Studying Sociology


This is a feature article I have written for our wonderful group’s sociology magazine we christened The Apolonian. It took two long nights to write my article and to fully layout the magazine, but I did it, just in the nick of time. I am quite thankful I had superb groupmates. My blockmate Michiko wrote a nice editorial column, while Leslie has drawn a impressive editorial cartoon and a really thought-provoking article about how people grieve over their loved ones’ deaths. I didn’t expect her to be able to write an article that deep and profound–she has truly exceeded expectations. The others were great too, very early submitters. I hope I can post our other works soon.

Sociology is one of my favorite classes now, while Accounting is the most frustrating one.

*back to studying*

The Apolonian

Say it with a Tweet
by Desiree Grace Tan

With the whole world as their audience, people make use of social media to interact, to impress, to express.
Through social media, can self-expression also become self-mutilation?

Say it with a Tweet
Glancing at my Twitter home page on my laptop’s illuminated screen, I see a Tweet   addressed to me, by a girl named Natasha.

@mylittlenotes: @desireegrace Wow, I truly enjoy your WordPress. I’m a passionate writer as well. My link is louisdiamondshoes.blogspot.com! (:

A rush of excitement gushed over me as I quickly visit the link and browse her blog, discovering that she, like me, has a thirst for literature and philosophical quotes. Like me, writing is her passion. She is enthralled with photography, like me. Unlike me, she has a penchant for 18th century fashion. Unlike me, she is American, living on the other side of the planet.

I promptly send her a reply thanking her for taking the time to read my blog as well as complimenting her for her blog’s beautiful prose. I then clicked on the “Follow” button. Now I would be able to keep posted with Natasha’s Twitter Tweets. Twitter, the world’s most popular micro-blogging tool, has now more than 19.7 million unique visitors.

Being an avid user of different forms of social media, receiving replies and comments from people from many parts of the world has become a common occurence to me, perhaps to so many others as well, and interacting through blogs and social media sites gives me a sense of belonging to a bigger, more diverse part of society. According to Cynthia Gordon, vice president of new media marketing for Universal Orlando Resort, she says, “The Internet is the biggest psychological and social human experience. We make encouraging viral activity.”

There is so much interaction on the World Wide Web, there undoubtedly exists a completely different form of society manifested on colorful, pixelized screens. People now get to communicate intimately to anybody they wish to talk to. By responding to Tweets on Twitter, ordinary people may now get to interact on a more personal level with people with the likes of Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, and Ellen DeGeneres. Since these celebrities are now able to directly share their thoughts and to divulge (if they choose to) what they had for breakfast to everyone else, the barriers between social classes are significantly blurred.

I have received comments from friends and strangers on my photos on Flickr, on my posts on Tumblr, and on my blog entries on WordPress. I have also made comments on other blogs and online news articles myself. As common as it is now, I still am amazed that just by posting a few words on my blog, I have been able to unintentionally touch the life of someone I do not even have a connection with in the first place. I didn’t even need to know the name of those whom I have touched. The World Wide Web, satellites, and intricately-crafted interfaces worked its magic to send my message out to the world for me. All I needed to do is punch a few keys on my keyboard, and to have something worthwhile to say.

More often than not, people interacting and communicating through social media surpass barriers of race, gender, and class. Many of those with Internet connections join online conversations without having to face discrimination, since commenting on blogs do not require one to show their complete identities, but only vignettes of what they choose to reveal of themselves.

Then again, because of the process of selecting what one chooses to divulge, one’s identity on the internet could prove to become rather distorted. One person’s rich personality that shines on her Facebook’s profile page showing dozens of pictures and regularly updated status messages do not really reflect who a person is, and yet stereotypes among the online community emerge, inevitably jugding people by what they see on social networking profiles and their quiz results.

However, to some extent, I argue that facets of a person’s identity may truly be seen through what he or she posts online. Reading someone’s blog shows the writer’s deepest emotions, and private thoughts—intriguing aspects of a person that could not be easily noticed offline.

Social constructionism theory suggests “all knowledge, including the most basic, taken-for-granted common sense knowledge of everyday reality, is derived from and maintained by social interactions.” In the Internet, a separate reality is created, enabling a new form of society to emerge, merging people from all over the world, creating different cultures altogether.

Social media is now changing the way we interact with each other. When used well, amazing things happen, barriers are broken, cultures merge, and people from all over the world unite. The emergence of Youtube, Facebook, Plurk, texting, blogging and other forms of social media shows concrete evidence that the people are not divided by their differences, rather, diversity is celebrated.

References:

Boyd, Danah. 2009. “Living and Learning with Social Media.” Penn State Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology. State College, PA: April 18.

A Beautiful Mess


JUST two weeks into my sophomore year, I find myself in this huge mess. I have made so many mistakes, including submitting my feature article two days after it was due (which led to my editor’s sheer disappointment), as well as not submitting my accounting homework due to frustration and helplessness. I have lost so many things, including my book, My Sister’s Keeper, and two water jugs. I have had my share of humiliating experiences, including tripping over my own feet while showing off my so-called talent during my first TnT (Talk and Tours) training day and being at a loss for words while doing a spiel for tours during the third training day.

So many more events have happened and I wish I could chronicle them all. Embarrassing and “fail” moments notwithstanding, I can say that so far, my sophomore year is quite more than I thought it to be. I have made so many wonderful new friends. But I must remember to always keep in touch with old ones. TnT training made me go through so many firsts, including rolling around the muddy grass in SEC Field, to dancing the Banana dance in front hundreds of people. Being part of the Talk and Tours, I was reminded of what it feels to be really be alive, how let go and be crazy, how to simply enjoy the company of amazing people. I sometimes kind of forget that. My Law 11 and SA 21 professors are astounding, while my totally boring by-the-book Eco 102 professor really is testing my attentiveness. Must care to listen still.

Because of The Guidon, I have realized firsthand that I still have a long way to go in developing my writing skills. I could very well say that being part of this publication has tested my humility and confidence. I wonder if I am taking this craft seriously right now, if I dream of becoming a writer for Time magazine or the Associated Press someday. Writing for Newsweek would also be great, or Reader’s Digest, or The New York Times….

My classes are getting really tougher now, and the organizations I signed up for now expect so much from me. Then again, I find no reason to grumble and whine. This is college, after all. And I am loving every moment.