Charlie Osbourne, medical anthropologist, graphic designer, and contributing writer for ZDNet, published an extremely interesting article entitled The World of Social Media Arrests and Prosecutions. Osbourne begins her article by asking readers to consider “What happens when a tweet or Facebook page becomes of interest to the law?”

Per Osbourne, “Governments across the world are now keeping social media activity on the radar, and sometimes acting within their legal jurisdiction if they come across something that raises [their] hackles […]”. This question prompted me to wonder what exactly the parameters are for their legal jurisdiction in regards to social networking forums, and are the “somethings” that raise their hackles?

In my opinion, if your hackles are raised, then you are probably squirming in your seat. If a pro-choicer overhears a pro-life conversation in a public setting (such as a coffee shop or restaurant), undoubtedly, the pro-choicer will become uncomfortable. Whenever our innermost convictions are challenged by opposing beliefs, it is our nature to feel attacked, at least to some degree. However, what society seems to forget (especially in the US, in which words such as “freedom” or “liberty” largely define the cultural norm) is that everyone is entitled to make their own choices; and even though there are beliefs, lifestyles, and moral codes that do not play well with others, does not mean that they are wrong. In general, sometimes I feel that society has become overly-concerned with creating rules and codes that forbid the possibility of anyone’s feelings being hurt, rather than focusing on ways for individuals to become more proficient at the art of tolerance. This world overflows with conflicting schools of thought, and perhaps social institutions should focus on educating people about learning to coexist with those who travel down different paths.

Osbourne creates a short list of instances in which Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube reveal behavior that was alarming enough to get the government’s attention. The worst instance on this list is an image of Andre Curry’s one year-old daughter bound in duct tape and posted to Facebook. Other instances include a UK student’s Twitter post regarding an intent “to destroy America”. According to the article, in the UK, “to destroy” can also indicate hard partying. Nevertheless, as Osbourne reports, “the teenagers were interrogated for five hours on suspicion of planning to commit crimes, held overnight, and then sent back to Britain the following day”. She also adds that “If they wish to return to the U.S., they must apply to London’s U.S. embassy for visas”.

Without question, the moron who bounds his one year-old daughter in duct tape deserves to be punished. Curry’s actions not only break constitutional law (law set in stone long before the emergence of Facebook) but these actions could also be proven by virtue of the evidence he himself provided. However, the Uk travelers who posted the “threatening” tweet (which was, by the way, posted prior to their three-week expedition to the US) should have not necessarily been treated like terrorists. (Last time I checked, terrorists don’t book three-week vacations in the country they are planning to attack. And it’s probably safe to assume that words can, in fact, have multiple meanings and interpretations.)

Facebook has become one of the most (if not the most) dominant platforms for social media. At the core of its success lies a notion of freedom, that seemingly makes Facebook the congressional hearing of social networking. We as humans are thirsty for validation, and Facebook is where and how we are given the chance to speak freely and openly about ourselves whether through photos, personal bios, status updates, or “likes”. If Facebook really is what it claims to be – this chance to speak freely without persecution – then why is it being used as a player piece in the game of “gotcha”?

If users are at risk for being banned from the site for speaking negatively towards a particular religion or political leaning, why do Facebook profiles prompt users to list their religion or political leaning in the first place? All I am saying is that IF Facebook claims to be this platform for personal expression, then on all fronts, it should remain that. Once it starts morphing into an interrogation tactic for the bosses of society to use against those who challenge societal norms and political correctness, then it has deviated from its original intention. Even the most egregious statement, claim, or opinion expressed on one’s personal profile should (in theory) be protected, not thrown in the user’s face.


“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”



Me, Myself, and I

How I write “I”:

Officially or Unofficially: Limit the number of times in which “I” is used. I never want to sound like I am the center of my own universe. I use it for emphasis, especially when making an opinionated statement. Writers must take ownership of their opinions, especially when they are, more or less, considered controversial.



-Wordpress blog

-Course/professor reviews at end of semester

-Resume cover letter



-Facebook status updates/profile info

-Notes to Mordy; greeting cards


Both? (Depending on the situation?)





What would Barbara Walters do?

Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Andy Rooney, and Katie Couric are some of the world’s most recognizable news anchors. These anchors, along with others like Barbara Walters and Tom Brokaw, have proven themselves to be the dedicated sounding boards for society, domestically and internationally. They have spent years upon years studying the news industry, and for the most part, have seemed to always have at least one primary goal in mind: to deliver the world’s most important reports.

I couldn’t help but wonder what Rather, Rooney, and Couric might think about social media becoming the next global news anchor. It seems as if Facebook, Twitter, and bloggers alike, are vying for the coveted position of lead reporter; and even though most (active) anchors and journalists utilize social networking forums for personal and business purposes, my cynical inclination leads me to believe that maybe – just maybe – they are somewhat bit bitter towards the idiot-proof modes that society currently favors in order to obtain the news.

Overall, I think that social media has created a contemporary avenue for citizens of the world to access the news. Furthermore, it would be wonderful to see this effect take hold of those who didn’t have interest in current events, prior to this “movement” of Twitter feeds and Anderson Cooper’s RidicuList. In my opinion, it is the younger generations who are least concerned with the happenings of the world outside of a 20-mile radius, so in this respect, I would hope that social networking continues to spark a bit of passion for cultural awareness.

Of course, I also hope that the social networking sites who claim to provide up-to-date and accurate reports, actually provide up-to-date and accurate reports. It would be a shame to see such a potentially viable facilitator for global awareness to become muddied and obscured while in transit across the ever-expanding Internet. 

(And I’ll go out on a limb to say that even the most notable, decorated, and acclaimed news anchor might agree.)


Just for fun, I present to you, the RidicuList link:

“Every day we’re told that we live in the greatest country on earth. And it’s always stated as an undeniable fact: Leos are born between July 23 and August 22, fitted queen-size sheets measure sixty by eighty inches, and America is the greatest country on earth. Having grown up with this in our ears, it’s startling to realize that other countries have nationalistic slogans of their own, none of which are ‘We’re number two!” 

-David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Mark Story is the author of a recent Internet article entitled, Social Media: Being A User Doesn’t Mean You Are A Good Practitioner, written for AgBeat. In this article, Story discusses the somewhat complicated demand businesses have for hiring social media representatives. The economy, has consequently, transitioned from a service-based market, to one embodying an “explosion of social media […] as communication platforms”. Consequently, as Story points out, “the explosion of social media as a business tool is creating job opportunities for seasoned professionals”.

Unfortunately, an increase in demand does not always prompt an influx of supply. It is reassuring to see new paths unfold within the job market, but for potential, social media reps, companies won’t count the ability to update Facebook as qualifying skills necessary to perform well. Story points out that “being an avid user does not mean that you are ready to start giving online communications advice on a very big stage”.

The moral of Story’s story is one that rings true in many aspects of life, business, and communications on a global scale. Just because you know something, doesn’t mean you know it well, and just because you know a little about a lot, doesn’t mean you know a lot about everything. In an age where the canvas and content become subjective, companies will probably have their guards up, more so than they ever have. The societal dependence we have on the Internet reflects the desire to bridge any gaps in the communication flow, the hope of broadening cultural horizons, the necessity for widespread educational opportunities.

This contemporary, life-altering resource (the Internet) that so many rely on for business, personal, and other uses can either kill us or make us stronger. Story simply advises against confusing “I know enough to get by” with “fluent and proficient”, when seeking a career in social media representation. Failure to do so could easily create yet another problematic element for such a seemingly, idiot-proof system.

Your opinion’s new dress code.

Dean Kruckeberg and Marina Vujnovic (herein after referred to as “K&V”) contributed a very thought-provoking chapter to our global communications textbook. Chapter 12, entitled Global Advertising and Public Relations, highlights some important focus topics, but, for me, the most prominent issue raised is that of global conformity, as a consequence of advertising and/or public relations.

I am not sure how this first point directly relates to my overall opinion, but I’d like to mention it anyway. K&V state that the US laypeople’s association of advertising and public relations is “corporate in purpose” (among other things). K&V determines this assumption to a “simplification” and one of at least three “gross inaccuracies” (272-73).

A few pages later, the authors state, “compelling evidence suggests that advertising has been strongly-if not overwhelmingly-corporate in purpose”. K&V site R.L. Heath, who states, “from its birth, public relations has been seen as a tool used largely by corporate managements to get their way” (277).

I’m sure you see where I am going with this, but just to state the obvious, I believe that this is somewhat of a contradiction. While K&V did dot their “i’s”, stating that the fallacies were to be addressed under the sole assumption of itself; and cross their “t’s”, noting that primary referral made was to “laypeople of the US” (272), the authors still, on the broader scale, documented a contradicting statement. Whether referring to corporate civilian or common citizen, stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, and I feel that to some degree, K&V are unable to ascertain the true level of control or influence the corporate world has over public opinion. Yet, to some degree, it seems as if the authors (perhaps, inadvertently) relate to the “laypeople’s” anxiety behind having their individual opinions determined by governmental, wealthy, or private sector parties, regardless of the actual individual’s opinion.

Which leads me to my primary point of interest regarding Chapter 12…

I’ve decided to call it “global conformity”. K&V incorporate terms like “relationship marketing” (278) and “societal corporatism” (278) into their argument; they describe public relations as bringing an “essential element of collectivism into the commonly individualistic world view” (Grunig, 278); and it is recommended that international strategy be “sensitive to the nuances of regional markets throughout the world” (276). Pertaining to feathers ruffled by Benetton’s death-row ad campaign, K&V attest that the “US media’s hostile coverage […] exposed the instability of hegemonic ideologies in mass-mediated public discourse” (276).

I think that K&V’s underlying point, one that is not made often enough, is that the corporate compulsion to create one, global, consenting opinion bodes impossible. Those in charge (of any organization including, but not limited to, government, non-profit organizations, clubs, etc.) continue to waste time and finances in the hopes that such an uttainable goal may be achieve. The marketing “officials” seem rather convicted that there IS a way to force a square peg into a round hole. Grunig is right: there is a “commonly individualistic world view”, especially in the US, because humans are, by design, individuals. Nobody wants to be lumped into a category, and while some choose to be more complacent with such practices, most would probably argue against being labeled by a handful of powers that be.