It May Not Be the End, or Even the Beginning of the End, But Perhaps It Is the End of the Beginning

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First of all, I quote LOTR way more on this blog way more than I ever do in real life. I guess my inner geek comes out when I write blogs, haha.

Second of all, it’s November, people. We have a long way to go before school ends!! ‘Tis not even close to Christmas yet. But I suppose with the advent of the last project upon us, things are beginning to wrap up. So how about a quick wrap up of everything that I have gleaned from this semester? Sound good? Let’s dive in.

I have learned that a discussion based class can be quite conducive to a learning environment. When I used to think of a discussion-based class, all I could think of was either a class that never wanted to speak up or a class that all wanted to speak at the same time. While at times our class took a little bit to get started, once we got started it was hard to get us to stop talking! Many times I would look up and be surprised to see that it was well past 9:50. Time flew by so fast with a flowing discussion! And you could always tell that Professor Hara had her questions that exhibit depth of thought always bring about insightful answers. (Not to be a brown noser of course [: )

I have learned that social media is not the devil. (See previous blog posts).

I have learned that difference of opinion is not a divisive thing. Instead, differences of opinions can bring people together. Case in point, Ahmed made wonderful contributions to our class this semester. While we would probably not agree on every single topic, I am very thankful that he was in our class. As Americans, I don’t believe that we take enough time to sit back and reflect on ourselves as almost a separate species of homo sapiens. Ahmed provided that perspective for us I believe. “You Americans and your sexy pictures!” I will never forget that quote! Thank you for your perspective this semester, Ahmed!

I have learned that the technological world is one of the last great frontiers in morality, law, and society. There are so many aspects of technology that have not been explored yet! We’ve pretty much hashed out all of the property law arguments in the technological world but what of crimes of online stalking? And where are the lines? Which brings me to the next point…

I have learned that the technological world operates in a gray area. Our great question that we kept asking this whole semester was, “Where are the lines?” and “How do we define the boundaries?” This is the next great frontier in technology law/morality/social rules.

I have learned about the existence of Pecha Kucha style presentations! I have never heard about them until this class! I actually kind of like the format. Except for I like to talk and ramble on and this form of presentation keeps me from doing that. Which is no doubt better for my audience.

Lastly, I’ve learned that acceptance is truly spreading. Despite the relatively liberal atmosphere of college campuses across the nation, Texas schools have been a strong-hold of Southern, ignorant, and conservative views on social issues. This class has shown me otherwise. People can be accepting no matter what background they come from.

Thanks not only to Professor Hara but everyone in the class who impacted my learning experience this semester.

-jacob

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Blog Post #10: A Stroll Through the Web 2.0 Park and This Semester

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Before I started this class, as I’ve said before, I was very anti-social media. I deleted my Twitter account. I deleted my Instagram. I deactivated my Tumblr blog and deleted all personal posts from it. I debated whether or not to delete my Facebook account as well. I was truly convinced that social media was the downfall of modern society for the following three reasons:

  1. It divided more than it separated. All I saw when I got to class was that people would sit down and immediately take out their phones and log into a social media site. They didn’t turn and meet their classmates to network and possibly establish a study group. They shut off.
  2. It was a drain on the clock. I don’t know how many times my homework didn’t get done simply because I was too distracted by a social media website. 2 out of the 6 hours that I would be at the library were spent on Tumblr or taking pictures of stupid stuff with Instagram.
  3. It got me into trouble.

I’ll explain the last one. I’ve never been one to keep any sort of diary or journal. I believed that putting down your personal opinions of someone or even of yourself in writing with your name attached to it became instant culpability and reason for someone to attack you for it.

Then I heard about Tumblr. It was an amazing blogging platform. I was hooked instantly. I used Tumblr for about two years. In the second year of owning my Tumblr, I began to use it as a sort of diary. I would write down thoughts and frustrations and such. Then I began to share my experiences in relationships. This became a sort of therapy for me. I would vent frustrations nightly and would never go to bed mad at whoever I was dating. It was perfect. Then came the day when one of my exes found my Tumblr account. I will never know for sure how he found it but he did and that’s all that matters. On it I had said some not so nice things about him at the height of a frustrated moment. This turned out to be a disaster. He was very hurt, as could be expected. I would have been hurt too. We had had a cordial and somewhat friendship after the breakup but now that was out of the question. My own blog had come back to bite me in the butt.

What is said is said and cannot be taken back. I do regret that he ever had to see the things that I wrote about him and I hope that he has been able to accept my apology.

The point is, that I had a horrible experience with social media before this class. It sounds corny but… I think this class kind of healed my relationship with social media websites. It is all in moderation. It all depends on what you’re using it for. Don’t say anything on there that you wouldn’t want to shout in the middle of a crowded room of your friends, family, and colleagues. The W3 is public. Social media is public. No matter how locked down and password protected you think you have it, it’s not safe.

This class helped me to see that there are other uses for these sites. That one could legitimately connect and share ideas. Instead of dividing me from my classmates, social media has helped me connect and learn things from my classmates that they didn’t get to say in class or were too scared to say. That is really cool to me. Personally I am very glad that I took this class this semester.

I know this sounds very corny but it is all true!

Thank you all for being apart of the “healing” 🙂

 

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If a Man States His Opinion in a Forest Full of Women and No One is There to Listen, Does He Have a Valid Opinion at All?

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The answer is yes. I could choose to end my blog post here but that would result in a less than satisfactory grade. So we drive on!

Whenever I encounter extremely controversial topics such as an online rape culture and one gender’s opinion being more relevant than another, I always think it is most practical to reduce the problem down to the most simplistic legal terms and analyze from there. Bear with me while I practice my legal writing… yet again.

What’s the issue here? There is psychological harm done to any unwilling victim of virtual rape or in-person physical rape. Another issue is that one person has exerted total control over another person and the former has forced the latter to participate in activities that have not been consented to. The two issues are harm and exertion of force.

What’s the rule against this? The rule is that no person should have to experience the potentially harmful results of virtual or physical rape. No person should be forced into doing something they have not consented to and/or have no desire to participate in.

While I am missing the Analysis and Conclusion of my IRAC legal argument, the bones are there. I would like to go on to answering the questions posed by the email. My response to being ignored is not an exciting one. To be honest… I didn’t even realize that the gentlemen were being ignored until everyone started laughing when it became obvious and Professor Hara actually said that she wasn’t entertaining comments from the men. This answers the question of how I reacted to one half of the class being ignored. I think the discussion generally would not have been much different if we had not been ignored. I feel like men generally shy away from topics such as rape. There is just no way for us to come out on the good side no matter what we say. I want to say that when discussing virtual rape, one voice is not more valid than the other. BUT, in any crime, the jury stereotypically gives more creed to the account of the victim. It is very difficult for the defendant to appear sympathetic. That is why defense attorneys are paid so much money. I can’t say how the rest of the class would react to the rape victim being a man, but I would have reacted much differently. Being a man who is in a relationship with another man, I cannot even imagine what would happen if something were to happen to my boyfriend. It was difficult even writing that sentence. I don’t want to have to think about something happening to him. I will probably have trouble going to sleep tonight now thinking about that. And it kills me to think that there are so many men out there who have experienced rape and believe that they cannot tell anyone about it because it is a so called “women only” crime. There is so much perceived shame that goes along with man on man rape. There is no network or support group for men in this situation. Any medical information about what to do in such a situation is next to none. I know that I have never been informed on what to do if I were to be raped. Why is this information not available to everyone? Looking back now, I don’t believe a less aggressive teaching method would have got the message across as well. It definitely would not have forced us to think very hard about the issue. That is where the method lends itself to the madness.

I personally loved the discussion and left class that day feeling invigorated and connected to my fellow classmates.

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Et tu, Brutsch?

This post is in response to the interview conducted by CNN correspondent Drew Griffin of an Arlington man who lost his job after being outed as an infamous internet troll. The interview was aired by Anderson Cooper on his television show Anderson 360. The link to the first part of the video is included below.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/18/us/internet-troll-apology/index.html

While we have covered this story in class already, I decided to revisit it after a night at the bars in downtown Fort Worth. Let me explain, some friends and I were out at Bar Louie off of West 7th street a couple Fridays ago when I looked up and saw this on the flat screen above the bar…

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I was completely surprised to see Anderson covering the story since I have not yet seen any of our other articles gain national attention. I proceeded to tell my friends the condensed version of the story. I think they were only mildly intrigued because the guy ended up being from Arlington.

I, on the other hand, decided to go back and watch the video of the interview as soon as I got home since no one, of course, could hear any of the interview at the bar. What struck me first was Brutsch’s attitude. The reader of the article we read in class does not get the sense of the detestable attitude of this man. I was taken aback by the award that Brutsch received from Reddit.com for his “contributions” to the website. I could not believe that this award was nominated by his peers as well. This individual actually got accolades for posting violently explicit material listed under the categories of “Jailbait,” R-rape Jokes,” and most detestable of all – “Dead Children.” There could be a special level of hell for those who make so called “gallows humor” at these kinds of subjects. Brutsch was so apparently proud of this trophy. Without being prompted to or asked to, he brought the trophy to the interview to show it off. He didn’t have to but he wanted to. He wanted to show the world that he had been congratulated for his “work” so that the consequences of his actions might seem a little too harsh. Reddit has since expressed its regret for awarding Brutsch the trophy, but there is no taking it back now.

Brutsch says he has a knack for pushing people’s buttons. In fact he claims to have a “gift.” He glorifies and builds himself up in this way. He prides himself on possessing this gift and seems to delight in the suffering of others. He gets some sort of high.  I believe this urge comes from a deeper place. Brutsch craves attention that he would never get otherwise. This part of him that lacks affection and craves attention acts out much like a child would do. Not only does Brutsch like pushing people’s buttons to get attention, he thoroughly enjoys enraging people. In my opinion, this man has dark demons inside of him.

I couldn’t help but wonder how this man lives with himself. As I watched and listened to him during the interview, I noticed a technique that he was using. He never refers to himself posting these explicit pictures or doing the acts that he does. Instead, Brutsch says that his pseudonym “violentacrez” did the act. By not admitting directly that he – Michael Brutsch – did these acts, he separates and distances himself from the acts that he is accused of doing. Almost as if this is a person he does not know. This hearkens back to the Robert Louis Stevenson story Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This story is actually an excellent metaphor for how people interact online. You can be one person in public and a completely different, warped other person online. One does not have to feel the guilt of one’s actions if one places the guilt on another person. However, just as Mr. Hyde encounters his fall at the end of the novel, Brutsch’s alternate identity was eventually his downfall.

Throughout Cooper’s coverage of the story, his loath for Brutsch is apparent. He is very critical of Brutsch’s character or lack thereof. In some moments, Cooper’s analysis is too emotionally driven that he comes off as hateful. But for the most part I agree with Cooper’s statements in which he says that Brutsch is a small person and that he is solely responsible for the vile online activity.

A pivotal moment in the interview is when Drew Griffin asks, “Are you apologizing for what you did or are you making an excuse for what you did?” Brutsch hesitates and replies, “Well I – I am to some degree apologizing…” Wait, what? To some degree? Not completely? Not wholeheartedly offering an apology to those affected? Where is the much needed sincerity and humility? No doubt these qualities are buried under Brutsch’s brutish character flaws and lack of moral fiber.

My outrage climaxed when Brutsch said that one of his motivations for making the Reddit pages was that he was playing to an audience of mostly college students. This boldly implies that college students in general are wildly immature and can be amused by vile and excessively explicit subject matter such as rape jokes and images of deceased children. I loudly object to such a depiction of college students. Shame on you Michael Brutsch for calling out an entire age group or category of people and making any sort of assumption about their collective interests. The majority of college students are very positively motivated people who are working to be contributing members of society, unlike how Brutsch has ended up. He is not a contributer to society. He is a detractor to society and has robbed countless of their innocence. I shudder to think how many young adolescent, impressionable, pre-pubescent teenage boys that Brutsch has warped the minds of. Young teenage boys are stereotypically already very immature at that age and these kinds of Reddit webpages online would fuel that fire and warp these young men’s minds about women and how to treat women even more. Again, shame on you Brutsch. You truly are a very small person of incredibly despicable character.

(walks away from the computer and calms down)

I actually found Brutsch to be somewhat well-spoken and that surprised me to an extent. There’s a part of me that thinks that Brutsch expected to be caught one day and had this all planned in his mind. He mentions this genre of humor labeled “gallows humor.” Brutsch claims that this is the genre that he published his materials under. To me there is no humor at all in what he posted.

Just like a cheating spouse, Michael Brutsch is not sorrowful for his actions and for the ramifications of his actions… he is only sorry for getting caught.

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I Hate WordPress

I am beside myself at 2:03am…

 

I just wrote the longest blogpost I have ever written for this class. I had so much drive and energy and I explained myself so well and in one instant…. wordpress malfunctions and deletes every word that I had written. I don’t know what to say. 

 

I’m throwing in the towel, giving up, and going to bed.

 

virtually defeated.

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An Internet Troll Exposed

An Internet Troll Exposed

Saw this two Friday’s ago at Bar Louie in Fort Worth off West 7th! After my friends saw me taking a picture of the TV they asked me what the story was about and I proceeded to explain the entire story and all of the different arguments that the class had when we discussed it. We ended up having a pretty interesting 1st Amendment rights discussion and the bartender even started listening. I guess we were pretty distracting when we started loudly using keywords like “internet porn” and “rape jokes.” I’m dedicating my next blog post to this subject.

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The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You

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This latest article has by far been one of my favorites this semester. I’m not sure why but the idea of being watched constantly by unassociated passers by or active pursuers has really fascinated me.

I consider myself a people watcher. I have no problem arriving to DFW airport several hours ahead of my departure time to people watch. To me, there is something very introspective about sitting yourself down and analyzing the quirks, patterns, and tendencies of your fellow man. There have been times when this practice of mine has made me feel drawn ever closer to my fellow passengers, and then there have been times when observing a particularly disdainful character has made me feel pushed farther away from their association.

Many would call this casual hobby of people watching by another name: surveillance. When I hear the term, surveillance, I think of an infantry sending ahead scouts in a war tactic to see what the enemy has in store for them ahead. I think of secret FBI probes into Al Qaida terrorist cells. I think of a head hunter pounding the pavement of New York City scanning the crowds for his next future employer. In short, I never really thought about the kind of surveillance that Albrechtslund talks about until I read his article.

After reading this article, it conjured up memories of the night that I first created my Facebook account on the top of my bunk bed during my Sophomore year of High School. After my sister told my dad (as little sister’s are always inclined to do) that I had created a Facebook account, he proceeded to sit down and give me a lecture (as fathers are always inclined to do) about the wiles of putting one’s information online. He said that Internet stalkers (“voyeuristic surveyers”) would use my information to find where I live and kidnap me. For the most part he was being a good dad and simply using scare tactics, but do my dad and Albrechtslund have something here?

Sure, people Facebook “creep” every day and we consider that a minor form of surveillance, right? So what is too far? I believe we draw the line at the who is doing the creeping and how familiar we are with them. For instance, this is no news but Facebook allows you to make private whatever you wish to keep private and you can even allow only certain people to see certain aspects of your information. Like if I wanted to keep my weekend drive through wedding in Las Vegas a secret then I could effectively block my mom specifically from seeing all my check-ins in Las Vegas, all of my pictures, and even my changed relationship status. Mom’s excluded, what about people we don’t know or even hostile individuals? There is a very distinct line in the sand here. That is a boundary. 

I guess what me, my dad, and Albrechtslund are all saying is what people have always said. Everything is okay in moderation. You must moderate what you put on these social networking sites and moderate closely who has access to said information. To me, this establishes a closed-circuit type of interaction with the web. A closed circuit that information cannot freely flow out of. This is the type of Internet experience that one should strive for when interacting with social networking sites.

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