6 Asbury students and myself were given the opportunity to assist in Hillsong Worship's concert in Cincinnati this past week. Several of us were on camera, one on graphics, and two on photography. We had an incredible experience. Not only were we live to the IMAG screens, but also 8 LED squares on the stage which moved up and down. At any given time, a camera not live on the side screens could be live to one of the LEDs, making shooting this concert challenging and interesting. We were only there for about 8 hours, but even that brief chance to create and learn was incredibly valuable.
Hillsong Worship is moving around the country. It's been on tour for about three weeks now. They have one more before they all head back to Australia.
Photography courtesy of Bryan Garrett.
Everyone at Sundance had raved about it. We couldn't even get tickets to see the numerous screenings, it was so popular. Finally it came out to play in theaters and I made the time yesterday to see what all the fuss was about.
After all, how often does a movie shot over the course of 12 years come along?
While the concept was brilliant, inspiring, mysterious, and provoking, the movie was not.
The idea of traversing someone's childhood from elementary school to college was done . . . well. But it touched on every cliche. It was almost too general. The characters always felt distant and shallow. Because of that, the acting, which would already be tough in terms of holding onto characters for such a long period of time, had several off moments. Tension that could have been capitalized on was released easily. For example, one of the drunken husbands (there were two) throws a glass at the boy, Mason, and it shatters, nearly hitting his face. The next day, Mason's mom removes them from the situation and they never see the crazy husband again. Honestly, drunken husband #1 was the most interesting out of all of them. But he was never engaged with.
The film was a bit of a nostalgic tour of childhood, which was interesting in that so many of ours involved so many similar feelings and speeches. But perhaps it's movies like these which perpetuate the cliched nature of our childhoods. And at 3 hours, it felt like we were living it real time.
So while I loved the concept of a narrative time lapse, I think the story was weak and simple. Which made the beauty of the effect (traversing 12 years) disintegrate.
This semester I have the privilege of Associate Producing my professor Doug Smart's Emmy-winning, student-crewed sitcom, Friends Like You. In only the first week and a half, I've realized just how many hats a producer has to wear. I had some concept before from producing my own short films, but for a television episode with a larger cast and crew, the jobs increase in stature and numbers. So far I've read opposite actors for casting, researched stuffed cats for props, tracked deliveries, physically moved 25 20' high flats into the studio, planned the shots for the opening sequence, etc.
I love the eclectic and informed nature of the job. My inquisitive personality is made for asking questions, preparing, and organizing. I know this is only the beginning of the process, but I'm excited for what lies ahead.
In addition to the sitcom, I'm producing our live broadcast of chapel - a designated time three times/week where a speaker addresses all of campus. I'm in charge of crewing, recording, programming, etc. Again, the ability to lead, organize, and consult creatively is a perfect fit for me. Pretty soon we will be incorporating students from our multi-camera class into the camera operator rotation to give them experience.
Over the course of my existence, I've been exposed to many different institutions of learning such as private schools, community colleges, self-learning, homeschooling, community college, universities, public schools, etc.
There is one common theme that underlines every class at every school that I've witnessed: What is the take away?
I'd say homeschooling is exempt from this as the general focus in my experience was learning and discovering why what was learned was relevant and should be learned. However, specifically at my own university and the universities I've interacted with throughout summers to ensure I graduate on time with my double major, I've found the focus to be on finding the main, obvious point, and then moving on.
And while that seems like a worthy pursuit overall, I have come to resent that fact. You see, it is a result of this ambition that I've learned to skim. Yes, read at a faster pace in order, not to glean and understand, but to find the facts and move on.
I find this habit that is now engrained in myself inefficient, ineffective, and infuriating. Why? Because now, when I got read an interesting article, book, etc. that is my first instinct, to skim. In fact, it takes a great deal of work to remove myself from that mindset and read normally.
The end goal orientation of American education has gutted the love of learning and implanted a sense of "find, memorize, forget". The facts I've learned hang useless without context. I find my communications are stunted because I don't understand ideas but simply their main facts and who made them. Perhaps I can tell you the dates of Napoleon's battles. But what use is that? I can't apply his reasoning or use him as an example because I don't understand the motivation and circumstances that drove him to war. Why? Because I learned to skin.
Reading as much as fast as I could was the goal. Not exploring and understanding.
In summation, my curiosity had been killed for the sake of a syllabus.
When I studied at Oxford last summer, I saw a glimpse of hope. Each week we were given a question and a library card accessing over 11 million books. We were then told to come back with a paper and explain our conclusion. We couldn't just find some facts. We had to explore people's lives, their work, their worlds in order to understand what was happening, why, and how it has shaped society today.
I learned more in those 5 weeks than I did in 3 years at my own university. Why? Because I didn't skim. I was given time to explore, conclude, and apply.
I hope, perhaps upon graduation, I will forget this new skill of skimming. I hope it's not a permanent fixture in my mind. I hope I can train myself back into a love for reading that could devour 500 pages in a few hours. Time will tell if the change is irreversible.
So I encourage you to find where your love of learning live and feed it, encourage it, nurture it. Because it seems the system that is meant to is currently unable.
On the bright side, Psychologists have a new dimension of addiction to test and write books on. However, the obsession with social media has cast a cloud over our self-esteems and therefore our relationships.
But this is not a post about the technology take-over. This is a post about Snapchat. But it's not a post about whether or not society as a whole should buy into it. This is a post about me (hence my name on the blog) and why I choose not to have it.
Snapchat is wonderfully popular. It's quick. It's silly. It's a bit like real-life charades to maintain a real-time communication line. Some people use it for triple-chinned selfies. Others use it for work to quickly show another co-worker something they're referencing or need help with. It's become one of the giants in social media along with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc.
I do not have the app on my phone. All of my friends do. Am I an anti-social fun-killer, you ask? Nope. I enjoy communication (it's my major), I enjoy photography (it's my hobby), and I enjoy my friends (mostly).
I've chosen not to partake because of several reasons. The first two are easy:
1. The origin of Snapchat was predominantly sending suggestive images to other people. I'm not really into that kind of behavior. And if that was part of the initial purpose, I'm not sure I want to support it.
2. You can always tell who's a Snapchatter in public. Let's just say there are other levels of recognition I'm aiming for.
My final reason is the one that really convinced me not to even have it on my phone.
3. My love language is words of affirmation.
"Katie, what the heck does that even mean?"
There are five love languages. Touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, and gifts. You usually have one main one and maybe a secondary (Note: the way you show love is not always the language you want to receive). My secondary is quality time. This means that when I make, send, give, do, help, offer, etc. something to/for someone, I'm desperately hoping to be appreciated for that through words. Furthermore, with quality time, I'm looking for attention - I want to see that I'm worth someone's focus.
You know how you hear about girls getting bent out of shape because a guy took an hour to respond to her text? That's not a girl thing. That's an intuitive person thing. Some of us are incredibly self-aware. We are constantly reading situations and people and experiences in order to make them better. Add that with the combination above and you get neediness, a dependency on others to find confidence, self-love, fulfillment. That's not a healthy way to live.
I'm convinced the above breakdown in a main reason social media works in the first place; not because people want to communicate with each other so much as they want others to affirm their lives, opinions, meal choice. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are all slightly removed. It's you and a big space for the rest of the world who can choose to respond or not. Snapchat is like texting: one-on-one. Only it's more intense because it involved literally showing your perspective through the lens of the camera.
I love that ability. It's why I'm a photographer. I think sharing what I see can be such an amazing experience.
However, if I'm doing so everyday of my life, when I know I will desire a person to affirm what I'm communicating to them through my silly face, cereal, or whatever photo I send in a split-second, I'm going to actually generate more emptiness in myself. Because those people are not using that app to build me up as a person. They're using it to fill themselves up or simply have fun. Neither are giving actions, but taking. My expectations will not be meant because my insecurities are rubbing against the flaws of humanity.
Now, that last fact is true during real conversations with real human beings who have know the real you for your whole life. People are selfish. That's their default mode. But by choosing not to take part in perpetual cycles that I know are designed in such a way that they will only cause me to overanalyze things about myself that were just fine to begin with, I'm choosing to be a healthier me.