MEMORIES

It’s interesting to me how everyone’s brains are so different. Not so much in the way that ‘you might be better with numbers and I’m better with words’, but rather our memories. How we involuntarily choose to store certain information, and not just facts and anecdotes, but the things that happen in our lives.

I’ve always felt as though I remember every waking moment I’ve ever lived. Obviously, that’s truly impossible. There are many days and evenings that wore similar colours and emotions, they blur into one big pretty picture. But if someone were to bring up a specific event to me, I can almost always transport myself back to the moment. I could tell you what most people were wearing, why we came to be there, a few conversations that may have been had. This is not me bragging about my fantastic memory– it’s not even photographic. Perhaps I can reminisce clearly on a moment in time, but I couldn’t tell you all the information on a page after looking at it for a mere minute. I just find it fascinating how these moments are banked and filed in the back of our minds.

Sometimes I’ll be lost in my own head and a memory from the age of six or seven will surface, and I know that I probably haven’t really visualised that memory at all in my life since the moment it happened. What brought it forward to my immediate thoughts? Besides the train reaction of thoughts that transported me to that memory, what part of my brain decided that I might need it one day to understand the way I feel about certain things?

What really rattles me is repressed memories. If anyone hasn’t seen the Netlfix series ‘The Keepers’ you need to do so, immediately. It might not be the most pleasant of experiences if you err on the religious side of things. Heck, it’s not pleasant at all really, but it certainly consolidated my opinion in that area of things. Anyway, a woman in that series experienced sexual abuse for a number of years while she was a teen, repressed those memories, and they all came flooding back to her when she was about 50 and happily married with children. She was forced to relive those moments and accept this horrifying thing that had happened to her.

How are we to know that we don’t have handfuls of repressed memories? Ones that may never float to the top. Ones that fester and grow weeds and force us to become a version of ourself that we cannot control. Not trying to get dark here, but even the depths of our mind is uncertain. Maybe we don’t ever truly know ourselves. I definitely read something the other day (couldn’t tell you where– there’s my fantastic memory in action) about how the person we think we are is different from the way each person views and experiences us. So we’re not always the person we know ourselves to be, but a multifaceted gemstone that glitters for some and looks dull to others. No matter who you are or what you do in life, not everyone is going to like you. Some people are pieces of your puzzle and others are of a whole different game.

I’m a very nostalgic person (I even wrote a piece on that, have a flick through the categories section to find it) so sifting through my memories is something I do often. I like to see how time has changed things: relationships, appearances, our overall outlook. When I’m lost reminiscing it occurs to me how crucial time is to the memories we have filed. Does our opinion of something alter the way we remember it? A certain moment in my life looks completely different to the others who were there– maybe I thought I was being hilarious and they thought I was being kind of a bitch.

The moments that link together to paint the portrait of our lives are simply that: ours. How we remember these moments and let them unintentionally define who we are is, to me, uncertain. We can control how we respond to situations, of course, and that tells a lot about who we are, but can we really control how we perceive and remember stuff?

There’s probably a scientific/psychological explanation for all of these musings. But I’ll leave them at that.

A.

 

 

Side note:

I often feel like when I write little observation/musing posts that it sounds like I’m leading up to a point that never eventuates. Let me know if you’re getting that vibe too. Not sure if I like that.

 

 

 

 

THE FEAR

I often wonder if it’s just me, or if we all have a massive fear of pursuing the the thing we love. I suppose it really comes down to a fear of rejection. That we won’t succeed, or that even if we do, it won’t be in quite the ways we set out to.

After four and a half years, I’ve completed my university degree. A double degree in Journalism and Creative Writing– I am verging on 24 years old and I have two bachelors recently tucked under my belt. I’m chuffed, to say the least. What’s slightly freaking me out is the horizon, and the thing sitting on top of it: a cocktail of tantalising and daunting. I need to keep writing. At uni, that was my homework: go home and write. Whether they gave me a topic, a prompt, or nothing. I was doing the thing I love all the time, but mainly because there was an eccentric lady or a surly man 45 minutes north of here waiting for my content. Now, nobody really gives a damn about whether I write or whether I knit. I mean, the people close to me maybe care a little, but more because they want me to continue relishing in the thing I love and the thing that gave me a hefty hecs debt. So here I am, once again, writing about writing or rather, writing about how scared I am of writing.

The most wonderful and inspiring lecturer I had at uni– Hi Shady! (if you so happen to be reading)– once gave us a lecture about rejection. She put everything she had on the line and literally read out every moment of rejection or failure in her life. But then, she read another list: the silver lining that came from each of those moments. I guess we have to continue pursuing the dreams we have because the silver lining will always shine brighter than the mishap. Well, that’s what I’ll continue to tell myself, otherwise we’ll never do anything we really want to.

I’m really here to say that my butt is going to be whipped into gear and producing more content for my “readers” or even just the empty, cyberspace abyss. Either way.

In the next few months I could be writing any kind of nonsense: anecdotes, observations, fiction pieces, whatever.

Then come October, the blog might get a little more riveting. My boyfriend Abel and I will be heading back to my mother land. First stop: Hawaii. We’ll stay there for a brief stint, four nights, before we head to San Francisco, where we’ll visit my Aunty Lauren, her husband Kurt and their two kiddies. Next stop: NYC, about five nights there and then it’ll be crunch time. After our little city-hop, we’ll be buying a van, and visiting my family and friends in my hometown in Connecticut. We’ll drive up north along the east coast and head back down to be with family over Christmas. Once the holiday season comes to a close, we’ll make our way south along the coast, visiting my Nan in South Carolina and my parents in Florida. Then we’ll go west, ensuring we’re in California for Coachella in April. This is a pretty rough outline of what we’ll be doing, we’re both open to all kinds of possibilities and changes to our plans. I’m an organiser, but travelling is about spontaneity and going with the flow, whichever way that may be.

In the meantime, I’ll be working, reading and hopefully writing.

A

 

PASSIONATELY OPINIONATED

I used to be a very opinionated person. Not that I no longer am, but I have learnt something: not everyone wants to hear your opinion. In today’s world, we have to be careful. I don’t know if I love or hate that. There’s something so inspiring when someone cares so deeply about something, that they will do anything– go completely above and beyond, to try and convince you of its truth, its worthiness. They care about something and they want to share that with the world. Bless them.

But there are the opinions that will get you into trouble. Not everyone wants to hear why you think “Trump isn’t so bad”, because most women will feel slightly offended that you would like to endorse a man with rape allegations to be your future president. However, he is going to be the president regardless of those accusations, so I’ll just put that one aside for now. It was just a sliver of an example of opinions that will lead to either my own, or your foot, inside your mouth– you choose.

Being an opinionated person means that you have to learn how to control that, to know when to rein it in, and when you can let it run free. I used to let my head-strong attitude rule all of my being and get me into sticky situations. Actually, sometimes they weren’t even that sticky, it became a matter of “coming across too strongly” or “always needing to be right”. And no matter how hard I tried to defend myself against this matter, my argument only became thicker and everything I tried to do reinforced any of my opponents’ beliefs. Having too strong of an opinion or caring too much trampled over the ideas I wanted to express and ended up bruising my personality. This is something I don’t want for people. I want us to care deeply about something and voice that to our peers– without judgement.

Maybe this isn’t the case for everyone, maybe everyone else’s opinions are treated with grace and accepted for being what they are– the thought of an individual and not a specific group or body. But for me, particularly through the years of my youth (ok, I’m really only 22, but I’m talking 19 and under), this was a trait that held me back. I stopped talking about things I was passionate about in case they were slightly controversial. That was never the case before. I now know that I can’t place my opinion in front of someone and expect them to scoop it up, cuddling it like a newborn puppy and asking me kindly if they can take it home.

In this world we will find the people who share the same values and our opinions will sway with the current of our lives. I have learned when it’s time for my voice to be heard, when someone is in need of an alternate opinion, and I’ve learned with it’s time to bite my tongue– and bite it hard. Because sometimes you can feel a certain way, and you can have something important to say, and no one will hear you. You’ve just got to look for the people who want to hear you, because they too are passionate about something or other.

 

— originally posted on my mytrendingstories page, check it out errybody.

https://mytrendingstories.com/article/passionately-opinionated/

WE’RE ALL A SPECIES

Most people love animals. But how much really? Enough to have a pet? Enough to go the zoo… or NOT go to the zoo? Enough to not eat them? Enough to avidly advocate their freedom?

We use different ways to identify with animals and to separate ourselves from them. Really, we’re all animals, just different species of them. And as humans, we have created a society, a hierarchy, where we believe that we have the power to control these animals– to take them away from each other, to lock them up, use them as entertainment, kill them, wear them, eat them. We often think we’re the most intelligent species, but I disagree. I think that sometimes, we put a bunch of humans together, and our morals start to slide. The line between what is right and wrong gets blurred because we have big ideas to benefit ourselves. We forget that living things have emotions, they feel pain.

I feel guilty when I delve into the mechanics of this. I love and appreciate animals. But I still eat them. I suppose this really does come down to language, and how we use this to avoid feeling something. I’d never realised this before. To create the barrier between us and them, we use the inanimate pronoun it (something I personally never do), refer to them as meat, seafood, livestock, or the type of meat, pork, beef, etc. (Bekoff, 2010) We do whatever we can to remove ourselves from the horrific reality of animal agriculture.

But then, we use the media, film industry, and literature to form a bond with other species. I can’t remember the last children’s movie I watched that doesn’t have a talking animal in it. We use anthropomorphism as a way to create this connection– we give other species, human like qualities. “In its most extreme form, uncritical anthropomorphism can mean animals being “personified”, or treated as if they actually were humans. In less extreme form, uncritical anthropomorphism may lead to misinterpreting an animal’s behaviour and hence to misunderstanding that animal’s needs and emotional state…” (Morton, Burghardt and Smith, 1990)

After watching Blackfish in class last week, this whole concept became very real. It’s not to say there is no connection between a human and an animal– you watch the film and you can truly see that these orcas and trainers had a real bond, a friendship, if you will. This made the orcas seem more human-like, and we tend to forget that they are a completely different species, with different capabilities. A neuroscientist in the film discusses that these killer whales had the same emotional capability as humans, if not more. But it was cooping them up in small, dark places– separating them from their mothers and their babies– all things that we wouldn’t do to humans (although, that isn’t to say we haven’t– please see WW2 and the Stolen Generation for more info), that forced them to act out in aggressive ways. It is not until then that we see the line, the difference between us and them. Not because we are humans and they are animals, but because we are different species. That’s all it comes down to. We don’t need anthropomorphism to identify– you will find similarities between other animals and humans all the time, but we are still different.

In the other controversial documentary, The Cove we are positioned in the opposition. While in Blackfish we feel for the animals and know their act of aggression is a result of captivation by humans, in The Cove the humans become animals in our eyes. The Japanese lure dolphins into a small cove, by sticking metal poles into the ocean and tapping on them, sending the dolphins into a flurry (dolphins use sound to create images)– and then they slaughter them here. Selling their meat as food, often in disguise as another type of fish. The film properly villainises the humans, asking society what we have become, that we think it’s morally okay to murder these dolphins for personal gain.

Richard O’Barry, the founder and director of this film and project has worked both sides of the dolphin industry– 10 years with dolphins in captivity, and 44 years working against it. He learned that captivity of these marine creatures is wrong, that it is detrimental to their system and environment. In reference to captivity and the use of these creatures for entertainment, he says this:

“Any intelligent person who sees a trained dolphin show whether it’s Shamu or Flipper or Keiko or whatever, would have to conclude if they were honest, that what they just witnessed was a spectacle of dominance. That’s what’s wrong with it. It teaches us that dominance is good. Dominance is right, dominance works and that’s the problem.” (Pbs.org, 2017)

I suppose that’s all what it comes down to. We use other species in the ways that we want to, because we can and we will exert dominance over them. We as humans have the means and the power to do that, and many of us aren’t afraid to use it. While there are so many different levels of animal abuse, from domesticated to wild captivation to animal agriculture and consumption, we use speciesism as a right to entertain this dominance. We need to look at our similarities with these species– but not try and make them look like us– to question what we’re doing.

 

REFERENCES:

Bekoff, M. (2010). Animals in media: Righting the wrongs. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201001/animals-in-media-righting-the-wrongs [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

Morton, D., Burghardt, G. and Smith, J. (1990). Animals, Science, and Ethics–Section III. Critical Anthropomorphism, Animal Suffering, and the Ecological Context. The Hastings Center Report, 20(3), p.13.

Pbs.org. (2017). Interviews – Richard O’barry | A Whale Of A Business | FRONTLINE | PBS. [online] Available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/whales/interviews/obarry1.html [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

http://thecovemovie.com/richardobarry.htm

 

HOW DO WE DO GOOD

I believe that talking about things matters. Having an awareness for other people in the world is important– it’s what brings us emotionally closer together. Unfortunately, seeing someone suffer, helps us to realise that we are human. That we all experience pain to some degree, others worse than some. Having the ability to empathise, to feel WITH someone instead of FOR them, helps us to realise our equality. For some. Others are robots/homophobics/racists/sexists/ageists etc etc etc. Those individuals lack empathy and therefore do not see all humans as equal. “The Other” is a common phrase or idea at the back of their minds.

Regardless, I think there’s a line. Between feeling something and doing something, and doing that thing for the right reasons.

Most Friends fans will remember the episode where Joey challenges Phoebe, saying there is no such thing as a selfless good deed. How can it be selfless if you do something good for someone else, and in turn, you feel good too? In that case, who are you really doing the good deed for? We like to think it’s for ‘the other’ but often, Joey’s idea is right on the money.

https://au.pinterest.com/pin/401383385518526270/

 

What’s important is how we represent “the other”. Particularly the representation of the poor in the media. Sharing images and information of the poverty around the world may have started as a means of spreading awareness, but now these members of society are a part of an exploitation scheme. A way to make money.

“Poverty is a result of both individual and systematic problems” (Roenigk, 2014) Groups of individuals live in a community that will either “work to empower the poor or perpetuate their condition.”(Roenigk, 2014)

The White Helmets are an emergency-responders group based in Syria. Recently they have been exposed and accused of not legitimately helping individuals in Syria. The REAL Syria Civil Defence have an emergency contact number (113), but the multi-million dollar US & NATO state-funded White Helmets, does not. It is clear that this organisation, aimed to assist injured civilians in Syria, is not doing that at all.

“In fact during my recent trip to Syria, I was once again struck by the response from the majority of Syrians when asked if they knew who the White Helmets were.  The majority had never heard of them, others who follow western media noted that they are a “NATO construct being used to infiltrate Syria as a major player in the terrorist support network.”” (Beeley, 2016)

 

In this video, we can see that this man is acting injured on a cue.

This video is a prime example of exploiting people in dire conditions for the gain of the viewer. Why are the White Helmets not actually helping people in need when they have the means, money and ability to do so? Apparently they’re actively involved with terrorist groups such as Al-Quaeda. But that’s not really what I’m here to talk about.

As the other side of “the other”, what do we actively do when we see these kinds of videos and images (whether we know them to be legitimate or not)? Some of us feel something, a real feeling, and maybe we share the video on Facebook. By doing this, we’ve let the people around us know what good samaritans we are, because we care about the atrocities happening in places around the world. There is nothing wrong with this, but unfortunately our sympathy, our empathy isn’t really helping anyone.

This concept of “poverty porn”, sharing and exploiting images of those in need, promotes charity and not activism (Roenigk, 2014).  People will donate to a charity through a few clicks on their computer screen. So many people don’t realise most of this money goes to nothing but the charity– helping them create more ads of poverty porn, to employ their workers, to create functions etc.

It doesn’t mean that we are in the wrong to donate. Anyone who takes the time to donate isn’t doing it for the wrong reasons. They care enough to spend their hard-earned money on a hope for change. But it was the exploitation of poor, injured civilians that got them to make that decision. Unfortunately.

REFERENCES:

 

Beeley, V. (2016). EXCLUSIVE: The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes Fake ‘White Helmets’ as Terrorist-Linked Imposters. [online] 21st Century Wire. Available at: http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/09/23/exclusive-the-real-syria-civil-defence-expose-natos-white-helmets-as-terrorist-linked-imposters/ [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

Roenigk, E. (2014). 5 Reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person. [online] ONE. Available at: https://www.one.org/us/2014/04/09/5-reasons-poverty-porn-empowers-the-wrong-person/ [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

 

 

 

 

 

TAKE SAFE SELFIES.

The word ‘selfie’ was known as Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2013, and since then the selfie phenomenon has ensued. There are so many different ideas on what is considered a selfie and more importantly, how and if it’s considered healthy.

I don’t entirely know where I stand on this topic, but that aside, I am indeed guilty of taking a selfie or two. And usually, when I’m on the quest to take the perfect selfie, I may snap a few more photos than the one you see posted online. For some bizarre reason, this is what people see as a huge problem in the world of selfie-taking. Because, you know, it’s not like there were any other photos taken than this one single image of Jennifer Lawrence on the cover of Vogue.

source: http://www.buzznet.com/2013/05/magazine-takeover-jennifer-lawrence/

 

They must’ve taken this photo in one shot, with no vanity or regards for her appearance whatsoever.

So, you get my point. I don’t think that’s a problem. To me, wanting to have a nice photo of yourself is something very liberating and should be celebrated. We live in a world that tells us how we should look and what we should strive to be, and if taking a photo of yourself in spite of all of that, and being proud of it makes you a narcissist? Than we have a very big issue surrounding what people deem to actually be a mental illness.

It really comes back to the whole concept of “the self”. Taking a selfie might seem self-indulgent, but how does this differ from writing a blog about yourself? Or writing an autobiography? Whether we like it or not, we are consumed by ourselves, and some of these things are just ways we find our place in the world– or give ourselves a platform to have a place.

In Jill W. Rettburg’s bookSeeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves, she talks about this history of self-portraits and the very first autobiographies. The difference in selfies today than the fragmented self-portrait paintings of the past, is that the camera is no longer a barrier between the subject and the viewer, “the outstretched arm is like a (forced) embrace, placing the viewer between the face of the person photographed and the camera (Warfield, 2014).”

Because of the drastic shift social media has made in society, I think we want people to step into our lives a little bit more. Maybe privacy is definitely not the sanctity it once was, we are now in an age where we want to share. Taking selfies or photos of our everyday, mundane lives and sharing this with the online world creates some kind of link or connection between all of us. While it might not make sense to some older generations, because life’s all a matter of what you’re used to, for us, it’s about communicating and making a connection with others.

Jennifer Saunders says, “Girls are now getting ill because all they spend their lives doing is finding the perfect selfie.” A 2015 study showed that women spend an average 5 hours a week perfecting selfies. “I hate the way it makes girls think they should look,” she said. “That Kim Kardashian look, it’s so automaton.” (Hinde)

Thank you Ms. Saunders for your opinion, and while yes, this survey showed that women between the ages of 16-25 were most obsessed with selfies and spend 16 minutes on one selfie session and repeat this three times a day, there is NO science to show that this behaviour is making us “ill”.

In FACT,  “Researchers from the University of California, Irvine studied college students and found that snapping selfies and sharing images with friends had a positive effect on their psychological and emotional states.” (Holmes)

There are a whole lot of different aspects when it comes to taking a selfie. Confidence and self-gratification mostly come into play. I think it becomes a matter of how this effects you. Getting a number of likes on a photo and some pleasant comments is of course going to boost your confidence, and that’s great. I think it’s only when we let this become a controlling aspect of our moods that there is a problem.

For just one moment though, we need to look outside ourselves. We’re being told that selfies are harmful to ourselves, because as humans, everything is about us. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is affecting others.

“A dolphin has reportedly died in Argentina after beachgoers surrounded the animal and pulled it from the water for photos.
It’s the second dolphin to be killed by selfie-crazed swimmers in a year in the South American country.” (Dengate)

Maybe we need to stop telling everyone how their mental states are at risk because of this selfie-craze, and instead teach them how to not use it as a weapon or means of harming living creatures.

Take safe selfies, don’t harm others in the process.

REFERENCES:

Dengate, Cayla. “Second Baby Dolphin Killed By Selfie-Taking Swimmers In Argentina”. Huffington Post Australia, 2017, Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Hinde, Natasha. “Jennifer Saunders Believes Girls’ Quest For The Perfect Selfie Is Making Them ‘Ill'”. Huffington Post Australia, 2017, Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Holmes, Lindsay. “Science Says Selfies Can Make You Happier And More Confident”. Huffington Post Australia, 2017, Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Rettberg, Jill W. Seeing Ourselves Through Technology, 1st ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2014. Print.