Looking at others; suffering.

It is hard to ignore that in today’s society, suffering, death, sickness and tradgety are in the forefront of all media and in our faces every single day. We are asked to donate to charities, suggested to sponsor a child and even to simply share or like a Facebook page/image/link, in order to create awareness and spread the issue throughout the social media world. Is this all done however for the good of the subjects, or for promotional and business perspectives?

Almost 15% of Australia’s population is living in poverty. That’s a confronting 2.5 million people, many of which are children. This is not okay and something that must change. Is enough being done to create awareness on a national level? Should more be done?

The SBS documentary, Struggle Street, claims it was attempting to do just that – create awareness of what poverty in Australia looks like and depict, though images and real footage, how some people have to live. However, there was much dispute and outrage after the relies of the first episode last year, with many saying it was disrespectful and that the ‘documentary’ was essentially making fun of these people who live ‘on the dole.’ The guardian published an article about the backlash of the series and how it was seen to have exploited the lives of the subjects shown. The article raises the question, ‘is any coverage, good coverage?’

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Struggle Street documentary. 

While many people did not sympathise at all with any of the individuals on the show, and many finding it a disturbing joke with most of the episodes containing swearing, drug use, fighting and eating fast food; it is also extremely hard to look away. This raises many questions… Is it poverty porn? Is it making fun of these poor people? Is it making little of such a big issue, which is an even bigger problem in other countries? Or is it sending an important message about poverty in Australia?

Struggle Street was highly talked about due to its images and way of portraying many individual was truly shocking. But did it send the right message? It definitely brought it to the attention of many – that people in Australia are suffering, and will do almost anything for money. Whether the subjects can truly help it is the real question…

What is poverty porn exactly? Steven Threadbold says it’s ‘Like mainstream sexual porn that produces sexualised images from the male gaze for male gratification, poverty porn produces abjectifying images of the poor through a privileged gaze for privileged gratification.’ Basically, people make these types of videos, for other people to make fun of the subjects and to have a laugh about their life.

Poverty porn, also known as development porn or famine porn, has been defined as “any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause”

Poverty porn is also evident in images where the subject is depicted in a beautiful or inspiring way, but are truly deprived, sick, mistreated and unfortunate. The set of images below create artistic pieces out of those who are suffering… is this ethical? Is this okay if we are using these images to send a particular message about poverty and famine? Or is exploiting the individuals in the images? Is better or worse if these images are staged?

Sebastiao Salgado,
from his book Sahel the End of the Road 2004 (about the drought in Sahel region of Africa)Unknown
A vulture watches a starving child in southern Sudan, March 1 1993 (Kevin Carter)kevin-carter-vulture

 

I believe it is much worse if you are using real people in desperate conditions, and staging them for photographs; no matter what the intentions are. Suffering should not serve as entertainment purposes, for art, for commercial reasons or for fame; but unfortunately in today’s society, and with social media being an easily accessed, information sharing medium, it’s very easy and common to do.

To read more on a similar topic visit Amelia Murphy’s blog post.  I believe she pointed out some very important issues and topics on the subject, and shows some great examples.

 

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Does Texting Lead to Miscommunication in Relationships?

While texting has positively affected communication channels, safety and accessibility to one another; has it also become a reliable form of relationship building? Is this a good or a bad thing? Has this media taken the intimacy out of relationships?

For my BCM240 final project, I conducted an ethnographical study that aimed to uncover the truth about texting in relationships, and whether texting led to miscommunication. I chose to make a short interview style video, featuring people of different relationship stages and ages to get a true grasp on how they felt about texting, and whether or not this was the preferred form of communication.

I chose to include my talents speaking and to show their faces to further convey the argument; that emotions and facial expressions truly send the message. I aimed to layer both positive and negative opinions of text messaging in relationships in the video.

Finding talents proved to be slightly difficult, as not many were willing to open up about their personal relationships and communication approaches; hence why two participants were family members. This was an advantage to me, as trust was already gained and established, therefore there was no need for conversation or ‘scene-setting’ before hand. With my other talent however, I needed her to know exactly what was going on and how the video would be depicted; thus, we spoke about the topic prior to recording and I shared my thoughts and opinions with her as well, allowing for an ethical and collaborative ethnography.

70% of the people surveyed for this project said they text their partner ‘all day every day.’ Many of those who took part in this small-scale research project were Gen-Y’s; so having grown up with texting, it naturally became a reliable source of communication for them. While many participants were young (under 25) and not married, thus not seeing their partner everyday, this resulted in many more texts sent throughout the day to keep in contact.

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My survey revealed that 95% of people have had a fight through text, and when asked individually as to why this was the case, many responded by saying that it was often the case of miscommunication.

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This research project was based off research already conducted about the use of texting and mobile phones in romantic relationships. One article written on the topic is ‘Using Technology to Connect in Romantic Relationships: Effects on Attachment, Relationship Satisfaction, and Stability in Emerging Adults’ by Lori Cluff Schade , Jonathan Sandberg , Roy Bean , Dean Busby and Sarah Coyne. One aspect that stood out to me and that led to form the basis of my research was, ‘the use of texting with cell phones can increase intimacy by making partners more available and expanding their repertoire of connection (Henline, 2006).’ Does texting your partner truly allow the relationship to become more intimate? Or do we solely rely on using our thumbs to communicate, and think that is enough? Many respondents believe that face-to-face communication is still the preferred form, and will never take over texting. However a large portion of participants agreed that a mix between the two is what keeps a relationship together in our contemporary society.

In an article written by Christine Murray and Emily Campbell, they undergo research into the way technology is used by couples and how it affects the relationship. “Couples have the opportunity to stay connected in a way they never have had before.” I aimed to explore this issue more and ask the why and how question and even challenge this idea through exploring whether texting actually leads to miscommunication.

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Has the digital world and accessibility to social media and instant messaging taken the place of real life communication and relationships? My aim was to find out. Generally, younger relationships that have grown up with mobile phones and social media at their fingertips form and base their relationships (at least the communication aspect) on the convenience of text messaging. It is easy to hide behind a computer screen or mobile phone to get a message across, but when it comes to real face-to-face communication, often sharing thoughts and feelings is much harder. These spaces therefore change and are adapted depending on the person to whom we are communicating to.

For relationships, such as marriages, which were formed without text messaging, mobile phones and social media even existing; face-to-face communication is much easier, faster, convenient and preferred. Access to media and the many technological advances are only advantages, and seen as another way to communicate when they are not with their partner. However, due to this and individuals knowing how their partner communicates in person, can lead to a miscommunication through text messaging. Abbreviations and the use of emojis as silly as it may sound, if used the wrong way or if auto-correct steps in, assumptions and accusations can be made, leading to potential arguments. ‘Mobile messaging is the modern way to communicate. It’s instant, location independent, and personal. That’s why the new mobile phone generation has started to favour messaging, making it one of the fastest-growing segments of the mobile communications industry’ (Nokia, 2002).

Text messaging therefore seems to provide an opportunity for intimate personal contact whilst at the same time offering the detachment necessary to manage self-presentation and involvement. (Donna and Fraser Reid, 2004)

Overall, this experience taught me that text messaging has both negative and positive effects on an intimate relationship. While communication can be more constant and accessible thanks to text messaging, it can also prove to cause miscommunication and even superficiality within these relationships.

To Write, is to Inspire. To Blog, is to Create.

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Why blog? There are oh so many reasons why I love to blog, and would recommend it anyone and everyone.

“While there are many articles written about why you should blog to grow your business or become an expert or make a whole bunch of money—the best recommendations are still found in the personal realization that blogging changes you, the writer.” – Joshua Becker

In reflecting upon my blogging experience for #BCM240 this semester I have learnt many things including: connecting with and attracting readers; blog design as a whole including producing a blog that is easy and efficient to navigate; tweeting to promote my own blog and others, as well as engaging with fellow students about media and space; and producing a curated online environment which prompts discussion and debate.

I aimed to attract readers by using the BCM240 hashtag on social media sites, which led people to easily find my blog in the course. This hashtag on twitter also allowed me to visit other peoples’ blogs, and therefore get inspiration and ideas through what others have written and articles they have linked to.

Using categories and tags on the WordPress site itself also allowed other readers of the public to find my blog through information that is relevant to the tag they are searching. Also tagging things such as #multitasking and #mediaspace on twitter attracted readers outside of BCM240 which was a pleasant surprise. One follower tweeted me a podcast that was relevant to attention spans, that I then later included in my blog post to further enhance the information I was providing.

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On my blog itself, I including a ‘recent comments’ section in the footer, which allows readers to view other posts which I have liked, followed or commented on; adding to the overall picture of what I want my blog to portray, and what it says about me as a person.

In relation to my theme, I wanted to keep it simple, yet adding a contrast of the bright ocean (an image from New Caledonia I took myself) as I feel not only does it make the design visually appealing and not cluttered, it also says a lot about myself. I love the water, travel and re-connecting with myself and the world around me; I always have, so that was important to me in communicating my personality.

This blogging experience, as well as the many articles which we were provided with in the course, allowed me to learn more about this online environment. When reading other peers’ blogs, the use of images, large fonts, quotes and links truly strengthens the piece. I believe the shorter the blog, the more interesting and attention grabbing it is. A long, essay like blog isn’t what I’m personally attracted to so I tried to sharpen my work and condense it as much as possible from the last assignment, so as to communicate to a larger audience.

Ferdig and Trammel noted four distinct learning advantages for blogging: the use of blogs helps students become subject-matter experts, increases student interest and ownership in learning, gives students legitimate chances to participate, and provides opportunities for diverse perspectives both inside and out of the classroom.

Much of the research and methodology I used were articles recommended in the lectures, however I also used other sources found through Google scholar and on Blergh.org.

A few ethnographic interviews were also conducted adding a primary research element, which I think enhanced my blog. In the future, I think I would try to find more articles to include, and even conduct more of my own primary research as I found this methodology was most effective. Being able to speak to my parents about their experiences with television, the internet and media, added depth and further insight into media, audience and place.

In attempt to make my blog a more curated environment, I tried to engage my readers in further conversation by asking questions throughout the post. I also linked to other students’ blogs in order to convey a collaborative effort. These connections with readers and other bloggers/students will hopefully continue on throughout my life, as they gave me great insights into thoughts of media, place and audience. 

From this experience I have learnt that posting frequently, and continually engaging in followers is important between blog posts in order to keep your audience interested – this I only learnt right at the end, and my twitter favourites, comments, views and likes on blog posts increased. I also learnt that conducting research is so important and adds so much depth to a post, something I wish I used more. Time management and resources were lacking in this department, as I regret not doing the week 6 blog ‘Public televisions and personal devices’ even though I found this the most interesting subject of them all. Unified in Social Media, But Segregated in Reality was one of my favourite posts from that week, and a blog in which I engaged with frequently.

I am very thankful that blogging was apart of this course, not only because it is enjoyable, informative and I got to engage with new and exciting people; It has also created a curated online environment in which I can show future employees my writing skills, and how I connect with other people. A job add for a large company I came across, also includes that personal blog management is required/preferred. This further clarifies the importance of producing a curated environment.

An article I found online, that has inspired me to write not only throughout this experience, but also in everyday life, is by a blogger herself. Victoria Michelson explains that blogging and the conversations that it created, increased her job opportunities.  The article talks about the benefits of blogging, and how important having an online audience/presence is.

“The aim of any blog, no matter how big or small, is to create conversation.” – Michelson

I hope that I will continue to blog on this site, as well as creating a secondary more personal blog as I believe having an online presence definitely gets you out there and teaches you so many new things. James R. Baker and Susan M. Moore believe ” blogging has beneficial effects on well-being, specifically in terms of perceived social support.” I am thankful that BCM240 has taught me many things about the online, media world, and just how important staying connected with others is in today’s society.