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There was a man who had a face that looked a lot like me

October 16, 2011

The title of this blog post is courtesy of the song “Exploder” by Audioslave, just in case you were interested.

 

Sorry to disappoint, but this post isn’t part of my YouTube curation project; it’s related, but it’s also going to have some rambling.  First of all, I take issue with some of the arguments & thoughts Burgess & Green have in their book.  If I remember right, on page 19, they make the claim that academia (which, I assume, they mean is the ENTIRETY of the academy) is somehow complicit in the continuation of cyberbullying, which can be perpetuated through YouTube.  What I really take issue is the fact that they don’t explain their argument.  Something that has been instilled in me since high school (and heavily reinforced since then) was an aversion to factoids or, as I prefer to call them, soundbytes.  Basically, it’s a claim that is made, but not backed up.  This is exactly what Burgess & Green do: they make this HUGE claim and don’t back it up; instead, they just continue on about YouTube.  So, really, how is academia complicit in the continuation of cyberbullying?  The internet is a dangerous place (I’m looking at a certain website-that-shall-not-be-named) and the internet is basically a battlefield where there are no rules of war, no Geneva Convention and no real oversight.  Is the academy supposed to step in and be that regulatory body and establish proper etiquette in combat?  However, assuming academia did that, I could make the claim that the academy is infringing upon my right to free speech/text in a public place/sphere.  The internet is unregulated as it stands; to introduce regulation would be moving towards something out of George Orwell’s 1984.  So, regulation is out; what can the academy do?  Cyberbullying isn’t even under the purview of the traditional academy; that is something for the government and social sciences to try and deal with.

That’s but one issue I took with Burgess & Green.  Another assertion of theirs that I can turn on it’s head is that the youth is exposed to a lot of dangerous things on YouTube, like Nazi propaganda.  That’s true, yes, but there’s also the flipside of that: the parodying of those dangerous things.  Here’s an example:

 

There are countless other videos like this of Hitler reacting to other things, like losing a Titan in EVE Online.  The point is that while there certainly are dangers on YouTube of seeing explicit content or watching questionable material, there’s always going to be a positive aspect to it as well.  That’s something I noticed Burgess & Green didn’t focus on too much: they failed to note the positive aspects of YouTube (apart from the obvious, of course) in regards to how it can be construed negatively.

I suppose this came off more as a rant than anything, but I did have some thoughts I wanted to air regarding YouTube and Burgess & Green.  Next post should have the YouTube project.

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5 Comments
  1. janastasiawhydra permalink

    Don’t worry, I’m sure my post also sounds like a rant as well. I tend to get that way when it comes to conspiracies. I, too, read that passage and wanted to know how. Unlike you, I had forgotten about it when Burgess and Green threw in some statistic and fancy “researchable” facts. Now it does disturb me on why they didn’t back up their claim. The only way I could possibly see academia being “responsible” for cyber-bullying is if Burgess and Green are claiming schools allow bullying to go unchecked within the buildings and now students are tormenting each other online. Obviously not a solid argument because then you also can blame parents for not instilling the value of respect for differences within their children, ideological institutions such as church and government that only embrace what they know and condemn anything that’s different. My other theory actually comes from Hartley, if schools are “allowing” cyberbulling to go unchecked because many institutions do not embrace technological reforms. I don’t know if Burgess and Green were trying to state by standing on the sidelines and only prohibiting the use of internet within schools/not teaching the usefulness of technology is the same as enabling cyberbullying, but I do know its kind of @-hole-ish to make a statement like, “teachers promote bullying,” and then run away like the news, “YouTube promotes Hitler and high school shootings.”

  2. I think, if you read p. 19 carefully, Burgess and Green are trying to say (perhaps not clearly) that academia has helped create the *category* of cyberbullying, not that they have necessarily been allowing cyberbullying to continue. If anything, having worked in elementary schools lately, I can tell you that schools are making a point of addressing bullying through anti-bullying programs and assemblies. New York State enacted the Dignity for All Students Act (read about it here: http://www.nyclu.org/files/TheDignityforAllStudentsAct_0_0.ppt), which includes cyberbullying if it is affecting the child’s ability to feel safe at school, and especially if it’s happening on the school premises (i.e., via school computers).

    There’s not much schools can do about what children do at home — it becomes their parents’ responsibility to monitor their Internet usage at that point. But the schools are working to make children aware that cyberbullying, just as much as physical/emotional bullying, is hurtful and unacceptable behavior; thus, academia is reinforcing the category of cyberbullying as a legitimate form of abuse. Because schools make a big deal out of cyberbullying (as I think they should), the media picks up on that focus and often exploits it to create a moral panic, which then leads to people invoking YouTube as complicit in cyberbullying because videos can play a part in the bullying.

  3. Kaitlin permalink

    After reading your blog, I’m surprised that I didn’t tune into that section of the YouTube book because that is the type of thing to make me furious! I think that no one really knows how to deal with bullying in general, and the easiest thing to do is point fingers. Unfortunately, bullying has been happening forever. With new technologies, we gain new affordances, but we also have new avenues for negatively affecting others. I feel the way that you do about this problem. Like you said, schools should not be expected to be the policing force of all society, and, if they were, we would have problems with them interfering with our freedom of speech. I’m not sure if there is an answer here. I wouldn’t want any more of the cases we see of student suicide happening because of cyberbullying, but I don’t think that students should have to fear that Big Brother is watching them. Plus, there are proven values to students socializing online and learning how to use current technology. Like you, I also fear that Fahrenheit 451 will come true if we start blocking “offensive” videos. Examples of parodying Hitler on YouTube are great, but I think that even his propaganda videos have a value to see the harmful nature of propaganda. Heck, Barnes and Noble even sells Mein Kampf, and when I went to the Holocaust Museum they showed us propaganda videos. These things educate us to understand how the Holocaust happened, and we are only able to be warned by history by facing history. We can’t get that if we ban everything.

  4. There are a couple of citations/references for “the new category which academia has been complicit in creating” (19). I havent looked up the articles referenced, but those might help give some legitimacy or evidence to Burgess and Green’s claim. I agree that they dont really explain this– I think they just use it, reference other articles, and leave it at that so that they can move on in their larger argument. Maybe this is because if they were to explain this claim to the furthest extent they might just be writing another book. Dont get me wrong, it is a bold statement that could have used more of an explaination, but I think they just used the statement and went on their merry way for the sake of staying on track.

  5. It does seem that, at times, Burgess and Green give more attention to the negative aspects of YouTube rather than praising it for its successful qualities. I remember they almost seemed to condemn other forms of media for doing the same thing, pointing out how television stations in particular reacted to cyber horror-stories involving bullied kids and pranks rather an emphasizing how YouTube can be a useful product. Even as they point out the unjust bias and the recycling of fear, they do seem to play into in at the same time. I would say that Burgess and Green are trying to find the balance between the individual and the unit when they talk about cyberbullying. Individuals are the ones who are harmed (the example of unsupervised children Mary Catherin mentions), and they are attacked by “the internet.” The finger-pointing about cyberbullying seems to stem from a fear that in turn stems from an inability to put a face on the attacker, which could lead to incorrect accusations, like blaming academia.

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