Active Reading

Active Reading

Konnikova Annotations

Questions for Critical Reading – Konnikova

A good friend is someone who always has your best interest in mind. They are someone who will always support you and have your back through the good times and bad. Your relationship with different friends can vary, but commonalities can be found between each. With every friend, there is and has to be trust, caring, honesty, dependability, loyalty, and much more. 

With the introduction of social media, the inner workings of friendships have been changed drastically. With less face to face time, friendships cannot be built on as strong a foundation.

Questions for Critical Reading – Chen

Adrian Chen is making an argument throughout this narrative that social media can be as influential in someone’s life as their parents and family. In a passage on page 81 Chen writes, “As Phelps-Roper continued to tweet, she developed more relationships with more people like Hughs. There was a Jewish marketing consultant who abhorred Westboro’s tactics but supported the church’s right to express its views. There was a young Australian guy who tweeted political jokes that she and her younger sister Grace found hilarious. ‘It was like I was becoming part of a community,’ Phelps Roper said.” In this passage Phelps-Roper realizes all the positives of social media at once. At this point, she has interacted with a group of more diverse people than she ever could have without Twitter, and frankly ever would have been allowed to in real life. This specific passage is one of Chen’s best arguments towards pushing social media as a positive influence on people, and a powerful one as well.

One of the most prominent ideas in this piece is the idea of perspective. Specifically, the perspectives of people who have different ideas than your own. Phelps-Roper learning the perspectives and lives of people who are completely different than herself changed her life, and ultimately some of her family as well. Being able to immerse yourself in someone else’s shoes, and experience their way of life for a short moment can have drastic impacts on the way you see the world. This is the most prevalent idea that Chen pushes forward throughout this piece, and the most important one as well. 

It seems that Phelps-Roper gradually had her beliefs and ideas shifted over an extended period of time. As she grew older and yearned for more independence and freedom, you could see that it was inevitable she would start to realize some of the truths behind her beliefs. One of the biggest factors that changed her belief system was social media, and more specifically Twitter. I was surprised at the positive impact that social media had on her. From my experience, social media interactions and/or conflicts usually end with people believing in their original ideas even more so than before. Overall, people are very stubborn and resistant to other’s ideas when it is over the internet. I think social media helped Phelps-Roper so much because it provided her with a chance to see the perspective and lives of people outside of her family for the first time. Twitter is not filtered or moderated by a certain biased group, everyone can share their opinions freely for the most part. Phelps-Roper made connections with people that she never could have without Twitter.

This Is Water Reflection

The most impactful idea from David Foster Wallace’s speech “This is Water” to me was his ideas about self-centeredness, and the lens that people view the world through. He says, “Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of.” This is by far my favorite line from his speech. The first time I heard it, I actually had to pause the video so I could stop and think about what he had just said. It put into perspective so many things for me, and allowed me to realize why some people think the way they do, or have the opinions they do. I am the only person to have the experiences that I have had, there is no getting around that, everything I do is unique to me, because it is through my personal perspective. To me, everything that happens only matters or has significance based on how it is affecting me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about what happens to other people, but what it does mean is that I can’t care about something because someone else does, I have to make that choice on my own. 

My own beliefs and opinions will always be what I know first, before anyone else shares theirs with me. This makes it terribly challenging to see someone’s perspective with an objective view, and truly consider what they have to say. David Foster Wallace’s thoughts on how to think, and what we need to do to think effectively, makes it easier to see someone else’s perspective. He goes on to say, “The really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about.” We need to each make the choice individually of what to think about, in order to see the whole picture clearly and understand the ideas and opinions of others. Critical thinking allows you to escape the self-centered reality that we are all challenged with. It is vital to not falling into a passive lifestyle that you are a critical thinker and know how and what to think.

The Empathy Diaries

  1. When Turkle talks about conversation, she means uninterrupted communication between two or more people in a face to face setting. She doesn’t just mean small talk either, she means conversation with meaning. Talking to another person about something that matters to them and something they believe strongly in. Conversation means being vulnerable with someone, laying yourself out there and letting someone see you for who you really are. There are no filters or autocorrects in a real conversation. A real conversation, in Turkle’s view, is one where both people are engaged and give real insight to what they think and believe. 
  2. Turkle explains how she believes technology disrupts connections. She says, “These disruptions begin with solitude, Thoreau’s first chair. Recent research has shown that people are uncomfortable if left alone with their thoughts, even for a few minutes.” She goes on to provide an example in today’s world, “These days, we see that when people are alone at a stop sign or in the checkout line at the supermarket, they seem almost panicked and they reach for their phones.” I definitely can relate to this, and have seen this play out in my own life. I have done things like this before and have seen other people do it as well. There is the recent need for something to do that has been caused by technology and phones. 
  3. To my knowledge, empathy means the ability for someone to share the emotions of another person, and understand how they are feeling. This seems to be similar to Turkle’s idea of empathy. She talks about how kids are lacking empathy and crucial emotional development. They can’t understand how their actions make other kids feel, they lack the ability to relate to their emotions and put themselves in their shoes. 

Small Group Discussion Reflection

The small group discussion provided great insight and further details about the speech “This is Water,” by David Foster Wallce. Our group discussed the speech and had a good conversation about our thoughts and opinions on it. We had similar ideas about what we thought David Foster Wallace wanted to emphasize in his speech, and what we thought his goal was. I think we all agreed on what we thought his goal was, we helped each other form a clear idea of his goal, everyone provided their unique insight/understanding of the speech. We talked about how David Foster Wallace emphasizes the importance of empathy and perspective. I realized through the discussion how big of a role that empathy plays in the speech, even though I don’t recall David Foster Wallace ever saying the word “empathy” at all. He demonstrates it well and doesn’t have the need to name it because everyone can understand the point he is making. It was easy for us to converse because we were engaged with the speech, and all had similar ideas and agreed on most of our opinions. We noticed how the speech format was informal compared to the scholarly essays that we have read previously. We thought that David Foster Wallace’s speech was more relatable and accessible compared to the essays that we have read. The speech format makes the listener feel closer to the conversation than someone reading an essay would. A small group discussion makes it easier to understand and analyze an academic speech or essay.

Chabon Response

Self-representation can help you form your personal identity. By putting yourself out there and revealing what you are interested in, eventually, you will find the people who have the same interests as you, and you will identify with them. We learn towards the end that Abe was dressing up and promoting his fashion because he wanted to find others who had the same passion as him. “Abe had not been dressing up, styling himself, for all these years because he was trying to prove how different he was from everyone else. He did it in the hope of attracting the attention of somebody else–somewhere, someday– who was the same.” The way you form your identity is by expressing yourself and learning who you really are.

I can definitely relate to the position that Abe finds himself in here. His quest to find other people that are passionate about the same things he is is very similar to what I have had to do growing up. For reasons unknown to me and especially my family, I have always been a huge fan of motorsports and racing. This passion of mine has never been reciprocated among my friends and classmates growing up, and neither with anyone in my family. I have felt similar to Abe at times as I have tried to express myself and my passion in hopes of finding people with a similar passion. Luckily for me, I have been able to find a few other people who have some interest, and have basically forced my family to enjoy it, but still, the struggle to find people to identify with is everlasting. 

What I have found interesting, especially after reading Konnikova, is how social media has helped me to find people to connect and relate with. In recent years as I have started to use social media and gain more of a presence online, I have found people with who I can closely relate and connect with. This ability to connect with people online has given me an opportunity that in the past I never would have had. Although Konnikova has some very real concerns and warnings about the dangers of social media, I can personally provide examples of the positives of social media and some of its benefits.

Nice Guys Finish Last

The cultural expectations of men have been so deeply rooted in society that it seems impossible to change. The ideas men have to be or are tough, strong, mean, intimidating, etc… are so common, especially in America, that as a young man growing up I have at times almost felt ashamed and confused when I didn’t act or feel like a “typical” man might. I feel that as men grow up, there is a lot of confusion about how they are supposed to act, and what is and isn’t ok or acceptable to do, especially regarding women. I understand that it is on men to know how to be respectful and behave around others, and I think that society, at least the one I know, does a good job teaching young boys and men the importance of respect, empathy, and general care for others. The idea of rape culture has been established within our society almost under our noses. Without realizing it, the stereotyping of men and women has created a culture around rape that has normalized it and the behavior of men to a point that it has affected the outcomes of court cases and trials based on the gender of an accused rapist. 

Serano has some similar claims about how the socialization of men contributes to rape culture. In her essay, she says “men are expected to fulfill the sexual aggressor stereotype in order to gain female attention. In other words, they have to act like ‘assholes.’” She presents the practice of heterosexual men acting like assholes as a way of “thriving” in this society. This sends mixed messages to young boys who are growing up being taught to be nice and respectful, yet oftentimes seeing those who are the opposite being the most “successful.” Serano’s ideas bring up great points for discussion about how men are treated in society, and if the expectations for them should be tweaked in order to abolish “rape culture.” 

As we look at both this essay by Julia Serano and the writing about Michael Chabon’s song Abe, we can see the beginning of a shift in the notions and stereotypes of masculinity. Some of the consequences of this shift, hopefully, result in something positive. I think it is crucial to the ending of rape culture that our notions of what a man should be and what masculinity looks like change. For years it has been that men are strong, mean, emotionless, etc. To create a culture that is sensitive towards everyone, men need to be able to grow up being able to express their emotions and their true selves. This is where Abe comes in. As a young man, he has been able to express himself in a way that not many other boys do. His passion for fashion is not a common thing for boys to like and be passionate about. With his family’s support, he is starting to change some stereotypes about masculinity and the male experience.

Project #2 Reflection

Reflecting on the second project, I think it went well, and I was proud of what I was able to accomplish by the end of the project. The topic of empathy was something that I was able to form many opinions and thoughts on. Connecting the thoughts of three different authors regarding empathy and human interactions and connectedness was very challenging. I think I did a good job trying to synthesize their work and come to some conclusions about how their works connect to each other, and what it ultimately means for empathy in society. 

One of the more challenging aspects of writing this paper was writing thematically. Instead of writing a separate paragraph for each text or reference, I was making, I tried writing thematically and weaving the ideas of all the references together. This proved to be difficult because it became hard at times to find connections to make between the texts. Ultimately, I think I was able to write thematically and construct a paper that flowed and didn’t feel like separate paragraphs forced together in the same essay.

Shitty First Drafts

What she means by the “fantasy of the uninitiated” is that people who are not writers professionally or don’t have the experiences that writers do assume because people get paid to write, they can immediately sit down and write with no problems and no hesitation. The reality is that it takes time and a long process to construct a final polished piece of writing, just the same as any amateur writer. This idea that things come so easily to professionals in their field is a mindset that is very common. Whether it be an artist, or a teacher, or an athlete, just because someone can make something look so easy that is challenging for yourself, does not mean that you are inherently doing something wrong or that they are not just as challenged with the process as you are. According to Lamott, people tend to fantasize about being able to do something challenging easily and without any issue, the reality is that this is not really possible, and practice and dedication are necessary.

I think Lamott said “more or less” when referring to her following of the “Shitty First Draft” writing process because it is hard to commit to a process like this one. This process forces you the be vulnerable and uncomfortable which can be very hard. There may be times where she doesn’t fully commit to the shitty first draft process, instead,  planning out her first draft more and writing with some restriction, she may not even realize that she does it at times. I think it is acceptable for her to follow the process “more or less” as long as she realizes it and understands when and where the shitty first draft process is needed.

It is clear that Lamott believes writing the first draft is about the process, and hardly at all about the product. The hope is that you will be able to find a few key ideas that you can carry into the second draft, but the main goal of her first draft is to get her mind thinking about what she wants to write, and allowing herself to write whatever she wants in the hopes of finding something worth writing about.