Katie Pak’s Capstone Project—Social Media and Travel

Each year, more and more Millennial students are electing to travel abroad, sometimes in the form of a gap year (a la Malia Obama) or perhaps as part of a structured study abroad experience through their institutions or separate organizations. For our generation, social capital is based more on experiences had than material owned, and more importantly, one’s ability to prove they’ve had these experiences. With a perfectly-composed “candid” shot against a stunning natural or urban backdrop, a just-right filter, and a caption that says “I’m having an amazing experience but being casual about it because this happens every day for me,” young travelers contribute every day to an explosion of very specific, curated images saturating every corner of the internet. What is the impact—culturally, socially, and individually—of this phenomenon? With apps like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Airbnb, Hostelworld, etc., are travel-minded Millennials over-producing their experiences, and at what cost? What is a “true” travel experience, and how does the pursuit of a specific, quintessential experience promote certain imaginings of places and cultures and undermine others? These are questions I hope to provoke, explore, and attempt to answer in a project that will incorporate my personal experience traveling as well as a critical analysis of the impact of social media on travel.

Remediation Resources

I’m pretty set on doing a video because it’s a great way to convey complex concepts in a comprehensive and efficient way. I don’t have a ton of experience, besides a five-day summer enrichment “Movie-making 101” class my Mom made me take in sixth grade… I’m sure whatever I learned there is completely outdated.

I’ve played around with iMovie since then, so I feel pretty comfortable with that.

In terms of technology, I don’t have a camera, or advanced recording besides my MacBook. It seems like people have been mentioning the Instructional Support Services, so I’ll for sure look there first.

Otherwise, I’ll just be watching a lot of YouTube videos to get an idea for structure and other tools that people seem to use for these types of videos.

I think the main hurdle is equipment here, though; I think the editing part won’t be too bad. It’s not going to be Oscar-short worthy, but I think I can do a pretty decent job.

A Meditation on Remediation

The main problem I am facing with this project is that my content in its original form is so specific I think it might bore everyone no matter if presented to them in video, audio, or tactile form. It’s a 12-page analysis on my mom’s and grandpa’s political views and what events specific to their generation might have influenced them, attributing these factors to literature we read in the class.

I think I make it a lot more accessible in my repurposing, where I intended it for a much broader audience than my GSI. So, I might have to remediate the repurposed version, if that’s possible.

What I always thought would be cool is a video interview with my family members, but they live in Minnesota so that’s just not feasible.

Another idea I am shamelessly stealing from ideas my classmates were throwing out the other day is something like the ASAP science videos, which incorporate stop-motion and dry-erase boards to explain interesting science concepts.

However, this would require me being able to draw. I have never actually graduated out of stick figures.

A presentation might be interesting, because seeing the trends of how important events impact generational entelechy might be easier visually.

You know what, I’m kind of getting on board with this YouTube video thing. Though my content might be super boring in its 12-page, specific, jargon-riddled, achieving form might be way too dry, videos like ASAP science and live-action ones this one are a great way to make scientific content interesting and accessible to an audience of lay people.

I don’t know how feasible this is, as I don’t have any sort of equipment for that. But as long as we’re just throwing ideas out there…

Weighing the Pros and Cons of First-Person POV

It was surprisingly easy for me to write both paragraphs. When I slip into “I” and “you,” the words come easier because it’s “me” speaking to “you” – I don’t feel separated from my thoughts. The second paragraph came just as easy, though, because years and years of being told not to use first-person-perspective made transition as easy as the flip of a switch.

One thing I noticed was that in the first paragraph, I make it a lot clearer who the audience is because I specify “our circumstances” and “our generation.” I’m speaking to Millennials, my peers. This audience becomes broader in the second paragraph, when I make general statements like “not many Millennials are aware of how…” that indicate that I am talking about a certain generation, but not necessarily to them.

It’s interesting to think about – this one little decision is the difference between someone reading my piece and saying “wait – this isn’t for me,” and stopping right there. Do I want to speak about Millennials to a broader group, or do I want to speak to this generation directly? For my purposes, I think my piece will be a lot stronger if I’m speaking directly to my peers than about them. I don’t want to go so far out of my way to reach everyone that I completely circumvent my target audience.

Also, because the second paragraph sounds so much like the academic paper I originally wrote anyway, I’m already bored. And I specifically chose this topic because I’m interested in it. So, I guess I would rather truly grab the attention of a smaller group of people than talk at a wider audience that really isn’t going to listen or care anyway.

A Tug-Of-War With Climate Change

My group really struggled with this one. Based on the criteria that disqualified the “house on fire” one from class, we would need to find a case in which the problem was everybody’s fault, and one person couldn’t get out of it without everyone else contributing. We thought of school bus going off a cliff, but technically one person could jump out and save themselves… In order to be accurate, our analogies became more and more convoluted and crazy so that suddenly it was easier to explain our scenarios using climate change as an analogy.

What I’ve come up with now is tug-of-war. The longer you wait to really contribute, the harder it will be to help drag your team back from the middle. If you don’t help at all, and if others don’t help at all, you’ll lose. (Technically you could walk away if the stakes were life-and-death but it’s a game, and you’re in it to win, so we’re operating under the assumption that you wouldn’t). You only win if everyone helps, and you lose if even one person doesn’t help.

Obviously this has some flaws, like the fact that the stakes aren’t that high during tug-of-war, and you could walk away if you just didn’t care about losing. And if the teams were unbalanced, you not helping/helping might not make a difference either way. And nature isn’t actively working against us; we’re just aggressively attacking nature.

Still, the best analogy for climate change isn’t going to be as good as just explaining climate change. I’d rather just do that, personally.

Mistaking an Argument as Necessary

When are arguments necessary? When are they a mistake?

For all you moral absolutists out there, an argument is probably always necessary. There is a clear line between right and wrong, and if someone has CROSSED it, they need to know. And you need to tell them.

I have to admit, I adopt this mindset a lot more often than I should. But sometimes, it truly is necessary. Theoretically, when someone has done something negative to affect you or someone else and they don’t understand why, you should tell them. However, this statement is contingent on “theoretically.” In practice, it doesn’t always work out and the argument can end up being a mistake depending on how you argue your case, and with whom.

For example, I was arguing with my roommates recently about how high we should keep the heat. One roommate comes from a home where her parents turn it down to 52 (52!) when they’re sleeping, and 65 during the day. I, personally, didn’t really feel like walking around in mittens and a jacket in my own house, and lobbied for 65 at night and 70 during the day. As this issue directly affects our well-being, it was a necessary argument as we took divergent views. However, the argument got a little heated (pun not intended) and both of us ended up being a bit frosty (pun totally intended) towards each other for the next few days. I ended up feeling like it wasn’t worth it. It started out as a necessity, but ended up a mistake just by the way we went about arguing and how we treated each other during and after.

Can an argument be a necessity and a mistake?

Ah, this catch-22… Of course it can. This is sort of what I was alluding to in the first part, but this is something that is inherently necessary AND a mistake rather than starting off necessary and ending up, through bad form or circumstance, a mistake. For a perfect example, look no further than Bill Nye’s debate with creationist Ken Ham:

(and if you want to prove my point about arguing being a mistake and a necessity, by all means engage the people in the comment section.)

Are creationists wrong? Absolutely.

Are they educating their children to ignore science in favor of a limited worldview that might inhibit their ability to be successful members of society? Probably.

Do we have a responsibility, as more successful members of society, to correct their misperceptions? Most people would say yes.

But even the world’s most beloved bowtie-sporting scientist, famous for his ability to convey complex scientific notions in a comprehensible and engaging way, can do nothing to stop the “evolution is just a theory” tirade from his opponent.

Engaging this argument is impossible, because the only way to succeed is if both parties agree on the context of the argument. If Bill Nye is arguing from a scientific context, and Ken Ham has already rejected science as a viable context from which to base the argument, he will always reject Bill Nye’s conclusion no matter how logical the process is from context to conclusion.

Thus, engaging a creationist is both necessary and a mistake. Their entire worldview depends on a literal interpretation of the Bible, and they will never reframe it to accept science as an acceptable method of reasoning.

If we stop giving them a soapbox, maybe people will stop listening.