If You’re World Weary… Take a Nap

As a journalism major that always has my head in a newspaper, it’s easy for me to become extremely world weary. With seemingly nothing but shootings, natural disasters, ISIS, and politicians trying to strip me of my rights, it’s easy to get down about everything I read in my paper of choice, The New York Times. But it doesn’t matter where you get your news. Whether it be NBC, Twitter, or Facebook, there is no shortage of “bad news” in circulation.

Now, what exactly is world weariness? It’s becoming tired of life and the events of the world, often with a jaded or negative attitude. It’s the wearing down of your belief in the good in people. It’s the extreme sadness and disgust you feel when you read about anti-discrimination laws that protect people of the LGBT community getting repealed. It’s the feeling of hopelessness when you hear about conservative lawmakers trying to take away your right to your own reproductive functions.

All of these things and more can take their toll on a person who believes in equality and human rights. At times, I’m disgusted by our country and with the way things are going. I’ve become a cynic, I’ll admit. I know there is still good in the world, and that there are people dedicating their lives to fight against it. But it’s so hard to see this good side when it’s not getting nearly the amount of coverage that the negative is receiving.

I’ve discovered that in order to keep my sanity, and not fall into a deep depression, I have to take a break from the news every once in awhile. Powering down just for a day or two can really make a difference. Call it a “nap” if you will. But if you’re anything like me, you need to take a step back from it all. Read an uplifting book, watch a funny show, or research the good that many organizations around the world are doing.

In this day, with bad news screaming in your face for attention, it seems it’s up to us to look for the good. But once you start, it’s easy to find. Don’t get discouraged.

-Brittany Sodic

Television and Social Media

You know the classic American scene: the whole family gathered around the television set to watch the latest installment of their favorite show. The kids will go to school and talk about what happened last night on TV at lunch, and the parents will do the same at the water cooler.

While this may be classic, it’s hardly the reality we live in today. Now live tweeting, Facebook posts, and feed updates will bury you in the reactionary opinions of literally everybody you know that watches a popular TV show.

Many of these television shows thrive on the online buzz they get from their viewers. The popular AMC show The Walking Dead has some of the most dedicated social media fans I have seen as of yet. Tonight’s episode alone garnered 107,396 tweets that included the hashtag #thewalkingdead according to Topsy’s Twitter analytics.

The Walking Dead is so popular to fans that find themselves with a laptop or phone in front of them during the show, that AMC has even provided a new way for viewers to interact with the show. Story Sync, an online interactive program that runs concurrently with the on-air episode, lets fans get behind-the-scenes information and even participate in polls designed to gauge the reactions of other viewers on the events unfolding on the TV screen.

This gives mega-fans instant feedback and connectivity that they would have never gotten before the age of social media and the Internet in general.

Of course, live tweeting about any show is bound to create some spoilers for those of us who aren’t caught up with our DVR recordings yet. This is a major issue for shows that drive their viewers insane with cliffhangers. I would know. I was a Breaking Bad fan with a terrible habit of checking Twitter before I could watch my recording at home on my own time.

Fortunately, if this has happened to you too, there is hope. There are some apps and services floating around the Internet to help you avoid spoilers by filtering your tweets for you. Mashable came up with a pretty good list of online apps that can help you do the job.

While communicating with others during a live viewing can create a sense of community and encourages discourse, it also has a dark side. After all, what else are you going to talk about at the water cooler?

-Brittany Sodic

Sharing Islamic State Videos: Informative, or Disrespectful? by Brittany Sodic

We live in a world saturated with news, information, and tragedies that unfold before us via the Internet, mobile devices, tablets, and television.

What is unique to our experience with worldly events is the ease in which terrorist groups and terroristic individuals can upload their own propaganda and wrongful executions to the Internet for wide public consumption. The world has never seen the likes of the Islamic State, or ISIS, before. The technology which enables us to connect and learn from one another across the globe, is also a tool used by ISIS to spread their twisted ideology and to make public the atrocities they commit against innocent human beings.

With a video released today by ISIS depicting the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christian Egyptians, and reported on by The New York Times, it is yet the newest edition to what seems like a never-ending onslaught of violent images and scare tactics employed by the terrorist group.

What is disturbing about these videos is that they can be uploaded and shared at a rapid rate by users of many different social media platforms. While being aware of these atrocious acts is the duty of the informed citizen, sharing and spreading these videos like a viral music video is a disgusting act in and of itself. While many users of social media have agreed to not share these videos to respect those who have perished at the hands of the Islamic State, there is still no shortage of them being uploaded even if removed by sites like YouTube, according to the International Business Times.

While these types of videos are not exactly new to us, who have seen the grainy and poorly produced Taliban videos of hostage executions being carried out in a far-off cave somewhere in the mountains of Afghanistan, they are no less shocking each time.

What is shocking is the willingness of some major news networks to make available the videos for their viewers to opt into watching. One example of this was Fox News’s decision to embed the full length video of Jordanian fighter pilot Muadh al-Kasasbeh’s death on their website, as reported on by The Guardian.

This is where the question of journalistic integrity comes into play. Where do we draw the line between informing, and simply aiding the terrorists in spreading their propaganda? Does watching the video, in which al-Kasasbeh was set on fire while confined to a cage, help you to become more informed? Or is it disrespectful to watch a man’s last moments under truly terrible circumstances? I would choose to say it is disrespectful, and choosing to share such content, unedited, does nothing more than attract and drive viewers to a specific news outlet.

While we may not be able to stop these events from happening, or being shared with the world, we can choose to abstain from sharing in them. Even if a major news network makes a poor decision to do so.

Instead, let’s remember the victims of the Islamic State as they were. Human… and deserving of our respect.

Muadh al-Kasasbeh, before capture by IS. Via news.optuszoo.com.au.
Muadh al-Kasasbeh, before capture by IS. Via news.optuszoo.com.au.

A New Digital ‘Art’ Form: Poetweet by Brittany Sodic

Mindlessly scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day, I came across an article tweeted by the Huffington Post– the authority on all things Internet- that described a website that could essentially turn your tweets into poems. Curious, I clicked on the link and read up on this new site. It’s pretty straight forward; you put your Twitter handle (or somebody else’s) into the box provided, choose which of the three styles of poetry you would like your tweets to be represented in (Rondel, Sonnet and Indriso), then wait for the program to link together segments of your tweets with rhymes in common.

The Huffington Post so generously provided the readers with examples from celebrity Twitter accounts, and I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the so-called ‘poetry.’ If I’m being honest it seemed more like an imitation of poetry, but a computer program always has its limits.

Naturally, I was curious to try it out for myself and see what would result from my- self-proclaimed- insightful and interesting tweets. Of course, I didn’t think I could beat out Stephen King’s poem. Even his ‘poetweets’ are dark and mysterious.

I’ve included an image of the Sonnet that Poetweet pieced together for me. At first glance my immediate thoughts were “I don’t remember tweeting any of this.” If you’re like me, then you’ll appreciate the feature which let’s you hover over any line of the poem and Poetweet provides you with the complete tweet you originally sent out.

While maybe not the most useful way to spend your time, it’s definitely fun to see the different combinations your tweets can be put into. And some aren’t half bad.

Try your own at the Poetweet website and see what you get!