Sunday, November 24, 2013

"It's a cruel, cruel world"... Is it?!

Take a minute to think of your favorite Television show...

Gossip Girl: Drugging, Fights, physical altercations.
Law and Order: Sex Crimes, Murder, Suicides.
Pretty Little Liars: Death, Threats, Fighting.

Can you find a common link between these shows? Sure, they all have engaging and addictive story-lines but they also have VIOLENCE.

I'm not talking "Oh, she shoved me on the playground", "We got into a bar fight" type of violence. These shows have SERIOUS violence. The kind of stuff that sometimes makes you want to crawl under the covers or keep the lights on when you sleep.

This isn't just me. There is actually a communication theory based on violence in media. It's called the Cultivation Theory.

People watch a lot of T.V. I mean the talk around town the next day is usually always about what was happening on tv the night before. Especially in our culture, exposure to large doses of television each night is quite common. There are Heavy Viewers (over 4 hours a day) and Light Viewers (less than 2 hours a day).

T.V. tells us what is right, what is important, what is happening. It's our "storyteller". While we all love a good story.

Take my favorite show: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES 

(Personal plug: watch it, it's soooooo good).

This show is on a big network, the CW, has good viewership and has been on for 5 seasons. So you have to figure that its reaching quite a bit of viewers. Probably most of those between 10 and 30 years old.

It also comes with large doses of violence.

Made my case. The violence is never-ending. I mean people getting their necks snapped, people getting their hearts ripped out (literally), being hit by cars, drowning, stabbing, people getting their blood drained. I mean two of the main characters tortured their girlfriend/best friend/other main character.

If you don't know this show, it started off about two vampire brothers and one human girl. The show has gone much deeper and deals now with vampires, witches, werewolves etc. You would think that people watching this show would get that it's all fantasy. But... according to this cultivation theory, it actually rubs off on us.

There are some main effects we see from TV violence. Those "Heavy" viewers we talked about, they can develop exaggerated perceptions about the world. They get something that the theory calls, "Mean World Syndrome".

Just think of it like this: People from watching TV and violence from it, see the world as a much colder, harsher, and dangerous place than it really might be. Part of the theory talks about 4 cultivated attitudes that come along with this.

1. Chances of involvement with violence
2. Fear of walking alone at night
3. perceived activity of police
4. General mistrust of people.

Who could blame them people from having these perceptions? In a show like Vampire Diaries, not particular risqué in content, people are still seeing the world differently. These attitudes develop because they see dozens of people being murdered on the show, without thought or emotion and often in brutal ways. They see people getting attacked. They see people torturing their own family. When you watch these shows, it starts to make you think that things like this happen all the time.

This "Mean World" attitude is stemmed from violence on television, but it has some real world consequences. It can make people believe that this is normal, that everyone does it, and that it's a good way for us to solve problems. It makes us numb, we no longer see these acts as violent though they tend to be quite extreme.

I think what it also does is makes us paranoid, at least for me it does. It makes me think that something is always out there, that I'm not always safe. What people, and I, need to do, is realize that the world isn't quite as mean as T.V. makes it.

You have heard this theory, so now it's time for you to be the judge. Is T.V. creating this mean world view? Is violence on T.V. translating to violence in the real world? Are we becoming desensitized to it?

As always I hope you enjoyed this post.

Now let me get back to my show... 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me (or text, or email, or FB message, or tweet)

"and now, you just have to go around checking all these different portals, just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It's exhausting!"

Okay, who hasn't this happened to? Most people get up in the morning and the first thing they do is check their texts, their emails, their Facebook, their Twitter, their Instagram, their blog and maybe even their Pinterest. ALL BEFORE THEY GET OUT OF BED.

Seems a bit crazy right? But, my generation is addicted to technology.

All this communication we do online is called "Computer Mediated Communication" (CMC) and is part of a theory called Social Information Processing Theory.

A challenged was presented to me: avoid CMC for 48 hours. My phone became just a phone and in the middle of last week, I signed off from Social Media.

It didn't go too well.. In fact, I lasted around a day before I had to log back on.

At first it was fine. I didn't have to check Facebook every hour, I could avoid emails, I wasn't aimlessly browsing over every site.

But, after a while, it became too hard. I wanted/needed to communicate with a group from class for a project. My friends kept texting me to check something out on this or that website, I needed to get online to communicate with my teachers. I became panicked!

The only relationship that I didn't have problems communicating with was my Dad. Call him old-fashioned, but he would rather talk on the phone then text. He's maybe the only person I communicate with consistently without the use of CMC.

But not all relationships function that way. Relational development differs in CMC vs F2F (Face-to-face communication).

Think of it as a sip vs. a gulp

When you communicate via CMC you get just a sip... a little view of a person. You don't absorb that much about them. 

You get a gulp when you meet a person face-to-face. This gives you a bigger view of who they are. The differential is 4 to 1. Meaning it takes you 4x the sips (CMC) to get what a gulp would give you!

I think this help to explain part of the reason we use emoticons, exclamation points and lols or haha to the max! We want to become closer to that person and show more relational affinity and that can be a lot harder over CMC.

Being without CMC was a challenge to say the least. I couldn't go long without it, I am self-professed addicted to technology.

But this challenge also showed me that I don't need it as much as I thought. I should cultivate more relationships like how I communicate with my dad and stop counting on texts to communicate! 

I need to be somewhere between a gulp and a sip, maybe a taste? mouthful? swallow?

CMC has created a faster, impersonal, more connective society. But, I don't think we all need it as much as we think.

I challenge you to sign off for a day, go hang out with friends and don't bring your phone, have dinner with your parents and don't check social media five times through one course. Become somewhat "old-fashioned". I'm going to make it my personal goal to do it more often!

In the meantime..."Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me."