Online stardom: how people worry about reputation in the silliest of circumstances

As a society, we’re always so concerned about what other people think of us. Even, or perhaps especially, when we reach celebrity level. One of my classmates posted on our “Tweets from everywhere but Twitter” (#tfebt) tag an article about accidental internet stardom. It gives accounts from the subjects of popular memes, such as Success Kid’s mother and Doge’s owner.

What I found most fascinating is that even when someone’s picture is used for harmless jokes, that person is worried about how it reflects on them. Success Kid, actually named Sam Griner, started after his mother, Laney, posted his picture on Flickr, a popular photo sharing website. The photo features Sam on a beach with a fist clenched by his chest, like he is pumping it up and down. According to the article, someone originally photoshopped another child in the background and captioned it, “I hate sandcastles.” Laney Griner said that she didn’t like how that portrayed Sam as mean-spirited and aggressive. Even when Sam was a baby, she was worried about his reputation as an internet star. Fortunately for her and Sam, the meme eventually evolved into one with a positive connotation.

The meme is commonly used to express different everyday "successes" that creators experience. (Photo: Knowyourmeme.com)

The meme is commonly used to express different everyday “successes” that creators experience.
(Photo: Mashable.com)

Another internet celebrity discussed in the article is Doge, also known as “dumb shiba.” The original photo features a shiba inu sitting on a couch with a peculiar look on her face. The dog is named Kabosu, and she lives in Japan with her owner, Atsuko Sato. Sato rescued Kabosu, and enjoyed posting pictures of her online when this photo was taken.

The original photograph. (Photo: Knowyourmeme.com)

The original photograph.
(Photo: Knowyourmeme.com)

Sato says that at first, she was scared of how the picture took off, because she didn’t find the picture particularly cute. However, she has since come to see it as a good thing. According to the article, Kabosu’s story and fame are inspiring people to adopt rescue dogs like her.

Seriously, how could you not love this? (Photo: Knowyourmeme.com)

Seriously, how could you not love this?
(Photo: Knowyourmeme.com)

It’s definitely strange how people worry about reputations even at such harmless stages. Nobody today would recognize Sam Griner as Success Kid, and Kabosu is a dog, and dogs don’t usually have reputations to uphold. However, we live in a world where the internet can make or break you, and therefore have to be wary even when the circumstances seem silly.

People will do crazy things when their reputations are threatened

Last week, I tweeted an article from one of my favorite websites that I found funny, yet strangely relevant to this blog’s theme.

Cracked’s article, written by contributor C. Coville, highlighted some of the strangest and most absurd things people will do when a threat to their reputations online arises. These reactions range from arguing back on the website the review is posted to showing up at the reviewer’s house.

That’s right, I said showing up at a reviewer’s house. Coville cites not one, but two cases of authors going to a reader’s house after that reader gave their work a bad review. One decided to turn around on the front step and walk away, while the other was not so wise. He ended up in a physical confrontation with the reader.

Two restaurant owners severely overreacted to bad reviews when they decided to attempt to ruin a person’s real life reputation. One woman, after her restaurant was spoken ill of online, sent the reviewer’s coworkers an email regarding outlandish sexual preferences under a fake account with the reviewer’s real name. Another restauranteur created a fake blog with the reviewer’s name and wrote posts “confessing” to several illegal activities.

Ironically, these acts of revenge only furthered the bad reputations of those being reviewed. Rather than having a few accounts of a single bad experience that they could easily shrug off, they are now featured in an extremely sarcastic article on a comedy site and being spread around the internet over and over again. That brings back the point I made in my last post, that people who draw negative attention on the web tend to be remembered better. When it comes down to it, sometimes the easiest way to protect your webutation is to stay calm and classy, and roll with the punches.

How the internet changed popularity

Student and Twitter user Christian DiPonziano shared on the “tweets from everywhere but Twitter” (#tfebt) tag a fascinating article from Teen Ink about how technology might be negatively affecting our society.

The article, written by Teen Ink contributor Nables, raises a fascinating point. How do we define popularity in the age of Web 2.0?

“It has become incredibly easy with the rise of the internet to become popular just by making the biggest impression,” Nables writes.

Popularity for me, when I was in grade school, was defined by how many friends a person had. Reputation, by how teachers and other students felt about you. It didn’t extend into environments beyond that.

Now, however, it’s common for someone to have hundreds upon hundreds of Facebook friends, and your reputation can be made or broken by a few misinterpreted status updates. How exactly do we redefine reputation and popularity to accommodate those factors? We make the biggest impression.

Now, popularity is defined by who is the most memorable, and reputation is defined by why they’re that memorable. Often, negative impressions will gain a person more popularity than positive ones. Our definition of celebrity has been rewritten to include anyone who can make the most outlandish statements or gather the most hate. Take, for example, Justin Bieber. He was discovered on YouTube, skyrocketed to fame because of his talent, and was talked about even after he burned out because of his obnoxious and disrespectful behavior. In today’s world, that’s just how former child stars tend to keep the attention on them.

Prepubescent "dreamboat" or arrogant toolbag? It's your choice! (Photo: Posh24.com)

Prepubescent “dreamboat” or arrogant toolbag? It’s your choice!
(Photo: Posh24.com)

Technology, overall, has caused us to put negative connotations on “popularity.” Instead of going by who is actually the most likable, we go by who can make the biggest splash in the internet gossip pool. It’s both strange and a little disconcerting how we’ve come to this point, but who am I to judge?

Reputations are Precious

It does not matter who you are or what your profession is, everyone has a reputation.  You could be a high- school student, a lawyer, a doctor, a pilot or even a stay at home parent.  No matter who you are or what you do, your reputation is sacred.  Your reputation is something that you build who the type of person you are, and how you want your professional and personal community to view you.  Reputations can easily be ruined and tarnished in the blink of an eye, and we see this happen everyday in the news, because of some type of scandal that has happened.  This is exactly what happened in Cheshire, England.

We hear about a different “school- sex” story every other day in the news.  How teachers and faculty members are being charged with sexual assault of their students.  Even if these accusations are not always so true, once someone is accused, their reputation is slowly being ruined and influenced, by the school community and also when the local media gets involved.  Schools are supposed to be there for their teachers and faculty when something like this happens, to protect them when falsely accused, but they are always going to take the student’s word first.  As a future educator, I will always believe my student in order to ensure their safety and protection while in their classroom and school community.  The facts of the matter are sorted out in a way that tries to be hidden, but the school should never hide the wrong doing of a teacher, if they know the person is guilty of a crime to save the school’s reputation.

Making Research Easier

I will always be the first to say, when it comes to anything having to deal with technology, whether it be my iPhone, laptop, or even some social media sites, I am not the best.  I would even say at times that I am “technologically challenged”.  This can be extremely frustrating, especially when using various databases to do research for a big assignment.  I always find someway to make more work for myself when researching.  When I am finding my scholarly sources, I find myself opening ten different tabs, with all of my sources and search engines, because I am afraid of losing them, and never finding them again.  That problem is now a thing of the past, thanks to this new app, “Start.me“.

“Start. me” is an app that allows you to save your scholarly articles and links as you are researching.  This is a great tool to use so you do not have to have ten different tabs open, and make researching more complicated than it needs to be.  With the utilization of “Start.me”, you are able to go back to all of your sources and easily compile a works cited page.  Also included in this app, is the ability to embed any webpage/source into the program by pasting the url.  Saving sources for research just became that much easier with “Smart.com”, especially for individuals, such as myself who are “technologically challenged”.

Are Students Digitally Writing?

Before today, there was a time where writing could only be done with a pen or pencil and a piece of paper.  The art of writing has changed drastically, and can now be done with such ease on a computer or any other device.  This process of writing has not only become evident in many home environment’s, but it has also made its way into our local school communities and environments.  In Nancie Atwell’s own blog post, responding to Troy Hick’s article, “Inquiry Live in the Classroom“, students are now able to use and experience word processors and the resources that come with it, such as dictionaries and thesauruses.  This a great aspect of how technology can be used in a positive manner in the classroom.  This article is related to an article that one of my classmates tweeted about how technology is being used in the classroom to teach and expand learning.

The word “technology” does not only refer to computers and other electronic devices.  Technology has been around for centuries and one of the first pieces of technology that were introduced into the classrooms were typewriters.  Technology is also apart of professional development.  In order for the piece of technology, such as the typewriter or computer, to be used properly in order to portray lessons, teachers and other educators need to be properly educated on how to utilize these pieces of technology in order to guide their students’ overall success inside and outside the classroom.

Social Media in the Classroom

Education and the methods of teaching are changing at a fast pace, and they have change majorly since I have been in elementary school.  I never had the types of technology that young students have today. Technology in the classroom is supposed to provide more student engagement and the motivation to learn, but it can also provide a distraction from learning, because the technology being used, such as iPads, are also used in many of their home environments, for entertainment purposes.  Personally, I have been in the classroom where iPads are being used for helping students read, and for this class it is working, where there are limited distractions.  This type of new found technology in the classroom is not only for the students, but also for the teachers and faculty members in the use of utilizing social media in the classroom.  According to Dian Schaffhauser, in her article, “Classroom Tech, Professional Development Top List of Faculty Concerns“, many teachers and faculty members have utilized the concept of social media in order to “provide social development and opportunities for teachers to collaborate with colleagues”.  Social media is being used as a resource in order to communicate and also find inspiration for their lesson plans and correlating activities.  According to this article’s research, social media will not be seen as a “distraction”, and it will be seen as a resource in order for students and teachers to be successful.