CPR – Cry, Proceed, React: a new social order when someone dies

The development of Social Media has really gone side-by-side with my life just like my cat who yesterday passed from old age and a failing heart. As with her, that which we may call social media entered my life one day and placed me in a nurturing position ever since (not that it hasn’t given me some joy in return). I couldn’t not care about it. Social media interacted with me, as I did with my cat, and that was OK. I’d miss it if I went without it for too long; kept checking on it, still do. You could that say it grew on me! And because it was relatively new like me cat was once too, who knew, it might have left me—just like the cat-door was always open for my cat to disappear on me at any time. And as with the never-ending updates in the world of social, as well as with the stock market going up and down as I’ll mention a bit further down… one adjusts their expectations along the way, right!?

Luckily, she didn’t go until she went and died. And I feel kind of as though she is the first “project” I ever truly completed; because I took her in from the street, tried to find out where she’d come from, then registered her as belonging to my family, cared for her, and most importantly; I never, ever, quit her. Her kidneys getting worse two years ago didn’t stop me from believing that she could get better – and she did! When finally her heart started giving up on her the other week (and she must have got to an age equivalent of some 100 human years), I thought; “She is the captain of that ship… I’ll just let her take command of its anchor now; I think she’s had a good tour.”—something like that.

Two months ago, Instagram began letting its users share up to ten photos or videos in one post, instead of just the one (Instagram Blog, 2017). I didn’t feel like sharing memories of my cat on there now in March. Neither to straight-up give a chance for the general public to comment on it, nor to exploit her last testimony of existence into some test of a new function to that app. Had she gone a little over two years back, when she got the kidney problems, there still would have been only room for square-shaped memories, as well; create your own collage inside that, or nothing (Instagram Blog, 2015). However, in the end I decided to put a collage up on my Facebook wall. I first put it together in a photo-editing app (note: there is still a choice of being offline and ‘anonymous’—as I perceive it—in the experimentation with this) on my phone (I have a feeling we’ll do everything for an audience soon). And soon after I got incoming teary-eyed emoji reactions from people I know from around the world. One of my class-mates—with whom I was studying for a poster-presentation at the time—was sitting next to me as some of these reactions reached me, as I said to her; “You know, had my cat died a few years back, the only reactions I would’ve got might have been likes. This really is more suitable.”

Today, my other friend in class asked me in person if my cat had died after having seen my Facebook post from yesterday. She smiled. “Um, why are you smiling?”, I said, “…yeah, she did.”, I went on. So my friend in class replied that she cares for others when their pets die; feels empathic. And it struck me that having seen all those emojis on the day before made me nearly forget what real human response may look like, although at first I had thought that those emoji-reactions were closer to reality than ever (I suppose that goes for cyber-space in 2017).

Friday, 31 March 2017:

“Digital immigrants”. A description of adults who don’t fully get the online slang and smileys. Great (Lindqvist & Thorslund, 2011, p. 35). 

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Leading up to yesterday, mom had actually tried calling me to let me know that the cat was taken ill. I didn’t hear it because I was showering, or something. She emailed me the whole story about what was happening, CC’d my brothers. Then finally sent a picture of my cat on WhatsApp, and that’s when I noticed, texted her back and said; “Everything OK with her?”, “Actually, no. I emailed you…”, mom replied back. 

It was late, I opened my email by switching apps really quick. I chose to voice-message my boyfriend and attempt to hold back my tears there, instead of calling my mom back at this point. I knew that calling her would just lead to an extended sob. I had a “career day” to attend the next morning. If I could avoid puffy-eyes, I would. Mom and I then sent each other heart-emojis and our conversation came similar to what one would utter at a funeral for a good friend (these days when words still are able to co-exist with visual reactions in shape of emojis). And before I went to sleep I asked her to text me the next day, after it would be all over for my cat. I still haven’t talked to mom over the phone about this. The cat-funeral was supposedly late yesterday. Yet I know more than I ever knew from when my first cat passed, before I had ever owned smartphones, computers, or some robot dog; or whatever the kids get these days. My boyfriend sent me a couple reassuring voice-messages back from the New York subway on his way to an event. “Everything is going to be OK; you’re family is going to be OK, you are going to be OK…”, he kindly assured me, and to my relief I could go to sleep pretty efficiently despite all.

What we have these days is also “networked grieving”; in which funeral services now intersect with social media, and can help people express their grief online as well as plan it (Nansen et al., 2017).

Come to think of it, mom had said that she’d actually read online that the symptoms my cat had had signaled heart-failure, and I’d believed her. So had the veterinarian that later checked my cat before her passing (hopefully she used some techy-tool more than, like, Apple’s own Health app). But mom and I both put a lot of trust into Google. Perhaps more so me, because I’ve “known it” longer!? I’ve seen doctors Google symptoms when I was in a New York hospital with the flu once, so why shouldn’t the stuff on there be at least somewhat relevant!? My boyfriend also said he was going to a viewing the other week. I thought since he was searching to find a new apartment that he was going to an apartment viewing. I recorded him a chipper voice-message the next day; “Hey, hope your viewing went awesome, let me know!” He replied that he couldn’t go in the end but that he’d forwarded his condolences. Only then did I turn to Google and realize my mistake… this was a death-related viewing that we were talking about.

Friday, 31 March 2017:

“Lindqvist & Thorslund (2011, p. 18) discuss turning into the person you make out to be online as a risk, but what about making it a career?”

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I can’t promise you that the person who is writing this will be the same person in two years from now when I graduate from university, but do I even want to be? I like this inquisitive mind of mine, and I’m going to keep feeding it with social media, as social is going to be fed by me and what some people might call my “content” (a.k.a. my life?) right here and now, and continuously so.

Acting taught me to take things really personally on stage, and simultaneously be more thick-skinned for the business-side of the job and industry. I suppose that’s also how I see the internet. Maybe just that I’m splitting my personality over different channels, like one should invest in Index funds and things, according to Tom Robbin’s new book “Unshakeable” (Robbins, 2017), and not be investing all into one single bet for the future. Simultaneously, as with the stock market, I’m investing my personality, my time, or my money (as in studying for this line of profession or related), with the knowledge that what I perceive as being private or anonymous might be the complete opposite; and that there will be a “bear market”. Meaning, things will go south at some point – but I just choose to prepare for those times and come out alive, instead of hiding from it all and actually losing with a perception perhaps of being “safe” and steady when that’s not really the case. Robbins mentions in his book that being outside of the market is your biggest loss. Being out of the social media game creates the same loss in my opinion, we just may not have the same expert advice on it yet to say that it is indeed a game that needs to be played, and someone to pin-point the advantages for each and every individual.

That’s when a film director yells; “Take a risk, do something—anything—but make a strong choice and stand by it!” And that is at least what I intend to do continuing forward with social media—basically; say hello to my “new kitty”!

Ruth Sundell

References

Instagram Blog. (2017). Share Up to 10 Photos and Videos in One Post. [Online] Available: http://blog.instagram.com/post/157572774352/170222-multiple [2017-04-03].

Instagram Blog. (2015). Thinking Outside the Square: Support for Landscape and Portrait Formats on Instagram. [Online] Available: http://blog.instagram.com/post/127722429412/150827-portrait-and-landscape [2017-04-03].

Lindqvist, J. & Thorslund, E. (2011). Ungas integritet på nätet. 5th ed. [Online] Ödeshög: DanagårdsLiTHO, pp. 1-90. Available: https://www.iis.se/docs/Ungas_integritet_Ver2_webb.pdf [2017-04-04].

Nansen, B., Kohn, T., Arnold, M., van Ryn, L. and Gibbs, M. (2017). Social Media in the Funeral Industry: On the Digitization of Grief. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 61(1), pp.73-89.

Robbins, T. (2017). Unshakeable. 1st ed. London: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.

New chapter – Integrity and Democracy

I’ll be posting more about Integrity and Democracy in Digital Media in the upcoming weeks on here, and on my twitter as well. Then writing a more proper article about it all. And today I took on to be the editor of an anthology for the whole class – so with a whole bunch of our articles combined into one piece; one anthology. Actually got two more people to work with me on that bit, too, in the end. I think we’re going to be a really good team!

Just installed WordPress from WordPress.org for another course, so hopefully should learn to customize these themes and designs a bit better for the future also. We’ll have a real client to deliver and present for for that one. It’ll be good for our design portfolios and practice! And yeah, I’m aware that it looks a bit messy on this blog now when you write a lot on here. I don’t like the fonts and structure of this theme too much overall. Definitely could to with some customization. But so yeah, that’s happening, so it’s all going to be good.

Finally, been catching up on Homeland. That show was one of the reasons I went to live in Tel Aviv before. The format for it came from there, in case anyone didn’t know; they sold it to the U.S.

What else? Oh, we’ll do lots of project work.

-Bebe

“Batman” appears in England, clown sightings, VR+current tech trends & advertising ethics

2010-2012: Discussion in college (NYC) that the times make people crave a certain kind of movies… like, all the superhero movies could stem out of a need for “escape” from daily life – a hope for something good to come.

2015: VR movie exhibits in New York, “VR” glasses in cardboard appear in Sweden…

2016: VR painting and VR games now emerge, and—while movies are good and all (Marvel had a big deal with Netflix and released a bunch of new series)—people start to create characters in daily life, like: clowns… and Batman – who take it to the (REAL) streets. So, people crave, perhaps, something more than film as their escape now because with time, digitalization has really stepped up as well! Just watch this clip right here. Someone dressed as Batman is currently out “protecting” people against wild clowns in England (Villasor, 2016). It’s supposed to be funny too, but it’s kind of too much for me right now. I just watched clips from someone playing the Batman Arkham VR game for playstation last night – from the look of it, the digital graphics work is quite highly detailed. With both your body and eyes fully immersed… it’s a long step forward from the days of Nintendo Wii (GameRiot, 2016). I’ve read some discussions that people think this whole clown matter is a result of a kind of mass-mania—I wish I remembered where I read that, sorry about that (“Google is your *friend*”)— but basically think about it… the Brexit? Trump potentially becoming the new President of the United States of America? This is all some intense news – no wonder people are in shock! I remember that I saw an online video of BoJo’s (Boris Johnson’s) reaction to the news about the Brexit—or sometime around that result getting official—he was heading to the golf course! Like it wasn’t affecting a whole lot of people. 

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Furthermore, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of scary movies out right now and in the last few days there has been countless of times that the trailer for HBO’s Westworld (HBO, 2016) has popped up at 0:19 seconds in with a strobe light—without warning—in an automatic-ad for other content. Every time it has happened I haven’t been able to help myself but to think about how an epileptic person would’ve felt if they were me and that commercial came on as a surprise.

I’ve also followed to two quite “scary” Swedish podcasts this year. One called “De Dödas Röster”, roughly translated into English: “The Voices of the Dead” (Bergmark Elfgren, 2016)—a documentation and stories in regards to a real murder that happened a few years ago in Sweden, apparently categorized as genre: drama—and another podcast that still is in production: “Creepypodden” – being categorized as: culture/entertainment (Sveriges Radio, 2015), which is basically a podcast telling ghost stories from Swedish folklore and pages like the NoSleep forum and Creepypasta that you can find by a quick Google search.

The so called “Slender Man” case, as mentioned in a Rolling Stones article from this summer (Dunlap, 2016), is originally a fictional story from either Creepypasta or NoSleep that I heard about through Creepypodden which has gone “from horror meme to inspiration for murder”.

I also can’t help but think about much of the latest emerging tech that I’ve seen come up in my Facebook story feed as well, such as boxes for locking up your cellphones while you study? Now that many of us have got rid of the landlines in our homes, how does one call for emergency help with that cellphone locked in a box? I’m certified in CPR from this year and have learned how to work with heart starters, anyway, it’s not like you get a heart attack and you have time to log into your laptop that’s up on a table and Skype-call emergency services! It seems the idea of these *lockup containers* is to make it impossible for you to access a thing for a certain amount of time (unless perhaps you break the box with force, which you won’t be able to during a heart attack so… too bad). As a family looking for family-time (some of you I’ve talked to already), please take security into consideration before shutting off all technical communication methods, OK?

But then again, we may wonder how much other people track us simply by having our electronics switched on. I suppose people may get a little paranoid from thinking about that too much, too. I noticed a message on WhatsApp sometime this year (August) about how my messages now were “secured with end-to-end encryption,” which meant “WhatsApp and third parties can’t read or listen to them.” So I suppose that would be better because before they could track and and read all the things that I sent?

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I haven’t noticed Creepypodden release any new stories in regards to the clown-sightings that apparently have started in Sweden now as well and is fully happening “right now”. According to a Swedish newspaper source video “there have been over 100 clown-sightings in the last two months” and way more in America where it’s supposed to have all *started* (Wikström, 2016). 

If the clowns are simply a PR-stunt for a movie or alike that comes out in a while – I don’t think it’s ethical to threaten people by walking around with machetes near or on people’s yards as some of these clowns seem to have done. So maybe change tactics now, huh? The joke is not on “you”, *PR-firm*, this whole thing has spiralled too far. I just find it hard to believe that someone would do this for PR, you know? I know it’s close to Halloween but, come on?

To walk around in ‘V for Vendetta’ masks has been banned before (Pollak, 2013) and I even saw one article mention that the ‘Anonymous’ mask (same thing?) has now been banned in America… but don’t quote me on that because I’m not completely sure about my source there, so I’ll leave it for you all to find out. Overall though, who likes to see people wear masks around anyhow? It’s creepy! Perhaps in a museum or somewhere boxed in where you know that it’s for art purposes and don’t have to feel threatened – or how about keeping it to the good old amusement parks or something? But I guess the amusement parks want to expand on their creative approaches too. So much or art is “free” to get access too nowadays, you know, you don’t have to pay any service fee on youtube for example, but rather you pay for the ads that cross your path. Perhaps youtube will have to start implementing a premium-option where you can get rid of all the ads? They haven’t got that yet, right? 

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I can’t say that it’s easier to handle creepy stories just because I live in Sweden, even though crime is a big genre here. I feel like horror and reality-based fiction is the new crime of late. I’ve noticed a lot of covers on hardcover books are way more graphic these days… perhaps in the last 5 years or so? From what I’ve seen, that is (my mother is an avid reader)! Some murder stories are apparently categorized as dramas, such as the case with that podcast I mentioned, and you can’t be sure to avoid getting scared these days. I’m simply curious as to where all this will lead?

We discussed picture ethics in class the other week and I wrote this analysis about an advertisement (by The Royal Opera House of Sweden) that had brought about an ethical debate in the news at the end of year 2015. The immigration number during that time was really high (in Sweden) too – you can check out October through November stats from that year via Migrationsverket. Another world crisis that may have caused that kind of mass-anxiety and such, right!? Not having a home and having to flee your country on a boat must be absolutely terrible and I can’t imagine the fear and worry… fleeing from war… I can’t go into it all in this post but these are some harsh times right now. Pictures from these kind of news have also stirred up much debate. Nightcrawler from 2014—movie—great performance by Gyllenhaal… the story about a guy who does anything to get that news footage – definitely touched on a similar kind of ethical debate.

Anyway, so in class, we also got to see examples a bunch of pictures and materials created, etc. that had been questioned sometimes many years later for being potentially or sometimes clearly unethical. OK, so I asked the teacher: “How can we ever be artists if what we put out now, being ethically alright at the moment, won’t be in 10-80 years?”
“Well,” the teacher said. “Interesting point! You can’t know that it all will be fine but without any kind of risk-taking in art, how can you expect to create something original or noteworthy?”

Clown phobia, or “coulrophobia” (Goldhill, 2015) may have existed for some time, but I can think of countless comedy sketches, movies and examples where clowns are portrayed as fun but albeit a little sad characters – supposed to cheer people up. I had a friend who worked extra as a clown in America, at kids parties. Well, I suppose nobody would pay to have a clown come to their party now, right? Or am I wrong? Maybe old clown ads will be the subject of ethics class for future college students? The Ronald McDonald clown has been around from 1963… that’s 43 years ago. But will *he* (/it) be around 10 years from now? 

People thought old playstation games etc. influenced kids to get crazy ideas and have a hard time separating life from fiction. What about the breakthrough or VR? Could it be more than just a cool advancement of tech – how will it affect the kids of tomorrow who won’t have reference to the world as it was before this kind of technology strongly mixed with everyday life?

 Thoughts?

 

Bebe

Bibliography

Bergmark Elfgren, S. (2016). [podcast] De dödas röster. Available at: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt/741005?programid=4947 [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Dunlap, B. (2016). ‘Slender Man’ Trial: Why Trying These Girls as Adults Is Absurd. [online] Rolling Stone. Available at: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/slender-man-trial-trying-these-girls-as-adults-is-absurd-w431464 [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

GameRiot, (2016). Batman Arkham VR Gameplay Walkthrough Part 2 – PENGUIN (PLAYSTATION VR) Full Game. [online video] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njQgPkR0AhA&feature=youtu.be [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Goldhill, O. (2015). Why are we so scared of clowns?. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/halloween/11194653/Why-are-we-so-scared-of-clowns.html [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

HBO, (2016). Westworld Trailer (HBO) – MATURE VERSION. [online video] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuS5huqOND4 [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Sveriges Radio, (2015). Avsnitt 1: Black eyed children. [podcast] Creepypodden. Available at: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt?programid=4845 [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Villasor, T. (2016). Real-life Batman stands against Clown Attacks. [online] GMA News Online. Available at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/585064/scitech/technology/real-life-batman-stands-against-clown-attacks [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Wikström, S. (2016). Clowner sätter skräck – flera larm till polisen. [online] Expressen. Available at: http://www.expressen.se/gt/brak-med-clowner–polisen-pa-vag/ [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].