Category Archives: Ethics in Communication

U Can’t Text Here!

For my Ethics in Communications course, we had to create a Public Service Announcement. While there are a number of serious issues in the world today, my group chose to take a lighter topic. We decided to alert the world about some of the situations in which it is discourteous to use your cell phone. We focused on three main places: at the cafeteria with friends, during class, and in church.

What do you think? Is it rude to be texting in these places? Have you ever encountered one of these situations where you notice that one of your friends (or just anyone around you) is being rude by texting? Have you ever caught yourself being the culprit of bad texting manners? What are some other places you think it’s rude to text? Let us know in the comments, or share a story about texting etiquette!

Anyway, check out our video and let us know what you think about it. Spoiler alert: We have some unexpected special guest appearances you won’t want to miss!


Digital Story: Independence Hall

For my Communications Theory & Practice class, we had to choose one site in Philadelphia to which we had never been, research it, go there and collect data (photos, sounds, etc.), and create a digital story out of what we gathered.

I had never been to Independence Hall, and I felt that was kind of a shame. It is incredibly important to the USA historically. I love history (although my past history professors probably wouldn’t be able to tell you that) and I love my country, so I chose Independence Hall as my location.

The reason it popped into my head is actually kind of funny. Recently, there was a marathon of the National Treasure movies on TV. My roommates and I would watch them and make fun of Nicholas Cage and the whacky things he says. However, one of his lines struck me. He is being chased because he has stolen the Declaration of Independence, so he runs into Independence Hall to hide. Talking about the Declaration he remarks,”…the last time this was here, it was being signed.” I thought that was such a cool idea, and it made me want to experience such a historically significant place.

When I went there, I brought with me pictures of historic paintings and tried to take photos from the same angles. Using these photos, I contrasted the past with the present. In the past, there were men in wigs and stockings. There were horse-drawn carriages and cobblestone streets. In the present, there are people wearing Nikes. There are public transit buses and traffic lights.

This gave me the idea to have my video serve as a reminder of the past. That is, I wanted my video to inspire a sense of patriotism and pride in the viewer, and to remind the viewer of the things for which our forefathers stood.

We have come so far as a world and, specifically, as a country. We have grown in technologies, tools, abilities, ideas, and knowledge. This progress is certainly not a bad thing intrinsically. However, I hope that my video will admonish its viewers against letting our original values and freedoms become eclipsed by the bright lights and loud noise of the modern-day United States of America.

Did you see what he just tweeted?

How do I use digital media?

I’d like to think that I am not one who spends much time on digital media. But why is that? Sitting here thinking about it, using digital media is certainly not a bad thing.

I think I just have a block against being thought of as one who spends all day on the computer. Maybe I just try to convince myself that I do more productive things. I don’t know.

I do know, however, that I spend too much time on social media sometimes. Like any college student, I feel like time-wasting sites draw me in like a magnet whenever I have something to do.

But when I try to think about it, I’m not really sure what digital media I “consume.”

A lot of times – again, usually when I have work to do coincidentally – I’ll find myself just scrolling through my Newsfeed. I’m not looking for anything in particular. It’s just a time-killer. I’m seeing what other people post: funny things, political things, and just getting updated on goings-on.

I also spend a decent amount of time on Twitter. I mainly follow funny accounts – fake celebrities or even my own friends that tweet a good joke every now and then. I also follow some Spanish-speaking people just to keep up with the language. (Although the Spanish jokes are really corny, figuring out punch lines is a good test of fluency in a language.) So every now and then, I’ll scroll through my Twitter feed and see if there’s anything entertaining.

Finally, I watch YouTube a good amount. Usually I’m drawn there for a certain reason: watching a sports highlight, checking out a band’s new song, etc. However, most of the time I view a video, I’ll somehow spend the next 10 minutes (or two hours) browsing. (That stupid “Related Videos” section!!)

I really do like to think that I don’t spend “too much” time on digital media overall. Yes, I admit I’ll use it to procrastinate too much at times but other than that, I think I balance it well with the rest of my life. I seldom miss out on things going on around me because I’m engrossed in digital media. My digital media consumption would most likely be categorized as “moderate.”

 “Too much” digital media.

Syrian Citizens Fight Censorship

 Syrian tanks roll down a demolished street.

Syria is a great example of how people’s access to social media and other communicative technologies can be a crucial component of social justice.

The country is involved in a conflict right now – a civil war, if you will. The government ordered the use of military violence to suppress protests and demonstrations in Spring of 2011. Since then, rebel groups have fought back against the military and the violence has exploded, claiming tens of thousands of lives.

 Syrian citizens form militant group.

As journalists and media outlets have tried to spotlight this violence, the government has been proactive in shutting them down. Its actions have included the arrests of and attacks on journalists, the disabling of phones and electricity, and even the censorship of the Internet.

As gruesome and disheartening as the situation is, it has shown that people can use social media to draw attention to atrocities.  As the government manipulates what people hear about the fighting – for example, blaming deaths on a rebel carbomb – citizens are taking it upon themselves to distribute the truth, mostly through the cameras on their cell phones.

Private citizens are surpassing government censorship to help people learn what is really happening in a war-torn country. This might not have been possible before the “age of technology.”

Has Commercialism Ruined the Internet?

I will start this post with a question: What do you use the Internet for? Try to think of some things. Keeping up with old friends? Buying a new pair of shoes? Trying to figure out why your car is making that weird clicking sound? Trading stocks? Reading a fascinating blog? (If you’re here, your answer to that last question better be yes!)

Keep those things in mind. We’ll get back to that.

I recently read a couple articles in which the author, Douglas Rushkoff, expressed an interesting idea. He proposed that the Internet has been used for something that it was not originally intended to do. That thing is commercial business.

According to Rushkoff, the purpose of the Internet is simply to communicate with others freely. The keyword is freely. Because of the general idea of the Internet being free, and the original software being developed by “hackers” (people who knew how to write code and did so free of charge for the general use of the public), Rushkoff seems to oppose the idea of money being involved with the Internet in any way.

Because it was meant to be free, it is not right that the Internet should be used for any profitable gains. But think of the meaning of the word free. The Internet is not just free of charge; rather it is freedom of expression, freedom of thought, the freedom to use it in any way imaginable (and legal, of course).

This brings me back to my original question: What do you use the Internet for? My point is that the Internet is what you make it. If you only want to use it to make/spend money, then go to stock-trading websites or online shopping sites, and stay off sites that don’t interest you. If you’re opposed to that, then stick to the sites that you’re interested and stay off the stock-trading or shopping pages.

Why should someone get to define what the Internet should or should not be used for? Simply because in its early years it was independent of the idea of money, that does not mean that it should never be used to make or spend money. It is not as if Rushkoff is being forced to use these stock-trading or shopping websites, so I just have a hard time understanding why he is opposed to their very existence.

Let me know what you think! What do you use the Internet for? Do you believe commercialism and ads have ruined the Internet? Is there a “correct use” of the Web, or an “incorrect” one? Comment away!

(Note: Rushkoff also condemns banner ads. I agree! As he says, everyone hates them and they get in the way. And while they annoy me as much as the next guy, I understand that not all websites can be run without some sort of income. Some sites are kept up by people who do it as a career. These people need to be paid somehow, and if they want to keep the use of their site free, they have to have money coming in from somewhere. I wish their source of income didn’t send a flashing box dancing around my screen telling me that I’m the 5,000,000th visitor, but when thinking about all the amazing things I can do for free on the Internet, I must admit that avoiding banner ads is a small price to pay.)