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Blog 10: What is Exposition

I did not know what to expect when I entered this course. I just knew I needed another writing class for my minor. To be perfectly honest, I was worried the class would be boring. As a film student, I'm used to dealing with larger philosophical an psychological themes, so details and description often weren't interesting to me. Immediately after the first blog post, however, I realize that my ideas about exposition were about to be challenged.

The first blog posts talked about the failure of schools to teach concrete writing to students. I remember showing the article to my sister who was having her own writing problems in high school. This article also made me consider my own writing. Have I been using enough physical objects in my writing, or have I been relying on larger ideas as the article suggested I might?

As we have all learned through this course, expository writing should describe. The real writer, however, does not stop here. The real expository writer does not accept an object or idea at face value. Instead they use descriptive writing to dive deeper into the subject, which can often lead to new discoveries. An expository writer must be an avid researcher. One of my doll head classmates explained that she had to researching different types of materials, basque an porcelain, in order to properly describe her object. It seems expositional writers get to be students of many subjects because of this.

I think it's important to note that expository writing is often not a means to an end. Descriptive writing can support creative stories and bolster arguments. In fact, without description, our stories would be intangible and are arguments would be soft, without evidence. It's also important to note that expository writing is not merely description of physical objects. And expository writer can use description to theorize on much broader subjects. Many of the papers we studied in class exemplified this. Prown used objects to learn about the culture of when the objects were made along with other writers.

At its core, expository writing should describe, enlighten, and expose. At its most beautiful, it will expand a reader's understanding and entertain them.

Blog 7 Revised

For Blog 7, Dr. Wharton has asked us all to discuss what we have encountered in our research for the Timeline project that could add to our understanding of material culture studies as a discipline and expository writing as a material practice. At first, I found this task a bit daunting, considering my object is bland and has no significant images or writing on it.  Simply put, my canteen is old and metal with distorted brownish colors.  However, after taking a step back and taking a different approach in my examination, I realized that this canteen has a lot to offer regarding the Civil War and what times were like for those during this era.   Coming from the blog post by YLEE56, the statement, “its history was what it helped to make it stand out,” relates to my situation.

From the MARTA excavation records, it reveals that this canteen dates back to the Civil War era.  The site that it was found was in and/or around where both the Battle of Atlanta and the Battle of Ezra Church were fought.  Furthermore, this knowledge led me back to the origin of canteens to see when they were first used in war.

According to the US Army Center of Military History website, the term canteen shared no association with a "small container for water carried by soldiers on the march" until 1744. In these early stages, canteens were primarily made of wood but available in all different shapes and sizes. Furthermore, the US Army Center of Military History website states that the two most prominent canteens were the "barrel-type made of wood with side slats like a barrel, and the cheesebox-type made of wood with a single wrap around side."  This information reveals the early use of canteens and how they were first used by soldiers.

Another interesting aspect I have learned about the canteen is how significant it was to make sure the top quality canteens were realized then shipped out to the soldiers.  This job fell upon a man by the name of Callendar Irvine. He was elected the Commissary General of Purchases during the War of 1812 and most of the Civil War.  This role is significant because he was responsible for providing soldiers with the quality equipment, including uniforms and other essential items. The U.S. Army Center of Military History website indicates that Irvine invested lots of time and money into running the department.

While these two aspects of canteens are completely separate in nature,  they are connected through this analysis.  Originating in mainly wooden form, the canteens eventually changed over to tin because it made them stronger and more durable.  These types of connections is something that has intrigued me about working on this timeline project.  You never really realize how interconnected certain things can be until you take the time to research and analyze.

Source:

"Economic Growth and the Early Industrial Revolution." Ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2015.

"Prints & Posters - The American Soldier - U.S. Center of Military History." US Army Center Of Military History. US Army Center Of Military History, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2015. <http://www.history.army.mil/html/artphoto/pripos/amsoldier-print/1815-p.html>.

Expository Writing

Expository writing is a completely different realm of writing that is unique because it is also creative and persuasive. In a way, expository writing encompasses all the skills and all the rhetoric learned in both of these different fields of writing.  This semester, we were able to learn expository writing by learning and reading about material culture and I believe that, by writing about objects, we were able to come close to discovering the definition of expository writing.

That being said, I think that expository writing is writing about objects and facts. It is using words, pictures, videos, etc. to present everything that you can about an object using factual information. That does not mean that expository writing cannot be creative. it takes a special kind of creative person to take an expository writing assignment and make it beautiful. They turn facts and random, seemingly irrelevant information into stories. They imbue theory and ideas into every aspect of their exposition and by doing so, become a creative writer as well. One can say that exposition writing is also creative writing.

An expository writer also wants to reveal things to the reader and by doing so, they become an expert researcher. Like a detective, someone creating an expository piece finds the facts and then brings these facts together to create a story. They do not overlook the small things and understands that each and every aspect of the subject if relevant in finding out the entire story. Expository writing is researching and finding clues to relate to the subject of the piece.

Learning how to use your persuasiveness in an expository piece can be difficult but if one considers that almost every single object in this world is already an argument, exposition writing becomes a whole other ballpark. Exposition writing requires one to pay attention to detail, even to the smallest things. In each and every little detail, one can see the "arguments" that are represented. For instance, one can consider a trash can to be an argument because it is arguing for whoever happens to be in its vicinity to throw out their trash and keep the surrounding areas clean.

Argumentative, sassy trash can

That just being one example, there are so many  ways that one can make an expository piece of writing an argument for something. Whether it be an argument for the environment, for social change, etc., expository writing is becomes so much more than just writing about things.

Although I do not believe that it is possible to give an absolute, final definition on what exactly exposition writing is, I think that it is a combination of many things. Researching, creative writing, critical thinking and persuasive writing embodies expository writing. It is all those things and so much more. One can safely say that expository writing is one of the most relevant aspects of writing that we have today.

Feature Photo Credit: www.jocelyndrake.com

Photo Credit: http://www.newgrounds.com/art/view/linhishyra/free-detective-die

https://bigstickcombat.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/johnny_automatic_trash_can.jpg

Revised Object Description

From directly above the object, where it lies on a surface with its most intricate parts facing the ceiling, it is 4 inches from crown to bottom edge and 1.5 inches from side to side.  There are three main structural components in its shape: (1) is the uppermost portion, a large spherical shape with many bumps, divots, and protrusions; (2) is the squat, cylindrical neck; and (3) is an oblong shape with four corners.  One side of the final part is smooth and domed at the top as it leads to two corners, the top corner lower than the bottom one.  Across the vertical hemisphere of the object; however, the shape ends prematurely, lacking its dome shape and measured corners.  These two corners are jagged and irregular instead.

The surface of this artifact is white and glazed.  Though it is shiny, the surface is also covered in a light layer of dried Georgia red mud.  The layer of this mud is so thin that it hardly acts as an impediment for the viewer.  Because of what we have discovered about the differences between different types of china, parian, porcelain, and bisque, it is not difficult to immediately eliminate the possibility that this object could either be bisque or parian.  The object is not flesh-toned, as the bisque material is, but does have a shine to it, something that is characteristic of a glaze.  Furthermore, it is not thin enough to be either fine or bone china.  In the end, we must conclude that the object is porcelain.  To continue with the description, the paint on the surface seems to be set inside of just such a glaze that porcelain would necessitate, and still shows clearly in most places.  There are two symmetrical circles of a light salmon color on either side of the vertical hemisphere.  They are centered on two round, but slight protrusions from the horizontal midpoint in portion (1).  Higher on that same portion—once again positioned in a vertically symmetrical manner—are two blue circles with smaller black circles inside of them.

Eye.jpg

Touching, but directly above these are two dark brown arches that extend slightly past the small circles.  About .5 cm above those are matching arched lines that are thicker in the center and then narrow at the ending points on either side.  Finally, the last block of paint is dark brown.  That dark brown color encroaches upon the front side of the uppermost portion in six downward scallops.  If you were to turn the object face down, you would see that the rest of the uppermost portion is covered by this dark brown paint in similar swags except where it is wearing away from such placement of the object as it was in earlier.

Once we turn the object to face the ceiling again, we can reposition ourselves to see it from the side.  Its profile is characterized mainly by rounded shapes; though there is one protrusion from the midpoint of section one just in the valley between two rounded hills.  There is only one more point at the end of the object, a point that belongs to one of the four points of the third portion.  The largest amount of negative space in the profile is below this ending point.  The two points closest to the surface upon which the object rests are much shorter than the ending point.  This shortness accounts for the negative space.  The only other place where there is notably negative space in this profile view is where portion two, the neck, retracts slightly from the size of portion one and three.  There is a dome-shaped negative space between the table and the neck.

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Here, the features are full and rounded instead of sharp and angular.  There are no concave shapes on the object except on portion (2), a characteristic that often, if related to humanity, denotes youth and health.

The final angle is an extremely curious one.  If you pick up the object and face portion three towards the ceiling and portion one toward the surface upon which it was sitting, the first thing to note is that the entire object is hollow.  Portion three opens widely, like a broken flower, into a narrow channel that is about the same size as the neck.  Portion one, if you look closely into the darkness of the object, has the inverse of whichever shapes grace the outside of the object.  There is writing on the front wide angle of portion three.  It looks like it was put there later by a black pen, and reads, “a3182” underlined, and “170” below the line.  To the right of that text is the small hole in the porcelain.  The edges around the hole are smooth, suggesting that it was made to be there.

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By connecting with a Georgia State University graduate student from the archaeology department who has been instrumental in providing objects from the MARTA archive, I have discovered that these numbers are associated with a logbook in which over one-thousand objects are meticulously listed and documented according to the location in which they were found.  As such, the only inscription on the doll head was added after 1979.  It has no “Made in (insert country here)” stamp that would have been necessary after the McKinley Tariff act of 1890.

From the act of compiling the features on portion number one, the viewer can discern a certain human  quality about the object.  The dots and circles with accompanying arches resemble blue eyes when the viewer zooms away from them.  The rounded salmon-colored hills in the center of the first portion similarly call to mind rosy cheeks while the only sharp protrusion stands confidently as a nose.  The downward scallops form a short, kept hairstyle could belong either to a boy or to a girl, but not to a man or woman.  The above features are too rounded and bright--features that suggest youth instead of age--to be considered as being adult features.  From all of these details, we can safely deduce that the object is a porcelain doll head, and also that this doll head represents the head of a child.

IMG_0224.JPG

This doll does not have a company stamp on the inside shoulder blade, a characteristic typical of an early or reproduced German doll, so unless it was broken off, the doll cannot be an original German model.  Also, because the doll lacks a McKinley tariff act stamp, it would seem that either the doll was made in America or that it was made before 1890.

The style of the doll head, however, keeps us from believing in a pre 1890 creation date.  Dolls around this period were mainly representations mainly female of adults who had slim, long features that were complete with angular jaw lines and intricate hairstyles.  Around 1905, the aesthetic changed to include the short necks, plump faces, and rosy cheeks of childhood (Antique China Dolls 1836-1940s).  If the doll was indeed made during the child doll trend that occurred after 1905 and without a “Made in” stamp, it may have been made in America.  If it was made in America and found in America, it might have been a part of the World War I production phase.

The story of the porcelain doll head continues from here, of course, to 1969 when the state legislature and four counties approved legislation for the construction of Atlanta’s first unified public transportation system: Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.  MARTA was then allowed to begin construction on their first line, the Blue Line, in 1976.  The first stop opened in 1979 in Decatur, Georgia (MARTA About MARTA).

Marta-Construction.jpg

Between these two dates was when our porcelain doll head was discovered incomplete and caked in Georgia red clay.  From there, it was acquired by the Georgia State University Archaeology department, and after much arranging and shifting, it landed in the hands of undergraduate students in Dr. Wharton’s 2015 Spring Expository Writing Class.

So what of it?  Why do we see this doll head as relevant today?  Dickens and Crimmins, archaeologists involved with the MARTA excavation, explained the study of urban artifacts in this way: “Projects having city-wide impact...have led to the development of more holistic and systematic models for urban archaeological research.  Thus, archaeologists have come to recognize the city as a unified and significant body of cultural resources” (Dickens 106-107).  If the city is a picture of significant cultural stories, those pictures that we gather from cities can aid us in discovering more about who we are as a people.  One simple, and often dubbed “creepy”, doll head can provide a window into toy production, World War I economic implications, pop culture, and body image.

Going along this same path, I often wondered, while doing this research why we find doll heads creepy.  Especially in the modern era, porcelain dolls are somewhat collectively known as “kinda creepy” even though there is nothing intimidating about them.  In fact, they are often designed to look innocent, so why do we consider them to be the exact opposite?  That question took me back to movies such as Child’s Play one and two (1988 and 1990) and all of the Chucky movies since in which some demon-possessed doll becomes a terror.  ChuckyDoll.jpg

This strange fear or curiosity about porcelain dolls even makes its way into the exaggerated work of modern artists such as Jessica Harrison, a woman who creates porcelain dolls with their entrails spilling out and their necks splayed open.   The Atlanta Beltline even has its own creepy doll head exhibit in which the person who is walking in nature is being “watched” by multiple decrepit doll heads from trees, stumps, and rocks.  The only justifications that I can offer for such fears are first, the fear of the unknown (a constant societal plague), and second, the relation between dolls and body image.  At one point, the doll was simply a child's plaything, something a young girl aspired to be.  The young girl could project her own wishes of who she could be when she grew up or choose to make the doll another character completely.  She could choose to be the mother, the friend, the sister, or the teacher of the doll.  Perhaps this is where the fear of the unknown comes in.  We wonder, what if the doll was really alive?

In my experience, girls also undergo another phenomenon with their dolls: they want to be them,  These porcelain dolls have perfect faces with delicate expressions and hardy bodies made from wood and fabric.  Their dresses were often intricate and made from materials that young girls often did not encounter daily.  In other words, our "Kinda Creepy Doll Head" adhered strictly to a standard of beauty.  She would have been a face that a young girl coveted, thinking, when I grow up, I want to look like her.  This is the characteristic that modern artists have capitalized on so much: the self-image aspect of a doll.  One example is the aforementioned Jessica Harrison (Huffington Post).  A unique voice, Jessica has a collection of Tattooed Porcelain Dolls that, as the title suggests, presents another way to view the feminine body.  She even goes as far as to make them grotesque in another exhibit, their heads falling from their necks, and their internal organs on display.  Her thesis: beauty does not have one look (www.jessicaharrison,com).  She points at the restrictive nature of beauty conventions and how women are killing themselves just to be seen.  That said, even this artist adheres to beauty standards that include long necks, slender physiques, big breasts, flowing gowns, and white skin.  Apparently, our our conceptions of beauty are still narrowly defined.

The examination of a porcelain doll head, in short, can open many avenues through which we can view society.  At once a providing a socio-cultural narrative and an economic narrative, examining artifacts from urban centers allows us an opportunity to learn more about ourselves.

 

 

Sources and Links

"Antique China Dolls 1836-1940s." Antique China Dolls 1836-1940s. 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.dollreference.com/china_head_dolls.html>.

"Atlanta, Georgia (1900-2000)." Atlanta, Georgia (1900-2000). Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.ourgeorgiahistory.com/ogh/Atlanta,_Georgia_(1900-2000)>.

Dickens, Roy S. "Environmental-Impact Archaeology in the Urban Setting: A View from Atlanta." Archaeology of Urban America: The Search for Pattern and Process. New York: Academic, 1982. 105-109. Print.

"MARTA About MARTA." MARTA About MARTA. 1 Jan. 2009. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.itsmarta.com/marta-past-and-future.aspx>.

Patten, Denise. "Introduction to Bisque and Porcelain Dolls." About.com. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://collectdolls.about.com/od/dollprofiles/p/bisquedolls.htm>.

"1800s By Decade." Toyinfo.org. Toy Industry Association INC. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.toyinfo.org/ToyInfo/TOYS___TRENDS/TOY_TIMELINE/ToyInfo/Toys___Trends/Toys/Toy_Timeline.aspx>.

http://www.historyofdolls.com/doll-history/history-of-china-dolls/

http://www.historyofdolls.com/doll-history/history-of-porcelain-dolls/

http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?vid=4&sid=ffe5ac96-c5c4-4bd5-a450-42bbc84e4759@sessionmgr114&hid=122&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU=#db=fth&AN=2638539&anchor=AN0002638539-2

<http://www.toyinfo.org/ToyInfo/TOYS___TRENDS/TOY_TIMELINE/ToyInfo/Toys___Trends/Toys/Toy_Timeline.aspx>.

http://asunder.deviantart.com/art/Antique-Porcelain-Tattooed-Doll-Arm-Necklace-2-308776957

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/07/jessica-harrison_n_4740198.html

http://www.jessicaharrison.co.uk/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/04/tattooed-porcelain_n_5412801.html

http://knowledgenuts.com/2013/12/27/difference-between-fine-china-bone-china-and-porcelain/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chucky_(Child's_Play)

https://www.etsy.com/market/penny_doll

 

Blog Post #7 The Voyage of the Mimi

mimi

Reading Neal Postman's book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business revealed a new perspective about learning and research. Postman disparages multi modal learning models, lamenting the loss of real discourse due to the advent of technology. Postman contends that the telegraph heralded the "now...this" mentality. Information available instantly limits the value of discourse and communication. I wonder what Postman would think about this class? Certainly Postman could not have foreseen the impact of what he quaintly calls micro-computers on the education system, but he did fear that the incursion of television into the education system was turning the classroom into commercialized show business. One of the extravagances that he discusses in his book is the government funded PBS series "The Voyage of the Mimi." This bloated-budget attempt at televising education left a bad taste in Postman's mouth. In his view, learning about the migration patterns and songs of the humpback whale was a waste of brain power. After all what of any value at all could be learned by tracking nautical patterns and singing whales on a boat? American students were missing out on the heavy-hitting typographic discourse that promoted genuine critical thinking skills, the kind of discourse thought of and taught by crotchety old white men. What Postman failed to imagine was what could be learned by following, recording, describing, and sharing the patterns of animals like the whales. We have discovered more about our world, about our planet. We have learned that we have an impact on others beyond the tip of our nose,or beyond our block, or our little town.http://

New ways of learning exist today than in the mid eighties when Postman was writing. People have more access to many different kinds of education. The multi modal exposition that we are experimenting with in this class is a prime example. The medium in which our work lives has totally changed. Postman's nostalgia for print is just that and nothing more. Yes there are few things better than the crisp smell of a new book, but life is bigger than the black and white words on a page.  By daring to live and learn in the digital age we see how our actions can affect the world. News now sources immediately from events through tweets and smart phone video. Individuals create our own discourse rather than having it spooned to us. I think Postman's privilege shielded him from the possibilities of multi modal discourse, and I can relate to his fear of change. As a teen during the time Postman was writing Amusing Ourselves to Death  I understand facing the digital age with trepidation. But learning is about discovering new things without an attachment to the outcome. We have no way of knowing what we will learn by listening to the songs of humpback whales and trying to figure out what they mean. By listening to them, though, we might learn more about ourselves and our value to the world.

Image Credit: PBS

 

Blog Post 10: Expository Writing

 

eisenacher.weebly.com
Exposition (according to Miriam Webster Online Dictionary):
1:  a setting forth of the meaning or purpose (as of a writing)
2:  discourse or an example of it designed to convey information or explain what is difficult to understand
3:  a public exhibition or show
As our class is titled "History, Theory, and Practice of Exposition", it seems essential for us to have a working definition of what exposition is.  According to this definition, and to my own experience, exposition seems to be the process of exhibiting what once was unknown, of explaining an old thing in a new way, and of demonstrating something that is hidden.  Often, as was the case when I first entered this class, students tend to tie expository writing directly to the essay, particularly the five paragraph essay.  Students are safe in this territory.  Someone assigns an expository writing assignment, and, whether you know it or not, your brain says "Check.  Five paragraphs of bs?  I've got this!" and you get to cranking out another lackluster piece of descriptive work.  You then tie it up with a pretty little bow (paraphrasing Dr. Harker here), and shake your hands.  When the essay comes back, yeah, there's a bit of red pen, but you got a decent grade, so you go on your merry little way.
Stepping into Dr. Wharton's class turned this idea on its head.  Our first essay was a Twitter essay in which we had an extremely restrictive character limit.  Goodbye five paragraph formula!  I believe many of us approached the first draft in the same way: by writing complete sentences with accompanying hashtags.  As time went on, we realized that in order to be most effective we had to use media alongside text.  Slowly, image and video crept in.  This is how every project from the beginning of the semester has gone for me.  I begin by writing a lot, realize that videos, pictures, and links are also allowed, and then completely reconfigure my work.  Be the end of that process, the final product is nothing like the five paragraph essay.  Instead, it does real work by pointing readers to further research and appealing to a media-influenced audience.  The selections of expository writing that I am most satisfied with from this semester adhere to the writing principle that I learned in English 1101:
"Show, don't tell."
Naturally, through showing instead of telling, my organization becomes more genuine and easier to follow.  In addition, the point that I am trying to make somehow becomes clearer.
So in the end, yes, expository writing explains something by showing it in a new light, but the mode should not be restricted to the five paragraph essay.  It should rather shift to mirror the world in which we live.

The Value of an Object (or You)

This question of value that we have been discussing throughout the semester in regard to objects and how they relate to the human influences around them is one that I have decided has no singular conclusion. In a former blog post, I used Graham Hill's TED Talk on the relationship between possession accumulation and stress to attempt to highlight the problems that can arise by attaching too much value to something like an inanimate object in conjunction with having a focus on accumulation of objects as possessions. While I do think that there is good value in forming sentimental bonds and emotional attachments to objects, I also believe that assigning too much value can have a detrimental effect on happiness. For example, I have a friend who loves expensive shoes. They have more shoes than I could possibly imagine being able to wear in one year unless there were multiple midday swaps. However, this habit of accumulation has actually substantially increased the levels of stress in this person's life because if there is a stretch of time where no new shoes have been bought, they become very anxious and I will find them pouring through Pintrest and Etsy in search of the perfect pair of shoes to calm the mounting storm of anxiety. Recently, with our discussions of material culture in mind, I tried to (very delicately) ask my friend why expensive shoes are such a huge part of their life and if they think that their need to accumulate them alleviates or adds to their stress levels. They very candidly told me that it definitely adds stress. However, they made the point that they have become known amongst our friends, co-workers, and peers as the person with the "kick ass" sense of style and they start to feel like they are stagnating if they do not continue to accumulate possessions that reflect this perception of them. This then led to a discussion on what the relevance is between self-esteem and material possessions. The result of that conversation was that we both agreed that everyone has at least some facet of the tendency to attach value to objects and that this perceived value affects their social psychology.

shopping

 

(These shoes made by Versace will run you about $2,000. Would owning these bring you pleasure or stress from the cost? Even if you can afford it, what do $2,000 shoes do for you? Photo courtesy of Versace.)

I guess where I'm going with all this is that there is a definite, perceptible relationship between the value that we assign objects and the value that we assign to ourselves - whether we decide to acknowledge it at varying levels or not. So, when we buy a new car, gadget, or doorknob I believe there is a part of the psyche that assigns greater value to ourselves with that new acquisition. Disregarding any moral or ethical cultural judgment that could be discerned from that notion, this idea of "value" that has been discussed throughout the semester is something that can be studied and measured through the analysis of spending habits, stress levels, and the impact of things like media and advertisement on the consumer culture. Hill's TED Talk on the relationship between stress and the need to accumulate possessions is only one of many sources that can be referenced. Kinneavy, Kilmer, Prown, and Roberts all argue aspects of why objects and material things have such an impact on our culture and psychology.

Blog #9: Wants vs. Needs, 21st Century Edition

desire(Screenshot. Definition courtesy Google.)

Overview

We can talk about the differences between wants and needs all we want, but this concept seems too elementary and does not coincide with our advanced discussions in class. Therefore, when I speak of the necessities of life, I am referring to the things that we need to be socially accepted and to function properly in the 21st century. So, for example, while we do not need to wear clothes to breathe and survive, it would be frowned upon in society not to wear any (...right?). Likewise, even though we do not need a computer to keep us alive in the literal sense, we do need it to function in a world that is constantly dynamic in technological advancements.

Influential Factors

It goes without saying that desire is a part of human nature, so it is an absolute necessity of human existence. The things that each individual desires varies from one another, but the factors that influence these desires are the same. There are three that automatically come to mind: advertisements, status, and friends.

15everywhere.xlarge1(Photo courtesy NYT.com)

Advertisements. We cannot get away from them. In fact, according to Yankelovich, a market research firm, it is estimated that we see 5,000 advertisements every day, so it is inevitable that they influence us to desire certain items based on who they model and/or the message they associate with the product. Advertisements lead us to think that if we buy X, then we will be/be like Y. People will also have certain perceptions of us, which introduces us to the influence of status.

bmw
(Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Status plays a significant role in the things we want. We yearn for things because we want to look a certain way to the people around us. It is a way to categorize ourselves by social class. It builds self-confidence and adds value (or at least we think it does) to our lives. These are some reasons why people care about buying certain name brand clothes and cars.

friendslead
(Photo courtesy Engadget.com)

Friends (no, not the sitcom, your actual friends) also have a say in the things we want. They are judgmental of our belongings, and we want their approvals because they are the people in our lives that matter and with whom we come in contact the most. Ultimately, it is human nature to want our peers’ approvals and even want them to envy us because we generally put their opinions above all else’s.

My Examples: The Three C's

Basic necessity is just as it sounds; it is the basic foundation for the things that we need, but it is also the basic foundation for the things that we want. Think of them in terms of categories. What do we need to live and to be socially accepted today? I thought of three things with which the majority of people in today’s society can agree: cell phones, clothes, and college degrees. All of these things have evolved to being essential parts of life in the 21st century. They are my three chosen categories of basic necessities.

In regards to cell phones, the type of phone to buy is our want. Sleek Apple ads convince us to buy the latest iPhone so that we are part of the "elitist" Apple community which has accrued celebrity status but is also attainable by ordinary people, such as our friends.

Likewise, the name brands of clothes/accessories are  our wants. Louis Vuitton is a great example. The ads tell us that this brand symbolizes the highest social class. If our close friends have it, then we want it because we strive to be greater than or equal to our peers (see, friends influencing friends).

Lastly, and most importantly, we want to go to the best college when it comes to our college degrees. We treat educational institutions like name brands. The school where we get our degrees is indicative of our levels of education because our socially constructed world told us so. Not only that, but the type of degree that we earn must also be considered "useful" by our discourse communities.

Conclusion

I will make a bold statement and say that all of desire is socially constructed, whether it is explicit or whether it requires some explanation. Even the desire for my great grandmother's ring is socially constructed although it is an object of sentimental value. When I was given her ring by my aunt, she told me not to tell any of my cousins that I had it. Why? Because my cousins wanted it not only for its sentimental value, but also for its status : "I want this ring because it means whoever has it must be someone special within the family."

How much of our desires is socially constructed to you?

Sources Cited:

ASB. "Needs versus wants." YouTube. Video.

Story, Louise. "Anywhere the Eye Can See, It's Likely to See an Ad." NYT. Website.

"What is a discourse community?" UCF. Website.

What Does Value Mean to you?

Before taking this course if someone asked me the value of anything I would have more than likely immediately thought of it from a monetary standpoint. Now I see things completely different. Many things in this life you simply can't put a price on. No amount of money in world can measure up to the value of some things.

In my opinion there is not just one correct definition for "value". Value holds a ton of different meanings that vary from person to person. My definition of value would be how something or someone makes you FEEL. The price of the object has absolutely nothing to do with its true value I feel. This is where people sometimes get lost and lose touch with what really matters. Many people think money money money when in reality that's not what truly matters. Lets take human life for example. There is no amount of money on the face of this earth that could be traded for human life. Human life is priceless and holds a value that is unattainable with any amount of money. I think I can speak for everyone when I say human life is quite valuable. Ironically however it is the things that are priceless that many people take for granted like human life!!

Now there are things in this life that are quite expensive and yet hold value beyond the amount of money spent on it. A great example of this would be education. I am a firm believer of the old saying "knowledge is power". Unfortunately knowledge comes at a steep price. We spend loads and loads of money to obtain a college degree in order to have a "better life". The very life that is precious and holds such a high value. Although we grunt and despise spending all of this money the knowledge gained and what we as individuals can concur utilizing it is its true value.

At the end of the day the value of something or someone is what you make of it. It is quite relative. An old rusty watch could appear to hold no significant to one person but be priceless to the next. That rusty watch could have tons of sweet precious memories of a loved one attached to it or a beautiful history behind it. These factors are what determines the value of something or someone. Things that can't be replaced and memories that can't be duplicated are what makes something priceless.

Listen to your heart when determining the value not the price.