…please stand by.
I’m packing up and moving. I’m actually already there, but setting up the new blog has proven to be a bit of a pain. Things will be quiet here for a bit while I’m setting up the new spot. As soon as it is done, I’ll post the new URL here, and I’ll likely set up a redirection system to take people automatically there.
My house is innundated with family members right now, so as a result I’m, behind on my posts and replies on East and West. I’ll be back in a few days and at that point I’ll jump right back in (there are a few posts I already have in mind on Chapter 2.) For now, go to Peony’s place and check out her thread on chapter 2 of Bell’s work — “The Three Generations of Human Rights“. In the meantime, I wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday season. As a gift, below the fold I’ve listed some of my favorite Christmas songs and YouTube links to them. Also, I’ve provided a link to the worst Christmas song. If you have a moment, leave a comment stating your own favorite Christmas song, and I’ll put up a YouTube link to it.
Today the Christmas Tree went up. We don’t buy real trees, since it’s a pain in the butt to get them and transport them to the house and then a royal pain to clean up as they dry out. So we do it the other way: stick the fake pole in the tree stand and start sticking in the individual branches into their color coordinated holes. This time things started as usual. First Christie stuck the very top branches into the pole, and then started at the bottom, putting in the biggest branches and working her way up. Then something unexpected happened.
In the last few weeks I’ve absorbed a few more zombie movies into my vast knowledge base. Yeah, I can’t help it. It’s my weakness. Besides, the radiation from the Venus probe has sparked so many movies it’s hard to keep up with them. See below the fold for the reviews. All bad this time, I’m afraid.
I was discussing Facebook interaction today with my wife (a psychologist) in the car. I pointed out that, as far as I can see, many of my own students seem to think of Facebook as a neutral “tool” that their independent and autonomous selves manipulate. In other words, as a neutral tool it has no effects on the very constitutive nature of the selves using those tools, and so has no effects on the way those individuals form their own self-concepts, self-concepts that in turn affect how they behave with others, interact with the world, and so on.
Although this is a typical view to have about technology, I disagreed. Instead, technology is not neutral: we may create a technology X, but then participation in that technology turns around and itself produces particular kinds of selves, which in turn then see and interact with the world in new ways. Hardly neutral, and hardly independent. We may shape technology, but it just as ruthlessly shapes us in turn.
What do you think? Does Facebook (and similar technologies) shape the very nature of human relationships by altering the ways in which we think of ourselves, others, and the ways that we are related? Of course, this “interaction” need not always be negative or pernicious. It can also be beneficial and helpful.
In the interests of fairness, I need to issue a small retraction: in my previous post on Facebook narcissicm, I was too harsh on the study that was reported on by Yahoo. I read the story too quickly: it didn’t argue that narcissism existed on Facebook (which would have been obvious), but rather argued for particular ways to highlight who is narcissistic based on ways of using the features of the platform. As I don’t think the latter study has obvious results, I stand corrected! That said, I still stand by all of my other criticisms of the platform (even while recognizing it’s various benefits).
Next semester Christie (my wife) and I will be teaching at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Each of us will be teaching a course called “American Culture.” The course content is entirely up to us, and we’ve been slowly engaged in the task of putting together the material we will eventually be covering (individually, the courses aren’t team-taught, but we’ll teach the same syllabus). We really need help accumulating suggestions from people regarding what to cover, and how to cover it. Click below the fold and give us a hand! All suggestions welcome — especially from students!
This study apparently shows that Facebook profiles can reveal narcissism. Really? Narcissism? On Facebook? Hard to believe, isn’t it? Sometimes when I see this kind of study I think that there should be a journal for these things, something like JPHO, or “Journal for the Proof of the Hopelessly Obvious” or something like that. It amazes me the money people get to run certain studies (This just in! Stop the Presses! Studies prove that breathing extends life!).
For the past few days the wife and the two kids have been out of town (down to Arkansas for the birthday of her mom). You know what that means…craziness. Yeah, I got totally nuts. Threw all caution to the wind. Pushed the envelope. You know what that means…I crawled into my man cave and watched two zombie movies from Netflix that my wife would never watch with me.
I am a zombie movie addict. I have been for over 20 years. It all started with two movies — Night of the Living Dead (the 1968 original Romero) and Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972). Both of these movies freaked me out when I saw them at around 7 years old on late night television. Particularly Children — man that movie scared me silly. Who knew that it would lead to a fascination with zombie movies ever since. I’ve seen them all, and I’m a serious critic of bad ones. And no, they aren’t all bad. Though many are.