SOCIAL MEDIA EFECTS: THE BATTLE CONTINUES

A few weeks ago, a moving imagery file (that’s “video” for you folks that may not be in the know) of a heavy set tattooed woman donning a gray t-shirt and speaking in a southern drawl, was standing in some kind of bark yard holding a shotgun. She made some kind of declaration noting that due to her kid’s obsession of social media as seen through their smartphones, she was going to do something about it. She then placed their iphone (or a generic smart phone) on a tree stump. After she made her brief speech, she took the shotgun, pointed it toward the stump, and blasted the phone. Then she grabbed a sledgehammer to “finish” the job. The entire video that only lasts a few minutes was captured on another phone.
As one would suspect, this video imagery was later uploaded on YouTube to be seen by the masses. The purpose of the imagery speaks for a number of causes. Some are rather obvious noting that technology and its applications are ruining people. Kids that tend not to know better, are creating unnecessary and uncalled for stress and drama. The imagery depicted also offers plenty of comedy relief. The woman appearing in this video looked like somebody plucked from a casting agency under many categories i.e. “Poor White Trash”, “Southern Cracker”, “Extra used in crowd scene depicting a local KKK rally”, etc.
It does appear that this new fangled technology has been deemed to be a godsend as it had been called a total curse! People of all kinds living in this part of the world has been exposed to anything and almost everything that has to deal with technology and the systems that make them all work. The internet and its computers connected on the world wide web was the start of it all. In the middle 1990’s when such devices started to slowing creep into the mainstream, people came in holding vast amounts of curiosity. They were told by the so-called “expects” that these connected computer machines could be used as a tool to make life easier. They were told that these same folks could be able to write letters and send them to others using electronic mail, or “e-mail” for short. They would be able to view text writings and see pictures by opening a software program called a “web browser” where they can view said text and pictures on a specific topic or subject. They can read the news without the aid of a newspaper. They can get recipes without a cookbook. They can even help kids with their homework by looking up subjects that would be part of their studies, such as finding out about elephants or how an airplane flies.
As to cell phones, they were a separate media source that had little to do with those computers devices and the connection they all had with one another. In those early days (before 2000 at least), cell phones were strictly for adults only! Those devices were for those that had to be connected because of what they did professionally. (Doctors, lawyers, movie studio executives, etc.) Because of the user’s profession, the amount spent on the phones and the service offered were rather pricy. But business being business, the cost of ownership and usage vs. the cost of doing business seemed to go with one another.
As the 21st century was established, so did technology. Before long, people of all ages were using computers and the internet. Many family has their kids use their family computer at home for them to surf the web. Many of these same families would likely use third party software programs such as Net Nanny that filtered out or gave limited access to certain sites (porn mostly, but any site was just as prone) so their kids would be “safe” from places that could be harmful to them. Depending on the family and their budget, the kids could even have their own computer instead of relying upon the machine used by the parent figures residing in the same household.
Cell phones, however, were still for the adults, although kids would eventually have their own devices, but not necessarily on their own accounts. The phones themselves were the simple “candy bar”-type phones, while some had the new fangled “flip phone” variety that had a larger 2” screen and could even perform functions that were beyond sending and receiving calls, such as sending e-mail type messages to other phones (“text messaging”), as well as playing music files downloaded from places where their legal status was questionable.
It was this time that became technology’s “beginning of the end” phase, where such sties as YouTube, Twitter, MySpace, and its rival, Facebook, started to make gains. Then Apple introduced the iPhone for purchase in the summer of 2007. Before long, nearly everybody wanted an iPhone since it can do more than a standard Nokia phone or the Motorola Razr device, one of the more popular phones used by many at that time.
Today (as of Mary 23rd anyway), cell phone and what makes them run are now an imbedded way of life. There are a generation of people, mostly under the age of 35, that have seen the internet and their cell phones as something that’s always “been here”. Kids as young as eight have smart phones better than ones used by somebody of a “seasoned” age. The flip phones such as the Razr are now a rare bird. Anyone who still uses a flip phone are most likely over the age of 60, or somebody that wants to have a phone without any fear of somebody wanting to steal it! The internet, especially social media, is the preferred and perhaps only way to communicate. As one person quoted (who that person is isn’t known, but that doesn’t matter) stated, “If you can’t text, tweet, post, like, or pin, you can’t do s#it!”)
Getting back to the ”Dixie” moving imagery/video in question, It’s granted that this woman’s “kids” are perhaps slaves to their smart phone devices and the connected social media. Perhaps they have become the so-called “zombies” that stare down at their phones for no visible reason. However, when kids do have their own phones, it is very unlikely that they got these phones on their own. Somebody of legal adult age got these phone devices for them along with the service that makes them go. Ditto to having access to social media. These adults that serve as caretakers showed them how to text and tweet, and assisted them in getting a Facebook account. Granted, the kid’s peers could also had a hand of getting these same kids hooked up, but the kids helping other kids could have had somebody much older to make the necessary arrangements.
All in all, this is not the first time that kids, or anyone for that matter, had some kind of electrical device to made them as brainless subjects overly obsessed over a simple machine. Television did that to kids in the 1950’s where they watched for hours at a time, not allowing them to do other and more important things from household chores to getting their homework done! The stereotype obsession of a girl (mostly) wanting their own phone and perhaps their own line did take place, even though it was used as a comical plot in many sitcoms of the era. (This obsession of a teen girl and the phone continued well into the 1980’s!)
One can point fingers to the source of this blame, but this blame game won’t salve any concerns or situations. Just like any form of obsession or vice, it can be controlled. To quote (or requote) the old joke “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer? One-providing the bulb wants to be changed!
So go ahead folks! Use that phone to text, tweet, post, pin, and all that kind of stuff! Be good in the process. And if you can’t be good, then be careful and watch where you’re going! You may wind up on a video where you are seen walking into a lamppost while gawking down on your phone! A real true LOL moment!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS
Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills closes its 2015-16 season with M.J. Cruise’s SEPARATE BEDS, a romantic comedy about a pair of married couples commemorating their wedding anniversaries on a cruise ship while experiencing a different effect.
Taking place on a cruise ship sailing along the Caribbean strip, two married middle aged couples are taking a well deserved vacation to commemorate their wedding anniversaries. Ernie and Laura (Daniel Leslie and Mona Lee Wylde), see their 30th anniversary. Ernie runs a hardware store located in a suburban community in California’s north. Laura, who Ernie calls her “Twink” assists in the shop while keeping tabs on the household after raising their now grown kids. Now as grandparents, they discover that their marriage has lost a bit of its luster over their many years together, with Ernie, knowing that his business is facing heavy competition with a nearby big box hardware outlet, finds his life full with stress. So this trip may relive a bit of that stress while adding some spark to their marriage. Twink attempts to be friendly with the fellow passengers while Ernie tries to play along. One couple they encounter among the others is Blake and Beth. (Also played by Daniel Leslie and Mona Lee Wylde.) Unlike Ernie and Twink, Blake and Beth come from more prestige stock. Blake runs a local chain of eyeglass shops, while Beth is an actress. She’s slowly getting her name in the highlights, trying to take more renown roles. (Her biggest claim to fame is appearing in a national TV spot selling dog food!) Blake and Beth, only married ten years, finds their marriage to hold more content, even though they are just as stressed in their line of work but for different reasons than Ernie and Twink’s situation. As these duo pairs sail along the tropical regions, they do see hope for each of their own togetherness.
This play created by playwright M. J. Cruise (The “M. J.” stands for Mary Jane), is a romantic comedy for the “baby boomer” generation–a demographic that had everything it worked for in terms of middle class status and in receiving a fulfilling domestic lifestyle, raising families and obtaining that quest to receive the so-called “American Dream”. Daniel Leslie and Mona Lee Wylde play all roles in a seamless fashion. As portraying Ernie and Twink, they appear to be those standard middle aged characters one would find in a post-modern sitcom. The father figure holds emotions ranging from being amusing without the cockiness, while the mother figure is perky and is the one that really knows best. As Blake and Beth, they hold a bit more sophistication without being stuffy or arrogant. Among these four, Ernie and Twink receive more stage time and thus, their beings receive the most laughs! Melanie MacQueen ‘s stage direction keeps the pacing rather upbeat while keeping a desire to root for all four in equal value.
As to all Theatre 40’s shows, Jeff Rack once again provides the set decoration, designing the stage between the insides of Ernie and Twink’s standard class stateroom as humble and practical with the title bed arrangement, and Blake and Beth’s first class accommodations, holding more classic fanciness while sporting a full sized bed suitable for two!
The ideal way to label SEPARATE BEDS is to note that it’s charming, witty, and most of all, very cute! And using the term “cute” holds more value toward a positive stance rather than through a clichéd mode. It keeps as much appeal as a cruise ship’s all-you-can-eat buffet, minus the over packed calorie intake and its motive of gluttoness!

SEPARATE BEDS, presented by Theater 40, and performs in the Reuben Corova Theater located on the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 South Moreno Drive (off Santa Monica Blvd.) Beverly Hills, until June 19th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM.
      For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 364-0535, or via online at http://www.Theatre40.org
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The Glendale Centre Theatre continues its run of the Frank Loesser Musical HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT TRYING, an epic tale on how a lowly window washer moved up the ranks of big business through a “how to” book, and the secretary that took notice on his career path.
Kent Cain plays J. Pierrepont Finch. As a window cleaner washing the many glass panes among skyscrapers in New York City, he reads upon his dogeared copy of a book instructing him how to progress up the ladder of success in big industry. Applying for an entry level job at the headquarters of the World Wide Wicket Company, Inc, he enters the company headquarters by first dropping the name of the company’s president J. B. Biggley. (Richard Malmos). Rosemary Pilkington (Kelly Marie Hennessey) one of the members of the office secretary pool, arranges to have Finch, the bright and rather eager young man that he is, to meet Mr. Bratt (Randle Rankin) head of personnel, for an entry level position. Working in the mail room, he encounters Bud Frump (Alex Allen), Biggley’s nephew who has the same desires of Finch in succeeding. Before long, Finch learns about how this company does its business through its own means, while Rosemary observes Finch as he works his way to the top with keeping on to hopes of a possible romance.
This musical, based upon an actual non-fiction self help book of the same name written by Shepherd Mead, was adapted for the stage with a book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, and is still a very witty and amusing musical. Granted, it was created for the era it speaks for (generally, the early 1960’s), and does hark a time where office politics and those that played along conducted their corporate and personal business at a pace that didn’t necessarily stay on that way through the annals of time. However, the GCT keeps to the sprit of the period through its overall stage presence. Angela Mankee’s costume design has everyone dressed in the fashion style with the secretaries donning office dresses while the men wore gray colored suits with ties and hats to match! Danny Michaels and Orlando Alexander keeps the stage direction moving in a rather frantic yet controlled pace. Orlando Alexander also provides the choreography, dancing to Steve Applegate’s transcribed musical direction. Amanda Bailey’s set props also holds on to the notion of the period as well.
As with many musicals, this one boasts a rather large cast of players. Space (again) doesn’t allow this reviewer to post all of the performers by name, but will note that a number of regular GCT stock players appear in this production, including Christopher Curry, Christa Hamilton, Kyle Kelly, the for noted Richard Malmos, Libby Snyder, and John David Wallis. (Again, if this writer missed out on a few more names, it will be stated that they were all a real treat to see!)
If one hasn’t seen this musical for a while, then it’s ideal to experience it again. The same goes for those that has never seen this production on any stage, as the GCT provides the only regular 360 theatre-in-the-round setting in the Los Angeles area where any view is its “front” viewpoint.
Lastly, and as the title suggests, one can really succeed in business with a little trying and a lot of canny luck! (Belting out a song or two never hurts!)

HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT TRYING presented by and performs at the Glendale Centre Theatre. 324 North Orange Street, Glendale, until June 25th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, with Saturday matinees at 3:00 PM.
      For more information and for ticket reservations, call (818) 244-8481, or visit the GCT’s web site at http://www.GlendaleCentreTheatre.com
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The Angel City Chorale presents RHYTHM PLANET, a musical chorale concert event that celebrates the rhythmical beats that become part of the global experience,
This renowned musical ensemble as conducted by Sue Fink, Artistic Director for the ACC, will be joined by special guest conductor Christopher Tin, who has previously teamed up with this troupe sharing his vastly abundant harmonious music pieces. The selections itself will honor many of the forms of music and rhythms crossing between the numerous forms of cultural and ethnic traditions that make up the intercontinental world landscape. With its 150 plus membership of male and female vocalists backed by a twenty-five piece instrumental composite as performed within an acoustical ideal setting, one will indeed experience an evening of musical components that will become a unique concert adventure for all ages to enjoy and marvel.
Musical selections presented will include created pieces by Aaron Copeland, Eriks Esenvalds, Moses Hogan, and a rousing version of Toto’s Africa. (ACC’s performance of this song as posted on YouTube received over 2.7 million viewed “hits”!)
This event will take place on Saturday, June 4th and Sunday, June 5th at 7:00 PM, at the Wilshire United Methodist Church, 4350 Wilshire Blvd. (adjacent to the Wilshire-Ebell Theater), Los Angeles 90010. This monumental church located within the heart of Hancock Park, serves as the performing home base of the Angel City Chorale. With its grandiose architecture influenced by Italian, Spanish, and Gothic formation, this pillar of the community enhances the sound and virtual sprit the ACC presents wherever it performs, both locally and abroad.
For more information on the Angel City Chorale’s presentation of RHYTHM PLANET, as well as to order tickets (save five dollars per ticket when obtained in advance), call (310) 943-9231, or via the ACC’s website at http://www.AngelCityChorale.org
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