This post is my last post for this class. That is an ominous way to start this post, but it is the truth! So the final assignment is a reflection on what I had originally thought “digital citizenship” meant before the course.

Before the course, I thought that “digital citizenship” was about the way the Internet is a deeply integrated part of the world. I thought it was about how the Internet makes people more social but also more closed off. My final thoughts were about content that is on the Internet and how we consume said content.

I would say that this course has definitely opened my eyes to what the Internet can be. I feel that as someone who grew up as the Internet progressed, I thought that I knew the Internet pretty well. But this class showed me that digital citizenship is much more about the participation involved with the Internet. The Internet has a lot of power to pull people from all over the world together and grow a community. Each social media site shows its own type of community and each community can affect the world in different ways. My opinion of the Internet has changed. I don’t think that having access to the Internet in our pockets through our phones makes us more closed off. I truly think the Internet connects the world in such a way that we don’t even realize how connected we are. For example, my boyfriend started a personal blog that he writes from little, old, humble Camarillo, and he gets international readers! I started a YouTube page more for myself like a video diary, but the reality is that anyone in the world can watch my videos if they want to. The idea that the whole world is connected is insane to me. I didn’t think that digital citizenship meant a type of worldly citizenship.

I still believe in the importance of the content that users put out and also the content we absorb. Because it’s so easy to put out one’s own content for everyone to see, we must be aware of what we put out. Any content that we put out is a form of engaging and a form of participating in the world wide web. I think that this aspect of the Internet calls us to be more aware of what we put out and what others are doing on the Internet.

The different skills that I learned from this course that I will definitely carry with me is crap-detection, lurking, and the comfort of engaging. The Internet gives us access to the world and its information, it’s important to utilize it (and utilize it correctly and knowledgeably!). Lurking and engaging are techniques of research that I had not used before this class, and I think it’s extremely useful. With these techniques, I’m able to gather knowledge from people all over the world, and I think that exposing myself to different walks of life and knowledge will in turn make me more knowledgeable.

To my readers, whether you’re from my class or otherwise, thank you so much for reading along this semester. I’m not sure yet if I will continue blogging, although, this experience has been extremely enjoyable for me. I think that it has also broadened my writing style. There’s not the pressure of a grade so much with these blog posts, so I feel that my writing and my ideas flow more freely onto the screen/page. If anything, I may continue to blog about my experiences at school.

Again, thank you so much! I hope you’ve had fun, because I definitely have.

The assignment for this week strayed from our usual topic. I was not required to do more research or engaging in social media, instead the assignment leaned more towards traditional academics. I read an article titled “Turning Students into Good Digital Citizens”  and watched a TED Talk titled “From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able.” The next step is for me to compare the two and bring in examples to support my ideas.

In summary, these two sources are talking about the difference of being present in a world of media and knowledge as opposed to being a participant in a world of media and knowledge. Digital citizenship is more than just being present online. Rather, people have a responsibility to participate in a meaningful way in the hope of making the world better. The Internet is extremely powerful because it allows people a public voice that was not as accessible before the Internet. I talked about the feeling of a “void” when posting on the Internet. But in reality, even if I personally feel that my content isn’t being read, it is still on the Internet for anyone and everyone to see. The Internet may feel like a void, but my content is still accessible; my voice is still free to affect the world in whatever small or large amount that it does.

This is true for all users of the Internet; it is not exclusive to content-creators. The megaphone that the Internet can be is available to anyone who has access to it. If users of the Internet choose to put content onto the Net—whether it’s by a blog post (like this class), videos on YouTube, photos on Instagram, tweets on Twitter, or statuses on Facebook—then their voice is put out for the world to hear. Digital citizenship calls us to use this access to this public voice to good, meaningful use.

There are some instances that I’ve witnessed on the Internet where the collected voices of online-users were used in order to help a person or a cause. Earlier this year, a young student named Ahmed Mohamed, 14-years old, made a clock and it was mistaken for a bomb. He was arrested by Texas law enforcement and called a threat to his school. After the outrage of the racial profiling done against Ahmed, social media exploded with support for the student.

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The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed became widely used by people on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (as far as I know). Eventually, the collective voices and the hashtag became so viral that reactions from big names everywhere were responding. President Obama, himself, even tweeted from the @POTUS account on Twitter! Eventually, Ahmed was released and was able to receive all the support that was given to him by the public.

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Another example that I can think of that shows how people on the Internet can use their voice to help another is by the website GoFundMe. GoFundMe is similar to the website Kickstarter in the aspect that both websites ask for donations from people. While Kickstarter is for creative projects looking for backers, GoFundMe is more for personal funding such as medical bills. Below is an image of a man named Matt who is looking to get skin removal surgery after a losing weight has left him with an excess of skin. I remember seeing a video that he posted of himself shirtless to share himself and his story. He let himself be vulnerable and to promote health and self-love. His video gained a lot of attention by people on social media, and he was featured in several magazines including People. I found that he started a GoFundMe in order to help himself in a way that he cannot financially do on his own.

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Anyone who could donate would do so, and if someone could not donate, they would at the very least share it so that their cause gets a boost and hopefully reaches people who can donate to them. While the aid is most beneficial from people who can donate, people on the Internet still have the power and the choice to share the link to help other people.

As millennials, we grew up during the transition to where the Internet became very big and very fast in a short span of time. We know the affect that the Internet carries already, and that affect can be passed onto us. We can’t sit idly by on a media that is so large and can help and change so much. As the article and the video both stated in their own ways, we have the tools to participate, but we must make the effort to do so.

This week was the final installment of engaging into social media for our social issues and topics. I tried something a little different with my engaging. Communicating via tweets and Instagram comments on strangers’ photos can sometimes feel like shouting into the void that the Internet can be, so I posted a status on Facebook that explained the situation and asked for my friends on Facebook for their input about LGBT rights and representation.

Although, the idea of the void did not stop me from tweeting YA author John Green for his opinion on the subject. John Green, aside from being an author I admire, keeps a presence on social media via YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and I’m sure through other medias. He tries to be very up to date with social issues, so if I were to get his input on representation, that would have been interesting to hear (I did not receive any response from Mr. Green, but I’m sure he’s a busy man).

While everyone I connect to on Facebook are labeled by the website as my “friends,” in truth, many of them are simply acquaintances. A lot of the people I connect to on Facebook are people I knew at some point in my life; they remain my Facebook friends for the convenience of staying in touch. I knew that opening the question of the adequacy of LGBT representation in media to my connections on Facebook would allow people I don’t talk to to say their opinion. Instead of shouting into a void, I felt like I was shouting more into a megaphone directing my words at a room of people who are in no obligation to respond to me but, because they know me personally, may feel comfortable enough to respond, despite the frequency of our conversations. And, luckily, I was right! I publicly was given many “likes” on my Facebook status, which lets me know that people are reading it and are probably interested in LGBT representation as well (this is the type of interaction I would receive on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, as well: “likes” and “favorites”). Some people, a couple that I talk to presently and one that I don’t really talk to any more, messaged me privately and we discussed some of the topics surrounding LGBT representation.

Interestingly, I found that my Facebook contacts yielded similar opinions to the posts that I found way back when I was lurking social media. I’m glad that my engaging helped to find this much insight on the topic. I think it shows that the entire generation is on the same page of LGBT representation: there’s not enough of it, and it’s important to have it accurately portrayed for future generations.

On the topic of general representation (and not just LGBT representation), I got to speak with some friends about how children of color or of minority (whether it is sexuality, gender, race, etc.) will not be able to imagine themselves as something until they see it for themselves. This brought to mind the two little girls who dressed up as Zendaya and as Lupita Nyong’o in their dresses they wore to the Oscars. It was more than just seeing people who looked like them at the Oscars, though (below is a picture comparing the little girl and Zendaya; I couldn’t find the exact picture for Lupita and the girl). Zendaya stood up for herself and her heritage when her look with locs was criticized, and Lupita spoke about the importance of following their dreams: “may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” I believe that that’s why I’m so drawn to research LGBT representation; it’s important for children of all shakes of life to feel like they are valid and that they exist, that they’re represented.

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This week’s assignment was to continue participation in social media. Similar to my results last week, I did not get feedback from the many users of the Internet. I went to Instagram to attempt to make contact with other users. I commented on several images that were shared in the #lgbtrepresentation tag asking how users felt about representation in the media with the preface that I’m gathering information for a class. I did not receive any replies.

While this was somewhat discouraging, I continued to at the very least lurk the Internet while awaiting responses to my comments and replies to posts. I looked to Twitter for different accounts that I felt had active users that spoke about LGBT rights and topics, and I found the @BuzzFeedLGBT account! I thought that this account was a very good source especially because BuzzFeed is a site that many young adults browse for information (whether that information is a food recipe or something more worthwhile). I scrolled through their feed and favorited some tweets, but I did not find anything that I felt warranted a retweet.

Unfortunately, from Tuesday to Saturday, I came down with a cold and this limited the amount of time I spent online. Because of this, I did not do too much participation or any browsing online. Hopefully this week, I will be able to commit more time to the assignment at hand. In the meantime, I may continue to participate online; maybe this week will produce more activity!

This week, we are stepping out of the shadows of lurking and finally beginning to participate in the social culture of our topics.

I’m continuing to use Twitter as a way to participate in the topic of LGBT representation (this is one of the sites that we are required/allowed/expected to participate in). And although Tumblr was not included in the list of expected websites, I also wanted to participate in the Tumblr culture because I feel that the users of Tumblr have a lot to say about the topic and are all willing to share. I was not sure how much I could get from Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, but I do plan to try participating in Facebook and Instagram in the continuation of this challenge.

Initially, I attempted to dive right into participating on both websites. On both Tumblr and Twitter, I posted on my personal accounts (while using the hashtag for “#lgbt representation” and “#univ349dc”) reaching out to anyone who follows me and other users who don’t follow me but follow the hashtag results. I simply asked about everyone’s opinion about the current state of LGBT representation and how they feel that it can be improved. As I was half expecting, I didn’t get much interaction on either site. On Twitter, fellow classmate Melissa, responded to my tweet with her opinion, and that interaction can be seen on the Tagboard for #univ349dc. But I didn’t get any interactions beyond that.

On Tumblr, I did basically the same thing: reach out to my followers and the hashtag for opinions. For a while, I only got “likes” on my post which shows me that people agree that the topic of representation is one that needs to be talked about. But later in the day, I received texts from my friend that I made through Tumblr who lives in Canada asking how he can help with my participation and told me that he would draft a response to my question with his opinion of LGBT representation. He reblogged (Tumblr’s version of sharing/reposting) my post onto his blog with his response which you can read here. He carried a lot of insight on the subject, and I was glad to see that not only did he have something to say about the subject, but also he helped my reaching out to my followers by broadcasting my post on his blog which reaches out to his followers. Now, hopefully, I have the attention of both our crowds.

This week’s challenge has been just that: challenging. I don’t feel that my voice is being heard among the thousands (maybe millions?) of other users on the websites, but hopefully during this next week of participation, I can get in touch with other users of Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and maybe Instagram to learn more about this topic.

This week, we continued to lurk on social websites for our social issues. I continued my lurking in the “#lgbt representation” tags of Tumblr and Twitter this week, and found pretty much the same results as my last week’s lurking. Because I was finding similar things this week, my lurking time per day went down to 5 minutes. However, I did notice that both websites had gone into more detail for either their satirical views of LGBT representation or the information they find about new representation.

Here are two screenshots from the Tumblr tag on the issueof LGBT representation. You can see in the first image the way that the humorous attitude works around still addressing the problem. The poster will talk with high amounts of sarcasm while still eloquently talking about their opinion on the subject.

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On the other side of some of the Tumblr posts, users will post about how more people should watch a certain movie or TV shows because they have more representation that one would originally think. The users of Tumblr know that if a show has high ratings and is watched by many people (and it must be watched when it airs, not streamed online), then there is a higher chance that the show will be renewed after its season ends. The more season a quality show receives, the greater possibility the show has to spread positive representation.

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Some of the other users will continue to share links of well-known celebrities that positively represent the LGBT community. These users understand the importance of “big names” in media and their opinion on the subject. A user on Tumblr shared this article about Ellen Page speaking about LGBT roles being called “brave” when they are cast: http://worldofwonder.net/ellen-page-stop-calling-straight-actors-playing-lgbt-characters-brave-its-borderline-offensive/ . When LGBT roles are labeled as “brave” for actors to be in, it puts these roles into a sort of light that can be intimidating and only for courageous actors. But in reality, TV should really normalize LGBT roles and not call them “brave” so that they can be more accessible to actors of all expertise.

Twitter had another example of the satirical attitude about LGBT representation. Users of both social medias are tired of TV shows not properly representing the sexual orientations, but at the same time, this has gone on for so long that people are used to this mistreatment. This Twitter user clearly shares that he has had enough of the lack of representation in TV.

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Twitter users also share links because of the character limits: videos sometimes can encompass what a user wishes to say but doesn’t have the word count to do so. This Twitter user shared this panel interview from NYCC that showed actors talking about the LGBT community and the need for representation. (Here is a link to that video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3L7VhC78hY&feature=youtu.be ).

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My lurking this week showed many more results for up and coming TV shows. I believe that because it is the fall season, more shows are airing their new seasons and some shows are even premiering. As new TV shows air and as more episodes of a show air, everyone becomes a critic. The shows are then eyed by the eyes of many and gauged on the effectiveness of their representation.

The demographic for Tumblr and Twitter users is mainly teenagers and young adults, and this new generation seems to all be comprised of people who are all for LGBT rights (myself included). But I feel that this creates a biased view inside social media. So I turned to Facebook for a day.

Facebook is a site that is used by people of all ages (my grandparents even have an account), and I figured that this would give more diversity. I was glad to see that even Facebook had its fair share of LGBT representation talk within the search. For example, a page on Facebook provided a link to an article that talks about the best networks to watch for representation. (Here is that link: http://www.out.com/entertainment/2015/9/03/which-network-best-lgbt-representation-and-visibility ). Facebook allows for fanpages on any and every subject — including LGBT representation. This feature is not available on Tumblr or Twitter. Facebook has many LGBT representation and community pages that users can connect on.

These three sites that I lurked on seemed to have different varieties of content on the social issue I am researching, and it is refreshing to see that this issue is still a hot topic. When topics are still keenly monitored and talked about, it allows for opportunities for changes to be made. When topics simmer down, there is a chance for the subject to become just a part of life. If we want change to truly happen, we must not let this topic die down in its importance.

Part of the requirements in this transfer class is to attend three different events at the campus! I went to my first event a week or so ago and spent time with therapy dogs!

There were about 10 different dogs and their owners in the group. I got to spend time with all the dogs and speak with their owners, and I got to learn a lot about the organization that the dogs were with! Love On a Leash is comprised of people who volunteer their own dogs into the program. I thought that it was very cool and also very generous for them to share the love of their dogs with people! The dogs must be registered and trained in obedience and also have the proper temperament to be a therapy dog. Love On A Leash takes groups of owners and their dogs to colleges with students under stress about school, libraries where kids can read to them, and to old people homes where eye contact with the dogs is very calming to them. I’m sure that they go to many other places, but I liked hearing that they visit people of all ages.

I really enjoyed this first event I attended at the campus; I can’t wait for the next event I can attend!

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This week’s challenge has been to lurk on two social media sites about our respective social problems. “Lurking” is the act of simply observing what others say about a topic on social media and not personally participating in it.

For my lurking experience, I lurked on Twitter and Tumblr in “#lgbt representation” and would scroll through results and read what people posted about it. For these two sites, it did not feel too strange to be lurking, because a majority of my time spent on those social media outlets is done by browsing and scrolling my feed (occasionally liking, replying, sharing and posting my own material). However, it was different to be within a certain tag for about 10 minutes every day. I do not usually go too deep into specific subjects.

Twitter and Tumblr offered similar results while I lurked. The only limit for my results on Twitter was the character limit for each tweet. Each tweet is only allowed 140 characters; so users must be short and to the point when posting. For this reason, what I read on Twitter was very concise and straightforward: users are looking for more representation in the TV shows they watch. They also use their small amount of characters to give praise to shows that actually do give a good amount of LGBT representation. Audiences seem so hungry for this sort of representation, that even the smallest amount of appropriate representation in TV will create a flurry of tweets by the watchers. How To Get Away With Murder is a current TV show that people are especially pleased with in terms of LGBT representation.

Tumblr on the other hand has no character limit, so this allows its users to speak more about the topic. Often, the posts I see in the tag on Tumblr are of people creating compilations and lists of shows that account for moments of LGBT representation. Users of Tumblr seem especially excited when children’s cartoons and shows exhibit representation because the TV stations are informing children at a young and impressionable age that being in the LGBT spectrum is normal. Here is a post someone made that compiles different scenes of LGBT representation on television shows for children: http://13eclaire.tumblr.com/post/114361939801/what-a-time-to-be-alive . TV shows are given bounds of praise for not constantly showing heterosexuality to be the norm because there are so many different relationship types and sexualities. On Tumblr, people also give lengthy responses to questions asked by their followers on their opinion regarding LGBT representation.

For both Twitter and Tumblr, users seem to be more comfortable in speaking their mind and using their own voice. They are not afraid to let their opinion be known, despite people reading their material and responding to it. Representation is important because there is not just one type of person. In order to feel like they can connect to a show or any type of media, people need to see their own traits be portrayed in popular culture.

This week’s research invited us to search social media for our topics. In order to research social media, I felt it best to turn to Twitter for information. Twitter is used by many people because of its sheer convenience in spreading news, whether it is mundane or something worthwhile. I first looked for accounts that regularly updated about LGBT rights and activism, and I found the account https://twitter.com/gaynewsnet and I was definitely pleased to find that not only did they update their Twitter constantly, but the moderator also made sure to include relevant links. This twitter led to not only popular media celebrities supporting LGBT rights, but they also provided information relevant to the community. For example, they have tweeted about LGBT importance in politics and how the stances of presidential candidates. This Twitter account obviously wishes to keep the public informed, and I feel that this is a fantastic quality to have when being informational.

I wanted to find more information about LGBT representation, and Twitter was once again a good place to search. Without a hashtag, I simply searched “LGBT representation” on Twitter to see what sorts of tweets were making it through the Internet. I found that many people speak out about representation through their Twitter. Perhaps they feel that their voice will be more easily heard through Twitter? Either way, some of these tweets were satirical and criticized the lack of representation through a ruse of humor, and others were openly speaking about the misrepresentation of LGBT people. Whether these tweets were linked to an account that focused on LGBT topics exclusively or were from a personal account, people used Twitter to express their feelings about representation and LGBT rights.

Finally, I wanted to see what sort of information other social media outlets had for my topic. I feel that many young adults are using Instagram nowadays, however I did not find the sort of information I had hoped to find. Instead of finding usable research, I found that Instagram was mostly used to make oneself known in the LGBT community. I searched “#lgbt” into Instagram, and was led to selfies of LGBT youth and their personal accounts. While these posts don’t provide for in-depth research of my topic, it helps to show that the community is out there and existing, and they are using social media as a way to connect with each other. Social media will continue to be important for LGBT people because, if one cannot find a safe place within their home to be themselves, then maybe their safe place can be cultivated through social media.

The challenges for our class are growing to be more in depth of our topics. We are no longer simply scraping the surface of our research, but in the second component of this challenge, we are tackling scholarly articles for information towards our topic.

In the subject of LGBT rights, I am most interested in the importance of proper queer representation in a heteronormative society. Heteronormativity is the concept that at first glance, characters in media, and furthermore, every day people, are automatically assumed to be straight. This impulse driven judgment of sexuality is the result of television shows, movies, and any portrayal of two characters in love to consistently be a man and a woman. In order to be a more accepting society, media needs to represent more variety in not only its people and characters but also its When I started my research, most of the media that I had in mind were television and movies that did not represent the LGBT people properly. I found an article through the Google Scholar search engine that made me realize that there is another industry that creates characters: gaming. I forget that game producers can also be at fault for not creating LGBT characters and instead only perpetuating the heteronormativity of society. This industry, along with novels and stories, are another facet of media that need to have more variety for LGBT representation.

The other article I found dealt with the fact that for a large portion of the limited LGBT representation that exists in media, the characters are often given a common trope of a gay man and his straight female friend and their antics together. Part of this trope comes off as stereotypical, and the article calls for a change in this current misinformed representation.

I believe that working on the representation that the LGBT community receives will help nurture society into a more accepting and informed one. The company that creates Barbie dolls has begun to make dolls that are more representative of little girls everywhere. Just as it is important for children to feel they are represented in the way that dolls and toys look, generations should be able to watch, read, and witness media that presents all forms of sexuality in a positive light so that they do not feel ostracized or discriminated against.

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