Yesteryear.

Lately I have been thinking about how much technology has changed the way we all enjoy the pleasures of our daily lives. From grocery shopping, Hollywood entertainment, and even procedures that occur in a normal office setting, it seems that very little corners of modernity have been left untouched by the presence of newer technologies. So much of what was done in the past one way has either been abolished or dramatically altered by phones, social media, computers, and human-device interactions. I don’t necessarily believe that these changes are negatively affecting every day life, but the shifts are worth noting.

 

I keep looking at how far televisions have come in terms of aesthetic design, functionality, and user friendliness. TVs appear to get larger each year and with the newer technologies (HD, LCD, etc.) the ability to watch a movie or program with such brilliance is still awe-inspiring. There are even television that come equipped with Netflix and Hulu capability. Where this gets a little hairy is that with all these new shiny features on TVs, I think people have become more willing to stay at home and stream films.  Going to the movies has always been a big staple in American popular culture and I think that it is really going down. People just don’t go to the movies as much as they used to. With huge screens and louder home systems, you can bring the experience home with you. But it isn’t the same experience – it is a version of another experience. I remember how excited I was when I was young and my family would go to the movies and see films together. Now with this huge pull to make all life easier, a lot of activities can take place in the home.

 

Even the idea of going out and renting movies is almost obsolete. Gone are the days of Blockbuster commercials and Hollywood Video stores; Netflix has virtually wiped out all competitors. Progression as a bad thing is not my argument, but some of the more meaningful youthful things we used to do are going to memories only our generation will understand going forward.

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Think about the last time people actually collected coupon books. There have been countless images and social stereotypes of grandmothers or older relatives collecting and cutting out coupons for retail and grocery shoppers. Now there are online coupons you can print and promotional codes you simply need to type into the processor. Everything is easier and requires us to do less and less of the normal every day activities. With refrigerators that type out what foods are running low or even audiobooks on iPads that read bedtime stories to young children, people are doing less because the push is to make everything we do more efficient as far as ability, time, and mobility.

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The largest, in my opinion, shift from older ways of communication is the emergence and subsequent total domination of texting. Texting has created a new environment, complete with norms and guidelines, on how people interact with one another. Very few can remember the last time they spoke on the phone with multiple people for many hours at a time. Again, this isn’t a bad thing that we can communicate long and short distances more easily, but it forces the younger generation to adopt a new set of principles and rules.

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Color Me Free: Real Life Bad Boys in the Comic Book Color

            After our classroom discussion this week revolving around artistic interpretation in regards to messages and mediums, I really started to question how different cultural icons could be used as teaching tools. It was interesting to contemplate whether or not a meme could ever generate such a cultural following that it would be able to be considered a way to learn about the cultures of today in years to come.  In looking at the different art pieces that focused on images of the intimacy of motherhood and the isolation of death, I never realized how many social interactions people accept as universal law. It was remarkable that we all had similar definitions for how we internalize human contact that we were able to share and engage in based on one stimulus. I kept thinking what could society use as a teaching agent that has cultural weight and is presented through am innovative channel people are willing to pursue. While keeping this idea in my mind, I went rummaging through the Internet and I came across this little gem of an article.

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            When I first went through the series of original pieces, I was blown away by the creativity and dedication that must have went into connecting two different environments. Even if you did not read or follow comic book universes as a young child, the cultural relevance of those materials is undeniable. From books, clothing apparel, and costume concepts to movies, television series, to valued collector’s items, comic books have found a remarkable pulse in popular culture that still beats with vigor. The fact that many young people, boys and men in particular, have had such an emotional connection with these characters and stories for generations really underscores how much aesthetic arrest these plots must have. Those stories are were people figure out the difference between right and wrong and learn that life is a constant cosmic battle of identity, sacrifice, and the strength of the will. Likewise, the villains of these stories are equally as powerful as they serve as the character foil to the heroes and show how quickly good intentioned people can fall from grace into a dark, unmaintained, space.

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            In juxtaposing the “real” bad guys with the super-villains, this sends a powerful message that the sometimes the make believe characters have very real world counterparts who are, often times, even more sinister than the comic book men and women. It also details how events and occurrences that take places in comic books are not completely made up; it is often the case that many things in comic books mirror the social climates of our world. With stories that revolve around adoption, loss of family, corruption, and unadulterated destruction, this is how you can communicate with people in future generations; you allow them to address heavy issues in a way that compels them to stretch their horizons. This is a big reason why Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and the Harry Potter series are all such canonical pieces of masterworks! They teach without having to be in a classroom. There are lessons of genuine friends, different temperaments, and heartbreaking loss that sometimes feel more real to us than the world around us.

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            What makes this piece really spectacular is how devoted the writer and artist had to be to accurately match up the real life bad guy with the comic book evil dude! I’m not sure how much everyone knows about the comic book universe, but this guy sure knows his villains. The characteristics and personalities of the comic bad guys compliments and sometimes is an exact replica of the actual men who are featured in the piece. The mania and high level of theatrical violence that was associated with Charles Manson could only truly be compared with the sheer uncompromising madness that makes The Joker such a worthy arch-nemesis to The Batman; it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, then it’s The Joker’s playground. There are also different degrees and styles of evils that are listed too. Adolf Hitler as Galactus is pure genius because both the entities sought total domination through means of using constructed machines. Galactus must use his armor to maintain all of his internal energies and power and, likewise, Hitler used his social machine, the Nazi Party, to control and manipulate the lives of millions of people. It doesn’t hurt that they both have larger than life images too.

Society Kills Teenager #26

We were promised a freedom to walk barefoot on the bones of our grandparents

Fell from the cradle she traded lollipops for cigarettes and STOP

 

Voice of an angel she turned the throbbing bottleneck on the beer into a microphone

Glasses of men like Jack, Jameson, and Gin became the boyfriends STOP who fucked her every night

 

Breasts swallowed up behind an aged t-shirt and hair unkempt as the treasures between her legs

She’s the model mistake for prayers to pray prayers for prey STOP

 

A glass screen replaced a glass mirror and a glass pipe replaces a glass slipper for a Princess

Too young to outrun the dubious spins of her STOP own corroded kingdom of condoms, cocaine, cash, crime, colors, or just plain cool kids.

 

She partied hard because society hit her the hardest STOP

So when you see her throwing back a couple of beers, just know she’s holding back a couple tears

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In writing this piece, I really wanted to capture the benign neglect that society has for the everyday teenager. In the line, “We were promised a freedom to walk barefoot on the bones of our grandparents /Fell from the cradle she traded lollipops for cigarettes” I thought it would be fair to show how much the passage of time can do to one’s sense of purpose and entitlement. The first line is there to illustrate the fall and rise of all generations. In taking this freedom society has given us to be freethinkers and progressive people, sometimes many people go astray and mistake this privilege for right. By walking around the streets and locations that were once populated by all our ancestors, it is easy to forget that we, too, must return back to this earth one day. “The Teenager” believes they marching for a cause and a stance on rebellion, but they are merely sprinting toward an ultimate truth; nothing last forever, especially age. The girl in the picture inspired the second line because I wanted to show the reader how exactly she came to that part of her young life. The fact that she “traded lollipops for cigarettes” doesn’t mean that this young lady was faced with some type of loss-of-innocence plot in her life, it only stands to attest that as people age, different aspects of life become more or less glamorous to them. It is highly possible that society has created a space where teenagers do not see the need to enjoy lollipops and would rather find their joy from the contents of an alcohol bottle.

            The reason that all the “STOPs” are such an integral part to the message of my poem is because I wanted to mirror the form of a standard text message or Tweet. Twitter has become the leading canon of communication today with over a billion users and growing. Everyone is pretty familiar on how the process works, even if they are not a part of the system. In composing a Tweet, or a standard text message, an individual is only allotted a certain amount of characters to express him or herself.  This is why the “STOPs” are scattered and do not follow a particular visual design. They are not at the beginning or the end of every line because that’s where they belong in the poem’s aesthetics. A “STOP” comes after every 140 characters (which includes commas, spaces, period, etc.).  This means that everything before and after a “STOP,” up until the next or previous one, could potentially be a Tweet or text message. With society placing such an emphasis on fast-paced information, and the rise of technology to sublimate the this fetish culture, the voice of the younger generations, Twitter’s most avid followers, has become a cesspit of techno-bits and pieces of a coherent dialogue. Many young people have become so fixated on receiving news and information in the most concise of spaces, that our voices become just as small. In having never enough of space to say what is meant, society calls on teenagers to create newer, more visually stimulating, ways to express emotions in even shorter ways. Instead of saying “great” it is expressed as “gr8” or “talk you later” has been sliced apart and thrown back together as “ttyl” all over the Internet. When it comes to popular phrases people like to use, “talk is cheap” is one of the more considered ones in terms of language, however, language actually functions as a currency for young adult interaction; everything moves around youth and through youth culture, with lightning speed, that individuals can only afford to give us so much of their time. The words that are stated, as well as those that are only suggested, all shape how language in modernity operates. This intricately laced web of communication, comprised of how much can be said and what one must save for another moment, helps monitor how what we think and say is always being screened by someone and the power society is taking away from the youth.

 

How to Save The World in 5 Clicks or Less

            In wondering about the ways people tend to help one another in times of distress, I started thinking of the Internet’s capacity to connect people to issues that they, in other circumstances, would be of limited assistance. Now that the information highways are even wider, it has become increasingly easier to people to offer themselves to a noteworthy cause. The most current incident that has caused quite the stir within and around Internet communities was the recent firing of an Applebee’s employee in regards to customer privacy and corporate policies. To get a better scope of the issue, the article I looked at is here!

            I think this article is widely fascinating because it really adds gravity to a.) how massively endless the web is and b.) what types of social disturbances will spark a fire into people. Just overnight Applebee’s became the focal point of this incident that started between one waitress and one patron; in a matter of hours, it was as if everyone who ever walked into a restaurant went to computer to ‘save’ the young woman who lost her job for posting someone’s receipt online. This hammers down one nail straight from the beginning: justice, on the Internet, it swift and uncompromising. The Applebee’s Facebook page was steamrolled with negative reactions and promises of losing large amounts of customers if the decision did not get recalled soon.

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            I think what becomes a major issue here is that although there seems to be an infinite number of voices signaling a rising action, is any one individual really being heard? If everyone vehemently punching their keyboard buttons in anger and outrage, who is screaming that loudest and is there any way to silence someone on the web? In terms of is anyone being heard, on a large scale, I think the answer is no. People do realize that there is an issue at hand and understand that something must be done, but I don’t think we can trace back this incident and find one singular voice that ignited such a chain reaction. This is exactly why plenty of causes get celebrity endorsements to add weight to the controversy. Without that representative image that most of society can look upon and recognize, it would appear that Facebook is filled with a lot of faceless disgruntled members. I also don’t think other Facebook users care too much what everyone else is saying either. So many times upon scrolling down the hundreds of comments on one thread, it is like you are reading the same thing with slight variations. You only need to raise one critical argument and say it well. If some people had read some of the previous comments, they would have figured out that the point they wanted to make was already stated hours ago, and that there was no need in killing a dead animal. But this only sheds light on another issue, people do not want to be told that they don’t have a voice, especially not on the Internet. If one hundred people feel inclined to make a point, then a hundred more comments will be made on a thread. The web is not like a classroom where the teacher serves as a moderator or a courtroom where the judge dictates certain privileges, on the other hand, the Internet is a fairly lawless place in terms of freedoms to say as we please. Only recently have we seen the slightest emergence of laws put into place to prevent death or suicide by cyber-bullying or threats. Whereas many advocates will contend that Applebee’s has bullied someone out of job, others can make the argument that a different type of bullying is taking place on Applebee’s Facebook pages and websites all over the web.

            It seems to me that a lot of humanitarian and philanthropy efforts take place through the screen more than ever. Instead of taking our questions and concerns to the proper channels, it is easy to play the hero by clicking away the intolerance. One of the biggest social media melodramas in the past year and half was the Stop Kony movement that seem to go out of fashion faster than Google+ (no offense, we love Google). As opposed to investigating what happened, making educated steps of spark change, and following through with the right policy makers, a lot of young adults thought that watching, ‘liking’, and sharing the video that circulated Facebook was all it took to make a change.

Do They Really ‘Like’ Me?

Social media is probably the fastest and largest growing phenomenon in modern ways of thinking about how people communicate with one another. Who we are, what we say, and how we feel are all expressions of the self that are in a state of perpetual surveillance due to the high volume and demands of these websites. Because much of how we perceive individuals around us, and more importantly ourselves, is generated through technically processed updates and uploads, it is only fitting that feelings and emotional attachments would follow us into the digital landscape. The piece “Why Facebook Makes You Feel Bad About Yourself” underscores the relationship between user happiness and its relation to experiencing Facebook friends’ photos, posts, and cultural happenings. The idea that people are so comfortable with comparing their lives up against other people does not seem all that radical when we think in terms of desire and goals. I think people, from an early age, are socialized to figure out what they want by understanding what they don’t have; a young adult may compare a lack of control in their life to the perceived unadulterated freedom that adulthood holds. People compare themselves with celebrities and that type of lifestyle, because they are often on the outside looking into the party. Now with the emergence of environments like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr there are so many different lives to compare with. For all of the connecting that these sites may do, operating on them and updating our lived realities into a computer is usually a very lonely process. Sitting on a computer and scrolling through the massive amounts of pictures and uploads that seem to keep Facebook timelines percolating can be an exhaustive exercise that has become a quotidian reflex. Just as brushing one’s teeth or preparing sandwich is seen as second nature, it is also the fashion for many people to instantly log on to Facebook as soon as they boot up their Internet browser. With newer, aesthetically stimulating, features that just seem to never end, Facebook is growing and getting smarter every season and like sheep to a shepherd, we must all follow in suit.

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I do not think Facebook users are immature or silly (yeah, I use it too), but I think we are clawing at the same kind of answer at the end of the day: With over a billion users, how do I stay relevant and unique? Indeed everyone’s pages are specific to the user like DNA, but this does not compensate for the fact that there are millions of them out there. The conversation then turns into internal battles of feeling underappreciated and even more isolated this digital dynasty. “Why didn’t I get more ‘likes’ one this picture?” “Why won’t someone ‘share’ this cool video?” “That’s odd, no one’s wrote on my Timeline in a while.” These are the thoughts that must nag at people who use Facebook as a tool to boost their self-esteem and confidence. Of course, it feels nice to get some attention from friends on the issues and events that mean a lot to us, but what happens when those little red boxes for notifications stop popping up? I think it is becoming easier for some individuals to make the emotional connection that if their friends and families do not ‘Like’ certain things then maybe they really do not like them at all. It is almost like we all have that one friend online who gets it all; plenty of people comments on their posts, they seem to know just about everyone, and every time the sneeze, we all get a cold. As much as a lot of Facebookers may not want to admit it, this can be a huge turnoff. It is easy to make the assumption that the web is a place for misfits to inhabit. Those who cannot play in the real world, create new spaces for inclusion and identity. It would appear that those who are out partying, enjoying their jobs, and love being soccer moms would not have time for the amateur hour fun of Facebook, but it seems we are all packed in this microwave with the heat turned up. Jealousy is an easy friend to the “have-nots” especially when it seems like the “haves” are taking up all the free air.  At the root of most social media sites is an agenda to connect people and bridge gaps, but I think sooner or later people just get better at seeing the differences in everyone. People walk among us, but they are not one of us.

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