Expressing complex ideas or emotions and captivating an audience in just six seconds is a skill. It requires practice and effort. It is a skill that people aren’t just born with, but one that the use of social media can teach a person to cultivate. And it is a skill that artists, who are used to exploring new formats and media of expression, have taken to with some enthusiasm.
One of the biggest questions facing new college students everywhere is what sort of device to get before going to school: Mac or PC? Tablet or laptop? Students at Northern Illinois University don’t have to worry so much about that, thanks to the institution’s decision to place a ban on just about every website that a college student would ever care about.
The university’s remarkably thorough and soul-crushingly strict Internet policy puts everything from Wikipedia to Facebook in its crosshairs, banning the “use of social media sites … including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc.,” as well as anything even remotely political in nature, which means large portions of Wikipedia and other reference sites.
I used to wonder what about me made me “rape-able,” if I have an invisible sign that marks me. I know that’s the rape culture talking, but your mind can’t help but go to some pretty dark places. Sometimes the dark places are all you have.
After a friend of mine was assaulted, she used to fantasize about her rapist, dreaming that he was a minotaur or a Zeus-like god, her way to cope with what happened. She wanted a version in which what they had was beautiful. In my case, I just wanted him gone, and in the two years since, I had all but forgotten about it. It seems like the type of thing you would remember, but I’ve never been good at journaling, let alone starting a mental rape diary.
But then I saw his message sitting there, as simply as if he were catching up with an old friend. I looked at his easy words—“how are you?” he wrote, without even bothering to capitalize—and I hadn’t the slightest clue what etiquette was in this case. Emily Post never covered “Responding to Your Thwarted Sexual Assailant.”
1) Don’t make someone else’s personal pain about your emotional experience. Humans do pretty crappy things to other humans. The truth is, we aren’t entitled to feel good about the news all the time—especially not when the news is asking us to relate to human tragedy.
2) The more important the news is, the more straightforward you should be in telling it. This holds true for the headline as well as the actual reporting. In terms of the news, if the most straightforward headlines aren’t enough to sell the most important news of the day, then maybe it’s because you aren’t actually covering what’s really important.
3) Stories can be worthy without being upworthy. What CNN seems to be forgetting is that it’s not impossible to get these stories the views they deserve without the Upworthy treatment. Take the sheer number of debates you’ve read this week about Dylan Farrow. No one wants to have that conversation. But it’s being had because we recognize that sometimes we need to put on our adult pants and have adult conversations about the serious stuff.