Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This, I Believe, is a Good Thing

This I Believe began as a radio broadcast and grew into an international project encouraging people from all walks of life to write and share their personal essays concerning the core values that guide their daily lives.
The whole concept started with Edward R. Murrow who hosted the popular “This I Believe” radio series. Below is the first paragraph of his original introduction:
“This I Believe. By that name, we bring you a new series of radio broadcasts presenting the personal philosophies of thoughtful men and women in all walks of life. In this brief time each night, a banker or a butcher, a painter or a social worker, people of all kinds who need have nothing more in common than integrity—a real honesty—will talk out loud about the rules they live by, the things they have found to be the basic values in their lives.”

You can read more HERE
*You also have the option of listening to the original broadcast! This might only be exciting to communication studies majors like me. I wish broadcasts still sounded like that!

Murrow apparently brought the original broadcast to light because he believed that there was a need for such a radio program at that time in American history, and said his own beliefs were “in a state of flux.”

The This I Believe website allows you to search different essays. One essay I found touched my heart and gave me chills. It was written by a 6 year old! As the story goes, when Tarak McLain’s kindergarten group celebrated their 100th day of class, some kids brought 100 nuts or cotton balls. Tarak brought a list of 100 things that he believes in.

Go HERE to listen or read his list.

Not only is this boy now someone I look up to, but he gives me hope for the future... even if his parents wrote this essay for him.

Tarak is now 7 years old. He was born in Thailand and lives with his family in Austin, Texas. He collects and hands out food to the homeless, raises money for orphans and impoverished schools, reads about the world’s religions and listens to public radio. If this kid doesn’t inspire you I don’t know what will.

So thank you to This I Believe for 60 years of inspiration. I hope these essays will bring comfort and motivation to all people, from all walks of life for years to come.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bridezillas: Terrifying yet Fascinating!

There is a show on WEtv that absolutely terrifies me. It’s called Bridezillas. The women on this show scare me more than the little girl from the Exorcist. It makes me sick to watch this show, but I catch myself watching it all too often because I am so fascinated by how crazy these women are; they always manage to surprise me. Here’s a taste of what they are capable of:


Marriage is the most popular form of long-term commitment in the United States with more than 96% of men and 94% of women marrying at least once in their lifetime. But with this show it has become clear to me that some people just shouldn’t get married at all. There are some women, and I suppose men as well, that are psychotic enough to believe that they should act like this when things don’t go their way.

This show is perfect for communication majors in that you can analyze these woman and how they communicate unethically, how they present themselves with articles, how they interact in their interpersonal relationships, how they use nonverbals to get their point across, etc.

Let me take one example and see if I can break it down…

Meet Valerie. In this clip, the bride-to-be throws a hissy fit because she incorrectly ordered her wedding cake.

Unethical Communication: Ethical issues concern right and wrong; therefore, an “wrong” decision in communication would be UNethical. Richard Johnnesen devoted most of his career to studying ethical aspects of human communication. According to Johnnesen, ethical communication occurs when people create relationships of equality, when they attend mindfully of each other, and when their communication demonstrates that they are authentic, empathetic, supportive, and confirming of each other. Valerie proved none of the above.

I-It: This type of communication occurs when we do not acknowledge the humanity of other people; when we treat people as “its” rather than as human beings. One could argue that the relationship between Valerie and the cake shop owner teeters on I-You (when we acknowledge someone as more than an object and more as a means to get from point A to point B); but in the end, the relationship is broken down by Valerie to an I-It.

Nonverbals: This is all communication other than words themselves. There are a number of nonverbals, but some that apply here are Kinesics (body position and motion), Proxemics (space and how it is used), and Paralanguage (the use of sounds in place of words).

Valerie displayed Kinesics by taping the tips of her fingers together in anger, swaying back and forth on her toes, and murdering a perfectly innocent vanilla cake; Proximics by standing far away from the cake shop owner and leaning in when she shouted; and Paralanguage to mimic the cake owner’s explanation for why she doesn’t have a chocolate cake.

I’m sure there is so much more to analyze here! What have I missed? Or… do you have any other general thoughts on these wack jobs?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's Happily Ever After or at Least Until Reality Sets In

One of the biggest cultural influences on my life has been movies. I don’t think that I am being too audacious to say that movies have made me—at times—search for and expect a nonexistent, unobtainable perfect life. It all started with Disney movies; therefore, I blame Disney for my misery.

Every single Disney storyline contains the same basic idea: the female lead could never save herself and would always expect a tall, dark, and always super masculine and handsome man to come save her. This consistent storyline eventually composed my view of what I consider to be an “ideal” romantic relationship; which I now have discovered does not exist.

After many years of Disney motion picture cultural influence, I developed a blueprint of the ideal man. Physically he is: tall, muscular (but not too buff), with dark hair and light eyes. He’s athletic, charming, a gentleman, brave, caring, smart, and has morals. The man I just described is every hero in almost every Disney film.
*Slight variations in physical appearances are typically was sets these heroes apart…but all in all, it’s the same man in every film.

And there are more similarities! You can view them HERE.

Okay, okay I can’t blame Disney for all my problems. I’m not so naive to totally believe in the Hypodermic Needle Theory, or as I call it, “the monkey-see-monkey-do theory.” This theory implies that media has a direct, immediate and powerful effect on its audiences. Though I still argue that media has a very powerful effect, I don’t think that it is as black and white as some people make it out to be. As I grew up, reality set in to my vision of life and I believe that is usually the case for most people out there.

So I guess the only thing I can blame Disney on is pulling my hopes up at a young age, just to have them crash down as soon as my adolescent years began. Thanks for the let-down Disney!

But hey, maybe I shouldn’t pin it all on Disney? What other influences in your life let you down as soon as you got older and reality set in?

PS- I apologize for such a short blog it’s been a crazy week!