Category Archives: sociology

Digital Personalites vs Real Life

[Editing this article, I noticed that I generalize a lot. I make assumptions and say things like “I think people think that…” or “a lot of people view others this way…”. I don’t know if these generalizations are true. However, I felt that, if I think like this, that others probably do too. This post, along with all of my blog posts, area based off my own observations in life. I may be completely wrong about everything in this post; perhaps it is all just a reflection of myself… but that’s for another article.]

There are the “Album Lists of Your High School Years” statuses going around on Facebook, and I really enjoy reading them. I like seeing the albums that my friends would define as the most influential during their adolescent years, and I liked posting my own and replying to the comments left by friends. Last night was a snowed in, cozy Saturday night, and I contently spent the night coloring, listening to the albums of my youth, yogaing, and checking in on facebook every hour or so to respond to notifications about these lists. And I had a great night! It was a lot of fun!

digital-personalities

I promise I’m not a dog.

I enjoy using social media, and like most aspects of it. I also kind of think that social media is a new type of art, a genre we don’t yet have a name for, in that it can be used as a way to express ourselves and connect with others, and that’s great! However, I think it’s important to keep in mind that social media is an activity. It’s something to do for fun, its something akin to reading, writing, playing an instrument, painting, playing solitare, whatever.

So here’s where I see the problem: I believe a lot of people forget that social media is an activity. I think a lot of people view other people’s social media presence and internet usage as an extension of those people- That their social media usage isn’t something that they are doing, it is a part of who they are. And it is through our social media usage and internet presence, that our digital personalities are created and live.

Ok. Let me share an example of social media defining people. There is this woman who I am friends with on social media platforms. She posts shit that I like (most of the time, I actually ❤ it). And she likes (and <3s) a lot of my posts. We have a few mutual friends in common, and she always seemed like a cool chick. I recently met her in real life, and she sucked. She was rude to my friend, and was not the person who I expected her to be. I was so surprised! I like her digital personality a lot more than I like her actual personality… so, what are the implications of this?

The biggest problem I see with forgetting that digital personalities are not real, is that we judge people before we even know them in real life. We think because someone likes Feminist Pages and endorse #InsertWhatevereHere organizations, then they probably embody the aspects of those pages and things in real life. And depending on how they use the internet (the statuses say that they write, who they retweeet, what pictures they post), most believe that this person is probably similar to their online personality in real life. And this, like my example above, is not true. All digital personalities and true personalities are two different things, regardless of how similar they may seem.

In fact, how I view someone online is made up in my own mind. How I read a status, the tone of voice that I read in my head of a person, is what forms my opinion of them. And this can easily lead to dangerous miscommunication.

Also, there’s the chance of “transference” happening when interacting with people on the internet. I’m thinking of the social work definition of transference, which is when a client is reminded of someone else in their life by the counselor, and then sees the counselor with a tint of the other person’s personality or likeness- which is not who the counselor is. So, another example. Say that Johnny looks at Kim’s profile online. They don’t know each other personally, but Johnny sees that Kim likes “Save The Everglades” page. Johnny’s friend from high school’s sister, Catherine, also likes this page.  Catherine always rubbed Johnny the same way because she was aggressive about her views on environmentalism. Because of this, Johnny already has an idea about Kim, and associates her with Catherine. In reality, Kim just liked the page because her friend asked her to, so the page would get more likes. Johnny doesn’t know this, and decides to not be friends with her online, or in real life, because he doesn’t like how he perceives her digital personality.

This example might seem extreme, but what about when you get a friend request from someone you don’t know personally and they shared a pro-Trump status on their page. Are you going to not judge this person as being a Trump supporter, and then automatically associate them with how you feel about other people who are diehard pro-Trumpers? I’m honestly asking. I can confess that I am guilty of making such judgments.

How about people who aren’t good at using social media? Their digital personalities are most likely not going to be good representations of their actual personalities. What about the person who might not be the best writer or speller? If they use the wrong grammer, do we think they are stupid? This is an easy example, and I’m sure you can think of many more that carry greater weight.

How about the people who seem like they are really good at using social media? Their endless selfies have kabillions of likes, their statues are well thought out, and their videos charming. Is their life really great? Probably not. But that doesn’t weaken their digital personality’s influence on all that they touch.

I’m not sure exactly how my social media/online digital personality is interpreted by people, and that can make me feel a little weary at times. Because I want people to look at my social media usage and think that this I something that I do, not what I am. I also need to be aware that how people view my digital personality is unique to them. I don’t want people to read my posts in a tone of voice that is sarcastic, condescending, or rude, because that’s not the tone of voice I use to write them. However, someone who doesn’t know me and has an opinion of me based on what they see of me online may believe that I am rude, sarcastic, and condescending. And that sucks, man, because its not real.

So I guess the question is, are you aware of your digital personality? And do you care? I care about mine and hope its as similar to my real personality as possible. But it’s still not actually me, just like how I view you online is not actually you. 

facebook-me-real-me

I hope for my digital personality to be as close to my real personality as possible.

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Narrative Theory in our Political Context

Ok, shit,  guys, we need a plan. I have let myself sit the past few weeks in this sad, heavy, cold, quiet panic of our encroaching doom (T-minus 30 days until inauguration), and I need to jump the fuck out of this thinking. Okay, okay, here’s a quick breakdown of how I think about life: I think there are only two emotions: fear and love, and love > fear. Everything boils down to these two things. And because of the internet, because of widespread and easy communication, it’s much easier to let our thoughts be influenced by others. So, I have let myself become fearful, because the collective feels fearful, the news I read, the people I surround myself with, also have a type of fear- which is completely understandable. I’ve been living with fear the past two years. But now I realize that I need to shift my heart and brain towards love. That is the answer.

I need to look to the future with a  sense of belief that the future will be AMAZING. That 2017 will be a great year. Because here’s the deal, we have one life, so I better believe that this life is going to be the best life possible. It’s work for me to think like this, and I need to practice thinking about everything this way.  I don’t know if there’s “God”, and I doubt that any religious version of a deity exists, but I think there’s something, even if it’s just little tiny balls of energy sperming around the universe for eternity.

So, the future is coming no matter what we do. We can’t go back in time. This is what we have: A really crazy person with only interests of corporate greed has guided his entire life, who has been filling his cabinet with the worst of the worst, what’s proving to be a hard brick-red Congress, and likely having a conservative supreme court. So, the opposition is in charge of everything and the hand hasn’t been this heavy in decades. This is not how our democracy is supposed to work out. We are supposed to have checks and balances.

So, narrative theory, or “narratology” as fancy scholars like to refer to it. I wasn’t familiar with narrative theory until this past semester in school, where my practice class was about using different theoretical perspectives and figuring out what my own personal lens is (feminist and narrative). Ok, so narrative theory asserts that people have an understanding of their life based on their own personal experiences. How they understand these experiences is what creates the “life story” of the person, and thus influences their thinking and understanding of life and future events.

We get so stuck in these narratives that we believe that it’s all true. For instance, and I hope he doesn’t get mad at me for using this example, but my father recently retired. This has been difficult for him, as it is for most people who have spent their life working and now have that huge part of their life missing. He was talking to me the other day and said that he felt bad because he knew he always imagined fly fishing after he retired, but the river levels have been too low for him to go fly fishing. So I brought up the idea of, “what if you never thought about fly fishing? What if that wasn’t what you had planned your whole life to do after you retire? What would you do then?” and this was a WHOLE brand new thought. He was so caught up in his self-prescribed understanding of what his life would be, that it was like a door opening when he was able to think about the possibility of opening his mind to doing something else- to changing his narrative.

Ok, so narratives are powerful. I have seen the word “narrative” used a billion times during the past year to describe political events. What someone’s narrative is, influences how others to think about them. We love underdogs. So, we think about Bernie Sander’s narrative, and how he worked so hard to become a Senator and spark up this political revolution that is gathering kinetic energy, waiting to explode. This narrative helped people connect with him, because we often judge people by their narrative.

We love good stories. We love a good movie with a great plot, with great character development, that we can relate to, even if it’s just relating on the surface value and of being empathetic. We can’t really relate to Trump’s narrative because it hasn’t been set out for us. But Trump used his voter base’s narratives. He listened to what they had going on and used it to reinforce their thinking. In many places, including towns in Northeastern PA, the consensus is that jobs have been shipped overseas, and that “true” American’s aren’t gaining in life because of illegal immigrants. Trump helped reinforce this narrative by running a campaign that promised to fix these things. He didn’t help these people understand a different narrative, one that is more honest towards the situation. He didn’t come out and say that companies are moving overseas because of trade deals and that illegal immigrants either work for wages that most people wouldn’t get out of bed for and that illegals don’t have any rights (ie to welfare, etc) in America. It is much easier for Trump to reinforce a false narrative than try to expose an honest one. So in this lack of truth, it is easier to appeal to heartstrings than the brain.

Another good example of narrative theory is the Joe Biden-Barack Obama-BFF memes. I love these memes so much. I love that it seems like Biden and Obama are legit best friends forever and that Joe is a hapless dude who acts as the protector little miniature watchdog for Obama. I love thinking about Biden and Obama like this. But you know what, it’s probably not true. And this narrative only allows us to think about Biden and Obama as good pals, and that’s honorable, and thus their candidacy must be honorable too. It leaves little room for doubt or for exploring what an alternative narrative might be. Although I think it is a form of propaganda, I do love a good Biden-Obama meme.

biden-obama-great

love it

Alright, I’m not sure if this makes much sense, but it’s something that’s been on my mind the past few months, and I figured I’d try my best to explain how I have been noticing narrative theory used in a way to influence people’s understanding of politics, current affairs, and past actions done by our government.  Narratives are formed in the mind, but can be reinforced by using both love or fear. It just depends on how we want to view them.

bidenobama

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4th-Wave Feminism

find-4th-wave-logo-copy

4th wave feminism really isn’t that radical

There isn’t a ton on the internet about fourth wave feminism, so I wanted to throw my idea about this subject out there. I think this is especially important right now in our political context.

I wanted to write a little bit about this because I’ve encountered some third-wavers who believe it is sexist for a woman to not vote for Hillary Clinton. They believe that electing the first female to the white house will help conquer goals within their doctrine of third wave feminism

Under my belief, definition, and values of fourth-wave feminism, voting for a woman just because she is a woman is sexist.

Side Note: While searching the internet, I found more anti-women content in regards to fourth wave feminism. I forgot that there are people out there who are truly sexist to the core, which is so crazy to me.

Here’s my values as an American fourth-wave socialist feminist:

  • All genders and sexualities are equal
  • The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd wave feminists paved the path I walk on today.
  • Whoever is better fit for a job should get the job.
  •                 If there is a fitness test to be in first line of combat, and a woman fails it, then she shouldn’t be granted special opportunity to be in the first line. This only brings down the whole team.
  •                 If there is a man and woman who interview in front of a board of all men for an executive position, and the woman has a better work history and is the better candidate, than the woman should get the job.
  • Women need to support women
  • Men need to support women
  • Men and women have equal parenting rights. Men need to be just as responsible for their children as women.
  • A transparent patriarchy still exists which influences everything- our entire system of government, social norms, values, and all aspects of daily life.
  •                 This patriarchy is constantly changing and is symbiotic in nature to women’s advancement
  • There should not be an assumption that women want a family, to be mothers, or any other institutionalized gender roles
  • Women need to learn to validate themselves based on their minds, not their appearance. This underlining assumption of visual judgement needs to be destroyed so that it is not carried into future generations.
  • Men need to validate women based on their minds, not their physical appearance.
  •                 True progress will begin when women are not silently objectified by men and women
  • The goal of feminism if to have an equal playing field for men and women. Once we get to this point, feminism will no longer exist because there will no longer a need.
  • Feminist efforts cannot progress unless classism, racism, and all social conflicts are included in the efforts.

 

Ok. Short and sweet. Just thought I’d throw this up here since I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

feminism-red-fist

solidarity with other social justice issues is the only way 4th wave feminism can progress

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What does America Value? I’m seriously asking.

So last week I had a paper due about ethics and values and stuff like that. And it got me thinking about American values, and well, what are they in 2016?

fuck, we're screwed

Is this what we value?

I’m seriously asking because I’m not sure what America cares about anymore. WHERE U BE, AMERICAN VALUES? For real though, the only time I hear the word “value” is when it comes to a fast-food meal or a big savings on Keurig machines at Walmart. But then, that kind of makes sense, right? That maybe these are our values now- immediacy and materialism? I think it’s fair to say that as Americans we want what we want, and we want it fucking right now. And we basically have a holiday that celebrates materialism- god bless the brave, the 3am risers the day after Thanksgiving.

What else does America value? I’d say: beauty over brains, money over philanthropy, and mine over yours. Not that we don’t care about brains, philanthropy, or helping others; those are just secondary values. Honestly, we’re Americans. We want our movies to have full frontal nudity, as long as it isn’t Lena Dunham (am I right?). If there were sexy female scientists, would they have a Netflix special where they explain the cosmos?  And of course we occasionally give an extra $5 to a homeless person, but dontcha know I’m gonna let you know about it. I hardly have an extra $5 myself!

What we value is what we get. There was a saying I learned during a very confusing time of my life, “If you love something, you take care of it”. And I completely believe that. So what do we take care of in America? Our media, our entertainment, our solidarity with those who think like us. We care about watching Donald Trump causing a hate-fueled ruckus wherever he goes because it’s funny. Wow, he says whatever he wants! He speaks his truth! And maybe you think he’s right, so you’re gonna make sure you get other people to vote for him, because that’s what you value. And, that’s your right as an American. And through this right, you’re helping shape American values.

And our entertainment. God forbid that Netflix ever goes down on a Friday night. Could you imagine? What would become of us? Or if the big sport game wasn’t televised. What would happen? We allow celebrities and athletes to make millions of dollars, while we can’t feed our poor or get proper healthcare for our veterans. But celebrities and athletes are on TV and on the internet, we don’t have to look at poor people. We take care of what we value. 

The Declaration of Independence says that we’re supposed to have “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. So I guess our definitions of Life, Liberty and Happiness has changed since 1776. But what are these definitions now? Does life just consist of what we have? From a big house, to a doctoral degree? What is liberty? Is Donald Trump a new definition of Liberty? And what about the pursuit of Happiness? IS that a $8 monthly subscription to streaming videos? I’m seriously asking, because I have no idea.

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Facts, Opinions, and How to Influence Others

falseness

#truth

How do you learn about the news? The local newspaper delivered to your door each morning? The Evening Broadcast on Channel 6? The NY Times you pick up on your way to work? Your favorite online news magazines? Headlines throughout the day posted on Facebook? Other ____?

If we’re being real, which is what this whole post is about, I don’t always read the news from reliable sources. I don’t get the local newspaper, and only read a carefully picked 5 stories a month from the Scranton Times because they charge you for any more than this. I use the Newsstand App on my iPhone where I am subscribed to a ton of my favorite newspapers and magazines, and do my due diligence to read the top headlines each morning, but a lot of time it’s done with blurry sleep ridden eyes and a hazy, non-caffeinated consciousness. And what about Facebook? Is it wrong to say that I read some of my news from Facebook from other friends’ posts, especially when I seem to be sucked into a social media state of numbness on my phone?

I don’t think it’s bad necessarily to get your news from Facebook or other social media outlets, as long as you’re reading such with an open and critical thinking mind. It’s important to take into consideration who shared the news article and is it related to a reputable news source?  Is it just an eye grabbing, attention seeking headline that doesn’t expect you to even click on the link and read the full story? Are you sure it’s a factual piece of writing and not an op-ed hidden in the hazy digital veil of truth-likeness?

I see so many news stories on Facebook and I am growing more and more nervous of their power each day. The issue I see is too many people are willing to just read the headline someone posts and not the full story. And, if the full story is read, it’s just a few paragraphs giving the news source’s opinion disguised as fact and taken out of context. Think Fox News, but remember Fox News isn’t the only news media that is guilty of making readers think their opinions are fact. Liberal media sources do this too.

I am weary of news media outlets that posts stories online that say things like “This is the Dumbest Thing Clinton has said During Her Campaign So Far” and “Putting Sanders in the White House is Like Making a Zebra the King of America”. These are obviously opinion pieces, but are we sure that by reading this we won’t automatically agree with this opinion because it’s easier than thinking for ourselves?

I am 100% guilty of this. I have read articles, such as an article a few months ago published by Mother Jones which was about Jeb Bush and his remarks about people who work 40 hours a week should work more. I was appalled to say the least, but it wasn’t until I took the time to read a few other news sources that I found the whole story, and Mother Jones’ only reported on a small bit in order to entice readers.

I’m worried about the effects this type of understanding of the news, the only reading headlines or carefully crafted opinion pieces that sway the reader to assume this opinion and thus believe it as their truth, is having on us as a nation. It’s really hard to figure out what is truth, what is only part of the story, and what is just opinion of the writer. See, even though I use this blog to air my opinions and thoughts, I also hope that readers will take into consideration my views and challenge them against their own. And if someone doesn’t have their own opinion yet, then it is much easier for me, or anyone, to influence someone into thinking the same way that I do. And that’s dangerous.

 

And sometimes the news is so overwhelming, as performed by Eric Andre:

 

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Polarized Thinking is destroying our potential to have independent thought

cat vs. dog

You’re Either a Dog or a Cat

I have been sick for two weeks. I’m pretty such my blood at this point is made up of at least 4% Robitussin. I hope this makes sense to people other than myself and my dog:

We vs. They

The need for distinction and separation in a country that once prided itself on inclusiveness is pulling apart America.

Our way of thinking is becoming minimalized, or at least I notice mine often being compromised. By default, we want things to be clean and simple. We want easy choices. And when there are only two choices to choose from, well making a decision that involves the most good isn’t so hard. I relate this to being a vegetarian in a steak house. I never have to worry about what I’m going to get to eat and never regret what I order, because more than likely there will only be one salad that I can have off the whole menu. Case closed.

The way of making choices based on polarized answers has taken over American politics. Things must fit into nominal categories, and for many things there are only two categories to choose from- The We or The They. You either are or you aren’t. There is no other answer. And this way of thinking is dangerous. It is “in-the-box” thinking. It is standardized test thinking. It is biased thinking that we start accepting as truth.

Donald Trump is a perfect example of someone who strives off people who have been beatened down by the media and other social control measures that promotes polarized thinking as the only way. For instance, it’s either you are part of the whole, the WE, that wants the country to be better, or you are part of the THEY that doesn’t care about the country.  There is no middle ground. And to question why there is no middle ground puts you into the THEY category, because, well, it’s not the WE. You either are a cool kid, or you are not. And you’ll pay the price for the not.

Poloarized thinking is everywhere. It is conveyed through our daily language. And I’m guilty of thinking in polarized terms, and using it as language and definitions as well: I am LEFT, not Right. I am a Woman, not a Man. I am White, not Black. I am Middle Class, not Upper Class. As much as I allow myself to be something, I define myself as NOT being something. Follow? I am left, therefore I also am not right. I am a woman, therefore there is no way I can be a man. I am white, therefore I cannot be black.

But I am starting to challenge this way of thinking because of its exclusitivity, and I don’t believe our minds are so black and white that we can only define ourselves in concrete terms. For instance, I am a woman, but can’t I just be a person? (This is where I get annoyed with the term “feminism” because I think it’s too much of a socially constructed word that turns people off more than it would if it was something more inclusive like “everyoneism”.) Anyways, I digress. Can’t we just say that we are a person? I’m a progressive, but I’m really just a person made up of a lot of components that can’t be separated into easy categories.

We Vs. They makes fighting for what you think is right easier. Because I think that we should have a reformed immigration system makes it easier for me to be part of the WE that isn’t the THEY. And the THEY is wrong. No matter what their view is, they are wrong. Which isn’t the correct way to think. There are many different reasons why people are against immigration reform, but by grouping them all together as my opposition, I am not open to expanding my mind of why. Dig it?

The We vs. They way of thinking is pulling our country apart. Trayvon Martin was when I first started noticing the media’s revitalization of binary way of thought. Even if white people, like myself, consider themselves allies with black people and organizations such as BLM, we still have this idea that we aren’t fully emerged BECAUSE it’s black vs. white. And since I am White, I therefore am not Black, and therefore cannot feel fully the injustices that black people feel when a black person is killed for no reason by a police officer. But I don’t know if I agree with this. I don’t have the history in my genes of oppression, but I do by default because I am an American citizen. And therefore I have to believe, that ultimately there is an “us”. And it’s just not letting terms define what we are and what we are not. It’s making sure we are using our voice and standing up for what is the greater good, no matter how complicated it may be.

 

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Facebookathy

Facebookathy (n). the act of showing that one cares about current events on social media but doesn’t do anything about it.

Kony_poster

Remember Kony2012?

 Okay. First and foremost, let me apologize in advance for anyone who is going to be offended by this post. I do not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, I’m not trying to be controversial, and I hope that anyone who reads this will read with an open mind. I’m certainly not trying to say that what I type here is how others should think- I’m wrong about a lot of things, a lot of the time. So please don’t get too mad.

Also, I’ve gathered the courage to write this after reading this article in The Atlantic.

The profile picture filters. The #hashtags. The reposts and shares. Does any of it really matter? Because I didn’t change my profile picture, does this mean that I am a bad person who doesn’t show their empathy or sympathy on social media? Because someone did change their picture, are they morally better than me? Do people just feel obligated to follow the trend of pretending to care about an issue because other people are pretending to care?  I think the latter’s answer is yes.

Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh.  I think we all care about the Paris attacks. And we all cared about #bringourgirlsback. We cared about the ice bucket challenge (but did we really? because I think a lot of people still don’t know what that was about). I think we all feel like we care about these things as far as a profile picture or status update goes. But I don’t think this low degree of caring really matters too much.

I can see the good in showing your solidarity with Paris and why it is important to spread awareness about issues, but there is only so much spreading you can do. Listen, I have never partaken in one of these social media attempts at empathy because I’m selfish. How I see it, if I’m going to care about an issue, then I need to really care about the issue.  I can’t just superficially care. Because by just showing support on social media with my French filtered profile picture isn’t going to do anything. It isn’t going to send aid to any of the relief organizations helping the families of victims. It isn’t going to motivate me to send care packages to our Armed Forces who are bombing ISIS. It really isn’t going to do anything, other than allow me to express facebookathy.

Ok, ok, I know maybe some of you are working to send relief. Or you have friends and family in Paris and you want to show your American support. Maybe, and I hope this isn’t the case, you knew someone who was there. If I knew someone who was in Paris at the time of the attack, maybe I would feel the need to change my profile picture….  I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too harsh. But I think the strive to show empathy on Facebook is useless.

Social media is good for a lot of reasons. One being that you can meet people who care about the stuff you care about. I can see an event that needs volunteers and can go help. Or I can see a friend’s sister-in-law is going through chemo and has a GoFundMe page where I can donate. These are helpful things. These have action behind them. Taking two seconds to put a filter on is just that. It’s just changing your profile picture, and really, what’s that gonna do?

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has humanity become blood thirsty and desensitized by real life?

The brand spanking new violent viral video came out on Monday night for America’s viewing pleasure. It shows a high school student getting the fuck beaten out of her by a police officer. I accidentally pressed play while trying to click the link to the story on think progress‘s FB post, and saw the first few seconds, before my panicked clicking of the pause button worked and the video came to a standstill screenshot. I choose not to watch these type of videos, because well, I just can’t. I can’t watch the video of this girl, the video of the Eric Garner’s murder, Freddie Gray’s arrest. the police brutality to the children at the pool party in TX, the video of the child, Tamir Rice, who was shot by police for having a toy gun, the Virginia news crew, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, etc. etc, and on and on…

Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t have a strong stomach for violence and violent images. I’m a drag to watch horror movies with, I’ll end up passed out on the floor. I also don’t have the stomach for such viral videos, ones depicting real life violence, real life murder, real life fucking death. And through all of the constant talk and shares of these viral videos, I wonder if the true injustice is being to lose its power. Are we entertained? Are we still outraged? Are they watched with the same heart and compassion that we watch “Celebrity Reads Mean Tweets”? Are we being desensitized by real life? Is it wrong of me to think that we are?

one movie i've passed out during in recent halloween seasons

I passed out during The Antichrist last h’ween. Fuck this movie.

A few years ago an old my roommate showed me a video of R. Budd Dwyer, a PA State Treasurer who killed himself on live TV. It really fucked me up.  The same with JFK’s assassination. The people who saw these broadcasts live were affected and are probably still affected. These gruesome images are probably stored in the same part of their brain that nightmares are created. At least they are for me. But what about 2015? We’re used to close-up shots. We’re used to audio, to screams, to pleas. We’re used to seeing men beaten until they can’t walk, until they’re lying dead. We’re used to watching all of this, after we watch the first five seconds of that ad before we can click “Skip Advertisement”…

I think that humans as a species have always had a bloody thirsty taste for violence. (re: The Bible,) I don’t have a problem with violent video games, movies, or music, but I do have an issue with real life violence. So this is what I’m pondering- where is the line between real life violence and entertainment? Is there even a line anymore? The more these videos are surfacing the less their value and popularity. Is it wrong that I link these moments captured on tape akin to Gladiators fighting to their death, people watching and cheering on? (Or in the Walking Dead when the Governor has the Walkers chained up and townspeople fight them, and the crowd cheers on?) Is this the same type of feeling we get watching a stranger, a person who is disassociated from ourselves, as the victim of brutal, and often lethal, violence?

My generation watched the second plane crash into the second twin tower. We watched from our TVs the people escaping from the blaze, jumping from the buildings to their death. We watched and were (at least I was)  profoundly influenced by this violence, happening in real time. I remember riding my bike to meet up with my 7th grade girlfriends after school and not having words to describe our feelings about what we saw. Was this the start of it all- the true start of our desensitization? Should we stopping blaming mass shootings  on video games so much, and perhaps start examining what we are actually watching, what real life violence we choose to stream on our screens? And then how are we able to process this? Are we accepting it as reality or just as another video to watch between thumbing down Facebook statuses, on to like the next cute dog picture?

Then we are brought to the threat of censorship. My short answer is that these videos absolutely shouldn’t be censored. If Eric Gardner’s death wasn’t caught on camera, would the American people had the ammunition to question what happened and exposed an injustice that would have been covered up? These videos are becoming an integral part for social justice and intensifying awareness to the American people of how fucked up things are. These videos need to be processed as what they are- real life deathly oppression and violence, not just viral.

Here’s a video of a bunch of cute dogs and cute babies if you need a cute dog breather.

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