An Image Is Not a Reflection, and This Is Important

This is worth pursuing because people have a distorted idea of what it means to present themselves for themselves. We literally just went around the classroom asking people what kind of first impression they make on others, and if you listen closely, most people said things like “I’d like to think” or “I try to be” — this all has to do with image and image presentation. Who we actually are as people; our most authentic selves are not often who we present. Part of this has to do with knowing oneself and understanding who we are. If we, ourselves, don’t even have a clear conception of who we really are, how can we present an image that is really us? My project focuses in on this phenomenon through, perhaps, the images that are most pervasive and accessible to all: celebrities. The evolution of their images, the control they have over those images, and how that control has evolved in relation to the way society has shifted, is an interesting way to understand a concept that affects all of us. Who are we? Who do we see ourselves as? How do we want others to see us, and does our true self align with how we present it? This all comes down to imagery and the way in which we manufacture this artificial reflection. In the case of the celebrity, people have an intense inclination to see the manufactured images as these humans’ true selves because, ultimately, it’s the only way we can connect to them.

Blog 13: Resurrected From the Dead

I’m back beeeetches!! You know you love me. XOXO, Gossip Girl. Sorry if you weren’t an annoying 13 year old girl obsessing over Nate Archibald and wishing you were Serena Van Der Woodsen for a good portion of your early teenage years like I shamefully was, but if you were you’ll get that reference, and if you weren’t, again, I apologize. Can’t you tell from my blog posts how much I hate pop culture? (Sarcasm). Anyway, I’m back because I awkwardly thought the last blog post was the last of the last, but it turns out I have one final chance to spew my thoughts and hope maybe someone finds me somewhat entertaining/insightful, so here goes nothing.

My ePortfolio looks like my personality threw up all over it. (Check it out my puked personality—> here.) I just made that sound super disgusting for no reason, but it’s true. It’s honestly comical that I went into the creating the ePortfolio with the intention if somewhat keeping my personality out of it, but somehow my personality literally catapulted itself onto every single page of that ePortfolio. Look, I’m not unhappy it happened, but I definitely didn’t strive to have my personality come through as much as it did, although it definitely gives you a sense of who I am. While the personality adds something to it, I was originally a little afraid that it may come off as unprofessional, but I don’t think that’s entirely the case. It’s pretty vibrant, but I think it’s also clean and it lays out all of my work within the course and beyond. I could always toy with making it a bit more subdued when I attempt to use it for purposes beyond this course.

I think the hardest part of this was the necessary reflection pieces. I felt like we had spent so long dissecting each of these projects over the term, and I was hesitant to go back again and reflect on what I had done. However, once I started writing, this task proved to be much less daunting. In fact, it turned out to be pretty simple. Since we had taken so much time on each of these projects, it was fairly easy for me to reflect on all the work and effort I had put into each piece, and it wasn’t as tedious as I had originally presumed it would be.

Well, that about does it. I can’t believe this class is over, and I’m just realizing how much I’m for sure going to miss it next semester. Like they always say, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone- and with this class making it’s way from my active drawer on Canvas into the archived section (note I said Canvas, not CTools- can’t wait to see how that switch goes for all the courses next semester), I’m starting to get a sense that I’ll soon know this course was really something when it’s no longer here.

 

Blog 12: Closing Time One Last Call for Alcoh….**Advice

Courtesy of giphy.com
Courtesy of giphy.com

I always feel a little weird giving advice because I’m usually like why should I know better than anyone else about something? But, if there’s anything I’ve learned throughout the course of this class, it’s that you’re capable of so much, and you know more than you think you do. We’re always the hardest on ourselves, but you won’t know or realize how capable you are at first. That’s what this class will do for you. It will force you to come to terms with your capabilities, recognize them, accept them, and ultimately, push boundaries once you begin to understand them. Once you realize you’re not actually a completely inept and incapable human being, both in terms of your writing and life in general, you’ll feel more comfortable branching out to try different forms of composition. Your projects will rock, you’ll surprise yourself, and it will feel bizarre actually wanting to put so much effort into school work, not even for the grade, but for the sheer idea of being able to take pride in something you’ve created. Effort into school work for quality rather than the letter grade itself, WHAT IS GOING ON? DO YOU EVEN GO TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN?

So, if there’s any piece of advice I can give to you, my young and newly declared Sweetland writing minor sweethearts, it’s to let yourselves come to these realizations and to have faith in your capabilities. I don’t care if you’re an English major who has always dreamt of writing like Shakespeare, or if you you’re in Ross and you thought this minor would be a “valuable skill that would make you a great asset to company,” you’re here because you want to be here, you deserve to be here, and I swear you’re capable writers, that’s why you’re in this minor. You might not realize how capable you are of producing video or audio or photography, and right now you might not even realize that all of these things do, in fact, constitute as writing? <—- NOTE: (this question is still up for debate, and will not be fully answered, but you’ll come up with your own interpretation/solution, and you’ll rock on with your bad-self from there.) But, once you dabble in these various forms, you’ll realize you can do it- even if you can’t do it that well. This class will ignite your passions, spark your fires, and inspire you in all different ways. It’ll show you your capabilities, and it will force you to confront what you think are your incapabilities, no matter how much they scare you. Yes, I’m fully aware of how cheesy and preachy this all sounds. Isn’t this is just a class after all? But, I can’t help it. It might be just a class, but it’s a class that has done more for me than I could have ever imagined, and it will do all this for you too. You just have to trust that it will.

Blog 11: It’s All Happening

Courtesy of giphy.com
Courtesy of giphy.com

Well, the end is nearing my friends, and like Kate Hudson so prophetically states in the movie Almost Famous, “It’s all happening.” Not just “all” is happening, but rather at this point in the semester, for me and many others, it seems like way too much is happening. I know this is supposed to be a reflection on the gateway course and our time this semester, and I promise I’ll get there, but sticking to the movie references and touching on the fact that way too much is happening, I’m starting to feel like Jack from Titanic. My sanity and any sort of free time is Rose, and she was holding on there for a minute, but the girl has officially dropped me into the depths of my insane amount of work, and I am definitely drowning. I AM DROWNING. It’s okay though, because I’m looking at Kate Hudson’s wise words, I’m envisioning myself as her, and since she rocks, and I have convinced myself I am her, I’m going to be a-okay. I hope no one is totally freaked that convincing myself I’m a celebrity is what gets me through hard times, although I’m aware it might be somewhat concerning.

Want to know what rocks, though? The fact that if I had chosen to write about Kate Hudson all semester, or if I wanted to chronicle my weird obsession with pop-culture for the entire term, the gateway course wouldn’t have questioned me, it would have encouraged me. This course, the projects I’ve done within it, and what I’ve learned about myself as a writer have been nothing short of insanely rewarding. This is going to sound so, so bizarre, and my friends make fun of me for it all the time, but I always refer to these feelings I get in my stomach/body during different times of the year. For example, when I think about summer I get this feeling of bliss and relaxation that washes over me. It’s a feeling that mirrors whatever emotional state or sense I was experiencing at the time, and I can’t explain it. I just feel it. This semester, every time I’ve sat down to work on something for the minor, every time I’ve walked into class and any time I’ve discussed my work with my peers in the minor, or even my friends who still can’t fully understand why in the world I’ve been photographing random people around Ann Arbor and asking them questions about humor for the past couple of weeks, I’ve gotten this same, great feeling. It’s a feeling of inspiration and comfort, and it’s one that was pretty much established within the first month of this course.

The gateway has allowed me to establish a greater sense of confidence and pride in my work. I’ve been encouraged to pursue writing I love, and the fact that the environment is so comfortable has made it easy for me to push myself. Even though I’m drowning in work right now, just sitting here to type out this blog post for class is giving me a sense of comfort and inspiration. No, I’m not inspired to drop out of school and pursue acting like Kate Hudson, but yes I am inspired to keep writing. I’m really going to miss the “Writing 220 feeling in my stomach” I’ll experience when looking back on the course, and I’ll, inevitably, have a hard time articulating the feeling to anyone, which is ironic being that articulation is usually a writer’s strongest skill.

Blog 10: The Next Jenna Rink

Courtesy of giphy.com
Courtesy of giphy.com
I feel like I definitely have these moments at points. Since entering the minor, writing has become thought of as less academic and more as a career-oriented passion and exploration. Granted, these are all fantastic things. I feel like I’ve really been given the chance to refine my skills in the writing areas I love, ones that I could see myself pursuing in the future (possibly and hopefully), but because I couldn’t hate writing analytical, academic essays more if I tried, I wasn’t encouraged to further these skills in the minor-thankfully, but perhaps not entirely to my advantage. When I sit down to write papers for my major, Communications, I still get a sort of nauseous feeling in my stomach. How is it that writing can be so rewarding and so easy when I’m writing for new media, for blog/editorial pieces and to speak my mind, but the second I have to quote an author or reference a citation- I lose all interest. I guess it’s like this for most students, but there are times I wish the minor had given me the chance to cultivate less of a hate for this papers and more of an acceptance. As far as writing ambitions I haven’t had the chance to engage in yet, I definitely want to do more interviewing of people and practice drafting feature pieces. In my remediation project, I’ve gotten to talk to people I would never get the chance to talk to, had it not been for this project. I think I’m a fairly comfortable person, so I would love to see how my comfort with people could translate into further interviews and pieces, especially if I want to try working at a magazine when I’m older? If you haven’t seen 13 going on 30, Jenna Rink is living my dream life (except for the part when she skips 17 years of her life with no recollection- so I guess I’m more so referring to her job in the film). For the publications I write for on campus, I dabble in this work a bit, but not as much as I’d like. Perhaps I’ll look into joining another publication for the semesters, one that will challenge me to do this work.

Blog 9: A Sympathetic Writer

I think I’ve discovered a lot about myself as a writer this semester. Although I was somewhat aware of several of these things when I decided to apply to the minor, through the drafting and creation of the pieces this semester, the readings I’ve identified with and my personal experience with publications outside of this course, I’ve come to believe I’ve really gotten a much better idea of what kind of writer I feel I am and what kind of writer I aspire to become. Originally, I thought I had read Orwell’s piece for a different class, but after reading through it again I don’t think I have because I resonated with a lot of his points, and they were things I’ve never thought about before. I really connected with his four proportions of writers that, he states, vary in different degrees from writer to writer. As a person, I’ve noticed I’m not the most comfortable preaching or promoting political statements, and this is definitely reflected in my writing. I have a hard time trying to convince people to see the world in a certain way, but rather, I like to point out things that are there, but that aren’t always recognized by everyone. These things differ in that one tries to move people to think or believe a certain thing and the other simply places what they are already aware of in front of their own eyes.

I’ve realized that I really try to relate to people through my writing, and I definitely think that is reflective of who I am as a person. If I can bring attention to things people are already aware of and have these things resonate, I feel I’ve done my job. I think this is part of the reason it’s hard for me to try to convince people to believe or act a certain way because as a person, I don’t operate like that. Instead of trying to move people to believe or act in a way they don’t want, I would much rather take the time to understand them and try to relate to where they are coming from. I guess I’m kind of a sympathetic writer because I’m somewhat of a sympathetic person. Even the pieces I did for my repurposing project (5 Types of Funny Guys You’ll Date in Your Lifetime and Using Humor to Cope) attempt to relate to people who identify with humor as a subject. I’m not trying to convince anyone that they should be using humor to cope, and I’m not telling people they all need to date funny men, but I’m attempting to speak to those who already feel like they can connect with the subject matter. I’m attempting to articulate and speak to those who already recognize/ have had experience with these things, but just haven’t realized how it could be put into words.

Blog Post 8: Toying with Tumblr, Phumbling with Photoshop

So, I’ve recently delved into the world of Tumblr, and I have to say, it’s honestly pretty cool. The website itself gives the user a lot of freedom and flexibility to play around with different layouts, fonts, backgrounds and options for visual consumption. It’s been really awesome for me to see different examples of various companies and users that utilize the platform for such different uses, but no matter what the use, the individuals employed the website to serve each of their varying needs, and it seemed to serve them quite well. Through my exploration of tumblr, I was able to come up with four different storyboards for possibilities of the layout of my “Humors of Ann Arbor” page. (I’ve attached them at the bottom of this post.) The best way for me to see what I liked and didn’t like, was to upload some sample photos and play around with testing different layouts. After about an hour and a half of toying around, I narrowed my picks down to four viable options. Each layout offers something a little bit different, and I think I would be happy going with any of them. Another nice thing about tumblr is that if I decide to change my layout after taking and uploading all of the photos for my project, I can. It won’t edit the content- it just changes the layout of it.

I also started playing around with Photoshop and looking at the photo editing capabilities of the software. Honestly, Photoshop can do so many things, but it’s almost because it can do so  much, I feel like I can’t do as much with it as I would be able to do with a simpler editing system. I wish (and I am eventually planning to) take some courses on Photoshop to learn its ins and outs, but as of now it’s a bit frustrating trying to create things in the software that end up looking pretty bad, when I know it has the capability to make them look amazing. Hopefully, through some work I do with this project, I’ll be able to figure out and explore more of what it has to offer. I’m sure I can learn as go a bit, but I definitely think taking courses on Photoshop would be the most effective way to come close to utilizing the software for all it really can do. I’m excited to continue both tumblr and Photoshop as I make my way through my remediation project. I’m resentfully thankful that this class is here to push me to look at two things I’m super unfamiliar (and pretty uncomfortable) with 🙂

IMG_0205

Blog 7: Remediation Station

I would like to preface this blog post with a personal complaint about the state of my laptop, which is currently horrible. Apparently my “startup disk is full” and I’ve been putting off dealing with this for ~6 months now, and so I’m basically watching documents crumble and crash right before my very eyes. I should probably get to the Apple store, like, yesterday. On a semi-related note of remediating my laptop files into versions compatible to store on an external hard drive, I turn to the topic of remediating my project. I’ve been thinking a lot about my theme: humor, and how it’s emotional connotations are easy to connect to humans and their personal stories. That being said, my original idea for the remediation project actually came to me before I had completely honed in on what I envisioned for my repurposing project.

Considering human emotion and effective storytelling, I immediately thought of a blog I feel truly captures both of these concepts impeccably: Humans of New York. My idea for my remediation project is to take the way the photographer, Brandon, conveys such a deeper/ more meaningful story behind the blurbs and still shots he posts on his blog and mimic that. For my project, I’m thinking of doing a “Humors of Ann Arbor.” Originally, I thought I would be able to run around Ann Arbor, eavesdrop on conversation, listen for a cue of laughter and ask what the person was laughing about. However, after fleshing out this idea with several other students and myself, I realize this might not be the most effective way to extract the “story behind the story” idea that I’m going for. Instead, I’ve started compiling a list of questions surrounding themes that deal with humor such as comedy, laughter, etc. As of now, my idea is to roam around Ann Arbor, explain to people what I’m doing, take their photo and ask them one of the following questions:

1. What makes you laugh?
2. When’s the last time you laughed?
3. Do you have a fake laugh?

4. How do you make others laugh?
5. When’s the last time you laughed so hard your stomach hurt?
6. Who makes you laugh the most?
7. Tell me about the time you laughed so hard you cried.
8. Tell me about the time you laughed so hard you peed.
9. Tell me about the time you laughed when you were uncomfortable.
10. Off the top of your heard, what’s the funniest joke you know/ have ever heard?
11. Tell me about how you feel about the idea that, “laughter is the best medicine?” Do you agree/ disagree, and why?
I’m not sure if these will be the most effective questions in getting people to open up and reveal things deeper within their psyche, rather than just the surface level answers some of these questions elicit. However, I’m planning on further researching how exactly Brandon goes about asking people things and how he gets them to admit to such interesting snippets of their lives. It might be mostly in subject selection, or perhaps he has a formula for getting individuals to open up. Whatever the case, I hope to be able to capture and project the emotions and stories of individuals in Ann Arbor, with humor as a guide, but uncovering emotion beyond that.
Gif courtesy of giphy.com
Gif courtesy of giphy.com
My audience will be fairly similar to the one it reached in my repurposing project, in that I plan to create either a digital blog or Instagram account or both. (Mirroring Humans of New York.) It will reach the millennial audience of my repurposing project, but this audience may stretch a bit beyond millennials into both younger and older demographics who utilize Instagram or surf the blogosphere. I’ve never really had much experience photographing or interviewing people, so I’m excited to challenge myself with this task. Hopefully, it will further benefit both the quality and caliber of my writing and my writing experience for the future.

Blog 6: Digital Rhetoric (Humans of NY)

To be completely honest, I was and still am a bit unclear as to what exactly constitutes as digital rhetoric. However, from what I can gather, it’s creating an argument or a message using technology and digital media. Here’s hoping this is at least somewhat right, because based off of that assumption I’ve selected what I consider to be a super compelling piece of digital rhetoric: the Instagram account Humans of New York.

While the account itself isn’t rhetoric, it’s the images and captioned stories that make up the account which I find to be both compelling and intriguing. You can find the account complete with dozens of photos and captioned stories hereI think this account and how it provides insight into the human psyche works for a number of reasons. For starters, it greatly utilizes the visual aspect. Even without the caption, each photo tells a story, and all of the pictures are clear, vibrant and captivating. Moving on to what I find to be most compelling, the captions, each captioned picture provides a simple quote from the person being photographed, but that simple quote says so much more than the words written. Whether it be a little girl expressing how she “Wants to be a fairy” so her and her friend can “fly around together,” or an old man’s recounting of his beloved wife who passed away, both the pictures and captions expose the raw emotions of each individual.

I think this account is so captivating and moving because it perfectly depicts the complexity of the human species. It’s clear from both the emotions reflected in the photos and the stories behind the stories being told in each caption, that there is so much more to each of these people than what they’re concretely speaking or presenting to the world. The account itself seems to be making the argument that as humans, we often think we might know someone. We might look at an individual and assume one thing, or we might hear something about them and think something else. However, until you take the time to sit and attempt to have genuine conversation with someone (as the person running the account does), you can’t possibly understand who they are or where they’re coming from. You need to hear their stories, and their stories behind their stories to get a better understanding of how an individual became the person they are. Looking and assuming won’t allow you to uncover their layers, but asking them to tell you something just might.

Can’t Even Focus on TV

It’s no secret that the world thinks that valuable literacy is dying. “The written word has lost its value!” They say. “All anyone looks at is pictures.”

“If you can’t get your message across quickly, you’ve lost them.”

The world is convinced literacy is dying and that its taking the human race down with it. While I won’t and can’t deny that the written word seems to have lost some value amongst the younger generations, I can’t help but feel that some of this a bit of an exaggeration. While I’m well aware that you would need a construction crane to pry my 14 year old sister’s head up from her cell phone, I’m also cognoscente of the fact that my 17 year old sister reads at least 7 books over the summer. So, perhaps this “message mania” is generational, but here I have two individuals right in front of me who both defy and confirm what everyone’s freaking out over. I really don’t think the value of the written word has died, but I think as society progresses, what individuals value certainly shifts with the world as well. After all, it’s only natural and healthy to adapt.

I’ll admit, I’m not the most avid reader. I don’t hate books and I don’t have zero clue what’s going on in the news, but I’m definitely not curling up in my bed with a copy of the latest New York Times Best Seller, and I wouldn’t call on me to tell you the latest Clinton news. I mean, you can, but it’ll be awkward for the both of us because I truly don’t really know anything that’s happening. There’s hope for me, though. Or maybe there’s not. It depends which way you look at it. I do find I would rather sit on my bed getting lost in the blogosphere and taking BuzzFeed quizzes than focus on a television show. Is this a good sign? For me, finding out which “cat dressed as sushi” I am and reading fun and witty opinions on relevant topics is much more entertaining than an hour long episode of Grey’s Anatomy- and that’s not just because the show has been on 14 seasons, and sooooo needs to end. I’ve found it extremely difficult to start or get into new television shows because as soon as I put it on the TV or stream it on my Netflix, I find myself wandering off into the internet’s depths of what I’d like to consider  my version of “living literacy.”