Interview with a 19 year old… Part 2

My interview with 19 year old E, a 2nd year uni student, soon turned towards the more traditional popular culture mediums, such as books, movies, TV series and music.  It was again interesting to note the we agreed on many things.

When asked about what kinds of books she likes to read, E responded with:

I love reading all books, as I enjoy all forms of narrative and can take enjoyment from it as a break from studying

She went on to say that reading was something that she liked to do a few times a week, at least, and that is was her way of escaping. It was also interesting to discover that E was not a fan of electronic readers, that she much prefers the feel of the book in her hands. When talking about her friends and what they read she stated that not many of her friends read any more.  Although this does not change her opinion of them, it is something that enjoys encouraging them to do through recommending books or series they might like. She says it is quite fun.

Image from: modi

Image from: modi

In terms of movies, E says that she loves watching all movie genres because she finds them entertaining. When asked about going to the movies with her friends and how that impacts her relationships, she answered:

We all love going to the theatres to watch a new movie out and having a good laugh or cry over it. It doesn’t impact my friendships, but it does strengthen the ones I do have now, as we can have a good night out.

When discussing movies based on novels E response was not typical of one that is a book lover. It starts out singing the same tune as most book fans, but I found it really interesting when she stated that she still loves seeing the movies, no matter what.

Her final say on the current, popular novel series (such as Hunger Games and Divergent) was this:

They all have the teenage theme of a dystopia world and the themes of teen love and of course the ever popular coming of age stories. [Everyone relates to them because…] we are going through it or have been through it. It says a lot about our culture in the sense that it’s part of our identity, and people can relate to it, but they are also fictional and you can take enjoyment from reading about a fantasy, futuristic world.

When discussing TV series that she likes to watch, E was very adamant that she does not enjoy reality shows or current affair type shows.  She stated that she watches fictional shows for the pure enjoyment and to connect with some of her friends.  Her feelings on what she watched and how it related to her relationships was this:

Image from: Ripley Patton

Image from: Ripley Patton

I watch lots of TV shows… [My friends and I] do watch the same shows, but I also have certain friends who watch certain shows, then other friends who I can bond over another show with. We all have different tastes and so we can bond over different things.

Our final point of discussion was the music industry.  Whilst E enjoyed listening to a variety of music, often discovered on the radio in her car, she certainly had an interesting point to make regarding her thoughts on popular music today:

Well it’s certainly degrading women and also telling men that it’s okay to treat a female like a sexual object, which is how our society currently runs. Sex sells, always. So maybe it’s pretty bad for young children to be listening to songs like that, especially young females who are still trying to find their place in the world, but it can also be fun if you’re not taking it too seriously and are just enjoying dancing along to the song.’

Image from: Real Player Cloud

Image from: Real Player Cloud

This last statement got me thinking about how popular culture really does have something for everyone these days.  It’s was a great realisation that through the amount of popular culture mediums we now have, people can connect and communicate with others that have similar things in common.

Interview with a 19 year old… Part 1

When given the chance to interview a young person regarding their interaction with the various forms of popular culture, I couldn’t resist interviewing a 19 year old.  Why? Because I want to know how these teenagers close to my own age feel about all this. There is a copy of the interview attached to the bottom of this post if you wish to read E’s raw answers.

E is a 2nd year university student that is studying a dual degree of business and creative writing.  She is a regular user of certain social media and has strong opinions regarding many aspects of popular culture. Part 1 of the interview discusses her opinion on technology, social media and communicating with her friends.

When asked what type of technology she uses E responded with:

A phone is easy and portable and has Facebook messenger and also text, so it’s easy to contact people. Laptop is mostly used for study purposes but also for watching movies and tv shows in my free time. I use each of these multiple times a day.

After discussing this further, E stated that she didn’t really use any of the other forms of social media.  She did not have a Twitter account, barely used her Instagram and was not a fan of Snapchat. E did state that she checked Facebook regularly to check in with her friends and family.  She believes that it is the easiest way to communicate with people. Interestingly, E also stated that it was the way she kept up to date with what was happening in the world.

After discussing with E how she used social media we turned our conversation towards her opinion of people using social media and whether it affected her opinion of people.

Image from: Write a Writing

Image from: Write a Writing

I think there is an obvious dependency that current society has on social media, andthe voyeurism that comes with knowing all the details about everyone’s daily activities. While it is an obsession that all of us currently have, it is no different to 20 years ago with people gossiping about their friends and neighbours over coffee, it’s just now all written down online. I think that there is a limit to the privacy of others, especially when it comes to personal things, which should never be shared online for other people.

Respect people’s privacy, and they will respect yours.

E also stated that although her and her close friends have a very healthy online relationship, she has unfriended acquaintances over things they have posted that she has not necessarily agree with.

Image from: Genius Recruiter

Image from: Genius Recruiter

We discussed E’s preferred method of communication with her friends.  She stated that she preferred meeting with her friends and talking in person because she could read people’s reactions and liked the company. However, E did say that she found communicating with her friends via text or Facebook messenger to be a quick, effective and easy way to stay in contact all day.  I asked if she felt the need to be connected with her friends 24/7 and she answered: yes, don’t you?

Our conversation soon turned to E’s thoughts on how young people are using social media these days and what she thought of it all.

People definitely use it for the ‘likes’ and to gain some sort of recognition from society. But that is only a small amount of people that I know, and they are mostly posing half naked and I would not be surprised if they have a very big ego. People who would do anything for some praise definitely need to tone it down as it can be very in your face.

This lead our conversation into discussing cyber bullying and if E had had any personal experience with it. We also discuss people’s reason for cyber bullying and if she thought people brought it upon themselves with the content they post.  E brought up an interesting point regarding “trolling.”

Image from: Trolling YouTube

Image from: Trolling YouTube

Trolling can be okay to an extent. I have seen it used just in the sense when someone makes a grammatical mistake and everyone can have a laugh about it, but when it goes too far as to actually start insulting someone and putting them down it is terrible. That is when it could even be classified as cyber bullying, as no one should feel downgraded like that.

 

I found it very interesting to note that E’s use and opinion of social media is very similar to my own. This makes me feel less old!

In Part 2 of the interview we discuss E’s thoughts on books, tv shows, movies and music.

Interview with E

Fandoms!

You might be wondering, “what on earth is a fandom!”  Well, you wouldn’t be the first to be confused.  Actually, it wasn’t until last year that I fully understood what a ‘fandom’ was and was definitely shocked to realize that I could be called a very minor ‘fangirl’ myself (I do love my Harry Potter and Star Wars!)

Loosely defined a fandom is a subculture connected with a book, tv series or graphic novel that comprises of fans that feel a very strong connection with the characters.  Fans that feel a sense of empathy or camaraderie with the characters tend to develop communities devoted to talking about their chosen topic, almost the point of obsession. It is interesting to note that some of the more popular fandoms are:

  • Harry Potter
  • Lord of the Rings
  • The Hunger Games
  • Disney
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.
Image from: Ashley Townsend

Image from: Ashley Townsend

These are just a few of the many fandoms available to today’s avid readers, gamers or social media types.  Although being involved in a fandom is never seen as overly negative, it does tend to collect such adjectives as nerd and geek.  This does not, however, seem to bother the members of the fandom. Some argue that they have found a subculture in which they fit and are able to relate to people through.  There are many images that proud fangirls or fanboys can display on their social media sites to show other fangirls or fanboys their level of devotion.  So is this level of obsession healthy?

Amanda Marcotte wrote an article looking into this obsession titled Your pop culture is not a sickness (2012).  In this article she recounts the findings of Phoebe Riley’s investigation into this particular obsession.  The investigation focuses particularly on a Doctor Who fandom and suggests that:

fandom[s are] flagged as an obstacle for living your life and developing your relationships with others

The article goes on to state that fandoms are often used as a distraction to our real lives. Therefore, by continuing to obsess over these fandoms, whatever they may be, we can increase our chances of becoming emotionally stunted and unable to connect with people that are not a member of our fandom.

Let me take a selfie…

Selfies:  a popular trend on social media at the moment.  I am unsure of the appeal of selfies and regularly find myself confronted by such images posted by some of my friends. Whenever I see a selfie posted these thoughts always run through my mind:

  • What is the attraction of posting images of yourself online?
  • Are you aware that when these images are published they are then accessible to anyone, one way or another?
  • Why do you post images of yourself online?
  • Is there a difference between posting a selfie of just yourself and posting one of you and a friend?
  • Are you seeking approval or acceptance?

I decided to ask a couple of 14 year old girls as to whether or not they thought selfies were cool.  Their response was interesting.  The girls said that solo selfies are no longer cool amongst their friends but group selfies are okay.  They went on to say that using filters to modify your appearance in these selfies is definitely not cool.  When I asked if there was an appropriate time to take a selfie they replied with: if you are somewhere interesting and in a group then yes.

This got me thinking about my own selfies.  I have only ever posted images of myself in group situations, when I am somewhere really interesting or if I am doing something I am very proud of.

So, my question is this: if the younger generation is starting to think of selfies as uncool then will this continue to be something that my generation clings to?  I know I have lots of friends that regularly post selfies, some even joke about how often they do it. Sometimes they make me cringe and other times they can be quite beautiful photos.

This brings me to a little light reading I did on the subject.  An article in the Courier Mail by Olympia Nelson (2013) titled Dark undercurrents of teenage girls’ selfies talks about how selfies have turned relationships into a sexual rat-race.  However, if the younger generation is starting to feel that selfies are no longer cool, then whose relationships are these selfies actually damaging, and is this a problem that our young people face or is it something that my generation will cling to?

I certainly think that the song Let me take a selfie certainly helps to support the argument that selfies are something that my generation regularly participate in.  Perhaps there is still hope!

Bubble what?

The perfect bubble butt. The thing that all girls crave today. It’s interesting to note how times have turned away from the stick-figure body type and back to curves.  Although encouraging girls to shy away from needing to be skinny and promoting a few more curves is certainly a good thing, I have observed that achieving that bubble butt can cause girls just as much trauma as desiring to be skinny can.  So why are we so obsessed with achieving the perfect butt?

Need we look any further than Nicki Minaj?  Her recent music video, Anaconda, certainly suggests that having the perfectly rounded bubble butt is a must have. Another video that demonstrates this is J Lo’s Booty, a collaboration with Iggy Azalea. Whilst these women are championing having a little extra ‘junk in the trunk,’ they are also suggesting to girls that having a perfectly shaped trunk and shaking it the way they do is acceptable behaviour. I know that I, for one, feel very uncomfortable watching these two videos and I certainly don’t like the idea of young people watching these.  I am always a little horrified when I see my 10 year old students attempting to twerk and thinking that it is a perfectly respectable dance move, not fully understanding the actual meaning of the movement.

For me, this raises many questions:

  • Do we allow our young people to watch/listen to these songs?
  • How do we stop them anyway?
  • Is it worth listening to these songs if it promotes a healthier body type as the desired outcome?
  • How do we stop our young people from going too far?
  • Is this something we can discuss in the classroom?
  • Is this more of a conversation that needs to happen at home?

I don’t think there is an easy answer to these questions.  Unfortunately sex has always been and will always be a big part of the music industry and therefore I do believe it is here to stay.

There is one positive song that springs to mind about the importance of being comfortable with a slightly bigger frame, Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass.  Being all about that bass is a slightly more elegant way of stating that having a bigger butt, bubble or not, is something that we should be content with.  Her message is that “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.” This is a much more positive message and the video itself is generally fun and not too suggestive.

I definitely think it is worth noting that from the 1950s to today we seem to have come full circle in what is considered to be the desired body type.  These images should help demonstrate:

Marilyn Monroe, a bombshell with curves, 1958

Image from: CinemaScope

Image from: CinemaScope

Kate Moss, 2007:

Kate Moss Image from: Flikr, fkf

Image from: Flikr, fkf

Nicki Minaj, promoter of the bubble butt, 2014

Image from: Perks of being an Oreo

Image from: Perks of being an Oreo

Hopefully we can find a way to promote a curvaceous body type without using sex and focus on a more positive campaign!

What’s popular?

As a young teacher I like to think of myself as fairly up to date with the trends of today. I like to make sure that I read the same books, listen to the same music and watch the same movies as my students so that I can connect with and understand them better. To make sure that I was pretty much on target with what I thought was ‘cool’ I spent some time chatting to some teenagers about what they thought is cool. I’m pleased to say that I was pretty much on the money but did get some surprises.  I also found that age certainly plays a huge role in how cool some things are.

Check out my Pinterest Page to see what the teenagers are calling ‘cool’ these days.

converted PNM file

Image from: Wikipedia

 

Fight for survival

As a teacher I like to be up to date with what my students are reading and talking about. Over the past few years I have noticed an increase in the number of fictional novels being published that champion the idea of young people fighting against each other in the fight for survival.  The novels that I am specifically referring to in this post are:

Hunger_games_Books_t600

Image from: KPBS Book Review

maze-runner

Image from: According to Brie

books-1

Image from: extra

These novels are all part of a series and have all since been made into movies.  They have been extremely well received by teenagers and often have associated Fandoms (a topic discuss in my next blog post called:  What’s popular? Fandoms).

For those that haven’t read the books or seen the movies, these stories often involve young people becoming entrenched in some form of battle between other young people or a type of governmental figure head.  They regularly face the moral dilemma of “kill or be killed” and often have emotional repercussions to deal with.

My issue is this:

Is our society really at the point where young people are needed to be warned and taught about the experience of taking someone’s life, even if it is the “right thing to do?”  Dealing with dwindling hope and not getting that perfect, happy ending that we have grown up believing is possible for everyone?

Please don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the books myself. I fell in love with characters and became emotionally invested in their struggles.  However, I do wonder at the factors leading to authors writing novels with underlying values such as this.

The actual themes of the novels, such as faith, strength, justice, friendship, love, teamwork, etc., are a very welcome inclusion into today’s popular culture trends. However, I often wonder about the setting in which these themes are portrayed.

Of course, I could be overreacting to the whole issue. However, I do remember vividly being at the premiere of The Hunger Games and at the end, the majority of the audience cheering for the survival of Katniss and Peeta, not seeming to understand that:

  • They haven’t actually won
  • The fight for their survival continues
  • Killing someone will haunt them for the rest of their lives
  • Their hope is dwindling
  • They do not believe that they will ever get a happy ending

I suppose then that authors may feel the need to try and educate the youth of today regarding some of these slightly more sensitive issues. It is certainly something that contrasts with the “once upon a time stories” and “happily ever afters” that we are so used to seeing.  Perhaps this is exactly what our society needs, a good dose of reality that says:

Life is never easy.  Not everyone will get their happy ending.  You can only hope that during these trying times, whatever they may be, you find love, friendship, faith, justice, teamwork and strength, just like the characters in these novels.

It’s my life

Young people are living their lives in public at an alarming growth rate today.  As a young teacher in school ranging from prep to year 12 in Brisbane, I am regularly asked by students of all ages what types of social media I interact with and if they can send me friend requests.  This increase in use of social media by young people is increasingly alarming due to the fact that many, in my opinion, are unaware of the consequences of using such medias inappropriately. Whilst students in the primary years are often denied the use of Facebook and Twitter, some are allowed limited access to sites such as Instagram.  These students often go out of their way to use these sites due to the nature of it being seen as “cool” to own and use one.  Students in older years are regularly using Facebook and Twitter, as well as Tumblr, Instagram and Pintrest.  Upon asking students how they use these sites it was revealed that their use is not monitored and parents and/or guardians are regularly unaware of how their children are interacting with these sites.  I personally find this alarming due to the fact that students that aren’t educated in the proper use of such sites and therefore, can cause harm to themselves and others.

social-media-400854_640

Pixabay. License: CC0 Public Domain

Studies completed in America have shown that approximately 90% of the youth in the USA use social media sites.  One of these studies was conducted by Common Sense Media, called “Social media, social life:  How teens view their digital lives” (2012). This study was conducted by interviewing a variety of students, aged 13 to 17 across America. As the title suggests, questions regarding teenage use of social media and its impact on their lives were investigated and reflected upon.  These questions included:

Social Media, Social Life Questions

Common Sense Media (2012), p.7

As the study states:

This generation is the first to have gone through their entire teen years with Facebook and other social networking sites at their fingertips.  This [study] documents, on a national scale, what these ‘social media natives’ think about how social media use is affecting their social and emotional lives (Common Sense Media, 2012, p.7).

Data collected from the study states that 90% of the students used social media of some description.  However, only 49% of the students preferred communicating in person, with an alarming 33% preferring to communicate via text.  This representation of data is quite alarming to me because students are seemingly increasingly more confident with communicating via text rather than in person.

There is, however, some hope.  Students were also asked how they felt when their friends were texting or using social media in their presence and how they would feel if the world rewound to a time before Facebook.  The results are displayed below in a graph:

Desire to unplug

Common Sense Media, (2012). p.12

Although the percentages may be small, the fact that some students “desire to unplug” and be rid of Facebook gives me hope.

In terms of the students at my school and how they use these social media sites, the school has taken it upon themselves to become a Cyber Smart school.  A committee has been formed that includes representatives from all aspects of the school.  This committee discusses ways in which the school can educate students from all year levels in the appropriate use of social media, how to be safe and how to report cyber bullying if it occurs.  Although this is a small step, the school has embraced the fact that students do use social media and that for them to remain safe, they need to be educated in this.

Australian Government, (2014).

Australian Government, (2014).

In terms of the students in my classroom, I am regularly showing them ways to “unplug” and enjoy a screen free environment.  We discuss books, games, sports and places they can go with their friends.  I regularly challenge them to go outside and explore, and often hear reports of adventures had in parks or shops with friends.

One of my recent challenges to my class was the My Grateful Story.  It involved the students taking a photo of something they are grateful for in their life. It could not be anything technology related.  The resulting photos that were submitted where then placed in a PowerPoint and showed to the parents.  There were some amazing moments of self-discovery through this challenge and all of my students reportedly enjoyed exploring and reflecting upon the things they are grateful for outside of technology.

mygratefulstory-website-3

My Grateful Story, 2014

I think it is incredibly important for students to realize that there is time for living in both the real and digital world, and that embracing and being smart in both leads to a better life.