Extremely Late (as always) Direct Engagement: Hello Cruel World!

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For my third and final direct engagement, I decided to directly engage with my extra reading which was in the form of an iPhone/iPad application, extremely late, as is my ordinary fashion. I first want to queer the idea of a Direct Engagement because if I'm not mistaken, this is one of the only extra readings of its kind and perhaps the only non-reading, extra reading. I think it's an incredible way to queer the idea of an extra reading by having not only an interactive piece, but also a very unconventional and one typically not associated with academia: cellphones and tablets. I typically think of iPhones and iPads of as rich, white people toys, yet Kate Bornstein breaks that barrier and creates an interactive application to explore the topic of her book. The application itself comes with a tutorial that explains how the application functions, which I still found difficult after completing the tutorial several times. The main screen of the application is a deck of cards which you can flick through to find one that you like. Once you click on one, the card will turn over and show one of Bornstein's various techniques to "stay alive." She offers hundreds of alternatives to suicide to young people that may think that that is the only option. They range from getting a make over, modifying your body, doing something illegal, having promiscuous sex, remaining celibate, helping another person, telling a lie, and on and on and on. Bornstein says that you can do anything that helps you remain alive as long as you aren't mean. I'm actually glad that I was so late to do this direct engagement so that I can discuss the conversation we had about her choice to say "mean" in the discussion following my presentation. We were perplexed with her choice of the word "mean" because it seemed to lack a definitive meaning, if you will, and consequently have a murkier path for us to follow. In her blog, Bornstein even addresses the fact that their isn't really a clear definition of mean, yet still wants us to follow it. We pondered with why she didn't chose something more active, such as "put love out into the world," as opposed to the passive, "don't be mean." I think Bornstein is successfully targeting a younger, tech savvy group with her app, Hello Cruel World, which may be what it takes to meet the needs of young teens who are struggling with their identity.

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