Nomophobia

 nomophobia — as in nomo(bile) phone-phobia—— that rush of anxiety and fear when you realise you are disconnected- out of the loop with friends, family, work and the world.

 Work and play no longer exists in a separate realm of space and time. The problem of the smartphone’s ubiquity is not a principled objection but a practical one. The common dystopian argument of smartphone addiction and the hyper connectivity that comes with it is that people are addicted to their phones to the detriment of their family and friends.

Many of us have seen the funny YouTube videos of a person entering a shopping mall fountain or even a clear glass entrance because they were so engrossed with their phones. From all the ‘funny’ YouTube videos, it appears that ‘distracted walking’ has become an opportunity for internet-goers to savour some good quality slapstick comedy. However as a self confessed iPhone addict I wholeheartedly reject these arguments that we are becoming less connected, less involved with the world around us and have become dangerously consumed by what is on our tiny screens. These hilarious clips we see on Youtube or the bizarre mishaps reported on the news as a result of smartphone ‘addiction’ are the exception- not the rule.

Ordinary smartphone users are able to mediate their technology usage dependent on space and place in order to modify the impact of the media. If I was on a train platform, for example, I wouldn’t be walking along staring at my screen: even though I could be checking the train timetable, before transferring money to buy the ticket, while texting my friend to let her know what time I’ll be there as I take a photo of the scabby pigeon, upload it onto Facebook, then Instagram, then tweet about my day – it would be insanely stupid.  People are only consumed by the media so much as they let it. It’s not the media that is impacting our behaviour – its our behaviour that impacts the media.

 A dystopic view of the media such as described in Dr Dale Archers article ‘Smartphone Addiction’ published in the Psychology Today focuses on the negativities of the technology once it has infiltrated once deemed private or personal matters, Archer even goes as far to use the example that 12% of users in a recent study admitted to using their smart phone while in the shower (how!?). However when used appropriately, in the right context, and by that I mean not at the dinner table, not in the middle of conversation, not in the middle of class, in the middle of sex, not while driving, not while in the shower – smartphones are the most useful technology we have to date and we would be lost without them. Does that last sentence make me a nomophobe? 

References

Archer, D  2013. Smartphone Addiction. [online] Available at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201307/smartphone-addiction [Accessed: 29 Aug 2013].

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Mackelmore wins best hip-hop video at VMA’s but… he’s white?

Forget Miley Cyrus, Tuesday night saw Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis win the moon man for Best Hip Hop Video of the Year.  The indie duo beat out big names like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and A$AP Rocky for their music vid for Can’t Hold Us! The pair also took out n winning the Best Video With a Social Message category, “Same Love” fighting off heavyweight competition Snoop and Drake, who collaborated on the anti-firearm ode “No Guns Allowed.”

Needless to say a barrage of criticism has followed. Examples include tweets ‘that time white dude makes a song about gay interracial love and made a million dollars’ and an article that I found personally irritating ‘2013 MTV VMA’s: Everything Was Black, Except the Winners’.

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When did hop-hop culture become synonymous with black culture?

Music videos spread with technologies and distribution networks do in some ways portray an typical 50cent-esque image of ‘gangsta’. However this is not the case.  The technoscape of user generated media means that a lot of people call themselves hip-hop artists – but do only some people do it in an authentic way?

Do you have to have lived the oppression that is the supposed roots of hip-hop? Do you have to be male, hard knock, heterosexual? In defence of Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis – since when is writing effective and eloquent lyrics that acknowledge global issues as opposed to, pointing out, “how fat that girl’s ass is”, not considered to be award-winning hip-hop deserving of recognition? Mackelmore’s music won because it’s the first time in our culture that gay marriage and marriage equality were raised through hip hop and popularised in the public sphere.

Is hop hop dependent on race, gender or class? Do you have to be African American, oppressed male to be able to make your hip-hop music authentic? The current nature of hip-hop would suggest not with rising Australian artists such as Urthboy, and Hope One an Australian female beat boxer. But should these artists have to be seen as ‘challenging’ the authentic notion of hip-hop just because they’re not a black youth from the Bronx that’s dealt with ‘extreme hardships’? I 100% disagree. Hip-hop like any other genre or music or art, should be a forum for individual expression regardless who you are or where you come from.

9/11: A defining moment in our television history?

It’s hard to believe that TV only became a part of the Australian home lifestyle after 1956. Late to adopt following America post WW2, television became an image of the post-war suburban family lifestyle.  Sonia Livingstone in her 2009 article Half a century of television in the lives of our children explains this in what she calls an ‘accident of history’, television reaching the mass market ‘showed a collective ‘coming together’ of the family around the set, with domestic living space being rearranged to create the ‘family room’. In the early days of television, watching was also a public event – not private, in your own home as we mostly view it now. The television would be watched in community halls, in someone else’s home in the street or through a shop window.

In 2013 the image of television is very different. TV is no longer just a technology, but often a symbol of times past and a signpost of memories tied up with where we were, whom we were with and what was happening during certain events in time. The prevalence of television news media in Australia means that a lot of Australian turn to television for information on the latest events. Big events in our lives are often remembered in relation to memorable TV moments. As a 20 year old I have always had television in the home. Some of the biggest moments in my lifetime I can remember in reference to television. Events such as the Beaconsfield mine disaster, black Saturday bushfire, London bombings, Bali bombings, the 2011 Japan tsunami, Prince William and Kate’s royal wedding, the triumphs of Olympians and of course, 9/11. My views of the events happening around me have been shaped by the coverage that I see on my home television. In a way, the television in the home is our personal window to the world.

Asking people around my age the response to what television event stands out the most for them seems to unanimously be 9/11.  Interestingly, I asked my younger sister who would have only been 4 years old at the time and she, almost instinctively replied 9/11. It wasn’t until I questioned her about it that she realised – she didn’t remember 9/11, the day, more the legacy as it has reported on television afterwards (her response then changed the London bombings. Interestingly, my mum’s response was also 9/11. Despite the fact that her earliest memory of television was sitting in the lounge room in their family home in Wales, UK, and her parents having to put tokens into the back of the television for it to work, her most prominent television moment was also 9/11.  When prompted to name other big events she replied with Princess Diana’s wedding and Princess Diana’s funeral (maybe she’s just a hardcore Di fan?). All in all this had me wondering – has the impact of 9/11 been exacerbated by television in the home? Is the fact that the atrocities of the world now reach so far into our personal lives and spaces; we cannot escape them, a product of television in the home? And if so – is this a bad thing? Or are we becoming more aware of global issues and events because of this? In the future will our memories of events be in real time? Or how/who/when we saw it reported on television?

 

References

Livingstone, Sonia (2009) Half a century of television in the lives of our children. The ANNALS of the American academy of political and social science, 625 . pp. 151-163. ISSN 0002-7162

Australians are the best, right?

Since my first year of study at UOW in 2011 I have always held a romanticised notion of international exchange. Seeing two of my close friends take on the college life, one in Colorado, USA and the other in Exeter, UK sparked a lot of (polite) jealousy. For me, international exchange is probably never going to happen: Reason 1 being my absolutely inability to save any of the money that I earn on a weekly basis. Reason 2 being the lack of international universities that will allow me to study law. Studying a double degree in Law/Communications here at UOW, deciding to study overseas would probably mean having to defer my Law degree for 6 months, which will ultimately extend my time here at university to 6 whole years. No thank you, 5.5 is time enough. So what is it that makes internationalising education, not only appealing, but important in our global context?

  • Along with globalisation comes what is termed ‘Globalised Industry’. In order for Australia to compete in a global market, we must think and operate in with a more global mindset which can be helped along through internationalising education.
  • As the world become connected, so too do our workforces. Learning to become global citizens in an international workforce is so important not only due to the many multi-national companies that offer employment within Australia, but for the sharing of knowledge and skills between countries.
  • International education is so important as we come to understand global issues as they are represented in the media and the world around us. It promotes cross-cultural thinking and understanding.
  • The rise of the ‘Asian Century’ and BRICS economies, makes it more important than ever for Australians to learn to be global citizens, not only economically but in other facets of our lives as well.

Despite my desire to travel overseas, I believe that its not just be travelling to other countries that we receive the richest intercultural experiences, but also by sharing experiences of international students within Australia universities.  Unfortunately  for us, as well as our international compatriots,  Australian universities aren’t renowned for our welcoming attitude, especially in light of the 2009-2010 attacks on Indian students in Melbourne.

Kell & Vogl note that there is an interconnection between English language proficiency of international students and social interaction. Earlier in he article that pair notes that  “a crucial element in the achievement of success for international students is not only their academic adjustment but also their adjustment to the social and cultural environment”. So why is it so hard for international students to adjust? Why do they need to develop cultural plurality, multiplicity and hybridity in order to feel at home within our Australian cultural setting?

I believe the answer to that is the ethnocentric culture that forms the values and attitudes ‘ordinary Australians’ (however you may define them) have towards different cultures and traditions. For such a multi-cultural society it’s not uncommon, even at university, to hear the odd racist quip or parochial remark from our peers. To think that, as dicussed by Kell & Vogl ‘Australians can appear ambivalent, distant and disinterested in international students are foreigners in general’, is both distasteful and worrying.  In an effort not to pigeon-hole all Australians, it does still seem to me that we share in a culture that boasts a pinch of arrogance. As if we have something to teach foreign students-  they should learn off us. Whereas the reality is so very different. As we being to operate as global citizens in our rapidly changing world especially. We, as Australian domestic students, have so much to learn from the tenacity, self motivation, independence and direction of international students.  If only everyone could recognise that, we could make university life a little more culturally enriching for all.

Comfort & Convenience > Cinema Experience

Our ability to study audiences in a traditional market based ‘quantitative’ manner has become much more difficult following the advent of multiple media platforms, making it important to study audiences with a more ‘qualitative’ focus. According to researcher Sharan Merriam ‘Qualitative researchers are interested in understanding the meaning people have constructed, that is, how people make sense of their world and the experiences they have in the world’. With the rise of and the fluidity of accessing content and platforms simultaneously, audience observations are increasingly fragmented and diverse.

There is no mystique surrounding the cinema experience- sitting with strangers, crinkling packets, watching what could be a horrible movie while the teenagers behind make out. Audiences now have the opportunity to create their own media space. Sit at home, Facebook, flick channels and interact with friends all at the same time. This is quite a conundrum for those who wish to study audiences for market research. Quantitative measurements of how often, when, where and how a viewer watches a movie, for example, is so varied it makes quantitative research impractical.

This had me thinking about my relative freedom as a 21st Century movie-goer, and when reflecting on my dad’s first experiences of cinema, made me realise how different audiences have become and also question – has the availability of content on so many platforms murdered the kind of romantic ‘cinema mystique’ our parents enjoyed? In 2013, is there such things as a traditional ‘movie audience’?

Growing up in Western Sydney, my dad remembers the day he first went to the cinema. It was the early 1970’s, taken by his older sister (11 years his senior) they travelled by bus to their local Liverpool Picture Theatre and watched The Towering Inferno.  Given that he can’t remember any of his 3 daughters’ birthdays, I thought that was pretty special.  To be able to identify his first cinema experience over 30 years ago must have made it a unique occasion. To me this illustrates how different audiences have become. The common catch cry used to tarnish Gen Y’s reputation is that we ‘take everything for granted’, and while at risk of self-deprecating, in this context I think it is definitely true. I take my cinema experiences for granted.

At the humble age of 20 I don’t even remember the first time I went to the movies. Maybe it is because I go so often? Or that it’s such a normal social event we think nothing of it?  From around the age of 12 many Friday nights were spent at the local Greater Union, not necessarily seeing movies that we wanted to see but just going with a group of friends on an outing to the cinemas. It was/is fairly normal. Our parents would drop us off, we’d be text them when we knew what time the movie finished, and they would be right there waiting to pick us up. This sense of normality also ties in with what we discussed in BCM240 last week about the ‘safety’ of cinema space. How our parents were so willing to leave us at the local movie theatre but wouldn’t be too keen to drop us off late at night in the local park I find, is quite telling.

Now, I find I will only go to the movies if it’s a movie I really want to see, purely due to the ease of being able to access it by other means on a rainy day. It’s not because I’m a cheap skate or because I don’t like the atmosphere of the movies, but the simple ease of being able to suss out whether it’s worth watching or not via friends often very insightful critiques (i.e. Magic Mike has no plot line at all but hey, Channing Tatum is so hot) on social media, and then being able to download it and watch at my convenience makes it so much more enjoyable. Gen Y take cinemas for granted, however despite that fact that it hinders all of the advertising gurus out there as they struggle to find out who’s watching what, where and when, I don’t see our blasé attitude to cinema as a bad thing. New media technologies have given us the choice to become an audience at our own discretion and the ability to consume a mass-produced Hollywood film within our own media space.

 

References

Merriam, S. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 

When does the private become public, when should the public be private?

The distinction between public and private space is increasingly blurred, a division difficult to make, and this is very much a product of our convergent culture and online lifestyles.  A public space, by its very nature is a social space that is generally open and accessible to all people regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age and sex.  Compared to a private space which most people would automatically relate to their own home or space owned or controlled by the individual. Annet Dekker  in her article PPS: PublicPrivateSpace: where the public space turns into private space and the private space opens up to the public notes that “the rise of digital technologies has changed our ways of communication….these technologies, from iPods to mobile phones and GPS receivers, have a large impact on our feeling and use of spatial dimensions, leading to the observation that the area of our cities is no longer determined by physical space alone. Moreover they transform our public space into a private space and vice versa” So when the two become intertwined, when we take activities traditionally kept and exercised in a private space and suddenly thrust them out into the very public, incredibly scary and sometimes misunderstood world wide web – when does the private become public, and when should the public be private?

Is the distinction between public and private space a malleable concept when it comes to social media and online sharing? Or is the distinction still there, just ignored by those who feel protected by the safety and shielded by their perceived anonymity while sharing in a public space but maintaining physically present in a private space?This is an interesting concept fleshed out by blogger Senthorun Raj in his article Grindring attachments: Loving, Hating, and Dating, published on The Vine in September 2012. Currently a Churchill Fellow investigating the constructions of sexuality and gender identity in refugee law and policy, Senthorun (Sen) explores , Grindr, a social networking application for same-sex attracted men with over 6 million users worldwide, in an attempt to illustrate how online dating has not only reframed the way we think about sex and love, but also invited us to rethink the associated distinctions between public and private space. What I found most interesting about Sen’s exploration was this idea of people being completely blinded by the public/private distinction when sharing online.

Social media is a public space, but at the same time our online profiles are entirely created and mediated by the individual. Even if it is a virtual platform, much like Facebook and Twitter, Grindr is a community of people (or more specifically profiles) interacting so why then is it ok for people to act differently in a public online forum than they would in an ordinary physical public space or even on public television. Sen gives the example on Grindr of when “personal preferences” take shape in rhetorical statements like “NO FATS, FEMS OR ASIANS” or “Be younger than 26; or the block button becomes essential,” Lets be honest, if you were out at the pub on a casual night out and a guy walked on up and started conversation by saying he was looking for someone to take home but ‘no fats, fems or Asians’ or made a similar crude remark they would most probably be met with a fist in face. The pub is just as public as an online forum is it not? Are we bound by social etiquette only because we are physically present in a public space? Does the fact that you are controlling your own social platform blind people to the fact that what they are posting is still in a public space?

According to Dekker “the contemporary city has moved into virtual space. A virtual public space that enables forms of sharing and exchange that was previously unimaginable” . Using Grindr as an example Sen’s article has left me with some questions. Where is the distinction between public/private space when it comes to the internet and social media? How is it recognised clearly by us as a culture that certain things are okay in private but no so much in public and why don’t the same standards transcend the boundaries of our online and offline worlds? It seems to me that our physical, tangible presence goes a long way in mediating our shared attitudes and behaviour in a public space.

References

TheVine – Grindring attachments: Loving, Hating, and Dating – Life & pop culture, untangled. 2013. TheVine – Grindring attachments: Loving, Hating, and Dating – Life & pop culture, untangled. [ONLINE] Available at:http://thevine.com.au/life/thoughts/grindring-attachments-loving-hating-and-dating-20130423-241801. [Accessed 7 August 2013].

Dekker, A, 2008. PPS: PublicPrivateSpace Where the public space turns into private space and the private space opens up to the public. 14TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ELECTRONIC ART, [Online].  140-141. Available at:https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/105904/mod_resource/content/2/Where%20the%20public%20space%20turns%20into%20private%20space%20and%20the%20private%20space%20opens%20up%20to%20the%20public.pdf[Accessed 07 August 2013].

My 10pm Media Space

It’s 10pm on a Monday night. For most people, I’m guessing 10pm is a a bit of a wrap up time, cup of tea, shower, bed. However after a day of uni, a shift at work,  a quick visit to the gym, 10pm for me (and I know many other Gen Y-ers) is a time I typically find myself involved in multiple media spaces. Sat in the ‘public’ living room catching up on a long list of shows recorded on Foxtel IQ, IPhone 5 at my side, while perusing my Facebook news feed, twitter feed, catching up on the news of the day and keeping up to date with my favourite blogs. My media space feels both personal and public. Social media is both mine and those I share it with. The latest episode of Offspring is shared with thousands of Australians, yet here I am sat down watching it at my earliest convenience. Image