Love and Admiration

Like many of my classmates, I’ve had the privilege being witness to great pieces of work, both written and multimedia. So while there are many that could go in this post, and while I’m surely neglecting a bevy of content that is worthy, I’ll stick with that few that stood out.

Amanda’s video on subtweeting was elegantly created. She seamlessly edited the piece to make it appear as if it were done professionally. In comparing it to my editing skills, well, there really is no comparison. It was a pleasure to watch. The content itself was interesting as well. I don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to using social media. In fact, I’m quiet a novice. But if Amanda were to create a serious on all the in’s and out’s of social media, I feel like I’d be one of the many viewers to tune in. Social media’s ever growing importance in our lives was highlighted in many of the books we read and many of the conversations we had in this class. Amanda seems to have a keen knowledge of it, using it to convey messages that would otherwise be wasted with a less-skilled person relaying it. So this video, like the many I hope she makes in the future, was simply great.

It would silly to not mention and honorable mention here — Ellie’s remediation, Concept 60 video. Without going into too much detail, I was almost awash with tears after I heard it. It was beautifully written, and even more beautifully spoken. Thanks a bunch for that, Ellie.

As for written work, I’ll turn to Jake’s ‘Plaintiff and Defense’ piece. After our group read this piece out loud, we knew that he had to share it with the class. First of all, following the progress of Jake’s writing all semester has been a treat; he really has developed into a well-rounded writer. And I believe this piece was his best. The last paragraph struck me more than anything else, especially the last line:

“I know I harped on a very minute point made by Ronson, but I think this is a very important point, and that he would agree. If there is no plaintiff and defense, then there is only an executioner.”

Just wow. The writer in me became all giddy and excited after reading this. It’s important, as a writer, to channel your most deliberate and meaningful statements into all of your paragraphs, thought at times you have to choose when it would be best to wow your audience. I think Jake did a fantastic job at this, saving perhaps the most important part of his piece for the very end. He kept me reading, and that’s the best quality a writer can have.

 

 

Remediation

My remediation will focus on my Concept in 60 project; that silly thing I made without a hint of coherence or reason. I want to add some backstory to the ‘Future Will” character – giving him the proper backstory, providing context to a character we might not know so well. As with the video, this remediation might be nonsensical, but at least now you know the beginnings of a character so passionately loved by all.

 

His parents called him Bill, but even he knew that the name didn’t fit, nor did it have any merit when you looked at his actions. No, this man, this bohemian of a specimen, was in fact a Will. A Will that was destined for great things.

He was the head cashier of a Pep Boys auto shop, the dinky little shack down the street for him. It was there that he felt at home. The walls were lined with greasy tools and old tires, the floor battered with stains from years of mechanical work. Will, while not able to get his hands dirty, saw from afar the work of his peers. The long hours mustering up the will to fix one more car, the sweat dripping from their faces: Will viewed their work with admiration and wanted to experiment himself. He had been hashing out the final details on an idea that he’d been working on for years, in his room, skipping family dinners most nights a week. His family didn’t understand. They wanted answers. They wanted to know what he was doing up there all by himself with the music from his headphones blaring in the background.

But Will didn’t want anyone to know. His secret plan was massive enough to change the world. 

Will was always slated to man the register from opening until 4:30, when he would then be placed on clean up duty. Everyone at the shop knew what this meant. Will, and only Will, was responsible for cleaning the bathroom toilets. 

One day, Will didn’t feel like it. He was mad that his co-workers made him clean the toilets all by himself. It was hard work. It smelled bad. He had to use a toothbrush. So he devised a plan to get rid of the mechanics and the rest of the shop so he could use the tools to build what he had been working on for all those years.

From the bathroom, Will shouted a large cry for help, relentlessly screaming, sounding panicked. “Maybe they would think that I’d fallen in the toilet, unable to get out!,” he thought to himself. “When they come to find me, they will be in for a little treat,” he said suspiciously, a tone marked with bouts of maniacal laughter. There was a man in the stall next to where Will was and he heard everything. Will apologized for sounding like a creep. 

His co workers heard the yells, but at first they decided to remain put. They knew it was that whiny guy Will. They hoped he would stop after 10 minutes, but he didn’t. Twenty minutes pass by, and still Will was hollowing. Three hours later, and yeup, you guessed it, Will was still yapping away. So the mechanics and the rest of the staff decided to check on him, make sure he was okay. What they found was not what they were intending to see.

When they all entered the bathroom, they didn’t see Will lying on the ground. Rather, it was a pre-recorded track of Will’s obnoxious yelling. Upon realizing this, the group decided to leave immediately. But there was a roadblock. Will, who was hiding in the other restroom, sprang out of nowhere to surprise the crew. “Ha ha! I have you now!,” he said. “You all fell for my trick!” And with that, he closed the door which unfortunately had a lock on the outside. Will was safe and able to create.

You see, what Will wanted to build was not just some ordinary machine. It was a time-travelling machine. Will had been coming up with own designs and at the same time consulting with the very best in the industry. Dr. Bernstein, a renowned time-travel-ologist, happened to be Will’s third uncle twice removed. The two of them had forged a special bond, and Bernstein decided to impart his wisdom to the aging Will. After years of hard work and determination. Will was able to translate the advice from Berstein into an airtight, sure-fire model for his own time machine, for which he would use to change the course of history. 

Will thought that if he traveled back in time to when his younger self lacked the motivation, he could change the outcome of his life. While he reveled in watching those car mechanics diligently work, he hated where he was in his life. He was a cashier for Christs-sake! Will wanted more. He wanted to taste the bounty of life, to behold the wonders of life outside the auto shop. What he really wanted to be is an exotic dancer. So he came up with this plan to go back in time, using the blueprints for the time machine he helped make, to motivate his younger self to take control of his life, even if it meant helping him make a PB&J. 

With everyone locked in the bathroom, Will began to work. He took the wrenches, the bolts, the nuts, the tired, the scrap metal, and everything else he could find to start building. Within minutes, working at a lightning fast past, Will was able to get the foundation down. A few minutes later, Dr. Bernstein appeared out of nowhere to help him build. They doubled their output and in a matter of no time, they were done. It all happened so fast that me, the story-teller, couldn’t even keep up! 

Now was the time. No turning back. Will knew he had one shot to make it back to his younger self on that fateful night years ago. He pressed the red button, then the blue, then the green, then the red again, and finally the yellow. The machine turned on, humming like the sound of an engine. Will stepped inside. He waved goodbye to Dr.Bernstein. He might not see him again.

And off he went, spinning through the space-time continuum, through black holes and time warps. When he finally landed back in March of 2017, he saw exactly what he was looking for. There was young Will. sitting on his bed, lacking the motivation to to anything. It was up to older Will, who now stood at the doorstep of hos former self, to put him on the right track, hoping to change history forever. 

 

 

The End.

My interview with Lisa Ryan

In my time with working for The Review, I met have many writers I admire; their styles, structure, and overall use of language all engage me, improving my writing along the way. I’ll say that many of those writers are my peers and still work for the paper, although many have left and gone onto jobs in journalism or non-profit. For myself, the writer I consistently find myself inspired by is Lisa Ryan, a junior Communications major and fellow Review editor. Not only is she a good friend, but a great reservoir of knowledge when it comes to all things journalism. Here are the questions I asked her. I hope you get something out of this, hopefully just as much as I did.

Growing up, what books/genres were you reading and why? 

I read constantly growing up, and when I was in elementary school I was very interested in fantasy (Harry Potter, Ella Enchanted), and I also read a lot of historical fiction. Growing up, I read fewer books about modern people in everyday situations than I would later in life. I think my interest in historical fiction and fantasy had to do with my interest in lives that are different from my own, which makes sense in hindsight, since I’m studying journalism now. However, that curiosity doesn’t really explain why I began to prefer young adult (YA) realistic fiction in middle school and high school. At that point, I was interested in reading about people who were dealing with the same problems I was as a young person. I found it comforting to see my own teenage experiences reflected, and I want to write YA someday to (hopefully) give someone else that feeling of understanding.

Did you reading habits grow up influence the style in which you write?

My earliest reading habits (fantasy and historical fiction) taught me a great deal about world building, the process of creating a lifelike and compelling setting for a story. Although I do not think I will ever have the patience to create a setting as detailed as that of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, I still want to bring characters to life in settings that will feel real to my readers.

Like I said before, my positive experiences reading YA realistic fiction made me want to write for a teenage audience. One of my favorite writers, Sarah Dessen, is someone whose work I found in middle school; she writes funny, heartfelt stories in which teenaged or college-aged girls deal with complex family ties, romance and friendship. The books were not just entertaining to me, but meaningful, as the main characters deal with coming-of-age issues like finding one’s confidence or building an identity outside of others’ expectations. Sarah Dessen’s books, which I read and re-read growing up, made me want to write books that would help young people beat everyday boredom while still having the benefit of seeing their own lives reflected in the work.

Talk about working for The Review, the university’s independent, student-run newspaper. What makes the editor position that of envy?

I was very nervous when I began writing for The Review, as my main experience in nonfiction writing before then was based in columns. Luckily, the editors for whom I wrote were helpful and supportive; with their assistance, I learned a great deal in a short time. That opportunity to help others improve at an activity they enjoy is the most rewarding and enviable part of my current position as a Managing Editor of the Mosaic section. I am glad I can assist others who are unsure about their work as they are learning how to write in AP and/or Review style, because I wouldn’t be where I am now if someone had not worked with me in the same way.

As an editor, how often do you find yourself learning from the writings of your reporters?

One of the things I struggled with as a reporter was starting off my articles on a strong note with an attention-grabbing lede. I had trouble coming up with ledes that were engaging, but not cheesy – that is, until I started seeing the ledes that some of my reporters were writing. Reading others’ dynamic, original ledes from an editors’ perspective, carefully considering how they were written, helped me to improve my own writing in that area.

 What are some goals you have for yourself after you leave college? Can we expect a book from you?

Ideally, I would like to be a reporter by day and an author of fiction by night. I know I’ve talked a lot about wanting to write YA coming-of-age fiction, but in college, I became interested in both mystery fiction and true crime stories. Because of that, it would be ideal if I could fill a mystery story with strong coming-of-age themes (family, identity, personal growth) and engaging characters; so far, it’s been a lot to fit into one story, but I’m going to keep trying. Hopefully you can expect a book from me someday!

In terms of journalism, I’ve worked in news as a general assignment reporter for my local paper two summers in a row, I would like to continue working in news reporting. My ultimate goal is to pursue investigative journalism; I am always impressed by the impact major investigations can make, and as someone who wants to make a difference in the world, this seems like a good way to do it.

What advice would you give someone who wants to write professionally? Did you ever benefit from someone giving you advice?

Honestly, the one thing that I can say for sure has helped me get new opportunities in writing (getting hired for The Review, or getting an internship) is practice. In high school, I blogged when I could and wrote for the school newspaper; no one read our school’s paper besides our advisor, but hearing her feedback and that of others on the staff helped me to grow as a writer. From junior year of high school until now, I have just been trying to gain writing experience and take in constructive criticism or positive feedback wherever I can.

I also try to read widely in the areas (fiction and nonfiction) in which I want to write, whether I’m reading adult fiction along with YA fiction, or reading a personal essay after checking out news coverage. I was given that advice by a news editor who was my boss during a summer internship; throughout my eight weeks working for him, we would go over edits he had made to my articles that week, and on Friday afternoons he would take the time to ask me about my goals and give me advice on how to meet them. I have benefitted greatly from his advice, whether it was about gaining a better grasp on AP Style, or guidance he has given as I prepare to graduate and search for a job.

Not a single good response

Today seemed like the perfect day to post an article about the former Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly. A New York Times article detailing the millions of dollars he gave out in settlements to women alleging O’Reilly of sexual misconduct and maleficence came out a few short weeks ago, drawing feverish backlash from the social media world, media ethics organizations, and advertisers.

Together, they combined to create a persuasive argument against O’Reilly, whose alleged misconduct streamlines back to the early 2000’s and repeats over and over again.

O’Reilly has long been noted for his agitation toward left-leaning ideologues and policies as well as his occasional, but notable, combative tone used against guests. On air, O’Reilly commanded the conversation, often interjecting and cutting off guests whom he disagreed with. To many opposing his viewpoints, O’Reilly’s show didn’t present an opportunity for constructive conversation. Rather, the discussion often became fraught with O’Reilly’ s characteristically argumentative rebuttal.

Now, after 20 years of TV time and a show that garnered more viewers than any of its competitors, the show will terminate immediately. The intense pressure from advertisers – almost 50 of them pulling their ads off of O’Reilly’s show – combined with mounting evidence of continued sexual misconduct were too strong for the Fox News empire to overcome. It had been reported that in the past few weeks, upper-level executives had been hoping that this negative press would subside. But in the end, the company felt that keeping O’Reilly didn’t out way keeping him around.

So today, I wanted to post about this. It felt important. It felt timely. Bill O’Reilly getting the can? His release represented a win for many factions of people. Those who detest sexual predators anywhere near or  in the workplace won. Liberal media outlets with a strong distaste for the Fox News style won. If you didn’t like O’Reilly, you won.

The hope that many people would react, comment, or share my post bounced around in my head before anything transpired. My social media feed is filled with a plethora of voices, friends and acquaintances from across the isle, I thought. At the very least, I would get a response or two saying that my thoughts on this were justified, or my rejoice in his firing was deserved. It appeared to me that this was a good topic to knock down my ideological wall with and show my cards.

No one responded.

The article I posted was the initial NYT reporting, presumably one of the first media organizations to have something out there. A trustworthy source, no matter whether you lean left or right. Yet, the response on my feed was disappointing. A little more than 20 people actually liked the post even though hundred of people saw it. Additionally, only two of my friends provided commentary. One said “Good Riddance” and the other, who leans more conservative, happened to agree that O’Reilly’s release was a good thing.

Did I overestimate the amount of diversity in my online world?

After a few hours of needless checking and re-checking, the likes and comments fizzled out. What I was left with was a staggeringly weak pool of comments and interactions. All of those who chose to add their voice to the conversation did so in affirmation of my liberal beliefs. Even the one conservative fellow was on my side.

This was supposed to be a tumultuous occurrence. People were supposed to argue with each other.  My Facebook was supposed to light up in blue and red paint, with lines drawn firmly in the ground and the two opposing sides squaring off in political theater. It was supposed to be marvelous, until it wasn’t. I blame this on myself and my smaller-than-previous-thought bubble of like-minded friends and strangers existing in my virtual world. I blame my high expectations too, but mostly the bubble I occupy. In it, I now realize I’m far less enriched with different political perspectives. My ability to engage in debate with my liberal friends pails in grandeur and intensity to the debates I would have if I had more conservative friends. What this proved to me is that ideological lines are hard to break, in person and online. And in the hyper-polarized world of embattled, two-sided, divided avenues of thought, it will only get harder.

Social media algorithms dictate more and more of what appears in front of us, thereby enforcing the deep lines of our politics. Facebook, in a way, knows what I want to see and who I want to see posting. It computes a pragmatic guesstimation of what will appeal to me, knowing that prior visits to news outlets and blog posts would implicate me as the left-leaner I am, even if I don’t wish to have that be my only reality.

To break on through to the otherside, Facebook and social media as a whole shouldn’t let me get in the way. In return for my time spent on WashPo, I should be directed to an article on The National Review. For every article read on MotherJones, I should be reading the work of someone writing for The Weekly Standard. It is admittedly difficult to come up with these places off the top of my head. For myself and other snowflakes, a well-respected conservative publication is as rare as a Bill O’Reilly apology.

Guess that’s what I guess I get for living in the bubble.

Ronson, Boyd, & Carr

” Many teens turn to networked publics to explore a wider world, and that often includes a world that their parents want to protect them from.” (Boyd, 126)

We occupy this world with distinct regularity, tied to our inner impulses to check the world as it goes about its business. It’s no longer a placeholder, a mere paperweight, in our lives. No – the innocuous (or seemingly so) internet that fills parents with dread is now our not so virtual reality.

Dread, resentment, anger, frustration: All feelings that our parents might have felt at one point as we grew up and fixated on these brightly lit screens of ours. But as we know, in Boyd’s research on the interconnected lives teens live through this medium, it’s not all so doom and gloom. There is a lot to learn from young adults and their love of the internet.

What we do know, as Boyd tells us, is that through these links, teens rejoice in the freedom it allots and in the merriment they have. No longer waiting in anticipation for the next day of school, friends can now prolong an important conversation, or gossip about the day’s happenings, or find common ground with a stranger, all online. Boyd tells us that this time spend glued to the screen acts as a social lubricant, a moment of understanding between two parties as they navigate both the hostilities and bounties of being a social creature.

Essentially her argument, much like Carr and Ronson, is that our relationship with the online world and the outcomes emanating from such are quite complicated (hence the title of her book). Not a soul attempts to fabricate a complete, encyclopedic knowledge of the numerable connections the internet has on us and our lives. Not Ronson, not Carr, and certainly not Boyd. All attempt to give the reader an enhanced perspective of one arena, but all fail to paint the picture.

And that, I believe, is why these books have resonated with me, as well as members of this class. Each turn of the page furthers our understanding of the author’s thesis, yet denies is entry into another realm of thought. Perhaps deny is too strong a word; the author surely doesn’t leave out information maliciously. All of them have bested their story with facts and testimonials from people, real people, though Ronson gives us the darkest anecdotes from an online relationship gone wrong.

To briefly summarize, all three authors tell stories. Stories with facts, righteous, scientific investigations, and a striking tone. Excluding Ronson’s book, hope is felt upon completion of reading. With Carr and Boyd, I felt like I was handed an opportunity to check my own relationship. Whether it be reexamining my fraught relationship with the internet (one that was changing my neurophysiological ), or alleviating the stress I had with such relationship, I left feeling profoundly influenced to enact change, or at the very least, feel comfortable with my current use.

Ronson left me with none. His word renders me fearful of the unintended result, the invisible hand teasing me as I try to pleasantly skirt through my time online. But in reality, who knows what is out there on you. Who knows what the consequences of your thoughts are, projected for all the world to see. In fact, who knows what your thoughts, say from 5-6 years ago, were. Were they stupid? Immature?  Would you want the world to see? Does reading Ronson give you hope that it wouldn’t be taken the wrong way?

I imagine myself caught in a storm of my own doing. A tweet, just a tweet, the cause of this predicament. The content? Doesn’t matter. With all the autonomous voices out there, each unique in their dispositions, could you defend yourself? Ronson craves out a space in my mind and leaves it rung with fear and indecision. My already tepid relationship with the online world, now augmented.

But there no way to escape. I need this world. It’s no longer just a virtual reality.

I’m camera shy, and having the responsibility of entertaining someone with my voice and facial expressions leaves me flustered. So an assignment designed around video production was initially nerve racking for a few reasons. Of those reasons, I surmised that at the end of the day, I had no distinct talent to make a video or being the leading actor.

Then I remembered my videos from middle school, recalling how courageous a young Will was, stepping into the spotlight and sharing my thoughts on myriad of topics. For a few minutes, I went back to those videos and watched in agony as I stumbled my way through disjointed thoughts. At the the end of it all, I did come away with something about video production that I had forgotten about, something I tried to utilize in my video for this assignment. Whether the topic of discussion is serious or menial, video’s allow the creator to add a more observable flavor.

What I mean by that is this: In videos creation, there is very little defined for the user in terms of a checklist. A visual project, unlike a written document, rarely, if ever, follows a code of formatting. Of course the editing process weeds out the lesser of content, but for the most part, you are the only critic that’s needed to be kept in mind. Whether or not the viewer of your video appreciates your creative touch is unimportant. They don’t have a final say in the final product.

In writing, I often find that I have to cater to an unknown audience, as if my grammar and syntax have to be constantly monitored for error, as if my original thoughts aren’t quite good enough yet. Unlike the editing process for a video, which ends after the first go around (at least for the projects we completed), writing goes through multiple critiques, often spurred on by the writer them self. It may be the writing is more closely intertwined with the inner ruminations of the mind, more subservient to persistent critical thinking. Or rather, because a piece of writing exists only because of the thoughts we have, we may be more aware of the possible fallacies we have when we think.

That’s not to say that video production does not go through the same critical process. However, in my limited experience with the medium, I found it easier to scoff away a detail that didn’t hold a certain amount of continuity . It added flavor to my piece, something the audience could laugh at, or at the very least feel awkward enough after watching to laugh out of sheer pity.

Intention in both writing and video production are similar – they both serve the purpose of creating a piece of media for an audience’s entertainment, though I do find that writing and video differ in the kind of entertainment offered, generally speaking. On a whole, I feel as though video production is less academic than a written piece. In this project specifically, we only had a minute to spare, so of course we weren’t going to delve into a subject of grander purpose. But in my habitual watching of YouTube videos, I have consistently aligned my viewing tendencies with the click bait-y stuff the internet has to offer.

When I read online publications, my intention is to find something informative, something saturated in persuasive language and lyrical descriptions, usually of the day’s news or a topic of enhanced interest to me.

All of these thoughts are mine own, and just because I feel that writing has a greater maturity than video doesn’t mean I’m correct. In many cases I do find videos that stimulate my mind, ones that offer a dive into the subject matter with creative twists and beautiful visuals.

But the intention of a written piece is more aligned with this level of maturity and perspective.  More often than not, I find more delight in handing in a written assignment because I know how and why every word was chose, who careful I was in calculating my flow and formatting. I didn’t get the same rush from making the video.

Nevertheless, both the video project and the weekly writing we do are important to complete. Both will only benefit my creative processes and logical, systems-style thinking. In a way, I appreciate them both the same.