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Josejuan Rodriguez ENC 3311 Major Assignment 3: Cultural Commentaries The avatar: our new social lives My Saturday

begins like any otherI wake up, eat breakfast, and see what to do for the day. More often than not I find myself visiting friends and commiserating about the past week, lamenting on work, school, and other pressures of life. We usually go out to dinner, visiting local restaurants of the UCF area, though most of the time our eatery of choice is Lazy Moon (you cant beat a $4 slice that includes a pint of beer, honestly). The billboards that line the roads have an all-too familiar phrase: Follow us on Facebook. Restaurants, grocery stores, even churches proudly present the phrase on their ads. Theres really no escape from themeven Lazy Moon has the phrase on their menu, along with a lesser seen, but not unfamiliar follow us on instagram. After ordering my food, I sit with my group and make more chit chat. As I look around, I notice a sea of phones, with some intently staring down upon their respective owners food, ready to immortalize the meal and share it to the internetFacebook, Tumblr, Instagram or whatever social platform the owner deems fit to share their oh-so delicious meal. Those phones that arent lovingly embracing the image of their owners food instead displays their owners digital lives, eagerly showing their new Facebook notifications. Even my friends participate in the digital exchange (much to my own chagrin). It seems puzzling, that so many seem to be glued to their screens in such a social atmosphere. Are we living our digital lives out more than we are our own lives? Surely I must blowing this out of proportion and Im just being a sourpuss trying to ruin the fun but the digital presence cant be that encompassing, can it?

Consider this: the Millennial generation1 is 77 million strong, and of those many million 74 percent feel that new technology makes their lives easier, and 54 percent feel new technology helps them be closer to their friends and family. (Nielson) Now how does new technology make keeping up and be closer to friends and family? Simple; all you need to do is look at social media. Facebook came about at the latter half of Myspaces bulging popularity, which was also a time when many Millenials were reaching an age where they wanted more simplicity than the lumbering beast that had become of Myspace. And so Facebook dominated the landscape, and Millenials from around the United States flocked to it, with its success riding on the curtails of the booming smartphone market. For the tech savvy Millenials, they adopted both of these technologies early on, and have made it a centerpiece of their lives. It presents some interesting scenarios and interactions, or at least to those who dont use the technologies as much (such as myselfI use smartphones but Im not involved in the social media craze) or are of Generation X. For example, in a classroom setting Ive found myself being questi oned if I have a Facebook account before asked for my email or phone number. Most of the time it was as acquaintances, asking for the sake of correspondence when out of the classroom. I submitted to the idea that it was for ease of use, and was content. As I grew more familiar with some of the acquaintances, we exchanged phone numbers, following the social ritualnow with that persons phone number, acquaintance became friend. Curiously, despite having each others phone numbers, all correspondence occurred through Facebook. It wasnt just new friends, though either; old friends, too, began to make Facebook their primary means of communication. Now this wasnt a problem. Millenials, as a curious generation, follow the big trends, and Facebook was merely the center. I noticed though, that peoples Facebooks were becoming increasingly curated versions of peoples daily lives. Status that remarked on the goings of the day, pictures of food, friends, family. Even relationships were carefully curated!2 I realized all too soon

The age range of this is usually up for debate, but for arguments sake Ill be using Nielsons definition at children born between 1977 and 1995. 2 Fun tidbit: many couples (to their peers) were not considered to be an official couple until they were Facebook Official.

that there came a grave price to the digital curated life: communication in the physical realm decreased significantly. I abandoned Facebook and other forms of social media two years ago, and since then, Ive only been able to keep in contact with a close knit group of five friends, out of my 120 Facebook friends. The remaining 115 friends still had the ability to contact meI gave my email and my phone number before jumping ship, but the contact never came. Ive run into a few old friends here and there, saying the same phrase: Where have you been? You fell off the face of the Earth! To this, the same refute: I gave you my phone number and email, and you never bothered contacting me, leading to an apology and subsequent awkward interaction. It seemed that by abandoning social media, I fell out of the proverbial loop. Because so many events and occasions were planned through Facebook, I wasnt invited to anything. Its almost as if I didnt exist. With over a billion user accounts (and likely growing), it doesnt seem like Facebook is going to slow down any time soon, and with it, people will keep sharing their lives on the social media platform. Even when the time comes where Facebook ceases to remain the primary social media platform, we have become so invested in social media as a society that another will likely take its place and we will share our lives there. We do have to remember, however, that as we go deeper in the rabbit hole, there still exists a realm beyond the digital, with other people and interactions just waiting to occurand its as easy as keeping your phone in your pocket and enjoying the company of others. You dont have to share everythingsometimes the best memories are the ones you hold in your heart, not your hand.

Works Cited "Millennials: Technology = Social Connection." Nielson. The Nielson Company, 02 Feb. 2014. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.

An examination of the word clarity Clarity. A word that joins that ranks of few others who are just important as a word as a concept. When you think of clarity, what comes to mind? [if you want me to save you the synapses, heres a few examples: the hazy to clear clich that allergy medicine Claritin uses in their commercials, that wonderful ray of sunshine that peers through the clouds on a dreary day, or when the metaphorical light-bulb lights up and you remember that phrase, that word, that idea thats been just bothering you for the last few days.] Webster defines clarity as the quality of being easily understood (Merriam-webster), and even breaks down the etymology of the wordbut it doesnt do justice to the word, to the concept that this word lends to us as human beings. The way I see it, clarity as a concept is the mental processes, the AH-HA! moment that one has when they come to a realization. Its when an individual realizes, or comes to terms with, an idea, an event (does this one seem a bit confusing? Think the five stages of griefwhen youve hit acceptance, its almost as if the world and your perception of your loss becomes a bit clearer. But! I digress), or even a solution to a problem. Its also when mentally things just click and you find the world to be clearer than the last way you perceived it. Like the Claritin commercials, life perceptually seems less hazy and those mental rainclouds dissipate, leaving you with a smile and a chipper attitude. Because Clarity as a concept and is not something that can be described neatly, I suppose the best way to understand it is this: Clarity lies beyond the letters that we have chosen to depict this word. It is the soft underbelly of the human psyche, our occasional Jimmy Cricket, a reminder of our humanity, of our own consciousness. Clarity is what has lent our great minds, including those in the likes of academia and philosophy, their ideas, their discoveriesarguably it may be the most important aspect of the human condition. Clarity has given us the automobile, the smartphone, the internet, and countless other pieces of technology. Now, at this point, you may be wondering if Im mistaking a simple accident to a moment of Clarity. My response? Are those accidents merely nothing more than catalysts for a moment of Clarity? When Sir Alexander Fleming discovered that his now defunct bacteria sample was rife with mold, did he not look upon it and wonder why the bacteria around it was not growing?

In his moment of clarity, he realized that the mold contained penicillin, thenceforth becoming the first antibiotic to be grown in a controlled environment and spawning the growth the antibiotic movement. Its worth mentioning that Clarity is a slumbering beastone that awakens at its own beckoning. Unlike other mental processes, Clarity cannot be summoned at will, nor will the pursuit of Clarity yield any more fruitful than the lack thereof. Even so, the newfound comprehensibility isnt always what youd want to hear. Take, for instance, the people depicted in the show intervention. Many of these individuals are addicted to various vices and are deaf to the cries of their friends and family, except for a few addicts who experience Clarity, and realize their transgressions and the effects that it has on the people they love. Clarity here allows one to perceive their actions outside of their own perspective, and as a sobering experience, allows them to see the damage that they are doing to themselves and others. Lack of Clarity can be a rather unpleasant ordeal, and I find myself walking down the yellow brick road with no idea of which way Oz lies. As an upcoming graduate of the University of Central Florida, I find myself wondering how the cumulative knowledge Ive acquired over the past four years will apply to the impending futurethe real world (funny how that phrase is used, isnt it? As if it implies that the life of a college student isnt part of the world we live in. Again, another digression). I have no idea what job to apply for, what skills I think I have thatll make me successful. Its hard to think, even harder to concentrate. I suppose the best way to equate this feeling with something more tangible is likening lack of Clarity with walking in a forest with heavy fog. Your visibility is small, and you can make shapes in front of you, but its never quite clear what they are. You want to get out of the forest, but you dont know your bearings. You walk around, but its so foggy you can only make out some shapes here and there. You try using trees as mental landmarksbut wait. Didnt you just walk past that tree? An uneasiness begins to creep in. You worry. You wonder if youre walking in circles, and you cant tell because the fog is too thick and you lack the bearings. You find yourself growing more and more anxious: hoping, wishing, hell, begging the fog to subside. But you realize its not something that will go away on its own.

As a cautious optimist, I keep my fingers crossed and hope that the fog in the forest will clear. Maybe the fog will lift, and I can escape the forest. Maybe Ill have an AH-HA! moment, and get an idea of how to proceed with the life past graduation in the so-called real world. Maybe it wont, and Ill remain stuck in fog, trudging on, and hoping that at some point the light will shine and I find my way back. I sense Im not the only one who feels this way, and others are experiencing a lack of clarity in their livesespecially those like myself who will embracing the real world soon. To you, I say; remember, Clarity is like a beam of light in the dark, and allows us to see what we were blind to before. Its enlightening glow pierces the heavens and allow us to live at peace once more. But, much like a beam of light on a cloudy day, it will be rare, but it will be damned rewarding. Yes, it may take days, weeks, even months for the light of clarity to grace you with its presence; and yes, the light it shines may be wonderful, but it may also be sobering. However Clarity decides to embrace you, I hope that it enriches your life, and helps give you purpose.

Works Cited "Clarity." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.