Visual Argument

For my final class assignment – a visual argument – I have decided to create a piece on “emotional driving.”

According to teendriversource.org, sponsored by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, “Emotions, whether positive or negative, can have a powerful effect on drivers of all ages. This is particularly true of teens, who experience academic pressures and dramatic emotional changes.” I remember learning in Driver’s Ed that it was never a good idea to get behind the wheel when upset. This heightened emotional state often takes precedent over the calm, cool and collected demeanor you should have when driving. Your mind isn’t focused on the road and your surroundings but rather on whatever or whomever has caused you to be angry or saddened. Despite these words of advice and caution, I knew plenty of my fellow classmates who, when frustrated, would go out for a drive to “calm down.” For whatever strange reason, going eighty miles per hour on a back-road with a forty speed limit was “calming.” While I was never one to be that extreme, I am also at fault for having driven when overly stressed.

It’s important for people – I am going to focus on teenagers here in particular – to have an outlet. While some might exercise, go on a walk, listen to music, or vent to a friend, others turn to driving their frustrations away. When motor vehicles are thrown into the mix, it becomes dangerous. Not only is the driver’s life at stake, but those around them are as well because they are a hazard behind the wheel.

Dmv.org states, “If you are angry or upset or otherwise annoyed, whether due to something unrelated to driving or because of a driving incident, pull over or off of the road. Take a few moments to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and relax… just stay off of the road until you have time to settle down.” I believe this is smart advice, and as a teenager who is slowly entering her twenties, it’s advice I wish that I and my friends would have paid more attention to.

I want to spread the message that driving when emotional is a poor decision. Everyone always hears about driving under the influence of drugs, specifically alcohol, and the familiar mantra of no-texting-and-driving, but I don’t think “emotional driving” is emphasized enough. I plan to direct my project at teenagers between the ages of fourteen (the legal driving age in some states) and nineteen. High school is a time when pressure tends to be at an all-time high, and I think student-aged people need to hear this message the most.

Right now, I have gathered all of the pictures I plan to use, and I am in the midst of creating a short video. I am looking forward to showcasing my photography, videography, and audio skills through this project!

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I have a brain and personality, too!

After talking about John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, I was inspired to create a Pinterest board relating to women in media, whether that be radio, film, from a journalistic standpoint, or other forms. What I found was a little disheartening, especially as a young woman pursuing a career in the radio field someday.

The more I think about the points Berger outlined in both his video series and in his book, the more I analyze my life and my experiences as a woman in society. I’m going to be flat-out honest here, and I hope it does not come across as conceited. Because trust me, when girls say, “Everybody is staring at me!,” I am aware of how self-centered and egotistic that sounds. I mean, c’mon… nobody is that great, am I right? Back in high school, I was known as “the cute girl” who was best friends with the two “hot girls.” Kim and Andrea got all of the attention, and I was typically just an asterisk, a sidebar, an afterthought. While there were times that I admit this bothered me, I was generally very ok with being that person. When guys liked me, it was because they got to know me, and my personality and sense of humor tended to be my “it” factor. And then it came time to transition into college. I can still remember the day I sat in my Comp101 professor’s office as we perused my latest paper for high and low points. She asked me how life was otherwise. People here had a tendency to worry about me, being so far away from home and all. And while I might have thought I gave off a cool and collected vibe, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t fooling anyone. I was missing home, and I was struggling. Not in the academic aspect but in the social. Part of me wanted to look at Dr. Duffus straight in the eyes and tell her I was fine – I was fine, but I was dealing with a lot at the same time – but a bigger part of me decided to open up. “Honestly, I’m having a hard time,” I told her. I explained how life was back in high school, how I had my place, my stereotype, my name tag. And then I opened up about the two months that made up my current college experience: “They call me ‘the hot Idaho girl.’ I feel like I can’t go anywhere without someone staring at me. Or giving me a ‘once-over.’ Like the only thing that matters is my looks, like I’m a piece of meat.” As an ex-model and feeder-pageant girl, I knew the emphasis that was often placed in this department. Dr. Duffus and I concluded our conversation with an idea: “You need to get a t-shirt: I have a personality and brains, too!” While the thought was nice, she and I both acknowledged that this would probably only worsen my issue, but I appreciated her concern. It’s funny, because I used to love getting dressed up. Not so much for other people, but for myself. When I’ve straightened my hair, applied my typically-minimal amount of makeup, and put on something cute, I feel more prepared for whatever the day has ahead. I have more confidence: my head held high, my shoulders back, a spring in my step, and a sway in my walk. And yet, this was part of my downfall. Friends would get upset when I would have to fix my hair, touch up my foundation, apply a new coat of lip gloss before heading out the door, even though I did those things just minutes before. True, it might be part of my organized, OCD-like nature, but a part of me obsesses about things being out of place or smeared. And it’s sad. There was a joke my roommate and her boyfriend had during our Freshman year. And while I couldn’t tell you how it started, it was a big part of our lives together. One of them would give me a long string of compliments, “pretty” being mixed in there, and when they finished, I would say, “You think I’m pretty?” and completely neglect all of the other attributes they pointed out. It happened once, and it became a theme. And while at the time, it didn’t seem harmful, in retrospect, I realize I was contributing to social objectification. …and maybe, just maybe… I found my passion and the thing  I can make my visual argument and final project about?

“Is life good?”

In a world of infographics brimming and teeming with information, this one, I personally feel, has stood out to me the most:

http://colourliving.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/life-is-good.jpg

There is just something about this simplistic design that really hits home.

“Is life good?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

And that’s truly the end of it, isn’t it? If life is good, then life is good. There is no need to overcomplicate things, and I know I’m probably preaching to the choir while simultaneously acting as a hypocrite – you see, as two parts organization control-freak and one part perfectionist, I have a tendency to overanalyze everything. And I literally mean everything.

He just texted me “k.” He must be mad at me.

I just introduced myself to a complete stranger, and she said, “Oh! You’re Liv? I’ve heard so much about you!” What kind of things has she heard about me? Who was her source? Were they credible? What if they weren’t? Breathe, breathe, breathe…

The teacher asked for a “short answer” response. Does that mean they want a paragraph? Or are they really looking for an essay? And if the answer is “a paragraph,” what do they count as a paragraph? Five sentences? Eight? Twelve? And if they are looking for more of an essay format, are we talking three paragraphs? Or five? Or MORE!?

…you get the idea.

But what if you read the infographic in this way?

“Is life good?”

“No.”

“Change something.”

“Is life good?”

This pattern can be a continuous one, depending on how you answer the question each time. If you constantly find yourself saying “no,” even after you’ve changed something – whether it be a habit, relationship, etc. – this infographic suggests you keep changing pieces of your life until you can finally answer the question with a solid “YES.” And what better advice than that, right?

This simple reminder to stop overanalyzing is one I know I definitely need: maybe he just didn’t have anything else to say other than “k,” maybe she heard good things about me from one of my friends in a class last semester, and maybe the teacher really just wants a “short answer,” whether that be three sentences or a five-paragraph essay?

I hope this infographic can speak to you, too, and until next time: “Is life good?”