Week 8 Can we live without communication technologies?

All of us have at least a television at home and some of us might even have subscribed to starhub cable and bought all our favourite channels to watch. Some or almost all of us carry mobile phones, be it iphones or blackberries. What about the internet and all the things we do it with such as join social networks and use emails to send out messages in split seconds. Can we actually live without all these for say even a day? Well i know that i can’t.

Is it not just amazing how all these communication technologies have helped us to communicate across physical and psychological strains and barriers and in this day and age it is hard not to use something that is a communication technology device. With this in mind, i would like to talk about the impact of social networking online and the flipside of it where it might not be so beneficial in the end. A form of CMC(computer mediated communication), social networking sites such as facebook, twitter, MySpace and what not has given us the opportunity to be whoever we want and be able to connect with people whom we know in re

al life and people who we might not know that well all on cyber space. It is indeed something that has invaded our lives and has allowed us to be able to interact with people setting aside time and place factors. For example, i keep a facebook account so that i can keep in touch especially with friends i do not get to see anymore or who i hardly get the privilege to meet in person. Some of these people are overseas studying or some have graduated from school and have moved on. Previously, during our parents generations, they never had things like this. It was harder for them to keep in touch with their old schoolmates and even if they did only one or two would keep in contact. However, now we have a entirely new platform ton cyberspace which helps us to find friends such as through facebook or tweet’ about what’s happening in our lives and keeping our social circles updated without any hassle. Social networking online is there a unique and powerful method of CMC.

However, there are also downsides to using such social networking sites.  A few years ago,  an American teenager, Megan Meier, committed suicide after being harassed and bullied online by a boy whom she supposedly has a close relationship with. She communicated with him regularly via MySpace, another famous social networking site and she eventually started to receive verbal abuse from her the person she was communicating with. This is reflective of of how CMC has changed human communication. Where in the past there was schoolyard bullying, now there is cyber bullying, where anyone can take on a different identity virtually and in reality. Even as we participate in relationship building virtually, all these things come into play when it comes to communication and the switching of identities. For example, we might not know if a stranger we meet online is who he or she claims to be in reality. Hence,such issues are hence prevalent in our day and age, where anything can happen in a virtual world. Where anyone can be anybody they wish to be. Perhaps that is also one factor which makes virtual communication a little bit more risky and impersonal.

Despite all this, CMC has contributed to fast access to information and people  and has advantaged mankind in helping us to communicate across time and space borders. However, we must also be careful of the wiles of the internet especially when more younger people are starting to communicate with large groups of people in social networking sites which span across myriads of countries, nationalities and time zones.



Week 7 Moon Landing Hoax

The following post was an application of media theories towards ‘Conspiracy Moon Landing’ documentary. This documentary explores why, so many years later, there are those who claim that the moon landings are a fraud on a huge scale.

Millions of people around the world were captivated for eight days in the summer of 1969. The news of Man landing on the moon brought glory to the embattled U.S. space program and inspired beliefs that anything was possible. This feat is arguably one of the most profound achievements in human history.  However, it might all be a lie.

Some believe that NASA fabricated the landings to trump their Soviet rivals, who had previously been the first to send a space satellite into space, as well as to fulfil President Kennedy’s goal of ferrying humans safely to and from the moon by the end of the 1960s.

It was alleged that NASA lacked the technology in 1969 to land humans safely on the moon, which the Apollo astronauts would have been poisoned by passing through the Van Allen radiation belts that ring the Earth and that NASA’s photos from the moon contained suspicious anomalies.

For example, as explained in the video, moon landing hoax theorists point to the “rippling” flag as evidence the landings were fake when there is no wind on the moon. Other points include, the shadows cast on the moon surface should have all been parallel, but it seems that there are some intersecting shadows, suggesting the presence of an unnatural light source; the movement of the astronaut on the moon was in fact, him running, but it has been altered to half speed to make the astronaut look like he’s moving slowly; also, no blast craters are visible under the landing modules. There many other factors that the conspiracy theorists have pointed out in the video.

So let’s say, if Man have never really been to the moon, how did almost everyone so dexterously believed that we DID land on the moon? Simple. Nasa applied the agenda setting function through the media to give a big coverage on the news about this hot topic of moonlanding then. With such great exposure to the ‘news’ reported every day, it would be difficult to doubt the truth behind it all. Long before conspiracy theorists laid out ‘evidence’ that the moon landing might be fake, Nasa used the priming process where they left out certain important issues (e.g. why were there no stars in the photos at all), thereby altering the standards of people’s ability to evaluate the issue.

It is even more convincing now that Nasa had accidentally erased the tapes of the moon landing of Apollo 11 Read the article here. I feel that it is extremely irresponsible and absurd at the same time, that Nasa could have made such a huge mistake in losing such a significant remnant of one of mankind’s biggest achievement. Thus, with such growing possibilities of hoax regarding the whole moon landing feat, it is even more suspicious that Man might never had been to the moon before.

You may argue that it would be impossible for tens of thousands of NASA employees and Apollo contractors to keep such a whopping secret for almost four decades. But the Apollo program could be so compartmentalized that only its astronauts and a handful of high-level NASA officials knew the entire story. These people are so called the gatekeepers of the whole story. Furthermore, Nasa, being a powerful elite organisation, media hegemony would be possible, where Nasa is able to manipulate and control the media.

Week 6 Bizarre food

Many of us will probably just raise our brows and widen our eyes in horror if we see anything weird or exotic food. Our first reaction will probably be “Are you sure that’s even food?”


Now, watch the following video and tell me what you think of it?

I have to admit that after watching this, I was feeling pretty faint and ready to puke anytime. I just cannot imagine myself eating a beating heart of a frog which was alive just about a minute ago before it was killed and skinned and made into a meal. I have eaten frog legs before but not in such a gory way. I have to say that this has a lot to do with culture. In Japan, probably eating a frog meal which is done right in front of you is perfectly normal and Japanese can even eat the meal with the frog “looking” at you. To them, it might be a delicacy or just a normal meal to them. But to us, it can be disgusting, horrifying or just pure amazing.

This is what we call ethnocentrism, a term we use to describe how we judge other people’s culture using our own culture as the basic standard.  This is perfectly normal and almost everybody does that because it is a natural reaction. It is very hard to control a feeling which you feel strongly about and most people will just express what they feel very naturally without thinking. That is why I, and even some of you, reacted so strongly to what was shown in the video.

Of course, there are some not-so-bizarre food in Japan which is very well-liked in Singapore such as sushi, ramen and many other delicious food. These food has been instilled into part of our Singapore culture and many love them. It can be pretty contradictive to how we reacted to the food we have seen earlier, but that is the fact. We learn to embrace part of a culture of another country but there are still parts which we reject.

And talking about ethnocentrism previously. Look at this video below and see the reaction of the host towards durians.

Now you tell me about professionalism. Oh well, I guess this is inevitable. How much can one person take even if he tries to be as neutral as possible towards every culture?

Week 5 Have a “Fling”

“Naughty, but not that naughty.” That’s the tagline for a new chocolate product launched in California, branded ‘Fling’ the first new chocolate bar by Mars in more than 20 years. “Fling” is specifically marketed for the woman market with its overly feminine appeal  of distinctly pink packaging and low calorie count. Mars marketing team had developed the overly sexual theme for their new candy bar.

“Pleasure yourself” is a another promotional tagline for the Fling.

The language of the marketing campaign had made used of many sexual innuendos. Keeping in mind that it is being marketed for the ladies, the chocolate bars are suspiciously named as “chocolate finger” and putting that together with a tag such as “Pleasure yourself” in pink lettering, consumers might come to other conclusions.

The sexual theme continues with its commercial.

The commercial is very direct in steering our perception.Using cognitive schemata, the commercial employs a typical script of a couple fooling around in a dressing room. It starts off with the sexy lady with her high heels and short dress, walking into the changing space. She turns her head just before pulling the curtains making sure no one was around. The action starts here, our focus of attention (figure) is now the two pair of legs, and from the clever camera work, the audience is led to believe that both pair of legs are in the same space(ground).

The audience is then fed with limited stimuli forcing them to form their own closure to the scene. With the suggested stimuli our perception leads us to conclude prematurely that the couple is having sex. The non verbal cues would be the dress and handbag falling to the ground dramatically and the male having his pants around his ankle. The sexually provocative movements from both pair of legs, ‘responding’ to each other’s motion coupled with the ‘moaning’ sounds was included to mislead.

The camera finally pans over the top which finally debunk all the earlier misconceptions to show that both ‘legs’ were in different cubicles. The man was grunting as he’s having trouble yanking his pants off and the lady was only moving about in the cubicle, trying on a dress while enjoying her ‘Fling’ bar.

Sex sells? Yes, in a world -like ‘Sex and the City’- where a woman’s sexuality is a public affair, an issue available for public discourse, this bold and untactful use of marketing campaign for the new candy bar would work.

Week 4 She is a couger

As the society evolved to what it is today and with women no longer being confined to homes and having the opportunities to widen their social circle, the insights of these women grow as well, hence it no longer so much of an issue to date younger men, as compared to before.

Today, women get more choices as they choose their partners. The relational formation and development for each woman differs as each has different criteria to cater to individual’s needs and desires.

There could be many reasons behind, when a woman chooses to engage herself in a relationship with a man who is younger than her. Physical appearance of a more youthful guy may be the first sign of attraction, and the idea of beauty is generally different for everyone.

However, a relationship may also spark off due to similarities which easily connect two parties together. With attitudinal and social preference similarities between couples, communications among them become easy and hence allow them to forget the age issue and often result in a smooth sailing relationship. There are also certain kinds of women who enjoys activities which men her age will not be able to appreciate, such as visiting to manicures or doing extreme sports, thus they also find younger men who is more opened, appealing to them.

A well known saying quotes “opposite attracts”. With a age difference, perspectives and opinions differs among the two individuals as well. Dissimilarities and complementarities also become a tendency to form relationships and are common these days. People find it more exciting to discover something new from their partner from time to time rather than being bore to death by things which they themselves already know or share the same views with.

Then, many may fear the issue of an age gap as it may bring about communication barriers in a relationship. However, as such relationship becomes more common and accepted in society, these couples have more chances to interact between one another’s social circle (shared social contacts), and hence allowing the partners to understand one another better and bringing them closer to one another(proximity). With the eliminations of the intimidation, uncertainties and insecurities, the couple finds it easier to get along.

Lastly, women would consider younger men due to the fact that they find them more
conscientious and appreciative towards them. The men reciprocate their feelings and this serves as a form of validation towards a relationship. Many women value this point as they believe it is vital throughout the course of a relationship in order to keep a relationship burning.

However, due to age differences, conflicts may become inevitable due to different perspectives and opinions of these couples. True that it may be fresh and exciting during its initial stage, but whether one can accept the subsequent differences that surface will be another issue altogether.

Week 3 Angles and Demond

This weekend I watched the famous movie Angles and Demons movie for the first time.(yes, I know I am outdated!)

This movie makes me think of two interesting issues that many of us tend to take for granted.

(1) Language problems I  encountered while interpreting the movie

(2) Non-verbal communication and how people use it

Firstly, many parts of the movie were spoken in a foreign language and it really hindered my understanding. The problem of not being able to understand the Italian from time to time especially in exciting parts is disappointing. Having a common language is essential for humans to transmit information and strive for mutual understanding.

Next, I watched this movie with a friend of mine and realised that she couldn’t relate to the introductory part of the movie because the movie depicted a ”scientific world in Switzerland wanting to collide photons at the speed of light to get the fundamentals of an atom to know about the Big Bang”. I bet you don’t understand what I’ve just said. Because, I was speaking a Physics jargon (specialised/technical language associated with Physics). People who are not familiar with Physics find themselves lost. Do you realise that this is one of the barriers to optimal communication? This is why we have to study a certain subject thoroughly before we are allowed to specialise and apply it in precise terms. Words used in a particular field of study mean precise things and should not have subjective meanings. Secondly, I believe that our actions also communicate something to the people around us indirectly. Sadly, people manipulate one another by portraying certain actions because of human nature to jump into conclusions and thus they perceive the way manipulators want them to. Let me give you an example that is again, extracted from the movie Angels and Demons: The murderer was alone with a federal guard in a room and the federal guard held the murderer at gunpoint because he wanted to force out the truth.

The exploitative murderer then injured himself deliberately and screamed for help and people flopping into the room immediately. It appeared to those people that the Federal guard had simply injured the murderer and wanted to kill him, so they shot and killed the federal guard without giving him any chance to explain the bizarre situation. Let us analyze the scenario.

Firstly, using both verbal and non-verbal communications, the murderer exploited human nature for his own well-being to save himself. Next up, intercourse was successful because he got what he wanted- people indeed did believed the worst from the bizarre scene. Thirdly, since everyone interprets things differently, communication and human behaviour are all complex and should not be taken at face value. We cannot really blame people for adhering to their instincts, because many scenes that we encounter are universally or culturally categorized into right or wrong. Moreover, books, movies and soap operas have definitely educated us on typical scenes having particular consensual and subjective meanings, like X holding Y at gunpoint who is screaming for help means X, naturally is the bad guy.

Week 2 Obama: The Comic

As we explore the study of rhetoric, one cannot but agree that a prominent figure that comes to mind this day would be the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. His fairytale journey to the White House was filled with memorable speeches using the principles of persuasion brought forth more than 2000 years ago.
Obama with his eloquence, confidence and charisma has allowed him to capture the attention of the American public and sway them to his side. If one deconstructs and analyze his speeches, time and again the principles of rhetoric are at play which has helped him win the presidency.
1. Attaining ’source credibility‘ with his impressive credentials such as being the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review and his success in the political sphere from a State Legislator to a Senator before running for President. (Ethos)
2. Capturing his audience’s attention and take them on an emotional ride especially when mentioning the political ideals and aspirations that he has for America. (Pathos)
3. Presenting a logical framework for change in tackling the problems that America is facing. Providing facts that made sense to most Americans. (Logos)
Here is President Obama’s speech at the recent White House Correspondents Dinner.

Taking a humorous approach at the Correspondents Dinner, Obama almost presented a comic routine rather than a regular speech. The members of the White House Correspondents present are only the nominal audience (Tree of rhetoric) who Obama wishes to address. In line with the canons of rhetoric, Obama’s delivery in my opinion was flawless. His facial expressions, body language and tone complimented his delivery. He pauses before his punch lines for maximum impact that sent the audience into a roar of laughter. His arrangement was apt, he ‘warmed’ up the crowd with a little bit of banter in the beginning, before moving on to more pressing issues. It helps to set the tone for his audience getting them to laugh with him before going forward with his content.
Obama’s choice in the humorous style might be due to the climate that the United States is in now. Being the skillful politician that he is, he recognizes that Americans have too many reasons to be depressed. What could be more engaging or uplifting then to see your president speak about state issues and have a laugh at it?