Growing up with Invisible Animals

I’m sure animals have magic powers!

When your friends’ cat chooses to come over and let you stroke it, when your dog sleeps on your bed all day while your sick, when the cow in the field comes closer to you as you call – you feel so incredibly lucky because they chose you. Anyone who owns a pet cat and even some dogs know that they are an animal with complete free thinking and will, they will do and go as they please, and if they choose to get out of that snuggle, they damn well will do it right then and there. However ‘domesticated’ we believe they are (my dog is more of a princess than canine), I instead think they have us wrapped around their little paw. About 63% of Australian households have a pet according to the RSCPA site. There is a reason that us Aussies keep our furry friends around as well as they are said to teach invaluable lessons to kids from a young age:

  • Higher self-esteem
  • Greater reading ability
  • Increased empathy and compassion
  • Higher sense of adventure

There are also increased health benefits such as a higher immune system, less respiratory tract infections and positive responses from children with autism, other spectrum disorders or ADHD.

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Life time buddies!

John Berger also agrees that animals poses a sort of magic:

“Animals first entered the imagination as messengers and promises … And the choice of a given species as magical, tameable and alimentary was originally determined by the habits, proximity and “invitation” of the animal in question.”

Here Berger is discussing the role of pets in our imagination and homes. Not only do they provide limitless affection and love, but owners of pets seem to develop their own method of communication, a way for both owner and pet to coexist comfortably and lovingly.

Do other animals have that same voice?

There are other relationships we build with animals over time, these are fueled by representations in the media. The films we watch allow an exposure to a variety of animals and their characters. Drawing on cliches, films, generally family films, will cast one animal as the hero and one as the villain. A couple of examples are:fishy-facts-about-finding-nemo-1038609473-apr-1-2014-1-600x400

  • 101 Dalmatians (1961) – the dogs are the hero and fur wearing humans are the villain.
  • Finding Nemo (2003) – the fish are the hero’s, people are villains and sharks also presented as potential villains (plot twist!).
  • Bambi (1942) – the hunters are the villains.
  •  Chicken Run (2000) – chickens are heroic whereas pie eating humans are villains.cruella-de-vil-angry

In all these instances- people are the imminent threat, the ones imposing danger, and yet the animals out smart us and break free. The films often cover serious issues being experienced in real life: wearing fur for fashion, issues with the Great Barrier Reef, hunting for sport, and chicken farming. However, even in these feel good films, where animals triumph, there is something not quite right: the animals are given human like qualities in order for audiences to feel relate-ability. So in actuality, do they have a voice?

Are we allowing animals to be just that, animals? Or instead are we putting them in scenarios where the imitate human life? When we invite them into our homes they are given a human name (some are perfectly fitting others are cringe worthy, look here), asked to be a part of the family, the day trips, sleeping on the furniture, eating our food, a part of exercise programs, learning good manners. We want to train the animal to be appropriate to live with us.

In this same way, when movies are about animals, they exhibit toned down characteristics, subtle violence (or in the case of finding Nemo, a complete change of basic instincts- vegan sharks?) and instead award them with bravery, family love and humor in a language that humans associate with.

“With their parallel lives, animals offer man a companionship which is different from any offered by human exchange … Such an unspeaking companionship was felt to be so equal that often one finds the conviction that it was man who lacked the capacity to speak with animals.”

 

I’m not saying this is wrong, or even that it is animal cruelty, in fact animals love being a part of the family as much as we love having them involved. However, we have to consider when we are imposing our own views on our furry companions, and when we have gone too far.

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References:

One Green Planet 2016, Why it is important to raise kids around animals,  accessed 2nd of April 2016, http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/why-it-is-important-to-raise-kids-around-animals/

Brain Pickings 2016, Why Look at Animals: John Berger on what our relationship with our fellow beings reveals about us, accessed 2nd of April 2016,  https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/04/01/why-look-at-animals-john-berger-about-looking/.

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“But first, let me take a selfie.”

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Selfie (both verb and noun): A picture taken of yourself (with potentially others in the photo) that is planned to be uploaded to social media. Usually taken by an individual with their arm outstretched using a front facing camera, or through using the reflection of a mirror.  The subject/s of the selfie will also be posed in any number of key poses:

  • Duck-lips selfie
  • Hand on hip (always a classic)
  • ‘Hot dog’ or ‘legs’ selfie
  • Candidly posing with coffee/shopping bags/puppy (insert object)
  • #freshhairselfie
  • At the gym selfie
  • No makeup selfie

*For a complete list with pictures click here .

The act of taking a selfie (or self-portrait) is done for many reasons: an expression of self identity (“Damn I look hot today”), to display affection (“I love my bae”) or to document travels (“selfie with the Eiffel Tower”). The taking of such photographs greatly differs between individuals as does the motivation behind the image. It is important to note, that although they are often regarded as meaningless or narcissistic (which more often that not is true) the action of taking a selfie breaks across so many age, gender, political, economic, education level and social statuses. In other words EVERYONE loves a selfie.

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How many celebrities can you squeeze into one selfie at the Oscars? This many!

 

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Bill Nye takes a selfie with US President Barack Obama and Neil deGrassse Tyson at the White House

There has been a complete shift in the online world, social media has gained traction, new platforms have been introduced to facilitate conversation through images and a greater range of products have entered the market, with their sole focus to increase the ease of taking selfies. With the introduction of Snapchat, selfies are now interactive, time sensitive and incredibly easy to share. The idea is to grow community and relationships on a different level to other social media platforms, and this does so successfully.

New Products– The Selfie stick  reached its height of ‘popularity’ in 2014, attracting the attention of international tourists and insta-fame wanna-be’s alike. Banned at all Disney Parks, the Louvre and many other famous sites in 2015, the selfie stick has also been the cause of a number of deaths last year. selfie-lifestyle

LG have just released a new High-End V10 Smartphone  with two front facing cameras that allow for a greater selfie taking experience. There is also a great increase in the number of photo apps available to ensure that each selfie can be carefully edited and manipulated. With tools such as blemish fixing, fake tanning and even slimming effects it is this side of the selfie evolution that is increasingly narcissistic and conceited. The seven best photo editing apps are here.

This then leads to a discussion of a new form of currency moving across the digital realm: the rise in attention economy.  Whereby individuals disseminate countless pieces of information about themselves, photos, videos, opinions, all in the hope that their social media followers will respond positively. This usage of media has changed the way brands advertisement themselves with users of these media platforms becoming their spokesperson.

Through media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Youtube there has a come growth in the micro-celebrityevery day people who develop a skill/message/identity that can be expressed across different media channels. The people are celebrities because  of the media outlet yet are not bound to experiencing fame purely on the platform. These people are accessible, they create content that is meant to be commented on, to be shared and liked. Communication is far greater and intimate across these channels and there is a sense of validation across all users. Bringing back the topic of narcissism and selfies: is the act of taking a selfie narcissistic if it is an expected and wanted act by your followers?

This is how media is shaping lives – through selfies, through social media taking one vain act and making it valuable and accessible to all. The documentary below depicts one micro-celebrities interaction with social media and how it has been used by him to create his own self brand.

Insta-Fame and the Micro Celebrity: Shawn Megira


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/86023743″>INSTAFAME DOCUMENTARY</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/sylvainlabs”>Sylvain Labs</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

References

Digital Trends 2016, 10 Best apps for the perfect selfie, accessed 14th of March 2016, http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/best-selfie-apps/.

Minq 2016, 19 Bros who nailed these basic girl instagram poses, accessed 14th of March 2016, http://www.minq.com/style/11945/19-bros-who-nailed-these-basic-girl-instagram-poses/#page=2.

Social Media Week 2016, Instafame: the rise of the micro-celebrity, accessed 15th of March 2016, http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2014/04/instafame-rise-microcelebrity/.

Style Caster 2016, The 7 best photo editing apps, accessed 14th of March 2016, http://stylecaster.com/beauty/best-photo-editing-app/.

 

Urban Dictionary 2016, Selfie, accessed 13th of March 2016, http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Selfie.

An interview about dat booty.

As an initial research study into the motivations attitudes and aprehensions circulating around body image and social media I sought to gain insight from a friend on the topic.

Do you watch music videos and if so how often in an average month?

I will rarely ever watch Music Videos, unless its on a Facebook feed or if I’ve been tagged in a post. Basically if it is trending in something I’m viewing I’ll put time into watching it, but I don’t actively search for them. I have no interest in the video, I care about the music not the video.

What are some that you have seen recently?

Elastic Heart by Sia: thoughts: artistically sound due to the young dancer, the fact Shia LaBeouf was involved, he did a great job, the emotions portrayed were great. Appreciated the quality of it compared to other music videos that are barely clothed and quite sexually explicit. Different concept made me enjoy the video versus the usual party scene.

What are your thoughts on songs/artists/music videos such as Anaconda/All About that Bass/Booty?

“It’s actually pathetic” was her response upon seeing the first 3 seconds of J-Lo’s Booty music video (seriously watch if you feel like watching an unnecessary amount of sexualised body confidence). She believed that the idea of shaming and degrading girls to a catchy tune, was nothing new and nothing to be supported, “nice concept” she said sarcasically”really frees the mind”.

However, she wouldn’t wouldn’t classify All About That Bass on the same level as the other two songs, as it isn’t as expletive. “The other two songs are just so dirty and sexual”

What do you think they tell or encourage about body image?

They promote/endorse/emphasize the body and body shape defining who you are. This is what is acceptable, if you’re not this then you’re nothing, not desirable. It presents an unrealistic unacceptable identity and ideal. Shaming the female body in general, focus on just booty or boobs, just a sex thing, its as if the body is all they are and that’s all they are there for.

How do you think social media displays positive body image or negative body image?

It’s harder to find the positive body image represented, or at least call it to find readily in the whole social media sphere. She then questioned if there was actually that much positive representation available? It really is just a constant debate.

Fitness ads provide only a one sided image of the perfect body therefore unrealistic or a certain persona is presented, but then again it makes sense, you can’t really win, you sell what customers want, what is actually appealing to the wider audience.

Have you ever seen anything on social media that made you feel uncomfortable or change your identity?

ANACONDA!!!! really sexualised stuff.

Not personally seen particular things to make me want to change my identity mostly because I have realistic expectations and understandings of who I am, like body changes wouldn’t make me more confident. See images of an overweight image does make me quesiton their motivations, they make me feel uncomfortable becuase I value health

Do you think that Body challenges are only for woman or men in the social media sphere?

There is a stigma in society, it’s a lot harder for guys to show progress without being judged, whereas women are allowed and encouraged, by this i mean in the fitness industry, or on social media. Men find it harder to be accepted doing the same attitude/behviour as women like selfies etc.

 

Bachie for lyf. Why the Bachelor made a grown man cry.


An epic and shameless Bachelor Australia fan, I was ecstatic to find out Mamamia did weekly run throughs of the each episode. Juicy goss, hilarious one liners and nick names galore. Each week I looked forward more to the follow up article rather than the actual episodes. One article in particular entitled, Rosie Reviews: Bachelor kisses a girl in front of all the others. Because DRAMA. presented the appropriate amount of cynicism, crass humor and adequate mockery to persuade me to share the article on other social media sites.

Within each article, writer Rosie Waterland focused on show host Osher (#saveosher), Bachie himself, and the girls such as Gushica, Closet Bogan Sam and Audrey-day-night, regular jibes are made at the pure ridiculous of the show and the positions each member is out in. But if, as a collective audience and as a reviewer we can agree that the show promotes backwards ideals on love and relationships and terribly staged events, why is watched, promoted and encouraged?

Huffington Post writer Emma Gray has tried to understand this and why smart women watch AND enjoy the Bachelor. Gray, as many other sane, but seemingly addicted women all ask the same question about the trashy show: Why is it so addictive? To summarise the article, these are her 3 points:

  • Everyone loves a good train wreck
  • It’s a safe outlet for women’s relationship frustrations
  • Bachelor Love is fake and allows women to appreciate their own realities

So basically, like most television, it is used an escape mechanism and no more?

imgresWith this level of guilty indulgence and success, it would be assumed that that the Bachelor format would be picked up in many different countries, and you wouldn’t be wrong. With 17 American seasons, 8 French love connections made in their local version and Chile taking on its very first airing, it appears women and men alike enjoy watching two perfect strangers find televised ‘love’.

But once again bringing it back to Mamamia, the success of these articles apart from their brutal honesty, quick wit and dry Aussie sarcasm, derive from the justification they provide. As a reader, enjoying a laugh at the pure ridiculousness of the last episode, the Mamamia reviews allow you to watch The Bachelor, you know, just for a laugh. I truly think that all viewers alike could respect themselves that little bit more when reading a hilarious review after watching each episode, it would almost justify why The Bachelor was being watched in the first place. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

References:

Mamamia 2015, Rosie Reviews: Bachelor kisses a girl in front of all the others. Because DRAMA., http://www.mamamia.com.au/rogue/the-bachelor-australia-2014-episode-9-recap-rosie-waterland/Accessed 17th of April 2015.

Broadcast Now UK 2015, The Bachelor picked up in six countries,  http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/international/the-bachelor-picked-up-in-six-countries/5044865.article Accessed 19th of April 2015.

Fitness is so right now.

When the starting point for my blog is an avenue as vague as ‘text analysis’ I turned to one of the things I love to explore: Fitness. As an avid gym go-er, who is constantly surrounded by new and trending exercises, ‘body-goals’ and challenges to triumph, I looked to an article in The Sydney Morning Herald life & style section: Top Fitness Trends for 2015.

The article was a response to ACSM’s Fitness and Health survey on 2015’s fitness trends. In both articles it highlighted the favourite gym exercises were one that had been utlised for centuries: body-weight exercises. And with the successes of social media fitness stars Kayla Itsines, Ashy Bines and the general #fitspo trend, it is not hard to see how “at home” success stories have spurred on this ‘new’ gym trend.

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Walter Thompson, the vice-president of ACSM says that the success that this trend is due to the new packaging. With the facilitation of social media avenues such as instagram, individuals are now able to become ‘insta-famous’ by doing nothing other than posting a well edited photo of them decked out in cute gym gear. Now before you assume I’m a hater, I’m all for this movement, I’m a full-supporter of health, fitness and being recognised for different exercise related achievements. However, this article, along with the instagram supporters made me question genuine attitudes. And I suppose that’s all I’m asking for through whatever trend takes off, or new fitness model pops into my search screen. I want to know that someone is working their butt off, for themselves, doing it safely, doing research, knowing their limits, and then being able to be encouraged and uplifted through the social media community.

tumblr_m5d4aoMZSB1romj9mo1_500Another aspect that was picked up through the SMH article was the growth in apps that support personal health. Within this umbrella of thought lies the idea of online health trends however, there is still a desire for face to face training, which has spurred on the movement of support networks through hash tags. The Age has also written up on this social media trending attitude towards fitness and media coverage, giving advice on the best ways to approach said trends (find the article here).

But back to the research findings; the list of the top 20 fitness trends were summarised by expert Luke Istomin, founder of F45 (a gym chain) as holding one key attribute for their success: “Addressing nutrition, mental and physical well being – I feel like that’s going to be a strong trend worldwide.” This aspect links back to my key point that fitness, whatever side of the trending spectrum you’re on requires thoughtful consideration. So whether you’re a weight fanatic like I am, you enjoy your HIIT training or find Pilates more up your alley, having a well rounded approach and consideration is key.

Finally, reinvention is key to ensuring popularity. Through making things simple, accessible and constantly adaptable will ensure that audiences are joining in and spreading the word.

References:

Sydney Morning Herald 2015, Sarah Berry, Top Fitness Trends for 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/top-fitness-trends-for-2015-20150106-12j220.html Accessed 5th of April 2015.

American College of Sports Medicine 2015, Survey Predicts top 20 Fitness Trends for 2015, https://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2014/10/24/survey-predicts-top-20-fitness-trends-for-2015 Accessed 5th of April 2015.

Ethics? Why, if Veronica Mars doesn’t uphold any, why should Research?

Ethics: they’re not a legal system so what’s the point of them?

Every industry has a different set of ethical conditions they uphold and more often than not they cover grey areas often in dispute. Most commonly thought of as certain rules that distinguish between right and wrong. These are known as the Golden Rule, a code of professional conduct or a religious affiliation. Basically it is an established norm, but how does this relate to the research process?

Ethics can be thought as the grout of a building process. What I mean FH01SEP_REGTIL_02by this is, rules, processes and people create a lovely tiled wall, but ethical standards are the very element that finish that wall off, make it look presentable and ensure that its acceptable to a wider group.

So why should ethics be considered within research projects and what difference do they make? First thing, I wish to investigate where ethical standards can be found. The Belmont Report outlines the basic ethical principles in research involving human subjects.

The second is an industry specific code that governs an American P.I. company. Advanced Surveillance Group Inc. have created a list of ethical standpoints that over-arch internal affairs. They set out to create an environment of trust and goodwill both within their own business, but also to the wider public they service.Source: http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-tv-detectives.php, Accessed 17.4.15

This then leads me to question the TV show Veronica Mars. Within 3 episodes I was captured hook-line-and-sinker, devouring all 3 seasons quicker than quick. The shows focuses on the sassy Veronica, a private investigator in the making, who against consistent reprimand, seeks to solve crimes and mis-dealings on a regular basis. However, it becomes quite apparent that Miss Mars holds absolutely no regard for the Law, has no problem breaking privacy allowances and will use any means necessary to get what she wants; basically, she an ethical nightmare. Nine times out of ten Veronica gets her man, however, through stepping on the toes of many powerful people and offending a large majority of the town of Neptune, she gains a reputation and therefore many find it hard to trust her.

images-5With this example in mind, a point is raised. Going against the grain may enable a research group to get to their end result, they may achieve certain survey or business objectives. Yet are they disturbing upstanding relationships, are they hindering further investigations from being trustworthy or are they simply creating a negative reputation for themselves?

One last side of ethics that has been used to test standards in research protocols is the Stanford Prison Experiment. Established in 1971, researches sought to see how the human condition, how right and wrong could change depending on circumstances. It is often disputed for being ethically unsound as it change certain social boundaries, however, I disagree. I believe that although the experiment displayed and created unprecedented results in quite a negative fashion, it did not do so deliberately, the participants went into the study willingly and under no false precedent and the actions that came about were of the individuals and not the researchers themselves.

That is the very basis of ethics and why they are so interchangeable and disputed. There are no hard and fast answers for what ethically sound. It is a topic that requires thought and consideration, so, with that in mind, where do you stand?

Comment below for your stand point!

References:

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences 2013, What is Ethics in research & Why is it Important, Resnik D. B.,  http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/resources/bioethics/whatis/ Accessed 12th of May 2015

HHS gov 2001, Fedral Policy for the Protection of HUman Subjects (Common Policy), http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/commonrule/, Accessed 12th of May 2015

Back to Basics: What is Research?

What if I told you research wasn’t always a terrifyingly expensive endeavour undertaken in the most mundane of fashions. Not that it doesn’t occur for sure, but it is in fact so much more. Questioning is something as individuals we do on a day t day basis; it is an important step in gaging an understanding and forming a perspective on something. Research, is a more reformed method of questioning, utilising greater diversity of methods, tools and stages to establish and end result. When planning research it is vital to have an objective, a specific goal in mind established by the Research Team. Within this, resource availability, time scales, questioning methods and analysis techniques should all be highlighted.

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Sources in research, whether it be the initial literary review, or physical respondents need to be carefully chosen. If a researcher simply chooses ease over reliability or relevance, results could be skewed and yield an unfavourable or incorrect representation. It is important to consider a number of variables:

  • resource allowance
  • research scope
  • secondary sources on offer
  • authors reputation

This initial literary review should provide a big picture of the particular environment to be investigated. It should highlight whether there is a particular gap in previously conducted research and therefore an opportunity for efforts to be expanded. A thorough investigation is highly valuable as it sharpens focus of, ensure accidental plagiarism is less likely to occur and ensure that the research can connect with intended audience appropriately.

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Research comes in a vast array of methods and will be chosen according to:

  • research objectives
  • resources
  • personnel available

There are two waves in which research is determined: Quantitative research which provides hard data that can be analysed through closed question surveys and succinct data analysis. Qualitative research includes focus groups, experiments and field research. It aims to provide the reasons for quantitative results. For a basic overview read here.

 My own research experience.

Moving forward, I must decide what avenue of media I wish research. In order to decide a check list had to be made; they’re the only thing keeping me sane.

  1. New identities of social media are exciting and with so many dimension to work with, supply a plethora of information.
  2. What kind of impact do these new mediums have: whether it be buying behaviours, attitude circulation or adapting new lifestyles.
  3. How are stereotypes facilitated by the social media platforms and then how to they create a negative environment.

From this I will investigate a particular media avenue and direct influence (or perceived influence it has had on a sub-group or topic of discussion.

Unknown-1Just as final thought, keep your investigations fresh, funky fresh! Don’t simply stick to what is known or comfortable. Try different methods, angles or exploration techniques, this way the results can highlight areas that may have been missed using tried and tired methods.

References:

Hub Pages 2015, Kim Y. S.,The Importance of a Literature Review in Research Writing, http://yoonsikkim.hubpages.com/hub/literature_review, Accessed 12th of April 2015.

Snap Surveys 2012, Wyse S. E., Develop Clear Research Objectives for Your Survey Research Project, http://www.snapsurveys.com/blog/develop-clear-research-objectives-for-your-survey-research-project/, Accessed 12th of April 2015