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.”

“How I Write” Event with Dr. Sheila Murphy

On Tuesday evening (October 23), I attended Sweetland’s “How I Write” event with University of Michigan Screen Arts and Cultures’ Associate Professor, Sheila Murphy. This wasn’t the first time I heard Professor Murphy speak. Professor Murphy was one of a select group of guest lecturers for UC 225 (22 Ways of Thinking About The Games We Play) during the Winter 2012 semester earlier this year.

It was easy to relate to Professor Murphy. She told very personal stories about why she writes, the process of how she writes, and how she continues to motivate herself to write more – even though she doesn’t need much motivation (just comfy pants, good snacks, and some pre-writing music). She also has a new book out, which I’d like to read, “How Television Invented New Media.” 

As an aspiring writer, one thing I struggle with is eradicating jargon. Professor Murphy discussed why she gets frustrated and annoyed with jargon in the field of writing. Murphy said it should be, “legible and accessible.” I agree with Murphy in the sense that writing should be legible and accessible, but sometimes there’s pressure to establish your ideas in a certain way. Writing should be a way to convey an idea or a message – so, why complicate it?

One thing that really struck me, which prompted my question at the end of her presentation, was why, as a child, “Was she discouraged from asking people ‘Why’”?

Often times, people unnecessarily ask the question “why”. But, there is nothing wrong with being inquisitive if it serves a useful purpose. For me, I frequently find myself asking others… “Why.” Whether it’s in the professional setting, in the classroom, or with my friends – there’s always more to discover. That’s why I ask the question.

Professor Murphy ended with wise words of advise to individuals looking to improve their writing: She says be invested, be committed, and avoid jargon (especially for undergrads), use your brain, even if it gets reformatted, and never take what you’re doing too seriously.