What questions, along with the book, matters in

 

What does time travel worm holes, current news, and the realization that most of us can’t actually predict the future have in common? This essay, along with a few other things. Long Divison by Kiese Laymon is science fiction novella, starting off with teenagers in 2013 post-Katrina rural Mississippi. In addition to the time travel, it is book-within-a-book story, featuring some of the same characters in multiple time periods. I will be discussing what recurrent themes run rampant through Long Division, and mainly how media can shape and support society, including individuals and the future. I will begin my discussion with socialization and cultivation theories, along with the consequences and why all these questions, along with the book, matters in the long run for the future.

Socialization theory believes that peer groups, rather than parents, influences personality and behavior when individual’s mature. Teenagers spend more time with peers than with parents. Therefore, peer groups have stronger correlations with personality development than parental figures do. For example, twins whose genetic makeup are identical, will vary in personality because they have different groups of friends, not because their parents raised them differently. Let’s take the characters in Long Division, and how their personalities, over time, change with their experiences with each other. Some mature, being less volatile and more respectful, while others go the opposite way. Even one character’s grandmother remarks in this change in them in a later part of the book. (Tome) Peer pressure occurs when the individual experiences implicit or explicit persuasion to adopt similar values, beliefs, and goals, or to participate in the same activities as those in the peer group. The influence of peer pressure is usually addressed in relation to the relative influence of the family on an individual. The level of peer influence increases with age, and resistance to peer influence often declines as the child gains independence from the family or caretakers, yet has not fully formed an autonomous identity. One study in particular confirms other research findings that the values of the peer group with whom the high schooler spends the most time are a stronger factor in the student’s level of academic success than the values, attitudes, and support provided by the family. Compared to others who started high school with the same grades, students whose families were not especially supportive but who spent time with an academically oriented peer group were successful, while those students whose families stressed academics but who spent time with peers whose orientation was not academic performed less well. The peer pressure study contradicts prevailing ideas about the influence of families on the success of racial and cultural minorities such as Asians and African Americans.

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Conversely, African American students, whose families tended to be highly involved in and supportive of education, were subjected to intense peer pressure not to perform academically. Again, peer group values and attitudes influence, more strongly than do family values, the level of teenage alcohol use. Regardless of the parenting style, peer pressure also influences the degree to which children, especially girls, conform to expected gender roles. In order to achieve this balance, rather than attempting to minimize peer influence, families and schools must provide strong alternative beliefs, patterns of behavior, and encourage formation of peer groups that engage in positive academic, athletic, artistic, and social activities. For this section Having a higher number of friends with more risk behaviors also emerges as a factor with a high impact in involvement in risk activities, which is in line with several studies that have identified peers as the variable with the greatest influence in the involvement in such actions. Taking into account that adolescents seem to choose to be less involved in risk behaviors when they have friends that are not involved in risk behaviors; although peers’ influence is indirectly related, it is very important for adolescents’ health and well-being, as suggested in other studies with similar results. As a result, friends that have a higher involvement in risk behaviors have a higher probability in influencing negatively their peers; whilst friends that have more protective behaviors and more easiness in communicating, strengthened by friendships with quality have higher probability of influencing positively their peers.}

Cultivation theory states that the more time people spend on social media, the more likely they are to believe social reality aligns with reality portrayed and advertised. It also tackles the long-term effects of television/social media on consumers. The theory proposes that the danger of social media lies in its ability to shape people’s moral values and general beliefs. Social Media can, through stereotypical and national images of a group or people, create a mental image in the mind of the individual about “the other”. What the viewer sees on the screen becomes the basis of a mental image that the individual forms about the social practical status of values, population characteristics, and the various cultural standards common by the society’s classes, categories, and all kinds of the content it presents, and not restricted to “cultural programs”, which refer to programs that deal with art, science, and literature. Conventional program division into news, cultural, entertainment, educational, children, woman, etc., is used only to facilitate management or research. Gerbner says that cultivation is some sort of indiscriminate learning that results from the buildup of exposure to media. ( Mosharafa ) There are social norms and identity, beliefs and social change, especially relating to growing children and teenagers. They change quickly.

Consequences of media participation and consumption, from journals and media can range from positive, neutral and negative, from find and communicating with those that are further away or far gone, and negative being backlash and confusing of messages portrayed. Michael Zito, PhD, and licensed psychologist in private practice says that the 1970’s spurred an era of self-entitlement rather than self-esteem, and social media fueled this point of view.

Psychologists have also noted that exposure to graphic violence, and to negative media can either cause an over-sensitization, where we become more sensitive and/or pessimistic or can lead to desensitization, in which we are numb to the effects of violence. Negativity on television is difficult to ignore, and it can significantly influence how we view our lives and the world. Negative media can lead to negative thoughts, leading us to view our lives as more distressing than they actually are. Some of the negatives of media is often because of our biology, and pessimism could lead us to ignore the many things that are positive in the media, and in the world. Media can have websites that are “pro-mental illness”, among other dark things, such as pro-Ana sites and hate groups, such as the Westburo Baptist church.

On a more positive note, media does have its benefits. Pamela Rutledge asserts that there are many benefits for people who are withdrawn or shy. Media can add creativity to our thinking, and allow us to explore and become actively involved. Games can show students how better to deal with success and failure (in order to win at many games, you sometimes have to fail first). Social media allows more people to connect with others around the world. Teachers have found that games not only engage students, but they also inspire learning. Teaching with video games (game-based learning) is an emerging tool for motivational and engagement learning. Students become part of the story, rather than sitting back listening to a lecture. (The impact…) Media can also educate in general…you can just go online to figure out about “Peripheral neuropathy” within a few minutes, rather than going to a library and searching for hours.

Before we go into what the future may hold for media, we must address that we are not the best at predicting the future. We don’t imagine events correctly, nor do we imagine them as they will unfold. We also don’t know who we will be when we are experiencing that event. We underestimate the mind’s ability to react to events in a different way than it’s reacting to them in prospect. Almost every event you experience feels different once you’ve experienced it then you imagined it would have before. I can give you another example of this, which is the movie Back to the Future. In this, they predicted that we would have flying cars and hoverboards by October 21, 2015, but we didn’t. Even though we’ve advanced incredibly quickly since this movie was made, this movie is a great model for how we really can’t predict the future accurately. Rather than hover boards, we made things such as Self-balancing scooter (called a hoverboard) which has two wheels on the side and is controlled with buttons on the middle of the board, and rather than flying cars, we have smart cars that run on electricity, or hybrids, that run on a mix between electric and gas.

Illusions of the future are that because often times we can’t predict who we are in the future, and what we might want from that, the true details of the past and present that might add up to our future, and often, we ignore wrong predictions, and we support our beliefs that we can predict our own future when we get it right. No matter how many times we experience these errors in our lives and how many times we make the same mistakes, we don’t learn from them, and we’re left with the same confidence that we had before. (You v. future you) Let’s take an example from Long Division, when the main character first goes through the wormhole and observes the smartphone. They have no idea what it is, and even take it to figure out what it is. If we can imagine ourselves in the same situation, in the future (perhaps 3018?), much of the technology of that time, regardless of what it is, would confuse and bewilder us.

Now that we have that out of the way, many technologies we use today came from artists, writers and creative visionaries. These visionaries imagined future inventions with remarkable accuracy, even if they didn’t know how to actually make them. Science fiction books, movies, TV shows and art also allow us to explore the social consequences of these advances. They link human narratives to scientific questions, and explore the full social implications of research. The center experiments with these changes and ideas through several projects. (Science Fiction) To go back to “Back to the Future”, even though this movie did get a lot wrong, it did get a lot of things correct, from personal drones to medical devices.

The way technology changes and the way it changes us is the result of decisions that we make as “tool smiths”, individual users, and groups. Robert Heinlein said in The Door Into Summer, “When railroading time comes you can railroad-but not afore.” All through history, inventors envisioned things that looked consistent to helicopters, including, famously, Leonardo da Vinci.

Internet social networks were already a huge influence before Facebook, such as Myspace and dozens of others had already come and gone. There was an adjacent possible in play: The cyber world and the web subsisted, and it had grown enough that many of the people you wanted to verbalize with could be found online, if only someone would design an accommodation to facilitate finding them. An accommodation like Facebook was inevitably predetermined, but how Facebook works was not. Facebook, along with other current social media sites, is designed like a casino game where the jackpots are attention from other people and the playing surface is an astronomical board whose components can’t be optically distinguished most of the time. As in all casino games, in the Facebook game there’s one ecumenical rule: The house always triumphs. Facebook perpetually fine-tunes its algorithms to maximize the amount that you disclose to the accommodation because it is lucrative by selling that personal information to advertisers. Integrating the surveillance business model to Facebook was an individual call. Unless everyone you can call along with you not to utilize Facebook, being a Facebook vegan is hard. It factitiously lets you optically separate the casino for what it is and make a more apprised call about what technologies you depend on. Opting out of Facebook is not a personal call but an expressive one, one that you chose on your own at the cost of your expansive life and yourself to stay in touch with the people you love. Science Fiction often warns of a world where technology controls people in lieu of the other way around.

In conclusion, the recurrent themes in long division can be associated with theories such as the cultivation theory or perhaps socialization theory, and if we associate this book with reality, we can understand the impact of media on society, and perhaps even predict the future of media consumption, using long division as one of the many ways fiction can align with reality. ­­