Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Small groups

So there I was--stuttering through our "group" project (a commercial). We'd got there an hour ahead of time, did some practice stand up and sit downs for the lecture part of the project--much easier when no one else was in class, and made people laugh. Pretty much what we were going for.

Out of a list of four projects--(there are four teams in small groups) two groups picked "a commercial", and two picked "produce community change". The other group with a commercial had the same problems we did--no one was really a Youtube'r, so the commercials were pretty cheesy. But...those groups who got involved in community change? I dunno. Maybe it's just me, or maybe I have low tolerance to people who are holier than thou--but, talk about boring. Databases and spreadsheets, evangelical stumping, pitches for raffles, and long boring stories about the reasons behind their good deeds, how good they felt doing their good deeds, and why other people needed to do good deeds, preferably for "their" chosen charity?

The critique sheet said, "was the presentation exciting and engaging--in other words, not boring?"

The kid across from me fell asleep and the other kid started to doodle. I wrote 75 percent of my scenes blog post and forty minutes later, they were still droning. When they got to statistics about things so random they only had a peripheral bearing on the subject, I wanted to run and hide. "Please, just stick to the four minute time slot. Please...stop talking about world hunger and societal change in an objective sense. And NO!! DON'T back the PowerPoint up again--I got who the guy running the charity was, how he met his wife, how different he was in college and what he's doing recently, including closeup screen shots of each database, the tax implications and statistical breakdowns for the entire country and most of the civilized world." I felt like I was in an employee meeting--trapped without danishes.

In each group, the oldest guy had taken on the role of leader, and they were totally amazed the two groups that'd done commercials didn't have leaders. In a way, reporting their good deeds almost obscured the deed itself.

Later, we did the abuse of power. The teacher runs this video on prison abuse in Abu Ghraib and there's this huge warning--turns out some of our troops running this prison in the Middle East had one of those absolute power corrupts absolutely moments, and of course--took hundreds of cell phone pictures. So the teacher says, "This warning is pretty accurate. If violence, torture and sexual degradation bothers you, you need to turn away." So I watch the first three pictures--realize he's absolutely, without a doubt right in a turn my stomach, this is way over the top way, and look down, but the entire rest of the class watches the whole thing. Seriously--I had to wonder. That stuff was sick and wrong. Why the hell didn't they look away? It was like torture porn and they were getting off.

I once read this book called, "On Killing", where the author talks about desensitization as the first step in producing killers. It's pretty sad when a group of people who range in age from seventeen to 50 can watch stuff that extreme without a twitch.


deanna said...

Wow, creepies and crawlies abound in academia. I love your descriptions of the way people love to tell how they love doing good deeds and feeling so good about doing them. Maybe scenes like these will come in handy in stories - or maybe you'll have to cut too much boring stuff to make it worthwhile. :o)

I think you're right, desensitization happens when the images become like air around people all the time. I guess I'm glad our computer takes a long time to load YouTube.

jodi said...

Deanna--I knew you'd understand. The deeds were righteous, but the people doing them did them for all the wrong reasons. I think I'd have had a lot more respect for them if they'd simply done it, taken some video and said, "Hunger is a problem. This is what we did to help. What can you do?"

And I hate the whole desensitization thing. I know they're just images, but when my daughter played that zombie game--Dead Rising, and killed the innocents to win, I had to have a long talk with her. :(

Hailey Edwards said...

I will, in a long winded rant, liken this to why I won't go to church.

I'm cool with God. I see him as a pretty good guy. I don't see him standing at the door and wrinkling his nose at what I'm wearing or muttering under his breath about how I could have at least 8 "church suits" so that I don't re-wear something within a two month time frame.

I also don't really see him being thrilled about the spreadsheet my pastor handed out telling me how much my hubby and I OWED the church.

We give what we can, when we can. I also don't see God saying, "Starve to death and let your house go into foreclosure to tithe me."

Um... Okay, so I forgot what point I was supposed to make. Something about doing good and working together for a higher purpose. Not turning everything into a dog and pony show.

People are so desensitized these days, almost nothing shakes them. It's horrible to think how rational killers have become. How cool and clinical their thinking is. Someone took their parking space at work, but it's all good because they watched a 48hrs special on how to commit murder and cover up the crime.

It's a damn scary time to be alive.

jodi said...

I agree with you Hailey. Probably why I take pictures of churches, looking for one with an open door. Too many "romances" in the oldest sense back when I was a kid, I'm still looking for sanctuary.

And people are scary--uber scary. Especially when you get them all together and they're just one of a group. Makes it easy for them to slide under the radar.

Hailey Edwards said...


Tell me you've written prologue advice and I just haven't found it?

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jodi said...

I've written prologue advice, but not here, lol. I'm pretty sure it was in the last mentor program, but the entire thread is gone. I can do prologues again, though. :)

Hailey Edwards said...

Darn it. I wish I'd known to pay attention at the time.

Kim Knox showed me the many ways a prologue is not evil. Ultimately, I think she believes I can rely on myself to give the book what it needs.

I think sometimes people have misplaced faith in my ability to write as a whole. O_O

jodi said...

nah, that's not true. People are what they're...wow, how hard to say now, maybe I've lost the words. But...people are malleable to a certain extant. Like pure gold. Pure gold is soft enough to scratch with a fingernail and it can be melted easily. That's why it's mixed with base metals. To hold a certain shape.

When you have a mold, and pure gold, the gold can sort of flow or be pushed into the mold, and that's sort of like belief.

I'm not exactly a role model, but when I used to do training and people would find me afterwards--long after they'd moved on--and tell me how much they looked up to me and learned from me (and it sounds obnoxious, but I'm not trying to be pretentious or anything) I felt...like I could "do" anything. Like I was Yoda, y'know? And when I was lost and couldn't find myself, I'd just have to think back to it and become the person they imagined me to be.

Men move mountains, Hailey. But belief moves men. You just have to have faith and flow into the mold your friend holds of you.

btw, not too many people pay attention to me, lol. It's okay. My mentor posts wouldn't stay up so long if Briana wasn't so nice. :)

Hailey Edwards said...

More people should pay attention to you. You have a lot of good advice to give and a way of breaking things down to the lowest (aka MY) level.

I am flowing as best I can. There can't be another writer in the world, in my position, with a better support network. I'm told several times a day how special and wonderful I am. It chokes me with both fear and gratitude almost daily.

Samhain, my last book, my current book, recovery, can all be credited to the same odd dozen people who think I'm greater than I am.

So yeah, these days I'm all about the flow and trying to live up to at least a little of the hype.