Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Selfies are for shallow teenage girls

Selfies have been around for years and have become a staple of online media. For many, they are an expression of self love and confidence. They are a great way of sharing how we are feeling and celebrating the fun things in life. Yet many adults, especially males, will look down on this, seeing it as a narcissistic, self-absorbed act of stupidity from teenage girls. Most recently, this idea was spread through out the media by sorority girls taking fun selfies at a ball game. The announcers of the ball game, grown men, talked about and criticized these girls on live TV for over two minutes because they were taking selfies. They made fun of the girls by saying “Oh, hold on! Take a selfie with a hot dog. Selfie with a churro. Selfie just of a selfie.” and “Do you have to make faces when you take selfies?” Even news articles reporting on the story made fun of these girls as well.

They all believe that

Premise One: The taking of selfies are mostly/only done by teenage girls.

Premise Two: All teenage girls are so obsessed with themselves that they cannot be good people.

Conclusions: Selfies are making young girls self absorbed and ignorant to the world around them.

Looking at these premises, we can see that most of these ideas are thought by many people, mostly of the older generation.

Premise One could be seen as true since much of the media we see on Instagram, Twitter, etc is mostly selfies and mostly by those of the female gender. However, it is untrue because every person who has a phone has at one point taken a selfie or had someone take a picture of them. Especially males trying to show off their ‘sick’ abs with their bathroom in the background.

Premise Two however is an assumption that is not true. It is an attack on women for owning themselves and having confidence to take a selfie. Unfortunatly, that is not how society sees it. It is viewed as women being stuck up and so selfish that they cannot function as smart people. You even hear other girls saying “I’m not like other girls” which means that they believe they are above other people for not liking boy bands or for not taking selfies, etc.

The conclusion is one that many had stated after the commenters at the baseball game slammed these young women for taking selfies. Some comments on social media were “Selfie or mirror doesn’t matter to shallow, narcissistic, attention seeking drama queens.” and “They are probably loving the attention not even realizing they look like a group of monkeys in a zoo with a mirror. Not one IQ over double digits. Shallow.” and “These are the ppl who’ll miss their kids first steps and first words because they’re too wrapped up in their own little selfish world..” In reply to that last comment, maybe they will use their phones to take a video of it and have it for the rest of their lives to remember and be proud of and to embarrass their kids when they get older.

Yet as much as I looked, I could not find a single comment like this on males taking selfies of themselves. Like Uggs, Starbucks, boy bands etc, selfies have become another thing that is attacked simply because young girls like it. Selfies might take us away from the moment but by taking a selfie, we are documenting ourselves and remembering an event that might be as small as what we wore that day. We are showing that we have the confidence to take a picture of ourselves and that we want to show the world. It is not a matter of being ignorant or attention seeking, it is a matter of saying “This is me. This is who I am.” We are able to show our personalities through pictures in a way that we were never able to before.

So is this argument true? From my perspective, no. Is it factually correct? Of course not. There is no proof other than assumptions that selfies are making girls or anyone for that matter, horrible people. Is it valid? No. In conclusion, selfies are not making people self-absorbed and they are not just for girls. They are an expression of confidence and self love that should be celebrated and to that, I post my own selfie!!






Digital Media as Folk Art

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First, a definition:

Folk art encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic.[1] Folk Art is characterized by a naive style, in which traditional rules of proportion and perspective are not employed. Closely related terms are Outsider Art, Self-Taught Art and Naïve art.[2]

“As a phenomenon that can chronicle a move towards civilization yet rapidly diminish with modernity, industrialization, or outside influence, the nature of folk art is specific to its particular culture.”

We were talking today about the evolution of social media as a means of capturing hyperspecific memes and ‘inside jokes’ that have created a new notion of the self-via-the-selfie:

From 2006 to 2009, the term “MySpace pic” described an amateurish, flash-blinded self-portrait, often taken in front of a bathroom mirror. Self-portraits shot with cell phones, or “selfies”—cheap-looking, evoking the MySpace era—became a sign of bad taste.

Part of the élitist frisson of Facebook, launched in 2004, was that many users found it superior to MySpace as a matter of both technology and taste. If one of the defining forms of self-representation on MySpace was the blurry bathroom selfie, set against a page decorated with graffiti and flashing graphics, Facebook profile photos—on a starched-white and Ralph Lauren-blue background—announced a clean, well-lit model of orderly selfhood. The MySpace selfie suggested a striptease (many men posed with their shirts off, directing attention to their torso); Facebook profile photos were generally proper—even preppy—in focus, and well lit.

From MySpace to Facebook, social media these days have taken the selfie from Instagram, and onto Vine:

New software has also contributed to the selfie renaissance. For teen-age social-media users, who generally prefer on-the-go mobile applications, like Instagram and Snapchat, the self is the message and the selfie is the medium. The Instagram selfie, with its soft, artfully faded tones, has replaced the stern, harshly lit mug-shot style of years past. The small, square photo, displayed on one’s phone, invites the photographer and the viewer to form a personal connection. There is little space on Instagram for delivering context or depicting a large group of people; the confines of the app make single subjects more legible than complex scenes. A face in an Instagram photograph, filtered to eliminate any glare or unflattering light, appears star-like, as if captured by a deft paparazzo.

The newest, most popular modern form of mobile representation is Vine, an application from Twitter that allows users to record and post six-second video montages on an infinite loop. These clips are long enough to depict motion, but too short to reveal much beyond the video’s central subject. A new version of Vine, launched this past April, included a self-facing video setting. It was heavily promoted by the Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first Vine selfies, which have become a semi-iconic, persistent series. In Dorsey’s videos, he stands still while the world moves behind him, captured in infinite loop. Wearing sunglasses and headphones, he appears at once immediately present, filling half the frame, and distant, absorbed in filming, like an auteur in control of the picture.

Dorsey’s Vines suggest that the selfie has come full circle, from a sign of the subject’s marginality to a sign of his or her social-media importance. In these videos, Dorsey is the center of the universe. Isn’t that, perhaps, what social media has been saying to us all along?

The villain that has emerged in this medium is the hipster

…the essence of the hipster is his or her (but mostly his) fascination with, or curation of, subculture arcana. There are many ‘types’ of hipster that tend to get lumped together when people talk about hipsters […] [b]ut one of the things they all have in common is the desire for a special kind of cultural knowledge, and a fierce protection of this knowledge once it’s obtained.



Democracy’s Pillar of Support – Greg and Stephanie

“Democracy means a system of government in which all the people of a country can vote to elect their representatives. Media came into existence in 1780 with the introduction of a newspaper namely The Bengal Gazette and since then it has matured leaps and bounds. It has been playing a very important role in shaping human minds.” 

Media plays a crucial role in shaping a healthy democracy. “Media is the backbone of every democracy.” Media makes us aware of various social, political and economical activities happening around the world. It’s like a mirror, which shows us the bare truth and harsh realities of life.  It has undoubtedly evolved and become more active over the years through magazines, television, and even some cartoons! It is the media only who reminds politicians about their crooked promises at the time of elections. News channels produce excessive coverage during elections to help people in electing the right person to the power. This reminder compels politicians to keep their promises so that they can remain in power.

The media also exposes loopholes in the democratic system, which ultimately helps government in filling the vacuums of those loopholes and making a system more accountable, responsive and citizen-friendly. A democracy without media is like a vehicle without wheels.

In the age of technology, we are bombarded with mass amounts of information. Every single information is accessible with just a click of a mouse away. The perfect blend of technology and human resources has not left a single stone un-turned in corruption within politics and society.

The impact of media is really noteworthy. Excessive coverage or hype of sensitive news has led to riots at times. The illiterates are more prone to provocations than the literates. Constant repetition of the news, especially sensational news, leads to a lack of interest. For instance, in the Dhananjoy Chatterjee case, the overloaded hype led to death of quite a few children who imitated the hanging procedure which was repeatedly shown in most of the T.V. news channels. There is an abundance of such negative impacts. Media should take utmost care in airing or publishing such sensational news.

Commercialization has created a stiff competition in media. In order to outdo each other print, media has often gone one step further in publishing articles and covering stories, for example relationships.  Media experts say this is one of the means of attracting readers who are glued to T.V. news channels, and has been deemed as “cheap journalism”.

No one is perfect in this world, and the media is no exception. Not trying to bash the media, but there is still a ton of room for improvement. Media is like a watchdog in a democracy that keeps the government active. From being just an informer it has become a critical part of our daily lives. With the passage of time media has become a more matured and a more responsible entity. The present media revolution has helped people in making an informed decisions and this has led to beginning of a new era in a democracy.



CBC Ideas | Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza

Thanks to Ms. Bogan for passing along the link to this week’s CBC Ideas episode on Baruch Spinoza:

Baruch Spinoza was a 17th century lens grinder known for his precision optical work. But it was his philosophy that made this Dutch-Jewish thinker famous, then and now. IDEAS host Paul Kennedy explores how Spinoza’s thoughts on God, the universe, ethics and politics helped ignite the flame that became the Enlightenment.

Baruch Spinoza was a 17th century Dutch Jewish philosopher (1632-1677). He was known for his radical views on religion and politics. As a young man, he was banned by his own religious community for his scandalous ideas.

He made his living by grinding precision lens for scientists. He died young, at the age of 44, presumably from inhaling glass dust.

Spinoza did not believe that God created the heavens and earth – the universe.  For Spinoza, God was equivalent to all of nature. He believed that “false religion” created superstition.  A “true religion,” on the other hand, was liberating because it allowed freedom of thought.

The Europe of 17th century was a place  of stifling religious orthodoxies, strife and war.  Spinoza believed in freedom of thought and the principle of religious tolerance.

Spinoza also had radical ideas about the nature of politics.  He believed in democracy.  He is credited with helping to shape the revolution in human thought known as The Enlightenment.