Old becomes new becomes old again

Disclaimer: this post is an assignment for my Advertising class. Still super legit quality content. Just not a story from a stranger.

(Image from http://www.webanalyticsworld.net/2010/11/history-of-social-media-infographic)

Social media is new, right? I mean we’ve had Facebook for what, a decade? Twitter too? That’s pretty new, considering books have endured for hundreds of years and are still going strong.

With each new platform a new way to communicate, access, and gather information is born…

Facebook

To me, Facebook’s become one of the ultimate data-mining machines. Especially since Google bought it. People volunteer all sorts of information about themselves on Facebook, from where they live, to who they like, what they believe and where they eat. This is a dream for marketers. People volunteer the information, make it publicly available, and other people gather it to sell stuff. And I’m pretty sure it works!

Twitter

I lack some faith in Twitter. It’s a great short-form media for real time updates and economic interactions. Journalists love it. Companies love it. It calls for your thoughts and opinions more than facts about yourself. And it seems safe. But when I was growing up, Twitter was the place for your not-funny one liners. I miss that sometimes. Now it’s a literal newsfeed.

I still read the paper in the morning.

Instagram

Instagram does something different than Twitter and Facebook, and I think I love it. Visual expression makes most sense to me in this multimedial age. Plus I love photography. Plus it’s different enough from Twitter and Facebook that if someone’s posting about what they’re eating or where they’re sitting, it still has potential to be visually stimulating.

What’s next?

I’m sure there’s more social media platforms in the making as you read this. I’m wondering when the current ones will get old. When will people abandon Twitter? Facebook?

Personally I think it’ll be sooner than later. From what I can tell, people in my circles recognize these as sales tools — more ammunition in the belt of the “man”. And in my circles, the “man” is not always welcome. We’ve started to shun each other for being on our phones in mid-conversation. We’ve started to run away from the device glued to our hands when we want to have fun, relax, or enjoy some genuine human experience.

Will social media push people back to that old way of socializing? Or am I just an outsider with a bunch of weirdo friends?

As an aside: I have a firm understanding that language and information is how our brains shape reality. So having this constantly shifting landscape of ways to communicate and access information may be constantly shifting how our brains use words and knowledge to build our perception of reality… That’s the real interesting stuff. Will people move towards traditional methods for stability? Or will we embrace the amorphous blob of change?

I recommend Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows” on the neat neurological effects of technology on the brain.

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Anonymous

Age 22. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.

Some names have been changed for safety’s sake.

I have known Anonymous personally for many years. We don’t spend a lot of time together anymore, but they’re quite a person to know.

We grew up on the same block. We parted ways during high school, though, and they found a community in the city I have yet to party with. They sure do party, though.

I think this was on Halloween of 2013. It started at Fame.

We’re at Fame, with the drag queens, partying, everyone’s passing around poppers and shit, and we ended up meeting up with Patricia Abney. 

Patricia was a popular drag queen with a touring drag show that happened to be in Winnipeg. We ended up going to this salon party, with Patricia, and everyone was doing cocaine. And it was pretty interesting. There was this really fucked up guy who was trying to sell everybody Ketamine. He kept telling people how you should always say “madam” on the phone… So that was my party with Patricia Abney.”

This was at a salon in the city.

“This wasn’t just a regular salon, this was a salon that was also a house where the people worked. Like they lived there, as well.

We didn’t leave that party till like 7 a.m.

There was this really weird drunk guy there who was filming us when we were sitting on the couch. He was hiding behind a doorframe filming us and we were like “what the fuck why’re you filming us?” and we confronted him about it and he’s just said “I’m not filming you…” and we’re like “yes you are, we can see you…”

That was weird.

There was another time there was a medium there. She said to this other woman that was there “Who’s got a baby in the bathroom?” and this woman starting crying, she was like middle aged. She knew this woman was a medium and apparently her baby had died. It was this ghost of this baby, and the woman who was the medium didn’t know and had said this because she was drunk or whatever. So then she’s like “Oh my God ooooh my God I’m soooo sorry.” and it was so awkward. It was the most awkward thing that has ever happened at a party.”

The salon sounded like a mixed back when it came to party favours. I mean, I never went to the salon, and I think I’m okay with that. But I don’t doubt it would be an exhilarating and probably welcoming experience, otherwise. Despite the potential for weird shit to happen.

“Salon parties happened a lot.”

It’s worth noting that Fame offers a safe, inclusive space for all LGBTTQ* community members, and friends of who want to enjoy spending time in a welcoming and fun environment. The stuff at the salon stays at the salon — and enjoyment, fun, meeting new people and finding a community that suits more individual or unique identities can happen at Fame.

Check out the website for events http://www.famenightclubwinnipeg.com/

“Reservations”

An accurate depiction of conflicting perspectives.

fyi: This week’s blog post is a journalism assignment.

It seems watching a play almost entirely of dialogue can feel a bit more like education than entertainment. Reservations, a Theatre Projects Manitoba production I saw on Tuesday, managed to pack a number of current social issues into a neat couplet of mini plays. It apparently lacked a traditional story arch, disappointing some in the audience, but it still managed to explore a number of narratives in about two hours.

The first act, called Pete’s Reserve, told the story of an old Mennonite farmer in Northern Alberta choosing to give his daughter’s inheritance — his land — to the local Siksika people. He felt morally obligated to make a real gesture towards decolonization in his community. His daughter, who otherwise would have shared the 640 acre inheritance with her brother, begged him not to. She couldn’t understand why this now, wondering if it had to do with his Cree girlfriend. I would say something happened, but nothing really did, other than moral and ethical debate and some personal bonding.

The second act, called Standing Reserve, is named after Heidegger’s philosophy on  the essence of technology. The play shows a middle class white foster family navigating the devolution of Child and Family Services. (Note that devolution here means creating CFS agencies run by Indigenous people.) The father is a philosophy professor at the University of Manitoba, and the mother appeared to not have a job, or if she did, it did not appear in the story. Both the CFS worker and the wife are former students of the professor. Some time after a heated discussion between the couple and the worker, the audience is thrown into a university lecture given by the CFS worker that links Heidegger philosophy to indigenous ways of knowing.

Both acts lasted about an hour. Each had three characters, played by the same three actors. Despite lacking a story arch and any kind of conclusion, the performance demonstrated a very timely narrative on the role of settlers in today’s society. The visuals and sounds of the play seemed to act as cues to the audience for shifts in the scene. Though I didn’t understand how it affected me, I found it stimulating and artistic.

Despite the name, Reservations is a play about the experiences of white settlers in Canada coping with history, society and personal morality. Steven Ratzlaff wrote and performed the play, continuing the theme of social issues in his work. He said during the talkback that evening that he consulted with many people from the indigenous community while writing the play. Tracey Nepinak, the indigenous performer of the trio, commended Theatre Projects Manitoba for taking on this piece in the talkback. My classmates later questioned the ability of a white male playwright to write a play about indigenous issues, but the play clearly exposed interpersonal conflict from the settler perspective.

As an activist in Winnipeg’s inner-city, I really enjoyed the play. Ratzlaff managed to neatly elaborate the different perspectives of people in Winnipeg at this time, including those feeling at odds with settler colonialism, those actively earning back their sovereignty, and those experiencing great discomfort at the shifting social climate. I especially enjoyed what struck me as the sad irony of the situation. In the first act, this irony came across in the daughter’s line exclaiming “I feel dispossessed!” as she tried to stop her father from giving the land away. In the second act, it came from the wife in a line towards the end, exclaiming she cannot get over the loss of her foster children.

Through both plays, each actor plays a different character playing the same role. The white woman role is rooted in an perspective of entitlement. In the first act, she says would make best use of the land. In the second, she says could do the best for her children. She can’t seem to understand why another group of people (who have experienced exactly what she’s going through on a grand scale) getting the things she can most suitably use in her life would be okay.

The male actor played the role of the morally conflicted seeking the most immediate path to alleviating his internal conflict. Like his girlfriend said in the play, it wouldn’t make a difference outside of himself, indicating that his decision is based on how it affects him.

The only drawback to what was otherwise a very accurate depiction of general settler perspectives was a noticeably flat representation of gender. The women experienced emotions and engaged with each other based on these emotions (or at least the white woman – the indigenous woman spoke from a place of detached wisdom) and the man orchestrated every interaction by intervening with his complacency and lack of emotion.

There’s lots to talk about with this play, as reflected by all the dialogue in the play. Personally I think art — theatre especially — is a realm for creation pushing past the norm. The play lacked essential storytelling elements, like a protagonist and action. It sacrificed entertainment value for accurate (if not flattened) depictions of personal experiences and roles in Canadian society. It’s worthwhile to have these perspectives shared and understood, but if Ratzlaff wants non-theatre fans to ingest his work with personal interest and desire, he needs to use familiar storytelling form.

I have seen a couple other plays this year, and one called Chimerica comes to mind as an artful merging of story, personal narrative and global political and social experience into an entertaining three-hour performance.

To learn more about the people behind the local production, visit http://www.theatreprojectsmanitoba.ca/wp/shows/reservations/

Mary

Age undisclosed. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.

Mary’s been a friendly face for me to see around town since the start of the year. I don’t know her well, but she’s always kind to me and has a warm, welcoming presence.

She was born in Saskatchewan, but moved to Winnipeg when she was four. She loves Winnipeg.

No wonder she finds this type of thing happens to her often:

“Winnipeg… being somewhere and just starting to talk with somebody. Like There was a guy that got on the bus with his seeing eye dog and it’s this humongous thing, like it was part rottweiler and lab I guess. But it looked like a mastiff. And he put it under the chair and we started talking about the squirrels from the summer and everything. For me that’s a typical Winnipeg experience, where people just easily connect and talk with each other.”

This can be one of the nicest parts of living in Winnipeg. It can also be a bit intimidating, depending how you’re feeling that day.

But mostly people are nice and awesome, like Mary.

friendly manitoba

Maybe because “Friendly Manitoba”?

 

Matthew

Age 33. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.

Matt’s lived in Winnipeg his entire life. He says he likes it here, mostly because of the people, but also because it’s cheap. But there are other cities he loves to visit.

“Berlin is my all-time favourite city. Been there three times. London I’m quite fond of. Been there twice. And New York is pretty cool.” 

I asked why Berlin?

“I did my degree in history and there as a big degree of German history in that, so I just love the history. On top of that, it’s just a really cool city. It’s got this great juxtaposition of like old and modern architecture. Yet it works. Usually when you try to contrast two eras and styles it kinda looks ugly, but in Berlin for some reason it works. The people are really nice in Germany.” 

But even during his travels, Winnipeg snuck up on him.

I took a film course with Guy Madden, who is famous for making a film called My Winnipeg, and he’s a much more critically acclaimed director than a lot of people think. Roger Ebert, most famous film critic of all time put My Winnipeg on his top 10 movies of the decade list. Anyway I took a course with him, got to know Guy Madden, and then when I was in Paris there was actually a museum holding an exhibit about My Winnipeg. So when I was in Paris I went to this exhibit to learn about Winnipeg, which I thought was kind of funny.

It was kind of emotional, but only because I had been away for a couple months at that point. But it was also neat to just say to the exhibitors, “I’m from Winnipeg.” They were like, “holy smokes, we have barely seen any of you. Sounds like such a cool place.””

So it’s like, I leave Winnipeg, go to Paris, France, and go to an exhibit about Winnipeg.”

My Winnipeg has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomotoes. Ebert gave it a 4/4. I guess I will have to watch it.

Matthew said he was proud to turn up as a Winnipegger in this museum in Paris, the same city as the Mona Lisa, at an exhibit on his home city. He recognizes Winnipeg’s unique art scene.

I love Winnipeg film culture and I love Winnipeg arts culture in general. I feel like I need to get more involved in it, to tell you the truth. There really is a very thick and dense arts world.”

Matthew’s currently branching out into writers groups and the local creative scene here. He also knows a lot of local bands. He attends the Winnipeg Writers Festival each year, linked here:

https://thinairwinnipeg.ca/

We also have a writers guild in town:

http://www.mbwriter.mb.ca/

And collective (which has a cash prize contest up right now!):

http://thewriterscollective.org/