Showing posts with label generational differences. Show all posts
Showing posts with label generational differences. Show all posts

Letter to the Editor: Facebook isn't all sadness

Below is an excerpt of another letter to the editor.  It was written in response to Mary Alice Cookson's column, "Does Facebook cause unhappiness?"  We can all guess that my answer was largely no, but for more details, see below.

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"Here’s a bit of news you’ll either “like” or not depending on your point of view: A recent study links Facebook use to unhappiness.

The study by researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed 82 young adults over a two-week period, sending them text messages five times a day asking how they were feeling and how much time they’d spent on Facebook since the previous text. And guess what? The researchers correlated increased time spent on Facebook to a drop in mood."

To read the rest of the letter, click on through to the Salem News website.  And since I'm on the topic of Facebook, have you "liked" my Facebook Page?  Now's a perfect time hit the "Like" button and get the latest updates on your Facebook feed.

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Yes--That's Sexist and Yes, I Have to Call You on It

So right on the heels of my Letter to the Editor, I also have this to say (though, I wrote this before the letter to the editor came out and had to reschedule its release here).

I have a rather undeveloped policy about how I deal with things I take issue with on Facebook or other social media in which I am connected to people.  What little I understand of it though is that it starts with the assumption that if a person has chosen to virtually connect with me, then they have chosen to accept the fact that I am an active user of social media who seeks out conversation and meaning.  By accepting or requesting and continuing said connection, they recognize that I'm likely to engage with those things that grab my attention and to which I have some knowledge and/or stake in the conversation (and granted sometimes I have too much of latter without enough of the former--but that's a post for another time).

So when someone I'm connected with on Facebook, posted the following.  It certainly got me a wee bit angered and ready to say something.  In fact, it annoyed me enough to write a blog post about it.

Oh the many things wrong with this.  Particularly, because it was created on or around March 27/28 and it comes in the aftermath of the Stuebenville rape conviction and the various backlashes.   The many, many, many things wrong with this.  So much of this wreaks of a moral technopanic about the nature of women's behavior in public which is always easier than considering the role of the men or the system at large.

Of "Girls" and Men
So language is always an interesting thing to study and this meme is no different.  The women are all girls--even those who are married.  It may be a small or irrelevant point--obviously the page (IM So Fuckin High I can't even see u--clearly a page for chauvinistic, sexist, racist and other mad hattery) wasn't looking to be deep in any regard, but it does illustrate a disregard for women in our culture (fostered more by the 22,000+ likes and additional 1700+ shares).

A History Lesson.
I find the faux history most amazing and misinformed.  The idea of women as purely pristine and pure has never really jived with the actual history of sex, if anyone who has taken the time to study the history of sex will tell you.  In fact, the later half of the 1800s was a hotbed of sexiness with sex and sexual acts happening everywhere from dancehalls to brothels to saloons.

It annoys me when people level the supposed morals of the past to lay judgment on the present.  In most cases, these morals were nothing but myths to begin with.  It's like finding speed limit signs 100 years from now and deducing that people never drove over the speed limit--when in fact--we almost all do.

If we were to look at the late 19th century, we find that New York City had hundreds of brothels and brothels were also found in the West .  And the dance halls were filled with women exchanging drinks and gifts for favors--yes, sometimes of the sexual kind.

That's not to applaud what for many was a "choice" that wasn't a real choice (i.e. do this for survival's sake--one's own or family and loved ones) but it's to acknowledge that women were not the bastions of morality that we pretend they were.  That mentality (women's past purity or women's declining morality) contributes to continued sexism and mistreatment.  It first upholds women to traits and ideals that were never entirely true in the first place (and to which we never believe or feel that men can live up to) while also allowing for further shaming of women--another form of power and control.  That much of this is done by or for men without men having to adhere to the same spurious morals, only further illustrates the coercive power of patriarchy.

The statement that "In 1995: Girls Got Undressed for Money" is very curious and another play at shaming.  In all likelihood this is a reference to the Girls Gone Wild series (that's a link to Wikipedia-not to the actual site--and they state GGW started in 1997). But here again, the language is suggestive.  Women have been accepting money for getting undressed for thousands of years as there is ample evidence of temple prostitutes going back to the ancient world.  If the claim meant accepting money to take clothes off for a camera, they would still be wrong.  Women undressing for cash and the camera is something too that is over 100 years old.  Thus "girls" takes on a further meaning.  Girls in this sense are supposed to mean "good girls" to which prostitutes, strippers and other sex workers clearly do not fall into.  The judgment upon women to maintain their "girl" status clearly coincides with the ways in which they act as sexual beings.  Their state of undress is only for the male who (in 1880s parlance) owns her.

Facepalm indeed.
It's telling the that the last panel is a man in a state of disappointment.  First, because it seems that the meme-maker couldn't find a woman offering up herself in a state of undress on Facebook.  But also, that it gives away the bigger lie.  We put this expectation upon women, but in the end, it's typically men (or mayhaps we should use the term, "boys") that are encouraging, demanding and condemning it.  There's the perversity of it--the women are judged by the same sources of those who make the demands.  The ideas of Mulvey's "male gaze" are still relevant.

But It's Just a Joke
It's easy to shrug this off as a goofy internet meme in poor taste and saying I'm looking too much into it--take it too "literally" as the person who posted it said below.  But all memes are not the same and this one I found a bit caustic.  That we can shrug it off so easily as it so grossly represents truth, and plays into the ideas of a demoralizing society brought to us by technology and whose responsibility is placed upon women to uphold is utter rubbish.  Technology nor women contribute to the decline of society (and I continued to revoke the idea that society is in moral freefall).  If you think the moral decay of society is real, I would encourage you to read The Better Nature of Our Angels by Stephen Pinker (his TED Talk only scratches the surface) and significantly reduce the amount of "news" you watch.

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Carding the Race Count

 This article starts with an initially interesting premise about the potential choices Tiger Woods has with regards to what to select when it comes to choosing his “race” on the 2010 census form.  Of course, the fact that "The Census Bureau explicitly defines “race’’ as “a self-identification data item in which respondents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify.’" means it is in effect meaningless in many ways or maybe more importantly a clear sign of the changes in identity over the last 200 years.  Here, citizens have the right to choose how they are represented/depicted rather than the long standing tradition where that choice is made for them. 

The discussion around "racial criteria" being "irrelevant" and no real need for it, especially in 2010 when we know there is no proven differences genetically speaking between the "races."  But to remove the question is to ignore history and I think that's something the article overall misses.  The primary reason of that race was put on the census form as near as I can tell is because of the 3/5's Compromise that was put into the U.S. Constitution.  Though changed by the 14th Amendment, the original wording of Article 1, Section 2 was "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned  among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."  However, even after the 14th Amendment, I'm not sure it would make entire sense to do away with asking for race or rather, I don't think there would be large enough political drive to remove the race question from the census--no more than one can find the political capital do do away with so many the archaic "blue laws" that still linger in many states.  However, those numbers probably (for detrimental reasons, most likely) came into use again towards the end of the 1800s and into the 1900s as the country entered into the legally-precedented period of segregation with Plessy. vs. Ferguson in 1896.  Decisions about allocation of resources were in many places based upon the racial make up of the communities and states.

That's all in the past, they say.  So there's no need to keep track of it.  But it's not.  We're still impacted in many different levels by the more insipid institutions and it's worth seeing the long term impact and (hopeful) recovery from such dubious and morally abysmal actions.

Further in the article, Jacoby calls for an end to including race on the census because of the "racial spoils system it fuels."  Well, that little phrase says a whole lot.  Particularly, when Jacoby condemns the NAACP for being a willful participant in it.  On its face value, Jacoby is saying that it's wrong to cling to race and racial identity because it creates a favoring system.  Any many would feel uncomfortable with that.  But again, when you remove it, and supposedly turn the census into a color-blind counter of human lives.  But if decisions are being made based upon the statistics generated by the census, and we have a long history of unequal treatment among races; it seems dubious and premature to disregard race.  We are after all, a country still filled with race issues

Other Questions on the Consensus

The other question here is why does Jacoby take an angle on race when there are clearly other questions on the census that are without any constitutional precedent.  Question #4 asks for the telephone number.  Question #6 asks for each person's sex.  This is an equally antiquated question as Race given that women can now vote too and unlike the precedence built into the Constitution that would stipulate race, there is no stipulation to clearly identify sex.  Question #7 asks for the ages/birthdays of each person.  and here they stipulation that "Asked since 1800, Federal, state, and local governments need date about age to interpret most social and economic characteristics, such as forecasting the number of people eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits (which doesn't make since by the logic of the statement, since those were things that came into creation in the 1900s, not 1800s).  Furthermore, "The data are widely used in planning and evaluating government programs and policies that provide funds or services for children, working-age adults, women of childbearing age, or the older population."  Again, Jacoby doesn't take aim at the equally perplexing implications of Question #9:  "Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish Origin?"

In Jacoby's final assessment, he desire to say, forget race, we're all Americans on face value seems valid and promising.  But again, let's think about what that means.  The term "American" is perplexing.  The US has co-opted the term to refer to U.S. citizens.  However, if we took the lead from what we call other people by continental-derived names, (Europeans, Africans, Asians), it should just mean someone from the continent of America, not just the United States.  Referring to U.S. Citizens as "Americans" is linguistically ethnocentric.  We are laying claim to the entire continent (North and South) when we use the term.  In fact, many are taken aback when they hear non-U.S. citizens claim to be "American."  Undoubtedly, people will have problems with this condemnation of the term, but I think it speaks (literally) loudly to our presumptions about our culture's presumptions about itself.  This isn't a derision of the US country's quality, but more a consideration of how its self-importance tramples upon other people who have equal (and chronologically better) claims to the term American but are denied or disregarded.  I point this out, but in Jacoby's attempt to create equality of racial identity by declaring U.S. citizens a "race", he relies then on a cultural bias (as well as another racial split between U.S. Americans and other "Americans") that has been at times, equally damning as the racial bias in U.S. history.

So, does the race question deserve to be on there?  What purposes does it serve?  If the race question shouldn't be there; what about the sex question?  The age question?  The "Hispanic, Latino or Spanish" question?  Where do they fit in?

What about the issues of categorizing and keeping track of the larger picture of national composition of the population and who is "what"?

Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.