Petersen 1 Smitty Petersen Prof.

Clott Consensus 30th Oct 2011

Online Consensus While reading the Park case study article on online consensus building, I was reminded of a project I did in 2008 on cultural narcissism called Denial of Self. The project was an attempt to write a play online via consensus utilizing a wiki. A wiki is a website with editable pages that allows for multiple editors, sometimes they are closed and sometimes they are open to anyone. The most recognizable wiki would be wikipedia. The project came from the growing social network culture. It was meant to look at how people create fake personae on these sites as well as the power, control and manipulation that also happens socially on these sites. All of which is classic narcissism. It seemed the Internet was a place where narcissism flourished. Denial of Self was also trying to look at western culture and how it promoted narcissism on an individual, structural, and cultural level. Basically, the project was looking at it as the main source for oppression/violence that happens to marginalized folks. In western culture, there is this idea of categories of people which are used to create an- us and a them. We take on these masks; the mask of being an activist, a hippy, a punk, an artist; as well as being black, white, rich, and/or poor. This project looked at how we use these labels to hide behind, enabling us to not have to be ourselves. We also hide in technology in text messages and emails, on social networks and chat sites. The upside is our idea of community is growing; with friendships being spread over the globe. For the Denial of Self Project, we chose the Internet because we thought it would allow anyone to join. We quickly realized this was not true. One must be at least moderately affluent and

Petersen 2 technologically advanced enough to be capable of interfacing with online media. I am fascinated with online media and electronic communication. There is so much room for error. “When you communicate through words over the web. (sic) Your words only have meaning. In order to give inflections and body language it all has to be written out. It simplifies and alienates communication to the point of making it immensely difficult. Because it is so easy to have misunderstandings everything (was) to be clarified to the point of exhaustion.” Yet, there was still a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings that happened. (Petersen) The reason we chose to use a wiki for Denial of Self was “to be challenged to project our real selves; to show our real feelings; to show our real ideas and our real reaction to other people’s ide as; to open the faults and successes up to everyone; to revel in our imperfection.” (Petersen) None of this happened. The show was a train wreck. The other main organizer just kept vetoing every idea that came up and we had dates pre-scheduled at a theatre. As we have discussed in class these things take time so having a deadline and trying to do consensus was ignorant. The other huge fail was that folks didn't really want to do anything online and they also didn't want to meet in person. Some felt that the technology was too difficult to figure out. Which the Park article spoke to: “they made the most of the Internet's functions to facilitate two way communications and motivate and empower the netizens to participate online and offline, finally leading to a success.”(Park p.234) I believe there were several reasons why the case-study in Park's article was more successful than the wiki project. The most obvious being the better utilization of Internet function. The wiki page , although not very difficult to use, was not very interactive and it was difficult enough that most people had to learn to use it; i.e., it was not click and go as with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) site that was described in Park's article. The second way it was different was in that the EFF had a easy to understand goal for their site,

Petersen 3 “to prevent the passage of the Communication Decency Act of 1996” although I still am unclear exactly how they were utilizing consensus. As a mobilization campaign it appears to have been very successful but what decisions were made by a group of individuals over the Internet is unclear. (Park 233) Wherein, the Denial of Self site was nebulous in we weren't even sure of what we wanted to accomplish or how we want to accomplish it. If I were to recreate this project I would do things very differently. I would focus on individual stories and feedback. I would focus on the one on one relationship building as Eichler outlines. Although initially this sounds difficult to do on a large scale via the Internet without face to face interactions, I don't believe it would be. Our culture has shifted so much into relationship building via these electronic methods. We even have sexting now. This begs the question how does one create dynamic content that people want to engage in about a topic that no one wants to talk about which also requires a self-analysis that no one wants to do. Who really wants to talk about “narcissists (who) tend to be more concerned with how they appear than what they feel, (are) seductive and manipulative, striving for power and control, egotists, focused on their own interests but lacking the true values of the self -- self-expression, self-possession, dignity, and integrity without a solid sense of self, which leads them to ex perience life as empty and meaningless.” especially on a cultural level. No one wants to talk about oppression except a few special super geeky folks. (Lowen Abstract) So as Eichler says it’s all about the framing. Park also talks a lot about framing but calls it “(t)he Frame Alignment Process (which) was adopted as a conceptual framework... (were) four related but not identical processes--- 'frame building' 'frame amplification' 'frame extension' and 'frame transformation' were elaborated and various functions on the Internet facilitating this frame alignment process were examined.” (Park 233) As I understand it both authors are speaking of similar methodology which they utilize to

Petersen 4 package the product for consumption. It is odd to think about consensus which is supposed to be this organic visceral process as something to be consumed but truth be told our society has been trained to be consumers. We, as organizers, must recognize this and utilize it with the hope to pull folks to the other side of the paradigm. Paradigm shifts are not going to happen if those creating the shift only use one language and only speak to people who already understand this language. Eichler says “(e)ach conversation needs to be unique.” Eichler goes on to say “you have to repacka ge the benefits... You enlarge the number of people who agree with the shared goal...You have created relationships and a new spirit by strategically reframing.” (Eichler 65-66) This methodology could be applied to anything even a consensus based forum to create a play. I believe that the project would have had much more success if packaged in a few different ways that were accessible to different people. There were several activities that were on the website, these could have been brought to the forefront of the site. They could have had some Java script or something added to them to make them less static and more interactive. There could have been a survey. These would have been easy fixes. If one wanted to go all out, they could make a fully immersive website such as are being utilized for science classes such as chemistry and biology which both have websites that start with mastering (i.e., masteringbiology.com). These websites have quizzes, animations, videos, and readings to engage with. Since a major part of the project was to educate people about how oppression and cultural narcissism are inter-related, this type of site makes a lot of sense When one talks about racism, it is most important to recognize that the most harmful part is the white supremacy behind it. So if we are to look at bigotry in general we see this notion of supremacy as the major tool of oppression. For example, many people have this notion that Queer people are loud, flashy, self-absorbed, promiscuous, flaky, alcoholic, and addicted to drugs. All of these are just stereotypes and don't apply across the board to every gay person that exists out there but some of these stereotypes are a judgment on culture. When looking at it from the conservative viewpoint Queers

Petersen 5 might seem promiscuous but we call ourselves sex positive. This is because we have a different perspective on sexuality that we consider to be more open minded. We see sex as a healthy activity that helps burn calories and is relaxing and enjoyable. We see sexual experiences with a diversity of people helping us become better lovers which means our sexual relations will be more fulfilling. This is why framing and perspective taking are important. Since one doesn't have the communication back and forth as much as you would have sitting with a person, it is most importantly when doing social media campaigns to make sure that one has found their target audience and utilizes language and framing which is understood by this target audience. If there are multiple target audiences than one must create multiple versions of outreach material, each with different language and framing in order to reap the same benefits as those one on one conversations have for pulling in feedback and garnishing support. In conclusion, in order to have a successful online campaign, one must look at several different perspectives to create several different framing methods. One must understand the target population and how, as a campaign facilitator, you can best serve that population. As an organizer, one must create different methodologies of dissemination just as in a classroom one would cater to different learning styles. If one repackages the campaign, in an easy to use package, for the diversity of their target population then a successful campaign is imminent.

Petersen 6

Works Cited Petersen, A.S. (2008). Denial of Self October 30th, 2011 http://narcissist.wetpaint.com Dr. Alexander Lowen, Narcissism: Denial of the True Self Park, Hyun Soon. “Case Study: Public Consensus Building on the Internet” CyberPsychology and Behavior Volume 5, Number 3, (2002) p.233-239 Eichler, Mike. “Consensus Organizing: Building Communities of Mutual Self Interest” 2007 Sage Publications

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