out the interests of the party.
Internet users in China have attempted to fool word filters in a number of ways, including shortening and lengthening words, borrowing words from other languages and using words with a double meaning.
Does New Language Give Rise to New Thought?
Usage of the internet in China is giving rise to new terms as well as new thought. With new words in a language come new ideas and double meanings behind the words themselves.
“Cyber Assembly” On the Internet
The internet has given the Chinese people more opportunities to “assemble”, especially considering how the Chinese government feels about large groups of people coming together without “good reason”. Through the internet, the people now have more of a voice than they ever had before.
New Identity on the Internet
Groups that people become a part of over the internet essentially can become part of their identity. Internet lingo becomes a source of pride and unity.
Internet Disclosure in Perspective
Despite its best efforts, the CCP cannot hope to keep up with and contain all the information that is being shared on the internet in China.
In conclusion, the internet is becoming a platform for the Chinese people to spring board all their ideas and issues that the government doesn’t want them talking about into public view. I think it will be interesting to see how the CCP’s attitude towards the internet changes when they realize that they can’t control it.
In Julian Dibbell’s article, “Rape in Cyberspace”, I believe what happened is pretty clear. Essentially, rape occurred. Characters in lambdaMOO were forced to virtually perform sexual acts against their will. While these acts may not have been physical in nature and were instead of the virtual variety, the basis remains the same. It was done without consent to extensions of a person’s being. I believe that the stakes nowadays are about the same. Most of the forums used today like Twitter and Instagram are, by definition, an extension of a person. Same as lambdaMOO was for the victims. I think that anytime something that you take pride in is basically ripped from your control, there will be feelings of helplessness and despair. Just because the platforms are different in nature doesn’t mean that the feelings and emotions will be.
REDDIT: The majority of users of Reddit essentially fall into a single demographic. 15% of all Reddit users are males aged 18-29, a demographic which I am a part of. Honestly, this doesn’t surprise me. The majority of the posts on the front page itself are made by people like me and geared towards people like me.
Madrigal, Alexis. “Reddit Demographics in One Chart.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 3 July 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.
The required readings for the upcoming week stuck with me, particularly one significant piece of information: judgement about gender identity is incredibly prevalent in an outlet such as the internet, where information like gender identity isn’t always as obvious as it can be in real life. A recurring theme that I am noticing is that people are much more willing to be insensitive to others online. All because of the fact that it is essentially a faceless crime. It is much easier to get away with saying something mean to someone or harassing someone because you’re physically not there to say it. There’s no risk of immediate retaliation. Without that fear, people will say just about anything. Especially if its about something as personal as gender identity.
For my project, I plan on using the topic “the Victims of Trolling”. Essentially, I want to conduct research to determine who the victims of trolls most commonly are, and what exactly it is about them that makes them so vulnerable to online attacks. Personally, I believe that all victims of trolling have one thing in common: they aren’t afraid or cautious to put personal information about themselves out on the internet for the world to see.
Bochaver, Alexandra A.; Khlomov, Kirill D.. Psychology: Journal of the Higher School of Economics , 2014, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p177-191, 15p. Publisher: National Research University, Higher School of Economics
Above is part of the evidence I plan to use to conduct my research. Additionally, I would also like to know more about the trolls themselves. Specifically what it is that makes them feel the need to attack, frustrate, and even hurt people they don’t even know. I plan on doing this through a website or a possibly an infograph.
After reading the required readings for this week, one question in particular came to mind. Do people on the internet troll more because of the fact that what they say is something they believe in or because they know that they can get away with it, particularly because most chat rooms are anonymous? Online, most people exaggerate and make up facts of their lives simply because its how they wish they really were. I think trolling is similar. People are unafraid to express their deepest and most controversial beliefs online simply because they can paint themselves to be however they want. No one really can tell who they are in day to day life. Therefore, people go against social stigma and say and act however they want to.
Discussion question: How do you picture the average internet troll in your head? What do you think they are really like?
I think the thing that interested me most this week were some of the topics discussed for the term project. I really became interested in the uses of social media based on gender. Personally, I think that it would be a great topic to pick, especially considering all the different ways one could go about presenting that, such as a website or a movie or even a twitter bot.