Aruba is a place that means great significance to me. Out of all the places I’ve visited, it sticks out because of how important it was for me. For background, my grandparents own a timeshare at the Divi Phoenix Resort in Aruba and I’ve been going since I was just a baby. Since then, it has meant a lot to me because of the quality time I can share. My cousins come with us as well and that is another reason for Aruba’s significance. My brother and I share a different relationship with them since we rarely ever see them. Spending quality time with them really means the world to me. The memories we share with them for just one week a year are memories that I will never forget. That reason alone is one of many that make Aruba so special and significant in my life.
Length vs. Creativity:
Analyzing Richtel’s Report on the Debate of Blogs and Term Papers
The article, “Blog vs. Term Papers’’ by Matt Richtel gives an insight into why term papers can seem outdated. In the introduction, he claims that term papers are “an exercise in rigidity and boredom.” The alternative to term papers would be blogs. Blogs can be the perfect way to intrigue students and refrain them from writing long term papers that can halt creativity in a writer.
Blogs can be seen as “relatively fun: and more creative than the bland paper with a set amount of words and topics to write about. Cathay N. Davidson, an English professor at Duke, wants to eradicate the term paper because she claims they are a “discentive to creative, untrained writers” (quoted in Richtel). Others argue that term papers are needed due to the job market. Douglas B. Reeves, a columnist for the American School Board Journal, states, “those who do write them[term papers] have a dramatic leg up in terms of critical thinking” (quoted in Richtel). People argue that the blog post just does not serve students or writers because it does not teach key aspects of writing or thinking. It can be understood that the format of the blog post can be a little unprofessional in the grand scheme of things. That being said, there is no reason a blog post isn’t professional. If blog posts are taken seriously, they can be crucial to a student or a learner in general. Blog posts can have some real meaning behind them about people’s experiences or just any made up short story. Just because blogs are not as serious or scary as term papers does not mean they are useless. A good blog can share a story that could change the world and it’s as simple as that. A paper assigned for students should be engaging and crucial to the students learning. The passage talks on how term papers can be seen as a punishment. Richtel states, “Pointedly, why punish with a paper when a blog is, relatively, fun?” (Richtel). Richtel defines term papers as “rigorous writing” and this comes off true. Teachers or professors can give out term papers with no real meaning to the course or lesson. These papers are often seen as “busy work” and can just add stress to students. This is another strong point for a blog. Blogs can be exciting and can be broad. Instead of writing about a prompt, you can use your creativity and freely write a page about sports or about art and on. On the other hand, an argument for the term paper would be that the blog post fails to teach. There is some good that comes out of a term paper. The knowledge and research that a student may do must help them. This “learning” is simply a student searching for it though. Blogs offer the opportunity to write about interests and be creative on the students own choice and will. The term paper is almost restricting the student as to what to write. Relating to this point, Andrea A. Lunsford, a professor at Stanford, talks on engaging students and writers. She says, “‘We’re trying to to figure out how to preserve sustained, logical…arguments while engaging with the most exciting and promising new literacies.’” (Richtel) Lunsford believes that literature was destined to change and evolve. She wants to keep the old literacy that is “worth preserving.” She likes the idea of evolving and making sure her students are engaged as much as possible. Lunsford made a conclusion about this matter, “[Students] feel as if they’re actually producing something personally rewarding and valuable, whereas when [students] write a term paper, they feel as if they do so only to produce a grade” (Richtel). This feeling of only producing a grade should never be thought of by a student or writer. Writers should be writing to learn and better their writing for the future. Instead, term papers seem to create this thought of being another paper and another grade in the gradebook. Lunsford also talks on these “exciting and promising new literacies.” Literature including reading and writing were expected to evolve. Typewriters are now out of use and even now, writing might not be on a physical piece of paper anymore. The use of technology and whatever comes with it will influence literature as a whole. Back to Lunsford, she concluded that students feel more impassioned by this “new literacy.” This relates to that feeling of writing for a grade and not for their education. As a student, it makes complete sense that they would be more passionate about a blog about their life and their life experiences instead of a strict prompt that offers no creativity and holds students to one topic. The blog offers so much more than the boring but excruciating term paper: an opportunity to be free and write freely. Blogs can be important to the growth of writing as well. If a student is stuck with only writing term papers, it is more of the same every time. Blogs offer the creativity to explore new things and expand the students mind.
To conclude, Richtel gives readers a great insight on the future of writing, reading, and just literature in general. He debates how term papers and blogs are both forms of writing that can teach students but he seems to lean in favor of the blog. Blogs would be more beneficial than writing term papers for the sake of creativity and an audience. Students should not be writing for another grade. They should be writing to learn and progress their writing as they write more. The quotes from others also show the importance of this topic. Many knowledgeable professors debate that the blog is the future or “new literacy”. Literature is evolving and these blogs should be the next big thing for teachers all around the world.
Richtel, Matt. “Blogs vs. Term Papers,” The New York Times, 20 Jan. 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/education/edlife/muscling-in-on-the-term-paper- tradition.html.
Some Amazing Learning Opportunities
English 1103 has been an exciting experience to say the least. The knowledge that I have received exceeded my expectations for this course. Many of our activities have served great purpose to me. To start, the work with Matt Richtel’s argument was something that I learned a lot about. Analyzing and interpreting the whole passage is what sticks out to me as a learning experience. Also, playing Scrabble on wordplay day expands my vocabulary and helps problem-solving skills. Last, our Check, Please! Assignments teach important lessons that can be very useful later on. These first few weeks of the semester in English 1103 has changed my writing style and has definitely helped me grow as a writer.
Our analysis on Matt Richtel’s argument over “Blogs vs. Term Papers” was a bigger part of this course so far. His insight interested me because blogs really can be important to students hence why we do them in English 1103. Richtel states, “Why not replace a staid writing exercise with a medium that gives the writer the immediacy of an audience, a feeling of relevancy, instant feedback…”(Richtel) The blogs I have done have been unlike any other assignment I have had. Also, we analyzed his thesis and took apart the arguments he brought up. That analysis was the part that did the most for me. Breaking down the argument and looking at both sides was new to me as a writer. Usually, it was choose one side and then work on your thesis for one of the options. Instead, we focused on his argument in general and wrote about how both blogs and term papers are important for writing and literature. A passage from Writing Analytically explains that a productive thesis leads you to arrive at new ideas(p. 181) I believe I did exactly that when writing about Richtel and his article. That being said, this matures my skills as a writer. I will now interpret both sides of an argument before crafting my thesis. This broadens my insight on the papers or blogs I will write in the future.
Next, the whole idea of wordplay day is a great experience for students. In my opinion, the concept with the most importance is teamwork and communication. Playing Scrabble every Friday with a new partner and new opponents adds to the skills you learn in English 1103. Having new teams and new possibilities can expand a student’s ability to work with others. A personal example for me relates to the restrictions regarding COVID-19. Wearing masks makes me more silenced when talking with others. On that note, not being able to see half of someone’s face can make someone have second thoughts about starting a conversation and introducing yourself. I just thought to leave people alone and just stick to the friends I had already met. I really enjoy being put into separated small groups because it made me feel more comfortable with strangers and now people that I am friendly with. For a simple game, it is very interactive and you need to learn to strategize with your partner if you want to win. On another note, it is not in the slightest conventional. Scrabble is a great way to keep students excited and ready to learn. Wordplay day makes for a more interactive class but also, there are educational benefits. Scrabble helps students with logical thinking and vocabulary. Being able to problem solve and figure out a move is something that is critical for any class but especially an English class. Another important part would be the words that each person plays. There are opportunities to learn new words when playing Scrabble and the next Monday helps with that. Also our debriefings of each Scrabble game gives clarity to each player. Seeing the board and the words played makes the student more comfortable with how the game goes. To summarize, Wordplay Days in English 1103 expand a student’s mind in terms of knowledge and communication.
Last, Check, Please is a great exercise for class and I think it is very crucial. Being assigned with Check, Please for homework gives great information to a student and it is the farthest from “busy work”. The lessons on how to correctly search for sources are very important in this new age of technology. A source can easily be faked as many people are given the opportunity to speak their mind on the internet. A simple Google search does not always show the truth. Check, Please gives a student the perfect way to retain tactics to keep these sources valid. Also, it gave an insight on stories on news sites. The news can be very manipulative of titles and the language they use. Check, Please shows you where you should be looking for stories in the news online.
To reflect, English 1103 has definitely broadened my skills in the sense of language and literature. The section where we discussed Matt Richtel’s article about blogs and term papers showed me how to break down a whole article and craft our own work. Next, Wordplay Day brings out great communication and social skills in class along with learning new words and solving tough problems. Last, I spoke on Check, Please and the knowledge gained about the sources we students use in other works. These three parts of English 1103 gave me the best knowledge I could learn and I know that there will be lots more to come.
The Right Influence
Writing and English as a whole has been a great experience for this part of my life. I can say that I owe that to my English teacher from my junior year of high school. She has positively changed the way that I think of writing and literature. Mrs. Bergevin was my homeroom teacher for my freshman year, and she was always a sweetheart. The type of teacher that greeted everyone when they walked through the old rusted doors of my high school. She always had this bright smile on her face and was ready to go about her day and teach. On that note, that would be the last time I would see her that day, once a day for ten minutes during announcements. Until two years later, in English III-H, she would finally be my teacher for an actual class. All of my friends got the chance to have her our freshman year and I had to wait until my junior year. All that I heard was positive from her class, and that her class was the least boring. I’m happy that I thought of her English class as more than the class that was the “least boring.” I have enjoyed English ever since then. Mrs. Bergevin was enthusiastic towards all of her students and made English fun. She had not been able to teach me how to read and write, but she gave me that spark back. Before then I never really enjoyed reading or writing but her class and her teaching style made me enjoy it. A key part of her class that sticks out to me was the lesson on Lord of the Flies by William Golding. She split us into groups and gave us all poster boards to create these works of art. We were assigned a theme of the book and were just told to create something and present it to our class. My group focused on the symbolism of the pig’s head on the stick. She checked on each and every person to make sure we were doing okay and understanding the theme we were assigned. She was not a teacher that put work on her students and let them get a bad grade. On one random day, I was thrown for a loop when Mrs. Bergevin announced that she would not be able to return to school as she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was incredibly enthusiastic about returning to teach us again at some point whether it be this year or the next year. She was replaced by Mr. Czarnecki, my track coach. He was a great guy but just a different teacher. I realized then that Mrs. Bergevin brought back my spark for English and literature. I was more invested in reading and writing and I enjoyed the rest of the class. It was a crazy year already as the COVID-19 pandemic halted our year anyway. We had Mr. Czarnecki for the rest of our regular year then for the rest of the year on Zoom. I kept up the good work in the class and at the end of the year, Mrs. Bergevin came on to the Zoom call from her home and spread the good news that she is cancer-free. She has since officially retired from my former high school but on her own terms, cancer-free. Her spirit and enthusiasm before and after her diagnosis taught me how important it is to stay focused. I kept at my work and she progressively got better. This whole class was an experience of its own because of my new enjoyment for English. It was a class that I looked forward to every day and I believe that it helped me progress as a student regardless of online classes and the pandemic. I am proud to say that my experience with Mrs. Bergevin has helped my career as a student.
A Negative, Digital World
Digital Media is something that has had quite an uprising in recent years. This boom of social or digital media has shown how much this world is evolving and progressing. That being said, there are plenty of negative effects of this new idea. Concerns regarding safety and privacy of internet users is a big deal. People can have access to passwords, home addresses, phone numbers and more without good cybersecurity. Also, with the internet comes fraudulent users or writers on the web. The fake news that comes out can change a person’s image and possibly ruin their career. Defamation and the whole cancel culture in recent years can affect a person’s relationships, status, wealth, and more. These few reasons alone can show the possibility of negativity using digital media. Digital media can be unhealthy to their users based on safety and other reasons like body image.
To start, a big piece of “digital media” relates to social media. Social media like FaceBook, Instagram, TikTok, and others are recently very popular among youth. These applications and sites can be extremely important to people’s lives and images. The uprising in social media over the past few years has changed people’s mindset. For example, a person may post something just to get likes and show their popularity. A post can be a simple attention grab from their friends and people close to them. Applications like Instagram and Snapchat can be very self-centered whereas a person posts just images of themselves to receive feedback from others. The problem with this is the idea of being perfect and matching standards set on these sites. Someone can see a post and comment hurtful and hateful things. Or on the other hand, someone can see that post and feel more insecure about themselves. This topic was summed up well in an article from The Guardian: “The site encourages its users to present an upbeat, attractive image that others may find at best misleading and at worse harmful. If Facebook demonstrates that everyone is boring and Twitter proves that everyone is awful, Instagram makes you worry that everyone is perfect – except you.” (Hern) This piece sticks out because it explains the encouragement to post about yourself and show your image when it’s not really true. Instagram posts are never what they seem. Instagram is trying to tell you that everyone else is perfect and living a happier, brighter life than you are. This can be a huge problem for teens going through a rough part of their life. Any students in middle, high school, or even college can face problems with self-confidence and this recent boom of social media sites can change their perception of themselves. Another part of the “perfect” life would be the effects of a post. This is shown in an article from the Wall Street Journal: “teenager Anastasia Vlasova…had developed an eating disorder, and had a clear idea of what led to it: her time on Instagram. [She] was spending three hours a day entranced by the seemingly perfect lives and bodies of the fitness influencers who posted on the app.” (Horwitz) This account of what social media has done to this young girl is very disappointing. A corporation as big as Facebook should try and do something about body image issues that they are causing. Seeing models and professional athlete’s bodies can affect the eyes of the viewer. All of a sudden, the viewer feels worse about themselves and could possibly dream to live that life. In that case, Anastasia sees influencers and models and it makes her eat less in a response to that. Instagram and these social media companies strive to show these influencers with perfect bodies and perfect lives for publicity. Of course, the perfect bodies are great for the brand and their popularity but not for the millions of users who aren’t models and athletes. On the topic of social media, another problem would be the hate from other users. Bullying and now, cyber-bullying can hurt a person’s mental health as they progress in life. This said cyber-bullying can come in the form of hateful posts or comments from bullies. This can take a toll on a person as these cyber-bullying are most likely someone they know. To clarify, a student could be commenting these hateful things to another classmate. This obviously calls for an awkward yet sad experience seeing these people in classes, around campus, or anywhere else. Instagram had recently made it public that bullying occurs and they did make strides to help. They combatted hate comments by adding a feature where a user can filter out key words in their comment section. This may look like a good move on Instagram’s part but, any hateful comment can still be said if the user doesn’t choose specific words to filter out. For example, the user would have to type out a list of words that they would like removed from their comment section. This puts a type of responsibility on the user over the person commenting. The hate comments will not stop unless said user removes all the possible words a bully would say. Overall, this negativity is a problem that comes with social media as a whole. Also, other platforms can spread negativity just as easily as Instagram does. The beauty standards are just as present on platforms like TikTok or Snapchat. Most social media can be termed as self-centered or very individualistic anyway. Hopefully there can be some way to make the mental health of users better in any case. The comments and the body image show that digital media is not necessarily healthy for users.
Next, another way that digital media can be a negative aspect of life would be security and fraud. A writer from Digital Logic terms digital media as “any form of media that uses electronic devices for distribution.” (Preston) This can include transactions and payments throughout the web. The next point would be the outbreak of online scams. Online banking has been used more frequently throughout the years and has caused a great deal of lost money. With digital media comes new platforms like Venmo, Zelle, PayPal, and many more. These companies provide a faster and easier way to transfer money to another user. With any type of digital media, fraudulent users are possible and this is how people can lose out on their own money. An article from the New York Times puts these actions in perspective: “Nearly 18 million Americans were defrauded through scams involving digital wallets and person-to-person payment apps in 2020, according to Javelin Strategy & Research, an industry consultant.” (Cowley) These person-to-person apps can be very effective for scammers as it is incredibly difficult to get these funds back to their rightful owner. A positive side to this is that some websites like eBay, Craigslist, and others have been cracking down on scammers by using a middle-man. The problem is that it does not apply to all sites. People can be easily tricked into giving money to others using these platforms expecting a product or a service in return. In the same article mentioned above, it spoke on a bank connection as well. To clarify, someone was scammed for five hundred dollars as a scammer was impersonating an official at Wells Fargo Bank. These scammers can cause huge damages especially if they can be impersonating bank officials. This is a negative part of digital media along with identity. Someone can commit identity fraud on accounts online and this could lead to bank accounts. Things like home addresses, phone numbers, and marital status can all be accessed online with the right tools. This false sense of safety on the web is another reason that digital media is a negative part of life recently.
Last, fake news and defamation is a piece of digital media that can hurt a person’s life as a whole. An article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation defines defamation as: “a false and unprivileged statement of fact that is harmful to someone’s reputation, and published “with fault,” meaning as a result of negligence or malice.” (Online Defamation Law) These can be said in real time like accusing someone of a certain crime but it can also be done fully on digital media. In recent years, there has been an uprising in fake news on social media trying to out a person or cause for controversy. In reality, these fake news sites are there to generate clicks and revenue on their site. This is a bad thing because these fake news sites can just start making false claims on someone to potentially ruin them. Lawsuits over defamation show this problem as it is simply just people lying to hurt another. Digital media has a huge impact due to the freedom of social media. Social media gives the ability to tweet out anything you want as long its under the maximum character mark. It is ironic that Twitter and company will stop you at 280 characters but will not stop hateful messages. Relating to Twitter, “cancel culture” is something that trends every once in a while and is very common on the social media site. Someone can say the wrong thing or have a view that the majority does not like and get “canceled” for it. Being “canceled” pretty much allows a person to be unfollowed in masses, ridiculed, and hated by the majority of people. It is like an equivalent to being shunned from social media. This can be very hurtful and can affect a person’s mental health whether they deserved it or not. This rise in “cancel culture” and defamation are similar but are still wrong in many cases. No one deserves to be publicly humiliated all over social media sites.
To conclude, digital media is a great resource for society, on the surface. Digital media can spread negativity, depression, loss through these reasons stated above. The images that Instagram and Snapchat paint on users are horrible for mental health. Especially teenagers can very much be affected in a negative way by seeing models and professional athletes every time they log on. Hateful speech in the comment sections of said social media sites is bad for the brand but more importantly, the mental health of all its users. The possibility of losing loads of money and information to scammers also portrays the negativity of digital media in recent years. Important information can be taken as hackers and scammers can commit identity theft from their source of digital media. Last, people can be ruined on digital media through defamation and hate comments. Overall, digital media is something that may be needed as human life keeps progressing to the digital world. That being said, there is no chance that digital media is completely healthy for its users due to these reasons stated above.
Cowley, Stacy, and Lananh Nguyen. “Fraud Is Flourishing on Zelle. the Banks Say It’s Not Their Problem.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Mar. 2022, www.nytimes.com/2022/03/06/business/payments-fraud-zelle-banks.html.
Hern, Alex. “Instagram Is Supposed to Be Friendly. so Why Is It Making People so Miserable?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 17 Sept. 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/sep/17/instagram-is-supposed-to-be-friendly-so-why-is-it-making-people-so-miserable.
Horwitz, Jeff, Deepa Seetharaman, and Georgia Wells. “Facebook Knows Instagram is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show.” Wall Street Journal, 14 Sept. 2021. ProQuest, https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-knows-instagram-is-toxic-for-teen-girls-company-documents-show-11631620739.
“Online Defamation Law.” Electronic Frontier Foundation, 22 Dec. 2014, www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/defamation.
Preston, Lauryn. “What Is Digital Media?” Digital Marketing Services | Digital Logic ™, 10 Mar. 2022, www.digitallogic.co/blog/what-is-digital-media/.