Right now, conversations about “fake news” are everywhere. Between debates about Facebook’s role in creating and promoting “fake news”, websites promising to fix or block fake providers, and the Trump administration shouting “fake news” at every opportunity possible, there’s a cloud of confusion around the idea.
But what actually is fake news? One thing is for sure – fake news was not born in 2016. It is not a sudden intrusion into the media world, and to treat it as such masks its history and context.
News from the last three weeks has been bad, to say the least. Both Britain and America have seemingly been bent on destruction and bridge-burning. Yet despite being anxious about just what will happen next, I’m also a little bit curious as well.
One of the few good parts about the previous three weeks is how people have often responded to protect and support others. Social networks have shared resources for contacting politicians, lawyers and advocates, and advice on how best to do so. Widespread protests and calls for mobilisation have made some meaningful changes, called attention to the wrongs which would have remained away from the spotlights, and delayed political decisions. People aren’t taking the changes as quietly as either Trump and co. or May and co. had wanted. And I hope this atmosphere of fighting back will continue, and lead to bigger changes.
The survey is called How Is The World Feeling?, and it’s aiming to get a snapshot of how everyday people around the world are feeling during this week (October 10th- October 16th). The target is to have 7 million people taking part, and 70 million emotions logged.
The sheer amount of publications, information sources, and people that I follow has become too much to read, and too much to mean anything. Continual anxiety means I’m struggling to focus on anything useful, like uni work or project planning. But trying to escape or get ideas by reading non-uni media isn’t helping at all.
Between my Twitter feed, Medium recommendations and Pocket list, there’s almost 1000 items of “do this to be happy”, “do this to be better”,”here’s how everyone else is succeeding”, and “you need to care about this”.
After bouncing facebook messages around the group, and continually uploading revisions and comments, we eventually got a final set of pages we were happy with. Off to print them out then- which was surprisingly difficult.
No printers open in UWE that night could print the A4 pages properly, so we eventually found the low-tech solution of printing each page as on A3 and guillotining them down to the right size. Which would have worked well if I had any hand-eye coordination.
Apart from the myriad of issues actually getting the thing printed, I’m really happy with how the magazine turned out. Seeing it come out on proper paper, and how well the photos and colours work, it looks even better than on my laptop screen. It looks really professional, which isn’t how I’d normally describe anything I made, so I like the contrast.
Some ideas from the drafts made on the first day- mostly the teal, purple, and orange colour scheme, and the file-divider-style sidebars- stayed during the entire process.
However, while the first-day drafts were very sparse, the final layout contained many more ideas and tried out different styles to suit the article.
Mostly, it all looks varied, but still looks like it belongs to one coherent magazine. Ultimately, I’m really happy with it (despite the annoyance of finding a typo 5 minutes after hand-in) and I’m hoping we get a good mark for it.
In 1994, Dr Phillip Long founded www.mentalhealth.com aiming to create a cross-cultural encyclopaedia of mental health conditions. The site is looking a little archaic now, using older DSM categories not commonly used now, and containing diagnostic ideas that didn’t really catch on, such as analysing all mental health symptoms through Greek personality dimensions.
While the site may not be entirely relevant these days, it’s a fascinating and detailed read. Moreover, it’s attached forum has been consistently running since 2005. In internet terms, this is an incredibly long time. Imagining friendships possibly extending for 10 years, its easy to see the best part of forums; their ability to connect people with others across time and space, providing friendships built on common experience and support.
Of all the major social networks, Tumblr is the one I wanted to write about the most, because its a dramatic difference from the stoicism of Twitter and the envy-inducing highlight reel of Facebook. Just like most of its users, its young, bold, and easily misunderstood.
For the uninitiated, Tumblr is a microblogging site with a very “anything goes” attitude towards content: drawings, videos, music, gifs, longform text, links and pretty much anything else you can think of are all found there. Its major feature is reblogging, which is reposting someone else’s content onto your own feed and adding commentary, opinions, or a visual response- a cross between a Twitter retweet and a standard blog’s comment chain. Content is organised and collected using hashtags, which are essential for posts being discovered and read.
Part of Tumblr’s appeal is how it conveys the impression of a private, almost clandestine association. (In reality, there are over 100 million tumblr users, and it got bought by Yahoo! for over a billion dollars). Unlike most social networks, pseudonymity can prevail; a user can change their name as often as they want and hide all personal information, while the lacking search function works solely on tagged words, effectively making untagged content invisible except for to followers. Because of this, Tumblr can seem far more private than other social networks. Many posts are made seemingly without considering a potential audience- often off-the-cuff, reactionary, self-depreciatingly, or holding nothing back about mental health difficulties.
Compared to Facebook, I didn’t think of Twitter as a useful place for discussing mental health issues. This was partly due to the 140 character limit; I couldn’t see the use of tweets for in-depth discussion compared to something like a blog post or video.
However, when I looked through my twitter feed more closely, there was a lot of talk about mental health. Most of the people talking were advocates; either they wanted to start conversations, to support mental health organisations, or start their own campaigns. And most of these advocates were survivors, using their experiences with mental health to show others why researching mental health matters.
Twitter doesn’t have the same kind of scare-headline news stories as Facebook, and there isn’t any research saying it affects people negatively. However, there is some research on responses to individual hashtags. Shepherd et al studied the #DearMentalHealthProfessionals thread, a conversation set up by Amanda O’Connell in August 2013, and found there were four main types of discussion:
While looking up different viewpoints for my last post on the definition of science communication, I noticed something unexpected.
I’m interested in science communication, and love to learn more about it. I also spend a lot of time on YouTube, including on educational channels. However, I’ve never used YouTube for finding out about scicomm specifically.
I didn’t know if it was just something I had overlooked, or if there was a reason for this. So I decided to investigate where YouTube stands on scicomm – whether its popular with science communicators, and whether science communication videos and channels are popular with YouTube users.
My first tactic was to go with the obvious; to search for “science communication” on YouTube and see what kind of channels and videos come up. As this is a likely approach for someone who has just heard the term “science communication” and wants to explore it, this seemed a sensible place to start.
I looked at the 5 most relevant channels and videos according to YouTube’s search algorithm, then the 5 highest viewed channels and videos.
The most successful section in my opinion was the 5 most relevant videos.
Two of the 5 were from the same channel- Did Someone Say Science?- a channel I’d never watched before but was really impressed by. Science Communication; It’s No Joke! explains why scicomm is important using famous historical science such as the discovery of penicillin as reference points. “Top 5 Science Communication Moments in Films” is interesting because of the film references and because its format promises an easy, entertaining watch.
Everyone, their mum, and their cat has Facebook, or so it can often seem. As one of the most subscribed-to places online, and perhaps some people’s only online connection, looking at what Facebook has to do with mental health could be important on a large scale.
The BrainBlogger and Psychology Today articles were almost uniformly negative, showing research that connects Facebook use to envious friendships, jealous relationships and decreased life satisfaction.
The New Yorker article included its fair share of research on the unhappy consequences of Facebook usage, but also included some optimistic findings. Their best answer was: it depends what people are actually doing on Facebook. People actively using Facebook to keep in contact and engage with loved ones benefit from the social connection. People passively browsing their timelines, however, are often left feeling worse after using Facebook.
Facebook as a mental health resource
If actively participating on Facebook is generally beneficial, does that make Facebook a good resource for people with mental health issues?