Algorithm Bias and Information Consumption
You are probably familiar with or have heard of the term ‘news bias’. This is the idea that news can provide a leaning perspective, where one side of the story is more heavily weighted than the other; thereby often providing a more polarizing or partisan view of current events and issues. If you have been living in the U.S. consuming media created within and distributed by our mainstream media systems for the last decade (or more), then chances are you have consumed news of this variety, and may even feel that your side is inherently right and it is the other side that has the story wrong. This feeling that the other is lying, misleading, or twisting the facts deliberately has grown into a distrust and a diminished reliance on not only the mainstream media, but also on each other.
Representation in the Media
Identity is defined as “the distinguishing character or personality of an individual.” Many things go into the making of a person’s identity, including their gender, race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, political orientation, religious beliefs, age, physical/personality attributes, etc. Although each of these aspects certainly matter in determining individual identity, it is almost impossible to accurately understand someone's feelings of self worth and their experience of being in the world based solely on these attributes. This tick-box list of identity categories can lead to us seeing each other as caricatures, rather than as unique individuals with nuanced ways of identifying and relating to the world around us.
Media’s Impact on Our Lives
Growing up as a(white cis-female) millennial it is hard to dispute the impact media has had and continues to have on my life. As a small child I would dance around my house singing Disney songs as an adolescent I found my personal style flipping through countless teen magazines; as a young adult I was an early adopter of social media; and as a woman in my 30s I have dedicated my life to the pursuit of creating a media literate society. I have sat crying as I watched unimaginable events play out in live time before my eyes and rejoiced as the diversity of messages and information has grown beyond the confines of one ideology.
New Year, New Media, New Me
The Canary’s first meeting of 2022 was canceled the day of. There was some illness and some conflicting business and a general sense of ongoing recovery from the holidays. When we finally did meet a week later in a joyful state of reconnection and catching up, we brought up goals for the upcoming year, both personally and for our organization. We also discussed the negative response we felt to the New Year hype of resolutions and self-reinvention. In keeping with our values of intentionality, well-being, and truth, we took time to reflect on this and decided to each write a short reflection on how we approach the idea of reinvention at the start of a new year.
How can we rebuild trust and create change within our lives?
It can be difficult to imagine how to begin to create a better world when we don't trust one another and when we don't trust our government to do what is best for us. It can be difficult to mobilize and find strength in our community when we don't trust our neighbors and when we don't trust ourselves to be able to make the changes necessary to bring integrity and accountability back into our democratic process. There's a great deal of jadedness and apathy stemming from this simple, yet difficult, problem: a lack of trust.
Being Creative and Being Online: What’s the Relationship?
This morning I sat down to write this piece and I immediately felt stuck. I didn’t know where to begin, couldn’t find the right words, and within ten minutes of trying I ended up opening a random series of internet tabs and scrolling through my email aimlessly. Most of the work I do requires writing, which is often creative and sometimes not so much, but it requires a certain amount of focus regardless. And I often feel my mind being pulled away from the task at hand by the seemingly infinite world of information, social updates, cute animal videos, etc that are always just a click away.
What can I do to strengthen democracy?
Democracy is a system of self-governance in which citizens elect representatives to pursue their interest, and a system whose functionality relies upon the concepts of truth, justice, the rule of law, and an educated populace. In the United States we rely on representative democracy as our system of government. We rely on this system to provide for the basic needs of our citizens. We rely on our elected officials to hold our best interests at heart and prioritize them in their political agendas. We rely on the constitution and a finely crafted system of checks and balances to allow for truth and justice to prevail. But many Americans believe that this system is broken. Many believe that elected officials do not care for us, do not work for us, and do not safeguard our interests. Many believe that it is every person for themselves, and that our system of government has been corrupted by greed and self-interest. Many believe that there is nothing we can do to change this. But what are the consequences of this resignation and civic apathy? Who benefits from these beliefs? Whose pockets get fuller the less we are involved? Whose life gets better and whose gets worse if everyday citizens sit back and watch it all passively unfold? Part of being able to trust our system of governance is being able to trust each other. We need to again be able to rely on each other to do the right thing before we will be able to rely on our shared democracy. We need to be able to speak to each other before we will be able to understand one another and jointly find solutions to the challenges we face as a country. When we can find strength and solidarity in our neighbors and communities, that is when we have the ability to create real, lasting change. Find your strength. Find your purpose. Engage your community. Engage with democracy. engage with your understanding of democracy Check out our Democracy Page! A space dedicated to providing the essentials for understanding our role in democracy. learn more
Why is media literacy important?
As a country, we are yet again faced with a moment to reflect upon; a moment that some view as a triumph of our justice system and others as a failure. Regardless of which perspective you believe to be true, in a moment such as this we all must take pause to understand how mainstream media coverage and social media messaging has impacted our understanding of recent events.
The Social Experience: Real People’s Experiences of Social Media
'Social media' is often spoken about abstractly, removed from people's actual experiences of using these platforms and participating (or not) in these online spaces. But in actuality — in the day-to-day and moment-to-moment ways in which people engage with them — social media spaces can bring us a range of emotions: joy and heartache, inspiration and distraction, connectivity and isolation. Each of us having our own personally curated experience online, separate from that of others, yet intrinsically entwined at the same time, presents a paradox that can muddle reality, breakdown communication, and distort our perception of self and others.
Internal vs. External Narratives ~ How do they impact our lives?
Do you hear that? That voice? That voice inside your head? That internal narrative we can have, guiding our every decision each and every day. This internal narrative that is so personal, so sacred to us is not inherently created from within. This story we tell ourselves is created and influenced by all the external narratives that we consume, from our lived experiences to those others share with us. It comes from the books we read, the shows we watch, the music we listen to. It is morphing constantly as we take in more information. And although it will always morph, that doesn’t mean that it is always changing.
Narratives are the stories we see and tell ourselves. They can be fact, fictional, or a combination that muddles reality. They compellingly invite us to engage and believe. They hold our history, our triumphs, and our pain. They are everywhere. All the time.
Education, Democracy, and the Media in the United States.
The neglect of the relationship between education and democracy is in my view our greatest contemporary failure, and it has led us precisely and inevitably to this moment of profound civic crisis.
Use Your Voice
When we start to consider our role in democracy outside of voting, the actions we need to take can become less clear, less quantifiable. I know I have heard my whole life that if I feel a certain way about an issue I should write to my Elected Representatives, that a letter from a constituent is worth 10 lobbyists. But when I look at the trend in policy towards corporate interests it becomes harder to believe that that action, or my voice, could make a difference.
Official Podcast Launch!!!
We’re thrilled to introduce the Conversations with Canaries Podcast, which we have launched with the hopes of creating an opportunity to invite you into the conversations that we have with each other and so often in our own heads, as we explore the possibilities of harnessing conversation as a corrective social mechanism – arguably the best tool we have to work through the challenges we face as a society. We hope that you come away from these conversations stirred, inspired, and perhaps even puzzled. Enjoy. ~ The American Canary Team
Being critical of how the media is impacting our emotional well-being as we navigate within our own media landscapes is just as important as being conscious of the presence of influence.
Reflecting upon our own emotional experience as we consume, use, and create media will help us to better understand our own engagement. What use creates joy or wellness? What use creates despair or frustration? What are the boundaries I need to set for myself?
Emotions & the Language of Understanding
Taped to my window is a brightly colored, eight-part chart entitled “Emotion Cards” that was provided to me by the outstanding organization Building Bridges. It includes the typical emotions one might think of when they are asked the seemingly simple question, “How are you feeling?”. The headlines are happy/sad/angry/bad etc., but then it drops down to more specific reactions. Under “anxious” are the terms scared, insecure, defensive, and fearful; below those come even more specific language: helpless, inadequate, excluded, exposed.
Find Your Voice
What is the purpose of your online voice?
Election day is Tuesday, November 3. At American Canary, we acknowledge the heightened importance of this election and encourage you to engage your voice – by casting your vote. Across this country, millions of people are having unique experiences trying to cast their ballot and make sure their voice is heard. We have been inspired by the perseverance of US voters in this election as they overcome tremendous obstacles in their effort to exercise this fundamental right. For the November Monthly Engagement, we wanted to share our own individual voices in response to the following…
Hyperpartisanship & Democracy
In the past six months, I have been called a liberal scumbag, mindless leftist, TWAT, pedophile lover, and my all-time favorite, fascist. Standing up for Black lives and the fight for racial equality online has automatically made users who disagree with my views paint me as a donkey-riding believer carrying my blue flag of righteousness. Why see me as a decontextualized representative of a political party, instead of an individual human being, with complexity, history, a family, and a nuanced story of my own?