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Paul’s Lie

Learning about Paul’s Story was very disheartening. What really saddens me about the whole thing is that people actually go through this. Young people are involved in so many deadly car accidents it’s scary. And my understanding is that YouTube and social tools are used to connect people, connect people in new ways over common interests. Fooling the public in this way is not only unethical and devious, but it’s just cruel. Those of us who have a heart and feel for these young people that have to live with the consequences of these bad choices cringe at these videos.

In a recent video presentation from Prof. Wesch, he addresses why people use YouTube to express themselves. This is important because it may explain the reason behind why transparency is so crucial to a successful social media campaign. From an anthropological standpoint, he says “anonymity + physical distance + rare and ephemeral dialogue = freedom to experience humanity without social fear or anxiety.”

This is important because people on YouTube usually address the YouTube community directly. They speak into that glass dot we call a web cam to share their emotions, feelings, and experiences with people who want to listen. They don’t know who will pay attention, who will respond, who will care but those that do, will always be there with support.
These phony videos that organizations and agencies produce violate these “rules” to YouTubing. They produced a script, hired actors and didn’t tell the public, they strategically wanted a certain audience to feel a certain way and change their behavior because of it.

I think Prof. Parsons’ class has great questions that need to be answered. I will definitely keep spying on the discussion, I think there is a lot to learn from this disaster and the answers are crucial.

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June 6, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , , , | Comments Off on Paul’s Lie

It’s long, but a goodie!

Since there hasn’t been any new material posted to the blog I decided to try out the website Professor Wesch links his blog from. I found this amazing video of a presentation he gave at the Library of Congress last year. The interesting thing is Wesch decided not to use a PowerPoint but rather prepared over 40 minutes of video – mostly YouTube videos.

The title of his presentation was “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube”. Wesch and his students study the culture of YouTube and together collaborated to build this incredible presentation. The video I’m referencing for this post is 55 minutes long, so I’ll spare you the summary and allow you watch it yourself. (Just a word of advice: don’t watch it in the library, you may LOL at any point and “apparently” that annoys people…just sayin…)

In a nut shell, the video tells a story about how YouTube gives people an outlet to create  “new forms of expression, new forms of community, and new forms of identity”. The video is captivating from beginning to end, and touched on some things that Kimberly and Ben talked about last class.

Wesch says there is a “cultural inversion” where people are increasing expression of individualism and simultaneously increasing their value of community. Humans are becoming increasingly independent while longing for stronger relationships and we see increased commercialization all around us but we long for authenticity. As Kimberley and Ben addressed the “argument of authenticity”, I thought about the many organizations we learn about who try to mimic authenticity, and fail horribly. The “wigging out”, “I killed my best friends” and lonelygirl15 vlog that created an explosion of drama all over YouTube are just some examples. It seems almost commonsense to me that a foggy YouTube campaign would fail, and I wonder why, after so many have proved it doesn’t work, organizations continue to try and fool their audience. Clearly all the YouTubers are much smarter than these organizations and will no doubt do their research.

But, back to authenticity, I wonder how authentic one can really be? What about the saying “put your best face forward”? Do we have more than one face, more than one self? How we define ourselves changes depending on who we are defining to and the desired outcome of that definition. Maybe I’m going a little too far, but Wesch makes a great argument for authenticity. He asks, “Can YouTube be authentic?” When everyone around the globe is uploading a video, ripping someone else’s and editing it to create a different product, aren’t those people actively producing content? If we are uploading videos of ourselves, aren’t we producing ourselves? Aren’t we toying with our identity?

I’ll take it one step further, how many times do you “un-tag” a picture of yourself on Facebook that someone else produced? Is that not editing your identity? People get an understanding of who you are by studying your profile, looking at your picture, reading your interests, and watching your videos. By editing or deleting a picture are you not censoring your identity? Which is the real you?

It is important for us, as individual users of these social tools, to recognize this struggle and tug-of-war we have with authenticity. Without understanding it on a “self” level, I don’t see how we could understand it on an “organization” level. To be effective social communicators we must understand how we as individuals identify with the tools themselves and the communities we belong to, and ultimately how we identify ourselves in these spaces.

Are you authentic?

June 6, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment