Dan Singer – An Exploration of the Everyday

The aspects of everyday life that I explored in this project reveal several layers of routine experiences and challenges I face as I exist within American mass culture. Many of the things I chose to examine dealt in some way with convenience or efficiency, and I came to realize that these concepts are subjectively defined within cultural constructs. For example, I have a naturalized expectation of efficiency with medicine, and that is why I will continue to invest in certain drugs that may not always treat my symptoms. This ties in with brand relationships, as I discuss with Cheez-Its on day one, since my consumer habits are influenced by what will consistently and practically satisfy me. On days two and three, I looked into sources of personal anxiety that are reinforced by hegemonic means. The Korg Gadget, as cool as it appears to be, is being marketed like an event that can’t be missed, and in the age of social media, every link to a new Gadget-related article or song functions implicitly as an advertisement. On the other hand, maintaining “good hygiene” by whatever means necessary is a societal opt-in of sorts that entitles me to opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t get. During the remaining days, I developed a richer understanding of the ways in which space and power are connected. As I saw on day five, bulletin boards across campus have a “common sense” purpose, and many limit the circulation of information so that only those with authority can be heard. I have mobility and security when I possess my keys, but without them my well-being is at risk. Finally, by observing the placement of doors, I learned that privacy can be imposed from above in order to influence how we inhabit and behave in certain spaces.



I reached into my bottom desk drawer and ate Cheez-Its at least five times today while doing homework. Only once did I eat them during a designated “meal” time (lunch). Cheez-Its are made by Kellogg, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of nonperishable foods. By storing Cheez-Its in my desk drawer — they maintain their quality at room temperature, as opposed to foods like dairy products and some fruits and vegetables — I can eat them without leaving my chair or looking away from my homework. Over the years I have developed a relationship with Cheez-Its as a consumer; I will purchase them instead of competing products and will do so at any store that carries the Cheez-It brand.



I use chemical and vitamin/mineral solutions every day to be clean and let other people know that I am a clean person. Our society values cleanliness, and one aspect of my privilege is that I can use a shower, shampoo and conditioner, an electric toothbrush and deodorant whenever I’d like in order to remove sensory hints of dirtiness (dandruff, food in my teeth, bad breath and so on). These means of hygiene become part of my daily routines, but my “clean privilege” extends to random events as well. Whenever I need to relieve myself, I am expected to do so in a toilet, and I could potentially be arrested for “using the bathroom” anywhere that is not actually a bathroom. And after using the bathroom, I will always wash my hands with soap and water because I need to optimize my cleanliness before returning to a public environment.



In January, Korg released an iPad app called Gadget, a collection of synthesizer modules that critics deemed one of the most intuitive and innovative mobile music-making programs ever released. Gadget is currently on sale for about $30, and although I can technically afford it, I wonder whether I truly need it at the moment and if that money would be better spent elsewhere. My internal debate doesn’t simply disappear because Gadget invades my consumer consciousness and lets me know what I’m missing. Sponsored ads for Gadget appear on my Facebook timeline, music-making communities like Synthtopia share Gadget tutorials via Twitter and redditors in the /r/ipadmusic subreddit post Gadget-based songs they’ve composed. Observing Gadget from afar is my daily reminder that FOMO (fear of missing out) is both a social and economic anxiety of the digital age.



I never leave my apartment without my keys, and I would be horrified if I reached into my pocket and didn’t feel them awkwardly poking into my hip. I wouldn’t be able to get back into my apartment without them, as the door automatically locks when it closes. I wouldn’t be able to drive my car, and if I made it back to Laurel, I wouldn’t be able to get into my own house. On an even scarier note, if my keys disappeared they could be used by someone else to steal or damage my property. No matter where I am, who I’m with and what I’m wearing, my well-being involves knowing where my keys are at all times.



Bulletin boards are a quintessential part of the college experience, as they are situated in nearly every building on campus to inform students about upcoming events and opportunities. The location of a given bulletin board determines who is allowed to use it. For example, the board in my apartment building contains information supplied by my Resident Assistant, the board outside of the South Campus diner is open to everyone and some of the boards in the Stamp Student Union are surrounded by glass casing so students can’t tamper with them. When it comes to what is on these bulletin boards, purpose is as much of a determining factor as ownership. Every notice on a board is some sort of informational document, as opposed to more miscellaneous things like artwork.



The over-the-counter medicines I take for a cold or cough are all associated with major brand names (like Advil) or pharmaceutical retailers (like Target). These medicines always come in the form of ingestible pills or liquids, rather than injections or other means of use. Being considered “over-the-counter,” these medicines are considered to be safe for the average consumer to possess and use according to recommended dosage amounts. When I’m sick, these medicines do not always adequately treat my symptoms; however, I am still inclined to own them and use them repeatedly because of the expectation that they will help me recover.



My expectations for privacy or a lack thereof are largely determined by the nature of doors in a given space. In my apartment, I can assuredly have privacy in my bedroom or bathroom, spaces with a single entrance and lockable door. My common room, on the other hand, is surrounded by five doors, all of which must be locked to guarantee my solitude. Theoretically, I could have a period of privacy in an empty 400-person lecture hall, but several unlocked doors and activity in adjacent areas could interrupt me at any moment. My most valuable possessions, such as my musical instruments and high-end electronic devices, are stored in my bedroom because I closely associate privacy and security.


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