Saturday, April 6, 2013

How Do YOU Get Your News?

Today I had one of those good, long talks with my mom. As we talked, I realized that she was not aware of a few big controversial topics that have popped up recently. And I thought to myself, how does this happen? When she probably watches the news on TV much more often than I do? As I thought about it, I realized that besides word of mouth, Facebook IS my news source. I can't decide whether that's a good or bad thing.

While I should probably expand my horizons, I feel that Facebook is a good way to stay current on the issues that are pertinent to the people my age, right now. And I mean right now as in, almost instantaneous, because Facebook is like a small town where word spreads like wildfire!

Tonight I turned on KSL news for the first time...ever. I discovered that it's not so bad, and that there are quite a few things going on in my own area that I had no idea about. Maybe TV does have its merits. :)

How do you stay informed?

A Letter to the CEO of Carl's Jr.

Dear Mr. Puzder,

During fall of last year I went to a Carl’s Jr. restaurant for the first time, and I enjoyed the meal I was served. However, I recently became aware of Carl Jr.’s advertising campaign which highlights sexualized, scantily-clad women. I feel that using sexualized advertising is a very bad move for your company, for a number of reasons. 

First, you may be targeting young men who will eat a lot, but you are losing many of your loyal customers who would have brought their families along with them. You may not be aware, but after reading the recent Facebook responses to your Heidi Klum and Nina Agdal commercials, it appears to me that a large number of people are boycotting your restaurant altogether, because they are offended by the explicit material that you are trying to persuade them with.

Second, by objectifying women, you add to the stereotype that young girls are fed every day by the media, which is that women have value only if they are “hot”, “skinny”, and “sexy”. By doing so, you add your voice to the many others who falsely tell our sisters and daughters that they are not to be valued for their accomplishments, but for their looks. As a result, many girls who prescribe to such a shallow ideal have experienced many internalizing issues such as depression and eating disorders.

Although sex may earn you a few dollars, remember that long-term relationships are never based on sex only. I implore you rise up and change your advertising campaign to direct towards the whole family, not just towards one narrow group of your customers. I challenge you to create a lasting relationship with your customers by producing commercials that match the taste of your burgers. I would appreciate it, and I know there are many others who would as well. 

Please, win my loyalty back.


Alison Bennett

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Salt Sucks

 One day in class, we were talking about media violence, and how it is a risk factor for aggressive behavior. Yet, it is something that we can definitely control in our lives!! Then my mind went to salt. Why?

My head loves analogies. Through comparisons, I understand things better. Once in a human physiology or anatomy class here at BYU, I learned that however much salt you eat consistently, that's what your taste buds become accustomed to. So, in essence, your sensory neurons become desensitized to whatever level of salt you're feeding yourself. You choose the level of salt, and your body becomes accustomed to it, so that you NEED that amount of salt on your food to feel like you're getting the same effect. Health implications follow.
Whether this is actually right or wrong, it fits with the purpose of this analogy. :)

I thought of the uses and gratifications of violent media, and how people may feel a rush by watching violence, but soon need more to get that same rush of adrenaline. Then, I thought of many people I know who have served missions, who wouldn't touch a violent ANYTHING for months after they get back (making me feel really bad and worldly for even suggesting we watch it. Shoot. Ha.) While we may think of those RMs as out of touch with the "real world", I feel like they're just not horribly desensitized like many of us are.

If we lessen our "salt" (violent media) intake, I think that we'll realize that we didn't need that high amount of salt in the first place. In fact, we may find that our high intake of salt was impacting our health. Little did we know. That's what desensitization does.

Princesses and Prophets

"When I was a kid growing up, my grandmother lived with us,and one of her things was to make sure that I went to bed at night. So she would tell me stories. I wanted to hear Snow White and Cinderella, but she'd always say, 'I can only tell you something that's true.' And so she would tell me the stories of Joseph Smith and the pioneers." --Susan Easton Black

Sometimes, for short spurts of time, life will continually give me a theme to ponder. And sometimes, that theme comes from a media source, with little treasures popping up when I least expect them to. This was such a time. 

I was on Facebook one day, and I stumbled across a New York Times article that someone had posted about how storytelling brings families together and makes them more resilient. The ideas it gave resonated with me. But I soon forgot about it as I went about my daily life, racing my deadlines. 

About a week later, I was reading a random Deseret News article, when I got hit with the idea again. It was the quote you see above, by Susan Easton Black (who is an amazing teacher!) My thoughts immediately went to Dr. Coyne's study on princesses, and how so many girls love and aspire to be like the cartoon princesses.

I wondered. What if we spent as much time teaching our daughters (and sons) about real stories of real people? About our ancestors who faced challenges? About the people we admire? Would our little children have a better sense of who they are? Would they be more resilient and feel more bonded with their families? Would they be stronger for it?

I've never been a very good storyteller, and so I never thought much about the significance of the stories we tell. But as I think about people like Susan Easton Black, whose inspirational career and love of church history was fostered by her grandmother's bedtime stories in her early years, I begin to rethink my paradigm. 


Monday, March 18, 2013

Music, Shopping, and Cheesecake

Last month I went to the Cheesecake Factory for the first time (I know, where have you been all my life?!) And one thing I noticed about the experience, other than the food, was that I really loved the music they played. All of it. Maybe I was just in a really good mood for that kind of music, but honestly, that alone makes me want to go back again!

Cheesecake Factory
When I thought about it more, I realized that music has a big effect on me whenever I go into a store. Even silence has an effect. The music or noise I hear can drive me away, or make me want to stay longer (and... spend more money). The other day I went to a pizza place where the one girl there was listening to screamo stuff, and I just wanted to leave. In fact, I did. After we ordered the pizza. The customer service was great, but the music almost drove me away. Music has a powerful effect on the atmosphere of any store, and in extension, it can even determine the success of an establishment.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


As I watched the Miss-representation video in class, I'll be honest. I felt a little sick to my stomach. Why? Because I felt like I had been convinced of a LIE my entire life. The video caused me to take a big step back and look at what kind of belief system I'd been subscribing to since I can remember. I mean, I knew that media is unrealistic for the most part, but little did I know what a huge impact it has on our society, in that I think it is a catalyst for perceived expectation. Here's a few ideas that I liked/thought were profound in the video:
  • Media culture (and in extension, society) values the looks of women. How are we to rise above it?
  • The media affects the brain on a subconscious level.
  • Advertising is based on making people feel anxious, insecure, and therefore moves us to do things to feel more "powerful". 
  • Women spend money on cosmetics instead of school--the rhetoric of this "empowerment" is that it completely dis-empowers you.
  • Women are objectified in media. We think that they're empowered, so young women try to use their sexuality to become as empowered. 
There were so many more good points, but in short, I want to make sure that I'm a more conscientious consumer of the media, and that from now on, I look hard at the messages that the media is really sending. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Laptop. My Life.

I have just a small thought. I write this post, cringing a little as I do. I have a question for you. What would your life be like if you didn't have your laptop? Just thinking about that makes me feel a little bit guilty, because I know that I would have so much more free time to do (in most cases, probably) more meaningful things! My laptop is a powerful tool for good... but it can also be a vice. Why do some of the best gifts to us have such a power to ensnare us as well! It's like a pendulum... the farther it swings one way (for good), the farther it can go the other way (for bad)!

I suppose the only way to solve the problem comes with these two words: responsibility and discipline. I hope that I can continue to develop those, so that I can be better myself and also teach my kids those important principles as well, so that we can all avoid the "technology takeover" and live real, productive, and happy lives!