Week 5

I learned a lot from this chapter about rhetoric, popular culture, and groups. The book talks about how people are involved in many different groups, but we do not identify with these groups all at once. I also learned about how popular culture, and the chapter made me want to reflect on stereotypes in society.

People are involved in many different groups, but identify with certain ones at certain times. This made me think of my own life and how I am Irish, but do not identify with being Irish until an Irish event or holiday is coming up. I am a Minnesotan, but do not think about that until I am out of state and see the differences. The clip we watched from “The Office” had some good examples of identification. It showed two different groups combing into one, and it was easy to see the divisions. The young African American identified his race when he saw that the character, Stanley, shared that characteristic with him. It was interesting to see the ways the groups were identified.

            Popular culture is also brought up in this chapter. I always think of popular culture as popular things in the media. The book talks about an episode of “Seinfeld” that is not as widely known now as it used to be. Many shows and movies reference popular cultures, but it is always changing. “Family Guy” will eventually end and years after its end, it will quickly decline. “Family Guy” is a witty show that is up to date on popular actors, shows, musicians, etc., but the next generation will not understand most of the jokes. Even now, the older episodes reference a trivial event that many people do not remember. Popular culture is funny and works for that show, but it will not be as funny or relevant for the next generation.  “Family Guy” is also good at playing with popular stereotypes.

            Stereotypes are normally perceived as a bad thing, but they can be useful as well. A stereotype is a word or thought that is jam packed with information. The book gives an example of Irish people. If a person heard something about shamrocks, leprechauns, cabbage, etc. they would think of the Irish. Stereotypes can be good, but they can be harmful if someone acts in a negative way towards someone just because of a stereotype. I think servers are the worst at this. Servers rely on their tips, and usually know what to look for in people who tip well. The stereotypes of people who do not tip well are  people age 60 and older, high school kids, people who act as though they have no class (kids running around, yelling at kids, do not look very hygienic) and foreigners. Servers judge people based on negative past experiences. In parts of Europe, the tip is included in the bill, so many people do not tip in the United States because they think it is the same here. Stereotypes are not bad to have because it can give off an idea of someone, but they become harmful if people are rude to someone just because they are older or from a different country.

            Many stereotypes are embedded into culture, but they also help define groups. I think that culture, stereotypes, and popular culture are all related and are an important part of societies.


Week 4 Blog

This chapter was very useful because it emphasized how important nonverbal communication is, and I will definitely need to work on mine for my future career. My thoughts are always swarming with projects, papers, and things I need to accomplish for the day or week. I am often in my own little world and I do miss people saying hi to me at times. I would hate for people to think that I was ignoring them on purpose or that I was a snob when I was not trying to come off that way. My facial expressions also give away what I am thinking a lot of the time and I know that I will need to work on that for the future. Many times when a person says something less intelligent than they are capable of, my face instantly responds before my brain can tell it not to. I want to be a manager or a leader in a business and I need employees to be comfortable in talking to me. It is impossible to do that if my face is conveying that I think their idea is stupid or not worth my time.

            Communication is irreversible. This is very important because I know that I will always need to be aware of what I am going to say in the workplace. It is impossible to take back what has already been said to someone, and many people forget about that when they lose their anger and blurt out something hurtful that comes to mind. That is why I always thought it was so ridiculous in courtrooms for the judge to tell the jury to forget something they heard. That is not possible to do, even in a courtroom.

            Another important thing to remember is that communication does not occur as soon as a message is sent out. The person who was supposed to receive the message might not hear it, read it, or even know there is an important message in their junk e-mail. It is also important to not send the same message out repeatedly. In the movie “Office Space” the main character has three different bosses telling him the same information. It is overkill for him and the character starts to think his job is a waste of time because even his bosses have nothing better to do. I know that in a workplace it can be a challenge to find the perfect balance to making sure people are getting the necessary information.

Week 3 Social Equity Theory

Many points that were made in this chapter are things that I have already thought about in my life, but there was a certain section that caught my attention. I have seen a few of my friends go through some verbally, and at times physically, abusive relationships. Chapter 2 talks about the social exchange theory which refers to how people seek to be in relationships where benefits outweigh their costs. This did not seem right to me due to the thousands of people who are in destructive relationships, until the comparison level theory was brought up. These people in abusive relationships have a low comparison level and a low comparison level for alternatives so they believe that the abusers benefits outweigh the costs. This helped me understand a little better as to why my friends would allow themselves to be in that type of situation when all of the people around them are telling them to cut him out of their lives. It also helped me to realize why people being abused also make up excuses for the abusers. “It was just that one time, he really is a great guy, etc.” It helped me understand their side a little better. I am happy to say that neither of my friends are in these relationships, but I know that I should have tried to be a little more understanding toward them, and a little less judgmental.

            Another connection that I really had with this theory was about a friend I once had. She was one of my best friends, although she was very judgmental and high maintenance. She was always saying things that would upset me, or always judging our other friends. I continued to overlook these things because I knew that she was a good person at heart, and her good qualities outweighed the bad. This was until I got a boyfriend and was truly happy. I found out she was talking behind me back about it, and saying nasty things, and I realized that the costs no longer outweighed the benefits. My comparison level for alternatives was high and I realized that she was not really worth being in my life anymore. This whole theory was intriguing to me because it can be compared to any relationship in our lives.

Week 2 Blog

Chapter 2 has changed the entire way in which I perceive films and television. The concept that the audience is not the consumer, but rather the product really changed the way I think about entertainment. Ted Koppel made the point that television only exists for the commercials that are put in between shows, and shows are just the bait to lure people in. I have really thought about how much his point made sense. Commercial “breaks” can sometimes last five minutes at a time, and the TV watcher only sees a 45 minute show rather than an hour one. Many people even watch the super bowl only for the commercials and don’t even care about the game. This was the most interesting part of the chapter for me. Another thought was about perception of Hollywood. Many shows only portray the skinny, tall, and unrealistically beautiful women in shows. In other cultures, being a little bigger is beautiful. I want to know if there will ever be a way for our culture to adapt and to have more examples of the realistic women like Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Kathy Bates, etc. It is staggering to hear that by the time girls reach age 7, 40% of them are on diets, and 78% of girls hate their bodies by age 17 (p. 13).
I had a little bit of a problem realizing that I do the third person effect often. I notice the product placement and ads so I don’t think I’ll be effected by them. Since I am short I have never yearned to be like the model or actress I saw on TV. Then I really think about why I “had” to spend that fifty dollars on a cute shirt I saw at Express or Victoria’s Secret. I’m sure that there are similar clothes I could have found at Target or Walmart for half the price. The fashion and the style that I have is because they remind me of the styles I have seen in film, magazines, and television. I think the outfits they wear are elegant or stylish and I want to be like them in a way. I know stores like Express and Coach are overpriced, but I still find a way to justify buying their products. Everyone is effected by the images that are constantly being thrown at us. It just might take a while to realize it.