Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rough Draft Matilda Jarvis

Matilda Jarvis
Mr. Lutz
English 151
28 October, 2011 

Young Mothers Influenced by 'Mommy Bloggers'?
Retrieved from personal archives

I was talking to a friend the other day, who is both a young mother and an avid blog-reader. She mentioned how blogs by mothers might impact younger mothers to feel inadequate if they do not have the wonderful life described by the bloggers.I was struck by this observation, and thought about several blogs that I follow; they could fit the statement. In my personal experience, I envied some of the vacations and opportunities some bloggers had, but I found it hard to believe their blogs had such a strong impact. Yet, the matter disturbed me: do blog writers, specifically mothers, have persuasive power over their readers ? If so, is it due to critical views, or carefree, cheerful blogs?

    The matter perplexed me. Seeing how blogs have come to play a substantial role in today's networking, I wanted to find out what others said about blogs' influence. One contributor to George Mason University's course material, Heidi Lawrence, asserts her claim on blog authors' power over their readers:
Every possible personal oddity imaginable is confessed over these thousands of blogs. Their readers reply by sympathizing, agreeing, respectfully disagreeing, or reciprocating the confession by relating their own moment of weakness or sin... the use of confession rhetorically...enables the speaker to contribute to and become part of the community of subverting the power structure...—confession does not result in discipline, judgment, or punishment—it engages the reader through further confession, agreement, dissent, or even non sequitur discourse. In short, the confessions result in fostering community through interaction, no matter what the tenor of that interaction might be, because the confession appeals to the reader in a way that persuades the reader to respond. (19)
     Lawrence explains that the authors influence readers through a confession that the writer makes through a blog. Not only do blogs allow a place to vent and share news, but they create a connection between the writer and followers; readers feel sympathetic and can immediately respond to posts. Chelsea-Kay, the author of the blog Media in Focus, agrees by relating that blog authors manage to influence readers on various topics because "blogs have become a vital part of the internet aesthetic." And as blogs have come to play a leading role in the 'guidelines of the internet', they have a stronger influence in shaping readers' opinions. That influence grows as readers learn to trust the writer. But, what motivates the reader to follow blogs?

     In a research experiment, Huang, Chou, and Lin studied blog readers' motives for following blogs. They found three main motives: affective (or emotional) exchanges; information search and entertainment; and fun. They found "readers who focus on affective exchanges tend to believe messages on blogs, interact with bloggers, and spread messages to others...The information search and entertainment [motivated] blog readers who focus on information can find something they trust, and blog readers who read just for fun similarly believe blogs are a trustworthy medium..." (Huang 354). I understand that reading blogs is like connecting with the author, but I grew up with technology and am more comfortable browsing the web, scanning blogs and becoming acquainted with bloggers' opinions than generations before me may be. Does that gap in age have to do with the confidence younger generations have in the internet and blogs?
     In comparison of how my mother dabbles in the blogging world, and her adept inability to understand much of the new technological capabilities, she spends less time on blogs than Emily P., a new mom. As a report by Krayewski on the study entitled "Why Y Women?" explains that the rising generation, Gen Y, women were "found to be more influenced by blogs – those written by professionals, as well as those written by people with whom the women can identify." This growing influence of blogs on the rising generation corresponds to the increase in usage of social media networks that allow people to share opinions, information, and gossip, whether it be anonymously or not. And because of the confession aspect of blogs, a personal bond between the author and reader becomes stronger, which increases the influence the author has, as the reader develops trust in the writer.

   How then, can mothers impact others by blogging? Lee-Ann Khoh says, "The blog has enabled more and more ordinary citizens to become "manipulators" of information and the media. Bloggers have the freedom to express themselves however they like, whenever they like." While some mothers use blogs as a way to share happy details, or the exciting events that happen, some use blogs as a mode of venting their struggles, worries, and mishaps from the view of a parent. Both types of blogging styles may manipulate, or influence, readers' opinions about motherhood, depending on how it is represented in blog posts. 

Retrieved from personal image archives.
     How often do you see pictures like that on the left where a child is clearly not enjoying life, as opposed to pictures similar to the one on the right, where a child is in all-innocence, completely happy? Some mother bloggers may wish to keep circumstances that are not all 'fine and dandy' to themselves; others don't mind sharing--negative experiences can help mothers reading the blog to learn from them. One mother blogger, Allison, describes her situation without camouflaging any unpleasant aspects of her life:

Motherhood is a multifaceted job – much like a gemstone that you hold in your hand turning in the light watching the angles and corners and surfaces glimmer and shine different, unexpected ways, only with more poop. As a mom I’m both hero and villain. I’m playmate and disciplinarian, teacher and student, and a bunch of other less glamorous things like...insomniac, bathroom coach...I have more roles than I can list because new ones arise every day. Am I an expert nail cutter, splinter-getter-outer? I am now. And, as a feather in my lovely mom-cap, as one last sexy thing I do, I plunge toilets. Often.
     As she states her role so openly, Allison shares with her audience not the wonderful world of motherhood that others should aspire to, but her reality, which includes many unfavorable jobs. Because Allison discusses many hardships she faces, her readers will not be influenced into feeling dismal about their own abilities as mothers; but rather, they can take comfort that things do not always happen as planned. I do not find her blog negative; it relates blurbs from her everyday life that characterize her family's personality, struggles, and triumphs in a way that does not idolize her role as a mother, neither does it condemn motherhood, despite ever-present trials. An example of a trying time for a mother is shown in the video below. A mom blogger Katie, put together an entertaining video for her blog, showcasing her son and his unwillingness to eat solids, which frustrated Katie. She shows her readers that life is not all-fun-all-the-time, but that raising a child is hard work. However, she does so by connecting to her readers using a comical approach. Perhaps the technique of humor is a way to take her exasperating experience, such as baby Kai's refusal to eat solid foods, and try to make it into a better situation.

     Despite what I had learned about blogs and their influence, I was still unsure if 'mommy blogs' truly affect younger mothers. But then I came across the blog of a Media Arts student that reviewed and analyzed a presentation by C. Jane Kendrick. The author of the blog, David, says, "Mommy blogs that are not an accurate representation of motherhood (either in a utopian or dystopian way) are not empowering." What he is saying is that blogs representing only the good or the bad, fail to influence with the same power because they are ineffectual in illustrating the complete picture of motherhood. This was a new idea to me, that, perhaps, 'mommy blogs' need to have the whole story to be influential. 

     During my conversation with my friend, I asked if blogs depict a seemingly ideal life, affected her as a mother. She laughed and replied, "Life isn't that perfect." I agreed with her answer; everybody faces hard times, even if they choose not to broadcast it to the world. And her response supports David's statement, as the blog proved to be unable to influence her. Then I realized that she is now a mother of three, so could it be that she was more influenced when she was starting out as a new mother? She pondered this and responded that her attentiveness to the 'cheesiness' (as she called the too-cheery impression some blogs give) and detecting how the story was embellished to add interest, not influence was not as fine-tuned at first, but that her opinion took time to form, as she gained her own experiences as a parent.

     Throughout the research process, I continually looked to the young moms that I know to give me insights into their blogging world. Many times I grew frustrated as their answers did not match with what I believed was the 'right answer,' that of course the blogs influence them because of either a general negativity in the blogs they read, or a too-perfect world that some bloggers write about. Not until reviewing the scholarly articles with the blogs, as well as these moms' responses, that I realized the blogs with the most impact on mothers are the ones that display motherhood in all its glory and hardships, those that do not bury true insights into motherhood. For those are the blogs that will provide the most guidance and comfort for new mothers, and those are the blogs that will truly have a great influence.

Works Cited

Huang, Li-Shia, Yu-Jen Chou, and Che-Hung Lin. "The Influence of Reading Motives on the Responses after Reading Blogs." CyberPsychology & Behavior 11.3 (2008): 351-355. Print.

Lawrence, Heidi. "Bless Me Blogger, for I Have Sinned: Community and Rhetoric of Confession in the Genre of the Blog." ENG 503: Theory and Practice of Editing class of the English MA program. George Mason University. print.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blog #15 Matilda Jarvis

I had a really hard time choosing a topic for this assignment, but I have found one that is being debated (though I don't understand why) and I have a strong opinion about: Whether 'Mormons' are Christians or not.

The blog, Mormons ARE Christians looks at the definition of Christians, as well as several aspects of being a Christian versus the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, such as baptism, the deity of Jesus Christ, and the atonement. The author is a blogger who has several blogs relating to Christian belief. The blog appealed to me because it lays out the evidence in a way that is unbiased, that is not written to criticize or offend anybody. Most articles relating to this issue are very much pro- or anti- mormons as christians.

The second blog, Diapers and Divinity, is written by a Mormon mother. In the article, she actually interviews her son, an eight-year-old who was recently baptized into the church, to talk about the beliefs of the church. I love that he is being interviewed because everyone can choose whether or not to join the church, and as children, they are taught the principles, and are given the opportunity to decide if they want to join or not. It is nice to have someone outside of politics, or any fired-up adult for that matter, and here it true and simple, from a child.

I chose the third blog, written by a Southern Baptist, because he sort of argues against mormons being christian. He looks at, what he thinks to be, disagreeing principles of christians and mormons, and says that mormons are christians, but that they are...different. I wanted a disagreeing article, and chose this one, even though it is very critical, because I was interested in seeing different perspectives to the issue at hand.

The fourth blog had a video from the most recent General Conference broadcast given by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The speaker is one of the twelve apostles, part of the general authority for the church. He gives a talk as to the confirming mormons of being christians. The author is a member. I chose this because I have heard the talk before, and remembered that it spoke of the issue.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blog #14 Matilda Jarvis

In Everything's a Text, I like how it says that by blogging, and allowing readers to comment that we invite "our readers to join the conversation" (Melzer and Coxwell-Teague 295). I like to think of blogging as a world-wide conversation, since most are open to the public, so sharing opinions is easier. Also, to think of what we blog about as a conversation means that we see different opinions and views to issues, which we may not have thought of ourselves.
Also, I was struck by the sentence, "As with free speech itself, what we say isn't as important as the system that enables us to say it" (Melzer and Coxwell-Teague 297). That's deep. First reading this, I was kind of confused. But thinking about it, I realize it may be true, as well as how we say it; if we say something, whatever it may be, but if it is said in a mean, condescending tone (orally or online) it will not be received well, just like 'free speech.' However, if we share our opinions in a way that is not overbearing, but more conversational through a system that allows many to share their ideas and for the issue to be discussed, that is when some of the best ideas are constructed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blog #13 Matilda Jarvis

In chapter five of the Pearson text, I like how it says the focus of an exploratory essay is to "dwell on a problem--and not necessarily to solve that problem...What matters is that you are actively engaged with your problem and demonstrate why it is problematic" (109). Sometimes I feel like I have to get down the bottom of the problem and fix it, whether it be in a paper or in general. This tells me it's okay to not have an answer to everything--problems simply need to be acknowledged before anything can be done to solve them, and an exploratory essay is one way to alert others to the situation. Later in the chapter, Ramage, Bean, and Johnson say "Although you might feel that sentences that show your mind talking its way through your research will sound too informal, they actually work well in exploratory essays to create interest and capture your critical thinking" (115). This is what I struggled with most while writing the exploratory essay. I have gotten so used to formal writing, that using "I" or explaining my research on a personal level was a completely different concept to use for an essay; but once I got into it, I realized how much more interesting (and relatable) my writing was with the technique.

In chapter nine, talking about citation, it says, "An in-text citation and its corresponding Works Cited entry are linked in a chicken-and-egg system: You can't cite a source in the text without first knowing how the source's entry will be alphabetized in the Works Cited list" (Ramage, Bean, and Johnson 222). Well, I mainly thought this was funny, but then I thought about the whole relationship between the source and the citation of it, and it makes sense. When others read an essay, they need to be able to verify where the information comes from, and citing it in the text and works cited is crucial to that proof and support.

I like how in chapter eight, it gives the three ways to incorporate sources: summary, paraphrase, and quotation. For the summary, it highly suggests to keep it as brief as possible (clear and concise) so as to keep the reader focused on your argument (Ramage, Bean, and Johnson 203). I agree with this, because it is important to give the information from your source, and some context as well, but it is perhaps even more crucial for an argument to keep it on-topic, and not relate every single detail from the source--it can be boring. But a clear and concise summary of the information is a step towards a truly awesome essay.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blog #11 Matilda Jarvis

haha, I thought these two kind of went together. :)

:D These two cartoons show how absolutely reliant people have become on technology.
 We look at the first and think how ridiculous it is; no one would be that obsessed to hurt themselves, but look at the logos--accidents happen everyday when people text and drive, or fall down the stairs because they were focusing on a status update.
Also, they make you think, or do the believing and doubting game: are people really so hooked on, and attached to the cyber world in the palm of their hands? Is the internet replacing human communication?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blog #10 Double-Entry Matilda Jarvis

 Matilda's Double-Entry Research-Log  --pardon the was a pain. (I underlined the main points that I commented on, as the language they use is rather academic). 

“The Air’s Got to be Far Cleaner Here” Journal Entry           

October 2, 2011

Hugh-Jones, Siobhan, and Anna Madill. "'The air's got to be far cleaner here': A discursive analysis of place-identity threat." British Journal of Social Psychology 48.4 (2009): 601-624. Sociological Collection. EBSCO. Web. 2 Oct. 2011.

Article for the British Journal of Social Psychology.

-“Identity is a complex concept encapsulating what is perceived to be unique about a person, (usually thought of as personal or self identity)…Over the last 25 years, there has been a movement away from theorizing identity purely in terms of essential characteristics of the individual and towards more contextualized understandings. In social and environmental psychology, this development has generated numerous constructs that allow exploration of the role of place in the formation and maintenance of identity, for example place-attachment…place identity…and place dependence” (Hugh-Jones and Madill 601-602).

-->I didn't know that place wasn't considered a part of identity until 25 years ago--but I think that place has a very strong impact on identity.

-“[Proshansky et al.] argue that the key characteristics of self-identity will be reflected in place-identity, namely distinctiveness (from others outside that place), continuity (of place in which self is preserved as a specific type of person), self-esteem (where place permits enhancement), and self-efficacy (where the environment facilitates a chosen life-style” (Hugh-Jones and Madill 602).

-->I didn't even think about how efficacy (productiveness, success) could be determined by the identity of an individual in a place, but it makes sense: I am more productive in certain places than I am when I am surrounded by all kinds of distractions. 
-“However, more recent evidence suggest that individuals interact with their environment at a conscious level at certain times… that people actively seek out places that support or reaffirm their sense of self (Manzo, 2003). Similarly, Hormuth (1990) argues that people actively choose environments that are congruent with their self-concept, for example when relocating to mark a new phase in one's life (Twigger-Ross & Uzzell, 1996). Thus, the current perspective on place-identity is that settings permit the conscious, as well as unconscious, maintenance, development, expression, and affirming of identities (Kyle et al,, 2004; Twigger-Ross & Uzzell, 1996). Moreover, as who we are is intimately related to where we are (Barnes, 2000), and hence subject to change, place-identity is viewed increasingly as a dynamic construction (Lefebvre, 1991).” (Hugh-Jones and Madill 602-603).

-->I completely agree with the statement: "who we are is intimately related to where we are." But, is it because of the location or because of certain things we associate with that place, or does it even matter?

Conclusion: This article has to do with how people identify themselves in regards to their environmental location, how they relate to their environment. The experiment had to do with individual's opinion of their area's environmental conditions. The experiment was conducted to show results on a broad level (such as how the people's opinion of their environment related to how they identified with the local area), but the findings can be applied to the more specific question I raised.

Diversity in the person, diversity in the group: Challenges of identity complexity for social perception and social interaction

October 2, 2011

Bodenhausen, GV. "Diversity in the person, diversity in the group: Challenges of identity complexity for social perception and social interaction." European Journal of Social Psychology 40.1 (2010): 1-16. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. EBSCO. Web. 2 Oct. 2011.

Journal article, review for European Journal of Social Psychology.

-"In the Roccas and Brewer (2002) model of social identity complexity, compartmentalization represents a more complex form of identification in which different identities come to the fore in different circumstances (see also Amiot et al., 2007). This idea clearly resonates with the main themes of self-categorization theory (Turner et al., 1987). Another research tradition that fits well with the notion of compartmentalization is work on cultural frame-switching in bicultural persons (Hong, Morris, Chiu, & Benet- Martínez, 2000). Here the idea is that bicultural individuals often possess two distinct cultural identities that take turns controlling processes of self-regulation in different contexts, depending on situational cues to the relevance of a given identity. One such cue may be language, and some research suggests that when using different languages, people appear to be expressing different personalities, presumably due to the invocation of different, culturally defined norms for behavior within each group of language users (Ramírez-Esparza, Gosling, Benet-Martínez, Potter, & Pennebaker, 2004)” (Bodenhausen 8).

-->With my bilingual background, I have noticed what is described here: that when I am speaking with my mother in Finnish, I tend to act differently than when I am at school, or around friends speaking in English (it is not intensely noticeable, but because I have picked up on it, I now recognize it better).

“They argued that momentary social identity salience is influenced by a number of variables, including motivational states (such as a desire for distinctiveness or assimilation; see Brewer, 1991), the situational relevance (normative fit) of an identity, the visibility and contextual distinctiveness of a given identity (see Nelson & Miller, 1995), others’ reactions and expectations, etc. Once salient, these categories can then determine which goals and norms are salient as well as guide perceptions of other team members (Early & Mosakowski, 2000; Randel, 2002)” (Bodenhausen 9).

-->Okay, so our social identity is influenced by "others' reactions and expectations." Is that specific to an environment?

“Until identity integration occurs, the distinct identities may be perceived as oppositional, and individuals may feel that their social identities are not valued. Swann, Polzer, Seyle, and Ko (2004) argued that people in groups seek verification of both their personal and their social identities. They report evidence indicating that verification of personal self-views results in better interpersonal dynamics within a group, while verification of social self-views results in greater commitment to the group as a whole.” (Bodenhauser 11).

-->People look for verification of their identities while in a group, an identity personal and unique to themselves, and an identity that makes them a part of the group. So, does this combination of the personal and social identities cause the difference in behavior, or representation of identities, when in different locations, because of the people that define the group that act as an influence?

Conclusion: This article focused on the individual's identity within a group. It has several ideas centered around actors, "using their different self-aspects as a framework for guiding their interactions with the social world" (Bodenhauser 1).