Monday, February 17, 2014

Online Confessions

Recently I have been reading a book called "Alone Together" by Sherry Turkle. She has brought many good points that I have either agreed greatly on or only slightly disagreed. This past week I read a chapter discussing a new topic regarding online confessions and the effects it has on its users.  Online confession sites are places where people can go and post confessions about things that have happened in their life. Most of the time, the website lets the users post anonymously. This helps the poster feel that they can really confess something without anybody in their life finding out. Sometimes, users can post and comment on another person’s confession. They can give feedback, or unfortunately express their anger at the confession. These are almost like a catholic going to confession, without the priest.

Many people who use these sites are bored, lonely or just looking for answers in other people. They rationalize that using these sites help get things off of their chest. They don’t think these sites could do any harm, especially because people don’t even have to use their name when posting. Older people seem to use these sites in order to find something online that they do not have in real life, such as a person they can trust with their deepest secrets. Younger people tend to see these sites in many different ways including just reading them for fun or actually using them to confess secret things. Confession sites allow a poster to be anonymous just so they can get things off their chest without anybody finding out it came from them

Venting is also another aspect of online confession sites. Many people will go on these sites to talk about their personal life. They are able to say whatever they want without feeling like it can come back to them in real life. It is a way to get things off of their chest since there are many things they want to say they might not even be able to tell their closest friends. People are also able to read confessions and realize they may not be alone and they are going through similar things. It is almost like a justification for things they have done.

Even though the online confession sounds like a good deal, there are repercussions a person may not foresee. A person is able to post without using their name, but someone else is also able to comment on a confession or post. Since they can comment without using a name, they do not have to be nice or even helpful. They could be demeaning and leave the original poster upset and feeling worse than before they posted the confession. These are harsh comments that a person would probably not be able to say to the person if they were meeting face to face. Sometimes it can be hard for the poster to understand people are just being cruel.

Online confessionals can be seen as easy therapy sessions. People are able to take a situation and post about it online, getting it off of their chest, and feeling better about the situation. Even though some people can post and be negative and not get the attention the poster was hoping for, it can still ultimately help relief stress that can build up in a person that keeps everything in.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Last Thursday I had the privilege to watch a fantastic silent film called Babies. The movie is not exactly a silent film but I have no direct dialogue from any of the “main characters.” The film depicts many segments of four babies who are born in four culturally different areas of the world. The film, in my opinion, was design to illustrate the similarities between each child, despite being born to different parents and raised in different cultures.

The first child we are introduced to is Ponijao from Namibia.  Born in a hut in the local village of Namibia, Ponijao’s mother takes little preparation before giving birth. A few ceremonial rituals are done and she ready to give birth. Although the birthing process seemed archaic, the baby that is delivered acts the same way any child does once it’s born. After taking a look at how the other children are born, we are reconnected with Ponijao where he is always amongst company. Whether It is his older brother watching over him or his mother has him on her back while she works, the child is always looked after. Like most children, Ponijao is seen playing around in the dirt and exploring his surroundings by crawling around. Ponijao is also well groomed after his mother by having his head shaved regularly.  Not to mention his mother also keeps him well fed by breast feeding him whenever possible. Finally we are assured how relatable the people in Namibia are to us in the USA by showing Ponijao’s mother playing with him and helping him stand up once and for all.

Next we meet Bayar who is from Mongolia. Bayar’s mother prepares herself by doing a ritual dance before the birth. However, this time she is giving birth in a hospital far away from her home in her local village. Once Baya is born, he is immediately swaddled in blankets. This is largely due to the traveling he must take to get back to his home far from the hospital. Once Bayar arrives at home, he spends most of his time inside his family’s hut. He can be seen using a pacifier that is made from something organic that matches something we would use in the states. While his mother is not always present in the hut, Bayar is usually accompanied by his older brother who watches over him. Another similar trait Bayar had to babies in the U.S. is his tendencies to cry for attention. This can be seen when he is being spoon fed or if his brother is teasing him. Discipline is also witnessed when his mother gives him a slight spank when he is misbehaving.  Additionally, Bayar plays around just like any child would and eventually finding the will to stand on his own.

Thirdly, we meet the first girl in the film known as Mari from Japan. Starting of rather different than the other two, Mari is born in a big city full of lights and technology. Mari is born in a hospital quite like the ones we have in the United States. Once Mari is born, Japanese characters are written on her feet. This could indicate her name or be some ritualistic symbolism in her culture. Breast feeding is again, something that is made clear in Mari’s culture. Along with a father who is present a large portion of the time. Similar to us, Mari’s parents take her to a day care service during work hours. Along with the care she is given at the daycare, Mari receives plenty of time with her parents when play with her in singing and exercises that keep her entertained. Mari is also accompanied by other children whose parents have joined with Mari’s parents on this parenthood journey. Finally we see Mari enjoying a birthday party and learning to stand.

Lastly we finally meet Hattie from California who is the other female child in this film. Very similar to Mari than her counter parts, Hattie is again born in a hospital full of medical devices and ways to keep her safe. Again we see the father taking the time to be with the child while he reads to her. He also goes to the next level by taking a shower with Hattie to give her a full bath experience, which she enjoys immensely. With Hattie, we see there is a higher degree to keep her safe from any sorts of danger. For example, we see Hattie with socks or mittens on her hands to protect her from her scratching herself. She is also bottle fed rather than breast fed which can vary in the United States. Hattie also receives regular medical checkups to make sure she is in full health. We also see Hattie strapped in bouncy chairs that keep her entertained and safe from running around when her mother is occupied. Cleanliness is apparent when it comes to Hattie because we witness her father giving her a lint roller rub down from any dust or hair. Again we also see parents, specifically mothers, grouping together to help each other with child raising. Lastly, we see Hattie’s parents taking her out for a bike ride and witnessing her first steps in life.

In conclusion, Filmmaker Thomas Balme allows us to witness the first steps of life in this film. By following Ponijao, Bayar, Mari, and Hattie, we get a chance to understand and realize how similar we are to other cultures when it comes to our children. Take this opportunity to realize that we are not so different from each other and that we should embrace and respect other cultures.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Alone together

Recently I have been reading a few chapters in Alone together, by Sherry Turkle. In the chapters that I have read, Turkle seems to be on this quest to interview the youth of our nation in attempt to study the effects technology and social media on them. They, being grown up in a world full of technology, are the best test subjects. Only 23, I believe I had my fare share growing up with technology but definitely not in the social media world that our youth live in today. In the chapters of “Always On”, “Growing Up Tethered”, and “No Need to Call,” Turkle uncovers some reoccurring themes amongst our youths. A few of these themes include cell phones, Facebook/Myspace, and avatars and what they mean to the students she interviewed.

While interviewing her students, Turkle gathered this idea that cell phones are causing them to be less independent. For example, she states that back before cell phones, if someone was lost on the road, they could not rely on a cell phone for directions. They would have to have find some means of direction to get home on their own. A student she interviewed stated that he calls and his mother 20 times a day to stay away from home sickness. However this may be leading to less independent people, is not largely the youths fault, it’s the parent’s fault. The parents have allowed their children to have cell phones as a means of constant communication and tracking of their children. This causes the growing child to never reach that adulthood. Now I don’t believe that we should all just stop from talking to our mothers, but I do believe we owe it to ourselves to take on some responsibility in our lives. We should strive to be independent, after all, it is one of Americas leading characteristic.

Along with the texting and emailing we do today, youths are taking this form of communication to the next level. Turkle has discovered that some of the students she interviewed are not only “editing” their messages to fit their needs, but they creating full avatars of themselves or their “want-to-be” selves on social medias. Students have expressed to Turkle that they hate talking on the cell phone. They believe that if it is not urgent then there is no need for calling. They believe that texts allow for the chance to control the conversation. Being able to breathe and think before you respond to someone message rather than talking to someone and risk messing it all up.

With their avatars on Facebook or Myspace, they can be the exact person they want to be and what they want other people to believe. I, for one, can relate to this very much. I grew up in a time where “texts” born in my high school days. So I had to grow up with answering the phone for the most part of my life.  Now, I cannot stand to talk to someone on the phone unless it cannot be easily summed up in a text or email.  I prefer to think about how I want to respond to something instead of blindly calling someone. Now this doesn't mean I don’t like talking to my girlfriend or my parents, I simply mean that I’d rather “small talk” via text. As far as avatars go, I try to be as open as possible without the drama or my political beliefs in tow. I don’t want to post the negative things on Facebook because nobody wants to see that and I don’t want to relive it. I also have friends who have opposing beliefs and hence I keep my beliefs to myself and do not openly post them unless it was something completely unethical.

In conclusion, Turkle has uncovered several things that we, as humans, should be aware and take caution. We don’t want become completely submerged in our social media lives. There are two sides to technology, a dark side and light side. The moment you start becoming so submerged into your technology that barely acknowledged  your own children, then you are witnessing the negative effects. Technology should be seen as a way to further mankind’s evolution, not hinder it. Take a step back from the technology you are using and ask yourself if this benefiting you in any way in the real world or does it only serve value in the alternate reality. 

personally believe this recent commercial from Microsoft shows a great representation to the light side of technology and the kinds we should all be thankful for.