What Glues Family Vloggers: Children and Religion

I normally don’t write about family and YouTube on my blog. However, I felt compelled to write about the glue that holds family vloggers on YouTube together; for those who do not know, family vloggers are average families who post videos about their daily lives on YouTube. Examples of these type of vloggers are: The ShayTards, The Nive Nulls, The Chick’s Life, Samika Vlogs, Ellie and Jared, and Katie and Cullen, just to name a few.

What exactly are the components, or the glue, if you will, that hold family vloggers on YouTube together? What makes people who watch family vloggers feel as if they are utopian families? That answer lies deep in the components that make up most family vloggers.

My argument is two-fold. First, I believe children and religion play a key role in keeping the family vloggers true to their roots and united. Second, I contend that because of this unity, people who watch the vloggers are impressed by the vloggers coziness and warmth; people feel as if they [the vloggers] are utopian families.

Families are defined as “relationships in which people live together with commitment, form an economical unit and care for any young, and consider their identity to be significantly attached to the group” (Kendall, 2013:447). Now, how does this create a sense of unity? The key phrases are ‘care for any young’ and ‘together with commitment’. Because family vloggers, like most families, have a child(ren) together and are committed to support their young, they set aside or sacrifice personal wants and desires to jointly support their kid(s). Their child(ren) are their priority and they jointly submit their fair share of duties to ensure the welfare of their child(ren). For example, the father may be the breadwinner and pay the bills or the college tuition and the mother may ensure that their child(ren) get a well rounded education [extracurricular activities on top of the schooling]. These roles may be reversed. Through this process, unity is created.

Furthermore, religion, like families, can also create unity. Sociologist Diana Kendall defines religion[1] as “a social institution composed of unified system of beliefs, symbols, and rituals- based on some sacred or supernatural realm- that guides human behavior…unites believers into a community” (Kendall, 2013: 507). Like most believers, Family vloggers who believe in a supernatural being share a common supernatural entity (e.g.: Jesus as the son of God). They also share common beliefs of that religion and congregate as one in a specific institution to praise their supernatural being. For example, people may congregate in a church, temple, or mosque (Kendall, 2013: 507). Peter Berger (1967) states that religion could serve as an answer to commonly asked questions, such as: Who am I, Why am I here, etc.[2] In summary, because believers share a common supernatural being they put the supernatural being ahead of themselves and unite with other believers as one to lead a healthy and holier life.

I contend that through these aspects of family life keep most families, such as family vloggers, united as an entity. Because family vloggers post these aspects on the Internet for everyone to witness, we, as viewers get to see first hand how unity and harmony are created. For some reason, people love to se other people united, living in peace and harmony.

[1] Among others

[2] Stated in Kendall

Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times. Stamford, CT: 10th Edition, 2013.

Suicide is Not a Joke, Treat it Seriously

What Robin Williams brought to millions in the world was unfathomable. His humor and wit brought tears of joy to people, even on their darkest days.

“YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT REAL LOSS BECAUSE IT ONLY OCCURS WHEN YOU’VE LOVED SOMETHING MORE THAN YOU LOVE YOURSELF…” –SEAN MAGUIRE IN GOOD WILL HUNTING [1]

Indeed, this was truly a loss for me; I loved him for his personality. I loved how he treated his fame with responsibility. How whenever let his fame alter his personality or his material; he was genuine. Loved how when I was feeling down, listening to him crack a joke or act in a funny manner, as he did in Mrs. Doubtfire, lifted me up. My mom told me, whenever I started crying when I was a toddler, she would put on Mrs. Doubtfire and I stopped crying thereafter. He taught me how to seize the day and make someone else’s day brighter and improving their quality of living[2], by saying something kind.

He indeed was my favorite comedic actor of all time. He will be missed as one of the greats. That said, what he did to himself that affected millions of people, I will accept as a sad truth, but I still need to come to terms as to his reasoning.

His sad and early death prompted me to write a post on the sad truth; that is suicide. Suicide is REAL, not some fantasy you see in the movie screens or not some joke that people play on themselves with their fingers shaped in the form of a gun, pretending to die. It’s not a joke. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, “Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2010” and “There were 38,364 suicides in 2010 in the United States–an average of 105 each day.”[3] Furthermore, “An estimated 2.2 million adults (1.0% of the adult U.S. population) reported having made suicide plans in the past year. An estimated 1 million adults (0.5% of the U.S. adult population) reported making a suicide attempt in the past year.”[4]

What is even more shocking, “More people now die of suicide than in car accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which published the findings in Friday’s issue of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. In 2010 there were 33,687 deaths from motor vehicle crashes and 38,364 suicides. And “From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent, to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 13.7.”[5]

Suicide is not sporadic; there are several causes as to why people commit them. The one that I believe explains it best is famous sociologist Emile Durkheim’s theory that suicide is a social fact. That is, suicide is a product of not the individual, but the society. Durkheim mentioned environmental and or external factors. For example, depression can be caused by environmental factors such as the economic downturn or political unrest[6]. Perhaps, it can be caused by alcoholism in some manner, while in rehab or while being addicted to it. In fact, “Based on data about suicides in 16 National Violent Death Reporting System states in 2009, 33.3% of suicide decedents tested positive for alcohol.”[7]

In summary, suicide is not a joke, it is real, and many people use it as a means to escape from his world because they can’t bear to live any longer. Suicide is not a joke; it can have a profound effect on people’s lives, not just they one who committed the act. 

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

[1] Stahler, Kelsea .“ROBIN WILLIAMS’ BEST MOVIE QUOTES, BECAUSE HE WAS SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST MRS. DOUBTFIRE”, http://www.bustle.com, August 11, 2014.

[2] ibid

[3] http://www.cdc.gov, “Suicide: Facts at a Glance, 2012

[4] ibid

[5] Parker-Pope, Tara. “Suicide Rates Rise Sharply in U.S.” The New York Times, May 2, 2013.

[6] Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times. Stamford, CT: 10th Edition, 2013.

[7] http://www.cdc.gov, “Suicide: Facts at a Glance, 2012

Livin’ the Life: Our Obsession with Fame and Power

I.   Introduction

We have all heard of Andy Warhol’s phrase, “15 minutes of fame” (van de Rijt, 2013: 269); and we have all aspired to be famous and powerful sometime in our lives. Whenever a teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I said a president because he or she is famous and powerful. Now, that is never going to happen! Why do we desire fame and power, though?  In this paper, I am going to discuss two interrelated topics: why we desire fame and power and why is fame and power good for the duration of a capitalist society?

II.    What are Fame and Power and Why Do We Want It?

What exactly is fame? Fame is defined as the condition of being known or recognized by many people (merriam-webster.com). Usually, if not mostly, fame equates to power because people idolize and follow your actions when you have a following. Why do we want to be idolized and to have control over others? Simple answer, control is the key to survival in a capitalist society (soc.duke.edu). That is to avoid suppression.

Through the theories developed by sociologists Karl Marx and Max Weber, I argue that the fight for fame and power comes naturally by living a capitalist society because this type of society creates two classes. The two classes are: the powerful and influential capitalist class, like the C.E.O.s, who control and own the means of production and the working class, like the average Joe, who must sell their labor to the capitalists in order to make a living (Kendall, 2013: 226). The separation of classes leads to a social stratification; in other words a “hierarchical arrangements of large social groups based on their control over basic resources” (Kendall, 2013: 221). And automatically, a power struggle, known as social Darwinism, to get to the top of the food chain ensues (soc.duke.edu).

Continuing with the previous idea, social Darwinism is another factor as to why we desire fame and power; it is used “to describe the idea that humans… compete in a struggle for existence in which natural selection results in ‘survival of the fittest’ (autocww.colorado.edu). Using social Darwinism, I argue that because of social stratification we have a desire to be famous, powerful, and influential because these people control means of production, and control and domination over other people is key to survival.  In other words, the famous and powerful are best suited to the capitalist economy because they get to control who gets what and how much.

III.    How is the want for Fame and Power Good For Society?

      How is the power struggle for fame and power good for survival of a society? If we treat the two classes as interest groups trying to fight for power (yes, I believe the rich fight to keep their power too),[1] then the competition among these groups, “help prevent the abuse of power by any one group” (Kendall, 2013: 422). In other words, the fight for power on both sides of the spectrum makes sure no one group dominates, or is dictating, the other group.

For example, if Company A’s C.E.O. and board use their power and decides to cut their workers’ average salary from 80,000 dollars to 40,000 dollars  (since the rich in a capitalist society gets to control what and how much), the workers can fight for the power to overturn the powerful decision makers decide through legal means or strikes. Not long after the power struggle, the workers gain influence and power over the wealthy and their salary goes back up.

 IV. References

 Flemmen, M. (2013). Putting Bourdieu to work for class analysis: reflections on some recent contributions. The British Journal of Sociology, 64(2), 325-343.

Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times. Stamford, CT: 10th Edition, 2013.

Notes on Bourdieu. (n.d.). Notes on Bourdieu. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://www.soc.duke.edu/~jmoody77/TheoryNotes/bourdieu.htm

Rijt, A. V., Shor, E., Ward, C., & Skiena, S. (2013). Only 15 Minutes? The Social Stratification of Fame in Printed Media. American Sociological Review, 78(2), 266-289.

Social Darwinism. (n.d.). Social Darwinism. Retrieved August 5, 2014, from http://autocww.colorado.edu/~flc/E64ContentFiles/SociologyAndReform/SocialDarwinism.html

fame. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fame

[1] My own opinion, not cited