Our choices of social media shape our perceptions of events, issues, and people. Cultural memberships influence the content of digital and online communication. Social media have altered how we perceive time and space. People tend to feel anonymous online, even when they have a name associated with their avatar. On the internet, computer mediated conversations lack body language, voice intonation, and other important nonverbal elements. Without these features, people are compelled to fill in the gaps with assumptions about the nonverbal elements.
For some reason, people become much more sensitive when theyâ€™re online, and they tend to blow things entirely out of proportionâ€”for example, taking a couple of sentences originally meant to be humorous or sarcastic entirely the wrong way. Itâ€™s even worse if youâ€™ve had a bad day and youâ€™ve decided that â€œno one likes youâ€ (weâ€™ve all had those moments); youâ€™re much more susceptible to misunderstanding messages. Once that happens, everything can go downhill quickly. Instead of asking for clarification (â€œYou were kidding, werenâ€™t you?â€) or just ignoring it, many peopleâ€”forgetting that theyâ€™re dealing with another human being on the other endâ€”decide to defend themselves and tell the originator of the offending message exactly what they think of him or her. This outcome is whatâ€™s known in the business as a flame. If both sides begin insulting each other, itâ€™s called a flame war (kind of like fighting fire with fire). These digital battles often erupt in â€œpublicâ€ and can sometimes be very entertaining to the lurkers.â€
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Read the article â€œThe Secret Cause of Flame Warsâ€ to get started on this topic.
Create a 3-5 minute presentation that describes a situation online where you witnessed trolling and flaming. What was the situation? How were the comments handled? Do you think this same situation would have happened in a face-to-face environment? Why or why not? How can situations like this be minimized? Please use the terms for your text about social media and nonverbal and guidelines for improving nonverbal communication found in Chapter 5 to respond to this question. Your presentation should be 3-5 minutes in length, citing specific examples and providing detailed analysis incorporating reading and textbook material. If outside sources are used, proper citation of the source should be included.