Back figures do. For example, twins whose

Back to
the Future: the Long Division

 

What does
time travel worm holes, current news, and the realization that most of us can’t
actually predict the future have in common? This essay, along with a few other
things. Long Divison by Kiese Laymon
is science fiction novella, starting off with teenagers in 2013 post-Katrina
rural Mississippi. In addition to the time travel, it is book-within-a-book
story, featuring some of the same characters in multiple time periods. I will
be discussing what recurrent themes run rampant through Long Division, and mainly how media can shape and support society,
including individuals and the future. I will begin my discussion with
socialization and cultivation theories, along with the consequences and why all
these questions, along with the book, matters in the long run for the future.

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Socialization theory believes that peer
groups, rather than parents, influences personality and behavior when
individual’s mature. Teenagers spend more time with
peers than with parents. Therefore, peer groups have stronger correlations with
personality development than parental figures do. For example, twins whose
genetic makeup are identical, will vary in personality because they have
different groups of friends, not because their parents raised them differently.
Let’s take
the characters in Long Division, and
how their personalities, over time, change with their experiences with each
other. Some mature, being less volatile and more respectful, while others go
the opposite way. Even one character’s grandmother remarks in this change in them
in a later part of the book. (Tome) Peer pressure occurs when the individual
experiences implicit or explicit persuasion to adopt similar values, beliefs,
and goals, or to participate in the same activities as those in the peer group.
The influence of peer pressure is usually addressed in relation to the relative
influence of the family on an individual. The level of peer influence increases
with age, and resistance to peer influence often declines as the child gains
independence from the family or caretakers, yet has not fully formed an
autonomous identity. One study in particular confirms other research findings
that the values of the peer group with whom the high schooler spends the most
time are a stronger factor in the student’s level of academic success than the
values, attitudes, and support provided by the family. Compared to others who
started high school with the same grades, students whose families were not
especially supportive but who spent time with an academically oriented peer
group were successful, while those students whose families stressed academics
but who spent time with peers whose orientation was not academic performed less
well. The peer pressure study contradicts prevailing ideas about the influence
of families on the success of racial and cultural minorities such as Asians and
African Americans.

Conversely,
African American students, whose families tended to be highly involved in and
supportive of education, were subjected to intense peer pressure not to perform
academically. Again, peer group values and attitudes influence, more strongly
than do family values, the level of teenage alcohol use. Regardless of the
parenting style, peer pressure also influences the degree to which children,
especially girls, conform to expected gender roles. In order to achieve this
balance, rather than attempting to minimize peer influence, families and
schools must provide strong alternative beliefs, patterns of behavior, and
encourage formation of peer groups that engage in positive academic, athletic,
artistic, and social activities. For this section Having a higher number of
friends with more risk behaviors also emerges as a factor with a high impact in
involvement in risk activities, which is in line with several studies that have
identified peers as the variable with the greatest influence in the involvement
in such actions. Taking into account that adolescents seem to choose to be less
involved in risk behaviors when they have friends that are not involved in risk
behaviors; although peers’ influence is indirectly related, it is very
important for adolescents’ health and well-being, as suggested in other studies
with similar results. As a result, friends that have a higher involvement in
risk behaviors have a higher probability in influencing negatively their peers;
whilst friends that have more protective behaviors and more easiness in
communicating, strengthened by friendships with quality have higher probability
of influencing positively their peers.}

Cultivation
theory states that the more time people spend on social media, the more likely
they are to believe social reality aligns with reality portrayed and
advertised. It also tackles the long-term effects of television/social media on
consumers. The theory proposes that the danger of social media lies in its
ability to shape people’s moral values and general beliefs. Social Media can,
through stereotypical and national images of a group or people, create a mental
image in the mind of the individual about “the other”. What the viewer sees on the screen becomes
the basis of a mental image that the individual forms about the social
practical status of values, population characteristics, and the various
cultural standards common by the society’s classes, categories, and all kinds of the
content it presents, and not restricted to “cultural programs”, which
refer to programs that deal with art, science, and literature. Conventional
program division into news, cultural, entertainment, educational, children,
woman, etc., is used only to facilitate management or research. Gerbner says
that cultivation is some sort of indiscriminate learning that results from the
buildup of exposure to media. ( Mosharafa ) There are social norms and identity,
beliefs and social change, especially relating to growing children and
teenagers. They change quickly.

Consequences
of media participation and consumption, from journals and media can range from
positive, neutral and negative, from find and communicating with those that are
further away or far gone, and negative being backlash and confusing of messages
portrayed. Michael Zito, PhD, and licensed psychologist in private practice
says that the 1970’s spurred an era of self-entitlement rather
than self-esteem, and social media fueled this point of view.

Psychologists have also noted that exposure
to graphic violence, and to negative media can either cause an
over-sensitization, where we become more sensitive and/or pessimistic or can
lead to desensitization, in which we are numb to the effects of violence.
Negativity on television is difficult to ignore, and it can significantly
influence how we view our lives and the world. Negative media can lead to
negative thoughts, leading us to view our lives as more distressing than they actually
are. Some of the negatives of media is often because of our biology, and
pessimism could lead us to ignore the many things that are positive in the
media, and in the world. Media can have websites that are “pro-mental
illness”, among
other dark things, such as pro-Ana sites and hate groups, such as the Westburo
Baptist church.

On a more
positive note, media does have its benefits. Pamela Rutledge asserts that there
are many benefits for people who are withdrawn or shy. Media can add creativity
to our thinking, and allow us to explore and become actively involved. Games
can show students how better to deal with success and failure (in order to win
at many games, you sometimes have to fail first). Social media allows more
people to connect with others around the world. Teachers have found that games
not only engage students, but they also inspire learning. Teaching with video
games (game-based learning) is an emerging tool for motivational and engagement
learning. Students become part of the story, rather than sitting back listening
to a lecture. (The impact…) Media can also educate in general…you can
just go online to figure out about “Peripheral neuropathy” within a
few minutes, rather than going to a library and searching for hours.

Before we
go into what the future may hold for media, we must address that we are not the
best at predicting the future. We don’t imagine events correctly, nor do we
imagine them as they will unfold. We also don’t know who we will be when we are
experiencing that event. We underestimate the mind’s ability to react to events
in a different way than it’s reacting to them in prospect. Almost every event
you experience feels different once you’ve experienced it then you imagined it
would have before. I can give you another example of this, which is the movie Back to the Future. In this, they
predicted that we would have flying cars and hoverboards by October 21, 2015,
but we didn’t. Even though we’ve
advanced incredibly quickly since this movie was made, this movie is a great model
for how we really can’t predict the future accurately. Rather than
hover boards, we made things such as Self-balancing scooter (called a
hoverboard) which has two wheels on the side and is controlled with buttons on
the middle of the board, and rather than flying cars, we have smart cars that
run on electricity, or hybrids, that run on a mix between electric and gas.

Illusions of the future are that because
often times we can’t predict who we are in the future, and what we might want
from that, the true details of the past and present that might add up to our
future, and often, we ignore wrong predictions, and we support our beliefs that
we can predict our own future when we get it right. No matter how many times we
experience these errors in our lives and how many times we make the same
mistakes, we don’t learn from them, and we’re left with the same confidence
that we had before. (You v. future you) Let’s take an example from Long Division, when
the main character first goes through the wormhole and observes the smartphone.
They have no idea what it is, and even take it to figure out what it is. If we
can imagine ourselves in the same situation, in the future (perhaps 3018?),
much of the technology of that time, regardless of what it is, would confuse and
bewilder us.

Now that we have that out of the way, many
technologies we use today came from artists, writers and creative visionaries.
These visionaries imagined future inventions with remarkable accuracy, even if
they didn’t know how to actually make them. Science fiction books, movies, TV
shows and art also allow us to explore the social consequences of these
advances. They link human narratives to scientific questions, and explore the
full social implications of research. The center experiments with these changes
and ideas through several projects. (Science Fiction) To go back to “Back to
the Future”, even though this movie did get a lot
wrong, it did get a lot of things correct, from personal drones to medical
devices. I will also be discussing, more in depth, on how fiction can (in some
way) predict our future. The way technology changes and the way it
transmutes us are the result of culls that we make as tool smiths, individual
users, and groups. Robert Heinlein, a titan of science fiction, indicted in The
Door Into Summer, a time-peregrinate novel all about technological revolution,
“When railroading time comes you can railroad-but not afore.” All
through history, inventors doodled things that looked homogeneous to
helicopters, including, famously, Leonardo da Vinci. Railroading time didn’t
just give us railroads: It gave us larcenist barons who built astronomically
immense corporate “Trusts” that purloined from the masses to enrich
the few. Railroads may have been ineluctably ineluctable, given steel and
tracks and land and engines. Once the railroads were built culls got more
arduous to make. Railroads transmuted the way that farmers sold their wares,
transmuted the way that settlements were opened and serviced, transmuted all
those things that freaked out Wordsworth, re-drew maps, made industries vanish,
and engendered incipient ones. Living as though the railroad didn’t subsist was
hard, got harder, and eventually became virtually infeasible. How the railroads
were built was the result of individual and often immoral culls. How the
railroads were utilized was the result of a collective cull made by all the
people in your gregarious network: family, friends, authoritative figures, and edifiers.
To be Amish is to concur with all the people who matter to you to make the same
culls about which technologies you’ll utilize and how you’ll utilize them.
Internet convivial networks were already immensely colossal afore Facebook: Six
degrees, Friendster, Myspace, Bebop, and dozens of others had already come and gone.
There was an adjacent possible in play: The cyber world and the web subsisted,
and it had grown enough that many of the people you wanted to verbalize with
could be found online, if only someone would design an accommodation to
facilitate finding or meeting them. A accommodation like Facebook was ineluctably
foreordained, but how Facebook works was not. Facebook is designed like a
casino game where the jackpots are attention from other people and the playing
surface is an astronomical board whose components can’t be optically discerned
most of the time. As in all casino games, in the Facebook game there’s one
ecumenical rule: The house always victoriously triumphs. Facebook perpetually
fine-tunes its algorithms to maximize the amount that you disclose to the
accommodation because it is lucrative by selling that personal information to
advertisers. Integrating the surveillance business model to Facebook was an
individual cull. I won’t even utilize WhatsApp or Instagram because they’re
owned by Facebook. Unless everyone you ken culls along with you not to utilize
Facebook, being a Facebook vegan is hard. It factitiously lets you optically
discern the casino for what it is and make a more apprised cull about what
technologies you depend on. Shelley’s life is a story about the adjacent
possible of belonging, and Frankenstein is a story about the adjacent possible
of ambrosially credible catastrophes in an age of technological whiplash and
massive dislocation. The Stasi employed one snitch for every 60 people in the
GDR: an army to surveil a nation. It has one employee for every 20,000 people
it spies on-not counting the contractors. Your mobile contrivance, your
gregarious media accounts, your search queries, and your Facebook posts- those
succulent, detailed, revelatory Facebook posts-contain everything the NSA can possibly
want to ken about whole populations, and those populations foot the bill for
its accumulation of that information. The adjacent possible made Facebook
ineluctably ineluctable, but individual culls by technologists and
entrepreneurs made Facebook into a force for mass surveillance. Opting out of
Facebook is not a personal cull but a gregarious one, one that you intrepid on
your own at the cost of your gregarious life and your faculty to stay in touch
with the people you dote. Frankenstein admonishes of a world where technology
controls people in lieu of the other way around. Victor has culls to make about
what he does with technology, and he gets those culls erroneous again and
again. Technology doesn’t control people: People wield technology to control
other people.

In
conclusion, the recurrent themes in long division can be associated with
theories such as the cultivation theory or perhaps socialization theory, and if
we associate this book with reality, we can understand the impact of media on
society, and perhaps even predict the future of media consumption, using long
division as one of the many ways fiction can align with reality. ­­