Reflections Blog

Every writer has their own style, and mine has grown throughout this class. I noticed that a good portion of my posts had controversial historical content in them. I brought up such harsh topics like Nazis and the 9/11 attacks. I criticized the majority of people for generalizing and making assumptions about such events. Why I chose these controversial themes and criticized my peers is for one reason: shock value. People like controversial material whether they know it or not, and I am simply providing that material to them. However my material isn’t all appalling topics, they are all topics that I present in a way that makes you think. All I want people to do is to come to their own conclusions and have different opinions from the status quo.

Doing this blogging project, I’ve come to actually respect bloggers in general. I used to think they were just some journalism school drop outs who took to the web to just get their feelings off their chests. While I’m sure some of my statement is true, I’ve come to realize that some of my statement might be false. There are probably bloggers like myself and the people in this class, who are doing extensive research to defend certain claims and tell the public of their ideas. If the ideas are presented in a factual and conclusive way, then I believe the author has made a successful blog. As such My view of blogs and blogging in general has changed somewhat.

I believe blogging did help me better understand communication theory. Through this blogging process I was better able to translate my ideas and get feedback from my peers on how to improve my writing. The thing I loved the most about this class is that we were able to pick our own topics and connect them to things going on in the real world. I found that to be fairly refreshing because it allowed me to write whatever I wanted yet it still restricted me to find a way to keep it relevant to the class. It was the perfect amount of leash for a new blogger like me to have. I find it awesome that I am growing into a better communicator though this blogging experience and I do find it a bit sad that this is the end. I also find it sad that I spent a good portion of my Christmas break stressing out and working when I’ll be starting the cycle all over again starting Monday. All in all I found this class to be an amazing experience. Thank you all and good luck on your future endeavors my fellow communicators.

9/11, The New News Tool

Moment of Impact

After reading that title I’m sure you thought to yourself, “9/11 wasn’t a tool. You are the tool for saying that”. Yes 9/11 was a tragic time in our nation’s history in recent memory, but at the same time look at the aftermath and how the news manipulated the event. To prove my point, I will be looking at both the agenda-setting theory and the cultivation theory, and how they were used after the events of 9/11.

To paraphrase Maxwell McCombs and Donald L. Shaw, agenda-setting theory is the belief that the media can influence their agenda onto the public (1972). When I think about the aspect just mentioned and 9/11, the first thing that comes to mind was theme of patriotism. When we discovered the culprit behind the attacks was Al-Queda, millions of people wanted to return the favor and attack the organization as they attacked us. Donna Miles wrote a piece saying The Department of Defense recorded that in August of 2006, 5 years after the attacks, the United States Army, Marines, Naval Air Force and Navy successfully recruited 10,500 soldiers, 4,300 Marines, 3,200 Airmen and 4,100 sailors, surpassing their monthly recruitment goals in those branches (2006). When you think about it that’s a lot of people joining the military. The Department of Defense then goes on to state that military support among the people has also raised tremendously (Miles, 2006). So as one can see, the media’s agenda has influenced us more than we know. But our patriotism has also blinded us. There were rumors that Iraq had a WMD (weapon of mass destruction), and that Iraq had been assisting Al-Queda. According to Michael J. Muin in his work, “Agenda-setting theory and the role of the media in shaping public opinion for the Iraq war”, the media jumped upon those rumors and got people rallied up about the incident (2011). Eventually we discovered that it was all propaganda and that the WMD’s were not all we thought them out to be (though technically the toxic gasses soldiers found are labeled as weapons of mass destruction, the media hyped up nuclear warheads)(Muin, 2011). So as one can see, the news molded the catastrophic event of 9/11 to best influence us Americans into a false sense of patriotism.

After the events of 9/11 people were drawn to their television sets and watched thousands of aftermath stories unfold. Those stories resulted in creating fear among the people. George Gerbner called the phenomenon of television creating shrewd views of the world “Cultivation Theory” (Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N, 1980). One of the misperceptions that we interpreted was that flying was not safe anymore. Since the hijackings on that day, millions of Americans were afraid of flying commercial airlines. It was reported that it took at least three years for the airline industry to match the average number of flyers pre-9/11 according to Ken Notis of the U.S. Department of Transportation (2005). Also tales of increased security in airports and random screenings also plagued the minds of U.S Citizens. Some felt like their rights were being taken away due to all of the safety checks and that the world is not as safe as it used to be. This type of cynical belief is another term that Gerbner coined called “Mean World Syndrome”. It is a belief that you think the world is full of negativity and it is a belief found in most people who do excessive television watching (Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N, 1980). These types of post-9/11 issues are still being brought up today, so the fear is still real.

In conclusion, the media has used the agenda-setting theory and the cultivation theory to subliminally influence us in our post-9/11 world. Hopefully you read all the way through and realize some of the influence the media has done. I encourage you to do your own research and come to your own conclusions on the matter. Because we make the world what we see, and I don’t see a world full of fear, but a world of hope and understanding.

Misinformation Highway

Works Cited

Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1980). The mainstreaming of America: Violence profile no. 11. Journal of Communication, 10-25. Retrieved from: http://www.asc.upenn.edu/gerbner/Asset.aspx?assetID=1644

McCombs, M., & Shaw, D.L. (1972). The agenda-setting function of the mass media. Public Opinion Quarterly, 36, 176-185. Retrieved from: http://www4.ncsu.edu/~amgutsch/MccombsShawnew.pdf

Miles, D. U.S Department of Defense, American Forces Press Service. (2006). Five years after 9/11, recruiting, retention remain solid. Retrieved from American Forces Press Service website: http://www.defense.gov/news/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=823

Muin, M. J. (2011). Agenda-setting theory and the role of the media in shaping public opinion for the iraq war . (Master’s thesis, University of Central Missouri)Retrieved from: http://centralspace.ucmo.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10768/26/MMuin_Communication.pdf?sequence=1

Notis, K. U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics. (2005). Airline travel since 9/11 (13). Retrieved from Research and Innovative Technology Administration website: http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/special_reports_and_issue_briefs/issue_briefs/number_13/html/entire.html

Simpson, G. (Cartoonist). (1998). Misinformation Highway [Web Comic]. Retrieved from:http://www.cartoonwork.com/misinformation_highway_sjpg334.jpg

Platt, S. (Photographer). (2001). Moment of Impact [Photograph]. Getty Images. Retrieved from:http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/399/cache/september-9-11-attacks-anniversary-ground-zero-world-trade-center-pentagon-flight-93-second-airplane-wtc_39997_600x450.jpg

Buddhist Symbol Turned Bad: A Second-Order Sociological System Look at the Swastika

It is funny how over time meanings of certain objects and symbols can change. One such example would be of the yellow ribbon from the “Yellow ribbon round the ole oak tree” song from Tony Orlando and Dawn and its association with operation “Desert storm”. In the song, the yellow ribbon meant forgiveness and welcome home from a woman to her lover who was in jail. In its association with “Desert storm”, the yellow ribbon was used by students was also used as a sign for welcome home, but instead of forgiveness, it was for serving our country.

In Roland Barthes’ “Myth today”, this process goes by the name second-order semiological system (1957). To best simplify this, there are two factors to make a sign, the signifier (the physical object), and the signified (the message). In the folk song, the ribbon was the signifier and the signified was the message of being welcomed home. Taking the signified and the signifier into effect, we conclude the sign is a yellow ribbon means forgiveness. However, the second-order semiological system adds on to what just occurred and makes the sign a signifier for a new sign. So the new signifier (welcome home ribbon) is paired up with a new signifier (success in operation “Desert storm) and a new sign is created (yellow ribbon now means success in “Desert storm”). Now it is time for me to open up a can of controversy and talk about how the swastika, a Buddhist symbol, became the sign that we associate most with the Nazi party using the second-order semiological system.

Let us start this controversial topic by talking about what the swastika actually looks like physically. Chirag Badlani wrote an interesting piece on the swastika in different cultures. In her book, “Nazi swastika or ancient symbol? Time to learn the difference”, she states that the swastika is a symbol of arms bent in right angles going clockwise (Badlani, 1997). This physical shape will be our signifier. Now let us look at the meanings, or the signified. In Buddhism the swastika means prosperity and good will in the Buddhist culture (Badlani, 1997). Though the swastika’s most famous religious incantation is Buddhist, other cultures had variations of the symbol itself. In Jainism, the swastika represents a seventh saint who has four arms. The saint represents four realms of rebirth after death in Jainism; Earth, Hell, the animal and plant world, or the spirit world (Badlani, 1997). The swastika has also made an appearance in Hinduism. In Hinduism, the symbol‘s arms face to the left rather than the right and goes by either sathio or sauvastika depending on translation. Hindus use the symbol to represent purity, night, magic and the goddess Kali, who is associated with destruction and ruin (Badlani, 1997). The swastika was also used in Aryan cultures where it represented nobility and it had arms facing to the right (Badlani, 1997). Using what we know now and Bathes’ system, we can create a sign for the swastika. If we see the symbol in eastern culture and its arms face to the right, it could mean peace, rebirth, or nobility. Likewise if one has arms that face to the left, then it could be a symbol for the goddess Kali or any of its other associations.

Now the big question remains, how did the swastika become a symbol of the Nazi party? To answer this question, we’ll have to use the sign we created from the last paragraph and the historical context of Germany before WW2. According to C. Truman of “History learning site”, Germany’s influence was restricted due to the Treaty of Versailles, the treaty that ended WW1. The treaty forced Germany to limit their military force, pay for all the damage done in WW1, have some of their land taken away, and to have Germany itself take all the blame for WW1 (Truman, 2012). With all of these conditions, Germany soon became a very poor nation. The Great Depression only made things worse. A mass inflation soon occurred and their money started to become worthless. Eventually a group called The Friekop came into power. These people were German nationalists and held a patriotic belief that they were a proud and noble people. Soon the Friekop became the Nazi party under the leadership of Adolf Hitler (Truman, 2012). Hitler then took the symbol of the swastika and made it the symbol of Germany. Chin Kee Thou’s article “The swastika sign (卐) – a symbol of Buddhism or Nazism?” explains how Hitler interpreted the symbol (2013). Hitler’s take on the symbol was similar to that of the Aryan’s interpretation of the swastika. Hitler saw the symbol as a sign of nobility and pride just like the Aryans and incorporated the symbol within German culture (Kee Thou, 2013). However, Hitler took liberties with the symbol. He tilted the swastika 45 degrees, thus making the symbol we know and associate the swastika with today (Kee Thou, 2013). So let us use the second-order sociological system to determine the new sign. Like I said in the beginning of this paragraph, the signifier will be the swastika in Aryan culture, meaning nobility and pride. The signified will be the Nazi party and their warped nationalistic views. Putting those two together we create a new sign (Barthes, 1957). This new sign is a swastika that means nationalism and pride in being a Nazi. Thus we have created a modern myth as Barthes would have called it (1957).

Knowing the second-order semiotic system, we have learned how a cultural symbol of either peace or nobility can become a symbol we associate with hatred. I believe that using this system, we can open our minds and have us draw inspiration from other cultures. It just goes to show you, there is more than meets the eye.

Buddhist Swastika

Nazi Swastika

Works Cited

Badlani, C. (1997). Nazi swastika or ancient symbol? Time to learn the difference. An end to intolerence, 5, Retrieved from http://www.iearn.org/hgp/aeti/aeti-1997/swastika.html

Barthes, R. (1957). Myth today. Retrieved from http://www.mat.ucsb.edu/~g.legrady/academic/courses/01sp200a/students/enricaLovaglio/p andora/MithToday.html

Kee Thou, C. (2013). The swastika sign (卐) – a symbol of Buddhism or Nazism?. Retrieved from http://edhamma.net/?p=467

Trueman, C. (2012). History learning site. Retrieved from http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/treaty_of_versailles.htm

Whose Role Is It Anyway?: A Student’s Struggle With Gender Roles

Shakespeare once said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. True we are merely players in the grand epic called life, but our role isn’t improvisational, we have a specific part to play in our societies eyes. You may be asking “What is our role?” Our role is based on our gender scheme and how we are to behave.

George Herbert Mead coined the term “Generalized Other” meaning that we as people have a mental image of what is expected of us from the expectations and responses from our environment (Grey, Janoski & Lepadatu, 2009). I want to talk about how generalized other ties into some struggles like trying to become successful like some of my peers and hiding negative emotions.

All my life, I wanted to be successful. I come from a well off family and I always wanted to provide for my family like the way my father does. For the longest time he was the only source of income for our family until my mother decided to go back to work when I was in high school. I was amazed because most families I knew had both parents working, but not mine. I wanted to become successful like him and I felt pressured to do so. I always worked hard at whatever task I did, but no matter what I did, it was always sub-par. I refused to believe my best work was sub-par and kept trying harder, yet no avail. According to James M. O’Neil this a common occurrence called “gender role conflicts and strains” ( GRCS) , or the struggles of being what society deems as “a man” (2013). More specifically the issue being discussed is “success, power, competition issues” (SPC), which are issues that involve the effect of a man’s success compared to the bar society has for all males who want to be successful (2013). I saw my friends and peers do the same work as I did and yet they performed better when we supposedly did the same amount of work. There are times I worked hard, and failed to meet my goal, while others made little effort and got positive recognition for it. Sometimes I take a page out of Mead’s generalized other and seek a response, or feedback, from employers or teachers. They tell me what to improve and I work hard to improve what I’ve been told, yet they tell me it is not enough, even when I am pushing myself beyond my limits. This problem of mine is like “The Simpsons” episode “Homer’s Enemy”. In the episode a man named Frank Grimes is hired by the power plant Homer Simpson works at. Frank is an intelligent man who has worked hard his whole life and always seems to get overlooked or taken for granted. When he works at the factory, he comes across Homer who is the exact opposite of him. He is unintelligent, lazy, and things always seem to go right for him. Frank can’t stand this and tries to call Homer out. However every time he calls Homer out, Homer is rewarded even more (1997). The episode in a way reflects the way I feel compared to my peers. No matter how hard I work, I feel like I may not meet the requirements and standards my peers have set.

Another issue I have is being open emotionally. I view myself as a sympathetic man who is easily approachable and is willing to help out and reason with any emotional problems one might be having. When it comes to showing my emotions or talking about my problems, I tend to not let them show or even bring them up. In fact it is a miracle I’m even writing about them right now. My issues with negative emotions also relates to one of James M. O’Neil’s “gender role conflicts and strains”. This conflict is actually called “restrictive emotionality” (RE) and deals with men being afraid to show emotions because it would make them look feminine (2013). There is also an unspoken schema that men who cannot handle their own issues on their own and seek help are week and lack will power. I’ve seen this sense of false pride destroy relationships and cause good men to spiral out of control. How did man come to this absurd belief?’ Generalized other theorists believe that the male stereotype came from some sort of framing on an internal and external level (2009). Most of the external comes from media outlets and the way they portray males in ads and programs in our American culture. The male figures portrayed are emotionally distant and seem to have their lives together like an old 60’s show. Men strive to become that, but the challenges and reality of life prove that it is not easy. As one can see there is a lot of influence on how men cannot show emotion.

Overall I feel that Mead’s belief of the generalized other has affected my problem with feeling unsuccessful compared to my peers, and the struggle to show negative emotions. Hopefully if anyone else is reading this, you feel not alone anymore. I’m sure there are other men like us who struggle with this wrongful schema. In the long run we will be fine and our roles will transcend society’s character for us and we stop acting and start living.

Works Cited
Azaria, H. (Performer), Cartwright, N. (Performer), Castellaneta, D. (Performer), Shearer, H. (Performer), Weinstein, J. (Performer) Welker, F. (Performer), Swartzwelder, J. (Writer) & Reardon, J. (Director), (1997). Homer’s enemy [Television series episode]. In Oakley, B. (Executive Producer), The Simpsons. FOX.

Grey, C., Janoski, T., & Lepadatu, D. (2009). Balancing and bridging: Integrating the generalized other into theories of difference in symbolic interactionism.. Paper presented at the American sociological association. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.proxy.longwood.edu/eds/detail?vid=6&sid=7f29ade0-9bfd- 4756b9db-10f5abb79868@sessionmgr115&hid=115&bda

O’Neil, J. M. (2013). Gender role conflict research 30 years later: An evidence-based diagnostic schema to assess boys and men in counseling. 91, 490-498. doi: Journal of Counseling & Development

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Hi everybody, my name is Kyle Krupa and I’m from Richmond Virginia. I’m a sophomore here at Longwood University and I’m majoring in Communication Studies with a concentration in Mass Media. I’m usually affiliated with WMLU Longwood Radio, I’ll be having my own radio show starting next semester, and I hope one day to go into some sort of broadcasting in either television or radio.

I’ve had a very great grasp of communication in my life besides working with WMLU. I’ve worked at McDonald’s my sophomore through senior year of High School as well as worked as a camp counselor last summer. In those types of jobs communication is the key because listening and acting makes the customers happy and makes the campers enjoy their experience at camp. I’ve also spent some time doing mission work in the Dominican Republic, helping out the community there while trying to effectively communicate in Spanish with the locals.

As a person, I’m a laid back individual who rarely let’s trivial matters get to him. I try to treat everyone the way I’d like to be treated, with a sense of respect while showing a jovial side as well. As I mentioned before I work with WMLU and we are usually on the air during the school year and stream online as well.