Charting the Everyday
1 week, 7 days, 168 hours, 10,080 seconds. THE Everyday. What does this exactly mean? I have come to learn through my analysis of my daily life that the everyday means living my life. For someone who is just living their life, the everyday is something that is experienced, but not thought about. It is what it is – how can you question something as simple and yet as complex as the everyday? This project provided the platform to go beyond just living and experiencing, but actually interrogate and delve into what living and experiencing life really means?
In this assignment I aimed to find the meaning in things I do and what these things say about myself and how do the speak to the larger societal context? How did these things and tasks develop into the everyday tasks and tools that I used in my life? I was especially intrigued by the history of the everyday. My everyday is very different than the everyday of someone living before social media, before netflix, before portal music, etc. Similarly, my everyday was five years ago when I was still in high school and my everyday will be different in five years when I am no longer in college.
Overall, the places I go, the tasks I complete, the modes of transportation I take, the tools and applications I use all contribute to my experience of the everyday and I even though I do not see its significance all the time, the everyday is truly all-encompassing, automatic and necessary to life.
It is a normal task in our everyday life to go and “use” the restroom; it is actually rather unusual not to use the bathroom regularly. The bathroom is a place where we preserve our physical being. Its necessity is partially out of our control and therefore it falls into the pattern of our everyday life. Our bodies and bladders tells us when we must use the bathroom and we do. Other times a societal (and therefore personal) pressure of normal/everyday appearance standards, force us into this space to clean our bodies. At the same time, however, there is stigma that comes along with the bathroom as a dirty and smelly place due to what tasks occur there. The bathroom also intersects our lives in a dual way as it is both a public and private place. This combination in which the bathroom is positioned in our everyday life provides an interesting example as to how our everyday converges with other peoples’ everyday, while maintaining privacy and individuality.
Transportation – “You can’t understand a city without using its public transportation system.”
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I travel into Washington D.C. for my internship. This involves many modes of transportation including the bus, Metro and walking. The aspect of my travel journey on these days that enamors me the most is taking the Metro.It really does speak to the vastness of the everyday. It is incredible how many people use the Metro everyday; all going different places for different reasons. I see so many people just on my journey. There are so many others coming from other places on different trains at different times. My everyday prior to starting my internship was limited to see people on campus. But now I am exposed to see all types of people taking the Metro. As a part of the public transportation system, the Metro’s impact stems beyond just those who use it everyday. It is intertwined with the government and impacts other people as it provides jobs. Through analyzing my use of the Metro I can now see the massive extent to which the the everyday extends to everyone society.
Music – “Makes You Lose Control”
Music for many people is a form of entertainment. It is easy to turn on the speakers or pop headphones into your ears and listen to music. In this day and age of technology music is readily available from many different outlets. I listen to music daily: when I am getting in ready in the morning, when I am walking to and from class (not in class off course), when I am doing my “work” and sometimes when I am going to bed. It ironically becomes a part of our life, yet it also takes away from the everyday experience. By listening to music (especially in the mobile form) we miss out on hearing the sounds going on in and around us during our daily life; therefore we are limiting and altering our experience of the everyday.
Waiting – “Legend ‘Wait for it’ dary, Legendary”
On this day I waited 5 minutes and 29 seconds for the bus at Stamp, 7 minutes and 4 seconds for the Metro, 2 minutes and 54 seconds for a meeting to start, 6 minutes and 21 seconds for the Metro and 3 minutes and 11 seconds for the bus again, 4 minutes and 34 seconds for my friends to come outside, 15 minutes and 45 seconds for my food at the diner. I waited for a total of 45 minutes and 18 seconds and that is not including the seconds and minutes I waited for social media sites, emails and other internet sources to load. 45 minutes compacted together is a long time, but because it is segmented over a day it does not seem so bad. Waiting provides moments for reflection. It provides moments for boredom. It provides moments for experiencing the everyday. We are given time to be released from and contemplate other parts of our daily lives. Waiting is not just wasting time until something happens; it is an integral part of the everyday experience
Doing “Homework” – “because 7 hours in school is not enough”
When I was in grade school, my school teachers would give assignments that were to do be done outside of class time. This work was labeled homework. Today the lines between what is homework and complete tasks in my everyday life have become blurred to me. I am a student at the University of Maryland and everything I do has some connection. My school life is no longer just my course load; it is my life in general. It is my responsibility to follow through on my To Do list. I think in this sense my everyday becomes filled with tasks that I deem important; I ,in some respects, control my everyday through my (home)work. At the same time, however, society and social institutions provide an extrinsic pressure on me to complete certain tasks and hold myself and my work to certain standards. In this sense my everyday life is not totally in my power.
Social Media – “You are what you tweet.”
Social media has become fully integrated into our lives. Many people especially in the millennial generation are constantly connected to social media. Think back to when social media first started: It was limited and attached in many ways to just the computer. With advances in technology social media now is attached to us. It provides a constant connection to society while concurrently providing an escape from social situations. This prompts the question – does social media enhance or disrupt our experience of the everyday? On one hand, it brings us closer to the everyday as we document our lives and are given the opportunity to witness other peoples’ everyday lives. On the other hand, many people have become almost too focused on what messages their social media profile suggest to society about their everyday lives. In this sense, social media no longer acts as a way to experience to the everyday, but rather as a distraction to it.
Netflix – “It just might bring everyone together”
Television is a part of my daily life everyday. It was not always this way. My mom used to believe that watching too much TV was bad for my development. Today as a college student, it is now “essential” to my mental sanity and survival. Every night I watch Netflix; it provides the perfect destresser to put my mind to bed. Netflix in itself is an interesting tool of the everyday in my life. Netflix is part of television’s genealogy. Its “watch what you want when you want” platform has transformed the everyday act of watching television. My everyday life no longer revolves around watching TV shows when the TV networks put them, but instead the television I watch revolves around my everyday life. The evolution of this idea is transforming consumer industries as companies now must create and advertise products by how they fit in the consumer’s everyday life; not how the consumer should adjust their everyday for a product.