Visual Argument

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

According to, 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. 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!


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:

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

“Is life 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?”


“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?”


My Ever-Expanding Technological World

I still remember the day my dad came home with a brand new Garmin GPS from Costco.

“Why do you need that?” my mom asked in clear disapproval.

I understood her point. Why did my dad need a GPS? He not only knew where everything was, but he knew the quickest way to get there. And if you needed to get to a Wal-Mart on the way to your destination, he could tell you which one was the closest to your intended route. Wasn’t that the point of a GPS?

Nevertheless,  my dad kept his new “toy,” and before long, it had disappeared… into my mom’s car. Eventually, with license in hand, that same GPS was relocated to my 1991 Pontiac Grand Prix (Craigslist cars, I’m telling you… it’s where it’s at).

Nowadays, nobody really needs to buy a GPS, because at the touch of their fingertips exists a GPS, compass, flashlight, stopwatch, calculator, and camera, not to mention a device that can keep you up to date on social media, text messages, and phone calls. Smart phones. I was proud of my “dumb phone” for the longest time, despite the fact it broke three separate times during my Freshmen year due to the massive amount of rainstorms here at GWU. After the fourth (and ultimately final) time, my dad said enough was enough… and I was the proud owner of a new, free iPhone 4.

During our “wayfinding” assignment today, I discovered just how much my smart phone could do. Not only did it have a compass, but I could scan QR codes and input GPS coordinates to determine a set location. My technological world is ever-expanding!

The Idahoan in North Carolina

This week, we analyzed a graphic novel called The Arrival by Shaun Tan. When I first opened it up and saw all of the sepia-toned pictures, the strange looking creatures, and no words, I was not looking forward to reading it.

“But wait, Liv! How do you read something that has no words?”

Good question.

I was not looking forward to viewing it. (I don’t even know if that’s any better.)

Either way, I would like to admit just how wrong I was to judge The Arrival off of a simple first glance. There is so much depth and storytelling involved in this beautiful tale Tan has spun. Moreover, I discovered I could even relate to some of it. Although moving from Idaho to North Carolina was not quite as drastic of a change as the one that Tan’s protagonist faces, I still had my fair share of things to get used to. For example:

1. The humidity. In Idaho, we have what we like to call “dry heat.” The best way to explain this is to imagine a blow dryer in your face 24/7. Here, the air is wet.

2. The food. Prior to North Carolina, I had never had grits, southern sweat tea, livermush, or a strange concoction of Bisquick, sausage, and cheese called sausage balls. (Some I still wish I had never had.) I also never knew just how many foods could be dipped in batter and fried.

3. The bugs. I will never forget one of my first nights on campus during my Freshman year when my roommate and I decided to take an evening walk. We were going along, minding our own business as we casually passed a tree… which then started making the strangest noise and rustling all about, and I’m telling you, this tree was alive! I screamed, and that, my friends, was the first time I learned about cicadas. (Don’t even get me started on the first time I saw a firefly… when his light went out, I asked if his butt had broken.)

4. The language. Everybody says y’all, and they’re all “fixin'” to go do something. I learned the difference between “He’s visiting his grandma, bless his heart,” and “Would you look at her haircut? Bless her heart!” It appears the unspoken rule of the South is you can say just about anything about anyone, as long as you bless their heart afterwards.

So Shaun Tan, props to you for making an awesome, relatable graphic novel. If you haven’t read/viewed it yet, check it out here.

Books, Movies, Graphic Novels, & Presentations – OH MY!

As I previously mentioned, I will be studying The City of Ember: The Graphic Novel over the span of the next couple of weeks. I’m intrigued that this story has been retold in several mediums, from book (2004) to film (2008) to graphic novel (2012), and for this week’s post, I thought I would give you a taste of the movie:

What do you think? Did anyone else find it odd that the creative team behind the movie dropped the “The” from The City of Ember? Any opinions on why they did that?

I also discovered I’m a little behind on all things Ember… in case you weren’t aware, The City of Ember is actually a part of DuPrau’s “Books of Ember” series. To my knowledge, it was a trilogy, but I discovered there’s actually a fourth book called The Diamond of Darkhold. Turns out, it was released in 2010! The things you find out when you get to researching, huh?

Jeanne DuPrau’s Books of Ember

On another note, we’ve been experimenting with different types of visual presentations (from PowerPoint to Prezi to Projeqt) over the span of the last two weeks in class. Now, I’ll be honest. I’m not typically the kind of person who likes change, so I’ve always been a straightforward PowerPoint-girl. I had attempted to work Prezi in the past, but being someone who’s prone to motion sickness, it didn’t sit well with me. Today was our Introduction-to-Projeqt day, and while it gained rave reviews from my classmates, I’m not really sure I felt the same way. In fact, after testing out Projeqt, I’ve found that my opinion of Prezi has been slightly raised! I’m finally starting to grasp just how much Prezi can accomplish, and I think if I keep the “jumping around” feature to a minimum, I could create some pretty stellar presentations!