So I’m about to finish my 3rd year of university, with only a year to go until that glorious graduation day. So it’s common that I get asked what my plans are for when I do graduate. And of course, I’m OK with people asking me this. I’ve got big dreams and big plans. But people give me a somewhat unsatisfied look when I can’t give them the name of a profession. Like somehow that doesn’t align with their idea of what my degree leads to or their expectation of me. I usually sit there trying to defend myself and the fact that I don’t know what I want to do, but that’s a good thing etc… but I can see it in their eyes. They think I’m delusional.
So this has prompted me to realise and accept the following…
The truth is, I don’t know what I want to do after I graduate, and I’m happy about that.
What ideas do I have?
Well let me name a few to get us started.
I’m considering doing honours (thesis). Taking a year off to work. Taking time off to travel. Volunteering for an NGO. Applying for a graduate program. Doing my Masters. Doing my Masters overseas. Start my own business. Become involved in politics. Be a foreign correspondent. Be a freelance content creator.
I have no shortage of ideas. But I feel like I shouldn’t be narrow on my focus or goals. That I shouldn’t discount anything just yet, because who know’s where life will take you. Or should I say, where I’m going to navigate my life.
The reality is, I’m only 22 years old. Some people at my age know exactly what they want to do in life and that’s fantastic, and I support that! But I feel that where I am right now in my life, it’s basically impossible for me to be sure which direction I want to go in. There’s endless possibilities out there. They say that young generations are going to switch careers multiple times during our work life anyway. At my age right now, I value life experience and the skills and lessons I’ve learnt outside of a classroom, more than pursuing a traditional lifestyle of finding a job, husband and settling down. Ain’t nothing settling down around here anytime soon.
I think the most frustrating thing is that the people who ask you this question, are usually the people who know you the least. You’ve usually just met and they’re making awkward small talk, which I hate. So when someone doubts my ability, accomplishments or ambitions, it’s extremely frustrating. Because they’re making an immediate judgement and assumption from our first meeting. Not cool.
So what can we do about this?
Instead of people asking ‘what you want to do when you graduate’, or ‘what career do you want’… let’s ask something more meaningful. Maybe we can ask them what goals they have? Does what they do make them happy? Where do you see your goals taking you? What’s your biggest dream?
I also think that’s it’s dangerous to put so much pressure on young people. I think society perceives us as invincible, but I feel kind of the opposite at the moment. I feel vulnerable and susceptible to societies expectations but I feel strong in my determination to make something of myself and make myself proud.
I think that by asking these sorts of questions and being encouraging and nurturing of people’s ideas and dreams is the way forward. Questions and conversations that mean something to people. I believe that by moving away from the traditional conversations, we can adapt and change our conversations and belief in others to one that is nurturing, inquisitive and encouraging to ensure we leave a conversation inspired and not judged.
[If you’re still unsure what I’m talking about… check out this amazing TED Talk below, explaining why she, and many others don’t have one true calling – and that’s a good thing!]
“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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Evans, N 2016, ‘Looking at ourselves’, BCM310, University of Wollongong, Lecture Slides, delivered 9 March
February. You graced us with an extra day this month, and it still wasn’t long enough. This month was full on! With work being absolutely crazy and uni starting back, February was pretty damn intense! However I learnt a pretty valuable lesson this month. Because life was so damn hectic, I ran myself down to the ground! For the first time in years I got a cold sore. What the heck?! And not only that, but it stayed for three whole weeks! Three weeks! I took so many vitamins, used lots of different creams and tried my hardest not to touch it, but it just wouldn’t leave. And along with having a cold sore, I constantly felt fatigued and found it difficult to concentrate when at work. My body was screaming at me to just calm down and take a breather for a day. It felt horrible and it’s not something I want to go through again. This just made me realise how we need to look after our bodies, and when we need time out, we need to be strong enough to say so. Alright, enough about that. Here’s some of the things that got me through the craziest and shortest month of the year.
So I finally got around to buying myself a diary. I used to always write in a diary, however for some reason I just stopped writing. It’s something that I’ve always loved doing. So with February being a pretty stressful month, I thought I would suck it up and finally just buy a diary and get writing. The best thing is that the diary I bought doesn’t have lines. So I’ve experimented with some little drawings here and there too. Watch this space for more reasons why I absolutely love keeping a diary. I honestly can’t explain how beneficial and amazing keeping a diary is, so I’ll fill it in later.
Being a Keynote Speaker at Discovery Days
I wrote about my experience and what I learnt here. Quick run down – I spoke to over 6000 students over 5 days spreading my word and trying to spread some happiness and inspiration to some truly incredible kids. It was one of the scariest, exciting yet nerve racking experiences of my life.
Moving into a new apartment with new and awesome people.
This session, I’m living at the same residence but in a different section (a much nicer and cleaner section). I was so excited to move into a new place, but slightly nervous about who I would be living with. And as soon as they moved in, it was love at first sight! I’m living in a four share apartment with Nicola (Graphic Design student), Tiger (Engineering student – and yes… his name is really Tiger), and Sam (Medical Health Science Student). Plus we’ve adopted a few more housemates who practically live with us too! And I’m so happy that my old housemate Chantelle is one of them. Overall, I’m living with some pretty awesome people! #imagine #thedream
Sunrises and Waterfalls
So you probably already know I’m not the best morning person around, however I’m trying to change that. And after moving in with my new housemates, I’m not really getting much of an option. I’ve spent two mornings up at 5:30am to watch the sunrise and go for an early morning swim. We also spent a day a day at Macquarie Pass (just half an hour from Wollongong) and it was such a beautiful way to spend a day off!
Again, 2016 is the year of 21st birthday parties! I went to my friend of 10 years 21st in Newcastle! It was so good to see her and everyone from back home! I also went to my other friends 21st who had a decked out bar tab in Wollongong. It was great to spend time with people I only see occasionally and have a free flow of beer! Thanks heaps to Mollie and Audi for the amazing parties and even better memories! Keep up the parties guys!
I read Escape From Camp 14 this month and I wrote a review about it here.
I have absolutely been LOVING Claptone this month! The perfect chilled out yet get pumped music!
Blogs and Vlogs
I’ve really been digging Hey Nadine. I’ve been wanting to watch a few more female vloggers and eventually want to move beyond watching just travel vloggers and watching people who vlog about important social issues. But I particularly like this video because there’s a few different travel vloggers talking about the pros and cons of female solo travel.
“Seek respect, not attention. It lasts longer.”
This past month I saw some pretty horrible acts of attention seeking. It’s fake and everyone can see right through it. People are attracted to other people who are confident and true to themselves. Not people who act how they think they should. This quote has showed me the importance of self respect and respect for others, and to always be conscious of the long term effects of decisions you make now.
And so concludes the month that was February. Uni has started and of course I’ve got plenty of things to keep me busy so I’m really looking forward to what march has to offer!
Australian films are… ‘dark and depressing, full of outmoded ocker stereotypes, rubbish’ (Quinn, 2014). We’ve already discussed some of the key assumptions around Australian media and it’s content (here) and pretty well established that there’s this underlying ‘urgh’ about Australian films. I had the same impression a few months ago, they never seemed that interesting, that’s even if I heard about them. And why would I spend so much money to watch it, when I could watch a Hollywood blockbuster for the same amount of money? All of these issues give us the sense that we should just give up on Australian media content.
The following table illustrates that Australian films have either been in a state of ‘boom or bust’ as ‘screen policy is highly visible in Australian cultural policy debates due to the screen industry’s perceived cultural importance and media profile’ (Burns & Eltham). It’s easy to see that the late 70’s to 80’s returned massive profits due to the rise of Ozploitation and the liberal funding scheme at the time (read here). However we can also see that there’s periods where next to no one is going to the cinema, like in 2004 where we only received 1.3% share. So with some pretty dismal stats… is it time we give up on Australian films?
The Revival Period
We just had our biggest year at the box office in 2015 ‘taking $84million at the local box office, which is 7.7% of the total – the biggest since 2001’ (Quinn, 2015). So, does this mean that instead of giving up… we should commit to transforming our national film industry to something bigger and better?
Overcoming the issues
We already know that there is a market gap. That people are turning away from American and British media, however struggle to access new Australian content (Vickery, 2015). According to Aveyard, ‘films only exist when distributed properly’ (Aveyard, 2011) and she highlights the significant issues faced by being restricted to traditional means of marketing due to budgets, and then in turn receiving little at the box office (pp. 43). As David Elfick explains in the picture above, the window in access between the cinema and DVD access dramatically effects the success of the film. Lauren Carrol Harris (author of The Mule) says that we are left with an economic situation that sets up Australian films to fail’ (McClintock, 2014). To avoid being ‘more culturally and economically marginalised’ (Aveyard, 2011), Australian film and media need to move forward with innovation, creativity and some risks.
In 2016, a new VOD service called Ozflix will be launching. The aim of this service is to ‘rediscover Australian classics, launch independent new voices and celebrate our film industry’ (Nash, 2015). Perhaps this is what Australian media needs… to step away from traditional means of distribution and access. Van Hermet and Ellison support this idea, explaining that audience engagement is at the epicentre of a films success and in this digital age, social media and online participation need to be included (Van Hermert & Ellison). Perhaps if the people consuming the content were actively involved with Australian media, they would be more willing to pay to access it and also continue to watch it?
Screen Australia propose that new strategies or business models to overcome the issues illustrated above could include and address the following; ‘audiences want to see what they want, when they want, where they want and on the device they want, that producers and distributors need to experiment with alternative strategies to engage audiences and having an easy platform to access these films will make audiences more likely to pay for VOD services’ (Screen Australia, 2015, pp.22). The biggest solution will arise from innovation, creativity and engagement of audiences, all of which can be met by taking some risks and stepping away from our ‘safe zone.’
A change of heart
I must admit, I’ve completely changed my perspective over the course of the past few months studying Australian media content. I believe we need to change the negative stigma attached to Australian films because that’s the most damaging and influential part that led me to avoid watching them. Secondly, our access to films needs a facelift. If I couldn’t find a film on Netflix (I’m already subscribed) then the chances of me buying a DVD player are extremely slim, and there’s no way in hell Australian films are easy to find on… alternate sites (definitely nothing illegal here). However, in the past few months I’ve managed to watch films I’d never heard of like Little Death, Adore, Animal Kingdom and Tracks. And admittedly, I loved all four of those films. Of course there may be some less than amazing Australian films out there – but then again, I’ve seen my fair share of bad American films as well. As technology continues to evolve, so does our film industry, the way we talk about it and how we access it. I am extremely optimistic about the future. As we see new talent, new platforms and bigger and better ideas, I think this will only transfer over to our film industry and we’re in for some fine entertainment.
Aveyard, K 2011, ‘Australian Films at the Cinema: Rethinking the role of distribution and exhibition’, Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, No. 138, pp. 36-45
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, Incorporating Culture & Policy, No. 136, pp. 103-118
Van Hermert, t & Ellison, E 2015, ‘Queensland’s film culture: the challenges of local film distribution and festival exhibition’, Studies in Australiasian Cinema, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 39-51, DOI: 10.1080/17503175.2014.1002269
‘We’ve got a unique lovable culture that we should celebrate. We’ve got great talent, when the writers, directors, actors all come together – when all the molecules coalesce – that’s when the magic happens.’– Gino Munari, Village Cinema’s 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.
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.
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.
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.
Winner of Tropfest 2014
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
“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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
“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.
Blogging… one word that can encompass enormous diversity. People blog to share thoughts and opinions, others to create and inspire, some blog about social events or political change and policies, whilst others blog about corruption in politics. Whether you blog about coffee or communism, blogging can influence ‘democratization, transparency and autonomy’ (Maynor, 2009). Blogging allows every day citizens to engage in an online community, allowing their voices to be heard. However it is apparent that blogging in different countries crosses various political, cultural and social values and the impacts of freedom of speech and cultural idealism vary significantly.
Blogging in a Western nation
I get up in the morning to the sound of my iPhone chiming away. I put on a cute outfit, not complete without a statement hat, lipstick or pants. I make some brekie, smashed avo on sourdough bread with a wedge of lemon and cracked pepper. My toast is getting cold but I need to instagram it first. I sling my MacBook Air under my arm and head off down the street. I drop by a local cafe and pick up a skinny cap. I instagram my coffee and tag the name of the cafe so I’ll remember to come back. I find a space to sit and whip open my laptop. Pinterest, Facebook, Bloglovin’ and various other tabs open as I search for inspiration. I tap away at my laptop until a post is done and I publish it into the wide world of the blogosphere. In the back of my mind I hear a voice saying “no one will read it,” but I remain hopeful that it’ll go viral.
Welcome to the life of a 21st Century blogger. Or should I say, a Western blogger. These bloggers are generally associated with travel, lifestyle, fashion or beauty (or in my case, a little bit of everything) and are unnafected by political or social intimidation or fear. Bloggers are crucially ‘young, photogenic and well,’ (The Guardian, 2015) and sell a desirable lifestyle. And when success hits, so do sponsors and the commoditization of their ‘lifestyle.’
Being a successful blogger is generally measured by having 100’s of thousands of Instagram/Twitter/Facebook followers, along with making money. Monetization is a significant aspect of modern blogging in Western nations. It’s one thing to have a blog that you treat as a public journal, but it’s another to generate money. There are countless ‘how to make money from your blog,’ pages out there. There’s even blogs dedicated to blogging. However, once your blog turns into a company and your company is sponsered by brands through product placement, advertisements, eBooks and Instagram shout outs… who are you blogging for? Why are you blogging? Would you still blog if you weren’t earning money? Whilst it’s obvious that people rely on blogging as a career, it’s somewhat worrisome that people are willing to commodify, curate and sell their lifestyle (ah hem… Kardashians). This illustrates that in Western nations, bloggers are permitted to write freely with the intent of monetizing their blog and way of life. Thank you, socialism.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – S.G Tallentyre
It’s evident that blogging in Western nations has provided freedom of expression and countless creative opportunities for millions of people, allowing people to shape a career from blogging. However, in many other nations across the world, where freedom of expression is not valued, being a blogger can land you in jail, or even get you killed.
Blogging in Bangladesh: On the Hit List
[Watch the first two minutes of the following video to set the scene]
Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim, ‘secular’ country with a focus on the separation of religion and state and has been ‘a long tradition of freedom of speech’ (BBC, 2015). However in practice, with the death of 9 from 84 athiest bloggers mentioned on a ‘hit list,’ freedom of speech is not looking promising in the near future (Kadam, n.d).
Avajit Roy was an American-Bangladeshi man on this hit list who was portrayed as an athiest blogger. He returned from America to Dhaka with his wife to visit his family. Horrifically, he was brutally murdered in one of the main streets of Dhaka with his wife also being attacked. He had received death threats for a significant amount of time for his writing against Islam (Roy, 2015). Bangladesh is supposed to have freedom of speech, however many Muslims in power believe that ‘criticising and speaking out against Mohammed is wrong, and should be punished by Sharia law.’ (BBC, 2015)
“Nobody is allowed to speak against the Prophet of God” (BBC, 2015).
However, are these bloggers purely being targeted for being athiest? Some believe that this is because they are focusing attention twards the extremist Jamaat-e-Islami group and attempting to hold them accountable for war crimes. The bloggers feel that instead of it being a religious differences, it is the opposition to political power and interest (Bidhan, 2015). Instead, free thinkers are considered dangerous to how the political leaders view Bangladesh.
The hit list that was accidentally leaked to the media, has sparked fear among bloggers. Some have fled the country, fearing for their lives. Others remain, lying low and concealing the online identity. Fear forces silence and silence perpetuates violations and inequality. Therefore, the role of the blogger in a country like Bangladesh is paramount.
Blogging in Ethiopia: Blogger or Terrorist?
Ethiopia is under an ‘authoritarian regime’ (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2013) with atrocious Human Rights violations and abuse of power. Due to dictators governing the country, there has been imense suppression of freedom of expression and a decreased belief that voting in elections will contribute towards change (Nnamdi, 2014). A group of bloggers called Zone 9, blog about social injustice, corruption, education, politics and human rights, attempting to bring it to the attention of Ethiopians and the global news. Generally, blogging about these issues in developed nations (in Australia, like I am right now) is acceptable and even encouraged.
However, in 2014 the Zone 9 Bloggers were arrested for ‘inciting violence through social media to create instability in the country’ (Greenslade, 2014), eventually the 9 bloggers were charged with acts of terrorism (Human Rights Watch, 2015). Ethiopia’s new anti-terrorism laws make it that even “doing an interview with the media or talking to Amnesty International can be considered terrorism” (Nnamdi, 2014), let alone talking to actual terrorist groups.
Freedom of expression = Freedom (Free Zone 9 Bloggers Ethiopia, 2015)
The imprisonment of journalists generally creates a public outcry (like the case of the imprisonment of Australian journalist Peter Greste). Most journalists ‘self censor’ their writing due to magazines and newspapers having strong ties with government officials. Bloggers on the other hand have the ‘freedom’ from government supervision to publish openly and freely. Consequently, bloggers do not have the same protections as journalists and therefore find themselves susceptible to severe consequences the government decide to impose on them. This furthermore highlights the important role that bloggers play in influencing democracy, however this can obviously not be achieved if they are behind bars.
Comedy skits in the UAE aren’t funny
Whilst not strictly along the lines of blogging, comedy videos on youtube still come under freedom of expression and can land people in some countries in jail. In 2013, Shezanne Cassim published a parody video of Dubai youth cultures on Youtube. It was not political nor was it critical of the government. Cassim, grew up in Dubai and was aware of local customs and laws, so imagine his shock when he was ‘charged under vague new Cyber Crimes Laws, accusing him of endangering national security by presenting a fictional image of Dubai’ (Cassim, 2014). These harsh and unjustified actions against Cassim contradict the revolutionary and promising images that Western people have come to associate Dubai with.
In a recent email exchange with Cassim, he stated that whilst he is concerned with freedom of expression in Dubai and the UAE, he is more concerned with the modern legal systerm (or lack thereof). In nations like the UAE, violations of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, article 9 which prohibits member states from engaging in arbitrary arrest, detention and exile, were violated. Cassim was not notified of his charges until he had been detained for 5 months (Bolduan & Forrest, 2014) and spent time in a maximum security prison in Abu Dhabi. He was also not permitted to have legal representation and experienced difficulty being informed of why he was detained, what was happening and how he could do something about it.
Global Voices picked up on Cassim’s story and eventually made mainstream media news headlines. However as the following Young Turks video explains… what would’ve happened if he wasn’t an American citizen?
Global Voices gives a platform and a voice to those who are silenced. It offers contributors the opportunity to publish anonymously and in their mother tongue. Their mission is to ‘find the most compelling and important stories from marginalized and misrepresented communities’ (Global Voices, 2015). It also bridges communities around the world by offering people to translate articles into different languages. By translating Amharic, Bengali or Arabic, this helps reach a wider audience and encourage global engagement on the issue. Global Voices encourages more people to share their stories of concern around the world, to stand up for social and political issues they deal with, create awareness and generate change. It turns global voices into citizen journalists and in turn creates global citizens (Mohamed, 2011).
‘Bloggers have forced the traditional media to increase freedom of expression and to adopt issues that were taboo for the traditional media in the past. Bloggers are setting the agenda and are imposing most of the heated issues that have been raised recently in the newspapers.’ (Mohamed, 2011)
Bloggers and citizen journalists who contribute towards Global Voices, are also contributing towards a more democratic and just world.
Had you ever heard about Global Voices before this? And if by a chance you had, how often do you actively seek out news from this site? Being a global citizen and using our global voices require energy and effort to add value to freedom of speech throughout certain countries.
One thing is for certain, people will continue to write. If human rights violations, abuse of power, unjustified detainment, corruption and extremism continues, so will bloggers. Whilst the monetization of blogging in Western nations is a primary focus, there are still bloggers who do commentate social and political issues within the Western world. The difference is that they have the protection to do so. By highlighting the disparities between reasons, effects and consequences of blogging throughout the world, hopefully this allows you to appreciate people’s voices around the world and value the gift of our voices.
I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Shezanne Cassim for corresponding with me and sharing his story. I respect the fact that you speak openly about what you experienced, in the hope that you can generate awareness and change in an injust society.
Maynor, J.W 2009, Blogging for democracy: deliberation, autonomy, and reasonableness in the blogosphere, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 12:3, 443-468, DOI: 10.1080/13698230903127937
Mohamed, AS 2011, ‘On the Road to Democracy: Egyptian Bloggers and the Internet 2010’, Journal Of Arab & Muslim Media Research, 4, 2&3, pp. 253-272, Communication & Mass Media Complete, viewed 28 October 2015
Meet my friend Charline. We met when I moved into a shared house in London in 2013. She had been living there for a few months before I moved in and already had well established friendships with the other housemates. I think our friendship really began when I would go and sit on the end of her bed in the morning whilst eating my breakfast and making her some tea. Charline is a pretty incredible person. Originally from Brazil, Charline has spent years between Australia, London and her home city Porto Alegre learning English and working in hospitality. She is now living in Brisbane with her boyfriend and their family while she waits for a partnership visa.
It’s nearly been two years since Charline has been back to Brazil, and with her family being such an important part of her life, she engages in some interesteing home balancing acts. She juggles Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype and Facetime, to keep in touch with her family despite there being a 13hour time difference. She’ll often find herself chatting to them very early in the morning (6am) in Australia or late at night (when it’s morning in Brazil). Unlike me, she’s unable to call her parents at 5pm when she finishes work, because they’ll be sound asleep. And then, she needs to combat poor internet connection, which lets face it, is everyone’s nightmare. Whether she’s skyping her brother in Dublin, Facebooking her father in Brazil or calling me in Wollongong, it’s evident that Charline is able to occupy several continents at the same time.
So, as Charline balances her home life in Brazil, whilst living in a new home in Brisbane, the relationship between communication and home begin to evolve. I often come across the saying ‘home is not a place, it’s a feeling.’ This coincides with Meyroitz’s theory of placelessness where ‘people aren’t defined by physical boundaries, but rather networks of information and knowledge faciliated by new media technologies’ (Laughey, pp. 85, 2007). Whilst it’s easy to see how Charline is not restricted by physical boundaries anymore, she does continue to create a new sense of place. It is apparent that in today’s society, modern technology actually allows us to occupy multiple places at the same time and create new senses of place (Moores, 2012), however we cannot undermine the significance of a physical place to people, especially home.
Despite the forces of globalization and the break down of physical barriers through media technologies like skype, one cannot be placeless, because place plays an integral role in communication. Internet access, time differences and language all influence the way in which we communicate, especially the way in which Charline keeps in touch with her family.
The term placelessness, implies ‘without a place,’ where in fact Charline has created many places and ways of life around the world. To Charline, home is a place, Brazil. Her family, culture and language all contribute to her sense of home being in Brazil. Whilst she is still able to create a sense of place, it will never replace home. Charline continues to ‘create a sense of place despite the disruptive and chaotic experience of mobility’ (Dassopoulos, 2013) and the challenge will lie in balancing multiple places, however no sense of place will replace a sense of home. And to Charline, home will always be Brazil.
*Thankyou to Charline for chatting to me about your travels, your frustrations at wifi and reception signals and your beautiful home, Brazil.
Laughey, D 2007, Key Themes In Media Theory, Maidenhead, Open University Press, pp. 85, viewed 26 October 2015
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.
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.