“Evolution” (?) of Communication

While sitting next to my friend she suddenly said, “communication is awful!” To be honest, I have to agree. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Myspace, dating sites, chat rooms, texting, etc. Methods of communication have drastically changed over the last decade or so. Some may argue that the change was for the better, since we can now easily and quickly communicate with people outside of our area code. However, I beg to differ. Yes, we have more amazing ways to talk and interact with others who are far away, as in if I am on the continent of Australia and you are sitting in your dorm room, we can have a perfectly good conversation on the phone or through video chat. But have you noticed that when people are sitting right next to each other, more often than not they are on their phones or their devices?

50 years ago, to ask someone out one would call their house multiple times or ask them in person at school. Nowadays, one is lucky if they receive a call, for the main methods of communication are through these little “personal” devices. Personal in the fact that they are intended for the use of a singular person, not in the sense that they make our lives and interactions more personal. We have become absorbed in the universe that is personal technology. For a good portion of our generation, it is important to check all these apps with short videos, and images that delete themselves after a few seconds, and status updates. Why are we so reliant on these apps and programs? I know that for some, it is a way of feeling connected to others. Some may also try to remain connected via technology. I respect and understand that. I also respect the fact that people do not have to verbally communicate to have healthy relationships, whether friends or more. People can just sit together, and if they want, they can use their personal devices. But when technological communication takes precedence to personal, face-to-face communication (or at least using our voices to communicate) I think that there is a problematic topic worth addressing. Yes, the technology of the world is advancing and aiding us in many ways. But as a result, has communication really ‘evolved’?

To read more about this topic, click here for a professional article on the Evolution of Communication.

Gun Culture: Why not US?

So a few days ago I was scrolling through BBC Asia when I saw an article about a deadly shooting in South Korea. Early Tuesday morning a man open fired in a convenience store, killing three people. In South Korea, it is against the law to possess or distribute guns. One can only have a gun if they are security personnel, and hunters must keep their guns locked up in police stations. However, most men have experience using firearms due to South Korea’s compulsory military service. Annually, the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people is 0.06 (GunPolicy).

Great Britain has the “reputation of having some of the tightest gun control laws in the world.” (Library of Congress) The Firearms Act of 1968 defines a ‘prohibited weapon’ and dictates what is illegal in terms of those weapons. It is an offense to “possess, purchase, acquire, manufacture, sell, or transfer these prohibited weapons without the written authority of the Defence Council or Scottish Ministers.” Therefore the only people who are legally able to have guns are officers, members of the armed forces, or those with permission from the Home Secretary. Annually, the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people is 0.23.

Gun Laws Comparison

Right here in the United States the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people is 10.3. Over the last five years there has been an increase in gun-related crimes. We as a nation are divided over the issue of making stricter laws concerning gun possession, especially considering the recent Newtown shooting. Firstly there is the debate of whether current gun laws are sufficient or whether more should be implemented. Then there is the issue of whether less guns would be safer, or more guns – like having guns in schools – would offer more protection. Unfortunately, this has been an ongoing issue for many decades. In the 1990’s, there was a deadly confrontation and siege at Ruby Ridge that resulted in controversy over the actions of federal agents going after the Weaver family. There is still disagreement over “which side” open fired first, but a woman and a young adult were killed in the process, thus escalating the event to a national level. The public was divided over federal rights vs. personal rights, just as it is today. Who should be trusted with guns? Higher ups and people with experience so that they can help prevent crime, or the public so that they can protect themselves?

What is love?


Many say love hurts, but does it really? As studies have shown, it actually does hurt. It hurts our brain more than we think.

Studies have shown that people who are happily in love and people and cocaine users have something in common. The fact that the same region of the brain that becomes active for cocaine users also becomes active for the people who are happily in love.

So, what is love really? I think that we will never know. Everyone experiences love in a different way. For some, love is sweet and magical and for others, bitter and painful.

As described by Fisher during one of her TED Talks, “… Romantic love is more than a cocaine high. At least you come down from cocaine! Romantic love is an obsession. It possesses you. You lose your sense of self. You can’t stop thinking about another human being. Somebody is camping in your head.” This is a great example of what love is, it is an addiction and something that we want all the time.

Fisher and her team did some research and ran MRI scans on people in love and people who had recently been dumped in order to try and discover what the chemical activity in the brain is. They found activity in three brain regions. One of those regions is the one which is activated in intense romantic love. This tends to be a good region for there to be activity because is releases chemicals which make us happy. However, if you are trying to get over a past lover this region makes it very hard for you to forget about them. The second region where there was activity found was the area in the brain which helps you calculate the gains and losses. The last region of the brain where there seems to be activity is the one with deep attachment. This makes it just so hard for us to forget about someone when we want to.

These three regions to the brain activated can be bad news to us because it means that instead of trying to forget about that person you become more obsessed with the idea of them and end up loving them even more. Another interesting factor is that those regions of the brain become more active when you can’t get what you want.

The good news is that, people who are in long term relationships don’t need to worry about whether the love you feel for your partner is still there even after twenty-five years because all of those regions still become activated.

From an anthropological kind of view, Love is universal and no matter what culture you come from or economic status it still has the same effects on us. We always tend to believe that every culture is different and that we all have different beliefs. But, when it comes to love we are all the same. We share the same beliefs and the same kind of pain.

Me, Myself, and my Ego

Me, Myself, and my Ego

The article “Dealing with Inflated Egos” by Ty Matejowsky and Beatriz Reyes-Foster, discusses the problems that can arise when people think too much of themselves and get into trouble with others. While I thought this article would focus more on the ego, it took it one step further to what I can interpret as everyday and structural violence within the power relations of students and professors.

The article talks about how field schools can become places of bad memories because teachers take their power and use it badly. Their inflated egos allow them to believe they have a right to do things like “demanding lead authorship on original work you have done without actually having written anything.” This reminds me of structural violence that we have discussed many times in class. It is a chronic problem that can arise when people of higher power misuse and abuse their influence on others. This is most prevalent in the Democratic Insecurities book where the government and men force women to do their bidding and be subservient to them. I can also see some of the instances in the article to be everyday violence because many people ignore it and allow the mistreatment to go unchecked as it is something that happens too often to really care about.

In the future these egotistical people will be responsible for their actions, but this article brings up an interesting anthropological view. People misuse power and get too carried away when they think themselves above others. While it will be nearly impossible to control these issues fully, having more democratic schools where all people have stronger voices could help to start combating the great and mighty ego we all encounter at some point in our lives.



Voodo, Magic, and Witchcraft

In the article, “Unmaking spirits? A case of witchcraft in Cuba,” by Diana Espirito, the article discusses how witchcraft in Cuba is a large part of their culture and is prevalent in the lives of those who live there as well as visit. Diana talks about her experience with a spirit that was sent to attach itself to her and give a message of love from the sender.

This entire article reminds me of the excerpt we discussed in class called “The Secrets of Hati’s Living Dead.” We talked about how voodoo and witchcraft were a way to control people as well as uphold laws. Once one was a zombie and taken control of by witchcraft, they would have to be freed in order to escape the hold of their master. In the Unmaking Spirits article, Diana states “selves or souls (or souls as selves) are located in the recesses of bodies or minds, subject to ascension (or liberation) after death, or recovery through therapy.” This brings up the cultural idea that souls can be freed even after they are trapped with voodoo or witchcraft. This idea and kind of ritual is found in many other cultures.

The idea of witchcraft being used to contain souls and use them to do the bidding of a master is a strong part of cultural anthropology. It is important in the future to make sure these unique cultures are preserved and won’t be destroyed like many thanks to the modern world.

Reference: http://popanth.com/article/unmaking-spirits-a-case-of-witchcraft-in-cuba

A World of Online Identities

Anti-racism movements on tumblr are under debate. Are they actually helpful in abolishing racism or do they only have the appearance to do so? James Jang brings up the idea of “tumblr identities,”  in his article, which are written personas that people make online and use as their other self.

In lab, we discussed how online profiles or personas that people use on facebook can be deceiving when it comes to courtship or friendship. One reads a profile or looks at pictures and finds out a superficial facade of a person. Some may make their online world as close to their real life existence, but others make up a new side of themselves when they are on a computer. In my perspective making contact online isn’t nearly as good as meeting someone face to face and interacting with them. Computers and the online world act like a shield, so people can be as fake or as different as they like because it is not truly their real self and their facial and body gestures cannot be seen. Even if you are honest in making a tumblr identity, for example, how much of yourself can really be translated into a profile page on a website? Much like a book cover, I think only the superficial side of a person can be written out, leaving the real information hidden under a pretty picture they create for themselves.

This is an important concept because our world is morphing into a very technological age. We rely on technology for medicine, communication, and interaction. This idea of having anti-racism and other activist groups focusing their efforts online using tumblr identities is an important topic because it signals that we as a human race have moved even further into the relative safety of the online realm and are starting to believe online identities hold more power in our lives.

Reference: http://popanth.com/article/what-is-so-real-about-online-anti-racism/

Nostalgic About Nostalgia: The Complex Results of Meaning-Making

Michael Harkin’s “California Dreamin’” article took me back to one of my Cultural Anthropology discussions about how environment/space has potential to influence culture through personal experiences.

In Harkin’s piece, he discusses how his most recent trip to Walt Disneyland, with his child, made him long for his own childhood as he became increasingly nostalgic over the course of his visit. Harkin describes his nostalgia through the lens of someone who grew up in Southern California and he suggests that the nostalgia he experienced while at Disneyland was the deliberate intentions of those who design Disneyland’s exhibits. Disneyland encouraged a specific type of nostalgia for Harkin; a type of nostalgia that is ideal to a person who experienced a midwestern, town that revolves around the typical “Main Street USA,” while showing heavy signs of late 1800 influence.

Harkin effectively describes the complexity of nostalgia by suggesting that, “nostalgia operates as a sort of prism, refracting all primary experience: thus, I could be nostalgic for my parents’ nostalgia for the Midwest in a seemingly simpler time, seen from the troubled 1960s.” Through this complexity, we can see how a place can influence ones experiences/feelings. In addition to this, we can even use a place to make conclusions about the long term cultural effects a location has on a group of people.

Anthropology can be used to better understand the designs of spaces and the specific visual/environmental tools used to induce certain emotions. We continue to see the heavy effects of environment on culture especially in an age where cultural diversity continues to decline. An example on the heavy influence environment has on culture can be seen in the film “Sun Come Up, where the viewer is exposed to the troubling effects of climate change on Carteret Islanders. In this film, we can see how the relocation of the Carteret leads to the eventual end of their culture because their culture is rooted in island life with no exposure to the market economy.

Referenced: < http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2014/04/24/california-dreamin/ >

Referenced: Film: Sun Come Up