Who’s To Blame?

So it seem like everyone lost their sh*t when Essena O’Neill ‘quit social media.’ In a vulnerable and honest youtube video she uploaded last week, the 19 year old confessed how ever since she was 12 years old, she’s been obsessed with being the ‘it’ girl. With hundreds of thousands of Instagram, Youtube and Facebook followers, O’Neill had it all. Or at least, she made it look like she had it all. She confesses to staging photos, not having to pay for designer clothes and being critical of her body and appearance, all to get the one good Instagram shot. The main message behind her ‘confession’ is Social Media is a Lie! But is it?

I’ve written about our portrayal of the ‘Ultimate Self’ here, expressing that we should be aiming to create more intimate and genuine connections with one another. And I genuinely believe that social media has the power and capacity to do this. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter… these platforms have revolutionised the way in which we communicate and revolutionised our world. Literally! Twitter had immense mobilizing power during the Arab Spring and we see activism and hashtags crossing our screens daily, allowing us to speak up about issues that matter to us. So to hear the social media is a lie, is somewhat confronting and unnerving to myself as a content producer and a consumer of social media. I’m not defending social media or trying to attack Essena for her statements, but I think it’s important to think about what we can do as users of social media to create a better way of interacting with others and a more genuine and real world.

Self reflection is crucial. Source
Self reflection is crucial. Source

Self approval is the most important thing.

The world we live in is extremely judgemental. Whether we like it or not, we subconsciously judge people on what they wear, how they talk or the way they present themselves. We’re not going to be able to change that overnight. But the thing that we can change is the way we view ourselves. What’s the point in impressing others when we’re not truly content with ourselves? There is no point. If we constantly thrive off of societies approval, then we’re setting ourselves up for failure. And if, like me, you like running your ideas and thoughts by people, then make sure you surround yourself with people who share your values and are here to support you. Whether it’s a housemate, your Mum or your colleague, getting the approval from someone you truly know and care about is so genuine that it motivate you to keep going.

Be true to yourself. 

Stemming from self approval, is just being true to yourself. At the end of the day, all we have is ourselves. Happiness is more than just an emotion, it’s a lifestyle. Doing things that make you happy, excited and full of life is so much more fulfilling than a superficial high that you get from likes. Stick to your values and know your limits but don’t be afraid to push them. At the end of the day, if you surround yourself with things that make you deeply happy, then you really can’t go wrong. Like the pictures says below ‘ let your smile change the world!’

Resilience and persistance are the key. Source
Resilience and persistence are the key. Source

Isn’t everything we see curated?

You don’t look up pictures of Paris and see it’s dark, dodgy and below average alleyways… you see the Eiffel Tower. Artists put their best work on display, musicians play their hits and we share our best photos. It’s not exactly something new that

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Life isn’t just a picture with a Valencia filter over it. Things go wrong. Life happens. And things certainly don’t go according to plan. Admitting that you may be struggling a little bit is the best way to ensure that you get the support that you need. Asking for help doesn’t mean that you’re weak or vulnerable. In fact, it means that you have the strength and bravery to work on yourself and seek to grow as a person.

With great power comes great responsibility.

To quote Spiderman here, with great power comes great responsibility. And not just social responsibility but personal responsibility to look after yourself. Following on from everything else I’ve covered, being true to yourself, surrounding yourself with positivity and accepting yourself for who you are. Social media is powerful so it only makes sense that people using it, use it with care.

Photography and social media should inspire creativity. Source
Photography and social media should inspire creativity. Source

So what does this have to do with social media?

Social media can either be a destructive or uniting force. It should be used to innovate, inspire and create. It’s a way of sharing our thoughts, opinions, emotions and values to our friends and the rest of the world. If we let ourselves get caught up in a superficial world of likes and editing the real you out of photos, we’re only setting ourselves up for failure. Through blogging and engaging in social media I’ve been able to not only express my ideas and connect with people across the world, but I’ve also been able to grow and evolve as a person.

It’s how we use it! 

But is social media really to blame here? Isn’t is us, as content creators, the ones abusing the power of social media? Are we the lie? Are we just trying to fit the mould of what society wants us to be at the price of our own happiness? Let’s use social media to our advantage. Let’s be strong together and create the change we want to see in the world. If we start with our own happiness, then it will be much easier to spread happiness and lead a fulfilling and genuine life.

Social media is only a lie, if we allow it to be.

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.

***

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. 

***

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.

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. 

Innappropriate Cultural Appropriation: Black Culture in Japan and Japanese Culture in America

“What would America (and the world) be like if we loved black people, as much as we love black culture?” – Amandla Stenberg

 We’re in a toxic relationship with the fashion industry, and it’s fierce. We take bits and pieces that we love from the catwalk and parade them around the streets of our neighbourhood. But what happens when we start taking bits and pieces from people’s culture and traditional dress to jazz up our outfits? Add a bit of ignorance and you’ve got yourself cultural appropriation.

Vanessa Hudgens wearing a Native American head dress and Indian bindi. Source
Vanessa Hudgens wearing a Native American head dress and Indian bindi. Source

Cultural appropriation is ‘the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, especially if the adoption is of an oppressed people’s cultural elements by members of the dominant culture.’ (Frew, 2015). It is generally associated with white people appropriating other’s cultures. The classic example is above, a white girl wearing a bindi and head dress at a music festival.

‘Marginalized groups don’t have the power to decide if they’d prefer to stick with their customs or try on the dominant culture’s traditions just for fun’ (Johnson, 2015).

But watch out Vanessa Hudgens, hello Japanese teenagers where an interesting form of cultural appropriation taking place. B-Style (Black lifestyle) is becoming a trend among young Japanese people who change their hair and skin to look like black rappers or singers. It involves using a sun bed to make their skin darker and spending hours and huge amounts of money on their hair.

“We live in a highly globalized world where lines are blurred, rules are changing and cultures are melting together to form new ones” (Yuen, 2012)

B Style Japanese girl. Source
B Style Japanese girl. Source

There are many obvious criticisms of B-Style. Firstly, that they’re engaging in ‘blackface’ which has strong racist history in the United States (Siddiqui, 2012). The similarities between Vanessa Hudgens and the Japanese youth is power. Or ‘post-colonial power’ (Nicklas & Lindner, 2012). The dominant or ‘normal’ culture is free to appropriate what they want, whereas the ‘minority’ or ‘marginalized group’ is left with significant cultural forms of expressions, being worn by white girls at music festivals or B-Stylers on the streets of Tokyo.

Cultural appropriation is dangerous and damaging. According to Everyday Feminism contributor, Maisha Johnson, it ‘trivialises violent historical oppression, let’s privileged people profit from oppressed people’s labour and perpetuates racist stereotypes.’ It is only this year that wearing a head dress has been banned at Montreal’s Osheaga’s Arts and Music festival to show respect and solidarity.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Singer Katy Perry performs onstage during the 2013 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) Source
LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 24: Singer Katy Perry performs onstage during the 2013 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) Source

It’s a very unique and interesting position for these Japanese B-Stylers to be in. Japanese culture has been appropriated beyond belief. The above image is one of many celebrities appropriating Japanese culture. Whilst it can appear artistic or creative, the truth is ‘nothing can remove the demeaning and harmful iconography of the lotus blossom from the West’s perception of Asian women.’ (Yang, 2013) We’ve always looked to Asia through Orientalist glasses, and we want to keep the stereotype that way.

The issue then of young B-Stylers adapting American black culture is complicated. B-Stylers say it is out of pure appreciation and respect. Comedian, Margaret Cho says ‘a Japanese schoolgirl uniform is kind of like blackface’ which would explain both black and Japanese culture to be offended by it’s adaptation by the other (Feeney, 2013). However it doesn’t make any of it ‘ok’ if people are still being offended.

Source
Source

An Interrupt Mag article by Mojuicy, explore various questions you can ask yourself to ensure you are not appropriating a culture.

  1. What is my relation to this culture?
  2. Why am I wearing it?
  3. Who made the product?
  4. How respectful/accurate is it? (Mojuicy)

By asking ourselves these questions, whilst being aware that the things we decide to wear, inspired or taken from another culture, can cause immense offense to that culture’s history and traditions. By doing this we can try to avoid tension and be more appreciative and accepting of one another.

References

Bailey, C 2012, Fight the Power: African American Humor as a Discourse of Resistance, The Western Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 36, No. 4, University of Missouri

Feeney, N 2013, ‘Katy Perry’s Geisha style performance needs to be called out’, The Atlantic, 25 November, http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/11/katy-perrys-geisha-style-performance-needs-to-be-called-out/281805/

Frew, C 2015, Othering, blackface, appropriation and #blacklives matter, Lecture Slides, University of Wollongong, 14 August

Johnson, M 2015, What’s wrong with cultural appropriation? Everyday Feminism, June 14, http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/cultural-appropriation-wrong/

Nicklas, P, & Lindner, O (eds) 2012, spectrum Literaturwissenschaft / spectrum Literature : Adaptation and Cultural Appropriation : Literature, Film, and the Arts, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, DEU

Siddiqui, A 2012, ‘B-Style is a racist fashion trend slowly finding its voice in Japan featured’, Dramafever, http://www.dramafever.com/news/b-style-is-a-racist-fashion-trend-slowly-finding-its-voice-in-japan-featured/

Yang, J 2013, ‘Geisha a-go-go: Katy Perry’s AMAs performance stirs debate’, The Wall Street Journal, http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2013/11/25/memories-of-a-geisha-katy-perrys-amas-performance-stirs-debate/

Further Information

You can read about B-Style experience in Japan here

You can read more about racism and lack of cultural diversity in Japan here

You can read more about appropriation versus appreciation here

Where do I belong in the Media Space?

“Getting lost is a good way to find yourself” – Anonymous

Well then I guess I’m happy that I’m a little lost in life and especially the blogosphere. I’m one person, behind one laptop, my blog, with a coffee in hand, with a whole bunch of ideas that I happen to share with my friends and family and anyone (un)lucky enough to stumble across my blog. And after our first BCM240 lecture and asking myself the questions ‘where do I belong in this space called, the media?’ I was left feeling a little lost, confused and contemplating my life. And I’ve been reflecting on this and come to some interesting conclusions on finding yourself and your space in the blogosphere.

Source
Source

1. Stay true to your voice. Everyone has a unique voice and it’s important to stick to yours. Like I said, there’s milions of blogs out there, but people want to read something fresh, offering them new perspectives and insights to things they wouldn’t normally experience.

2. Stick to your motives. Ask yourself why you’re blogging, what you’re hoping to achieve, who your audience is, what goals do you have and what’s your dream? You can never go wrong it you abide by your values.

3. Network, network, network. I always say that blogging is 50% writing and the other 50% is liking, reading, commenting and exploring other people’s blogs and posts. You need to establish a network in the blogging community… and then this can lead to…

4. Opportunities! I was lucky enough to meet an established travel blogger, World of Wanderlust last month. She’s one of my personal idols, especially when it comes to blogging. From that meeting, she instagrammed photos of us, shared a link to my blog, and I got thousands of views and a few extra followers overnight. It was such an incredible opportunity to meet someone as successful in the blogosphere as Brooke, and it was definitely one of the highlights of my blogging ‘career.’ (You can read about my experience meeting World of Wanderlust here).

5. Eat. Sleep. Blog. Repeat. The key to success (especially in the blogosphere) is persistance and determination.  I love blogging. It’s as simple as that. I’m not expecting to make millions of dollars or get paid to travel the world from it (but if anyone out there is willing to pay me for that I’m available). I’m doing it because it’s something I’m proud of and thouroughly enjoy.

In my happy place
In my happy place

So… where does that lead me in the media space? I’m surrounded by all forms of media in my life, but I’d say the most influential and valued is my blog. And as the quote at the beginning of this post says ‘getting lost is a good way to find yourself.’ And that’s why I’m incredibly excited to be taking BCM240: Media, Audience and Place, to find myself a little more in this crazy space that we call, the media.

xxx A

Pilot Survey: Media Influence on Romance in Everyday Life

My group assignment for BCM210 is about the influence of romance films on our expectations of romance and relationships. We’re focusing on three films, An Affair to Remember, Dirty Dancing and Friends With Benefits from the 50’s, 80’s and 00’s respectively. I recently drew up a brief survey to pilot on a friend to evaluate what worked, what didn’t and what we can perhaps change.

http://www.keepitahundred.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/1334518676880_9162394.png
http://www.keepitahundred.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/1334518676880_9162394.png

I surveyed my friend Chantelle who I assumed would be our prime target audience for our research topic.

*

1. What is your age?

18-24   25-30   31-40   41-50   51+

  1. Gender

Male   Female   Other

  1. Relationship Status

Single   In a relationship   In an open relationship   married   divorced   widowed   It’s complicated

  1. Circle the films below that you’ve seen

An Affair To Remember     Dirty Dancing     Friends With Benefits

  1. Have any of the previously mentioned films influenced your ideas on relationships/romance?

Yes/No/ Other- Not really, though Friends With Benefits is one of my favourite movies. Not personally but I can see how ‘friendly’ behaviour is deemed acceptable through this movie

  1. Have any other romance films influenced your ideas on relationships/romance?

Yes/No – they set a lot of high expectations and standards which I think can be realistic but especially being a girl, I think it’s easy to expect too much

  1. Name 3 romance films that you feel has the greatest impact on your personal perceptions of relationships/romance
    1. Couldn’t think of any notable films
  1. On a scale of 0-5 (0 being never and 5 being frequently), how often do you watch romance films?
    1. 4
  1. Do you think the media has an important role in shaping opinions on romance?
    1. 100%, romance films perpetuate the same idea of love and romance. Boy meets girl, boy chases girl, boy performs huge romantic gesture for girl, that’s a lot of pressure to live up to. 
  1. What film would you base your idea of an ideal relationship off of?

An Affair To Remember     Dirty Dancing     Friends With Benefits- the ending when they end up in a relationship

*

http://schedule.wttw.com/ulphoto/wttw_1355259677.jpg
http://schedule.wttw.com/ulphoto/wttw_1355259677.jpg

In this case, I think it’s easier to begin with what didn’t work. An issue was Chantelle hadn’t seen all of the movies we had been using in our research, which immediately limited the amount of information we could get and restricted any comparisons we could have potentially made. When asked to state the 3 most influential romantic films she has watched, she couldn’t really think of anything too prominent. Perhaps asking for 3 films is quite a lot, especially with no assistance or guidance from us in the form of suggestions. However suggestions would be quite leading so that’s something we’re going to have to look into further.

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/dvd/lionsgate/DirtyDancing4-lg.jpg
http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/dvd/lionsgate/DirtyDancing4-lg.jpg

Perhaps some research methodologies we could do in the future would be to conduct a focus group where we show parts of the movies we selected and have a discussion about what we’re watching and how the audience feels. I feel this would be a more effective way of getting more detailed and insightful opinions. Whilst we were selecting the three movies we wished to use as case studies, we chose them based off of our our personal views of what was a romance film reflective of it’s time and maybe we need to revisit these and choose films which are more widely known and have been seen by a larger audience, for example, the Notebook, Titanic, Gone With the Wind.

Other than these revisions we should make, the majority of the questions worked well and were interpreted and answered well and without hassle.

This pilot survey has been very insightful in regards to the direction of our research and what steps should be taken next.

*Special thanks to Chantelle for participating and gossiping with me about our favourite films and our ideal man