An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘The Social Network’

The Massive Shift in Social Interaction

Now, brilliant psychologists a thousand times smarter than this columnist have and probably are writing books about how the psychological world and social interaction has changed because of sites like Facebook, but honestly, their books will be dry and boring and few people will care to read them.  This is going to keep it simple, and hopefully be more enjoyable.

Facebook changed everything.  Despite how factually inaccurate the film was, The Social Network did get one thing right – this was a once-in-a-generation “holy shit idea.”  This idea changed things forever and for always.  It has changed the entire face of social interaction with people.  Even as I write this, my Facebook page is open in another tab, telling me what is going on with my friends.

There isn’t much of any college students in America right now, or teenagers, or adults, who are without a Facebook page, and I think it’s a safe bet that you just leave it on while you look at other pages like YouTube or any other sites.  It is amazing how much we have incorporated Facebook into our lives.  It is like the constant connection to your social life.

Think about this: you leave it on why?  To get information about your friends, or strike up a quick conversation, or put up pictures of what you and your friends have done and see what the response is.  The same things that we used to do with phones, visiting people’s homes, and email (back when people actually checked that).

It truly is remarkable just how far that humanity has come within such a short time.  The last 12 years have seen a massive paradigm shift in human interaction and cultural behavior.  This kind of thing used to take place within 100 or dozens of years.  Now, within the space of just 12, we have completely changed how we interact with our fellow human being.

But more than that, this also ties into the fact that everything is becoming digital.  Truly, this is the greatest time to live.  Say what you want about the fact that America’s culture is dying, but the fact is that life has never been as wondrous as it is right now.  Where once people had to travel across great oceans to see what was happening in Britain or Japan, we can now link up webcams and talk to people thousands of miles away.  Video of a person’s adventures can be loaded up and streamed quickly, giving the rest of their friends the chance to see what is going on with the click of a button.  Of course, it will never be as good as going and taking part yourself in these kinds of things, but it does bring us closer together as a species.

Granted, there are problems to this.  For those like myself, chatting online does feel horribly impersonal, not really connecting to the person in a very deep level, but that is a small price to pay for how much progress our species has made.  The internet brought us the world in a way that nobody ever thought before.  It’s so ironic that the government is just now trying to get bills like SOPA, PIPA, or their latest incarnations, ACTA and CISPA to bring the power of the internet to a halt.  It is ten years too late for that.  Sites like Facebook have made the internet something that not only controls business in this country, but has become an integral part of the social contract of the human race.  This government, nor any other, will ever be able to reign it in.  There was a time when it could have been done, but not anymore.

Another great thing about the social sites is that they bring the world of knowledge ever-closer as well.  When a story gets out about something big, it is viral in a second.  Within the span of an hour, there can be a massive viral video that changes how we look at an issue or another person.  Videos like the ones with the police brutalizing the Occupy protestors.  TV-esque networks are even trying to tap into this, like the new network on YouTube, WIGS.  They are making a series of videos on YouTube, much like a TV show.  The idea is ambitious, and although they aren’t getting the views I’m sure they wished, it still shows how much power the internet has over this world.

The government is going to have to come to terms with the fact that the internet is beyond them now.  It is more powerful than any government, or any force.  If they pass something like SOPA someday, there will immediately be a group of hackers who will work to bring us what they don’t want us to have.  Just the way that Prohibition didn’t work, and the drug war isn’t working now.

The world of social interaction has changed, for better and for always.  People will complain about how this is wrong or whatever, but the fact is that they don’t seem to realize that the truth is that what has happened with these sites is that they have linked the world in a way that has never happened before, and never will happen again.

It is an amazing time to be alive.  For sure.

The Full Footprint of Humanity

When one looks at history, and how far the human race has come from the days when the problems of daily living, such as plowing a field and raising crops, and then one looks at where humanity is now, with our technological world that has connected every corner of this vast sphere, it is easy to see how this generation of youth is now the total amalgamation of human progress, the full footprint of our species.

The bulk of all innovation through the 20th Century was driven by humanity’s urge to make the tedious tasks of everyday living easier.  When electricity was able to be harnessed, the world grew.  The combustion engine made getting around the world no longer a long and laborious task, but now something that can be done within a day.  Bigger, more powerful engines, along with certain kinds of fuel, allowed the human race to be able to reach past the heavens.  It guided the hand of the human race to touch the very stars, and to begin to realize just how much there was that we do not understand.

With the endless expansive growth of technology, there has been a new growth in understanding of the entire universe, and just how small the human race actually is in direct comparison to all the things that exist in the universe.  Truly, when one thinks about just how large the universe is, the idea of our species each having a special place to exist in it is truly misguided.  In direct comparison to the universe, humanity doesn’t take up the most basic of percentage of space.  And now that science and technology has allowed us to escape the basic tedium of everyday life, humanity is starting to grow as a species, looking into the realm of the philosopher, the academic, the scientist.  We are beginning to become more than any previous generation ever believed we could be.

If the Founding Fathers of this nation could see where our species is now.  The globally connected market which, while it has some severe problems right now that need a lot of work, is a truly marvelous innovation.  The United States’ effort to stay out of global affairs during WWI and WWII are now made impossible by this global connection.  Of course, like any system, it is a double-edged sword.  Still, the founders would never have been able to see where our species is.  This is one of the reasons that when people say things like Jesse Ventura said, about how the Constitution should be “written in stone,” they are missing the point that Joe Pesci made in With Honors.

 Our “founding parents” were pompous, white, middle-aged farmers, but they were also great men. Because they knew one thing that all great men should know: that they didn’t know everything. Sure, they’d make mistakes, but they made sure to leave a way to correct them.”

The fact is that those who created this nation did realize that the Constitution needed to be looked at with a grain of salt, and people needed to be more open-minded.  That said, this country is dominated by the idea that those who started it knew exactly the truth about everything, and that the Constitution is a spectacularly perfect document.

But back to the idea of how far our species has come, there is one thing that has truly made this generation the symbol for all future generations – the internet.  Never before has a system of knowledge been given to us like the internet.  This has connected the entire world in a way that nobody of previous generations could have believed.

It used to be that a person could actuall obtain all the knowledge of the world that they lived in.  During the times of cavemen, the caveman or woman could learn about their whole world.  They knew about all the activities they had to do to live, and that was all.  All the knowledge that they were capable of having was there for them.  But now, the very idea that a person can achieve the level of knowledge that is even a fraction of a percentage of what our entire culture, which is now a global culture, has.  Another thing that internet has done is it has created a world without barriers.  There is no nation online.  There is no seperation of barriers there.  It is a place that is an open market for all people.  Truly, the world of the Federation has already been discovered.  In a recent video that Anonymous put out, they talked about this very concept.

Anonymous is simply ideas without origin.  May it be a phrase, a fad, a proverb, the concept of Anonymous has always existed.”

There has never, at any point in human history, been a connected world like this one.  Never has there been a vast labyrinth of interconnectedness that has made the suffering and prosperity come into focus like this generation has.

With the world changing so quickly these days, it is almost a little difficult to comprehend how something like religion, that has more or less been unchanged for the last 2,000 years, been able to continue.  When things that are only a few years old are now considered obsolete, how can something that has completely unchanging doctrine continue?  How can something that has been this same organization since the Dark Ages hardly change at all?  Truly, there almost seems to be an effort to this point.  Religion has always been deemed by the powerful as useful.

But regardless of issues like that, the fact is that this time, this day and age, is the greatest era of all the days of humanity.  The truly wonderful thing is that it is only beginning!  The sun is still just rising on the human race!  Who knows where we will be in 50 or 100 years.  It is almost impossible to wrap one’s mind around the fact that 100 years from now, the interconnectedness that we enjoy now may be viewed as a relic.

Science and technology are evolving at a more rapid rate now than at any other time in history.  It is an incredible time to be alive.  Those who are living with the inventions of this day and age sometimes forget that 100 years ago, or even 30 years ago, this was all the dreams of people who worked in basements.  But the internet has changed everything, for better and for always.  Facebook gave the human race a place to gather.  As Sean Parker said in The Social Network

We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet!”

This creation that so many people take for granted, is the one thing that has made an entire generation the full footprint of the human race.  That is our generation.  Our time, is the culmination of all time, and that, I think, it an incredible thing.

Peace out,

Lefty

The Future of America and the Entire World

There is a concept that was covered rather nicely in the film, The Social Network.  It was how everything that we understand about society and the world is changing.  This change has been brought about by the internet.  Really, the internet has changed everything that we understand about how society works.  How civilizations were ruled is radically changing.  When one looks at Egypt and wonders about how this came about, it was brought about by the new.  It was brought about by a young generation that wants the world to change, and for the better.

Nobody could have predicted what the last 20 years would do to the entire planet.  When the internet started to connect everybody, and access to it was becoming easier and easier to come by, the world saw a sweeping revolution of change.  To quote the character Sean Parker from The Social Network

First we lived in villages, then in cities, and now we will live on the internet!”

This is an apt quote.  The invention of Facebook has revolutionized the entire planet, and every single interaction that happens within it.  The social world that we live in is null and void if you don’t have an internet connection.  If you are unable to get online, you are dead to the world.  Those who make a joke about a person who has a broken computer and therefore feels rather lost are people who are unable to see the writing on the wall – that the internet is our civilization.  As such, because so much of the world is now online, there is a revolution that is beginning to occur – the young are gradually beginning to pose a new direction to society.

As America is gradually losing power, we are beginning to understand that the only way that our nation is going to survive is to rethink our paradigm and to make our nation more active in promoting the things that are able to do the most good.  As such, the typical left and right battles that come up are being decried on both sides because both sides are sick of hearing it.  A new view of society is replacing it – that all groups and grow, and that government power should not be more centralized and authoritative, but rather, as Jeremy Rifkin brings up in an article that was published on The Huffington Post,  distributed and collaborative.

Now, one could look at things like Occupy Wall Street and think that this is a sign of things, but that is just a symptom.  That is just something that rose up because of the fact that the interneat has changed everything forever and for always.  So, what is it a symptom of – how the young are looking at the results of what the authoritative powers like the American government have done and are now attacking this system.  There is a growing number who take the Randian Libertarian model, which is a farce and is ultimately more dangerous, and then there are those who believe that the world’s efforts should first be united by continent, and the by planet.

Rifkin called this “The Third Industrial Revolution.”  As more and more nations that were not in the sphere of power are becoming more active, as more nations are able to have access to energy and more access to other materials, there is a growth that is occuring.  And while things are growing everywhere else, America and other nations of power are on the decline.  America rode the wave after World War II.  We believed that we would be able to make the world whatever we wanted it to be.  It got us out of a Depression.  We believed that everything was going to be great forever.  But history has shown that economic success is never eternal.

So the question comes to – what will America’s involvement, and better yet, what will Alaska’s involvement be?  Well, the goal should be obvious – change the entire system to what works.  A global economic model that actually works.  One of the strangest things about the new GOP paradigm is their belief that we can continually spend and spend and spend, but not have to raise taxes.  They want to funnel money into the military efforts overseas, in a vain attempt to have global power, which is outdated, to be honest, while trying to make their power base at an unsustainable level for the entire country.

America has to change.  Alaska must change with it.  We have to move from an economy based on oil, for starters.  Renewable energy, on a large scale, could be a global effort and provide the entire world with cheap renewable energy.  It would help economies grow.  It would be good for the planetary biosphere.  It is just a good idea.  The next thing is to drastically change global relations by getting rid of the military deterrant that we have, but doesn’t work, and could eventually come back to bite us.  Nukes have to go.  The bases overseas have to go.  All of our military might in the third world has to go.  We have to change the balance of things by not coming into discussions as the superpower who will have a gun to your head, but as a voice that is adding an opinion to the discussion.  That is how it has to work.  The next thing is to get rid of Medicare and Medicaid, and institute universal health care.  America’s health care system is a broken, patch-work system, and while universal health care is by no means perfect, it really is the best option that we have.

Alaska must leave behind the oil-based mentality.  The idea that mining, oil, and our “frontier spirit” is going to save everything is a farce that is almost dangerous, when one examines these issues critically.  Alaska has a vast wealth of renewable sources that we could harness, leaving behind the finite resources such as oil and coal.  With Alaska’s small population, universal health care is almost too practical.  We are unique in that regard.  We have a large population that is spread out.  We can also afford to raise the taxes on all brackets, back to where they were under Clinton.  But most of all, we need to drastically rethink what we want to do.  The Libertarian views of me-me-me is starting to become a bad joke that is told by people who don’t want to face reality.  The Milton Friedman economic model doesn’t work.  It never has.  Clinton said in a recent interview that the Randian model has never worked, never been proven to work.  When Ron Paul runs America into the ground, that will be a sad day.

Really, we have to rethink how we view wealth, our fellow man, and the pursuit of money.  When the need for money is worth more than human life, as was shown by a Ron Paul supporter at the Tea Party debates, that is a model that is doomed to fail.  We have to start thinking about how we want to treat the least among us, and people have to be willing to make sacrifices, and the first who need to are the wealthy.  The real challenge is that we all have to start looking out for each other.  Until we can do that, America, Alaska, and the entire world is doomed to fail.

Peace out,

Lefty

Eli’s Review: Too Big to Fail

There are certain films that are designed for an express purpose.  They want to convey a certain thought process, feeling, or reaction from the audience.  There are films like the abominations against rational thought, also known as the Twilight series, which were made for the sole purpose of making teen girls are warm for…one of the stalker guys’ forms, it could go either way.  Then there are films like The Social Network, where it wanted you to think about personal betrayal and the journey from being a nobody to having the world.  There are also films like The Sky Crawlers, which shows the rather cold world eternal warfare, and gets you to think about how pointless war is and how it inevitably doesn’t help anybody.

Good films actually require a person to think.  It is never enough, at least for this critic, to simply sit down and just start blankly at a screen and look at the pretty colors.  That was how Avatar got so many people to love it.  A story so cliche that it was beyond parody, and a vaguely racist character paradigm where the white man becomes better and being native than the natives.  But a truly great film is able to rise above that, to challenge a person’s way of thinking, and to even get them to think a little deeper about something that they hadn’t even had the courage to think about before.  It is a rare few films that truly go the distance in that category.

The film Too Big to Fail was an absolute masterpiece when it comes to getting the audience to think.  The fact that it is based on a true story make the point that it makes about society and the banking industry, and the politics of economics in this country that much more powerful and almost disturbing in parts.

A little background, this is a brand new film.  It was being shown at a meeting of the UAA College Democrats, of which I am a member.  It was shown at the home of John and Heather Aronno.  Two of the most politically active people that you will ever meet, if anybody in Anchorage has the chance.  Tonight was pretty fun, before and after the film.  But enough of the personal stuff, back to one of the most intriguing films that I have ever seen, and that is saying something.  Truthfully, it is the fact that this is based on a true story that is so powerful and so profoundly disturbing.  Truly, most Americans have no idea how close this country’s economy came to a complete meltdown.

I won’t lie, I am going to be laying out the plot of the film, but honestly, it is the delivery and the portrayal of the people who got this nation so close to disaster and then saved it that gives this film the genuine power that it has.  This film tells the story of the 2008 meltdown.  A rather interesting trick that this film uses is it combines the use of clips from actual news broadcasts with the story being played out.  The clips are used to drive home what part of the film they were talking about.  In a way, it was showing how the events that were unfolding were being shown to the people.  It almost seemed to be a mechanism to show how ignorant people in this country were of what was happening.

And the fact is that we truly were ignorant.  We have no idea how close we came to having our economy collapse.  There was a speech by Paul Giamatti’s character, Ben Bernanke, who was Chairman of the Federal Reserve, which was so powerful.  Pity I have been kind of exhausted all day, because I wish that I could remember it with clarity.  He spoke about how he had spent his entire academic time studying the Great Depression, and the writing was as clear as day to him that the country was in imminent trouble.  It couldn’t have been any better.

The fact is that every single person who was cast in this picture was brillianet.  William Hurt played Henry Paulson, the Secretary of the Treasury.  He was working with all of his might to stave off the potential disaster that was facing the country.  The efforts he was taking, and the level of committment were destroying him, on a physical as well as emotional level.  One can only imagine how stressful such a position would be in.  Plus, there was no clear solution, and everybody had their own agendas that they were playing at, which made his job even harder.  I could go through every role and how they are all perfect, but the fact is that that would take all night.  But there isn’t a single person who is miscast in this film.  It was made for HBO, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is absolutely awe-inspiring.

But the thing that truly sticks with you in this film is the fact that this kind of disaster could happen again.  The housing bubble, the very thing which caused the economic meltdown to happen in the first place (when it burst in late 2007) is back.  While it will take a lot of time to grow, the fact is that it is growing again.  Not only that, but China’s own bubble is on the verge of bursting, and that could spell a lot of trouble for this country, since we live in a global economy.  Plus, we still have the concept of Too Big to Fail in this country, which makes this even worse.  There were a series of textual epilogues that said that 10 banks now possess 77% of this entire country’s wealth.  Too Big to Fail is the understatement of the year.  We absolutely cannot afford to have these places fail on us now.  If that were to happen, I guess Bernanke and I are on the same page.  But, there seems to be no way to stop it now.

This film was powerful, and in a very profound way for me.  The fact is that it is so easy for people to just not pay attention to what is going on.  It is so easy for people to just go with the flow, but we need to pay more attention.  We need to keep tabs on what is going on, or we may start hearing about how things are getting very bad, very quickly.

Until next time, a quote,

“I don’t get it, why are we debating this? If they go down, you all will.”  -Ben Bernanke, Too Big to Fail

Peace out,

Maverick

The American Audience and Films

Well, with 2010 having passed, there is a very sincere question that people need to be asking- what is the next year of film going to be like?  2010 was a great year for intelligent cinema.  There were so many great movies.  Of course, greatness is a completely subjective term, but in my eyes, it was a great year for cinema.  All of the films that got big praises were loved by this particular critic.  There was The Social Network, which was one of the best-written films that I have ever seen.  There was Inception, which once again proves that Christopher Nolan is trule a great director.  In fact, let’s take this year apart piece by piece, because you don’t get many good years for intelligent big blockbuster cinema.  It is a true rarity, and we can make a point about this by dissecting the great elements in film.

Let’s start with Inception, which is tied for my favorite film of 2010.  It has proven what a truly fantastic director Christopher Nolan really is.  This is a guy who has proven beyond any form of doubt that it is possible to have an action movie be intellectually stimulating.  For crying out loud, this guy was able to make Batman intellectuallly stimulating!  I didn’t think that was possible!  The film Inception was an artful masterpiece combining rich characters with fantastical worlds and awesome fight scenes.  It was engaging, tragic, and beautiful, and like so many of Nolan’s movies, it left the audience with questions.  All great film should keep one thinking after the film is done.

The next film that was tied for the best of 2010 was The Social Network.  This film was another demonstration of Aaron Sorkin’s great talent for writing dialogue.  That was the best single part of this film- the dialogue.  Sorkin is second to one other great director when it comes to good dialogue- Quentin Tarantino.  Nobody can watch the film Reservoir Dogs and not credit Tarantino with being able to write great dialogue.  That whole film was telling a story through dialogue, and it was done well.  With The Social Network, this concept was put to use again.  It was well-acted, with some of the most compelling lines that have ever been.  Great film must have characters who compel you to remain interested, and great dialogue that never ceases to entertain.

A film that is an old concept that was shined up was Black Swan.  This film was a rather interesting take on the concept of questioning reality.  Of course, this is in no way a unique kind of film.  Films about the truth behind reality are very common.  This film distinguishes itself by having a compelling character, a unique life situation, and a fantastical element that makes itself known at the end of the film.  The dual-nature of innocence and corruption were explored very well, and it was a very powerful film.

2010 was just a great year for major blockbusters, and with the summer closing in on us, people must keep in mind that it is rare for so many big-name blockbusters to be so good.  There is a rather unpleasnat problem with big productions in this country- more often than not, they suck.  Look at the Transformers series.  How did Michael Bay screw this up?  It is the simplest concept on Earth.  You have two forces of robots who can become vehicle, and they are beating the snot out of one-another.  It’s a simple concept, and if Bay had kept it at that, it would have been a great movie.  But no, that wasnt’ what happened. 

The American audience has a very bad habit of being completely fine with accepting crappy film in this country.  The perfect example is with two films that came out in the same year.  The first was a Swedish film called Let the Right One In.  This film was a true masterpiece that showcased the rather unpleasant side of humanity.  It was about two young people (who were actually believably young, by the way) who find the ability to heal one-another’s wounds.  It is a story of teenage vampire romance.  Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but somehow, the Swedish were able to accomplish making one of the best films that this critic has ever seen.  It is one of those films that reminds us why we watch films.

The other film was the hackneyed piece of commercial garbage, Twilight.  There was a girl in one of my journalism classes who said that this film rewrote that “chick flick” genre.  There wasn’t a single intellectually stimulating moment in this entire film.  It was the most nullodramatic (I would like to thank TJ Kincaid with coining that term).  It was a piece of garbage.  Like the previous film, it was also about teenage vampire romance (although it was clear that neither of these characters was a teenager), but unlike the previously mentioned film, this piece of commercial crap wasn’t able to bring a single substantive message to the screen in any way.  It is easy to understand why teen girls loved it- a girl moves to a new town, and on her first day- every guy wants to do her, every girl wants to be her friend, and she meets the love of her life (who is a creep stalker that glitters in sunlight).  It is easy to get why the teen and tween girl market just loves that film, but the fact is that it is garbage.

These two films highlight a deeper question to society- why is it that when we are presented with something of artistic merit, we choose to shun that for pure crap?  Twilight, and all of the subsequent sequels, are nothing but T&A films for chicks.  That is all they are.  They are films so that girls can ogle cute guys and dream about being with them (even if the guy is a creepy pale stalker who openly admits to killing other people and wanting to kill her).  Guys have this problem too, of course, which is the reason that the Transformers series did so well.  Show Megan Fox’s breasts bouncing along in slow motion and you will have a film that gets you millions of dollars.  It is a sad but true fact about America’s current film industry.

And what’s more, it is pathetic.  Let the Right One In didn’t rake in nearly as much money as Twilight, and it was infinitely better than the other.  What is wrong with American audiences?  The film Avatar only did well because of the breathtaking special effects.  The plot was so hopelessly dry and cliche that it was beyond sad.  A film can have breathtaking special effects and be intellectually stimulating.  Case and point- Inception.  This film was a very great message, and most people probably don’t even notice.  It was kind of funny, when I went to see that movie, a bunch of girls exited when I did and were all confused, not understanding what happened at all.  I knew it was good then (like I didn’t know before). 

Film can be better, if people want it to be.  People have to start demanding something better.  That is just my opinion, anyway.

Peace out,

Eli

Tag Cloud