July 6

Social Media and the Problem of Plagiarism and Attribution

Many social media platforms are full of stolen or bootlegged content. Finding the source of an original post can be incredibly difficult if not impossible. All it takes is one person who, instead of hitting the share/retweet/reblog button, downloads a picture or video, or copies and pastes written content, and then reposts the content as their own without attribution to the original poster. Sadly, this happens all the time. I have seen, first hand, tweets that have been stolen word-for-word, videos that have been bootlegged from Vine and YouTube and later posted on Facebook, and even media sites like Buzzfeed taking content from places like Reddit and Imgur and repackaging it as their own.

My favorite thing that is happening on the internet right now is YouTuber Akilah Hughes leading a charge against the digital media giant Buzzfeed for stealing video ideas and copying shots from other creators without permission or attribution. Hughes posted to her Tumblr, “…BuzzFeed has been caught repeatedly stealing ideas, jokes, bits, gags and therefore money from prominent YouTube creators. And we’ve all had enough. It’s time to #StopBuzzThieves.” In a petition she created to ask advertizers to pull out of Buzzfeed, Hughes outlines a plethora of instances in which Buzzfeed has copied video ideas – sometimes so egregiously that they’ve even made shot-for-shot remakes of someone else’s original video. However, this is not the first time that Buzzfeed has been in hot water over plagiarism claims (see these many examples). Yet, Buzzfeed continues to take pictures, ideas, and sometimes even entire articles from around the internet and repackage them as their own with very little effort put towards properly attributing original sources*.

While Buzzfeed has done a lot of things wrong, they’re not the only ones who participate in the proliferation of stolen content. One of the reasons Buzzfeed and others are able to plagiarize without proper attribution from/on social media is because of the total lack of accountability that exists in this space for these types of wrong-doings. What are the consequences of plagiarizing content that originated on social media? Typically…none. Some sites attempt to do their due diligence and remove posts that have been flagged as plagiarized or bootlegged, but this is merely one solution to a symptom of a much larger disease.

For years now, digital content creators have been overlooked and not taken as seriously as their traditional media counterparts. I still have conversations with people who dismiss creating content online as a serious form of artistic expression. The mindset that “YouTubers can’t be filmmakers” or that “Bloggers can’t be journalists” or that “Instafamous photographers aren’t serious artists,” is still prominent in our society. Yet, we have to remember that stealing the pictures, ideas, videos, shots, or articles of smaller internet/social media creators is directly stealing from their potential earnings. The economy of content creation on social media is different than the traditional art space. While traditionally art is valued based on how well it can sell in the marketplace, content on social media is valued based on the views, likes, shares, retweets, reblogs, and comments associated with the content. Advertisers, sponsors, and brands value content based on the artist’s CPM (cost per thousand impressions). So when companies like Buzzfeed steal ideas or improperly attribute source material and get far more views and shares than a smaller creator who can’t match the astonishingly large amount of content that Buzzfeed is able to manufacture, these companies are directly impeding smaller creators from reaching their market potential. The same goes for unattributed sharing anywhere on social media. By not sharing the original post, you are directly stealing from the potential earnings of the original content creator. If you admire someone’s idea/work enough to share it or to sample from it on social media, be kind enough to properly attribute them instead of steal from them.

We need to build a better infrastructure for/culture of accountability on social media. We need to start caring about the incredible amount of intellectual property theft that is taking place. We need to stop supporting companies who blatantly plagiarize content/ lackadaisically attribute original posters because they are directly stealing from the pockets of smaller creators. We need to do better.

PS: I HIGHLY recommend looking at Akilah Hughes’ post on this issue and following her on Twitter as events of this debacle unfold.

* It should be noted that Buzzfeed does do the bare minimum to attribute some of their sources, but it is inconsistent and doesn’t drive traffic back to originators of the content in a way that would be fair of a proper attribution. Their more journalistically inclined pieces have been better at holding themselves accountable for crediting source material, but there are still a lot of issues in their web-based meme-driven content and video content. For instance, I am trying to make a bit of a defense of some of the practices of Buzzfeed, but I’m doing so in the same way that they attempt to attribute sources, in the smallest font possible at the end of an article, without good links. 
June 15

Thoughts on the Orlando Mass Shooting

pulse

 

A truly senseless and tragic mass shooting occurred on Sunday in Orlando. A targeted hate crime against the LGBTQ+ community at the Pulse nightclub on a Latin-themed night.

And it makes me SO incredibly angry. It makes me angry because we, as a nation, put a weapon of war into the hands of a civilian. That we, as a nation, allow people who are/have been on terrorist watch lists and no-fly lists to legally purchase weapons of war. And as I sit here and reflect on this tragedy, I am sick to my stomach by the thought that it could have been prevented or impeded in some way if we had stood together after Aurora, or Sandy Hook, or San Bernardino and said that enough is enough… Enough lives have been lost, enough blood has been shed.

If we had just done… something.

It makes me angry that we, as a nation in 2016, cling so desperately to an amendment written in 1789 to protect the rights of individuals to defend themselves against potential war at a time when our country had no standing army. The second amendment states: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to secure a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” This amendment was written at a time when well-regulated militias were our BIG national security plan. At a time when militias were armed with single shot muskets and long rifles with complicated reloading procedures.

But times have changed. We no longer need well-regulated militias to secure a free state. We have a standing army, navy, air force, marine corps, national guard, CIA, FBI, homeland security, and police forces, AND weapons capable of causing mass casualties in an incredibly short amount of time. Oh wait, I forgot, its only the second half of that precious amendment that our nation pays attention to “*insert Charlie Brown adult-talking trombone sound here* … the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” But that is NOT the intention of the amendment, and our nation’s perversion of that amendment is what put unnecessary weapons of war into the hands of a civilian with ill-intent.

This has to stop.

Across the nation, people are saying that their thoughts and prayers are with the victims and loved ones of the Orlando mass shooting. And they should be. But all of the thoughts and prayers in the world will not put an end to these senseless tragedies, actions will. Call, write to, tweet at your congressman. Vote for representatives and senators in this election cycle with voting records and ideologies that align with your own.

Do…something.

Because if we stay silent and don’t take action, we are tacitly agreeing to allow this kind of violence and tragedy to happen again. At the end of this piece, I will include some resources to help get you started in taking action against gun violence. I have also included a link to the funds to financially aid the families of the victims of the Orlando mass shooting.

 

PART II: SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS

As I said before, this mass shooting is a targeted hate crime against the LGBTQ+ community at the Pulse nightclub on a Latin-themed night. As such, the victims of this mass shooting are predominately young LGBTQ+ people of color. So, please, do not mistake this act of terror as an attack on “all humanity.” This attack was not random, it was targeted. It was an attack of hate committed against the LGBTQ+ community. Also, please do not mistake this actor of terror by Omar Mateen as an attack committed by the Muslim community or followers of the Islamic faith. And please do not use this tragedy to justify hatred towards a group of people who are in no way responsible for the actions perpetuated by one human being as others like Donald Trump have already done.

I repeat, do not use this tragedy to justify hate. It actually makes my blood boil when I hear of people and communities that have persistently perpetuated anti-LGBTQ+ hate and ignorance claim this tragedy as their own to perpetuate more hate and ignorance against a different community.

The LGBTQ+ community is no stranger to violence and tragedy. We have lost an entire generation of predominately gay and bisexual men to an AIDS epidemic that our government refused to acknowledge or take action on before it was too late. Police have raided our bards and cafes to arrest LGBTQ+ people for being who they are. And, please, do not mistake the Orlando mass shooting as the first act of violence committed against the LGBTQ+ community at a bar/café/nightclub that is considered a safe sanctuary from the hate, violence, and ignorance of the outside world. From the arson at the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans in 1973, to the Otherside Lounge bombing in Atlanta in 1997, to the Backstreet café shooting in Roanoke, Virginia in 2000, to the Puzzles Lounge attack in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 2006, and the attempted arson of a gay bar on New Year’s Eve in 2014 in Seattle, the LGBTQ+ community has known tragedy.

The Orlando mass shooting is the single greatest act of hatred and violence committed against the LGBTQ+ community in the United States, but this hatred and violence did not occur in a vacuum. Our community’s past is full of incidence of ignorance, violence, and hate committed against us. But our present is still full of these incidences. There is almost an epidemic level of violence committed against trans women of color, there is an abhorrent number of homeless LGBTQ+ youth, and hate crimes and discrimination are still a large part of our reality… Fear is still a large part of our reality. I think Twitter user Jeremey Kraatz said it best that “If you can’t wrap you head around a bar or a club as a sanctuary, you’ve probably never been afraid to hold someone’s hand in public.” While I am out and proud, I would be lying if I said that I was never afraid. Afraid of looking too lesbian at an interview and being rejected because of it. Being afraid of holding hands with my girlfriend and running into the wrong person on the street. These are reasons why people in our community feel so safe in places like Pulse. Places where we don’t have to be afraid of being who we are.

This tragedy did not occur in a vacuum and we could all do more to teach love and kindness instead of hate and ignorance. We could all do more to treat each other better. We could all do more to make this country safer for everyone.

Below you will find links to resources to help the victims and families of the victims of the Orlando mass shooting. You will also find resources to help put you in contact with your local representatives to change legislation to favor gun control (because if you want to build a gun culture off the back of the second amendment, you have to consider the amendment in its entirety and not just pick out the parts that favor the NRA lobby).

Support the victimes of the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting

Find out how your senator voted on background checks

Tweet at your congressman

 

March 10

Gay Scout Podcast

Cover Photo FB Temp

Chloe is working on an exciting new project with her good friend Dan Cronin called the Gay Scout Podcast. Dan Cronin is the voice and content writer of the 12 episode memoir about growing up gay in a religious, conservative, male-only, proto-military organization – the Boy Scouts. In these episodes, we will be visiting both formative characters from Dan’s past and exploring the continuing tension between liberal and conservative values in moments of cultural overlap. In addition, we will examine the little known facts about the gay history of the scouts.

Chloe is producing the podcast – responsible for business operations, recording the podcast, and creating music for the podcast. She joins Dan on his journey to reexamine his years as a Boy Scout – questioning if the values the organization claims to instill in its members are concurrent with his own values.

The podcast is set to air by the end of July.

 

July 31

Don’t Label Me

Societal labels are an interesting thing. Labels are simultaneously extremely harmful and helpful to individual personhood. They are harmful in the way that we usually think. Based on having certain attributes, society projects stereotypes onto a person which may characterize them in a false, hurtful, or incomplete manner. Moreover labels are limiting and often don’t include room for all of the complexities that make up an individual. Even positive labels – like labeling someone “the smart kid” – can be detrimental because these labels place a social expectation on the individual being labeled to be “the smart kid”. The anxiety of living up to that expectation can be overwhelming – though the intent behind that label may be benevolent in nature.

On the flip side, societal labels can be helpful because they often create a culturally and politically discursive space for minorities. Meaning that, for example, the label “gay” may not include all of the intricacies of an individual’s sexuality, but it does provide a political space for individuals engaging in homosexual relations to gain political traction, proper representation, and equal rights in a society. Moreover, the label “gay” also creates a culturally significant space in which individuals can find a community in which they feel less isolated from the (generally oppressive) majority. Labels are simultaneously limiting and a means for progress. This is confusing because it makes it incredibly difficult to say definitively if societal labels are, on balance, more harmful or more helpful to individual personhood.

Billy and I made a video which examines the more negative effects of societal labels. This video stems from a place of feeling a lack of control over the labels other place on you. In the end, we hope to convey the message that the only one who can properly define you is you. Others may try to categorize you or put you in a box, but at the end of the day you are the arbitrator of your own happiness and you are the only one responsible for defining who you are.

Check out our video here:

Thank you so much for watching! Don’t forget to “like” this video and subscribe to stay up-to-date on future content.

Stay beautiful,

Chloe Mays

July 21

How Do You “Like” Me Now?

This is a follow up discussion to my “Makeup Struggle” video. Here I talk about the commercialization of beauty in America  – specifically focusing on new media and the power of “Like”. I focus on the commercialized sense of social value/social worth that we place in “likes” on social media and the impact that this has on individuals.

 

Remember to subscribe to stay updated on our YouTube content =)

July 19

The MakeUp Struggle

I’ve always been someone who doesn’t regularly put on makeup. I don’t have anything against makeup, I just choose not to wear it. In the video below, you can watch as I struggle to put on some make up in a faux-makeup tutorial. But really, the message here is that no matter what – if you choose to wear makeup or not – you are beautiful just the way you are.

 

July 10

What Does It Mean To Be Human?

Here is a video we made in response to the Big History Project’s question “What Does It Mean To Be Human?”

I was limited by the video response requirements to a two-minute analysis of this question. Here is the original script that I wrote before I had to make cuts for time.

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Hey everyone, it’s Chloe Mays here from the Gen-Y Blogger YouTube Channel. The Big History project has been encouraging people to answer one of life’s biggest and most elusive questions: what does it mean to be human? Let’s find out.

[Title Card]

This is a much more difficult question than it appears to be at first glance. I began to approach this question by formulating what sort of attributes make an individual person a human being. I thought of different mental faculties or physical capacities that may contribute to a shared sense of humanness. But then I realized that I was taking individualized attributes that may apply to one person or a group of persons (even an exceptionally large group of persons), but that these attributes are in no way universalizable to all humans. For instance, there are people who lack certain mental or physical capacities that many humans share in common, but we wouldn’t say that those individuals are not human.

Needless to say, I nixed that approach pretty quickly – otherwise this video would become an excuse for the twitter tag #NotAllHumans, and I don’t want to be responsible for something like that.

So, then I decided to think about what human society has that the animal kingdom does not. I concluded, after much thought, that what makes humans different from other animals is our unique set of motivations for action. While many species of the animal kingdom (including humans) are motivated by self-preservation and pity, or empathy (especially in the case of other social animals), humans are motivated by something more.

What is that “more”???

I believe – al la Rousseau – that this uniquely human motivation is perfection. Now, this isn’t to say that every human gets up every day with the expressed goal of achieving “perfectness” – this isn’t even to say that there is even something that is conceivably “perfect” that humans can achieve. Instead, what this means is that humans are humans because we are uniquely qualified by our general capacity to reason to be motivated by perfection. By the desire to be both better than others, and, in turn, better than our selves. This motivation drives humans to compare themselves to others – not only in the desire to preserve one’s self and have pity for others like other animals – rather, this comparison drives us to seek domination over other humans as a way of augmenting our own happiness.

There are three particular ways in which I see this manifested in our society – social inequalities, our sense of morality, and in our capacity to innovate.

Let’s look at some examples of social inequalities, starting from something simple. Right now, as you are watching this video, you have made judgments about me in comparison to what you believe about me and what you believe about the ideal version of that would look like – deciding if I’m more or less adequate in comparison to your idealized version of what I should be like.

This motivation for perfection creates social inequalities in our society because it creates a value system that favors a good reputation among one’s own social group and stigmatizes certain groups of humans or human attributes outside of one’s own social group to create a strong divide between the more perfect “us” and the less perfect “them” – where the “us” and “them” are defined uniquely for each human being in their particular social situation.

So far as I know, there are no other animal species that maintain prejudices over others of their kind because of something that they perceive others of their kind as having or doing that makes them a less perfect version of that species. And yet we see this rampant in human society in everything from something simple like the way we dress (so that people see us in a certain way compared to others); to more complex and deep seeded judgement-based comparisons like racial, class, sexuality, and gender-based prejudices. It is, sadly, in this way that I feel like I can practically reduce the whole of human society down to Sneetches from Dr. Seuss

In this same way, the motivation of perfection drives humans to create systems of morality and to pass judgement on others (justified or not) for their actions. Where there is the morally wrong – and those who commit morally wrong acts – and the morally right. We align ourselves with different systems of morality – though they may be incredibly similar, there are always differences in individuated morality usually (but not solely) based on religious, social, and class-based ideological differences. And we align ourselves with the “us” who are morally right and just and the “them” who are morally corrupt and wrong. Humans then use this gross comparative perfection-driven reasoning to justify social inequalities and treating other humans as something less than human – or simply refusing to recognize another’s humanness because they don’t meet a certain moral-based criteria.

However, it’s not all bad. This motivation of perfection also causes humans to innovate and create amazing things – to interact in such a way that we are in constant competition with each other to create modern marvels, to build better and dream bigger, to be or do the “next best thing”, dominate the field or place we are in, or simply to be better than our neighbor. To be or do anything that sets us apart from (and typically above) others. In doing so, we have co-evolved and maintained uniquely human reciprocal relationships of collaboration and competition to fit our rapidly changing landscapes. This motivation has caused us to innovate and adapt to our own innovations in a miraculous way that is both beautiful and uniquely human.

So, I guess, in closing, I’d like to say this. While being human may mean that we are motivated by forces that cause us to create an “us” v. “them” divergent mentality, seeing and recognizing the unique differences in every human and appreciating, accepting and celebrating those differences instead of homogenizing others to your ideal standard. That’s the most human act of all.

Thank you so much for watching this video and remember to stay beautiful!

[End Card]

June 26

Chloe’s Reaction To Marriage Equality

This week has been a roller coaster of epicness – from the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (which will allow millions of Americans to maintain their access to healthcare), to their Fair Housing decision (which will help prevent discriminatory housing practices), to today’s Marriage Equality decision (allowing every American the freedom to marry the person they choose). Love wins!!!! I couldn’t be more excited for our win today. I only hope that the momentum from this day will generate more positive changes in every marginalized community to come.

I’m not ashamed to say that I cried when I saw news of the decision. I cried, not because we had won a long and hard battle on the road to equality (thought that may have been part of it), but because it felt like I had found this missing piece of myself that I didn’t know was missing. While I recognized the inequality behind not granting specific government benefits to same-sex couples and felt bitter about being a second-class citizen in regards to my right to marry, marriage was (and is) not something that’s even on my radar at this particular point in my life. So, I suppose it never truly felt like something had been missing in my life, until the ruling today. I never had to struggled with the hardship of wanting to share my life with another woman and not being granted the access to do so in the eyes of the law. There was never a moment, for me, in my life where I had to stare at the hole that was missing and recognize it’s emptiness… until today. Today, I saw myself, not for who I am, but for who society labels me as. I saw all of the missing pieces – the rights that I cannot lay claim to, the social inequalities and prejudices that make up my every day life.

I am proud of who I am. I hope for the day that society won’t see me as a bunch of social labels, but will instead just see me. See Chloe. For my personality and intellect instead of my social circumstances.

While the Supreme Court has been on a roll, it is still a long and difficult road to end social, cultural, and political discrimination in this country. Today was an incredibly historic day. While there are still many strides to be taken on the road to equality, this was a very important step in the right direction. Thank you to all of those brave souls who have come before us and paved the way for today’s victory. Thank you to the justices who saw to it that all should be equally free in the eyes of the law to marry the person whom they choose. Let us maintain the momentum of the past few days and continue to work hard for change, justice, and equality for all of our fellow Americans and citizens of our shared world.

–Chloe

 

Supreme Court Squad Goals

June 1

Intro to the Gen-Y Blogger YouTube Channel

Let us introduce ourselves! We’re Chloe and Billy Mays – siblings who hope to take over the world share our journey through this crazy life with you. Everything form the funny things in life, to the more serious personal, political, or social based things life throws at us. We hope that you subscribe to our channel and join us on that journey =)

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April 13

We’ve Officially Launched Our YouTube Channel!

My brother Billy and I have officially launched our joint YouTube channel! He will also be joining me on all Gen-Y Blogger social media platforms.

 

 

Our YouTube Channel is dedicated to looking at life from the perspectives of two similar, yet distinctly different siblings. Growing up is hard to do, and no one should ever have to feel like they’re going through anything in life alone. We hope to share our stories with you so that you can laugh with us, live with us, and know that you are never alone.

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