Blog Assignment 5 – Empathy in the Digital Age

Social media is a two-edged sword. In “God That Was Awesome,” Jon Ronson details the experience of Twitter user Justine Sacco, whose tweet about the (im)possibility of her, a white woman, contracting HIV while in Africa got her publicly shamed and fired. Sacco’s experience, while extreme, is not particularly unusual. Almost all of us can relate to having a social media experience go horribly wrong, and we have likely all heard of such experiences becoming short-lived and embarrassing public spectacles for both celebrities and “ordinary” people. At the same time, we’ve also seen social media create huge outpourings of public support and sympathy or empathy among users.

For this blog post, you will find an example of either phenomenon. This should be an example that has generated some form of media attention. You will briefly relate that example, and link to a story on it. Then you will do some research on empathy in the digital age. Unlike your first assignment, this research does not have to be scholarly. But it should in some way address the question of the effects the internet and social media have on empathy and community. Then you will integrate this source into your post by summarizing the author’s position, and explaining whether you think this position helps shed light on the example you’ve chosen. In other words, you may agree or disagree with the author, or you may decide that this example complicates the author’s position without necessarily invalidating it–it’s up to you.

Your blog post should be 500-750 words, and is due by the beginning of class on Thursday (10/20). Remember to cite your sources according to the guidelines outlined on the “Class Blogs” handout.

31 thoughts on “Blog Assignment 5 – Empathy in the Digital Age

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