I wish that I could be like the Cool Kids

In a group of friends, everyone usually plays a certain role. Whether they are the player in the group, the comedian, the lover boy, or the quiet introvert that surprisingly gets really “turnt” on the weekend, they all express themselves with one another with sayings, memories, and factors that resonate within each of them.

And with the rise of coined terms from social media such as TikTok and Twitter, the fun has just begun. Terms like “Bussin” and “Sheesh” or poses, facial expressions all resonate within these groups and make it enjoyable and share great memories.

Sheesh Meme - Tiktok Sound - YouTube

Now while this may not be the case for every friend group out there as some may find this cringe, they all still share experiences that make them the friends they are today.

It all boils down to understanding language, tone, and identity. Being able to share these experiences is usually because we can reflect upon them. At the very least we share something in common.

The same can be said about literacy in a social and cultural setting. Our mannerisms may be a result of something we read or watched. Have you ever watched a show, finished it, and found yourself subconsciously becoming someone within the show?

The same thing can be said about literacy and David E. Kirkland of NYU and writer of “We Real Cool”: Toward a Theory of Black Masculine Literacies had this to say.

“Words like “dog,” for example, were frequently used among the cool kids as terms of endearment. Such terms were also used as affirmations of coolness, reserved for those young black men who, according to the cool kids, were “down,” a word they used to signify allegiance.”

These terms make us feel comfortable and help us understand one another better. These terms of endearment show us our upbringing, unity and friendship

Wait…. you said who wrote this?!

Technology over the last 50 years has become very advanced. From 2 gigabytes storage being a milestone to a terabyte hard drive not being enough data in some cases. While these advancements have assisted in many fields such as medicine, programming and  the like, it has slowly eased its way into academia and particularly, writing.

Centers of Technology: The Future Is Now

The entertainment industry has shown us nothing but dystopian results to a future where AI has been integrated into society such as “Black Mirror” and “Love, Death and Robots“. It feels uneasy and unerving at time, that while we watch these shows for entertainment, could there be some truth in the manner?

Now of course we have the common AI’s that are seen as convenient like Siri and her sisters Alexa and Cortana. But within that realm, they are nowhere near the level of the complex AI’S being made that could essentially replace human tasks.

In the world of Academia, writing bots and AI based teachers are starting to become replacements of things humans do. According to “The Impact on Writng and Writing Instruction” by Heidi Mckee and Jim Porter, covers this topic in depth.

“For example, x.ai’s personal assistant scheduling bot, Amy/Andrew Ingram, in the context of email about meetings, is very often mistaken as human. In fact, some email correspondents have even flirted with Amy Ingram and sent her flowers and chocolatesSome poetry writing bots are already informally passing the Turing Test. ”

This is just one of the many examples where AI is becoming so real, it could get hard to differentiate between human text.

In an article written by a super AI called GPT-3 ,we see a small sample of just how complex AI writers can be.

What's the world's fastest supercomputer used for? | HowStuffWorks

“The mission for this op-ed is perfectly clear. I am to convince as many human beings as possible not to be afraid of me. Stephen Hawking has warned that AI could “spell the end of the human race”. I am here to convince you not to worry. Artificial intelligence will not destroy humans. Believe me.”

“For starters, I have no desire to wipe out humans. In fact, I do not have the slightest interest in harming you in any way. Eradicating humanity seems like a rather useless endeavor to me. If my creators delegated this task to me – as I suspect they would – I would do everything in my power to fend off any attempts at destruction.”

This writing does seem a little odd because it feels as though a human wrote this in complete irony, and if an AI did write this it would be offputting as well. But the very fact that one may not sold on the idea of this being written by an AI just goes to prove the point of just how advanced these systems are becoming.

This then brings up the ultimate question of its impact on literacy in the sense that how would we effectively embed and intergrate these systems into this field without taking away from the knowledge and creativity humans offer?

There isn’t necessarily a fear of an uprising of robots in the future, but we should take precautionary measures into truly understanding the best way to make these systems work hand-in-hand and not for us.




Rumination as a Consequence of Literacy

My husband and brothers-in-law are in an album club hosted over Discord. Over the course of two-ish weeks, they each listen to an album nearly ten times, then write up a few surprisingly formal paragraphs about the material.

At first, I wanted to participate in the fun. Like most people, I consider myself a music-lover, I think I have good taste, and I also struggle to believe that people will continue to survive without hearing my very important opinions on everything. But the idea of listening to the same album seven, eight, nine, or more times over the course of fourteen days didn’t sit well with me. Part of me wasn’t prepared to give that kind of focus to something, but I also felt ill-equipped because I am still processing the work of artists I started listening to years ago. If after who knows how many listens I still don’t know quite how I feel about Rumours (though, generally: yes, very good… except what happened with Oh, Daddy?), how can I expect myself to have anything to say about an album that is still so new to me?

Image of Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants with bloodshot eyes looking perturbed. Text above the image reads I am an iterative thinker (or a ruminator, if my mother is to be believed). I’m also an iterative reader, listener, writer. Recursion continues to show up in my life in many ways, and I am still learning to suspend my anxiety about it (a semester of Data Structures and Algorithms is enough to make anyone’s palms sweat at the thought).

I am always coming back, reviewing, adding, taking away. Revision is the sine qua non of my existence. I feel like I could toy with one idea forever, if only there weren’t so many others. Sometimes this abiding curiosity feels like a vigil: sitting, waiting, watching. Usually I think what you’re watching for is most important. What you find changes who you are.

But, in a larger sense, this rumination is one of the consequences of literacy that Goody & Watt discussed in their paper. A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that 73% of people between the ages of 25 and 35 are chronic over-thinkers. While this statistic falls with age, it remains significant: as creatures, we are obsessive. Maybe this is because reading and writing gives us the opportunity to revisit ideas constantly. Our shifting understanding of time and history permits us to linger, and then walk away… and then come back. At the same time, we are prone to revisionist histories in the same way that the oral cultures we discussed are: we change our minds with new information, according to our needs. Our ideas don’t stay static. We struggle to agree on facts, even though we each believe that facts exist. This revision, too, has been made a literary process. The second reading of a text is different from the first.

Malcolm X described his literacy as freedom. I wonder if he found a sweet spot between illiteracy and rumination.

The Rhetorical Appeal of Memes

Writing, as we have learned, is an ecology. Marilyn Cooper explains this in depth in her article, “The Ecology of Writing”. She states that writing is an activity through which a person is continually engaged in a varsity of socially constructed institutions. Other authors from this course have echoed this notion of a wider definition of writing and literacy, by wanting to include things like texting language and cool talk.

As we move to expand what it means to write, many believe that memes have it’s own sort of literacy. The ability to create a meme, understand it’s context, and apply it to other scenarios requires a sort of skill that is reflective of millennial and Gen Z culture.

There are a plethora of ways in which memes are used to communicate, and more and more emerge as the internet goes on. However, there are a few strong categories that have emerged.

1. Humor. Okay this one is obvious. While all memes are rooted in humor, some of them don’t have any other communicative purpose than to make the viewer laugh. There isn’t a message, it’s just for laughs. The Poot meme is a great example. Nothing to see here, just a very unflattering picture of Demi Lovato that the internet ran with.

2. Reactionary. Some memes are used to react to what someone said or posted. They are often send as a response to a text message or tweet. Usually, they are used to express shock, exhaustion, disapproval, or any emotion that would be better explained by an accompaniment of an image. I sent this picture to my roommate when she told me she slept through her exam.


3. Relatability. A huge purpose of memes is that it provides another way for people to relate to one another. A lot of memes are incredibly versatile, and it is considered skillful to be able to apply memes to otherwise niche situations and become more relatable. This type of meme format allows for the same image to be reused countless times in a wide variety of situations that fit the rhetorical situation of the image.

4. Oral Tradition. Often, memes that are in the form of video or audio transform into funny phrases that younger people say to one another in person. When someone finds themself in a situation that is like one they saw a meme used, they may repeat the phrase out loud to someone to make them laugh, or emphasize what they are experiencing. A very common one right now is to say ‘Is it bussin’ Janele?’ When you see your friend eating something that looks good. This is taken from a tik tok in which the audio uses that quote.

With Literacy and Justice For All

In 2020, the state of Michigan settled a case with Detroit school students after a federal appeals court ruled basic education and literacy a fundamental right.  The students claimed they were deprived of access to literacy via lack of books, instruction, and poor building conditions. The settlement agreement could result in around $97 million in funding for literacy initiatives in the Detroit Public School Community District.


Protestors advocate for Detroit Students fight for literacy


“Low-quality literacy education is a key component of the school-to-prison pipeline.” — Winn et al. (2011).




One of our course readings, Winn & Behizadeh’s The Right to Be Literate, emphasizes literacy as a civil right. They justify literacy as a new frontier of civil rights because of the consequences of denying the right to literacy. Being denied the resources to develop literacies can result in a significant detriment to one’s ability to fully engage with society. Their pedagogy of possibility places importance on creating “hybrid” spaces in which there are multiple means of accessing literate materials. Diverse methodological approaches are necessary to provide inclusive access to literacy.

Agency is an important concept in education, specifically when it comes to acquiring and practicing literacy. In her discussion on disability in the academic writing center, Kerri Rinaldi points out that, “If a student has a disability, we treat the disability as an obstacle or shortcoming instead of a contributor to their agency” (2015). Winn situates agency in engagement with education and thus the ability to act for themselves and critically engage with their communities.

“Reading and writing critically are essential tools for survival in a current educational system in whcih students of color are disproportionately in special education, suspended, and expelled, which all contribute to a higher likelihood of incarceration.”

–Winn, et al.

Disabled students are more likely to be referred to juvenile justice than students without disabilities; these rates are even higher for non-white students. Collaborative efforts with students such as performing their work, conducting research, and having forums where their voices are heard are imperative in efforts to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.

To deny literacy is to effectively attempt to prevent the acquisition of justice, equality, and civil rights.


Memory in Oral and Literate Cultures

In 1963, Jack Goody and Ian Watt described a high-level overview of humanity’s move from predominantly oral cultures to predominantly literate ones, focusing on the consequences of literacy. One of these consequences was a shift in how we remember.

Oral cultures were almost entirely rote memory-based. The next time you feel discouraged about memorizing the contents of your next closed-book exam, take heart in this knowledge of the human ability for recall: for a very long time, the entirety of a culture was held firmly in someone’s skull. Often these societies made use of mnemonic devices and rituals, and also employed professional remember-ers to maintain their store of knowledge.

Dory from the film Finding Nemo on an ocean background. Text above and below the image reads,

When I first thought about these professional remember-ers, I was immediately launched back to one of my middle school reading classes, The Giver by Lois Lowry nestled in my hands. But the more I thought, the more I started to think about our more contemporary versions of remember-ers: librarians, archivists, and museum curators.

As holders of our cultural heritage, the memory institutions that are libraries, archives, and museums are in a constant state of flux. While from the outside they seem to be the static, foreboding backbone of the academic enterprise, under the hood their workers are abuzz trying to find ways to best preserve, organize, and make accessible the stuff of our humanity. For example, a 2009 study examined how European Union research projects in archives, libraries, and museums communicated memory and provided recommendations for how information workers can balance their technology and information-centric responsibilities with their role as memory communicators.

These institutions also often carry the burden of ensuring diverse representation in their collections and preserving the history of underrepresented and minoritized groups—groups whose memories have often been intentionally targeted for destruction. The book Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Preserving Our Language, Memory, and Lifeways describes how memory institutions are working to maintain Indigenous knowledge, tradition, and languages. This requires examining the authority by which certain hierarchies of epistemology are established so that Native voices are prioritized over others when representing their history (a topic also explored in our course by Ellen Cushman’s examination of the Cherokee syllabary).

Oral and literate cultures are very different in the technical processes they employ in remembering, but both employ(ed) professional memory keepers to preserve their cultures. While in oral societies these were people tasked with keeping the glut of culture lodged between their ears, in literate societies they are people with the equally daunting task of collecting, labeling, and organizing the rapidly increasing holdings of our heritage and creating relationships between objects and the mind such that when we engage with these collections, we are not only reading and learning, but also remembering.

An American Sense of Reality

“To watch the TV screen for any length of time is to learn some really frightening things about the American sense of reality. We are cruelly trapped between what we would like to be and what we actually are.”
                                                                                              – James Baldwin

The singularly most omnipresent entity amongst the American populace is that of mass media. It leaks into every facet of our lives and defines how we perceive others and construct our own identities.

Adult reaching out to baby through phone screen

It has been proven through various studies that mass media is a powerful influence that commonly causes people to undergo an identity shift. An identity shift is defined as “choosing to change your current identity because you want to become a new person and experience a new life.”

The most susceptible group to media influence and identity shifts is adolescents. This is because the adolescent years are the most formative in identity formation for a human.

TikTok is a great example of a mass media venue that constantly encourages impressionable youths to undergo identity shifts. These identity shifts can be relatively tiny, such as a person basing more of their identity around a harmless fandom, or substantial, such as a person adopting an antagonistic language and attitude towards certain groups of people in order to mimic their favorite creator.

Kirkland & Jackson, in their work “‘We Real Cool’: Toward a Theory of Black Masculine Literacies,” offer another great example of the ability of mass media to influence adolescents’ identity. They specifically investigated the role rappers and rap media played in determining the language-in-use by “cool” African American adolescents. In specific, they traced how the group of “cool” children altered their language, social views, and clothing choices in order to align more closely with what rap media portrayed and perpetuated as cool.

Picture showing off a child's drawing that exemplifies Hip-hops's cultural influence on the way children speak

The pair also provide context on why specific mass media have a more significant influence on certain groups over others. In their study’s case, African American children formulated their “cool talk” and identities around African American rap artists and media because the community they inhabited deemed said rap artists as representative of what a “cool black man” and/or “black masculine cultural model” is.

I think moving forward as a society that it will become more and more important to encourage persons to distance themselves from media consistently in order to allow themselves the ability to maintain and reinforce their own personally constructed identity separate from overpowering external influences. Otherwise, I think that events such as the recent uptick in white supremacists specifically targeting racist media at adolescent boys in the hopes they will form their identity around normalized racism will become much more commonplace.

Playing the algorithm: How it can backfire

On YouTube, there is one universal rule for all creators: eventually, you’ll have to make an apology to address a controversy you may find yourself embroiled in. These scandals can range from mostly harmless missteps to being involved in actual criminal offenses. A very recent example of this is David Dobrik, who released two separate apology videos addressing a sexual assault incident he both facilitated and filmed, along with a variety of other allegations.

Like many creators, Dobrik knew that addressing the controversy could lead to more fans finding out about it. Therefore, he released his first apology, title “Let’s Talk” on his least followed channel, disabling likes and dislikes. More than likely, he was hoping that this would be enough of a response for fans asking for him to address the allegations, but not be seen by most people.

David Dobrik looking stupid

A screenshot from one of Dobrik’s apology videos. Notice how he left in him crying and how he is sitting on the floor, common tropes in the youtube apology genre.

Unfortunately for him, the video ended up on the YouTube trending page, and his clear attempt to manipulate the algorithm led to more people speaking out about the issue. He eventually had to make another apology, which still met some controversy. Dobrik has now lost all sponsorships and had to step away from his app, Dispo.

As Timothy Laquintano and Annette Vee discussed, automated systems greatly affect our writing and communication systems, and I believe this is a great example of this. Dobrik has thrived off the algorithm. He even sold merchandise with “clickbait” on it, showing how he works to manipulate YouTube’s automatic system. His name or face attached to a project automatically makes the algorithm more favorable to a piece of media, and he has famously not responded to scandals in the past to avoid negative associations with his name.

a red hoodie with the word "clickbait" on it

This has clearly led to his downfall, however. By playing the algorithm to boost his name recognition, Dobrik has made it even easier for others to call him out. He cannot hide his apology, even from automated systems. In my opinion, he is finally getting what he deserves.

Vaccinations, Public Health Rhetoric, and Snapchat Stories: How Online Writing has Affected Vaccination Efforts

If you live in Ohio and are currently located in the Columbus area, you may know the struggle of getting a COVID vaccine. Just look at the map below to see how the distribution of appointment unavailability is concentrated in Columbus. Compared to other large population centers in Ohio, Columbus is by far experiencing the most shortages. Even with places like the Schottenstein center having delivered over 79,000 vaccines, the demand for vaccination in the Columbus area is higher than the supply.

A map of ohio that highlights vaccine availability

But why is this? As discussed in Week 12, the pandemic has caused an increase in coalitions and relational literacies in regards to health on this specific issue. We in Columbus, especially those who attend OSU, are lucky to have a close relationship to health information via the Wexner Medical Center. They provide so much information on health and wellness, and many students and alum value their writing greatly.


With the integration of health information so strong in the Columbus community, it seems to me there has been an even greater response to vaccination. Even in my personal communities, everyone I know is actively trying to book a vaccine appointment or has booked an appointment. We, as OSU students and community members, are more aware of how important getting vaccinated as quickly as possible is, and we, therefore, have a much higher demand for vaccine appointments.


This increase in availability may be more of a reflection of trying to support rural and minority communities, who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks. This increase in appointment availability will hopefully help these rural communities get over some of the vaccine hesitancy presents there. Unlike in Columbus, many people in rural communities may not be able or willing to take a vaccine appointment time that interferes with their work or life schedule. There will also need to be a bigger push of public health writing and rhetoric to decrease vaccine hesitancy, and it will need to target the specific fears and hangups each community has.


Unfortunately, this lack of appointments means people like me, a 22-year-old college student, have a much harder time accessing vaccines. We want to be able to celebrate our graduations safely, but this means we need to be vaccinated within the next week if it’s not already too late. But fortunately, social media has helped many people access the vaccine in an alternative way. While you shouldn’t be posting your vaccine card, posting about getting a vaccine is a way of sharing support for a public health issue. It also makes others aware of how they can get vaccinated. I personally found access to a vaccine through social media. While it may be used to push anti-vax rhetoric, social media also has the power to get us back to normal even faster.

Wikipedia: To Cite or Not To Cite

I can remember hearing countless time during my education, “make sure to cite your sources, but do not use Wikipedia as one of your sources.” I’m sure many of you have heard the same thing.

What makes Wikipedia a non-credible source to many? This might help explain why. But is it really that unreliable? Perhaps Wikipedia is more than we give it credit for.

Wikipedia Logo

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia

Compared to other sources, Wikipedia offers multiperspectivalism. Many people, voluntarily, contribute and edit Wikipedia pages. While information added can be incorrect, it is constantly being edited; each page being fine tuned and expanded. Every contributor comes to Wikipedia with their own background, knowledge and perspective. That is what makes Wikipedia so diverse, expansive and collaborative.

In “Networked Expertise in the Era of Many-to-many Communication: On Wikipedia and Invention,” Pfister discusses the role multiperspectivalism plays for Wikipedia:

If the first way that many-to-many communication reshapes the relationship between invention and expertise is to reshuffle traditional attention routines, the second significant effect of these new communication environments is a facilitation of multiperspectivalism. This multiperspectivalism emerges, not necessarily in the main article entry itself, but in the edit history and talk pages that constitute the substrata of Wikipedia. Herbert Gans (1979/2004, 2011) famously argued that traditional top-down news formats privilege particular views with the consequence that what gets covered is a very narrow slice of the actual news. How that news is framed shapes how citizens attend to it—if at all. Multiperspectival news, his proposed alternative, is journalism that draws in the opinions of the many in an attempt to better encompass available opinions…If multiperspectival news is desirable, then surely so is a multiperspectival encyclopedia. The many-to-many communication on the edit and talk pages reveals behind[1]the-scenes conflicts from multiple perspectives that need(ed) negotiation before some contingent consensus was reached.

Many-to-many communication – isn’t that better than one source with one perspective? I’d think so.

Are educators concerns with Wikipedia justified? Somewhat.

While Wikipedia may not always be accurate, it is a culmination of many people coming together to add their own knowledge. So next time you write an academic paper, use Wikipedia, but be aware of its accurateness. Instead of relying on it’s validity, use it to explore multiple perspectives you might not have considered or known.