I’ve conducted a podcast discussing the publishing industry as a workplace and how some of these inequities might be affecting the types of books that are being published.
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.
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].
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.
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.
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].
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.
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 book, Seeing 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.
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.
Aside from Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram, I maintain space in other online platforms: Twitter, Pinterest, etc. But none of these stake a major role in my social media world.
My social media platforms all come together and show my audiences who I am (on the internet). They allow strangers to gain a preconceived idea of who I am and how I present myself. Looking at my Facebook, you’ll see a fairly true version of myself, but mildly toned down. My Tumblr will reflect my brain patterns; colours, images, texts that all resonate with my personality and supply you with a visual version of this. And my Instagram, will provide you with snippets and the highlights of my life. You won’t find the every day, mundane shit on here that you might find on (some peoples’) Facebook.
The way we interact with our audiences and content differs per media platform. That’s what’s so special about putting yourself online… you can do it accordingly.
I said I present a certain dissection of myself on each platform and that’s true, it may cross over, because hey, I am only one person– but I control my media spaces.
Ok so I was very anti-Instagram for a long time. I just thought it was some new dumb version of Tumblr and I was not about that. But then I finally got on there and saw what it was all about, and let’s face it, Instagram kind of rules the roost these days. Every image we capture has an underlying question: *will this make a good Insta post?*
You can’t help but have that goal in mind when you take a snap of you and your friends, lounging on a luscious round towel, soaking up some rays and knocking back some coronas. It’s like you’re in one of their ads– and maybe if you post on Instagram and tag them, you could feature on their page?! HOW EXCITING!
I don’t know why we care, I really don’t, but that’s what happens in this space. We get caught up with the other contributors of the Instagram world and we want, we need, the followers, we need the likes. It’s pretty ridiculous when we look at it that way. But that’s how companies have benefited: they advertise. No. Sorry. They get Instagram famous people to advertise. That’s what’s so wild about this world. Yes, there are famous people on Instagram, but Instagram has it’s own realm of famous people. We look at the lives of these people through their Instagram windows and we boil with jealousy– their lives look too perfect, and we want them.
Now, there’s this idea of self-presentation that Goffman (1974) discusses. He divides it into frontstage and backstage performances. Basically, the frontstage forces us to be extremely cautious and guarded in the ways we present our self, and the backstage remains generally less scripted or aware. (Smith & Sanderson 2015,p. 343) “as individuals consider how to self-present, they balance both individual goals and the “self” that they perceive the audience desires”.
This whole concept is extremely relevant in the Instagram world. We put forward a version of ourselves that we think our followers want to see, and what we want them to see. Obviously this space only showcases certain aspects of your life, that’s what it’s designed to do.
I use my Instagram to share pictures of exciting things I’ve been doing– places I’m currently traveling, something funny my friends are doing, a pretty scene I’m experiencing, and of course, OF COURSE, the food that I am eating. Posting photos of yourself is acceptably shameless. No one judges you anymore, because they do it too. Ok, maybe that’s not entirely true. We’re humans and we’re cruel and we make judgements of people, regardless of how kindhearted we are.
Instagram gives us this individual desire to create an image of who we are, what we do, and how we live our lives. It’s about sharing these aspects of our lives with our audience. Friends and family will appreciate what you do and what you’re posting, because they know you and they’re supposed to care. And then you can break out of this immediate bubble and pierce into the wide realm of Instagram– where anyone cares.
Reichert Smith, L. and Sanderson, J. (2015). I’m Going to Instagram it! An Analysis of Athlete Self-Presentation on Instagram. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 59(2), pp.342-358.
I joined the Tumblr world in 2010, and I really had no idea what the hell it was. I had heard a few of my friends talking about this platform, but none of them could really explain it to me and it sounded like a fairly niche world.
But, in a technical nutshell, Tumblr is a micro-blogging platform and a particularly good example of convergence. It is a site that allows more than one type of post: text, quote, images, video, audio etc. (DeMers, 2013)
When I say this space is niche, me and any of my friends who have a Tumblr have a kind of unspoken rule– you don’t talk about Tumblr outside of Tumblr. You just don’t do it. It is a space that can only exist within that space. This is because Tumblr is so intricately personal. It’s about blogging and re-blogging other people’s text posts and images. These micro posts all add up and create a certain aesthetic that represents a small part of who we are. The thing with Tumblr, a lot of these images that we post and share, are extremely vague. It could be the colour combination that attracts your eyes, or the clothes someone in the image is wearing. But you reblog that image for a reason, and usually a subconscious one. These all pile together and create something much bigger.
Tumblr is largely community based. It almost has it’s own sense of humour. So many of the posts and memes that are created on this platform don’t really resonate for those who don’t participate. I mean, now, I have seen a lot of Tumblr originated posts shared on Facebook, and I don’t know what it is, but once they’re removed from Tumblr, the edge is gone. They’re not merely as funny. It is such a unique world to be a part of and only once you’re in it, will you understand.
Tumblr isn’t private but it may as well be. You cannot search an individual based on their name, you must know their URL, and unless they give this to you (fairly unlikely), you must count on getting lucky and stumbling across one’s page. People do not ‘ask’ to follow you– they just do. And no one really cares who follows them (unless it’s their mother– that would be disturbing). It’s a world where we all understand the lack of limitations, how free we can be, how freaky we can be. Only because everyone else is too.
Being in this social media space delivers a sense of freedom to its users. This world is very self-expressionist, and everyone within it knows that. We’re all there for a similar reason–to communicate with or without words, and for catharsis.
DeMers, J. (2013). How to Use Tumblr for Your Business |. [online] Social Media Examiner. Available at: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/tumblr-for-business/ [Accessed 16 October. 2016].