Imagine walking up the counter at your local McDonald’s. Take a moment and think about the sights, the smells. Maybe yours is connected to the Chevron station, just as mine is in Plano, Texas. Or maybe it’s suspended over the highway, as it is in Vinita, Oklahoma. Maybe it sounds of delicious fries being fried, and you can hear the sizzle of the burgers on the grill. Or maybe that sizzle is drowned out by the sound of kids coming from the Play Place. Regardless of what McDonald’s you picture, you know the menu will be the same. You can order that Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a Big Mac, or even the Chicken Selects. No matter what you order, it’s going to be a fairly reasonable price.
Now you scan the restaurant for a table; if you’re like me, you’re going to be looking for a booth as you fill about five ketchup containers. So you sit down, and you pop open the Big Mac container, and it stares right back at you with its three buns and all its glory. At this point, you could have two thoughts: 1) this looked a lot bigger on the menu, and 2) I am starving. So you grip that bad boy with both hands and you open your mouth as wide as possible, and you take that first bite. Bite after bite, fry after fry, you finish your meal, and for the price, it was pretty good. But here’s an idea that probably never crossed your mind: where did that burger come from?
In our vastly modernized world, we can drive about ten minutes to the local grocery store and pick up microwaveable dinners, fresh steaks to grill, and even ready to eat meals. The vast majority of people do not make their own food, or even know where it comes from. Unfortunately, the majority of our meat now comes from factory farms. There has become a disconnect between animals and food, as well as a lack of awareness about where our food comes from. This year has taught me about how factory farms work, and how animals are maltreated. It is important to spread awareness to others so that they can understand where their food is coming from, and then to make their own conscious choice on what to eat. This class has taught me the importance of not only just knowing the information, but also the actions that I take because of the information.
Besides just awareness with food, we also learned about the things around us that affects our daily life, specifically the media. The first book that we read this year was “Medium is the Massage.” I had never read anything like it before. It was sometimes confusing and it focused much more on how content is delivered than what the actual content was. This was a great book to read for my first book in college. It really made me take a step back and look at how things are presented in my everyday life. It made me realize how important visuals are in what has just recently become a highly visual world. With advancements in technology, images have become such a great way to communicate. It is much easier to present a graph to a large group of people than to type out facts and have the group each individually read them. Visuals can leave a bigger impact and have a much greater influence on people; the media has really taken advantage of this aspect, and large companies pay big money to show you their products. For example, a thirty second commercial during the 2014 Super Bowl, which is arguably the most watched event of the year, cost an average of $4 million (Ad Age Staff). Companies are paying big time in order to feed us images of their message or their products. Just as was the theme before, it is of the utmost importance that people see these images, but just don’t automatically accept them or at least go without thinking about the message. People need to question everything around them, and after they question and reflect, then they can consciously choose what to believe. If we do not start doing this, and we accept what we see as the truth, then we are just going through the motions of life, not really living; we will basically be robots.
Human, animal, and the machine: the theme for our last freshman quarter at Santa Clara University. As stated before, technology has become engrained in the lives of those who live in the advanced modern world. Despite just the iPhone, technology can include anything that betters our lives, like cars, medicine, and even online shopping. The easy access to technology has made it is easier for a middle class family to live in excess in America now more than it ever has before. While I have been on campus at SCU in the heart of Silicon Valley, I have not gone a day without looking at a screen. And that is a statement that gets more and more frightening each time I read it. Over the course of the year, I have done research on Instagram, the way we interact in the lunch room, and I have even done a paper on amateur pornography, specifically webcam girls. Based off of my research on guys and shoes, and girls and celebrities, I concluded that Instagram has revolutionized photos and changed the way we view our own visual representation by making the visual aspect of our lives more important. Along with the idea of technology, I have even conducted my own experiments.
Being new on campus can be intimidating. First impressions and judgments can be important, and there is no other place that’s easier to judge people than at the cafeteria, and eating alone is not always the most popular thing to do. So for my experiment, I went to Benson Hall by myself with the intention of sitting down with other strangers who were eating alone. It was absolutely amazing. Despite how our faces are almost always buried in our phones, I found it surprisingly easy to carry on conversations with complete strangers. Yet, if you were to take a look around, even people who are sitting with friends would be looking down at Facebook, or messaging others that aren’t at the table. I discovered that the ability in our generation to carry on with other strangers is possible, but it’s also more difficult than just keeping to yourself and your iPhone.
The ideas and skills to cognitively think about my surroundings and to contemplate technology are essential to my growth as a young adult. Instead of accepting, I now question, and then choose what I believe is right. Before this class, I focused heavily on social media, but now I understand how important face-to-face connections are, and I have even deleted all social media apps from my phone. High school mainly taught me information, but I have now realized the importance of awareness, just like I am now becoming more away about what I eat and where it comes from. I know that I will carry on in this state of mind, and continue to progress as an adult, which will let me truly live my life.
Ad Age Staff. “Who Bought What in Super Bowl XLVIII.” Advertising Age. N.p., 03 Feb. 2014. Web. 08 June 2014.