Category Archives: Social Media

BLOG POST (MODULE 11): HIRAM GONZALEZ, Black Twitter and its Unifying Significance

Over the years, Black Twitter has received more attention because of the amount of Twitter users that have participated in this hashtag #blacktwitter, causing it to garner more attention in U.S. audiences. In Andre Brock’s essay, “From the Blackhand Side: Twitter as a Cultural Conversation” he says that “Black Twitter refers to the fact that African Americans have, since Twitter’s launch participated in Twitter to a degree that seemed to take internet analysts by surprise.” In other words, Black Twitter is a virtual community that focuses on the issues and interests of the Black community, primarily in the United States. This can range from political issues, to comedic current events going on in the African American community.

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In the picture with all the hashtags you can see how most of them are referring to socio-political events happening within the African American community. This picture of the hashtags conceptualizes what Sarah Florini tells us in her essay, “Tweets, Tweeps, and Signifyin’: communication and cultural performance on Black Twitter”. She tells us is that, “What does exist are millions of African American users on Twitter, networking, connecting, and engaging with other who have similar concerns, experiences, tastes, and cultural practices”. This ties into the picture of the hashtags because we can see very famous hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter and #icantbreathe become viral through the connecting and engaging that Florini talks about. These have been some of the most trending hashtags on not just the Black Twitter community but the overall Twitter community because of the amount of retweets and posts that it has received. 

In the second picture there is a meme regarding the current topics about R.Kelly running a sex cult and Usher contracting herpes. This can be further explicated through Sanjay Sharma’s: “Black Twitter?: Racial hashtags, Networks, and Contagion”. He tells us that “Black twitter works through users retweeting and replying to tweets within specific hashtags, causing those hashtags to trend, and making them into memes.” The second picture depicts a girl being taped on the shoulder by both R. Kelly and Usher as she has to decide if she wants to join a sex cult or receive herpes. These two current situations between R. Kelly and Usher should be taken very seriously however Black Twitter has turned them into more of a joke. In addition, O.J. Simpson was given a release date from prison the same week these two incidents were occurring and Black Twitter did not hold back on generating all sorts of creative memes. 

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This image can be seen as a diss to O.J. Simpson, R. Kelly, and Usher. But in this context, a diss is more along the lines of what Florini calls, “shared experiences of humor and critique”. 

Finally in the last picture, there are brown Twitter birds that show how ‘Black people use Twitter.’ This picture went viral because of the different depictions that were portrayed as if these were the only categories that Black Twitter users fall under. This example can relate to Jeff Yang’s piece, “Stephen Colbert: Racism and the weaponized hashtag”. It relates to it because the picture was seen as highly offensive by the Black Twitter community and different weaponized hashtags were “used to rally support around a political cause.” In all cases, Black Twitter has become a space for primarily Black Twitter users to engage in different cultural conversations as a way to garner support or move on with ideas and concepts that are important. By doing so, this community has become one that is very unique in its origin and continuum.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you use social media as a way to connect with different audiences that share similar views to yourself?
  2. Can you give an example of a time you saw a hashtag go viral? How was this seen in your social media community? Did the hashtag start something, or did it propagate a situation?
  3. What are the pros and cons of Black Twitter? If they had to pick, what side would Brock, Florini, and Yang be on?

Relevant Readings:

  1. Andre Brock, From the Blackhand side: Twitter as a cultural conversation
  2. Sarah Florini, Tweets, Tweeps, and Signifyin’: communication and cultural performance on Black Twitter
  3. Sanjay Sharma, Black Twitter?: Racial hashtags, Networks, and Contagion
  4. Jeff Yang, Stephen Colbert: Racism and the weaponized hashtag


Thoughts and comments welcome below!



BLOG POST (MODULE 10) SHINYA KADONO, Fake Information in the Age of New Media

Today, the social media is probably the fastest way to have an access to information because of the modern technologies such as laptops and smartphones. However, people are unaware of how this convenience is sometimes very untrustworthy and dangerous. In his essay, McLuhan discusses about the new forms of “news” by introducing Xerox and its system, where an ordinary person can be the publisher. He calls this new system of journalism at that time, “the underground press”.  He also argues that “as new media continue to proliferate, the nature of ‘news’ will naturally change too, along with the perpetually renewed revolution in information speeds and patterns.” Today, we have numerous forms of this “underground press” inside people’s smartphones. The example I give is Twitter. A Twitter is an online app where a user can post and interact with messages, “tweets”, restricted to 140 characters with registered and also unregistered Twitter users.

Fake tweet

The picture above is a screenshot of a tweet by BBC Northampton about President Trump’s Inauguration. The tweet is this, “Breaking News: President Trump is injured in arm gunfire #Inauguration” Although, we know that this isn’t true, because Inauguration already happened in January and Donald Trump hasn’t gotten injured. But, what if you weren’t watching the TV during this inauguration and checked your phone and saw this tweet? BBC Northampton is a verified Twitter account, meaning the account is protected by Twitter from any copyrights. Also this account has over 40,000 followers. McLuhan claims that, “among the unexpected features of the information revolution are… major involvement in the lives of other people, and the extraordinary enlargement of the public sector. This tweet caused great confusions at that time and shortly after the original tweet, BBC Northampton tweeted saying that their account has been hacked and the previous tweet was fake. However, it is hard for the readers to know that the original tweet is fake if they didn’t watch the TV of the inauguration or read the following tweet. This is why social media is scary and dangerous. The fake tweet is an example of what McLuhan would call the “replay” , which takes news “on a totally new dimension”, but clearly this one  took the news on a wrong dimension. We now live in a society where we could find out breaking news through our social media. However, one must be more cautious whenever he or she tries to spread it, because as McLuhan mentions, “at instant speeds… the audience becomes actor, and the spectators become participants.”

fake 2

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you believe that social media’s pros or cons are greater?
  2. Does the character limit on tweets take away from authenticity of posts?
  3. Have you ever read news on social media then realized afterwards that it was fake?

Related Readings:

Sputnik by Marshall McLuhan

BLOG POST (MODULE 10): SAMUEL JUNQUA, How Social Media Can Influence Interactions

Alternative girl with piercing unmask a good girlThe social media image that one has often does not accurately represent reality. Social media allows people to put on masks of identity using “techniques” to sustain impressions. A dramatization of this concept of masks is presented above where the woman portrayed has a mask that is more conservative than her actual appearance. McLuhan elaborates on the idea of masks by saying that, “the maker tends to project his own image as the mask of the user or reader which he endeavors to ‘put on.'” This is to say that the mask allows the performer to see the world differently and to also be seen differently (De Kosnik). Masks are readily available due to the ease with which people can access social media. Using these masks people construct their life rather than document it realistically and live vicariously through their “character”. In social media people can be who they want to be but the unrealistic image people present leads to possible difficulties connecting intimately.

With so many people performing simultaneously on social media and so much content shared instantly it is difficult to sort through what is important and what is unimportant. This is where meaningful connection can be lost because people focus on the wrong things while looking over what matters most. Social media changes the experience of interaction because it creates the possibility to, “have the experience and miss the meaning” (McLuhan). As McLuhan says, “the mysterious thing about this kind of
speed-up of information, whereby the gap is closed between the experience
and the meaning, is that the public begins to participate directly in actions
which it had previously heard about at a distance in place or time.” The closing of the gap is something social media inherently does but the significance of this can have dangerous consequences. Instead of being present, mindfulness is lost when people focus on attempting to connect to people, things and events far away from them and forgetting to value their immediate environment. The effects are less meaning within interactions however more numerous they may be.

Black Mirror

This episode of Black Mirror exemplifies the way in which people are deathly afraid of the consequences of public rejection or criticism. This character in pink, Lacie, is penalized with a deduction of her official public reputation/ranking for making a scene in the airport. In her virtual world, ones public reputation is used to allow people access to things such as a plane ticket in her specific case. This is an example of how peer pressure can suppress behaviors that society decided is “bad” and unwanted. We have varying degrees of how much of our true self we can show to people depending on how close we are to them. The extent to which we trust someone to accept us is the extent to which we can reveal our true selves to that person. In one-on-one interactions there is the potential to be as close as possible to our true self. In groups we have to hold back a bit because you are not comfortable with some people in that group regardless of how much you trust other people within the group. In social media where content is for everybody to see we are the least like our true selves. We have to take into consideration everybody that may view the content and so it is naturally censored or adjusted for acceptance. McLuhan however, asks us to think of social media performances as “making” instead of “faking” although social media can certainly be used to create a new public persona that does not reflect the way someone is in real life. Although people create “characters” to represent themselves on social media which can be interpreted as “faking”, it can conversely be considered to be “making” if looked at from the perspective that separates the “true self” in real life and the “character” created on social media. If we can view these two personas as separate entities instead of as supposed to be one and the same, we can view these social media performances as a creation of a new entity instead of a false representation of the preexisting self.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is your opinion of social media and do you believe it helps or hurts human connection? Why do you use it or why don’t you?
  2. Do you agree with McLuhan that social media should be thought of as “making” versus “faking”?
  3. In what ways (if any) would you say you are different online than in person?

Relevant Readings:

“At the moment of Sputnik the planet became a global theater in which there are no spectators but only actors” by Marshall McLuhan

Welcome to Juan Manuel’s section!

“Ambiente Familiar” Mitrovica Danza Contemporánea (Mexico City) Dirección: Andrea Chirinos Intérpretes: Lilian Coffen, Luis Díaz, Nadia Lartige, Lilian Muller, Andrea Chirinos

Scholars, hi!

Welcome to the space of the nobodies and the forgotten! I’m Juan Manuel. I will be your GSI for summer 2017. As of three weeks ago, I am a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in performance studies. My work examines choreography and contemporary dance across the United States-Mexico borders.  My current research project gives specific attention to Mexican contemporary choreographers working in cities such as Mexico City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I just started my field work this year; that is, I am out and about conducting interviews with choreographers, watching performances, listening to debates about performance theory and aesthetics in Mexico City, and watching a lot of dance films/shows in dark spaces with strangers that I will never know. My future project will examine the role of the dance quebradita in non-traditional, migrant receiving cities such as New Orleans, Salt Lake City, and Omaha. Qubradita was a dance genre popular among working-class migrants in the United States and the rural populations in Mexico.

Promotional image for the Colombian film for Los Nadie (2016).

For this blog, I am choosing the theme “the nobodies.” I decided to take inspiration from the 2016 film Los Nadie (The Nobodies). The film follows a group of punk youth in the barrios of Medellín, Colombia. They use juggling, friendship, and punk music as a way of life. This story charts my personal interest into the spaces and forms of belonging where the nobodies and the forgotten hang out. I grew up undocumented in Utah. As a working-class Mexican existing outside of the legal bounds of political citizenship and at times below the poverty line, my sense of belonging  was informed by being considered the worst threat to the imaginary of “America.” I consumed television, performances, and music that gave me a sense of belonging to the nobodies and anybody’s: the working-class labor force in and outside of Mexico. I watched telenovelas ( Marimar), listened to Mexican rock/punk (Rebel’dand Mexican banda (El Mexicano), and cried repeatedly while watching films such as Los Olvidados (The Young and the Damned) (1950), West Side Story (1961), and Macario (1960).

Pina Pellicer in a still image from the film Macario (1960).
Pina Pellicer in a still image from the Mexican film Macario (1960).
Anybody's wants to be part of the Jets. West Side Story (1961)
Anybody’s wants to be part of the Jets. West Side Story (1961)
A still image from the performance Amarillo (2009), produced by the Mexico City-based company Linea de Sombra.
A still image from the performance Amarillo (2009), produced by the Mexico City-based company Linea de Sombra. The story follows the many nobodies that try to enter the United States from Mexico.

When I am not watching a performance or writing about a choreographer, I spend my time on Netflix watching the London-based show Chewing Gum. The show is written by and stars Michaela Coel, who plays Tracey, a working-class girl who lives in a municipal housing project. I look forward to working with you as we examine television, social media, and performance. We will work together through this labyrinth of nobodies, anybody’s, and the forgotten to understand how power works through the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, faith, and class.

Promotional image for the series Chewing Gum
Promotional image for the series Chewing Gum