Archive | February, 2013

the rant

18 Feb

Image

When someone says the word “Africa” what are images that come to mind? Grassy plains, wild animals, huts, half naked villagers, emaciated babies, flies, dirt, dust, bare feet, and weird looking trees. These are the images that since birth have been handed to the American society as some sort of window into another culture. Growing up in the United States with an African family confused my perception of American values; it caused me to always question what we really value in this country. What does it say about America’s value system to represent certain countries in one way and others in a less favorable light?  If you really think about this issue it almost seems as if America is a society that runs on stereotypes. The idea of a mass categorization of the world in order to make sense of it, and re-iterating this notion to its citizens seems like a way of perpetuating ignorance. What does this say about America’s value system? It may allude to the fact that we pride ourselves on sweeping our dirt under the rug, meaning it could be a way of fostering a belief that no matter what happened in the past as far as slavery and segregation the black community is better off, because we took the out of a wild environment that, to this day, remains vastly underdeveloped. Maybe the intent is not that malicious, it might be a huge oversight on the part of the media corporations in the United States, I might go as far to say it might be pure coincidence that the majority of the time the continent of Africa is portrayed it is always in a less than flattering light. If this is mere coincidence does it go unnoticed to the vast majority of consumers and viewers that this value system of stereotypes is being portrayed to our youth? My parents are both African and when I was much younger I used to imagine Africa as a real life “Lion king,” until I was educated and told otherwise. Again I ask the question, what does this portrayal of Africa say about our value system in America? The answer might actually be a combination of an unwillingness to deviate from the typical “American” view of the world, and a lack of attention to a huge oversight on the part of mass media. Even today with the world of social media blurring the idea of distance and aiding in the idea of transparency for the majority of Americans stereotypes towards other countries still exist.

FYI this is a more accurate depiction of Africa #breakthestereotype

      

Public sphere

5 Feb

The idea of an open forum that transcends any social hierarchy, with this Jurgen Habermas I feel predicts the next level of social media. This in context with the last post about media in my life specifically draws out some interesting notions about open dialogue the public vs. the private sphere and how information is received in this day and age. The idea was to elevate society through an open means of communication that encompassed everyone. Looking at society today I look at how we communicate and interact and no better place to start than “Facebook.” This avenue that many of us use to communicate is actually not a complete public sphere; it is actually a cluster or hive of private spheres connected by one, two, or more people. When you look at your friends list on facebook (and for those non-facebook users it is simply a list of people you associate yourself with in one form or another on facebook). You can see all of the members in your circle of friends, then each of your friends has a circle and so on. If you have on your privacy settings, which hopefully most sensible people do, where only your friends can see your content that in itself is a sort of private sphere, that for one reason or another not everyone can gain access to. This of course is Habermas’s ideals from a social media stand point, but if we turn our attention to a less digital forum we can discuss the idea of the 24 hour news cycle. The whole idea from Habermas was to give voice to the voiceless and to collectively educate one another in the public sphere. The 24 hour news cycle is going this direction, in fact they are just keeping up with the times. Network digitally is the new black, everyone is going in that route creating a community of knowledge seems to be the norm nowadays, especially in a society where someone can skydive from space and millions of people can tell you how fast he is descending and the moment he will land. The news has fundamentally changed the way in which we think about the whole institution of journalism, because not only did they create a 24hour news cycle they managed to include the viewer in the reporting. Now when a story breaks with “ireporter” anyone can submit video or images to the news station in a sort of open dialogue with the public, creating a public sphere that now has multiple perspectives to one story.  

Aside 5 Feb

The role of media in my life,

After observing I found was huge, to say the least. I found out that within the course of an hour I check my phone roughly 30 times, which means roughly every two minutes I’m checking my phone. I would honestly like to say that that time is spent handling important business transactions (someday…) but the truth of the matter is that for the most part I am checking social media. Whether it is “instagram” for the funny pictures or visual giving my loved ones a play by play of my daily life, or its “Facebook” the huge time wasting monster that has led countless citizens to the unemployment office. Last but certainly not least the courier pigeon we now call “Twitter” also consumes a huge amount of time especially when there is a “trending topic” that I have to “tweet” about. The crazy thing about all this is that In high school I did not have any of these avenues of media, I didn’t even watch TV or play video games during the weekday, at that time my entertainment were books, books, and more books. Initially I was anti-social media, I never had a “Myspace” account and I didn’t want one the most I had was an email account and that was enough social networking for me. It was when I came to college that technology became a huge part in my life, I bought my first laptop (nothing major a little dell latitude, I named her “ODELLA”). This coupled with the freedom to do whatever I wanted as a freshman in college media slowly started to take over my life. I started with an email account and a flip phone with no data now I have an “Iphone,” two “tumblr” pages, a “facebook”, a “twitter”, an “instagram”, two emails, and 7 “groupme” accounts.  All to keep in touch with two types of people, the ones I never talk to, and the people I see every day. Taking notes on how much media impacts my life makes me think about how I lived before my binary baptism. While I was doing this blog a thought occurred to me, I checked my phone about five times over the course of writing this post. The scary issue in all of this is that when you stop and think people’s lives are essentially merged with their technologies we are all walking around as if we are social cyborgs in some weird science fiction novel. I’ll leave you with this if your cell phone is your TV, computer, personal assistant, workout trainer, video game console, watch, library, gps, camera, compass, CD collection(if anyone remembers what those are), and your personal weather channel, what would happen if cell phones just all disappeared in a weird technological rapture? Could you function? Could I? The answer is no judging by how much media is embedded in my daily routine if the main source of media was gone consider me living in the stone ages or the 90’s(they are interchangeable).