Friday, May 27, 2011

I'm Free

Today during Footloose practice our choreographer Dawn taught the cast the dance for the song "I'm Free." It's a hard rock number that closes Act 1 with Ren convincing Bomont's teenagers to throw a party and fight to repeal the town's law against dancing. Our cast was getting the steps, but after our second run-through of the full song, our director Chuck wanted to see more acting in it. He didn't want to see a bunch of lifeless kids going through dance moves and singing empty words, which is pretty much what we were giving him. To help the cast find motivation for the song, Chuck asked us what we would think if he took away some of our freedoms. "Brittany, I'm taking away your driver's license," he said. "Ian, no staying up later than 10:00. Jimmy, no more music. What does that make you want to do? Rebel."
So I started thinking about that. He's right, I thought. I would want to rebel if those things were taken from me. But why? Then it dawned on me, if someone did take away my guitar, my saxophone, my iPod, my whole music collection, they still would not take the music out of me. And that's what the song is about. It's a declaration, a challenge to address the conflict between oppression and the innate desire for freedom. In the context of the play, it is where Ren and the kids finally say, "I'm sick of these rules! I'm not ashamed of having fun! I'm done obeying Reverend Shaw's laws--I'm free!" That is what Chuck wanted to see on our faces in this song. We ran the song one more time after his speech, and he told us we had much more emotion in it than our previous runs.
I left practice feeling confident about the song, but I started thinking about how it applies to real life. ...But then I sat here staring at my computer for an hour and this blog never got finished. I don't remember where I wanted to go with this paragraph, and I probably should have wrapped the blog up right there, but oh well. I'm tired of starting at this blog as just a draft. I guess I forget that these blogs don't have to be perfect, it's not like I have a job on the line if I write a mediocre update.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

An Observation on the Usage of Twitter

I've been using Twitter for barely a year now, and I'm hooked. I've found it's a great social networking alternative to Facebook. This is partially because a much smaller amount of my friends use Twitter than Facebook, and us tweetfolk understand the level of honesty you can use when there are fewer eyes watching you. My non-Twitter friends don't get it. They look at it and they see Facebook limited to nothing but status updates--no games, no pictures, no apps, nothing. Just saying whatever is on your mind. That simplicity, however, is what I fell in love with Twitter for. The 140-character updates do not limit thoughts and expressions. Rather, they remove the clutter of Facebook, giving the mind room for sharing its thoughts with whosoever happens to be listening. In effect, it creates a giant conversation among its users. A conversation anyone can join in at any time, from anywhere.*

But interesting things happen when flocks of people engage in running conversations through typewritten words on a computer screen. One social dynamic I've noticed in my Twitter experience is something I like to call the nameless response. Because each tweet goes out to all of a user's followers, they grant a person the freedom to speak honestly and openly to someone without having to address them. Simply put, if you don't say the person's name, you can say whatever you like about them.

At first, I used to condemn such tweeting, thinking that if you have a problem with someone, you should say it to their username, or don't say it at all. You might as well be gossiping about that person right in front of them. Besides, if you won't openly address someone over a website, why post something intended for them at all? As I said earlier, Twitter is like a giant, open-ended conversation; how then can anyone carry on the conversation if its participants are so vague nobody knows whom they are talking to or what they are are talking about? To some extent, I still maintain this conviction (see An Ode to 'You'). However, I'm beginning to see the value in the nameless response. Think about it: you can say anything, to anyone, and so long as you don't say their name, you can get away with it? Well, that sounds just sly enough to be totally worth it!

In fact, let's take a look at these nameless responses in action:

Last night on Twitter, in the advent of the trending hashtag #standforequality, which was intended to raise awareness and rally support for gay rights (particularly surrounding a bill in Uganda meant to criminalize homosexuality, I later found out), my friends and I executed a very interesting discussion about the topic. Not interesting in the subject matter, per se, but interesting in that nobody directly addressed anyone throughout the entirety of the conversation. It started when this was tweeted**: Oh, that's right! I forgot that Jesus advocated hate. It must have been someone else that showed love to the world. #sarcasm, harsh words no doubt a reply to the previous tweet*** and re-tweet of: #standforequality? #icantdothat. Not for gays.

Thus, the conversation had been initiated. Further contributions included very bitter #sarcasm, quoted Bible verses, reminders that Jesus loves everyone, confessions from the tweeters opposed to homosexuality that their sins eat at them more than anything else, a Tumblr post, and my own hippie-ish calls for human fellowship. All that, and the only time anyone directly mentioned someone was when a certain Grey's Anatomy enthusiast directed her friend to the 3:30 mark of this video.

But the fascinating thing about this conversation is that, despite the highly controversial and even personal subject matter, the fiery debate was kept to a minimum. Everyone was very honest in their opinions, but at the same time nobody was reduced to petty bickering and caps-lock shouting matches. That was when I realized the value of the nameless response. When you leave out the person's name, it removes the discomfort of actually confronting them, thus giving you the freedom to be as open with them as you desire. Granted, I don't really think anyone's opinions changed much after the conversation anyway, but I'd rather have that than have both sides hacked off and even more resistant to resolving their conflicts with each other.

All this being said, I still can't fully condone namelessly addressing someone you have a problem with. For one, it ruins a good conversation if all its participants are too coy to actually speak to each other, rather than simply at each other (and oh, do I hate coy, shallow, vague, and watery tweets). But also, it is better if people face each other and settle their differences, instead of letting indirect jibes boil the bad blood between them. I have known that there is a proper time and place for confronting issues head-on. But I realize now there is an appropriate time for indirectly addressing disputes, too. The wisdom is knowing which method is best for every new situation.

*For a more extensive (and much more well-written) discussion on the appeal of Twitter, read Roger Ebert's blog post about it, linked here.
**Since this blog is viewable at anyone's disposal, I chose to withhold the names (and usernames) of the relevant parties out of respect for their personal privacy.
***Several tweets preceding "#standforequality? #icantdothat. Not for gays" may have also incited the first response, but I feel like that one was the more likely trigger, especially after it was re-tweeted.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Nose pressed against the glass,
hoping to get a closer view.
But still, the glass is there. I have not
fists strong enough to shatter it.
So I sit
on my side of the glass,
and peer into a world of friends,
neighbors, families--
a world I want to see myself in.
But I see myself only
in the reflection of the glass.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Un common,

(yet life