According to James L. Hilton and William von Hippel, “Stereotypes are beliefs about the characteristics, attributes, and behaviours of members of certain groups. More than just beliefs about groups, they are also theories about how and why certain attributes go together.” Stereotypes are often based upon our exposure to a few prominent examples of people of a certain race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., do something we view as wrong or different, which then shape our understanding and beliefs of all those in the same demographic as those examples.

When the media is flooded with reports about a certain event or issue, people belonging to the same demographic as the perpetrator/s often tend to be alienated by the rest of society, especially if the group is a minority. This occurrence is evident in the aftermath of the September 11 Attacks, for which the terrorist organisation Al Qaeda claimed responsibility, which had constant media coverage for the next few months. The 9/11 attacks were extremely damaging not only for the victims and their families, but for the Islamic community as a whole. In her academic journal, Erin Kearns stated that “Attacks by Muslim perpetrators received, on average, 357% more coverage than other attacks.”

A stereotype is a broad, often oversimplified assumption made about all members of a particular group

Melissa Ling, ThoughtCo.

The Effects of Stereotyping

When stereotyping a certain group by grouping them with those bad examples that stand out, we paint those who have done nothing wrong as evil and as something to fear or shun. In her Journal, Muslim Americansโ€™ Responses to Social Identity Threats: Effects of Media Representations and Experiences of Discrimination, Muniba Saleem explains that “It didn’t matter that I was a teenager, or that I was American, that I was Pakistani. What mattered was that Muslim identity.” Saleem’s research concluded that after viewing the excessive amount of media articles and reports regarding terrorist attacks by certain Muslims, Americans began to view all Muslims as potential terrorists.

According to data released by the FBI, 93 Anti-Muslim assaults were reported in 2001, 81 more assaults than were reported in 2000, which had 12 reported Anti-Muslim assaults. Since 9/11, 18 years ago, Muslim hate crimes have not yet significantly decreased, with the Christchurch Massacre taking place on the 15th March 2019, where a white supremacist shooter live streamed himself entering multiple mosques in New Zealand and opening fire, and has since been arrested and now faces 51 charges of murder and 40 charges for attempted murder.

Despite being the victims of such a horrible crime, words of hate have still been spoken across the world, most prominently by Senator Fraser Anning, who claimed that “Whilst this kind of violent vigilantism can never be justified, what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence”. This quote was taken from a document that Anning posted on his Twitter account, which has since been removed due to containing statements which breached Twitter’s code of conduct and was met with outrage. Anning’s document reflects how people still view Muslims as the problem, which has been created by the negative stereotypes of the media.

How Stereotyping Occurs and avoiding it

The MEAA Journalist’s Code of Ethics requires that the Media “Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.” When publishing content, Media Professionals can publish information regarding the gender, race, age, etc. of people, however, they must ensure that they remain completely unbiased in their reports.

Stereotyping occurs when Journalists forget to remain unbiased when talking about a specific event or person, and instead place their own personal beliefs about the event into their report. Examples of this stereotyping would be if a road accident were to happen, and then placing emphasis on the fact that the driver was Asian, despite no proof that was a factor in the crash, with data suggesting that this is the opposite of the truth.

To avoid stereotyping when publishing reports, Media Professionals should ensure they don’t let their personal beliefs and values influence their writing, and avoid blaming or placing large emphasis on the demographic of the perpetrator, victim or witness of the event that occurred, unless it is a factor which influenced the incident. When reporting, the Media must ensure they follow the same ethical standards for all demographical groups. According to Mehdi Hasan of Al Jazeera, “The media often โ€œhumaniseโ€ the non-Muslim perpetrator by referencing mental illness or interviewing family members”. Hasan also believes that to reduce the negative portrayals and stereotypes of Muslims, more diversity and multiculturalism is needed in the media, and rather than focusing on publishing positive or negative stories, the Media needs to publish just the truth without taking a side.

The Media needs to understand how harmful the blaming of stereotypes or placing emphasis on them can be for the parties involved in their reports. The use of stereotypes by the Media creates a divide between different cultural and socioeconomic groups. By using stereotypes, the people in these groups become dehumanised to the rest of society, and they become irritated and disenchanted, and may begin to feel neglected or targeted and resent other people, leading them to do bad things. Magdalena Zawisza offers ways to reduce stereotypes, such as by focussing on the positives of a community, especially when a horrific event has taken place, the Media can report on how a community is helping another out and showing inclusiveness. An emphasis on positive group role models are also important, as it gives those who are affected by these stereotypes someone to look up to, aspire to be and seek guidance from.

Journalism and the Media’s main role is not to provide personal opinions and explain why something happened by blaming stereotypes, but rather to educate people on what’s happening currently. The Media shouldn’t be taking sides when reporting, instead remain unbiased, not trying to draw conclusions using stereotypes, which often has harmful effects for those being stereotyped against.

For Further Reading:

Seventeen years after 9/11, Muslims are still โ€˜presumed guiltyโ€™

Muslim Americansโ€™ Responses to Social Identity Threats: Effects of Media Representations and Experiences of Discrimination

โ€˜Thinking ill of others without sufficient warrant?โ€™ Transcending the accuracy inaccuracy dualism in prejudice and stereotyping research

Media Portrayals of Religion: Islam

Hatred in the News: Understanding Stereotypes and How to Avoid Them

Controls the Future

When signing up for something online, often the application, or site contains a Terms And Conditions, which must be agreed to before accessing the content.

But how often do you really read through the whole terms and conditions?

For all you know, the contract you’re agreeing to could contain the most ridiculous of terms, such as Gamestation’s April Fools joke, where they hid in their terms of service that anyone who signs up owes “Us a non-transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul.”

Most of these terms and conditions contain clauses stating that by agreeing to, you agree to have an online profile of everything you do online, which is then sold to various companies, which market specifically to you.

Often, these agreements remove all privacy you once believed you had, allowing you to be manipulated and controlled, due to the constant fear of being watched. Your privacy is being exploited by the government, large corporations and anyone who can access your devices freely.

Problems with Privacy ft. Vaporwave.

The Beta – NGD

As an avid surfer and surf life saver, I knew I wanted to base my Digital Artefact on the beach, so I was stoked to learn that Kel and Michelle Giddey, both fellow surf life savers at North Wollongong Surf Club, the owners and creators of North Gong Daily’s Instagram and Facebook pages were looking into creating a website of the same name to support both of their pages.

After creating the site, I had to transfer the custom domain name that NGD had purchased for the site, and select the right theme to fit what NGD wanted their site to be. The daily video posting has been successful, and the picture gallery has been started, with 6 images added in and hopefully more pics of North Gong on the way. The “Tees On Tour” section has been created, however, pics have yet to be uploaded and should be posted within the next few weeks. The “Store” page is currently in the very early stages, as I hope to set up an online store, where customers can purchase T-shirts currently, with the aim of expanding to other items of clothing such as hats, allowing NGD and myself to monetise our work.

North Gong Daily’s posting consists of uploading their videos to a Youtube channel, then embedding that video in the post, alongside a picture containing the stats for each day’s weather and surf conditions, and a picture of North Gong Beach. Each video consists of someone, usually Kel, discussing the surf conditions for the day, with the camera then panning across the beach, giving users a look at the conditions themselves, allowing them to decide whether they will visit the beach on the day they view it.

One form of feedback gained from a classmate was that alongside the daily reports, the NGD site could also contain information, pictures and videos regarding what’s happening around Wollongong, especially its beaches, each week, acting as a portfolio similar to a travel guide.

Who controls the past

Copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects the original expression of ideas. It enables creators to manage how their content is used.

Copyright is an extremely murky topic, especially in the music industry, where using even three or four of the same notes as someone else can result in copyright infringement. This happened to Marshmello, after he “copied” elements of Russian producer Arty’s remix of OneRepublic’s song I Lived in his song Happier, a collaboration with Bastille.

Every time you access anything on the web, you create a localised copy of it on your device, whether it be an application, image or document which you are able to edit and play with, however, often the owner retains full control and ownership.

“The owner may, for example, post copyright-protected material on the Internet and leave it free for anyone to use, or restrict the abandonment to non-commercial use with or without certain additional requirements”The World Intellectual Property Organisation

Was the Matrix right?

Society is currently extremely reliant upon technology, almost to an unhealthy level. When every piece of information, images and videos ever available now on this database, then what would be the point of disconnecting?

When we can form relationships online and interact with people across the planet, why would we need to ever talk to someone face to face ever again?

I don’t have a clear answer, but living in such a simulation is not realistic, as the relationships and content we absorb are just a Simulacrum, they imitate a basic real, which can only be truly gained from experiencing them first hand, rather than online.

When online, we develop a Mask for our personality, masking our insecurities and presenting the ideal vision of ourselves to those we interact with. Though we try to portray ourselves as this Mask, it isn’t real, and therefore cannot provide a completely fulfilling experience.

Break Free.

Framed For Murder

Framing refers to the perspective or angle that something is viewed from and how you understand it, by applying your experiences, beliefs and opinions to it.

First defined by Robert Entman, “Framing essentially involves selection and salience. To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text.” For example, this could be as simple as highlighting a piece of text or pointing at something.

When viewing anything, your internal Frames shape your perceptions of what you’re viewing, however, the Media also provides their own Frame of References to what they’re communicating or selling.

Frames are extremely influential on the minds of the public, if the public perceive something negatively, chances are they’ll avoid it or boycott it.

As David Bach states: “a frame not only structures the public debate but also plays a key role in determining the eventual outcome.”

Meme Politics

Propaganda is extremely prevalent on the internet, though Users are often blind to it, and dismiss it as if it were nothing.

Although memes are often used as jokes and funny scenarios which Users relate to, they can often be used to brainwash masses of people into thinking something.

“If an emotional response can be invoked in the audience, even the most irrational piece of information can be sold to any willing observer” Me on Tuesday

Hillary had nothing to do with these posters.

Take the #DraftourDaughters twitter trend – what was believed to be horrifying political campaigns spread by Hillary Clinton, were actually disturbing memes made by certain 4Chan users which had copied everything she used and remade it in a darker tone. This in turn made many people dislike Hillary, despite it not being her fault. This use of propaganda is reminiscent of 1984, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 in that propaganda is often weaponised.

To create an emotional response in the audience to convince them is a lot easier than having the audience come to the decision themselves.

No longer just funny images, now, memes are used as propaganda and warfare.

Squidward’s Public Sphere

Jรผrgen Habermas’s The Structural Transformation Of The Public Sphere (1962) defines the “Public Sphere” initially as “conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public”. This can be simplified as a metaphorical “bubble” which people enter into to when wanting to debate topics.

Another source describes it as the “social space in which different opinions are expressed, problems of general concern are discussed, and collective solutions are developed communicatively” (Wessier, Fruedenthaler 2018). It is the place people go to discuss the news, issues and topics that grab their attention or cause concerns.

The Outside World is a big scary place.

Each individual has their own separate bubble of people they go to to discuss topics with, which for myself is with my various groups of friends (weird flex, but ok) as well as the Reddit communities of Subreddits.

For example, I have different groups of people I go to for different topics, such as surfing, tennis, basketball or regular news. These spheres often communicate via various group chats over Snapchat, Instagram, Messenger and in-person.

Some members are active in multiple groups, and often multiple conversations occur at the same time. Major topics of conversations include memes, films, tv shows, controversial news and ethical scenarios.

The media plays a large role in this process, as social media allows for interaction to occur within these spheres, by providing the topics of conversation, as well as the means to communicate anywhere you are, and to comment your thoughts on various posts.

With the amount of topics to discuss, I believe it is nearly impossible to belong to only one Public Sphere, as where one group may not find a certain topic interesting or worthy of discussion, another group may, which is where each person will go to find another group willing to discuss that particular topic.

For example, in the show Spongebob Squarepants, the character Squidward Tentacles (pictured above) prefers to talk to the title character, Spongebob, about working at the Krusty Krab and keeps his private life as private as possible. Whereas, in the episode House Fancy, talks to Nicholas Withers, a fellow house decorating enthusiast about his house, despite the disastrous occurences that take place during the episode.

Let Me Speak

Prior to the invention of Social Media, communicating through the media was extremely centralised, with messages having to go through a central “Gatekeeper” who would approve and send through the message to its intended Audience.

However, Social Media has become decentralised, by cutting out the middle man and removing the Gatekeeper, and eventually, will become distributed amongst the Audience. For example, Imagine the Facebook network without Facebook. We as an Audience are no longer passive, and now have the ability to universally broadcast and distribute our own message for no other reason than “because we can“, participating has become addictive all of a sudden.

The removal of a central Gatekeeper has allowed for the Audience to post what they want, without the fear of their content being rejected. Therefore, aside from the murky legal restraints they face, the Audience is free to post whatever they want, just as I am posting this blog post.

The Communist Dream

Since its creation in 2005, Reddit has grown into the 5th most visited site with more than 330 Million active users per month. Reddit is organised into “Subreddits” – communities based upon a certain topic, such as the massively populated r/news, r/movies, and r/memes to smaller, more niche topics such as the tv show r/Brooklyn Nine-Nine (one of my personal faves).

Reddit has a Subreddit for almost everything, and if it doesn’t exist, Users (known as “Redditors”) are able to create and regulate their own Subreddit (now known as “Mods” for that Subreddit). Due to this ability to create instantly, Reddit is constantly updated about current events, especially in r/news, which specialises in, you guessed it, the news.

Reddit was created by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian who use the website frequently, often involving themselves in discussion or posting updates about the app and website. The pair both moderate a select few Subreddits, however, thousands more subreddits exist which they are not mods of, therefore, it is up to the mods of each individual Subreddit to govern themselves. In 2006, the site was acquired by Condรฉ Nast Publications who have owned it ever since, however, they do not regulate each individual Subreddit, which is up to the Mods.

Due to the lack of constant regulation, the r/news Subreddit can often be filled with unreliable sources, therefore, when using this Subreddit, it is best to not believe everything unless the source is trustworthy and the information is verified by multiple sources.

Apart from r/news, the Reddit app has a News section which accesses articles from each Subreddit, providing a current update for users who don’t want to browse one particular Subreddit, but rather access all news.

Though there is no singular governing body on the site, I do not believe this matters too much, as the Mods of each Subreddit are usually fairly successful at removing fake and untrue content, ensuring the news remains useful and relevant for Redditors. When using Reddit, I prefer to remain on the homepage or browse the hot and top posts of a Subreddit, as more people viewing a post means that more Redditors are able to verify and provide their own thoughts, therefore ensuring the post remains truthful and useful for Users.

For a different perspective on Reddit check out For The People, By The People.