You don’t look like 200 likes in person

My primary goal as a freshman and sophomore was to explore the 5 boroughs, which I did, usually alone. I felt uninhibited, and my small female frame didn’t keep me from thinking I was standoffish/smug enough to not be a target at night (thankfully, no significant confrontations). What reverberated from my quiet trips, getting lost in areas until I could navigate them, was an intense craving for groupthinks in the local communities.

Groupthink is the psychological term of a phenomenon that I tend to associate with a harmony, rather than a conformity, of a group of people who desire to find common ground. I participated in the Chik-fil-A protest organized by a young lady who is now a friend of mine, Hannah Bernstein, who thought it morally corrupt for a school like NYU to host the only branch of the chain in the entire state, given its staunch anti-gay stance. Without lending my full support or bias, I stood as more of a documentarian than an actual participant. I just wanted to witness the individual stories melding into this one meeting point. The same occurred during my weeks at Zuccotti Park, and an NYC Slutwalk (an international grassroots movement protesting sexual violence and “blaming the victim”). On a smaller scale, it happens every time I click ‘like’ on a Humans of New York photo or a friend’s latest “check your privilege” manifesto via Facebook status. What I’m getting into though, is thinking about how these participations are accumulating into actual change.

The readings this week, and especially the required film viewings, have just reminded me that impact of truths in our generation is as slow as it takes the media to transmit across social media platforms, and build enough momentum to walk through government doors.  One day (after an 11am critique for a final multimedia class meeting where I got slightly day-drunk on wine) I wandered to Weinstein, once again looking for a place to contribute to an affect, anywhere. I found a poster for a viewing of Food, Inc., which I had seen before, but wanted to experience it again with a group of people. The reactions of the surrounding people who were receiving information for the first time sparked my support, and my empathy in the form of tears. There I was, crying my eyes out in the middle of the day, with a group of strangers. The way we (millenials) are most comfortable interacting with each other’s opinions, and with our environment is through a screen. When I am lost for a better understanding of a collective perspective (Why are there antagonists to begin with, in the food industry? Where did we lose each other’s perspective in the build to power?), all I have are my most basic reactions to convey, and I think they speak loudest. I think there may be a cause for bitterness and frustrations towards our Internet which enables our connectivity, but alienates individual emotions. We feel the urgency to describe ourselves by latest profile picture, relationship status, and by the pages we “like”. It is the collective stories though, not just the quantified groupthink or the one documentary filmmaker who makes it big, that effects long-term change. My own inhibitions, and my need to be the “documentarian” rather than a person making the statement for the paper, may very much be a part of that.

Chloe Saint E.

~ by c h l o e s a i n t e t i e n n e on March 12, 2014.

One Response to “You don’t look like 200 likes in person”

  1. I think this is the best blog post, weaving in the readings and everyday encounters that speak to our class discussions. There are aspects of the web that ‘connect’ us, but ultimately we have never been more isolated in our own straightjacket of social media, or selfie indulgences. There are weak ties and strong ties when it comes to ‘social media’ relationships: where you can simply ‘like’ a photo, or engage and comment on that photo and possibly share it. This post brings to life that we are still able to create strong ties even in reality, a realm even more frightening than the internet because we can’t hide behind our social media facades.

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