In this week’s class we discussed the circulation of culture and products and the outcome of mass waste that has occurred in the past few decades. This mass wasting happens on great scale in the food industry, especially with higher-end supermarkets. With higher standards at these supermarkets, there is a greater pressure for the quality of the food. This results in the throwing out of many products nearing expiration or that simply do not meet the ‘standards’ of the store. An anti-consumerist movement known as ‘freeganism’ has been created against these actions, where persons will collect food that is seemingly acceptable from the garbage after store hours. Not only does this occur with supermarkets, but as well as factories, restaurants and farms. In terms of being against consumerism, this movement is effective in that activists are receiving food for free, but can also have risk in terms of safety. It can be said that there is a stigma attached to waste since once something has been thrown out many would believe it to be tampered with beyond use, and freeganism goes against this in terms of the consumption of food. With this in mind there also safety concerns in terms of food being mixed with waste, and where the line is with the extent to which the food must be tampered to be concerned no longer edible. Personally, I feel as though I may not be able to distinguish how far the extent that I would go to eat food that has been thrown out would be. This is likely due to my believing in the stigma that has been engrained into me since being a child from growing up in a consumer society that when something that when something is thrown out, it is no longer used or no longer sanitary. However, although freeganism is a movement that is currently practiced by a majority of people, the awareness of the idea of freeganism are effective in spreading awareness of the waste caused by consumerism in the food industry.
There is a stigma attached to young people’s writing today being that it is very poor. Common explanations of this phenomenon derive from the frequent use of abbreviated words or phrases in technological communications that are popular with youth, such as text messaging and MSN messenger. These abbreviations, such as ‘lol’ and ‘ttyl’, are used commonly in typically younger forms of communication , arguably to the point where they have an effect on the communicator’s ability to write properly. Another common explanation is the integration of spell-checking and grammar correction software into word processors. These programs have been believed to prevent reinforcement of proper writing skills since they help correct errors for the writer. The manner of abbreviated writing and/or poor grammar effectively gets the message across, but is arguably only appropriate for use when communicating with friends or family that understand what is being written. Some youth may be perfectly good at formal writing, but not understand when to use it. They may also not know another way of effectively getting their message across other than the way that they are comfortable with due to common use. This may be true, but it can still be understood what is acceptable for formal writing and what is not. Searching for the proper grammar or spelling is of course most appropriate, but full dependence on computer software is not. If this is true, then a correction/addition in the stigma can be suggested. This correction being that young people’s writing today is not poor because they don’t know how to write, but rather that the line between formal and informal writing is not understood or used.
Recent developments in communications that do not include face-to-face conversation, including text messaging, Twitter, or Facebook, have become incredibly popular. A large contributor to the success of these modes of communication is the ability to compress the constraints of space and time. This is of great convenience to the users of these forms of communication, however these methods may also be constraining the attention span of their users. In order to successfully converse, both individuals must keep constant attention to one another during conversation. Similarly to learning in a classroom, one can effectively learn the course material by paying attention in class and taking notes. Much of this has changed with the widespread use of forms of technological communication. With text messaging, one is alerted when they receive a message via either sound or vibration. Because of this, paying attention is not necessary, and one could also simply choose to ignore the message for the time being. With Facebook, one is alerted of various notifications with a little red square. One can discuss an upcoming event with others that are invited as they please, and be constantly reminded of it from their home page. It seems that with regular use of text messaging and Facebook, one can come to expect to be notified or alerted of various forms of incoming communication, possibly shortening one’s attention span. It could then be assumed that those who do not use text messaging or Facebook as a means of communication, but rather modes where they are not alerted of incoming communication (face-to-face), have a better attention span. This would also be confirmed with daily practice and lack of dependence on notifications. It seems that the more impressively constraints of space and time have been removed within a mode of communication, basic focus and attention are less necessary. With continuous practice, it is likely that the attention or focus of the individual would be less likely to achieve. Their view of the world would likely be distorted to a place of constant reminder and notification while those without text messaging or Facebook would be more likely to look for conversation and a source of learning by themselves.
Knowing More People, Less Well
There is an occurrence that has been created by present forms of technological communication that I find quite peculiar. I find that while browsing through the contacts on my phone or my friend list on Facebook, there is an enormous amount of people that I am ‘friends’ with, but do not know very well. How has this vast number of people that I don’t know very well accumulated and why do I still seem to consider them friends? If I think back to a simpler time, before I had a mobile phone or Facebook, I had much less ability to stay in touch with others, especially after an event such as changing schools or jobs or moving to a different town. But if an event like this were to occur, I would still know the most important people in my life very well. It seems that with the introduction of forms of communication into my life that reduce space and time, I have an improved ability to stay in contact with persons that I have met over the years. In effect I seem to know more people less well. This realization reminds me of an article where it was explained that with the introduction of advanced forms of technology (such as the internet), humans have gained the ability to aquire small amounts of information on various topics, rather than having large amounts of knowledge on a select few topics. In other words, rather than a person spending years on becoming skilled in a specific trade or art form, with access to the internet one can now spend time acquiring minimal amounts of knowledge on a greater scale of topics. Most of these topics would be things that they may have never been exposed to without the use of such advanced technology. Similarly to this article, I feel as though with the introduction of more advanced forms of communication in my life, I have the ability to stay in contact with much more people that I meet. It is not that I have more friends, but rather that I know more people poorly since I still have the ability to contact past friends. Even if I were to ‘chat’ with one of these past friends, I would still only know them as a vague distortion of their past and present selves. Perhaps the introduction of better forms of communicating through technology that effectively compress time and space (Skype) could prevent this peculiar occurrence, but for now it seems that one can easily stay ‘friends’ with many more people than they were able to in the past, while knowing most of them quite poorly.
Plagiarism in a Beyoncé Video? *Gasps*
This recently ‘trending’ video on Youtube portrays musician Beyoncé in the music video for her single “Countdown,” alongside dance routines choreographed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. It shows comparisons between the two works, resulting in accusations of plagiarism from De Keersmaeker. Shortly after the accusations occurred, Beyoncé admitted that the Belgian choreographer’s work was part of the inspiration for her music video, but where does the line between inspiration (as well as use without consent) and intellectual property occur? Can the use of a few specific dance moves result in copyright infringement? If so, is it correct to blame the musician in this case or would the fellow choreographers or director of the video be to blame? Could a figure such as Beyoncé possibly be above the laws of copyright? Let’s hope not, but her status as a symbol in pop culture may result in bias in one’s response to the accusations. Although the accused choreography is a small part of the music video, it is challenging to determine how small or similar something portrayed through a medium needs to be in order to be considered intellectual property.
My alarm goes off in the morning and I am awake. As with almost every morning, I immediately find myself glued to my computer. Before a thought of having breakfast or taking shower has even materialized, I find that I am somehow already on Facebook. This mildly embarrassing realization deters me from replying to my friend’s posts (my recently conscious mind coming to the conclusion that if I reply now, my friends will know about my ridiculous ritual of running to the computer after I wake), maybe I’ll wait an hour or so to do that. What’s the weather like today? Did my prof reply to that email I sent him? Has my recent credit card payment gone through? Click, click, done. That was easy. Instant gratification. Would I have this without my lovely interface connection to the internet? I could always look out the window and hope that what that my conclusions from that will help me find an applicable outfit choice. Ah yes and the bank – when does that place even open? 5 minutes have passed and I am still in my room. I have overcome enormous limitations of time and space. Is my quality of life better? In my present state, living without an interface such as my computer for accessing the internet seems unbearable. My parents rarely use the internet or a computer and they seem fine? I seem to have grown increasingly impatient and anxious directly due to my overcoming limitations of time and space in comparison to my parents. Will my progression of overcoming these limitations through time with new and improved technology make me even more impatient and anxious? Possibly, but for now I am content, just as my parents are with their somewhat older use of interfaces. So maybe that is the answer, I will always be content with whatever interface I am currently using, as long as it overcomes more limitations of space and time as the previous one.
Recently our class discussed the idea of Surrealism and its relation to understanding perceptions that humans have of the world and one another. This Surrealist work by Salvador Dali is titled Dali from behind painting Gala from behind, who is immortalized by six virtual corneas momentarily reflected in six real mirrors. Similarly to Magritte’s Ceci n’est pas une pipe, this work teases with the idea of uncertainty in one’s perception and displacement of oneself from what they perceive.
Upon viewing this work, one could first see themselves as being behind Dali and Gala. One could then appear to see both of them from the front in a mirror image. Further inspection can lead the viewer to perceiving themselves as being beside the two in the mirror image, just out of view, as part of ‘six corneas reflected in six real mirrors’- but this cannot be. Dali and Gala are portrayed in this work, surely not oneself? The brain quickly realizes this to be untrue, but doubt and criticality in human perception are effectively evoked in viewing this piece, as well as realization of displacement in one’s perception.