Final Reflection 1, 20/05/2020

One major challenge facing my community right now (as a student and unwilling member of Gen Z) would be poor understanding of Internet privacy and its importance to one’s safety. For more than a decade, students and children have been told not to give away their names and faces on the Web. This has changed rapidly in the past few years - now that my peers no longer know how to compartmentalize and disassociate online identities from each other, finding (too many) details about their lives is trivially easy. By Googling one of my previous classmates’ names, for example, I was able to find the (very) personal blog that her mother wrote when she was a small child. Many successful account “hacks” have simply been educated password guesses based on a user’s public information. Posting pictures of oneself is also equally dangerous. Countless people, especially women, have had their pictures nonconsensually used elsewhere for unsavory purposes. The more information one leaves out in the open (especially if tied to a true identity), the higher the chances of misuse.

Creating positive change in this area would entail both one-on-one/friend-to-friend conversation among those my age and starting educational/informational campaigns to share with younger people. Not everyone will follow the privacy advice given, but these actions may still cause positive change by making people more aware of what they do and how their information can be (mis)used. A kind, non-judgemental approach will be crucial - people nowadays will be very hesitant to follow advice if they are uncompromisingly told that they must delete their TikTok/Instagram accounts (even though that would help immensely). Mainstream culture will not change, but even just preventing people in my school from being careless will make a great difference in their lives and our community.

Metacognitive Processing #1, 18/12/2020

For my Conceptual Understanding assignment, I wrote about the importance of perspective in the poem Ozymandias. The way one perceives themself and their own experiences can differ radically from how they are perceived by others. In the context of the poem: "This contrast between the sober, still perspective of the narrator and the dreamy, inflated ego of the king makes the message so much more prominent: becoming too caught up in one’s earthly glory will make one a fool for eternity." The message is clear because both perspectives are understood to be/have been equally valid at different points in history, but their eras are so far apart that Ozymandias' once-supported grandiosity is nothing more than an embarrassing delusion in the eyes of a narrator who sees him dead and buried. This need for awareness of past, present, and future perspectives is not only useful in one's personal life, but also in the meta-analysis of literature. What may have been truth for an 18th century author can be a falsehood for a 21st century reader. For example, a depiction of women that was "subversive" and "dangerous" in its time (e.g. Hylas and the Nymphs) can easily be interpreted now as a flattering portrayal of feminine liberation.

2: So far, my third blog post has been the most personally satisfactory in terms of writing quality and analysis. I think it appropriately discussed all of War Photographer's important imagery and stylistic choices, and I didn't feel like I missed anything upon reading it with fresh eyes. It seems like I write best when I am given opportunities to synthesize style, content, and overall meaning (for any subject) instead of dissecting one particular quality/trait. This is because I tend to get overwhelmed by ideas that don't really fit single categories/aspects of writing. Without a certain amount of freedom, I find myself struggling for ideas and misunderstanding what I'm supposed to be doing. This connects to my next point: I think Blog 2 was my weakest work by far, because I interpreted the prompt very differently. I thought it would be about the content of the article itself (how language is central to cultural expression), but it was actually supposed to be just about the author's tone and literary choices.
I don't have issues with the way I wrote Blog 2, but it was unsatisfactory for its purpose. Even if I had understood the prompt correctly, it's likely that I still wouldn't have done so well. I would have felt lost regarding my explanations for stylistic choice - the tone is there, the wording is there, but it is so directly observable that it'd come out as a bland list of explanations without any deeper connection. This is likely a product of my own narrowness when it comes to writing. Misunderstandings aside, my personal interest in a topic greatly affects the quality of my work about it. To write well, I have to first explore what stands out about a concept. When I find something onto which I can focus, the ideas start coming in and it grows increasingly easier to write well. When I am ignorant about something, it tends to show very clearly in my work. There are two solutions I have considered for this phenomenon: 1) become more well-read and interested in a variety of topics, or 2) change my mindset for work into something that is driven by the act of learning itself.

3: I enjoyed learning about the connections between language, culture, and contemporary societal mores. Language evolves with the demand for new concepts and ways of expressing ourselves, and it's important to be aware of that demand in order to better define ourselves and understand our current zeitgeist. For the next parts of the course, I'd like to look at language from a more multicultural viewpoint. We connected Othello to Black (and often Black American) issues, but I would also like to see how language is used uniquely by different cultural groups (who have experienced Western colonialism). With this, my portfolio will hopefully grow to encompass a variety of essays and creative works that explore the use of language from multiple diverse points of view.