Word Cloud and Explanation

This is a word cloud that I created using the key terms from my “Citizens!” course. The meaning of the design of this word cloud has two major aspects. The first is that it is presented in the colors of the American flag because before all else, this was a class about being an American citizen and focused on American history. The second aspect is that I chose to make it in the shape of a person, although it may be hard to tell. I chose to use the figure of a person because the many different aspects of this class all have to do with people, whether it be the way they are treated or the equality they have. People are the only one’s who can be citizens and the fact that we are all people should unite us as citizens. The idea of the outline of a person is also powerful because it can be anyone, everyone is represented in that outline and can identify to it which is a rare thing in our democracy.

What I learned in this course Citizens! Part 2

I really did enjoy the way this course tried to get me to engage with different modalities to try and find what I like the best. Throughout the course I was able to try new things like doing a podcast and a blog that really did show me more avenues of political engagement than I was previously comfortable using. I am a communication major and getting experience using all of these different platforms is definitely one of the reasons I decided to come to university at all. I think being able to engage in these different platforms will help me be a better democratic citizen because it gives me more ways to reach out and communicate with people in a wider audience. i thought my final project this year was a great example of how something like a podcast can help people become better informed about issues that they otherwise would know nothing about. I think that even if those conversations don’t lead to anything material directly I think that these kind of conversations can change public perception and how we view the world. Although things may seem absurd outrageous and unknowable, struggling against these forces and trying to do something is meaningful because at the end of the day it is the only thing I can do. In that way, I hope I can use the valuable skills to make a difference is some way and improve the quality of our American democracy and the communicators that work inside of it.

What I learned in this course Citizens! part 1

When I first entered this class, the thing I was most interested in discussing was the political binary that has divided our nation as citizens. I feel like this course did a wonderful job of discussing what it means to be an American citizen and totally redefined the debate between freedom and equality for me. This class reached out to all of the different students that made it up coming from different backgrounds and beliefs. I loved the way we used the discussion in this class to enact democracy. The Declaration of Independence was made through a myriad of discussions just like that that were carried by representatives to the table that founded our nation. I wish in some ways we could have tackled the ideological differences in our class more directly, but I understand there is only wo much we can do. On the first week of class when we had the discussion about blackface on our very campus in connection to the image on the course canvas page I knew this was going to be a class that was going to bring important discussions to the forefront. Over the semester I struggled to keep up with all the facets of that conversation that were supposed to be going on. Eventually I came to a place that I realized that while this class was a great place to discuss the extremely important issues of our time, it is also a place where I can have fun and write about things I want. I think changing my focus slightly to a basketball player in Enes Kanter taught me that work can be easier when the subject matter is lighter or more familiar to me. If I could write to my citizen-self at the beginning of the semester, I don’t think I would tell him to do much differently except to be open to moving and talking with the different students in the class. I really enjoyed having our in-class discussions on a week to week basis and really felt like our classroom came together as a kind of community. Overall I think this class taught me how to better engage as an American citizen in a democratic community.

The purpose and future of this blog beyond today.

As many of you can tell, this blog has been in a mad dash to get as many posts out as possible to meet a deadline. Throughout the course of this semester I truly wish I would have had more time to consistently spend updating different features of this blog but due to my own shortcomings I was only able to update it at a few points throughout the semester. Despite that, the views I expressed on this blog I truly believe. My aim in my studies and the creation of this blog is ultimately the study of democracy. I feel because of that the continuation of the blog and will serve to be its purpose in the future. I don’t know how much I will be able to post updates but I hope that because this is the focus of my studies that I will be able to find useful and interesting things and want a place to share it. I don’t know if anyone except the grader will ever read any of these posts but if you did and you made it here, thank you. I doubt that I will be able to tend to comments on this site but I think there is information here and examples that can be used to help somebody better understand what is going on out there on the internet. The whole idea of a blog is to engage in a new type of dialogue that requires us to be digital and connect to a larger audience. While that audience may only be theoretical in the case of this blog I still do care what someone might think if they came upon this blog and I will defend these ideas as my own. I know a lot of these posts feel like rants and may not carry with them credibility but I do hope someone can find a message that helps them in this blog. While this is not my last post chronologically, this is the likely conclusion to my blog for now. Thanks.

Arguing on the internet

Arguing on the Internet is one of the most popular methods of political self-expression is American society today. We engage through arguments of social media influencers and opinion leaders that lead us into shallow text fights that consist of posts limited to 100 characters or less. Obviously from this tone, I have a lot of issues with the methods in which we argue on the internet some of which I have already talked about on this blog such as the intense desire to ‘win’ arguments. The other major problem social media sites and other sources of information have is that they create filters bubbles which essentially creates political ‘teams’ on the internet. Internet sites like twitter and google like to create hyper personalized news feeds and sources of information for every different person. We are only shown information that they deem we agree with to confirm our existing biases. They sort us into communities of similar like-minded people who also are receiving the same kinds of information. This sets us into groups that are essentially political ‘teams’ that we are a part of. This kind of team vs team mentality is tribalism and it leads to people becoming more entrenched in their own side and further from any sort of meaningful democratic dialogue. The internet is such a powerful source for information and has the potential for activism to spread it is a shame that we would waste it in ways that are so frustrating. The internet carries with it the possibility to connect people revolutionize democracy in the way we are able to get access to information and discuss with one another. We need to act and take advantage of this opportunity that has presented itself for the first time in human history.

Having discussions as Citizens

As someone who studies rhetoric, communication, and how people engage as citizen, one of the things that I am most interested in are the discussions people have about politics. Once upon a time, we may have felt enough trust in our informational institution like news programs to formulate our political identities independently taking information for ourselves. That day is long gone. Now I believe the most important discussions people have come well before that because our news has become so partisan that when you make the choice to watch the station you do, you’ve already decided which side you are on. I think the most important conversations we have happen well before this moment. When do we as people make up our political identities. For many of us, our first beliefs are inherited from our parents. This is how I started too but after awhile I switched as I formed my own political identity in high school and college and I’m sure many other people do at this time. The questions that I am interested in are why do people change party affiliation. What conversations do people have that pushes them over the threshold to switch sides. In America today it feels very much like the further you get involved into one side, the more entrenched you become in that party’s arguments, beliefs, and values. In this class, I feel that one of the more unique attributes was that we had a pretty even split politically throughout the class. We had people from all different backgrounds who sometimes literally wore their beliefs on their sweatshirt or their laptop. Yet though we had a class dedicated to having democratic discussion we rarely had these discussions out right. I believe the discussions we have as a nation on the political issues of our time is based entirely on the health of our democracy.

Global Citizen Enes Kanter

To give more context to the interview I just posted, I wanted to discuss the focus of my project for the Citizens! class Enes Kanter. The reason I chose to discuss Enes as the example for global citizen is that I believed what he was doing truly relied on the concept itself. Global Citizenship works on the premise that we as people of Earth have global responsibilities to people even if they are in other countries because sometimes those people can’t act for themselves. In the interview I did in my last post, one of the things that struck me most was the urgency I felt for his message to get out. Enes Kanter is a popular basketball player from Turkey who has made a name for himself for by calling out attention to injustices in his home country. In my interview, one of the things I found most striking is how little people in Turkey discussed these issues because they were afraid of the threats that would befall them. Enes’ mission is so important because if he does not talk about it over here among citizens of a different nation that no one is talking about it at all.

Also to keep in mind, Enes Kanter is going to play in a game 7 of an NBA playoff series tomorrow that is going to be blacked out of Turkish TV. You may not think this is that big of a deal but Turkey has some of the world’s best professional basketball clubs outside of the United States and Canada. If Enes’ team, The Portland Trailblazers, advance it will mean that Turkey will most likely be forced to blackout the Western Conference Finals.

Global Citizenship

For the next few blog posts I want to start a series on what I think can be a good focus for this blog. The topic I want to focus on is Global Citizenship. Global Citizenship is the idea that we as people of earth have a responsibility not only to our nation but also to the world we live in. I have chosen this as part of topic for my third paper So I’m sure some of that research will overlap here but I want to highlight different examples from around the world that demonstrate truly what this concept means.

When I think about global citizenship from my own perspective there are a few cases in particular where it is necessary. The first that comes to my mind is the issues about the environment. To start the environment is something we directly share as people of earth. What one nation does on their land blows over not only to regional neighbors but can have global effects. I think a lot of the rhetoric around environmentalism involves ideas like “x country is worse than us, why should we be the one to change?” This rhetoric is extremely flawed to me because it shirks the idea that we have a global responsibility to one another. This is just one example but I hope this gives at least some idea of the impact of global citizenship

How can we be better informed citizenry?

In my last post we talked about how we can better have discussions and arguments as citizens, and of course that is the lifeblood of democracy but can we have discussions if we don’t have any substance to communicate with. Government is hard. As someone just an uneducated as the rest of you we can look from the outside and say there are a lot of things going on that are way above a lot of our heads and the thing is there in very different directions too. To manage our nation’s security from state and non-state actors requires such a depth of calculating threats and assigning appropriate risk requires a ridiculous amount of diligence, I’m not sure I’ will ever be able to grasp it. At the same time those in government are at the helm of an economy that has become so complex between federal interest rate’s, online investing, credit ratings and this list seems to grow and grow. Both of fields respectively would take a lifetime of study and research to truly master and grasp these areas of study. I don’t think that any person that is truly qualified to run the defense department could ever be capable of handling the fine details of our economy and the other way around. And then we come to the position of Americans. We as a people have all differing levels of education and specialty. Most can’t pursue higher education because of the financial burden it requires and people find more happiness from focusing on careers and less on school. It makes you wonder though can we as a people ever really understand the issues going on at the highest level of government.