Chelsea is a senior from Emerson College majoring in Marketing and Health Communications. She is interning with me at Harvard School of Public Health this summer.
“The More You See, The More You Know” -Aldous Huxley
We live in an information age and are embedded in a society saturated with media. In fact, advertising permeates our cultural environment even at a subconscious level. Let’s take a stroll through a typical town in the 21st century, what do we see? Advertisements clutter landscapes, billboards, shop windows and even the sides of buses. The clothes we wear, the designer handbags we buy, we too are often advertisements. Whether consciously or subconsciously, our views and attitudes are shaped by this onslaught of advertising.
Last semester I had the opportunity to take a class titled Visual Literacy. It had a huge impact on the way I view my situations and surroundings. The course aimed to teach us the basic principals of design but I learned much more than just that. I learned how to view and understand society differently. We explored the importance of visuals in business and marketing through inspection of the typeface, layout, images, colors, symbols, and art direction. But even more so, we examined the way we view everyday objects.
It was not until I was assigned to walk around Boston and experience the city like never before that I realized how much I had been missing. I had to engross myself in my surroundings to truly become aware of everything around me. I was instructed to find objects that resemble the letters in my name, C-H-E-L-S-E-A. I took on the challenge during my daily stroll from my Beacon Hill apartment to my classes on Boylston Street. Usually I would put on my headphones and walk that 1.3 miles tuning out to the sounds of my favorite country music. But that day was different. It was as if I was experiencing the walk for the very first time. The monotonous walk became new and exciting. I had walked that path every day for months but never noticed the bench that resembles the letter “h” or the fence shaped like a capital “E”. Unless you are truly aware of your surroundings, so many things can go unnoticed.
Everyday we absorb a constant flow of information from print media, smart phones, social media…. It is apparent that the consumer landscape of the 21st century is very cluttered. With all of this clutter, we tend to escape the simple things, and become unaware of our surroundings. This in turn leaves many things unnoticed.
So how do we become more aware of our surroundings? The answer is simple. We must learn to pause, focus on what is in front of us, understand and analyze the simple things. We live in a world where advertisements and technology continue to shape our realties and it is our job to find a balance. We must not get distracted by all of the clutter, as we engage in this fast paced multi-media era. We can start by discovering visually compelling stories. My walk from Beacon Hill to Boylston Street is no longer a time when I zone out and listen to Blake Shelton. Instead, I take this time to see the world more clearly, appreciating the simplicities, complexities and interconnectedness.
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