Monday, February 11, 2013

Why Facebook Makes You Feel Miserable

Much of this seems rather intuitive, i.e., no one pays any attention to me, so I feel sad. What interests me, is how new media may affect certain types of mental illness in general, i.e., addictive behaviors, depression, mania. This study is a start, but if Turkle is right, i.e., we are more connected, yet also more alone than ever before, then more longitudinal studies are indeed in order. Like much of mental illness in general (unless we are marginalizing this condition as a lack of self-esteem) this seems more situational than typical. What do you think?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dr. Jen Almjeld speaking at UF on Feb. 6: “A Rhetorician’s Guide to Love: Online Dating Profiles as Remediated Commonplace Books”

Jennifer M. Almjeld, Ph.D., assistant professor of English at New Mexico State University, will present “A Rhetorician’s Guide to Love: Online Dating Profiles as Remediated Commonplace Books” at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6, in Old Main, Ritz Auditorium.

Online daters use templates, images, and text to “write themselves” into the role of dater and this rhetorical work has direct comparisons to historic commonplace books. The presentation offers an insider look at the community with analysis primarily of the author’s own online dating profile and focusing specifically on the use of design templates, pull-down menus, and linguistic and visual cues used to perform gendered identity. Despite the promise of interactive, dynamic online spaces to provide full and malleable online dating ads, profiles remain remarkably close to generations-old practices for writing identity. This rhetorical analysis, then, first situates commonplace books as textual identity production and performance and then posits as a remediation of the commonplace book wherein modern daters negotiate tensions between master narratives concerning gender performances and personal, authentic identity performances. Specifically, when comparing these remediated dating commonplace books to their Victorian era predecessors, the author consider dependence on limited, normative views of gender, the use of scripts and visual and linguistic commonplaces, and the public nature of a privately crafted identity performance.

Dr. Almjeld’s presentation is part of the Wilkin Chair series of events this year. Ron Tulley, Ph.D. (that's me, author of this blog), associate professor of English, is the 2012-13 Richard E. Wilkin Chair for the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Tulley is devoting one year of study to the interdisciplinary exploration of a single topic, The Power of Portrayal — The Social Nature of (Re)Presenting a “Self:” Role Playing, Social Networking and Identity Formation in the Digital Age. For more information on this or any event, contact Tulley at or 419-434-4608.

Can the Web Make Us Insane?

(See link below comments for full article)

For my tastes, this author relies a bit too much on a straw man fallacy. You'll also notice major overlaps with Sherry Turkle's work (to the point of replication), but three key points/questions struck my interest:

1) Is overuse (abuse) of the Internet (however one defines overuse, i.e., time, subject matter, etc.) truly an addictive behavior in the vein (pun intended) of drugs, food, sex, etc.?

2) Building on the previous point, since so much of ALL of our lives is online, how do we separate addicts from "normal" users?

3) What types of longitudinal studies should we be designing to investigate patterns of use and abuse of the Web? It seems most of the information provided in this article is scant, anecdotal and qualitative. It also seems driven by a clear directed hypothesis, i.e., the Internet has deleterious effects on some, let's go prove that point. How might we go about designing a quality, longitudinal study that does more than catalog scary anecdotes?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Photojournalistic Blogging: How Is It Therapeutic?
A Guest Post by Samantha Grippe
Creative collaborative blogging has recently become a popular way for ordinary people to express their feelings and gain support from an online community. Scholars agree that artistic blogging is therapeutic, but I have found that many blogs use photography as an artistic form of therapy by capturing different moments including day-to-day triumphs and disappointments, and also the most extreme tragedies and significant accomplishments.

I have chosen two blogs that perfectly demonstrate the therapeutic effects of photojournalistic blogging: Dear Photograph and Pictory. They differ in the community aspect because Dear Photograph provides an open forum where anyone can comment on submissions, while Pictory relies on the implied conversation it creates through structure.

Dear Photograph uses a collaborative blog setting to highlight the extraordinary as well as the unremarkable. The submitters find an old photograph and then return to the location where it was taken. They line the old photograph up against the original background and snap a new one. This blog was created by Taylor Jones, a young man who came across an old photograph of his brother on his third birthday, and was inspired to take a new one (NPR Staff),. Thousands of others have followed suit, posting photographs of their own along with a caption that reads “Dear photograph…” followed by a letter telling their unique story. Comments can be posted via Facebook and each entry can be reblogged onto a personal blog.


Dear Photograph,
Once upon a time I remember your heart was still in tact. Long ago, before the weight mattered to you, before restricting yourself from food and nourishment became an obsession, before running became a way of burning calories, before thinness was the the equivalent to happiness. You used to laugh because you meant it, you skipped around the playground without a care, sipping juice from tea party sets and stealing Oreos from the cupboard. You believed you would one day grow fairy wings and that life was full of joy from the smallest of things. Help me to fix all the broken pieces….remind me how to feel whole. What I would give to live that way once more…
Older Broken Pearl

The photograph above, while superficially appearing to be a simple childhood moment, is actually the embodiment of part of the submitter Pearl’s personality that she wishes she could get back. She reveals that she is now struggling with an eating disorder, and how her simple carefree childhood has turned into an obsession with the way she looks. Her fingers are visible as she holds the old photograph up to the playground, and her nail polish looks ragged, evidence that she is much more weathered than the innocent child in the original photograph. By physically holding up the representation of her younger self against the backdrop of her current life, she was able to make direct comparisons and see what she truly needs to change. Because of this photograph, many people were moved to comment and offer help and hope via Facebook. This is support for the argument posed in “Art and Design Blogs: a Socially-Wise Approach to Creativity,” which says that creative blogging is beneficial because it allows a community of people to come together and share their knowledge, insights, and gain feedback (Budge 48-49).

Dear Photograph,
This was a time when all things were picture perfect. My first prom and there stands my mom who always had my back. We were as close as a mother and daughter could be and boy were we unstoppable. She was my rock and my best friend. After I came out at age 17 everything came to a screeching halt. She was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer shortly after I told her and has since passed. Had I known then that you wouldn’t be here in a few years I would never have ruined our relationship by telling you I am a lesbian. I’m sorry. I love and miss you mom, every single day, and I will always wonder…”what if?”

 The above photograph posted on October 25, 2012 proves that in these communities, extreme moments are captured, and this also contributes to the therapeutic effect. The lighting in the modern backdrop is streaky and only bits of light are showing through. I think that the submitter chose this time of day because it shows the darkness she feels now in contrast to the bright spot of her life at her first prom. This significant event that was captured allowed Kelsey to reflect on her decisions, and get advice from the people who commented.
Pictory, a blog modeled after the Boston Globe’s “The Big Picture” highlights superlative and quotidian moments through photography, and proves that through the submission of these photographs, a therapeutic effect is created (Battilana). This site was created in November 2009 by graphic designer Laura Brunow Miner (Battilana). It does not offer a comments section, so the only dialogue occurring is between the submitter and Pictory, and the submitter and other submissions. Pictures and their captions are organized by the Pictory editors into showcases, but not all photos are chosen. The reward for being chosen is the prestige of being deemed worthy. This ties to the theory stated in “Examining knowledge contribution from the perspective of an online identity in blogging communities,” where it is said that by taking part in different online communities, a person’s social identity is created (Kim, Zheng, and Gupta 1762).

Most showcases incorporate both superlative and quotidian photographs, creating a microcosm of life by showing day-to-day events, with a few climactic moments in between. The best example of this is the showcase “Life Before Your Eyes.” It features many stories that are monumental (such as the photograph of a pregnant woman mourning the loss of her husband at war) but also more commonplace anecdotes (such as the little girl wearing her older sister’s prom dress to play in). These snapshots are strung together in a way that is touching because they are universally relatable.

The above quotes show that through telling their stories in the blogs, the contributors gained a healthier mental state and were better able to cope with certain events in their lives. This perfectly demonstrates the argument made in “The Therapeutic Value of Adolescents’ Blogging About Social–Emotional Difficulties,” which proves the emotional benefits of blogging (Kim, Zheng and Gupta).

Photojournalistic blogs highlight the highest and lowest moments of life, but also less notable occurrences, creating an accurate reflection of life in the real world. Through the process of sharing their most intimate photographs and the revealing captions that accompany them, individuals enter into a support system and feel connected to others through the common threads of their lives. This creates a therapeutic effect in the submitter’s life, as well as the lives of all who view these blogs. Check out the therapeutic effects for yourself by visiting a photojournalistic blog. Here are a few links to get you started: PostSecret, Sh** My Kids Ruined, The Big Picture, The Burning House, LoveBryan.

Works Cited

It’s a Flop: Facebook is unable to comfort its users’ anxiety of loneliness

A Guest Post by Erica Bettac
Facebook. A place of connectedness. A place of relationships. A place of utter lonesomeness.

Wait, is that last word a typo? You would hope Facebook, now boasting over 500 million users worldwide, would be the last source of loneliness. Think again.

Facebook is now causing a type of cultural anxiety never seen before. A malicious cycle has users spinning: a general feeling of isolation followed by increasingly more time spent on site, only triggering a greater sense of utter lonesomeness. What is this trigger? In other words, how is Facebook unknowingly sparking loneliness? Although scholars are working to clearly define normal and abnormal Facebook usage, there is now a developing concern of loneliness found online despite Facebook’s attempt of allaying this anxiety. Facebook is not just a place of socialization. It is a source of loneliness.

Most compelling is the evidence that is found in the YouTube video “Facebook: The Things That Connect Us” (theofficialfacebook).

On October 4, 2012, the Official Facebook released this one minute and thirty-one second clip exposing a total of sixty-two screen shots.

In the beginning of the video, the narrator addresses chairs and their ability to provide people with a place to sit down and relax as well as converse with each other by the swapping of stories and telling of jokes. She compares Facebook to that of a chair, saying they are one in the same. Facebook as a “chair” gives people a place of relaxation, unwinding and utmost, conversation and laughter. The fact that Facebook is compared to a chair likely alters the frame of mind of a Facebook user to the point where the social networking site serves more as a “chair,” or crutch, than the very chair they sit in.

Foremost is its portrayal of chairs as a place of comfort, conversation, and ease just like that of Facebook. However, quite the opposite is proving true. Facebook in reality yanks the chair in which the Facebook user sits right out from underneath them! In fact, it simply eliminates the original comfort (face-to-face interaction) that physical chairs once provided with a face-to-Facebook interaction. Humans undoubtedly need in-person contact and without it, will become lonely.
Notice something strange? Despite the narration, the chair is isolated and remote...

The screen shot of the chair also proves interesting: it is depicted alone. Although the narrator articulates the many chairs around the world being connected through Facebook, it ironically shows a single chair. At one point, it is floating in the middle of nowhere, evoking the viewer a different direction than the narrator first implied. The chair is isolated with no physical company just as user is left sitting alone in their own chair without any interactive stimulus. Simply put: the user becomes isolated just as the seemingly innocent lonesome chair.

Furthermore, Globalization is presented through the discussing of transportation elements such as planes, bridges, and doorbells. Just like that of Facebook, these elements bring people together and allow for interactions with individuals from anywhere, even across the globe. Great Nations is a term also brought forth, implying that Facebook is a “great nation” due to its virtual globalization just as real world “great nations” implement physical globalization. Globalization refers to the connection of the entire world, and Facebook is able to create this relationship.

Such loneliness is then globalized around the world, even spanning the “great nations” of the world. Facebook may claim to be among the great nations; however, through its globalized dispersal of loneliness (derived from lack of in-person interaction) it is essentially only creating isolation.

Scholar Amanda L. Traud of the University of North Carolina would find this particularly intriguing. In her 2011 article “Social Structure of Facebook Networks," the demographics of the user are taken into account. Traud confines her research to the location, age, and gender, and according to her calculations, location primarily affects a user’s type of use (Traud 4178-4179). Location is once again accounted for; first by the globalization of Facebook, and now, by scholar and researcher Traud. If a user lives in a secluded region of the country and lacks the conversation he needs, he may in turn log on to Facebook more often to meet this conversation “fix” thus traveling down the road to addiction and further loneliness.

The video then makes reference to the unknowns of our cosmos:

“The Universe, it is vast, and dark, and makes us wonder if we are alone. So maybe the reason we make all of these things (chairs, globalization elements, and countries) is to remind ourselves that we are not” (theofficialfacebook).
Are we alone?

In essence, this statement signifies that we may indeed feel alone, however, through the use of Facebook we will “remind ourselves that we are not.” It is ironic that Facebook would make such a claim. “Remind ourselves that we are not” alone? The social site is proving to be doing quite the opposite! Facebook expresses it “makes us wonder if we are alone,” yet perhaps humans question this isolation from the “vast” and “dark” unknown because they themselves are lonely.

Do lonely users use Facebook differently? An answer is found in Sophia Xenos’ of RMIT University 2011 article “Who Uses Facebook? An Investigation into the Relationship Between the Big Five, Shyness, Narcissism, Loneliness, and Facebook Usage.” She initially breaks users down into three primary groups: shy, lonely, and narcissistic individuals (Xenos 1659).   Xenos concludes “Facebook gratifies its users in different ways depending on their individual characteristics” (Xenos 1662). Specifically, lonely and neurotic personalities spent typically more time on the social site per day than their non-lonely counterpart.

Loneliness and other traits of Facebook users are uncovered in Kelly Moore’s article “The Influence of Personality on Facebook Usage, Wall Postings, and Regret.”  It was here, in 2011, that she suggested “personality accounted for significant amounts of variance over and above that explained by gender and Facebook experience” (Moore 271).

The lonely user filling the void with the empty use of Facebook has indeed become a malicious cycle. However despite its attempt through this recent YouTube video, Facebook is still unable to comfort the global anxiety of feeling alone. For now, the vicious cycle continues…

Feeling alone? You may have reason to blame Facebook...

I myself am not a Facebook user. This is my personal choice: the lack of privacy makes me uneasy but more importantly, the effects that the social site has on its users are too unmistakable today. If you are a Facebook user, don't throw in the towel just yet! Loneliness isn't just spreading over Facebook users, but to users of technology itself.

Want to know more? Navigate these sources:

Why am I feeling lonely? Find this out and more here.

Works Cited

Moore, Kelly. "The influence of personality on Facebook usage, wall postings, and regret." Elsevier (2011): 267-274. Internet.

theofficialfacebook. "Facebook: The Things that Connect Us." YouTube, 4 October 2012. Web.

Traud, Amanda L. "Social structure of Facebook networks ." Elsevier (2011): 4177-4178. Internet.

Xenos, Sophia. "Who uses Facebook? An investigation into the relationship between the Big Five, shyness, narcissism, loneliness, and Facebook usage." Elsevier (2011): 1658-1664. Internet.

Male Involvement in the Feminist Site Miss Representation

Male Involvement in the Feminist Site Miss Representation

A Guest Post By: Kelly Hynes


Pictured above is Rosie the Riveter morphed into a technology oriented version to represent women empowerment in the media. This new Rosie is the symbol for the feminist site that strives to empower women by pointing out misrepresentations of females in the media. (2011) was created by Jennifer Siebel Newsome and has been very successful in gaining credibility and positively affecting females. However, they have left out a crucial aspect needed to fully achieve equality; involving and educating males about feminism.
            The site Miss Representation is a direct result of discrimination in today’s world and people banding together to set it right. The website exposes how the media has further contributed to the distortion of female image and provides a curriculum for spreading their knowledge on how to breakthrough gender barriers. Research I have done on the site implies male inclusion in the feminist movement progresses slowly because feminists do not think to involve males or do not know how.
             Making the site look professional is essential to having Miss Representation taken seriously since feminism is often ridiculed in society. Jonathan Crowe explains why feminism is often mocked in “Men and Feminism: Some Challenges and A Partial Response”(2011). He says many men are used to being the center of societal topics and when presented with feminist ideas they feel threatened because in their minds since it is not for them, it must be against men (1).
   creates a wide network to expand their feminist group and prevent further female misrepresentation through communication on their many social networking sites, selling their curriculum to universities and schools, and Miss Representation members hosting film screenings.

On the “Education” page shown above, says the program has been made into several different versions for every age level and can be taught to males and females (Newsome). However, I noticed the curriculum rarely discusses males and the site even states it is mainly focused on how females are affected by the media. This could be because the curriculum creators do not know how to incorporate males into the curriculum, but to reach their young female target audience some male inclusion was necessary.

The preview for the movie shows many famous and intelligent professional women talking about females being misrepresented in the media, with very little male involvement (Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection)).
            On the site, males are noticeably excluded in many topics pertaining to equality among genders, which in itself seems contradictory.  It makes sense for males to be discussed on the education page, even if nowhere else, because on this page they are looking to sell their curriculum to schools, universities, and libraries. This is crucial because most schools are co-ed and a curriculum could not be sold to a public school if it was only viable for female students. By saying females as well as males will benefit from their curriculum they have broadened their audience without really including men in feminism (Newsome). Male exclusion is also directly visible on the entire Miss Representation site. Out of every main page or tab on the site there are only about two pictures of males and the other pictures were professional women working together towards equality, not women and men.
From this analysis I have concluded that is struggling to incorporate males because they are not sure how to connect males to feminism. Furthering this idea is the section “Media We Like” on the “Take Action” page. Here, a few strong female characters are shown and the author asks if the viewers know any strong females in the media. It is never questioned if we know a show or movie that equally represents genders and has strong female and male characters. In “Taking ‘Difference’ Seriously: Feminisms And The ‘Man Question’” (2007) Hebert claims that the reason males are left out is because of “a lack of lived experience of oppression as a ‘woman’ and continued skepticism among some feminists of men’s motivation in aligning with feminism” which has prevented them from being actual role players in the feminist movement (5). This could be why Miss Representation is having trouble incorporating men into feminism.
            The idea that males are not affected by media misrepresentation like women are can be disproved by Dunn and Guadagno’s article about gaming avatars and how gamers do not create their avatar solely around what they truly look like. In “My avatar and me – Gender and personality predictors of avatar-self discrepancy” (2012) Robert Andrew Dunn and Rosanna E. Guadagno explain that “the real person generally chooses an avatar that is somewhere between a para-authentic avatar and an alter-self avatar” (2). This “alter self” could be the product of media misrepresentations through the formation of what gamers of both genders deem a perfect person based on what they see presented in the media. Furthermore, in “The Proteus Effect: Implications of Transformed Digital Self-Representation on Online and Offline Behavior” (2009) Nick Yee et al. illustrate that “studies have shown that people infer their expected behaviors and attitudes from observing their avatar’s appearance” (1). This article shows how gamers of each gender tend to act accordingly to what they see, similar to how problems such as eating disorders have evolved from media misrepresentations.
            Despite the fact that females do need to know how to stand up against falsification in the media, women empowerment will be an incomplete effort if females are the only ones who understand why media misrepresentation is bad. Without having support from males, feminism cannot fully move forward because equality cannot be reached by creating more tension between genders. For instance, if men keep disregarding feminism because they feel threatened by it no progress will be made. On the other hand, if females do not allow for male involvement, feminism will move past equality and create the same problem they are trying to fix. Supporting this is a quote from Laura Hebert’s student who considered herself to be a feminist. The student stated “I don’t like how feminists tend to exclude some people, mainly men. Because the fact is, we can’t go it alone” she was unsure whether or not she was really a feminist because many feminist tend to exclude men when discussing equality (2). Opposing this thought is the fact that men cannot be included unless they want to be and are willing to care about feminist issues (Crowe 4).
            I have found it is a common belief among most people that men are the conspirators responsible for creating misrepresentations of women in the media. This statement is directly backed up by Crowe when he says “men are responsible for the continuing oppression of women —and until they grasp this responsibility they will always have trouble engaging with the feminist project” (2). He believes men have trouble participating in feminism because they feel they are being blamed for something they did not do. In addition, a blog post I analyzed from MissRepresentation gives support to this idea.
  This offensive product subconsciously tells females that males are the reason they are misrepresented because the second to last paragraph states the two male founders name. In reality both genders create misrepresentations, but men tend to be blamed more often.
       During all discussion of female misrepresentation there is a weak endeavor to include males. I think feminists are struggling to believe males are a part of the movement, because they are partly the reason why females have been underrepresented, or they are not actually thinking of equality, but only women empowerment.
         I suggest MissRepresentation focus on finding ways to include men in the movement while continuing to empower women. Additional male involvement in the curriculum and providing more discussion on how men are misrepresented will allow for a smooth transition into male inclusion. Furthermore, teaming up with a site such as XY will help to include male feminists in the movement.

McDonald’s Online, and the Effects of Going Global
A guest post by Anna Wachter

Over the years, companies such as McDonald’s have begun to broaden their horizons, growing both online and offline. The business has begun to expand all around the world, and the need for an understanding of the different countries’ social dos and don’ts has become more necessary than ever in an attempt to attract new customers, while retaining the following they have already gathered. As the times change, these corporations are essentially forced to modernize alongside their customers, or risk looking as though they are out of touch.  There are multiple ways to go about this strategy, and McDonald’s has kept up with these social changes extremely well. They have seemingly effortlessly converted into a company that is present in both real life and online, with websites, advertisements and more. As McDonald’s constructs its online image, one that seems to embrace equality towards its customers, the company also has masterfully kept the company uniform as a whole, while adjusting minor points in its operations in each individual country they do business with. They achieve this through a mix of relations between the individual of a certain culture on a small and large scale. If the consumer feels as though he really matters and isn’t just an insignificant nothing in the eyes of the corporation, he will be more likely to become a loyal customer, no doubt encouraging the company to create websites that cater specifically to the individual.
An example of an answer on McDonald's page.
One example of such a website is one McDonald’s Canada page dedicated to answering the questions of everyday customers. The set up is easy to follow, with an opportunity for the viewer to see any question that has been answered previously. For example, James B. of Toronto, Ontario asks: “Are your hamburgers bad for me?” This is a general question, and the answer given by the representatives of the fast food chain make their answer clear. They wouldn’t want to say anything bad about their company, so their answers tend to be general. This is obvious in questions about the preservative use in McDonald’s fries. This question is asked often, and McDonald’s is consistent with its response. There are many instances of repeat questions, which McDonald’s representatives patiently answer each time, most likely to reinforce these ideas. Patience is key, because if the representatives responding were to lose patience, it could risk the loss of a customer. Overall, losing only one customer wouldn’t be the end of the company, but McDonald’s is most likely not willing to risk the bad publicity that comes with impatience at the never-ceasing questions. And so, they continue to answer them.
McDonald’s has many ways of answering the questions that come up on this website, including making videos. One example of these videos is answering a question from an “Isabel M. from Toronto Ontario.”

  This method of answering a real person’s is a good way to attract new customers.

In her article “Environmental and Sustainability Ethics in Supply Chain Management”, Benita Beamon discusses the role of a chain restaurant. She states her argument: “The purpose of supply-chain management is to supply. Ethical supply refers to the practice of providing goods and services to customers while subscribing to an ethical code” (Beamon 221). Although she doesn’t address McDonald’s directly, a lot of her argument can be related to almost any corporation. She lists three categories that a business can fall into when it comes to responsibility (minimalist, reasonable care and good works).  While there are no direct accusations thrown, her ideas can be applied easily to a company as vast as McDonald’s, and can be looked at as a subtle criticism of large companies.
            One author that is critical specifically about McDonald’s is author David Boje, in his article “Fiction and Humor in Transforming McDonald’s Narrative Strategies”.
“Ronald…detailed and controlled, every aspect of his behavior is micromanaged” (200). The company needs to have Ronald put in the most positive light possible while still having him and the products appeal to children, making this “micromanagement” exceedingly important. Boje also discusses McDonald’s “global-yet-local approach…McDonald’s also had to modify its strategy and adapt to local conditions by, for example, varying its menu”.(Boje 198). He gives specifics, talking about the Green Curry Burger available in Hong Kong, “ a taste of Thai but incredibly popular in Hong Kong” (198). Boje also addresses stakeholders in the company. “McDonalds has also made strides to be responsive and to adapt its strategy to better align with stakeholder expectations. For its act of corporate social responsibility, for example, hiring disabled workers and accommodating disabled customers…or sponsoring Ronald McDonald houses, McDonald’s has been praised as an exemplary global citizen” (198). Boje goes on, however, to argue that “Highly publicized strategic alliances and collaborations, such as McDonald’s partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund and The Natural Step group… enhance McDonald’s reputation for being environmentally responsible…signal social responsibility to McDonald’s stakeholders, …seem responsive enough to stakeholders but do not distract from its core competitive advantage” (Boje 199). So basically, McDonald’s is putting on a bit of a false front, looking as though they are more involved than they actually are, while in actuality the focus is, and always will be, making money.
Despite small attempts at bad publicity, McDonald’s is able to hold a good reputation overall. With their ability to adapt to multiple perspectives, they are able to please many people, although obviously they can’t please everyone. One commercial released for McDonald’s France would be terribly controversial in the United States, but succeeds surprisingly well in France, a country in which homosexuality is not as controversial. The ad is a perfect example of McDonald’s adapting to culture differences in the countries in which they do business. 
The message of the advertisement itself is acceptance from the restaurant, making sure to give the message that they will not judge you as their customer. This is yet another opportunity for the restaurant to stress their caring nature. In the United States advertisements, this same message is passed, but in more subtle ways (as shown in the other samples of advertisements.)
An example of globalizing in a more direct way is in Brazil, where McDonald’s franchises have worked hard to allow free internet access to its customers, helping to decrease the digital divide, which “refers to the division of a society into information haves and information have-nots” (Lopes 113). The article continues, “McDonald’s has a well-established presence in Brazil, the first country in South America to have one of its restaurants (in 1979). This attempt to provide internet access for customers not only helps to publicize the company, but also attracts new business from people who maybe cannot afford internet access” (113). Today, McDonald’s has approximately 600 restaurants in the country and the local management has a proud tradition of delivering innovative solutions…Brazil was thus a prime location for the McInternet concept to flourish” (113). In his Article “Digital Technology and Teaching American Culture”, Bob Batchelor begins his argument with a statement about globalization. “… rather than forcing the Americanness of the McDonald’s experience on foreign consumers, the company learned from their overseas stores and changed US locations to reflect the measures taken in other countries” (Batchelor 51).  By asserting this, Batchelor makes reference to the enormous impact the internet can have on a company such as McDonald’s, specifying the McCafe, (“In the case of McDonald’s, the exchange has been dramatic. The introduction of the McCafe in Europe…for example, a stylized, more upscale offering, led in turn to significant changes in the chain’s American Locations”) (Batchelor 51).  He successfully adds to the evidence of modernization within the company.
With the change of the times comes the change of the interaction with the customer. Overall, McDonald’s seems to have become much more open about the behind the scenes look into their operations. In many ways, they attempt to connect to the customers who, as a whole (and they recognize this, something that makes their company strong) have the power to give them business or not, which essentially puts the fate of the business in the customer’s hands. This is why pleasing the individual is so important. However, they still are generally out to make a profit, as pointed out by both Boje  and Batchelor. Some criticism is going to be unavoidable; however McDonald’s has done an extraordinary job in relating directly with the consumer in order to garauntee continued success, and yet they still are able to make tons of money, and work their corporation nearly flawlessly when it comes to operation. They could be considered the epitome of big business in many ways. Not only have they (at least appeared) to share all the information a consumer could possibly want to know about their food, but they have also modernized and globalized spectacularly, moving online, and conforming to social etiquette of every country they do business in, all while giving themselves a positive reputation when it comes to customer and community service. They come off as well rounded, and that is something that works to their advantage. McDonald’s is invariably in everyone’s life. It has become a fixture in today’s world, something that took not only business skills, but a talent and a willingness to go global and go modern.     

Works Cited

Batchelor, Bob. “Digital Technology And Teaching American Culture.” Journal Of American Culture 34.1 (2011): 49-55. Academic Search Complete. Web. 9 Oct. 2012.

Boje, David, Michaela Driver, and Cai Yue. “Fiction And Humor In            Transforming Mcdonald’S Narrative Strategies.” Culture & Organization 11.3 (2005): 195-208. Academic Search Complete.  Web. 9 Oct. 2012.