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The plain English writing movement

A look into the plain English writing movement and how this has impacted newspapers, and social media as well as academic, professional and contemporary writing.

Has the plain English writing movement improved writing standards and expectations?

Or has is simplified and ‘dumbed’ down writing skills such as comprehension and interpretation?

  • I did update this but it didn't work. Plain English (or layman's terms) is a style of communication that uses easy to understand, plain language with an emphasis on clarity, brevity, and avoidance of overly complex vocabulary.The movement began in the 1970's to improve legal documents. The purpose was to remove the confusion to the layperson because of the obscurities of the style of writing. Fast forward to today and we are seeing organisation who's sole purpose is to teach anyone involved in writing documents or online content how to write in layman's terms. The movement has penetrated universities, government and others. – mattcarlin 1 day ago
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Word Count: How much of it really counts?

Does setting a word count goal block the creative process or does it push us beyond our accepted limitations? Many writers will sit down and write so many words a day, all in the name of the perfect length novel. But does needing a certain amount of words create a certain amount of rubbish? How many of those words were really necessary? On the other hand, those who tend to overwrite might be cutting excess words with the help of a proper word count, using it to determine where they got a little carried away. When are word counts useful? What is their effect on progress? Who might find it troublesome or helpful and how so?

  • Very good topic. I would suggest for the writer who picks this up to look into requirements for getting published in the different genres i.e. Science Fiction and fantasy word count requirements vary from historical romance and so on. It would be worthwhile investigating this for research into the article. – mattcarlin 2 days ago
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Guardians of the Galaxy versus Destiny Guardians

There are two kinds of guardians of the galaxy. The first is portrayed in the movie with Starlord, Gamorra, Groot and Rocket. The other guardians are portrayed in the game Destiny. Memes have been circulated on social media lately hypothesising which group of guardians are the coolest. Destiny, you and a fire team take on hoards of enemies and constantly take on boss levels to push back the darkness and restore the travellers light. In the movie, a band of four misfits come together to stop tyrants from taking over or destroying the galaxy. A critical reflection of our humanistic desire for good to overcome evil – who would you prefer to fight this battle for you?

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    Humanizing the Inmates in Orange is the New Black

    *Orange is the New Black* released its latest season this month, and it struck me the way the program continues one trend — to humanize and rationalize the criminality of the inmates. Like Piper, who is written as a hapless entrant to the Litchfield Pen., it seems as if each inmate is offered a flashback account of poverty, racism, LGBTQ bigotry, and bad luck that result in incarceration. In this season, explicitly focused on the inhuman treatment of the inmates and the dehumanizing treatment of Poussey’s death, this narrative choice is especially potent. Yet, there’s also the occasional lapse in the narrative — like when instead of killing and dismembering a hitman-guard an inmate enslaves another or dreams of eating human flesh. How effective is the humanizing narrative in this season and cumulatively in *OITNB*? Is the narrative goal for viewers to understand the prison system to be horrid, in part because the inmates are mostly undeserving of incarceration?

    • I too found the message to also be a little inconsistent. Were they still trying to be sympathetic? Were their terrible actions on (mostly) innocent people justifiable in the writer's eyes? (especially considering how many of the inmates never cared about Poussey) Still, it was refreshing to see a darker, more complex OitNB. The series was starting to get cartoonish. Every inmate was a victim of circumstance (even if they did something terrible it was always somebody else's fault), while every guard and person outside the prison were villains. It just added a level of realism that when these people were put in charge of the prison, they were no better (amd in a lot of cases worse) than the guards they hated (it might also be a good idea to use the Stanford Prison Experiment as a parallel). – AGMacdonald 3 days ago
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    Aspects of a Writer's Life in Fictional Work

    To what extent do you think a writer’s experience (life, personal, certain events) shapes their fictional work? I always like to ponder what aspects of a fictional piece is relatable or true to the author. Of course their are many reasons that shape an authors work, whether it be inspiration from other pieces of work, a dream which has expanded into a novel, or just a thought that popped into their head. If you write fictional pieces, can you see pieces of your life experience sewed into them?

    • I think this is a fundamental truth in fiction writing. No matter how detached the author is from the character/situation there will always be some residue of the authors experiences and life choices that subconsciously find their way into the work. – ReidaBookman 3 days ago
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    Duality of player choice in modern video gaming

    Analyze video games such as Mass Effect, The Witcher, GTA, or any modern video gaming series that enables players to chose the outcome of the match, with long-lasting consequences in vein to real life, then suggest ways this technology could improve in future titles.

    • Don't forget to mention that some games can also carry consequences into their sequels (like Dragon Age). I think it would be interesting if we could use this system to create a game like Dungeons and Dragons, which offers the closest to actual freedom than any game (board of video) has previously offered. – AGMacdonald 3 days ago
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    • We have already published three articles on this topic: https://the-artifice.com/bioshock-and-the-illusion-of-choice-in-gaming/ -- and -- https://the-artifice.com/life-is-strange-the-illusion-of-choice-part-ii/ -- and -- https://the-artifice.com/video-games-morality-choice/ – Misagh 2 days ago
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    • This would be interesting to research. A basic understanding of how games are coded and structured would probably help, I know that how player choice runs is different from game to game, and different companies often develop a kind of trademark use of the feature. Bioware and 2k would both make good case studies. – Cat 2 days ago
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    Exploring Hollywood's Obession with the Prequel

    Filmmaking is a business. Hollywood knows that, and so does the general population. For a long time, Hollywood has been ensuring guaranteed hits by extending already existing popular franchises. This would traditionally take the form of a sequel like Die Hard 2; Mad Max 2; Terminator 2 (you get where I am going with this), but in recent years there has been a number of prequels cropping up: Fantastic Beasts, Star Wars, Terminator, Star Trek (both the new films and the upcoming television series). This article would explore the idea of why Hollywood thinks prequels are such a marketable storytelling device? Is it because people love throwbacks and little Easter eggs? Do we love a good origin story? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • Yes! I'm very excited for this topic. Part of me wonders if prequels aren't the new sequels. Perhaps the film industry is counting on our nostalgia for popular franchises to make more money. Or perhaps people feel like the original film starting in the wrong place. Maybe we simply have unanswered questions that could only be remedied by a prequel. I'm curious to see what people think! – ReidaBookman 2 days ago
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    Gods and the Nature of the Deity in Pop Fiction

    American Gods, Battlestar Galactica, Xena. People’s fascination with gods seems to have shifted from worship to a kind of character archetype. Are "gods" essentially malleable symbols open to interpretation, or is it fundamentally incorrect to draw a line connecting pop fiction gods with their cultural basis?

    Potential here to expand the subject to include comics (the Wicked the Divine), games (God of War franchise), film (Bruce Almighty, Dogma, Gods of Egypt).

    • Fascinating topic. One thing I'd suggest for the prospective author to consider is difference in representation between the pantheistic "gods" of antiquated mythologies vs. the monotheistic Judeo-Christian "God" who has remained the cornerstone of much of the world's contemporary theology. Despite all deriving from similar religious foundations, there's a clear distinction between Chris Hemsworth portraying Thor (whom few, if any, people still hold sacred) and Morgan Freeman playing Yahweh (which, quite literally, breaks a Commandment that many people still consider blasphemous). How do the authors/filmmakers approach these two classes of gods differently, and does the latter adhere to the same archetypal logic as the former? – ProtoCanon 3 days ago
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    • The comparison of superheroes to Gods may serve the purpose of this article well, both in comparing and conceptualizing superhuman deities with supernatural powers. Superheroes such as Batman, Superman, or Spiderman, have become symbols of the potential within all humanity for greatness. – iRideChallenges 3 days ago
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    The Endurance of Gatsby

    Analyze what makes The Great Gatsby such an enduring piece of literature — the 1920s was long ago, as is its culture, and yet we continue to read the book and see pieces of ourselves in the characters. What is it about the writing, the scenario, or the characters that continue relentlessly, beat on, boats against the current?

    • I think it might be useful/helpful to think about if any core themes of the novel still resonate with readers today. I would argue that despite the many changes have occurred in America in the past 90 years, there are still fundamental themes and ideas at the center of Gatsby that remain core/essential to the American experience today. Also, the writing is immensely beautiful. – SeanGadus 3 months ago
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    • I think the 'tickle in the fancy' with the Gatsby is that we can all relate to the images that emanate from the rituals of the not-so-common part of society. If we were to look more closely, even the lower strata of society would have its own version of the 'Ghetto ' Gatsby and that's what I feel draws the reader (or the viewer) into the appealing characters, happenstance, and yearning for abundance in generous times. Shakespearean drama took place even earlier than the 1920s; yet, the plays cry out to our past failures, future hopes in ways that seem more contemporary than distant. I guess, Mario Puzo is the best analogy I can give to the effect that Gatsby has on the unsuspecting reader, the discerning writer, and the public at large; through his Godfather saga. – lofreire 3 days ago
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    The Rise of the Fast and the Furious

    Analyse the impact of the Fast and the Furious film franchise on cinema-going audiences and film buffs worldwide. The continued success of each film at the box office and their potential to rake in millions worldwide as well as the non-stop sequels being released every other year.

    • Fast and Furious has been criticized but box office returns have demonstrated over and over again that the actors have tremendous appeal. I hope whoever writes on this topic notes the increasing interest of female audiences and their loyalty for this actions franchise. – Munjeera 5 days ago
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    • Preferably be a little less vague than "analyze the impact," but interesting topic. – m-cubed 4 days ago
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    • It is interesting that it didn't seem to get its blockbuster status until somewhere around the fourth or fifth film. Not bad movies, but I gave up after The Rock broke his arm cast with his muscles in F7. I enjoy mindless action films as much as the next person, but even I have my limits. – AGMacdonald 4 days ago
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    Let's discuss the No Man's Land scene in Wonder Woman (2017)

    We now live in a post-Wonder Woman live-action film world, and it’s glorious. However, Wonder Woman cinematographer Matt Jensen revealed in a recent interview that the now-iconic No Man’s Land scene almost didn’t make the cut. What do you think about that? What effect did that scene have on you? (Personally, I’ve watched the film four times now, and I still cry every time I watch that scene. I come out of the theatre wanting to flip cars!!!)

    • This is an amazing piece of film. It has amazing music and it plays a huge role in Wonder Woman's development as a hero! – Sean Gadus 1 week ago
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    • If someone from film would take it on, perhaps. I'm not sure what it does aesthetically or narratively. That's not to say it doesn't have precisely the sort of emotional impact or resonance with viewers you describe, of course. Whether someone could write a tenable essay on affect in that scene is questionable, I think. I'm confident someone could write an essay deconstructing the scene technically. – Paul A. Crutcher 1 week ago
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    Why are adolescents actively seeking viral fame?

    Analyse why the adolescents of our generation are so desperate to reach viral fame, and the impact this is having on the online world, and on their future. Discuss the rise of social media platforms, such as Youtube, Instagram and Musically, and the influence viral stars from these platforms have on our youth.

    • Ok, this could get interesting. Social media has the potential to promote narcissism but here's my question: is it the chicken or the egg? Does social media merely activate genes already planted in someone's DNA, therefore only effecting people who are genetically predisposed to narcissism, or can it have an effect on any average teen? – ReidaBookman 2 days ago
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    Subverting egotism is a lie

    Selfies, self promotion and social media. A common trait in all three? Self-aggrandisment or is it determination? As our perceptions change and our way of promoting ourselves alter is it fair to judge someone for posting a shameless selfie, or for constantly posting paid ads on their feed? Are they merely showing off their good looks or are they making a name for themselves? We are seeing more and more models become famous through Instagram photos rather than their actual modelling work. Have we as a generation squashed the notion of egotism or is it all that we know?

    • Which came first the chicken or the egg? Is social media ballooning our narcissism or the other way around?I saw a hilarious interaction the other day. I was at a tourist site and a young parent asked her 7 year old to take a picture of her, the mom. I could not help but smile. It was the first time in my life I have seen a child take a picture of a mom. But I want to make sure that as I share this story that I do so without judging the mom. It was just a funny exchange of roles. – Munjeera 6 days ago
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    • This sounds like a cool topic! But in my opinion, even if selfies are becoming practical tools for furthering your success, like a shallow form of a resume, they are ultimately serving a goal that is largely Ego-driven-- your own personal success, which in our competitive culture is something that is done at the expense of other people for only your personal gain. – Calnamni 3 days ago
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    Deconstructing YA Literature in "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"

    On the surface, Jesse Andrews’ debut novel "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" (2012) might seem like another Young Adult novel with quirky teen characters and a bittersweet coming-of-age story. But is there more to the novel than meets the eye? Analyze how the characters comment and critique certain cliches found in YA literature and how it deconstructs this facet of the literary community.

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      Abandoning the Arts

      The arts and music are the first programs cut from US public school curricula amidst current vitriolic cultural and policy debates. With STEM focus, charter secondary schools often do not include arts and music. (I’m concerned schools would cut literature, too, if savvy teachers were not able to link it to literacy.) Anecdotal and alarmist rhetoric argues that the result is an apathetic, tech-centered generation, devoid of creativity. With art and music leaving formal schooling, the response seems to be that art and music will be produced out of a well of intrinsic passion and sustained through the same. Museums of all sort in the US are struggling with dropping attendance. The arts and letters in higher education are widely derided as worthless and are also facing cuts and dropping enrollments. What is the role of K-12 education, then, if anything, in exposing young people to, nurturing, and developing aesthetic sensibilities and skills? If we as a culture and society abandon K-12 arts and music education, as we are, what effects can we attribute to that decision (e.g., declining museum patronage)?

      • Utilitarianism at its worst. Why can't we have both??? – Munjeera 1 week ago
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      • This is a really awesome and relevant topic. As someone in music therapy, I see how dangerous cutting back on the arts can be. Art and music is in our human nature. Music is one of the most complex things our brain engages in. It develops the mind faster and encourages discipline. Out of all the disciplines I have studies, music has not only given me a new skill, but has helped me become disciplined and dedicated. I think when music is taught poorly in schools it is just as bad as cutting it. – birdienumnum17 7 days ago
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      Are superhero movies being overdone?

      In the last few years there have been an influx of superhero movies and they have subsequently dominated the box office. The pro-comic book inspired attitude is fairly recent but not necessarily new in terms of fandom. Things like comic-con have been going on for years, but lately they taken taken on epic proportions. Why our society crave and eat up the classic comic hero’s journey again and again and again?

      • Yes, they are but I love them anyway. – Munjeera 2 weeks ago
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      • Yes, the are, but I mostly dislike them anyway. An exception is the new Wonder Woman movie, which my daughter and I enjoyed quite a bit. – Ben Hufbauer 2 weeks ago
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      • Hi Ben,What about Captain America: Winter Soldier? You can't hate Captain America can you? What about Black Panther? I am waiting with bated breath for BP. The music from the trailer sounds awesome. The best soundtrack yet I am guessing. – Munjeera 2 weeks ago
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      • Perhaps you could discuss history f superhero fandoms and the fandoms about the superhero franchises generally. – J.D. Jankowski 1 week ago
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      • They're the popular way to tell the heroes journey. They're importance varies from character to character, but at the very least they'll have a solid core emotional story to them. They can be pretty simple as well. Ant-man has a nice father daughter theme in it. The Sam Raimi Spider-man films have "with great power comes great responsibility" down to a t. Also, if you're just talking about their monetary success, it's pretty simple: kids. – KyleThomson 1 week ago
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      • Quite broad. As others have noted, the big-ticket superheroes today have disparate origins, purposes, and journeys. The "superhero" movie subgenre might deserve some questions, but whoever wanted to tackle the questions would need to establish the themes common to the superhero journey and the outliers to those themes. That is, do *Deadpool,* *Guardians of the Galazy Vol. 2,* and *Wonder Woman* offer parallel themes? If so, what are they? – Paul A. Crutcher 1 week ago
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      • I think we have become obsessed with superheroes because we lack real heroes. Heroes in the past have fallen and it seems as if there is a disappointed generation out there. Also, these are scary times. Is it any wonder we take solace in the idea that someone will rescue us from ourselves? – Munjeera 1 week ago
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      • Every new interpretation, every re watch and every new instalment brings with it excitement, apprehension and familiarity. whats wrong with craving a bit of hope, humour and strength? – miaraszewski 7 days ago
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      • Superhero movies can be considered to be over the top and overdone. But before applying a binary yes no response to this questions, I think it would be helpful to examine this from a different paradigm. If we look at the geo-political state of the world over the last 15-20 years, things have been rapidly declining. Superhero movies offer what the real world cannot - a form of escapism that is affordable, relatable and has generated a lot of buy-in from fandom the world over. Lets be honest, we have all wished for some type of supernatural ability or power at some point in our lives to help us deal with a real world issue we were dealing with in the hopes that it would solve the problem and we would emerge victorious. We have all fantasied and wished for it at some point. Superhero movies are an extension of that inherent wish/fantasy. It is appealing to us to see average people go through a transition of some kind (spider bite/gamma radiation exposure/ being born on another planet/ or a genius tech billionaire) and able to overcome adversity of all types. – mattcarlin 3 days ago
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      The Comics Code Authority: How censorship has affected the history of American comics

      How has the Comics Code Authority impacted the development of American comics? Despite the fact that this is no longer a concern in the industry, does the history of having that organization and the way it affected the medium still show in comics published today? Maybe a comparison with European comics would be helpful here.

      • It'd be great to see examples of current comics that would never fly under the rule of the Comic Code Authority. I'm sure there are ridiculous examples, just like how TV shows had many rules in the '50s like "No man and woman can be shown in the same bed." So they'd show the wife in bed under the covers and the man sitting on the side of the bed with both feet on the ground. It certainly impacts the storytelling, and the "work arounds" are quite fun to learn about also. – Nate OcĂ©an 3 months ago
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      Open World Games: Immersive Adventures or Lacking Structure?

      Finally got around to playing Dishonored 2 recently and it reminded me how brilliant level design can impact enjoyment. People love Bethesda titles such as Skyrim and (arguably) Fallout 4 for the unrestricted world they give the player to explore but can they ever be as good as games in which levels, environments, enemies etc. are designed specifically for the player to encounter in a way that the designer had in mind? You could have examples of titles that display the positives of each design philosophy and a few titles that show off the negatives (lack of structure, lack of freedom etc.) and give your own opinion of a possible ideal middle ground?

      • I'm hoping to present on a related topic at this year's Popular Culture Association conference for the Midwest. The push to make throwback platformers or open world games -- almost exclusively -- seems absurd. Happy to write on this topic if it gets the support and notes and upvotes. – Paul A. Crutcher 1 week ago
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      • Lack of structure is exactly why I am not a fan of most open world games. Even the presence of infinite quests is bound to be repetitive in such titles. I look forward to reading this. – TheUbiquitousAnomaly 7 days ago
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      • Open world games can often lose momentum or interest if they are repetitive and don't have a defined path, games such as Assassin's Creed and Far Cry are fun to play but often contain a lot of missions that are re-skins of previous missions. Games such as Uncharted and the Last of Us can often feel like they are offering more complete experiences since there often feels like these linear-types of games provide greater opportunities for interactive storytelling as well as detail put into characters, environments and enemies. – varunuchil21 6 days ago
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      • Right off the bat, I think of franchises like Metal Gear Solid and Uncharted as successful "linear" playing experiences; boss fights in MGS are iconic because they're timeless - the majority of the series is a decade or so old, but you can always revisit them and recall the atmosphere of each encounter.Then there are games like Assassin's Creed and Grand Theft Auto - there IS a plot there, for sure; but the open world aspects that these games claim to have is hampered by the fact they just feel so inconsequential. They're definitely fun for a little while, but at the end of the game's life cycle, collecting all 100 feathers in ACII or completing the Epsilon program in GTA V just can't compare to fighting Talbot in Uncharted 3.If anyone pursues this topic - I'd love to hear what you think about this idea of progression. I think games like InFamous really did well in this sense. The idea of karmic alignment based on the decisions you made as a hero or as infamous guided the progression of your powers and the upgrades necessary for them. It might not be heavily plot dependent, but maybe that can lead to the bigger question of whether open world is truly possible when programming and random occurrences can only do so much to make events in the game world seem organic. – Lmquilantang 5 days ago
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      • This is one of my big problems with MMOs. I usually fall in love with the world and character designs, but that can only sustain me for so long. Personally, I crave narrative structure. In saying that, there is a happy medium. Games like FFVII allowed you to roam the world freely, but there was always an immediate goal when you were ready to delve back into the story. – AGMacdonald 4 days ago
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      Reincarnation and Cloning: Old and New Forms of Existence

      Is eternity encoded in the human DNA and, if so, is cloning overkill or counter-intuitive? In ancient Celtic lore, a warrior sword was cast away onto a body of water upon his untimely or unjust death, to symbolize his promotion to the next level of consciousness. If the human soul is in fact transient, is it more conducive to comprehend its boundaries, its depths, or its mechanism and, as such, infuse life with a honed purpose and a more enlightened experience? Is the 1997 Heaven’s Gate incident an emerging (and legitimate) human alternative?

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        The spectacle of terrorism is the ultimate click bait. How should we respond?

        Terrorism is a tactic that relies on a small number of antagonists, performing a localised atrocity, but streaming their message to a mass audience. More and more, the media incorporates web-videos taken by citizen witnesses into their news reporting of these terrorist events, and millions of viewers watch the spectacles of horror. Are we unintentionally playing into the hands of terrorists by providing them with platforms for their vile PR? How can the media, and citizen journalists, change their reporting tactics to disrupt the modis operandi of terrorist operatives?

        • Smart idea. The rhetoric that we don't allow terror to change our lives seems problematic, and yet it's what I continue to hear after every attack and event. And yet tragedy porn seems to be a part of human nature. There was a "Black Mirror" episode related about the British PM, suggesting (I found) that humanity is too interested in sensationalism and tragedy and the perverse and simple. That terrorist groups use social media is unsurprising; school bullies and human rights groups and fast food franchises do. That news programs in a competitive market fill their time with terror and fear is also unsurprising. The question seems much more about, say, click bait and human nature. Or, the much more purposeful question might be how we can use social media not to bolster and distribute vitriol, garbage, and hatred, but to foster empathy, compassion, and understanding. – Paul A. Crutcher 1 week ago
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        • Thanks for your thoughtful comment Paul - and for reminding me of that great Black Mirror episode.There's no simple solution, and probably no way of coordinating one since people generally view their own use of social media as empwering. We presently seem locked in repetitive loop of response, as you say. – SFG 5 days ago
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