Hoodies in the House and Pink Bowling Balls: What the Heck Are People Talking About Online This Week, March 26-30

If you were a space alien, or maybe just offline for a couple of days, and then logged on you’d wonder what the heck exactly people were talking about online this week! I know I would – hoodies in the House and pink bowling balls!? Has America lost its mind!?

The division and polarization in the United States during this election year would be laughable if it were limited simply to images and tweets of a U.S. Representative wearing a gray hoodie on the House floor or a little boy choosing a pink bowling ball to roll a strike. But these two trending terms this week on our social media networks – “hoodies” and “pink bowling balls” – are code for the ugly racist and homophobic rhetoric that is stemming from the killing of Trayvon Martin, a black teen in Florida who was shot by a white man and the presidential campaign of notoriously homophobic ex-Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

Space aliens and Americans who’ve been offline will be shocked to know that there are people in America who think it’s okay to shoot and kill a black person if he is on or near your property while wearing a hoodie sweatshirt. There are people in America who think it’s okay to tell little boys that having anything to do with the color pink – even a pink bowling ball! – will make them gay. For anyone who thought feminism knocked down gender stereotypes and made it okay for little boys to play with pink, need we remind you that this division and polarization was merely taking a week off from attacking women. While Rush Limbaugh remains on the air, we hear his advertisers really are down, in spite of his protests to the contrary.

Meanwhile, other online buzz this week included:

Read about all these stories and more at our Online Media Roundup. Get up to speed on the stories you may have missed, and join the conversation – especially the ones debating social issues like racism, homophobia and misogyny. Don’t let bullies control these dialogues. Make your voice heard.

Trump This: What People Are Talking about Online This Week, March 12-16

He’s a good-looking kid with better hair than his dad, oh – and did we mention he’s rich, too? Probably goes without saying if you’re Donald Trump, Jr., who’s had a remarkably interesting week online.

Things didn’t start out so well for The Donald Junior. Early in the week, a series of photos of him and his younger brother Eric surfaced showing the pair on a big game hunt in Africa posing with various big pieces (and parts) of kill. Particularly unsettling was the photo of Donald posing with a hacked off elephant tail. When criticism broke out over the viral photos on Twitter, Donald struck back, first denying that he released the photos himself as a PR  stunt and then proudly proclaiming “I HUNT & EAT game.” Anyone know how leopard tastes? What about waterbuck?

It would indeed have been one of the strangest PR moves ever. Post photos of a Hemingway-esque all-boy outing of yourself on Monday, come out for gay marriage in an issue of the Advocate by Thursday. We’re not reading between lines or anything. How could we? These lines are inordinately blurred, especially by Donald’s proclamation that when he was in college he used to wish every guy was gay “because it meant more women for me!”

Moving on. It was a week of one step forward, two back for GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum. After winning two more southern state primaries, the staunch conservative and notoriously homophobic former Senator ditched his sweater vests for a little sun and fun (and maybe a delegate or two) in Puerto Rico.

But wait – before Puerto Rico, a US commonwealth, can even think about becoming a state, its people, who mostly speak Spanish as a first language, will have to speak English. Santorum gaffed and lost at least one pledged delegate when he declared English is “America’s official language.” Actually, it’s not. The US has no official language.

Escaping the heat of the campaign trail, St. Rick, as he’s now unofficially being called, checked into a nearby resort and into the fire. He was photographed topless by fellow resort mates, an entire Atlantis cruise ship full of gay men.

It wasn’t a good week for Republicans hoping to woo women voters in general. Another one of the GOP’s mouthpieces Fox News has declared that Republican legislative moves against women’s health and reproductive rights will likely cost them the 2012 election.

Also not a good week at all for director Jason Russell, the man behind the now curious Joseph Kony viral video and #StopKony online campaign meant to bring the Ugandan war criminal to justice. Last night Russell was arrested in San Diego for vandalizing cars and masturbating in public (not sure if he was doing both acts at once). He’s claiming he is having a breakdown, based on the nearly overnight impact of more than 56 million people watching his YouTube video.

Was your week any better than these guys? We hope so. Check out all these stories and many more that generated this week’s online conversations on KazzaDrask’s Online Media Roundup.

Like French Fries at the Bottom of the Bag: What People Are Talking about Online this Week: Mar 5-9

You would pretty much have had to take this week off, and spent it in a cave, 40-feet below ground to have missed this. Conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh spent three days on his show last week berating a Georgetown law student named Sandra Fluke who believes health insurance – government-assisted or otherwise – should cover birth control pills. After all, it covers Viagra, right?

Limbaugh took what might have been one of his typical “feminazi” tirades to new depths by calling Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” and, in a display of utter cluelessness, implied that if a woman is popping a birth control pill everyday, she must be having so much sex that she should video it and post it online so jerks like Limbaugh could watch. Is your mouth hanging open in horror yet?

Backlash started slowly, with a few advertisers pulling their ads from the show, even after Limbaugh issued what might be best described as a “non-apology”. As we roll into week 2 of this story, Limbaugh has lost a total of nearly 50 advertisers – and has resorted to filling empty spots with free public service ads or dead air. This is a disaster for Limbaugh and his ilk, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to Limbaugh, who claims his show has some 18,000 advertisers and losing 50 or so is “like losing a couple of french fries in the container when it’s delivered to you in the drive thru. You don’t even notice it.” Stay tuned to the Online Media Roundup to see how long Limbaugh can last with this blow to his bottom line.

Meanwhile this week, a viral video making the rounds about the exploitation of child soldiers by Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony grabbed headlines for 1) the campaign’s clever user of the Twitter hashtag labeling tweets promoting the video with #StopKony, #MakeKonyFamous and #Kony2012; 2) getting more than 30 million to watch the video that’s been online for some time in less than a week; and 3) breaking the rules for most viral videos by being about a serious subject and being extremely long (28 minutes). However, with numbers like these, the intentions of the Invisible Children charity behind the video are being questioned.

You may have also heard that:

1) Apple released a new iPad, but did you know it’s not the iPad 3?
2) GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney once tied his dog in a crate to the roof of his car for a 12-hour vacation ride, but have you seen The New Yorker cartoon cover featuring Rick Santorum in the dog house?
3) Sarah Palin remains the darling of the Tea Party fringe.
4) There are dead people on Facebook.

Get the low-down on these stories and more over at the KazzaDrask Online Media Roundup. Catch up on what you might’ve missed and be a part of the conversation.

Social Media and Haight Street: A Tale of One Street in Two Parts

A new social media study by Bloom Studios takes a look at data visualization, something that sounds a little boring if you’re not into studying the deep mechanics of social media. But what’s sure to grab many people’s attention about this study is that it examines social media trends on one of the world’s most famous streets – Haight Street in San Francisco.

Most likely, if you’ve visited San Francisco once or twice as a tourist, you’ve made the pilgrimage to the street that launched the Summer of Love. You’ve found the epicenter of the hippie movement at the corner of Haight and Ashbury and you looked for the houses where Janis Joplin lived and the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane crashed. By heading up the hill, past Buena Vista Park, following the smell of patchouli oil and marveling at the size of the bongs in the local head shops you discovered the Upper Haight. If you’ve taken the long way and crossed Divisadero Street before your ascent you would have been in the Lower Haight. The Bloom Studios study reports some highly distinctive trends between these two sections of the street.

For one, according to local Lower Haight Street blog Haighteration, people in the Lower Haight are grumpier. The study’s analysis of “Foursquare checkins, crime data from DataSF.org, images from Google Street View, languages and topics from Twitter, and pictures from Instagram” found that Lower Haighters negative social media commentary outweighed the positive. Up in the Upper Haight, the mood was decidedly more positive.

Having lived at the crossroads of Upper and Lower Haight for several years, I feel this is pretty easy to explain. Lower Haight is local. Unless you’re an in-the-know traveler accessing some good local apps or carting around a tattered copy of Lonely Planet you probably won’t spend much time here. Lower Haighters are going about their local business, picking up the dry cleaning, looking for a parking space, trying to get a table at The Grind on a Saturday morning. Last year, the Walgreens burned down, so now you can’t even replenish your basic sundries in the ‘hood.

Meanwhile, Upper Haight is filled with tourists happily texting and tweeting in Swedish or sometimes French (according to the Bloom Studios assessment of languages used on the street). If they notice the homeless people and the grime, they are either oblivious or on holiday – it’s not distracting enough to document. Upper Haighter residents don’t spend a lot of time on this part of the street. For their day-to-day they cross a few blocks in either direction to Cole Valley, or the up-and-coming Divisadero Corridor.

While the Bloom Studios study obviously has some flaws and odd skews (could the abundance of tweets in Thai from the Lower Haight be coming from the kitchens at Phuket and Thep Phanom?), it is a first step in using social media data readily available to gain insight into numerous habits and trends happening in a certain place. Future studies could reveal much valuable hyperlocal information for businesses and residents alike.

Source: Haighteration.
Photo source: KazzaDrask Media.

Fire in the Theater: Happy International Women’s Day, Rush

This post originally appeared on OpenSalon.com.

The woebegone tale of radical right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh has hung around long enough to coincide with International Women’s Day. That’s more than serendipitous to some, considering Limbaugh has successfully fanned the flames over the past week on what is shaping up to be an all-out conservative-based war on American women. It defies reality that nearly 50 years since the Griswold v. Connecticut case that ruled using birth control was okay, especially in the privacy of your own home, and almost 40 years since Roe v. Wade, American women are still having to demand “U.S. out of my uterus!”…and then some.

The 1970s were a great time to be a girl. Title IX, Ms. magazine, serious talk about women truly having equal rights via a constitutional amendment called the E.R.A. Happy days were on the horizon, from Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs on the tennis court to girls getting the right to play on all-boys’ Little League teams or enter the military on more equal footing. If you don’t believe me, rent two movies: The Bad News Bears and Private Benjamin. (A third made in 2001, covers the the famed Billie v. Bobby battle of the sexes tennis showdown.) All are comedies. We’d come so far so fast. 

In middle school we didn’t talk about Roe v. Wade in Social Studies, but we did talk around it with one of those hip teachers who grew his hair a little long and dressed like Mike Brady. We talked about freedom and what that meant in a “free” country (as opposed to those behind that foreboding Iron Curtain). We talked about freedom of speech. One snippet from these lessons firmly embedded in my memory, besides that teacher’s bell bottoms and paisley patterned polyester shirts, was the example he gave for when it wasn’t okay to say every ridiculous thought that came into your head. “You don’t yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater.” Unless of course there is one.

Maybe this sunk in especially quick and set hard and fast because it was the days of the disaster movie, and fires and panic were coming at us in SensurroundEarthquake, The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure. Or maybe it just actually made sense. As a writer and editor, I’ve explained my position on the First Amendment using the fire in the theater example whenever pressed. I know there’s more to it than that, but sometimes you’ve got to break things down for big, bad adults in 7th grade Social Studies speak.

Rush Limbaugh and his conservative cohorts are some especially big, bad adults. Last week, on his radio show, Limbaugh called a woman a “slut” and a “prostitute” and implied she was having so much sex on the government dime that she should video it and post it on YouTube (the one allusion Limbaugh made that clues you in that this tirade was occurring in the 21st century). The woman, Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, did nothing to directly provoke Limbaugh (i.e., she didn’t start the um…fire…by first calling him a fat, bigoted misogynist pig). Instead, she expressed her belief that health care, government funded or otherwise, should include covering all aspects of women’s reproductive health. Limbaugh’s attack against Fluke and her fellow “feminazis” (as Limbaugh calls smart, “overeducated” white women) is shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there isn’t one.

Limbaugh’s verbal abuse was intended to inflame the right-wing, hyper-conservative, Obama-hating GOP base in an election year. There is no fire in this crowded theater. There are simply women going about their private business, taking daily birth control pills that can cost $50 per month. If health insurance plans cover men’s specific health needs like Viagra and vasectomies, it stands to reason that they should cover women’s specific health issues, which can include if and when a woman would like to become pregnant and terminating an unwanted pregnancy. But to men like Limbaugh, that type of reasoning isn’t common sense, it’s taking away freedom. The freedom to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there isn’t one.

On that note, Happy International Women’s Day. This day, March 8, meant to recognize women for our achievements was another good thing about being a girl in the 1970s. The first International Women’s Day celebrated in America was in 1978. If you could even imagine 2012 back then, surely you would not have thought it involved men like Rush Limbaugh. They were meant to have been extinguished in that fake fire in the theater around the time the final credits to Private Benjamin were rolling.

Great Leaps Online: What People Are Talking about Online This Week: Feb 27 – Mar 2

A US marine leaps into the arms of his same-sex partner for a homecoming kiss splashed ’round the interwebs, leap day provides an extra day to ponder how we spend the usual 365 and a leap year look back at life online (since 1996). This week’s online conversations seemed to have us leaping forward and looking back – sometimes at the same time. 

The marine kiss would have been unthinkable before the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). But now that the US government has moved ahead with its repeal and gay men and lesbians can openly serve in our armed forces, same-sex couples sharing kisses and embraces after months apart will soon become no more unusual than opposite-sex couple reunions. Only the most touching will make headlines. Flash forward a couple of years. A photo like this one will probably stand the test of time and be given its due, right next to the famous World War II era sailor kissing that nurse in Times Square. More ordinary displays, by any type of couple, won’t make us blink.

Blink – and you will miss it. A survey this week found that our attention spans literally are less than the blink of an eye. That’s how little it takes for some people to click away if a page doesn’t download fast enough. Sheesh!

Clicking forward, the Republican Party’s war on women suffered a setback this week. On Thursday, the Senate voted down a bill that would have allowed employers to restrict health care coverage for health issues that violated their beliefs (read: birth control). Online conversations and actions continue to fuel – and beat back – this sad attempt at an election year wedge issue. We only wonder what leap backward we’ll be up against next week.

Clicking back. Sad news this week for tail-end Baby Boomers, Generation Jones and Gen-X kids who grew up watching Davy Jones and The Monkees. Lead Monkee, and Marcia Brady’s one-time prom date, died suddenly of a heart attack. In true online fashion, Jones’ passing was initially dismissed on Twitter as yet another celebrity death hoax. But by the time the news made it to Facebook, complete with flashback YouTube videos, we knew the news was true.  R.I.P. Davy. 

There’s more forward thinking chatter over at the Online Media Roundup. Leap on over, and join the conversation.

Photo source: Associated Press.