So on top of all the other madness that's been going down lately, most of my free time has been consumed by this horrible thing called a Thesis Prospectus, which is due in four days. Then, on November 4th, I'll present this prospectus to a jury of Honors College peers (oh God) and my thesis advisor for signed approval to begin the actual year-long project.
As such, I haven't really blogged much. What I figured I could do, then, is kinda just cheap out and copy and paste onto here the "subject" section of this fourteen-page document so you'd all know what I'll be stressing over until late May. This way, if anyone has any brilliant ideas as to any direction I could take either the research or creative portions of my final thesis project, you can let me know!
Subject: I intend to explore the subject of family life in modern America, as it might be analyzed in postmodern literature. Technology – and, specifically, its increasing relevance in daily life through media, the Internet, and various methods of communication – will play a large role. The point of collision between these two most crucial elements of the 21st century is what I’ll attempt to capture through my writing. The end result will reveal how increasingly difficult it is to remain a sociable, multi-dimensional human being in an era glutted with devices and concepts that aid us in doing anything but.
In selecting an appropriately charged nexus between the issues I’d like to address, the implications of reality media (I’m hesitant to limit this discussion just to ‘reality television’) trumped all other frontrunners. It’s a law of physics that the very act of observation changes that which is being observed. What happens, then, to an identity when it is continuously subjected to the nameless face of an ever-present spectator? How would any sane individual react to their private life becoming public? Does this shift adversely affect interpersonal relationships? When considering our need for social interaction, is the family unit the only remaining milieu capable of functioning without technology’s aid?
Americans already spend a great deal of time both maintaining and tracking inauthentic digital personas. We are a society governed by a need to interact, but the methods through which we’re choosing to do so are only succeeding in isolating us further. Social networking sites – including Facebook, Twitter, and the Blogosphere – are beginning to compensate for a legitimate, authentic understanding of other human beings. Even our own personal mannerisms, interests, and daily activities – in short, that which makes us each uniquely human – are being converted into lists, links, and streaming news feeds that serve as hypersensitive testament to the knowledge that we’re all on display, all the time. Coupled with our increasing propensity for personalized entertainment – we’ll watch it when we want, where we want, how we want – and the technological means for turning everyday reality into near-instantaneous Youtube sensations, the line between spectator and spectacle is blurring.
Our collective consciousness is now more aware than ever of an all-seeing presence that governs who we know, how we behave, and what we desire. Media is defined by everything, everywhere, all the time: it’s life. The world, William Shakespeare once wrote, is a stage. As of 2009, his metaphor has taken a distressingly literal turn.