Entertainment Echo Chambers

‘Echo chambers’ is a term that we talked a lot about in university when discussing social media, though it was always in regards to politics. In the Trump vs Hillary election, it’s speculated that fake news and echo chambers, specifically on Facebook, played a part in Trump’s win. Google defines echo chambers as:

An environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own, so that their existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered.

You can understand how people stubborn in their political beliefs can be in one of these without even knowing it.

Anyway, as interesting as it is to look at echo chambers from an election perspective (that sounds sarcastic; I really do think it is interesting), I think it’s also a concept that we should consider when thinking about other things. Like fandoms. And TV shows.

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You readers when you see I’m about to talk about TV again

In this day and age, there are TV shows available from a multitude of sources. And keeping up with them all (even from a place of awareness of their existence, not actually watching them) can be really hard. I don’t even think the people at TV Line or Entertainment Weekly know of every show currently out there. So naturally, fans of smaller shows take it upon themselves to promote the shows, usually on social media. And this is good because sometimes the recommendation of genuine fans can be far more valuable and honest than whatever publications give reviews or whatever the show promotes itself as (like how Riverdale still promotes itself as a good show worth watching…).

Betty side eye gif.

Anyway, one thing I’ve noticed is that when it comes to fans promoting shows, specifically in efforts to save shows from cancellation, is that echo chambers play a huge but silent part. And in my opinion, political views play a part in it, too. Let me give you an example so you can better understand what I’m trying to say here.

There’s a (remake of a) show called One Day At A Time that recently got cancelled from Netflix and last month got picked up by a channel called PopTV. A lot of people I follow on Twitter and Tumblr were fans of the show so though I didn’t watch it, I knew a lot about it. For those who don’t know, the show is about the life of a Latino family including a single mom, a grandmother, a gay daughter, and a son. There’s also a neighbour/family friend who is an ex-addict. The daughter also eventually dates someone who I thiiiink is non-binary. I’m telling you this because a lot of the fan-made promotions for the show highlighted not just the fact that the show was an apparent good comedy (honestly, it didn’t look that funny to me, thus why I did not watch it), but that there was a lot of good representation on the show. A family of colour! Single parent! LGBTQA characters!

Now, I’m a straight white person, so representation for me based on just that is everywhere. And when I look for TV shows to watch, I usually look for genre and plot rather than representation. Call that white privilege if you want. I do know it’s not uncommon for underrepresented people to watch a show solely for a small glimpse of representation, so appealing to this can be good. But there’s a limit. With internet and fandoms and all that, there’s a good chance that people have their finger on the pulse of things they care about a lot more, so if there is a show with LGBTQA characters, for example, especially on a large platform like Netflix, you probably would have heard of it by season two or three if this is something you care about. Does this make sense?

they already know what's up

So though the ODAAT creator straight up said ratings weren’t great and it eventually got cut, people were outraged that Netflix would do this. How dare they cut a show that is repping so many minorities and making so many people feel seen. How dare they do this yet give ‘worse’ shows like 13 Reasons Why more seasons. The thing is, though, Netflix is a business. As are traditional TV channels like NBC or Fox. And if a show isn’t getting the numbers it needs, then it will go. It sucks, and I’ve been mad at Netflix before too. But it’s not a hate crime. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this world who don’t want to watch a show starring POC or a show that has gay characters. Maybe they’re a bigot, but maybe they just don’t find it relatable or fun. Maybe the show is on at a time they can’t watch, or they don’t even have Netflix. So no matter how vocal the fandom is and how many detailed Tumblr posts about why I should watch [insert some show here] I come across, sometimes the echo chamber is probably already developed and the limit has been mostly reached. And it’s something to consider when looking at the success of TV shows and movies over time. TV shows don’t often go up in ratings as seasons go on (huge shows like Game Of Thrones are outliers). Everyone can agree that season 4 of Agents Of SHIELD was phenomenal, but the ratings didn’t go up. By then, most everyone who wanted to watch was doing so, so me explaining in detail why you need to pick it up and highlighting all the great female characters or POC or fun plots or whatnot wouldn’t have done anything. I’d be preaching to the choir.

Actually, preaching to the choir is the perfect cliche to explain what I’m trying to say here. When it comes to fans, to entertainment, and to the internet community, it’s often that the ones most vocal about keeping shows alive/boosting ratings are the ones who already watch things and know what they like, and most of the people they promote to are similar in this way.

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That’s it. I don’t have a point. It’s just something I’ve noticed as I’ve watched TV shows (and movies) rise and fall over the years. I think it’s great that some shows get a second chance and it’s due to fans campaigning and getting their voice heard. But even Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s ratings aren’t thriving, though I think it managed to get out of its echo chamber a little.

I’d love to discuss this more if you’ve got any thoughts on the matter, so leave a comment.

P.S. Related but unrelated, I think shows that shove in a lot of political issues in direct reference to hot topic political issues also play a part in turning away fans and disengaging potential viewers. Supergirl recently did a whole bunch of immigration bits among other topics, and people quit watching because of it. Where is the line of making shows realistic and thought-provoking without being preachy, annoying, or too aggressive?

 

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Things I Learned From My First Full-Time Office Job

I wrote the majority of this post a few weeks ago, knowing my one-year anniversary was coming up for my first real adult full-time job. Two days after the milestone, I was laid off. That sucked. I was told they were restructuring the department, outsourcing my job, and then they packed up my office for me.

The job wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but I was committed to stick it out for a couple years. Adjusting to it took time, just like I know adjusting to what’s next is going to be. Despite how angry and disappointed I am to so suddenly be out of work, the lessons I learned are still true and valuable. That job was the longest I’ve done something consecutively, and I am proud of myself. For 22 years, all I had known was school, and then my priorities and life had to shift. So I wanted to make this post to highlight some things I learned in the year. Hopefully it can help people about to graduate and move into their own full-time adult jobs, even just to understand what it’s like.

For those who didn’t know (which is probably a lot of you since I didn’t talk about work that often here), I worked in marketing. I won’t say what the company I worked for did, but it was B2B and not a thrilling industry by any means. The marketing department was small, and my job was to write a lot (emails, landing pages, social posts, blogs, website updates….) and I liked that because I went to school for communications and I do genuinely like to write/create, even if my creative freedom was obviously limited. I told anyone who asked that I learned so much at work, and it’s stuff that school could never teach me. Now I’d like to share a bit of it.

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  • Not all offices are like The Office. There were days where work seemed similar to The Office, like we’d have a meeting talking about branch goals or something that kind of reminded me of The Office, but that’s about where the similarities end. I wished the office was more like The Office though. They seemed to have good times over there in Dunder Mifflin.
  • Dress codes are dumb. I sat at a desk by myself all day. I didn’t interact with customers. Some days I didn’t even stand up (which is bad, I know. I did make an effort to stand up and move more). So who cares if I wore fancy black shoes or purple running shoes? (Related: this post on my personal style and how clothes shouldn’t matter as much)
  • I am convinced lunch hours go by a lot faster than other hours.
  • I loved meetings. I just had to sit there, listen, learn, occasionally say something, and it counted as productivity! I had a coworker who would sometimes say after a conference call “Okay, we didn’t need a half hour phone call for that,” and I’d be like “We sure didn’t! It was great!” #WasteMyTime2k19
  • Dilbert comics make a lot more sense.
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    Image result for dilbert comic marketing
  • I don’t miss school per se, but I miss aspects. I miss being able to lounge around at 1 in the afternoon because my class wasn’t until 3. I miss sleeping in and staying up late. I miss doing a few hours of homework and considering it a good day’s work. I don’t miss lectures and boring papers.
  • School really didn’t teach me much. I learned so much more in the real world. Every company approaches communications, social media, and lead generation differently. The generic concepts from school may have given me a starting point, but I forget most of it. So don’t stress about not knowing and applying everything. It sucks that it cost so much to happen, but it gets you in the door for jobs. And if you’re debating going on to grad school, consider if it’s really needed. For the communications/marketing field, I personally don’t think it is.
  • I had two large computer screens and it made any multi-tabbed project SO MUCH easier. How the heck did I survive all my essays and projects in school with only my single-screened small laptop?
  • It can be hard to figure out when to speak up and voice an opinion. Sometimes it’s best to just shut up and do what you disagree with because no one’s really asking for your thoughts. Just do the job.
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  • Loverboy was right. Everybody really is working for the weekend.
  • I would’ve actually died if I hadn’t been allowed to listen to music while I worked. It was so quiet in the office, and I dislike the silence like that, so I always had the radio going. You can’t always control the volume of your surroundings the way you usually can doing homework at home, so I did have to learn what kind of noise I liked and what helps me work.
  • Just because coworkers are grown adults who’ve been with a company for years, it doesn’t mean they’re brilliant. Especially when it comes to technology.
  • If you have questions, even ‘dumb’ ones, ask them sooner rather than later. Otherwise you end up like me, who genuinely did not know my own office phone number, and even up until the end was too afraid to ask.
  • Have snacks on hand always.
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I’ll always be very grateful that I found a job in my field only a few months out of school and so close to home. I may have been counting down to 5’oclock every day, but that’s life. The above lessons will prove valuable throughout my career, no matter where I go or what I do now.

I hope the things I learned amused you or help you! To anyone who has workplace lessons to share too, leave a comment!

Wish me luck on the new job hunt.

 

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Monthly Look Ahead: July 2019

July! Summer is fully here, and while I’m still wearing three layers at work, it’s nice to feel heat when I’m outside for a second. But other than heat, July doesn’t seem like a special month. Once you’re out of school, summer means very little. Nevertheless, here’s what I’m looking forward to this month.

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  • Canada Day on the 1st! For the sixth or seventh year, I will be attending a BBQ with my best friend and her family. It’s always a good time. There is a small chance of rain, though, so cross your fingers it holds off.
  • Spider-Man Far From Home is out on the 5th to retrigger all my Endgame feelings I have under control now.
  • Hollywood Game Night is back on the 11th, and I am very excited. It is a perfect summer show, and it always has my mother and I laughing out loud.
  • Ed Sheeran has a new album coming out on the 12th, and while I love his music and think he is very talented (÷ was a fantastic album that I listened to a whole lot), this album is a collaboration album, and it seems like all the artists he’s working with are hip-hop/rap artists, which is very not my style, so I feel like the music will not impress me. But I’ll still give it a listen.
  • Queer Eye is back for a fourth season on Netflix on the 15th, and I am very much looking forward to it because it is pure, wholesome TV.
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  • After watching an old bootleg and seeing it sweep the Tonys, I have been very into the musical Hadestown. The soundtrack was supposed to be out on June 7th, but it got delayed and instead will be released in batches throughout the month with the full thing being available on the 26th. I can’t wait to hear it in full. The songs already out are so funky and have all gotten stuck in my head. I recommend giving them a listen.

Aaaand that’s my July. Not very exciting, I know. Some months are like that. And sometimes, being able to look ahead at a month the way I do with these posts and see a boring month is good because I can prepare mentally or put a little extra effort into trying to shake things up as I go.

I hope your July is set to be better, so let me know what you’ve got going on!

 

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WordPress Wants Our Money So Badly

I have been on WordPress for almost a decade. It is, in my humble opinion, the best blogging platform ever. I’ve played around with a few others before, and from what I saw, none have the same professional look, ease of use, and community. I’m very glad my blog is here.

But lately, WordPress has been rubbing me the wrong way, and it’s like finding out your favourite celebrity is a jerk: maybe my favourite blogging platform is just like every other money-hungry company.

Three years ago, I wrote this post explaining why blogging for free is more than just okay. Spurred on by the number of people I saw sharing self-hosted journey posts, I wanted to be a voice for the rest of us who use a free domain and a free theme and just do it for fun. And I still stand by this belief, but I also said that WordPress doesn’t try to extort money. Lately, I feel like they’ve been doing a lot to nudge people into putting in those credit card digits, and I’m kind of really upset about it.

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In the last month, I’ve gotten seven emails from WordPress, offering a 20% off deal to upgrade my plan. Four were four days in a row. And 20% is hardly a deal when they offer it all the time. Easter sales, summer sale, New Years sales… I like knowing if there are sales and whatnot, but six in one month is annoying.

Furthermore, I’ve found that the number of ads on my blog has jumped up. (For those unaware, purchasing a plan removes all ads). There used to be like maybe one at the bottom of a post and maybe another in the sidebar. Now my blog is crawling with ads, and really crappy spammy ones too. It’s the worst if you read on mobile. I mean, LOOK AT THIS.

From email to in the post, none of the images here (aside from my beans) are images I placed or want.

I don’t know if it’s better if you’re logged in because I do all my blog reading from the Reader, but either way, it’s annoying and I don’t want my readers to be annoyed when perusing my blog.

The fact that WordPress has paid plans they want to sign people up for isn’t the problem—I think it’s good that they have several plans and can cater to serious users who are willing to pay—it’s the fact that they’re making it so free plans aren’t a decent option anymore. Let us live with our lesser options and our WordPress branding. We agreed to that. It’s what every other company/service with free options does. We shouldn’t be harassed and made to feel like our free blogs, which are just as valid as paid blogs, aren’t good enough or meaningful enough, or have to look trashy.

And I’m going to be honest with you guys: the harassment is working a little on me. I mean, sure, I’ve been thinking about buying a domain for years now and can list out pros and cons until the cows come home, but it’s the ads thing that really bothers me. I can ignore the constant sale emails and I can ignore the many other bloggers making the switch, but when there are the ugliest ads I’ve ever seen on my blog interfering with my writing, that’s where I get mad.

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I am impervious to marketing tactics and sales for literally everything else, but my blog is one of the most important things to me, and I am just so mad at myself for somewhat falling for this and for WordPress for doing this to us free users. That being said, I know it’s okay to feel ‘weak’ so I’m not beating myself up that much.

Is anyone else feeling this push from WordPress? Or have I fallen into a drip campaign or something? Alternatively, if you’ve bought a domain/paid plan from WordPress, did you do it because of these tactics?

 

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Collecting: We All Do It, But To What End?

When my grandfather died a few years ago, my father and aunts and uncles had to clean out his house and sell his and my grandmother’s belongings. Most of the stuff was fairly easy to toss or sell or donate, but my father was left with something a little harder to deal with: a coin and stamp collection that my great-grandfather had apparently started. Now, don’t get all excited, most of it is pretty worthless. Dad spent many hours sorting through the coins and examining them all with magnifying glasses and listing them all out so he can figure out what there is and if anything is worth more than face value. My brother and mother and I were recruited to help a few times. What made this process extra difficult was that the coins were kept in envelopes and bags, and some of the envelopes had rotted away, so these rusty as heck pennies were all mixed together. So, as a lesson to all, if you collect anything, make sure it’s stored neatly for when you die.

Here are some (blurry, sorry!) pictures I took during the family coin sorting sessions.

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I think collections are cool. As a kid, I went through phases where I had this deep desire to collect. I collected many things, usually with my brother. Rocks, Pokémon cards, Mighty Beans, coins, marbles, pencil leads, stickers… I think maybe I felt like collecting something brought me closer to feeling complete and satisfied with something. Or maybe just unique; I was always trying to be unique as a kid. I still have the coins, the rocks, and the Pokémon cards, though I don’t really do anything with them nowadays. I figure the Pokémon cards will be cool for when my brother or I have kids, and the rocks are too pretty to just toss away. The coins are just Olympic or province/state ones, so they’re not worth more than what they are, so unless I’m super broke, I don’t mind keeping them in my tiny safe.

i'm not ready meme.
Me when my mom asks if I want to get rid of my old junk collections

But it’s weird to think about why we collect things, though. Like sure, some coins can be worth a lot. And yeah, there are rare Pokémon cards or comics or whatever, but otherwise, we’re just hoarding things for no reason. We’ll die before we sell anything for big bucks. I doubt my grandfather often pulled out his coins and looked through them fondly. I haven’t looked at my rocks in years. My mom collects little frog figurines because she likes frogs. My best friend’s mom collects snowmen. My brother collects baseball and hockey cards. But is liking something enough of a reason to want to collect them? At least you could play with the Pokémon cards as you collected them.

I know I kind of explained there that I think I did it because I was trying to feel satisfied and/or unique, but is that everyone’s reason? A quick Google search pulls up lots of scientific/psychological explanations for a human’s need to collect. We like the chase, we like the organization, we like the nostalgia. Whatever the reason, our monkey brains are into it. I guess we’ll have to chalk it up to evolution and psychology and filling some void in our lives.

Simpsons fill the void gif.

I think everybody at some point in their lives collected something, so tell me what it is. What did you do with said collection? Why did you start the collection what propelled you to keep it up?

Anyway, I’ve decided to start collecting Likes and Shares on my blog, so please donate to my collection, I want to really build it up. Thaaaanks!

 

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