I was recently assigned a project in English class that came with some extremely confusing instructions. From what I understood, I was supposed to explore and discuss a subversive topic in an essay, as well as create a visual representation of my ideas and do a presentation of what I came up with to the class.
For my project I decided to talk about one of the biggest influences in my life: society. The word “society” is so vague to me; I’ve said it hundreds of times and yet I still don’t understand how it can have so much power over me. To try to create a better understanding for myself, I conducted an experiment in which I interviewed 22 students from my English class. I asked each of them four questions:
1. How do you define the word “society”?
2. How do you contribute to society?
3. How are you influenced by society?
4. What is an image or metaphor you could use to describe how you view society?
I concluded that the word society just means people. It’s me, it’s you and it’s even Beyoncé. Many of the students felt very influenced by the messages of society that are seen everywhere in the media. They felt that they were being told to dress and act a certain way in order to fit into an image. They feared that if they didn’t do this, they wouldn’t be accepted and would be considered an outsider. On another hand, most of the students felt that they didn’t make any contributions to society because they felt young and unimportant. The few students that did make contributions all did this by doing kind gestures and helping others.
So if there are such sweet people doing nice things for the community, why is society still such a negative influence? It’s because there aren’t enough people making these contributions. There needs to be positive change, but that can’t happen if people don’t recognize their responsibility to make society a better place. It’s not right that teenagers feel pressured by the expectations of society, but they don’t need to be satisfied with that. I’m not satisfied with that. It’s time to step up and redefine society.
So that was a brief explanation of what I found from my experiment and somehow it turned into an essay. For the visual part of the project, I used the answers from the fourth question and created a series of photos inspired by the answers. Although most of the students found this question the most difficult to answer, all of them managed to come up with beautiful ideas that inspired some very strange photos. Enjoy!