Cliff Kretkowski: A Profile in Forms of Writing

Cliff Kretkowski is a father of 3 boys, a salesman, pastor, and writer in his free time. More specifically, he is my dad and one of few people I actively follow and am intrigued by on social media that I can actually contact. His posts on Facebook are what I specifically dissect, as that is his primary form of social media communication. The subjects of the posts are varied, some dealing with music, others with prayer and religious concepts, and other areas of interest in my father’s life. I recently spoke with my dad over the phone and conducted a casual interview with him in regards to Cliff Kretkowski the writer. The purpose of our discussion was to identify the process through which Cliff creates his posts, and to see his thoughts on that writing as compared to the written word of literature, an area he has dabbled in throughout his adult life.

Who is the intended audience of your posts on Facebook, as based upon the videos and links you include it could be several different types of people.

Well that’s actually a really good question, because sometimes you’ll see if I see something about, ya know, Metallica, or something like that I’ll directly make the post out to you, but then the other day I posted that song about Nanny [Cliff’s mother] and made some comments, or then even the other day one about the Grateful Dead. Those, I think you see, are for a general audience, because it’s a sweeping kind of a comment or issue being made. I generally feel that’s how I post.

Whenever you post do you try to have some sort of media within the post, whether it be a video or a picture, or does it just kind of happen?

I think that’s the inspiration. You know, now that you say that I think I rarely post without an attachment. I don’t really ever just go ‘Hey, I’m having spaghetti for dinner’, I usually just hear a song or see something of interest and I’ll post that with a comment on it. It kinda broadens the picture, or the video, or the anecdote. The attachments branch my post out to the people who see it.

What is the difference in writing on the Internet as compared to writing for a book, in regards to when speaking on similar issues and different ones?

Now thinking back to your last question and reflecting on that, when I post something online it’s always commentary on something else. As a writer, or when I journal, it’s always about experiences in my life, not commenting on an anecdote or opinion of someone else.

Do you feel that’s in part due to the medium of conversational social media as compared to books, which have no interface?

Absolutely, When I put something on Facebook I want to share it and allow everyone to have their own reflections on it. But when I’m writing for a book I’m calculating, I’m writing thoughts, taking experiences, and formulating a comprehensive idea. I’m not necessarily sending out ideas when I’m on Facebook, so it’s very different to me.

Do you have a preference between the two?

I don’t prefer Facebook, because honestly don’t really think there’s a literary component to it aside from the actual act of writing. To me, it’s not a place to convey deep, significant thoughts, it’s more perfunctory. I don’t necessarily sit and ponder over what I’m writing online, I didn’t revise and research parts. To me it’s like having a conversation around the room just with a keyboard.

So would you not consider it then a ‘technical’ form of writing?

No, I don’t. And you’ve seen this, people will use the letter ‘u’ for ‘you’ on Facebook, so people aren’t even thinking of the full context of writing when on Facebook, and they don’t have to, I don’t judge that, it just doesn’t seem like something for someone involved in engaging writing.

 

Overall, my father uses Facebook quite often but doesn’t view it as an alternative or equal to his literary writing, just more so an outlet for thoughts and reflections t be shared amongst friends and family like text messaging. I conducted the interview with my father as I do whenever I call him, a very casual and conversational format. The interviews contents are quite interesting to me and a different perspective from most of the ideas that have been discussed throughout the English 397 course.

Concentrations of Reddit: Easy Come, Easy Go

Star Wars SubReddit

The Internet is a place of fleeting thoughts and hot topic debates that go as fast as they come. This reality is not always noticed because we all are often part of this culture of short attention, moving from article to tweet to Facebook post as quickly as we take steps down the street, however through the experience of ‘writing as a social action’ it is more profound to me. I took to the social media site of Reddit, which is website that houses thousands of message boards covering every theme and topic one could imagine. It is a website that allows for fans of numerous different subjects to identify with one another and to communicate amongst themselves while sharing thoughts and opinions.

On this occasion I specifically looked into the Reddit page dedicated to the Star Wars franchise, as it is currently a hot topic because of the recent massive convention held in Orlando for the fans. A this convention many of the stars of the films were present, including one Mark Hamill, the man who has portrayed Luke Skywalker for four decades. In an interview he did at Star Wars Celebration he spoke of certain changes he wanted made to the script of Episode 7 of the franchise. There was a thread on the website dealing with this interview, and being there were over 500 comments on the subject I figured it would be a great place to start. So, I left a comment expressing my thoughts on Hamill’s comments early Monday morning and left them to see how others would respond. The response was interesting and harkens back to my opening notes. I received two up votes, which is the equivalent of two likes on Facebook, and I received one response from another Reddit reader. What was interesting about this was that the majority of the 523 total comments made on the post-made Sunday-were prior to my comment Monday morning. The topic was hot for a split second, and then moved past.

Many early comments received dozens, if not more, responses and hundreds of up votes. Could that be that people took to those other posts more than mine? Of course, but I do feel the constantly moving minds of social media users in this day and age is a factor as well. Many of the other posts made around or after mind were not regarded much as well. In fact, very few comments were added to the thread after mine. It was the flavor of the day, and then was moved past. I feel this experiment shows how our culture operates in more than just social media; you must capture the attention of people quickly and then find a way to maintain the grip, otherwise they will get over it. This applies to social media as well as television, film, music, and many other areas of our society. The fleeting attention given to Mark Hamill’s comments is just a statistic in what I feel is a broader mindset across ages and mediums, not just Reddit.

Power of the Internet, as Told by Ronson and Carr

The powers of the Internet are understated and not completely grasped by many in the year two thousand seventeen. People of all kinds and ages feel the impact and long term affects of the Internet, especially the social media aspect, on a regular basis all across the globe. Two scholars that have delved into these impacts in novels are Nicholas Carr and Jon Ronson in their books The Shallows and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. Both men are cynical of the Internet and wary of its power upon its users, but address it in similar yet distinct ways from one another. Carr wrote about how the world has become almost desensitized to the way posts on social media impact readers, as the attention spans of the average Internet users are significantly shorter now than they ever have been before. Because of this lack of long-term attentiveness towards media we are exposed, we as individuals do not completely understand that what we post will continue to have its presence felt for quite some time to come. Posts do not just disappear on the World Wide Web, they remain there and their message can be felt consistently for a long time to come, regardless of the intentions or the purpose. In Carr’s own words, “When we’re online, we’re often oblivious to everything else going on around us. The real world recedes…”  (Carr, 118) We are unaware of the world around us, and that leads to the hurt. While Ronson may not talk about the memory of the social media users, he writes about the results of these peoples inability to grasp the meaning of their words online. Ronson explains that these posts can sustain more than just skin deep hurt feelings; comments on the internet have the ability to cut very deep and to leave emotional scars that are sometimes more painful than real ones. Ronson speaks of many situations where a tweet or a post of some kind on social media irrevocably changed the life of a person in ways that they could never possibly imagined, yet it all happened to fast and easily. While interviewing Adria Richards in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Ronson recorded a response of the affected woman to her life changing social media calamity, which was that, “I felt betrayed. I felt abandoned. I felt ashamed. I felt rejected. I felt alone.” (Ronson, 121) These are not words to be taken lightly or to be used if not warranted by true sadness and negative impact. They illustrate the true feelings emitted by these situations, and Ronson understood that. Both he and Carr, from different angles, showed their audience that the power innate within social media is not be be trifled with or thought nothing of. Social media and the Internet have the ability to change lives, both for better and for worse.

The Options Video Expressions Bring To The Table

The medium of film and video is an extraordinary one. Since its inception over a century ago it has dazzled and wowed viewers with each and every improvement and advancement made, from color, to sound, to computer generated effects, to motion capture technology. And with each new and exciting step the world of video making makes, new and exciting forms of expression continue to grow and present new opportunity for illustration. Conversely, we are writing the same exact way people have been writing since Charles Dickens and far earlier than him. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is clear that there are only certain ways to express ones self through writing, which is fine. But video and film just opens so many different doors, a number of which are growing by the day.

Many of these forms of expression could be seen in the Concept in 60 videos created for class. One of these ways is emotion. There is a certain flare and excitement that can be seen but not necessarily read. Personally, having been on both the viewing and creative end of it, feel that is evident in my Concept in 60. In my video I show my love and excitement surrounding film and, specifically, the Star Wars films. While I could write how much I love the movies, I instead bring out some of my Star Wars merchandise and paraphernalia, which is a clear and vivid expression of my feelings. If I wrote down all the reasons I love movies and wrote about the collectibles I own it would not be nearly as impactful at showing my emotions as the visual media is.

Splintering off of the idea of emotion is personal connection. There are situations where writing can get an idea across, but the reader on their own with just words does not feel the overall impact intended. I look at a video like Mackenzie’s “What is an RA?” where she reads a written passage explaining this idea while also including pictures of herself and others that coincide with the words being spoken, and I feel that extra charge of personal connectivity. As the old mantra goes, “seeing is believing”, and by seeing what Mackenzie is referring to directly makes the whole message all the more real and impactful. Those same words she spoke could have been posted just as these ones are, and they still would have been great, but the pictures along with it takes the message to the next level.

Another way that video is a helpful medium is in its ability to illustrate abstract concepts. Here, I think of Graham’s video, which is of the same footage being edited and contributed to in different ways to give off notable different feelings or ideas. This concept just flat out could not be done justice through writing, as it is all about the abstract concept of point of view and interpretation. Videos like this allow for indulgence in ways that were never considered before films inception.

All these forms of video making are not to discount writing as a worthy and powerful art form, because it certainly is one. But there is something about the freedom and unique options present in video format that makes it such an expressive and wonderful way to say whatever is on a persons mind.

Are We Really Being That Private?

Audio Reading of post attached here

danah boyd clearly has a strong grasp upon social media of today. Her book, It’s Complicated, has a thorough and detailed analysis of the affects the Internet and social media specifically has brought upon the youth of this generation. One of the key points of the second chapter of the book, entitled Privacy, is the idea of social steganography. The concept is, in simplistic terms, hiding messages in plain sight from adults in order to convey messages to other friends and members of groups without the overtly watchful parents being aware of what is being said. While I hear and appreciate most of what boyd says in this section, I do have certain points where I disagree. Primarily of which is with the idea that these types of subtle messages and in-group sayings are used through social media as a form of privacy.

I understand that this whole chapter is set to revolve around privacy, hence why boyd is framing the issue that way, but I see it from a different angle. While the Internet has provided our generation with a lot of ways to come into ourselves and to be private in regards to our interests and communication, I feel the circumstances which boyd talks about are more of a uniting situation than a covert one. For myself personally, I have interests that are not widely popular, the types of music and films I am a fan of are typically not regarded as very standard or popular. So through social media forums such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit, I indulge in those interests with others who share them. You could describe these conversations I have about Ghost BC or Pinkly Smooth or Darren Aronofsky on these social media outlets as private in-group discussions, but the point of them is not to be secretive.

The Internet allows for people to explore and connect with others all around the world that think, feel, and like similarly. At times, that may result in some people using particular phrases and mottos that only other fans would know, but that is not necessarily for super secrecy from others. Social media has brought like-minded people of our generation closer together than ever before, not because teenagers don’t want their parent’s to know what they’re doing, but because teenagers can really connect with these like minded people in a way that can really only be understood by each other, and that is a very cool prospect to me.

Moderation In Advancement

Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows is, ultimately, Carr sharing a well worded warning due to his fear of what humanity is to become if we are to stay on the path we currently travel as a species. He fears that mankind is to become so dependent upon the technology that is provided to us via the Internet that it shall come to a point where, as he said, our “…’human elements’ are outmoded and dispensable.” This fear, as evidence of Carr’s entire book, is warranted due to the evidence he presents. Yet, Carr does not really present a proposed solution to this fear of his; he makes it clear that he understands that the benefits seemingly outweigh the negatives, and then does not really say what we can do to avoid this science fiction-like demise. I feel that had Carr taken a bit of a broader look at history in perspective to the issue he wrote about, he would see historically there is an answer that is tried and true. Moderation in advancement. Throughout all of modern history man has made strides within the realm of technology, and within each of these eras the most miraculous of these advancements were looked upon as a possible danger; traditionally what one does not understand must be feared. When antibiotics were first introduced it many were skeptical of ingesting some concoction drummed up in a lab that would miraculously eliminate sickness. Should we then take these pills whenever we feel something wrong with us? Additionally many feared the radio when it first gained popularity in the early 20th century, as it was inane to think a person miles away could be heard in your own home. And what else could be possible as a result of such technology, could they unbeknownst to us allow others to hear us too? Will this advancement eliminate the need for the printed word now that we can hear news and stories at any time any place? These technological and societal advancements, just like the Internet today, do provide more questions and unknown fears than straight up answers. Yet how were these fears and questions quelled? Through moderation of these advancements and by not relying completely upon them. We now know that antibiotics and radio, while perhaps worrisome at first, ended up being significantly beneficial. The fears associated with the radio and the medication, while warranted at the time, ultimately were handled by moderate use of both. The radio did not take over society; it did not become the only form of communication. Antibiotics like penicillin were not this inexplicable cure-all that could be taken at anytime for everything. The same can be said for the 21st century with the Internet, it does not have to turn us into robots that no longer have any ‘human elements’. If we as Internet users use the source in moderation and understand it, we will be fine. Not relying on the Internet for all information and for all communication and entertainment while also understanding its benefits to us as a race will result in a safe and secure future. For the rest of human existence miraculous inventions will be created and people will fear what they may become or what they may lead to; this is expected. However, when we take a step back, look at what is before us and figure out the proper way to utilize and handle this new advancement, our society will not collapse, just as it hasn’t for generations past when they came across a technology we now look at as benign and common place.

Technogical should be a little easier to understand than this.

tech-evo
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Evolution-des-wissens.jpg