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Living in the Media

Thoughts of a Media Student

There’s No Such Thing as the Perfect Selfie

The evolution of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and furthermore Snapchat has seen the idea of the ‘selfie’ become a social and cultural norm in recent times.  These platforms have expanded to be much more than an avenue to communicate information, we now use them to build relationships, as well as enabling us to express and present our own unique image (Lin, Lu, 2011).

‘Selfies’ and this constant self-promoting through  social media is strongly linked to narcissistic traits. It seems in we have so concerned with providing photographic evidence, simply just text is no longer enough in  modern society (Lee, Lee, Moon, Sung 2015). Whether this be a selfie in the gym, a selfie a nightclub or a selfie at café with your spinach and feta salad because you’re on a health kick- let’s not forgot your coffee made some bearded hipster with a man bun and wears glasses without lenses because apparently “it adds an edge man” (that was a direct quote from a conversation I had with a Melbourne hipster).

Why have become so concerned with broadcasting ourselves? Why have we become so superficial? In our obsession with taking the selfie and broadcasting, we have seemed to be losing our sense of reality. What we present on social media and in our selfies is our ‘edited life’. It could be one of numerous filters on Instagram or the Snapchat filter that makes you look like a puppy- I mean what the hell is that, really?

These options to adapt what we share has to some extent caused ‘our’ image to be false and misleading. Research suggests that these narcistic traits have a stronger connection to men rather than women. However it seems that this idea of sharing a false image and an edited life, the pressures of body image has largely fallen on women.

In recent times there has been much discussion in regards to body image and individual comfort and  acceptance of one’s body. This has been driven by several celebrities and public figures such as Jennifer Lawrence and Beyoncé.

http://hellogiggles.com/10-female-celebrities-amazing-views-body-image/

Kim Kardashian is a celebrity  has attracted criticism from her fellow celebrities as she has posted multiple nude selfies on her social media accounts in recent months, as some thought posting these photos could have a negative influence on how young women view their bodies.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/12187283/Kim-Kardashian-lashes-out-at-celebrity-critics-over-naked-selfie.html

Personally, I respect Kim in a way. If she posts a nude selfie it could be viewed as publicity stunt in an effort to increase social media followers, a good business decision as brands may see benefit in her endorsement. If I posted a nude selfie on Instagram I can pretty much guarantee I’d go to jail (no one needs to see that).

Another public figure who has drawn criticism is Lorna Jane Clarkson- CEO and founder of Lorna Jane active wear. Earlier this year Jane, landed herself in controversy with comment about her refusal to stock “plus size” clothing.

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/news-and-views/opinion/why-its-so-disappointing-when-fitness-icons-like-lorna-jane-refuse-to-embrace-size-diversity-20160929-grrepl.html

Rather than promote how we should look or what’s the ideal body image or type, we need to promote the idea that there is no ‘perfect body’ or ‘perfect selfie’ and we should just feel comfortable and if we’re not, make healthy changes to our lifestyle. A past campaign from skin care giant Dove I think expresses the importance of accepting who we are.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches | You’re more beautiful than you think (6mins)

 

It’s OK To Give

Whenever I stayed at my grandparents’ house and failed to fully finish my meal, my grandma would say “Finish your dinner, the kids don’t get food like you, I’m sure they’d love to eat your dinner”.

Charities such as Oxfam and World Vision have advertised the issue of absolute poverty and desperation in African countries to Australians and overall the western world.  It cannot be disputed that these organisations do crucial work for people in need.

I found myself just recently in a discussion about the representation of poverty, particular in relation to this clip of Jack Black spending the day with a boy living on the street in Uganda.

Jack Black Brought To Tears After Meeting Homeless Kid

A couple of points arose in the discussion which intrigued me.

The first: What does it achieve? Jack Black a wealthy Hollywood actor, spends a day, a single day with Felix who lives on the street surviving by finding food in rubbish.

This is not a totally unjustified question. Yes, it may encourage people to donate money, but what does that accomplish?

For a moment you may feel good about yourself because you donated but does that really have an impact? Jack Black spent the day with Felix and the proceeded to tell us how horrible it was, soon after simply packing up and returning to his life. While Felix continues living his life on the street.

Now I understand that this point could be construed as a quite cynical, which leads to my second point. The clip may have the purpose of creating awareness of extreme poverty for people particularly of western countries, not to just donate money but to simply better appreciate life and acknowledge that some people suffer.

However, poverty and suffering isn’t restricted to Africa. Right here in Australia, there is the serious issue of homelessness and begging which arguably does not receive enough attention and discussion.

Begging is now illegal across Australia with exception of NSW, ACT and WA as this clip from The Project investigates the issue of begging in Australia.

Waleed Aly, Questions Why Begging is illegal, on The Project

Those who commit this horrible ‘crime’ are fined because just in case you’re not aware, people who are homeless and are forced to beg are obviously able to afford the fine.

The main argument is that people who beg use the money they receive from the public they use to fuel a drug and alcohol habit. This is fair argument, as I to have seen beggars either smoking or drinking while asking for money which has resulted in me becoming apprehensive to give money.

The question I ask: Does it really matter what someone who spends their money on?

Granted, someone who smokes and drinks while begging, should reconsider their marketing strategy in order to increase their potential for profit. However this highlights the crux of the issue, people don’t want to be forced to see a person living in such desperate poverty while spending hundreds of dollars shopping because it’s confronting and they feel guilty.

It should be confronting and whether it be in Africa or right here in Australia desperate poverty exists and maybe instead of questioning those who are suffering or questioning the motives of those who decide to give to those in need.

Making Disability Normal

With 2016 being an Olympic and Paralympic year, a global spotlight will be once again shone on Paralympic sport and athletes with a disability. An opportunity has risen for there to be further progress in relation to the awareness of disability in society and for barriers   to be broken down with regards to how society views people with a disability.  This has been further bolstered by Channel 7 signing on to broadcast the Paralympic Games (this is the first time the commercial partner of the Olympics has signed on to also broadcast the Paralympic Games, as opposed to the ABC which broadcast the event in the past) (Knox, 2015).

 “We are delighted to be able to bring this extraordinary event to all Australians. The Paralympic Games take sports to a new level, they inspire and we take with great pride our responsibility to provide the Games to all Australians across all forms of delivery platforms.” (Tim Worner, CEO Seven West Media)

This is a huge step for the Paralympic movement as commercial station is finally seeing the commercial value of Paralympic sport and the athletes.

One of the key issues for progress involves normalising disability within the media and  popular culture .

In June 2015, British toy manufacture Makies announced that cochlear implants would now be available as accessories for their dolls. This was in response to the social media movement #toylikeme which began through three mothers posting pictures with the implants.

Throughout history toys have mirrored cultural ideas and can reflect social change, in this case the changing ideas of disability in society (Ellis, K, 2015). Disability bio-etheticist Rosemary Garland Thomson, speaks of disability being a a form of human variation and diversity. Thomson also argued disability should be understood as a reality to be accommodated, not as a problem to be eliminated. Recent statistics highlight that one in six school-aged children have a disability, therefore confirming that diversity amongst toys is ever more important (Ellis, K, 2015).

Exposing disability to children (both able-bodied and those with a disability through their toys from a young age is an extremely effective way to normalise disability. For able-bodied children, the toys help them accept disability to be a part of life and not something to be afraid of or ignored. While for those children with a disability, the toys will highlight that being ‘normal’ is something that is fluid and comes in many shapes and sizes.

Although this one specific example a progressive approach such as this will hopefully further normalise disability within society and popular culture, while also improving the self-esteem levels of children with disability and also help them gain a more profound feeling of acceptance amongst their peers.   

References:

 http://www.tvtonight.com.au/2015/03/seven-signs-rio-2016-paralympic-games.html

Ellis, K. (2015) Disability and dolls: #ToyLikeMe is a mark of progress. Available at: http://theconversation.com/disability-and-dolls-toylikeme-is-a-mark-of-progress-43105 (Accessed: 10 August 2016).

http://theconversation.com/disability-and-dolls-toylikeme-is-a-mark-of-progress-43105

Knox, D. (2015) Seven signs Rio 2016 Paralympic games. Available at: http://www.tvtonight.com.au/2015/03/seven-signs-rio-2016-paralympic-games.html (Accessed: 10 August 2016).

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection on Assessment 3: The future of #LifeOnWheels

When I first created the blog #LifeOnWheels, I was initially unsure as to what direction I would take with it or where it would lead me. Although my blog is fresh and I am still developing my ideas and finding my feet as a blogger the vision I have for #LifeOnWheels is for it become a platform for me to not only tell my story of what life is like with cerebral palsy (CP) but also a space which advocate for people with a disability on a much broader scale.

https://oliver6195.wordpress.com/

It would by my goal that one my blog could also act as an online forum where everyone both able-bodied and people with a disability could express their thoughts and feelings related to disability within, this forum would be similar to the ABC’s Ramp Up.

Championed by the late Stella Young Ramp Up  was a space dedicated to the discussion and debate of disability in Australia. The site included a variety of blogs posts and articles addressing issue related to disability. Unfortunately due to a cut in government funding Ramp up was shut down in December 2014.

In May 2014, Young gave a Tedx talk in Sydney. She spoke about the social model of disability which can be described as people not being disabled by their bodies but the society they live in. Throughout her talk Stella emphasised that people with a disability are not here to purely inspire us, they just want to live normal lives.

Ironically, Stella’s message of not being an inspiration is what inspires to continue her work of work in disability advocacy.

As Stella discusses in her presentation, I and many others with a disability am constantly engaged in conservation by abled-bodied people who tell me how amazing I am, how incredible it is that I study at university or even go to the gym on regular basis.  They key aspect I want to communicate particularly through #LifeOnWheels is that there very rarely any malice or aggression in how people speak to me about having CP, they are genuinely happy and impressed or ‘inspired’ by what I can do.

A Ramp Up article written by in 2013 by Jax Brown who also has CP discusses the idea of striving for normality. Throughout Jax expresses how she struggled with the intense physical therapy in an effort to become ‘normal’ which contributed to struggles with body image and depression. Although I do not entirely agree I do understand Brown’s point of view as I too have endured years of physical therapy and corrective surgical procedures.

http://www.abc.net.au/rampup/articles/2013/07/29/3813511.htm

 

However I saw this therapy and procedures as an effort to improve my quality of life, yes at it has been painful at times but even in the most trying times I knew it was about my life better, rather than try to achieve ‘normal’.

I want people to become aware that disability is the norm (on a social level) rather than extraordinary. This does not mean that people with disability are not capable of extraordinary and inspirational acts. An example of this is RJ Mitte, a young actor with CP who featured in the blockbuster series Breaking Bad.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2357324/Its-act–I-really-cerebral-palsy-says-young-star-Breaking-Bad–unlike-character-R-J-Mitte-cope-crutches-disability-growing-army-female-fans.html

I feel an article from 2013 gave unnecessary attention to his CP, especially the headline which mentions “…his disability hasn’t put off an army of female fans”. I believe this is the true crux of the issue, as I mentioned earlier there is no malice is this headline, although why is should RJ’s CP effect whether he attracts female attention?

Firstly, RJ is a famous actor who was part of popular series and more importantly he is a good looking man! There’s no reason as to why the girls shouldn’t be chasing him.

So over the next few months and into the future not only do I want to continue #LifeOnWheels where I plan to highlight the challenges of living with CP, I would like to possibly include a post from the perspective of my siblings outlining what it’s like to grow up with someone who has CP.

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection

Since beginning my Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies (BCMS) in March 2014, I really had no proper understanding of the media. Yes, I had an active presence on social media (Facebook, Instagram) and I made an effort to stay updated with news and current affairs also through social media as well as more traditional media such as print and television. However BCMS has taught me how to truly engage with both media content and other media users and has also equipped me with the skills to analyses the effect of the media on society and vice versa.

BCMS has introduced me to new concepts and practices within the media, the most prominent one being blogging. Before beginning my studies I did know of blogging but in no way was I familiar with how it worked or how to use it to its full potential. As a result of this lack of knowledge and understanding my initial attitude towards was a negative one, as my introduction to blogging was related to fulfilling university assessment requirements.

BCM240 Media, Audience and Place has not only changed my attitude towards blogging- diverting my thinking away from using blogging purely as an assessment tool and more towards using my blog as a platform to express my thoughts of the media. Furthermore, not only have I embraced blogging for my studies I have also began my own blogging journey expressing what it’s like to live with Cerebral Palsy- my blog is titled #LifeOnWheels; An honest snapshot of life with Cerebral Palsy.

BCM240 has introduced me to the concept of collaborative ethnography. Erik Luke Lassiter while maintaining that the definition of collaborative ethnography is the working of professional researchers and academics, he also expands the definition to include the crucial partnership between researcher and the individual or group from the community who is contributing to the research.

Throughout this project I was able to enjoy multiple collaboration with my Aunt and Uncle Dawn and Doug Kolb. They were able to give me some incredibly helpful insight into how media practices have changed throughout their lifetimes.

In my post “It felt like you were there”. I discussed the introduction of TV with both Dawn and Doug and both the extent of the social and cultural change that occurred. It was fascinating to hear them recount their experiences, Doug telling me their first TV was given which was fortunate as they were unable to afford one at the time. I could hear the fondness in his tone as he reflected what it was like to own a TV, what programs were on, what sporting events you could watch, hence the quote “it felt like you were there”. It is clear from my collaboration with Dawn and Doug that the induction had a positive impact on their interaction with the media.

I also did a second collaboration with Dawn and Doug where we spoke about the introduction of internet and it has affected the media experience. However, unlike TV, the internet was not spoken about with similar warmth. I believe a major factor which related to such a negative attitude was their age as they both in their early seventies. Dawn remarked on multiple occasions throughout the discussion, how she was unfamiliar with wireless internet technology “…if the lights are come on I know it’s on but that’s it”, while also admitting she is not willing to embrace the technology “I’m just happy to read a book…I’ve got this far without it…”

While Doug was not quite as negative, he was still apprehensive. He mentioned that he uses to track his golf scores, as that process has now become entirely online. As Doug had career in the advertising industry, he was able to reflect on how internet, changed the way he worked. Telling me how everything was changed from hard copies of print ad designs to simply “..sending a Jpeg file in an email”.

Another area of interest I found during BCM240 was the discussion related to the idea that we have become attached to our devices, within this area I looked I looked at our constant need to be connected via the various social media platforms in my post ‘It’s OK to be Alone”. As part of the post I referenced Sherry Turkle’s Ted Talk from 2012 ‘Connected, but alone?’.

Throughout Turkle highlights the idea that we have become so concerned with constantly be connected to each through social media that we have actually forgotten how switch off and simply be alone. I was also able to incorporate a clip of comedian Louis CK on the American talk show ‘Conan’ hosted by Conan O’Brien where Louis hilariously discusses how people have always got to be on their phone and that it is perfectly ok to be alone.

BCM240 also went be the concept of the media and we interact and it affects us and discussed the idea of space and how a particular space can influence people. This is what inspired me to create the #LifeOnWheels and the post ‘It’s All About Access’.

Throughout the post I highlighted the challenges of a lack wheelchair accessible facilities particularly referring nightclubs and restaurants and how people are completely aware of what ‘wheelchair accessible’ actually entails

I think that’s what I have got most out of BCM240- it has changed the way I see the media and most importantly I have become actively engaged in my blogging which I will continue well after I have graduated.

It’s All About Access

Whenever I plan to go oMteverestut to unfamiliar place whether that be a public environment such as restaurant or a private environment such as someone’s home, there are two major factors I have to consider:

The first, can I even get into the place? This relates to something as simple as the entrance and whether or not there is a step or steps that need to be negotiated before being able to enter. I have had countless experiences where I have gone out for dinner and have got there and the establishment has an inaccessible entrance.

To combat this inconvenience I will be either carried up the stairs by either the people I am with or staff, which is kind of cool because I feel like one of those Egyptian Pharos being carried in and having a grand welcoming, everyone clears out of the way, it’s great. Or I will be taken through the “accessible entrance” which is usually coming in through a back door and through the kitchen (you see some very interesting things back there).

Even once I find my way in, getting around can have its difficulties. Many restaurants are not very spacious and in order for to me reach a table furniture has to be rearranged. There have been several instances where I’ll be trying to reach a table and in doing so will interrupt other patrons, forcing them to stand up and push their seat in.

I will sometimes get this look of “How dare you make me move”. Oh I’m sorry, how rude and inconsiderate of me next time I’ll just jump over you.  

When I go to someone’s house particularly for the first time for something such as a party. I usually will contact them in advance to find out whether there is suitable access. Most of the time this followed with “Yeah we’ve got you sorted, you can come around the back” and I have to navigate my way through a shed or some kind of garden, trying not squash any plants.  

The second and most important factor for me is access to a toilet.

Something that most would  never consider and just simply take for granted is at the forefront of mind. I may be  able to get in to the place but if there’s no toilet my life will become incredibly difficult-again restaurants and nightclubs are the main culprits in this regard.

As I am at university in Wollongong whenever I am on main campus for class or to study I know where the disabled toilets are- the ironic thing about disabled toilets is there the only toilets bigger enough to run around in… My preference is to study in library as I know the bathroom is suitable. However the majority the buildings around campus are wheelchair accessible.

It is always interesting for me if I raise the issue of access with my abled-bodied friends explaining the factors I must consider. Naturally in their ignorance they tell me “I’ve never thought of that before. I guess you would have to make sure you could get to the toilet”.

A friend of mine recently moved into a new house and he was quick to tell that when he was looking at houses he was thinking how I would manage getting around. “We should be to get through the front there’s only a couple of little steps and you’ll have no problems getting to the bathroom”. 

Even for something as simple as access, for me it’s all about creating awareness, initially on a micro-level within my own friendship group and then hopefully on more of macro-level, educating wider society on the importance of accessibility.     

It’s OK to be Alone.

With the introduction of numerous social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and the continued evolution of smartphones and tablets, the world is smaller and we are more connected that ever before.

Has this connection allowed us to become a more close knit community on a local, national and even international level, enabling us to overcome social, political and economic barriers? Or, conversely has our desire to be constantly ‘in touch’ meant that we have actually become ‘out of touch and disconnected from each other.

I was out to dinner a little while ago; I saw the table across from me was a group of about ten friends all seemingly gathered for a ‘catch up’ dinner. What intrigued me was all bar one were on their smartphone or a device of some kind I can only imagine scrolling through social media feeds- probably to see what someone else is having for dinner or to like a photo of someone’s baby which most likely isn’t really that cute. I then watch then one gradually grab his phone out and begin scrolling.

I empathised with this lone ranger who eventually fell to the constraints of conformity. On many occasions I have found myself in a social situation where everyone else is connected to a device and I have felt excluded in some way or as if I’m missing out on something . This feeling is what causes to me to reach for my phone and ‘become part of it’.

But what are we becoming part of? If that table of friends are so interested in what other friends are doing on social media, why didn’t they just invite them? Or better yet just save some money and stay home, sit on the couch in their pyjamas and like and comment on all the baby photos and funny cat videos all night long.

We have become so wrapped in our devices and our need to feel connected that we have forgotten how to live in moment and appreciate the people and everything else around us.

In 2012 Sherry Turkle gave a TED Talk discussing the idea that we have become so concerned with being connected, that we may be more alone than ever.

She presents the thought that we have become so wrapped up in social media that we have forgotten how to switch off and that it is perfectly okay to be alone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7Xr3AsBEK4

Comedian Louie CK also summed up our inability to be alone in a 2013 interview with Conan O’Brien. Within the humour he presents some similar points to Turkle, which highlights how comedians can be insightful just like academics and their material can accurately depicts society and how we function- but that’s a post for another day! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HbYScltf1c

Going to the Movies

For me, the cinema experience has always held a certain aura. When I was at the movies particularly when I was younger I knew it was a ‘treat’ or a special occasion such as a birthday. It wasn’t just the film I would see that made it so special. The whole experience of sitting in the theater in front of a huge screen, with a bucket of popcorn suitable for horse rather than a human and enough soft drink to last a week which I somehow finished in the first twenty minutes.

The last movie I saw with my three younger brothers, the latest installment of the Mission Impossible (MI) franchise: Mission Impossible- Rogue Nation. Arguably the best addition to the popular collection of MI films with Tom Cruise at his action hero, world saving best with great support from Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg.  Definitely worth a watch- anyway, this isn’t a movie review I’m not on David and Margret. Is that show even still going?

I must admit I much prefer going to the movies by myself. When I tell people this they generally react with a slight awkwardness as if going to the movies alone is in some way socially unacceptable. As I’ve got older I believe it’s the only way to properly enjoy your cinema experience.

If you go alone, there’s no fuss. You don’t have to argue over what movie to go a see, or worry about best suits everyone and most importantly it’s cheaper. When you go by yourself you’re the only person there is to worry about, it’s a stress free experience.

Don’t get me wrong I do like people and I do like going to the movies with other people. I love discussing films with others. When I saw MI with three brothers it was enjoyable experience as it was something we shared and were able to talk about it afterwards. But it was more than just the fact that we saw a film. The four of us drove there in my brother’s car as he’s got his license which is part of fun and on the way home we got frozen cokes at Hungry Jacks (Mum wasn’t a fan of that decision).

In recent times with the continued rise of movie piracy and illegal streaming and now the introduction of other online viewing platforms such as Netflix, the business of going to the cinema is threatened. However I believe cinema will survive. It will always be a great family outing, an easy date night or a just something to do and a boring Sunday afternoon.0

“Get off the phone!”

My first memories of the internet in the house was dial up- those creepy mores code like sounds, slower than a one armed brick layer. No one could be on the phone. Looking back now since the introduction of WI-FI, I often wonder how did we survive in such primitive times? Just like any time prior to any significant technological advance whether that be the beginning of TV which I discussed in a previous post, or the first car or plane, we managed because at that particular time that’s all we knew.

I am often amused by people who constantly complain about slow internet connection “I’m trying to do an assignment and this website won’t load” Here’s an idea- go to a library and read a book. “I’m trying to Skype my friend in American and screen keeps lagging and it keeps disconnecting” Not only are you talking to someone on the other side of world, you can see them! Wait, what? I’m pretty sure there was a time where the only form of long distance communication was through this thing called telegram and something called a letter which was hand written. #firstworldproblems.

Let’s just break down the process of the internet. It involves your computer sending a message to out of space. Give it a minute! I’m sorry if your YouTube video of some funny cat dancing won’t load instantly.

I think that’s the crux of issue, we now expect everything instantaneously, everything has to happen to now. I believe it all needs to slow down a little bit, largely due to the fact that I’m extremely lazy and I can’t keep up.

Now, I don’t want everyone to think that I’m just going on some anti-technology, anti-internet rant I’m not. I love the internet, I think what it has done and what it continues is incredible, enabling a global community. Sometimes we just need to take a step back and have some perspective. Similar to when TV was introduced, the beginning of the internet was a time of amazement and uncertainty.

I was fortunate enough to again interview my Aunt and Uncle Dawn and Doug Kolb who previously provided great insight into the beginning of TV. However, their attitudes towards the internet were a contrast to TV. “I was flabbergasted“ remarks Dawn. Dawn also added she has no interest in using the internet “I’ve gotten this far without…I’d rather be outside in the garden or read a book” or any knowledge of how it works “I know someone’s using it when the lights flash”

Having now retired after a long career in the advertising, Doug recalls his first memories of the internet. “I was thinking this is going to take a lot of jobs”. He also has little interest in the internet only using it specific reasons “I book my golf games”. Another point Doug made clear was that he doesn’t use internet banking “I’m old fashioned…I’d rather go into the bank and deal with someone face-to face”

Technology and the internet will continue to develop at a rapid pace. It will allow us access to wealth of knowledge and information and strengthen our bond as a global community, overcoming cultural and social barriers. And all the while also be on the phone.

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