Wine and Cheese

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Monday, instead of writing I went in to New York City. My boyfriend and I had an invite to a wine tasting at city winery in Manhattan. I have been working hard at school and work and I felt like it was the perfect time to relax. We got dressed up and took the train in and had classic New York bagels for breakfast on the way there.

Once we arrived we realized what we had gotten ourselves in to. My boyfriends friend had RSVPed us for this event. His friend owns a liquor store in Maplewood NJ called Village Wines. Well I didn’t realize that this was a corporate event. We walked in and they asked us who we were there to represent. Right away I knew the deal and we slid easily in to our characters. We acted as co-workers and pretended that we were there doing research to find interesting wines for our shelves at our liquor store. Right away I became entangled in my story telling. I met a French woman from the Burgundy region. She had me sample three of her wines. I told her all about my love of wine and how I enjoyed visiting France recently. Soon enough I realized I was playing a character.

Like all good story tellers I created background information for myself and my boyfriend. We tried wines from different reasons and did our best to ask the right questions. We were given a notebook of prices and contact info for each vineyard or winery. After trying a bottle of red wine that cost $1200 (yes, I was shocked too) we walked over to the cheese platter to talk.

I was enjoying myself so much. My boyfriend asked if I could use this as a story idea and thats when I told him, “everything in life can be a story idea.” But yes, he was right. I could easily right a story about our experience that day and I want to constantly look at things as a story idea or use something from my life as a small detail in a story. Isn’t that what life is about?

As I was stuffing my face with cheddar cheese and water (I was trying not to get drunk at such a professional event) my boyfriend noticed someone. He guy walks over and introduces himself. He is a wine buyer from NJ and plays hockey with my boyfriend. They start chatting and right away I am intrigued. I felt like I had a good amount of knowledge about wine but this guy blew me out of the water. Then he admits that this is his full time job. He goes to tastings all of the time to buy new wines for his chain of stores that he works for. You could just tell that he loves his job.

On the train ride home my mind was running with ideas for stories. It just goes to show that you never know what is going to bring you inspiration. Maybe I should drink wine more often haha.

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Mar 2

I’m just going to post some notes here for tonight’s discussion.

This is from Miriam Posner’s syllabus website for her class “Selfies, Snapchat, & Cyberbullies”

“Our goal is to develop a vocabulary for talking about technological and cultural change that accommodates the diversity and contingency of human experience.”

What should students hope to take away from this class, and what are they working toward?

This is from the site for “The Selfie Course” from the Selfie Researchers Network

  • Selfie as discourse: Examples: What is the history (or histories) of the selfie? How do these histories map to contemporary media and scholarly discourses regarding self-representation, autobiography, photography, amateurism, branding, and/or celebrity?
  • Selfie as evidence: Examples: What are the epistemological ramifications of the selfie? How do selfies function as evidence that one attended an event, feels intimate with a partner, was battered in a parking lot, is willing to be ‘authentic’ with fans, or claims particular   standing in a social or political community? One uploaded, how do selfies become evidence of a different sort, subject to possibilities like ‘revenge porn’, data mining, or state surveillance?
  • Selfie as affect: Examples: What feelings do selfies elicit for those who produce, view, and/or circulate them? What are we to make of controversial genres like infant selfies, soldier selfies, selfies with homeless people, or selfies at funerals? How do these discourses about controversial selfies map to larger conversations about “audience numbness” and “empathy deficit” in media?
  •  Selfie as ethics: Examples: Who practices “empowering” selfie generation? Who does not? Who cannot? How do these questions map to larger issues of class, race, gender, sexuality, religion and geography? What responsibilities do those who circulate selfies of others have toward the original creator of the photo? What is the relationship between selfies and other forms of documentary photography, with regard to ethics?
  • Selfie as performance/presentation of self: While this aspect might be considered self-evident. We must pay attention to the tension between spontaneity and staging in the way that selfies serve as a performance and presentation of self in global and social media contexts. Also – when does the selfie as genre become a standard and format for staging authenticity in marketing and social activist campaigns across cultures? To what effect and what purpose?

This looks to me like a pretty good breakdown of the different ways to study selfies. All provocative questions. My question is, what value is this to academia, and in what discipline? Is this a direction for scholarship, or a topic to explore for the sake of ethics and being a human being?

Here are some other questions we might want to talk about.

  • Does the selfie cultural phenomenon, most popular in teens and young people, also encourage a culture of self-indulgence and prolonged adolescence? (Star Wars, Marvel, BuzzFeed, “frenemy”) If yes, could there be a correlative or causal relationship between this and the increasingly vitriolic and decreasingly intellectually rigorous nature of our dialogues regarding controversies, e.g. building a border wall?
  • Because selfies typically exist with very limited context, given the temporal nature of our very lives, is the selfie the next iteration of our attempt to document our experience and leave a mark on the word, or an inane squandering of our “one precious life?”
  • “Cam girl” as mentioned in article 3, is a term widely used to describe internet sex workers. We have no way of knowing what the circumstances are under which people do this, so we’ll just have to leave that alone. But assuming they’re not under duress, they’re exchanging content people want for monetary gain. Does this not fall at the extreme end of a sliding scale occupied by many people who might bristle at being compared to sex workers, who post things on the internet for audiences hoping to gain something of benefit to themselves, e.g. endorsements, notoriety, prizes, etc..
  • Selfies have been called a vital form of self expression. In a networked atmosphere, is it misleading to encourage individual posts that value centrality and primacy Was a way of participating in collaboration? When are these practices mutually exclusive and when do they work?
  • If we accept selfies as composition in the classroom, are they replacing other forms or adding to them? Let’s talk about those other forms.
  • Is a selfie not an intensely personal thing, more so than any form of expression we’ve used pedagogically before?
  • What is driving professors and institutions to explore this topic, and what field can most competently do so?
  • Is it fair to use selfies and other forms of digital media that students use for self expression as a classroom tool?

Consider the selfies below. Care to try to interpret them? Let’s talk about that. What’s happening in these photos? What are their contexts?