Who belongs where?

asylum

The question of ‘who belongs where?’ has really been highlighted in today’s media and its focus on the poor and inhumane treatment dealt by the Australian Government to asylum seekers and refugees entering Australian territories. How can we decide where someone does or does not belong? Our fear of ‘the other’ is nothing more than prejudicial racism and a violation of basic human rights. In SBS Q&A episode, panel member and musician Nitin Sawhney deems the Australian government’s ‘fear of foreigners’ surpasses their concern for the welfare of those seeking asylum and how they are being stigmatized. At a time when “there are more displaced people in the world than since the end of second world war” (Gordon 2014), we feel it just to turn them away from safety or punish them with off-shore detention for trying to reach it? Fellow panel member and well-known comedian Angry Anderson blames the press and their ability to dehumanize refugees in their relaying of biased news that instills fear and clouds opinion. He believes, as do I, that without proper, unbiased education on this issue, people cannot truly understand it.

This article on ‘who’s driving the asylum debate discusses the insistent nature of the Australian Federal Government in their depiction of asylum seekers to its mediated sphere and population. They continue to associate asylum seekers and refugees with words like ‘threat’, ‘illegality’ and ‘burden’, such a negative construct has been contracted through the media, reinforcing this pessimistic perception. It outlines how the refugee council of Australia even expressed concerns that “the media has helped to produce a climate of fear that was being used to legitimize the introduction of draconian policies” (Klocker & Dunn 2003).

Australia’s foreign policy is nothing more than a xenophobic social structure depriving asylum seekers and refugees, who are fleeing life-threatening conditions, from a secure environment where they are able to regroup and rebuild their lives in safety. An excellent example; the new budget and its cut of overall foreign aid by a staggering $1 billion, a completely surprising and totally not spiteful 40% cut of aid to Indonesia in particular (please excuse my sarcasm) while the Refugee Council of Australia saw a loss of $140 000 of government funding PedestrianTv 2015. In light of current events, which dealt the harsh capital punishment to Australian drug smuggling ‘Bali 9’ pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on the 28th of last month, caused total uproar amongst the Australian population and saw governmental pleas and offerings to retract the sentence in response. But how could we expect Balinese leader Jokowi to spare our criminals the death penalty for drug smuggling when we cannot do the same for innocent foreigners? “You can’t abuse human rights in defiance of international law and then criticise others for doing the same” exclaimed ABC reporter Sunil Badami. 

“Substitute the words “people smuggler” for “drug smuggler” and ask yourself this: how is Indonesia’s unjust, hard-line, domestically focused mistreatment of foreigners any different to ours? Australia too has refused to acknowledge the humanity of foreigners; Australia too has mistreated people in defiance of international law; Australia too has defended its policies using hyperbolic language – all on the basis that punishing a few will save many more.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-29/badami-our-selective-compassion-has-come-undone/6431266

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References

-Aslym Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) Facebook page

<https://www.facebook.com/Asylum.Seeker.Resource.Centre.ASRC/photos/pb.341910905847062.-2207520000.1431654917./898575116847302/?type=3&theater&gt;

-Klocker N & Dunn K, 2003, ‘Who’s driving the asylum debate? Newspaper and Government representation of asylum seekers’, Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, No. 109, pp.71-92
Date accessed: April 7 2015

-Campbell E, 2015, ‘Asylum seekers experiences in Australia between 2012-2014: The structural-Personal Interaction Process’, School of Political Science and International Studies
Date accessed: April 2 2015

-Q&A Episode, SBSchannel, 2012, ‘Australians on Asylum Seekers and Multiculturalism’.
Date accessed: April 4 2015

Viewing suffering: education or violation?

As human beings, I think we feel almost compelled to view suffereing to forget about our own. Mediated images or videos of suffering draw a lot attention for distractive reasons, however, there is a clear ethical pull in painful images and in my opinion, I feel it is one of the most effective ways to grab attention and spread awareness. Suffering is something that many people cannot truly understand unless they can see it.

Are we violating privacy by viewing someone elses suffering? Or is it worse to ignore it?

Photos of suffering and pain have been evident throughout history and used for a number of purposes, selfish and otherwise, but they have allowed for historians and society to better understand events that have passed and make their own judgments and form opinions with a more informed background and better contextual knowledge.

Not the animals!

After watching  4 corners footage of Bloody Business on the trade of Australian cattle to Indonesia, I began researching the aftermath. The initial reaction was widespread disgust, it caused a lot of uproar and a petition was handed to federal parlimanet to ban this live animal export, however, it was denied. Since, this issue seems to have died down and years later almost forgotten about.  The allowance of this continued trade enables denial and ignorance, not just in the host country, but here in Australia too. We’re allowing one species to be killed for the consumption of another. Who got to decide which life is more valuable?

Another fantastic example of Australia’s complete ignorance and self-centred nature is their shark culling attempts.

Surveillance of Self

Social networks are at the very core of uberveillance and as a consequence our priorities are shifting, cleverly blurring the lines between privacy and socialization. It has become a ritualistic habit to reveal our lives to the online community, who are willing and able to survey these actions with a reciprocal judgment or label to follow. As Ariel Dorfman points out, “social media users gladly give up their liberty and privacy, invariably for the most benevolent of platitudes and reasons.”

wifi

Have we really been to the gym if we didn’t check in with a photo or location? Did we really go to work if we didn’t post a depressing status about Monday-itis? Apparently not. Writer for Teen Vogue, Melissa Walker, says “reality has come to seem more and more like what we are shown by cameras”, what matters most is not how you see yourself but how others see your life to be via the many ways you display it in the online mediated sphere.

The ‘selfie’ for example, is a heavily appearance-focused instrument endorsing self-surveillance through promotion of an egotistical self-image which leaves things like self-discovery and spirituality to go out the window, and yet, photos that appear spiritual – #selfieswithnature:

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and quotes that sell self-discovery-ish stuff:

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flood social media feeds everywhere.

Are we over-sharing? Callie Schweitzer from Time.com declares that “so much of life is too complicated and messy and complex to be portrayed publicly” let alone correctly understood, yet it’s put out there anyway. Famous every-day Youtube Vlogger Anna Saccone even shared her child birth with her Youtube followers. Bit much don’t you think? Reality TV Star and Selfie Queen Kim Kardashian has released a book titled ‘Selfish’, ENTIRELY dedicated to photos she has taken of herself, and yes, people are actually wasting time and money to read it. Although selfies may not be the culprit in giving up important and private information to our online following, they do however, speak to this necessity of making “the self into an object of public concern (Giroux 2015).” And is this any healthier?

Is this constant monitoring and documenting of our lives just plain narcissism or is it a natural response to the world’s growing need for uberveillance and exposure? Is it a story-telling tool to show off who we are and the experiences we’ve had or a mere cry for acceptance and external gratification?

Straya Mate!

“Language and culture are interwoven. Language is firmly embedded in social relationships and language is a part of the struggle over the production of culture with cultural reproduction confirming and legitimizing the existing social order.” (Hanks 2005)

In their article ‘International students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes, Kell and Vogl (2007) discuss how formal linguistic skills are well established amongst international students travelling to Australia, but their inability to engage with the local, conversationalist style dialect disables the ability of adjusting to the social and cultural norms of their new country.

This satirical video created by the Australian band ‘The Rabens’ shows just how great a vernacular divide we have here in Australia when it comes to slang:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6sn8u0GjQ0

Although humour is the obvious motive behind this short clip, it does show how wide a gap is present between Australian colloquialisms, and the formal language taught indefinitely to international students. However, in Kell and Vogl’s article they state alternative ways in which such students have overcome these social barriers, voluntary or paid employment being one of the most effective methods – “one of the students stated that the call center she had worked at had helped her enormously both with confidence in talking English and with an opportunity meeting other English speakers.”

In order to make the most of this global cross-cultural integration, especially in terms of international university students; they must attempt to bridge the divide between their first language and their new language and the cultural and social standards that follow

Reflection time …Oh goody!

Over the past weeks, not only have I obviously become far more user-friendly with WordPress, but the knowledge I have developed and come to value about how deeply affected our generation has become over the years by the media that surrounds it. From growing awareness of the ‘media effects model’ and the criticisms that follow to denotations and connotations of any given image and the way in which media ownership dictates the way our society goes about their ‘every day’ life.

The most appealing part for me; was the media effects model and the critiques that came with it. The way in which our mediated sphere is held accountable for the wrong-doings in society has become a topic that has remained frontal in my mind for quite some time – I often find myself questioning my own behaviour and that of those around me in relation to that depicted in the media.

Sometimes a struggle, but in the end I’ve had an overall enjoyable experience with this blog and the learning curves that came with it!

Monkey see, monkey do?

for wordpress

In his critique of the effects model http://www.theory.org.uk/david/effects.htm, David Gauntlett stated that “the connections between people’s consumption of the mass media and their subsequent behaviour have remained persistently elusive,” however, there is no evidence to support the ongoing claims the media cops for being the sole cause of how its consumers behave.

Alfred Bandura, an American psychologist who advocated the ‘social learning theory,’ conducted a series of hostile laboratory experiments to demonstrate the social learning of aggression. He showed a group of children videos of adults viscously attacking a bo-bo doll, after watching, the children were placed in a room with a bo-bo doll and a separate collection of tranquil toys. The children of course, imitated the adults before them, and violently abused the bo-bo dolls taking no notice of the other toys in the room. Many took this as ‘proof’ that watching violence promotes violence, however, this is a vividly dystopian view of children, treating them as though they are completely innocent or as if they are feral creatures requiring training. While children are impressionable, this is not just by the media; there are obviously other social factors liable for the way they present themselves in everyday life. However, the media effects model tackles these problems somewhat backwards, its accusations stem from “the media, and then trying to lasso connections from there on to social beings, rather than the other way around.”

While there is no real evidence to sustain the alleged declarations of the mass media manipulating societies minds in assisting criminal offences like the effects model aims to depict, there is however, evidence to support that youth who are now in prison for violence or any other form of criminality had hardly any, if zero interaction with violent video games whilst growing up. Games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’ or ‘Call Of Duty’ are commonly blamed for influencing incriminating acts a means of understanding the ‘mens rea’ behind youth offenders and even regular offenders.

I feel that although there is a causal relationship between the media and the way in which we dictate ourselves in everyday life, it cannot solely be to blame for influencing our every move nor should it be used as a defence for the wrongdoings our society partakes in.