Navigating the Tech Jungle

When I think about all the amazing things technology can do I am always amazed. I look at my little iPod which somehow holds all these songs in it and not only that but it can play them through my headphones! To me there is a magic that someone’s voice is coming out of a little device no bigger than my palm, I can have the entire London Symphony Orchestra in the palm of my hand with the ability to forward, stop, play again, etc. I also look around and see the growing dependence on technology and the constant invention and updating and for a visitor to the world of Social Media it can be daunting to try and find my way around. In their wonderful book Click2Save authors Drescher & Anderson have an entire chapter, chapter 3, for people like me which explains how to set up an account on various forms of social media as well as explaining the drawbacks and benefits of each one. The fact that each one was explained step by step was also great because I could see that some were much easier to set up and for someone who has issues understanding the value of things like Twitter the authors made it clear that it was OK not to like some forms and depending on what you want to use them for some are completely useless to you.

This class has helped me learn more about why we use social media so much, what kids of communities it helps us to set up, and most importantly that no matter what cell phones, computers, Skype, and twitter will never replace personal human contact. I think of the new movie Her and how for some people technology seems to have replaced the need for human contact, this of course concerns me. I think as humans we are naturally social creatures who all ultimately want the same thing, to be accepted, valued, and loved for who we are at our raw core. Social media can offer a seemingly less frightening way to be accepted however ultimately to me technology is an artificial form of friendship and even in the future if we have surrogates or virtual world reality living we will always crave real human relationships they are harder but they are more fulfilling, a iPad simply can not replace the community of troth Palmer describes.  I would say in the end I love things about social media and the Church needs to accept and embrace them as best we can, after all short of the Terminator revolution they are not going away! As long as we can together find that happy medium then the busy and awe-inspiring place that is the Tech jungle can be a wonderful place to explore!

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Body Image

Body image is a powerful thing that our culture is in no way shy of featuring just about everywhere. From the moment we start seeing adds we are show everything from how to lose weight with pills, to plastic surgery, to some new makeup brand, etc. In short we are shown the way society wants us to look. I have a skin condition known as Perioral Dermatitis, there is no cure, no known cause, and it is a reoccurring condition. Due to this I am unable to wear makeup very often and when I can it has to be all natural, and I can only wear it for short times. Parker J Palmers book talks about creating a sacred space for education as well as setting up a community of truth, I want my future students to be comfortable with themselves just as they are and I want them to trust me enough to share their insecurities if they choose. For someone like me who is unable to look like the Victoria secret models or other popular images of how a women should look it hurts not only my self esteem but also my faith and trust in others as it causes me to constantly wonder about how I am being perceived when my skin condition acts up, all of this is a result of companies spreading false notions of what is attractive and how people should constantly look. After watching the Dove commercials in class I ended up finding one on Youtube that was very touching and I think the way the world should work, the Dove real beauty campaign is a wonderful thing and I think more companies should join in, I will admit my bias as I love Dove’s sensitive skin soap as its perfect for my skin condition! Social media has really helped me to connect with others around the world who have the same condition that I do and who are not allowing themselves to be ashamed, before I was properly diagnosed I was given steroid prescriptions, which only make perioral dermatitis worse, and I can safely say that connecting with others reminded me that I was not alone and there were others who felt as I did. Social media is a great way to form a global community for support and as someone who has to treat my skin condition everyday it was a wonderful way to remind myself and others that we are beautiful not because of makeup, clothing, jewels, or money but because of who we are inside and how that is reflected on the outside.

Am I Me?

The first experience for me with race began when I was discussing two of my very close friends with my mother. They are brother and sister their mother is Haitian and their father Canadian. As they are what we would call mixed, my mother made comments about how she would feel sorry for them as they would spend their whole lives confused about who they are as they are between races. Immediately I was offended by her comment and called my friends to ask what I should do. Ultimately her comment made me wonder what it means to be “white” we often hear terms like “black culture” and “Hispanic culture” however I never recall hearing anything about “white culture” save for in the negative of the Atlantic slave trade and segregation. For me my mothers comments which where intended to insult my friend insulted me and set in motion an identity crisis spurred by my own skin color. One aspect that I noticed was how deeply racism is imbedded in American culture we love putting each other into little boxes with only one label, our skin color, with an accompanying list of stereotypes based on that. People of light skin complexion or “white” are no different we are also put into little boxes with stereotypes such as “racist” “bigot” “oppressor” “arrogant”. We often neither discuss or acknowledge racism or stereotypes about “whites“. Due to my skin color I am given “white privilege” in my culture which I neither want nor deserve, what I ultimately want is to be treated the same as everyone else which means suffering together, laughing together, learning together, growing together, sharing together, worship together, etc. I am far more than just “white”ultimately racism puts us all into little labeled boxes, I think its time for all of us to climb out.

Consumerism & Global Crisis

First let me introduce myself as I neglected to in my last post. I am a junior year full time MAR student who hopes to graduate and teach theology in secondary education. Sadly I was never big into social media and never really learned to use it so I only have a Facebook and blogging is quite new to me but I hope this class can help me see the value of it and even learn to enjoy it! Todays articles concerning consumerism really touched a cord with me as I am a big fan of fair trade products or trying to buy clothing and items that are made in the USA. I think for many people these are newer concepts as American’s as a whole don’t usually care much about where their products come from as long as they can get them and get them in massive inexpensive amounts. One site I discovered recently contains links organized by categories that helps you to find products made in the USA so you no longer have to search the internet looking for companies yourself. By purchasing products that are made in the USA you not only support American’s having jobs and thus being able to afford ever increasing expenses, you also show your support for ethical work treatment ie child labor and sweat shops. I have also recently enjoyed the website Ten Thousand Villages and its mission to ethically help impoverished people by selling their products at fair prices. I think this can tie into class due to the fact that media such as the internet, Facebook, Youtube, etc have helped to market these idea, to show the results of paying more for good products to help people I also think treating your fellow man ethically, showing compassion for those who live in impoverished areas who are trying to make a living, respecting workers no matter how menial or primitive you think their job is, reflects the greater love that we as Christians are called to show.

Robot Revolution?

In reflecting on our reading for today’s class, All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines by Nicholas Carr, is technology simply making us become more and more complacent? Are people simply content to remain sedentary and allow machines and technology to do all our work for us? And is this a problem? The article made the point that humans are allowing machines to do so much of our work that we in turn forget how to do tasks that were once solely done manually. While I am in no way suggesting we take things back to Stone Age technology I am begging the question of when should we say no to technology and force ourselves to do tasks, whether we like them or not, the hard non Siri way? Is there an inevitable Terminator reality in the future for us?