Desensitizing and Controlling Content in Online Environments

In her article “Better Online Living through Content Moderation”, Melissa King proposes “using content control features is not guaranteed to stop the effects of abuse, they do help and their use should not be disparaged and discouraged.”  Content control can help users that suffer from PTSD that need to “avoid topics and people that trigger their anxiety”. King brings awareness to “cultural opposition” towards suffers that are viewed as weak and overly sensitive. Online aggressors who invoke attacks, blame the victims stating they should “just deal with it”, regardless of the context or situation. King believes “Content control is helpful in limiting the worst of these attacks, which themselves can cause PTSD if severe or long-term enough.” Melody Hensley, a feminist who claims Twitter gave her PTSD A major argument against content control is that people over-exaggerate the “abuse and harassment they receive” and that they should be “less sensitive”. King claims these arguments create an invalid comparison to exposure therapy, “a type of therapy designed to combat severe anxiety through gradual and controlled exposure to its source, to inure an individual to these triggers and lesson the disruptions they can cause.” Opponents misinterpret “Exposure Therapy” as a means to “hurl insults and threats at someone with the hope they somehow come out more mentally durable”, King considers not only a mishap in content control discussions but also in the understanding of human psychology. King discusses the other argument against content control, which is the belief that no real harm can come from words said online. She claims that the same “ignorance that yields metaphors to exposure therapy” fuels popular cultures idea that...

Summary of Better Online Living through Content Moderation

This article by Melissa King discusses the subject of trigger warnings, block lists, privacy options and ignore functions and the criticism that users of these receive from those who do not need them. This piece acts as a well worded defense for those who suffer from PTSD, anxiety attacks and other afflictions from the people who would tell them that they’re “weak”, “too sensitive” or that they should “just deal with it”. It is essentially divided into three sections. The first has no subtitle and acts as an abstract to introduce the reader to the content that the rest of the column will discuss. The next section, labeled “Computer Chair Psychology” (likely a play on the phrase “Armchair Psychology” used to refer to amateur psychology) and discusses the psychological aspect of protective measures like trigger warnings and block lists. It points out how appeals to “be less sensitive” or “ignore it” misuse a type of treatment called Exposure Therapy wherein the patient is slowly exposed in increments to the stimuli that causes them anxiety in an effort to overcome that anxiety. Here, the author relies on quotes from two other voices on this subject. The first is Maddy Myers, where King references her article on TheMarySue.com on trigger warnings. The next is Caleb Lack, a licensed clinical psychologist and psychology professor who specializes in treating anxiety disorders, who says: “Bullying has long been known to have a severe impact on mental health, particularly if the bullying is repeated and prolonged… So, given what we know about PTSD, and given what we know about the effects of bullying (cyber and otherwise) on...

Reading Summary #6

In the article, Better Online Living through Content Moderation, Melissa King argues that the use of content control features benefit users by lessening the chance of negative responses to harmful or insulting content that may be seen online. Some examples of these controls are content/trigger warnings, block and ignore functions, blocklists, and privacy options (King, lines 1-2). The reason for these privacy precautions is to stop users from seeing content that may trigger PTSD, an anxiety attack, or other negative feelings. King describes these as valid reasons and goes on to state that, “In fact, there is no such thing as an invalid reason: nobody should be required to read or listen to content if they do not want to” (King, lines 7-9). Although content controls are a positive feature, there are some people that disagree. King allows readers to see these controls from the negative perspective, but provides a valid argument against opinions like these. Those who are against content controls often perceive users that utilize them as weak or over sensitive (King, lines 10-11). Situations in which users are being attacked or bothered by online aggressors are thought of as the victim’s problem instead of the antagonist’s doing. Others think these users should just toughen up and be less sensitive, which goes hand in hand with the Exposure Theory. This theory is designed to put a stop to anxiety by slowly exposing the subject to the source (King, lines 27-28). However, this theory does not come in handy when it comes to content controls. The Exposure Theory is all about controlled exposure; the Internet has no control...

Reading Summary #5

“Better Online Living through Content Moderation” Melissa King “Better Online Living Through Content Moderation”, is an article written by Melissa Kings. In this article she discusses the uses of block and ignore functions, content/trigger warnings, block lists and privacy options that help to improve one’s computer experience by dismissing content that one chooses not to see. She goes into further detail as to what kind of people who would benefit from these content managers, such as those who suffer from PTSD who are avoiding triggers or topics that could cause anxiety, those with limited patience and anyone who wants to improve their online experience. After all, no one should have to view any content that they would prefer not to. In this article she mentions that those who prefer to use these content moderators are criticized as being too “weak” or “sensitive”, which then creates the stigma for people to expose themselves to things that they cannot handle or is too much, whether it be violence, graphic content or even cyber-attacks due to an disagreement or in some cases intentional provoking of attacks or violence. She then began to discuss the arguments against content control. One being that people tend to blow abuse and harassment received out of proportion and therefore should be less sensitive in terms of coping. This has been the greatest argument of them all. The term she associated with that argument is exposure therapy. Kings discussed this term by saying through gradual exposure you will be able to overcome these triggers. In other words, the more you are exposed to something, the less you will...

Reading Summaries 5 & 6

King, Melissa. “Better Online Living through Content Moderation.” Model View Culture. 14 Oct. 15. Web. 07 Mar. 2016. This article shows us the relationship between PTSD and content control. Some people have argued that PTSD is only associated with those who have been in the military, but they are mistaken. Individuals who have been affected by bullying can also experience PTSD, and this is where content control comes into play. Melissa King lets us know that content control is referring to “block and ignore functions, content/trigger warnings, blocklists and privacy options.” These features aid people who may risk triggering their anxiety from unwanted content on the Internet. These same individuals get criticized and are told to “just deal with it” when it comes to online abuse and unwanted content. Content control has become a very helpful solution to this new internet problem. “Content control is helpful in limiting the worst of these attacks, which themselves can cause PTSD if severe or long-term enough. While using content control features is not guaranteed to stop the effects of abuse, they do help and their use should not be disparaged and discouraged.” Bennin, Phia, and Brendan McMullen. “Color Walking.” Radiolab Blogland. 29 June 2012. Web. 07 Mar. 2016. http://www.radiolab.org/story/214709-color-walk/ Phia Bennin and Brendan McMullen introduce us to this new idea of “Color Walking.” You simply walk out the door, let a color catch your eye, and follow it for as long as you can, or until another color excites you. The main idea is to follow one object to the next with similar colors, and get “lost” along the way. Let yourself...

Reading summary #6

In her article, Better Online Living Though Content Moderation, Melissa King addresses the conflicting sides to the argument of whether or not content control features are valuable features in the digital world. Arguments in favor of content control state that users suffering from PTSD could benefit from the online tool, whereas those against the programs believe that users should simply avoid and ignore content in which they cannot handle or altogether become less sensitive.   Before reading the article, the first thing that came to my mind when hearing the words content control was school computers controlling what we could access; however, after reading the article completely I fully support the use of content control. Schools utilize content control in a way to protect the computers from viruses and malware students may accidently pick up as well as removing any chances of distractions from school work by blocking sites like Facebook.com and Youtube.com. What I had not considered useful of content control features is its personal use. With the use of content control features and applications, one can limit their access on the internet to only what serves them best. This may include blocking sites that may distract them from the productivity. Also considered are sites that could potentially cause emotional distress.   Those whom suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can have episodes triggered by certain stimulants, like sounds or visuals. Content control for someone who has PTSD could mean saving them from an anxiety trigger. For instance, if a war veteran finds graphic violence to be a trigger to his or her anxiety, then the can choose to block those...
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