OpenUP or Be Silent

Free Yourself

Academic Post 07

…”Fake News; Satire Done Good and Stuff”
Written by Julie Metni, October 15, 2008 

     I read the syllabus to check what the topic for this week’s post was to be. Well, out of curiosity, I Google’d the bolded topic: Fake News.

     Amongst the trash and definitions that came up, a link [below] that came up from one of the websites in the search is a perfect, if not ironic, example of fake news; the author ”fakes” the fake news. Read the article in the link below before continuing.

The Fake News: Bird Terror….. Click Here for Article

     Once finished, take a second to ask yourself if you found that you were analyzing the article at the same time as you were reading it. If you did, you’re on track. Personally, I sometimes forget what I was thinking and need to refer back to it. So keep the tab or window open if you need to, too.

     If you read the article and registered what was going on, let us continue. Or maybe not yet – let’s look at the face value of the website to begin with first.

     The image at the top (the header) is clearly focused on creating comical relief to defer how controversial the [non-fictional] underlying message in that particular article, or the whole website, really is. Even the little sub-header, “Satire Done Good and Stuff,” connotes jargon as a certain level of distraction from what the author hints in a variety of the articles, found on the home page of the website.

     Professor Ian Reilly said in his lecture on October 15, “margarine is not just margarine, plastic is not just plastic. There are deeper levels of signification.” Do not take anything for face value. Anything.

     Nothing.

     Let’s get into it.

     The title alone arouses curiosity and suspicion as to how much time this particular author has on their hands. Where did you come up with this? Nation in Panic After Cat Terror Incident? What on earth could a feline possibly do to create nation-wide terror?

     As you probably have realized, and related to the article, that any nation’s greatest fear is that of terroristic destruction, and this topic is the central underlying message in this ”faked” article. The author is mocking a hugely accepted fear of fearing death, which is what the author primarily plays on. Like most people do everyday, they have taken something from a news story, such as one on terrorism, and taken a swim in the ocean of cognitive dissonance. The author has taken a serious issue and helped those who are vulnerable to accepting terror, but also vulnerable to easy humility, and has untied the uncomfortable denotations. This creates the theme of mocking the reasoning involved as to why anyone should of be scared of such a threat in the first place.

     However, the author also leads our connotations to everyday life, and lets us decipher the way we deal with similar things ourselves. A cat is a cat, a bird is a bird. To the naked eye, everything looks the same, for lack of a better analysis. But what goes on beneath the surface is what the author is trying to communicate. Segregation, racism, terror, and poverty are topics that are controversial enough to arouse worries in any conversation. The author uses these topics as a baseline for his news satire, ironically turning what people are terrified by into mindless entertainment for the World Wide Web community.

 

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Academic Post 06

Internet Monsters
Written by Julie Metni, October 7, 2008 

     I was pondering writing about the technology of the motorized vehicle… the car. However I feel that that topic is over-exhausted. We all know how terribly polluting cars are, how dangerous, how limiting, and how expensive they really are. So I won’t rant about that.

     Instead, I will over-exhaust today the technological advancement of computers, and the internet more specifically. Think about the amount of time you spend online in a day, week, month or furthermore, year. Can you therefore imagine how much of your life is wasted looking at a screen? Not just the computer screen, but any screen in general? Think about how much radiation is being consumed by your eyes and skin. How sickening.

     That’s why we wear ultra-cool stylish knock-off shades, isn’t it?

     Seriously though, when you think about it (it doesn’t take much thinking, this time), internet rules our sad, dreary lives. 

     For goodness sakes, I am paying someone to stand in front of eighty some students in a lecture room to make redundant statements about how the internet works. It is a mandatory course. I’m not complaining – nor am I insulting the professor. She is a very acknowledged woman who delivers a lecture quite well, makes sure we understand the information, and communicates with students thoroughly to the point where we are clear of any questions we may have had. But the fact that there is a full university course about the internet is really saying something about how technology governs our existence, both on and off the web.

     I think that it is simply degrading to me that we rely so much on technology. It may seem weird, to say the least, depending on your opinion, but I have had dreams of living on a farm somewhere remote, peaceful and quiet, with a child or two and some barn animals, leading a simple life but being at peace. No technology. Maybe a telephone and an oven, but computers, television, even a hair blow-dryer is excess to me.

     Maybe I’m just dreaming…

     … Or is it the mass media giving me ideas?

     Who knows anymore?

Thanks for reading. Go home and think.

Academic Post 05

Being Real, Knowing Truth, Understanding: Deciphering Lies and Agnosticism
Written by Julie Metni, October 5, 2008

     Controversy builds the development of society. A community of human beings will not grow and mature if issues with negative connotations or values are not presented. It is these controversial issues that a community will take into consideration, argument, and finally [hopefully] resolution in order to become a better rounded civilization. The majority may be inclined to secure themselves with common conventions [it’s just human nature], but the rest of the civilization who are not afraid of changing or of a broader perspective will be at peace.

     Such an example of this is the differences of religious beliefs within a community of people. Conventions are present in every religion. People who are scared shitless of dying lean more towards those religions [if they are choosing their own, not being forced] which allow an afterlife, reincarnation, or an ascension to some better place. This, for me, is much too easy. 

     How on earth can any living being create their own creation? What kind of fairy-tales are we willing to believe, and to what extent? The Son of God was no magician. They say Jesus walked on water… but what if it was the modern ”broken telephone” of their day and age? What if he actually was just the first surfer, or maybe not even the first; maybe he was just a popular guy? He got the publicity he wanted in order to make his point, grabbed a plank of wood from good old papa’s work shed (if you don’t get it, it was recorded that  Joseph was a carpenter), and went for a swim? Who knows.

     My point is, don’t believe everything you hear. And furthermore, to put a point to this post, don’t be suckered into common conventions. If you haven’t guessed already [or read the title], my theory/concept that I would like to discuss within this post if that of agnosticism. 

     As most things do, the word originated from the Greek: “a-“, meaning without, and “gnōsis, meaning knowledge. Ironic? YES. Why? Think about it!

     …Because no matter how hard you think, you will never find an answer. Regardless of the question… Knowledge is infinite.

     I believe, whether whoever is reading this agrees or not, that humans are simply incapable of knowing whether something greater than us exists out there in the wide space. Of course there has to be a way for everything around us to be, for matter to have been created, but who are you to say that it was one certain way or not? Get real, people (ironically).

   Why is this ironic? We have already stated that infinity is ceaseless. So figure it out yourself… It doesn’t hurt to think a little more than you usually would intend to.

     While it is nurturing, comforting, even refreshing to believe something or have faith or a solid ideology in a religion, it is still too much for extremists or people who are consistently over-naive to keep a closed mind to everything else in which they care not. I agree, there are possibilities. But under no circumstance can any creature created from the soil and sun tell me with 100% proof [whether it is based on fact or faith] that there is a god out there, or there is some supreme being that created the universe. What if I told you I was God? You would simply tell me…

     … Get real… (Insert sloppy teenage slang here).

See you soon, non-believers. Thanks for reading.

Academic Post 04

The Self-Controlling Advertisement
Written by Julie Metni, October 3, 2008 

     I do not know how to start off this post, to be honest. Just watch the advertisement below.

     What did you take from this? 

     If you have read George Orwell’s 1984(1) before, you get the general idea. I am not going to waste twenty-five minutes of my time or yours reiterating Orwell’s renown text. All I will say is this: control your thoughts.

     This may sound either ironic or creepy, depending on how you see it. Obviously the people are being brainwashed and have little to no ability in controlling their own thoughts or actions. So clearly, me telling you to control your thoughts is creepy. But there is a twist.

     In order to release your mind and decisions from those who are trying to capture them, you must control what you think and do; not by their standards, but by your own. You should become an educated member of society with a rounded perspective in order to analyze a situation correctly, such as a television ad. Having self-control will help anyone to understand what the media is implying, consider their options based on basic need and what they know to be true from their past experiences, and to make the right decisions or great breaks of gusto from the chains of manipulation, like the girl with the sledge hammer in the commercial.

     So for all of you new Mac’ers out there [including me], congratulations on buying in to the desire to acquire need in something completely materialistic and widely advertised. Did we have a choice? Did we overestimate self control? Did we give in to huge corporations to ‘suit our needs’?

     Of course we did…

     …Big Brother told us to.

 

     (1) Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. (1929). Secker and Warburg.

Academic Post 03

Speaking of “Massive”…
Written by Julie Metni, September 21, 2008 

This is a video that may or may not demonstrate the power media [how massive the industry is] and particularly music has over our lives.

The video I put here was changed a couple of times before I could make a decision as to which video best visualizes to you the points I would like to make. I hope it works.

After the first thirty to sixty seconds of the clip, I’m sure you can tell that the little man is searching for something. We do not have any idea of who he is. All we can do is watch him being turned away by the possibilities which he is hoping and searching to engage in. This represents anyone’s rises and falls in life; the obstacles or doubts we all encounter when reaching for something set us back… But as the little man in the video (let’s call him Conor) knows, the most practical and revealing thing that we should do in times of trouble is keep moving on. Just keep searching.

Eventually our new-found friend Conor encounters a book. Not much is known about this book, except that the pictures inside are colorless. Might this represent the way in which we all follow the same patterns and trends, eventually leading to our lack of originality or discoloration? Have we all been impacted by the media so much that we can no longer differentiate between truth and lies, or real or fake? Have we been so molded by technologies and public criticism that we no longer feel the blandness in our every word?

As he is exploring the book, we observe that Conor makes friends, who choose to follow his influence. Do you notice the trend in which Conor picks up these friends? They are the outcasts of society, the different shapes or photos who do not fit into the picture; who do not blend with the theme. I will be honest, only after he found these friends did I rewind and play it again. I was astonished at the beauty and simpliciy of this. They are free thinkers, we can imagine – ignored by common society in their fruitless attempts to fit in somewhere or to find a main purpose or theme for their existance. How long did it take you to notice? Were you confused at first? Why are these particular photographs behaving so differently within the book?

Do we not ask ourselves the same thing about people… every day?

As the rest of the video plays out, eventually the characters find themselves in a place, we can gather, of internal peace and find an end to their longing. They are all different from the public, and from each other… But here in the unity they created out of recognition for their differences or quirks, they come to an understanding of how the world works in correlation to nature and living beings. They understand the simple, tragic idea that while everyone else seems to fit in nice and cozy, they must work hard to find their place in the world… However this search is what makes searching in the first place so rewarding: that in the end, the answer is so much more meaningful.

To conclude, Conor and his friends are guided back to their common place of familiarity. They emerge from the book fully real and live; they are introduced back to reality. My perspective tells me that the familiar places where they are brought back to, the places from which they came and can easily fit into without discrimination, is the media and mass communication of brainwash calling us home. It says, “Come on, just keep it simple, be like us.” The sad thing is, we all buy into it too.

Is this a proper representation of how massive the music industry is? If you think about it, people all over the word give in to being paralyzed by the rhythms and lyrics of billions of songs. Even if you have never played a single record before, creating music or any other form of communication or influence for the rest of the world is in you; it just happens. We are a species governed and obeying to an industry that not only rakes in the dough, but keeps it, and decides how we will live our lives despite our blinded narcosis. We like to think we are free of influence or that we solely create for ourselves… But it’s 1984(1) all over again; the massive controls the masses… And it will never be any other way.

Please let me know if you have a different take or opinion about the video or my thoughts in general, or even if you agree with me. Thanks for reading.

jules

 

(1) Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. (1929). Secker and Warburg.

Academic Post 02

Socrates Was Right, Plus Suttle Media Ecology
Written by Julie Metni, September 10, 2008

First and foremost, my apologies if this post runs longer than the typical 200-250 word limit.

Ever since the cave, the human creature has known only one solid, concrete and never-changing state of being: the state of development, change, and most importantly, discovery. The one thing that has changed, inconsistently, is the reason for man’s need to discover or create.

…A quote within a quote? You bet your bottom dollar it is.

“ ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ –Socrates” –I. Reilly

You sir, are a mind-reader.

Take everything that you have ever been taught. Take it, and throw it all into a blender. Plug in the blender; let the things that you threw into the mechanism tear into a million pieces while you listen to the hum of a 1998 Sears kitchen appliance. Add some fruits for taste, if you like. When you are done blending it, pour it into a cup, thermos, mug, shoe, whatever your heart fancies, and feed it to the squirrels in your backyard.

Why are you doing all this to begin with, you may ask? (Why not?)

Well, why does anyone do anything? Why do the birds fly south for the winter, and why do babies cry? Simply because of their pressing natural needs to. Things like this are natural. Chucking the sum of your grade-school education out the window, however, is solely your choice.

I’m trying to say: Make your own decisions. Do not follow the leader. (Of course, if it gets you into jail for rebellion, I’d say I’d rather take care in following the law.) Do not account for all of the people who fall into the same spiral of silence(1). Society tells you or leaves you with the impression that what there is to be examined already has been examined; that what they are presenting to you is current and precise, modern and unique. This has been going on forever. However, gaps are created between what you think has been done, and what you have not done.

Step away from the noise and static, close your eyes, and be your own medium. Be the medium for those who haven’t the strength or guts to stand up for what they believe in or for those who simply choose to abide by rules on account of arrogance or laziness. That’s right: YOU are the medium for YOUR message. Explore yourself, be what you want and not what common society creates for us.

I have lost myself in this; I have lost my place. I forgot that the personal pronoun is how this river flows, however I cannot help but get carried away. Can you blame me? Blogging is exciting!

Yes, I just said that. Anyways, earlier I mentioned the spiral of silence(2), which simply is the lack of a backbone and therefore the ability to speak up when one believes that something is not right. When the minority disagrees with the majority, with little to none possible ways to make a difference or create change, they end up silenced by the “Man” and regress into a cycle of regret and lack of communication. The internet, however, has made it possible for countless of angry or unheard citizens of common society to stir change in the online community, and in occasional cases, further into reality.

What I want to conclude in all this is this: Do not let the products of mass communication like silencing or originality get you down. I definitely feed off of it, if anything, and only use the cliché misconceptions as a fuel for my fire to create a better, more rounded society.

Northrop Frye states in The Educated Imagination that all experiences or decisions are based upon or stem from previously made decisions or stories of the past(3). While I agree with him and his use of writing as a medium, I also believe that humans should not abide by what has already been done. It is a difficult process, but creating something for your own – even something that the world doesn’t need to know about, like your own individual thought or decisions – is truly what humans strive for. So go ahead and reach for the mouse or remote control, watch the mindless, scripted sit-coms and Wheel-of-Fortune… but I personally believe that fortune comes from the guts within yourself, and your ability to pull them out and use them.

I therefore will use my education to further my imagination and expand my ideas to the world. The World Wide Web is only step one!

 

Again, I apologize for the length of this post. In future I will try to condense.

(1) Produced by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, quoted by Marshall McLuhan in an interview with Playboy (1994).

(2) Ibid

(3) Frye, Northrop. The Educated Imagination. (2002 Edition). Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Toronto.


Academic Post 01

Saving the World, One Click at a Time
Written by Julie Metni, September 3, 2008

It is quite the mind-boggler that my ability to pass my university course depends [not quite, but almost] solely on what I type out here, in lonely cyberspace for the rest of the world to see. Not that the entire world has the privileges and resources to access this online journal, however. It is amazing, and quite simply torture to me that while I lie on my bed writing a rough draft of my first post, a million children half a world away sleep with empty bellies and pathetic shelter or safety – or lack thereof.

I may have a tendency to get off-topic – I’ll admit it – but am I really?

For instance, how do you think that any average Joe’s or Jane’s like myself or even you (if you are one) could possibly have the slightest clue as to what is going on miles away if it weren’t for the hunk of plastic and gigabytes sitting in front of you? The only way in which anyone could possibly be informed of worldwide affairs is due to pieces of information sent through technology that we call mediums. The mediums we have come to know and love (such as television, internet, magazines, newspapers, etc.) not only try to make us believe that we are fully informed, but also stir dependence, dissatisfaction and manipulation into the receivers. If you really choose to think about it, so much time, effort, energy and megalomania go into instilling the audience with petty wants and desires; those pathetic, gullible suckers. Suckers like myself, who, out of guilt and in a desperate attempt to create justice, sponsor a child like those who are seen on the television screen; sick and hungry. Those numerous corporate giants are reaping the benefits of the receiver’s guilt and dependence on technology as they bathe in their cash, while those poor, helpless children are diminishing one by one (even if a sponsor comes up here or there). Who knows how much good they could have created in the world, had they the potential and resources?

The mass media can’t tell us everything we want to hear after all, can they.

I suppose you can therefore say that my place or role in the public’s ever-changing, ever-hardening eye is to give back to the community, or to restore a bit of fair-play to those less fortunate. I feel that it is my purpose, as cheesy as it may sound.

With a simple, savvy click of a button did this experience begin, and with another click shall it end – for now. Just not yet…I have one more thing to say.

In the process of creating this personal academic agenda did I discover [so typically] that there is (like most of the popular websites or major companies/corporations) a fee or membership involved. You see, it did not surprise me that if I was to be able to access the full features which were provided by this server, I would have to use my hard-earned money to do so. This is just another way in which the economy and large companies strive to excel their profits. Can we expect any less from them?

I believe the answer is no, we cannot. But for now, to hell with it. Count your blessings, be grateful that you are alive, and do not forget to go for your annual check-up like recommended. Most importantly, don’t forget to open your mind, and speak up!

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