MYSELF IN MEDIA SPACE.

When I take a moment to look at myself, my life, and how I portray my existence in the world of media space, I think of the process– the journey– of social media platforms. I remember back in 2006, I was living in the United States and I made my very first Myspace page. It was exciting, this page showed who I was in some way. It explored my interests and my ‘aesthetic’ so to speak. Then there were rumours going around my school, anyone who was under age and on Myspace was being found out by our deputy principle and he was reporting users to their parents and the police. I was terrified. I was underage and shouldn’t have had a profile portraying myself on the internet– what if someone tried to catfish me? Find me, my family, where we live? How would I be able to cope with being responsible for something like that?
My best friend didn’t have a Myspace, her father was a judge, and what if a criminal, someone who didn’t have a good experience with her father, was to find her on Myspace? Online was a scary place to be. Being a part of that internet space was dangerous. But now, it’s completely normalised. Anyone who isn’t on the internet is viewed as a dinosaur or maybe too indie to function. It blows my mind how quickly and vastly this space has grown, has changed. It’s used for advertising, meeting up with old friends, showing friends and family the things you’ve seen on your holiday, and so much more.

My life in this space has expanded. From my username on AIM and my Myspace page that doesn’t get used any more, I now have a Facebook account, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, WordPress. Each and every page that I have shows who I am in this space, how I communicate with others in this space and how I don’t.

I think it’s really great that we have a space in which we can be ourselves, or at least the version of ourselves that we want to portray. It’s a great way for introverts to extend an image of themselves without having to discuss awkwardly with old acquaintances. I might not be an introvert per say, but I’m bloody awkward. Being online means I can think carefully about what I say before I say it. I can make myself look 10x wittier than I really am. That’s the beauty of being in the online media space. Thank you for making me look cool social media. Or letting me be the cool person I already am? Who knows.

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MY RESEARCH PROPOSAL.

 

When given the opportunity to conduct a research project, my initial instincts were to look into something I have researched in the past. Obviously I don’t wish to come out with the same findings as before, but rather to further investigate into the topic and perhaps ask a more specific and applicable research question. At first, my research question was, “Are younger generations across Australia turning away from organised religion?” Then it was pointed out to me that this sphere of research is far too large for the amount of time I have. My focus then became how this is relatable to university students; whether or not they are more likely to partake in religious practices, or partake in the decline of them.

After reading the book, “Putting Life Together” by Phillip Hughes, and having conducted an interview with him on this topic in the year 2012, there is obvious evidence that young people are not as likely to partake in organised religious activities as they once were. Hughes’ findings show that young people, as early as secondary school, start to question how the world is portrayed by science and how it is portrayed by religion, and how these two fit together. Hughes’ research shows that youth don’t necessarily feel the pressure to partake in religious activities as much as they do to forge their own paths, supporting the notion that more individuals are straying from organised religion. Hughes’ has found that Generation Y feels strongly about how we must choose our own views on life and thus ideas and traditions from the bible seem to be too traditional and archaic (Hughes, 2007).

The “Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion” (O’Connor, Hoge and Alexander, 2002), looked into the different influences regarding adult religious practices. They categorized these influences into three different groups: “family life cycle theory, social learning theory, and cultural broadening theory.” Looking into family life cycle theory, “Research has found that church disaffiliation occurs most often in the teenage years and the early 20s… and often a reentry into church life later when the young adult is building a family (Roozen 1980).” (O’Connor, Hoge and Alexander, 2002) Looking at social learning theory, our socialization in early life is primarily our parents, and then in teenage years beliefs might change from the influence of our peers, and perhaps again later from the influence of adult peers.

The journal, Social Forces (Uecker, Regnerus and Vaaler, 2007) points out that most of American youth tend to stray away from religious expression as a result of the “college experience”. With this being true to the American people, I wonder how the university or higher education experience in Australia influences individuals’ and their religious beliefs and consumption.

The information from these sources has led me to believe that a stray from religious expression and practice almost always takes place in teenagers and those in their early 20’s. This idea has pushed me to want to find out why they are partaking in the decline of religion, and how university and peers influence these life decisions.

In another article, The “Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion”, acknowledges that there is a lack of attention among sociologists, and that perhaps they are not asking the correct or strong enough religious based questions on surveys for young people. This makes our understanding of youth involvement with religion, or lack thereof, very limited (Smith et al., 2002)

In order to unpack the why behind youth involvement with religion, to support my research I plan on creating a survey that I can hand out to university students around campus and in my classes. On this survey I plan on asking about individuals’ belief systems, what religion they identify with, whether or not they have been raised religious, why they’ve stayed a part of their religion or have strayed from it, and whether or not university/peer influence has played a large role in their ultimate decision.

I have been in contact with a member of the Evangelical Christian Union at UOW and plan on conducting a one-on-one interview with the organiser of this society. In this interview I plan to ask how the members of this society grow each year (or don’t), the kinds of things they talk about in meetings, etc. I would also like to conduct a focus group with the members of this society and ask how their involvement in this group effects their involvement with other students around campus, what pushed them to join this group and how they feel the benefits from being apart of it.

Although my reading on this topic has only been minimal, I plan on divulging much further into peer-reviewed articles to gain a stronger knowledge on the research that has already been conducted. This will hopefully help me engage deeper into the topic, and help me unpack the question of why youth is turning away from religion, and more so, how university involvement plays a role in these life decisions.

REFERENCE LIST

Hughes, P. (2007). Putting Life Together: Findings From Australian Youth Spirituality Research. Christian Research Association, p.215.

O’Connor, T., Hoge, D. and Alexander, E. (2002). The Relative Influence of Youth and Adult Experiences on Personal Spirituality and Church Involvement. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(4), pp.723-732.

Smith, C., Denton, M., Faris, R. and Regnerus, M. (2002). Mapping American Adolescent Religious Participation. The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(4), pp.597-612.

Uecker, J., Regnerus, M. and Vaaler, M. (2007). Losing My Religion: The Social Sources of Religious Decline in Early Adulthood. Social Forces, 85(1668-1692).

WHY I’M SO NOSY.

Hello fellow BCM210 students and teachers. You’ve asked me to write about how I connect curiosity to learning. For me, it’s not really one specific event that helps me understand this connection, but rather the way I have made my way through life.

As the youngest girl of four, with three elder brothers, I have always been curious– although that’s not what my brothers and parents refer to it as, I think they prefer the word “nosy”. Not only did I live my life constantly asking questions about everything, but I liked to sit back and listen. If my parents hosted or attended a dinner party, and kids were involved, I didn’t always play with the other kids. I sat happily next to my mother or father and listened in on the adults’ conversations. I took note of the way they reacted to things happening in their lives, their social conduct, the things they found funny and the things they did not. It’s not only until now that I understand where a lot of my social knowledge has come from. I remember taking in things just as they were- I questioned things, in my head but also aloud to my parents in the privacy of our own home. But, I always tried to understand and accept the truism of everything presented to me.

I’ve always loved to read. Whether it was books or magazines around the house, if I was bored, I read, and I learned. I remember coming across an old magazine of my mother’s and there was feature article about a young trans girl who underwent a sex-change and who was now happily engaged as a man, to another woman. In the interview, he talked about how he never felt like a little girl, even as a six year old. He always felt like he didn’t belong in his own skin. At the age of 9, I accepted that. I understood that he couldn’t help the way he had felt, and that it was a battle for him to try and accept who he was and make a change in order to be happy. I thought he was brave. As I got older and saw all the negativity towards homosexuals and trans people, I was confused. How could people not understand that you cannot control the way you feel? Brains are curious things. Everybody’s works in a different way. We like to eat different things, different colours are pleasing to different people.

I’ve always been curious about these differences in people and wanted to learn more. I like trying to understand human behaviour and the things we do to try and understand the world. Acceptance is a large part of it, but so is asking questions. Trying to understand  is the process of learning, and being curious is the step that brings us there.

FILMS BESIDES ‘FORREST GUMP’

When you’re apart of westernised culture and you live in a western society, it’s not often that you’re exposed to things outside of this realm. Unless you go travelling and/or seek cultural differences, usually your world is enriched by everything and anything western. It takes quite a lot for another type of cultural influence to actually snake it’s way in there. And being apart of westernised culture, we assume that everyone around the world wants to be on the same page as us… “yeah they’re different, but they all strive for the types of things that we have.” Not true. Just because films, television programs, and music etc. that display western culture make the big bucks, doesn’t always mean they leave the longest lasting impression.

Looking at ‘Nollywood’ and Korean Cinema, we can see how other cultures attempt (and succeed) to make connections with people of their culture. Nollywood (Nigeria’s film industry) is the third largest in the world. Directors in this industry adopt new technology as soon as it’s available and affordable for them. The films in this industry are mass produced; new titles sell in market stalls and shops an average of 50,000 copies. “one of the characteristics that marks Nollywood as an autonomous local cinematic expression is that it looks inward and not outward” (Okome, p. 1 ). The fanbase for Nollywood films is starting to grow now that they are being shown at film festivals around the world and getting the type of attention that they deserve.

Although, being apart of a western audience, I do have to question how much these types of films would/could “take off”. We are used to viewing blockbuster films with top quality CGI and oscar-winning actors– could Nollywood films really take a legitimate seat with us when our standards are already set so high? Yes, we love a low-budget indie film– but, it’s gotta be grabbing and clever and different. My point being, maybe Nollywood films are a bit too different for western audiences to grab onto; they might have some good themes, but have they got the punch?

Then of course there’s Korean cinema, which has completely taken off all over Asia. Pop culture in South Korea is extremely influential across Asia, particularly in Japan. Which means that films produced out of this are obviously going to be very popular in a lot of Asian countries. These types of films focus on a lot of relevant issues for teenagers across Asia, particularly surrounding the family environment. But because this realm of cinema is so vastly different from western culture, it’s much harder for it to branch out on a global scale.

While both Nollywood and Korean cinema might be some of the highest grossing film industries across the world, it’s uncertain whether or not they will reach and have an impact on western audiences. We can only hope that viewers will break down their standards and expectations for films and be able to view this type of cinema in a new light and possibly develop and appreciation for it.

YOUR INTERNATIONAL NEIGHBOURS.

Many students, when first embarking on their degrees at university, are enthralled by the idea of going on exchange. They want to study abroad in America and experience the “college lifestyle”. Or they want to go to France and improve their language skills. Most students will choose a destination, like the United States for example, because it’s an English speaking country– and that’s fair enough. It makes cultural engagement with other native students much easier to pursue. But, going to a country where they speak a different language and are governed by a completely different culture is often more beneficial in the long run.

However, there are a number of problems with this. Often universities and exchange programs will hook you up with other students embarking on the same journey as you. You have someone by your side to turn to who knows exactly what you’re going through; the homesickness, the language barriers, the fear of being in a new city, etc. As an exchange student, you’re lucky to have these kinds of people nearby for moral support, but this can be quite detrimental to your overall experience. Often exchange students won’t branch out of their comfort zones and spend most of their trip buddying up with people who speak their native tongue. They’re not forced to be immersed in the culture around them, because they’re not properly engaging with local people who are apart of it. The entirety of exchange programs promote this idea of learning and experiencing a different world and culture first hand, but so many people aren’t getting that much out of it; it winds up being a lengthy holiday with some kids from back home.

Knowing that this kind of situation happens often, local students at Australian universities need to be aware of the international students at their school. We need to make the effort to communicate with non-english speakers to help improve their language skills, and we need offer them a view on what the modern Australian lifestyle is all about. (Marginson, p. 1).

Obviously, the government thrives on international students entering the country: they have to pay their tuition fees upfront. There is a lot of information and advice provided for international students looking to study in Australia; http://www.internationalstudent.com/study_australia/

Exploring the benefits of choosing Australia for your exchange destination. But it takes more than these simple guidelines to help international students slot into our society with ease. Fellow students needs to understand that these individuals still have their background– they are not supposed to change their ways and automatically become “Australian” and fit nicely into the categories that we want. Instead, we need to show them the differences of our lifestyle compared to theirs. Not highlight why we think it’s superior or that western culture is better, but allow them to experience it as a whole and not sit back and highlight our differences.

INSTEAD OF LOCALISING, MAYBE WE SHOULD GLOBALISE.

Globalisation is one of those terms that pops up out of nowhere and bites you on the rear. It’s something I’ve been hearing and learning about since the age of 16 and it has taken me, nearly those whole five years, to really have a good grasp on the concept. It is the process of the world becoming smaller (or at least appearing that way) on the notion of people sharing their culture across global communities. Everyone’s favourite example of globalisation: “I went to a Chinese restaurant last week in Campbelltown”, and while they’re not entirely wrong, there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

O’Shaugnessy discusses McLuhan’s phrase “the global village”, suggesting that the world will come closer together through global communication, despite any distance (O’Shaugnessy, p. 459). This is obvious through global forms of media; widely read newspapers and international screenings of news programs. But, majority of these types of publications are run by westernised cultures with a bias perspective on just about everything. How do we make this idea of a global village fully operational on the basis of communication? People will argue that the only way to understand a culture in its most true form is to see it with your eyes; experience its aura and physicality. But now we have the second best thing: the power of social media and the blogosphere. We’ve got millions of people on the web discussing their day to day activities (a lot of it we don’t give a rat’s ass about) and this is how we learn. I might stumble across a blogpost written by a young citizen in Siberia, telling me about her life in that country. And so I learn.

This being said, the world of social media and particularly the blogosphere have a lot of power in terms of widespread media coverage. Utilising hashtags on Twitter, it’s possible for a tweet to reach thousands to millions of people within mere seconds. This type of action leads to serious cases of citizen journalism, which is in turn a great example of globalisation. Individuals across global communities begin talking to each other in order to learn about global crises that aren’t being reported on in the mainstream news.

That’s exactly how we want globalisation to work though– not in the hands of the politicians or the media, telling us what we should and shouldn’t do/know, but to grasp it tightly in our own hands. Average citizens of one nation sharing ideas with another, through the beautiful power of social media.

USING THE MEDIA TO FIGHT THE MEDIA.

Comedian Aziz Ansari did something spectacular. He pulled Rupert Murdoch up on his shit and created a hashtag for other people to do so too.
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2015/01/13/comedian-aziz-ansaris-hashtag-rupertsfault-takes-off-in-response-to-murdochs-anti-muslim-tweets/
This article discusses it from the very beginning. Rupert tweets that all Muslims should be held responsible for the actions of the Charlie Hebdo attacks and more. Ansari questions this by pointing out that you cannot make people responsible for the negative actions of others in the same religion. They do not always work as a group.

Aziz retaliates with the following tweets:
.@rupertmurdoch Rups can we get a step by step guide? How can my 60 year old parents in NC help destroy terrorist groups? Plz advise.

.@rupertmurdoch You are Catholic, why are you not hunting pedophiles?

Anytime a Christian person rear ended your car. And many more. This hashtag completely took off, pointing out how ridiculous Murdoch’s claims were.

Christopher Kelly. @Asssouls
@azizansari Hitler was raised Catholic. Holocaust =
This is a fantastic example of someone using Twitter for both political and social activism. Aziz Ansari, a famous comedian and actor uses the voice he has on Twitter (a result of his large fan base and following) and makes critical remarks against Murdoch’s actions. Introducing the #rupertsfault hashtag opened up a place in the twitter-sphere for people to discuss, for people to recognise and criticise someone for their actions. That’s the benefit of living in the twitter age. So many people can open you up to new areas of interest and discussion. Sometimes things like this will come up in your feed and you’re forced to get involved. Forced to have an opinion. It might be harder for individuals with less of a following to get their voice out there, but when celebrities like Aziz take this kind of action, hopefully people will follow his lead.