Pieces of What?

About a thousand years after everyone else, I came across Feminist Ryan Gosling, and despite having seen only one Ryan Gosling movie—Drive, in which he “Hey’s” nary a girl, but does assault someone with a hammer—I enjoyed reading through the entries. But I knew I was late to the party when I saw the second post on the front page of the blog doubling as an advertisement for Feminist Ryan Gosling the BOOK. It got me thinking about what happens when communications experience a change of venue, when a conversation that begins in one place ends up somewhere quite different. Inevitably you’re not just thinking about the content of the communication when this kind of shift occurs; you’re also thinking about the shift itself and what it means, both apart from the content and in conjunction with it. In the case of FRG the Book, you might wonder, for instance, why FRG needs to be a book at all? Can FRG the Book possibly foster the same degree of feminist-grad-student-solidarity through a static, print publication that it fosters in a continually evolving micro-blog? Can it possibly preserve the easy dispensability of its timely snark?

Feminist Ryan Gosling isn’t the only example of a blog or Twitter feed “graduating” into print; see also Stuff White People Like, Sh*t My Dad Says, Hyperbole and a Half, PostSecret. Of course, I don’t begrudge anyone the chance to turn their cleverness into cash. What I’m interested in is not that people are willing to pay for Feminist Ryan Gosling the Book, but that there is a market for Feminist Ryan Gosling the Book at the same time as there is a “market” for feministryangosling.tumblr.com. Apparently we have such an appetite for these collections of oddities that we want them online and we want them on our coffee tables. And if we feel limited by Feminist Ryan Gosling, there’s always Rhet/Comp Ryan Gosling, Archaeologist Ryan Gosling, International Relations Ryan Gosling, Socially Conscious Ryan Gosling, Psychodynamic Ryan Gosling, Mormon Ryan Gosling, and many more! A Gosling for everyone![1]

The impulse to collect isn’t by any means new, of course. Collecting (even when it’s random Gosling memes) is a social act, as well as an act of self-fashioning. Humanists of the 16th and 17th centuries encouraged collection—of both texts and objects—as a way to exhibit one’s learning and social position.  Curiosity cabinets were all the rage. These were massive collections of artifacts gathered from all around the world: plant-life, animal specimens, fossils, coins, relics, works of art, instruments, inventions, etc. Writing of the “culture of collecting” in the seventeenth century, Marjorie Swann notes the ways in which a collection

constructs and embodies new social relations, new alignments of people as well as physical objects. It is this representational flexibility of the collection, its capacity to fuse in various ways the identities of objects and people, things and texts, that made it an attractive cultural form in England during a period of great socioeconomic, political, and cultural change. (12)

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that Feminist Ryan Gosling attempts a kind of representational flexibility in its capacity to imagine a fusion between feminist identity, seminal feminist texts, and an objectified Gosling. If nothing else, it’s clearly designed with a specific audience, with particular social relations, in mind, and yet new alignments seem possible. People like me who know not much about Ryan Gosling but more than a little about feminism can find things to think about, conversations to join, and maybe people who know a lot about Ryan Gosling but nothing about feminism can discover something, too.

But here’s what I really want this post to be about: I think things get more complicated when what is collected is not a stream of fake quotations from a real celebrity, but a stream of real statements from the general public. Online, it is as easy to find random collections of tweets or status updates from strangers as it is to find pictures of Ryan Gosling. But no one is going to make a book out of racist Hunger Games tweets or 100 Real Tweets from Homophobes Who Would Murder Their Gay Child.

These kinds of collections really are quite common. Usually they consist of people making offensive statements, stupid statements, insensitive statements, naïve statements, or all of the above. Herpderpedia collected tweets from internet users enraged by the Wikipedia SOPA protest blackout. WhiteWhine.com searches the internet for complaints about “first world problems.” Literally Unbelievable re-posts Facebook users responding to Onion headlines as if they are true. Old People Writing on a Restaurant’s Facebook Page and dumbesttweets.com pretty much speak for themselves. There are other collections/collectors less fixated on mocking people for making thoughtless comments. Here’s a strange article that assembled tweets from Apple employees reacting to the death of Steve Jobs. A Slate article displays a collection of “orphaned” tweets from Twitter users who signed up for the service, posted once, and never came back.

We can speculate, I think safely, that these sites and stories get noticed because they are, for so many people, NOT representative of the mainstream, but of underlying patterns (of ignorance, often)—patterns brought decisively to the surface on a site like, for example, Hunger Games Tweets, which lists blatantly racist or racially insensitive comments one after another (the creator of the blog makes a distinction between types of comments here). That’s a partial answer to my original inquiry about what happens when communications experience a change of venue. Lone statements of vulgarity or absurdity or eccentricity we might ignore or dismiss take on larger importance when (re)placed in the company of similar statements.

But there are other possible answers to the change of venue question. Again I think it’s worth looking to the early modern curiosity cabinets, for which collectors sought out the rare, the unusual, even the monstrous. Deformations or other irregularities of Nature were in high demand, in part because gathering rarities gave the collector higher social credentials, but also because these collections were constructed as microcosms of God’s creation. If you want to represent the macrocosm in miniature, you can’t leave anything out, not even this:

Detail from a painting of curiosities; image courtesy of resobscura.blogspot.com

I’m not suggesting that creators of micro-blogs are interested in representing God’s creation, but with so many sites devoted to shaming or mocking people who utter some pretty monstrous comments, it does seem like we have an interest in gathering up a lot of ugliness and putting it on display. And what is especially curious about our version of abnormality is that it is made out of people, not freakish fish-monsters. The monstrous statements we gather come from people. People who are probably (hopefully?) not monsters and who probably (hopefully?) do not always or even often say monstrous things. People who tweeted or posted these comments and then went back to doing non-monstrous things like eating sandwiches and watching Breaking Bad.

In this book, David Martin talks more about the macrocosm/microcosm relationship set up through the curiosity cabinet, the Renaissance conviction that, since “God had created the world to be known,” the early modern collector/scholar must work to understand “the resemblances and similitudes that bound all things and beings together in an endless series of hidden and secret relationships…” (38). That’s all things—the good, the bad and the ugly. Collection according to this philosophy was really re-collection, Martin explains:  “collection-as-reclamation” (37). Even fake, forged, or fraudulent artifacts—monsters that weren’t really monsters—had a place in the early modern collection as microcosm, something that, Martin says, can be difficult for modern audiences to understand:

In this age of scientific transparency we would see the magic of the unicorn horn dispelled by its revelation as a walrus tusk; the prized bezoar is revealed to be mere dross…, and the mermaid nothing more than … the torso of a monkey stitched onto the tail of a fish…. Yet in an age of curiosity, where the sign can (and has to) form multiple associations with the objects it resembles and has sympathies with, the notion of exposing the forgery ‘for what it is’ becomes somewhat of a hollow exercise…. When the task of the scholar was to get objects to speak of the truth that was hidden within them, a truth that only the object itself fully ‘knew,’ illumination came through the act of unpacking the microcosmic collection, of arranging the words of the text of creation so that one might interpret the signatures inscribed within all things. In this setting, the fake often pointed to higher truths. (44-45)

I’m not sure about this, but I think it might be possible to shed the overtly Christian belief structure Martin is explicating in these quotations and hang on to the part about the “resemblances and similitudes” binding things together in disorderly, perhaps not even fully discoverable relationships—and then apply that theory of interpretation to all these crazy tumblr sites that also make the “mistake” of collecting monsters who aren’t really monsters.

I don’t want to be an apologist for racist or careless Hunger Games readers. Nor do I want to suggest that on the opposite side of something ugly something pretty always lives. But I do see potential in the idea that the ugliness we find collected on these sites might point to something besides itself. If collection is, after all, a social act, capable of fusing together people with people, and people with things, then we can certainly ask who and what are being fused together through sites that re-collect and re-place random online chatter. Who is being invited into what kind of group, and who is being excluded? What kind of community is being documented, what kind of community is being shaped, and where do they overlap?

In his analysis of Renaissance curiosity cabinets, Martin’s emphasis too is not on the individual utility of the collected items, but on what (else or other) they might point to. It was “in the unpacking of the collection, that illumination could be found” (43). It might be worth unpacking the collections linked above, remembering that all of these tweets and updates migrated from somewhere and someone else, that they are all still vibrating with their own motility, that, hidden behind the obvious “look at all these idiots” narrative foregrounded by the sites’ collectors—a narrative we at times might sympathize with easily—is a narrative resistant to such unproblematic categorization.[2] One that recognizes the grossest anomalies as, like it or not, linkages in a rhizomatic system of exchange.

This semester I’m teaching a course on unreliable rhetoric, so online communication is obviously going to be a topic of discussion. Right now I’ve set aside an entire unit on Ugliness, and I’m hoping to clarify some of these ideas before I bring them into the classroom. If you have any comments or suggestions, or if you’ve run across other digital collections, then Hey (Girl), please share!

[1] Except maybe Ryan Gosling. I checked for a Ryan Gosling Ryan Gosling tumblr, but alas …

[2] I want to single out the creator of the Hunger Games Tweets site, who seems to have given much more thought to both his purpose and his audience than any of the other site creators, and whose blog is less one dimensional as a result.

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Christine Hoffmann

About Christine Hoffmann

Christine Hoffmann (PhD University of Arkansas, MFA Art Institute of Chicago) studies the shifting standards for credibility and utility that develop inside post-Gutenberg and post-digital rhetorical environments. Her scholarly work has been published in College Literature, the CEA Critic, PLL, the CEA Forum and, somewhat randomly, Slayage: the Online Journal of Buffy Studies. A few short stories can be found in Make magazine, Eclectica and Loose Change. She also blogs regularly on TECHStyle, the forum for digital pedagogy and research by the Georgia Tech Brittain Fellows. Christine looks forward to connecting the teaching of multimodal composition to her research into rhetorics of struggle, cultures of collecting, and the advantages of copious expression.
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  1. test comment 🙂

  2. Throughout this article when it was talking about the collection of pointless random things, I could not help but think about all the things I have on my computer. When I discovered Tumblr about a year and a half ago, I wanted to document everything I found so I saved every photo that was cool,interesting, random or funny into a file on my computer. After a while without noticing those files became hundreds and maybe even thousands. The things I found might have been completely random in others minds, but in my mind each photo had a background to it of why I liked it. Each photo combined tells a story about who I am and what I like and enjoy.

    Another example of collections that I feel portrays to this subject is Pinterest. Most people don’t know unless they follow me on Pinterest, but I am THE QUEEN! I have almost 10,000 pins right now and I do not plan on stopping. I feel Pinterest can tell a lot about a person because people pin things they like to their own interests. For example many people have a wedding board on Pinterest so you can tell what kind of wedding someone wants or if they had a food board you can tell what kind of foods are their favorites. This kind of website I really feel has a deeper meaning in showing a lot about a person.

    Also I feel like each person’s individual Twitter can be the same in some scenario’s. People follow people who they are friends with or who they are connected with from school, but people also follow interests groups and idols and what kind of humor they like. For example I follow Helen Keller on Twitter, and even though it is very cruel sometimes, people can see that I am the kind of person who likes that kind of humor.

  3. I feel that these “collections” point to a very interesting fact about society. There seems to be a link or attraction of humans to ugliness. A general consensus would conclude that people are not attracted to this ugliness, but this is just not the case as these “collections” so plainly express. There is a specific interest or hunger for this escape from “mainstream” information. This leads to a more profound discovery that ugliness is equally and oppositely as attractive as beauty, or a sort of Newtonian mechanics. While these “hideous”, as some may refer to them, collections are not attractive from a typical standpoint, there is an underground type allure to them. However, they are not the only examples of how ugliness attracts people.
    Think of any teenage girl that is interested in a “bad boy” at her school. To parents this boy may be “ugly” from their experienced and mature stand point, but he is a convention breaker. This convention breaking is one of the things that define ugliness, and possibly the key to the allure. This attraction convention breakers have may also be observed in people’s music tastes. Countless times I have heard the phrase when discussing a particular band, “They are too mainstream.” Mainstream is attractive to many, but the allure of the “off the beatin’ path” bands is just as equally present. The very common cliché, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. “ seems to be a valid point. But does this mean that ugliness is simply beauty to someone else, or is ugliness its own distinct idea with a very different allure?

    • I totally agree with Luke. I believe that there is a link between humans and their attraction to ugliness. Parents try to provide their children with the best or good life that they can. By parents taking these actions, children get used to doing the right (good) decisions and they learn what is good (which is usually beautiful) and what is bad (which is usually ugly). Nowadays, objects or human beings are made ugly through the use of technology. By doing this, it causes these ugly things to be attractive to the audience because they are convention breakers. For example, the joker in the batman movie. The joker has to be one of the ugliest character in a movie. But, when one sees the joker, one is attracted to the character because the character is different. The joker is ugly making it a convention breaker and something which people get attracted to.

      Lets imagine if one would make a collection of ugly comments and beautiful comments from facebook or twitter or any other site. I am almost 100% sure that everyone would rather read the ugly comments than the beautiful comments. There are several reasons why this is true. First of all, one can give their own opinion about the ugly comments and usually a person has a totally different opinion about what the comment is talking about. In the other hand, it is not as easy to disagree with a beautiful comment because they do not lead to a place where people can discuss about the comment. Ugly comments do provide this opportunity to discuss. Usually, collections of ugliness are more interesting and are convention breakers.

      • Shaswat Jhunjhunwala

        I completely agree with both of you Ramon and Luke and would like to talk about ugliness as a convention breaker. We talked about the counter promise of ugliness and I feel that it is true that ugliness is all what beauty is not. There is a very fine line between the two. Humans are attracted towards ugliness or that is what I feel. One of the strongest characters in movies have been villains which symbolize ugliness. Whether it is Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, Javier Barden in the Skyfall, Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects. They are characters which leave a profound impact but they are ugly and yet their performances are admired the most by one and all.

        Also to respond to Ramon’s thought about people preferring to read the ugly comments on Facebook, I would like to add a few more reasons and elaborate on what he is saying. Ugly comments are convention breakers and no one in this world likes conventions. Everyone wants to break the shackles and do something which challenges conventions, traditions. Also, it is just more fun to see the ugly and mocking comments which attack some user. Everyone somehow becomes sadistic on Facebook or Twitter, they use it to release some tension and seeing these mocking (ugly) comments they feel they are better. On a more tangential note people who have gone against conventions and traditions are the ones who have become successful and left a mark which only shows how great ugliness as a convention breaker is. Isn’t it true that ugliness is greater than beauty?

        • I also agree with Luke, Ramon, and Shaswat on this opinion. And the first thing that came to my mind when reading their comments was the activity we did in class–where professor Hoffmann had drew a line on the board and told to class to go write their favorite tv show, song, band, etc on the line where the student thought it would fall in between beautiful and ugliness. While my class (section P4) was pretty much evenly distributed, she had mentioned how her previous class’s interest were more on the ugly side. That’s when I started to think that is the world really attracted to ugliness more than beauty. And why is that? Beauty is ment to be talked about and liked. Not ugliness around the world. But after thinking more about this, I started realizing that people are more attracted to ugliness than beauty.

          The best examples I can think of include antagonists in movies or novels, ugly tv shows, and mainly the social media. I think Facebook or twitter are the best examples of everyday lives. Facebook allows people to like, read, and comment on whatever they like. Whether it may be puns, pictures, statues, or comments on something else, Facebook users are more likely to be attracted towards ugly than beauty. For example a dispute between/ amongst people. People are more like to remember that than something nice and peaceful from Facebook. Twitter allows anyone to post their opinion and it lets everyone see it with hashtags, and most of the times, people’s opinions are not always the sweetest or the nicest things. I never actually understood how we the people found ugliness more attractive than beauty, but this is a great topic to go more in depth and understand why we are more attractive to ugly than beauty, when beauty’s purpose is to be attractive.

  4. When i was reading this essay, at the part of ” I think things get more complicated when what is collected is not a stream of fake quotations from a real celebrity, but a stream of real statements from the general public.”, i cannot agree more about that. If just read from the sentence, the first part of it means that “the fake” quotation from a real celebrity” is not complicated at all. A celebrity is just like an individual, not matter how famous he or she is, his or her power is limited, and what he or she support can only be one direction. For example, president Obama can be a celebrity, and what he quote on the debate with Romney must be in the same direction with democratic party, in order to get the support from democratic citizens.

    However, if you get the ideas from the general public, the ideas from them will be in the mess. Somebody will be supporting democratic party and somebody will be supporting republican party. Other people might support neither of them, because they find that both the two parties are not the perfect one that they want. It is really like when a teacher post a question to the class, and all students in the class, without knowing the correct answer, all start to answer the question. The class then will be in a mess, ans the teacher has to ask all the students to be quiet, and then allow only one student to answer the question. This student’s answer will be clear, not complicated, although it might not be correct.

  5. The article mentioned Tumblr several times, and that is one thing I can definitely relate to. Tumblr is one massive collection of random things! They are somewhat organized with the idea of #hashtags, but many peoples Tumblr accounts are composed of pictures and quotes that have absolutely no relation to one another. My Tumblr account is exactly that. When I post or repost stuff on Tumblr, I don’t think about it that much. It’s more of a “Oh I like this, so I’m going to repost it,” kinda of situation. The thing is, many of the pictures I do find on Tumblr can be disturbing, or ugly as some might call it. I can’t tell you how many pictures I’ve seen talking about suicide or cutting or other terrible and harmful topics (http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mdtgxph2Km1qilnweo1_500.jpg). But there is something beautiful to be found in pictures such a those, well maybe not directly in the picture. I have noticed that when people talk about harming themselves on Tumblr, strangers seem to care (http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mdth30Wtzz1rdqzyno1_500.jpg) . Not all of them of course, that would just be absurd. I cant tell you how many pictures I’ve also seen of suicide hotlines or quotes talking about how life is worth it, and not to harm yourself. I find a lot of beauty in the ugliness that Tumblr has to offer. It’s something I never really thought of until now.

    The Internet is the home of many ridiculously stupid things. I often question why someone would waste their time saying the things they say or doing the annoying things they do. But in this tangled web of chaos, there is something beautiful to be found when on the Internet. The massive amount of information that is available today is unlike anything anyone could have ever imagined fifty years ago. After sorting through all of the ugliness, it is evident that such power and information that is available can be a beautiful thing if used properly. It’s hard to imagine where this world is headed, especially with the growing amount of ugliness around us, but I think beauty will always exist, even if it’s hard to find sometimes.

  6. While reading this article my mind kept wandering to the magical world of Pinterest, and after reading Aileen’s comment, I’m glad that I am not the only one addicted to Pinterest! Much like Aileen, I consider myself to be a “professional pinner”. I don’t think I can beat her title of The Queen, but I can hold my own. Just recently I started pinning a lot (it may or may not have to do with the fact that some of my classes aren’t exactly what you would call interesting). People have started to joking with me about how they can tell who I am as a person by the things I pin. I have two collections on Pinterest that I am fairly proud of. One collection would be my Avett Brothers board of pins, and another would be my humor board.

    People see my Avett Brothers board and automatically know that I am kind of obsessed with this band; however, most people don’t even have to follow me on Pinterest to know about my obsession. For those who do follow me though, I would be willing to bet they are beginning to get slightly annoyed by my “Avett pinning sessions”. I have created a nice collection of pictures, quotes, and videos featuring The Avett Brothers on Pinterest. I also have a collection of things that make me laugh, in which Ryan Goslings’s “Hey Girl” is included. My humor collection consists of memes, movie and TV show quotes, as well as just some funny pictures. These two collections to a great job of portraying who I am as a person.

    Collections, such as the ones on a person’s Pinterest, can really show who a person is. In my case, my collections show my obsessions and my sense of humor. Looking deeply into any collection can reveal a lot of information about a person. That fact leads me to believe that a lot of collections are started so that one can express oneself or one’s opinions in an open and honest way.

  7. Susan Steffenhagen

    I agree with the fact that the majority of people are not these hideous monsters, for multiple reasons. Firstly, how many of us have a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, or all of the above (or their equivalent)? It is safe to say that most of us probably do. Every time we update a status, “like” something, “repin” something, or follow a celebrity, we are sharing some aspect of our life — our personality. Most of the time, our repins on Pinterest are probably delicious Oreo Cake Balls we want to make or an adorable sweater dress we can’t live without. When we update our Facebook status, we might be happy Georgia Tech just won a football game or sharing our joy that we get to go home for Thanksgiving. All of these are very harmless; and this is what the majority of Internet-users do.

    There is that small percentage which posts seemingly monstrous comments. While I am not condoning this, I would just like to point out one fact. How many of us have a friend (perhaps it is even ourselves) that can make a joke which takes things too far? Often times, however, they do this in person, face-to-face. Because we know our friend, and because we see their facial expression and hear the tone of their voice, we know that while they made a comment which appears malicious, it was unintentional. Rather, it was a poorly chosen joke. When this comment is found on a computer screen, however, we do not know the person or personality behind the post. Moreover, we cannot hear their voice or see their face. We are judging merely on words, which we rarely do in reality. Therefore, while people do need to be careful about what the post, perhaps we are a little too quick to jump to conclusions.

  8. Ugliness. Repetition. These two things make for a college student’s nightmare. I have spent too many hours that should be used to practice math equations or learn new vocabulary for my Spanish class online looking at hundreds of seemingly pointless tumblr pages, Twitter feeds, Facebook profiles, and AutoCorrectFails. I have a Facebook status that I posted from the library that reads, “When you get to the 47th page of a gif tumblr and decide you should probably study for your test tomorrow…” Although that status got 65 likes (*bows graciously*), I am ashamed of myself for killing brain cells looking at Honey Boo Boo shake her stomach over and over and repeatedly watching the Jersey Shore moment where Snooki gets punched in the face by a drunk man. Why do I look at this stuff? It is hilarious, yes. But why does our society find joy in such ugly things? What happened to simple TV shows that showed a happy family whose biggest problem in an episode was running out of potatoes for the potato salad?
    I know that, in ten years, when Alanna (Honey Boo Boo’s real name) sees her innocent, six year old self being horrendously mocked online, she will be embarrassed and confused as to why people can be so mean. The same thing happened with Jessy Slaughter. When she found out people didn’t like her, she went crazy. But luckily, I can partially justify our ugly tendencies by relating them back to repetition. We can’t look at Honey Boo Boo for one second and judge her whole life, family, and personality. No. We judge her based off of the many instances on her television show when she has repeatedly been made to look like a complete fool. We don’t look at one Twitter post that degrades someone’s looks or intelligence and call it “funny.” It’s not. However, when it is posted along with hundreds or thousands of others of the same theme, it becomes clever and witty. The collection of thoughts, GIFs, and tumblrs, justifies what we do with ugliness because it turns it into lessons. Our eyes are opened to the ignorance, simplicity, or lack of awareness of some people. As this article points out, Hunger Games Tweets demonstrates ugly racism. People that look at the site are not necessarily racist, but it gives them an outlet to see the ignorance of those who post on it and maybe even teaches them a lesson on equality and decency. When put together, not only do they cause failed tests and essays for students, ugliness and collection demonstrate what is wrong with the world.

  9. Ugliness. Repetition. These two things make for a college student’s nightmare. I have spent too many hours that should be used to practice math equations or learn new vocabulary for my Spanish class online looking at hundreds of seemingly pointless tumblr pages, Twitter feeds, Facebook profiles, and AutoCorrectFails. I have a Facebook status that I posted from the library that reads, “When you get to the 47th page of a gif tumblr and decide you should probably study for your test tomorrow…” Although that status got 65 likes (*bows graciously*), I am ashamed of myself for killing brain cells looking at Honey Boo Boo shake her stomach over and over and repeatedly watching the Jersey Shore moment where Snooki gets punched in the face by a drunk man. Why do I look at this stuff? It is hilarious, yes. But why does our society find joy in such ugly things? What happened to simple TV shows that showed a happy family whose biggest problem in an episode was running out of potatoes for the potato salad?

    I know that, in ten years, when Alanna (Honey Boo Boo’s real name) sees her innocent, six year old self being horrendously mocked online, she will be embarrassed and confused as to why people can be so mean. The same thing happened with Jessy Slaughter. When she found out people didn’t like her, she went crazy. But luckily, I can partially justify our ugly tendencies by relating them back to repetition. We can’t look at Honey Boo Boo for one second and judge her whole life, family, and personality. No. We judge her based off of the many instances on her television show when she has repeatedly been made to look like a complete fool. We don’t look at one Twitter post that degrades someone’s looks or intelligence and call it “funny.” It’s not. However, when it is posted along with hundreds or thousands of others of the same theme, it becomes clever and witty. The collection of thoughts, GIFs, and tumblrs, justifies what we do with ugliness because it turns it into lessons. Our eyes are opened to the ignorance, simplicity, or lack of awareness of some people. As this article points out, Hunger Games Tweets demonstrates ugly racism. People that look at the site are not necessarily racist, but it gives them an outlet to see the ignorance of those who post on it and maybe even teaches them a lesson on equality and decency. When put together, not only do they cause failed tests and essays for students, ugliness and collection demonstrate what is wrong with the world.

  10. Actually before I read this article I just opened an account of the new my space. It has so much fun that I just cannot quit using it even when I am now writing the post.
    It is totally different from other social networks which are based on either sharing or contacting. It is much more like a private space for you to not only get the information you want and express the true feelings about everything, but also can share your feeling s with someone who share the same interests and opinions . The article begins with the questions “you might wonder, for instance, why FRG needs to be a book at all? Can FRG the Book possibly foster the same degree of feminist-grad-student-solidarity through a static, print publication that it fosters in a continually evolving micro-blog? Can it possibly preserve the easy dispensability of its timely snark?” It can probably become a hot issue if one big shot put the questions on his facebook and many of his fans click the “like” icon. That’s where the popularity comes from. Then you will find the stuff is on the list of most popular items or see what other people are doing now. Maybe you will at last to fulfill your curiosity click the icon and get to know everything about the pop star, not the stuff itself.
    It happens to me in a strange way since I am a big fan of Ryan Gosling, but it does not mean I support him to do anything like an Archaeologist. Everyone has his own position and there’s no need and no reason for us to switch the position. The social network like the micro-blog or facebook let us become someone we actually cannot master. For example, when we post a picture, we just become the photographers ourselves, though it is indeed you just use your digital camera to portrait a scene.
    That stuff just overstates people’s capability and makes them feel like supermen or superwomen who can deal with anything with the aid of Internet. It always goes with celebrity effect. By no means should that stuff continue. That’s why I choose the new my space.

  11. My experience agrees that humans in general do indeed have a strange attraction to the collection and display of ugliness. Not just for the collector’s own satisfaction, but also for the amusement of others. This is made clear through another topic of ugliness that we’ve discussed in detail: 4chan and Anonymous. In addition to the general atmosphere of porn, derogatory humor, porn, irrelevant discussions, and porn, the denizens of the site post regular threads dedicated to things we would consider “ugly.” They post extremely hardcore pornography and images of horribly mutilated bodies that would churn the stomachs of anyone not accustomed to Anonymous’ recreational activities. There’s also a thread series called “you rage, you lose,” where people post pictures in attempts to make other posters angry at a certain group or humanity in general… generally of the kind discussed in this article. Facebook posts, tweets, screencaps of past posts on 4chan itself, usually expressing an opinion or feeding a stereotype that the general community finds to be exceedingly stupid (often hyper-religious or on the extreme left or right of the political spectrum) to the point of inducing an angry response. Yet, despite these threads’ purpose, they are incredibly popular, lending credibility to the idea that stupidity and deformity, while “ugly,” carry a strange attraction for people.

    Perhaps a more relatable example for those unfamiliar with 4chan culture is reality TV. I’m sure my family is not the only one that gets enjoyment from watching bad reality TV. The appeal of reality TV used to be that it showed average people in not-so-average situations, such as competing for money on game shows, or attempting physical and intellectual challenges that test their limits and sometimes intellectually stimulate the audience. Now, however, reality TV is more focused on the “ugliness” of individuals or groups living (or competing) in conditions that emphasize stupidity, disability, or any other “ugly” aspect of human life. Yet, like 4chan’s rage threads, they are immensely popular, and strangely entertaining. My family, for example, watched a show called “America’s Most Smartest Model,” about a group of models (who are stereotypically considered to be dumb) competing in challenges that simultaneously tested their modeling and intellectual abilities. (It only ran for one season, but it was hilarious, and it’s on Hulu; I highly recommend it.) It was entertaining how well it fed the stereotype of the dumb model… perhaps that’s part of the appeal of such exhibits of collections of ugliness: “Wow, that person is so stupid/ugly/unfortunate, I’m glad I’m not them!” Humans have an instinctive need to feel better about themselves, and seeing others so blatantly exhibiting embarrassing traits helps a lot of people feel less like they have that trait, especially when it’s emphasized and exaggerated. Perhaps ugliness in that sense isn’t about the “exhibits” being ugly by themselves so much as being relatively ugly in comparison to the observer, thus satisfying the observer’s desire to have a better self-image and see themselves as more beautiful in some way.

  12. Humans are drawn to the unknown and, in this case especially, the odd. In times gone by we had cabinets of oddities and traveling side shows that displayed their wonders. We were drawn to them because they were different and also because they made us feel the same.

    It’s the same argument that most people make about balance. If there is no light, how can there be dark? What is hard without soft? We require extremes at both ends in order to construct a spectrum through which we can pinpoint a position for ourselves. Seeing these oddities, both online and off, reassured us that we were still somewhere in the middle, safe amongst the masses who were clustered around the average way of life.

    These oddities appeal to our self confidence. We seek out these ugly comments and then spread them to our friends. It’s a way of saying “I’m not that guy.” But it’s also a way to reinforce our current spectrum. A way to dabble in the extremes that still allows us to safely stay somewhere in the middle. It is our way of showing, as a race and often unconsciously, that that could have been me.

  13. People are always interested in that outside the mainstream. That which goes against that what is widely accepted. The “ugly” draws attention and gives the thing a sense of uniqueness. Uniqueness is what is sought out by people. No one wants to be a cookie-cutter copy of others. Everyone wishes to stand out on their own, some more than others.
    The drive to collect the unique and different has spawned many sites whose sole purpose is to share just that. To show people the strange anomaly you have found through your travels of the world or the dark corners of the internet. As others have mentioned, reddit, 4chan and tumblur are pools overflowing of that which is considered out of the mainstream. These sites themselves are considered by some to be out of the main stream with some going as far as to keep people off the sites so they won’t become popular like Facebook. They wish for the sites to maintain their “ugliness” and remain “ugly” to the common eye.

  14. From a more general point of view, our attraction to ugliness naturally stems from the desire to be successful in this very materialistic and wealth-driven society. In such a society, everyone desires to have a sense of self-worth and importance; everyone wants to seem successful. Many times in our day, we might not be feeling very successful and/or bored, and we might naturally, and even subconsciously, turn to something “ugly” to raise our spirits. By doing such an act, we look upon the ugliness as a morale-booster. We think to ourselves: “man, I’m really glad that that didn’t happen to me” or “I’m happy because I know that will never happen to me.” These are just two of the possible thoughts people have to boost their self-esteem. In application and analysis of real-life ugliness only confirms this.

    Reddit, a user-based submission website, attracts many of its viewers because of it’s “ugly” content. On Reddit, anyone can post anything. However, it is up to the viewers to judge what is posted by either “upvoting,” which just means give it a thumbs up if it is a worthwhile post, or a “downvote” to indicate a bad submission. This way, users can see which posts are interesting and/or worthwhile. In getting an example of “ugliness” to support my point, I had to look no further than the first link on the front page of Reddit (http://gifs.gifbin.com/1236337872_fat_guy_shooting_his_gun.gif). In this very simple GIF entitled: “Apparently America viewed by Europeans,” an onlooker records a a very, very fat man shooting a gun. This post, furthermore, has over 2,000 upvotes, something my fellow “Redditors” can attest that it is a major feat. So why is this post so popular? Again, for the same reasons all humans live their lives: for a sense of self-pride and worth. When we first look at this video, we laugh because the main focus is a very fat man. He indeed looks very funny because he is shooting a gun and his arms look tiny in comparison to his huge body. But on a deeper level, we think to ourselves, “man i’m sure glad i’m not that fat,” “good thing my exercise and diet are paying off so I don’t have to look like that,” and “Europeans are stupid because I’m an exception to that: i’m special!” We find comfort in ugliness because it reinforces our goal of not being ugly.

    Although ugliness may be externally unattractive, it definitely attracts us on a sub-consciously and naturally.

  15. Humans, I believe, are attracted to beauty because they are inspired by it, and aspire to be it. Reality, however, is not so beautiful. So why are we attracted to it? One answer could potentially lie in “collections.” Reality , I believe, is a macrocosm of unique microcosms, unique in both beautiful and ugly ways. Why we are allured to ugliness is based on the fact that we enjoy pieces, or collections of reality to remind us of the beauty in ugliness , like the beauty of the ugliness in media, because, let’s face it – whatever media we enjoy generally falls on the uglier side of the beauty-ugly spectrum.

    This siding towards the uglier side of media suggests two things – one, that we are more interested in real, meaningful media than “happily ever after” media and two, that, like Luke mentioned earlier, there exists an interest to “escape from mainstream information” – reflecting our views in society today – convention breaking. This convention breaking itself might be considered ugly to others, but in a sense redeeming and fulfilling to the convention breaker. This is another reason why we are allured to ugliness, existing both in a different and same spectrum from beauty.

  16. As I read this article there were a couple of lines that stuck out to me. One such as: “racist Hunger Games tweets or 100 Real Tweets from Homophobes Who Would Murder Their Gay Child.” Its lines like these that make me wonder what type of person that would do that. And it made me think back to the summer. I had read comments to political news reports, to keep up with the election, and I was constantly shocked at how many people would post blatant, critical, and extremist comments on something they don’t agree with. They would basically go along the line of since you think differently than you are a stupid person and some would even say that you need to go die. But they also used more colorful language than that.
    This is absurd that people would do that on a Fox or CBS news report. But even when they are grouped together and noticed more as was mentioned in the above article, it is still a minority that behaves like this. The majority of people are more open and willing, wether they agree of like it, to let things be as they are. Its the small vocal group that take it upon themselves to say something, while thinking that their statement might actually matter. But why is that? Why is it that when I read an article most of the comments I read are either blasting the article or those who disagree with it? And I think the reason is just the accepted belief. If you don’t like something you are more likely to say something, and if you like it you only say something if you are really passionate about it.
    Because people follow this belief than you will more than likely find negative, ugly comments than not. Although they are ugly comments, they still teach us something. They show insight into society and its acceptance of that which it doesn’t agree. So what does this all mean, I don’t know. There will always be those who disagree with something and willing to share their vastly intellectual point of mind, whether people want them to or not. And so I see no real way out of it except to teach acceptance to the next generation of people and to hope that they do better. This is what all I thought of when reading this article.

  17. Carlos A. Diaz-Ruiz

    I agree; a change in venue of a conversation changes its meaning and or importance. This is true because the context of any conversation is relevant to the conversation itself. It is completely different to say a joke at a party and to say one at a funeral. With the revolutionary impersonal and anonymous environment of the internet people feel like they can say anything. A racist comment they would not say in a person to person conversation, might escape into their tweeter. As a result, the “monster” inside people seems to come out in the internet. As the article mentions, I also think that the ignorant, unconscious remarks of people are ephemeral and short-lived. These remarks in a real conversation might be dismissed but with the recollection power of the internet, they are put together into collages. The recollection of absurd comments intensifies the importance of the ignorance as shown by the statement: “Lone statements of vulgarity or absurdity or eccentricity we might ignore or dismiss take on larger importance when (re)placed in the company of similar statements.” These collections have become popular but why?

    The collectors of the comments turn their attention to the ignorance or “monstrosity” of the writers. They try to mock and highlight the stupidity of people, and in turn people can’t stop reading the collections. They indulge themselves in the ugly. People enjoy reading the ignorant comments, but I find that the superficial interest in the comments is just as ugly. As a result, I’ve come to think that the collections link what people with thoughts and people with people, as the article mentions. And I find that it would be more important to stop giving so much attention to the unaware comments in the collections and turn our attention to what the collection might tell us about or communities and ideas.

  18. I think what these collections of ugliness do is remarkable. they put all the ugly in one place that we might laugh at it and shake our collective heads at the stupidity, and ignorance of these “ugly” posts. “the interwebs is a wonderful magical place filled with ugly”…doesn’t sound like a very good opening to a fairytale does it? why do we not like hearing about all the ugly, and yet love these collections of ugliness? frankly I was hoping you could tell me, so that question is not rhetorical. are these collections even ugly? if so, why are we drawn to – and able to find humor in – these ugly collections?

    the human mind is fundamentally ugly. I understand there are those who would disagree with me, but for now I will simply ignore you because it’s the internet and I can do that! assuming that we are all fundamentally ugly in mind, spirit, and body, then I think one of the main objectives of human life is to shed the ugly and become beautiful. sadly, no one has ever achieved this. if you think you have, well I’m sorry to deflate your sails, but you’re dead wrong. I think because no human has ever achieved the total shedding of ugliness, we like to point at those who are doing more poorly than ourselves in one area of ugliness and laugh…all the while we hide our worst ugliness and hope that no one ever sees it because it might be humorous to them, or even despicable. so then, my rambling concludes to this: we are all ugly, and we are only allured by ugliness that is uglier than we are. otherwise we are repulsed by ugliness in ourselves.

  19. At first glance, I agree that it may seem irrational to want a physical copy of something that you can get online for free. Clearly, as sales of printed magazines and newspapers plummet, there are many others who agree with me on this point. However, from personal experience I can say that this is not as irrational as it may seem. I have a high school friend called JJ who took it upon herself to purchase a printed copy of the free web comic “Cyanide and Happiness”. When she brought it to school, you would find people who had already read every one of the comics online sitting down and reading though them again, surrounded by others whom had also seen the comics previously.
    It seems clear that this alternate form of media allowed the same content to be experienced again in an entirely new way. Although the comics themselves were exactly the same, the printed version allowed a group of people to gather around and share the pleasure. For some reason, there is a willingness of individuals to congregate around a book that does not exist when the same content is displayed on a website. Whatever the reason for this is, as someone who has experienced both first hand, I can say without a doubt that there is something to be said for a physical copy of something over a digital one.

  20. While reading this article I couldn’t help but to think about two of this decade’s most popular and widely used websites: Youtube and Reddit. Sure, on the surface we all know why these are so popular. After a long day of work or school we can go online and watch people doing absolutely ridiculous and completely unreliable things. And I believe that we will continue to find an insatiable hunger for the weird things that people post online, whether it be anything from Philosoraptor to Condescending Wonka. But why do we collect videos and images of often ludicrous things and use them so frequently in pop culture?

    Their purpose parallels with the same desires that began during the Renaissance, and theoretically even way before that, of man to collect artifacts from around the world in order to elevate his position in society and expand his knowledge of the world. When we go online and see a video of Ryan Higa doing something that is absolutely senseless and yet entertaining or see a meme of the President making a crude joke, we expand what we know about what’s happening around us and this allows us to make connections with other humans. Once we make those bonds with the people around us we feel like we are a more important, vital part of society. In the end allows the normal person to feel like they aren’t so small in this vast universe.

  21. Because the text mentions “tumblr” a lot, the text reminds me of what happened last week; I was videochatting my friend and she started sending me her collections of memes from tumblr and whatever source. Although they were fun to read, I would never say that those memes are beautiful. Most of the memes were about mocking school and teachers, which somewhat left me an impression of “ugliness.” However, obviously she thought those memes were “beautiful” since she could agree with the memes and by reading them, she can relieve stress. Like this, standard of “Beauty” is different from people and different from ages. In old China, a fat girl with small feet was considered beautiful. However, now Chinese people prefer a thin girls like Americans do.

    I do think a collection of stuffs can show what kind of person I am, as the text talks about it. No matter how others think about my collections, they are precious to me and must be beautiful since I like them and they have special meanings to me. In a Korean drama, a girl was collecting withered flower petals of may lily. Her friend asked her why, and she answered, “The flower language of this flower is: You will be surely happy.” She’s had a terrible life in pain, fighting a disease and not going to school. She spent most of her life at hospital and she was about to make an extreme decision: suicide. Right then, a guy came to her and gave her a flower and asked, “Do you know the flower language of this flower? You will be surely happy.” After that, she keeps on collecting petals and they wither at last, but she can’t throw them away since those are what saved her from killing herself.

  22. I’m afraid I have little to no experience with what you call “digital collections,” so I must apologize in advance if this post is a bit off-topic.
    I may not have much experience with collections of the digital kind, but, having several rather large collections of physical objects, I think I can say that I have a decent amount of experience with collections in general. I think one of the biggest reasons people create large collections of unusual things is that those things, however useless (my massive collection of Red Rose Tea figurines has no purpose beyond taking space and gathering dust in my closet), have a value to the collector as “their own.” I think we feel a certain satisfaction with knowing that we are one of the few people who own some rare object. I think the “higher social credentials” are quite important in this regard (even if those “credentials” are only perceived by the collector). The reason we value “collectors’ items” is that they are rare, not that they have any usefulness or intrinsic value (you could make a case for the instrinsic value of visual art forms, such as paintings, but I think the massive propagation of these by new media has all but eliminated their usefulness). You could, perhaps, say (as I desperately try to make this post more on the topic of the essay) that these objects are “ugly” in their very uselessness.
    I think another reason we value apparently useless things is that they have a use (real or imagined) to us. Probably the most common use is to remind us of the past. Another poster on this board gave an excellent example of this: “The things I found might have been completely random [i.e. useless] in others[sic] minds, but in my mind each photo had a background to it of why I liked it.” We value these things because they represent a part of our past that we don’t want to throw away.

  23. Alexander Rodriguez

    The beauty of ugliness (indeed, it exists), comes from both the unexpectedness and shock factor derived from the content. Many of the websites mentioned in this blog post, such as “100 Real Tweets from Homophobes Who Would Murder Their Gay Child” or “dumbastweets.com,” are prime examples. Many people find sincere attraction in websites that not only share written ugliness, but also visual ugliness. Because of the nature of such content, I will refrain from pointing out examples. Additionally, the unexpectedness factor of ugly content makes it so appealing. When the masses rise each morning only to be greeted with the same, dull day ahead (see the movie, Office Space!), it should come as no surprise that some shocking news or internet content would bring a smile to their day, regardless of how “ugly” the content truly is.

    Another interesting point brought up in this blog concerns anonymity and the internet. While it is certainly arguable that people who share their radical thoughts on Twitter and other social networking sites genuinely believe what they preach, I would say that the majority of internet users feel consoled by the warm safety blanket known as anonymity that the internet offers. I too, am guilty of experiencing this moral hazard. Countless times I’ve posted things that are either a) blatantly false or ignorant, or b) extreme over-dramatizations of certain events. The beauty in this said “safety blanket” is the hilarious content that would have otherwise ceased to exist. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve “loled” (which is really just chuckling or grinning in real life) to such ignorance on sites like reddit, landoverbaptist.net, or twitter. What’s even greater to me is a point mentioned in the blog: the fact that these people, once they put their computer to sleep, will (most likely) resume their lives as normal citizens, keeping their “true?” feelings to themselves.

  24. Why is ugliness alluring to people? Well, as this article suggests the ugly can be presented as entertainment, a way that people can read and laugh at the ignorance of other people and then just go back to their daily lives in a society that doesn’t dish ugly outright. Throughout a day in their lives, people have interactions with other people, which mainly consist of everyone abiding by the “beautiful” norms of society. However, if one encounters something that challenges or defies those norms, such as Anonymous or racist comments on the internet, then these things are labeled ugly, immoral, unjust, or cynical.
    The cynicism is what attracts people to the ugly. Cynicism and a bias that is embedded in human nature, might not be revealed so easily to others in society, but if one thinks of how many times they are frustrated at some things people do, say, or comment on Facebook then the cynicism in oneself is evident. Everyone has a piece of “ugly” in them but because it is not favorable in the society that we live in, then it is best kept to oneself. The reason that the “collections” of ugly is so appealing to the average person is because it is a way for them to perceive that ugliness within themselves as something more acceptable by society.

  25. I’d have to agree with the idea that many of us aren’t monsters with mean or harsh intentions, mainly because we all share the characteristics of this so-called human “monster.” With the evolution of technology in the 21st century, virtually everyone has access to the Internet. Additionally, a majority of the population engages in some form of communication on a social media site, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.

    Whether or not we can be referred to as “monsters” varies on the way in which we take advantage of technology. Most of the time, we simply post updates, tweets, pins or like items for self pleasure and other extraneous personal reasons. There is usually no violent or detrimental intention or effects. Though our post/updates may influence our surrounding in positive and/or negative directions, we are clearly not monsters considering that the origin of our posts, tweets, etc. was harmless!

    However, there is always going to be a small percentage of individuals who’s post will increasingly harmful and detrimental. It’s important to note that many of these individuals may not have as harsh of a intention. It may be that they posted something that seemed plausible, but could be indirectly taken out of proportion when viewed by another group or individual. This issue is NOT to be blamed on technology/social media “monsters,” but rather on an individual’s incapability to use proper diction. It’s critical to remember the importance of every word placed on the Internet, as there is no vocal or facial expressions or characteristics that can be visualized or heard from the original writer.

  26. Jared Kleinwaechter

    As we have entered into a modern age of technology and instant gratification, I believe that this habit of forming collections has greatly expanded. It is much easier now to group things together from a bunch of different places than it was before. With the interconnectedness that comes with the Internet, people then want to share these collections and put them on display for everyone else to see, whether they are ugly or not. These ugly collections that we are talking about reveal a little bit about both those who create the individual pieces of the collection and the collectors. The creators of the individual pieces can become victims of mockery and scorn. The collectors themselves put the ugliness on display in hopes that others can open it down the middle.

    These Internet collections point to the idea that everything really is connected. They show that ugliness is more prevalent than the majority of people would like to think. The majority of people would cringe away in disgust at ugliness, including some of the internet collections, but they are nothing to be ignored because ugliness is all around. It doesn’t necessarily need to be embraced, just recognized. We need to acknowledge is presence because it does serve as a counter promise to beauty by showing that it is not all that it’s made out to be. Ugliness has its place in society as well, serving as a balancing force to the common thought that everything needs to be “beautiful”, even though it is perfectly acceptable to be “ugly.”

  27. Collecting, in this digital age, is easier than ever. We can store days of high definition video, weeks worth of music, and countless images all on a device that can comfortably rest on your hand. From these collections, you can tell so much about a person. Even the size of such collections could offer a window into someone’s life. The way they sort the collection can show skills applicable to the physical world. The items in the collection are not the only thing you can look at to judge a person. The contents of that collection are only part of the whole; you miss out if that is all you see.

    When we take a step back, all that social media is, especially the likes of Reddit or Tumblr, is a giant, crowd-sourced collection. What people add to these collections under the guise of a screen name (and sometimes not even that- plenty of people use their real name when making their screen name or just flat out have their real name associated with that screen name) shows the world who they are. This post focused on the ugly, but there is still plenty of good, like the board /r/assistance on Reddit, where people ask for help and often recieve it.

  28. “That’s a partial answer to my original inquiry about what happens when communications experience a change of venue.”

    I would propose that instead of answering “what happens when communications experience a change of venue”, you actually answer “what is the intention of changing venue of communications”. You “completely” answer the latter question, rather than “partially” answer the original question.

    Change of venue never happens spontaneously. It always involves the effort of specific people, with specific purpose. It’s easier and more reasonable to look for the active intention of certain people, rather than the “passive” change of the material. It’s the collector that makes the change. In most cases, the original material (in the old-fashioned collection) or information (in the current collection) is by themselves neutral or multi-dimensional. Only after the action of collection, their “underlying patterns”, in your words, becomes significant.

    Throughout the essay, you are talking about intention. “Of course, I don’t begrudge anyone the chance to turn their cleverness into cash.” That’s your first guess of intention. “Humanists of the 16th and 17th centuries encouraged collection—of both texts and objects—as a way to exhibit one’s learning and social position.” A real-world intention. “It does seem like we have an interest in gathering up a lot of ugliness and putting it on display.” Your guess of people’s real intention of collecting.

    In all, this essay is actually examining the purpose of collecting—the purpose of the people making that artifact. That’s your real inquiry.

    Yijie “Jimmy” Wang

  29. I find the philosophies behind collection extremely intriguing. When I was younger, I used to love collecting, but as I have grown up, I find that I am doing less and less of it. This tendency is kind of ironic as collecting is becoming easier and easier to do with the evolution of technology. On the other hand though, I enjoy looking at other people’s collections and analyzing them. I agree that collecting can bring about a sense of unity, but at the same time I think it can create chaos and disorder. This belief somewhat goes along with the saying that the glass can be half full or half empty.

    I feel that collections can be ugly or beautiful. I find it distasteful though when individuals utilize or manipulate their collections in order to portray something in the wrong light. In collecting, lies danger and evil, but goodness can come out of it as well. People have the right to be skeptical about collections. If one does not possess any skepticism, he or she is vulnerable to the will of others. It is important to have the right balance of skepticism to collections, not too much, but not too little.

  30. The first thing that came to my mind when I read about how Feminist Ryan Gosling memes were made into a book was the collection of “Thank You Notes” that were put together to create Jimmy Fallon’s first book that my brother was wasteful enough to buy. Jimmy Fallon is the host of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and to open up some of his shows, he begins with a skit called “Thank You Notes.” He goes off pretending to write these notes, with some serious and deep music playing in the background, sarcastically about some current news events and sincerely about random things like his mommy. He wrote new ones and put them into this “book” that totals probably 100 words yet cost roughly $10. This seemed like a waste to me, but it obviously didn’t to a lot of the world because it sold enough copies for him to write a second one. I think this and other collections like the FRG book are popular because they use celebrities or other famous names/faces that attract the general public. I can’t go as far to say that these books are “ugly” because they are used to entertain. However, the intent behind the creation of the book is simply to make more money which I do find evil.

    These “Thank You Notes” also are updated on a Tumblr page, which again is just entertaining and funny, but this time the Tumblr page makes a difference. I think that Tumblr pages can become evil in the lives of people, especially teenagers. A majority of my friends have one and the way that they talk about them makes me scared to get one myself so I am free of it for now. But for my friends, it seems to consume their lives and make them ignore and miss important things like maybe doing homework or studying for a test. So overall, I think a lot of things on the internet are made with the “beautiful” purpose of entertainment and making people laugh, but they end up having an “ugly” effect on the people that look at them and follow them.

  31. While reading this article, I began to think of Facebook and the type of posts and statuses I see on Facebook. I have had a Facebook for three of four years now but have never got to the point that I posted on it on a regular basis like many people do. Instead I tend to log on to Facebook every once in a while just to see what everyone has been up to. However, while I on Facebook, I tend to get lost in the news feed and begin reading every one’s statuses because they just seem to get dumber and dumber. Some people post about relationship problems on a daily basis (no wonder you’re having problems), and others complain about certain situations they are in that they themselves created. It just amazes and humors me the number of “whiners” and “lazy” people in the world today. This is no doubt considered “ugly,” however I keep coming back to read about the next complaint or rant someone has. However, technology also as given us the ability to create beauty out of ugly.

    Society, especially internet society (such as Reddit) as taken to enjoying the ugly (specifically situations that can considered because they are awkward or uncomfortable.) My personal favorite are the socially awkward penguin memes. These “ugly” situations when viewed by many are found as humorous because many people feel the same in these situations. These revealing of “ugliness” enables others to feel better knowing that they are not the only ones who experiences these inconvenient circumstances. This transformation enables the “ugly” to create “beauty” in a sense that we can all relate to one another in the silly things we do or feel at times.

  32. After reading this article, I began to ask myself a question from this article: “If collection is, after all, a social act, capable of fusing together people with people with things, then we can certainly ask what are being fused together through sites that re-collect and re-place random online chatter?” The first component of my answer is related to individual act of collection. The second component is related to the fusion of those individual collections. This way to look into this question in another way answers this question: the individual collections are affecting the social trend of collections; in return, the social trend will lead the direction of individual collection. In other words, what individuals are collected reflects what the society interests.

    Personally, as a young adult who is still in university and feeling less stressed than elder adults who are working now, I spent lots of time pictures with funny quotes, which are popular on facebook. The reason why I began to do so, was because my all my friends from my high school had more or less this habit as well. When more and more individuals like us do so and begin to donate their collections online and the re-collections will cause more and more attentions. However, if we look back to the reason why individual like me start the collection, you will find out it is pushed by the social trend. Indeed, the collection of materials from general public and the individual collections are giving each other feedbacks constantly as a cycle.

  33. I feel like I have been behind in the technology scoop after reading this post. I have read the Feminist Ryan Gosling and the Sh*t My Dad Says books before, but I had no idea that they originally started as blogs, let alone collections from random people. After this enlightening moment though, I can only think about one website that started posting web comics and eventually started making books that were these web comics collected together in print form. This is Cyanide and Happiness. Basically, these four guys make crude/hilarious comics and share them on the internet. They are often offensive (they have a special week devoted to making horribly depressing comics just for laughs from sick people like myself), but at the same time they can be mild and clean in the humor. I believe that Cyanide and Happiness would fit in well when talking about ugliness and its appeal to humans because their comics are often nothing short of ugly, but I keep going back for more.

    Having collections of things that focus on the ugly or offensive is something that I agree with. I agree with this because humans are naturally attracted to that which offends or disturbs them (haunted houses, music, movies…etc.) Therefore, by having a collection of something ugly, odd, or offensive, you can a sort of advantage at bringing people together. I myself collect the Cyanide and Happiness books that have came out in the recent years, despite visiting the site daily to never miss a comic. I can remember on at least two occasions where I had four plus people huddled around my books laughing at their most offensive and crude jokes. It brought us together and made me the life of the party. As much as I would have liked to have an ancient oddity/rarity collection like those of the olden days, those days have sadly passed. If you wish to receive the same togetherness and status that the men of those days received because of their collections, you have to appeal to what the people want. And the people want the ugliest, most offensive stuff, most humiliating that others have said or made to satiate their sadistic hunger for the taboo. Eh, maybe that was a little cynical, but to sum things up, to get the attention and togetherness you desire, you have to appeal to what the people want.

  34. ” I think things get more complicated when what is collected is not a stream of fake quotations from a real celebrity, but a stream of real statements from the general public. Online, it is as easy to find random collections of tweets or status updates from strangers as it is to find pictures of Ryan Gosling. But no one is going to make a book out of racist Hunger Games tweets or 100 Real Tweets from Homophobes Who Would Murder Their Gay Child.”That’s the main point of the article.

    Indeed, things get more complicated in that way. However, sometimes “complicated” is not equal to “bad”. If we just listen to one or two person’s opinions, we may not get the real truth. For example, when we are thinking about a issue, such as if homosexual is appropriate, people must have different opinions. Some may think that it’s normal in modern society; some may think that homosexuals are crazy. If we just let one people (celebrity) express his/her opinion, we may not get the different opinions. Differences make the world colorful.

  35. Eddie Arribasplata

    Collections are not solely material objects, they can be found on the internet. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc are all a way in where people can connect with one another. In these various sites people connect with each other through different collections such as photo albums on Facebook or hash tags on twitter or categorized pictures on Instagram. This collection tool has made it easier for people to share ideas like the website Pinterest which almost every girl has been commenting on. It is a great site for girls and even some guys to share with other people their likes and dislikes and personalities.

    In a way social media sites have made the world smaller. They have given people an easy way to connect with their piers through collections which share ideas to other people. Not only do they share ideas but also influence people into thinking differently about things. Because of these collections people are able branch out to other lifestyles and become more intertwined with other societies.

  36. Trying to compare physical cabinets of oddities from the past with virtual cabinets of oddities on the internet today, I am struggling to connect the odd and the ugly. Is the odd necessarily ugly? Is the ugly necessarily odd? I think of other collections (mainly on tumblr) that I am familiar with. I can only think of two off the top of my head (Tumblr’s not really my thing): http://kimjongillookingatthings.tumblr.com/ , http://davidtennantfacialexpressions.tumblr.com/ Both of these collections are exactly what they sound like. The first delivers, as promised, pictures of the late dictator looking at various objects or people. The second consists of screencaps of David Tennant’s absurdly malleable face. The appeal of both of these microblogs, for me, is that they are both incredibly niche. They promise one very specific thing and they deliver. The specific thing they deliver need not be absurd, but they fact that they deliver such a niche product is where the absurdity lies. It is weird, strange, odd, out of the mainstream. But does that make it ugly? Perhaps in the first case of Kim Jong Il, one may argue that he was ugly, both in terms of physical characteristics and in terms of his cruelty as a dictator. One may also argue that David Tennant’s exaggerated faces are ugly in the sense that they are not considered pose-worthy faces. You wouldn’t want to have a model making a silly face on a magazine ad for cosmetics or fashion, would you? So it seems that there is an argument to be made that the odd is ugly. But what about the converse? Is the ugly odd? If we take the odd to mean “outside of the mainstream,” then to answer this question we must consider whether something can be both ugly and mainstream. I immediately think of spray-on tans and enormous sunglasses… but that’s just my opinion. Some people may think that those fashion choices are not ugly. Ugly, when taken to mean the opposite of beauty, is a matter of opinion. But the mainstream is also a matter of opinion. Do societies necessarily elevate those things which many people believe to be beautiful (not ugly) to the mainstream? That is a hard question that I’m not prepared to answer at the moment, but I believe it is certainly worth pondering.

  37. When I was younger I used to collect toys like legos or the hot wheels cars. I would collect them because they looked cool to me. To a little boy these objects were objects of beauty and it only makes sense that people are attracted to what thy find beautiful. However,there is a strange quality that most humans still have: the unnatural fascination with thing that are ugly.
    Have you ever noticed something that was just plain ugly, be it a person, a piece of art, some strange animal, but for some reason you wanted to keep looking at it? I think this is because we try to surround ourselves with beauty and when we see ugliness it can shock us and we want to see it. This also goes for words as well. Whenever I see a facebook post about some issue I agree with I tend to scroll past it because I have surrounded myself with people, media, and other things that agree with me. Whenever I see something posted that I disagree with, I tend to read the entire thing. Sometimes I can go through and pick apart every little thing that is false in a persons argument or view, but other times I get pulled in because someone will make a very true statement that I still disagree with. I am caught between the beauty of it being true, and its ugliness because I disagree with the position.
    My ultimate point is that regardless of how ugly some things are to us, if we are drawn to them there is likely to be some beauity in them whether we want to admit it or not. I do not think

  38. Hey! After reading you’re article I thought about the different types and examples of “collections.” On twitter alone, the hash tag makes creating collections quite simple. Like your example of #firstworldproblems, I’ve noticed hash tags very similar like #blackguyproblems and even #gtproblems. These hash tags isolated these specific groups, creating collection. I found it strange that they isolated themselves. Citizens of first world countries used #firstworldproblems. The majority of the #blackguyproblems tweets were posted by African Americans. Georgia Tech Students used #gtproblems. Why would they? It just seems like people like to talk about themselves. When asking my roommate, he says he does it because he is “the funniest man on the planet”.

    What makes these collections appealing to other people who use twitter or find them on blogs on the Internet? I know in my own personal case, these negative tweets and negative posts in general are usually much more comical than happier tweets. The small things usually entertain me! I’m sure that many other people are the same way. This would account for their popularity. Another reason that could account for their popularity could be that they are sometimes more interesting. Well these are just some of my thoughts on collections! Feel welcome to comment!

  39. Upon reading the article, the idea of unpacking of collections revealing more than collections themselves is what I found most interesting. My own experiences in collecting coins have led me to strongly agree with this idea.

    I have been coins since I was in grade 7. Some of my friends shared this hobby and we had these competitions where the person with the least coins had to treat the others. At that point, I felt that having a large collection meant that you were better.

    Over the years, I made new friends (who collected coins), grew up, came across my father’s collection of coins and realized that the quantity was not the be-all and end-all in a coin collection. The message that one gets from a coin collection is more important than the number/variety of coins in the collection. A collection of fifty coins can reveal a message more meaningful than a collection of hundred coins. For example, my current collection of seventy coins (Indian Rupees) reveals the social and economic conditions of nearly eight decades whereas my fathers collection of 200 coins reveals the same for only about four decades because many of his coins are from the same decade. These experiences have led me to believe that unpacking a collection reveals more information than the collection itself.

  40. Throughout the article, I noticed that it mentioned Tumblr and microblogs more than once. Although I have not used these types of sites, I think I got a pretty good idea what they consisted of after scrolling through the countless Feminist Ryan Gosling Tumblrs. I feel like our generation is all about searching for who they are and showing their individuality off to the world. Through these blogs, individuals are able to go and relate to one another based on similar likes. Of course, there is always going to be a blog or a Tumblr that not everyone agrees with such as 100 Real Tweets from Homophobes Who Would Murder Their Gay Child but ultimately, behind all of the hatred and disgust, there are people out there who are connecting through this. They too have a place in our society as does the person who tweeted about the death of Steve Jobs or the person who brought together collections of International Relations Ryan Gosling. I think we often forget this simple fact because we immerse ourselves in the nasty and monstrous comments that they make and display on sites like these. I think I am leaning to the point that these people are something more than just the comments displayed in these blogs.

    Aside from this, I wanted to say that I agree with Luke’s response. The blogs that are mentioned in the article that are deemed “ugly” are noticed by so many more people than those that are considered “pretty” because it’s unconventional. As we have noticed this semester, many times people are attracted to these sites that are unconventional because they are different from what they normally see. I have done it many times myself. I sit through these ridiculous sites because I either can’t believe that these comments actually come out of a person’s mouth or because it is just something different that I come across on the internet. Regardless, there is an attraction that comes from seeing such off the wall blogs or Tumblrs which brings in to question whether it is actually ugly in content or not since there are so many people who connect with them and who are attracted to them.

  41. Surprisingly, ugliness does have beauty, but it may be hard to see sometimes. Ugliness can be so dang ugly tht you refuse to find the beauty within. Some ugly things have been around so long that it’s ugliness has just become a part of society. One big example of this is swearing. Swearing, or cussing, is an ugly thing, yet people do it all the time and it isn’t frowned upon by society. It’s something all adults keep in their vocabulary. They replace inferior words and can be used within any sentence. Rappers use these inappropriate words in their songs and for some reason people like their songs more. Occasional use of these words is fine in my opinion by excessive use makes me look at someone as ugly. I’m sure they have a beautiful personality, but their mouth is ugly from the vulgar words that come out.

    Social networking sites have a plethora of ugliness all over their websites. Users post ugly and beautiful things, but you’ll never know which it’ll be. Most people also swear on the Internet too. People may attack one other through cyber bullying to rude comments. Ugliness will not cease to exist with the freedom social network users have. Trolls love to hack and mess with people intending to get a laugh or two out of it. Although there’s the beauty of the humor behind it, hacking is a very ugly and annoying thing to do. In the reflection, there was a mention of the collection of ugly things. I bet a collection of the troll stories would make a good joke book.

  42. Why are we so interested in collections? What is it that attracts us to showing off strange specimens a.k.a the “ugly” of certain categories. We’ve been doing it for centuries, with the objects of our interests constantly changing. But recently, the focus has been on collecting examples of “ugly” human beings and their “ugly” speech. The comments can be anything from stupid and ignorant, to mean and hateful. How did our collections get to this point?I think the answer to this question might lie in an ancient “ugly” truth.
    I think that the only reason we collect anything is to make ourselves appear better than others. In some way, shape, or form, our collections make us that must better than the rest. For example, when I was a kid, collecting pokemon was a huge trend. The more the kids with the most pokemon would talk to each other and share their extensive collections with each other as if they were an elite group of better individuals due to their collections. I think the same is true about collections of ugly human speech. They are there as a point of reference and comparison. When we read these “ugly” comments together, we feel better about ourselves because somewhere out there, there is a slew of people capable of posting such fowl comments. It’s a never-ending circle of UGLY!

  43. Anonymous...lulz kidding Nick Teissler

    The paragraph that begins with “I don’t want to be an apologist for Hunger Games…” got me thinking more about the true purpose served by the online collections of ugliness, also about the groups of people brought together by these collections. As pointed out above, these people aren’t the monsters they appear to be online, but then, why do they still enjoy reading and posting aggresive, offensive comments? I see the ugliness as a kind of forbidden activity only allowed within the confines and anonymity of the internet.
    Therefore, this behavior and these hateful comments are only accessible via the internet. The point that I’m trying to make is that the online community opens up a window of new interaction and new thoughts that, however ugly, people want to participate in, read, and experience. It’s my opinion that the ugliness points to something that people are genuinely concerned about, disgruntled by, or otherwise affected by, that they can’t discuss in face-to-face environmets because of social norms. So the ugliness reveals something a little less ugly (definitely not beautiful though). It reveals thoughts and opinions that are important to be aware of, even though they stay submerged in the bustle of everyday life.
    Then again, those dumb tweets are stupid dumb. Especially the one about the “iFold Tower”.

  44. I remember coming across the Feminist Ryan Gosling book several weeks ago at the student book store. Even though I had never read or heard of FRG before, it was obvious enough what it was. There were several other books like it in the section like Honey Badger Don’t Care, the FML book, Award Family/Pet Photos, etc. All internet sensations which started off as memes, forums, video series, or a website, then transcended its genre. A new phenomenon, perhaps, but the idea wasn’t anything new or odd. People are constantly creating new memes that take a lives of their own, creating collections, and consolidating anthologies. We have the urge to categorize, to collect, and we are ever drawn to the strange, the absurd, and the ugly.

    The bit about people in past centuries collecting strange objects immediately reminded me of the human corpse collections I had read about not too long ago. Just as people collect stamps or baseball cards today, it was common for scientists, or wealthy and powerful men in past eras to collect preserved humans, who possessed strange abnormalities and mutations. The article mentioned that this was a reflection of how distinguished the collector was, but I don’t know much about that. But I do think that people are attracted to the abnormal, that they collect these interests to distinguish themselves from others. We like to keep things that we consider to be a reflection of ourselves, or our opposites. Some people relate to memes like Feminist Ryan Gosling, and see their values in them. Some people see things like the racist Hunger Games tweets and keep them around because through rejecting them, they also give them something to define themselves by. The great thing about ungliness is that it’s not perfect, and it’s by using that imperfections to reflect ourselves that we find meaning in them.

  45. While reading this article, I quickly reminisced upon my childhood. The collections mentioned were very similar to what I used to do back when I was a child. Collecting things such as quarters, cars, cards, and other toys, I was very excited and enthusiastic about it. Today, there are many things that connect us, however, much of this is through technology. The internet has changed our lives with how we connect with people. Social media is present every where, and it is used in both positive ways and negative ways.

    Ugliness and ugly people become present through these social networks. Youtube for example is full of explicit material. Everything from the videos to the comments can be and are usually always full with curse words and other very mature content that is not suitable for all ages. The problem arises through the fact that these social media sites are accessible by any age group that understands how to use a computer. Nowadays, many children have this access through devices in the palm of their hands, and this is where the damage is done.

  46. There seems to be a demand for things that entertain. If people can take something “attractive” and add basically anything interesting to it, someone will ready/watch/buy it. From this, fans are exploited. There are such “Rules of the internet” that state things that start with “If it exists” and ends in things like “there is porn of it”, “there is an animal version of it”, “there is a ship for it”, ect. These “Rules” are ways people can profit from fans by providing materials that, while someone may not think of it on their own, people find interesting and want more of it.

    People seem to search for those things that interest them, but are not normal in their lives. That is why places like Tumblr and 4Chan are so popular with multiple people. It is a place to escape their life and go to a place where the social norm is to no longer be normal. Specifically, things like those collaborations of things people have said on twitter and the like that this article points out (Like the 100 tweets from homophobic people on murdering their children) seem to pop up on tumblr many times because it is a seemingly very liberal website that is open to diverse lifestyles and cultures. There are, however, many sides to every society. There are dark blogs as well as “Anon hate” (where people send anonymous messages to tumblrs that are usually very rude, hateful, and possibly too mean) that plagues all places (Both online and in the outernet). This is, however, my own bias taking control of what I am saying. You see, what I see as correct may not be correct in other’s eyes. Those racist tweets about the hunger games seem horrid to me, but when it comes down to it there is a large portion of the world who may agree with what they said. I can say what is “right” and what is “wrong” as much as I want, but to those people what they say IS “right” and “wrong” to them. What seems ugly to me, can be beautiful to them.

  47. I have been behind lately in the world of the internet. I have recently decided to keep my twitter, which I originally made for the twitter essay assignment. Richard Craig had mentioned the #problems hashtag, with which I was familiar, but now that use my twitter, I have found out just how prevalent they are. There are problems for anything. I was bored so I found that there are #JacobProblems and even #PizzaProblems. One thing that twitter has taught me is that people love to complain, and the #problems hashtag gives them a more entertaining medium through which to do so.

    The great thing about twitter is that it allows you to search for a hashtag and puts all of them onto one page for you. This might just be the twitter novice in me speaking, but i think that is really cool and allows for the groups which Dr. Hoffmann has described. It creates these groups of ugliness. With the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag, it is full of complaints of things that aren’t really worth complaining about. It gives an impression of ugliness of a lot of modern technology. This ugliness is incredibly unreliable. These groups of tweets can create a negative outlook on a lot of the modern conveniences that I know that I am thankful to have. I think that this is an example of the unreliability of ugliness.

  48. I agree that collections of individually ugly things are beautiful, though it seems that it really isn’t even up for debate within this group, So rather than try an argue against any point, as my primary internet instinct tell me to do(maybe i’ve been reading too many youtube comments lately.) I’ll talk about the collection of ugly voicemails by the musical group the Front Bottoms. For a link and more on the beautiful ugliness of the band, check out my blog post after the jump: http://blogs.iac.gatech.edu/unreliable/2012/11/24/on-the-beautiful-ugliness-of-the-front-bottoms

    The two member Jersey Band the Front Bottoms is quite unorthodox. They are ugly, overall. Their lead singer doesn’t have a beautiful voice, the drummer isn’t quite normal, and their other members don’t really exist. They are way beyond “quirky”, thank god; They are still appealing, however. One of their cool “quirks” (I hated myself for saying that) is that they collect voicemails that they find particularly striking, which are often downright weird. Then they incorporate them into the songs that they publish. So when you listen to their ugly/beautiful music, you can hear the collection of ugly/beautiful messages they have received from the world. I think that they are definitely worth a listen. Here’s a link to one of my favorite songs by them that makes use of voicemail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRmaIYbLWho (The voicemail starts up around 2:40)

  49. The thing that really interested me about this article was the fact that people are willing to buy the book Feminist Ryan Gosling when they can get Ryan Gosling memes for free on the Internet. Is there any time when a person cannot wait to be able to use the Internet because they need a Feminist Ryan Gosling meme at that very moment. These books are also not targeted at people without the Internet because they would have no interest in the book due to their lack of knowledge of the meme. I feel that it is ridiculous how people will spend money on things they can already get for free. I feel like a lot of this spending has evolved from the fact that many things that can be gotten for free used to have to be paid for.

    The Internet has many legal things on it that a person will stay pay for. The Feminist Ryan Gosling book is an example of a source of comedy for a person. Before the Internet a person would have to buy a book with jokes or funny material in it. Now much of this material can be found on the Internet. Many people pay for newspapers to be delivered to their house every day. This is a waste of money for anyone who has the Internet this is due to the fact that there are many news sites that put their news and the same stories that are in the newspaper for free. There is even Google news, which helps to search the Internet for stories on a topic of your choice. Lastly, many people with the Internet will pay for a map. This is ridiculous because there are multiple services on the Internet that will help a person find a route to a place. Half of Americans have either a smartphone or GPS that can in all likelihood be used as a GPS. http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2012/10/01/pew-half-of-us-adults-own-tablet-or-smartphone/1605413/ It irritates me that people will spend their money on things they can get for free. I advise that all people think about if they can get a product for free or not before they spend money on it.

  50. When I read the line ‘It got me thinking about what happens when communications experience a change of venue’ (lines 11-14), the first thing which came into my mind was Facebook. There have been numerous occasions where I would be having a one-to-one discussion with a friend, when all of a sudden, something comes up and one of us would have to leave the scene, leaving our conversation unfinished. Later on, however, that friend would try to continue the same conversation, but on Facebook, and that too, by a Wall Post.

    This sudden change of venue could definitely have effects on our conversation. Most importantly, because my friend used a Wall Post, all my other friends (and all my friend’s other friends) would have been able to see it, which meant not only was the conversation no longer private, but also others would be able to comment, which would, more often than not, change the topic of the conversation. This is how, in my experience, conversations ‘begin in one place and end up somewhere quite different’.

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