gisella velasco | 18 | ADMU | COM 11 C | proud angry beaver | hi sir beaver what's happening | this is a project

ode to an innovator

This week, we discussed the Theories of Media and Technology. The timing couldn’t be more…perfect? I’m not sure if perfect is the politically-correct word for this because I’m about to relate our class to the death of former founder, chairman and CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs. (Former isn’t even that great either. I’m on a roll.)

One of the more striking points of this week’s lesson is the quote, “The medium is the message.” This quote appears under the Media Ecology theory, which states that widespread dependence on media and technology has made it an indelible part of human society. It’s not just about the message, it’s about how you deliver it. And I don’t think I could think of a more perfect (and this time perfect is the right word) example of how to deliver a message than Steve Jobs. Here you have a man who made black turtlenecks and trainers look cool. Okay, maybe not cool, but he did make it an iconic look. Exhibit A. When I think of the perfect speaker, I think of Steve Jobs. When I think innovator, I think of Steve Jobs. When I think of anything that has to do with marrying the creative world with the business world, I think of Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs sent the world a message and had continued to send it all the way until his death. I believe the message that he was sending was that change is a good thing. Though the things he created and did were different from one another, he represented that change moves us forward in many ways. Yet the striking thing is, the medium in which in carried out his message varied just as much as the things he did. For a literal example, look at Apple products. The iPod. The Macbook. The iPad. The iPhone. These products changed the world and changed the lives of many people, myself included (even if I’ve actually never owned an Apple product myself).

The message stayed the same but the medium changed, and the medium changed the world.

#hatersmakemefamous

The core argument of the public sphere theory is that: Communication and discussion of issues are essential to emancipation. Such discussions occur within the public sphere. Basically we talk because we are free human beings. And we talk anywhere people can hear us.

I find the concept of emancipation through communication very intriguing because I talk a lot. A lot. Really, if you knew me, you’d know how much I talk. If you read my blog (which you do) you’d know how much I like to talk. My mom likes to tell the story of how a flight attendant told me I talk like an 18 year old when I was 8. My mom also likes to tell me that I talk to much and ask me if I would be so kind as to keep quiet for a few minutes.

Communication sets us free because it allows us to express, and expression is freedom. Expression allows us to bring out into the physical, external world what is manifested or created in the intangible, internal world. Some people express themselves in different ways. Some people like to write music. Some like to draw. And once we’ve written that first note or made a pencil mark on the paper, we’ve become part of the public sphere. The ideal public sphere allows you to express and communicate without fear of judgment. One of the qualities of the public sphere is that all opinions are considered legitimate. But what happens when people abuse that freedom?

I’d like to talk about haters. Urban Dictionary defines the word hater as a person that simply cannot be happy for another’s success. Have you ever been on Twitter before, during, or after a UAAP game? IT’S FULL OF THEM!!! Full of people who abuse their right to express and because it’s a right to express and I’d rather not turn into a hater myself, I can’t step on their toes! This abuse of our right to communicate and express is really becoming an issue. Haters are ridiculous and hating is a waste of time. Don’t be a hater! 

Or if you can’t resist it, don’t get a Twitter account.

welcome to the machine

How do we know what “weird” really means?

This week, we watched a documentary entitled “The Merchants of Cool,” a documentary about the relationship between corporations and pop culture. Corporations feed us what is “cool” and what is “hip” to be consumed and most of the time, we happily consume whatever is put in front of us and we ask for more. Why else would radios have Top 10 or Top 20 countdowns? So the music industry knows what the public likes then they will produce more of it so the public can consume more.

As the cycle goes on, even what we think is “weird” and “out of the box” becomes something that’s not…well, weird.

Take the term “hipster,” for example.

I’ve been a Tumblr user for a while now and people time and time again have called me a hipster. The members of the hipster subculture often come together because of a shared love of indie music and film. From there, the subculture mutated and right now, being a hipster can mean anything.

I personally hate the term because it takes everything that is weird and special and out-of-the-box out of the words, “weird,” “special,” and “out of the box. It puts people who were originally out of the box, into their own box. My sisters and I joke about it all the time, but I personally do not think I am a hipster. I think my excess time on the internet converged with my love for anything remotely creative.

And corporations have caught onto this. For example, Mark Hunter, more popularly known on the internet as the photographer The CobraSnake, started his popular website taking pictures of people at parties around Los Angeles. Now, he gets paid to cover corporation-sponsored events and make them look like the parties he used to photograph. Companies get more exposure to people they wouldn’t normally be able to reach because it puts their product in the eyes of the youth in a context the youth can relate to.

I like to think that I am indeed weird and special and out of the box but then somebody calls me a hipster and then I just end up feeling processed and part of the corporate machine.

It’s a hard life for knuts and bolts.

ma familia

It’s not about what you have, it’s what you are.

And CADs, they’re my family. Plain and simple.

I’ve been a member of the Company of Ateneo Dancers for about a year and a half now, and I can say that I wouldn’t trade this org for the world. I love them. Each and every member. 

According to Pacanowsky and ‘O Donnell-Trujillo, culture isn’t something an organization has, but what an organization is.

I can honestly say that the members of CADs have their own culture. When people ask me what people in CADs are like, I always say that people in CADs are weird. And it’s true. We’re artists and to be an artist, you can’t be ordinary. Even the most ordinary of us are a little bit weird one way or another. But normalcy doesn’t matter to us because on the dance floor, we’re all the same. We all share the same passion and love and thirst and desire and a bunch of other things for dance. Wasn’t it Alice from Wonderland who said that all the best people are the strangest?

One of the key assumptions of the organizational culture theory is: organizational members create and maintain a shared sense of organizational reality. As members of CADs, we have our own system of rules and requirements. Many people don’t know this but even as a performer, I’m required to be a part of one committee (either Promotions, Logistics, or Marketing) and perform in 2 “gigs” representing CADs each semester. I’m required to attend training every MWF and I have a limit of cuts for these required trainings.

The culture within CADs is not just about the organizational reality we create through our systems and rules but about the members, the people, the family. In CADs, you come for the dancing and stay for the people. Where would we be if not for each other?

tender

I’m not going to write about groupthink, but I’m going to write about my dear friend Paola’s blog entry. (here) It really hit a soft spot. As I said in my previous entry, sometimes I am a victim of groupthink because it just becomes easier to go with the flow than to swim against the current. But Paola’s blog entry really made me question that.

What will happen to me once I’ve grown accustomed to going with the flow? I like to think of myself as a thinker of tender thoughts and perhaps more than once or twice I’ve trimmed down my bouquet of flowers that rests upon my head.

It’s a hard thing to realize and accept. That you might not be as special as you think you are. I usually describe myself as “weird” and “strange” but being weird and strange can be a little tiring. Sometimes I’d just like to be normal.

But in being normal, do I forget my tender thoughts? Do the flowers on my head wilt and shrivel and fall off? One of my greatest fears is that I will one day lose what I think makes me special and different and colorful. That I’ll become gray and ordinary and…just like everyone else.

Don’t be a victim of groupthink. Be a thinker of tender thoughts and don’t let anyone tell you that your tender thoughts aren’t beautiful.

dead fish swim with the current

A smart guy with lower case initials named e.e. cummings said, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; never stop fighting.”

Wise words from a very wise guy and a good mantra for anyone who would like to remain special and different and unique wherever conformity is praised. Which is….about 75% of the world.

What happens though when you become too tired to fight? What happens when you’d like to lay down your guns and become a veteran?

I love fashion more than a lot of things in my life. I always call it my one true love. I’m probably going to end up married to a gay man just so I can count on someone to relate to my love of clothing (Straight men who are interested in clothing aren’t that hard to come by. Straight men who are interested in clothing and in me are). I’m a firm believer in always looking your best because you never know who you’re going to see. When I entered college one of the things I was most excited for was escaping the uniform I’ve worn for 13 years and finally be able to wear my own clothes everyday.

I’m very particular about how I dress. More often than not when you see me, you are looking at the product of numerous outfit changes the night before until I’ve found the perfect one. I take into consideration weather, distance between classes and exposure to people I know, among other things. Some of the more outrageous things I’ve worn to school are: a lime green calf-length skirt, tribal print harem pants, leopard print pants & purple rain boots, to name a few.

But like I said before, straight men interested in clothing and me are very hard to come buy (AND ONCE AGAIN IT GOES BACK TO BOYS).

I’ve come to the conclusion that men don’t appreciate harem pants and calf length skirts and I’ve observed that most of my friends that are in relationships dress fairly simply or rather they just expose more skin than I do. So on certain days if you see me and I’m in a tank top and shorts or anything sleeveless with shorts you are seeing the product of my eagerness to please the male population of Ateneo. This is my blog and you’re not going to judge me!!!! Every girl wants to be stared at once in a while.

I sometimes ask myself if I’ve sold out. If I’ve become one of those girls who wear skin tight dresses to clubs (I’m not judging, I applaud actually. I could never do that). My latest project is to find the middle ground between being fashionable and looking attractive.

I realize that I’ve said little about my COM11 lesson so far. The lesson this week was groupthink, or the mode of thinking people engage in when they are in a group. My search for a compromise between fashion and attractiveness is my mode of thinking within the cohesive in-group that is the Ateneo student population. The problem with this groupthink is that it leaves very little room for my printed harem pants and oversized sweaters. Sometimes a girl just wants to go to school feeling like she’s still in bed.

In groupthink, alternative and progressive thinking are disabled. Am I a progressive thinker? Or have I become a dead fish swimming with the current, a veteran of fighting for my own individuality?

I don’t think I’m either. I think I’m a soldier who wants to take a break before the next war. I’m a fish who’d like to take a break from swimming against the current.

i (don’t) know what boys like

Let me tell you one thing: uncertainty’s a bitch. It’s a virus. It can keep you from doing what you want. It keeps you from making the right decisions. It holds you back and human beings aren’t meant to be held back.

Let me tell you another, more shallow thing.

I don’t know how to talk to boys.

I mean, I have guy friends and I do talk to them, but when I’m left alone with someone I’ve just met I often find myself to be checking my phone and praying someone else will show up. Someone who will do the talking.

My ineptitude in communicating with the opposite sex leads me to feel very socially awkward. I’ve compared myself to the ostrich, which is one of the most awkward birds in the animal kingdom in my opinion. (Reason why) I don’t know why I have such ineptitude in communicating with the opposite sex. It’s probably because deep down I’m an incredibly insecure and self-conscious person and I don’t like to say stupid things because I might seem stupid. That’s a run-on sentence; it happens when I’m nervous.

The uncertainty I feel around boys (especially cute ones hehe) is something of a problem. I often experience the feeling of should have said this, should have said that, well after the sad excuse of a conversation is over. 

So, in an effort to reduce my uncertainty, I’ve made a list of things to do:

  1. Learn more about video games. Or start playing them.
  2. Restart my love for the NBA.
  3. Start feeling less awkward in social situations in general.
  4. Read more books. (This may or may not help, but I love to read)

Now please don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not trying to generalize the interests of all mankind into a simple list. But more often than not, I find myself having to endure the pain of an awkward silence. Uncertainty’s like nails on a chalkboard, not fun. And this is really becoming a problem for me.

So help an awkward girl out, and tell me what boys like to talk about.

coming to terms (of course this is about harry potter)

I feel like I am a bad Harry Potter fan.

I have given 10 years of my life to this wonderful, incredible, and amazing franchise. 10 years stemming from the very first day that I opened the yellowing pages of my sister’s copy of The Philosopher’s Stone

I’ve given 10 years of my life, and my whole heart along with that decade.

You’d think that as I walked out of the theater last Thursday night, I’d be bawling. Or I’d at least still be teary eyed. But I wasn’t.

Throughout the movie I was waiting for the moment. The moment that would send me over the edge and make me realize, “This is the end.” Don’t get me wrong, I did cry. I just wasn’t the bawling, blubbering baby I thought I’d be. 

It felt so strange to be watching what was supposed to be the end and not feel the end

This is where my life coincides with cognitive dissonance.

I know in my heart that I should have been bawling. Or at least use more than one tissue. But I wasn’t and I only used one tissue. I brought 2 packs to be prepared. 

Here the cognitive elements collide.

My love for Harry Potter and my desire to be honestly moved did not agree with one another. Though I was moved by some parts of the movie, I was not sent to the brink of emotional distress. Quite frankly, I cried more in anticipation of the movie because I kept saying, “It’s ending.” WHY WAS I NOT CRYING?!?!?!?!!

As you can see I’m really confused by my lack of tears. I’m still trying to figure out why, or at least come to terms with my lack of tears. I’ve found a few friends who are huge HP fans who feel the same way. Perhaps they will soothe my incredible amount of cognitive dissonance. Maybe I’ll come to terms with my conflicting emotions.

Till then, I’m going to try to get myself to agree with…myself.

DISCLAIMER: I am, in fact, quite sad that Harry Potter is technically over but I do believe the reason I did not cry as much as I expected (though I did, as my friend Dan put it, wanted to crawl in a hole and lie there) is that I still believe Hogwarts will always welcome me home even if I am over age and should be attending some wizarding college somewhere else.

i’m crying about harry potter so i’m sorry if this is messy

If I learned one thing this week it is the value of expression.

Did you know that when we talk we exhibit microexpressions, at a fraction of a second, and these microexpressions can give away what we are really feeling at the time?

Microexpressions are defined as a “brief, involuntary facial expression.” (Wikipedia said it so it’s obviously true) We can fake real expressions and being a performer myself, I know the value of being able to fake it. (See example below)

However, microexpressions are almost impossible to fake. They’re like a reflex, like when you smell or taste something bad. 

In the series, Lie To Me, Dr. Cal Lightman uses microexpressions to solve crimes. He studies a person’s behavior while they are being interrogated and using his observations, he deduces what a person may or may not be hiding, hence his popular expression: “What are you hiding?

In class we learned that everything we do communicates something and in Dr. Lightman’s case, it can communicate either our guilt or our innocence. If we are looking at it from a communication theorist’s point of view, you could say that Dr. Lightman uses kinesics to determine who is guilty and who is innocent.

He uses the emblems, illustrators, regulators, adaptors and affect displays that we use to prove that the person is innocent or guilty. 

For example, did you know that if you use illustrators while telling a story, it’s more likely that you are telling the truth? According to Lie To Me, illustrators such as hand gestures, drawing symbols in the air, etc. suggest you are reminiscing a true memory and are trying to show the person you are talking to exactly what happened. A lack of illustrators suggest that you are lying and simply made up the story you are telling.

Another example, did you know that the clenching of jaw and fists exhibits anger? In the series, they use the simple affect display of clenching to see how a suspect may react to a statement.

A third example is their use of adaptors in the series. Wouldn’t a nervous suspect be more likely to have committed the crime than a calm suspect? Sometimes, this may be the case but not all the time. Sometimes anxiety can convey that the person is simply nervous that the crime will be pinned on him even if he is innocent and a calm disposition could suggest the person is trying to look innocent.

So I leave you this week with a quest to find out what the people you are talking to are truly saying. For the next coming days, if you talk to me I will probably convey a sense of sadness because my life aka Harry Potter is ending. Seriously, I’m wearing black to the premiere because it’s the funeral of my life.

Don’t be alarmed if I’ll be crying on Friday. It’s just an affect display.

questioning the complexity of human life

What we have above is a classic example of an “artist.” I put artist in quotation marks because I’m talking about the stereotype of an artist. Think of the most avant-garde, underground, indie, artistic, creative person you know and add a dash of arrogance and condescending speech, and a subtle eye-roll everytime he/she speaks and, voila, you have an artist.

A quality typical of an artist is that he/she questions everything and assumes everything has a deeper meaning than what is shown. Hence, “but what does it all mean?”

Sometimes, it can be helpful. Asking what “it” all means has led to the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind. Why do we love? Why is the sky blue? Why do commercials have girls in bikinis selling beer? (Because beer is completely associated with girls in bikinis. Compelling.)

But other times, it can be distracting and unnecessary.

Picture two waif-like creatures dressed in all black standing beside a pile of garbage on a pedestal in a prestigious gallery with their pointer fingers perched on their noses questioning what said pile of garbage says about society and the world. 

"I think it speaks of the artist’s wishes to give into his carnal desires and his wish to no have to hide in shame. I mean, why else put a pile of trash on a pedestal? It obviously means that we shouldn’t have hide in shame our deepest and darkest secrets and desires."

For all we know, the artist could have just been trying to make an interesting shape with the garbage.

I’ve met a lot of people like mentioned above, and I found it an interesting example of the term “psychological noise.” In class, we defined the term noise as something that disrupts communication, or at least the reception of the true message.

I was very intrigued by the subject of noise and how it can affect how a person interprets a message. In the case of the artists above, their pre-disposition to question what is put in front of them is their own psychological noise. Sometimes noise doesn’t have to be heard. If I’m feeling really irritable on a certain day and someone asks me for a favor, I will probably say no. Or say yes with a frown.

And noise sucks. Noise distracts and keeps you from getting the original message. Noise is the reason you ask, “but what does it all mean?” Noise is the reason we don’t understand things right away because things get in the way. 

Bad history with math leads to have a closed mind to learning new ways to solve a certain problem. Bad history with a boy leads to not believe him when he confesses that he has “changed.” Bad migraines lead you to not want to hear anything the world has to say.

Sometimes what it all means is exactly as we hear it. The garbage is garbage. It doesn’t symbolize anything. We have to learn that to listen is not just to give our ears, we must give our eyes, our noses, our hearts, in deducing what the real message is. Sometimes we do have to sit back and ask what it all means because, without a doubt, things will get lost in translation.

And until I’ve learned to properly listen, I will question your sculpture of garbage.

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