Evan Ratliff’s Vanish was a very fascinating read. It directly went with what we were reading this semester by showing modern use of technology and how even though we might not think it controls us, it kind of does. Everyone who lives a normal day to day life with a cell phone, computer, digital banking ect is easily traceable. It’s kind of creepy to think about it . We are all so submerged in our regular technological habits that it’s nearly impossible to escape them and completely vanish without a trace. Ratliff’s experiment backed up some of our earlier readings in the semester that involved authors who were hesitant to involve themselves in modern technology and thought it was controlling us as humans too much. They thought technology was taking away big parts of what make us, us. They were partially right but Ratliff experiment also shows the other side of the coin. So many people were mesmerized by Ratlif vanishing they banded together and used the internet and modern technology to track him. This read was pretty exciting as I had never heard of this being done before and it was fun to see if they would be able to catch him. It also made me weary about my use of technology. We usually don’t think it’s so easy for people to track us and figure out our day to day habits, whereabouts and online usage. This article definitely opened my eyes some.
After reading through the Act Up project I immediately saw how it contradicted the views of most of the authors we read this semester. Something that started as grass roots spread through word of mouth and getting people together to do something to help the situation with HIV turned into something even bigger. It’s tough for something to spread like this without the help of modern technology. HIV and Aids has negatively affected so many lives and its great that they were able to start something that could raise awareness in a positive way without violence. Technology has helped them progress through the years and reach even more people than they ever could without it. It’s important that we as a society continue to progress and use what we have to the best of our abilities in a positive way. You may not have a ton of money or followers behind you but if you have an opinion and the will to fight for something technology will give you a voice for it and help you reach the people you need to.
I really enjoyed reading about Brenda Ann Kenneally’s photo’s and the stories they told. At first I kind of passed her off as just attempting to shock people with these photographs and as I went through them they really told a story and did a very good job at showing the dire straights some people live in. I especially enjoyed the story of Andy and appreciated how long she spent on this project. She does a perfect job of showing what growing up in that type of neighborhood can do. As great of a job she did at showing how the neighborhood can pull people in and not allow them to succeed or leave she didn’t do it in a very broad way.
Her photographs, while “Raw” and “Gritty” don’t do much to tell any other story than the one of the streets being a way of life and death. There are many people who have grown up in terrible situations who have continued in school and have made something of themselves. Yes that number may be a smaller percentage but they certainly do exist and aren’t hard to find. There are families living in these sorts of neighborhoods now whose parents aren’t on drugs and teach their children the right way to live who end up doing very well. There are also children whose parents are on drugs who end up not making the same mistakes and taking the same paths to destruction their parents before them took.
When you realize that there is a lot more to these stories than Brenda Ann Kenneally shows you start to see her and her work for what it is: One note. She has mastered that one note but hasn’t taken the time to learn any others to be able to play a full song and that is where she falls short. Yes, gritty, raw pictures taken by an outsider may be edgy and that might be what sells but how about doing something different and also showing the other side of things? Where are the pictures of the success stories to show these young children that they don’t have to go down the same road as all the ones before them?
I think Postman would change his tune if he saw the way the internet and new digital media could be used to tell a story. When you think of digital media in this age you don’t immediately think of all the ways it may be better than what someone could do just with print. Print is good but you can’t print enough and distribute to everywhere that something on the internet can be distributed to. The internet and the media on it can reach places that would otherwise not be reached by regular print. Kenneally does a good job of telling the story with a mix of words and photo’s that wouldn’t have the same effect if either were missing from the other. I think that alone proves that Postman has a flaw in his thoughts towards the new digital age.
I chose Scrutiny as one of the 8 “Norms” that Tapscott wrote about. His version and definition of scrutiny hinged largely on the younger Gen Netters scrutinizing information and being less trusting because they have a more broad sense of the world than his generation does. Our generation is able to get information at the drop of a hat and can usually find out if something is real or fake instantly. He used an example of him attempting to play a joke on his employees on April Fools Day. He had his assistant send out an email that said he would be working with Angelina Jolie and that she wanted to meet his staff. He also stated that she would attend a cocktail party that said staff was invited to. None of his young employees took this information as serious yet the older employees fell for it. I’m not sure if this is the best example as this was sent on April Fools and if an employee isn’t sharp enough to figure out that that is a joke then it may be time to put them out to pasture. He then goes on to use Orson Welles “War of the Worlds” as an example saying that it most likely wouldn’t have the same effect on the public today largely due to the internet and the younger generations skepticism. I would have to agree with this many times over. Something like “War of the Worlds” wouldn’t be able to happen today because we have way too much going on to let that get by and the internet would stop it dead in it’s tracks. I’m sure there would be a few people who would believe it but not the mass following that believed the original. I think Tapscott makes a very valid point and I have to group myself in with that and admit that I am pretty skeptical of everything. I was raised to question everything and work to find my own answers and make sure that they are fact. I also enjoy a broad range of reading materials so that I have some knowledge in most areas which helps me gather at least some Idea of what things may be real or not. I think this generation is better off scrutinizing things. It helps keep most information pure and can limit the amount of false information that spreads as the gospel.
The Author in this piece wrote about wresting and how the story lines in wresting have always gone along with and even to an extent mirrored what was actually happening around us in real life. Chris Hedges does a very good job of showing how wresting has blurred fantasy with reality so closely with their storylines they have been able to draw people in.to what is happening. People will follow these events that happen blindly because they draw from what is actually happening around us and use real events into fooling the viewers into thinking these story lines are actually important. Hedges goes on to say “ The Narratives of emotional wreckage reflected in the wrestlers stage biographies mirror the emotional wreckage of the fans. This is the deep appeal of professional wrestling.”
The Author then goes on to lump in Jerry Springer, Oprah Winfrey and reality television into the same category as professional wrestling. I can’t say I disagree with this as they are all very similar and try their best to pull us in by trying to relate with us on emotional levels. They do such a good job of it that they all have gained millions of loyal followers who swear by these shows. We grow such deep attachments to storylines because we can vicariously live through the people being portrayed on the screen. You lost your job because of the economy and you can’t really do anything about it? Well there are storylines in wrestling that are quite similar and you can see someone physically assault the people “responsible” for it.
I haven’t personally watches professional wrestling for the last 12 or so years (It has become a soap opera for men) but I can see how others can relate to it. I do however watch a few select reality shows and I understand that the author was more or less saying we use these to mindlessly get away. I get that, but I don’t think there is a whole lot wrong with occasionally watching something purely entertaining that doesn’t require a lot of thought. Our tv watching should be similar to our diets. We can watch good things or things with high nutritional value, but every once in a while you want the cinematic equivalent of ice cream. Yes it’s not good for you if this is all you consume but if it’s done responsibly in small quantities it can be beneficial to us.
I enjoyed this chapter of Hedges book and would like to read the rest of it sometime. I agree with a lot of the broader points he made. In some cases it can border on obsession with certain people. They watch these shows and get addicted to them and sometimes have trouble separating fiction from reality. I’ve had friends who watch wrestling talk about it like event in wrestling like it was really happening and had effect on our real lives. I think reality television and things of that nature are fine but mostly in small dosages. They aren’t something you want to indulge in on a regular basis or something you want to believe too much.
I enjoyed reading “Feminism, The Body, and the Machine” By Wendell Berry.
I also believe reading his essay “Why I won’t buy a computer” before reading his other essay helped me understand him as a person a bit better. While possibly a bit stuck in his ways and left for dead in a world that’s moving a bit too fast for him he doesn’t seem bothered in the least. Not owning a computer in this day and age is looked at with extreme skepticism almost bordering on distain. “How can a person live like that?” Well, Berry will tell you how, AND why.
You can’t help but respect his opinion on the matter he goes so far to explain in great detail as to why he doesn’t own a computer: “To make myself as plain as I can, I should give my standards for technological innovation in my own work. They are as follows: 1. The new tool should be cheaper than the one it replaces. 2. It should be at least as small in scale as the one it replaces. 3. It should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better than the one it replaces. 4. It should use less energy than the one it replaces. 5. If possible, it should use some form of solar energy, such as that of the body. 6. It should be repairable by a person of ordinary intelligence, provided that he or she has the necessary tools. 7. It should be purchasable and repairable as near to home as possible. 8. It should come from a small, privately owned shop or store that will take it back for maintenance and repair. 9. It should not replace or disrupt anything good that already exists, and this includes family and community relationships.”
While reading Berry’s essay I didn’t see much Postman connection until I got to the part where Berry was talking about technological progress. He says, “Technical progress has produced a social and ecological decline.” Which is something Postman had mentioned in his essay. In fact I think that was a pretty broad part of what the Postman essay was all about.
Reading further you can’t help but think Berry is cut from the same cloth as Postman, albeit a much broader piece. They both believe that technological advance has cost us as people and could in fact be slowing us down even if it simultaneously speeds up production. They believe we may be shedding our happiness participating in a technological arms race that has no end game.
Ultimately they are both unicorns of this day and age as we live in a world that outgrows its previous beliefs every new minute. Are we really losing our morals and sense of self by participating in technological advances? To some extent I believe it is possible but I feel it may be the people who never had much sense of family and social awareness in the first place who are the most effected. Most of us who were raised right will be able to participate in modern society relatively unscathed. While children who didn’t have parents involved to teach them properly and were left to technology may ultimately suffer.
There is a happy medium between participating in technology and still remaining socially aware. We just have to find it.