Thinking of a topic that I want to fully devote myself to for the upcoming semester has been a real struggle– I’ve been trying to come up with ideas ever since the seniors last year presented theirs, and I decided that I’m not really an advocate for anything big and crazy, like most of the things we’ve talked about in Visual Advocacy. I care about sustainability, culture jamming, etc, but I don’t think I care enough to propel myself for a full semester of work. Instead, I plan on focusing on some smaller personal human issues, but ones that are big in meaning.
For instance, the fact that our younger generations are so submerged in the media, so much that their most fundamental relationships are held together by facebook or other social networking sites. Those aren’t real, you may think they are, but you can’t interact with people’s emotions or experience anything remotely similar to actually being with another person when you are ‘interacting’ with them online. Depression statistics are rising, along with the rise of technology intruding on every facet of our lives. Coincidence? I’m not sure… I was reading about happiness on Wikipedia, and it stated that the number one aspect of our lives that keeps us happy and our well-being sustained is the human-to-human interactions we share with others. I feel that the rise in technology is slowly corroding one of the most basic and vital necessities of our existence, when in reality, the whole purpose for creating these social networking sites is to make these relationships better… but we’re only growing lazier about them.
Beyond that, I feel that the younger generations of people rely too heavily on outside influences, and are motivated by the wrong ideals. Take for example how we decorate our personal spaces, to how we dress, or the way we furnish our homes– are we doing these things because this is what we need to make us personally happy? Or is it because we saw similar (or exact) images in a spread of a magazine, or on ffffound, and we think that’s what we want, because someone else says it is? Are we becoming a society of copycats? And we’re okay with this? One thing that makes me more upset than anything is people living out their lives according to the standards of something else, not themselves. Who would want to bend and mold themselves to fake ideals? This is the only life you’ve got, don’t make it something you’ve already seen in the pages of Ikea or Dwell or any other lifestyle magazine… make it your own, something that’s never been done before– it will make life only that much more exciting.
I also feel that people today are generally unhappy with what they have, yet we live in an amazingly bountiful society, even during this economic downturn. We seem to always be looking for the next best thing, never content with the ‘best things’ that we already have in front of us. I know that this is generally thought of as human nature, but I think we are raised to think this way as well. Why can’t we be happy with our quaint little apartment, or the intimate nature of the school we go to, or Kansas City’s Midwestern appeal? Why must we always be searching and developing new programs, and technologies, only to lose amazing, but regretfully now obsolete, media? Do we really like email better than a humanized handwritten note? I get really sad just thinking about not knowing what the handwriting of all my classmates looks like! That’s a part of our personality, and we’ve almost all but lost it, and print in general is moving closer and closer to a fine art rather than acting as the bulk of our media. But one of our five human senses is touch- why are we growing to neglect it so much? We’re all in the hot pursuit of a ‘perceived good’, rather than our own good.
Overall, I feel that what all of these things have in common is finding beauty and happiness in the everyday: in the things we already have, in the relationships we accumulate, in the quirks of other people, in the changing seasons, in your barren refrigerator. This is what makes life worth it… but they always go unnoticed, or looked at in the wrong way. Or we look at all the things we don’t have and wish we did, forcing us to never be happy in the now. I think I want to base my project off of a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which says, “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common”. Those that notice the small things in life, the way the chair you are sitting in fits your back just right, or anything else for that matter, will make you a happier person, and it won’t cost you a penny, just more appreciative of yourself and your surroundings.
I want to work with tangible print media, with editorial design, packaging, and user experience, to create a visual advocacy campaign that calls to light all the forgotten gems, and allows people to notice how good they’ve already got it. Something that allows you to cherish and accumulate these things, and be thankful. Something that’s only yours, something that doesn’t need to be seen by others, doesn’t need to be put up on a website, or a blog, but is special to you alone, because you aren’t looking for the approval of others, just the approval of yourself.