Sunday, April 12, 2009

Getting Creative with a Quote

Music video of a Libby Childers original: "I Can't Speak Up"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lab #4

Fridged temperatures. Sharp blades. Frosty breath. Ice skating is one of the more enjoyable activities one can experience with one's community. During an ice skating endeavor we interviewed strangers and a few friends about their trust in Americans. Most of the interviewees proved to be part of the 70% of Americans who don't find their community members to be trustworthy. Watch to find out exactly what they think!!

Actually, we couldn't attach the interviews. The DVD was shown in class though.

Lab #6

Lab #6 was a lab requiring me to explore social capitol by taking a poll. I decided to ask local teenagers in my community how many close friends they had. I would tally their number under one of these four categories- 1-2 friends, 3-6 friends, 7-10 friends, or 10+ friends. I decided it would be a good idea to define a "good" friend since some teenagers' definitions are drastically different than others. I defined a "good" friend as someone one could sit down at Krankies with on a sunday and talk to, hold an interesting conversation with, and hang out that afternoon without anything being awkward. When i began polling some people were surprised that this was even a serious question..."I have tons of good friends!" they replied. To this response I was surprised. I found that most people I asked had between 3-6 good friends. I expected that. The second largest range was 10+. When I repetitively acquired 10+ answers I began pondering this question: Are the teenagers who have 10+ good friends mostly from UNCSA? If so, (which most ended up being from) is that because the UNCSA students have similar personalities and characteristic which allows them to be more outgoing or persistent or able to manage their time with many different people. By being at UNCSA alone I believe students are forced to adapt to a group of diverse student body and live with others on a daily basis. These aspects of being independent yield UNCSA students the skills required to become friends with a larger group of people on a deeper level.

Lab #8

This lab asks us to build social capital in our own communities through some sort of political action. On December 30th, my friend Ellen and I took the train downtown Chicago (from the suburb where I live) without a plan as to what we would do or where we would go. We were walking around the Bean (famous sculpture in Chicago) when we saw a group of foreigners running around with signs that said "FREE HUGS!" in a number or different languages.The Chicago Bean

They ran to us while asking if we wanted free hugs, and almost before we could answer we were engulfed in the arms of friendly strangers (in a not-creepy way, don't worry). We asked the group why they were standing in 20 degree weather hugging strangers the day before New Year's Eve. The seven strangers each had various answers:
"To spread the love!"
"Because its almost New Year's!"
"Because everyone needs a hug!"
"Just because I want to!"
"Why not?"

Ellen and I were inspired my these people's willingness to stand in the cold and build social capital by hugging strangers and wishing everyone a happy new year. I said to my friend, "This is such a good idea! We should get our friends to do this sometime."
The leader of the group heard my comment. "Join us!" he exclaimed. "We have some extra signs over there."

We could not pass up this oppurtunity to build social capital in a fun and exciting way. So we picked up signs and joined the crew of strangers. After about 45 minutes, they didn't feel like strangers at all. We found out that the group contained two Brazilians, one man from Ireland, one man from Greece, and a woman from Sweden. A man named Jason and his wife served these people as a host family at thier Chicago home.

Ellen and I stayed downtown with our new friends for about two hours, hugging hundreds of strangers and spreading the love and the cheer associated with a new year beginning. We went downtown with0ut a plan, and found ourselves building social capital in two ways: by hugging strangers and becoming friends with a group of poeple that was different from us.

Lab #16

In October 2008, I had the opportunity of registering people to vote right here on campus. Other students and I sat in the Pickle and heckled with people to convince them to register. But because we are on a liberal college campus, most of-age citizens were already registered, while some had just not found the time to do so. I did not think that so many young citizens would have been registered because of past voter turn out.

Although many of our peers were being active individuals in the matters of our country, some were active pain-in-the-butts. Most men felt like testing my knowledge of registration and the political process, perhaps in an attempt to avoid the papers in front of their stubble claimed faces. And the argument of votes really making a difference was a major concern, a concern I quickly addressed.

North Carolina, known for being a red state, was on swing state status and with our 15 electoral votes at stake, it was an important time to vote. Some out-of-state students did not know which state to register in, home or school. I used my own situation to help them come to a decision. My home state of Idaho has a pathetic 4 electoral votes, and it will ALWAYS be a red state, the chance to vote for the first time in a swing state is incredible. For me, it truly made me feel as if my single vote was important to the political race for President.

Although I am not completely sure of just how many students we registered on that day, I know that we performed an important task that benefited ourselves, and our country. On November 4, a day after my 18th birthday, I voted for the first time. The experience was truly unique and special for me. I believe that political participation is important for communities as well as individuals, because it makes you appreciate your right to vote in a way that is indescribable. Participation keeps healthy and active relationships within a community, and is a small service anyone of any age can do.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How much would you sell your vote for?

A common answer we received was the amount of 1 million dollars.

Others felt that their vote was worth much less. Some said their vote would be free, if the buyer voted for the candidate they wanted.

And others found their vote priceless, therefore not for sale.

We were suprised by the amount of younger people who were willing to sell their vote, while other citizen, usually above the age of 25ish, treasured their right to vote. We noticed this trend throughout the lab, although many of the older participants would not let us photograph them, and in contrast, our peers were more than willing to pose for the camera.

The Social Networking Disease

The following essay by Eve Jacobs has been modified to fit the guidelines of the Commonwheel Project.

It’s 12:50 AM, and I am finally forcing myself to write this paper. I sat down at my computer at 12:20 to get started, but instead of opening a word document, I witnessed my hands in autopilot, opening Safari and typing in the search bar. It is now thirty minutes later, and I have officially lost a half an hour of potential sleep time because I decided to click aimlessly through a social networking site. Half an hour of my life: gone.
The average Facebook user spends 20 minutes on the site daily. That’s five days worth of social networking in a year. Five days of precious life spent perusing the pictures and comments of strangers and friends. This time could be spent actually talking to people, connecting with people in a real way, instead of fostering cyber-relationships and bizarre web-interactions to which our generation has become accustomed. HIV/Aids and other diseases currently run rampant, but a new epidemic is taking shape: one that cannot be cured with drugs or vaccinations. With Facebook claiming more than 60 million active users, and Myspace more than 110 million, the population of these sites is doubling every six months. The Social Networking Disease has been released, and it is more contagious than ever.
One symptom of the Social Networking Disease is increased attention to one’s physical appearance. Displaying pictures of oneself on one's Facebook or Myspace is the ideal way to encourage anyone who looks at that person’s page to judge them based on appearance. When looking at the “profile pictures” of many networkers’ sites, it is not uncommon to see a chain of pictures of their face from a variety of angles. Naturally, it’s important that the viewer know what the person looks like from a myriad of angles before judging their beauty. More than 14 million photos are uploaded to Facebook daily; Myspace is proud to have more than 1.5 billion images on their site. I cannot make the sweeping generalization that narcissistic users post all of these pictures, eager to show the world how hot they are. I can, however, serve as a witness to a particular incident that altered my perspective on the uploading of copious amounts of images to social networking sites:
Not more than two weeks ago, I observed, from the back of a bus, as a teen-aged girl applied make-up to her face a few seats in front of me. She really caked that stuff on, making sure to cover every imperfection before moving on to mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow, and rouge. She finally finished, a satisfactory smirk coming across her face as she made eyes with herself in her compact mirror.
“You look so cute!” her friend exclaimed.
“I know! Let’s take some pictures,” the girl responded, beginning to dig through her purse.
After a frenzied search, the girl looked up, displeased: “It doesn’t even matter that I look cute; I forgot my camera.”
I was shocked. Despite the amount of effort the girl put into her appearance, what saddened me more is the disappointment she experienced upon learning she forgot her camera, that she couldn’t prove to all of her Facebook and Myspace “friends” how good she looked. For this young woman in particular, it seems that social networking teaches her that things don’t matter unless they can be documented on her profile.
Facebook and Myspace are, in many ways, a cyber-testimony of people’s lives. Not only do users document what they look like on a given day, but also what happens to them on a given day. I remember one instance in which a friend and I were laughing about a funny comment. Once our hysteria ended, she sighed and commented, “Oh my gosh, that was hilarious. I have to put that on quotes.” She was, of course, referring to the “Favorite Quotes” section of her Facebook, a place in which users can record their favorite quotes for others to see. Often times, this section turns into a place where users record inside jokes and funny incidents. My friend’s comment certainly does not make her a bad person, nor does it show narcissism or stupidity. I simply could not stop wondering why she felt she needed a testimony of this funny event on her Facebook profile. The only reason I came up with: to prove to those viewing her page how funny and cool her life is. This hyper-documentation of people’s lives is seen too often in Facebook and Myspace photo albums.
The documentation of events on social networking sites is not bad in all of its aspects. I will acknowledge that Facebook and Myspace are good tools for sharing pictures and memories with friends. At a certain point, however, it seems that people make memories for the purpose of documentation. On more than one occasion, I’ve witnessed groups of people posing for a picture, and instead of saying the classic, “cheese”, they’ve exclaimed, “Facebook!” They might as well exclaim, “look how much fun we’re pretending to have!” The overuse of social networking sites, specifically the documentation of events and appearances, discourages users from living in the moment. Before the social networking came into existence, people could have fun for fun’s sake, make jokes to invoke laughter, spontaneously experience life without needing to prove anything.
In future generations, the Social Networking Disease will be looked upon as the epidemic of the 21st century, a catalyst for the Age of Information. The disease has no vaccinations or treatments, and the end is not in sight. Although social networking websites make it easy to stay connected to those who are far away, they disconnect users from those who are near. Many victims of the Social Networking Disease are locked into a virtual “cyber-world” that our society has created. Planet Earth is filled with beauty and wonder. With so much to experience on Earth, no human should allow themselves to waste away in front of a fluorescent monitor.