What doestime travel worm holes, current news, and the realization that most of us can’tactually predict the future have in common? This essay, along with a few otherthings.
Long Divison by Kiese Laymonis science fiction novella, starting off with teenagers in 2013 post-Katrinarural Mississippi. In addition to the time travel, it is book-within-a-bookstory, featuring some of the same characters in multiple time periods. I willbe discussing what recurrent themes run rampant through Long Division, and mainly how media can shape and support society,including individuals and the future. I will begin my discussion withsocialization and cultivation theories, along with the consequences and why allthese questions, along with the book, matters in the long run for the future.Socialization theory believes that peergroups, rather than parents, influences personality and behavior whenindividual’s mature. Teenagers spend more time withpeers than with parents. Therefore, peer groups have stronger correlations withpersonality development than parental figures do. For example, twins whosegenetic makeup are identical, will vary in personality because they havedifferent groups of friends, not because their parents raised them differently.
Let’s takethe characters in Long Division, andhow their personalities, over time, change with their experiences with eachother. Some mature, being less volatile and more respectful, while others gothe opposite way. Even one character’s grandmother remarks in this change in themin a later part of the book. (Tome) Peer pressure occurs when the individualexperiences implicit or explicit persuasion to adopt similar values, beliefs,and goals, or to participate in the same activities as those in the peer group.The influence of peer pressure is usually concentrated in relation to the relativeinfluence of the family or an individual. The level of peer influence surgeswith age, and resistance to peer influence often declines as the child gainsindependence, yet has not fully formed an independent identity.
One study inparticular confirms other research findings that the values of the peer groupwith whom the student spends the most time are a stronger factor in their levelof academic success than the values, attitudes, and support provided by thefamily. Compared to others, students whose families were not especiallysupportive but who spent time with an academically oriented peer group weresuccessful, while those students whose families stressed academics but whospent time with peers whose orientation was not academic performed less well. Thepeer pressure study contradicts prevailing ideas about the influence offamilies on the success of racial and cultural minorities. For example, AfricanAmerican students, whose families tended to be highly involved in andsupportive of education, were subjected to intense peer pressure not to performacademically. Again, peer group values and attitudes influence, more stronglythan do family values, the level of teenage drug use. Regardless of theparenting style, peer pressure also influences the degree to which children conformto expected roles. In order to achieve this balance, rather than attempting tominimize peer influence, families and schools must provide strong alternativebeliefs, patterns of behavior, and encourage formation of peer groups thatengage in positive activities.
Having a higher number of friends with more riskbehaviors also emerges as a factor with a high impact in involvement in riskactivities, which is in line with several studies that have identified peers asthe variable with the greatest influence in the involvement in such actions. Takinginto account that adolescents seem to choose to be less involved in riskbehaviors when they have friends that are not involved in risk behaviors;although peers’ influence is indirectly related, it is very important foradolescents’ health and well-being, as suggested in other studies with similarresults. As a result, friends that have a higher involvement in risk behaviors havea higher probability in influencing negatively their peers; whilst friends thathave more protective behaviors and more easiness in communicating, strengthenedby friendships with quality have higher probability of influencing positivelytheir peers.} Cultivationtheory states that the more time people spend on social media, the more likelythey are to believe social reality aligns with reality portrayed andadvertised. It also tackles the long-term effects of television/social media onconsumers. The theory proposes that the danger of social media lies in itsability to shape people’s moral values and general beliefs. Social Media can,through stereotypical and national images of a group or people, create a mentalimage in the mind of the individual about “the other”.
What the viewer sees on the screen becomesthe basis of a mental image that the individual forms about the socialpractical status of values, population characteristics, and the variouscultural standards common by the society’s classes, categories, and all kinds of thecontent it presents, and not restricted to “cultural programs”, whichrefer to programs that deal with art, science, and literature. Conventionalprogram division into news, cultural, entertainment, educational, children,woman, etc., is used only to facilitate management or research. Gerbner saysthat cultivation is some sort of indiscriminate learning that results from thebuildup of exposure to media. ( Mosharafa ) There are social norms and identity,beliefs and social change, especially relating to growing children andteenagers.
They change quickly. Consequencesof media participation and consumption, from journals and media can range frompositive, neutral and negative, from find and communicating with those that arefurther away or far gone, and negative being backlash and confusing of messagesportrayed. Michael Zito, PhD, and licensed psychologist in private practicesays that the 1970’s spurred an era of self-entitlement ratherthan self-esteem, and social media fueled this point of view.
Psychologists have also noted that exposureto graphic violence, and to negative media can either cause anover-sensitization, where we become more sensitive and/or pessimistic or canlead to desensitization, in which we are numb to the effects of violence.Negativity on television is difficult to ignore, and it can significantlyinfluence how we view our lives and the world. Negative media can lead tonegative thoughts, leading us to view our lives as more distressing than they actuallyare. Some of the negatives of media is often because of our biology, andpessimism could lead us to ignore the many things that are positive in themedia, and in the world. Media can have websites that are “pro-mentalillness”, amongother dark things, such as pro-Ana sites and hate groups, such as the WestburoBaptist church. On a morepositive note, media does have its benefits.
Pamela Rutledge asserts that thereare many benefits for people who are withdrawn or shy. Media can add creativityto our thinking, and allow us to explore and become actively involved. Gamescan show students how better to deal with success and failure (in order to winat many games, you sometimes have to fail first). Social media allows morepeople to connect with others around the world.
Teachers have found that gamesnot only engage students, but they also inspire learning. Teaching with videogames (game-based learning) is an emerging tool for motivational and engagementlearning. Students become part of the story, rather than sitting back listeningto a lecture. (The impact…) Media can also educate in general…you canjust go online to figure out about”Peripheral neuropathy” within afew minutes, rather than going to a library and searching for hours. Before wego into what the future may hold for media, we must address that we are not thebest at predicting the future. We don’t imagine events correctly, nor do weimagine them as they will unfold.
We also don’t know who we will be when we areexperiencing that event. We underestimate the mind’s ability to react to eventsin a different way than it’s reacting to them in prospect. Almost every eventyou experience feels different once you’ve experienced it then you imagined itwould have before. I can give you another example of this, which is the movie Back to the Future. In this, theypredicted that we would have flying cars and hoverboards by October 21, 2015,but we didn’t. Even though we’veadvanced incredibly quickly since this movie was made, this movie is a great modelfor how we really can’t predict the future accurately. Rather thanhover boards, we made things such as Self-balancing scooter (called ahoverboard) which has two wheels on the side and is controlled with buttons onthe middle of the board, and rather than flying cars, we have smart cars thatrun on electricity, or hybrids, that run on a mix between electric and gas.
Illusions of the future are that becauseoften times we can’t predict who we are in the future, and whatwe might want from that, the true details of the past and present that mightadd up to our future, and often, we ignore wrong predictions, and we supportour beliefs that we can predict our own future when we get it right. No matterhow many times we experience these errors in our lives and how many times wemake the same mistakes, we don’t learn from them, and we’re left with the sameconfidence that we had before. (You v. future you) Let’s take anexample from Long Division, when the main character first goes through thewormhole and observes the smartphone. They have no idea what it is, and eventake it to figure out what it is. If we can imagine ourselves in the samesituation, in the future (perhaps 3018?), much of the technology of that time,regardless of what it is, would confuse and bewilder us. Now that we have that out of the way, manytechnologies we use today came from artists, writers and creative visionaries.These visionaries imagined future inventions with remarkable accuracy, even ifthey didn’t know how to actually make them.
Science fiction books, movies, TVshows and art also allow us to explore the social consequences of theseadvances. They link human narratives to scientific questions, and explore thefull social implications of research. The center experiments with these changesand ideas through several projects. (Science Fiction) To go back to “Back tothe Future”, even though this movie did get a lotwrong, it did get a lot of things correct, from personal drones to medicaldevices. The waytechnology changes and the way it changes us is the result of decisions that wemake as “tool smiths”, individual users, and groups.
Robert Heinlein said in The Door Into Summer, “Whenrailroading time comes you can railroad-but not afore.” All throughhistory, inventors envisioned things that looked consistent to helicopters, including,famously, Leonardo da Vinci. Internet socialnetworks were already a huge influence before Facebook, such as Myspace anddozens of others had already come and gone.
There was an adjacent possible inplay: The cyber world and the web subsisted, and it had grown enough that manyof the people you wanted to verbalize with could be found online, if onlysomeone would design an accommodation to facilitate finding them. Anaccommodation like Facebook was inevitably predetermined, but how Facebookworks was not. Facebook, along with other current social media sites, isdesigned like a casino game where the jackpots are attention from other peopleand the playing surface is an astronomical board whose components can’t beoptically distinguished most of the time. As in all casino games, in theFacebook game there’s one ecumenical rule: The house always triumphs. Facebookperpetually fine-tunes its algorithms to maximize the amount that you discloseto the accommodation because it is lucrative by selling that personalinformation to advertisers.
Integrating the surveillance business model toFacebook was an individual call. Unless everyone you can call along with younot to utilize Facebook, being a Facebook vegan is hard. It factitiously letsyou optically separate the casino for what it is and make a more apprised callabout what technologies you depend on. Opting out of Facebook is not a personalcall but an expressive one, one that you chose on your own at the cost of your expansivelife and yourself to stay in touch with the people you love. Science Fictionoften warns of a world where technology controls people in lieu of the otherway around.
Inconclusion, the recurrent themes in long division can be associated withtheories such as the cultivation theory or perhaps socialization theory, and ifwe associate this book with reality, we can understand the impact of media onsociety, and perhaps even predict the future of media consumption, using longdivision as one of the many ways fiction can align withreality.