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Transcript of PoMo Life
"What will you DO with your degree?"
As much as I enjoy school and learning I am frustrated with the lack of useful knowledge I am exposed to. In this way I have succumbed to the postmodern thinking,
"In a postmodern society, however, knowledge becomes functional-- you learn things, not to know them, but to use that knowledge" (Klages 4).
I, as many students, have sat through a lesson and wondered, when will I ever use this in real life? Why do we waste time learning things that will have no impact on our future and will soon cease to exist completely?
School has always been an extremely important part of my life. It is the place where I have learned to define myself as a "smart" person. Doing well in school has always brought me a great satisfaction and I have therefore always stood behind the meta-narrative that doing well in school will lead to doing well in life. I have never doubted that good marks lead to high intelligence and have chosen to believe that this is the best path in life. The postmodern outlook however is quite different. The idea that there is no absolute truth is one that truly frightens me,
"This relativism with everything being rendered equivalent or anything going with anything sits uncomfortably in a world that can be quite frightening for those who hanker after an ordered world"
If 'anything goes' then why am I doing more when I could do less? It is unsettling to believe that even though I have followed through with society's view of how to succeed, that perhaps all my hard work in schooling was for nothing.
This photo represents the postmodern view that intelligence can have many different forms. Good performance in school does not equal intelligence. This upsets my desire for order and my preconceived belief that if I get good grades, I will be rewarded with intelligence. I never considered challenging this meta-narrative because I cannot think of any other way to achieve these goals for myself.
When considering my choice of university program, I needed to ensure that the things I was learning had a specific use and value for the career I wanted. I refused to consider, for example, a general science degree which holds many possible paths for the future. Instead I will be attending McMaster University for Medical Radiation Sciences. With this path, I know exactly the career I will end up with. The classes I will take and the knowledge I will obtain during my 4 years of schooling will be specific and applicable to my life in the future. I am postmodern in the fact that I have chosen a path where my knowledge will become functional.
Here are some key lyrics from this song that I believe completely coincide with postmodern beliefs:
"Why don’t school teach more mathematics
Less trigonometry and more about taxes
They at the chalkboard, teaching us ass backwards
How about preparing us for life, instead of lab rat us"
Here we see a prime example of learning things to know them, rather than learning things for a use value. In the postmodern world, we are beginning to question this technique.
This advertisement creates the state of mind that if I have that specific phone my life could reflect the actions in the commercial.
According to Baudrillard, it is capital that defines our identity.
We can be those people having the time of their life if we have that phone. Since the iPhone is the most popular phone on the market, if you don't have it you are missing out on some incredible secret. The iPhone 5 will carry users out of their boring life and into this new world where anything is possible.
"We therefore no longer acquire goods because of real needs but because of desires that are increasingly defined by commercials and commercialized images, which keep us at one step removed from the reality of our bodies or of the world around us" (Felluga 2).
My desire for this piece technology is irrational and taken out of proportion. Acquiring the phone will not bring me any greater happiness and will not magically transport me to a beautiful landscape or a quaint coffee shop. Nevertheless, myself as well as millions of others will continue to buy the phones in a postmodern hope that the phone is key to ourselves.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one tweets about it, did it ever really happen?
Social media is a creation of postmodernism as we use sites like Facebook and Twitter to create a profile that is said to reflect of our "self" and however we want to be perceived to the outside world. I myself have an account on both of these sites but I believe that I use them in a way that rejects postmodernism.
The main site I want to focus on is Tumblr. The purpose of this site is to "reblog" photos and text posts that you like or that you feel a connection to. Your profile should then appear as a representation of yourself, created by pictures and words from other people. As Jessup explains,
"many used their “brands” to characterize their lifestyles, personal relationships, and self-identity" (5).
We use objects, and in the case of Tumblr, photos of objects to characterize ourselves rather than using our life experience.
Here I have a quotation from an interview with Drake (another rapper, I know) on the subject of Tumblr:
"I'm really scared for my generation, you know. The thing that scares me most is Tumblr. I hate what Tumblr has become ... Instead of kids going out and making their own moments, they're just taking these images and living vicariously through other people's moments. It just kills me. Then you'll meet them and they're just the biggest turkey in the world. They don't actually embody any of those things. They just emulate. It's scary man, simulation life that we're living. It scares me."
Drake is referring to the fact that Tumblr users base their lives around what they see on Tumblr, rather than basing their Tumblr on what they see in real life. This relates to what Felluga says,
"What has happened in postmodern culture is that our society has become so reliant on models and maps that we have lost all contact with the real world that preceded the map. Reality itself has begun merely to imitate the model, which now precedes and determines the real world" (2).
The model is Tumblr, which has now become more real to users than their actual life. Who wouldn't prefer a reality where you can be whoever you want, look however you want or travel wherever you want?
I do not have a Tumblr account. Admittedly, I have attempted to make one a number of times but after only a day or so of reblogging I am defeated. I feel ridiculous trying to prove to 'followers' who I am and what I like. There are no amount of pictures or quotes on the internet that could ever make the correct interpretation. With my Facebook and Twitter accounts I have similar opinions. I reject the postmodern method of creating a reality through simulations because by creating something that is supposed to be "me" I feel further away from myself.
In this photo we see the meta-narrative of how your life should play out. Things like going to school, getting married, having kids and working are all things that are expected in today's society; however, the popularity of this saying goes to show how many people disagree with these steps in life. Some people question why they have to live by someone else's standards. What if they don't want kids? What if they don't want to get married?
In many aspects of my life I admit to being a bystander. In terms of politics, the law, other's expectations etc. I stick to the social norm and find no reason to challenge the perspective handed down from those surrounding me. I do not challenge meta-narratives, a trait which makes me modern rather than postmodern.
The postmodern opinion is that no path of life is greater than another,
"[the] all-deriding, all-eroding, all dissolving destructiveness’[of] post-modernity, according to Bauman ‘does not seek to substitute one truth for another, one life ideal for another … It braces itself for a life without truths, standards and ideals" (Burke 8).
I have trouble coming to terms with the idea that there is no right or wrong in how we live our lives. This is NOT to say that I believe someone is wrong if they do not follow the steps in the previous photo; however, the life depicted previously does not seem controlled or suffocating to me as it does to other postmodernists. That life is in fact the type of path I envision for myself and the modernist in me cannot understand why this meta-narrative should be defeated.
If there is one postmodern quality I cannot deny within myself, it is consumerism. I have fallen victim to wanting the latest and greatest when it comes to technology and fashion and I am never completely satisfied with what I have.
I am the proud owner of an iPhone 5. I have been in the iPhone family for awhile now and a month ago when my precious iPhone 4 was stolen, the realization that I could upgrade to the 5 was enough to get me through my misery.
My consumerism went a step further when I went to pick up my new phone and was given the bad news. My stomach dropped when I was told there was no white iPhone 5's left and I would have to settle for black. I still have not completely gotten over the disappointment.
Now that I have the latest version of the phone, I have discovered that there is truly no spectacular difference from my last. Sadly, I know I am not the only one to fall victim to this scam. It is advertisements that convince most people in this postmodern society of their need for more.
It is clear that the way we talk to our friends is different than to our parents or to our teachers. Every conversation is dependent on the people involved and the circumstances of meeting. Between myself and a certain friend (you guessed it .. Emily), the conversations are such that no other person could ever comprehend. The length of time that we have known each other (12 years) has caused our thought processes and personalities to become intertwined to the point where we can convince others of our communication without even using words.
As Lyotard explains, "A self does not amount to much, but no self is an island; each exists in a fabric of relations that is now more complex and mobile than ever before" (11).
Throughout our lives we make many connections with the people around us who in turn shape who we are. The people we meet are reflected in how we dress, what we eat and certainly how we speak.
Let me guess.. you have no idea what we are talking about, right? But that's exactly the point! This conversation between myself and Emily is the perfect example of a language game as described by Lyotard,
"To speak is to fight, in the sense of playing ... This does not necessarily mean that one plays in order to win. A move can be made for the sheer pleasure of its invention ... Great joy is had in the endless invention of turns of phrase, of words and meanings, the process behind the evolution of language on the level of parole" (7).
The rules of this game are unique to the players for no one else could come up with a response as appropriate. You can see the fun of the game as we wait to see what the next person will come up with. In the end, there is a winner (me!) who had the final word.
So which is it? Postmodern or not?
The great thing about this project is that there does not have to be an answer. Postmodernism has proven to me that I do not have to be one particular thing, I can be a contradiction to myself,
"Postmodernism declares an end to a single world view, a war on totality, a resistance to any single explanation, and a celebration of the particular" (Jessup 1).
My life is made up of many mini-narratives as Baudrillard would say, that explain certain aspects of myself but hold no promise of a universal truth. I, myself am a pastiche of modern and postmodern, which in itself I suppose, is a postmodern quality, for "In postmodernism ‘identity is not unitary or essential, it is fluid or shifting, fed by multiple sources and taking multiple forms’" (Burke 8). So maybe I am and maybe I'm not but in the meantime I'll just play with nonsense.
Before my analysis of the six postmodern articles, I was under the impression that I was a very modern human being. I need order in my life. Clear instructions are what help me thrive and things without meaning are eliminated from my brain. These articles gave me a new perspective on myself where I discovered there is more postmodern in me than I ever expected.
Take a look....
Am I smart yet?
24 Karats of Gold - Big Sean
iPhone 5 ad
But I NEED it!
This photo represents not only our society's evolution of technology and need for the newest gadget, but also our desire to capture our life events on these devices so that we can use our recorded experiences to define ourselves in the future.
Reflections of each other
Cheesy I know,
Yeah sure, whatever you say
But that's me!