Wednesday, October 20, 2010

There is still hope...

I don't know what it was. Maybe it was the black coffee in front of me. Maybe it was how i caught myself reading Marcel last night a lot longer than I had originally intended. Whatever it was, I couldn't get Marcel's philosophy out of my head when I was reading about two similarly related stories that were sent to me.

One story, talked about (and had an interview with) these girls in Texas who have started a campaign called "Redefining Beautiful" and in short, they don't wear make up at school. They won't do it, and they think beauty need not be defined by make up. And People are listening, and other girls across the country are picking up the message and instituting it in their own lives.

 Watch the interview here

Perhaps it was selfish of me to really welcome these girls into having a place in my heart. I, like many Apostolic guys I have talked to, for some reason don't find make up attractive. I see it more as a distraction when girls cake that stuff on. Thus I am all for the Redefining Beautiful campaign. Yet, there I was, kind of surprised that these girls were without make up on national television, and their facial blemishes and zits were there in the open, saying "HELLO WORLD! THIS IS BEAUTY! AU NATURAL!" And in spite of my love for the natural look, I had become so automatic about how perfect girls should like on TV, that I was taken back by how proud these girls were to be "imperfect."

Then there was this story  about a high school cheerleading team protesting against their uniforms and how if worn, would bare their midriffs. And they kind of won the complaint.

You kinda take a step back like, wow. it's not all lost is it? There are still very uplifting stories out there that can be told in youth services everywhere about girls fighting for modesty.

That's where Gabriel Marcel comes in. I would include a quote of his, but it was difficult finding a single sentence that summarized his argument about technology so I will use someone else's summary of him, "The impact of technology leads too often to a loss of the sense of the mystery of being and self, authenticity and integrity..." 

So what does this have to do with girl's not wearing make up and other girl's not wanting you to see their stomach at Friday's football game? Well, according to Marcel, technology makes objects out of humans. Technology just uses the humans to perform functions. Facebook for instance is worth billions of dollars. It's 21st century technology for sure. And what does it do? It makes these two dimensional pages of anyone who has a profile on there. The existence of the individual within a Facebook profile is relegated to being an object for the observer wherein identity is to be found by pictures, non-engaging comments, and lists of favorite movies, books, etc....And we, as Facebook participants are left to play the game and make ourselves out to be the best object we can (only showing the best pictures of ourselves, only listing the most impressive things about ourselves, etc...). 

After all, it is Facebook that I see Apostolic girl's continually posting pictures of themselves at a sleepover with make up on their face (but they would never actually walk out into public like that). I'm not criticizing this act at all. Lord knows how self-conscious these girls are within their world of thinking themselves ugly because they don't look like the girls on TV or the cool kids at school. But the horror is they are submitting to make themselves impersonal objects who all wear the same thing (Red lipstick, blush, mascara) that kind of levels your face to looking less like you and more like a mannequin (once again, I'm not preaching here, and hate it when someone judges a girl because she had a little mascara on). 

Yet, here, in these two stories. Somehow, in this technologically dependent world, there are these girls, cheerleaders and regular students, who are rejecting it all. Rejecting the objectification. Rejecting what the TV tells them they have to look like. And they are saying, I don't need it. I need to recapture something else...


Anonymous said...

Well said! You have a real talent for tying together threads that seem unrelated and making them real.

brian said...

Ahhhhh. A breath of fresh air...

Ishta said...

But Marcel is unfair. There's way too much generalizing in claiming you're either functioning as a human or as an object for me to swallow. I think we're all always operating somewhere in between the two extremes.

Real life can be mechanical and objectifying too, because you don't need a digital image of yourself to make you feel splintered/fragmented from reality. And technologies like facebook can be extensions of our real selves, as opposed to replacing them.

I like how you say "technology makes objects out of humans," because I believe the key in using technologies is maintaining that they are always the objects. Never us. I refuse to reduce anybody to a 2-dimensional representation of their true selves, but rather endeavour to learn how to "read" their facebook (like I'd read a film) in order to know them.

Where's the "loss of the sense of the mystery of being" in that? Of course, it means I'm still always tempted to stereotype, in order to make the whole process of interacting with other people as simple as it can be.

But walking past each other on the street, we face greater temptation to "write off" others as stereotypes. In fact, accessibility to a larger quantity of personal information combined with the knowledge that the person it pertains to selected the bits to present you with ought to erode stereotyping as it gives us a broader view into someone else's psyche.

Sigh. I think I may care far too deeply for the significance of the individual.

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