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Virtual Time Capsule, Essay Example

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Essay

Day-to-day life in the 21st century can be a varied experience.  In the technological and information age, the fast-paced nature of life in the present time can be overwhelming.  Television, the Internet, cellphones, and mobile devices are a mainstay of current times, where everything has to be “instant” to be worthwhile.  While some of these can be useful, they can overwhelm someone and kind of undermine relationship and other priorities.

However, that by no means truly defines life in the 21st century.  As there has always been, in modern society, there are plenty of avenues to explore.  Film, literature, music, and other items, such as sports and television, are common areas where individuals can explore interests.  There is no shortage of hobbies, areas of interest, and related matters from which to explore and become engaged in, in this present time.

In the 20th century, and in the beginning years of the 21st century, that of information and technology seems to be an important theme.  While I certainly value these areas, they certainly do not define how I see the present world.  This is a major, but not complete, emphasis in which the present time can be explained.

My dreams seem to be to be not too different than others, at least in the most general sense.  Career and family-related ambitions certainly play a distinct role in what I would classify as my dreams.  Overall, I would like to make an impact in the world, from my ambitions in these categories.  Much like everyone else, I want to enjoy time with my loved ones and carry myself in a way in which I would be proud.

Current Views

One important item that can be seen against the backdrop of a certain period in history is that of morality and decision-making.  Clearly, any society or culture can have their own examples which can relate these two elements.  One current example can be found with that of a report from the U.S. Department of Labor (2010).  It highlights goods that may be produced by either forced labor or child labor.

The report brings up many ethical implications that reaches morality and decision-making.  As a result, it is obvious that consumers have not only abandoned buying such items, but have put pressure in order to alter such an unfortunate state.  Some items have become commonplace, such as the reference to “blood diamonds” that have a great deal of meaning.  Consumers are becoming more well-versed to such purchases.

A personal view that can be found is one related to happiness.  Currently, as well, if I may propose, throughout all of history, one’s view of happiness can vary.  For instance, some people may place more value on certain relationships, economic status/comfort, and so forth.

For me, being a valued figure in my family and other relationships is important.  Happiness for me is not necessarily linked to one certain item.  However, in regards to the valuable relationships that are developed and nurtured, along with doing some good in the world – and of course, enjoying the finer things in life – I may say that these items contribute to my sense of happiness.  This is not exactly something that can be explained or rationalized completely, however.

Important Artifacts Across Areas of Interest

The following artifacts may help explain what life is like, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.  Throughout history, we can find certain artifacts that shed light not only on important day-to-day life, but even what a culture or nation valued.  While all of the following may not shed the equal amount of light as the other, they can certainly be examined for what they are – valuable examples in the present time.

Literary Work

Significant literary works could easily fill many pages in the 20th and 21st centuries.  One that can be highlighted is a poem from Langston Hughes, entitled “A Dream Deferred” (n.d.).  Speaking out against the treatment of Blacks, the poem speaks to a previous topic in the current analysis, in that of dreams.

There is a certain line that resounds to this degree.  The beginning asks “What happens to a dream deferred?” and then proceeds to several similes.  At the end of the short poem, it ends with a simple, understated, yet powerful line: “Or does it explode?” (n.d.).  While this first appeared in the middle of the 20th century, themes of inequality still penetrate current society.  Certainly the themes devoid of historical context, in the poem from Hughes, still apply (such as dreams and goals in life).

Art/Architecture

From skyscrapers to works of art in sculpture, paintings, and more can be examined in the 20th and 21st centuries.  One movement has been seen, in that of more modern interpretations in both fields.  While it’s difficult to choose just one artifact, as it may be impossible to choose the most significant in these two wide fields, we will choose one that has some interesting characteristics.

One artifact that can be viewed is the Seattle Public Library.  The striking architectural display comprises of more than one architecture style, displaying aesthetic beauty that has earned it a great deal of acclaim.  More than one of the branches are noted on the National Register of Historic Places.  Even one of the newest building, the Ballard Branch, is one of the first buildings in the city to use green architecture.  Insulation via a green roof that also reduces storm water runoff, solar panels to help with electricity, and other features highlight the 15,000 square foot library, which opened on May 14, 2005 (Seattle City Light, 2011).  The library speaks not only to purely architectural features, but the present state of “green” initiatives and consciousness.

Music

Similar to that of physical art, choosing a certain item in the field of music is no easy task.  Arguably, it would be difficult to choose a sing song within a certain musical genres, from which there are dozens of established fields.  However, there is one that will almost certainly stand the test of time.

While Christmas music isn’t a popular topic when it isn’t Christmas time, it is difficult to downplay the cultural significance of it.  A single selection would thus have to go to Bing Crosby’s rendition of the Irving Berlin ballad, “White Christmas.”  It has become the best-selling single of all time, according to most estimates (Harris Jr., 2011).

Culturally, the song typifies the joy that is commonly associated with Christmas.  Connecting itself to childhood customs that are normally pleasing, the song instills the “Christmas spirit,” so to speak, that is enjoyed in that time of year.  With simple elegance, it speaks to those in such a happy time, and it easily the most famous Christmas song.

Film

As the vast majority of films, in any sense of the word, can be found in the 20th and 21st centuries, the area will be defined a bit more.  Looking at a recent film, there are a number of candidates that could be singled out.  In this case, a more important film from a cultural perspective will be examined.

The film “Schindler’s List” is one that will certainly remain.  Released in the early 1990s, the film became acclaimed for its insight into the dramatic story, which puts a man in charge of hundreds of Jews that are saved from death camps (1993).  The story of Oskar Schindler is one that is very uplifting during the Holocaust, which is what the film covers.  It has won many awards and is a triumph of its time period.

Significant Pop Culture Item

In the current age, it is interesting to choose one particular pop culture item as significant.  As we have seen in previous areas, choosing one significant item in a category can be difficult.  It is certainly not exception here, if not emphasized to a greater extent.

One of the most common fads and items, in the last decade or so, has been the smartphone.  In the context of technology, it is an item that is designed to “bring everything together,” so to speak.  Email, social media, and of course, the Internet, and more, is all brought together.  A cultural phenomenon of sorts, many people are glued to their smartphone.

An interesting point is brought up with the last sentence.  It can be argued that many people are a little too consumed with this item, as well as complementary devices.  Unless the trend continues in the future, this period in history may very well be marked by one of instant gratification, in a sense.  Today, people need to be connected, need to be able to check their email – all from a mobile device.

It even replaces some items.  Today an email or Facebook post is more normal, for some people, than a telephone call or a letter.  Some people are so connected that they lessen the importance of seeing their friends and family as often.  It can certainly be a lower point for society, in reference to some of the “important” items that are seen.

Conclusion

The current time period is only covered in brief.  With regard to any single category that was covered, much more could be written on certain items.  Countless movies, pieces of art, songs, and more can be used to see the current state of life in the early 21st century.  However, some of these items give a decent representation, all things considered.

There are a wide variety of items that enrich the current cultural state of the world.  Many of them can be closely intertwined to the dreams, hopes, goals, and happiness of individuals. The aforementioned poem and film, for example, both speak to these areas.  While they both have an unfortunate negative tone, historically, it helps create a dramatic basis upon with to view the arc.  Indeed, both were very real events, events that still inspire many in the world.

It is also interesting to view the future impact of these items.  Arguably, there is not a single item that will be irrelevant in 100 years.  The subject of green architecture, inequality, holiday spirit, a specific event such as the Holocaust, or society’s need for technology will be present in many years to come.  Humanity will come to engage in these and other subjects that have, and could have, been mentioned.

Overall, these items and thoughts could easily be linked together.  While not everyone has the same idea of happiness, one’s dreams, and furthermore, there are many areas where that common bond is shared.  Some of the mentioned artifacts certainly speak to overwhelming themes present in today’s society.  Other speak to the progress that has been made, such as the artifact in architecture and the example in morality and decision-making.

Devoid of many other examples, these items, thoughts, and personal elements can express part of what society is today.  Many more examples can shed light on certain items, values, and areas where people find interest.  These are certainly some items that should be remembered, in some capacity, 100 years from now.

References

Harris Jr., R. (2009).  The Best Selling Record of All.  Wall Street Journal.  Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703499404574561734246276554.html

Hughes, L. (n.d.).  A Dream Deferred.  Retrieved from http://cswnet.com/~menamc/langston.htm

Lustig, B. & Spielberg, S. (1993).  Schindler’s List.  United States.  Universal Pictures.

Seattle City Light (2011).  Solar Project – Ballard Library.  Retrieved from http://www.seattle.gov/light/Green/greenPower/Accomplishments/balnsc.asp

U.S. Department of Labor (2010).  List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.  Retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/ilab/programs/ocft/pdf/2010TVPRA.pdf

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