Inquiry Project Proposal

For my inquiry project, I intend to assert that there are stereotypes surrounding “masculinity” and how our society defines masculinity. I will argue that these stereotypes have perpetuated negativity among many aspects of male life, from relationships to self-image among men in America. I will discuss social media and the astounding level of influence it has over individuals in our society, especially in teens, young adults, and children who are now growing up in this increasingly technological era. I will assert that the various forms of social media have played a huge role in shaping and perpetuating these negative stereotypes/images of masculinity in our culture, with a major concession accepting that if it were not principally social media perpetuating this negativity, it would be some other form of media. However, my following point will be to assert that social media is a major factor because of the global scale on which it operates. I will elaborate on the faults I find with American media’s portrayal of men, and how this can be corrected. I will argue the relevance of this matter in our society by discussing the benefits of resolving this issue, and also discussing the more subtle ways it affects our culture. My conclusion will present readers with a summary of my central assertions, the relevance of my paper to individuals/society, and a concise reiteration of points of action that I feel are necessary to combat this issue in everyday life. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas for how I can improve this essay, I would be delighted to hear feedback.

Progress Report/ Research Reflection

Progress Report/ Research Reflection.

In the interest of making sure that I do not fall into a seemingly possible trap of allowing myself to mentally disconnect my daily blog posts from my final inquiry project and finding myself with a bunch of posts that do not assist me in writing that final post, I have begun the infant stages of my essay. This way (hopefully) every post I make from this point on will be more concentrated and centered around my final topic, and by the time I have to crack down on the final portion of my project, I will have a surplus of original material to draw from. So the first parts have come together nicely, I’ve begun preliminary research in order to refine my topic down to a more narrow idea, with an accompanying outline (for personal use only, no leaks!) I still plan to discuss the ways in which stereotypes about masculinity are detrimental to the male gender and society as a whole. With the theme of technology and social media remaining very prevalent in this course, I will discuss the ways that social media has influenced and perpetuated these stereotypes in America.

Conceptual Network Pt. 2

The conceptual network experience was ostensibly an easy assignment, however, organizing so many quotes from different sources proved to be a much more difficult task than I originally anticipated.

My post was adequate, although I wish I had been able to make the composition flow better. The paragraphs of my final work separated completely different ideas rather than individual facets of a single cohesive argument. United State of Mindset‘s post is an excellent example of the singularity of ideas that I would have liked my post to possess.

Many posts by other students, such as xkarennyy and Pooja’s Blog were centered on the discussion of human technological advancement in recent years, and the possible ramifications of these advancements.

Other blogs, such as The KLT Life and How She Thinks, were devoted to discussing human life and thought, which mirrors my first paragraph which discusses how I think and uses quotes from my very first blog post.

Overall this was a truly unique assignment, and goes a very long way towards illustrating how Thought Vectors has created a niche within the academic social unconscious. A niche that, for the most part, seems to share a common ideology pertaining to technology and the ways it affects human life.

Augmenting Human Intellect Concept Experience

While I am not one to completely disregard my feelings about situations, when faced with a choice I do my best to think unclouded by emotional influence. In any instance of my past I can think of, allowing my emotions to affect my decisions has proven to be treacherous path. It is, at it’s root, a kind of Fight Club-esque questioning of what it means to be a man (without all of the angst) and how masculinity is viewed in the society of my generation. I merely wish to urge society to recognize that there are social pressures men endure, as well as social pressures that women endure.

Had a Pharaoh been given detailed and explicit designs of an automobile, and had he understood them completely, it would have taxed the resources of his kingdom to have fashioned the thousands of parts for a single car, and that car would have broken down on the first trip to Giza. I am a car fanatic, so I automatically latched on to the image Bush creates of a Pharaoh attempting to build an automobile. The inventiveness of humans never ceases to inspire me. Machines with interchangeable parts can now be constructed with great economy of effort. It gives me renewed faith in the world to think of how much progress humans have made, at least in terms of technology. After a delightful walk down memory lane discussing the awe of the Great Pyramids, constructed solely with simple tools, I felt a scenic picture was in order.

 

Today our computers know more than we do, and by that I mean that we don’t understand what the information we give our computers does or how computers come up with answers. When I am doing research or attempting to learn more about a subject, I normally tend to set out with a vague idea in mind. I think that my associative trails for this primary text represents the effect of experience on thinking which is one of the concepts that psychologists constantly research.

Some, such as Jeremy Watts, had trails which illustrated the rapid associations and tangents the mind is capable of indulging while surfing the web, but for the most part it seems that students had strong ideas of what they would do with their post before they began searching. This mirrors how my mind works on a second by second basis; making sense of countless thoughts and refining them to only a few. In my mind, this notion brings the “As We May Think” assignment full circle, showing that while technology has come so far in aiding the human ability to create, the mind is still the ultimate tool.

Man’s population and gross product are increasing at a considerable rate, but the complexity of his problems grows still faster, and the urgency with which solutions must be found becomes steadily greater in response to the increased rate of activity and the increasingly global nature of that activity. It is to bring computing machines effectively into processes of thinking that must go on in “real time,” time that moves too fast to permit using computers in conventional ways. To think in interaction with a computer in the same way that you think with a colleague whose competence supplements your own will require much tighter coupling between man and machine than is suggested by the example and than is possible today.

Augmenting man’s intellect, in the sense defined above, would warrant full pursuit by an enlightened society if there could be shown a reasonable approach and some plausible benefits. Like my blog post on how it feels that thinking comes so naturally to use that it feels that we don’t even control it sometimes, browsing the internet is such a natural thing in peoples’ lives. I think that we forget in our daily lives that just because the internet makes work take less time, we do not necessarily need to bend over backwards to produce more work in the same time span simply because we can. This means that although the internet has allowed humans the luxury of our fingers keeping up with our brains, we are not taxing our brains any less to do the work, we are just able to see an end result more quickly.

Another point of concern I have with this idea is the resulting lack of physical exertion required by the brain if these technologies were to be invented and commercialized. I fear that the exercise received by the brain would diminish significantly, resulting in a heavy reliance on these machines. These points of trepidation are probably unwarranted, according to Maryam Kaymanesh, who gives strong evidence as to why the ideas expressed in Licklider’s essay are a long way from becoming commonplace.

Many good points are made supporting the idea that these technological advancements are, in fact, not that far from becoming reality. When Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, came out, people thought a vidphone was a crazy idea. Now it is used every day today. This is why I think the man-computer symbiosis is so incredible. I know it will be real soon enough.

 

 

 

 

Nugget 3 – Augmenting Human Intellect

Man’s population and gross product are increasing at a considerable rate, but the complexity of his problems grows still faster, and the urgency with which solutions must be found becomes steadily greater in response to the increased rate of activity and the increasingly global nature of that activity. Augmenting man’s intellect, in the sense defined above, would warrant full pursuit by an enlightened society if there could be shown a reasonable approach and some plausible benefits.

– Douglas C. Engelbart

The first thing that grabbed my attention over all other passages in “Augmenting Human Intellect” was this second paragraph. This is because throughout these past two weeks the collective of UNIV 200 classes has been bombarding the internet, and the assignments continue to flood in. I have found that I am becoming increasingly stressed and slightly at unease.

I think that we forget in our daily lives that just because the internet makes work take less time, we do not necessarily need to bend over backwards to produce more work in the same time span simply because we can. Most of the work done on computers is of an intellectual, conceptual, or artistic nature. This means that although the internet has allowed humans the luxury of our fingers keeping up with our brains, we are not taxing our brains any less to do the work, we are just able to see an end result more quickly.

I think that this has led to the sense of urgency, stress, and brevity found in American culture that is not prevalent to such an extreme in other cultures. Any time I spend five or six hours doing an assignment for classes, my mind–as well as my body–is beyond exhausted when I finish, and I feel less relaxed for the rest of the day. I also tend to be more irritable when I do this. On the other hand, I experience none of these symptoms when performing physically taxing work for the same amount of time.  That being said, I think it is more taxing on the human mind and body to concentrate for long periods of time on producing intellectual work than it is for the same amount of time to be spent working on a job that requires physical exertion. Certainly this is not always the case, but it is applicable in many instances.

If computers continue to become faster, and humans continue to work just as much in attempts to produce more work, I think our society may suffer for it, even if only in the way we think and feel on a daily basis.

So don’t forget: work hard, but don’t overexert yourself, and always stop to admire the roses.

Second Week Reflection/Progress Report

This week has been very intellectually productive. I now have a much clearer idea of the topic I wish to explore in my inquiry project. Now I only need to find a more specific area to concentrate on, since the idea I stumbled upon–while doing the “Texting My Dream” blog post–is rather broad. Also, I am sure that I will need to tread carefully when approaching and discussing my topic. It is, at it’s root, a kind of Fight Club-esque questioning of what it means to be a man (without all of the angst) and how masculinity is viewed in the society of my generation. In Extending My Dream I question the ethics of Sociologists and their interpretation of masculinity. It seems that because of history–in which men have been rather elitist, arrogant, and violent–men as a whole are still considered violent and inherently negative creatures. I am worried that if I do not write carefully, I will sound misogynistic. That is not my intention at all. I merely wish to urge society to recognize that there are social pressures men endure, as well as social pressures that women endure.

People do seem to be receptive of my general direction though! So I think I have managed to formulate the idea thus far in a way that does not sound soap box-y.

Speaking of a receptive audienceone person stepped up and helped me enormously with just a few kind words and some name dropping. So to Jenny: thank you so much. The scholars’ names you gave me turned my initial posts from a starting line to a launchpad.

Formulated vs. Formulative Thinking

Analyzing the Obvious

Water is wet

The sky is blue.

Rocks are hard.

The Earth is round.

My computer is real.

Everything is real.

 

..Is everything real?

In retrospect, this question seems less obvious than I imagined. I found an overwhelming amount of information about philosophical ideas that constantly ponder this very question. From Descartes to lucid dreaming forums, the question of the true nature of reality has been posed countless times.

When first searching “Is everything real?” I found a song by a band called The Frozen Autumn. A horrid song in my opinion, but that is irrelevant.

The next page I found was an educational site discussing the philosophy of Rene Descartes. This site gives a good deal of information about Descartes’ life and philosophy.

This lead to me searching more about his philosophical ideals. The central assertion of Descartes’ philosophical work was “I think, therefore I am.” This led me to ask the question “what am I?”

This query led me to this post on a discussion board about lucid dreaming, and a young man who feels a severe disconnect from what most people consider “reality.” While I am not sure how seriously I take the mans post, I was nonetheless startled to read about how acute his sense of paranoia is.

Reading this post did prompt me to remember how this thought has occurred to me about the internet. When I am doing research or attempting to learn more about a subject, I normally tend to set out with a vague idea in mind. While searching, the internet seems to help me sift through my thoughts and provide me with a more specific goal. This mirrors how my mind works on a second by second basis; making sense of countless thoughts and refining them to only a few. So, according to Descartes’ philosophical ideal of methodical doubt, it is entirely possible that the internet IS a manifestation of my imagination.

Interesting thought.

 

 

Dreamers Unite!

Attention all inquirers!

For my inquiry project, I wish to research masculinity and ways that masculinity is negatively portrayed and stereotyped. This topic is important because it not only affects males but the world at large. If such negative beliefs are held about the essence of manhood, then how can we expect our societies and our world to continue improving? I want to research how these themes are expressed in media: twitter.com;

facebook.com;

youtube.com;

 

t.v. shows;

and any other media, and how this can be changed/improved.

The essence of this project is not intended to celebrate or advocate men, but rather, discuss the flaws present in conceptions of masculinity and why these ideas are detrimental to the world as a whole.

I sincerely hope that my feelings about this topic are not misplaced or misinformed. If not, then I hope that there are others that share my views on this subject.

Keep Dreaming.

Extending My Dream

In my previous posts, I asserted an issue I feel very strongly about, and I provided examples of how this is prevalent in my generation’s social unconscious. I have a concern that I do not have enough knowledge to discuss this negative and stereotyped portrayal of masculinity in its full history. My analysis of this issue only includes instances that have affected my generation specifically. However, I am aware that this issue spans more generations than mine alone, I just do not have the knowledge of any older examples which I could use.

Following the instruction of the assignment, I went to the Wikipedia page for Sociology of Gender, under the heading “Masculinity” to look for terminologies I could use in creating tags for this assignment. I was disheartened to find that not only was there absolutely no mention of ways that masculine identity has been skewed and should be improved, but I found three descriptions of common sociological approaches to masculinity; all including only information about men in relation to drugs, sex, hunger for power, entitlement, violence, money, bullying, and “illegal actions” citing these as “performances of masculinity.” Being a male myself, and knowing many other males, I can say that this is not even close to an acceptable way of viewing, generalizing, or studying masculinity in cultures.

It is a common idiom that one cannot rise to low expectations. If this is all that is expected of men by scholars, women, and any other group that would attempt to neatly define masculinity, then it does not surprise me that the world is as cruel of a place as it is.

The end of this assignment leaves me disillusioned, disheartened, and upset. To realize fully that this is what is expected of men–of me–by those outside my gender makes me near ill.

#negativemasculinity

#sociologyofmasculinity

#masculinityinmedia

To put both of these into a question I feel the only way to state it would be to ask “Why have the sociological and cultural definitions of masculinity become so inherently negative, and how can our global society change this?”