Today (Feb 20) through Thursday, Feb 27 the Women’s Center at GVSU will host “Love Your Body” week. This week is dedicated to promoting healthy body image through educational material and recreational opportunities, like yoga.
To kickoff this special week, the “Portrayal of Women on Social Media” show opened in the Mary Idema Pew Library exhibition room on Feb 10. This show features the work of two recent SoC graduates Elizabeth Batten and Makenna Runion. The pair teamed up to create a series of pictures, contrasting how women portray themselves on social media and their true personalities.
“The class studies issues in communication and we decided to focus on how women display themselves on social media,” Runion said. “We started the project after seeing young girls posting pictures online with captions like, ‘Do you think I’m pretty?’ It’s very sad to see young girls subjecting themselves to criticism over the Internet.”
The project was completed for COM 495, taught by SoC alum and professor Jacob Pierzchala who just celebrated his 1-year teaching anniversary. Pierzchala graduated from the Communications Studies and Film and Video programs and received his Master’s Degree from Bowling Green University.
“This is the first gallery setting I have been a part of and it has been really exciting,” Pierzchala said. “I believe in giving students the opportunity to express themselves and develop theory based work, and this project is an excellent example of that.”
The show will continue to be available for viewing until March 7.
“Media ecology looks into the matter of how media of communication affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; and how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival.”
—Neil Postman, “The Reformed English Curriculum.” in A.C. Eurich, ed., High School 1980: The Shape of the Future in American Secondary Education (1970).
Neil Postman was a social critic, educator, and one of the founders of the field today known as “media ecology.” In 1998, five of his former students formed the Media Ecology Association (MEA). This is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the research and application of media ecology.
Today’s executive board of the MEA includes professors from all over the country. Most recently, Corey Anton, PhD, Professor of Communication Studies in the GVSU School of Communications was named president of this organization. Anton has been on the MEA board since 2005, served as the editor of the MEA’s journal Explorations in Media Ecology from 2008-2010, and now will act as president until 2015.
“I sometimes need to explain that I don’t really study ‘mass media’ or just modern technology,” Anton said. “For me the group [the MEA] is much more concerned with larger questions such as the co-evolution of environments, consciousness, and media forms, and how the quality of human life relates to communication technologies. They are also interested in how media can be used in ways that extend and enrich human capabilities but which minimize undesirable outcomes.”
The MEA looks at media as environments, and environments as media. For example, a clock on the wall isn’t just something in the room. Humans are inside the environment that the clock makes possible. Once clocks became synced across the globe, the world became increasingly interlocked and people felt the crunch of new paces of interaction. The MEA also addresses how technologies such as literacy and money relate to religion, work, community, law, and the sense of self.
Together with co-planner Valerie Peterson, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Anton brought the MEA’s 14th annual convention to Grand Rapids in June of 2013. This three-day event took almost two years of planning and a great deal of university support.
“The theme of the convention was ‘Media Ecology: Unplugged,’” Anton said. “Panels discussed the importance of strategic hiatuses from some technologies. They spanned topics such as early literacy, distance education, and how life may look 20 years from now.”
For more information about media ecology and Anton, visit the MEA website.