Tag Archives: Facebook

Milestone commemoration a source of unanswered questions

My collegiate plunge into life writing produced an unexpected but welcome habit: unremitting reflection. Add in a life-changing trip abroad and an academic year defined by change and fear, and well, I have a lot on which to reflect.

All that fodder for lingering led me to think about the modern commemoration of the life landmark — a peculiar moment defined at once by the individual and the culture.

With a quick click on Facebook, for example, one can take a brief tour through each important “life event,” decided by the profile owner. And that’s where I begin to feel particularly unmoored: the ownership of life events.

Though I immediately placed my January 2014 trip to Turkey in the “high impact” category in my life, I worry adding it to an arbitrary “timeline” could trivialize the power and tangibility of it. If I type it into an electronic timeline, it’s available for a few hundred “friends” to imagine, conceptualize and ultimately, define for me. But I’m probably overthinking it.

Additionally, I’m baffled by the ownership of memory in relation to the tangibility of it — the tickets, the souvenirs and the leftover Turkish lira in my back pocket. They traveled from one retailer to another, one gutter to another, one pocket to another, one continent to another and finally, wound up in an Arabic-decorated trinket box in America’s Heartland. Yet, do I really own those mementos?

I can’t help but wonder if a traveler before me experienced a more poignant moment with them. But in the box they’ll remain, harboring my memory — and undoubtedly, many more I’ll never know.

Finally, I worry about my ability and more broadly, my generation’s ability, to comprehend the gravity of life’s milestones and memories. With the ability available to “delete” a “life event,” with an album requiring a click rather than a week of paper-cutting (and a paper cut or two, given my lack of crafting grace), are we missing valuable opportunities to linger on life experiences? Have we made memory commemoration too easy, too quick and frankly, too public, for it to impact us in a lasting and meaningful way?

Well, I’m going to try to find out. I plan to create a tangible project from my Turkey experience (with the guidance of my creative younger sister, of course). And no, I don’t mean adding a bad clip-art flower or “xoxo” to a photo and placing it in a glittery photo frame.

Whatever the project, I hope I’ll find a new kind of reflective experience and maybe, an epiphany the Facebook “timeline” and “like” could never provide. And maybe, I’ll even avoid the dreaded crafting paper cut.

Global engagement requires more than a glance at the day’s top headline

As a news junkie, I like to feel up-to-date. While my classmates click Facebook ritually, I click CNN, The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY, NPR, ESPN and The New York Times ritually. I even click Al Jazeera or BBC occasionally.

However, scanning the daily headlines doesn’t make me the up-to-date gal I claim to be, at times.

Global citizenship requires more than a glance at the day's top headline

Photo courtesy of Central Intelligence Agency

In just eight months, I’ll take a plane to Istanbul for three weeks of intense study. I’ll explore Islam’s evolving role in the world alongside 19 fellow Drake University students.

As I cracked “What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam” by John L. Esposito last week, I (mistakenly) expected to discover nothing new. I was an avid news junkie, one familiar with the Middle East. I was a global citizen, one who sought non-American news outlets.

I’m now 122 pages into the book, and my views of Islam and the Middle East have evolved noticeably.

I now see both sides of the hijab debate. I now see the likenesses among Islam, Christianity and Judaism. I now see the tough decision facing Muslims today — follow ancient religious laws or adapt those laws in the developing global society of 2013.

Likewise, Esposito’s book taught me that the news, while I love it, isn’t enough. As a news junkie, I have a responsibility to seek knowledge beyond the media discipline. I need to watch movies, watch documentaries, read academic essays, read fiction and read academic books.

Global engagement takes more than a glance at today’s top headline.

Until I land in Istanbul in eight months, I await a new discipline. While I discover new things about Islam on each page of Esposito’s book, I’m eager to jump into a discipline all my own: experience.

Like my responsibility to seek knowledge beyond the media discipline, I have a responsibility to experience the world — my world — beyond the pages of a book or the scenes of a movie.