Blog 5 & Much Ado About Writing

In this week’s blog, you can choose to write about anything you like that relates in some way to life narratives and/or the issues we’ve been discussing in ASTU 100A. So, you could certainly build on our analyses of Facebook (using your own auto/ethnographic work, or other observations), or extend that conversation by looking at another social network. ETA: This article has good stuff on the flap over the French flag profile pic practice (what a tongue twister), how Zuckerberg got that going, and also cites some scholarly work on Facebook and public mourning. Thinking of current events, you might consider memorial responses to the Paris (or Beirut or Kenya or Baghdad) bombings, looking at how life stories are told as part of a process of public mourning. This video is one interesting example, but you can find certain victims profiled in news stories, too. Twitter brings us a very Web 2.0 example of what I’ve called “death writing” (vs “life writing”), with the #enmemoire hashtag (and account), offering up snapshots of the victims in under 140 characters. I see that scholar Judith Butler’s concept of the “grievable life” (which we briefly encountered in Whitlock’s work) has been circulating again as part of debates about media coverage of the different bombings and the larger question of whose lives (and deaths) matter (a letter from Paris, by Butler, is one of those sites). Remember that you are aiming for an evidence-based, analytical post, with links.

When you’re not writing your blog post, you are of course writing papers, lots of papers. Below I talk about the writing process and offers some links and tips to help you.

  1.  Writing is hard: let’s face it, you won’t want to do it. But the research (e.g., How to Write a Lot) is conclusive: you will write more, and have better ideas (and more of them), if you make yourself write every day. Schedule the time, set a timer, log off social media, and just start. It’s okay to write “shitty first drafts,” as Anne Lamott calls them. If you’re really stuck, you can try freewriting: for a certain amount of time, just write whatever is in your mind in relation to a project. Don’t look up citations, don’t stop. If you’re stuck, you write, “I’m stuck” until you aren’t. (Try writing “I’m stuck because _____.”) Writing can help you figure out what you want to say.
  1. Try working in different ways: switch from your laptop to your notebook (or vice versa). Move rooms. Stand up. Use a whiteboard or a pack of sticky notes and your wall to do some mind-mapping or brainstorming. I’ve discovered that I can’t outline sitting down, so now I do it on a big piece of paper that I leave up and can keep working on. (My family is very forgiving: “Oh, Mom has a paper due.”) Pro tip: Make sure you have markers that won’t damage the wall underneath!IMG_20151016_140331430
  1. If you aren’t doing outlines, start: they don’t have to look like a tidy list (see mine, above). They just help you gather ideas, examples, scholars’ voices into one place, and then sort them into categories. You can then start to see what belongs together, and then what those things together suggest. You’ll also see what’s missing. Outlines also help you identify main concepts and the connections between ideas – helping you develop an argument that works and develops across paragraphs. Note that outlines are dynamic: you keep working on them throughout the paper process, even while you are writing, so that you can capture new ideas and insights, and keep tinkering with the structure as it develops.

Outlines can take different forms.

  • You can do a list of points (e.g., in Word document). Word actually has an outline tool that helps you create hierarchies of ideas, and can be useful.
  • You can do visual outlines, such as concept maps.
  • Try cue cards, Powerpoint slides, sticky notes
  • You can do outlines at different times: many of my colleagues are big fans of reverse outlines, which are like gists notes that you produce on your own drafts: they help you revise and develop your ideas.

I hope these tips help you find some new ways to work, or support your existing habits. Remember what Smith and Watson say about writing: ultimately, you’ve got to LFF! So get to it.

Laurie

14 comments

  1. In response to Mishal: I liked the point you brought up about fighting with “peace”. It seems to me that in regard to not only the Paris attacks but any sort of crisis, the global response is always either fear or hope. For example, we have the threat of ISIS being perpetuated by the media in order to instill fear in the viewers, but on the other side of things, we have stories like that of Antoine Leiris’. Another example that serves to instill hope is this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkM-SDNoI_8), of a small boy in France being interviewed about the terrorist attacks. Fear and hope, it seems, are two very different yet very powerful things that are manipulated in light of tragic events such as this one.

    In response to Jewel: You raise an interesting point in your analysis of the changing Facebook. I have also noticed the steady increase of images and gifs in lieu of text posts. In the past, I have viewed this “textual representation to visual representation” shift as a negative phenomenon, because I attributed it to our shrinking attention spans and growing need for instant gratification. While I still believe in the power text posts can have, I now view visual posts in a different light. The other day I saw a photo on Facebook of a crying refugee child from Syria. It of course evoked an instant emotional response from me, which I think is important especially during these times when humanitarian response is so crucial.

    In response to Emily: The idea of narratives that are only a few words in length seems to be a recurring phenomenon, especially as we start to use the Internet more and more. It’s amazing how much of a story can be told, even with the constraint of a mere six words. These short narratives remind me of Tima’s analysis of Post Secret (http://blogs.ubc.ca/wordsoftima/2015/10/16/post-secret-minuscule-fragments-of-life-narratives/). I think the impact these narratives haves on us depends largely upon our own perspectives; when a story is only six words, we must fill in the rest based on our own experiences. Moreover, this allows for different interpretations which can in turn incite more stories.

  2. Tanvi: I related so well to your blog post! I think we could attribute a spike in diversified comedy memoirs to the typical expression of “the times are changing”. For a while, I noticed that South Asian comedians usually took up a stand up comedy role in terms of trying to catch the “big break” however Kailing was a different story because apart from being comical, she made it into mainstream media in “The Mindy Project”. It is interesting to see how marginalized groups are taking on different memoir genres in order to be heard.

    Isana: Your blog post was an interesting read. Since it’s conception, social media has slowly begun to have more of a significant role in our life (although the role can be debated as being more negative rather than positive at times). I never knew that feminist culture played such an active role on Twitter until I saw your post. Twitter is the perfect landscape for a feminist community to voice opinions because different people can see it worldwide and it could help the cause of the feminist groups out there. In terms of Facebook, it is very true about how it can be used as a platform for open debates. Since the attacks in Beirut, Paris and Iraq last week, there has been many debates going on all over Facebook in terms of religion, politics and what world governments should do to Combat ISIS. Increasingly, Facebook is serving as a tool to understand what society’s opinions are on certain topics.

    Nana: Your blog takes on a major issue in the world today. It is sad to see how everybody is stereotyping various types of religion particularly the religion of Islam. Social media can help counter this. I like how you brought in Twitter into the conversation because Twitter is in fact a more unbiased method of finding out what is trending in the world. It is infuriating how many innocent Muslims simply trying to earn a living are subject to severe stereotyping and prejudice. I believe we are all human and also people need to learn that they cannot paint one whole religion and/or race with the same brush. This proves especially true when speaking of ISIS. So many people are placing their aggression on innocent Muslims, which is ridiculous because they are not ISIS and with that being said, ISIS does not at all represent Islam, either. Excellent post!

  3. In response to Melissa: I remember reading the stories of Isobel Bowdery and Antoine Leiris shortly after the attacks in Paris. Needless to say, both narratives left me speechless. There’s a saying that goes “you cannot control other people. You can only control your reactions to them” and I think it can be applied in this situation. These two individuals, Ms. Bowdery and Mr. Leiris, could respond with anger and aggression but instead, they chose to approach the situation with the intent to share their stores as a method of healing and alerting the world. Perhaps this is why both stories were met with an overwhelming response of encouragement and support; for Ms. Bowdery and Mr. Leiris were vulnerable and open to the whole word and that in itself was courage.

    In response to Anna: Your blog post reminds me of a post I saw on Facebook recently. It was a post showing a poll (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/11/17/what-americans-thought-of-jewish-refugees-on-the-eve-of-world-war-ii/) of what Americans thought the United States of America should do with the Jewish refugees seeking asylum in America around the start of World War Two. As depicted on the graph, a majority of Americans voted to keep Jewish refugees out. When all of this is put together, especially with the recent story news of how Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wouldn’t mind issuing ID badges to Muslims Americans (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/19/donald-trump-muslim-americans-special-identification-tracking-mosques), the old saying “history repeats itself” comes to mind. I find myself clueless as to how to address this topic, but what I do know is that I will be closely paying attention to this matter and hoping that together, men has learned from their past mistakes.

    In response to Tanvi: I recall experiencing a similar feeling when Mexican – Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first African woman to win that award. The speech she gave was emotional too, and I remember watching it with my one of my older sisters and thinking “wow, Lupita’s career is going to take off pretty soon”, and so it did. Lupita continue to break the Western standards of beauty by how she soon became the face of of French beauty brand Lancôme (http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2014/04/04/lupita-nyongo-lancome/7276943/) and it must be noted that she is not the only person to do so. For as of 2015, Rihanna was revealed to be the new face of Dior, therefore leading her the first black to represent Dior in the history of the brand (http://www.etonline.com/fashion/161107_rihanna_is_the_new_face_of_dior/). While this Is just the beginning of change, I too as well hope and look forward to diversity within the entertainment industry to further grow.

  4. In response to Zoey, Seana, and all others that commented about the Facebook Flag Filter (FFF):
    I have a Facebook, and I have for some time, so I’ve definitely noticed the French flag feature on people’s Facebook profiles, showing their support in whatever way they feel they can. Many people, however, have felt that using this feature is just a means of escape, to make those people feel better about, really, doing nothing. This reminds me of when Facebook released the gay pride flag feature, allowing users to show their support for the legalization of gay marriage across the United States on June 25, 2015. There were many controversies over that feature as well, however I feel as if it provided a different kind of support, and therefore, opposition. To some, it is believed that he French flag filter was used to say, “look at me, I support this, but I don’t want to really do anything else about it.” Lots of profiles were changed just to fit in with the social crowd, not because people knew what was actually going on. However, to me, the GP flag was like the 3 fingered salute from The Hunger Games. Silent support for the actions that are slowly changing the world.

    In response to Emily:
    In my post, I used the idea of how a picture speaks a thousand words, or in your case, 6. It amazes me how detail oriented most people are. We are able to pick apart, or put together incredible stories with a few simple words, or at least a quick nap of a photo. As you mention in your blog, the words he chose – left, boy, human, home – are simple, everyday words, yet strung together they spin a completely different tale. Connecting back to my blog and the differing interpretations of photos, poems, etc., it reminds me of Langston Hughes’ poem, Suicide Note. Without reading the title, one might interpret the poem as a sweet, innocent one. However, after the addition of the title, it takes on a whole new meaning. Like a picture, like a novel, like a few simple words, everything is up to interpretation, to letting your mind wander and imagine whole new worlds of adventure. Like you said: “less is more.”

    In response to Tanvi:
    Aziz Ansari and Amy Poehler have always had a place in my heart since I started Parks and Recreation back in 2010. Mindy Kailing and Tina Fey, both of whom I adore, have also climbed their ways to the top of my list. As you mentioned, you didn’t see a lot of Indian authors, and yet here we are, with all these new faces. Mindy, Aziz, Kunal, Russell Peters, all of these rising comedians representing a new chapter in our world’s history. As I was looking through Facebook, I came across a commercial for Aziz’s new Netflix Original show, Masters of None, which focuses on Aziz’s character as an actor in New York and his troubles in life. Part of his struggle is how to fit in as a guy who sounds American, but doesn’t look it. I think that a lot of new comedians, authors, stars, you name it, are coming to the surface now because people are finally ready for something new in their lives. Not that Tina and Amy are old, but people are ready for new stories and are finally ready to hare their own.

  5. Emily:
    I was struck by the similarity your post had to one I read on Tima’s blog a couple of weeks ago, which focused on people submitting their secrets as a form of life narrative. Six word memoirs, and secrets both leave much to the imagination and allow the audience to have a huge role in the meaning of the text depending on the interpretation they take. These six word stories- while personal to the author are vague to the readers. This genre ask the audience to use their imagination to fill in the gaps that the texts leaves, it is a corporative effort between the reader and writer in order to make the story have meaning. I am curious to see if there are other forms of life narratives like this and if so how the element of uncertainty around the meaning of the text effects the publics responses to them.

    Chipo:
    Your blog and mine have a lot of similarities this week, we are both taking about social movements that have found their platform on Facebook. One of the great things Facebook has brought about, because it is becoming a social forum for discussion, is a lot more youth involvement in social dialogue. An example, as you pointed out, would be the university students from around the country standing in solidarity with the students of Mizzou. I think Facebook provides a less threatening forum for people to voice their opinions than in a real life debate. While people can still comment beneath a status, the interactions are over the internet and therefor there is a distance between the two parties that provide more breathing room for them. Facebook is a platform that the youth have created and thus the youth voice holds more validity within it. It will be interesting to see how the coming years social discussions will shift to accommodate this new world in which a significant amount of conversation happens over social media.

    Colleen:
    I think your blog provides an amazing example of the power of Facebook. I spoke about Facebook’s effects in my blog and briefly touched on it in my response to Chipo. The video that you speak about in your blog has in fact found itself on my profile and I was deeply moved by it. It was lovely to see the response to this video because the majority of the comments on the video strayed away from politically charged content and leaned toward human to human, empathetic responses. Facebook as a genre, perhaps, will help society move away from extremes and move towards a more moderate idea of politics because there are so many voices that are not vying for political power or appealing to the masses- they are everyday people that are adding their opinions to the dialogue surrounding an issue. The comments below the video you mention on your blog is an amazing example of the kind of dialogue that Facebook has the power to create.

  6. Reply to Emma’s Blog Post- Firstly the hashtag at the start really outlines your post in general and I was able to pick up on what you were discussing. Everyone has their own way they view themselves and that way we view ourselves may not line up with what we want to be or better yet how we want to view ourselves. It makes sense for us to change it, but do we change our social media presence to what we want it to be rather than what we are? Is that true to ourselves?
    Reply to Tanvi’s Blog Post- I’ve read Mindy’s first book, along with Aziz’s book, Modern Romance and I loved both of them. What really struck me as appealing to them is that they had a great amount of humor but were highly conversational. I thought that in a way I was speaking to someone who understood what it was like for me as a POC to date or apply for jobs and I loved that. I believe that’s why there’s a spike in this kind of memoir, because POC’s are seeing these books as conversational and are able to gain experience with reading it.
    Reply to Anna’s Blog Post- To myself, these events that are occurring around the refugee crisis along with the Paris attacks mirror the events that preceded WWII. History is meant to teach us in a hard way that we must be steadfast to those who mean to harm us and be understanding of those needing our compassion. However, fear is more powerful than anyone gives credit to and we get the same situation as what is occurring with many Republican candidates; this disassociation of us and them. Do you think that if these candidates understood their own misplaced fears they could find compassion? Or is it the result of other forces that they push this agenda?

  7. To Mishal’s Blog:
    I agree, that, like their name entails, the terrorists main purpose is to try and get our fear, confusion, and anger. I also think that it was very admirable for Antoine Leiris. However, I wonder if he is in the minority. I think it is only natural for people to feel this way, and it’s hard to get rid of these feelings. Do you think that he can help make a difference by sharing his story and help prevent a similar reaction to what happened 9/11 or will we follow the same path? Do you think that we are already on that road, considering how much support he has received?

    In response to Shaan’s blog:
    I think it’s interesting on how you linked these attacks to FDR’s time and his quote on fear. Although we think it has been a long time and we have advanced immensely, what with the United Nations and the increasing globalization,
    it got me wondering if much actually has changed from less than a century ago. And also, just how a century ago, we saw anyone from Germany as a potential enemy, we see anyone fleeing their country to a safer place as an enemy as well. However, we do sometimes forget they are people just like us and not everybody needs or deserved to be feared. Hopefully soon we can live in a more understanding world.

    In response to Tima’s blog:
    I find it really interesting that every time we speak we are sharing our life story. That really makes sense, though. After all, no matter what, all our experiences are going to be different for everyone else so we’re all going to have our own story about it and therefore we’re all going to have our own unique narrative, even though they might seem extremely similar. I wonder if that’s also why the story changes when you are talking to other people: you are shaping your story to match your life story to their expectations of how life should be. No matter what, though, all stories are equally important and deserve the chance to be shared.

  8. Tima,

    I think the concept you termed “rehearsal theory” is very interesting. It makes me question how valid most life narratives I read are. Personally, I know that in cases where I have written about my own life experiences, I find myself dramatizing certain aspects, and making others more minor in order to create a certain effect in my writing or make it more interesting. The same goes for telling stories over and over to people. Recently I told a story to a friend, and realized how much it had become dramatized over my repeated tellings of it. It would be interesting, and I believe it has been done in some cases, to investigate how translators, translating stories by others dramatize or reduce certain aspects. It could also be interesting to speak to individuals who may have experienced a situation alongside someone who has had their life narrative published, and see if they found it exaggerated or accurate.

    Colleen,

    I agree that it is truly a fascinating time to be alive. Being connected to so many people all over the world via social media platforms such as Facebook is shifting the way the people of the world communicate and function. It is interesting how Facebook seems to be developing into such a prominent news platform, with such a massive influence on the masses. As you spoke of in your blog, if it weren’t for Facebook, the 16 million people that watched the video of the son and father may have never seen it, and may have shifted their views to more peaceful ones as well. It will be interesting to see, as future events unfold, how Facebook and other forms of social media begin to take on other large roles in the social realm. When Facebook started, I doubt many people thought it would be what it is today. I wonder what it will be like five, ten, and twenty years from now.

    Emma,

    I think the topic you researched is really interesting. I consistently think about the role of social media in shifting the ways people view others, and their own lives. Scroll through anyones Instagram feed. Chances are they aren’t posting pictures of themselves suffering from life struggles, but rather work towards this image of positiveness. As you said in your post, “Everyone wants to feel good about themselves, so why not add a filter to cover your insecurities.” Trailing off of your post, something that I have noticed is that this positive image being displayed has the capability of contributing to the negative feelings of others. Individuals going through hard times may go on Instagram, or another social media form, and rather than feeling inspired, may feel envy towards, or left out of the joys of life, as they see images being posted by friends, family, and celebrities all doing fun things, and enjoying life. They develop the fear of missing out (FOMO). It seems that social media contributes to a cycle, developing FOMO in people as they see others loving life, leading to disheartened feelings. But then the person feeling down will post a picture of themselves at some party, creating FOMO in another person, leading to a vicious cycle of the spread of this horrible FOMO disease. It only seems that some people experience social media like this, but I think it can occur in everyone.

  9. Charlotte: In my blog I looked at a similar video to the one you blogged about. It is a video of a father explaining to his young son that even though the “bad guys” have guns, the French have flowers and the flowers are there to protect them against the guns. It is responses like that and that of Antoine Leris that I believe people all over the world need to be hearing. While Donald Trump tries to frighten anyone and everyone watching his speeches or social media activity into supporting him by saying that had the French only been allowed to carry guns they would have been able to defend themselves and there wouldn’t have been as many deaths, small voices such as those of these two French fathers are being drowned by plans of militaristic retaliation. However, I believe it is voices like Antoine Leiris and Angel Le that need to be heard and I’m relived when I see these videos go viral and receive media coverage. I wonder, if those were the voices heard most on national television, would the immediate response of many of the citizens in the West have been to respond militaristically or to fight guns with flowers and “affront [the Terrorists] by being happy and free”?

    Emily: Six-word memoirs, what an interesting way to tell a story! I wonder, does social media have any impact on this genre of narrative? You mentioned how much detail and precision goes into each word as these memoirists tell a narrative in six words. This contrasts so harshly with the status updates and posts on Facebook that so clearly lack thought and precision. However, in comparing the two I did discover what an impact the brevity of comments and posts on social media has on my experience of Facebook. I find myself scrolling through my newsfeed and only reading the shortest post—usually those associated with a picture as well—and not taking the time to actually read the HONY posts for example in their entirety. I also notice that I’m not taking the time to sit down and read posts as I would take the time to sit and read an article or book—giving it my full attention. I wonder, does the brevity of the six-word narratives take away from the desire of the readers to spend as much time on it as they would a much longer published narrative?

    Will: The Oscar Wilde quote you used in your blog brought to mind for me the numerous dystopian novel that are constantly rising in popularity such as the Hunger Games, the Maze Runner and Divergent trilogies. In those circumstances I believe that art isn’t necessarily imitating life; in many current novels art is warning life. You talk about the author choosing the character to help readers adopt some of the positive characteristics of the protagonist and I think with he aforementioned examples, it can be taken one step father. Novels such as the Hunger Games and Divergent clearly reference the world as we know it and blatantly show what could come of the world we are in if the path we are on doesn’t change in some way, shape or form. In the Martian you spoke about the challenges Watney faces “from explosions to having to create water” and I believe that the humour you talk about in the novel could be a means to a more lighthearted way of looking at what might otherwise be seen as a novel preparing readers for a big shift in the way we are used to living.

  10. In response to Mishal: I saw this video on Facebook last week, and was so impressed with this mans ability to forgive and be graceful during such a sad time. It really stuck with me, and I actually briefly mentioned this video in my blog, where I looked at how narratives like this can use platforms such as Facebook to be shared to a larger audience. I was able to see this video because of Facebook, and it is an inspiration to face difficult situations with “peace and patience”, like you said. It is amazing to see a social media platform being used for more than focusing on one’s self, and to share a narrative with an important message.

    In response to Jewel: I have definitely noticed the shift from textual representation to visual representation that you are talking about. I think it is important to note that this shift is not applicable to everyone, and applies mainly to our age group and younger. Also, platforms such as Instagram and VSCO, where the main focus is on the image, are used mainly by the youth, which might explain why this shift to visual representation is mainly an occurrence amongst our age group. We are simply used to images and therefore find they have a quicker impact, whereas someone else might prefer to read and be told the details about an event. It would be interesting to explore an older audience reaction to this shift.

    In response to Isana: Your statement at the end that the point of Facebook is to stimulate discussion is interesting. I think that originally, that was not the intent of Facebook – it was meant more as a way to chat with friends, and people spent a lot more time telling the world about the trivial details of their lives. Now, people go for quality over quantity, which includes a lot fewer text posts declaring things such as “I just ate a muffin”. Instead, social media has become a platform for stimulating serious debates about important topics, which is pretty cool.

  11. Emily: (http://blogs.ubc.ca/emilyleung/) I found Emily’s post about six-word memoirs fascinating. It immediately reminded me of short descriptions of two of my favorite authors: Junot Díaz and Toni Morrison. “Toni Morrison in Seven Words: “Two eyes, one tongue searching for beauty” and “Junot Díaz in Seven Words: “The poor immigrant kid in the library”. These descriptions hint at the authors’ backgrounds while leaving room for interpretation from the audience. In her post, Emily provided a poignant deconstruction of a six-word narrative regarding war made think about the weight each word that I’m reading or writing can have. She also delved into the variety of interpretations possible, which could lead to misrepresentations. While the traditional Hemingway six-word story fosters a similar interpretation from most, other stories could create serious misinterpretation. It would be particularly interesting to analyze the reception from Western and non-Western subjects, especially to see if there is any connection between hegemonic narratives of events and interpretations.

    Blakely: (http://blogs.ubc.ca/blakelybrowneblog/) I thought Blakely’s idea of Facebook as the “newspaper of the 21st century” was an interesting concept for a few reasons. First, because even though most people our age and older have Facebook, a lot of people only a few years younger do not. I have a 14 year old sister who recently reported that “Facebook is for old people”. Although her experience is obviously not representative of all 14 year olds, it still shows that Facebook may not be reaching a large audience and calls into question who Facebook is a newspaper for. Second, I find that the news on my Facebook is largely controlled by what my friends decide to share. While, for me, this seems to create a fairly diverse spread of articles and political persuasions, for some, it may not. This presents an issue of what news people are receiving. For example, a friend of mine posted an article about the attacks in Beirut shortly after they occurred. However, I witnessed many people on Facebook claiming these attacks got no media coverage. This demonstrates one of the dangers of using Facebook as a newspaper— it could limit the content available to different audiences, providing only a small portion of the information available from news sources.

    Zoey: (http://blogs.ubc.ca/zoeygray/2015/11/23/blog-post-5-social-media-and-collective-mourning/) I thought Zoey’s connection between the representation of victims of tragedies by Facebook and Gillian Whitlock was very interesting. Zoey’s assertion that “putting names and stories to the dead seems to have a more powerful impact than discussing the deaths as a whole” immediately reminded me of dialogue used to facilitate men’s involvement in women’s rights movements, especially on the issue of sexual assault. However, instead of publishing the stories or photos of victims, these campaigns have focused on viewing the survivor of sexual assault as someone’s “sister”, “mother” or “girlfriend”. Essentially, these campaigns make the idea of sexual assault personal through identification with the survivor by imagining they are part of one’s life. To me, this particular way to impact sexual assault is bothersome because survivors should be valued and supported simply because they are human.

  12. In response to Mishal’s blog: Your blog post is truly inspiring. We often think that the best way to respond to terrorists is revenge. But by doing so, the tension will only remain, if not more so. What we can do is to come together and cast off the overwhelming feeling of fear. I believe life narratives in social media can serve perfectly for this kind of public healing. The example you gave about Antoine Leiris is a great example of how a man can unite others with his personal narrative of this public event. He sent out a power message to the families of victims and those who are concerned and told them what should be the right attitude towards terrorism. As numerous people are toughed by his words, the new perspective he offers may bring about collective changes in the ways we think and treat terrorists.

    In response to Jewel’s blog: There is indeed an increase in visual representation in contrast to verbal ones in the face of technological advancement. Visual is an efficient mode of representation. Photographers can take photos about their lives easily with their cell phones anywhere they want and upload it to social media immediately. In addition, viewers can understand it just by a glance. Nevertheless, decreasing the quantity of time to read life narratives through photos may lower the quality of reading as well. Unlike stories told in words which we have to spend some time reading and thinking about it, photos online can only catch momentary attention and are being quickly replaced in the flood of new images. As people rarely have in-depth analysis to photos posted online, the messages behind them may be overlooked. Besides, as mentioned in Emma’s blog, photos do not always show us the truth. Hence, photos may still have some constraints in introducing changes.

    In response to Tanvi’s blog: Your blog post about comedy memoir is really interesting and novel. Comedy memoir is certainly a new form of memoir that intrigues reader with humor added to life narratives. But what is the intention behind comedy memoir? Why are people getting more interested in South African comedy memoir in particular? Why are there more and more South African writers adopting this new genre? As suggested by Gillian Whitlock, the eager to read auto/biographies from marginalized groups is due to our curiosity about “other” (7). Readers want to learn something they cannot personally experience through these authors. As for the writers, comedy memoirs allow people of color to touch on some sensitive topics that people are afraid to talk about like racism. By using humor, they can make their story more lighthearted and acceptable to readers. It may also be less likely to offend others in this way.

    Whitlock, Gillian. Soft Weapons: Autobiography in Transit. Chicago: University Of Chicago, 2007. Web. 23 Oct. 2015

  13. In response to Seana: I totally agree with you on the point that how Facebook has become one of the primary sources to get information, updates or opinions of those around us. It is because of this that I consider that Facebook should take a more neutral stance when coming up with features such as the option of putting on the French flag on our display pictures and the safety feature to show support for such tragedies else where in the world in a similar way. Speaking from firsthand experience I can understand the sentiments of those whose country, after going through similar traumatic experience did not receive the kind of attention Paris did, because it naturally makes you feel like maybe people from those countries are not worth mentioning. And since Facebook is a site for people from all around the world it should be representative of such a diverse population, so it is just in this regard that I believe Facebook should take into consideration its broad community of users.

    In response to Charlotte: It was very nice to read what you think Leiris’s video. I share the same point of view and I think that man has redefined the meaning of tolerance and the fact that has video has been shared so many times and is being responded with such enthusiasm and positivism restores my faith in humanity because it shows that Leiris’s efforts were not in vain, and that people are actually understanding the bigger picture and their role in this peaceful protest against terrorism.

    In response to Nana: I like that you chose to talk about racial and religious stereotypes and how people don’t understand the extent of damage that can be done to an individual if you paint with a broad brush. Between a Muslim community there will be those who feel too strongly about the religion and there will be those who still believe in the religion but are not strict followers, and then there are those who are trying to live their lives peacefully by creating a balance between the religious and social aspect of their lives. Generalizations hurt the sentiments of these intermediaries the most because when you view everyone from the same lens you are ignoring the efforts of the vast majority of those who actually try to portray a true representation of their race or religion. Thus before making such generalizations we should try to research and have sufficient information to back up our side of the argument talking about, because if we do this it will either prove us correct and show others where they are wrong, or will either show us where we misinterpreted the given information. Either way misunderstandings will be reduced and maybe give birth to a more tolerant and fairer society

  14. In response to Rachel’s blog:
    http://blogs.ubc.ca/rachelteasdale/

    I enjoyed the mention of Facebook hashtags in your blog. I hadn’t considered the use of hashtags and their importance in this conversation. In the example of the Paris attacks and other tragedies, hashtags are almost like slogans (or abstractions!) in their simplicity. They can take a collection of tragic events and worldwide responses and create a single phrase that sums it all up in a way that most will understand: #PrayforParis. The use of hashtags in social media is often criticized (e.g. #yolo), but I think this shows the possibility of using them for spreading awareness and support for social movements.
    After doing more research I discovered that hashtags are also used and paid for during political campaigns as well. The Trudeau campaign paid for “#elxn42” to trend on Twitter and to be associated with the previously upcoming election. The article can be found here: http://ipolitics.ca/2015/08/06/trudeau-camp-uses-promoted-trend-to-get-canadian-election-trending-on-twitter/

    In response to Shaan’s blog:
    http://blogs.ubc.ca/shaanlail/

    You bring up some interesting points about the response to the Paris attacks. From my view, the conversation following has primarily been about how other countries will act, how people worldwide are showing their sympathy, and the coverage comparison to other tragedies around the same time. Less attention has been brought to the ISIS aims and reasoning, which is arguably an incredibly important topic if we are to move forward with the others. Additionally, the role the Syrian refugee crisis is being portrayed to have in this is troubling. This article outlines governors of individual states within the USA protesting the admission of refugees as they are “potential security threats”. http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/16/world/paris-attacks-syrian-refugees-backlash/

    In response to Chipo’s blog:
    http://blogs.ubc.ca/chipochipaziwaastu/2015/11/20/welcome-to-facebook/

    “Facebook has become a way to check the world’s ‘status updates’.”
    I found this quote from your blog striking. At least for the younger generation that I’m most familiar with, Facebook is much more commonly browsed than traditional news sites such as CNN or BBC. I argue that Facebook is the “new” news site. News of our friends from around the world, news of pages, events, or figures we like, and “trending” news of topics that Facebook believes we might like is our CNN or Sunday morning newspaper (it just happens to be more current, relevant to our circles, and easily accessible). Newspapers and news sites actually tend to have Facebook pages on which they post articles. Is this a positive change? It is certainly useful, especially in the example of marking friends as safe during the Paris attacks. This article claims that the use of Facebook and other social media websites has contributed to a decline in youth’s interest in foreign affairs: http://journalism.about.com/od/trends/a/Author-Says-Tools-Of-The-Digital-Age-Distract-Young-People-From-Reading-The-News.htm

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