Life in Media

When analyzing my media history, my life circulates around media quite a bit. I can relate to Alex Williams article Here I Am Taking My Own Picture. There has been many times where I have been in the same place as Morgan Adams: “recent college graduate, decided that her picture on her home page at MySpace.com had lingered a little too long, a full month. To snap a new one she called on the only photographer she thought she could trust: herself” (Williams 1). Morgan Adams was me as a high school, there was a very distinct schedule of when it was time to add a new Facebook profile picture. Having deleted most of my pictures, this schedule cannot be seen today. As I’ve developed through technology, my way of expressing my appearance has gone from updating every three weeks, to not wanting to look needy and questioning if every three months is still too soon. With not updating every three weeks, it does not mean I stopped taking selfies. My laptop and cellphone are over flowing of pictures I have taken of myself, they just sit waiting for me to use them when I feel my profiles need updating. It is normal for my friends and I to stop whatever were doing to take a random selfie. I have pictures I’ve taken of myself standing in the back of a store surround by boxes of beer stacked above my head, to being on a ferris wheel with my cousin, or even sitting in the car waiting in a parking lot for my parents to get groceries. For some the same picture is used across all their social media, but for myself I enjoy having a different aesthetic for how I want to use the site I am on.

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Facebook I generally keep my profile a picture of myself, but every once in a while, I may feature a friend or family member. To me my Facebook is the place where I keep up-to-date with friends and family. My profile picture is not something I want to look goofy, I want it clean, polished, and to not necessarily tell some sort of story. My cover photo on the other hand is never just of me, it may be a pic I snapped at the latest concert, my friends and I making goofy faces, something that when you look at it you go there’s history to this picture.

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Twitter has never been one of my main social media sites. I don’t connect with many people, and generally use it to follow along with events such as the US election or an award show that is live tweeting. Due to the fact I hardly use twitter my appearance, while still important, done not have to be as strict as I keep my Facebook. My profile picture gets updated maybe once a year, and my banner is typically something I enjoy that could vary from music to television.

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Some media I keep less personal, such as Pinterest, as I get many people I’ve never met following along with my boards. Through my social media, I tend to keep my personal life personal. The only way I do share my personal life, is through my pictures. In places such as Pinterest, I can simply add a profile picture and name, and be whoever I want to be. I can post a million wedding dresses and look like I’m about to have a wedding, or post thousands on thousands of pictures of hairstyles, but I may never actually style my hair like that. Nobody ever knows the truth.

Looking at my social medias, the most frequent place my “selfies” took place, were in the comfort of my own bedroom. In my bedroom there was wardrobe changes, hair flips, curling irons, and hours on hours of snapping and deleting: “the kind of performance young people have engaged in privately for generations before a mirror […]and her journey of self-expression, documented in five digital self-portraits” (Williams 1). It is much easier to take a picture in a private location, where you can take several pictures in several poses where only you can approve of what is shared: “Being able to take pictures of yourself in privacy allows you to do it without inhibitions. Each person takes better pictures of themselves than anyone else can because they know their own bodies, they know their own minds” (Williams 1). Reading Williams article, I realized that the habits they were examining in 2006 are still very popular today: “Young people have become so candid in sharing their intimate images online” (Williams 1). Now in university I am less likely to be posting like I did back in high school. I don’t want to seem attention seeking, and when I do post pictures, they are ones that I’ve studied for hours pondering if the picture is good enough to be seen by others: “dynamics of sites like Facebook have forced teens to alter their conceptions of privacy to account for the networked nature of social media” (Boyd 1051).

With social networking comes along the differentiated forms of messaging and texting. I can communicate with my friends through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Messenger, Snap Chat, Instagram, etc. With so many social media apps allowing you to communicate with others, anybody can talk to anyone from anywhere. Being in university my friends, who once were no more than a five-minute walk, are now miles and miles away. Social media has allowed me to stay in touch with those friends, who I can no longer visit in person. This also includes mobile communications, there are so many forms of communication, that it is almost impossible to have no way of communication to people around the world. It is hard to imagine back before these technologies weren’t a prominent daily object.  When social media first started, sites such as Facebook allowed you to post to one another’s walls. While other Facebook users could still see the things in which you posted, it wasn’t very private. Now there is personal chats that others can’t see. Chat’s allow you to communicate with one person, or several at a time. I use mobile communication devices to stay in contact with those that I may not see every day. I believe that mobile communication devices have made friendships strong, but also easier to destroy. With technology such as screen shot, individuals have to be careful who they are speaking to, and the manner in which they come across. The article Networked Privacy: How Teenagers Negotiate Context in Social Media demonstrates a perfect example as to how careful teenagers actually are around social media: “Social media enabled practices require people to contend with the limitations of individual control and address how to actively navigate contest when boundaries cannot be taken for granted” (Boyd 1052).

On average I spend around three hours checking my active social media sites, and on top of that I am always on my phone communicating with friends and family. While I do spend quite a bit of time on my media life, I know others who spend double the time. I live in a generation where, if you don’t answer a text message within a couple hour, something must be majorly wrong. I am very connected to my media, but it doesn’t faze me to be disconnect for a couple days. During summer, there have been times where my grandmother can’t wait to get home to check her Facebook, while I’d much rather stay unplugged a little longer as I enjoy the sunshine or just communicating person to person. I don’t think people realize how media crazed this world has become, media is all around and some don’t even notice how they are being driven by the media they are connected to. When looking at what I’ve done over media in my life already, you can see where I stopped updating Facebook of my every action, or where I lost a few followers because I don’t post as much. Media is something that will always be there, it allows everyone to be connected somewhere, somehow, in some way.

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Representation of the Audience

This past week I began binging a new show on Netflix that a friend suggested. While the show is only one season for now, a second season has yet to be announced. With the season cut short to 13 episodes, and the network having already released renewals, No Tomorrow is unlikely to return.

This week in class we discussed class and gender on TV. Watching the show No Tomorrow and considering this week’s class discussion, I watched with a critical view on gender and class. Considering our talk on females and the pressured to live up to television women, No Tomorrow fails at representing various shapes and sizes of a women’s body. The show contains female characters that are all certainly under a size 4; the main character is tall and skinny with luscious blonde flowing hair that is always perfect. On the other hand, we also looked at men’s view on television characters. Men admit women and men are both unrealistic on television. The men in No Tomorrow represent: someone fit, someone chunky, and another scrawny. I found this interesting as we discussed women are more affected by body images portrayed on television, compared to the average male. No Tomorrow is an example as to why we may see this trend. While the male characters have various body types, the women were generally all the same. Each woman had her own personality that contrasted with the others, but there was only one body type.

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Unlike video games, which are typically consumed by a male audience, No Tomorrow would draw in an audience consisting of mostly females. Yet they continue to cast females who are skinny, tall, and perfect. I believe this is because women, even if they don’t admit it, want to see someone they imagine themselves to be, an ideal gender image. It also fits the myth: attractive men and women belong together. The show wouldn’t be as believable if they didn’t have a good-looking female character to match the attractive male character.

Xavier (Joshua Sasse), dealing with an oncoming apocalypse and being the love interest to the main character, quits his job and is living a free life. He spends his time and money ticking off his bucket list number by number before there’s “no tomorrow”. Xavier’s character is unlike the rest of the characters in the show, other characters are part of the working and middle class. No Tomorrow excels in its class as it presents warehouse workers, assistants, mangers, quality-control assessors, scientist, and more.

While No Tomorrow lacks in body representations of all females, the representation of class is close to accurate. Representing various people in different classes, it continues to drag along a common fault in television shows. Xavier runs into trouble with money and the bank repossesses everything… except his car? Ending up living with his girlfriend for a couple weeks, out of no where he has enough money to buy a recreational vehicle. The audience is left questioning how he was able to afford this, knowing he is millions of dollars in debt. It is also questionable how much money Evie (Tori Anderson) is making in her warehouse cubicle job. Traveling around, seeing the northern lights, buying random objects,  while owning a full size house that’s fully furnished, one could typically not compare this to a realistic world. Besides the few slips in No Tomorrow with money income compared to possessions, the overall representation of class is comparable to the audience.

Society’s Standards

Growing up in a generation where Facebook is a prominent daily activity, it is nothing new for pictures to be modified using a photo editor or Photoshop. I can remember people changing their status to “like for an edit” where they would edit one of your pictures for fun. The results would be sometimes drastic with completely different hair colour or reconstructed nose and lips. At the time this was the popular thing to do, which wasn’t extremely motivating to the hormonal teenager. With standards continuing to advance, we are trying to meet the expectations turning us into ridiculous computerized blobs in pictures that can leave us unrecognizable.

The video Fotoshop by Adobé is extremely accurate at pinpointing the flaws in society’s standards. Why would someone post a picture of their acne-covered face, when functions such as blemish removers can make all your acne troubles disappear with the flick of the mouse. The video goes on to say “it’s you, perfected” and “almost unreal-istic”. While most focus on the perfected part, we’ve begun to edit photos to the point of humanly unrealistic outcomes, in example the Kardiashians. Known for their big butt’s, a trend has spread world-wide to edit photos with your butt enlarged. This trend has opened several doors on social media forums where people will destroy one another for their pictures they claim have never seen an editing program, when in reality the picture has most likely has seen several filters and editing tools. This is really concerning as people, myself included, can’t bare to post a selfie without running it though some type of editor to make sure they’re up to the standards.

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Celebrities have continued down a road to meet their followers expectations, it is now a “celebrity beauty secret” to use Photoshop. While there are many celebrities who are regularly Photoshoped, many have begun to refuse pictures released with Photoshop to meet society’s standards of the perfect body. These celebrities who refuse Photoshop are trying to create a body positive trend, where you are happy in your own body all the time. Teenagers have their walls plastered with posters of their favourite celebrities; with Photoshop males have defined muscles while the females have their thigh gaps and flowing little mermaid perfect hair. While many teenagers try to copy their favourite celebrities from pictures that have been edited, issues such as eating disorders and mental health grow as nobody can match the computerized pictures of their idols.

While females focus more on what they can do behind the screen to make themselves look better, males are increasingly insecure about their bodies. With social media the male’s body is not good enough either, the need to meet society’s standards with bulk muscles or stick thin bodies. Male celebrities have changed over the passing decades gaining muscles and commonly posing shirtless. Widely popular around 2006 High School Musical took the world by storm; shortly after its huge success news broke out that the main characters voice, Troy Bolton played by Zac Efron, wasn’t actually his real voice. The man whose voice was blended with that of Zac Efron was not as cute according to Disney, they figured they would make more money off the face of Zac Efron. Disney was focusing on the society’s standards of cute when casting for High School Musical. When looking at pictures of Zac Efron in his starting years and now in 2017 there is a tremendous difference in his body size. The standards have changed from 2006 and people are no longer looking for a cute face but rather a toned body.

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Like females with Barbie’s, male action figures have changed the view on how the male’s body should look. With bulky muscles and manly features the expectations are become unrealistic. The article “Body-Image Pressure Increasingly Affects Boys” states that very few select males have a body that allows them to look and carry muscles like their action figures. Celebrities such as Chris Pratt who was once considered a chunky man, now poses shirtless modeling his man muscles and is the superhero Starlord. John Krasinski, best known as Jim Halpert on NBC’s The Office, all of a sudden packed on 25 pounds of muscle and grew a trendy beard after years of being every girls dream guy from The Office. Many will say they bulked up because they wanted to and it had nothing to do with standards, but then we look at celebrities such as Rob Kardashian who went in the opposite direction gaining weight and received backlash for loosing himself. Men have become ashamed of their body and avoid baring skin such as singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran, who does not pose, perform, or walk around with his shirt off because he does not have a six-pack.

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In class we discussed culture defined masculinity and femininity. While the world is changing to avoid the use of assuming gender, we continue to categorize objects and people. People will name their car and decide on the gender by the shape and colour; this can be seen in Pixar Animated movie Cars where the tow truck and sports car are both males. Having an old beat up rusty female tow truck wouldn’t fit into the standards of society; the females are lighter colours of blues and turquoise with flirtatious eyelids. This can also be seen in DreamWorks Animation movie Shark Tale. The male fish are sharks or manly looking, while the females have long flowing hair and seductive eyes. While at a young age I never noticed these things, I now know that because of these films I was identifying gender of objects and people by how they looked compared to society’s standards.