My Eportfolio Essay

My initial learning goals were to incorporate what I have learned into my life, educate others on popular culture, develop confidence in what I am saying, and also not to be afraid of speaking up. Throughout the course, I have accomplished just that. These goals would not be possible to reach if it weren’t for a strong mindset, which is my primary strength that I saw in myself.

When it comes to online courses, many people slack off, however I did not. My mindset was simple. As long as I knew the direction in which I wanted to go, I had the motivation and determination to succeed in this course. The other strengths that I saw in myself throughout the term, is being eager to learn and being an effective communicator, which is proven by my blog comments. In response to another student, I stated:

“I agree with you on both prompts. After reading the essay, it came as a complete shock to me that the distinction between “us” and “them” even exists. Not only that, but how much of an impact the media really has on society in defining others. I never realized that it is a bit difficult to have an open mind when this binary tunnel vision of other cultures is engraved into our brains from the beginning. After the 9/11 attack, I saw all Muslims as “the enemy”, in which the media had a powerful influence on my assumption. When I flew on an airplane and saw a guy with a head wrap, I feared for my life because I thought that he was going to hijack the plane. However, I do not see all Muslims as “the enemy” anymore. That being said, intercultural education should be combined with media literacy. The consumption of media allows us to access information that we aren’t able to get on our own. However, the negative part is that the media decides what to share and what to hide from their audience. Whether we know it or not, the media plays a major role in how we view our society.

Secondly, I agree that Asians are a group of people that I’ve seen represented in a similar or one-dimensional way over and over in popular culture media. The most common stereotype with Asians have to deal with the parents. If you are Asian or someone you know is Asian, people assume that your parents are strict. People assume that Asian parents are never proud of their children. For instance, an Asian person could earn his Bachelor’s degree and his/her parent’s will not be satisfied because they could have gotten their PhD. It is portrayed that Asian parents have such high expectations for their children, when in reality this is not true. Personally speaking, I am Asian and my parents do not even know the name of the college that I am attending, nor do they care what kind of grades I am earning.”

I chose this blog comment because not only does it prove my eagerness to learn but it also proves how respectful I am to others, which is very important in communication. When it comes to reading other’s work, I am respectful with my words. I do not reply back to them with just a sentence. I fully give them my thoughts, questions, and ideas regarding their work, which in turn, will help us both. I state why I agree and disagree. In my opinion, communication is important in all aspects of life.

Moreover, although I did not see any challenges throughout the term, being a student, there was an area that I needed room for improvement on. Before this course, as a student, I felt that I was not an active participant in my education. Not only would I be silent when I strongly disagreed with something in a class debate, but I was also silent in previous mentor sessions. However, due to this course, I am a changed person, as I am now an active and engaging student in my education. To substantiate this, take my blog post about the influence of advertising.

“Prompt: How aware are you of the difference between content and ads when you are using the Internet?

In my eyes, content and ads are like words versus pictures, however, I came to realize that I am not aware of the impact that difference can have on an individual. The internet is a globalized machine that not only allows people from everywhere around the world to connect but it is also so common that you don’t really think anything of it. AT first, I thought there was a distinct difference between content and ads. Content was the information expressed through a medium. This could be the words you read in a book or even the words that a person said. On the other hand, ads were the pictures that you saw on a billboard or in a magazine. Ads were the unwanted; they were the pop ups that you had to block or the 15 second video you chose to skip. However, as time progressed, they began to overlap. While viewing content on the internet, more often than not, there are ads on the side. Take Facebook for example. Facebook is a social media site that allows you to connect with your friends, you can see the photos that they post, you can see where they are at, you can see how they are feeling or what is on their mind. However, on the right side column of the Facebook site, there are ads with a headline, photo, and caption. In other words, I am using a medium to consume information about my friends, yet, this medium is trying to persuade me to take a further look into their brand or product. In addition, Facebook hires people to track your interests, and from that, they show only ads that are specifically for you. For example, these research analysts would see that dogs interests me because I would watch dog videos on Facebook, and after that, I would see dog ads on the right side of my Facebook. Moreover, facebook is not the only site that allows ads to influence their content, there is also news websites, dating websites, social media websites. In my opinion, this makes me question what the real message is. What these networks are allowing says a lot about their values. I, like many people, don’t want to read an article and have these incessant ads disrupting the content. Let’s be honest, you would much rather choose a picture with a few words than a paper with only words. Although pictures are more appealing to the eyes than words, at the end of the day, words mean so much more.

Prompt: Do you think advertisements contribute anything of value to our culture? What ads? In what ways?

I think advertisements are more harmful than it is helpful to our culture. Yes we are a capitalistic society which means that producing and distributing good and services is crucial but it seems individuals are uninformed of the power that they hold. We, as consumers, have the power. Advertisements are putting ideas and images in your head, however, you can either accept it or reject it. We, as consumers, may not know it, but every time that we purchase a good or service from a certain company, we are making a statement. We should be asking questions like, what statement does their merchandise make and how does it reflect upon me? Who am I supporting with my purchase? What cause does the company support? Urban outfitters is a perfect example of consumer purchasing power. Urban Outfitters has had a bad rep, from horrible working qualities, to offensive products. Because of that, I choose to not buy their products. My silence is the power. Imagine if people stopped shopping at Urban Outfitters, this would make Urban Outfitters think twice about their values. Not only would they improve working qualities for their factory workers, but they would discontinue offensive products. In fact, they discontinued shirts that had words like “Eat Less” and “Depression” not because people stopped buying it, but because there were many critics. Furthermore, I feel that majority of advertisements depends on external factors for validation. In other words, there is such a materialistic connotation with advertisements. Ads create this ideology of what is normal. Enhancing our looks is a constant message shown through ads. In short, it is all about what we look like, and the ads shown below substantiate this claim.

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You’ve got Katy Perry basically saying that you can eat potato chips without putting on weight.

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You’ve got an Estee Lauder model with eyeliner, eyeshadow, foundation, blush, lipstick, and nail polish.

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In addition, the “Beyond Natural” Jessica Alba is anything but natural due to makeup caked on her.

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To put the icing on the cake, you’ve got Victoria Secret models in lingerie stating in bold letters that skinny is the “perfect body”.

Overall, when I think of ads, I don’t think of promoting environmental sustainability or charity foundations; values that hold true importance. Moreover, there is a strong correlation of physical appearance and advertisements, which should not be the case. All in all, if we not only took the time to analyze an ad, but more importantly, take the time to question our purchases, that is the value advertising can contribute to.”

Although it might have been much to read, this blog post goes to show how much I have improved as a Student. Not only do I put time into my education, but the effort that I have put into this course is evident from my blog posts.

Overall, the knowledge and skills that I have obtained during this course is something that I will apply from here on out, as it has, and will continue, to benefit me. The most important takeaway for me is how to critically analyze the news. Take for example, my analysis of a news article.

“The article, “Afghanistan Kidnappings: Two Foreigners Missing From Aid Team” include many sources. First, Mustafa Andalib, the reporter. Next, Rob Taylor, the writer. Lastly, Michael Perry, the editor. In my eyes, these sources played a major part in the article, setting the tone for the paper. For starters, the sources are bashing high officials. To elaborate, the article includes this, “Rumours of the abduction of a man and a woman by either insurgents or criminal gangs have circulated for several days, but U.S. and Canadian diplomats said they were unaware of anyone reported missing”. This is crucial because they are basically pointing fingers saying that U.S. and Canadian Diplomats are not doing anything about this issue. To further emphasize this negative perspective, the article includes this “Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it was looking into the reports, but gave no confirmation of a missing citizen”. Also including one that hits home, “A U.S. embassy spokesman in Kabul late on Friday said there was no information on a missing American, but diplomatic officials are often reluctant to talk about kidnappings in hope it could smooth the way for negotiations on a release”. These only go to show the hostility towards those high officials who were in charge of the investigation, continuing to point fingers at them.

Furthermore, not only do they bash high officials but as you read you can visibly see the bias of this coverage, substantiating that there is no such thing as objective reporting due to loaded language. In the article, they use terms such as insurgents, criminal gangs, gunmen, abduction, and volatile. These terms speak for itself, they all have negative connotations to them. For instance, insurgent is saying that they are insubordinate or disobedient, when they could have used a term that has a less negative connotation such as “rebel”. All in all, diction matters, and by the choice of words they used, this proves that reporters bring their own biases and views into the story.

Moreover, I think the article in general lacked a lot of information that caused confusion for readers. However, based on tone and diction, poor participation of high officials was their justification for lack of information. Also, lack of information made me question if this was a personal matter, rather than professional. The article bashed high officials more than they talked about the information of the two missing foreigners. For starters, what was the name of these two missing foreigners? How old were they? What was the primary purpose of the trip? All in all, reporters could have included reporter chooses what to include, what not to include, and who they get their information from. Because of this, it makes me question what the true message they want readers to take away.”

The news definitely impacts an individual’s perspectives and actions, and learning how to critically analyze the news, benefits me greatly. I ask questions such as, who are the sources and what are their perspectives? Are significant questions left unasked or unanswered? Do quotes seem abridged or out of context? Are exaggerated or rhetorical claims reported uncritically without journalistic scrutiny? By asking these analysis questions, I am at a greater advantage because I will not fall victim to being misled by the news. 

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About penkeo56

I am originally from Hawai'i, however, I knew that I was meant for something much bigger than what my island could offer me. Volleyball is my all time favorite sport. I love to travel, hike, and hangout with friends.