How Important Are Your Selfies?

“Status is: one’s value and importance in the eyes of the world” ~ Alain de Botton

A quick Google search of my name (below) doesn’t really reveal anything too surprising (thank god). Firstly, my Facebook profile. Secondly, my Do It In A Dress page, a fundraising campaign I participated in last year to raise money to educate girls in Sierra Leone. Third is Twitter, a platform I should probably use more but don’t. Then a lovely assortment of images from a variety of different sites. My blog sadly doesn’t appear until the bottom of the page, and then there’s a few other social platforms like Pinterest and LinkedIn. I’m always online, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat… I’m always looking for new things to share and to follow what people are up to.

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And why is this google search important? It’s a starting point for finding out more about myself. And how do people access this? Because I share it myself.

Self representation 

On Facebook this month (so far) I’ve shared 5 links to my blog, 2 articles to websites about social issues like women’s rights, uploaded 2 photos (1 photo with 60likes, and the other with 177likes), and been tagged in 4 photos (where 3 of them are incredibly unflattering – it looks like I’m a glitterfied zombie, or halfway through a lazy sneeze).

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The picture of my eyes that circulated my friends Facebook newsfeed and got a whopping 56 likes. Thanks guys…

According to The New York Times Customer Insight Group research conducted on ‘why people share,’ there are a number of different reasons why people share things online. And I’ve done all of them. Entertainment: a funny meme or dog video. Defining Ourselves: posting nice photos of myself or sharing a blog post. Relationships: sharing an old photo with a friend or posting on their wall for their birthday. Self fulfilment: satisfying the need to keep in touch with friends. And to support a cause: to show what you’re passionate about.

All of these aspects, while they appear in the interest the people around us, they’re  predominantly self centred. I share a post online because at the end of the day, I want certain people to perceive me in a certain way. And yes, even allowing the horrible photos (as demonstrated above) to be on my timeline is purposeful because (I hope) it demonstrates that I don’t take myself too seriously and can laugh at myself.

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An infographic on why we share things online according to the New York Times Customer Insight Group. And I can acknowledge that I’ve shared things online for all of these reasons. Source

In fact, a recent study discovered that ‘self-shooting is an engaged, self-affirmative and awareness raising pursuit, where their body, through critically self-aware self-care, emerges as agentic, sexual and distinctly female. Thus, this is a reading of selfies as a practice of freedom’ (Tiidenburg & Cruz, 2015). However, an important question that arises from this research is what are these people being free or liberated from and how does this imply enslavement? On a fundamental note, Kim Kardashian has the ultimate freedom, she has a job (whatever it is), a roof over her head, food to eat and a family to be apart of. However, she is routinely criticised in the media, and some could say enslaved by the pressure to perform. Some may argue that her book Selfish is her way of owning what she has and refusing to let anyone define her.

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Kim Kardashian’s selfie which graces the cover of her book Selfish. Source

“The Like is the wordless nod of support in a loud room.” – Seiter, 2015

Perception of Others

However, how Kim K or I represent ourselves is somewhat benign as ‘our identity is powered and influenced by other people’ (Evans, 2016) where our status and importance is determined by the people around us. And if we are constantly worried about how people are perceiving us, then this can lead to status anxiety. Many times I have asked a friend, even text someone to ask if they think this filter looks ok on a photo, or if the caption is witty enough. It’s very rare that I’ll post a picture without with approval of one of my friends first. And whilst I don’t consider this a crippling anxiety that keeps me up at night, it’s definitely a routine I’ve got myself into when posting on social media.

As long as we’re sharing online to friends or strangers,  we’ll always have some sort of status anxiety. It’s only natural for us to want people to be interested in what we are doing and share a connection over a picture of a video. However, it’s a significant issue when people are caught up in the ‘popularity paradox'(Tiidenburg & Cruz, 2015) instead of photographing themselves for their ‘liberation.’ It’s also an issue when status anxiety starts to dictate who we are and how we present ourself online, because as soon as we start to give in to status anxiety, you lose your liberation.

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And if you’re not entirely convinced, let the following short clip illustrate all of the thoughts that flow through your mind when uploading and sharing a selfie.

References

Evans, N 2016, ‘Looking at ourselves’, BCM310, University of Wollongong, Lecture Slides, delivered 9 March

Seiter, C 2015, ‘The secret psychology of Facebook: Why we like, share, comment and keep coming back’, Buffer Social, 23 April, https://blog.bufferapp.com/psychology-of-facebook

The New York Times Customer Insight Group, ‘The Psychology of sharing: why do people share onine’, The New York Times, viewed 17 March 2016, http://nytmarketing.whsites.net/mediakit/pos/

Tiidenberg, K, & Gómez Cruz, E 2015, ‘Selfies, Image and the Re-making of the Body’, Body & Society, 21, 4, pp. 77-102, SocINDEX with Full Text, viewed 2 April 2016.

The Outback and Bad Publicity

Is any attention good attention?

We can’t begin to talk about the issue of good vs. bad publicity without mentioning Ms Miley Cyrus. The past few years have seen this star embark on one of the most outrageous and successful publicity campaigns of all times, starting with her infamous performance at the VMA’s with Robin Thicke in 2013. Her performance generated over 306 000 tweets per minute (Robinson, 2013), which were overwhelmingly negative. However, she managed to get an extra 100 000 followers on Twitter and it kick started the following years of raunchy videos and the release of a new album. Mily Cyrus has also used her fame to advocate for youth social issues like Homelessness and mental health through her Happy Hippy Foundation. So whilst the majority of publicity towards Miley Cyrus is negative, in this case, is negative publicity good publicity for her, her fans, her career and her foundation? It would seem so.

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Miley being Miley. Source

‘Without the outback, Australian cinema might have been interchangeable with any number of other national cinemas. With it, Australian filmmakers have used the landscape to forge an identity that is of the land, while still seeking to understand its enigma’ (Shirley, 2011).

The same issue can be applied to Australian films.  ‘Our national cinema plays a vital role in our cultural heritage and in showing us what it is to be Australian’ (Bowles, 2007). Australian films seem to have an obsession with representing Australian culture and Australia through vast deserts, the outback and an ocker stereotype. This idea of Australia was introduced when Crocodile Dundee was released, promoting these stereotypical ideas (Middlemost, 2015). But the question stands, is this the sort of image we should be promoting to the world (and especially America?). And even though these films and characters are getting attention, is this publicity good publicity?

A classic Australian film with strong emphasis on landscape and the Outback is Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It emphasises the stark contrast in cinematography of the ‘drag queens, heightening the apparent inappropriateness of the figures which occupy the landscape, and to highlight its dominance over them’ (Thomas, 1996).

20 years later and Tracks is released. It’s a biographical film based off of the memoir of Robyn Davidson. This film depicts a strong and independent female lead and her connection with the earth as opposed to the contrasting image of drag queens in the desert. This film made around $500 000 domestically and over $4million worldwide (Box Office Mojo, 2016) illustrating this wild, untamed and nature of the Outback to the rest of the world. The film generated a lot of money in the box office, however there is also a strong correlation with Outback adventure films like Tracks and Wolf Creek and pop- culture tourism. With the promise of a ‘life changing experience’ (Frost, 2010) the above films promote not only Australia but a lifestyle. But as Shirley points out, an issue with emphasising the Outback in films is that it neglects different groups and perspectives of people that live in Australia (Shirley, 2011), ones that would be overlooked by tourists.

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Tracks

Tracks, however, does include very important voices that have often been omitted from Australian films, those of the First Australians and women. Despite the fact that many people roll their eyes at the thought of another film set in the Outback, it has provided Australian films a pivotal role in our nations film success. In conclusion, it seems that any attention and publicity Australian films can generate is good for the industry and many others like tourism. However, to avoid a calamity of a publicity stunt like Miley Cyrus, I believe we should play to our strengths as a film industry whilst steadily challenging what is on screen and what is missing. Regardless I believe landscape and the Outback will always be an iconic character in Australian films.

 

 

References

Bowles, K 2007 ‘Three miles of rough dirt road’ :towards an audience-centred approach to cinema studies in Australia’, Studies in Australasian cinema, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 245 – 260

Box Office Mojo, 2016, ‘Tracks (2014)’, Box Office Mojo, viewed 3 January 2016, http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=tracks2014.htm

Frost, W 2010, ‘Life changing experiences. Film and Tourists in the Australian Outback’, Annals Of Tourism Research, 37, pp. 707-726, ScienceDirect

Robinson P, 2013, ‘Why twerking Miley Cryrus thinks there’s no such thing as bad publicity’, The Guardian, 30 August, viewed 2 January 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/lostinshowbiz/2013/aug/29/twerking-miley-cyrus-no-bad-publicity

Shirley, B 2011, ‘The Outback on Screen’, Screen Australia, National Film and Sound Archive, viewed 4 January 2016, http://www.nfsa.gov.au/research/papers/2011/12/06/outback-screen/

Thomas, AJ 1996, ‘Camping outback: Landscape, masculinity, and performance in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 10, no. 2, p. 97

The Australian Film Industry: A Battle of Culture and Policy

Weve got a unique lovable culture that we should celebrate. Weve got great talent, when the writers, directors, actors all come together when all the molecules coalesce thats when the magic happens. Gino Munari, Village Cinemas General Manager

And somehow the magic just doesn’t seem to be happening. Australian films and media content have been incredibly influential not only domestically, but internationally. With a long history of contributing towards a cohesive identity and representing Australian culture, Australian stories are ones that should be told on a global stage. The general assumptions around Australian media content, particularly Australian films are extremely underwhelming, with Burns and Eltham describing Australian films as ‘unpopular at the box office’ and a ‘failure of the domestic screen industry’ (Burns & Eltham, 2010). Whilst these key assumptions are common towards Australian films, there are more deep seeded issues like measuring success, funding, marketing and audience watching habits of Australian films that contribute towards this stigma. The overall negative stigma of the Australian film industry and Australian films lead people to believe there has been a market failure within the industry. Whilst admittedly there are significant issues that must be addressed to ensure funding continuation, protection and stimulation of Australian content, the market has not entirely failed. Instead, it needs a makeover, Muriel’s Wedding style.

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Makeover time. Source

The Australian film industry has had a long history of being delicately intertwined with government policy, ultimately affecting the success of films. It is said that ‘screen policy is highly visible in Australian cultural policy debates due to the screen industry’s perceived cultural importance and media profile’ (Burns & Eltham, 2010). The 10BA existed throughout the 1970’s to 1980’s offering generous tax deduction of up to 150%, resulting in a boom in the industry (Burt, 2004). Some of Australia’s most successful films, like Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max, were produced in this time. However there were also a substantial amount of terrible films produced, some of them not even being released. With ‘skyrocketing budgets, shady deals and erosion of Australian cultural identity in an effort to appeal to global audiences’ (Burt, 2004), the 10BA days are well and truly over. In 1988, the Film Finance Corporation was created as a means to replace the 10BA and was to act as a film bank, becoming the ‘major source of finance in the 1990’s’ (Middlemost, 2015). Ultimately it was a failure, with only 25 movies produced a year in the 90’s and little profit. In 2008, Screen Australia was created under the Labor Government, a combination of the FFC, Film Australia Limited and the Australian Film Commission (Screen Australia, 2015). Screen Australia ‘aims to create an Australian industry that is innovative, culturally important and commercially sustainable’ (Screen Australia, 2015). With fluctuating policies, taxes and companies funding the film industry, it’s easy to see how the history of Australian film has either been in a ‘boom’ or ‘bust’ period (Burns & Eltham). However, with 2015 being the biggest year for Australian films since 2001, taking $84million or 7.7% of the local box office (Quinn, 2015), perhaps there is hope for future years.

An issue with films is how we measure the success or failure of a film. Traditionally and currently, a films success is measured by the amount of money it generates at the box office (in selling movie tickets). It is expensive to go to the cinemas. The minimum price of a ticket for a student is $10, plus the petrol to get there and the overpriced popcorn and soft drink… the whole experience can easily set you back $20. These limitations are highlighted in Torsten Hägerstrand’s three constraints on a audiences movement with money, time and transportation greatly influencing their ability to go (Holland, 2015). We have already acknowledged a huge information and research gap in Australians online movie watching habits (Middlemost, 2015). Personally I prefer streaming or watching a film on Netflix and eating my own food at home… cost efficiency. According to the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority), 9 in 10 teenagers use the internet for entertainment purposes for approximately 14hrs 42mins per week (Raco, 2014). If there is a whole demographic of people who are actively choosing not to go to the cinema to watch Australian films because the whole experience is too costly, then the box office success is not a true indicator of a films popularity. It’s therefore evident that funding should go to future research to fill this knowledge gap. As Kaufman suggests, we should be asking questions like ‘how many people watch Australian films or television programs, or Australian content made for new platforms?’ (Kaufman, 2009). By addressing these questions we will be able to furthermore understand the ways in which Australians consume Australian media and work towards protecting and enhancing the Australian film experience for everyone involved.

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Watching films through new media technologies like iPads. Source

Another aspect contributing to the supposed market failure of Australian films is the way that we talk about them. Timothy King argues that commentary, reviews and marketing play a crucial role in contributing to a films success at the box office (King, 2007). In his research, he found that if a film has a glowing review, then the success should be reciprocated at the box office. However, is it common to see the Australian press criticize the Australian film industry for lack of success with the implication that it should be doing better (Middlemost, 2015). Whilst commentaries of Australian films are predominantly negative, film critics on the other hand, are criticized for being too soft on Australian films (Quinn, 2014). Many people base their decision off going to watch a film off of reviews (King, 2007), so it’s important to place value and trust in film critics. It is argued that the Australian film industry needs to be re-branded (Kaufter, 2009). If not re-branded, at least a botox injection, something to give it a bit of liveliness and something for people to talk about.

Despite the behind the scenes issues like marketing, commentary and audience viewing of Australian films, we must also discuss that perhaps some of our content needs improving in order to protect the future of the Australian film industry. Criticisms of Australian content are generally affiliated with the films being ‘dark and depressing’ and ‘full of outmoded ocker stereotypes’ (Quinn, 2014). Sponsored by Screen Australia and Screen NSW (Tropfest, 2015), Tropfest is an annual competition that sees hundreds of short films submitted. Tropfest is a way to provide up and coming talent the opportunity to break into the film industry and have their creative and new innovative ideas heard. Or at least it was. Tropfest for 2015 was cancelled due to ‘terrible mismanagement of funds’ (Mackander, 2015). This illustrates the crucial role that funding plays in the Australian film industry. However, thanks to CGU Insurance, a private investment was made so that Tropfest will take place on the 14th of February 2016 (Tropfest, 2015). If we are looking for ways to improve the Australian film industry, then holding Tropfest is fundamental to not only encourage aspiring filmmakers, but also bridge the gap between them and large production companies (Mackander, 2015). This also illustrates that perhaps the film industry needs a mix of both private investors and government funding in order to maintain a healthy industry.

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Tropfest. Source

Australian films are unique and crucial to Australians and Australian culture. It’s a hybrid type of film that should be allowed to change and evolve over time. The only way that can happen is if creative and innovative communities are given the opportunity to access the industry. It is also apparent that policies and funding directly affect the reception of films, visible through the 10BA tax, the FFC and Screen Australia. Another important note is that the audience has a large role to play in the industry. This being said, I don’t believe there’s been a market failure within the Australian film industry as such. More like a market glitch that can be resolved, and when the right molecules coalesce, that’s when the magic happens.

Further Information

Winner of Tropfest 2014

References

Burns, A & Eltham, B 2010, ‘Boom and Bust in Australian screen policy: 10BA, The Film Finance Corporation and Hollywood’s ‘race to the bottom’’, Media International Australia, No. 136, pp. 103-118

Burt, M 2004, ‘10BA – The Pot of Gold (of Old)’, Metro, 140, pp. 158-158, Communication and mass Media Complete, viewed 9 December 2015, http://ezproxy.uow.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=12876007&site=eds-live

Holland, T 2015, ‘BCM240: Week 5 Cinema’, Blergh, 25 August, viewed 7 December 2015, http://www.blergh.org/2015/08/bcm240-week-5-cinema/

Kaufman, T 2009, ‘Shortcuts: finding Australian audiences for Australian films’, Metro: media and education magazine, No. 163, pp. 6-8

King, T 2007, ‘Does film criticism affect box office earnings? Evidence from movies released in the U.S in 2003’, Journal of Cultural Economics, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 171- 186

Mackander, M 2015, ‘Festival cancellation leaves ‘huge hole’ for emerging Australian filmmakers’, ABC News, 12 November, viewed 7 December 2015, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-12/tropfest-short-film-festival-cancellation-leaves-hole/6934316

Middlemost, R 2015, ‘Introduction, key terms, debates and assumptions behind Australian content’, Lecture Notes, BCM330, University of Wollongong, 1 December 2015

Middlemost, R 2015, ‘Funding and Policy: A History of Market Failure’, Lecture Notes, BCM330, University of Wollongong, 7 December 2015

Quinn, K 2014, ‘Why won’t we watch Australian films?’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 October, viewed 7 December 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/why-wont-we-watch-australian-films-20141024-11bhia.html?rand=1449200398857

Quinn, K 2015, ‘Australian film has had it’s biggest year at the box office ever. Why?’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 December, viewed 7 December 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/australian-film-has-had-its-biggest-year-at-the-box-office-ever-why-20151204-glfut3.html

Screen Australia, 2015, ‘Cancellation of Tropfest 2015’, Screen Australia, 13 November, viewed 7 December 2015, https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/news_and_events/2015/gn_151113_Tropfest.aspx

Tropfest, 2015, ‘We’re Back’, Tropfest, 6 December, viewed 7 December 2015, http://www.tropfest.com/au/news/tropfest-is-back/

Raco, E 2014, ‘Aussie Teens Online’, ACMA, 1 July, viewed 7 December 2015, http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/engage-blogs/engage-blogs/Research-snapshots/Aussie-teens-online#li=4CjCrptEqv4%3D&cs=3ABA593aXcCJ%2B9TWmsrhbg%3D%3D;

 

 

Home & Away: Reflecting on Research

“Where we love is home- home that our feet may leave but not our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes 

Home is a concept I’ve always found interesting. Having moved interstate three times and lived in two other countries, it’s safe to say that I’ve had a fair few homes. Right now, I’d probably call where my parents live home. It’s where I went to high school, grew up, and it’s where all of my stuffed toys are stored. I love going home, but due to studying and working down in Wollongong, six hours away from my parents home by train, I don’t get to visit often. And because I don’t visit, I’ve found myself becoming very dependent on media technologies to keep relationships strong and alive back home, which got me wondering about how other students and friend that I have who do live out of home balance their ‘home’ and their ‘newly created home.’ This curiosity drove my research question of “how do people manage their life at home and their new life away from home?” 

Even Marilyn spent time hanging by the phone. Source
Even Marilyn spent time hanging by the phone. Source

Who & Why?

I interviewed four people who all have interesting stories when it comes to managing home through the use of media. I started with myself and discovered an unnamed phenomenon of my parents talking to me as I walk home alone. Secondly, I interviewed my Brazilian friend Charline, where she discussed long Skype chats, managing time zones and her perception of home always being Brazil, challenging Meyroitz’s theory of placelessness. Thirdly, I talked with my friend Bacon, an international student from Malaysia who believes home is where you make it and that technology can get in the way of living in the moment. And lastly I spoke to my housemate Luke as we discussed media etiquette required to manage both spaces effectively. I felt that I captured diverse perspectives and experiences that were useful in capturing the complexity of balancing and managing space through media technology however also made it more exciting when I noticed similarities.

Challenges

With any major research task, there are always challenges to overcome. Whilst I discussed my research idea with many other friends and I had intended to showcase more people and their stories, however some of Torsten Hägerstrand’s restrictions came in to play. The restriction of ‘can I get there?’ and ‘can I get there on time?’ influence and affected the amount of time I had to prepare due to end of session stress and work overload before a deadline. Whilst taking these into consideration, I decided to choose and focus on fewer stories but capture more insight and perspective from these people.

The platform

I decided use the medium of a blog post because firstly, it’s the platform I’m most comfortable and confident with and I’m always looking to add new and interesting content to it. Secondly, I felt like it was a nice thing for my interviewees to walk away with. Many of them had already read previous posts regarding the media through my blog so I thought it only made sense to have an element of continuity. It’s something that they can share with family and friends, and the feedback I received about being featured on my blog was extremely positive and encouraging.

Occupying two places at once. Source
Occupying two places at once. Source

Results

A theme that was common between myself and my friends was the concept of a ‘double reality’ and occupying two spaces at the same time (Foschini, 2009). This theory furthermore sparked and encouraged my curiosity because I’d never thought about it in that way.

All of us used social media like ‘Facebook to facilitate the formation and maintenance of social capital. In addition to assessing bonding and bridging social capital, we explore a dimension of social capital that assesses one’s ability to stay connected with members of a previously inhabited community, which we call maintained social capital’ (Ellison, Steinfield & Lampe,  2007). Whilst I would argue the term social capital is too impersonal, sterile and serious, and perhaps communities or networks would be a better alternative, it was interesting to see that all of us predominantly relied on phone calls and audio to balance life at home and their new life away from home. However, this was exclusively for family. Social media was used to form and maintain social networks among friends.

The following video offers some words of advice to keep in touch with people once you move away. With a touch of comedy and a some accuracy, this video captures ways in which people manage their home life and their life away frome home. 

I also liked the fact that ‘home’ meant something different for everyone. Bacon believes home is where you make it, whereas Charline believes that her home will always be Brazil no matter where she lives. For Luke and I we both associate home with where our parents live. This could potentially be influenced by cultural factors or age, however I found it reassuring that home meant something different to everyone.

Usefullness to media industries 

By sitting down and casually discussing Charline, Bacon and Luke’s ways of keeping in touch with family and friends back home, I was able to engage in a more ethnographic study to get an insider’s perspective on balancing home life and their new life out of home. All three of my interviewees seemed to encounter significant issues with Skype. Upon my self-reflection, I purely focused on phone calls home. I believe that all of their stories (and frustrations) could be used in an extremely convincing way to media industries. Firstly, on how to develop audio-visual communication. Perhaps people would be willing to pay if they were guaranteed exceptional connection? And secondly, the case of Bacon making phone calls back to Malaysia because of free international minutes, perhaps this could encourage other phone providers to follow suit to make prices even more competitive and consumer friendly.

Future Research

I was extremely intrigued by Luke’s self-regulation on how he uses his phone when talking to his parents. Not only to show respect to them, but also to show respect to friends around him. It would be interesting to do further research on self-regulation around media use in social situations.

The most important thing…

The most significant thing that I will take away from this project (besides working on time management which is something I can always improve) is to always start with a discussion on the topic you are investigating. Instead of starting off with a list of twenty questions and firing away, it’s crucial to actively listen to what your interviewee is saying because they might just surprise you. I was surprised with themes that our conversations uncovered and I feel like these were invaluable to my research and telling their stories.

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Thank you to everyone who helped in the creation of my digital storytelling project of how people manage their home life and life away from home. Special thanks to my awesome interviewees Charline, Bacon and Luke. Your opinions and perspectives have been so insightful and I genuinely appreciate the time you took out from your busy lives to sit down and talk with me. 

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Further Information

Jessica Shaftoe explores the way in which we are always connected through our buzzing and beeping mobile phones. Her video that she created is especially well put together, asking the question ‘are we too accessible?’ This also ties into Bacon’s perspective and value towards living in the moment, and sometimes this may required disconnecting for a while.

References

Ellison, N, Steinfield, C, & Lampe, C 2007, ‘The Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites’, Journal Of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 4, pp. 1143-1168, Communication & Mass Media Complete,  viewed 30 October 2015, http://ezproxy.uow.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=26313783&site=eds-live

Foschini, T 2009, The Doubling of Place: The Electronic Media, Time-Space Arrangements and Social Relationships – Shaun Moores, Tori’s Blog, 3 April, accessed 24 October 2015, https://tfoschini.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/the-doubling-of-place-electronic-media-time-space-arrangements-and-social-relationships-shaun-moores/

Home & Away: Manners and Management

Meet Luke. Not only is he a great friend, but also a great housemate. He’s 21, originally from Canberra, studying Civil and Environmental engineering, and currently working for an environmental consultant agency (he’s cool because he’s helping to save our planet). We’ve been housemates for approximately 9 months and being housemates with people at college, you get to know each other pretty well. I know that he’s an avid soccer fan, has a twin, has lived at a University college for the past three years and whenever he gets a phone call from his family back home in Canberra, he’ll always leave the room to answer the call. So, let’s investigate.

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Luke and I at our college formal

“Do the right thing and step outside to talk on your phone.” – Shari Roan

Why do you leave the room to answer a phone call? 

“My parents can usually tell when there are lots of other people around. I think they want me to dedicate all of my attention to them. I also don’t want to come off as rude to my friends. I hate it when other people answer their phone in a crowded room because I find myself listening in on their conversations. I feel guilty for not calling my family more often, so I might as well make them happy and take some time out of my day to talk to them properly.”

Canberra is only about a 2.5 hour drive away from Wollongong, but without a car, the 4hour overpriced bus ride is not worth the weekend visit. Luke generally makes it home about four times a year, so he relies on phone calls to keep in touch with his loved ones. Last year, he used to Skype his family once a week, but similarly to Bacon’s experience, he gets easily frustrated by internet connections so he sticks with phone calls.

Luke finds himself leaving the room to answer a phone call to avoid “Halfalogue.” “Halfalogue,” refers to when you subconsciously overhear and listen to someone elses conversation (Association for Psychological Science, 2010). The use of mobile phones in public spaces can seem ‘intrusive,’ ‘rude’ and ‘disrespectful’ (Roan, 2010). If someone is to answer their mobile phone in a room full of people, they suddenly need to manage two spaces simultaneously.

As we continue to use technology to keep in touch with our loved ones, we implement more societal rules and restrictions on ourselves and others in order to maintain strong and genuine connections with our families back home, and not let it interfere with our new lives in our new homes. By Luke physically removing himself from a room full of people to dedicate time and space to his phone call and the people on the other end of the line, he is removing distractions, removing annoying and irritating ‘halfalogue,’ and is able to talk to his family properly. Your parents definitely raised you to have good manners Luke.

Luke getting a call from his parents.
Luke getting a call from his parents.

Thankyou Luke for your time and insight to frustrations that we have with other mobile users and etiquette you try to use around friends and the respect that you show on your phone towards your family. 

References

Association for Psychological Science, 2010, ‘”Halfalogue”: Overheard Cell Phone Conversations Are Not Only Annoying but Reduce Our Attention”, Association for Psychological Science, 20 September, http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/halfalogue-overheard-cell-phone-conversations-are-not-only-annoying-but-reduce-our-attention-html.html

Haddon, L, & Green, N 2009, Mobile Communications: An Introduction To New Media, n.p.: Oxford ; New York : Berg, viewed 1 November 2015, http://ezproxy.uow.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat03332a&AN=uow.b1689134&site=eds-live

Roan, S 2010, ‘Why Overhearring Cellphone Conversations is Annoying’, LA Times, 20 May, viewed 31 October 2015, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/05/cellphones-driving-annoying.html

Home & Away: Home Is Where You Make It

‘Home is where you make it, if you don’t expose yourself to your new environment, what’s the point.’

Meet my friend Bacon. I met him this year when he put his hand up to play netball for our college team. I was then lucky enough to attend a leadership conference at university where we were in the same team. Since then, I’ve come to know Bacon as an extremely positive, outgoing and happy member of our college community and a lovely friend. Bacon is from Malaysia and currently studying Commerce with a double major in accounting and finance. Having only been in Australia for four months, Bacon offered some very unique perspectives on the management of home in Malaysia and here in Australia.

My friend Bacon
My friend Bacon
Family in Malaysia 

Bacon’s parents and two older sisters still live in Malaysia. I automatically assumed he would spend a lot of time on Skype, and was extremely surprised to discover that he usually makes phone calls to his family back home. “I get 300 minutes of free international calls, it’s a lot easier and cheaper for me to just call them.” Then when discussing Skype and the wonders of new technology, he said that he rarely used Skype. I was pretty surprised because when I spent a year abroad, I generally Skyped my parents once a week. But then he proceeded to explain the frustration associated with dodgy internet connections and I remembered back to all of those frustrated hours spent loading and reloading Skype due to horrible connection. He concluded saying that Skype leaves him wishing he was at home with his family or wishing that his family were here with him, so he’d rather stick with his fortnightly phone calls.

Bacon knows that his parents and family is only a phone call away which is a reassuring feeling when separated by distance. It’s common for international students to have a ‘telepresence’ with their network back in their home country (Martin & Rizvi, 2014), which is the sensation of being somewhere else through technology. Bacon’s new ‘complex social networks exemplify the blurred lines between ‘here’ and ‘there’ (Martin, &Rizvi) and allow him to balance these networks despite distance.

Friends in Australia 

Bacon is extremely independent, so it makes sense as to why he has already created a new home here in Wollongong. Bacon says he has two sorts of ‘groups’ here in Australia; one is of International Students, and a group of other Asian students. He likes being apart of both groups because it’s nice to connect with other people who share similar cultural traits, however he enjoys making the most of his new Australian friends. Living at college makes it easier for him to embrace the opportunity to live and study in Australia and create a home here. He’s also taken on the challenge of adopting some Australian slang like arvo and dodgy (which he used effortlessly in our conversation). ‘I’ve noticed that a lot of Asian international students tend to stick together. I love hanging out with them, but at the end of the day I came to Australia to immerse myself in this environment. I want to make the most of this opportunity.’ 

Bacon represents people who keep in contact with their friends and family back home, however don’t let it interfere with their newly created home. He lives in the moment and makes the most of opportunities, whilst balancing different friend groups here in Australia, all with a smile.

***

Thankyou Bacon for your time, energy and insight into communication in Australia and back home for International Students. Your opinions and perspectives are incredibly valued. 

Further Information

“If you spend your time absorbed in your phone, you’re missing out on living in the moment”

The following video is an information clip for outgoing exchange students heading to Denmark on exchange. It covers very interesting points about keeping in touch and making the most of your time abroad.

References

Martin, F, & Rizvi, F 2014, ‘Making Melbourne: digital connectivity and international students’ experience of locality’, Media, Culture & Society, 36, 7, pp. 1016-1031, viewed 31 October 2015, http://japanfocus.org/-Audrey-Yue/4268/article.html

Home & Away: Walking Home With My Parents

Where am I? Physically, I’m sitting at the library at the University of Wollongong, typing away at my blog. My mind is daydreaming about the end of session spent at the beach. I’m texting my friend in Sydney, reminiscing about our weekend. And I’ve just Facebook messaged a friend in Mexico to see if he’s OK in Hurricaine Patricia. The question stands that if I am physically in one place, however engaging in another through the media… where am I and how is this managed?

I’ll be speaking to 4 different university students about how they manage their home and their new life out of home. The relationship between media, audience and place is complex, especially when it comes to making your parents happy that you keep in touch, mainaining old friendships and making the most of your time whilst living out of home. So, I thought I would begin with myself, and explore the ways in which I manage my home-new home relationship.

IMG_4743
It’s nice to know you’re not walking alone.

I grew up and attended high school in Port Stephens near Newcastle where I still have a large friend and family network. After graduating high school and spending my GAP year abroad. Then in 2014 I moved down to Wollongong to study. I am now living at my second university residence and after three years of living out of home and balancing my home – new home life, I’ve come up with some strategic and productive ways to do so.

I’ve previously discussed wasted time, and I seem to accumulate quite a lot of this. To make the most of this ‘wasted time,’ I will call my parents when I am walking home from work, the gym or the train station. My Dad is always on his mobile, and he will ‘walk me home.’ Even if the walk is just a few minutes this allows me to debrief him on my day and what I got up to, whilst at the same time, I feel safe knowing that he’s ‘walking me home.’ I also find myself having long conversations with my Mum whenever I’m cleaning my room. Whenever I’m at home, Mum will usually sit on my bed and help me fold my clothes while we just chat for hours until my room is clean. So when I find myself cleaning my room, I’ll call Mum, put her on speaker and it’s almost as if she’s sitting on the bed with me (except I’m folding my own clothes).

We can recreate the notion of a ‘double reality’ (Foschini, 2009) where we can ultimately occupy two places simultaneously. I remember being young and saying to my Mum ‘there’s so many things I want to do, I wish there were two of me.’ And whilst there may not be two of me (just yet) by creating a double reality, it allows me to keep connected and occupy two spaces at the same time to increase productivity. This removes physical boundaries like distance and blurs the line between home and my new home.

Whilst I may not have yet managed to fulfil six year old Adelaide’s wish of having two of me, I’ve definitely been able to transcend distance and space through the use of technology and have my parents walk me home.

References

Foschini, T 2009, The Doubling of Place: The Electronic Media, Time-Space Arrangements and Social Relationships – Shaun Moores, Tori’s Blog, 3 April, accessed 24 October 2015, https://tfoschini.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/the-doubling-of-place-electronic-media-time-space-arrangements-and-social-relationships-shaun-moores/

Living in a Sex Negative Culture

Before an American child turns eighteen, they see over two hundred thousand acts of violence and forty-thousand murders on TV but not one female nipple. So what is more obscene? (Camero, 2014).

You just need to take one glance at the cover of a magazine to know that everyone’s talking about sex and sexuality (thanks Miley Cyrus). It’s a natural part of life and it makes sense to openly discuss something that everyone will experience in their life, right? Despite this current craze about sex and sexuality, there’s still a hushed tone around discussing these things. On the other end of the spectrum, is violence. An act which is comletely unnatural, to want to hurt another person, and cause others pain and suffering. However, you don’t have to wait up past 9pm anymore to see one of CSI’s mangled corpses on your screen. These days you can turn on the 6 o’clock news and you’ll see violent acts such as the murder of two news journalists on live television, or children being killed and wounded in a school massacre. These are all important news stories, however is does raise the question of why is censoring sex more important than censoring violence?

South Africa's Cosmopolitan January 2015 issue. Source
South Africa’s Cosmopolitan January 2015 issue. Source

The answer is children and moral panic. Dr Klein explains that we live in a ‘sex negative culture’ where we tell children that sex is bad for no other reason that ‘because it just is’ (Klein, 2015). This dystopian view (Bowles & Turnbull, 2015) focuses on the harmful effects that exposure to sex and sexuality on TV can have on children. Children have always been viewed of ‘at risk,’ and therefore worth protecting of the horrific nature of a naked body, because it would destroy their childhood (Bowles & Turnbull, 2015). The University of Michigan provides an information guide for parents on children and TV watching saying ‘TV can promote risky behavior, such as trying dangerous stunts, substance use and abuse, and irresponsible sexual behavior’ (Boyse, 2010). This dystopic perspective that television is an evil thing in our loungerooms corrupting our children is contributing to this moral panic and the sense that we need to protect out children from potentially corruptive sources.

So how is the act of censorship spatial? ‘Censorship is aimed at material that is believed to be unspeakable, too private to be public’ (Klein, 2015) which demonstrates how both of an audiences private and public lives can be regulated through the censorship of something that is as ‘unspeakable’ as sex. The fact that this censorship travels beyond the media’s public eye and into our private homes directly correlates with how you would speak about sex to your family or friends. And if you’re brought up being told not to talk about it from the media, then you’re certainly not going to speak about it anywhere else.

So which is worse for our children to see? Source
So which is worse for our children to see? Source

Whilst there is still obviously a lot of concern regarding children and watching violence on TV and in video games, the question still remains. Why is it more common for children to watch a crime show and see violent acts then see something that human nature, real and something that is a big part in our society like sex and sexuality?

Reference

Bowles, K & Turnbull, S 2015, Media Audience and Place: 8 Regulating Audience, BCM240, University of Wollongong, lecture delivered 21 September

Boyse, K 2010, Television and Children, University of Michigan Health Systems, August, http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm

Camero, C 2014, What is more obscene, violence or a female nipple?, XPress Magazine, http://xpress.sfsu.edu/xpressmagazine/2014/12/08/what-is-more-obscene-violence-or-a-female-nipple/

Klein, M 2015, Censorship and the fear of sexuality, Dr Marty Klein, http://www.martyklein.com/censorship-and-the-fear-of-sexuality/

Further Information

And it wouldn’t be a blog post without a concluding note from Mr John Oliver. This hilariously witty piece looks at how important it is to talk openly about sex in a safe and judgement free environment.

Wasted Space and Wasted Time?

We all know that money is time and time is money. So it makes sense to make the most of each spare minute we have. As the Swish Media Group says ‘it’s no secret that Australians are becoming increasingly time poor,’ and I completely agree. My calendar is smothered and my phone beeps every half an hour or so (I may have even slept with my phone by my side on the odd occasion). So I love my phone and so do all of my friends. But is multi-screening making us more productive?

People killing time immersed in their phones. Source UltraSlo1, 2011
People killing time immersed in their phones. Source UltraSlo1, 2011

These days you’d think that a mobile phone was supplying oxygen to people’s brains… people just can’t live without them. A few weeks ago, we talked about ‘non-places.’ Non-places are those spaces that are used for no particular reason or as a transition place (Bowles, 2015) like a hallway or an airport corridor. So whilst people are usually forced to use these non-places or even places they’re waiting for something, it’s natural to keep yourself occupied.

Even when we’re in public, we bring a piece of our private lives with us. Google’s New Multi Screen World’s: Understanding Cross Platform Consumer Behaviour Research Study says, ‘that smartphones are the most common starting place for online activities.’ We can see that people are utilising the power of their smartphones when they are out in public, and follow up with some further research on a PC later. After looking at the last tabe I had open on my phone, work intranet, my UOW SOLS page, an image search of Eddie Redmayne and how to find a book in the library… the majority of them correlate with a spontaneous ideas ‘must submit my work hours,’ ‘have I got my assignment marks back yet?’ ‘ah Eddie Redmayne is cute,’ ‘how do I borrow a book from the library?’ By having the ability to act upon all of these thoughts when I’m away from my PC brings me a lot more reassurance and leaves me feeling like I’ve accomplished a lot in a small amount of time.

Snapshot from Google's research
Snapshot from Google’s research

In keeping up with my collaborative ethnography, I sat down with a group of friends and discussed multi screening and the appropriate behaviour regarding mobile usage.  The points that I discussed with my friends reflected some of Google’s findings, like the fact that many of us ‘accomplish goals through spontaneous device uses.’ My friends said that they would often find themselves adding things to their calendars, booking train tickets home – just accomplishing other things that they’d need to do anyway. Instead, they just did it during a lecture, on the bus or even on the toilet.

But as the above video very nicely points out, that perhaps being always switched on, may not always be a good thing. We’ve let our phones into our dinner conversations, meetings, workplaces, classrooms, dates… everywhere. So whilst we seem to have all of this ‘wasted time,’ maybe it’s more important to take some time for ourselves and embrace real moments with others.

References

Bowles, K 2015, ‘Cinemas: Strangers in public’, BCM240, University of Wollongong, delivered 24 August

Google, 2012 ‘The New Multi-Screen World: Understanding Cross Platform Behaviour,’ US, https://ssl.gstatic.com/think/docs/the-new-multi-screen-world-study_research-studies.pdf

Swish Media

Public Spaces and Faces: Tele Cocooning and Consent

Thanks for encouraging us to go out in the sunshine and roll around in fields in our underwear Passenger. The song is a very dystopic view of technology and society and how we (mentally and emotionally) switch off when we’re turning on.

The movie ‘Her’ is also a dystopic view of how tele cocooning (explained below) can create and generate real emotions, feelings and feel as though you are really, genuinely connected to someone.

And this video, is beautifully scary because I’m sure we’re all experienced one if not all of these scenes ourselves, and can’t help but laugh and immediately reflect on the last time you were out with friends.

But the ironic thing is… we’re all watching these videos through our technology whilst they’re questioning and challenging the invasion of technology! We’re trapped in the technology cycle! And it’s very easy for me to say all of this because here I am, sitting at a desk in the library, flicking between Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, texting and snapchatting from my phone, and spending half an hour to find the perfect playlist to study to on Youtube, using my phone and laptop as a nice little coccoon to keep myself from looking lonely. But if there’s so many of these messages coming from the media, why aren’t we paying attention?

A Cocoon with a Satellite dish attached to it. Source
A Cocoon with a Satellite dish attached to it. Source

I didn’t choose the coccoon metaphor out of pure brilliance. It was coined by Ichiyo Habuchi and tele cocooning is defined as ‘the communication of one person to the next without having physical interaction with that person’ (Cyborg Anthropology). So more or less something we do every day when we text, snapchat or email someone.

So when my friends and I went to Amigos on Tuesday night, we made a pact to stack our phones on top of one another, (trying) to ignore them, and the first person to reach for their phones had to buy a round of shots. It was awesome, we were laughing, talking and just enjoying eachother’s company. In fact, we were having such a great time that I just needed to capture it… but wait. My camera is my phone. This began a discussion on ‘am I allowed to grab my phone to take a photo?’ And got me thinking even more about why I wanted to take this photo.

Selfie before cheers, always. Source
Selfie before cheers, always. Source

According to the concept of tele cocooning ‘sharing photos is tied to a sense of co-distribution and this becomes a reflexive process of self-authoring and viewpoint construction’ (Cyborg Anthropology). This raises so many other questions like ‘do we value the people we’re talking to on our phones more?’ ‘do we just have a short attention span?’ ‘are we actually using our phones to our advantage/to help us?’ ‘why are our phones more valuable than our friends?’. 

My friend Zina studying at the library
My friend Zina studying at the library

I believe that tele cocooning isn’t all doom and gloom. I snapped the above picture of my friend today at the library as we were studying together. Despite studying ‘together’ we were in completely separate worlds. Each time she would say something to me, I’d have to stop my music and take my headphones out and then ask her to repeat what she’s just said. She was studying Spanish and I’ve been blogging and getting distracted by watching trailers for movies. However, Zina explained she was using her phone to look up a word in Spanish and was using her laptop to print class notes.

After I’d taken the picture, I showed her and asked if she liked it and if I could use it for my blog post. She obviously said yes but asked what it was about. And fair enough, I wouldn’t exactly want a random picture of me studying on a random blog. But whilst exploring tele cocooning, I stumbled across another issue with technology. Photography and consent. I blurred the faces of 5 people in the background of this photo that I didn’t ask for their permission to take the photo. As Colberg says ‘photographers may agree that what they’re doing is fine, but is the public OK with it?’ (Colber, 2013). However, as you can still see, they each have a laptop in front of them and whilst they are studying in a group, they’re not really interacting as a group.

PhotoShares guidelines for consent for photography. Source
PhotoShares guidelines for consent for photography. Source

The questions and concerns that arise from tele cocooning are complex and get you reconsidering every moment you spend on your phone. The fact of the matter is, we’re all dependent on our technology and scoeity wouldn’t function without it. As Seiter explains ‘it’s important to have a good balance of being connected and disconnected from technology, and using this technology to benefit our relationships’ (Seiter, 2015).

Sure, it may have taken me an extra hour or so to write this blog post because I’ve spoken to my Nan on the phone, texted my friends, snapchatted my struggle of trying to be productive, and downloaded a new app, but at the end of the day… I’ve got my work done and been able to keep in touch with my family and friends. What more could you want?

References

Colberg, J 2013. ‘Ethics of Street Photography’, Conscientious Extended, 3 April, http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/the_ethics_of_street_photography/

Cyborg Anthropology, Tele Cocooning, http://cyborganthropology.com/Tele-Cocooning

Seiter, C 2015, ‘The Psychology of Selfies: Why we love taking and viewing photos of the face,’ Buffer Social, 17 June, https://blog.bufferapp.com/psychology-of-selfies

Further information

The following post ‘Unified in social media but segregated in reality’ by Amelia Murphy, takes a good look at how technologically saturated some public spaces can be. Along with her great, sneaky photography, she analyses how technology is such a big part of our lives and how we’re always connected.

The following post ‘Sweaty public places: the 55C and the gym’ by Red Canister Diaries (in my opinion) absolutely nailed the art of observing how people interacted with technology in the public space.

The following article looks at the Psychology of selfies.