“All Up in My Feelings”: Seducing Emotion in Social Media

Yogi tea bag inspirations

Yogi tea bag inspirations

You are not your emotions.
Social media thrives on your emotion.

Whereas there is relative agreement about what constitutes cognition, the same cannot be said about emotion. Some investigators use definitions that incorporate the concepts of drive and motivation: emotions are states elicited by rewards and punishers (Rolls, 2005). Others favor the view that emotions are involved in the conscious (or unconscious) evaluation of events (Arnold, 1960) (i.e., appraisals). Some approaches focus on basic emotions (Ekman, 1992) (e.g., fear, anger), others on an extended set of emotions, including moral ones (Haidt, 2003; Moll et al., 2005) (e.g., pride, envy). Strong evidence also links emotions to the body (Damasio, 1994). From Scholarpedia.org

My morning Yogi tea bag (lemon ginger) read: Live through consciousness, not emotion. I’ve been learning from intensive study of neuroscience, social psychology (influence), and ecological fitness (for my own development though it benefits my research on online black girls’ ecological fitness) that our consciousness is not found in being “all up in my feelings” or “feeling some kinda way.” Self-consciousness comes from quantifying experience THEN analyzing it (Baumeiser and Tierney, 2011). So much of my teaching has focused on using three concepts from other sources: 1) that “learning is evidenced by new and different behavior”, 2) that we live in our “mental maps of reality” (Guest 2014) where our “cultural classifications of what kinds of people and things exist” are reshaped by our *learned* assignments of meaning to those classifications; and 3) that all this can be changed through “deliberate practice” and study that no one else can do for you but mirrors of reality often found in groups matters!

I less and less believe or *feel* that my conciousness is some kind of “conscious attention” which Roy Baumeister found is counter-productive. The uses of “implicit competition, a cash incentive, and audience-induced pressure” cause  in the social mind. So I have started to outsource my consciousness. It started about 3 years ago with my iPhone apps. Habit Maker Habit Breaker; walking apps, a gift of an UP fitness band, a money app called Toshl, even an app to track my monthly cycles.

Several months ago my fitness band died and I lost track of all my tracking. I literally LOST consciousness and reverted to my feelings for guidance. I know now this is a trap! And it is distinct from my intuition which speaks beyond my emotions. You know when you want to eat another X and your intuition says you shouldn’t but you ignore it because your feelings win out? That’s what happens to me. Maybe it’s never happened that way for you. Our impulses live in our emotions. So we must use an outsourced consciousness especially in an age of mobile devices constantly seducing our attention with beeps, pings, updates, reminders, vibrations and all that trains us that our attention is not our own, even when you scheduled those pings and dings. You did not create the built environment of Google, YouTube or Snapchat.

I’ve noticed a lot of talk among black folk in social networks from Twitter to Facebook of being “all up in my feelings“. I love it! I love the way black folk turn a phrase into a social mantra. I use another one daily in my teaching: “Don’t get it twisted!”  There is so much about our cognition, our biology and our emotions we don’t understand and is actually twisted.

zora-neale-hurston-quotes-1

Social Media Thrives On “Primitive” Emotions

Brain structures linked to emotion are often subcortical, such as the amygdala, ventral striatum, and hypothalamus. These structures are often considered evolutionarily conserved, or primitive. They are also believed to operate fast and in an automatic fashion, such that certain trigger features (e.g., the white of the eyes in a fearful expression (Whalen et al., 2004)) are relatively unfiltered and always evoke responses that may be important for survival. Accordingly, an individual may not be necessarily conscious of a stimulus that may have triggered brain responses in an affective brain region, such as the amygdala. For discussion, see (Ohman, 2002; Pessoa, 2005). From Scholarpedia.org.

 

Our emotions may be important for survival as we sit in this moment of #blacklivesmatter but it is not useful or effective to get to a thriving of self-consciousness.

As I get ready to teach about how Language Shapes Thought by social psychologist Lera Boroditsky (see her great video on Dick Cheney’s use of language when he shot his hunting partner), I got to thinking about how we use “all up in my feelings” and how addicted to this language we become. Language (and social media) that keeps many of us unconsciousness of its impact on our being. Stop monkeying around with those emotions! (Not to be confused with your intuition or the evidence from your tracking of your behavior– Don’t get it twisted!).

There’s nothing wrong with being emotional. That is not my point! But being collectively “all up in my feelings” is a kind of social proof that others are attracted to. Let’s all show how bothered we are and instead of an action I took to thrive beyond mere emotion or survival. What are you broadcasting to the world?

Emotions have you until you can outsource or objective your day-to-day behavior, your habits and its results, and choose based on evidence not emotion. “Ideas aren’t dependable there’s a new one every week. Emotions are expendable there’s a new one every week. Culture is cosmetic, Culture is cosmetic.” Repeat after me: “CULTURE IS COSMETIC!!!” That line, which I may be basterdizing a bit, is from Stew’s Passing Strange musical. (Get a DVD copy yesterday!!) I promise you’ll be “feeling it!” lol.

To conclude and clarify, by outsource I mean get those things outside the trap of your emotions onto paper; be accountable to another set of humans (teachers, a support group, a mastermind group, etc.). Do go it alone! And if you cannot find people, then do what I’ve done: find a social app be beware of too many friends all up in dey feelins!  Enjoy your day!!

What I’m Paying Attention to on YouTube:

JoJo “I’m Not A Princess!”: Audiences Deny Agency; Promote Patriarchy

“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another–physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

What would happen to the future of white supremacist patriarchy if [hegemonic] white [fe]males were choosing to form serious relationships with black females?

Clearly, this structure would be under mined.
Bell Hooks, Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations

 

So Mashable releases a video (Monday, September 14) of this adorable and sassy little white girl named JoJo. JoJo is having a logic and YouTube-adorable argument with her Dad explaining how she is NOT a princess.

JoJo: “No! Don’t ask me any questions, I just need <indistinguishable>.

Dad: I wanna call you my princess.

JoJo: NO! You cannot call me your princess, o-KAY DAD!?!

So you can see how from the viewers standpoint we must fix JoJo. She cannot be denied her “rightful” place in the habitus — the “trained capacities and structured propensities to think, feel and act in determinant ways, which then guide them’ (Wacquant 2005: 316, cited in Navarro 2006: 16)” — of hegemonic femininity, fantasy and seduction, can we now?!?

Her dad tries to convince her otherwise. She IS a princess, he insists in one way or another. Here, her dad–used by his own habitus of hegemonic daddy-hood and masculinity — denies his daughter her sense of agency, unintentionally–we are all creatures of our habitus of the structures that keep the logic of hegemonic masculinity and femininity in place.

Agency
The capacity of individuals to act independently.
The idea that children can be seen as independent social actors is core to the development of the new paradigm for the study of children and young people that emerged in the social sciences in the 1970s. It underscores children and young people’s capacities to make choices about the things they do and to express their own ideas. Through this, it emphasizes children’s ability not only to have some control over the direction their own lives take but also, importantly, to play some part in the changes that take place in society more widely. As Mayall describes it, a focus on children’s agency enables exploration of the ways in which children’s interaction with others ‘makes a difference — to a relationship or to a decision, to the workings of a set of social assumptions or constraints’ (Mayall, 2002: 21 quoted in Allison James & Adrian James, Key Concepts in Childhood Studies, Sage Key Concepts, 2008: 9).

Then along comes Katy Perry using her millions of followers on Twitter to do the same. In the name of cuteness, Katy will usurp this little girl’s agency to insure she fits the norm and gets the bracelets JoJo argues distinguishes her from a real princess. All little girls should want to be a princess and get the diamond bracelet, right?!?!

Starting a Kickstarter to get this 👑Queen👑 her rightful bracelets! https://t.co/Gp9bo9tyJY

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The last thing girls need are more myths about having someone one else buy the jewels that make you whole or someone else who comes to save you from the fate of second class citizenship. Let’s just deny JoJo’s healthy agency and replace it with money and jewels. Patriarchy wins!

Let a Girl Be a Girl: On Her Own Terms

JoJo: I said don’t ask me anything OR don’t talk. You can talk AFTER.  [long pause as she looks at the TV and gathers her thoughts. Dad interjects]

Dad: OK, it’s my turn to talk. [what lesson is she and the audience of girls watching learning from the subtle cooptation of her request.]

JoJo is on to something! Don’t let them seduce you, oh great one, with jewels. Daddy, pay attention! Let your girl grow up to be her own definition of self. Let her be an assertive, independent, a social actor with her own voice and her own actions with your loving support and protection.

But Katy Perry has to go and start a Kickstarter campaign for her to get the bracelets. PU-LEEEZ!!  IT’S NOT ABOUT THE JEWELS, Katy! Stop messing around with the myths and mental maps of reality that seduce girls into subservience to body and beauty politics.

This girl gets it on some brilliant level as a child. Don’t mess with that!! Both the dad and Katy Perry feed into this enculturational process where girls are taught patriarchal femininity where girls should be selfless in order to have relationship. As Carol Gilligan notes in the video below, without a self you cannot be in relationship.

IT’S BIGGER THAN BRACELETS, KATY!

Having a female celebrity singer, a mega star, use her platform and privilege (and in this case white privilege) to help a girl whose intentions are very clear sends the wrong message in my book. I applaud Perry’s good intentions but the road to hell is already well-paved by such paternalistic moves in the name of male as well as female celebrities. How about helping raise millions for a cause in JoJo’s name that’s bigger than bracelets?? That could make her a princess of a whole different sort.

There are millions of girls right here in the US (let’s not go white savior on Africa or Southeast Asia for just a minute) who she could help; millions of marginalized girls of color and poor white girls would get more bang for those bucks. Let’s start thinking impact not celebrity diamonds for JoJo. Queens and princesses — the real ones — use their power to help the people who need it most.

This moment of lifecasting on YouTube by JoJo’s dad under the username Lomelino Kids could have been (and still may be) a stepping stone to a kind of feminist stance about being beautiful and ordinary in an extraordinary way that is NOT about the body or mere beauty. Carol Gilligan reminds us that feminism actually is a liberation movement to free democracy from patriarchy. Women and men, girls and boys are not free if patriarchy is the structure of our lives, the order and measure for our success.

If we situated the role of a “princess” from the historical GPS that dictionaries entries provide, the oldest definition is first,  we might see how the structure of a princess’s power has devolved over time.

Full Definition of PRINCESS

1  archaic :  a woman having sovereign power
2:  a female member of a royal family; especially :  a daughter or granddaughter of a sovereign
3:  the consort of a prince
4:  one likened to a princess; especially :  a woman of high rank or of high standing in her class or profession <a pop music princess>

Merriam Webster Online also positions first and foremost on its site before this chronological rendering:

a usually attractive girl or woman who is treated with special attention and kindness

JoJo has everything she already needs and learning about other notable princesses or queens other than the fictional Disney versions would be a real asset. Learning about Nefretiti, who was considered one of the most powerful women to ever rule, Marie Antoinette, who rose to the throne at 14, Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii or Queen Noor of Jordan would be more beneficial than bracelets from a Kickstarter campaign. But that is not what JoJo is being enculturated into. YouTube’s media ecology will amplify a totally different intention that JoJo asks — back to the seduction of the jewels.

Dad: I’m a king

JoJo: No, you’re not! You’re a dad

I skimmed the reactions to the video and most have little to do with JoJo’s agency and more to do with reasserting the normative expectations where we romantically seduce little girls into a focus on their bodies and how they adorn them. Read: Isn’t she cute trying to break the chains of patriarchy but it ain’t that serious. She’ll grow outta that with the help of Daddy, Katy, Kickstarter and the crown achievement of some jewels. This makes it all about the jewels and adornment not the substance and character of an independent or interdependent girl or woman.

Screen Shot of YouTube Comments 2015-09-14 at 9.50.06 AM
Screen Shot of YouTube Comments 2015-09-14 at 9.50.06 AM

 

Ok, I should be writing my article on Mirrors, Monsters and Webcams and marginalized girls on YouTube, but this got me. #feelingsnarkytoday #backtowork

Have a look out these two remarkable YouTube videos about feminism. They helped me resituate some of my own thinking.

Dr. Carol Gilligan Defines Feminism and Patriarchy

Black Folk Don’t: Do Feminism

 

 

Throw Your Daughter a Period Party. #period #bottomlines

“If you are free, you are not predictable and you are not controllable.”  #thebloodandtheblessing ― June Jordan