Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Media Rumors and Misinterpretations

The funny thing about media is that rumor's can spread fast by just a few lines that you write. For the most part we have to censor what we say now or it can be taken out of context. Even if we do not censor what we write, in the real world people can still take a few things that we have said and spread the words around. Have you ever heard of the telephone game?

When I was a child we would play the telephone game. The game was relatively easy, you take a group people, lined them up and take a phrase. You whisper that phrase in to some ones ear and then that person whispered the phrase in to the next person's ear. By the time the message hits the very last person,  it is an entirely new message. Media is the same exact way and this is the reason why it causes so much havoc in lives.

You may think that you set your privacy setting on your blog or Facebook, you write something only meant for your very close family to see and then suddenly in the wrong hands this message spreads. Once a rumor goes viral, forget it. There is no turning back. For the record and clarification- I have a sister Ipuna Estavillo Black who responded to one of my posts. She is a Professor in Las Vegas, Nevada. She teaches nursing and is currently a PHD nursing student. I said to her "Ipuna, thank you as a PHD student and a Professor I value your opinion." When read by others, this sounded like I was saying that I was a PHD student and a Professor, thus lying about myself. I was not speaking about myself. I was referring to my sister. There was confusion with phrasing from people that were reading and interpreting what I wrote wrong. Again, the telephone game- it is now viral.

People can think we are lying about ourselves when we are really being misunderstood and the interpretation of the media is incorrect. All it takes is one person to take what we write, say or do and spread it to other people and suddenly one word turns in to a totally different and twisted lie.

We can say- "I have got the best car in the world!" We can say this in an excited way, not meaning anything by it but simply delivering it with sheer enthusiasm. Then suddenly, the entire thing is taken out of context and spread around. All the sudden we are arrogant, stuck-up, and we think we have the best car in the world and we are materialistic. However, what we might have intended was to say the phrase more "tongue and cheek."

That is how easy misinterpretations can form. That is how easy media can be misunderstood, taken out of context, and spread viral for all to skew. You can have the best intentions, but if your audience interprets the media and film completely wrong then the end result is the only thing that matters to them and nothing else. Media can cause biases, allowing the audience to skew one way or another.  In the same way, when a film is evaluated and interpreted by a critic that gives it a negative review. The audience reading the review will automatically have a negative bias of the film before even watching it or they may choose to not watch it at all. There is no right answer as to how to fix misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and prejudices based upon skewed media interpretations and readings. However, a thorough analysis of the media or speech prior to launching it out in to the viral world for all to see or read is necessary above all else. Without careful consideration of the words we are choosing to write or the message we are choosing to send to our audience, we might send an entirely different message to our audience- one that we regret and have a difficult time retracting once it is out in viral space. 

But, one thing that is important to keep in mind just because some people in your world does not like something you've written or directed does not mean that a different audience might not respond differently. My short film that I recently directed over the summer for example, may not have won the hearts of its original audience when first shown, but it certainly won the heart of Comcast which will now be airing my short films in two different cities in Virginia. In my book, as long as I have impressed the connections that matter and those that will not only like my filmmaking, but air it on television. Then my goal is accomplished and everyone else that never cared for my film does not need to. We agree to disagree and part ways with the freedom to have our own taste of what is aesthetically "good" according to our own personal definition.

Media rumors, biases, judgmental critics and negative media interpretations based on either poorly interpreted information or the "telephone game" can be toxic to the actual message that is trying to be presented. In the wrong hands, a message can take on an entirely new meaning at the end of the day and that's how rumors are spread and falsehoods are created. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Doodle Riggers- Inspired By Kurt Vonnegut

This was for assignment with my writing professor in Undergrad. It was a screenwriting course, however he began with delving into short form prose writing. Here in this assignment we had to mimic the voice of one of our favorite authors. This I found to be a fun exercise. Here's another piece I wrote inspired by Kurt Vonnegut one of my all time favorite authors. I have read nearly all of his books. I wish I could say I have read all of them- but haven't. Nonetheless, Vonnegut fans will quickly catch on to his style I mimic here. I wrote this a few years ago around 2004 or so. Depending upon what I am writing, I have learned to adjust the narrative voice. I thought to add these to give readers a chance to see how one can alternate narrative voice and flex it until you find your own unique voice that fits with you. The novel I completed "Scars of Valor" (338 pages) just last year was inspired by my real life experiences regarding my husband's deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan- 27 months to some of the worst areas of both Iraq and Afghanistan. The book will still need to be revised again and I am currently adding to it. But, the book has a different voice from the one I use in my blog posts. You have to be flexible and know what voice to use and when. I am not an expert and still learning however, but this is just based upon my own experience.

I had also mentioned in my earlier blogs that I have gotten an opportunity to potentially write someone's Biography. This is still in the works and will take a lot of planning. Nothing has been set in stone, but it is still in the brain storm stage. Anyhow, I recall having read advise by Stephen King somewhere, where he said that one should not wait too long to complete their book including editing. This goes with anything you are creating because you may get too removed from it and never come back to it again. 

For me, I have to jump back in to it as I have already revised it once. I haven't worked on editing again. I got it pretty close during my last heavy edit. However, your work as a writer and creator is never quite done. It is all in the editing where you must re-structure, reformat, cut out and add the necessary elements that you need in order to achieve a mature manuscript ready for submission. In screenwriting it is the same way. All of it takes time and working at it regularly. So, here you can see how I shift voices to flex and mimic Vonnegut. It is a good exercise- try it some time. Enjoy. 

Doodle- Riggers

Here is a story of the only extra-terrestrial I have ever met. The alien I’ll call Tommy Haengii for short. His actual extra-terrestrial name is much too long and without any vowels, a normal human wouldn’t know how to say it. He was a boring thing who ascended here from God knows where. Before I begin, I’d like to say that this is not really happening. That really, it’s only fictional. It is however, both fictional and reality. I was there so I am entitled to tell you about boring Tommy and his his boring obsessions with a humanoid by the name of Amy. Human? Or so he thought.  

. . .
             She was fast. This meant that she had much speed. This also meant she had much development in the years it’s taken to build her up. Tommy Haengii took oolongs of moments staring at her hardware; her drive had made something ignite in him. He wasn’t sure what.  Boy did he love her software. She was a package. He wanted me to introduce him to her. To show him “the ropes” so that he could be learned well and so on. I said to him “All I can do is show you the basics of her components; it’s pretty simple… getting down to it.” It wasn’t simple for Tommy. Not at first. 

. . .
            Tommy Haengii arrived at planet earth in a place full of rectangular shaped objects, shoved against the wall. On his planet, they made these rectangular objects. They created them. This place was called the bookstore. These rectangular shaped objects opened and beckoned to him to pick them up. He was good at being boring. So much that he told me he learned how to figure the objects out rather quickly. He learned on his own and after a day or so, he finished figuring out a dead man. He was called a philosopher. He was named Plato. And his object was 1000 pages. Other such objects he did use. More and more and more, until the bulge on his shoulders was full of such annoying doodle- riggers called-words. See, Tommy wasn’t only just boring but fidgety and for an extra-terrestrial, extremely talkative. Don’t ask him to recite the objects he’s filled his bulge with. It was a mistake I made once. He wouldn’t quiet up. From his planet, this was the way they all worked. On his planet caffeine consumption in the amount of gallons of coffee (10 times stronger then that of human-coffee) was consumed on a day to day basis. These creatures would become fidgety, begin searching, begin spilling out their doodle-riggers, that is words from over consumption of dead people like Plato or Faulkner, and then they’d absorb some more doodle-riggers and rectangular objects. Absorb every detail about anything, especially about other earthlings they’d analyze and scrutinize. And then they’d flap their jaws endlessly. Until that is, I explained to him what “Shut the fuck up!” meant.  

. . .
            This is when I introduced him to Amy. She was an exciting new gadget he soon became obsessed over.

. . .
            Love, Tommy told me was something he thought he was in. I told him he didn’t know about it and where the hell did he get it from. He said he found it in the rectangular objects when he’d first arrived here. The object was called the ‘Bible’.  Here is what it said:                                                       

‘Love is patient, it is kind,
it is not easily angered,
it does not hold any records of wrong or right,
it is not jealous, or boastful…

And so on…

. . .
            Tommy Haengii understood Amy’s language. He said she understood him too. I showed him all I knew about her. As his nature, he figured out how she worked. Finally. He learned what made her run, what made her shut down, and what brought her into overload. What he didn’t know was that he could make her crash. What he didn’t know was she was immortal. Never ending, always existing. Though one day he spilled water in her tower, her motherboard fried and he thought her dead. He thought he was dead too. He said he had those doodle-riggers called-words stored in her. He said he was working on one of them rectangular objects, a book. Like the bookstore he’d arrived in. I tried to salvage Amy. I worked on her until I could no more. It was good however that he had these doodle-riggers called words saved on a disc. He continued to flap his jaw in panic. So I said, “Calm the fuck down it’s saved you dumb ass extra-terrestrial.” 

. . .
            Tommy and I went to heaven the very next day. I told him it was called ‘Fries Electronics.’ He told me it was heaven, like the ‘Bible’ described only better. There he realized Amy never left him. She was there surrounding him, beckoning him. So he purchased her for a good price. And Tommy Haengii began feeling something very strange. It was a doodle-rigger called contentment or rather ecstasy. 


Inspired by the voice of: Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Soul and Virtue

Written 2-2-00 Philosophy 101 (Thought to dig up some of my old writings and post them. Enjoy.)

In our steadfast conditions of accelerated changes in technology, views on what is ethical and just have differed. We live in the new days of plastic surgery and the beginnings of a new minority, those who have not changed their physical appearance due to many reasons but one primary, unhappiness with self. This world bursting in the new century brings along with it a sense of liberalized, yet superficial ways of thinking.

This train of thought coincides with the philosophical subject on our "Soul and Virtue" which both are synchronized with one another. Today, tedious stupidity blinds us from seeing a person’s Soul, now days the superficiality within the structure of the new generation, society, media, television causes one to judge, look for, love some one based on physical appearance. Most people try and protest, they say they do not look for that in a person but most of us do, attraction is there and some of us become blinded by it. Democritus states many things that in my opinion holds so much truth, one in which he says ‘Physical beauty is merely animal unless intelligence is present.’ From personal experiences I have found that most men observe, stereotype and then pre-assume that I am void of intelligence or they realize that I am, yet do not care because appearance means more to them. That has never settled right with me. Again, I agree with another statement in which Democritus states ‘He who chooses the advantages of the soul chooses things more divine, but he who chooses those of the body, chooses things human.’ I think one of the biggest errors is that many tend to put the blame on the fact that they’re “just being human” when it is not that at all. 

Being human means having all the desires, wants, needs, cravings but being an individual is making all of our own decisions despite our desires, wants and needs. This brings up the issue of virtue. A fragmented statement from Democritus once again can express this ‘Violent desire for one thing blinds the soul to all others.’ He not only expresses how desire can hinder the soul, he also covers one’s virtue yet he further expresses his views on what he thinks is virtuous by saying to ‘Accept no pleasure unless it is beneficial.’ He also believed that loving and wanting beautiful things was not necessarily a horrid thing either by saying ‘Virtuous love consists in decorous desire for the beautiful.’ Because there really is nothing wrong with wanting to have beautiful things weather its material or a person just as long as the intentions are honest and true, not just loving the surface but more.

‘Virtue consists not in avoiding wrong-doing but having no wish thereto.’ And living a virtuous life is something I believe Democritus stressed. More and more we hear of so many horrible things happening all over with all the intent to do so. The high school shooting not to long ago, the woman who drowned her two little boys in her car, the murder of a black man being dragged behind a car and so much more happening every single day, too many unreported. It is within a person’s soul that lies his true intention, weather bad or good. Our soul, which is our being, our spirit, our ghost, our mind, our heart holds the right and wrong. ‘Happiness does not dwell in flocks of cattle or in gold. The soul is the dwelling-place of the (good and evil) genius.’ He further says ‘Happiness, like unhappiness is a property of the soul.’ And we could choose to either live a happy and virtuous life respecting people for their character’s and souls or choose to live a different road.  ‘Good breeding in cattle depends on physical health, but in men on a well-formed character.’

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lost Humanity: Total Political Divide

Politics must be the most sensitive subject, it goes beyond religion in my book. It is so sensitive, that it creates so much chaos and division all over the world. Just 10-12 years ago, we could bring up our political opinions and still get along with people at school, professors, bosses at work, co-workers, friends, family. Now, if you dare breathe your opinion you are marked and pegged for ever. My husband and I have family we love dearly that are extreme right and left on the political spectrum. I can't say how many times there has been huge disagreements that have started regarding this.

It seems ever since the Bush administration and now Obama- both parties on either side are so extremely narrow minded in their own views there is no way around one gigantic fist fight at the end of a political discussion. There is no such thing anymore as having an adult disagreement when it comes to politics. Agreeing to disagree just does not exist in 2011. Since Bush and now Obama- right or left, war or no war, high taxes or no taxes, Capitalism or Marxism-- there is no agreeing anymore.

It makes me ill how our ability to communicate effectively like adults have been dissolved from our current society. Whether I am around extreme conservatives or extreme liberals, my level of discomfort is so huge. I am an independent and I do not believe that people are even allowed to be. Both parties force the independent to choose and take one side over the other.

Politics is favoritism. Playing politics is what people do when they favor one candidate over the other. When someone wants to select one candidate over someone else for the job. Politics are involved most of the time when selecting a candidate regardless if they have done well on an interview or not.

This world has been dissolved into "Every man for himself." If you are lucky to have someone respect you regardless of differences, it is a one in a trillion chance of that happening today. Most people pre-judge and assess who they like based upon preset prejudices of whom they feel comfortable establishing a long term friendship or connection. Everyone determines who their friends are based upon preset prejudices that have to do with their background, family, education, and how they grew up. Most people will lean towards individuals that are similar to them.

The way political discourse and division is, as I have experienced it in my life. Cut-throat. Unkind. Ruthless. I am a lone wolf in this world. I am an independent desperately wanting to not conform or belong to just one set of rules and conditions. An independent that does not want to have to choose, someone that wants to speak up and say what is on my mind and have an opinion. In this world, the one that I have been living in- there is no such thing as peaceful discourse and peaceful politics.

There are no more friendly political bi-particans left. If you are opinionated, different, unable to conform to any sort of organization. If you want to fight to be independent and strong. If you are "In Rome" but you "Do NOT want to do as the Roman's do." You may be fighting the battle alone for ever and this fight, you may lose. I fear no one is safe in this divided political world. No one is allowed to speak their minds and share their views and agree to disagree. Freedom of speech is an illusion, it is not real it never has been.

We have lost the few ingredients that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom: a conscious and ability to reason and love.  We have lost our humanity.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Diet Coke, hold the Rum: Socializing Sober

I used to enjoy alcohol beverages for social occasions because it helped me to relax and let loose. For most people, alcohol helps to temporarily numb any social anxiety and awkwardness. Feeling socially awkward is not the same thing as "low self-esteem." I have always had a healthy dose of confidence, but have always felt socially peculiar especially around people I am just getting to know. It is natural in my opinion and actually more common for the majority of people to feel self conscious, even if they care to not admit so.

People are all striving towards some form of acceptance no matter who they are- they want to be understood and loved and know that they are not alone. The most over used ideology, phrase, cliche, and repeated mantra most people say is "I don't care what people think." Because if you are simply human, you will naturally care what other people think to a small degree. Some have mastered the art of not caring what people think, but not everyone is born with natural tendencies to not be concerned about others viewpoint of them.

Because, drinking, socializing, and wanting acceptance comes from over thinking what people think.  And for the most part, if there are those that begin drinking to relax and loosen up, talk to that cute girl at the bar that they would normally be scared to ask out. Talk to peers or friends in a way that is not, well, themselves. Why? Because many people at the end of the day are sometimes sick of being themselves. Living in a world full of social rules and decorum. They want to escape, loosen up, dance crazy, shout at the top of their lungs, and swing their hair all around. They want to let go in a way that they normally can't. They want to escape the reality of who they are and the reality of life.

Other times, drinking is not as complex. From the beginning of time, it has been a way to socialize and bond. It has been the largest bonding agent in America for centuries now. It is so ingrained in our society, that many still are not able to know how to bond without the use of alcohol. Whether it is one drink, a bottle of wine, or a keg. Alcohol allows us to be less inhibited. It is similar to the excitement everyone feels for dressing up on Halloween. You get to be someone else for a day. You get to be as silly, as scary, as wild looking, as freaky as you want and no one will judge you. Everyone will except you.

Alcohol allows us to drop our guards and our personal boundaries, by allowing us to be uninhibited enough to erase the bit of consciousness left in us that rationalizes and over analyzes. Being someone who is confident and yet suffers with social anxiety, I have always hated the strangeness of new encounters or ones that made me dig deep to learn to re-adjust to new environments. However, being in the Army has allowed me and my husband to adjust more easily to almost any situation. Yes, I get stressed out, but the day we both decided to commit our lives to not drinking again was a day that we completely cut alcohol out of our lives. We decided we did not want to drink anymore. It was too costly in more ways than one. It was risky and dangerous and always lead people to do crazy things. The higher amounts of negative consequences due to drinking outweighed the positive reasons to have it in our lives. Plus, it was a stimulant one that was not natural and toxic to our memory, liver, and overall health.

It has been about a year now since we stopped drinking alcohol. I used to smoke cigarettes and cigars too believe it or not. I had quit on and off for years. But finally, I gave it up completely a year ago when I gave up drinking. I wanted to not be addicted to anything, not have anything dominate my life to such a degree that it controlled me. Someone with an addiction is someone with an illness that controls their life. Having a father who is an alcoholic, a grandmother who is, and a grandfather who died from it- I decided to cut alcohol out of my life. I was always an occasional drinker, but could have become an alcoholic if I continued to indulge in it- especially with my family history on my father's side.

My husband and I at Wiseguys, Lake Placid, NY with friends
So, those of us who have stopped drinking. You have to re-learn how to socialize without the use of alcohol. You have to re-learn how to organically find the strength to flow with any natural social anxiety and move through the feelings- not trying to find the solution at the bottom of a cocktail glass. My husband and I have many friends and family that drink from social drinkers to those that are alcoholics. On a Saturday night, many friends want to hang out at bars. Today we enjoyed ourselves at "Wiseguys" in Lake Placid, NY- a super fun little ski town bar. We met up with our friends. We drank our soda and water and we had a good time, sober. It still feels strange for me, to not be tempted to pick up a glass of wine and say what is the big deal. But, it is a pact that we made and something we've decided we would cut out for the rest of our lives. While that may be drastic to some people, other people may find that it is honorable learning the amount of discipline it takes to control your life and not let it control you.

Water in hand and one goofy smile across my face; this is me having a
blast sober and yet organically drunk off life.
Social networking often relies on parties, bar nights, alcohol, dancing, karaoke and some good old drunken singing/shouting. Social networking often requires this sort of bonding. But, you can eat bar food, play pool and darts and sing at the top of your lungs and not be drunk. My epiphany came today in one humorous realization.

That, if you are not a drinker and you must socialize, bond, network with peers, co-workers, and people you need to be schmoozing with or around family and close friends. If it is alcohol related schmoozing (which most American bonding requires) then you treat it like Halloween. You can not go wrong at all. You can scream and yell and dance around and do the old fashion line-dance all by yourself. You can do it all and no one will care because, they'll all assume that you are drunk. They will also be too drunk to care anyway. Or, you can be as reserved as you want. You can smile as little as you want. You can be as serious as you want. You can be as yourself as you want and no one will care. Why? Well, because again- they will all be too drunk to notice. Either way, when having to network and schmooze and not a drinker, that is okay. Behave however you want because the drunkards around you will not remember a thing in the morning. So, order that diet coke- hold the rum, and embrace socializing sober.

"Some one who can live organically is someone with a lot of confidence, self esteem and motivation to make their own choices and have their own voice. They stand up for their beliefs and do not let others dictate their lives. They need not escape from reality, but live in it." Sonyo Lee Ferstl

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How to Utilize Linkedin For Effective Networking

There are many forms of networking tools to utilize these days and more are getting developed. With the flood of viral communication, the important thing to keep in mind are which social media sites you want to invest your time.

Negative Effects of Social Media (primarily Facebook):

1. Increases isolation and reduces real life communication with people.

2. Increases misunderstandings if words or something that is written is taken out of context or interpreted wrong.

3. Increases time on the computer, wasting away countless hours.

4. Increases chance of identity theft.

5. Increases cyber stalking, snooping, ease-dropping.

6. Increases anti-social behavior.

7. Trains this generation of being less capable of real communication, reducing the ability to communicate in person.

8. Allows fantasy to over-ride a person's life, increasing escapism.

9. Allows people to believe that unknown viral friends are somehow real when most of them they have never met in real life.

10. It is not real.

The absolute best example of this is in the new Toyota commercial.

However, the best sort of social networking use are for the following purposes: obtaining jobs, job leads, connections for small and large businesses, viral marketing and PR uses for self publishing or self promotion of any type. Social networking is a powerful tool. But, needs to be intelligently used. One highly recommended site I use the most is Linkedin. I feel that it is the only professional networking site that does help you get connected to jobs. While Facebook has attempted their own version called "Branchout," it still doesn't come close to Linkedin. Unfortunately, anything on Facebook can not be taken seriously. Posts people have of their parties, drinking binges, and even bragging about murders- as one kid did when he killed his parents in Florida, then posted it up on Facebook, inviting his friends to a party while his parents were rotting away. 

Linkedin, you can begin with the contacts you do have and then spread out by joining professional groups. You have to be accepted by the group. But, once you do- in each group there are many more members you can connect with. You can send them an invitation request if you have their e-mail, if you know them personally, or if you are apart of the same group. So far, I have joined 32 professional groups. I have been able to join in discussions, inquiries, and spread my networking. Linkedin is not a waste of time, with the proper use and knowledge- one can learn to get a job and continue to network on a professional level.

The rule of thumb for anyone in college (undergrad, grad, PHD) schools/Universities, in a business, or any professional environment where you are in contact with bosses, peers, and professors.

1. Learn how to listen.

2. Learn how ask the right questions.

3. Be friendly and social, but sincere (not fake).

4. Be a team player.

5. Establish professional boundaries immediately (by far the most important- even boundaries with family and close friends).

My Linkedin Groups where I am a participatory member: