Response to “Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media” (9/12 post)

          The internet and its capabilities scare me. When people talk about their digital footprints and how nothing once posted online is ever fully “deleted,” I wonder what things will come back to haunt me. I’m very careful about the things I post. I’m confident that nothing I’ve posted will seriously harm me, but I still know that anything I post could potentially show up after a simple google search of my name. For this reason, the fact that social scientists and market researchers can access my posts and analyze my words, all without me knowing that they’re doing so, creeps me out. I would consent to them doing just this, but I wouldn’t want it done behind my back. 

          The article made me think about my online voice. I think that voice can be interpreted as more than just literal text, especially with the growing forms of social media. My voice can stand for the types of pictures I post or the frequency of my posts. I don’t tweet, but voice could also include what I hashtag. I consider my online voice to be more like my online activity. Regardless of this distinction, one’s online voice provides telling facts about a person. For example, I’ve noticed that people who are new to Facebook, such as middle schoolers, post frequently, as do some adults.  Certain people post pictures daily (once muploads, now iOS 7 photos) and the pictures vary depending on the types of activities in which the user is involved. I’ve noticed that girls seem to post pictures more often and that these pictures can be anything, not just ones from a special event.  As I mentioned in my Facebook profile profile post, I don’t post much on my account, and when I compare myself to my Facebook generalization, I don’t fit in.  On the other hand, if I consider my Instagram account, I think I fit the description of a typical female Instagram user pretty accurately—I’m careful to post “just the right amount”, create amusing captions, and have landscapes, food, and friends all represented on my page. I think that I would be more of an outlier in a Facebook study and work with the curve in an Instagram study. I wonder why I “change” or have different “personas” on the two sites, especially because I think that I’m pretty accurately represented on each account. I think the nature of the site and its associated stigmas play a role in the difference. I’m curious how the vocabulary/voice study would change depending on the site that is under consideration. 

My Facebook Profile Profile

In 8th grade, as I begged my parents to allow me to make a Facebook, I didn’t realize how much I would hate the website. I grew to hate it so much that I disabled my account from September 2012 to August 2013. These eleven months were liberating. I didn’t have to remember to check for notifications or wish my “friends” a happy birthday. I didn’t have to see what events I wasn’t invited to or what ugly pictures a friend had tagged me in.  I didn’t have to read nonsense posts or scroll through pictures of people whom I barely knew. And I didn’t have to worry about uploading my own pictures in a timely manner.

            When I first told people that I deleted my account, they were confused.  “You’re going to miss all of the news in the Class of 2014 group!” “Don’t you want to see what your camp friends are doing?” I realized the legitimacy of these questions—I originally made a Facebook to keep in touch with my sleep away camp friends—but I didn’t care anymore. I was done scrolling down my newsfeed thinking about all the homework I was procrastinating.

            In August 2013, I went on a trip to India with 12 other girls in my grade. The trip sparked my love for traveling. I couldn’t wait to get home, upload my pictures to Facebook, and look through the pictures that the other girls on my trip took. I reactivated my Facebook in August for the sole purpose of connecting with the people from my trip. I also stalked myself and “cleaned up” my wall. I removed my tags from pictures that had no meaning to me, and I unfriended people to whom I hadn’t spoken in a while.  I wanted to use my Facebook as a way to communicate with people that were important, not as a way to share my life updates. Currently, I still think of Facebook in this way—that it’s more a necessary communication tool than a social media site like Twitter or Instagram. When senior year started, I began using Facebook more to see what colleges my classmates had chosen, and when I was accepted to Emory, to connect with my new classmates and find a roommate.

            I still post very little. I made an album titled 2014 to sum up the highlights from my senior year as well as an album from another trip I took this summer. I don’t enjoy adding to my online profile, yet no one appreciates when someone’s last profile picture is from 2010.  I want to find a balance between creating a “good” online image without going overboard or under board. 

            I think my Facebook profile reflects the things that matter to me. I’ve uploaded photos from sleep away camp, my trips, and senior year. I don’t want to post every detail that occurs in my life. I’d rather have a real conversation with someone than stalk him/her on Facebook. (But then again, who can resist a good Facebook stalk?)

The Shadow Scholar Summaries

College professors and honor-code enforcers have more to worry about with growing essay-writing businesses. In his article The Shadow Scholar, Ed Dante explains his business where students email and ask him to complete their papers, proposals, lesson plans, and dissertations and online courses. He does just this, emailing back and forth with a client until he has written, for example, her graduate thesis. Dante, who writes about 20 to 40 pages per day, reaps great rewards from his sleepless nights, earning about $66,000 per year. Ironically, Dante’s papers aren’t always perfect. He frequently includes typos, and he knows how to repeat himself and drag out an argument for multiple pages, defying English teachers’ plea for concision. He struggles with the conflict between “unethical…practices” and “trade liberalization.”  Dante explains that his clients range from undergraduates to seminary students to “aspiring high-school teachers” to nurses, so, deans, any one of your students could be handing in a plagiarized paper.  

 For my English class, I read an article called The Shadow Scholar by Ed Dante. Students who have English-as-a-second-language, students who are “hopelessly deficient”, and “the lazy rich kids” ask Dante to do their work for them and email it back before the due date. Dante claims that he has written countless “legal briefs, military-strategy assessments, [and] lab reports,” and he’s done so without even going to the library! Dante googles their topics more than any normal human has probably googled. Writing a 75 page paper in two days might seem like a nearly impossible task to an average student, but for Dante, it’s “just miserable.” Although Dante’s clients have never been caught using his services, this form of plagiarism is still risky.  It’s much easier to start early on your own work and ask your teacher for help when you need it. You’ll feel much better about yourself than Dante does.

 Ed Dante earns abt$66k/yr doing student hw. Claims 2 hate edu system but works w/ it anyway. Students nvr been caught #75pagesnoprob