My Digital Communications Journey

As a say farewell to my COM-121 Digital Communications course, I want to take a moment to reflect on what I learned. I became fluent in Photoshop, Audacity, Adobe Premiere, WordPress, Wix, and various social media outlets. I came into this course with, what I thought, was a decent amount of knowledge for the emerging digital age. However, as I began to learn and grow in my digital ability, I realized that I was not as fluent with the rapidly changing times as I thought. As Professor Hull says in her article “At Last: Youth Culture and Digital Media: New Literacies for New Times”, we must understand “what it means to be fully literate in the new times.”

Media Content

As Generation Z continues to emerge, the digital ways are changing to be mostly Internet based with a heavy social media influence. With my blog about Netflix, I desired to merge my passion of film with something with current raging relevance in society. Because media consumers today view the majority of their content online, our class did as well. For example, my project group, BLH Media, took the topic of The Furman Dance Company, and displayed it in modern methods: via podcast, video, etc. Below if our video, which I am the most proud of.

This class has benefitted me in the realms blog and web design. I now feel like I am prepared to conquer the job world. We were required to make a website about ourselves for professional purposes, which I believe I achieved with the guidance of my professor. Below are screenshots from my Wix page:

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I believe that my Wix page turned out to be professional and sleek–exactly what I was looking for. I am proud to send this off to future employers as it not only showcases my résumé content, but my web designing abilities as well.

You’re Welcome, Future Me

Before this class, I believe that I was a good speaker and writer. Now, thanks to our helpful textbooks, I can write for the web, knowing how to make my content pop in a way that is appealing to Internet consumers. Because we were taught various social media outlets, I can broadcast that I am fluent in the Generation Z web content. Employers will be happy to know the various content I can do well, all thanks to this class. Throughout all my classes in my communications major, this has proved to be the most beneficial because of the new media literacy of emerging youths and businesses. The language of this current society and culture is ever changing, and this course has made me aware of it. Although I have much room for improvement in my editing skills, I am on my way into becoming a responsible consumer that is fluent in contemporary media ways.

Progression to 2025

Experts predict the Internet will become ‘like electricity’ — less visible, yet more deeply embedded in people’s lives for good and ill.

Studying past technology trends, experts can predict what digital media will look like in 2025. The Pew Research Center conducted an Internet project, compiling experts to study the trend. It was concluded that the Internet will be mobile, wearable, and imbedded together in the Internet of Things. Information sharing and storing will be solely cloud based. This has already been seen, as simple things, such as movies, are now stored in the cloud to be watched as opposed to DVD form. With this progression of technology, I believe that global sharing of ideas will be easier. Information can be shared and distributed effectively if the nations permit it.

Experts believe that there will be “augmented reality” enhancements with these wearable devices, along with a disruption of 20th century business models. Physical and social realms will join together. This is an exciting, yet scary, thought. The progression of technology shows that our world is forever changing, which has proven true in the past. For me, it’s hard to think of things being invented that have not been invented yet. However, with the trend that experts believe will come by 2025, I see how this is possible.

Netflix Culture at Furman

The life of a college student can be incredibly demanding. Here at Furman, workloads can take a toll on the student body–mentally as well as physically (just look at the heavy backpacks we carry around). Oftentimes, when a momentary break is finally allowed, students escape into the virtual world of Netflix. I interviewed three Furman students to find out how they truly viewed Netflix’s impact on society, students, and their own productivity.

Furman’s Follies

Overall, I have come to realize that the majority of students have the same outlook: Netflix is detrimental to productivity, but is also a good thing as it provides a means of escape. Binge watching has become a very popular thing in contemporary culture. Here at Furman, social media outlets, such as Yik Yak, allow students to broadcast their procrastination as well as talk about their favorite shows. Netflix has become a means of connecting with people. If I find somebody in one of my classes who loves to binge watch my favorite show, we become best friends almost instantly.

Got Any Change?

I believe that Furman’s Netflix usage is very similar to other college campuses. Although it is a great way to relax and connect, Netflix poses an exceptional way to procrastinate. However, with college culture consisting of late millennials and early gen z, it’s hard to believe that the Netflix addictions will stop. Everything must be taken in strides, as seen in my previous article on binge watching. Small steps can affect change. This doesn’t mean that Netflix should be done away with on college campuses, just used responsibly.

Binge, Sleep, Repeat

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Binge watching (v.) [binj woch-ing]: An activity where one is immersed in an unbreakable period of overconsumption of Netflix, unable to close their laptop and get a life. (See also: Netflix addict)

At one point or another, many of us have been caught in the vicious cycle of binge watching our favorite shows. Within the 10 seconds it takes for Netflix to start the next episode of my show, I often find myself wondering: how does this affect my productivity? What exactly could I be getting done right now? What is this thing called “the sun” I have yet to see today?

Erratic Epidemic

Although this is a dramatization, binge watching does pose a significant decline in well-being and productivity. Vanderbilt University psychiatrist Dr. Warren Taylor says that he sees “a range of symptoms in patients with severe depression, including altered mood, inability to enjoy life and activities, changes in appetite, sleeping problems and difficulty coping with life.” As humans, we are designed to find satisfaction in accomplishing tasks, no matter how small. Problems with self control are seen as a component to excessive television watching. Although binge watching is seen as a contemporary paradox, there is a link to other addictive behaviors such as eating disorders and alcohol/drug use.

Please Binge Responsibly

Watching Netflix can be an incredible stress reliever–if used responsibly. Although binge watching is seen as a detriment to productivity, it can actually aid it, if used correctly. Paula Rizzo suggests making it a game or competition for yourself: three items crossed off your checklist equals half an hour of Netflix. If you’re still craving the binge watching sessions, designate a day for it. Make Saturday night your official night of television overconsumption, allowing your week before that to remain productive with this goal in mind. Even better, make it an event! Invite your fellow binge watchers and make it into a social affair.

 

A Stream Team Original Series

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The adorable Kimmy Schmidt (played by Eliie Kemper) doing a The Breakfast Club inspired fist pump after successfully signing up to complete high school 15 years later. (Image Credit: The Daily Dot)

Hi, my name is Hayley (“hi, Hayley”), and I’m an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-aholic. The obsession began in early March of this year, when the glorious Tina Fey created the comedic Netflix Original Series. I binged watch the premiere season in a day and a half: completing all twelve episodes, and none of my homework. This energetic, laugh-out-loud show follows the life of Kimmy Schmidt (played by the hilarious Ellie Kemper) after she, according to IMDb “is rescued from a doomsday cult and starts life over again in New York City.” Because of the nature of Netflix Original Series, only the first season was created and released, relying on the feedback from Netflix viewers to see if a second season should be made. So how does Netflix decide on what original shows to create? Do they have relevance to current events? Will there be a second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?

netflix collage
A collage, created on Photoshop, showcasing three hit Netflix Original Series: Sense8, Orange is the New Black, and House of Cards.

Politics and Jargon and Suits (oh my!)

The first true Netflix Original Series to be made available to viewers was House of Cards. Season 4 is projected to be avaliable in February of 2016. The first season was made available February 1, 2013, eleven days after President Obama was sworn in for his second term. The nation was immersed in the politics of the presidential campaign leading up to the release of this hit series, making it relevant to the media.

Jail House Rock

Also premiering in 2013 was Orange is the New Black, making its first appearance in July. This popular series is a hit to all niches, especially the LGBT community, being one of the first beloved shows to prominently present lesbian issues and relationships. This famous show continued to be a hit throughout the fight for gay marriage rights, its latest season making a debut only two weeks before same-sex marriage was declared legal in all fifty states.

Eighth Sense

One of Netflix’s most recent original series is Sense8, which premiered on June 5, 2015. This new Netflix Original Series highlights eight people in different sectors of the world who are all somehow spiritually connected. One of the eight lead characters, Nomi, is a male to female transgender. When this show was being created, and even when it premiered, Bruce Jenner’s transition into Caitlyn Jenner was a major highlight in the news. Sense8 became a highly talked about show, as it talked about LGBT issues, similar to Orange is the New Black.

And the Binge Watching Continues

Instead of how new television shows are premiered–one episode per week–Netflix makes the whole season available all at once. Netflix Original Series presents their content with full seasons at a time–if audiences give positive feedback. Due of the raging popularity of the four shows discussed in this post, all are continuing to make new seasons–keeping binge watchers, much like myself, alive happy for episodes to come.

[Collage Credits: – Sense8 Image (couple on left) – Orange is the New Black Image (backdrop and woman in orange jumpsuit) – House of Cards Image (man in suit on right) – “A Netflix Original Series” Image (words)]

Can you hear me now?

Sound is more powerful than one might think. Although not blatantly obvious, such as a photograph, sound is still incredibly compelling and potent. When used correctly, sound can create a picture for the listener, allowing them to be fully immersed. The Poynter Institute for Media Studies’ Sound in the Story asserts that when done accurately, sound can be timeless, and can alter ones’ universe in the present moment.

Bite the Bullet

A “sound bite” is defined as a clip of sound that is 15 seconds long. Any time longer than that, and the listener appears to be distracted. However, it is not that we simply do not have a large enough attention span, but simply that we have become accustomed to shuffling through more content throughout our day (pg. 2). Grasping the attention of the listener is crucial, making them forget that there is even a timeline present.

Location, Location, Location

When conducting an interview, there are many facets that encompass it. A great majority of of the reading was about how to conduct a successful interview, including features such as etiquette, ethics, and tools. One of the items that stuck out to me most when studying interviews is the importance of location. An interview should take place in a location with minimal noise and distractions. You must be aware of your surroundings at all times. An example an interview-gone-wrong because of location is one of Sarah Palin, where a turkey is slaughtered in the background during the interview.

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Sound Off (One, Two)

In closing, sound is seen as a powerful media, just like photography and video. But when they are all paired together correctly? It can make a viewing experience magical.

The Gen Z Takeover

Aaah, Generation Z. Referring to the faction of people post-1995, after the Millennial generation (A.K.A. Generation Y). I barely made the cut as a Millennial, and I pride myself in my “90s kid” ways. The New York Times asked us to make way for gen Z, who are known for being independent, diverse, and fast learner;, they are also seen as entitled and dependent on technology to engage in social interactions. With these blooming kiddos comes new lingo that many of the older generations, and even most of us Millennials, are baffled by (e.g. “Netflix and Chill” *). Generation Z has replaced live television with streaming services, primarily Netflix, due to the accessibility and cult following. With this use of Netflix, this digital age generation has the ability to access shows from previous generations, and make these old, beloved shows a “new” phenomenon.”

“So no one told you life was gonna be this way”

Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay), Matt Le Blanc (Joey Tribbiani), Courtney Cox (Monica Geller), David Swimmer (Ross Geller), Jennifer Anniston (Rachel Green), and Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) Image Source
Friends makes a resurgence on Netflix for both old and new generations to watch and enjoy.
 (Image Credit: wegotthiscovered.com)

 

Take the esteemed show Friends for example. From 1994-2004, this cult classic became the standard for how your friend group should be in your mid twenties. If you didn’t have a purple door, a pet duck, or your “usual” coffee shop with a snooty, platinum blonde barista, then you weren’t truly living. I remember hearing about this show my entire childhood, and even catching glimpses of it until the early/mid 2000s when I was finally old enough to understand it. Friends was projected for those in the late Generation X, who where in their mid 20s at the time. However, the treasured television show didn’t necessarily end in 2004. On New Years Day of 2015, Netflix made all seasons, 1-10, available to its users. Generation Z, who never grew up with Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross, were now able to experience the timeless show at their fingertips. Because of Gen Z’s fluency with social media, watching Friends immediately became all the rage, making the 1994-2004 classic the rage all over again.

Thank You, Netflix

Friends is just one of the shows on Netflix that are “making a comeback” among Generation Z. Numerous other television oldies, such as as Saved by the Bell, are also available. Even films such as Romy and Michele’s High School ReunionGrease, and The Breakfast Club are becoming highly viewed content among the budding generation, primarily due to the cult following and accessibility of the beloved streaming service. Kudos, Netflix, on providing rounded content to this digital age influenced Gen Z.
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* WARNING: Do not click the link unless you are ready to sit and reflect for a long time about what society has come to.

Identifying Influential Imagery

Is a picture really worth a thousand words? What thousand words? A thousand words from a lunatic, or a thousand words from Nietzsche? Actually, Nietzsche was a lunatic, but you see my point.

Jarod Kintz

I apologize again for my use of clichés, but it is just too good not to use. The overly exhausted expression of “a picture is worth a thousand words” makes me cringe. Just as Kintz questions, what thousand words? Is the picture just so blatantly showcasing these copious amount of words? Am I just simply too daft to see these eloquently implied captions?

“Viewers Make Meaning”

Sturken and Cartwright’s work Practices of Looking revealed to me that the producer’s intended meaning is not necessarily what the viewer perceives. The spectator is the one that actually interprets the meaning of the image. They also are influenced by the context in which the image is seen. I, personally, also think that the observer’s life and culture impacts the way the image is perceived.

Codes, Codes, Codes

Sturken and Cartwright also say that images are both encoded and decoded. The image itself is “encoded in its creation production, and further encoded when placed in given setting or context” (Sturken and Cartwright, 56). The processing of the image presented is known as decoding.

encoding and decoding
Image Source

Image Alone?

I was fascinated with the reading assignment, because I believe in the power behind imagery, when used correctly. Do you believe that an image has the potential to influence? Or is there more to it, such as writing along with it?

Writing Worth Reading

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you were dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Benjamin Franklin

I know what you’re thinking. Starting a post with a quote? How much more cliche can she get? But trust me, this reflection will come full circle. As I begin my journey into my digital communications class, I am no stranger to blogging. I have written blogs for other classes, such as my mass communications class last year. I even have a little fashion blog on the side with a friend of mine, which provides excellent practice for my communications major. I am also no stranger to writing. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve relished opportunities that involved creative writing. Unfortunately, my hatred for math and science is the same level as my love for reading and writing. Needless to say, I’ve always been exceedingly, extraordinarily, and obnoxiously right-brained.

Photo Source

Digital Age

The writings of Brian Carroll and Lynda Felder provide assistance for those who write and edit for digital media. The Internet has become an increasingly powerful tool in today’s society. Writing platforms, such as Newspapers, are, sadly, beginning to die away, the web is becoming increasingly more popular. The Internet provides access for people all around the world to see your writings, and vice versa. As the web is becoming progressively cheaper and “greener,” the world has fallen into an overwhelming digital state. However, even from the adjustment from paper to cyberspace, writing has remained a critical staple.

Carroll’s Contemplations

Thinking strategically in order to maximize your audience via the web is what Carroll thinks is key. People who are reading online typically skim, lacking patience to read excessive content. Carroll also asserts that treating your online writing like a hard copy, even going as far as to print it out, allows the content to be written well and edited correctly (Carroll, 63). Carroll also stresses the importance of optimizing search engines to your advantage. His four distinct points of advice are to “be brief, be complete, be clear, and be proactive” (Carroll, 66-67).

Felder’s Findings

Felder states that your writing online can sound like you, only better. Writing with an attitude as opposed to timidly is crucial. Being clear and concise with your writing is what she declares is best, which is very true when it comes to writing for the web. When writing correctly, one can be professional, understandable, and readable, while still being elegant and expressive (Felder, 13-15).

Full Circle

So regardless of whether you’re writing with pen and paper or with the tips of your fingers on plastic keys, writing has the potential to be powerful, compelling, and dynamic, if done correctly. Legacies and history have been preserved through writing as well as orally–but writing still stands the test of time. Just as Benjamin Franklin said, writing and editing clearly and correctly makes your work worth reading. Or, if writing’s not your thing, you may as well do something exciting for others to write about.