Journal 12

In class on Tuesday, we watched an episode of Black mirror. In this episode, people were chipped with a memory device system that recorded everything that happens in your life, and stores it for future watching. The show focused on one couple who encountered problems that came about after the husband was able to rewatch the previous nights events and discover that his wife cheated on him. By the end of the episode, the couple gets divorced and you see the man miserably alone. He ends up cutting out his chip himself because he is haunted by the repeated memories of the events. This episode really got me thinking about how much our memory impacts our actions every day. Every time I am with friends, my reactions with them and how close I am with them is based off of my past experiences. Especially with friendships, sometime sour ability to forget and move on is what people need to heal. I think that if we had the ability to replay everything from our lives, we would be miserable and stuck in remembering the sad, embarrassing, or devastating events in our lives that we normally would be able to move on from. I think it would make our society hostile. This show made me realize that forgetting things or being able to move on is keen to our existence and happiness.

Journal 11

In thinking about what my group wanted to research about for our poster presentation, we decided to focus on price discrimination. Paige and I are in the same Marketing class this semester. Our professor just recently taught us about price discrimination and tactics companies use to charge their customers as much as possible. During market research, a company might discover that some groups of people might be willing to spend 30$ on something while others are willing to spend 50$. If they charge the price of 50$, they lose the customers who were only willing to be 30$. If they charge 30$ they are losing the potential profit of the customer who are willing to pay more, or of the customers who assume the lower price means a decrease in quality. Over the past decade, retail stores have begun using a new pricing tactic that allows them to charge both 50$ and 30$ for the same product to attract both types of consumers. This pricing tactic is called promotional pricing. Promotions? You might be thinking that this is common and they aren’t fooling you. But in fact they are. The only offer the promotions in areas where they know the people aren’t willing to spend more. For the people who are willing to spend more, they don’t see the lower price in other stores as being unfair because they just think it is the store giving a sale.

Companies like Amazon are also employing price discrimination techniques based upon their customer’s web searches. People who shop more, or have recently looked up certain items will see more expensive products returned in their amazon search. Amazon’s access to our web searches questions the privacy and security of every consumer. The price discrimination and privacy is bringing about new ethical discussions that are currently being disputed. I personally think that it is unfair for companies to take advantage of the resources they have access to against us. Additionally, I think the American people have become too complacent in thinking our privacy isn’t important or sacred anymore. Our project will hopefully bring the issue to peoples attention so they can formulate their own opinions on the topic and hopefully find a voice to speak out against it.

Journal 10

Over the past few classes, we have been discussing the human memory. We watched a movie called Memento, in which a film technique knows as hapax was used. In this technique, the movie opens up with a scene that we would later realize was the end of the plot. The movie ends with the beginning of the plot line. The scenes of the movie filmed in color appear in the movie backwards. There are also black and white scenes in the movie that appear in chronological order. The differences among plot order and color contrast makes it difficult to realize the hapax until the very last scene of the movie. At the end, we discover that the main character, Leonard, actually is not as innocent as we originally thought. Even though it was difficult to determine the sequence of events of the story line, I think it is fair to say that most viewers would think that Leonard was an innocent victim to a brain injury that distorted his memory.

When discussing the movie in class, it was pointed out that the directors of the movie made is obvious in the first scene that it was supposed to be backyards and the end of the plot when the bullet from the gun and the blood moved in reverse. Although the story was somewhat hard to follow because of the hapax, I think the directors gave obvious clues such as the difference in color and the Sammy Jenkins scenes that hinted that Leonard was not innocent. It began to make me think that sometimes, the human memory of events or stories can be lost or missed because of our emotional connection to a person involved. We learned relatively early that Leonard lost his wife because she was raped and then murdered in their house. Immediately, we feel sympathy for him and are invested in the revenge that he is seeking. Even later in the movie when we see that Leonard hits Vanessa, I never assumed that he was a bad person or might be causing himself some of this harm. I think the viewer’s emotional attachment to Leonard gives important insight to our human memory; emotions and feelings are just as if not more powerful than observing actions or discovering fact. Although Leonard would forget everything since the accident, he always woke up feeling the urge to get revenge. He also remembers the feeling of losing his wife. These feelings overpowered his self-discovery of what really happened that night, causing him to seek revenge even after he murdered the rapist years previous. Similarly, our feeling of pity that we originally felt for Leonard prevents the viewers from picking up on all of the clues given about the real Leonard.

I think our emotions interfere with our interpretation of a bunch of other books that we have read in this class, specifically the Buried Giant. Throughout the whole book, we are presented with Axl and Beatrice, whom we observe to be truly in love. Although they are not treated well by the community, Axl is always looking out for Beatrice whom he called his “princess”. Both Axl and Beatrice have problems with their memories. At the end of the book, we discover that Beatrice had an affair so their love was not as true than we originally were lead to believe. It makes me wonder if there were any clues throughout the book that would have given hints to this affair. I think that our first memory of the feeling of love and admiration could have distorted our memory or recognition of other details that would have questioned their relationship.

Journal 9

We have begun to think about our poster topics for our final symposium presentation at the end of April. I started to think about different topics that would be interesting and relevant in today’s world. In my marketing class, we have begun to talk about different marketing technique that huge companies have invented to manipulate us to higher consumption. The advancements of technology through social media has allowed companies to track our web searches and activity and use this information to know our true needs and wants on a deeper level.

So why is this so scary for our society? Because as explained using the capitalist binary with slavery, this increase in technology will forever force us to be slaves to larger corporations. The capitalist system thrives off of the demand of consumers. In a sense, we are slaves to capitalism because we rely on other people for everything and our lives revolve around money. However, the people somewhat had power in the system because our wants and desires drive capitalism. When people realize that we have information about ourselves that the capitalist want, but will never receive, that knowledge gives us power and balances out the system. However, the introduction of social media has revealed some of our personal desires that companies otherwise wouldn’t have known. That is why our news feeds have become populated with adds for goods or services that you most recently were thinking about. While this new marketing advancement has increased sales drastically for many companies, people’s privacy rights are being compromised and the power that was given to the people is now put into the hands of the fortune 500.

One example that I want to give on this is Amazon. Amazon has blown companies out of business as they have the market share of online shopping. Recently, my marketing professor told me that Amazon uses your web searches to filter your Amazon searches. While this first seems harmless, it actually is causing you to pay more for items than other people. For example, recently I was looking online at phone charges because I know my current phone charger is seeing the end of its time. I also went through somewhat of an online shopping spree the other week because I was looking for work clothes. When I went to amazon to buy a phone charger, the first few results showed chargers that started at 20$ each. With this price I was satisfied and purchased a charger to be delivered the next day. Later that day, I asked my sister to look up a phone charger off of her amazon account (after my marketing teacher told me of this tactic). The first options that showed up on her page were the same products, sold between 15$ and $18 a piece. Because Amazon tracks my web searches, they knew that I was planning on buying a phone charger in the near feature. They also know that I am somewhat of an avid online shopper and I am willing to spend my money online. With this combined information, they made the results from my search contain products that were of a higher quality and a higher price than my sister’s results. Because I did not have my sister amazon search at the same time, I had know way of realizing that some of the products could have been sold at a cheaper price, or that there were good quality options offered at a cheaper price. I became a slave to my own desires/tendencies and I did not even know it. While Amazon’s new technology is relatively new, it won’t take long for other companies to employ similar technique. Now we as a society need to begin to question the ethics behind these advancements in technology.

Journal 8

I found reading Stars in my Pocket like Grains of Sand a very challenging book for me to understand. While I understood the main scenery and concepts of the different planets interacting together, it was hard for me to grasp the interactions of the people and the different things living on the planets. It is clear to me that Samuel R. Delany wanted to challenge our typical cultural views of sexuality and gender. In Rhyonon where Rat Korga is from, you are allowed to have sex with another “male” when you are over the age of twenty seven. In another planet called Velm where Marq Dyeth is from, you are allowed to have sexual relations with any gender. In the United States, gay marriage was just legalized. While the gay couples are allowed to get married, acceptance of these couples is only slowly getting adapted. I think after reading Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, I have come to realize that the different in acceptance in different sexuality between the book and present day is our present day reliance on gender norms.

In the book, the difference between male and female is ambiguous. Everyone is referred to as a “she” and you only refer to someone as a “he” if you want to have sex with someone. In fact, sometimes I could not tell if characters in the book were male or female because Marq did not specify. Because gender in this universe is standardized between males and females, it evens the playing field in terms of gender identities. Therefore, homosexuality is accepted and deemed normal because it is not within in the gender norm to have to be attracted to someone of the opposite sex. Furthermore, the difference in gender norms in Velm has changed the dynamic of their home life. Two males can be the parents, or two females, or a mix between humans and other creatures. If you are a parent, then they use the term “mother” regardless of sex. Our gender norms in today’s world would never be able to accept a male as a “mother” figure because in many cultures, the mother and father have different roles in the home. Thinking about it now, our strict following of gender norms can sometimes limit us as people, or parents. Sometimes a father might not want to cry in front of his kids because he is supposed to be the strong family member who everyone else is supposed to lean on. I believe that understanding the characters and their interaction with each other was so hard for me to understand because of the engrained gender norms in the culture that I have grown up in. Reading this book made me wish our gender norms would not be as powerful, because it would mean wider acceptance of sexuality for homosexuals. When Delany wrote this book, gay marriage was not legal and was not accepted by many. I think it is very interesting that Delany wrote this book involving the sexual desire between two “males” because of the criticism he would have received. It makes me believe that Delany understood that one day, the barriers of our gender norms would be challenged to release the tensions of our gender and sexuality and form a more accepting world.