Having begun undertaking our research projects, I have come across many concerns and obstacles. The biggest challenge I have faced so far is gathering enough data. It’s quite stressful and worrying knowing that all your research relies on a reasonable amount of people willingly participating in your data methods. So far, I have submitted my survey online, as my tutorial was cancelled and it could therefore not be distributed there. This was a massive setback as I was relying on the 20 odd responses within my class to contribute to my sample sufficiently. Instead, now I am relying on online contributions. Another issue relating to this, is that the quality of the responses is very mixed. It is hard to get in depth answers that contain a lot of information through a survey. Also the open ended question I have included has barely harvested any responses, which is frustrating as I was hoping it would provide me a vast amount of understanding and information. I understand that the nature of how these surveys are conducted also contributes to this. As quite a few classes are distributing surveys, many respondents may be frustrated with the large amount of surveys they have been asked to participate in, and are being very limited in what they are answering to avoid the use of large amounts of time. Hopefully, by focusing on my next method, a focus group, I will be able to get more information out of this. I hope that by requesting participants willing to converse and contribute, as well as having them in a social environment, will mean the information they produce is of large and valuable content. Will keep you all posted as to how it turns out…
There’s no doubt that there is a mental health problem in Australia. Aside from the various institutions we are informed about, the advertisements we constantly consume, and the shocking statistics; the knowledge of the friends/family and people I have heard about with mental illness, is alarming. The Black Dog institute states that 1 in 5 (20%) of Australians aged 16-85 will experience a mental health issue within the next year; the highest risk age group being 18-24 year olds. Furthermore, Universities Australia reported that the number of students enrolled in Australian universities in 2015 was 1,410,133 of which 1,046,835 were domestic students and 363,298 were international students. And according to the 2016 Census results, there were 1,421,595 15-19 year olds, and 1,599,793 20-24 year olds, living in Australia.
So what does this mean?
Over 50% of Australians aged 18-24 attend university. This is the same age bracket that poses the highest statistics for mental health issues. ASMA found that the percentage of university students experiencing very high levels of distress were significantly higher than those of the same age that were in the general population; the percentage difference being the comparison of 9.6% to one of 4.05%. Thus, Australian university students are statistically at a higher risk of suffering a mental health issue.
So what do we already know?
Headspace were able to recognise that there are mental health issues directly affecting students ability to perform their university requirements and work. In their survey, they found that major contributors to the lack of ability to complete university work included: Thoughts of self-harm or suicide: 35.4 per cent, Feeling stressed: 83.2 per cent, Lack of energy or motivation: 82.1 per cent, Feeling anxious: 79.0 per cent, Low mood: 75.8 per cent, Feelings of hopelessness/worthlessness: 59.2 per cent, Trouble sleeping: 55.6 per cent, Panic: 52.7 per cent.
Perhaps the strongest source that supports the research into this issue, is an investigation conducted by Orygen in 2017. They acknowledge minimal research has already been conducted, especially in Australia, but that the research that has been done does support a growing perception that Australian university students are experiencing higher (and continually rising) levels of stress and mental ill-health in comparison to other age brackets. This research identified several risk factors which effected university students’ mental health including academic pressures, financial pressures, relocation to participate in higher education (especially in rural/remote and international students), transitional stress between levels of education, drug and alcohol use, poor diet, and lack of sleep. They were also able to see trends between poor metal health and certain characteristics of individuals. For example 29% of those with physical disabilities reported having an anxiety disorder. As well as this, risk groups were identified; international students, rural/regional university students, law and medicine students, and students from low socio-economic backgrounds. They drew a conclusion, as to why this may be the case, including that relocation may contribute to loneliness, and that a major life transition, such as the move from high school into university, would lead to a mental health decline; this was supported by the data of first year students.
Orygen however, did admit they were missing some elements of research in their study. They did not specify disability, delve into what mental illness/psychological distress was experienced within the ‘health and stress’ domain, or if an individual was/had been seeking help.
The statistics do not lie, this is a real issue in Australian society and it is crucial that is be further documented. For this reason, I will be conducting further research, specifically into the resources available to university students that assist in recognising, and treating mental health concerns and issues. We, as a nation, are able to recognise that there is a problem, and have endeavoured to address this, however we must ask, are we doing enough? Is what we are doing effective? Sydney University believe that standard education and marketing on mental health is not a very effective initiative. So what else is there? How else can we help?
For this reason, I have decided to conduct research on mental health services available to university students, and their effectiveness. The same research conducted by The University of Sydney estimates that approximately 75% of adult mental health conditions emerge by age 24; so our ability to diagnose, address, and treat this problem in younger adults, will have immense effects on the population as a whole. Therefore, it is paramount that we find effective ways, that create real change, and to be able to do this we must first assess the current systems in place. This research is an important tool which will be vital in facilitating positive change in the mental health of Australian university students. So watch this space as I investigate;
Are the current mental health services available to university students effective in addressing the issue of mental health?
For support and information about suicide prevention, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011. Young Australians: their health and wellbeing 2011. Cat. no. PHE 140 Canberra: AIHW., p 13-15.
Black Dog Institute. n.d.Facts and figures about mental health. .Keeping Health in Mind, p 1-4.
Eisenburg; Golberstein; Gollust, D; E; S, 2007. Help-Seeking and Access to Mental Health Care in a University Student Population. Medical Care-Official Journal of the Medical Care Section, American Public Health Association, July 2007- Volume 45 – Issue 7, p 594-601.
Healthy Sydney University Mental Wellbeing Working Group, n.d. A blueprint for student mental wellbeing in universities. Healthy Sydney University, p 1-2.
Orygen: The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, 2017. Under the radar: the mental health of Australian university students. Orygen: The National centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, p 10-52.
Wang; Lee; Tasha, S; S; Z, 2013. The Australian Context. University Student Mental Health, 1, p 5-13.
Something that sent me on a search for information…
Only about 3 months ago, I was sitting in my box office at Capitol Theatre, making small talk with the colleague beside me. Talking about trips, he alerted me of his upcoming trip – to Central America. Rallying off countries, I can barely keep up, recalling some as countries I’ve seen people I know drop into. And so I sat there questioning, and went home wondering. Why had I seen posts of this place? What countries were part of it? Where even was it? And what was the allure to it?
So I started looking into it. There were photos I saw uploaded; mainly consisting of places I’d literally never even heard of. So, as the curios person I am, I took a mental note to add this area to the many trips I have planned, that one day I would find myself able to explore on their very shores myself.
And keeping it short and sweet, I’ll be there in June! For me, Curiosity is seeing things, being immersed in them, experiencing them. Of course, I could learn by reading about things, but I prefer to draw my own conclusions and paint my own picture. So where did my curiosity and search for information take me… it took me 20 hours around the world to another nation. And not only that, but to Anton Valley in Panama, exactly where Matthias Gruber mentions in his talk “This is your Brain on Curiosity”. Wish me luck, and I’ll let you know how square the trees really are!
I feel like it’s almost a known fact that we all possess different personas; like when we are with our partners, with our friends, in a professional environment, or with our family. Online we also have a different, or many different personas.
A shift has occurred, however, that means instead of having our online persona as representational (a way of showing everyone who we are), they are now presentational (a work of art, where we can present ourselves as we like). Online, we trade our personal information for access. We fill in details in order to be included.
However media nowadays is not mass media, we are not catered to as a whole. Instead media is “massified” by all the individuals. We decide what is ‘trendy’ and what platforms are used, while still personalising them ourselves. What we share is interpersonal – we have so many ways of directly communicating with each other. We can reply to tweets, we can retweet, we can share Facebook posts and directly reply to statuses, we can even directly message each other!
What we do create, the parts of our persona we create, are not just characterised but details we fill in. Our personas are characterised by what we like, share, tweet, follow. And they are all internetworked (or mostly). Now we can connect our Twitter, to our Facebook, to our Instagram, etc.
Even online we have different personas too, we have a Mediated one (used to comment on news articles, or when someone has a baby and it’s relatively formal), a public one (think your Facebook posts and Instagram photos), and a performative one (one that shows how great we are, what we are like towards our bosses and coaches for example). Altogether, we have a collective profile that is all of these combined.
So I guess on one side of the coin it’s kinda scary, that we are portrayed as whatever we like online – if you don’t believe this watch Catfish please. But then, really, when I think about it, all parts of our lives we have different personas. I mean like so what that online there’s just another one? If it isn’t hurting anyone, and it’s just how we wish we were, who really cares? Please, let me know in the comments below!
P.S. To finish off, here’s a vid to show just how different our personas online can be…
One of the biggest questions of our generation, which is better, Apple or Android?
For me, an avid Apple user, I’ve never really questioned it. I’ve used my iPhone since they were pretty much released. Even when I ask around, almost everyone I know uses Apple, bar a few.
But I feel like the debate actually goes much deeper than just the brand or logo a device is imprinted with. The real debate we’re having, without even knowing, is open sourced vs. closed source devices.
You see, apple has created its own community almost. They have their own app store meaning that not only users must use this (and only this) but creators must break into this certain market to be visible to a certain audience. To have your app available, Apple must approve you. Apple has complete control over the platform (the phone or other device), the content (what you can see from this device)., and therefore the user (YOU!). Apple originally drew their users in to the current iPhone by combining three functions and devices into one – a widescreen touch control iPod, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device (the iPad). And here you get… the modern-day iPhone!
Now lets look at the Android. You have a completely open garden of apps, Google Play and independent android markets are some means of downloading apps. With an Android, the user is given flexibility and they have the ability to both access and modify the code. Android exercises no control over the platform, content or user.
The two devices seem, on the surface, as a pretty simple choice. But the control and freedom you (the user) is able to exercise is actually immensely different. So next time you, or someone you know, asks “Apple or Android?”, realise what the real question is. How much freedom do you want? Do you want access to just information, and controlled use? Or do you want access to conversation, and the ability to use your device as you please?
So for an assignment we were given – The Digital Artefact – we were to create pretty much anything online. Of course it needed to serve a purpose, and to be creative.
Originally, my idea was to join with two other students from my class (international students) and do short Buzzfeed-like vids about our differences i.e. trying each cultures food, taboos in each culture. That sort of thing, and to be honest I was super excited.
However, it ended up being nearly impossible to cross over at all with each other. Every time we’d schedule a meet up someone would bail and we’d have to call it off. It was not only sooo frustrating, but really stressful because the clock was ticking. Eventually, I called it, and decided to just do my own thing.
So here we are. Now, I’m doing videos (so similar of my brother and I doing activities together. The reason? Well not only do I think we don’t do things together enough, unless forced to, but it’ll be qa good opportunity to bond, try new things, and show the rest of the world that getting on with your sibling isn’t actually that hard.
To con him into helping me, I decided my best bet was to do activities he enjoys, meaning I’m thrown into the deep end. But whatever. Anyways I’ll link the very first video here (when I can) and hopefully you guys have as much fun watching it as I did filming 🙂
Here it is!
Transmedia – where integral elements of fiction are dispersed across multiple delivery channels. Wot?
Seriously, even though I full understand the concept, it’s still kinda confusing when reading it that way. So basically put, when parts of a storyline (sort of) are portrayed and therefore consumed via many different mediums. That definitely makes more sense to me, and is really how I understand the whole concept.
Transmedia allows for consumers to develop a deeper connection to the content they are consuming, and by consuming various forms of content, allows for a broader and more widespread understanding.
Take Spiderman for example (totally hypothetical because I have next to no idea about any of it). They release the comics, and then there’s a movie, and a few video and computer games, and a card game based off the video games, and before you know it there’s basically a whole Spiderman world out there. It’s highly successful and not only that, but original fans (in this case of the comics) aren’t the only fans that are now engaged with the content. Some consumers may join in with the video games, or buy the cards, but now they have become part of this world. The movement between the different sources is also completely non-conventional. It’s not linear, one platform onto the next. Users may engage with this content in whichever way they may like, and may go between platforms likewise.
Transmedia is the reality of how we connect with media nowadays. Almost everything we come across is interconnected to another platform where we may access further content. It’s like posting a YouTube link to Facebook, or me posting this blog post link to my Twitter. Anyways, I think you understand the general concept, but just to further that, here’s a link to my SoundCloud, which will link you back to here, which links you to my SoundCloud. It’s like a Transmedia-ception.
An emerging trend in the internet these days is fake and bias news. To be honest, I was absolutely awful with recognising any of it. I’d always click on “clickbait” because, hey, it sounded interesting. And I’d be reading some article about how Beyoncé was actually having an affair and she’s now a lesbian and I’m lapping this all up. Awesome, I think, as I click to the comments section because 1. there’s always good banter, and 2. I love watching people disagree online.
Fast forward to me reading through the comments, finding either two opinions from most commenters; 1. this is absolute baloney and we now hate whoever published it, or 2. we are shocked and pretty much believe the whole thing. I am number 2 (embarrassing). I consider myself pretty switched on, and with some ridiculous headlines that are completely legitimate these days, it’s super hard to determine what is and isn’t true or real.
So that’s the first issue, and if that isn’t hard enough, then there’s the issue of bias news (queue eye roll). In simple terms, because its even super hard for me to grasp let alone recognise, this means when the writer produces an article or story from a particular point of view. So the information you are delivered, is swung a certain way.
See for me, bias news is like absolutely impossible to recognise. Maybe I just assume people are good reporters and have no reason to report otherwise. But really, bias news is so influential nowadays because were taking opinionated and spun news as truthful and real. Low key brainwashing I’d like to say.
Okay maybe my video is an exaggeration, but then again, you’d be surprised. News and how it’s reported is dependent on many factors aside from just a reporter regurgitating what actually happened. Think of any scenario you have witnessed, others will have witnessed it differently and will recall it differently. But that’s not the issue at hand here. The real issue is that some people who support a certain agenda, will write to their agenda knowingly. A prime example is Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corp, who was a disbeliever about climate change. So therefore, all the news sources under his reign, were biased reporting on such occurrences. This then fed out to all the consumers of the news i.e. the public, who were mis or even uninformed about the whole issue.
But enough of the facts and boring stuff. Fake news is a prominent and emerging phenomenon, as is bias news. All readers should be aware of this and consume news knowing so. An informed reader will draw their own conclusions and be able to assess news accordingly. So please, be me (recovering uninformed news consumer) and start paying attention!
How memes changed the world in real-time.
This is perhaps one of the most random, yet low-key phenomenal, occurrences that has recently taken place purely online. Surprisingly (but not actually) it involved the U.S. election. What was so amazing about “Draft Our Daughters” was the fact that is purely developed over the internet, the movement was organised and carried out completely online. Yet, the effects carried into real life, with the possibility that they did in fact swing, or at least affect, the election outcome.
Draft our Daughters came as a result of Hilary Clinton revealing that she supports women registering for their countries draft i.e. enlisting for the military. A Trump supporter posted a ridiculous meme on Twitter,
basically mocking Clinton. This seemed to sit well with fellow Trump supporters, who discussed this on 4CHAN. 4CHAN is an online forum type of platform, in which users are all anonymous and are given specific codes so they can be recognised during the conversing on the thread. They also have their country flag next to their anonymous code. Here’s the thing, there is no threading, they can reply to certain posts however. Another feature, they have no profiles, you cannot see their post history (i.e. what else they may be posting on) and possibly most importantly for me, they cannot directly message each other. So really, it’s just anonymous conversation where all is out in the open, and no-one will ever or can ever be revealed.
So this media space starts discussing the memes creation, and the genius behind it. The users start thinking about potential hashtags, creating more and more memes, ridiculing Hilary’s support for women enlisting. They use satirical captions, text that almost distorts Hilary’s actual view on the subject. This happened in real-time. People were posting in this thread, asking for feedback before releasing their creations into the wider web.
Concepts were discussed through the thread, they were sharing a logo, even a font, and even discussed colours text should be in. Slogans were created too. So this was being created as it was released in a more public domain. The anonymity of the thread helped many users to become involved as thoughts, ideas, and creations could be criticised without being connected to a certain individual or persona. In other words, your meme could’ve sucked, but no-one would ever know it was yours.
Eventually, the hashtag #draftourdaughters was created. Many memes were posted on Twitter and some on Facebook. The collective intelligence allowed for a professional look, the real logo and the similarity of each meme meant they appeared as if they were really from Clinton’s campaign. Even those memes which did appear quite harsh, with black humour which could be recognised as not legitimate for Hilary’s campaign, still caused their consumers to second guess what Hilary’s support of enlisting women really meant.
This all occurred in October, very close to the election day. Of course, it is impossible to distinguish a link between consumers of this campaign and if their vote was effected. However, from a personal point of view, users who mainly source their opinions and values through the internet I believe would’ve been highly likely to have been swung, effected, or even just second guess themselves after being exposed to this propaganda at such rapid and constant rates.
So after all that, there’s a prime example of how memes really can change the world. Or even change how we think or how we interpret information.
P.S. Another example memes effect on society and of the use of 4CHAN here is the bendable iphone movement.
Contrary to legacy media, memes are unstructured, easy to make, and in most cases do not require a large cost, or risk a large amount of failure. They are widely consumed, easily consumed, and if are not consumed, do not suffer from vast ramifications.
Quick side note, this post is purely my opinion on memes and my experience with them, melded together with what my tutors and lecturers have told me. Okay, unpause, continue article.
Personally, I associate memes with humour, whether dark or lighthearted, well thought through or simple Neanderthal jokes, they all strike a funny bone in my body. Before taking the course I’m now taking, that’s all they were to me; a regurgitated idea presented in a creative, simple manner, and were able to be quickly consumed. Nowadays, I think quite similarly, except I add one more element, that they in some way affect your method of thinking. Not in a crazy, trying to change the whole world in a 5 line string of words way, but in a sneaky, dark alleyway sense. Okay not that dark, but in a concealed way. In a way in which you come across election memes 3 times a minute, and don’t realise the effect they are having on you. You see, before this course, what pretty much never crossed my mind was just how effective memes really are.
Picture this, you’re scrolling down your news feed and you see a meme about an issue you have little to no side on. You read it, have a laugh, or show a friend, and then keep scrolling. Doesn’t seem like a huge issue, but slowly more and more memes about the same issue come up. And suddenly without knowing it, you slowly begin to take a stance on the issue. You start scrolling through the comments, engaging in debate on the issue. Or maybe you stay on the fence, but still take memes as “real” information, legit information that helps you build a backbone for both sides of the argument.
To me, memes work like advertisements, except simpler and not always intentional. But they are similar in the sense that our overexposure of certain issues means we subconsciously dedicate brain space to them. Much like you remember certain catchphrases to ads, you too remember certain memes and therefore issues you may not have exposure or interest in, you are almost unwarily being subjected to.
So really, after all this waffle about memes are how they low-key affect you, I’ll leave you in suspense for my next post; a clear example of how memes really did change the world in real-time.
P.S. it has to do with the American election and I promise you it’ll interest you as much as it interested me.