Our relationships with technology in the information age is something extraordinary. It is something which would have been incomprehensible in the minds of human beings 50 years ago. We are essentially walking around with supercomputers in our pockets. But these tiny devices that can give us information from all over the world are so much more than coding and hardware. As astonishing and advanced as I’m sure the physical making of smartphones are, it is much more the content that is flowing through our devices that is interesting to think about. They are an outlet through which we perceive anything and everything, from our best friends birthday party we unfortunately couldn’t attend via pictures on social media, to the biography of some wise old prodigy from the 16th century, or how to bake the perfect cheesecake, to name a few examples. We can get the information to anything at the click of a button and time and space limitations are superseded by the immediacy of it all. With all this, it can be questioned as to whether our increased access to information in the digital age is making us as a population smarter, or lazier? Think about it, we are having to use less energy and effort to go about finding things. Public libraries were often the only way to find resources and you’d have to travel at least some distance to get that information. It’s actually quite hard to imagine as someone who’s practically grown up with the internet. Moreover, has our ability to comprehend and navigate through information become more efficient? Flicking through social media feeds and search engines is something we do every day. Wading through reams of content which is either done with intent or often mindlessly. But the significant thing is that we’re at both the receiving and the giving end of an abundance of information all the time. With this in mind, are we overwhelming our brains with content? Or as a consequence, are our brains adapting to suit the demand of living in a ubiquitous technological environment?
‘Don’t you think it’s exceptional?’ Pete was sat at an almost full coffee bar when he asked this question. And when I say asked, I mean he more like yelled it for the whole of the coffee house to hear, and it was certainly loud enough to prevent the young man on his right from hearing what his business associate was saying on the other end of the phone.
No one answered Pete, so he yelled it again. This time with an even bigger grin on his face, in his attempt at creating a friendly exterior, despite his loud tone. ‘I SAID, DON’T YOU THINK IT’S EXCEPTIONAL?’
The customers probably thought he was high, or drunk from the night before. And again, no one answered. Maybe it was because he didn’t have the cleanest shirt on, and his hair was kind of muffled from when he removed his beanie hat just before he entered the building. Maybe he wasn’t being bold enough, people these days tended to be so engrossed in their mobile phones, they’d rather walk into a lampost than look up. Or maybe his volume was simply no match for the endless whirs created by the coffee machine, the blending of crushed ice, the constant line of voices ordering an array of different types of coffee, most from rushing commuters. Pete’s question was perhaps not a strong contender for the cacophony of his coffee-infused surroundings.
When he was almost out of hope of receiving a response, a girl, who appeared to be no more than ten years old, approached Pete. She asked if she could try on his beanie hat, and Pete obliged. She then opened her mustard coloured drawstring bag, and pulled out a collection of items; an mp3 player and earphones, a pair of earmuffs and a pair of woolen mittens. Pete perplexedly stared at the girl, baffled as to why she had come across to him. She put the earphones in, pressed play and ensured the mp3 player was at a sufficient volume.Next she put on her ear muffs and woolen mittens, and then began to look at Pete expectantly. ‘Hi, can I help you?’ Pete was obtaining a much more soft and quieter tone of voice now. Did she hear him? Pete remembered she had her earphones in, so probably not. He began to look around awkwardly, where where her parents anyway? Then suddenly she stepped on a bar stool as to match Pete in height, being less than five foot tall herself, and placed her hands over her ears. They were now staring right at each other.
Frozen in a state of confusion, Pete didn’t say anything nor did he attempt to move. The girl then said,’I want to hear your question, kind sir.’ So Pete once again said it, although half-heartedly as she surely couldn’t hear him anyway under her music, his beanie hat and her earmuffs.
‘Do you want to know what I think is exceptional? That even though I have music playing in my ears at what is probably an unhealthy amount of decibels, and ear muffs on, that I still heard exactly what you just said? No one in here was listening to you, nor were they going to acknowledge you either because these people are not in this moment, they’re ahead. They’re too busy worrying about getting to work on time, worrying about taking an ‘Instagram worthy’ photo of their coffee, worrying about what they’re going to cook their kids for tea. Thinking ahead,don’t you see kind sir? It’s always ahead’
And in that moment the girl vanished.
Pete walked out of the coffee house and hoped that his pursuit of finding communication would be fulfilled elsewhere.
This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt: Exceptional
So this is going to be more of a chatty post, which I haven’t really done yet on this blog, so here goes…
Moving Out (Again)
Come September the 12th and it was time for me to move back to my university city and into my new house in readiness to start my second year of university. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about this whole process, even though the first time I’d ever moved out from home was last year, when I started my first year of university. My nerves were becoming more apparent the closer the date came, caused by overthinking (completely normal in the human mind, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying) my living situation, as I was moving into a new house with five other girls, and of only two I knew well, the others I’d briefly met over the previous year. ‘What if it doesn’t work out?’, ‘What if i don’t settle in?’, ‘What if I don’t feel comfortable enough to be myself, or in other words, will I have to constantly restrain my weird self?’ But as usual, I was worrying unnecessarily and creating imaginary situations. I’ve been here just over two weeks now and I am absolutely loving it! I settled in almost instantaneously. I’ve made my room super cosy, and have already started decorating it for my favourite season, Autumn (I will insert pictures). My housemates are all lovely, and I’m already making some great memories with them, one being our weekly Bake Off evenings! I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how nice the house is, it was newly decorated for us moving in and is furnished with canvases, giving it that extra homely feeling.
Here are a few snaps of some details in my room;
Back to the Grind
September 19th struck the start of my second year of my university course, beginning with a lecture which i’m actually pretty excited about. For those who don’t know, I’m doing a degree in Media Studies, which is possibly one of the most diverse courses, purely being that a lot of what we study is interdisciplinary, as we often cross over into other schools of thought. For example, Sociology, Psychology, Law, English Literature, and the two more obvious ones; Film Studies and Media Production. Because basically EVERYTHING is mediated in some way in today’s society, meaning most fathomable things you can think of can be, and are, consumed through some form of media. Anyway, getting back to my first lecture of the semester, it was for my module titled Popular Genres, which means we will be studying twelve weeks’ worth of stuff about different genres, including fairy tales, horror, science fiction and children’s literature to name a few. This will include studying these popular genres with reference to the historical and cultural context that they were produced in. I also get to the choice to focus on literature in this module which I am very happy about! I’m currently reading Northern Lights by Philip Pullman as suggested by my lecturer ahead of our session on children’s literature, and I have to say, it’s very good so far. As well as my module on Popular Genres, I am also doing two other modules this semester; Visual Cultures (all about the complicated relationship between and creative usage of words and images) and Issues of Taste (exploring ideas of freedom and taste in relation to society, and in reference to the ever-changing contexts, issues and circumstances that occur over time). It is still only early days of teaching for all of my modules, so I feel like I can’t fully judge them, but this far, they all seem very interesting and I’m certainly eager to learn more about them.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and I hope I haven’t made you fall asleep by talking about my university course.
If you have any questions about university, or anything else, I am happy to give you some advice!
Don’t hesitate to get in touch 🙂
That it’s raining right now and we couldn’t have picked a cosier time to drink our coffee.
That I hope you’re well, and that I don’t know about you but i’m feeling super content right now, as coffee shops are one of my favourite places to be.
That you don’t have to do things purely for the sake of saying that you’ve done it.
That the future near and far makes you feel anxious, just like it does me too. But we’ll both be okay.
That we should always try and think of the future through a curious lense, because the world is full of unfathomable amounts of possibilities and we really shouldn’t disregard that.
That I hope you’re enjoying your coffee, and that i’m happy I went with my usual choice of an ordinary latte and not a Chai latte in my attempt at being autumnal, because that was way too sickly last time.
That we shouldn’t focus on things we simply can’t change, because it’s not time wisely spent.
That I hope you’ve had a great summer, because I’ve possibly had one of the best ones yet. Filled with adventure, valuable time spent with family and friends, fulfillment through writing blog posts, reading some really great novels and invaluable time spent on my own which has allowed me to learn more about myself.
And lastly, you really should make time for those you love.
Thank you for reading!
WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking On A World of Words.
And these three W’s that the title has so ambiguously referenced are three book related questions;
- What are you currently reading?
- What did you recently finish reading?
- What do you think you’ll read next?
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I’m not sure how I feel about it thus far, as I only started reading it last night. But it seems pretty gripping. It’s something I’ve had on my TBR pile for a long time so at least i’ve finally got round to it! My mum reckons it is something you definitely have to concentrate on whilst reading it, so I guess no reading it when i’m half asleep!
One Day by David Nicholls. I absolutely loved this book! So much so, I’m going as far as to say it’s one of my favourites! I completely fell in love with the two characters, Emma and Dexter who the story is centered around. The book is basically separated into yearly accounts spanning across twenty years on the same day of 15th July. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you give this one a read!
So i’ve got three books that I know I want to read in the near future and these include; The Order of the Pheonix by J.K Rowling, Step Back Into Time by Ali McNamara and Van Gogh’s Ear: The True Story by Bernadette Murphy. So it’ll be one of them that I will be reading next.
Thank you for reading! I do enjoy doing these smaller, question and answer style posts but I’ll certainly be writing more in-depth posts like in the style of my Conceptions of Freedom post again soon!
“… And these children that you spit on
as they try to change their worlds
are immune to your consultations.
They’re quite aware
of what they’re going through…” ~ David Bowie
Being a teenager is challenging. The number of subliminal messages and expectancies placed upon young people are countless. Even though most of these ‘so -called’ messages don’t appear to be harmful at first glance, speaking from individual experience, they certainly are.
One of these messages which causes a lot of problems during teenage years, is the need to fit in. Follow the trends, use the same words as everyone else, dress the same, refrain from speaking up in class to avoid being labelled a ‘nerd’, undergo underage drinking just because everyone else is doing it. Peer pressure is something that we can get so caught up in, and it can be distracting from the precious years we have to be young and experiment with who we are. It’s all a part of growing up, it should be fun filled with wonderful experiences, good and bad. But I do however think retrospectively, that learning how you want to spend your time, (including saying no, and sometimes saying yes to things out of your comfort zone) is integral to discovering things about yourself as a person. It’s important to be aware of your limits.
I sometimes feel as though there’s this predetermined path set to follow in society. Go to school, and then onto University, get a job and then what, eternal happiness? But, of course life isn’t as linear as that. Life is like being on a never-ending roller coaster, it has its ups, it has its downs, and you often don’t know what the hell is going on.
Furthermore, individual expression isn’t something that you should hide away inside of you where no one else can see it. Because we’re all unique in our own way, and I believe you’re given a voice and mind for a reason, and to hide away and try to be something you’re not, well you’re only cheating yourself really. Life is beautiful. So go out and chase whatever it is you want and express your personality whether it be through your quirky choice of clothes or the words you use. We need to make a change and encourage others to start embracing who they are, and work towards the world being a more accepting place. After all, as Sean McCabe said,”You will never influence the world by trying to be like it.”
One thing i’ve also come to realise is that a way to feel free, is to be undeniably yourself. Whilst this is probably one of the hardest things to do, because I don’t know about anyone else but as much as you may want to be yourself at times, there’s always that voice is your head talking you out of it, telling you to act a certain way, say a certain thing to adapt to the person or situation you are around/in. But with the right mindset and persistence, and keeping focused on doing things you enjoy as well as surrounding yourself with the right people, it does get easier.
Lastly, a little bit of advice from me for those hard times when things are getting on top of you;
Think of yourself as an individual, and know that it is okay to prioritise yourself over others. Allow yourself time on your own to work on feeling comfortable in your own skin.
During anxious times view yourself as a single star in an endless cosmos, acknowledge the immensity of the universe, and know that you are merely a speck of dust within it.
This way of thinking often reminds me that my problems are not as big as I think they are, and that they will pass, much like day passes into night and sapling turns into tree. Life keeps going.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read this post!
This post has been looming around in my draft folder for a while as i’ve been wondering what to do with it. Also partly because I feel I am trying to reach a medium between posting because I genuinely want to and not because I feel I have too. But that’s something i’m working on.
I watched a TedTalk recently which I found through an online course on gender development I have been taking. The talk is titled ‘The danger of a Single Story’ and it’s by Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I found it very thought-provoking and couldn’t help but agree with more or less everything she was saying.
In short, she basically talks about how we often create and consume one single story about a particular thing, that could be an ethnic group or a particular age group for example, and she further explores how dangerous and I agree, small minded doing this can be.
Anyway, before I go any further here’s the video so you can see it for yourself:
In the course we were asked to consider the following points;
- what happens when we reduce complex societies to simple stereotypes, to a single narrative.
- her argument that this approach, where complexity is reduced to a simple narrative, distorts our perceptions of others
Watching the Ted Talk not only made me realize, but also reminded me of how prominent stereotypes actually are in not only our minds but also in society as a whole. I think humans are very judgmental in nature, and I don’t necessarily mean that we make these judgements with cruel intentions but that it is often a subconscious act. Our opinions on people are shaped by the media from a very early age. The media seems to create an idea of a place or a person, which might be in their vested interest, made for biased reasons, or just for an easy way to categorize. And then consequently the audiences consuming this media gain a single story of a much wider picture. Religious, ethnic groups and the variety of cultures in existence, are an example of the abundantly different ways that people live around the world, and instead of emphasis being placed on understanding and accepting these different societies, they are too often simplified to having one single meaning.
And this of course is very dangerous as Chimamanda said, as an unclear vision of the world is implemented into people’s heads. And these images are repeated again and again, through word of mouth, the socialisation of children, and are of course helped along through media consumption, literature and politics. They become the dominant story in our heads. And the truth remains under wraps and is known on a much smaller scale.
Stereotyping is a form of shorthand, an easier way of categorizing people. But does this mean stereotyping is used because the media is too lazy to paint the bigger picture? Or does the media enable the public to identify national identities on a much simpler scale because our brains cannot cope with retaining the biggest, and most realistic depiction of the truth?
How can we combat single stories?
There is part of me that thinks single stories may never be resolved. I think the media, authority, political parties etc. is/ and are continuously aiming to consolidate the public’s views on the world to the point that they may unfortunately never stop. It’s quite a tricky thing to think about really because how do we know that without these other factors, as humans we still wouldn’t create these ill-informed ideas about things? But then you can argue back and say that without the media’s ability to reach audiences in the first place, for example, we wouldn’t necessarily know about immigration problems etc.
But I do also think that with greater awareness on the issue of single stories and informing people on a wider level, especially from a young age, that not everything you read is true, along with encouragement to research further and learn about things for ourselves, would help prevent single single stories being created in the first place. As a media student I was taught from day one that not everything you read is true. The public is becoming more aware of so-called ‘fake news’ now though, so that is some progress.
Reducing societies to simple stereotypes creates divides and subsequently limits our understanding of the world around us. I hope for a time in the future when we can go beyond these close-minded mentalities and concentrate on making the world a better place, without unjust and ill-informed constraints.
As always, thank you for reading!
And please feel free to leave your thoughts below in the comments section!
‘Student life is what you make it’, is something I often found myself saying to my friends at university, as I’m reassuring them that there is certainly more to ‘uni life’ then going clubbing.
Don’t like clubbing? Then the simplest solution for that my friend is, don’t go. It’s not always as simple as that I know, there’s perhaps that curious voice in your head that pops up telling you to just try it. And you maybe find yourself thinking things like; you’ll be fine what is the worst that could happen? And that you’ll hate yourself more if you don’t ever at least give it a try. If you want to try it, do it, but make sure it’s because you want to, and nothing else.
Ignore those voices in your head that are trying to make yourself do something you don’t want to, ignore those nosey adults (you know the one’s I mean) who just automatically assume that because you’re a student you therefore must enjoy clubbing. Believe me, there is so much more to the university experience than going out clubbing.
From my point of view, as someone who does actually like clubbing, I know that there’s also plenty of other stuff that I could be doing, and do actually do. I simply wouldn’t go to a nightclub if I didn’t want too. I do it because I enjoy it, and that’s the sole reason why you should do anything, because you enjoy it. Countless evenings of my first year were spent chatting away to my flat mates, about anything from our families and life, to Game of Thrones and Harry Potter themed conversations. The hours would fly by, and the next thing we knew it would be 2am. We literally got lost in conversation, evenings like that are invaluable. Other than that, we’d quite often have our themed TV nights, where we’d watch back to back episodes of Riverdale or Twin Peaks, or we’d watch La La Land for the millionth time and unashamedly find ourselves singing along to all the songs. And not to forget our spontaneous baking sessions, which often involved dancing and flour fights (a great way to break the ice with new flat mates by the way).
How you choose to spend your spare time at university is completely up to you and I can’t reiterate that enough. It is incredibly easy to get lost in what you think you should be doing. But fight it, find your niche, whatever that may be, and delve right into it and don’t become distracted by what everyone else is doing. Always remember that you are fully within your rights to simply say no. You’ll even come to notice that there’s so many other students who will feel the same as you. Find friends who accept you for you (as cliché as that sounds, it’s actually really important.) And you’ll be on track for focusing on you, your studies and making some pretty awesome and unforgettable memories at the same time.
Thanks for reading!
Feel free to get in touch, either direct with me via the ‘Contact’ tab at the top of this webpage or by leaving a comment below!