Happiness Diary Entry #3

I apologise for my delay on my third Happiness Diary entry. I usually post on a Sunday night so that I can reflect on the week that has past, but last night my boyfriend decided to take me out for dinner, and I thought that would be of better value to my overall wellbeing.

This week I continued writing my gratitudes more than once a week. Again, I wrote in my journal three times, and these were my entries.

12966712_875814195860815_164422179_n

31/03/16

  • I am grateful for my boyfriend, Alex, for cooking me dinner after I got home from uni. Even though it was a simple meal, it was a lovely gesture, as I was tired and sore.
  • I am grateful for my strawberry body wash, because it smells delicious, and makes getting up and getting ready for the day more enjoyable. I am also grateful for my friends, Sam and Lauren, who gave it to me for my birthday.
  • I am grateful for my colleagues who were caring and supportive during my first shift back at work.
  • I am grateful for the flowers Alex bought me, because I surpassed 100 subscribers n YouTube.

01/04/16

  • I am grateful for Alex buying me a coffee because I had no money on me. It was a small, but very generous and kind act.

03/04/16

  • I am grateful for the way Alex always gives me a kiss when he leaves for work and I am still asleep in bed.
  • I am grateful for my mum inviting me over for dinner, and for the family meal we had together with my grandparents.
  • I am grateful for Alex’s spontaneity in his decision to take me out for dinner.

I have continued to enjoy writing down my gratitudes on a frequent basis, however, until Wednesday, I did forget to actually write them down in my journal.

I also tried something new this week, and shared what I had written with Alex, because I am so often grateful for the things that he does. Since beginning this exercise I have tried to be more grateful for the people, things, and opportunities in my life, and have started to be more vocal about my gratitudes. I frequently tell Alex that I appreciate what he does for me but I wanted to share what I had taken the time to write down. This gave me a great deal of satisfaction and happiness, and have since considered giving the link to my blog to my friends and family who have appeared in my Gratitude Journal, so they too know how much I appreciate the things they do, however big or small.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Living on Social Media

On Android’s alone, ninety-three million selfies are taken each day. 93 MILLION! And people were checking their phones 100 BILLION times per day. On Apple devices, such as my iPhone 5, there is an automatically generated Selfies folder in the Photos’ App. Embarrassingly, mine currently has 1,058 photos. My only saving grace is that they are not all of my selfies… some are of my dog. Latest data estimates that millennial’s, such as myself, will spend approximately 54 hours per year taking selfies. This equates to more than 25,000 selfies during their lifetime.

When studying the media, we often reflect on how we look at the media, and more inwardly, how we look at ourselves in the media. In doing so, for this particular topic, we have been looking at social media and the phenomena of the quantified self. Basically, this means talking about selfies. In particular, how selfies have been linked to three specific cultural shifts.

The first shift is online media’s ability to determine status (Evans, 2015). In his book, Status Anxiety, Alain de Botton (2005) explains this shift as ‘one’s value and importance in the eyes of the world.’ The second shift is the rise of the ‘attention economy’ (Goldhaber, 1997; cited in Evans, 2015). On the internet, attention in the new currency, and it is a scares and precious resource (Evans, 2015). The third shift, and arguable the most prevalent in 2016, is the increasing shift in celebrity culture (Evans, 2015). As explained by Joshua Gamson, in his article, The Unwatched Life Is Not Worth Living: The Elevation of the Ordinary in Celebrity Culture, (2011: 1062) “celebrity culture is increasingly populated by unexceptional people who have become famous and by stars who have been made ordinary”.

The age of social media has given rise to the ‘microcelebrity’ – celebrities who obtain their fame on social media platforms (Evans, 2015). Ordinary people are sharing their lives, hobbies and talents online, and becoming incredibly wealthy and famous as a result. These people are using celebrity strategies to build a profile, reach out to their followers and fans, and have a willingness to reveal personal information about themselves (Evans, 2015).

From my personal experience, the social media platforms where I find this most prevalent are those like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat.

Most people of my generation and younger, namely Gen Y and Gen X, spend more time watching YouTube then TV. Since launching ten years ago, YouTube has acquired over a billion users, who watch hundreds of millions of hours and generate billions of views. The platform has allowed anyone with a camera to post content, resulting in an immeasurable variety of content to be created, uploaded and watched. Some of the most successful of that content revolve around gaming, DIY, education, beauty, skits, and general entertainment. YouTube has created household names for our generation, including Jenna Marbles, Tyler Oakly, Pewdiepie, the Vlog Brothers, Smosh, and Jaclyn Hill, who all found or consolidated their fame on YouTube.

As well as creating content, these internet celebrities ‘skillfully juggles Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to build a deeply loyal connection with fans’. This is, arguably, the distinct difference between mainstream and internet celebrities; celebrities who found their fame on social media are often (but not always) more connected with their fans, as they realise the fan’s importance to their success.

Instagram fame is, arguably, less about creative ability, but just as formulated. When researching this topic, and searching Instagram Fame on Google, there are numerous results for How To Quickly Get Popular On Instagram and Cracking the Instagram algorithm for fame. There is even a wikiHow on gaining Instagram Fame. There are fewer articles about it’s impact on the younger social media generation.

In relation to this topic, the phenomena of the ‘quantified self’ was also discussed. The Quantified Self movement is ‘self knowledge through numbers’ (Evans, 2015). Although this was discussed in relation to personal health and medical tracking, I think it has relevance in our culture of social media. Success and self-worth are becoming increasingly intertwined with our social media numbers; the number of followers, the number of views, and the number of likes.

I, myself, am an aspiring YouTuber (shameless plug) and experience a lot of these things. I spend a lot of time filming, editing, uploading and promoting the content for my growing YouTube channel and linked social media accounts, such as my Instagram account. Social media has created new careers and opportunities, not only for people who create the platforms, but for the people who appear on the platforms. I found this topic very interesting, and so relevant in 2016, that this could quite possibly be the topic I pursue for my research project.

 

References:

de Botton, A 2005, Status Anxiety, Penguin UK, United Kingdom.

Evans, N 2016, ‘Looking at Ourselves: Social Media and the Quantified Self’, lecture, UOW, presented 16 March, 2016.

 

Happiness Diary Entry #2

This week for my Gratitude Journal I decided that I would make entries more than once a week. In my previous post, I recounted how I sat down and reflected on the past week, and then wrote down all the things I was grateful for in my daily planner, which is what I am using as my gratitude journal. I noted in last week’s online diary entry that I wanted to take a slightly different approach by writing down things as they happen, so I don’t forget the little things by the end of the week. Admittedly, I didn’t quite stick to that plan, but rather sat down three times this week to write down the things I was grateful for, in my ‘gratitude journal’.

12899708_869955153113386_473643061_n

This week I wanted to sit and reflect often enough that I didn’t forget or neglect the little things, but not so often that I found the task to be a chore. After all, this is an activity that I want to be able to enjoy. I made three entries in the week, so I was only having to recall one or two days at a time. There is various literature on how many times to write in your gratitude journal and the various advantages and disadvantages of the different time periods, which I will go into further detail in later online diary entries and in my Reflective Journal.

This week, I was grateful for:

23/03/16:

  • My mum for driving into the uni to pick me up when I was sick.
  • My team at work for sending me a gorgeous, bright box of ‘get well soon’ flowers, and their continuous support while I have been away sick.

26/03/16:

  • All the well wishes from my friends, colleagues, and family while I have been unwell.
  • My boyfriend looking after me while I have been unwell. He has been a physical and mental support for me while I have been in pain. He has helped me do the simple tasks that I have been rendered incapable of doing on my own such as stand, walk, dress and undress, shower, drive and other daily activities.
  • The chance to spend Good Friday with my family at the beautiful Lake Tabourie.
    • That the rain cleared up, and it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day.
    • That my family is so close, so living, and so supportive of each other, and that we spent time together on a regular basis.

27/03/16:

  • My boyfriend spending the night at my house, even though he much prefers to sleep in his own bed.
  • Grateful that my boyfriend drove me down the coast to be with my family on Good Friday.
  • Grateful for my boyfriend’s family spending Easter with us, and their continuous love, support, and generosity.
  • Grateful for the wood fired pizza we ae for dinner and the hard work that my boyfriend and his mum put in to the meal – chopping fire wood, lighting the fire, cooking the dough from scratch.

I had to consider before starting this task whether I was going to use my blog as my gratitude journal to make entries or make hand written entries. I have made another observation while sitting here on this Sunday night, writing my diary entry of this week’s experience. By keeping a hand-writing things gratitude journal in my planner, I have to retype what I have written in order to reflect on the experience here on my blog. This means I get to relive those happy memories and remember the extra details, even write down extra dot points, and be grateful for those things all over again.

I found that three entries during the week was a good number. It allowed me to sit and reflect throughout the week on the things that I was grateful for, which in turn, made me feel happy. I am still really enjoying this activity, and aim to make multiple entries again next week.

I should note that I am also considering sharing my blog with the people that I feature in my gratitude entries, such as my boyfriend, as I am so often grateful for him and the things that he does, so that they know how grateful I am. I will reflect more on this more in next week’s entry.

 

 

My Reflections on Blackfish

In this subject of my studies of Communication and Media, the theme is ‘Media Lives’. In this subject we will be analysing how the media affects lives, for better or worse. We have been examining a whole range of groups, and how the media shapes the ways we look at ourselves, other people, and other species.

This week we have been looking at animals and their representation in the media. In his essay, Why Look at Animals, John Berger’s analyses the way that animals have an omnipresence in our culture. They have evolved from wild creatures of mystery, to our sources of food, clothing, transport and protection, to our companions. They are in our books, movies, TV series; they are our soft toys, our pets, and even our entrainment.

For this topic, we were instructed to watch Gabriela Cowperwaite’s film, Blackfish (2013). For those who are yet to watch the film, Blackfish is the story of Tilikum, a performing orca that has killed a number of people while in captivity, specifically 40-year-old, experienced trainer, Dawn Brancheau. In the documentary, ‘Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles shocking footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers and the pressures brought to bear by the multi-billion-dollar sea-park industry.

I had always been hesitant to watch this documentary, as I assumed it would make me very upset, however I am glad I have watched it. This powerful and emotive documentary has generated an immense amount of media hype since it was released. In his article David Hickerman, Senior Lecturer in Film & Television Production, University of York, uses Blackfish as an example of how a documentary can be a powerful force for change. Although an impact of this magnitude is a rare occurrence, Blackfish has placed the plight of the captive orcas in the spotlight. Although amusement parks and zoos have faced condemnation from animal welfare activists in the past, suddenly they were backed with credibility from celebrities such as Matt Damon, Harry Styles and Willie Nelson.

Since the release of the documentary, and the welfare of these animals being thrust into the spotlight, SeaWorld has experienced an 84% plunge in profits as customers desert the controversial aquatic theme park. The company has experienced a significant drop in attendance, sales, market value, and profits because of the issues raised in Blackfish.

I would assume that this was the hopeful result for the documentary, as it employs numerous strategies to generate sympathy for these orcas in captivity. These strategies include the anthropomorphism of the orcas. As the audience, we are given the back story of these orcas, we learn about their personalities, their relationships with their trainers, and their relationships with each other. This follows the typical conventions of wildlife documentaries (Evans, 2016): following a traditional narrative structure, the vicitimisation of a species, the vilification of another, and the anthropomorphism of the orcas. Blackfish utilised these strategies and conventions in order to evoke emotions and stimulate change.

After the reaction caused by Blackfish, the SeaWorld company launched a nationwide campaign to try and convince the public that they treat their whales well. Due to the mounting pressure from activists’ groups and the general public, last November the chief executive, Joel Manby, announced that the California theme park will be phasing out the public displays by the orcas. After facing harsh criticisms, he said that the move was part of an attempt to reverse the rate of falling visitors at the company’s 11 theme parks across the United Sates.

The main thing I took away from watching the documentary was the irony in which people express their adoration for animals. I admit that even I am guilty of this. People say that they love animals, they are fascinated by them, and care about their welfare,  but will still go and see them in captivity, and watch movies and documentaries they are in, with little reflection of the wellbeing of the animal and the lives they lead. As a society, many people try to do best by the animal, but end up only doing what we “think” is best, and not what is truly best for them.

 

References: 

Evans, N 2016, ‘Looking at Animals I’, lecture, UOW, presented 23 March, 2016.

 

Happiness Diary Entry #1

In her book, The How of Happiness (2007), Sonja Lyubomirsky describes gratitude as not only saying ‘thank-you’, it is wonder, appreciation, and ‘counting blessings’. It is savouring, not taking things for granted, it is coping, and it is present-orientated (Lyubomirsky 2007). Gratitude is powerful antidote for negative emotions, neutralising envy, hostility, worry and irritation (Lyubomirsky 2007). Robert Emmons, an experienced and prominent researcher and writer about gratitude, defines it as ‘a sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life’ (Emmons & Shelton 2002; cited in Lyubomirsky 2007).

There is a plethora of positive effects associated with expressing gratitude. Research suggests that people who are consistently grateful have been found to be relatively happier, more energetic, more hopeful, and experience more frequent positive emotions (Lyubomirsky 2007). Lyubomirsky’s lab results from her gratitude intervention suggests that, on average, that the people who completed this activity once a week were most likely to experience a boost in happiness (Lyubomirsky 2007). People who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis were physically and mentally healthier, felt better about their lives, and were more optimistic (Emmons & McCullough 2003).

In her book, Lyubomirsky suggests keeping a Gratitude Journal as a way of practising gratitude and positive thinking. She recommends choosing a time of the day where you have time to sit peacefully and reflect on three to five things for which you are grateful, from the mundane to the miraculous, and specific individuals.

I decided that I would use my daily planner as a place to record my appreciations. This year I deliberately bought a planner with a space to record my thoughts and musings, with the hope that I would be more reflective. So when I was given the opportunity to undertake this activity I was happy to participate.

12380592_864366067005628_1497474851_n

Tonight, for my entry in my ‘gratitude journal’, I sat and reflected on my week and all the things for which I was grateful. Considering I spent last night in the Emergency Department and all day in bed, this really made me smile, and appreciate all the good things that happened this week.

This week, I was grateful for:

  • My mother-in-law cooking my dinner and having it ready for me after I got home from a long day at uni.
  • My umbrella when I was caught in a thunderstorm.
  • My warm, and comfortable bed after a long day at work, doing the night shift.
  • My boyfriend’s support and love while I was in hospitable, and while I was sick.
  • The crisp, fresh air of Autumn.

Next week, I would like to take a slightly different approach to writing in my gratitude journal. Tonight, being Sunday night, I sat down with my journal and recalled all the things I was grateful for during the week. Next week I would like to write down the things as they happen, so I don’t forget all the little things, and then sit down at the end of the week and reflect on all those things while I write my online diary entry.

My Happiness Journey

Hello and welcome to my blog. If you are new here, my name is Chelsea, and I am now in my third year of a double Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies and Bachelor of Commerce. Throughout my degrees this blog has been my online space to document my learning and experiences.

In this chapter of my blog I will be logging my experiences as I undertake the class Happiness: Investigating its causes and conditions. With all the stresses and pressures associated with completing a university degree, I wanted to pick up a class that would not only teach me skills that will assist me in obtaining a career, but skills that will contribute to my overall happiness and wellbeing.

As part of completing the course, we are required to choose an activity that research says increases personal happiness. In Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book The How of Happiness (2007) she describes happiness-increasing activities that aim to transform the way people think about their lives. These activities are designed to train the mind to focus on the positive things in life, to find things to be glad about, and to not sweat the small stuff.

One of the Happiness Activities that Lyubomirsky recommends is expressing gratitude. After completing the ‘Person-Activity Fit’ Diagnostic questionnaire, I learnt that expressing gratitude is one of the happiness activities that ‘fit’ me best. To practise gratitude, I will be keeping a Gratitude Journal in which I record the things for which I am grateful.

I will be undertaking this activity for the next 5 weeks, and using my blog as a diary to which I will be making entries on this topic once a week. So stay tuned!

My Reflections on Undertaking a Digital Research Project

I had decided to make YouTube the focus of my Digital Research Project. Media practices and audience experiences are very spatial in nature, and I believed that YouTube could be used to demonstrate this. As an aspiring YouTuber, and loyal user, I was interested in researching and presenting the links between the YouTube platform and media, audiences, and places.

After spending the last weeks of the Spring semester researching, collaborating, filming, editing, editing, and more editing, my Digital Research Project has finally been uploaded. Please check it out here. If you would like to see the whole interview I conducted with Dan, from Danger Dan Vlogs, then please also make sure to check that out here. Now the project has been completed, and published, it has come time to reflect on the experience.

University life can be especially overwhelming this time of year, with numerous assignments and exams, and especially if you are also working four days a week. I found myself in this situation, which lead to me missing the deadline for my last assignment, and handing it in late. After making this mistake once, I was determined to not let it happen again. This was an important aspect of the project management element of this exercise. Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques in order to meet or exceed expectations, in the most effective and efficient manner.

This project was quite different to any I had undertaken before. There was a great degree of freedom attached to this task; it was an academic assignment, set by the university, but designed by the student. I was able to pick my own topic, conduct my own research, and present it in a way that I believed to be most suitable. Because of the almost-overwhelming number of directions I could take this task, it required a great deal of planning and researching, which is an essential part of project management.

The first problem I encountered with this task was that I knew I needed to begin, I just hadn’t found the right idea; I hadn’t found the inspiration to start my creative project. This can be a problem when working with a deadline. As Catherine McIntyre-Velky (principle at Adept Creative Project Management, and Director of Operations at Go East Design in St Paul, MN) notes, “the idea doesn’t come when you need it. It arrives when it arrives.

Another concern I had with this creative project was the fact that we were to demonstrate we could collaborate with other people. In the early stages of the project, this was a very daunting thought. I prefer to work by myself, especially on creative projects. There are many challenges and complications that can arise when working with other people, especially in a creative environment. In his book, Creative, Efficient, and Effective Project Management (2013), Ralph L. Kliem summarises these challenges, particularly on page 197.

However, when I met Dan, who is a fellow BCM240 student, and vlogger, and began discussing the project, our collaboration began quite naturally. I really enjoyed working with Dan, and am very grateful for his help with my project. I found the whole experience extremely valuable, both as a student, and a vlogger.

When editing my video, I really struggled to cut it any further, without damaging the integrity of the whole video. Unfortunately, I couldn’t submit a video that was over an hour long, so there was plenty of research that I had found that didn’t make the final cut. If you would like to read more on this topic, then check out the following links:

The final challenge I came across when completing this project was one that I had not anticipated. After finishing my video, and uploading it to YouTube, I was told that my video had been blocked due to a copyright claim. I had edited in snippets from other popular videos on YouTube as supporting evidence in my video, which I could no longer use. This is another important lesson I have learnt from the project management element of this exercise – to be prepared for the unexpected.

Thank you for joining me on my journey this semester. Stay tuned for what I anticipate to be another year of blogging in 2016. If you can’t wait that long, then be sure to stop by my YouTube channel in the mean time.