Digital and Media Literacy

Relevant Courses: COM 613 Constructing Messages and Audiences, COM 624 Communication and Culture in a Networked Society, COM  655 The Mediated Self and Changing and Relationships, and COM 658 Creativity and Networks.

Digital and media literacy demonstrated by the ability to create and evaluate content on at least one digital or media platform related to a specific communication initiative and audience.

WHAT has been my experience with digital communication using digital and media platforms is very extensive. In today’s digital world, it is not what is being communicated as much as it how it is being communicated. When describing the types of media and platform, it refers mainly to that of social media, as it is principal to everyone’s personal communicative practices (or almost everyone, except for those living under a rock). However, it is just not about posting something to a social media platform but about the type of information this is appropriate for such platforms. Content that would be more appropriate for a certain digital platform must be the main consideration. For example, it would not be appropriate to post an entire strategic plan, to Facebook or Twitter, because those formats are designed for broadcasting short bits, however, posting links to portions of the plan such as a PDF or even WORDPRESS would be the best avenue to deliver that information while still using popular platforms.

Another perspective to consider is that how digital media influences digital behavior and how indivdiuals and entities portray themselves in an effort to present their best “digital selves” The role of digital media is congruent through several courses which compose the Master of Arts program. Therefore, the major themes explored throughout this program include these specific HOWS:

  • How digital connectivity in a networked society has changed and transformed culture.
  • How specific digital and mediated platforms affect our understanding of essential interpersonal constructs such as relationship development and engagement, image management, the tensions of work-life balance and the challenges and opportunities of creating private and public identities in a mediated landscape.
  • How we compose our multiple and sometimes conflicting digital and media selves and how the presentation of our “work” self affects conceptions of our “private” self.
  • How organizations and individuals use right-brain approaches to organizing and open innovation using digital and mediated tools.
  • How special attention is given to digital technology, including how to best consume, filter, create and critically analyze messages. These five points emphasize the correlation between digital technology and daily communication. 

SO WHAT did I actually learn from these experiences described previously? That digital and media literacy is not about being good at posting things on social media, or making videos and posting them for friends and family to view and “like” on Facebook or YouTube. It is about how to properly use these digital tools to communicate important information and get it to the masses in the manner they are most apt to receive it. When communicating digitally, the media available is also crucial, it is almost impossible to effectively communicate digitally without the latest devices and equipment, as well as some short-term training or experience: “SKYPE, anyone”? In that same vein, the experience with digital media literacy also displayed the generational gap that can occur in communication, especially when it comes to my personal experience in teaching traditional and non-traditional students. Students who have graduated from high school the last fifteen to twenty years ago, were exposed to working with computers while students who graduated prior to that did not have that experience Even for myself, having graduated eighteen years ago, from high school, versus someone who graduated from high school five years can represent a large gap in the computer technology experience due to how rapidly it changes and evolves. I have also learned that everyone who is a participant becomes a “digital version” of themselves, it can actually be compared to the displaying of the life a person would like to project as having as opposed to the life a person is living. 

NOW WHAT is to be learned from the overall experience, and that means that not being afraid to embrace how digital literacy can improve our communicative lives. All generations often balk at new technology and ways of living life that they were not used to growing up, however, it is all part of the cycle life and the evolution of technology. But it is intimidating though, especially to the older generations. Personally, it is not too far advanced as I am very adept at using social and digital media, although not until I entered this program did I have much experience with platforms such as WORDPRESS (since I am not much of a blogger), and SOUNDCLOUD (I used other mediums for my outside musical interests) but none the less, I quickly became acclimated and see the importance of such tools! Therefore, it has become a mission for me as an Instructor to find easy and innovative ways to incorporate digital and media literacy into my students’ learning in a non-evasive and threatening way so that they too can learn how to effectively communicate in the twenty-first century with tools that no longer seem foreign or threatening in order to make communication possible and easier between generations. On the personal level I also learned that these tools also have the ability to create a powerful “online persona” for an individual but at the same time, can create a potentially harmful implications for an individual’s real-life persona. This leads to the topic of the paper linked below for the COM 624 course Communication and Culture in a Networked Society in regards to the “digital masquerade” that we as a society partake in on a daily basis.

LINK TO:Communicating the Online Life A Digital Masquerade





Digital Presentation: The Importance of Active Engagement: Navigating Organizational Participation in Decision Making

Here are the links to my Week 8 Digital Presentation Video and Paper!

Click here to watch my Digital Presentation: Digital Presentation: The Importance of Active Engagement: Navigating Organizational Participation in Decision Making

Click here to read my full case study here: ParsonRachel_Week7Assignment_82116 (1)



Sickness and Health: Finding Care In a Lonely Place

It will be exactly two years ago in September, which marks a memorable personal experience of  illness in all of my thirty-six years. It was just after an extremely busy time at work and a weekend full of playing some music gigs with my band. At first, it was just a scratchy throat and headache that was blamed on too much singing and seasonal allergies. However, it would soon turn into more than just a seasonal allergy attack. Consequently my phone malfunctioned and I was too sick to get it fixed and therefore I was cut off from all communication with my family who lived an hour and a half away and from my colleagues and work friends. The only way to contact the outside world was through a tablet in which I had my work email installed. My boss knew I was sick because I e-mailed her regarding my absence. But, I naively thought staying home a day would find me well enough to go back to work and get my phone fixed at the wireless store. I did not want to worry anyone or have anyone having to come and check on me. But things did not play out as I imagined and I did not want to admit that I was very sick.

Finally, a frantic phone call from my mother alerted my boss to come to my place and have me use her cell phone to call my family to come and take me to doctor where I was diagnosed with a severe case of bronchitis and a respiratory infection. It was a humbling moment for me to have my boss see me vulnerable and sick and to admit to my mother that her grown daughter needed her. Therefore, this personal experience offers a an interesting dialogue regarding the responsive communicative actions when it comes to health. A crucial point to remember is that “health communication performs a central role in the delivery of healthcare and the promotion of public health” (Arnett, et. al, 2009, p 193). Also responsiveness is “the responsibility for doing the task of health care communication” (Arnett, et. al, 2009, p.196). Therefore, I received helpful communicative actions that enabled me to get the care I could not provide for myself. As Arnett, et. al, (2009) points out “health care communication ethics seeks to promote and protect care-care is the communicative action or practical which links to the good of responsiveness to the Other” (p.198).

When providing care in health care communications, its focus is on the “active, caring responsiveness to all stages of life, offering meaning through the doing of human assistance” and “it protects and promote care, human caring for one another, in a professional context and in all contexts where decisions affect the quality of life and, all too often, life itself”(Arnett, et, al, 2009, p. 198). In hindsight, I should have told my boss what was going on and ask her to contact my family to let them know what was going on. However, my stance on being self-sufficient and being half out of my mind with sickness caused me to not ask for that kind of help. After getting well, my friends and co-workers shamed me and I apologized to my family and I knew I would never do that again! When thinking about the giving and receiving, that context is not particularly complicated but when it comes to dialogic negotiation, that is where the complications arise. Arnett, et. al, (2009) states that “health care communication ethics must be negotiated again and again in friendships, in relationships with significant others, within particular institutions and cultures, all working together to try to figure out the “best” response in a given historical moment for a particular person or persons” (p. 205). But there is no hard and fast rule for health care communication that can provide the answer all the questions regarding the best course of action in providing care in different contexts. Recalling that period of time, I am very thankful that I found a caring response that renewed my faith and hope that I was not facing life alone like I believed I had to.


Arnett, R.F., J.M. Harden & Bell, L.M. (2009). Communication ethics  literacy: Dialogue and difference. Los Angeles: Sage.



Public Opinion or Popular Opinion: Which Voice is Louder?

As the political elections draw near with televised coverage of the political parties’ conventions, many newsworthy pieces are emerging regarding the November races. An interesting article appeared in several publications this week over an outfit worn by Megyn Kelly of Fox News at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The article which appeared on Huffington Post online chronicled many of the comments that were published on Facebook and Twitter regarding Kelly’s appearance on the televised portion of the convention.  Ms. Kelly was dressed in a spaghetti-strapped dress to combat the hot and humid weather that night. Apparently many viewers felt that the outfit and the backlash that followed violated the “sacred space”. It important to note that Arnett, et. al, (2009), defines that it is a “space that is to be protected, honored and valued” (p. 108). The Republican National Convention and public television are of course part of the public arena and therefore an unspoken and decades-held dress code in a sense was something that was not be changed or modified and therefore it may have seemed that the outfit worn by the correspondent was a deliberate “thumbing the nose” at regality and tradition of the event. Historically, people often begin to feel threatened if something that seems familiar and comfortable is changed, but it is often forgotten that the “public arena” is “not our home” and it is not wise to “feel totally comfortable in such a place. It is interesting to note that in this case, the “voice”, representing the appropriate and inappropriate was fully present in the forum comments and editorial opinions as well.

However, there were some elements lacking that diminished the seriousness of the events going on in American politics. It is “just a dress” or is it? Did Ms. Kelly harm the “public good” in any way considering she was in the public arena. Many of the “voices” emphasized their “opinion” regarding her choice of wardrobe as right or wrong.  The public arena is viewed as the place that protects and promotes the discernment among diverse ideas and lives and prospers when public space for conversation, not one’s own opinion (Arnett, et. al, 2009, p. 103). This is where undue confidence and unsubstantiated opinion comes in and simply put, there is no room in a “vibrant” public arena is for communicative action based on “ideological certainty that seeks no new knowledge, just the opportunity to tell, and an unwillingness or inability to make temporal decisions” (Arnett, et. al, 2009, p. 103). Therefore, that is where a lot of “she should have or she shouldn’t have” is based on, which shows generational shifts of what is deemed as acceptable or not acceptable. Most importantly, the public arena does not possess the final answer, it simply provides the “place for a grounded stance, engages other’s grounded stances’ and makes a decision and with that are short-term and long-term circumstances” (Arnett, et. al, 2009, p. 103).

In reflection, it seems that the ability of “free thought” on social media is approaching the excessive mark. Each time I read a news post or a Facebook post, I glean the comments to see how many differences of opinion exist regarding the topic discussed. Although moderation is important in the conduction of rational thought and discussion, it is important to note that moderation could pose the possibility of censorship of unpopular opinions and especially those that expose the truth behind the often alleged “media fabrication”. As a child growing up in the eighties and nineties, the term politically correct always came up on the news and talk shows and in the “politically correct” context we live in today, I see how free speech could definitely be endangered. Therefore, no guarantee exists that informed moderation could ensure that the public dialogue be that of rational and sensible thought without imposing some form of  censorship. Arnett, et. al (2009) stated it well: “in a changing world, public discourse is the communicative ethics protector of difference among persons and ideas: the task of individuals is to keep the public domain safe for the difference” (p.108). However, it seems as with each passing day that is being threatened.


Arnett, R.F., J.M. Harden & Bell, L.M. (2009). Communication ethics  literacy: Dialogue and

       difference. Los Angeles: Sage.

Hatch, J. (2015, July 22). Megyn Kelly wore spaghetti straps and people lost it. The

      Huffington Post. Retrieved from


Narratives: The Shape of My World

When reflecting on this week’s topic, it was necessary to go back and define what the term Narrative meant before deciphering my own meaning of it. Narrative is described as “a story agreed upon by a group of people” (Arnett, 2009, p. 37). However, it can also be a term defined as the “story of one’s life” and although it encompasses a public story and the harbinger of human action, the personal story of each human is greatly influenced by the narrative or narratives of the world in which the public story is created. Narratives play such an important part in the “human story” because “Humans are essentially storytellers” and essentially “read and evaluate the texts of both life and literature(Arnett, et. al, 2009, p. 37). Without fully understanding how communications ethics in action “requires a dwelling place from which the good is articulated and then brought into persuasive engagement” it is easy to misunderstand or even dismiss the importance of narratives and I never really appreciated how much the narrative impacted my life until hitting adulthood (Arnett, et. al., 2009, p. 38-39).

Many narratives influence my daily life and dates from my childhood until now, which is largely dominated by the values which were instilled in me by family. Christian values are largely dominant and it very apparent that tradition can play a role how a narrative can shape an individual’s decision making and ultimately their worldview. In reflecting on the narrative that has greatly influenced my life, I am very mindful of that the communication ethic that has guided my life is not necessarily shared by other people, especially in my community and certainly in the world around me. Our text stated it well: “given communication ethic is not understood to guide action for everyone; each communication ethic lives within the narrative structure or communities of discourse that argue for the importance and value of a given set of communicative goods” (Arnett, et. al., 2009, p. 38).

An example of these implications noted above can best be described in how diversity shapes my life and my narrative. Residing in the state of Arkansas, many cultures have settled in the state over the years and therefore has transformed the cities and towns of the state across the board. Unfortunately, many residents have resorted to a negative view of the blending of the different ethnic groups and have even encouraged the separation and the lack of acceptance has clouded the narrative of the community. However, my view is somewhat different of that of my neighbors and friends. In my family, the Christian values and within the practice of Christianity, the development of friendships across races and cultures were encouraged. Mind you, not all Christians share that same view of acceptance and showing love of their fellow man; it very deceptive of Christ’s teachings when violence and segregation are promoted in his name, it is a false narrative breed from hate and intolerance.

An incident from my childhood is still vivid as I remember my family being outraged when an African-American family wanted to come to our church, and they were discouraged from coming back due to the color of their skin. My family questioned this of church leaders and were essentially ignored, a little later we found another place to worship, but years later, we all realized we should have immediately disassociated ourselves from that congregation but the narrative that shaped our Christianity that also influenced within me and my family was a more separatist view when it came to religious worship. In other words it was okay to associate with different races at work or school but not at church. Very narrow thinking but over the years, the “narrative” has changed; the values I outlined took on even a broader view and the simple truth is you cannot compartmentalize acceptance into different parts of life. That particular communication ethic applies to each aspect of life. Interestingly today, my parents are pastors of a congregation that is made of several different cultures and as an adult I visit this church frequently. Just last week before I fully engaged in the chapter topic, I was lamenting how these precious people would not have been welcome in the churches of my childhood, even today.

Therefore the narrative that guides me in my everyday decision making invokes understanding and appreciation of those with different upbringings and views. True love and acceptance does not necessarily mean “rubber stamping” every view or influence of that other culture. Ultimately, it is following my own moral compass that has been shaped by faith and experiences which have shaped the communication ethics practiced in my life.


Arnett, R.F., J. M. Harden  & Bell, L.M. (2009). Communication ethics literacy: Dialogue

       and difference. Los Angeles: Sage.


In Search of the “Good Life”

The “good” that shapes me in this time and place is interwoven with complexities and contradictions which reflects the shape of the world today. At one point in time, especially in my early twenties, living a “good life” meant everything was going right and every want and need was met. However, that was misguided and misrepresented of what life is truly about. As Arnett et. al., stated in Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference, (2013), “the good is descriptive of a value or value set that is manifested in communicative practices that is sought to protect and promote” (p. 2).

As my life is examined at this time and place, it is not to be taken that the “place” is just only the physical location but the time and season of my life. Interestingly, I find that I agree completely with Arnett, et. al. (2013) in “the definition of the good life is lent to rhetoric, especially if there is not a “consensus about what the good life is or should be. In one sense, it would be best to interpret the good in my life at this particular time or “season” as I often refer it as, but many people would interpret it differently simply because many people are unable to identify what the good life truly is (Arnett, et. al 2013, p.15-16).  My personal slant is directed toward the spiritual side, when I classify what the “good” in life is all about and how it is often how I deal with difficult circumstances.

In history the question of what is the “good life” is often tied to the spiritual or religious sector, but over the course of time, has moved toward the humanistic view.  As Taylor (1989) was quoted by Arnett, et. al, 2013,  “it describes the movement from identifying the good as emerging from a framework outside of human experience, such as a religious perspective, to the idea of “nature” and, eventually, to within human experience” (p.`16). Pondering and my personal reflection spurred me to read an article by the C.S. Lewis Foundation (Lewis was a renowned British author and theologian) which explored the definition of the “good life” which supports my reflection. In the article, author Kevin Kinghorn noted how Lewis viewed the ultimate key to the good life, which was the “good” found in relationships and caring for the welfare of others ( The Human Search). However, Lewis did downplay at some extent on how expressing love for all things natural and supreme was important as he was explaining this from the “welfarist” view. I tend to agree with the author, Kinghorn that the good in life or “the good life” can be pursued and found by engaging in involvement with others and social and spiritual matters ( The Human Search).

This past year, many may not characterize my life as “good”, because last August my dad was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer and the doctor classified his cancer as incurable. However, this journey not only brought my retired parents closer together, but it strengthened and challenged my entire family, and my parent’s church family, and it renewed old friendships, strengthened current friendships and family ties. In the midst of this journey good things and many events happened that overshadowed the battle my dad was going through. In other words, we strived hard to live what our family deemed “a normal life” interrupted by only chemo and radiation and doctor visits. In retrospect, that good in life was not what I saw as in my twenties; it is not “good” circumstances either, it is something much deeper. It is evident that I choose to view the “good” from the perspective that is based on my spiritual experience. On Friday, July 8th, we received the news that my dad has no active cancer and he will not undergo further at this time. Ironically, my younger self would have viewed this as the “good” in life because he got a good report, but the actual good is the fact that this journey built our family’s character and strengthened our faith during an impossible time. If his condition had went in the other direction,we would still have to view it as he had experienced a full life and knew where he was going if he left this earth. Essentially that would still represent good because of the legacy that would be left.

My interpretation of the good in life is all the things that encompass through relationships, nature, spirituality and love for the Creator and fellow human beings


Arnett, R.F., J. M. Harden  & Bell, L.M. (2009). Communication ethics literacy: Dialogue

       and difference. Los Angeles: Sage.

Kinghorn, K. (2011). The human search for the good life [Special section]. In Pursuit of

      Truth: A Journal of Christian Scholarship. Retrieved from

New Ties, New Tech: How Mobile Communcation is Reshaping Social Cohesion


            This book review of New Tech, New Ties: How Mobile Communication is Reshaping Social Cohesion, the medium of mobile communication is examined on how it affects and changed communication channels. Social interaction changes with the advent of technology and therefore these new channels offer new insight on communication strengths and flaws. Co-presence, deference and demeanor, as well as mediated ritual are key terms coined throughout this book that offer a clear look into communication and how mobile technology has created new standards of communicating.

          Behavior that was once viewed as rude is essential to common business and social practices and still plays an important role in ritual interaction. Interaction breeds social bonding and the most common form of interaction took place in the form of face-face-to communication. Now, new channels have been introduced and no matter how far or close individuals are to each other, they can still communicate with that closeness and intimacy as they would if sitting next or across from each other.

                             New Techs, New Ties:

How Mobile Communication Is Reshaping Social Cohesion

A day does not go by as a person walks down the street or down the aisle at the grocery store do they encounter a person on a mobile device. The daily witness prompted for further research into this topic, therefore this particular book was chosen to review and what followed was a refreshing look on how mobile technology and its devices are impacting communication. Of course, this revelation is a virtual no-brainer but mobile telephone usage, text messaging and other means of communicating have all but replaced traditional face-to-face (F-T-F) communication and thus has changed the social landscape (Ling, 2010).

Ling illustrates his point with scenarios he observed and shares his notes regarding the exchanges he witnessed. This approach brought out some interesting facts of society’s social pre-occupation with mobile devices. Often, a comment such as, “she has her head stuck in that phone” shows a clear span of time and technology change. Twenty years earlier, that comment might have been phrased differently such as “stuck to her ear”. The mediated social ritual is still present but text over talk is prevailing in twenty-first century communication.

The author brilliantly tied this in with Goffman’s “deference” “demeanor” as he described how individuals act, or more appropriately how they treat others and they change personas when they switch between non-business to business. It is in the absence of face-to-face communication that the individual can often “save face”. Often times, individuals often have to mix business and pleasure on one device and have to switch gears as situations demands. As Ling presented Collins (2004, p. 24) assertion, that Goffman was accurate in his description of front-stage and back-stage selves. Oftentimes people use the “backstage” as a preparation time so as to represent the best version of themselves to their intended audience. Perhaps, mobile communication minimizes the lack of preparation when an individual is on the “front stage”(Ling, 2010).


            The notion of co-presence is an underlying theme and the hard question is asked continually through Ling’s study, is co-present interaction lost or diminished through mobile telephone use? Not exactly because he touts through his various observations that co-presence remains throughout mobile telephone use, and it actually strengthens familial ties. In the first chapter of the book, Ling gave an example of a woman on a London Subway who was conversing on her phone and another woman, she immediately paused her conversation and greeted the woman who approached her and then preceded to share her phone with the woman so she could exchange a greeting with the individual on the line.

      From that first scenario, it is apparent how mobile technology involves the intersection of two different communication scenarios merged into one. Therefore, all individuals involved in the communication were not present in one location, but were able to connect. Thus revealing physical evidence that mobile technology can afford opportunities to connect and network despite distance or proximity of all individuals (Ling, 2010). As Ling (2010) stated, the “actual effervescence of the meeting aided in the achievement of cohesion between the group (the two ladies and the phone caller).


Figure 1.1: Cartoon depicts the common-place communication with the use of mobile technology

Ritual Interaction and Totems

            Ling presents powerful theories from Durkheim and Goffman, pertaining to ritual interaction in daily life. Durkheim figuratively drew a straight line between ritual interaction and social cohesion due to a mutuality of mood and attitude, thus produces “solidarity” or unity among the parties involved in the interaction. However, all parties involved in the interaction must be equally invested in the thought process and feeling process of the situation in which they are engaging in. Ling suggests that perhaps, Durkheim’s assessment was a little too expansive for application to daily life.

    Therefore, Ling seems to shift toward Goffman’s perspective of social interaction. Goffman’s assertion is that social interaction relates directly on the interpersonal level, which would better explain an application to the interaction that takes place every day. The influence and the cohesion exist just as Durkheim hypothesized but Goffman fails to incorporate how “telephony” plays a significant role but Ling seems to fill in the blanks with his own theories throughout the book. However, it would have been interesting to see how early telephony played a role in social cohesion before the introduction of mobile telephone technology.

    Does the cell phone constitute or symbolize the individual? It may or may not but in the cartoon in Figure 1.1 on page four, it is evident that the joke is referring to symbolically to the situation of the mobile telephone. The couple depicted in the cartoon is stating the fact they paid almost fifty dollars for cell phone use and their interaction is not enhanced despite the technology or expense. It would seem as if, no matter how advanced mobile technology is, communication break-down will exist simply due to human behavior and selective hearing of one sex of the species. Another example, this scenario brings is Durkheim’s theory of a totem, which Goffman reaffirmed as a more of a symbol for an individual.

      In fact, many individuals find their identity within their mobile and social “network”, just like a hand shake can often symbolize position, the people who are on an individual’s contact list on their mobile device or friend’s list on a social network site often lends to their position in the community and in the workplace (Ling, 2010).

      The work of Goffman, Durkheim and Collins along with the clinical observations of Ling that ritual interaction is the cornerstone of communication. The main idea gained from this book ad Ling’s research is, that before the introduction of telephony, face-to-face communication was the primary source. Daily routines such as walking to work or grabbing a cup of coffee all happen with a mobile device close to the ear on in the hand. The next time a person is observed in a public place, it would be important to notice their level of engagement, where their eyes divert to, tone of voice, facial expression as well as body language. These non-verbal cues can lend much about the nature of the conversation and the amount of the commitment from the individuals on each end of the line. Even though there is no visual evidence of social cohesion between the two, just the implied evidence through the phone conversation.

If anything is lost in translation through the advent of mobile technology it could be only the art of face-to-face conversation. The obvious losses are the body language and non-verbal cues, however, voice can offer subtle cues and therefore re-training of decoding non-visual cues is in order. As the author lamented, regarding his exchange with a very preoccupied plumber, he supposes is just the picture of today’s society as people are continually juggling with the ethereal and the peripheral world. Automatically, everyone who comes into contact with someone who is stuck between the two planes, are naturally assigned a role, either as a focal point or a backdrop, unfortunately, we as individuals have to learn to be the backdrop most time in the name of social cohesion.


Ling, R. (2010). New tech, new ties: How mobile communication is reshaping social cohesion.
Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Figure Captions

Figure 1.1 Cartoon depicts the common-place communication with the use of mobile