Blogs are most certainly a neutral technology. Than can create and inspire wonderful ideas in people and can also cause a great deal of harm when used for neferious purposes. People can now share their opinions and insights to the whole world, highlighting issues that need to be addressed or things that need to be changed in the world. But, as we’ve seen, they also can be used for bully and slander. Take for instance the December case where a young trans women committed suicide close to Cincinnati. WCPO reported her story using the incorrect pronoun referring to the women, and reported that she was hit by the truck instead of jumping in front of it. Below is an image I took from Facebook that WCPO posted:
Leelah blogged her suicide note onto Tumblr, revealing her struggles being a trans woman, and her support for the trans community. It was deleted off of Tumblr, but CNN has a short summery http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/31/us/ohio-transgender-teen-suicide/. Once the public found out the truth behind Leelah’s death, they were outraged by the false reports made by WCPO. Feeling the intensity of public backlash, the news station updated the story: http://www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/warren-county/joshua-alcorn-kings-mill-teen-killed-on-i-71-remembered-as-sweet-talented. Not only did Leelah’s blog bring truth to her suicide, but it also struck up a huge discussion in the trans community. A massive trend swept the internet, and seemingly everywhere, everyone was expressing the need for trans rights with the hope that this would provoke some type of change in our society and government. In this instance, the “power to publish” helps our society.
Blogs can also create problems. For instance, let’s recall last semester when popular social networking app “Yik Yak” first came on to the scene. College students could blog anything they wanted anonymously, to everyone on their campus. Some posted very inspiring things, while others posted vial, sexual, sexist, homophobic, violent, and ignorant things. It got to the point where the majority of things posted were very harmful to the student population, so I deleted it. This is where blogging becomes very wishy washy for me. Sure, people can use this blogging app for good, but there is also a lot of bad. Since it was anonymous, people were more inclined to say what they were really thinking. If the majority of UofL’s campus is thinking these things, we have a problem. It was also causing problems between students involved in Greek life. My boyfriend’s fraternity was mentioned a lot on this app, causing fights between several fraternities.
The use of blogs will continue to increase in the future. So I guess my hope is that the quality of our communicative skills gets better, I thought that higher education would do this, but based upon Yik Yak it has not. The Social Learning Theory comes into play as well. If people are expressing good things on their blogs, other people will learn from that. Everyone deserves the right to express their opinions, it just depends on if you use them for good or evil. But then again, who am I to decide whether people should be allowed to broadcast their opinions?