The voices we don’t hear

ADITI BHATKHANDE

     The day was almost over, but I wasn’t ready to go home yet. I sat down on a bench and saw a girl walk towards me. She was wearing a colorful t-shirt, had an ID around her neck and a notepad in her hand- evacuate, evacuate! But I made eye contact, so it would be rude to intentionally get up and walk away- don’t evacuate, don’t evacuate!

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and get your signature,” she said.

     Phew! That was close. I smiled awkwardly and made space for her on the bench. I owed her an apology so I decided to make small-talk. “It must be really tiring to do this,” I said. She looked down at her notepad and replied, “It’s hard to get people to pay attention to the things that don’t speak to them.”

     That was deep. Much like what Jane Bennett was trying to explain to us in Vibrant Matter– there are voices from both human and nonhuman bodies that have a significant power of changing the state of society. What if our society was more aware of these voices? What if we made all our daily decisions by keeping in mind that “the capacity of these bodies was not restricted a passive “intractability” but also included the ability to make things happen, to produce effects” and thus impact the nature of our lifestyles? (Bennett, 4). Most people hold a general understanding that they are unaffected by the objects that they aren’t directly in contact with- that is why people in New Delhi wouldn’t bother about the melting glaciers or people in Prague wouldn’t worry about overfishing in coastal areas. 

     Our overworked brains on most days forget to make connections between the impact of “actants” on our experiences (Bennett, viii). Maybe your avocado toast could be responsible for deforestation in Mexico City. But you wouldn’t know that until you scroll through your Facebook feed and see your over-updated friend sharing a NowThis video about it. Hence, the voices of these nonhuman bodies- melting glaciers, rising temperatures, extinct species-have the power to reach the common masses through appropriate use of media. And as Neil Postman suggests, that by efficiently employing the capabilities of media, “a relatively stable notion of human culture” can be sustained (Fuller, 4). 

     This semester, I want to explore the challenges faced by entities trying to sustain a stable human culture. More specifically, I want my media ecology project to address the issues faced by non-profit organizations in todays hyper-commercialized, dog-eat-dog world. Non-profits have an extremely important role to play in local and international development. When the government steps out, tireless and under-paid NGO workers step in. Yet, their struggle in staying financially solvent, in gaining public visibility and in creating tangible social impact is often unappreciated.

     After discussing my topic in class, I pondered over how I could navigate the current defects in corporate social responsibility. Soon, I realized that more than the cause-marketing efforts of large corporations, my research had to focus more on small nonprofit agencies taking baby steps to change the world. I do hope that this research with such agents of change will provide me insight about how our society can reach Fuller’s “state of equilibrium” studying which will also probably help me decipher a pattern that is generated by the “resilient and harmonic balance” of the forces of media- a pattern that could be duplicated for the smooth functioning of the nonprofit industry (Fuller, 4).

 

Works Cited

Bennett, Jane. “Preface.” Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham: Duke UP, 2010. vii-xix. Print.

Fuller, Matthew, and Roger Malina F. “Introduction: Media Ecologies.” Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2005. 1-5. Print.

 

 

 

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~ by adubee on September 18, 2016.

2 Responses to “The voices we don’t hear”

  1. Hi Aditi,

    What immediately drew me in about your post was your style. Starting off with an anecdotal narrative, and integrating your personal experience into this week’s readings and concepts was incredibly refreshing. The way you write is extremely personable and relatable. Can’t wait to read more!

    (This was for best style, btw!)

    Joey

  2. While your post is understated in terms of visual presentation, the style in which you present your ideas is enough to grab your audience and keep them hooked, no whacky photos or gifs necessary. I love how you began your post with an extremely relatable anecdote – we’ve all had to experience the dread that comes with being approached by someone on the street with a clipboard – but the way you made that individual’s perspective the basis of your discussion was a very smart choice. You expressed your understanding of the texts in a very clear way and I truly look forward to reading more of your posts in the future!

    – Kristen

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