Archive for August, 2010

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Social Networking : Time Wasters

August 25, 2010

Modern technology is evident everywhere in the world today. Almost everyone uses it. They make it easier to connect with friends and family no matter which part of the world they are in. But there is mounting evidence that it is doing more damage than good to our society.

Social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace claim to socially connect us to millions of users globally, but it does not give a real world perception of the less fortunate in today’s society. The less fortunate – the homeless and victims of natural disasters, for instance – do not have the opportunity to connect to these networks.

Technology and social networking is not all bad, it is the obsession with them that can waste a lot of time. People need to readdress this problem by giving back to society via volunteer work such as helping out in soup kitchens where you can directly communicate with people on a personal level and make a real difference in their lives – something which you cannot do behind a computer screen.

Going out in the real world and volunteering your services to charity can make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged people as well as make them realise that they do not need to obsess over technology and there are far more important needs to address that will have a more meaningful impact on society.

In a survey conducted by The Nielsen Company, it was found that global web users spent an average of five and a half hours per person in February 2010 on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. This is an increase of two hours from the same time last year, and the numbers keep rising.

Social Networking icons

If each person can give up an hour and a half a week to assist in meaningful charity work, time that would otherwise have been wasted on social networking, this additional manpower can be significant in making a difference in people’s lives whether it is simply to lend a listening ear or to help sort clothing and food for the less fortunate.

After a tragedy such as the 2009 Victorian bushfires, there is often a number of web forums and blogs that pop up to talk about the tragedy. Would it not be better, if the time and effort is spent communicating directly with charity groups and spending time helping to distribute emergency supplies to those in need?

When you think of people who have lost so much, like homes and even families and friends in tragedies like the 2009 Victorian bushfires, it is saddening to see the people spending so much time and money on unimportant, unnecessary things. Life is short, and we should live it to the fullest, engage with real people, spend more time in a meaningful way.

There is a saying ‘You never know how good you have it till you have lost everything’. It should not take a tragedy or people to hit rock bottom to realise that people and nature are more important than material things. We can replace things, but we can never replace the people we love and value. People need to understand this and take action before it is too late.

References :

Nielsen Wire
March 19, 2010
http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/global/global-audience-spends-two-hours-more-a-month-on-social-networks-than-last-year/

Vision: Insights and New Horizons – And They All Lived Technologically Ever After
by David F. Lloyd
Spring 2007 Issue
http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/article.aspx?id=2954

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Smoking Culture

August 21, 2010

In 1950s America, The Guardian UK describes smoking as the “epitome of cool and glamour“. Screen legends such as James Dean and Audrey Hepburn helped perpetual the “cool” culture and cigarettes were “cheap, legal and socially acceptable“. One of the most iconic advertisements was Philips Morris’ Malboro Man with the tagline “For man’s flavour come to Marlboro Country“.

After the link between lung cancer and other diseases to smoking, there has been a shift in the perception of the smoking culture. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, Manly and Mosman have now banned outdoor smoking. However Leidchardt mayor will not follow stating “There’s a strong cultural affinity for a lot of Italians with having a coffee and a cigarette“. The reinforces the stereotype that certain nationalities (e.g. Italians) have smoking as an integral part of their culture.

However as reported in The Culture of Smoking, poor African nations have seen a “surge in smoking is seen in young people under the age of 20 that constitute the majority of the continents population“. What draws them into the smoking culture? The article states “It starts with peer pressure, being exposed to second hand smoking, having parents and best friends who smoke. And for some, just simply to be cool“.

With the known health risks and the social stigma in society, will the smoking culture even vanish? I feel the smoking culture will always be part of current society. Even with certain drugs (e.g. heroin) made illegal, there are always people willing to find them and try. Cigarettes are much more readily available and it will appeal to a certain demographic of people.

References :

Smokers kicked to the kerb – then all over town
by Josephine Tovey- March 19, 2010
Sydney Morning Herald
http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/wellbeing/smokers-kicked-to-the-kerb–then-all-over-town-20100318-qifl.html

When smoking was cool, cheap, legal and socially acceptable
by Jason Rodrigues- April 1 2009
The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/apr/01/tobacco-industry-marketing

The Culture of Smoking
by Henok Semaegzer Fente, November 30 2009
http://www.voanews.com/zimbabwe/news/special-reports/The-Culture-of-Smoking-78153847.html

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Alcohol and Drinking Culture

August 18, 2010

The DrugInfo Clearinghouse states there are “social and cultural pressures” to drink alcoholic beverages as part of meals, celebrations, relaxation “and to have fun“. It also found there is a societal acceptance “that using alcohol at harmful levels or binge drinking is acceptable“. Binge drinking is the consumption of alcohol to become intoxicated. This is a negative aspect of the drinking culture which can cause serious health issue and other social issues (e.g. violence). A ninemsn reports “hangovers, headaches, nausea, shakiness” as well as “liver or brain damage“.

Drinking can be a social event, reducing inhibitions or enjoyment during a get together. The key to everything is moderation and control. NSW Drinking Campaign 1998 had a tagline which stated “Drink. Drunk. The difference is U“. It is fine to have enjoy a drink once in a while but getting drunk on a continual basis has health ramifications and like other drugs, can lead to other issues such as dependency. Alcoholism is the “dark side” of this culture and its effects can be devastating.

Prohibition (or the banning of alcohol) has proven historically to not be effective and drives the problem underground. Alcohol can be consumed responsibly, the key is understanding and hopefully society can define itself well enough to ensure that people know their limits and can drink without the need to get drunk.

References :

Wikipedia – Prohibition
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition

Drink Drunk Campaign
October 21, 1998
http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/PARLMENT/hansArt.nsf/V3Key/LC19981021035

The effects of binge drinking
May 11, 2010
http://health.ninemsn.com.au/azindex/689748/binge-drinking

Alcohol and Society
by Staton Peele and Archie Brodsky – July, 1996
http://peele.net/lib/sociocul.html

Who drinks alcohol in Australia?
DrugInfo Clearinghouse
http://www.alcoholandwork.adf.org.au/browse.asp?ContainerID=who_drinks_alcohol

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Wedding Culture

August 15, 2010

The wedding ceremony is an integral part of almost all cultures each with their own traditions and rituals. In Sudan the groom has to pay 20 – 40 cattles for the bride whilst in China as part of the wedding ceremony, tea is served to the elders. In Australia however, most tend to follow the traditional “white” wedding. Weddings has served in our current culture as a way to celebrate the union of two people and the joining of two families. The celebrations usually incorporate two events, the actual wedding ceremony and wedding feast.

Bridezilla is a new term that has entered our culture.
It is defined in Wikipedia as a “difficult, unpleasant, perfectionist bride” and has spawned its own reality TV Show from company, WeTV. This represents the “bad” side to the wedding culture and reflects on the current “me” generation.

Bridezilla

Why are weddings so important? As a tradition it has endured thousands of years, some view it as a joining of families for arranged marriages, a public declaration of love or to build a solid foundation for a family. A question that was raised by Tim Dick from the Sydney Morning Herald is why marriage is currently only restricted to man and woman. It opens the question, should same sex unions by afforded the opportunity for their own wedding? This would be a radical culture shift from societal norms. Changing the current culture is never an easy process and is more gradual then sudden.

References

African People and Culture – Wedding Ceremonies
http://www.africaguide.com/culture/weddings.htm

Chinese Wedding Customs and Rituals
http://www.chinabridal.com/etiquette.htm

Bridezilla
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridezilla_%28term%29

Bridezillas – TV Show
http://www.wetv.com/bridezillas/index.html

Gay marriage: what would it really take?
by Tim Dick, August 18 2010
http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/gay-marriage-what-would-it-really-take-20100818-1292p.html

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Cultural Clash – Gen Y in the Workforce

August 12, 2010

Gen Y is a general term for anyone born after 1980. Wikipedia notes that they are most familiar “with communications, media, and digital technologies“. Every generation will seek to differentiate itself from the generation before them. Jack and Suzy Welch reports in Business Week, although there is a perception that Gen Y in workforce have an unfair sense of entitlement they have found from their own experience that they are “hardworking, entrepreneurial, startlingly authentic, refreshingly candid, and wonderfully upbeat“.

ABC News presents a different story stating “a survey of more than 300 Australian business owners has summed up Generation Y as demanding, impatient and bad at communicating” however the survey also found Gen Y’s have “energy, a creativity and a charisma, so if you can harness their personalities and their view of the world in the right way, they can be good employees“.

It is very difficult to classify an entire generation and any assertions of both negative and positive are stereotypes. In every group there will be the “good” and the “bad“. Most Gen Y’s will have grown up with different technologies (e.g. internet and mobile phones) which will change their outlook and the way they operate in the workplace. Especially with easy access to the internet, information is now on demand and that’s the way Gen Y’s work. If the current generation can mold their processes slightly and adapt accordingly there are hard workers of any generation (Gen Y included) who will prove to be assets to their businesses.

References :

Generation Y disappoints employers
By Liv Casben – Fri Jul 13, 2007
ABC News
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/07/13/1978431.htm

Generation Y’s Bad Rap
by Jack and Suzy Welch – September 27, 2007
Business Week
http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/sep2007/ca20070927_516544.htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index_managing

Wikipedia – Generation Y
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Y

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Australia’s Fair Go Culture

August 10, 2010

Australia has defined part of its culture with the concept of a “fair go”. With Tourism Australia stating in its website that “It’s all about a fair go, the great outdoors and a healthy helping of irony“. In the TV Show A Fair Go, whilst discussing multiculturalism the host comments on “so-called Australian values – like mateship, and the notion of a fair go“. In the article from the Age, they asked Bibi Lall Mohamed from Mauritius what she loved about Australia. She replied “We loved Australia from the outset. To begin with, there’s so much space but it’s also the fact that people here give you a fair go.

Compared to other countries, Australia with a stable judicial system and economy can best afford its people and migrants an equal opportunity. In other countries where corruption is rampant, only those with money or connections are able to prosper. I personally migrated here from another country as the “fair go” culture in Australia provided the relevant opportunities to establish myself. The “fair go” culture allows those who are willing to work hard, the chance to succeed.

References :

Australia Culture – Tourism Australia
http://www.australia.com/about/culture.aspx

A Fair Go
Broadcasted on ABC on Monday 12th February 2007
Hosted by Jeff McMullen
http://www.abc.net.au/tv/differenceofopinion/episodes/episode_01.htm

People in Australia give you a fair go
By Martin Flanagan – July 21 2003
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/07/20/1058639659641.html

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Cooking Culture

August 7, 2010

Australia’s cooking culture (as described in culture.gov.au from the early European settlers of damper and rabbit with predominately English and Irish influences to a multicultural smorgasbord with influences from all over the world. The introduction of celebrity chefs (e.g. Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay) into our culture have influenced society to empowered society to experiment with cooking.

This is further reinforced with the popularity of MasterChef (Season 1 – Finale drew over 3.3 million viewers), the cooking culture phenomenon has taken hold in Australia. Its success with even a higher viewership in Season 2 has opened the idea that cooking is no longer a chore but an exciting way to exhibit culinary skill. A glance into almost every bookshop will yield a plethora of cooking books showing society’s interest in developing its cooking culture.

What is the current attraction to cooking?
Food is a universal link between people and cooking allows the chef to present a dish that represents the individual’s culture and ideals. Cooking in this respect does not represent putting a frozen pie in the oven but experimenting with various pie fillings from recipe books and putting forward an original creation.

Cooking can be an effectively way to impress or create a bond between family and friends. The cooking culture is an important way for one generation to pass down recipes to the next generation as well as (or importantly) having fun while creating something that can be savoured as the end result.

References :

MasterChef finale on track for record ratings
by KARL QUINN – July 23, 2010
http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/masterchef-finale-on-track-for-record-ratings-20100723-10o1r.html

Australian food and drink
culture.gov.au – Accessed 07-Aug-10
http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/articles/foodanddrink/