Cute Animals Creating Big Impacts

You literally cannot go a few seconds without a post about animals somewhere on the internet. Whether its cats doing something stupid, or a dog wearing a hat, or even just a mini version of pretty much anything, humans are a sucker for our neighboring species on this planet. With such a strong representation, it’s not a surprise that animals are so often used to portray human emotion and human experiences through film and other media sources in order to get messages across.

Think back to when you were a kid, of how many movies about animals we enjoyed. Madagascar, Happy Feet, Finding Nemo… The list goes on. All of these movies had animals showing human emotions and telling stories you would only hear from humans, and we do this because it works.

Think back to the classic, world renowned film known as “March of the Penguins” a documentary like film that encompassed the real, true experiences of the penguins but transformed via narration and filmography to display them in a light that shows traits similar to any action, adventure or romance film that we would watch today. The impact was so great on the messages portrayed because it wasn’t the humans being impacted.


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Humans get hurt every day, humans die every day. We as a species are becoming quite numb to our own species harm, however when it occurs to an animal we are overcome with guilt. People quite often can walk past a homeless man or watch a video of a fellow human dying, but can’t bear to hear a dog whimper. Animals are used in our modern day as a stab at our emotional weak points to expose us to potential truths or happenings that we as a collective hide or pretend aren’t too serious because it’s only impacting “other people” that don’t truly matter to us.

As grim as it sounds, it’s nothing less than the truth in my eyes as to how humans view each other. We love animals because we see them as defenseless and something we need to protect, when we can’t even protect ourselves from each other. We won’t learn from daily news articles about how much we destroy and hurt each other, so it’s up to humanized animals to show what pain and damage we truly are causing.




For The Greater Good, Or The Greater Likes?

As humans we feel empathy for other people, we lend a helping hand and we pick others up when they are down. With the age of modern media, it’s almost thrown at us every single day a story of someone’s suffering, whether it is the refugees, the homeless, or wars in the Middle East, every day, somewhere, someone is suffering and we are reminded of that. With most discussion of this topic, it’s boiled down to the ideas of what is ethical to publish on the basis of what’s labelled as “Poverty Porn”. Is it ethical to publish a photo of a dying child for the reaction and the message it portrays? Do they have their rights still? Does it even matter because they aren’t in the immediate area it’s being published? Many questions, and no answers.

However, with this topic on mind, the idea of poverty porn and using poverty and hardships as a way of getting messages, art or ideas across, I have thought further towards a more modern adaption, something I myself witness nearly daily throughout social media. Using the idea of poverty to boost one’s own image online.


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I’m sure we have all given money or food to a homeless person before, we have done the good deed for them, we tell them to have a nice day which is returned with a “God Bless You” and we go on, feeling pretty good about ourselves for making someone else smile, and that’s an amazing thing to do. However, it’s becoming a trend throughout the social media networks for people to post, take photos, or show that they’ve “helped out” in one way or another as a sure fire way to gather likes and support from other people, which now asks the question.. Do they actually care about the good deed? Or is it all just for some likes? One would hope it’s the first answer of yes, but in some circumstances it seems unlikely. Before social media we didn’t put up posters or call our friends to say guess what I just did, we just did it out of the goodness of our hearts, not for someone else to send us a heart in support.

In Jeremy Wilson’s article, he supports this idea by commentating on the way internet users use the homeless to gain attention and viewers in return for a larger fan base, for advertising purposes to gather a profit. He quotes;
“For the narcissistic, desperate for a slice of online fame, cynically exploiting viewers’ emotions and squeezing out the audience’s praise for their good deeds is almost as delicious as the ad revenue.”


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To bring upon a conclusion, I ask a simple question. Are we are humans too easily manipulated for someone else’s gain? Are our hearts too big to realize we are being played a fool for someone else profits? Or is it all just a new age, of new media, and a new way to boost your online image and a new way to get yourself ahead in the ever changing struggle for the social ladder top spot?




Numbers & Data, Systematic or Self Representative?

As an avid video game player I cannot help but open this discussion with a quote from an old “Call of Duty” game and that is “The numbers mason, What do they mean?”

Numbers are everywhere we all know that, it’s in our textbooks, shopping lists, diets, pay, television, everywhere. However until now those numbers really have only had an impact on the ways in which we conduct and plan our daily lives. After viewing a TED Talk by Gary Wolf titled “The quantified self”, it brought me into a deeper state of thinking about how much numbers have moved from something as a reflection of system and more something as a reflection of self.

Taking a different path from Gary’s approach of health and monitoring and the impact of those numbers, I’m taking this from a point of view about a different form of number. It’s a number that is so menial and meaningless but has somehow become what’s known as a virtual currency (literally, people pay for this) this is of course is those pesky but oh so important “Likes”.

Most people and definitely a vast majority of millennials and young adults have been in this situation where we take what we believe is the most perfect photo of ourselves ever, or if we are feeling a little philosophical, a super deep and meaningful quote (which is usually ripped off from song lyrics anyway) only to find that only a measly 5 people agreed with how awesome your photo or idea was. This then is followed by the confusion and state of distress in which you are unsure whether to delete your creation or take it on the chin and try to survive knowing you only got 5 likes while your best friend got 50 for one clearly not as good as yours.


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The online currency of the “Like” has consumed us all, it’s consumed individuals, businesses and groups. If you aren’t getting likes you aren’t getting anywhere. This whole new meaning adapted to such a simple everyday concept such as numbers and data creates a whole new wave of insecurities and meanings behind our online behaviour. We begin to become hesitant to upload something in case it doesn’t meet a satisfying number of likes, or we delete photos out of panic that they aren’t flowing in steadily enough. We begin to question ourselves, look at ourselves differently, question the loyalty of our friends for not giving the mutual support like when times get hard, and worst of all, we begin to let the idea of a “Like” dictate how we see ourselves and the world around us.  Hearing these thoughts and experiences to overall agreement during classroom discussion shows that it’s not just an issue for those who are easily let down but for everyone in the online space, all desperate to just pull the same amount of likes as figures such as Kim Kardashian or Taylor Swift’s cat.


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So to bring it back to the original quote, why do the numbers mean anything? Why do we place so much value in a series of pixels that outline a number to say how many people clicked a mouse button (or tapped their phone screen like a monkey in a glass cage)? Where is our appreciation for our own efforts without plastering it over social media? Numbers have changed from a stable system that represents reality to a system of chaos that distorts reality and destroys self-confidence.



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