Tag Archives: Social Media

A Reflection on my Social Media Project about AIDS and the Five Precepts

AIDs in Thailand

I created my Midterm Project this semester using social media. My project is called “Helping Those Living with AIDS.” I got eleven comments from people who participated. Some people  just agreed with my project and gave me advice on how to improve  the article such as the comment from thesilverbodhisattva who said,

“Another point to consider is that some people can acquire the disease through means unknown to them, in cases of unintentional contamination. Without proper medical precautions or sanitation in a variety of medical fields, an aid has the possibility to spread through transfusions, shared needles, and even instances of dental operations. There is also the possibility for those who are born HIV positive.”

This comment reminds me and other people to be careful when we use syringes because penetration and blood transfusion can put people at risk for contracting the AIDS virus.

However, I want those who have not been infected with the AIDS virus to be aware of this point as well. There are many other ways of being at risk of contracting the AIDS’s virus. The AIDS’s virus is a serious issue for the homeless and those on skid row. When society or families ignore people who have AIDS, they end up on the street, become homeless, and live on skid rows throughout the country. Therefore, the Thai monks of the Phrabatnumpu Temple are helping the people who have the AIDS’s virus in Thailand. The abbot organized the temple by himself and it is supported by donations. He provides food, clothing, shelter, and medicine for people with AIDS. The important thing is he has instructional media for people who do not have AIDS. He is teaching about Buddhism and offering counseling for individuals and groups concerned about AIDS. He teaches the way we use precept training to protect sangha from AIDS. He talks about the Five Precepts as a very good way of reducing one’s risk of contracting AIDS. A comment from SmartDC was,

“AIDS is one kind of serious diseases in the world. One of the solutions is to avoid from sexual misconduct and honestly observe Five Precepts (Sila). Taking the Buddha’s teachings into practice, we will be happy without any trouble.”

Therefore, the Five Precepts, especially, the third precept, are a very important way to reduce the prevalence of AIDS virus infections. Just like this comment from Humble Monk:

“There is reason to blame the people who’ve gotten infection, but there are many reasons to blame the people who knew AIDS and didn’t protect themselves. Sexual desire is one aspect of desires caused suffering. Being honest with one’s couple under sexual conduct isn’t enough to stop AIDS completely. The way how to completely stop AIDS is to stop one’s desires.”

This is a very good comment and I agree with his comment. If all of us practice the five precepts, especially the third one, I think we can live without fear and worry as well.

Finally, I would like to thank you very much for all of the comments from both people whom I know and I do not know. Your comments helped influence my work and my ideas. I hope my social media project will help our society in many ways. For instance, by helping people become aware of AIDS and understand the victims of AIDS too. More than that, I hope we can stay happily together. Without loving-kindness and compassion our society would be like Hell.

May all being be happy and peaceful in body and mind,

Dhammakaruna.

Please visit my Facebook Page and my original post here at Dharma Dialogue.

AIDs patient and Theravadin Monk.

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What Do You Know? Reflection

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...

Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Social Media is a fascinating subject.   Do a quick web search for how to create a great social media project and you are inundated with “how-to’s” and “don’t do’s” all of them saying different things.  The commercial world has lept into social media.  In your search you will find that to many social media now means corporate advertisements using “social” media.  No longer is social media a way for people to connect.  It has quickly become just another, more subtle way, to sell mostly unneeded stuff to increasingly poor customers.   “Social Media” also has a dark, hidden, side.  Go to news or progressive action site that tells a story different than allowed in the mainstream (corporate) media and you will find the comments filled with rebuttals, all taking a very similar pro-corporate, pro-inequality, pro-oligarchy line.  Almost always the first few comments are in support of the economic and social policies that are creating and increasing income, wealth, and power inequality and slowing killing the middle-class society constructed after WWII.  A groundswell of opposition by “Real Americans” to the DFH’s (look it up)?  Or the comments of “astro turf” organizations and companies paid big money to counter small-d democratic thinking and organization?

That said, for those of us trying to address various problems around the world, social media and the internet is a great resource.  Since most of our mainstream media outlets no longer discuss or present any options other than those that support the status quo (and domination of society by a very small group of extraordinarily wealthy men), the internet and social media is one of the best ways we have to communicate with people who know something is seriously wrong with society but don’t know what to do about it.  It is the only game in town.

In my project I didn’t get much in the way of comments, likes or followers.  I’m not sure at this point that I can call it a success.  The most people that have taken one of my quizzes is three (and one of them was me).   I can think of several reasons for this:

  1. Any social media project has to hit a sweet spot.  In other words, a need in people to express themselves or solve a common problem.  The areas that I covered (inequality, the distortion of capitalism to maximize profit for banks, etc.) are covered in great depth by other social media actors.  Perhaps potential readers are overwhelmed with bad news since so much is going wrong.
  2. I think a good social media project allows people to interact and contribute.  It is not enough to just push ideas out into the “blogosphere” and hope people will read it.  How can the person reading your post, quiz, Pin, etc., join in helping solve the problem?  How can they express their own concerns?  How can they self-organize?  My project at this point is too much push and not enough interaction.
  3. I wonder if I am taking on too many subjects?  Do I need to concentrate on a more specific social issue?
  4. Consistency.  A general rule of thumb is that a content provider (me) needs to put out some sort of post (quiz) every week.  With the demands of school and my general sense of fatigue caused by nearly a year of school, I’ve not had the energy to generate quizzes and posts on a consistent basis and to keep new viewers coming back to my site.
  5. Time.  I think this just takes time to grow an audience.
  6. Perhaps quizzes aren’t the best way to present this type of information.

I plan to continue this effort over the summer and see if I can grow an audience.  I’m going to investigate how to use Pinterest as the core to my project rather than a blog.  That way I can post my quizzes, images and other media in a place where people can interact and respond to the issues I present with their own thoughts and media.  I can then respond to the interests of my audience based upon what they post.  I also want to use twitter to present my posts to those that are interested so they can keep track of my project without having to pay close attention.   I will look around to see what other, new, mechanisms are available, and there are a lot of them.   It will be very interesting to see how this project has evolved by the end of summer and the start of a new school year at University of the West.

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Rome was not Built in a Day… Nor Extropia in a Semester

Image

Over the past semester, I have created a personal blog (3ratna3kaya), contributed a couple posts here at Dharma Dialogue (Skid Row Reflection & Project Proposal), and started a Pinterest Page (Building Extropia Together). I have enjoyed fumbling around with social media, but I am quite aware that I am not particularly good at it just yet. To drive this point home with numbers, my personal blog, for example, has received 124 views to date. The highest number of views generated in a single day was 18. I tried to generate some internal traffic via word of mouth and Facebook, but that of course had a pretty limited effect.

When your mother tells you she likes your blog, it feels nice of course, but it also sounds hauntingly similar to high school years when she assured you that she could barely see your pimples and that you looked handsome in your rented prom tuxedo. Anyhow… thank you, mom, and happy Mothers’ Day.

In a nutshell, that was pretty much my experience with social media. I received some nice encouragement from friends, family, professors, and classmates. Some of my content was even “liked” by a small handful of fellow netizens I have never met in person. Disappointing, however, was the lack of comments on my posts and content. Here at Dharma Dialogue, two comments were made on my initial two posts. One comment was from the always incredible editor and contributor, “Buddhakaruna.” The other comment left for me was attributed to “anonymous,” but seemed likely to be internal traffic, as well (still very appreciated of course).

Most interesting or encouraging were the “likes” and “follows” from random netizens. I could rattle off some statistics related to these “likes” and “follows,” but none are especially impressive or revealing. Later looking into the blogs of these individuals, I found that most had either an interest in Buddhism, technology, or both.

The title of this post is, of course, facetious. I did not expect to gather up a group of netizens and build an Extropic world. There is a great deal of momentum at play and Extropia strikes me, admittedly an optimist at heart, as a likely outcome whether additional people get involved or not.

In the time-span of less than a month, from my project proposal to this project reflection, technology has continued its brisk sprint into the future. Some major advancements that have made the news in that time include bone tissue substitutes made from stem cells, “buckyball” non-toxic drug deliver via nano-tech, an injectable nano-network aimed at treating diabetes, neural development studied using brain cells created from stem cells, a quantum internet has secretly been in use for over two years, a working 3-D printed gun was made available for download, and then quickly ordered to be removed by the State Department.

There is little doubt in my mind that the future is upon us. I believe it would be a mistake to not consider how our own personal theologies (Buddhist, Dharmic, Taoic, Abrahamic, or otherwise) respond to highly-potential future developments such as radical life extension, mind-uploading, geoengineering, terraforming, etc, etc.

Ummm… I guess this is the part where I beg you all to comment on this post and visit my blog and Pinterest page.

Thank you for reading.

Palms together,

3ratna3kaya

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What Do You Know?

Gini since WWII

Gini since WWII (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, over 5000 Americans were asked about income inequality in the U.S.  Amazingly, wealth inequality in the U.S. is now greater than it was in the 1920s, just before the Great Depression.  Wealth inequality here is worse than the inequality found many poor third-world countries.

So, how many of these questions on wealth inequality can you answer correctly (answers at the end of the post)?

  1. When asked respondents to the survey mentioned above said the top 20% of Americans own this percent of the total American wealth:
    1. 32%
    2. 59%
    3. 84%
  2. What percentage of the wealth does the top 20% of Americans actually own?
    1. 32%
    2. 59%
    3. 84%
  3. 92% of the respondents (yes that is right, 92%) think this country has the ideal amount of wealth inequality:
    1. Mexico
    2. Russia
    3. Sweden
    4. France
  4. In this ideal country, what percent of the wealth does the top 20% own?
    1. 32%
    2. 59%
    3. 84%

If you are like most Americans, you will be surprised by the correct answers, and that brings up the question about how best to educate people about what is going on in today’s America. We have so many problems that we need accurate facts to determine what we want and to begin the process of making America work better. Now, I realize there is a percentage of society that prefers their own facts (the authoritarian 20%), but how best to reach the rest of us? There is a lot of innovation going on right now on to use social media to engage people on social issues. I don’t know if anybody knows yet what works best, but in my project I will be building small quizzes on different social issues.

Hopefully answering them will be fun for the people taking the quizzes as well as educational. I promise I will not create any quizzes purporting to tell you how to stay in a relationship with your partner, or how your horoscope will affect your life in the next three months. But I will try to engage and educate you, or even better, you will engage and educate me! If you have any ideas about what quizzes you would like to see, what quizzes you don’t want to see (!!!), or if you have a better idea how to engage and educate (or anything else), I’d love to hear from you. Write me a comment or two, or three (or…) if you have any feedback.

Okay, answers listed backwards to make it a bit harder for you to cheat look ahead.

4. (A); 3. (C); 2. (C); 1. (B)

P.S., the amount of total wealth owned by the top 20% is probably underreported since a huge amount (billions, trillions?) of U.S. wealth is illegally hidden in overseas accounts.

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