Hello everyone. Today we're going to talk about how we can cope with the media environment in today's changing global landscape, as well as how we can cope with life by creatively and playfully engaging media affordances. Welcome. Let me first tell you a little bit about myself. I'm actually a proud CU Buff. I went to CU for undergrad and even for my doctoral degree. I'm proud to be coming to you from CMCI, to help use my research in global media, digital and social media and trauma to help us navigate the complex media landscape we're living in. We're all spending more time than normal with our tech as a matter of necessity, and to keep ourselves connected while we socially distance. My research, as you'll see in today's lecture, will give us some strategies to be more deliberate about the media we consume while also trying to get the best from the media wherever we came. A quick agenda for today's presentation. Today I want to help us understand why our consumption drives us, tends to use up and govern our time, as well as make us feel downright crappy sometimes. As far as media use, we love to consume, but we also hate to consume. We rely on media, but we judge ourselves and others for that reliance, and to understand this, we'll talk about media power. Using Nick Couldry on media power and Sophia Noble on algorithms of oppression and concepts for media and literacy, we will discover how to ask the right questions and recognize the way algorithms and technologies dictate what we see. We will talk about challenges in discerning truth. We'll talk about triangulation of sources. We will think about how we can be media literate and find ways to seek the truth in our media consumption, especially when it comes to news about the pandemic. We'll also talk about media coping, probably not a phrase you've heard before. I'll show you a quick case study about novel and interesting ways to use media to do something different, to create community and help people cope with trauma. This will let us know that we don't have to be passive consumers. We can take advantage of the platforms we use and exploit their strengths even well knowing the downsides and pitfalls of media ownership, media access, and media power. Media will be used in this case study to make sense of suffering, so finally, I will help you all see how you could potentially use the media creatively in your own lives to build community and connection as best as is possible, even when we're all being asked to isolate. Let's jump now to media power. The process we call media, according to Nick Couldry, is the historic result of countless battles over who has the power to represent the reality of others. That's really important. Who has the power to represent the reality of others? Living in a time where we can't be going out in the world and examining the world ourselves, we count on the media to represent the reality of others. When it's skewed, we get a skewed vision of reality, and it's not because we're not smart, diligent consumers, it's because of the nature of the beast. We can all recognize that the media have power, but their power comes in different forms. To be a media literate and consume critically, which is what the goal of today's lecture ultimately is, it's important we understand what Couldry calls the paradox of media power. That media have extreme power and influence over vast swaths of society, from politics to business. Yet, because media rely on the social, cultural, political world for content to keep their own business running, they also yield power to the various sectors they influence, control or maintain. To put it differently, in some ways, the media is a space through which other powerful institutions, like political institutions or businesses, for example, battle over power. We see this often in everything from pundit debates on cable news, to journalists and politicians at press briefings. In this way, media power is enacted through the media rather than by the media. The media is the space through which powerful forces wage their battles. Yet, there's a second space of media power that's equally as important for us to understand. Media are powerful in their own right. Media have grown to be an influential institution of their own. Determining how social, cultural, political events are represented and thus remembered in the historical record. When we think of the media in this way, we recognize that media institutions are the writers of our history, and have immense power in influencing the way we recognize and understand global events. Currently, we understand so much of the global events happening for engagement with media at various levels, from social media to news media, and depending on our media diet, or perceptions of the state of the world can be quite different. To be media literate, we have to recognize how much power the media have in helping us articulate our own positions about the world, and we must ask questions about media power. The media are no longer what we call the fourth estate. Quadri says, "Far from media, simply being there to guard us against the overweening influence of other forms of power, especially government, media power is itself part of what power watchers need to watch." We used to think of the media as a space to speak truth to power, to guard us from the undue influence and power mongering of others. Yet now, Quadri tells us that media power is itself something we need to watch out for. He says media power remains a very significant dimension of contemporary reality. Media power acts mostly invisibly in society, but historical global events such as the French Revolution, the cultural revolution against Soviet rule, and the Iranian Revolution of 1979, teach us that one-sided representations in global media, whether that be global or political, will change the course of history and the outcomes of major events. He says what was missing from these major conflicts was access by all sides to global means of self-representation, which could change the space on which these conflicts were played out. When we are only seeing one side of the story, that is the side of the story that we will be compelled to act on, and that's people with power in society to vote, to post on social media, to articulate our needs of students in a classroom. Only having one side of the story vastly limits our ability to critically engage with global, political, cultural content. Beyond what Quadri argues about media power in the digital age is continuously shifting. Sophia Noble in her great book, Algorithms of Oppression, talks about the power of algorithms in the age of neoliberalism and the way those digital decisions reinforce oppressive social relationships and enact new modes of racial profiling. She calls this, "technological redlining." She sheds light on the way that algorithms used to govern our media use, especially on social media, have inequality around race and class built into them, yet another invisible form of media power we must pay attention to. So as media literate consumers, we must not just ask questions about who owns the media, who benefits from the media, but what invisible prejudices are built into the very platforms we use to access, share, and participate in media? On your screen, you'll see I think her most important quote, "On the Internet and in our everyday uses of technology, discrimination is also embedded in computer code and increasingly in artificial intelligence technologies that we are relying on by choice or not. I believe that artificial intelligence will become a major human rights issue in the 21st century. We are only beginning to understand the long-term consequences of these decision-making tools in both masking and deepening social inequality. This is quite a powerful statement around media power. The world is really traumatic, the media are our window out of the world of isolation and social distancing and our window into the world. I make the case today that this is extra important to be media literate right now because we're living in a time of trauma. What I mean by that is collectively, we're all suffering from the woes that 2020 has illuminated and the suffering COVID-19 has led to. The cleanest definition of trauma I can give you is from one of my favorite scholars who defines a traumatic event as any event that leads to anxiety, confusion, helplessness, and depression. That comes from Ronnie Jana Foreman. She's a psychiatrist that said that these events are events that change the way we make sense of the world. We all have a framework or what we can call a meaning-making schema we use to make sense of the world. When something traumatic happens, our ways of understanding the world no longer work. For example, we all maybe make the assumption that we will get up, go to work, or go to school, come home at the end of the day and be healthy at a baseline. COVID-19 has taken away our ability to have that routine that gives our every day life meaning. This can be quite the challenge, but it's not hopeless. If we actually learn how to leverage our media use, we can manage the overwhelmed feelings we get when we go down a digital rabbit hole of the news or the latest event, and we can start to build new ways of knowing the world in conversation with other media users. In fact, while the media exposes us to so much trauma, the media also offer us a possibility in remaking a new world, a new meaning-making schema, structuring a new reign to make sense of our every day. What does this all have to do with media literacy? Before we can creatively engage in the media, we need to understand where to find truth and trust in media. What kinds of questions do we need to ask of the media we consume? What kind of spaces do we need to challenge? Because ultimately the problem is we are socially conditioned to consume. We live in a neoliberal capitalist society. The media has a lot of power and it's not always easy to discern our boundaries on what's real. Between digital algorithms and how they cater to our basest instincts and diminish our ability to have true agency over what we consume, we go down digital rabbit holes. We see prejudice built into the consumption we have. But we can change this. My first question as we pursue media literacy is around how we think of the media. How can we remake our media use to help us cope with what is happening in the world? Some of us might think of the media as a cesspool of opinion and false news or others yet might see it as a space for the powerful to communicate. Or it's a space for us to share and connect with friends, enjoy humor or relief from our everyday. In fact, it's all those things, but we don't often think about mediated spaces as spaces of possibility. But today, I want you to think, what if we did? What if we disengage from partisan debates and instead use our media with an eye towards empathy and care in order to find like-minded peers to help us to feel valued? We can do this first through media literacy. Some of the elements of media literacy are listed on the screen in front of you. We must engage media with critical thinking. We make the judgment about the media and the world. We don't let the media tell us what our judgments are. We have to understand the process of mass communication. We have to understand conglomeration of media institutions. How media are owned by people with financial interests in the stories that they share. We have to have an awareness of the impact of media on the individual and society. It's not just about me and how I feel when I consume, but it's also about what this does in terms of production of culture. We must develop strategies for analyzing and discussing media messages and develop effective and responsible production skills because with social media, with TikTok, with Snapchat, with Twitter, with Facebook, we are all producers of the media. We must strive to be truthful, to be fair, and to be honest in our representations. Understanding the ethical and moral obligations of media practitioners also becomes important. Do these people identify as a journalist? Do they identify as an entertainer? How do they position their news outlet or their website? Is it news in fact, or is it entertainment? All of that will help us understand the ethical and moral obligations they have to their audiences. To be able to think critically one must first think of the platforms we use, and what they afford us in terms of design. Crucial to media literacy, I argue is platform affordances. For example, the platform affordances of Twitter allow us to share quickly and reshare, to retweet really easily, rapidly proliferating messages and connecting peoples through hashtags. At the same time Twitter curates what we see in our feeds through their algorithm. We must recognize that the affordances of connection through rapid sharing may be limited by the way the algorithm suggests content for us. Instagram affords us a way to connect visually. For visual learners and visual thinkers, this is a great way to access the Internet. However, sharing for example, or resharing something that's been already shared is more challenging. Instagram too has algorithms curating our feeds for us. But what we can do is recognize the boundaries of what we're not able to do on a platform, and what we can do, the affordances, what it makes possible for us, and we can exploit those affordances. For visual communicators, Instagram might offer loads of possibility as long as we also recognize the media power on the platform, who owns it, who benefits from it, and what do we get from it when we use it? Versus what harm might it have on us. I for example, tend to fall for every advertisement on Instagram, so I leave Instagram every once in a while because it has a particular harm for me. To be a media literate, we seek to maximize the good and still recognize and be critical of the bad in media. Or recognize the media power and be rightfully critical of it. Broadly, there are a few questions to ask when trying to recognize what the truth of any message might be. When consuming news, how to understand what you can trust, and you can apply these questions to news articles and social media posts. When I look at anything online, I always ask some media literacy questions. Who owns this source? Is it owned by somebody with a vested political interest in one-party within another? Who wrote this piece? Is the writer credible? Credibility is a hard thing to pinpoint. Thinking of credibility, it can come from many places. It can come from an education that makes them knowledgeable on a certain subject. It can be their experience in the world, either participating in a protest or examining an event in real life. You have to be able to see who originated an idea of post, a concept, an article, to enable you to verify your credibility. If you can't originate the idea or the post, throw it anywhere in a reverse Google search. See if you can find who wrote it. Are they a community leader? Are they followed by folks you trust and recognize? That could give them credibility. Do these folks have a vested political interest in pushing this message? Will there be an outcome to their benefit? If so, why not? I then ask, what are the goals of this piece of media? If you can't ascertain the goals, you might want to make sure you can triangulate this source with a credible one. The goal might just be to inform as much of news media is meant to do. But if it feels like it has a slight bias, trust yourself and see if you can find another article on the same topic that might frame it in a different way. Think about whether or not you've heard of this website, outlet or institution before. Are they often derided as being biased or are they considered fair and balanced? Do they declare themselves as fair as balanced, or do other institutions that fact check other media foundations or political fact check them for being fair? Finally, do they have a specific political outcome that would benefit them financially, socially, or otherwise in mind? We always want to think about power and politics when we look at media. We all end up in what Eli Pariser calls filter bubbles. These are algorithmic filters on the content we consume online, and they reach everything from Google to Facebook and everything in between. They query and give you media that is filtered to encourage you to keep clicking. You have to be your own media gatekeeper. Because long gone are the days where editors who were invested in the truth or media gatekeepers. We've given that job over to machines and algorithms. To break your filter bubbles, follow reasonable folks with different points of view than your own. Follow topics that while you may not be interested in, could offer some nuance to topics you do care about, or something that you could learn from. Next, don't fall for click-bait. I do all the time. I always want to know that juicy gossip that's going on, but I'm working on it. The less we click on these advertising algorithmically driven items, the less likely we are to get more of that kind of content. I always ask, is this media being curated for me, and how might I be able to change it? Sometimes it might be as simple as going in incognito mode in your browser, and doing the same Google search to see what responses vary. This will help you create new digital spaces, you can be proud to belong in. What might this look like? Sometimes it looks like communities of interest coming together regardless of politics and power, to use the media to facilitate something. Here we see a group of people, that use digital media community making and coping to create action. What you see on the screen in front of you, is an example from the group that call themselves Brain Tumor Social Media. It was started by the two people on your screen Liz and Charlie. They were not necessarily internet savvy, but wanted to connect and they created a space to talk about their various brain tumor diagnoses because both Liz and Charlie had Astrocytoma and Glioblastomas cancerous brain tumors. I actually found them when I was diagnosed with my own Benign brain tumor and I had to have brain surgery. As brain tumor social media established itself on Twitter, it progressed to monthly tweet chats, where Liz and Charlie and a variety of experts and friends they had curated through this community, came together for monthly tweet chats, which still happen every Sunday night. This led all the way to a hospital waiting room, where Charlie came to support me in my brain surgery. From their Wikipedia page which they just recently got as a point of great pride, Brain Tumor Social Media is a patient and care partner run Grassroots Twitter community, that typically host tweet chats on the first Sunday of the month. Tweet chats are facilitated by the Twitter account BTSM chat, or open to the public and are the Twitter equivalent of a support group. Participants are typically brain tumor patients and care partners, along with medical professionals and researchers specializing in brain tumors and brain cancers. So, here we see two people who didn't really know each other, they had met through a support group, and they came together with a hashtag. Through this hashtag, they brought together an extraordinary community, to help one another coupe. From their start to now, they've been able to help people with 120 different types of brain tumors. They've been able to advocate for brain tumor awareness and research and they've been able to help quite a few people. It's among many healthcare hashtag communities growing on Twitter and healthcare Twitter has its own culture which includes disseminating information and research, discussing specific topics and sharing information and advocacy. This was such a powerful group in my life that Charlie even came to my wedding. BTSM started as an online space for people to share information by connecting people based on only one unique characteristic. It became a very real community. It became a community that support one another, lift one another and shows up for one another in times of extreme need. How did Charlie and Liz build a community? Well, they were creative, they were playful, they were extremely flexible in what their hashtag stand for. It wasn't just going to stand for the type of brain cancer that they had. It's going to stand for all brain tumors, benign, cancerous, and otherwise. They were playful. Muriel Robinson and Marsh, media scholars say the most beneficial media affordance is our ability to be playful. They say "Social networking sites which combined blogs, profiles and photo and video sharing, can be viewed as cultural resources which are used by young people as a way to perform and perhaps play with their identity." Take one aspect of something that's important to you. Think about how that might be space, where you can connect online. Because we all live in what we call it third space of play online where so much as possible. Muriel Robinson and Marsh go on to say, "Importantly, it is in this third space that the meaning of cultural objects is negotiated and in which dominant discourses can be contested." When we enter the space that's not purely online, it connects to our offline world, and it's not purely offline because it's online. We create a third space. In this third space, we create new meanings. We create new meaning-making schema. We allow ourselves to exist in powerful and interesting ways. We all know how to navigate these spaces on a practical level. We know how to send a tweet, but how often do we go into them with a deliberate desire to play with the meanings the world has given us or to play with newer meanings? In the times of trauma, meaning gets taken away from us, sense and routine and logic goes out the window. How can we do as Liz and Charlie did, and give it back? My invitation to you, is to try to make your own community find a friend either online or offline that you have something unique and interesting in common with. Try to find a routine rate to connect with them that is safe, digital and open to others and be flexible. If the first hashtag you tries, gets no attraction, try again. If more people want to join the community that perhaps you didn't have in mind, think about the flexible boundaries you want in your community. As your community grows to ensure wellness, create healthy boundaries to maintain integrity and value, but always be open and flexible. Finally, some easy tips from The School of Life of philosophy and media outlet in London, they created these cards and you can actually buy these cards to digitally connect in the time of coronavirus on their website. But they created them to find ways to connect beyond the suggestions I've given you. You'll see that like the advice I give, being playful, honest, and striving for connection is the best way in these times for media literate consumer to participate. While we want, of course, know the spaces we do this in and be media literate and critical about the production of medium. We can build spaces, we can connect with somebody digitally. We can strive to reveal parts of ourselves that we've not shown before. We can be playful and strive for a degree of emotional connection that would be impressive, an authentic. You can then keep yourself safe, yet built a community of action and connection during an isolating time of life. Finally, the community doesn't have to be huge to be meaningful. Take the community that you build and invest in it, give it your time, give it your energy. Remember to ask your media literacy questions to make sure that you are participating in spaces and platforms that are powerful and important. Finally, be playful. We can be creative and playful with even the most challenging ideas, just as Liz and Charlie did with brain tumors. If you want to keep looking into some of this content, I've included some chapters for you in your materials, some chapters from Sophia Noble, Nick Couldry, a YouTube video from Eli Pariser as well as the New York Times piece on the coronavirus and how we are living in these technologically-driven times. Thanks for being here and for your openness to learning. If you want to learn more about trauma and the media or just media literacy, let's meet. Come find me, let's chat in Zoom. Have a great day and have a great rest of your semester.