Social media can provoke violence


In one of my most recent blog posts, I discussed the importance of people posting videos of themselves doing acts of kindness. I proposed that we learn from the things we are seeing in the news and on social media, which can be used for good, but from today’s news, only half my claim was supported.

Headlines in numerous news sources today a concerning a new game/ fad called, “Knock-out”.

The purpose of the game is to try to knock a random stranger unconscious with one surprise punch to prove manliness. However, this so called game is leaving victims seriously injured and worse. There have been reports of these spontaneous assaults turning deadly in Chicago, St. Louis, New York and New Jersey.

Some reporters have said that there is no reason these kids are provoked but, according to several of the kids interviewed, it is a reason to show off and there is a likely source as to why this has become so popular. The new trends on social media and video sharing on vine has developed a category called “smack cam” where posters hit unsuspecting people in order to put out a funny video.

Popular trending websites, most specifically, feature videos that showcase extreme violence and most specifically street fights that result in one person being knocked out. These videos that a huge population of our youth watch on these websites have clearly made an impact in their own decision-making.

The difference is that the videos are usually between friends staging a slap in the face for a short clip on vine, or a street fight caught on camera phones, but never has it occurred that elderly men and women are unnecessarily assaulted for fun.

Our youth will always try to raise the bar, but the popularity of shock value is clearly transpiring into kid’s lives. NBC has interviewed those behind the smack cam trend and has commented on several videos in particular that are truly cruel. A 21-year-old student named Max Isidor, the inventor of the #SmackCam, told NBC reporters he had no idea of the implications that would result from his viral trend.

Frank Farley, a professor of educational psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia, claims that social media are responsible for the spread of this trend. He believes the craving for risk taking and thrill seeking can be even more exercised by pulling these publicity stunts and sharing them on social media for all to see.

What is more shocking than a punch to the face?

I feel I was overly optimistic for hoping that social media could improve society, but instead the acts people are choosing to be influenced by are negative acts of violence and cruel humor.

Social media can promote kindness


Aside from the gossip and irrelevant entertainment, social media have allowed greater numbers of people participate and come together for good reasons. Social media have become a huge influence for partaking in charitable causes.

Parents complain that kids waste too much time on Facebook, but it has become necessary to follow social media for event planning. Word of mouth and the news are not as effective to raise public awareness on their own.

Michael Scott is a 5-year-old boy with Leukemia who was able to live out his dream thanks to the use of various social media sources that advertised his big event. According to The Huffington Post, Michael’s dream to be a super hero came true on Nov. 15 as San Francisco transformed into Gotham for a day. Make-a-Wish estimated that more than 7,000 people participated in the event.

The attendance was great thanks awareness on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sources. With almost 486,000 followers on Facebook, and 140,500 on Twitter, the possibility for a huge crowd was a probability. Many important people caught wind of Batkid’s charity. Even Barack Obama posted his own social input on vine by saying “Way to go Michael, way to save Gotham!”.

Social media are not only making community participation in charitable causes more prevalent, but also stories of random acts of kindness have the ability to rub off on their viewers now more than ever. For a lot of people the story is not directly read from the news station, but rather heard of when re-posted on Facebook or Twitter.

It is popular to post videos of random acts of kindness in social media threads. The videos are so popular that many have drawn enough attention to be news worthy. The Huffington Post wrote an article titled, “YouTube Pranksters Behind VitalyzedTv give Homeless Man New Teeth in Touching Video” in which a perfect example of one of the heart warming videos is featured.

People following the news, social media, or the YouTube channel have commented on the inspiration the feel from the video post. I believe that people posting videos of themselves being generous, even if only for publicity, are good influences by provoking the thought that we at home should be doing generous deeds too.

Social media can abused for its slander and extensive over-use by youth, but it can be used for good. I think it has opened doors that will ideally make people want to be more involved in positive community causes or just helping out someone in need.

News should report 3-D printing risk


The innovation of 3-D printing and introducing it to the general public raised concern in the news for a while. Reports initially said this it is something about which to be concerned. From the YouTube videos I have seen and posts I’ve read, the capability to make homemade weapons and paraphernalia is easily achievable.

On Nov. 11, CNN doubted the serious risk of introducing 3-D printers to the public in an article titled,  “Texas Company makes metal guns with 3-D printer.”

The article acknowledges the potential for fear that criminals will be able to obtain modern weaponry without leaving their homes. However, the article dismisses the idea by saying that the printers and supplies used to make the 3-D parts are too expensive for the average citizen.

I disagree though, it is only a matter of time before the cost for the process will be affordable and will replace the printers we have in our offices.

The company featured in the article claims to use a very expensive 3-D printer. The basic model printers cost only a few thousand dollars and still produce very accurate printing. It is an amazing innovation and like the article mentions, it is a viable option for commercial use, but it still poses threats.

In May, Cody Wilson, 25, a member of a small non-profit group called Defense distributed posted instructions on how to an exact working replica of a modern handgun. The group also posted a video of a live firing with the homemade gun on the group’s website. The instructions on the Internet were taken down after the US state department sent a cease-and-desist letter. If there wasn’t such a serious concern, why was their group so tightly monitored

These printers will be advantageous to business owners and production of goods, but it still is a scary thing. even though some analysts have dismissed it, there is no denying the use of these printers for crime.

Relentness bad news is difficult to take


The news in general has always been obliged to tell the most relevant content by airing the hard news. Everyday when we turn on our television, we see stories of only serious crime and death because they are informative and attention getting.

After recent reports of the New Jersey mall shooting, a friend on Facebook wrote an interesting statement. The post said, “I can’t tell what is scarier: hearing about another mall shooting on the news first thing this morning, or the realization that over the past three months I’ve become totally desensitized to such news.”

It’s hard not to have similar feelings after watching the news day after day. I turned on CNN news today only to see giant headlines that read, “10,000 Feared Dead.” What a terrible thing to wake up to, but it is important to be informed.

As important as it is to keep up with today’s news, I believe watching the reports day in and day out takes a toll on one’s psyche. Constantly, we are reminded of the terrible things happening in the world and the next day is only a new set of harsh stories.

For online news, the approach to these intense stories can be approached in a less in your face way. For CNN and other network television news websites, the headlines are mostly the same as the television with the blunt presentation. The difference is that the websites do not have the time restraint, which allows for more stories and the ability for the web surfer to pick and choose the stories they want to read or watch.

Sites like yahoo are friendlier to the viewer because they try to weave in collaboration of pop culture, soft news and hard news that may not be featured on more serious sites and networks.

I am not suggesting that the news should stop telling us all the stories that are difficult to hear, but as a journalist or someone who is trying to stay relevant and informed, the constant reminder of negativity can be discouraging.

News should focus more on environment


Our country has endured many environmental dilemmas, but are we acknowledging them enough and if so are we acting upon it?

Our immediate concerns and interests — such as finances, the stock market or the government shutdown — make us forget about the importance of focusing on our oceans and wildlife before resources are soiled.

An article on CNN titled, “Lionfish infestation in Atlantic Ocean is a growing epidemic” is an alarming report about our Caribbean fish and reef depletion. The article has a statement reading that the lionfish invasion is probably the worst environmental disaster the Atlantic will ever face. Stories like this should be headline news compared to some of the seemingly less relevant stories.

If this really a huge crisis, why is the cover story of that day a scientific report comparing the addictiveness of Oreo cookies versus heroin in lab rats, while this huge ocean crisis was just a side story?

Lionfish can wipe out a coral reef with their aggressive appetite and humans are to blame for their presence in waters. Often, pet owners release their animals into the wild, which started the bloom of lionfish in our waters. Humans are at fault for the majority of our invasive exotic species and environmental issues in general therefore it should be constantly made clear that it is our responsibility to correct these issues.

We are all concerned about the debts that our generation may have to face financially, but there are many more patches to fix above our money conflicts. The meaning of a dollar will be futile when we struggle to find fresh fruit and fish in the markets because we are poisoning our resources.

On CNN, I read two recent articles last that were not highlighted enough on other news sites, but should have been addressed. Reports pertained to two species of deep-sea animals that washed up on California shores last week, an 18’ oar fish as well as a saber toothed whale. Rarely are specimens like these encountered or recovered, especially in the same week. Global warming and ocean pollution is thought to be the culprit.

Enormous oil spills have occurred, radioactive material has made its way into our waters and there are many environmental issues that are going unreported and are unknown to many people.

Miami graduate, Colin Foord, co-founder of Coral Morphologic, explained that Miami itself has a lot of environmental dispute which is swept under the rug and generally is forgotten about and not released to the public.

I understand that not everybody wants a constant reminder that each day we are killing a little piece of our planet, but it’s true. I feel that if we presented these topics even more in our news, perhaps more action would be taken in response to our burdens. We are so focused on what’s popular and our journalists write in a way to draw in a juicy story, but the most important stories should be those that can save our future generations and our planet.

Realize the U has the swagger back


The Miami hurricanes won their sixth straight game this season against the Tar Heels, showing the NCAA and sports analysts we have our swagger back. Even with the collegiate infractions, skeptic news media reports, and a few injured players, the U has certainly opened analysts’ eyes this season.

This season, the boys in green and orange have reminded ESPN and other sports journalism organizations that the University of Miami is not to be reckoned with. However, last month, reports on “Sports Center” stated that the University of Miami was off to a good start due to an easy schedule and doubted that the team would remain dominant.

Steve Levy stated that the Hurricanes cannot be considered top dog before playing our biggest games such as Florida State, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Virginia Tech, which we have yet to do.

Several sources have doubted our No. 7-ranked team and the abilities of our star backfield. Running back Duke Johnson and quarterback Steven Morris have endured reoccurring injuries throughout the season but, according to Tim Keeney from Bleacher Report, Johnson is already cleared and set to play this upcoming week, as is Morris.

Aside from the injuries, the uncertainty about this team has comes from our past several years performance as well as the recent scandal.

The last two years slipped through the cracks when the Hurricanes were denied bowl game potential due to the recruitment scandal resulting in booster Nevin Shapiro’s arrest. Since that time, “Sports Center” reporters joked that we should turn our focus to the basketball team, assuming football would not bounce back.

The morning of Oct. 22, the punishment for the hurricanes was announced and they will no longer receive a bowl ban, but will lose nine scholarships. Associated Press football reporter Tim Reynolds said, “the NCAA has been told Miami accepts its sanctions. This saga, by and large, ends today.”

With the eligibility, the team can compete to show the analysts that they are the resilient team Miami has needed for years.

Reporters should finally be viewing the team as the powerhouse football team it used to be. This season is the Hurricanes are their most promising team since 2003 and all players, fans and analysts are anticipating the rivalry at Florida State University.

Even though most reports have predicted that Florida State will come out on top, a win for Miami is significant in proving to the reporters that the hurricanes have the swagger back.

Shooting shows how news can mislead


Reports on Oct. 3 from multiple sources seemed misleading about the “shootings on Capital Hill.”

Without doubt, security around government buildings should be tight, but the way this story was reported made the situation seem like a terrorist attack.

Those following the news viewed images of civilians rushing to find cover. Video and audio clips focused on gunfire while the main details were initially neglected.

On Oct. 3,’s video catching the incident was captioned, “Capitol Hill car chase, shooting.” The video showed a black car driving away as viewers could only hear, but not see gunshots.

That day, The New York Times captioned a photo, “Shots fired near the capitol” and in the proceeding article wrote, “By the time the ensuing chase ended, dozens of shots had been fired and two officers were injured.”

It’s plausible that many believed there was a gunfight due to vague videos and captions like these. The warning should have pertained to a reckless driver leading a car chase, not a shooting. The hurt officers sustained their injuries due to the vehicle pursuit, not from bullets.

The following day, CBS announced that there was one fatal victim, Miriam Carey, 34, who was gunned down by police after she “ran her car into a barricade near the white house and led officers on a high-speed chase.”

As it turns out, the only shooting that took place was by the police. According to the Chicago Tribune earlier that day, “All the shooting appears to have been done by police. Law enforcement sources said the suspect did not shoot a gun and there is no indication she had one.”

By Oct. 5, Carey’s image had transitioned from a threat to our government to a depressed mother who didn’t deserve to be killed.

The Chicago Tribune announced that the victim suffered from post-partum depression and was not a harmful person. Valarie Carey, the victim’s sister and former New York police sergeant stated, “Deadly physical force was not the ultimate recourse and it didn’t have to be.”

However, this portion of the story, which defends the victim, was only citing the perspective of her sister, making the story article very subjective.

In situations like this, it is difficult to distinguish the relevant details versus subject matter presented to catch a viewer’s attention. The mixed news coverage makes stories like this confusing. It is important not to make quick assumptions from breaking news; not everything we see is definitive.

No more bad news for Derrick Rose


Chicago’s all-star point guard, Derrick Rose, made his return in the Bulls’ preseason opener after 526 days. Rose tore his ACL on April 28, 2012, and suffered a rather slow recovery.

Sports reporters and many basketball fans complained that Rose was taking too much time off the court. His doctor had cleared Rose to play at the end of the season, but Rose decided not to rush his situation.

Brent Barry and numerous other reporters have called Rose the “ultimate competitor.” Many agree that Rose was not being selfish and that it must have been difficult for him to watch the team struggle in his absence.

Conversely, some critics believed Rose should have returned shortly after his clearance. However, he did not play. When the bulls needed support in the post season, many complained that Rose should have felt obliged to step in.

During the NBA playoffs, Charles Barkley explained on Bleacher Report, “Derrick Rose has been practicing with no limitations; he should have been playing two months ago.”

Despite previous gossip about Rose, On October 5th, Sports Center explained how the start of a new season felt like a new begging for Derrick Rose. He put an end to the negative reports when he scored eleven points in the first half.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Rose explained that he “had no nerves and didn’t want to get caught up in the hype of the situation.” The 2011 MVP felt the game was a step in the path towards being ready for the regular season. It’s exciting to hear more positive news about Derrick Rose.

Grand Theft Auto is a media rockstar


Journalists, and some social media users fear the impact of the new Grand Theft Auto V’s video gaming experience upon other people, particularly the youth.  However, talk about the violence, vulgarity and mature content does not scare the consumers away, it seems to promote interest.

Grand Theft Auto V was released Sept. 17 and the game has generated more sales than any game in history and with such controversial subject matter, it’s no wonder why this game is all over social media.  The game raked in a shocking $800 million its first day according to Take Two Interactive, who is the primary developer and publisher of Rockstar Games.

With 200,000 Facebook users chatting about the game at one time, it is apparent that social media is to credit for putting the game in the spotlight. Even with the knocking of the game, all attention becomes beneficial for the sales of the game.

TMZ’s Facebook page posted the article to Facebook pertaining to a boycott of the game. However, the dispute is not related to the gang promotion or gun violence, it is a protest by animal activists saying Rockstar Games is “capitalizing off animal torture.”

Jack Carone, from In Defense of Animals said, “the makers of this game have traded decency for money” and added “Encouraging the darkest impulses of young people is not an admirable pursuit.”

Perhaps the game is not suited for children, but the aspect of animal violence in the game is not the promotion of our youth’s “darkest impulses.” Practically all responses to the boycott post were bashing the animal activists for being overly sensitive.

Some responses just state how it is simply a video game, but the best argument is from fans like Paul Nweke who questioned, “it’s okay to kill human beings in a video game, but it’s not with animals?” In terms of fighting a multi billion-dollar project, picking this battle will not stop many from buying the game.

Fans feel strongly about the game and all the disputes about it only raise more interest for those who have not experienced the game yet. By way of social media, the game is promoting itself by giving the people such interesting topics to debate. It is a juicy subject, which is what our social media world thrives upon.