Once upon a time, each of my roommates in college and I went to different places to study abroad, and we all came back with the obligatory Study Abroad Soundtrack from our individual experiences.  On the night of our big reunion from our times away, each of us took turns playing our soundtrack/s.  I played my soundtrack first, and a Brazilian dance song, “Festa no Ape”, came on.  It had always made me laugh for its insipid lyrics and irresistible beat.  As they listened, my roommates became confused, and each went to retrieve her soundtrack.  They removed my CD- that’s what we had at the time- from the stereo, and one by one each of them put her individual soundtrack in and played a different version of “Myahee”.   We had all come back from different countries with an alternate remix of the same song.  When I got my first definition of what a meme was, this song and situation were the first things I thought of. 

The song emerges as a platform for Michael Wesch to discuss the ways that Youtube reflects certain changing aspects of culture based on digital literacies, so when I watched his “An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube”, I got pretty excited in my reminiscing. 

For more reasons than the fact that he reflects on some of my happy college days, Wesch’s theories have almost single-handedly revolutionized my ideas about the internet and connectivity.  I had always sort of considered the internet to be an alienating force where teenagers and lonely people could make up idealized versions of themselves to present to a hyper-reality of life, but Wesch shows it to be as a mighty, massive tool for connection between people from all over the globe.  In fact, he does so in such a way that as I watched his video, I began to marvel that I hadn’t seen it this way before.  He takes the time to examine the paradox between simultaneously talking to nobody and (hypothetically) everybody, and discusses almost the almost Lacanian “mirror” state of being able to watch ourselves as entities on Youtube. 

Wesch’s video made me appreciate the idea that we can continuously remake ourselves online, and that we have also become more accountable for single, out-of-context events (he talks about an off-the-cuff remark made by John McCain about bombing Iran).  It all seems more true to reality than I had every considered these online constructions to be; we are always remaking our identities, and we have no control over the way people perceive us based on a single encounter.   Whereas I would have seen people on Youtube mimicking the Myahee guy as derisive, Wesch sees them as paying homage to a stranger’s obvious and infectious joie de vivre.  I had never considered this angle, and I sort of like it a lot more than my previous notions of the internet. 

Wesch’s video makes the internet exciting for me; it turns the internet into a world of opportunity.  What multitude of possibilities could Youtube alone hold for teaching?  The idea of remix, cultural scripts, identity, the problematization of copyright, fine lines between plagiarism and paying homage to art, music, visuals… the possibilities seem endless and exciting.


5 comments on “Myahinternectivity

  1. Nice drop with the Lacan… the later version of the theory applied to all of us right? so we are like babies, attempting to reconcile the images of ourselves into an impossibly singular self… it seem reasonable to assume the surfeit of self-imagery has intensified the process of self conceptualization

  2. I think your point here about accountability is really intriguing. The internet truly has made our ability to proliferate the bumbling acts of politicians a thing to marvel at. And if we think about something like WikiLeaks, where the whole world was able to to view different documents at a staggering rate, we can see how people are using this connectivity as a means of overseeing. Of course, this can occur in both a negative and positive way. I wonder where we draw the line between Watchdog and Police State.

  3. I can recall the first time I saw the Myahee kid way back when I was a pissed off senior in college. I thought he was total dork. Now, after having watched the Wesch video, I feel like the dork. Here was this kid, lip-singing, extremely animated, having a good ol’ time on Saturday night in front of his computer. Perhaps at the time he though he was alone at with no invite to a party, but do to the powers of social media and Youtube, he in fact became the life of the party. Here we are, the better half of a decade later still talking about the galoot.
    Another Youtube sensation: Psy, Gangman Style, the Korean guy with that catchy song. Because of Youtube and other various forms of social networking, I’ve seen him now on SNL and The SF Giants play his song at the beginning of the 6th inning, not to mention they played it a couple of times during their World Series Celebration at The Civic Center. Makes me wonder what other ‘hits’ we have to look forward to form keeping an eye on Youtube.
    I never gave Youtube much thought until the Welsch video, but now I’m beginning to. I wonder how I could incorporate Youtube into the class. Perhaps doing some sort of an entire class involvement clip to post, so no one student has to put just themselves up for the world to critique. I don’t know, but I’ve been thinking about how to take this challenge on.

  4. Here’s something I found yesterday while doing research for another course.

    This site was developed by teachers at the Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. They take a new media approach to revision by showing YouTube videos of students discussing their revision process. This is a great tool for use in any FYC classroom.

  5. I like how you bring up Wesch’s distinction between the Internet’s connectivity and solitude. I think there’s a lot of tension between whether the Internet is acting as a connection to other people or further isolating us more because of lack of ‘real’ world contact. Either way, I think it’s super important for a writing classroom because if it’s engagement with audience. It really complicates who we are writing too when it is simultaneously nobody and everybody. Some scholars call this an ‘imagined’ audience because we write online (or make youtube videos) to only a perceived or ideal audience. I think that could be really interesting in a comp classroom!

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