Thursday, May 30, 2019

Look Away!!! How Does Controversial Content Affect Video Games?

We’ve come a long way from simply saving Princess Peach in a castle. Video games have evolved into more than a simple pastime designed for kids younger than 12, and more mature ideas ranging from violence and identity have been explored thoroughly to older audiences. Now, it is a new medium in which developers can share a message, popular or not, with their audience.

"You Don't Need Violence in Your video Game to Make it Sell" by BagoGames
is Licensed under CC 2.0
However, like banned books and censored art, games have been challenged by their audiences and condemned for being too graphic or too gratuitous. Although controversial ideas are protected by the U.S constitution, there are a few games that have either received huge, crippling backlash or were taken down entirely because of certain lines they crossed.
Many of these boundaries are very thin and can determine whether a game is just stylized or whether the content is not okay. Disclaimer: The point of this article is NOT a rulebook on what games are okay to play and what is not, but the point of this article is to point out controversial topics in gaming and how they influence the game as a whole. Let’s begin…

Nuts and Bolts

The level system describes the level of controversy of each game. Level 1 is the most extreme, with the game being banned, and as the levels increase, the controversy becomes more minimal. This also applies to 'sub-levels', where some games with similar controversial content (like violence) may be less controversial than others, like a level 2-2 Call of Duty to a level 2-1 Mortal Kombat. Here's a rough diagram of controversial video games:

                                               /                                                                    \
                                              / Level 1: Banned or Adult Only ESRB          \
                                            /  Level 2: Extreme Violence and Sex                \
                                           /    Level 3: Religion and Mild violence and sex   \

The 'Pyramid' represents a chance of redemption for these games. The higher the game is, the harder the game has to work to redeem themselves in the eyes of gamers. For example, there are plenty of Level 2 Violent games like 'The Last of Us', but there are enough redeeming qualities to the game that it has won multiple 'Game of the Year' awards.

Level 1: Blocked?

To say that some games have garnered a lot of negative from the government and the public would be an extreme understatement. While close to no games has been banned from the U.S in a federal sense, plenty of other games have been banned from other countries like New Zealand, Germany, China, and Australia. These games are the best games to start with because they have garnered federal attention and have literally crossed the federal line. Here is a brief overview of the worst offenders:

Warning: There is a reason that these games have been banned in countries, and the content of these games has sexual violence, extreme physical assault, and other potentially disturbing content. If you are sensitive to these games, then feel free to skip this section and read Level 2 games. 

For modesty, the games with the content will not be listed, but the content that caused the anonymous game to gain controversy will be discussed.

[Sexual Violence] Almost all games that have shown nonconsensual sex and other forms of sexual violence have been either banned or taken down from the markets. For example, games that have featured rape have been banned in countries like Australia, Taiwan, and Germany, but not America. This is an indicator that there is a consensus against games like these, and that nobody wants to play these games because they are only found in the dark side of the web

[Illegal Violence and Activity] Another common theme in banned games also involves any game that includes illegal activity. What is Illegal Activity in games? Illegal Activity is an action that the player can do in the game that is illegal in real life. For example, games like GTA are banned in other countries because of the player's capability to murder, steal, and do other activities that could get them arrested in reality.

"Grand Theft Auto V headed to the PlayStation 4 Fall of 2014" by BagoGames
is Licensed under CC 2.0
[Rockstar Games] Rockstar Games have released many games that have been banned in many countries, including Grand Theft Auto, Bully,  and Manhunt. These games usually fall under the category above about illegal violence, but Rockstar has so much controversial content like violence and sex in their games that they deserve a category of their own.

Level 1 Summary:

A lot of these games that were banned included sex and violence. Specifically, the type of sex that was banned was non-consensual or was a form of assault. The violence that usually ended up getting banned was violence that would show the breaking of a country’s law. You may be asking, ‘Why did only one game get banned in the U.S?’ That takes a somewhat brief explanation…

In order to protect free speech, the U.S government has no laws on games. The Guy Game wasn’t banned because it of the message, but it featured real people and was therefore under the liberties of federal law. However, there is the ESRB that takes care of controversial games to maintain some degree of restraint. The reason ESRB exists is that the government doesn’t want to take control of the gaming market and censor an area of free speech, so the ESRB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping games under control in place of the government. To contest the games that are normally censored, and AO (Adults Only) rating is given and few stores retail those games. You can technically find the games, but you would have to actively pursue the game to play it because of the connotations associated with owning the game.

Level 2-1: Modern Controversy of Violence

Yes. The age-old fight against violence…

This isn’t going to be an argument over if violence is okay in video games because there are hundreds of other articles basing the argument on the morality of violence in video games, but the article will compare violent games and explore why some garner backlash and others don’t. First, here are the controversial kings of violence:

"A New Generation of Kombat| Mortal Kombat X Review" by BagoGames
is licensed under CC 2.0

[Mortal Kombat] is the original ‘violent’ game. While it wasn’t the first game to possess a debatable content relating to violence, it was a popular game that brought violence attention to kids and parents around the world. When the original game released for the SNES and Genesis (Nintendo and Sega, respectively), parents were outraged that their kids could buy this game freely, and was eventually one of the games that brought Sega and Nintendo into court to discuss censorship. Thus, ESRB was born to help parents decide what their child may play. Mortal Kombat is a game notorious for its gruesome fatalities, brutalities, and blood, and has controversy over how much detail this game goes into.

[Grand Theft Auto] has already been mentioned once, but this game is very controversial no matter how you look at it, and this game isn't banned in America. The main complaint about this game is that the violence depicted is glorifying the illegal activity and is, and the main defense of the game is that there is no correlation between violence and video games and that GTA is a game that doesn’t necessarily create an intimate connection.

[Doom], besides Mortal Kombat, is another one of the notorious video games. With Satanic References, lots of blood, and violence galore, this game, while gaining a devoted fanbase and somewhat favorable reviews critically today, garnered a lot of negative attention upon its release. In fact, this game was the forefront of anti-violence games when it was released because of one of the high schoolers’ relations to the game during the Columbine Massacre.

And less known:

[JFK: Reloaded]. A JFK assassination simulator with you as Lee Harvey Oswald. This game, unsurprisingly, was denounced by Kennedy’s family, along with the general public.

[Postal] is a game series in which you kill as many people as possible in an arcade fashion. The controversy stemmed from whether the violence was excessive or not. The arguments intensified with its sequel because of how the violence was taken to the next level.

Level 2-2: Not as Violent Controversy

Unsurprisingly, some games are violent, but they don’t garner as much controversy as others for various reasons. Here are some of the examples of such games:

[Gears of War] is a critically acclaimed game about an alien invasion. The game features gory kills via chainsaws and blowing aliens into a bloody mess. While there was minor controversy upon its release, the series has gone strong averaging 91 for their 4 games on Metacritic and a 5th game being announced.

[Call of Duty] is another popular video game series that has made dozens of games. The controversy over this game is well known, and ironically, it’s not because of the occasional violence that earned its M Rating from ESRB. The series is known for a toxic community of players that perhaps gives the series more hate than it deserves.

"The Last of Us Concept Art" by Skush
is licensed under CC 2.0
[The Last of Us] is a game that won multiple game of the year awards, and has been critically and publicly acclaimed for its story and gameplay. Although there is intense violence at times, with themes like suicide, fatherhood, grief, and survival, the game manages to pull this off tastefully and with emotion.

Various Horror Games are also receiving less controversy, whether that is Resident Evil, Until Dawn, Dead Space, Outlast, Silent Hill, (Okay, maybe not Silent Hill). The common theme for the horror genre is that it is okay because the player goes into a horror game to see gory violence or psychological tension because horror games are notorious for that. The only controversy involving horror involves religious references because they can be offensive or obscene to religious groups, like Silent Hill and Outlast 2. (More on Religion later).

Verdict

The common themes for games with violence stem from a few basic rules. For starters, like in JFK: Reloaded, backlash usually stems from games that involve real people being portrayed as victims of death or a glorification of similar ideas.

 Also, what separates games like GTA and Gears of War is the fact that games like Gears of War have an element of disbelief to them. For example, it is more acceptable to kill something foreign, like an alien or a monster, because those aren’t real. However, games like Grand Theft Auto or Postal faces backlash because the people you fight aren’t alien, but they are human, and in most occasions, innocent. Call of Duty doesn’t give the option of killing innocent people,(except in one game, which got the mission taken down), but fights aggressive people. Also, Call of Duty contains a zombies mode that falls under the monsters category from earlier.

Other forms of controversial violence usually involve religious violence. The main offenders of religious violence involve horror games more often, and that sort of religious violence is usually similar to the forms of religious violence in film or media.

However, many of the video games that are violent are popular to some extent, and a lot of the games are critically and publicly praised for different reasons. Even Mortal Kombat  (11) and GTA have been considered good games in their own rights.

Level 2 Recap:

  • NO killing of innocents
  • It is generally okay to fight the unknown or inhuman
  • NO killing of real people
  • NO religious violence

Level 3-1: Censorship of Religion
Although there has been censorship in America by private companies, not all companies censor their subject matter in regards to religion. In fact, games like 'God of War', 'Dark Souls', and 'Assassin's Creed' have religious undertones both subtle and obvious. Some games have garnered praise (non-religiously) and continued strong, but almost every religious game has gone through some form of controversy with religious groups. While most games rely on fictional religions, some make references to real religions, usually Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Here are a few small examples of games with religion:

"Little Big Planet - HD - Sackboy" by SobControllers
is licensed under CC by 2.0
[Little Big Planet] Days before the release of Little Big Planet for the PlayStation 3, the game was delayed due to a piece of music that had some words and verses from the Quran of the Islam religion. The game was then released without the piece to avoid backlash from the religious groups.

[Assassin's Creed] The original Assassin's Creed had small undertones of Anti-Catholicism with the premises of the Assassin's fighting the corrupted Catholic church via the Templars. While there isn't overwhelming controversy over the game, there are some questions as to whether this is appropriate for religious groups. However, the legacy of this game series is still strong, with the series leaving the traditional Renaissance atmosphere towards an ancient Greek and Egyptian feel.

[God of War] The game literally has the word God on the cover, so this game is bleeding with religion. The religion in God of War, though, is really Greek Mythology, which is an outdated religion with an extremely minimal if existant following. In fact, the controversy lies with not the religion, but the violence associated with the series. However, with the new God of War game taking on Norse Mythology with reduced violence, the new God of War game has been regarded as a masterpiece because of its story of a father and his son.

Level 3-2: Pre-2000 Censorship

Although there has been censorship in America by private companies and in smaller scales, not all companies censor their subject matter in regards to religion. In fact, games like 'God of War', 'Dark Souls', and 'Assassin's Creed' have religious undertones both subtle and obvious. Some games have garnered praise (non-religious praise, that is) and continued with new releases constantly, but almost every religious game has gone through some form of controversy.

To begin, religion has been censored a few times from Japan to America, and there is almost without fail controversy over any game with religious undertones. Although America doesn't actively have a law restricting religious references, the backlash from the public over certain religious ideas usually end in the company censoring a part of their game. Specifically, Nintendo has had a history of censoring content for a family-friendly system, especially with the Nes, Snes, and Nintendo 64. Here are some of the examples of Nintendo's censorship:

[Legend of Zelda] The original three games before Ocarina of Time had censorship over the main Protagonist Link and his equipment. The original Legend of Zelda for the NES had the Bible changed into the 'Book of Magic' and the cross on the shields has also faced backlash. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was originally called Triforce of the Gods, but the name was changed in North America to avoid backlash and be more palatable for religious audiences. Ocarina of Time originally featured a shield with a resemblance to the religious symbol of Islam, but that was changed to a random embellishment design. Also, like with Little Big Planet, the music of the original game had some Muslim chanting, and for the 3DS release of the game, that chanting was taken out.

"Final Fantasy VI Box (Front)" by Bryan Ochalla
is Licensed under CC 2.0
[Final Fantasy VI] Before Squaresoft (present-day Square Enix) started working with Sony on Final Fantasy VII, the Final Fantasy series was exclusively on Nintendo devices. One of the reasons Squaresoft made the switch to Sony was because Sony was laxer on mature themes and references, which was something that Nintendo restricted to maintain a family-friendly reputation. Some examples of censorship in North America were clothing changes in sprites to cover more.... revealing outfits. Other examples are renaming Bar to CafĂ© in games like Final Fantasy VII. However, the most notable censorship examples are religious censors. Although some things slipped through the censors' fingers, like an Esper summon named 'Shiva' or Banon's 'pray' skill, other censored items remained like 'Holy' renamed 'Pearl' or some of the religious undertones to the game reduced.

[Games with Crosses] Since Crosses are associated with Christianity, any cross seen in a pre-2000 would be either omitted or altered. For example, the crosses on the coffins in any game like DuckTales or Ghouls and Ghosts would be changed to RIP signs or ankhs for Ghouls and Ghosts. Even the Red Cross sign associated with medicine and health would be omitted from health kits and replaced with hearts.

Verdict
It seems that the most controversial games with religion are the games with references to the most popular religions. Most game companies censor their game before they reach the public, so the conflict over religion isn't as intense as the conflict over violence. This could be due to the taboo that religion has in American culture and the hope of accessing a wider audience that is inoffensive. That said, there also is a very thin line between

Level 3 Recap:
  • Mythology is okay
  • don't use sacred texts or symbols
  • Don't condemn or have negative messages about religion
Conclusion

Note: Like all forms of controversy, this part contains my personal opinion on the subject,  and you may not agree with my points.  Some of the games listed are well-known games, and although some of these games have garnered controversy, most of the specific titles have been successful despite some heated controversy. For example, GTA 5 had earned 1 billion dollars in 3 days and becoming one of the best selling games of all time. In context, the only games to have made more money than GTA 5 would be Minecraft and Tetris. Zelda has still gone strong with Breath of the Wild becoming one of the best selling games on the Nintendo Switch. So, controversial games don't necessarily make a game bad. In fact, to the contrary. Most games with controversial content are either really good or forgotten by the public and gather dust in the bottom of a clearance pile along with other games regardless of controversy. That may be because games have evolved into an art along with books and paintings.

People may be willing to suspend judgment when they read an engaging book or a fascinating painting, and they can be willing to accept certain standards. In fact, the only games that have been unacceptable were the level 1 games, and that was because the games were very intense with insufficient content to justify the content. This can be similar to a book of gratuitous violence or other... provocative content. Most of these books are avoided because there isn't character development to engage the player to be able to morally justify why they should read the content. You may ask, "What's the takeaway for this?" The best lesson from this project would be that you shouldn't necessarily shy away from a game simply because there is controversy over the game, but you should be wary of the level 1 games that have been censored for illegal activity or content. I can't tell you to not play the game, but some of these games need to be played with skepticism or a mature mindset to handle the content.  Most importantly, don't be afraid of trying games simply because people argue over certain aspects of the game. It's okay for a game to have negative feedback and still be good because people don't play games necessarily for political validation, but they play to escape into an experience, whether it is attempting to get 5 stars for as long as possible or running and jumping through colorful landscapes.

There's more Fake News circulating than truth? What???

Now that we have entered the 21 century with its advance in technology, we have unprecedented chances to share and gain information from the internet which has grown to hold unimaginable amounts of data. Although it has become more convenient for us to share information and material, it is also easy for people to input a lot of untruthful information. Fake news can spread via diverse ways on the internet to deceive people, attract people’s attention and to mislead people, damaging specific event or person by using false information.
Fake news by valeriy osipov is licensed under CC BY 2.0
It is not difficult for us to think about the incidence of fake news. If investigators want to figure out the impact of fake news on the internet, one of the effective ways to study fake news is to look at the ways fake news is spread.

We know that there are people who want to spread pseudo-news, but how can fake news spread in such an astonishing cascade in the internet world? There are also millions of robots or bots residing within the internet that help people disrupt the internet.
These robots create by using programming skills and code. They listen to the command of algorithms, and then robots simulating the real person in the social medium. They can share and spread information and messages. Also, they can simulate a particular situation and respond to another situation by their precise algorithms.

They seize opportunities to create influential tweets to generate trust with people so they can use these people, to participate in debating topics so they can attract followers. They use ordinary topics to correlate to the trending hashtags and popular topics to help them propagate the fake news. They continue to say and tweet the fake news items, continue to comment on other people’s tweets. That is how these bots propagate the pseudo-news and one of the reasons that average user believe the fake news and retweet it. The bots’ messages are all over the internet and people rarely question this pseudo-information.

These are all shady tactics of the robots, and thousands of companies try to wipe out these annoying robots, but fake-news still is common on the internet.

Investigators distinguished robots that makes fake-news spread most quickly, but finally, they return to the phenomenon of bots spreading the fake news. One study group designed an experiment to determine how the fake news and real messages propagate differently. They have learned that the function of the 126,000 rumor cascades spreading by ~3 million people more than 4.5 million times from inception of the twitter to 2017. The study group found that the likelihood of spreading fake news and retweeting was more 70 percent likely than the truth, no matter what the demographics of the account holder is(age, level of activity, number of followers.) They then found an alternative explanation for this dilemma from the theory that people are attracted to novelty. Therefore, therefore contributing to encouraging information sharing. Later on, to confirm this theory, they measured whether pseudo-news was more novel than the truth and whether Twitter users were more likely to retweet information that was more novel. They selected people who propagated the authentic and fake news before their decision to retweet the message. They found that pseudo-news was more novel than the truth across all novelty metrics.

Although the novelty of false news is more than truth, people may not perceive these materials as much. Researchers, therefore, tested users’ perception by comparing emotional content and replies to authentic and fake news. They had an outcome by measuring words of the leading lexicon associated with words of emotion. They found that fake news received more replies which expressed surprise more than the replies contained in the truth. Emotion is an additional factor which inspires people to retweet the pseudo-news; researchers find that false news is more novel than the truth, and that novel information is more likely to be retweeted.

The study shows that false news spreads more pervasively than the truth online. It also changes other people’s thought of the spread of fake news.

The more likely a post is to be re-tweeted, the more likely it is to spread efficiently. The researchers concluded that “human behavior contributes more to the differential spread of falsity and truth than automated robots do.” This means that investigators should focus on human beings’ behavioral intervention of human beings, more than on curtailing.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Social media Terms of Service - what are you agreeing to?

Image licensed by Pixabay
Snapchat, Instagram and Twitch all have terms of service you agree to but what are you really signing up for? These social media are supposed to be a way to communicate with your friends safely but some of them are not doing what they say they’re doing.

Twitch can be a safe place to talk, watch, and even play with friends or popular streamers but when people are streaming you never know what is going to happen because everything is live. I would say that twitch is the least “harmful” out of these three social media applications because their terms of service say
“We use your email address to communicate with you, including to notify you of major Twitch Services updates, for customer service purposes, or to contact you regarding any content that you have posted to or downloaded from the Twitch Services. Twitch may periodically send promotional materials or notifications to you related to the Twitch Services. If you want to stop receiving promotional materials, you can go to your account settings once you have logged in to the Twitch Services or follow the unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of any email from us. If you have installed a mobile app and you wish to stop receiving push notifications, you can change the settings either on your mobile device or through the app. In certain cases, we have a legal obligation to collect and process your personal information (such as our obligation to share data with tax authorities).”
This is saying you are safe until you are in a legal situation with Twitch and to do that you need to seriously go against their terms of service.

Instagram is also a very safe application that you can use to show off where you are in the world, post updates of your life and again talk with your friends. But you can be unsafe on Instagram too. You can have a private Instagram where people have to request to follow you before they can see your posts and stories. If you do not have a private account anyone can follow you and maybe even hack you. This has happened to me with my Photography account. This was not a private account and a hacker decided to turn my own account into their own account. After that experience I have had a private account ever since. The other account violated Instagram's terms of use and the account was taken down.
“You can't attempt to create accounts or access or collect information in unauthorized ways. This includes creating accounts or collecting information in an automated way without our express permission. You can't attempt to buy, sell, or transfer any aspect of your account (including your username) or solicit, collect, or use login credentials or badges of other users.”
This is showing that account theft is a violation of their terms of service. One of the many ways of punishment is to give your account a temporary ban so you can not do anything on the account for a certain amount of time, but another way is a permanent ban so people will never be able to get on the account again.

The reason I think Snapchat is the most risky of these three social media applications is that in the new update allowed snapchat to know your location at all times. This was meant to let your friends know where your location is if you want to meet up, but can be used for bad as well. Luckily, you can turn off the Snap Map so your friends don’t see it but sadly snapchat still keeps tracking where you are, as evidenced in the Location Information portion of the Terms of Service:
When you use our services we may collect information about your location. With your permission, we may also collect information about your precise location using methods that include GPS, wireless networks, cell towers, Wi-Fi access points, and other sensors, such as gyroscopes, accelerometers, and compasses.”
This is showing that snapchat does collect your location with or without you knowing. I think snapchat can be a fun application that you can use with your friends but it can also be a dangerous application if you have the wrong people added and if you are sharing your location with dangerous people. After the snapchat sneaky terms of service update, many people were very upset.

While Instagram is having the terms of service helping the users people were very happy. Twitch is the easiest terms of service to agree to because all they are doing is gathering information to contact you. These are the reasons why I think social media can be good but as well as dangerous.

Concerning Issues Of SmartPhone Usage

"data hacking" by Stock Catalog CC BY 2.0
In this day and age, you constantly see someone using their Smartphone whether it's in the hallway at school or at lunch. Smartphones are spreading like wildfire in a forest. I don’t think Smartphones are bad at all but I do think people need to spend way less time on their Smartphones and go outside. This is especially true for the younger generations. I constantly see middle schoolers absolutely obsessed with their little Smartphones. Smartphones are a great way to communicate with one another but they shouldn’t be your main source for communication with a person. My Smartphone does not control me, I control it! Smartphones are a privilege to have but they are making our civilization into a completely mobile social community.

I had a Smartphone since I was like eight and I swear I’m pretty sure the Smartphone caused me to have eye damage and now I have to wear contacts. I think Smartphones can cause eye strain which is not good at all. Thank goodness though that you can control the brightness on your Smartphones. Smartphones are evolving and becoming better which could either help or not help the human race. In my opinion, Smartphones help us with communication with others but it also distracts us from our goals and tasks. Finally, in my opinion, I think Smartphones are causing our civilization to miss the importance of goals in life and are causing our population to miss social skills. In my first source, it highlights the statistical numbers of Smartphone usage and addiction. According to this source, The average Smartphone user checks their device 47 times a day”. The fact that the average Smartphone user uses their phone 47 times a day is absolutely insane in my opinion. I believe you should check your phone 5 to 10 times a day, which could benefit you in many ways. Also in this source, it's said that “The average user spends 76 minutes a day (1 hr 16 mins) on the top 5 social media apps”. I think this is a reasonable amount of time used on the top 5 social media apps on your Smartphone. Recently now, you can actually see how much screen time you have spent on your Smartphones and I think that is pretty darn cool. If you see how much time you spend on your Smartphone maybe you will change your screen time habitats. Phone addiction is a serious matter which needs to change drastically in our civilization for the great good. According to this source, “66% of smartphone users are addicted to their phones”. The number of Smartphones in people’s hands is increasing very much. More and more you see parents giving their young children Smartphones. Last time I was in an Apple store, I saw like 5 kids buying a Smartphone with their young parents. Smartphones can cause more security for people but it’s the other things you can do on a Smartphone which can make it addicting. Games, social media are all fun but I don’t think you ever spend more than 2 hours on it. Also according to this source, “There are 194 billion apps downloads in 2018 worldwide”. This number seems pretty crazy but given the fact that there are so many Smartphones around the world, this might just be true. I found a really interesting quote in this source that “In South Korea, there are street signs warning of the danger of using a smartphone when walking”. This notion seems pretty amazing, the fact that South Korea installed this in one of their streets is fantastic in my opinion. Every time I go walking in the streets, I constantly see people looking down at their Smartphones. The final source I looked into was a survey by a Women research and writer named Mindy Woodall. Throughout her article, she talked about how the Smartphone habitats between old and young people are not so different. In this study, the same Smartphone addiction occurs in both adult and child. Smartphones are controlling our day and age which is not very good at all, Smartphone users around the world need to control their time spent on Smartphones.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Are Our Phones Distracting Us From Our REAL Lives and Present Moments we are in?

Where is your phone right now? Is it in your pocket? Or is it somewhere where it won’t distract you from this present moment you are in right now. Polls state that 84% of Americans confessed that their phones are a major distraction from their real lives. Think, this small box has taken over our lives. Almost all of your information is on there, some of your most precious moments in life are on this device. Instead of experiencing the beauty and feeling of that moment, we were trying to capture it on a screen. 


Consequences of distracted driving
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Sadie Colbert, released into Public Domain     
Phantom vibration syndrome is arising in our society tremendously. This when you are thinking “did my phone buzz,” or you can feel a vibration in the skin where you have placed your phone. Once that occurs you pull out your phone thinking it buzzed, but you just come to see that it was a phantom vibration or a false alarm. You tell me, do you want it to become your life?
A poll was taken from 1,500 adults that were interviewed by (digital detox) Intrepid Travel North America. “Taking a Digital Detox trip has many proven health benefits including the development of deeper friendships, better sleep, improved memory and the ability to participate in more meaningful conversations.”  Leigh Barnes

  • 84% say their cell phones are a major distraction
  • 42% say their phone is always with them
  • 32% say their phone is always within 3 feet from them
  • The average American can only go 16 hours without internet access
  • 41% choose locations to go that will look good on social media
  • 35% say they have missed out on a beautiful life moment because of their phone
  • 50% spend more than 1 hour on vacation looking for wifi
  • 47% say they could not go on a vacation without their phone
  • 28% say they wouldn’t stay in a hotel without wifi
  • The average American pulls out their phone within 39 seconds of something interesting that just happened.
  • 31% say they are so worried about getting a picture that they miss the experience 
  • 70% want to share their experiences
  • 23% want to get likes and comments
  • 6% want to make their friends jealous
  • 35% admit that they spend way too much time on their cellphones
  • 24% have tripped fallen while looking at their phone
  • 25% say they end up feeling lost when they lose signal
  • 22% say they get anxious/worried when they lose signal
  • 7% would lose their partner for a month to get wifi

 All of these problems together can cause something called phantom vibration syndrome. Wouldn’t you rather have these emotions/ feeling for a person or something real and important in your life vs. your phone? Really take a moment and look around and be aware of your present thoughts every once in a while. You will feel more full and it quite frankly makes your day a little bit better to feel the wind on your skin and hearing the sound of silence and the sound of the birds.

Phantom Vibration System: Phantom Vibration Syndrome is a disease that involves your brain. It is when your phone is in your pocket and you will feel a vibration on your skin adjacent when it was truly nothing. This triggers the person to check their phone just to find out that it was a Phantom Vibration. You would hear your phone vibrate or ring and come to find out it’s a false alarm. According to Dr. Michelle Drouin who is a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Fort Wayne, states that 89% of her undergraduates have experienced this Phantom Vibration. Instead of feeling the elements around you, you are feeling and worried about the buzz on your phone.

Your phone can also be a huge distraction even if you aren't/t on it and it’s just inside the room you are in. Two experiments were done by Adrian Ward from the University of Texas at Austin. The first experiment involved having participants Put their phones on silent without vibration to leave them in their bag and on their desks, and other participants or asked to leave their things their cell phone outside of the room they were taking a test in. In the second experiment, the students were asked to leave their phones Near them as the same in the first experiment, but some of them were asked to turn the power off and out their phone in another room. All of the students who left their phone outside the room have the best test results. The students said that it was easier and the test was not as stressful because they were not worried about where their phone was and what was happening on it. Lastly, throughout the test, they felt much more confident about how they did on the test versus when they do have their phone with them. This proves that our phone and having them present in the room with us distracts us from what we are doing, trying to focus on, or what is happening around us. The smartphones are taking over our brains and it is distracting us from the things life wants us to experience and what life wants to bring to us, and who wants to miss that?

Information leakage already infiltrated in our life!

"Identity Thief - Stolen Credit Card Information"
 by CafeCredit is licensed under CC BY 2.0
In our daily life, there is always something to disrupt us while we are working. In my personal experiences, nuisance calls from telemarketers and companies trying to make a profit off of us are quite disruptive. But how do these companies get our phone number or address? In my opinion, our personal information is being stolen by marketing companies. There is a connection between stolen information, information leakage and accidental exposure of personal information. All three of these examples demonstrate how technology is used to invade our privacy. What I recognized that is the rate of information leakage these years is getting higher and higher, so we should prevent our information more carefully. Once you exposed your information, life equality will drop instantly.

Stolen information is initiated by companies through telemarketing calls, junk mail and names generated from marketing lists. Always reconsider what you give away! One of the ways to safeguard your personal information from leakage is to put less information online. Have you recently given your telephone number to a retail store associate or write your email address on a sign-up sheet at a gym near your home? If that happens, you may need to reconsider how to protect your privacy. Some companies will gather your personal information and sell it to other companies. You now have information leakage. All of a sudden, you will have more ads and junk email in your email account. You will get more nuisance calls which will really influence the quality of your life. I recommend that you do not readily pass out your information to an unknown company and be more careful in giving out information on websites. Sometimes, people will even change their phone number because their lives are so disrupted by nuisance calls.

Passive information leakage information occurs when we open up an unsafe website leading to a virus attack. I have experienced a virus attack that really caused me many problems. When I opened Google Chrome, I find out that my Mac was destroyed by a virus and I couldn't access my Google website. My default website was maliciously tampered by an unknown browser. If I continue searching on this browser, I was concern about that company may steal my information. This was a terrible situation for me and I tried to delete myself. However, these things are so tenacious that I could not fix this problem. So I think one of the methods to keep away from this kind of ways is always delete the things that you don't know and before you download something on the internet, you should try to figure out what is it and is it good to use. These apps may share your information to the company every time! So, try to protect your computer and don't give these companies a chance to get your personal information.

Accidental exposure of personal information is a result of increased use of digital data. “As of January 2017, 50 percent of the global population has access to the internet.”(From Statista.com). However, between 2005 and 2018 the number of data breaches in the United States amounted to 1244 with over 445.6 million records exposed. According to Statista, one example of the largest data breach to date was uncovered in 2016, an online platform, Yahoo announced hackers stole user information associated with at least 1 billion accounts in 2013. A second example included a marketing company working for the Republican National Committee who accidentally left sensitive personal details of almost 62 percent of the US population exposed. (according to US Independent) These examples we sometimes can control information leakage. The fault is with the company so the only thing we can do is try to put as little information into social media as we have to.

According to the New York Times, we can protect our technology in four different ways :
  1. Update your software.
  2. Read privacy policies.
  3. Delete unnecessary apps.
  4. Use a VPN(a virtual private network).
These ways can make your private information safer and they're easy to carry out.
Information leakage is occurring with more and more frequency and we should try to live a safer digital life by being personally responsible for protecting our private information.

Teen Depression & Suicide on the Rise


      According to studies, researchers found that from 2005 to 2014 major depressive episodes increased in children ages 12 to 17 from 8.7 percent to 11.3 percent. Though the world of electronics has advanced so much and offers so many great things, such as instant communication with friends and access to hordes of information and entertainment, researchers are finding there's a dark side behind all these benefits.

      According to many studies and research by the government and psychologists, teen mental health problems like depression and suicide have spiked in recent years. Most researchers believe that the reason for this is either smartphones or a combination of smartphones and other things.
       One of the concerning mental health problems that seem to be plaguing the United States is depression, especially in teenagers and young adults. According to many psychologists, the increasing depression rate seems to correlate with the rising use of smartphones. In the Journal of Pediatrics, “researchers found that from 2005 to 2014, major depressive episodes increased in children ages 12 to 17 from 8.7 percent to 11.3 percent.” Many psychologists believe that this correlates with the increased time on smartphones and may be one of the causes of this. The psychologist at the forefront of this research is Jean Twenge and for this data, she was looking at generational differences that occurred. This means that she wasn't looking at genetics or family related issues as a possible source for the depression increase but was looking at what big cultural shift happens between those time that could account for such a jump. After finishing her study she concluded that the largest and most likely cultural shift that would cause such a spike occurred between the times when the rise of smartphones was taking place.

The next topic I want to focus on is one of great importance that we as a world are starting to talk about but need to talk more about and that topic is suicide.
Image source: NBC News
According to a study by the Pew Research Center “In a survey of nearly 1,000 teens ages 13 to 17, 70 percent say anxiety and depression are critical issues among their peers”. That number is pretty shocking considering we don't talk about the topic that much. According to the data from the study by Jean Twenge those who spend 5 or more hours on electronics a day are at least 71% more likely to have at least one risk factor for suicide than those who spend less than an hour a day on electronics. According to a study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide rates among 15-24 year old's increased from 10 to 15 percent from 2010 to 2017. The data that is compiled here shows that during the rise of smartphones the suicide rate went up 5 percent which does seem to show that in the increased use of smartphones causes an increased risk of suicide.

       Personally, I believe that the evidence that the increased use of smartphones causes an increased risk for depression and suicide is incontrovertible. Though I believe that there is a correlation I think there need to be more long term studies done on the topic to truly solidify the evidence that's already out. There is also supporting evidence from psychologists that suggest that the data produced is a significant start to exploring this topic and what truly happens in the brain when we use electronics.
      As I said earlier there is significant evidence that depression and suicide rates have spiked in the last few years leading psychologists to believe that they rose along with the rising of smartphone usage studies say. Though many psychologists do believe that these are related in one way or another many say that's not the only reason. The majority psychologists who are studying this topic say that along with the rise of smartphones there are other reasons for the increase such as academic pressure and other things.
       The rise of these smartphones and the study's surrounding mental health do show correlation. Many studies show that depression and suicide rates have gone up during that time. The study's by multiple respected sources say there is something going on. But I do want to remind you that there are other things going on as pointed out by many psychologists. Most of the psychologists that are studying this topic say there are other things that may be affect the mental health of someone besides a smartphone. But it is something we need to be aware of and talk about so that the mental health crisis doesn't grow worse.

If you need help call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Ideal Image? How can editing apps have an impact on people’s everyday life?


Ever seen Kim Kardashians 5,000,000 liked factuned photos on Instagram? The Kardashians aren't the only people that use these editing apps, records show that since 2017 Factune was the most popular paid app available for Apple products. Teenagers all over the world use factune every day to fix what we call the “common blemishes”. However, These apps can change the shape of your face, fix anything, even change your hair and eye color. Teenagers are not the only users of these tricky editing apps but adults use these apps often too. Facetune is a common app that can have scary side-effects on how people perceive themselves to be the ideal image on social media. This is very important to teenagers as the amount of screen time and the influence of social media becomes a huge roleplay in their lives. A common misconception that people tend to think is that a little change to my face won't do anything but could end up with many side effects.
Smartphone Face View Woman Double Third Eye Eyes by Max Pixel CC0

What is facetune? According to the Urban dictionary, factune is “an app commonly used for editing substandard selfies. More notably, an incredibly effective and obvious way of letting the world know you need to ‘tune your ‘face’ in a hopeless effort to appear more attractive”. Facetune is what is considered an open secret in social media. The tools that used to be only reserved for models, influencers and magazine companies are now available to anyone with as easy as one click on a smartphone. Knowing that anyone can use these tools means it can affect lots of people in many different ways. Some can use this to be beneficial but for some, this can be very harmful to how they view themselves and how the world views them. The effects are different for everyone but there are a few major common side effects of using these editing apps that could be affecting you. As facetune becomes more a part of our daily lives we need to better understand the serious causes of these editing apps.
Woman Photoshop Picture Crack Disintegration by Max Pixel CC0


More specifically looking at teens usage of factune the effects could very easily affect their future. Some psychologist worry
that the apps affect impressionable teens and could be a reason for the increase in depression and suicide. What do you think when you think of the ideal image? Many teenagers think hourglass body shape, blue eyes, no blemishes, and the smoothest skin. Yes, these are great qualities but they aren't what makes you, who you are. This is an ongoing idea that you can chase and chase the ideal image but you will never achieve it. When people tend to chase the ideal image, their pictures tend to get overedited and hate comments fill the comment section. When teens read these they tend to get depressed when this happens there is a greater chance of suicide.

When people smooth their skin they think that it is something so small you aren't really changing yourself. One experiment that was done, was a woman face tuned all of her pictures for a week and changed her body and much more. At the end of the week, she did not recognize herself in the mirror. She was astonished by the flawless comments being repeated over and over. Although, changing your facial features on an app gives you the idea of security and something to hide behind. This gives teenagers a wall of confidence to hide behind. But do we really want to hide behind a wall to feel confident?

Though there is not a lot you can do as parents, you can teach your peers and children the value of their true identity. GMA says that parents should be educating their kids on what an authentic photo is versus a doctored photo. Helping people understanding their own value and self-identity is very important to the next generations of facetune users.  This is very important to our community and the upcoming generations to keep their true identity and not chase the ideal image that you will never be.

Are our Cell Phones Harming Us?

Cell phones are a tool that all of us use in our daily life and can even take up much of our time during the day, but we never seem to think of the negative side effects that spending much of our lives on these little computers has on us. Today most kids in Middle school have cell phones and even many elementary students own them and use them constantly. Many seem to focus on this as the main problem of the spike of depression over the past few years but I think this problem extends to not only the children of our generation but also to adults and even elderly in some scenarios.

The Listeners by susanjanegolding CC BY-NC 2.0
Over the past few years there has been a spike in depression in teens, young adults, and adults. Many believe that this spike has only affected the teen and children of this generation but it is much more widespread that this. According to a survey from BMC Psyciatry, there is a correlation between cell phone addiction and moderate to severe depression with there being much more depression compared to non-addicted individuals whose averages were from being considered normal to mild mood disturbances. In the survey 64% of those who took it considered themselves to be somewhat addicted to their phone with 17% of those considered themselves to be cell phone addicts and 33% of those who took this said they felt physical pain in the wrist, neck, and back which is caused by cell phones. I think this problem is still growing and will continue to worsen in the coming years with the depression rate perhaps spiking more than it currently has becoming
more widespread over all generations to the point where it can’t be ignored.

267/365. Addicted. by Anant Nath Sharma CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Mental problems should not be the only concern of cell phone addiction as there is also concern for the formation of tumors due to the radiation emitted from cell phones. The radiation was dubbed possibly harmful to humans and was not considered dangerous but there was also no guarantee it was safe. During a study, it was concluded that users of cell phones had a higher risk of acoustic neuroma which is a tumor that develops on a main nerve that connects your ear to your brain and glioma which is the most common brain tumor that develop on the side of you head that you use your phone. There was also a study from Germany that showed that mice have an increased chance to develop tumors when exposed to cell phone radiation. A year after this there was another study from the National Toxicology Program that showed that under mild cell phone radiation levels mice developed brain cancer and schwannomas which are heart tumors. These conditions are very rare and let the scientists conclude that the cell phone radiation was the main causing factor of these conditions which was alarming as humans can develop very similar tumors to the mice. Although there is no examples of this occurring to humans these tumors are long-term and the all too frequent use of cell phones could increase the cancer rates among humans over the next few decades. There are numerous studies of cancers developing in rats but none involving humans, but there is proof about the harmful effects of blue light that is emitted from phone screens.

I think that there is many possible harms that can come the small computers we use in our everyday lives and we should work to limit not only our use of phones but technology as a whole. I think we should set amounts of time that can be used for technology and actually follow them without disregard. Although there is no direct cases in humans yet the possibilities of cancers and the recent spike of depression in not only our generation but all generations should be alarming to all. Many people have an addiction to their phones and also have an increased risk for depression that correlates with the addiction and time spent on their phones.


Staying Safe on Snapchat and Social Media

Don't you just love social media? The way you can upload pictures and videos, and share your day to day life with other people. The way you can stay connected with friends all around the world. Isn’t that great? That sense of security is valued most in our day to day lives but what if I told you-you're not as safe as you think you are? Though there are safety concerns for children using social media, there are also ways to be safe. There are also many ways hackers can get your information, but where is the line between safe and unsafe?



“Social Media Mix 3D Icons - Mix #2” by Blogtrepreneur is licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
According to cyborogism.com, Snapchat is not as safe as we think. We think that our texts and images get deleted and lost forever but in reality, we are prone to hackers leaking out what we don't want to be on the internet by obtaining our personal information like personal photos, social security, and etc, and putting it out there. Ways to avoid this are

  1. be cautious of who you add back on snapchat
  2. resetting your password once it's been hacked
  3. changing your privacy settings



I suggest people read this article before using Snapchat. Snapchat can be a dangerous place when it comes to sexting because as said in the article, hackers can add you and pretend they want to get closer to you.  They can then screenshot your private pictures and maybe even hack your account.  People need to be smart with who they add back on Snapchat.  If you don't know the person, don't add them back. Some hackers may also use those pictures for blackmail or extortion. In my personal experience, I've gotten hackers to try to hack my account or get personal photos from me. Had I not been educated about the dangers of Snapchat, I would’ve fallen under their trap.

According to bestcellphonespyapps.com Hackers can get your information easily. There are three ways you can hack somebody’s Snapchat. These methods could be used for apps beyond Snapchat like Instagram or Facebook. The first method is by using a cellphone spy app. This is the easiest way to gain access to someone’s Snapchat. There are many apps that can do this. For example, PhoneSpector would allow you to be able to view all Snapchat account activities including snaps, friends, and stories. Spy apps can be used to track all cell phone activities including calls, texts, GPS location, and other social media apps. The apps are often undetectable when being used. The second method is resetting the Snapchat password. All a hacker would need is your phone and email which would allow them to click “forgot your password” while signing in, then reset your password. A third method is using a key logger.  A key logger is a program that can be downloaded onto a cell phone and used to track keystrokes. By using a keylogger a hacker would be able to find out the username and password someone uses for their Snapchat account. In my personal opinion, Hacking anyone’s Snapchat or other forms of social media using these methods would be fairly easy and I think people need to be careful to whom they give their information to. Your sense of security is not as secure as you think it is and you should think twice before pressing send.

According to phonesherrif.com, almost every kid has some form of social media. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, SnapChat or any other platform, social media tends to form an integral part of their lives. Social media has its advantages and disadvantages in the way it affects the lives of teenagers. There are positive and negative effects on teens using social media. On the positive side,

  1. They become more informed about current affairs. teens can easily find out about what is going on in their neighborhood, school, state, country, and even the entire world.  
  2. It is easier to study and carry out research work. It makes it easier to for group discussions and study groups even when they are far from each other. 
  3. It boosts self-esteem. By joining groups and fan pages that they are interested in and which reflect their own unique personality, their self-esteem rises exponentially when transferred to their physical lives.  
  4. Helps teens with disabilities interact at the same level as others. social media offers an equal opportunity to everyone. Teens with disabilities can do all of the activities that their fellow teenagers do on social media.  
  5. Assist in getting jobs. Whether they are part time, full time, volunteer positions, internships or contract jobs, they can all be found on social media platforms that provide users with the ability to create their own unique profile of skills and interests.  
  6. Social media helps teens keep up to date with the current technology. When teenagers use social media, they embrace the technology that is widely available and use it for their own good.


There are also negative effects of social media in the lives of teenagers.

  1. Teens are exposed to cyberbullying. It gives a platform for cyberbullies to taunt and bully others. It is easier to bully others through social media than to do it physically. 
  2. Isolation of kids with disabilities. Teens with disabilities can become a target of prejudice from their fellow teens. This can make them feel isolated and very lonely. 
  3. A decrease in productivity levels. Social media is very engaging and leads to teenagers spending a lot of time on them. They may neglect their school work, extra-curricular activities and even their friends and family so that they can play a game or chat about various things not related to schoolwork.
  4. Destroy social skills. Due to the increase in the time spent interacting in the virtual world of social media; it affects the face to face communication and social skills of teenagers.  
  5. Leads to disclosing too much information. Social media has a way of making teens disclose a lot of information that they would not disclose face to face. 


In my opinion, social media can really connect people all around the world and can be useful in our day to day lives. But there are confs that if we're not careful, could make our lives more difficult. Digital citizens should pay attention to this because they need to find a balance in using technology. Without balance, technology can only bring misfortune.

New users on Snapchat are more susceptible to get hacked or catfished or their private photos being leaked. In my personal experience, I've gotten hackers that tried to hack my account or get personal photos from me. Had I not been educated about the dangers of social media I would’ve fallen under their trap. We should pay attention to this because of their personal pictures, texts, and information is one app away from being found out by anyone. Snapchat is just one example of a social media app susceptible to being hacked.  Your sense of security is not as secure as you think it is and you should think twice before pressing send. We need to find a balance in using technology because without balance, technology can only bring misfortune.

Read Between The Lines: How Media Companies Do Our Thinking For Us

"Subscribe to PewDiePie" by Sans on YouTube
SUBSCRIBE TO PEWDIEPIE! Have you heard this before? This short shoutout has captivated a large audience of Internet users and has put a spotlight on the insanely popular YouTuber, PewDiePie.

Over the past 10 years, Felix Kjellberg, or PewDiePie, has racked up over 95 million subscribers on YouTube, and, in turn, garnered almost unmatched attention. This has led to many controversies and accusations across the Internet, aimed mainly at the Swedish entertainer.

When Felix started gaining attention on YouTube, he was known for his vulgarity in gameplay videos and reviews, through shows like "Fridays with PewDiePie," "Weird Stuff Online," and the over 300 games he has played. His carefree persona, relatable to many, however, has led to many disputes about his position on the platform. Making seemingly racist, misogynistic, and anti-Semitic "jokes" led to investigations by many popular and respectable online news sites, like Vox, The Guardian, and others. Felix has responded to this backlash multiple times, stating that this was part of his satirical and "edgy" content at the time. He recently apologized for his behavior and began doing many things that counter the claims that he is an alt-right, white supremacist. For example, on his Tumblr page, he posted an extensive comment noting his apology, writing, “Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive.”

Along with this, he hosts many fundraisers aiding people across the world and notably in Africa, something a white-supremacist would choose to do. These initiatives are typically either ignored or drowned out by the media, which goes to show the bias and ignorance that plagues the media today.

"PewDiePie at PAX Prime 2015"  by camknows is licensed under CC0 1.0

An old controversy is an incident where Felix used the freelance site Fiverr to show what people would do for money and how the site treats its patrons. In his video, Felix pays two Indian men to write on a piece of cardboard "DEATH TO ALL JEWS" and laugh while dancing, along with having a user dressed up as Jesus Christ to say "Hitler did nothing wrong." While this video intended to be more eye-opening than offensive, it was not taken this way by the media, who tended to take this post as an offensive, anti-Semitic video with a complete lack of respect for the Jewish people. While I do agree that the words said are entirely insensitive and offensive, I do think it is essential to understand the context of the video. Despite what some people believe because of different articles opposing him, Felix wasn't just doing this for fun. He was displaying the lengths that people on the website would go to for money and attention. Some people say that Pewds could have used less awful and disrespectful subject matter, but I believe that would not support the point Felix was trying to make. He was not going for a disThe problem with their response is that they either failed to mention or completely disregarded the fact the Felix was disgusted by what happened and had not expected the users to follow through. It is possible that Felix was laughing during this, but I personally do this whenever I am in extremely uncomfortable situations, and I know many others who also do this. Obviously, he could have been aiming to offend or just didn't care, but, based on both the context of the video and the apparent discomfort shown in the video, I strongly disagree with this opinion.

Also, when the men had their accounts removed, PewDiePie donated money so they could start their own website and requested Fiverr to unban their as it was his fault for what happened. Another video was a reaction to comments on Felix's new hair (he had dyed it platinum blond), in which he makes jokes about Hitler and the Nazi movement. One of the many accusations is that he is genuinely a Neo-Nazi. Vox, a very influential media site, says that this is one of many examples of Felix being "alt-right," a term that is commonly thrown at the Youtuber. One of the many claims is that he was holding up his hand like the Nazi salute. Watching the video with an open mindset tends to lead people to realize that he was not genuinely approving the Nazi movement, but he was using satire as humor. this is a VERY controversial subject

Another more notable and sad moment was quite recent when PewDiePie was mentioned by the Christchurch, New Zealand shooter as he live-streamed the massacre of two mosques. Pewds said how sickened and sympathetic he felt in a tweet, and then decided that this was cause for a change. Felix decided he would end the "Subscribe to PewDiePie" meme once and for all, concluding that it should have ended before that but he was relieved and grateful to his 95 million subscribers for all the support.

It bothers many millions of other users (and me) that PewDiePie's many fundraisers and campaigns, even though they not only do more good than he has done bad but are not commonly acknowledged by his aggressors. One of Felix's many charitable campaigns is his "Charity: Water" campaign. In this event, PewDiePie managed to raise $450,000 for villages and people in African countries, mainly Rwanda and Uganda. Another was his IndieGoGo campaign for Save the Children, a non-profit organization aimed at giving children in the U.S. and around the world have the healthiest start to life possible. Setting up prizes for donating specific amounts of money, including custom emails, shoutouts, and many more, PewDiePie celebrated achieving 25 million subscribers on Youtube by raising $342,828(137% of his original $250,000 goal) for this cause. It's interesting that things like this are rarely reported by the media, if at all. Not to mention the $1.3 million raised for (Red), a charity that supports carriers of HIV and AIDS, on PewDiepie's Cringemas live stream. In my opinion, this lack of recognition shows the bias that encapsulates the most influential media companies of today. One can assume that due to the negative stance these sites have taken against him, These companies don't want the good side of PewDiePie to be shown to their readers, as it could give the impression that PewDiePie is not an evil white-supremacist, which is what they are portraying.

It is critical to note that many people, including myself, view PewDiePie's humor as satirical and have been watching his channel for many years and have seen it evolve. Also, as a black person responding to this content, I can safely say that I share the idea that PewDiePie is not at all a racist, sexist or white-supremacist with many millions, subscribers or not. But I do believe it is crucial to look through the eyes of the beholder, and not all people have the same opinion. Both sides of the coin must be looked at, what is happening on the other side. Well, the people that are against PewDiePie tend to get their information about him from biased websites(notably Vox/The Verge & the Wall Street Journal) and take that information as facts. This is a problem because those who watch his content, for entertainment or research, generally come to a very different conclusion than the reports, and in turn, their audience, do. And do note that the original nine videos in the Wall Street Journal made up 0.2% of Felix's content, and even less now. I believe that because of these journalists' articles on PewDiePie, many people who JUST read the news assume that he is continuously making offensive and stereotypical jokes when, in reality, this is not the case. Despite this, I completely understand their point of view. "Why would I waste my time watching a video by some random white guy when I can just read a trusted news source." And to this I say, who is THEIR source?

I believe that to understand a situation truly, one must do their one critical thinking, as letting a website do it for them can lead the reader to biased and highly misleading information through the misunderstanding of or disagreement with the source video, in this case, by the author. It is imperative, in my opinion, that in this digital age, we look at everything on the Internet with critical thought and without the interference of media companies TELLING us what someone meant. Yes, it may be hard to ignore, but to critically think and make your own opinions is critical to keeping the Internet a healthy and just environment for both creators and consumers.