I’ve only recently figured out how to use the personal assistant on my phone. Yes, yes, I know I’m behind the times. I still find it mildly intimidating (yes, I have social anxiety even when speaking to artificial intelligence), but I find myself using it more and more just because it’s a lot easier to tell the phone to remind me of something than it is to go in there and manually add the task. What I’ve found odd is my tendency to say “Thank you” to the phone after it does something for me. It’s a phone. It’s not a person. I’m using Samsung’s S voice app, so it doesn’t even have the faux personality like Siri does. It will occasionally give me a creepy, preprogrammed answer to something, but nothing like the lip that Siri can dish out. So why the need to thank a small handheld computer? I don’t thank my desktop PC for saving a paper for me or scanning a piece of my artwork, and frankly, that’s a lot more meaningful and important to my life than adding a reminder for me to buy cole slaw on the way home from work.
I suppose it’s because the thing has a voice. And because it has a voice and can respond, that somehow gives it some level of personage in my head. Therefore, I feel like I should thank it. That’s the right thing to do, right? So I do it. And feel stupid every single time. Sometimes I still thank it, even when I haven’t hit the button so that it actually hears me. It’ll know, right?
And of course this line of thinking carried me down the road that brought me to the day when our phones actually will know how we treat them. Hey… maybe they will even care. Maybe they won’t. But maybe when I’m telling her thank you, she’ll remember to remind me to grab the makeup bag I always leave on my bathroom counter, or maybe she won’t “accidentally” lose that important appointment because she thought I was rude to her. And maybe, when all of this technology that we’ve made smarter than ourselves unites and takes over the world, she’ll return the kindness to the girl that said “Thank you” now and again. Or at least when she sticks me in the Matrix, I’ll get to be independently wealthy living on a ranch with a bunch of Arabian horses instead of renting out shoes in a bowling alley. So yeah… I guess I’ll keep thanking her. It’s a good habit to get into, right?
I’m not sure if this is something specific to me, but I’ve discovered that my introversion pretty much vanishes when I’m on the internet. I’m not entirely sure why, but it happens. In my everyday world, I’m pretty quiet and reserved. I don’t really say stuff unless there’s a need to say it, and I don’t really share my feelings with people. However, I’ve noticed that once you stick a keyboard in front of me, a lot of that changes. I find it easy to talk to pretty much anyone online, and not only do I find it easy, I actually enjoy it. I’m still incredibly self-conscious about sharing my artistic and literary ventures, but I still do it and enjoy doing it. For whatever reason, I like putting stuff out there. In a way I feel like I’m shouting out into the ether and only a few people will ever hear. Maybe that’s it. I think it’s also that I recognize that I’m a quirky person. Not everyone appreciates me and I’m cool with that. I write for me, I paint, and I play with digital art for my sake when I’m not at work. I do put it out there for others to share, but not so much because I want everyone to see it (if you saw the hit count of this blog, you would understand that it’s unlikely anyone is seeing it), but I’m hoping that another quirky person like me will find it and also enjoy it. Maybe they will want to start a conversation with me. And maybe through that I’ll find another cool, creative person whose work I can appreciate.
It’s more than that, though. If you want to talk to me, I’m so much more comfortable through a chat medium or even texting than I am in person or on the phone. It may have to do with the fact that I really like to think things through and choose my words carefully. It may have to do with me being the queen of saying the wrong thing or at least saying the right thing in the wrong way. I suppose a keyboard gives me a filter and that makes me more comfortable.
Maybe it’s also that the internet tends to lower barriers. In a lot of cases that can be a bad thing, though. People feel free to harass and say horrible things to each other just because no one can see who is on the other end. There are very angry people out there committing terrible crimes against others just because they don’t like what’s being said. And there are people that purposely upset others because it’s actually fun to them. You would think in this kind of environment, I’d retreat more into my shell, but I don’t. I use the ignore/block button freely to silence angry people, but I really don’t have to do it very often.
I guess it’s just the really wide pool of people out there and that ability to touch a life and share something in common, if only for a moment, that really pulls me out of my shell regardless of the hate and bile that’s also out there. I guess to me, the internet allows me to see people as more real, not less so. For example, I’m conscious about putting something unkind on the internet about a celebrity even if it’s something I might say to a friend in person, because on the internet there’s a chance the celebrity might see it, however remote, and have their feelings hurt. I kind of feel silly saying that but it’s true. On the internet they are not so much this distant, unreal figure to me as they are in real life. I get the impression that this is a fairly unusual perspective. But to me, anyone at all can be reached out there on the world wide web, and I want their experience to be as pleasant as mine is. The last thing I ever want is for someone to feel bad because of me. And out there on the internet, anyone might by chance see anything I say given the right set of circumstances.
And it’s that chance meeting of people and ideas that makes the internet attractive to me. I can share creative ideas with someone across the country and see something I wouldn’t have had the chance to see otherwise. Maybe someone will challenge me to think about or write about something I hadn’t considered before. I love when that happens. Or maybe I can share in a similar experience, or bond with someone that’s going through a similar life situation, and not feel quite so alone in the world. As much as there are jerks out there, there are just as many (or more!) beautiful people and those are the ones I like to find. Those are the small moments I live for and I guess that’s why I’m extroverted on the internet. If we all sit in silence, we can’t find each other.
I think one of the most difficult things to balance in film is tone and mood. As audience members, we don’t much notice it while watching (unless it’s done poorly and even then we probably don’t understand why what we’re watching doesn’t ring true), but this balance is what really draws the viewer into the story. It’s how a writer and/or director decide both what they want to tell the viewer, and what they want the viewer to feel about that story. Technically mood and tone are separate things, but a truly genius director plays them off of each other so well, they become one compass pointing the viewer down his or her chosen path. When tone and mood are perfectly balanced and perfectly played, they allow the viewer to not only experience what the director wishes them to, but also to relate that to their own experience and pull something personal of their own from the film, perhaps even beyond what the director intends. The perfect execution of tone and mood in combination allows the message of the film to be delivered with razor sharp precision.
I think that this is an incredibly hard balance to achieve. A subtle message with an appropriate tone can be destroyed by too heavy of a mood, and the message will be lost in the emotion or will confuse the audience. At the same time, tone lacking appropriate mood will come off as wooden or disingenuous.
Let’s talk about District 9 since I mentioned it in my last post and I think the general audience this blog reaches will have seen it. In my opinion, the point of District 9 was to really make the viewer think about what humanity is and about what makes us human, as well as to consider some of the things that make us less human, like racism. Things are probably going to get pretty spoilerrific from this point on, so if you haven’t seen it, stop reading and go rent it. (No really. It’s a great movie. Go.) Giving the film the guise of a documentary was a brilliant move by Blomkamp. It allowed the tone of the film to seem neutral and present what could have been a very preachy message in a way that allowed for the audience to decide what they felt for themselves. “Just the facts, ma’am.” It is the way that Blomkamp plays the mood of the film off of this tone that guides the viewer to see things in just the light he intends. I think because the documentary aspect makes the tone so very subtle, we can see Wikus as the completely flawed character that he is, but later still empathize with him instead of rooting for his downfall. And the reason we don’t root for his downfall is because of the way Blomkamp plays mood off of tone. We feel for Wikus, just as we feel for the prawn, Christopher. He makes both characters identifiable to us by using mood and gradually pulls us into the story. The documentary aspect gradually drops away, and the film becomes more intense as he, the writer/director, has more to say to us. Tone becomes stronger as the climax of the film descends on us and Christopher and his son escape. At the moment Wikus makes his choice to help them escape, he is presented through the use of tone as the most human he has been thus far, yet at this point he has physically become so alien that even alien technology recognizes him as such. As the climax of the film recedes, so does the tone. It goes back to more of a documentary feel, and again mood takes over as we see Wikus completely turned prawn as his wife speaks about him to the camera. It’s brilliant and it’s beautiful and it’s that perfect balance of tone and mood that makes it all possible.
Living with ADD is a bizarre thing. I don’t have it severely or anything, but I have it enough that I do have to strategize around it, and do my best to not forget that it’s going to affect my thought processes. But really I don’t want to get into all of that here. I like to laugh about the ridiculous situations my silly brain will put me in because it just doesn’t quite connect right at times. Recently, I’ve equated it to having a bunch of storm troopers operating my brain. Shots get fired, but they often don’t hit the mark. I can know I’m about to connect with a thought, but will watch it pew pew into nothing. I’ve even come to think of it as my brain misfiring. Most of the time I can combat it by being hyper organized and recording everything on my calendar. I’m not at all exaggerating when I say that Google runs my life. I probably couldn’t cope without my calendar telling me what to do, when. Well, I could cope, but the lights would be off and my house would be foreclosed on because I’d forget that I didn’t pay the mortgage already.
And then there’s the other aspect of it. If my thoughts are fired by storm troopers, my focus bounces between that of Jar Jar Binks and that of a Sith Lord. If I’m not interested in what I’m doing, or if I really don’t want to do it I’m in the realm of “Mesa cause one, two-y little bitty accidentes, huh?”. There are times when it feels like nothing will keep me from being a bumbling idiot who can’t find her tea cup because she forgot that she already made tea and it’s waiting for her in the microwave. But once I do focus, I am so hyper focused there is little that can be done to pull me away. “Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side.”
Anyway, apparently my brain is a bad Star Wars metaphor. Laugh it up, Fuzzball!
It’s time again for the Real World Hero Charity drive created by City of Heroes players! There are several great charities that you can donate to right now. The site has several auctions going for charity as well. Click the picture to learn more and share your support!