A Personal Account: Emotional Support Animals aren’t Bull—-!

As you know from reading my blog, my daughter has an ASD, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Originally, her diagnosis was Asperger’s Disorder but back in 2013 this diagnosis *poof* disappeared from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which is THE BOOK of disorder identification (Sole-Smith, 2014). This manual had many changes listed in that newest edition (Sole-Smith, 2014).  Either way, she still displays difficulties in understanding how to respond in some social interactions and has sensory issues, regardless of what you call it.

Recently, we went on a trip home to visit family.  I was very hesitant because of my last flying experience with her.  In 2016, we flew from Georgia to Anchorage.  This travel day ended up being about 14 hours.  As you can imagine, this is a tough travel day for anyone.  However, with my daughter’s sensory issues, it was horrendous.  She wiggled, squirmed, made howling noises, and was pulling my arms in agony.  I think I ended up with a few scratches and small bruises at the end of it all. (She wasn’t intentionally trying to do this, but flying is hard for her.)  The reason for her agony was the pressure in her ears and the confinement to our seats for such a long period.  I know what you may be thinking.  She was a young teenager!  How can this be?  Children with an ASD can sometimes act younger than their actual chronological age.  This causes problems with the general population because a younger child acting like this doesn’t get near the nasty stares and comments as a child who appears much older.  It is simply a much harsher world, most of the time, when an older person has a non-visible disability.  People do not understand .

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We love Alaska Airlines.
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These two are best friends.

Fast forward to our recent flying experience… I must admit that I was a little nervous.  However, our miniature schnauzer, McKinley, flew with us as an Emotional Support Dog.  (We bought her after our last flying encounter.)  There has been so much controversy about this lately that I felt I must talk about this on a personal level instead of simply offering profuse apologies. I think a better angle is to offer our story. I know some of the controversy exists about animals being on planes for people without disabilities AND the potential of these animals causing allergic reactions to other passengers. However, the scrutiny seems to be growing against anyone associated with an animal while traveling.

We were met with angry glances, rude comments, and whispers.  In fact, this very rude gentleman man in first class said something after my daughter and I walked on the plane early.  (This is another way Alaska Airlines helped calm her fears, by letting her board early.)  This man was already boarded when we walked to the back of the plane in coach.  My son overheard him saying, “I can’t believe they were able to board early.  This emotional support animal stuff is bull—-.” His comment was out of line.  My initial thoughts were to find this man and tell him the difference it has made for my daughter.  However, my son said, “mom, it isn’t worth it.”

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How can you be mean to this adorable little animal?

Therefore, let me share with you how big a difference this little, sweet animal (who is also hypoallergenic naturally) has been for my daughter.  My daughter loves her emotional support/service animal.  McKinley’s presence is very calming. My daughter is so concerned for McKinley’s well-being, that she doesn’t act inappropriately on the plane, even though she is stressed.  McKinley literally sat in my lap (with my daughter petting her) or she sat on her lap.  For our trip, all of McKinley’s needs were in order: shot records, rabies shots, a doctor’s short letter on prescription pad specifying her emotional support, and  carrier with food, toys, snacks, etc. We didn’t go unprepared.

My plea for airlines is to realize how much emotional support animals can help people.  Please do not stop allowing this because of a few disgruntled people.   There are several dogs that are hypoallergenic, like our little one.  These animals do not cause allergy issues for others on board.  In fact, Dyck (2013) has a list of hypoallergenic dogs which includes: The Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, some of the Terriers, the Irish Water Spaniel, to name a few. Also, my gratitude to Alaska Airlines is endless. Not only did we arrive in Georgia without incident (by my daughter or by her service animal), but our trip in Georgia with McKinley, was pleasant too.

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Lastly, if you are unaware of how someone is impacted by an ASD, please feel free to check out my references section for more information. Also, if you are in opposition to have animals on board to help people like my daughter, and you have no condition like hers that plagues you every day, shame on you. For someone in that last category, if you don’t think you know much about prejudice and discrimination, you know much more than you can imagine with that attitude. (Please check out a random Introduction to Sociology course from the library and read it.)

Sincerely,

Mel

 

References:

Dyck, A. (2013, October 22). Dogs that don’t shed: 23 hypoallergenic dog breeds. Homes Alive Pets. Retrieved from https://www.homesalive.ca/blog/dogs-that-dont-shed-23-hypoallergenic-dog-breeds/

Sole-Smith, V. (2014). What happened to Asperger’s? Parents. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/health/autism/what-happened-to-aspergers/

No, I wasn’t shocked at all…

Metooad

As I started logging into my computer this morning for early discussion forum replies to my students, I noticed an interesting article about Brigitte Bardot. It didn’t shock me at all, but did aggravate me enough to make me write about it. You may remember Brigitte was a popular model in the 1950s and 1960s who had that famous gap, which some would argue was quite sexy, between her two front teeth. She was also an actress. The article that caught my attention pertained to her ridicule and opposition in reaction to the #MeToo movement. Wearing my sociological lens today, I decided to talk about this on my website. Why? I think young ladies today deserve to understand this antiquated and irresponsible frame of mind for what it is — ignorant in light of the modern woman’s fight to be taken seriously.

For starters, I think Brigitte is being very irresponsible by spewing her obvious enjoyment of sexual harassment, but then again, I guess we do have this little thing called free speech.  Her sentiments were evident in the article which is referenced at the bottom of this post. Who is she to say #MeToo is “a witch hunt against men” (Nyren, 2018, p. 1)? Obviously, her work history and generation have something to do with her thoughts on this movement. Also, if you have any knowledge of Catherine Hakim’s book, Erotic Capital, you understand why Brigitte feels the way she does. Anyone who made a very comfortable and quite public living based on looks alone has a higher percentage than most at an unrealistic, one-sided view of the world. Combine this with her generation lends evidence to her way of thinking. After all, during her heyday, it was nothing for women to be sexually harassed and reduced to body parts. It is apparent, going back to Catherine Hakim’s controversial thoughts, that she put all of her emphasis in erotic capital (her physical presentation to the world) versus other interests like education. Also, it isn’t her fault she has this misconception of a woman’s primary duty being to satisfy a man. After all, this was how she made her living and likely how she was raised.

In the end, I want to add my two cents to women everywhere that it is okay to demand respect. It is okay to be pretty (however you feel pretty) and be smart. You can demand equality without consideration of physical attributes. In fact, all this nonsense leading up to the #MeToo movement doesn’t exist to bash men. It is quite the opposite and is supposed to generate equality. In fact, I know some great, decent men, but I also know some who are as disgusting as they come. Where does all this disgusting creepy male behavior lead? It leads to women hating women. Isn’t it obvious? We begin feeling threatened by one another and try to outdo the other by being more provocative, sexier, and more outrageous, to that aforementioned disgusting male’s delight.

I don’t know about you, but I much prefer female empowerment and togetherness encouraged through movements like the #MeToo movement. Let us stop competing and start encouraging one another. In fact, realize this, young ladies, it is okay to like other females and not feel threatened and constantly in competition. After all, the competition we feel is typically driven by a male-dominated society pinning one woman’s physical attributes against another. You can be pretty, smart, respectful, and respected in today’s world.

Sincerely,

Mel

References:
Nyren, E. (2018, January 18). Brigitte Bardot slams #MeToo movement as ‘Hypocritical, Ridiculous.’ MSN. Retrieved from https://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/celebrity/brigitte-bardot-slams-supernumbermetoo-movement-as-%e2%80%98hypocritical-ridiculous%e2%80%99/ar-AAuPSQg?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=SL5DDHP

The Sociology and Marketing behind Diet Trends = $$$$$$

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Sociology is a fascinating subject. After all, humans are interesting. We do some outrageous things that can’t be explained. We also do some seemingly boring things day-after-day for strange reasons. (Now, let us cue the bright lights on the word “DIET.”)

As you know, my family eats whatever I cook. This is because the other members rarely cook. I am the meal planner, grocery list maker, shopper, and cook/baker/chef all wrapped in one. They love it when my cooking experiments are delicious. However, they don’t necessarily complain when they don’t turn out as expected. I have been cooking since I was about 13 years old. When you are a “latch key kid” you figure out how to cook pretty early so I am no stranger to the kitchen.

Most recently, I have been eating a ketogenic diet. The reason behind this change is because I read tons of articles about it being the best way to beat the battle against haywire hormones that can cause belly bulge in the 40s. Plus, after the initial 2-week period on the diet, energy levels should go up and keto-dieters rarely get hungry. This all sounds good to me, not that I have been excessively tired but more energy can’t be bad.

So, in a nutshell (no pun intended), the keto diet is all about a higher percentage of fat, a medium percentage of protein, and a very small percentage of carbohydrates. In fact, the carbohydrates ingested usually come from the small amounts in avocados and other vegetables, but berries are okay to consume too. My “no pun intended” phrase was based on the fact that nuts of all kinds (walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans) are consumed quite often on this diet. The cool thing is when you eat a ketogenic diet, your body should begin burning fat for fuel. I purchased a book about this recently to understand more about the process. In fact, Ramos (2016) gives the percentage breakdown based on a 2000-calorie diet of approximately 70% fat calories, 20% protein calories, and 5% carbohydrate calories. While I am not going to go into too much detail about the book, I did want to mention to you in case you are interested in finding out more about this way of eating. There are a lot of resources out there for you to review, including her book.

Furthermore, my husband and I were talking about this diet the other day which prompted me to consider whether I was being duped into following this newest diet trend. After all, trends of any kind are fueled by society and are created by someone (in American society, it is typically created by someone wanting to make more money.) Diet trends could most definitely be considered fads that come quickly into our view (which can be very easy to do these days with social media). From well-positioned ads, retailers and advertisers can make us believe just about anything. If we see it enough, it must be good, right? This is not always the case. One of the things I like to point out in the classroom when we discuss media is the fact that marketing is very calculated. In fact, my dear friend Rebecca had a marketing book from one of her undergraduate classes. She and I compared sociology and marketing notes for us to contemplate the connection. Then, she let me borrow it to share with students. Can you guess what one entire section (multiple chapters) featured? You guessed it! It discussed sociology so marketing executives can understand people better to sell us more products. They want to understand us all regardless of our family situation, gender, race, religion, etc. They want to know what makes us tick, so to speak.

Sociology blog

Once you understand the marketing side of things, this can open your mind quite a lot. Watch those infomercials at night sometime. Don’t you think those people have studied us? The placement of these commercials, and any commercial for that matter, isn’t done haphazardly. Thus, my question recently was, “Is the keto diet a marketing scam?” It may be a well-placed strategy to sell more avocados and walnuts. I may be fooled, but I have done some homework. Let us not forget that we are also individuals who must do our own research about what is good for us because we are all unique. There are no two people who are exactly alike on a physiological and genetic level, and on top of that, we change. As we get older, we may not be able to tolerate the same things we once tolerated. So, for now, I laugh at the fact that I thought a fat-free diet was the best way to eat in the mid-90s. I may choke on these words in a year, but I don’t think the ketogenic way of eating is a bad thing since I am not loading my plate with processed foods and chemicals, but whole foods with quality calories.

Lastly, I have a surprise for you! Please look for my newest recipe for “Keto French Fries” later this week! I think you’ll love it. We sure do.

Hugs,
Mel

Reference:
Ramos, A. (2016). The complete ketogenic diet for beginners: Your essential guide to living the keto lifestyle. Berkeley, CA: Rockbridge Press.

A Sociological View of Sexual Harassment

Know More!

What a difference TODAY makes… It isn’t surprising to me, well, maybe a little, that Matt Lauer was a sexual predator on women just trying to work their way up the ladder at NBC. We all know sexual harassment is wrong, but many times the harasser doesn’t ever think he will be caught. C. Wright Mills was an American sociologist who coined the term, sociological imagination. To put it simply, the sociological imagination is the process of looking at the decisions/actions in society and being able to consider the social forces in society that shape those decisions/actions. In other words, when most major “breaking” articles become features on news shows, whether local or cable versions, these do not occur out of the blue. Society evolves all the time. We don’t live in a vacuum. Through all the events that have occurred previously, society becomes fresh and new all the time where previously acceptable things aren’t accepted any more (or vice versa.)

So, getting back to Matt Lauer, he got away with sexual harassment for a very long time, apparently. He likely got so comfortable in that “game” that he didn’t think he would ever be caught. However, we are definitely living in a much different time than ever before. We aren’t afraid to stand up for our rights. In thinking of gender relations, this process began long ago when women fought for the right to vote, the right to equality, and the right to be heard. I appreciate the many women who allowed me to have a voice such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Coretta Scott King, among many others.

In addition, we LOVE social media and the power it has for everyone, including those who aren’t famous by Hollywood standards. You can be an average person making that daily commute to work every day and suddenly become famous because you make something fun or cool on YouTube on a regular basis. People can earn a living creating something that once was only a hobby! How cool is that? There is no doubt about it. Society has evolved dramatically in the last decade. This evolution has also impacted the oppressed who are becoming less afraid and silenced by these freedoms. There are platforms everywhere to voice your opinion on all kinds of things. I voice my opinion and interests on this website and that blows my mind all the time. My little voice is “out there,” so to speak.

Thus, I think in light of all the many recent public sexual harassment cases in Hollywood, we realize this isn’t our grandmother’s society anymore. Women don’t have to satisfy those male chauvinist men’s desires to move up. While society has been more patriarchal in the past, there are many systems at businesses and corporations today that are still very patriarchal. NBC decided to begin breaking the chain of this within The Today Show by shedding themselves of Matt Lauer because they knew it was going to be a problem. (Honestly, in light of how quickly he was dismissed, they probably knew about this for a while.) With such powerful players as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and many others being publicly scrutinized for sexual harassment, they probably figured it best to beat the public scandal and be proactive about the harassment claims.

Furthermore, after reading this statement at 6:00 this morning, “In front of the camera, for more than two decades, Lauer had positioned himself as America’s squeaky-clean dad. But behind the scenes, Lauer was a different person” (Setoodeh & Wagmeister, 2017, p. 1), I felt compelled to write this article for you. After reading this, my mind wandered right back to my favorite Sociologist’s ideas on society, Erving Goffman. If you don’t know much about his ideas on dramaturgical analysis or his book “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” you should check these out. I also wrote about Goffman in another article, if interested. Mindhunter and Sociology = Peas and Carrots  Matt Lauer wanted to hide that back-stage part of himself and act like such an up-standing person in the public eye. If he did this 30 year’s ago, it would likely have never been made public. However, in today’s world, this type of behavior isn’t going unchecked. Matt Lauer was caught with dirty hands at the expense of women just trying to break free of the already existent glass ceiling. The show is over, Matt.

On a final note, not every man in society is a male chauvinist. There are some good ones out there who truly want to help everyone, regardless of demographic characteristics. I am not into negatively bashing men, or anyone for that matter. People make mistakes. I get that. However, when the mistake lasts for two decades and is at the expense of so many people — mothers, sisters, wives — it is worth discussing.

Ending with positive vibes for equality,
Mel

References:

Setoodeah, R. & Wagmeister, E. (2017, November 29). Matt Lauer accused of sexual harassment by multiple women (Exclusive). Variety. Retrieved from http://variety.com/2017/biz/news/matt-lauer-accused-sexual-harassment-multiple-women-1202625959/

 

 

Mindhunter and Sociology = Peas and Carrots

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One of my most interesting Sociology courses in college was a course on deviance. It wasn’t just interesting because the readings were controversial, but it was also interesting because I learned a lot in that class. The textbook was a composition of various articles about all kinds of topics. In fact, I still recall how intriguing my textbook was to all of my friends. It was so interesting, I had a few of them borrow it to take a peek. I remember some of those readings covering topics like: alcoholism, sexual assault, gang participation, and the rules of being a nudist. There were probably about 40 different articles in that one book.

Even though I am much older, I still enjoy teaching that particular unit in the courses I teach each term. (I still haven’t had the opportunity to teach an entire Deviance in Sociology course. Maybe one day…) Regardless of the class (I have been teaching for well over a decade now), whenever I begin discussing deviance, I always have a student who says deviance is the behavior occurring before an act of crime. While this can be true, it isn’t always the case. Deviance is simply put, when a person breaks a social norm. If a breach of that social norm also breaks a law, then you could say it is also criminal.

Furthermore, deviance doesn’t have to be a crime. People can become public protesters breaking the social norm of public conformity and be considered deviant. However, sometimes the outcome of peacefully protesting can lead to positive social changes in society, so that degree of deviance is arguably less severe than other forms of deviance. After all, altering “business as usual” occurs after one person makes a move to force change. Of course, it is likely that others may feel the same way and jump in to help create change too.

This leads me to my next point on deviance. On occasion, a television show is so captivating, I can’t stop watching it. The Netflix original series, Mindhunter, full of deviance examples, has that captivating factor and is perfect for someone who enjoys the social sciences. Seriously, if you are a sociologist, and don’t mind an R-rated series, please check it out. It is amazing how the lead detective, Holden Ford, starts using his sociological imagination after meeting a young, cute, graduate student who happens to be a sociology major. They begin dating and she rubs off on him in a very productive way by sharing what she learns in class.

In fact, he listens to her discussions of very important people such as Emile Durkheim, Herbert Blumer, and one of my favorites, Erving Goffman. He absorbs it all and is determined to be that person who stands out for change in the prevention of crime. Even though Goffman is only mentioned once in the series, I could talk about Goffman’s ideas on dramaturgical analysis every single day. For those who don’t know much about sociology, Goffman thought of life as one big theatrical performance where we are always acting. In fact, we show different parts of ourselves to people based on the setting we are in. The back-stage is that part that is hidden from most people. Detective Holden Ford wants to understand this back-stage part of criminal behavior and interviews several serial murderers with his partner to better understand what factors in their socialization led them to commit horrific acts against others. It is the perfect framework for understanding why a person who others thought was kind, was actually a serial killer in disguise. (If you have taken my class(es) before, you know we dive into this with “ripped from the headlines” stories.)

Ultimately, Holden Ford wants to prevent crime from occurring by developing a guide and sharing his findings with others. Although, he does become quite the ego-maniac before the end of the first season, he does make some progress in stopping a predator. Without giving anything else away, he abruptly comes back down to earth on the last episode and will hopefully display less narcissistic characteristics on season 2.

Overall, I give this series two-thumbs-up! Since I never read the book, this was my first exposure to the story line. One of my amazing students this quarter suggested I watch it so kudos to her.  My final suggestion is to make a lovely hot cup of your favorite tea and check it out! The link below is available to order a quality box of flavored teas. Now, let me get that red kettle fired up…

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Mel’s famous red tea kettle.


Hugs,
Mel

References:

Davidson, J., Theron, C., Penhall, J., Chaffin, C., Donen, J., & Fincher, D. (2017). Mindhunter [Netflix series]. Los Angeles, CA: Denver and Delilah Productions.

Pebble Mine Problem – Bristol Bay

no pebble mine

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One of the booths at the AFN Conference
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Another booth with some beautiful ornaments
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Micah and Caris walking back in after getting a reindeer dog outside
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A popular sidewalk favorite in Anchorage: A reindeer dog

Last weekend, Micah, Caris, and I went into Anchorage to the Dena’ina Center to visit the Alaska Federation of Nations conference. There were many booths with things for sale and social services agencies with handouts about their services. We perused the conference center for a while to enjoy the sights and arts on display. Then, we walked outside and grabbed a reindeer dog for lunch and then returned to the Dena’ina Center to enjoy some singing in the lobby. Overall, it was a great day.

While we were there, a peaceful march ensued to prevent Pebble Mine (the name of a company desiring to mine) from mining in southwestern Alaska near Bristol Bay.  I was given a sticker to help support the cause (seen below) and decided to check out the website. Some information quoted from that website is listed below as well.

The Pebble deposit is a massive storehouse of gold, copper and molybdenum, located in the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers, two of the eight major rivers that feed Bristol Bay. If built, Pebble would be one of the largest mines in the world. Because of its size, geochemistry and location, Pebble runs a high risk of polluting Bristol Bay, one of the world’s most productive wild salmon strongholds… (The Pebble, 2017, p. 1).

Apparently, this Bristol Bay area has millions of pounds of gold almost a mile thick (Warrick, 2015).  Can’t you see those big capitalists getting saucer-like eyes at the thought of the greenback exchange from all that gold?  (Eyes rolling…)  However, the area is also important for much more legitimate reasons than gold, nourishment.  The mine’s location is in the Bristol Bay watershed which apparently is, “the headwaters of one of the most productive salmon fisheries in Alaska” (Pebble Project, 2010, p. 1.)  In fact, Warrick (2015) mentions the area is the “spawning ground for the planet’s biggest runs of sockeye salmon…. that generates $500 million a year” (p. 1).  Did you get that?  The PLANET’s biggest producer of sockeye is located there.  The ripple effects of this decision will be felt for generations and long after the gold has been mined.

Of course, there are two sides of this debate.  There are people that say there will be jobs generated from the mining.  However, as I have already mentioned, many say it will destroy the area’s salmon supply, not to mention pollute the land and deprive some of the natives living nearby of a much needed resource too.  Does this story sound familiar?  We have heard these types of stories so many times.  Big (fill-in-the-blank) company says they will do (x-y-z) to help a local economy but won’t destroy the land in the process.  I don’t believe it.  This sounds like another problem that can easily be described by the sociological perspective, the conflict theory.  Those wanting that gold see pollution and destruction of the area as business-as-usual to make a profit. However, there is a precious resource being destroyed that is way more valuable than gold.  How about attempting to eat a 24 kt nugget with a side salad covered in copper sprinkles, Mr. Gold Digger?  Before long, we are going to destroy our food supply even more than it has already been destroyed.  This impacts you.  This impacts all of us. This doesn’t seem logical.  Where is Leonardo Dicaprio, environment activist extraordinaire, when you need him? (After I wrote that last line I looked online to see if he really is working on this environmental social problem and, guess what?  His agency wrote something about it.  Thanks Leo…)

Sincerely,

Mel

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The Sticker – No Pebble Mine
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The March on the other side of the road
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March participants with signs

Lastly, I have a video on the ride home from the center and protest.  It is below.

References:

Haddad, K. (2017). Grantee spotlight: United tribes of Bristol Bay. Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.leonardodicaprio.org/grantee-spotlight-united-tribes-of-bristol-bay/

Pebble Project. Northern Alaska Environment Center. Retrieved from http://northern.org/programs/clean-water-mines/hardrock-mines-in-interior-and-arctic-alaska/pebble-project/pebble-project

The Pebble Proposal. Save Bristol Bay. Retrieved from http://www.savebristolbay.org/pebbleproposal/

Warrick, J. (2015). Pebble mine debate in Alaska: EPA becomes target by planning for rare veto. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/internal-memos-spur-accusations-of-bias-as-epa-moves-to-block-gold-mine/2015/02/15/3ff101c0-b2ba-11e4-854b-a38d13486ba1_story.html?utm_term=.893f8369e973

Music is powerful.

Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters concert in Atlanta.

Lately, I have been listening to the band, Nothing but Thieves.  My son introduced me to the group.  I am so happy he told me about this band for several reasons.  For starters, the lead singer has an amazing, unique voice.  His name is Conor Mason.  The band, from England, is pretty awesome as well.

Music is so important to me.  Music can take me back to a particular time or place just from hearing a song.  For example, if I ever hear any song from the Santana, Supernatural CD, I immediately think of the time Micah and our friends went to a nearby town to hang out. (You know it was an unforgettable night if you happen to have been on this trip.) We were in our mid-twenties and full of dreams, but essentially, that night was all about having fun – laughing, dancing, and enjoying each other’s stories. We had a van full of people and lots of things to say.  I can go back to the one of many activities that night just by listening to one of the songs.  Obviously, music is a powerful memory producer.

As far as one of my favorite ways to use music in my professional life, I play it in some of my classes.   Non-lyrical options are great for group activities.  However, mainstream music is used often in a favorite classroom exercise of mine, Music and Media. After all, music is another part of the human experience and is full of sociological examples.  In fact, in my Introduction to Sociology classes, we often dissect a few songs based on the theories and topics we’ve already covered in class.  One of my favorite songs to discuss is “Pumped up Kicks” by Foster the People, but there are many others.  Some students are amazed at how easily they remember the lyrics to songs, but have never truly listened to the story in the song.

Music has the ability to transcend time and is a huge part of who we are. Clearly, musical lyrics can fuel institution-wide stereotypes. However, we can also use music to stereotype people into categories.  Because of my southern accent, people are always shocked that my favorite musical group isn’t in the country genre.  In fact, they are shocked to hear that I don’t particularly like country music at all, except for traditional Christmas songs sang by country musicians.  My thoughts are just because you live near the country doesn’t mean you embrace country music.  Similarly, we can’t say all big and tough men dislike soft pop music.

Music speaks to us and has the potential to generate lots of money.  Furthermore, those creating music have a lot of power because sometimes millions of people listen to a song.  Those writing the songs, producing the songs, and the record labels, etc. make a lot of money because people want music.  Let me say that again, people want music! People want to be exposed to different songs, lyrics, and voices.  I would venture to say the majority of musicians have music “in their blood” so to speak.  Money is a bonus.  The power of being successful can be good for society, or bad for society.  Why?  Music is contagious. Music can promote positive ideas (like forgiveness, understanding, or humanitarian efforts) or negative ideas (like sexism, prejudice, or violence.) Music is a part of who we are whether we realize it while humming our favorite tunes.

Now, let me get back to the band, Nothing but Thieves.  The song, “Emergency”, is an interesting song.  I have no idea what the band would say the song means, but to me, it means looking out for other people.  It means not neglecting other people. It means being aware of people who are acting out of character and offering to lend a hand. While I have not analyzed the song using sociological terminology or principles, I have pulled meaning from the song based on my unique perspective. (I will save the sociological analysis for another day.)

A small portion of the lyrics are listed below.  The video is at the end.  I must warn you there is one use of profanity in it.

A wasted life seems to mean the most
But these seconds are valuable
Breathe in change or let it go
And breathe To me, this part of the song means, let things go.  If you don’t, life can become sad and overwhelming.  Life is too short to be unhappy or to tolerate constant negativity.

Emergency, help
Emergency, help
Emergency To me, this means, if you are not happy, figure out why and make a change.  If you see someone acting out of character or suffering, ask them if they need help.  We all need to be supportive of one another.

That medicine is killing me
I won’t lay down, I won’t give in
That medicine is killing me
Some pieces have gone missing  To me, “medicine” is symbolic of an addiction.  For some people, gambling, drug abuse, physical violence, bullying, overeating, etc. is the drug.  It is the thing we know isn’t right, but we do repeatedly, and is killing us.  The girl in the music video can’t lie down and relax. Something terrible happened and the girl cannot let it go.  Whatever her problem (or their problem), she can’t find peace. He doesn’t communicate. She doesn’t communicate. They are close, but so far away. That piece of life, having a best friend, is missing.

Oh
I’ll give you something to think about
Oh
I’ll give you something to think about To me, this means the girl is contemplating making a drastic change so that people will realize she was suffering.   (Mason, Langridge-Brown, Craik, 2014, p. 1)

I think from this song, we should learn to put down our phones and look at one another.  We should *really* look at one another, forget our egos, and ask the important questions.  “Do you feel okay today?”  “You look sad, did something happen?” “You haven’t been acting yourself lately, what’s up?.” This is my two cents, for what it is worth. I hope you enjoy the song.

Sincerely,

Mel

Reference:

Mason, C., Langridge-Brown, J. & Craik, D. (2014). Emergency. On Graveyard whistling. Sony Music Entertainment UK: RCA Records Label.

Las Vegas Reflection

Vegas

My plan for the website today included a discussion of our weekend excursions, with some amazing images too.  However, in light of the recent horrific shooting in Las Vegas, I am changing directions.

Before I begin, I admit I sobbed after watching the footage this morning.  My family and I (together or separately) have been to many concerts in our lifetime and have visited Las Vegas on multiple occasions.  It could have been me, a family member, or a friend in that audience.  Recalling the most recent concert I attended with my husband and son, I can easily remember how happy and excited all the fans were.  I am sure the Jason Aldean concert had a similar energy.  The pure joy of pre-concerting (similar to football pre-gaming) and getting to know the nearby concert goers builds excitement.  I can’t believe the cowardly actions of one person destroyed all that.

This element of sadness and shock makes me ask, “Why?”  Why would someone hurt even one person at that concert?  Have we been subjected to violence and hate so much that we are all desensitized to the beauty of living?  The topic of desensitization spirals me into recalling one of my favorite Introduction to Sociology topics: mass media.  One of the ways I kick off the mass media lecture is to ask students to contemplate this question, “Do you believe watching violence on television can cause violence in society?”  Then, I continue lecture by showing the “Natural Born Killers” trailer and reading a small excerpt about the movie.  Next, we review copycat crimes that occurred after the movie release.  This certainly gives students something to consider.  Although, I am all for freedom of speech, I also feel we have a responsibility to do more with our lives than sacrifice humanity for the sake of making money.

It has been over 20 years since that movie premiered.  We are still seeing violent, senseless acts all the time.  Of course, that movie isn’t to blame for every violent crime after its release.  The issue of criminal intent is so complex that we can’t predict events like the one in Las Vegas.  We can, however, make decisions that encourage the good in all of us and work toward protecting society instead of harming it.

I will end with a wish.  For those impacted, I am truly sorry for your loss and hope peace finds you.

 

Sincerely,

Mel

 

Reference:

Townsend, C. (Producer), & Stone, O. (Director). (26, August 1994). Natural born killers [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Brothers.