Sell me first, feed me later.

poverty-porn

Paper! Paper! Dead refugee in the water! BUY IT. Starving children in Africa! BUY IT. World’s worst industrial disaster in India, what? Just BUY IT, you’ll be helping.

Really, will we? The objectification and exploitation of human beings in the media should bothers us, as it often does. So why do we continue to exploit others’ conditions and even their suffering for financial gain.

How are we formulating our views of the world, who has become in charge of making lives grievable? Has it really come down to the carefully constructed idea of field where we are separated as human and no human, road kill vs roast lamb. By adapting our thoughts to the way of situation we are allowing more crimes to be committed if they can be justified.

“Photographs state the innocence, the vulnerability of lives heading toward their own destruction, and this link between photography and death haunts all photographs of people.” Susan Sontag, On Photography.

Today I question what it means to become ethically responsive, to consider and attend to the suffering of others, and, more generally, which frames permit the representability of the human and which do not. Butler and Sontag proposes to consider the way in which suffering is presented to us, and how that presentation affects our responsiveness. Suggesting, whether and how we respond to the suffering of others, how we formulate moral criticisms, how we articulate political analyses, depend upon a certain field of perceptible reality that has already being established. Meaning all images come to us already interpreted – this can occur despite the photographers meaning.

Sontag argued that photographs have the capacity to move us momentarily, but that they do not have the power to build an interpretation. If a photograph becomes effective in informing or moving us politically, it is only because the photograph is received within a context of a relevant political consciousness. For Sontag, photographs render truths in a dissociated moment, they ‘flash up’. Tough we do not react as we once did, by being drowned in photos our reactions have lessened, we still feel the need to share, like and occasionally donate, but have our Facebook likes and Twitter shares diminished the poverty in the world? Are the media, charities and sponsors turning to other measures to secure our customer value?

By utilising poverty for profit and gains it seems that we become separated into a human and inhuman norm. De-humanising these people who become exposed to a world they are not even part of. Often the names of the victims are not included in the captions, but the names of the perpetrators are. Do we lament this lack of names? Yes and no. They are, and are not, ours to know.

Poverty-Porn (1)“We might think that our norms of humanization require the name and the face, but the face and name are not ‘ours’ to know, and perhaps affirming this limit is a way of affirming the humanity that has escaped the visual control of the photograph” (Butler, 2007).

To expose the victim further would be to reiterate the crime. Though some may argue that it is impossible to restore the ‘humanity’ of the victims without their names.

Those who do good for the world are able to do so without intensifying the `exposure’ of the victim, either through discursive or visual means.

When Donna Haraway asks, “have we ever yet become human?”, she is at once positing a `we’ that is outside the norm of the human, and questioning whether the human is ever something that can be fully accomplished. The question remains, who is in charge of these terms and classifying a life for a human who is not the same as the norm that determines what and who will count as a human life, and what and who will not.

In a hopeful future, when they look back, what will they see when they look at us?

 

 

 

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Selfie-centered.

selfies

 

Seflie-esteem, selfie-less, selfie-xist. What does your selfie say about you? We are living in times of peak-selfie, and therefore, peak selfie-hatred.

Whenever I think about selfies, I think about my Nonna, I think about my aunty, I think about my best-friend, Thais. All powerful woman born before me who were lucky enough to experience the world in prints but not in selfies. These women didn’t have the ability to take and post their own images to thousands of people at once. So many women’s stories were erased and will never be recovered because they didn’t have access to private image-making.

17439653_10154076264346362_1995535871_nCollage done by Moara Prado using the following sources: Woolf, Cameron, Adams, Woodman.

“[The history of most women is] hidden either by silence, or by flourishes and ornaments that amount to silence.” (Woolf).

Many memorable women like Julia Margaret Cameron,  Marian Hooper Adams, Francesca Woodman knew this, but the same could be said for anyone living on the margins of race, gender, or class.

Thais, my childhood friend who still lives in the slums of Brazil has not been fortunate enough to own a smart phone, yet, she borrows mine occasionally and posts hundreds of selfies of herself on my Facebook. Her selfies are not a shallow way to show narcissism, fashion, and self-promotion and seek attention; rather, she uses them to empower herself and exercise free speech, self-reflection, express spiritual purity, improve her literacy and form strong interpersonal connections with the world. Selfies provide, for a lot of ordinary people, the chance to be empowered by reconstructing confidence and receiving acknowledgement, however, for those like Thais – who do not even acknowledge vanity as they cannot afford it or are too humble – this becomes an experience about self-discovery and involving.

When we can take endless shots from endless angles, we start to discover dimensions of ourselves we never even knew were there. Thais is investigating her own silhouette. She’s figuring out which parts of her face she loves. Sometimes it takes a hundred selfies to capture the one that rings out with recognition: this, this is who I am.

David Nemer conducted a research about the importance of selfies for the development and communication of people in the slums of Brazil. He reports on the importance of selfies especially for those Illiterate slum residents who take advantage and use selfies rather than text messages and e-mail to facilitate communication with their families, overcoming language and distance barriers. Nemer implies that they use selfies to realistically depict their everyday lives, history, and social situation (Nemer, 2015).

In addition, Frohmann (2005) suggests that selfies could empower the marginalized by creating dialogue about the community’s issues through group discussion, reaching policy makers, and informing the broader society of those issues. These findings suggest self-portraits as a way to hear the voices of some of the inhabitants in poor and marginalized regions, as claimed by Hernández (2009) perceived as a pathway to a more promising future. So basically like Thais, the favela residents used selfies to present themselves online. As argued in the research by Nemer, their goals were not to present an ideal (or fake) self online (or shallow displays of narcissism, fashion, attention seeking, and self-promotion). “Rather, we consider people’s online presentations (selfies) as ways to improve and benefit their off-line identities: Presenting selves online is to recognize and access an opportunity (i.e., digital technologies) to improve their quality of life and to allow this decision to make a life-enhancing difference” (Nemer, 2015).

This study shows a whole different side to the selfie-world. It amplifies the voices of the marginalized in Brazil and highlights their social and technological experiences of selfies in community technology centres. The use and adoption of digital technologies among these slums users were not motivated by a shallow acknowledgement of their desire for entertainment but rather were situated in a contextualized reality. Blogs, Youtube even Twitter and Facebook can be a real lifeline to self-presentation that just wasn’t possible before.

Erica Hagen gives an excellent TED talk about the importance of being mapped in today’s society (and the lack of) existing. She explains the extraordinary difference that technology has made for people living in third world countries – “Shouldn’t they represent more than just a pin in this map?” (Hagen, 2015).

Selfies give character, they allow people, real people to be expert at their own lives and that makes a different, that is encouraging and empowering. Self-knowledge and self-love. Young people are increasingly able to cross barriers, of age, class, selfie-hatred and more because we belong to a kind of global community and we are finally able to tell our story and put ourselves on the map.

Do you ever stop to think all the people who wanted so badly to be seen but were born too soon. I wish, all the time, my great-grandmothers women I never knew; could have taken a million selfies. I feel like I owe it to them and to those who feel unseen, unmapped now, to keep posting, to keep sharing, to keep liking, to keep seeking out new faces to like. Let your selfie outlive you… We are after all, writing our own history with every selfie.

 

 

Red.

homelessness-ignor

Saint Amaro Avenue, 1300.

A scruffy man standing in front of a closed car dealership, takes notice of two glimmering red promotional balls tied to the door.

A police officer steps down from his car, looking at all sides he observes a suspect standing in front of a dealership. The suspect is poorly dressed and barefoot.

A lady sitting on a blue seat inside the bus that has stopped at the bus stop on that avenue, comments with the girl sitting beside her, that there is a dirty beggar standing in front of a closed car dealership.

A man passes by a very dirty man, he holds reaches for his pocket and forms a grip around his wallet, he begins to power walk. Once noticing the parked police vehicle ahead, he feels safe, easing his steps.

A young man attempts to dodge behind the bus that has stopped, the cop he sees ahead brings him discomfort, after all his car is full of drugs that will be sold in the college where he studies.

The shabbily dressed man decides to act, he takes three steps forward, raises his hands and grabs two promotional red balls, he is too quickly fulfilled with the thought that selling these balls will empty his stomach full of air.

A girl alerted the lady beside her on the bus, calling the attention of several passengers to the man who, according to her, is a beggar, and says loudly that he has just stolen something at the dealership.

A young man with the car full of drugs to sell at his college notices the barefoot man running with two red promotional balls, he reverses his car as he sees the police officer coming his way.

The policeman runs and reaches for the scruffy man and slams the gun cable on his head several times. The man who’d been named a beggar by the passengers in the bus fall to the ground, and in front of him the two red promotional balls roll on to the pavement.

The bus driver, who drives the same root for the past eight years, tries to maintain the bus stopped to see the police officer assault the badly dressed man who is lying on the sidewalk with kicks and punches, but the traffic has turned green so he goes through bursting two red promotional balls that laid on the street.

By: Moara Prado

One cup of memory, please.

grandpa hands

He laid still in bed, in a kind of torture, because while the rest of world was fast asleep, he was wide awake all alone. His mind buzzed with every thought in the universe, pondering if he had made the right decision. He closed his eyes and the memories came flowing back to him, the smell of rain and wet earth, fresh mowed grass and coffee, sweet taste of sugar canes and nectarines. His thoughts reached a standstill and his mind went blank. He became more aware of the silence, and it was during this moment that he realised the consequences of his actions. Things would never be the same again. He brushed his hand across his unshaven face, and stood up making his way to the night stand. He searched through the drawers, only to find a handkerchief wrapped around some dirt. He gripped it tightly and walked outside. Seeing nothing but concrete, his heart ached. He spotted a small gap between two tiles, where workers would have labelled it as a mistake, but he saw it as hope. He unwrapped the handkerchief, and it was right then that he planted his very last coffee tree.

***

The mud that laid scattered over the concrete floor in uneven patches stole my thoughts and carried me somewhere I had not been in years. I barely closed my eyes and immediately there they were, lined up like soldiers, seven thousand coffee trees. Posing like divine fingerprints, curving and changing, no two branches ever the same. In all the world I remember this view to be unique, the dip and sway of the land, the shifting wind and as consequence dancing clouds. Somehow the aroma of sweet coffee had invaded my thoughts and just as I filled my lungs with imaginary scent, I felt his fingers entwine with mine. Time had rewind, I looked up and glanced at his young face, in my mind, we both smiled. We sat on a white hammock that hung from one orange tree to another. As the words came out of his mouth in perfect rhythm, so did the fireflies that gave light to the night. ‘Take them’, he said. ‘Hide them away inside you and wherever you miss me, let them fly’.

***

He sometimes stood at the same place for hours, with a blank stare, his worn out fingers now shook in an unstoppable frequency when he sipped his coffee.  He sat outside, he looked uncomfortable, but he didn’t say a word. The chair was new and fine, but it didn’t feel like his and he didn’t know why. She held his hand in between her own and he gazed at her confused. She brushed her hands on his unshaven face and smiled. He looked at the coffee tree that stood up strong and tall, everything went quiet for a minute and then she heard him say, ‘Hmm, I wonder who would have thought to plant a tree in between two tiles’, they sat there both in disbelieve. Inside her head she could almost see the fireflies filling up the air. She then began to tell him a story.

By: Moara Prado

Poison

poison

Her fingers danced between one string to the next making no sound as she gracefully pulled up her black fishnet stockings. It wasn’t the first time she’d worn them that day, or the first time she’d gotten redressed that hour. She reached over and searched for her half empty packet of Dunhill cigarettes, they were camouflaged under her bed between a wet towel and a stack of gold dollar bills. As she filled her skinny cheeks with smoke she glanced at herself in the mirror, tilting her head so her long, bright red hair fell like curtains hiding her freckles. She freed her breathe and watched as he locked the door behind him as he left. The feeling of satisfaction hadn’t quite caught up to her yet. Meaningless, dirty sex, to him, perhaps. She had other intentions.

It was a big house with many rooms, all decorated with red walls. There was an unchanging scent that lingered there, the sweet touch of cherry-blossom and peaches with a hidden trace of methylated spirits. The nights were long, but the days felt even longer. Battling the heat of three pm sun glaze poking through badly shut curtains, with brains mushed that swayed from side to side like a paper boat through a creek, they could ever barely stand to open their eyes. Like clock work their bodies ticked for another hit, another dollar. Her body ticked slower and sometimes not at all. She had a far bigger demand than they did.

After a while she too, stood up and locked the door behind her, she made her way down the stairs and into the kitchen. As she glanced around the light of her eyes dimmed through each girl. She was polite but never sociable, she didn’t agree with what the girls did there, even though a part of herself was undeniably scripted in those walls and in those girls. She woke up with dried lips and a parched tongue, and both her and them clenched that thirst with daily pills. She suffered from terribly vivid nightmares that kept her awake and aware of her present loneliness, her anxiety sent cold shivers down her spine, not far from the truth of the other girls who lived through consistent paranoia and sleep paralysis, you could say they were all fuelled by anger and deception, all stuck in a vicious cycle of lust and ecstasy, but she didn’t live there for money, she got her high from taking what was once stolen from her. She got her high by taking lives.

By the time she had finished swallowing her pill, she was met with a tall, handsome man who wore a gold banner on his finger, she smiled as she had the pleasing thought that soon his lips will taste the poison just like hers. And slowly she would spread what was once given to her by a guy like him who cheated on her with a girl who smoked Dunhills and collected gold dollar bills.

By: Moara Prado

Happiness

Week 7-

Progress.

I feel like a much happier person! I haven’t been reporting everything I have been doing step by step in this blog/diary, however, I couldn’t be happier with where it has taken me. I really feel a positive change in me and in the people around me. Things that I had to stop and think about before are coming naturally to me now. I am able to straight away start a conversation with a stranger, make new friends. I don’t hesitate to ask if people are okay or if they need anything. But the difference I feel has affected me mostly is being able to immediately identify my negative attitude and thoughts and change it for a positive, optimistic one.

I used to be very anti-morning person, but for the last seven weeks I have made it my habit to get up and straight away acknowledge ten things that I am thankful for. This improves my mood and it has a snowball affect through out my day, I find something positive in every situation I am in and this has contributed to a huge increase in my happiness. I am so happy!

Happiness

Week 6

In this weeks tutorial we talked about the importance of education in happiness and the difference between happiness and relief. This week’s topic really hit home because I have this continuously feeling that I am often wasting my life away, spending countless hours working instead of actually being me, being happy.

When I first started university, I began with a major in Creative Writing, which I absolutely loved, I was motivated and can confidently say I was happy to come to uni and learn. I handed my assignments in time and I felt like I was really doing and learning something I was proud of. However, as the term was coming to an end I started to doubt the possibility of combining this major with any financial work. I began to feel that although this might be what I love it was not the path for my future. I changed majors to Health Science where I felt obliged to study, I was tired and sad, I had no friends and felt no joy in the course, but I felt stability. Not long went by where I realized that I couldn’t simply slave away a few more years of my life to do something I wasn’t happy with. I picked and changed courses again. I wasn’t for another two courses that I am finally happy with the degree I am completing. I am unsure of where this will get me in the future. I can’t say that I will be rich, but I can say that I will be happy.

Relating this to my journal, I am so grateful for all the wrong choices I made because they were the right ones. Every road that I have taken has led me this far and I couldn’t be happier with my life. I have started to really appreciate my choices, my family, my friends and me.

Happiness

Week 5 –

This week we discussed random acts of kindness and how it benefits both parties. I started thinking about simple things I’ve been applying to my everyday happiness journey that implement my happiness. I began with things such as smiling at strangers, and holding doors opened. picking something up for someone who had dropped it on the floor, but as our discussion got deeper I started to realize that in fact I could do so much more.

In 2014 I decided to follow the footsteps of my older, graduated friend and travel. I was going to quit my job and I deferred university to travel with her through North and South America for almost an entire year. Few months  prior to our departure Vanessa and I had a falling out and our trip was put on hold, however, I had already made the decision of leaving both university and my job and those were two things I couldn’t go back on. I decided to tackle this adventure on my own and go regardless.

Looking back now, I started to realize that it was by arriving in a new, unknown country on my own that peoples random acts of kindness really meant to me. It wasn’t those who smiled at me or who picked up the pen I dropped on the plane that I remember (don’t get me wrong, they were also great!), but it was those special people who pushed and made that extra random act of kindness count, like approaching me and making a conversation, asking me how I was and if I needed anything, all I needed a friend.

This week specially has touched me and taught me that I can be that someone for someone else, I’ve started sitting next to other people in my tutorials that often don’t speak up much or don’t make much eye contact and I’ve started making more friends than I thought possible. I’ve really putting myself out there and I can proudly say I’ve loving it and I hope that maybe just for a little bit I am that person for them who makes a difference like someone was for me a few years ago.

The Right To Be Forgotten – My research project

In late 2014 The European Court of Justice ruled that Google is required to remove links from search that are deemed no longer relevant or inaccurate. This ruling, also known as ‘The right to be forgotten’ means that monitoring content on the web falls on Google’s shoulders instead of on the sites that published these types of content.

There was and still is significant commentary both for and against this ruling amongst industry experts. In this research project I will be exploring weather or not Australian media and communications students are aware of right to be forgotten laws, and what views they hold.

It was during an episode of the MakeUseOf podcast that a difference of opinion between Americans and Europeans was revealed: The Americans argued that freedom of speech trumped everything, while the Europeans condoned at least some right to privacy.

Eli S surveyed nearly 300 Americans to get their opinions using the following question: ‘Should search engines be legally required to remove information that is “outdated and irrelevant”?’ and ‘How do people feel exactly about access to their personal data in exchange for other services?’

Eli found that a significant majority at 61% were in favour of a legal requirement, while only 13% thought they shouldn’t. The remainder was unsure. Digging deeper into this, nearly 75% of respondents said they’d remove their own name from search if that option was made available.

While in Europe, one thousand requests per day were filled by Europeans to have their right to be forgotten form lodged. Users searching for the related topic on google.co.uk will see a message that says: “Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe” at the bottom of the page. However, those visiting the American site google.com will be unaffected, even if they reside in the UK.

In July 2014 the House of Lords’s EU Committee published a report claiming that the EU’s Right to be Forgotten is “unworkable and wrong”, and that it is based on out-dated principles. “We do not believe that individuals should have a right to have links to accurate and lawfully available information about them removed, simply because they do not like what is said,” it said. But David Smith, deputy commissioner and director of data protection for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), hit back and claimed that the criticism was misplaced, “as the initial stages of its implementation have already shown”.

After recently considering the matter in its inquiry into serious invasions of privacy in the digital era, the Australian Law Reform Commission found that Australia does not need the right to be forgotten. It did not recommend introduction of a right to delist in Australian law.

A recent article published in The Conversation, an academic rigour, journalistic flair argued that we should put aside objections that the right to be forgotten is too hard to implement, and focus on the ideological debate that divides most people on the issue. The debate might be characterised as a showdown: privacy and compassion versus information and freedom.

As Australians we should recognise that the right has a negative impact on legitimate journalism. Access to information is an important aspect of the freedom of expression Australians enjoy. We should also recognise the harm that results when certain content is accessible online.

While it might be easy to think: sure people can have information about themselves taken down if they don’t want it, people should also consider their right to the freedom of speech. It will be interesting and extremely relevant to explore the opinions of BCM students who would be affected by this law every day if it were to take place in Australia.

Some questions that will be surveyed consist of ‘When does it become okay to take down someone else’s content?’ This research will focus on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook where students have the option and the right to share content about other people freely, and other users are able to search that.

In my research I hope to find just how much freedom of speech and breach of privacy means to BCM students, I also hope to how much they are interested and exposed to such global laws. I plan on one on one interviews with class mates, as well as using survey monkey to conduct both open and close end questions that will contribute to my research and understanding of this topic.

I feel some of the risks I could encounter on this project are the possibility of a very small number of students being aware of this law and feeling like it would have no impact on them, I also fear that this could created a heated argument a lot like Europe and America where emotions could become involved.

Australia is a small part of a connected world and as an Australian Media and Communication University Student I will be very excited to see where this will lead.

Happiness

Week 4.

Last week we reflected upon the effect money has on our happiness.

People exaggerate the contribution of income to happiness because they focus, in part, on conventional achievements when evaluating their life of the lives of other. Nothing in life is quite as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.

This made me think about the little poor town I came from and how happy I was and how I look around now and realise that people around me are stuck in this non ending circle of never being good enough, never being rich enough, never having enough things. They keep chasing things that are never reachable because theres no end to this vicious cycle.

This week I closed my eyes and gave myself ten minutes of silence where I focused on my breathing and allowed my thoughts to travel only to positive things and allowed me to show my gratitude through my meditation.

I send positive energy, prayers and love to Turkey, Brussels and the rest of the world as we all suffer and heal together.

I am grateful for today, I am grateful for being in Australia surrounded by loved ones who are save and happy. I am grateful for the opportunities that lie ahead and for the chance to help someone in someway to make their life, a little better.