The dangerous pairing of a work obsessed society and social media.

This blog post is written in response to two recent guardian articles:

‘Don’t treat love or leisure like a job’ (2) and ‘I used to think social media was a force for good. Now the evidence says I was wrong.’ (3)

Lets get our playtime back! It seems current society is more structured around work than ever before. Political debates are shaped by the belief that only workers have value; ‘leaders question the merits of admitting refugees on human rights grounds, and demand guarantees that immigrants will work productively.’ (1) Suggesting that humans not working in a country are worthless. This western ethos has been expressed throughout history with English settlers claiming and toiling the land in America, justifying their place in society. In their eyes, the Natives had no property rights and therefore little worth, because they didn’t seem to work.

More recently our beliefs of work and worth being inexplicably intwined have been pushed even further. Now people find it hard to describe any long term activities as worthwhile without turning them into a job; Marriage is described as ‘hard work’ and parenting seemingly the ‘hardest job in the world’. Even leisure is being engulfed by the language of work as, ‘people strive to achieve 10’000 steps and check off activities on their ‘Fun’ to do lists.’ (2) When leisure becomes a form of work and work a measure of worth our amount of leisure becomes a measure of worth pressurising us to express ‘successful leisure’.

The constant evaluation of everyone’s contribution to society is surely a factor in the rising anxiety and depression in society, especially in young people. We need genuinely relaxing breaks without anyone judging our actions, leisure should be for our own personal enjoyment and recuperation.

However now even seemingly work free leisure activities become a part of the world of work due to social media. By posting about hanging out with friends or having a meal out, we are fundamentally commercialising ourselves; entering ourselves into a kind of ‘Friend Economy’. ‘An emotional stock market where the stock is ourselves and we are encouraged to weigh our worth against others’. (2)

A society that sees everything as work and values work for worth, combined with social media platforms that allows us to compare ourselves with every other human on the internet will lead to feelings of inadequacy, In time manifesting anxiety and depression.

The cultural norm that – it’s valuable and important to work hard and be busy –, also filters down to our children who, ‘We overload with homework and assess against state-mandated benchmarks.’(3) Thus leading to many peoples joyless careerism once at college.

To affect positive change in this happening the best place to start would be primary and secondary schools. A research agency / social enterprise could work with schools and conduct research into finding where, how and why the work for worth ethos is being expressed. The infomation would be gathered from all the parties interacting with the school system from pupils to associates. Highlighting the hypothesised problem then facilitating meetings and workshops with appropriate participants to discuss alternative means of education. Education that focuses less exclusively on careerism and ‘work’ but more on students personal and intellectual development.

These results leading to a whole new school system potentially similar to that in Finland, where children don’t begin school until age 7. They have more recess, shorter school hours than many UK children do, and the lightest homework load of any industrialised nation. The focus is on developing young people who become successful and happy in their lives not solely in their careers.

Generation X may be lost to this but can we at least save the next generation from the burden of commoditised leisure!

References

(1) https://newrepublic.com/article/144254/parenting-not-job-marriage-not-work

(2) https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/sep/01/dont-treat-love-leisure-like-job

(3) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/06/social-media-good-evidenceplatforms-insecurities-health

(4) https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/finnish-education-chief-we-created-aschool-system-based-on-equality/284427/

Busking For Anxieties (v4) - Then Singing Them

Th previous iterations of 'Busking For Anxiety' have been interesting but i had not felt a direct enough connection with the people engaging. I wanted them to recieve a direct reaction in music from what they write, brining their anxiety to life through song (for better or worse). For this reason i decided to sing the anxieties collected. I origionally planned to have a song structure that people could 'fil in the blanks' to give them their anxiety song. However this proved too difficult as anxiety is such a unique thing to everyone it didn't working trying to fit them into a standardised structure. So I went with the two questions from 'Busking For Anxieties v2'. 'What makes you anxious'  and 'What makes you feel better?', simple quick and not too in depth. 

I created about 15 songs within 2 hours (lots quite similar sounding but i'm not a wizard). I plan to send the songs to the people as they provided their email addresses on the back. I would also like to record some of the best ones and release a small LP style thing. 

Check out the video below to see what went down.

Automated Mood Data To Music

With the musical code all sorted out I asked Pete (Coding Tutor) to create a bit of code to automatically convert the completed mood data surveys into the Chords, Speed and Volume variables to speed up the music making process!

 The data from my google forms survey can be automatically transformed into the chords using the code Pete created for me.

The data from my google forms survey can be automatically transformed into the chords using the code Pete created for me.

 

 

Current Progress

I have not posted for a while as I have been working on formatting my mood music. Looking for ways of making it clearer to the viewer what is going on and also making it easier for me to read live. I have also been transcribing the music into proper musical notation using Sibalius, so that potentially, other musicians can play the music. The musical notation Code is below followed by some notated music. 

A simple code for the creation of the mood music

This is my firend Georgias day noted using the code above

Busking For Anxieties V3

I went busking for anxieties again! This time I wanted to collect in depth data about how people feel at different stages of their anxiety. This iteration of 'BFA' was not a great success, firstly as we only had two people fill out the form.. and it turns out the form was very difficult to understand and was not properly tested by me. 

The flawed questionnaire..

Busking For Anxieties v2

Busking for anxieties is an attempt to get the issues of anxiety to be discussed in a space where they wouldn't usually be. Such as on the south bank. People were asked for fill out cards with the question 'What makes you feel anxious' and 'What makes you feel better', these cards were then stuck on the 'Anxiety Wall' that is cardboard along the sea wall. This was filled with anxieties and it became a space for the light hearted discussion and digestion of peoples anxieties. 

There was a great response from many people. Some people took it as an opportunity to instantly open up and start talking to my helpers Jean Luc and Will about their anxiety issues. It also became a fun place for people to listen to music and look at others anxieties and what makes them feel better and compare with their own experiences hopefully encouraging feelings of empathy and solidarity within their world of anxiety. 

If you would like to potentially be involved with the future of this project please email me at: james-barclay@hotmail.co.uk

Mood Data Vis

I recorded my mood every hour for two weeks, this is a data vis of one day the 20th of December. 

Grief a work in progress

http://www.griefaworkinprogress.net/about

A creative collaboration addressing grief with a series of workshops that use film publication and performance to explore the issues of grief by Zoe Papadopoulou

.

Dear Data - inspiration for musical notation

I was planning to create some musical notation for musicians to improvise. The idea being they record their own anxieties/feelings about music and their musical identity, record it using a formulated notation system. 

Every week for a year, designers Giorgia Lupi and Stephanie Posavec sent each other postcards charting something in their lives, for laughter to travel to phone addiction. They use beautiful illustrated infographics that could all become musical notation i would love to try and achive something along these lines and i think i should do it with myself to start!

 

 

Field Research Workshop : Old Naval College Greenwich.

Last week I worked in a group of 3 attempting to undertake research in the old naval college Greenwhich. We started by going and carrying out seperate research. Mine was aimed at finding out how people record their time at the place. Mainly looking at tourists recording their time there and how their representation of their day and them selves may differ from the reality of their experiences. 

Tuur fed back saying that the research methods we were using were not interesting and insightful he wanted us to immerse ourselves in more interesting and original ways. So we decided to try and engage with the public by getting them to become actors in a false fictional narrative we had created around the space. We then wanted this to be shared on social media and for the people involved to be tagged specifically on instagram. 

The scenes we created where in a classic story line you can acess them on the instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/whichgreenscreenfilms/

Scene 1 : Danger Arriving

Scene 2 : Baddie Chase

Scene 3 : Goodies Shoot Back

We asked the actors we used for their instagrams and if they gave it we tagged them. The interesting aspect for me was how people would become exited by the fact it would be on Instagram and some were all exited to provide their details. 

Another area of interest was the way that this process could have provided an escape for the precarity of life in society. The scenes are a set area for people to let go and forget about their real life and be someone new. Also they may have thought about the space in a different way...

The green screen objects and suit become ambiguous tools for engagement with the public. I feel their are ways i can use the green screen suit in more direct ways in my project. It can jyst become a tool of engagement. It would also be cool to do some live green screening of peoples anxieties onto the screen then interact with me... might take a bit of technology i cant do though but i wont let that put me off.  

 

Physical Anxiety Box - LadyBeard Mind Launch

The LadyBeard team created a walk in box designed for people to stick up their anxieties inside. It is a very simple idea but having people inside it sparked light hearted conversations about anxiety that wouldn't be had in other contexts. 

I would like to create an anxiety box of a similar description but with two stages. Firstly the collection of anxieties in the normal manner, then a stage after that for people to attempt to imagine solutions for the anxieties or ways for people to feel better. Fantasy ideas anything goes!

I would need to make a movable box to put in a good location. library foyer probably. 

Room For Alternative

http://roomforalternative.co.uk/

A space for people to attempt to design for the complex individuals we are, rather than the easily satisfied consumers that we are supposed to be! A two-day drop-in 'thinking through making' workshop and exhibition that actively explores ways of assisting with personal neuroatypical day to day experiences, rather than simply setting out to solve or cure typecasts of mental health issues.