A corrupt public sphere.

It is without a doubt that social media is my biggest public sphere.

Through scrolling social media daily, I see my friends’ posting about their opinions and beliefs. On top of this, I am constantly updated with the latest news stories, politics and what is trending. Not only do I consume other people’s ideas on social media, but I also have the power to express my own ideas. Thus, social media is my public sphere.

Image source: Barnhart, B 2019, ’20 Social Media Ideas to Keep Your Brands Feed Fresh’, https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-ideas/
 

Jürgen Habermas is a German philosopher. He coined the ‘public sphere’ ideology. A public sphere is a place where citizens can unite and freely express and discuss their opinions. According to Habermas, there are vital aspects which are essential in a public sphere. These include…

  1. The public sphere must be open to all citizens
  2. There should be no intimidating force behind the sphere
  3. People can openly express their opinions

Habermas implies that not only should we express, but we should also listen.


Image source: Chaudhary, AS 2019, ‘Communication and Critique: An Introduction to Jürgen Habermas’, https://thebrooklyninstitute.com/items/courses/communication-and-critique-an-introduction-to-jurgen-habermas/

The best thing about social media being my public sphere is that it is barely restrictive. Anyone who owns a source of technology is able to access social media. Hence, millions of people have the ability to express their political, social or religious views. The positive aspects of this include that the ideas I see on social media are not constricted to a certain demographic, race or religion.

Image source: Deterding, M 2017, ‘Is Diversity and Unity Possible at the Same Time?’,https://triuneleadershipservices.com/diversity-unity-possible-time/

However, unfortunately social media is a corrupt public sphere. This is because it does not align with Habermas’ vital aspects. Although social media is a platform where people should be able to ‘freely’ discuss their opinions, many people are often slammed down or disrespectful. As a result of the disrespect, our generation rarely debates in a civil fashion. This is because social media makes it too easy to have ‘your say’ without thinking of the implications it may have on others. Even I am hesitant to post my opinions on social media; not because I fear debate, but because I fear disrespect.

WikiHow 2019, ‘How to Deal With Disrespectful People’, https://www.wikihow.com/Deal-With-Disrespectful-People

At the end of the day, the social media public sphere is the most effective measure to get a message across in the modern-day world.

How I wish my public sphere was like an 18th century coffee house.

Reference list:

Barnhart, B 2019, ’20 Social Media Ideas to Keep Your Brands Feed Fresh’, Sprout Social, viewed 10/4/2019, https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-ideas/

Chaudhary, AS 2019, ‘Communication and Critique: An Introduction to Jürgen Habermas’, Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, viewed 10/4/2019 https://thebrooklyninstitute.com/items/courses/communication-and-critique-an-introduction-to-jurgen-habermas/

Deterding, M 2017, ‘Is Diversity and Unity Possible at the Same Time?’, Triune Leadership Services, viewed on 10/4/2019, https://triuneleadershipservices.com/diversity-unity-possible-time/

Pressbooks 2019, ‘Habermas’ Public Sphere’, BC Campus, viewed 9/3/2019 https://opentextbc.ca/mediastudies101/chapter/habermas-public-sphere/

Wessler, H & Freudenthaler, R 2018, ‘Public Sphere’, Oxford Dictionary, viewed 10/4/2019 http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756841/obo-9780199756841-0030.xml

WikiHow 2019, ‘How to Deal With Disrespectful People’, WikiHow, viewed 10/4/2019, https://www.wikihow.com/Deal-With-Disrespectful-People


Power, media and anxiety.

The media has us wrapped around its finger.

Every day we scroll social media, listen to the radio or watch television. Even if an audience member is not properly paying attention, these channels of media still force us to unconsciously digest news. Intentional or not, we consume masses of information all the time.

Robertson, J 2011, ‘Review: The Political Economy of Media Power’, Ceasefire, viewed on 5/4/2019, https://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/review-political-economy-media-power/

This is why it is perfectly normal to be anxious about who controls the media. 

After all, it does have the power to feed us information and therefore, it has the power to influence how we think.

So, who is behind this information we consume? Can we trust them? Are they reliable?

This blog will investigate whether or not we, as media consumers, should be anxious about media ownership. 

Holmes, J 2011, ‘No regulation please, we’re not British’, ABC News, viewed on 5/4/2019, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-14/holmes-no-regulation-please/2794336

In Australia, the five key people who own the media are Bruce Gordon, Janet Cameron, Rupert Murdoch, John Singleton and Kerry Stokes. I am not in the position to tell you to trust these people or not. However, I can outline the power they have and inform you as to why consumers of media must be discerning. 

The media has authority, which makes the audience susceptible to believing anything it tells them. Therefore, as audience members, it is crucial to check the evidence before believing what the media tells us. If we do not question the reliability and accuracy of the information being fed to us, we will become vulnerable to automatically falling for the media’s ideologies and propaganda.

Hicks, B 2014, ‘The Power of Media: A Libertarian Perspective’, Wealth Daily, viewed 5/4/2019, https://www.wealthdaily.com/articles/the-power-of-media-a-libertarian-perspective/88558

Thankfully, there are measures in place to condense the power media-owners have. This includes ’75 per cent audience reach’ rule. This rule implies that no company can be in a position to control commercial broadcasting which reaches over 75 per cent of Australia. Another rule is the ‘2 out of 3’ rule. This rule ensures that one media owner does not take all the power. Without diverse media owners, the media would be biased and controlling, which would hinder the accuracy and reliability of the information.

Beres, D 2017, ‘Why social media is freaking you out in Trump’s America- and how to stop it’, Mashable Australia, viewed on 5/4/2019, https://mashable.com/2017/02/01/social-media-anxiety-trump/#l_85DjIYiqqh

The power and influence media has on the world is out of our control.

However, you, as an audience member, can chose to trust it or not. Do not be afraid to check the facts or question the medias authority.

If we give them all our trust, we give them all the power.

Reference list

Australian Government 2019, ‘Australia’s Media Control and Ownership Rules’, Department of Communications and the Arts, viewed 4/4/2019 https://www.communications.gov.au/sites/g/files/net301/f/2015-2768%2312%20Media%20reform%20FACT%20SHEET-CONTROL%20%26%20OWNERSHIP%20WEB.pdf

Beres, D 2017, ‘Why social media is freaking you out in Trump’s America- and how to stop it’, Mashable Australia, viewed on 5/4/2019, https://mashable.com/2017/02/01/social-media-anxiety-trump/#l_85DjIYiqqh

Hicks, B 2014, ‘The Power of Media: A Libertarian Perspective’, Wealth Daily, viewed on 5/4/2019, https://www.wealthdaily.com/articles/the-power-of-media-a-libertarian-perspective/88558

Holmes, J 2011, ‘No regulation please, we’re not British’, ABC News, viewed on 5/4/2019, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-14/holmes-no-regulation-please/2794336

Robertson, J 2011, ‘Review: The Political Economy of Media Power’, Ceasefire, viewed on 5/4/2019, https://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/review-political-economy-media-power/


I was Cleopatra.

It is human nature to make an instant judgement of something before truly understanding its context or meaning.

Same goes with music.

Most often, we see an album cover before we hear the music, which implants a certain vision or expectation before listening.

The Lumineers album cover, ‘Cleopatra’, is a perfect example of this. This blog will reveal why and how this image is complex.

Cleopatra’ album cover. Photo source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleopatra_(album)

If someone had not yet listened to this album, the signifiers of this image would quite simply be that a young girl is dressed up like Cleopatra. It could be assumed that the album is about a dress-up party. Or about ancient Egypt. Perhaps it’s just an alternative cover without meaning.

No.

This image is complex because it represents the face of a hidden story. A story which is crafted by four songs on the album. The signifiers can not unravel the complexity of the image. The signified can only be unveiled through the songs.

The Lumineers. Photo source: https://twitter.com/thelumineers

The story behind the songs is called the ‘Ballad of Cleopatra‘. It is inspired by an elderly, rebellious, taxi-driver woman. Her name is Cleopatra, and the songs reflect her life journey.

The story is revealed by the songs Ophelia, Cleopatra, Sleep on the Floor and Angela.

Cleopatra in her taxi. Photo source: https://943thex.com/colorado-faves-the-lumineers-explain-the-story-behind-cleopatra/

Ophelia. Where the story begins. This song intends to remind the audience to appreciate the little things in life. The song is a perfect introduction to the story, as it foreshadows the purpose of Cleopatra’s story.

Lead singer, Wesley Schultz, enjoying the little things. Photo source: https://zumic.com/ophelia-the-lumineers-youtube-official-audio-stream

Cleopatra. This song is where Cleopatra reflects and reminisces on her complicated life. However, the song does not shed light to the sadness of Cleopatra. Instead, it focusses on her strength and wisdom gained from her troubled life and broken heart.

The face of the aged, yet beloved, Cleopatra. Photo source: http://atwoodmagazine.com/ballad-cleopatra-lumineers-review/

Sleep on the Floor. A reflective track about Cleopatra’s youth; when love was easy and life was simple. Cleopatra and her lover leave their small home-town to travel America. Although they have no money, they have each other; which is all they need.

Cleopatra and her lover in their youth. Photo source: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/311522499215494792/?lp=true
Photo source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4pi1LxuDHc

Angela. The final piece of the puzzle. This song sees Cleopatra older and pregnant, and she’s unhappy. Life got in the way of who she truly wanted to be.  The song describes what life would be like if she had stuck to her free-spirit.

When life got the best of Cleopatra. Photo source: https://thelumineers.com/home/

Look at the album cover again. Do you see it the same way you did before you knew Cleopatra’s story?

The black and white, fierce facial expression and intense outfit and makeup in the image represents boldness. What better way to represent Cleopatra?

This image is not complex to the eye.

The image is complex because it signifies a strong, yet beautifully complicated woman though an intricate story.

Reference list

Deep, S 2016, ‘The Importance of Album Artwork’, Humanhuman, viewed on 30/3/2019 https://humanhuman.com/articles/the-importance-of-album-artwork

The Lumineers 2017, ‘The Lumineers- The Ballad of Cleopatra (Official Video)’, Youtube, viewed 30/3/2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXsQJhoauxc

The magic of live music audiences

I have a great love for music. There is no better feeling than being in the audience of a live concert; everyone belting the lyrics, the hyped atmosphere, and being in the presence of your favourite artist.

Photo taken by me

My favourite experience as an audience member.

Flashback to my first music festival in early 2018.

I walked into the festival feeling nervous and intimidated- the large crowds, the loud music, the crazy outfits. It was an environment which was so unfamiliar to me.

The closer I got to the first stage, the more my nerves eased. The music and dancing which surrounded me made me feel free. Before I knew it, I was lost in the music; not caring about what was occurring around me.

Photo taken by me

As the day went on, I jammed to some of my favourite artists. The audience of every set had such a good vibe. I loved the sound of the crowd screaming the lyrics back to the bands. I loved how everyone was dancing like no one was watching. I loved being in an audience where I knew everyone shared a love for these artists. 

Of course, being in such a large audience does come with negatives. At times it was too jam-packed, making it hard to move. Being pushed around by unfamiliar bodies is not exactly a comfortable feeling. Towards the end of the day, my body naturally became tired of being in the hot and overwhelming crowds. But this didn’t get in my way of having a good time.

Photo taken by me

I’m not the only one with a love for being in the presence of live music. Festivals in Australia are more popular than ever. Australia’s live music attendance rate has grown 28.5% since 2013. In 2017, the Australian Live Performance Industry generated 23 million in attendance.

These statistics show that the growing attendance rate of live music is having a positive impact on Australia’s Live Performance Industry. This is why Gladys Berejiklian’s recent schemes to cut down festivals (also known as the ‘war on festivals’) is important to briefly address. Although Gladys’ aim to reduce deaths at festivals is well-intentioned, her method will only negatively affect Australia’s growing music industry. Australian’s deserve to maintain the right of being taken to a magical place through live music.

Photo taken by me

This experience taught me why festivals exist. It’s not about what you wear. It’s not about impressing people. It’s about being present in the music and sharing the joy with the other audience members. Australians must continue to make a stand for live music, so the magic of being an audience member can forever live on.

Reference list

Langford, J 2019, ‘Gladys Berejiklian Has Given Her Response To Mountain Sounds’ Cancellation’, Music Feeds, viewed 10/3/2019 https://musicfeeds.com.au/news/gladys-berejiklian-has-given-her-response-to-mountain-sounds-cancellation/

Live Performance Australia 2017, ‘Live Performance Industry in 2017 Australia’, Live Performance Industry Report, viewed 10/3/2019 http://reports.liveperformance.com.au/pdf/2017/LPA-Ticket-Survey-2017-Key-Findings.pdf


A new beginning.

Writing about yourself is scary.

What if people don’t like what I have to say? Or believe? Or think?

That’s the beauty of a blog. It’s an opportunity to openly express yourself.

My name is Amy. I am eighteen years old, and originally from Canberra. I moved to Wollongong to not only study, but to escape the in-land and live by the ocean. I’m in my first year at UOW, studying Communications and Media. When I’m not studying, you’ll find me at the beach, exploring or hanging with my friends or family. I have a passion to explore the world and would love to live overseas one day. The most important aspect of my life is my love for Jesus, and this defines who I am.

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I’m not yet sure what I want to do for my career. However, I am super excited for this degree. I chose this course because media has always fascinated me, and I have always been a natural communicator. I’m keen to learn more about the media industry, and to gradually gain more skills and experience in this field.

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So, here’s to late nights, relying on caffeine and frantically studying… but having a good time while doing so.

Amy