Best Blog Posts

My two best blogs were my blog about the truth in media and my blog about the end of YouTube.

For my blog about the truth in media, I felt like I followed the guideline that we learned very early on in blogging that said we should not write about politics and comment on it. For a post lending itself to much political commentary, I felt I did not take any political sides and tried to be fair to both sides. However, I did still take a stance on “fake news” in the media in that everyone is biased, so we should use multiple news sources. I made the post interesting by providing information about “fake news” in the media alongside some fun GIFs of Alex Jones. I also provided plenty of links to other news articles and sources in my post and tried to provide a good mix of both images and text so the post was not just one long paragraph or text post. Some of my other posts were a little more boring, did not have as good a balance of images and text, or did not contain as much information as this post.

For my blog about the end of YouTube, I find this post to be one of my most informative and interesting posts. Since I was involved and informed on the culture and events within YouTube, I thought it would be interesting to inform my peers on it. I include the interesting history of YouTube and tie it with the current events of YouTube and also linked to various videos that represented remixed content. I still took a strong stance on what I think YouTube should do in the future to keep their site alive. This post kept the information interesting with the various facts and videos shown along with the links to outside information and sources.

 

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Top 5 Viral “Challenges”

Seeing different challenges go viral on the Internet in the past few years has been both encouraging at times, and disheartening at others, of the current state of humanity. For example, seeing the Ice Bucket Challenge was mostly encouraging to see all of these people across the world raising millions of dollars for a good cause. On the other hand, seeing the cinnamon challenge where people voluntarily almost choke on a spoonful of cinnamon for no discernible reason other than to be cool was particularly disheartening. Whether the challenge was for a good cause or totally useless, here are some of the top Internet challenges (because people love reading lists).

1: Ice Bucket Challenge

The gist of this challenge was that you would be challenged by people you knew to either donate 100$ (or some other sum of money) to the ALS foundation or dump a bucket of cold ice water on your head. Some saw the “ice bucket” part of the challenge to be fairly stupid, but this part of the challenge was necessary to make the trend of donating money viral and popular with everyone

2: Cinnamon Challenge

This “challenge” is less of a challenge than it is something dangerous and painful people would do and then post the video to the internet. Essentially, the one doing the challenge would take a large spoonful of cinnamon and try and eat the entire spoonful without water or anything to help them. What makes this challenge so difficult is that the cinnamon is essentially ground-up, dried, tree bark so it dries out anything it touches, including one’s mouth and throat. And one’s salivary glands cannot keep up with the vast amount of cinnamon one just consumed, so they start to choke and cough on the was of tree dust in their mouth and throat.

3: Mannequin Challenge

The mannequin challenge was a challenge that involved having a group of people totally freeze in place and appear like statues or mannequins while a certain song played (Black Beatles by Rae Sremmurd). The groups of people doing this challenge ranged greatly from families, to companies, to entire student bodies. The best of these challenges usually included someone doing a pose that is extremely funny or difficult to maintain.

4: Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge

This viral internet challenge was particularly funny to make fun of, yet people still tried the challenge despite knowing how it turns out in the end. People who participated in this challenge would take some sort of drinking glass (mostly shot glasses or Gatorade bottles) and then place their lips on it and suck all of the air out of the glass to essentially create a vacuum that the lips were being sucked into. They held their lips in the glass and then eventually took them out to reveal…that their lips looked like they were pumped up with helium and they looked like clowns. Post-challenge, many people’s lips were bruised from the blood vessels in the lips breaking. This challenge was certainly popular, but I am not sure why anyone would willingly do this challenge other that to become internet famous.

5: Hot Pepper Challenges

This challenge has been done in many different ways with different peppers with differing levels of hotness. The original viral hot pepper was the “ghost pepper,” but because people on the internet love to top each other, the hottest pepper now is the infamous “California reaper.” This pepper is 1,500 times as spicy as a Jalapeño pepper, scoring over 1.5 million on the Scoville scale. This challenge, like the others, cause people pain. But it was all worth it because they “became famous” and gained a few more followers, right?

Well, what do we learn from this? That sometimes a challenge that has a good cause tied in goes viral? Sure, sure. This has happened essentially once (see #1 on the list). I think the main takeaway is that people on the internet will do almost anything to gain more followers or get famous, not excluding even bodily harm.

The World of Sexy in Teenagers Lives

Reading the article about teens sexting last week was particularly interesting, and discussing it was even more interesting. This discussion made me remember a study I read years ago about the correlation between teen pregnancy rate and abstinence-only sex education. This study eventually became my inspiration for a paper I wrote for a mathematics paper. I compared the teen pregnancy rate in each state and both the % of Christians in the state the prominent religion.

The original study I read discusses the culture in the American education system as it relates to sex education. In the past decades, as the study states, the United States has ranked first in teen pregnancies among the world’s developed countries. In an effort to change this, the government has funded abstinence education for many years. When people talked about the study, they often said that the states with the highest level of abstinence only sex education were often states that were the most religious and the most conservative state. This made me wonder if the religion of a state could have a correlation with the teen pregnancy rate. They had adjusted the study to account for socioeconomic status, education, and ethnicity and still found that there was a clear trend. One factor they did not take into account that slightly surprised me was the religion. Therefore, I took it into my own, statistically-competent hands to find out if a correlation existed.

Graph 1

This graph contains 48 different points (for each contiguous state) that have the teen pregnancy rate and the Christianity percentage. The data was taken from Pew Research Center: Religion and Public Life and also the original study and compiled. While the data does not seem to provide a very clear correlation or function to estimate the teen pregnancy rate based on the percentage of Christians, it seems to suggest there is a positive correlation between Christianity percentage and teen pregnancy rate. This is despite a weak r^2 value of only .185, but this is still a significant r^2 value.

graph 2

The next aspect I analyzed was the prominent religion in a state. I used this and the average teen pregnancy rate of all of the states with each prominent religion. This graph portrays my findings, which shows that states with the prominent religion of evangelical christian, on average, have a higher teen pregnancy rate. The Mormon statistics here can be seen as an outlier, as only Utah had Mormonism as a prominent religion, and this is a small sample size as Utah has a very low population.

While writing this paper, I saw some interesting things. Seeing the trend was only mildly shocking, since there is a clear correlation between religion and abstinence only education. After looking over this paper again, I thought of the mean girls scene of the gym teacher (“don’t have sex or you’ll die”).

So, I suppose the overall question that both this and the sexting article brings up is “How should teens be educated about sex?” This question is a fairly controversial one for many people on both sides of the argument. Some people think that the only things educators should tell teens about sex is not to have it, simple as that. Others on the other end of the spectrum think that that is silly and that teens should be adequately educated on all aspects of sex, including how to be safe when they have sex. In the middle somewhere, which is where some classrooms are moving to, is that teens should not necessarily encouraged to have sex, but be educated how to do it safely to prevent pregnancy and the spread of STD’s. Although the teen pregnancy rate in the United States will never be reduced to zero, it certainly could be lower than #1.

What Even is Online Dating?

tinder meme 2tinder meme 5tinder meme 4tinder meme 3tinder meme 1

 

Learning about online dating this week has been very interesting. My only knowledge of online dating before this learning comes from hearing about Tinder and seeing memes and funny profiles from Tinder (like the one above). I had seen various commercials for match.com, Christian Mingle, and farmersonly.com, but my knowledge of them stops after the information the commercials provide. These readings made me really think about whether online dating really works. The quiz we took put me in the category of skeptic of those who have never used online dating or dating apps, so I was eager to find out more. After doing some research, I learned even more about online dating.

After reading one article, I learned of a situation where the author saw a woman sitting next to him in a bar pull out her phone and start swiping left and right on Tinder. The author said he felt rejected on behalf of the entire bar. I understand his response, but I think about it slightly differently. Perhaps she is hoping someone will approach her at the bar and in case someone does not, she is going on Tinder to diversify her options. This lady doesn’t just want to place all her eggs in one basket, which I can respect. However, thinking back to our mindfulness activities, I believe it would be better for her to be more present in the moment sitting at the bar rather than dividing her focus between the people at the bar and the people on Tinder.

I also stumbled upon a few interesting facts in this article. One of which is that people who online date move to marriage faster than those who date offline. The reasons listed for this are 1. that you can be more selective because you have a larger group to choose from and 2. that there is usually more conversation before the first date. Another fact they included based on research was that it does not matter how or where you meet someone (online or offline), it does not affect whether you stay with that person for longer or shorter or what kind of relationship it is. This really surprised me because I thought online dating would lead to different types of relationships or possibly shorter transient relationships.

This article led to me want to compare different online dating outlets. I found an article comparing Match.com, Tinder, and OkCupid, and it provided some very interesting insight. Match.com is one of the first dating website to exist and is one of the most popular. It aims to match you with your soulmate and is more popular with more serious and older people. Tinder uses your location and you can “swipe” right or left to say “yes” or “no” to whether you would go on a date with them. This app has a reputation for being a “hookup” app. OkCupid is a dating website that draws a younger crowd and is a mix of both Match.com and Tinder, because it can be used for serious dates or more quick dates. The most interesting thing I learned from this article is that all of these dating sites are owned by the same company, InterActiveCorp.

Throughout this research I learned some interesting things about online dating. I am a little more educated about online dating, but I would still classify myself as a skeptic. I probably will not pick up Tinder anytime soon, but I would not knock anyone for doing so.

 

Storify-Bonfire Guarding

https://storify.com/pjberger/speed-hall-bonfire-guarding

Reflection:

Tweeting during this event was very interesting because I felt like I was showing anybody who saw my Tweets what a fun time guarding the bonfire was. Some people on my floor did not go because they would rather sleep and do homework, which is understandable. However, I hoped my Tweets would show how enjoyable this experience could be. I know that I was not really looking forward to not sleeping very much, but I ended up really having a great time, and the live tweeting just added to this experience. I learned a little about Tweeting, especially that if you Tweet too much in a short period of time then some of your friends will wonder what is going on with you or get annoyed with your Tweeting.

Overall, I think live Tweeting an event can draw more people to attend an event in the future if it seems to be fun and engaging. Events that many people Tweet about or attend are better for live tweeting at opposed to a more selective and local event. Sometimes live Tweeting can distract people from enjoying a certain event as much as they could, such as at a concert they will be on their phones rather than focusing on experiencing the event.

Dream House from the Contents of my Wallet

I decided to try the last challenge on the podcast page. At first, I was going to do one of the first challenges because they sounded easy for me to do (especially the challenge about not taking pictures). But I scrolled to the bottom and saw there was not much description for the last challenge. Therefore,  I decided to listen to the podcast to learn more about it. This challenge really drew me in and sounded very interesting.

For those who are not sure what this challenge is, it starts by boiling a pot of water and watching it the whole time without doing anything else. The purpose of this is to properly bore yourself so that your creativity can truly flow later on, which is very important. After that, you take your wallet and take everything out of your wallet. With all of the contents and not the actual wallet itself, you then construct your dream house. You should also construct the location of your house (ex. beach, mountain, etc.). Then after you are done (and not before), you should take out your phone and think creatively about how to best photograph the house. And finally, you should give it a name. All of this can say a lot about you, both with everything in your wallet and with what kind of house you create. The purpose of all of this is to be creative, reflective, and expressive.

So, the first step of my challenge: boiling water and watching it boil. Boiling the water itself was easy enough, but watching it boil the whole time without my phone was certainly not as easy. Even though it took a mere 7 minutes for the water to boil (glad I chose a small pot and not a large one), it was still boring, as it was supposed to be. I started to get the sense that I was going to miss something on my phone about halfway through, which made me a little anxious.

 

Finally, the water boiled and I immediately turned off the stove and dumped out my wallet. Examining the contents, I found a few gift cards that I had forgotten about (score!). Then I set out on constructing my dream house. I was not sure how to even start, so I recalled something on the podcast about using the dollar bills rolled up as pillars to support cards, which is exactly how I designed my house. While this worked, it also led my house collapsing just as I was finishing it 5 different times before I actually got it to stand finished. houseAfter looking at it, especially the green $5 bill lawn, I decided the location should be in Ireland somewhere. After a bit of research, I stumbled upon Dingle, Ireland which seems like a nice quaint Irish town to live in. The final name and location for my house: “Countryside House in Dingle.” I think reflecting on both the contents of my wallet and my build house and location shows both viewers and myself a lot about who I am. Not only can one see that I go to Rose-Hulman, enjoy movies, and frequent Starbucks, but one can also see my girlfriend, my lack of cash, and my very simple sense of style.

Hate Speech or Free Speech?

Censorship within media and the Internet has been a topic of discussion and debate over the past years as the Internet has become more mainstream of a news source. Censorship also is a problem that permeates partisan politics, workplaces, and university campuses. For example, there were a number of protests on college campuses in the past year due to controversial speakers appearing there.

As  we read about earlier this week, a far-right Internet troll, Charles Johnson, was banned from Twitter after making what can be perceived as a direct threat to a civil rights activist.

Tweet
(From Twitter)

Charles Johnson, along with many of his followers, were obviously not pleased with the ban. They complained that Twitter had a liberal bias and just banned him because they did not like his journalism. They also complained that this went directly against Constitutional right of free speech. While there may be some evidence that the company of Twitter has a somewhat liberal bias, they did not ban him simply because they did not like his journalism. Rather, they banned him due to his Tweet, which clearly seemed violent and encouraged others to help him to “take out” the civil right activist. And as for the free speech defense, although protecting free speech and making sure everyone has a voice are extremely important, there is no legal basis for saying the First Amendment right of Charles was violated because Twitter is a company, not a government organization, and therefore can do whatever it wishes to do in this regard.

Another event within the debate of censorship was the recent memo from a Google employee about his grievances with the company’s hiring policy. After publishing the memo, the employee, James Damore, was fired. This caused the alt-right to explode with articles and videos saying that this was just another example of the liberal establishment trying to push their agenda of political correctness and censoring opinions and facts they do not agree with. Many who identify as alt-right and others who simply did not like the move organized a boycott of Google’s services.

Tweet 2
(From Twitter)

One alt-right person, Mike Cernovich, called for political affiliation to become a protected class in the anti-discrimination laws. Julian Assange, founder of Wiki-Leaks, offered James Damore a job over Twitter saying that “censorship is for losers.” Similar to the previous situation, Google maintains the legal right to fire him because he violated the companies policy. So, some see this as totally legal but that they still are censoring his free speech and ideas that they do not agree with.

A similar type of event has occurred at different universities when organizations invite controversial speakers such as Milo Yiannopolous and students protest the speakers and try and prevent him from speaking. One example is at UC Berkeley where students violently protested in order to prevent Milo from speaking. Trump even threatened to take away funding from the school due to the violence (setting fires and breaking windows).

milo.jpg
(From wearechange.org)

This situation is unlike the others in a few ways. First, some students did want to hear these speakers and the University did officially invite him on behalf of those students. Second, the students used violence specifically because they did not like what he had to say and did not wish him to be able to speak. This makes it certainly seem more like bad censorship when compared with the previous two scenarios.

When looking at the examples, one can see a sort of spectrum of censorship. The first one seems totally justified for Twitter to shut down his Twitter and ban him. The second example is a bit of a grey area. While they do certainly have the right to fire him because he clearly violated their policy, it seems somewhat like censorship for Google to fire him instantly because they do not agree with what he had written. The third example, however, is clearly not justified. While they do not agree with what he says at all, there is no reason for them to become violent in order to prevent him from speaking especially when the university invited him. They should take it up with the university and not become completely violent. So censorship can certainly be negative, but it is not as bad and rampant as some people (@altright) make it out to be.