In each edition of Culture Perspectives, The Spectrum will ask UB students seven questions that survey their observations, opinions and beliefs to help us understand our cultural climate. We’ll ask questions about the media students are consuming, where they stand with their own generation and more. One question will always tackle a hot topic in our culture — whether local, national or global.
For this week’s Culture Perspectives, we talked to:
- Shalaia Edwards, a sophomore in exercise science
- Zachary Shannon, a junior majoring in history and political science
- Joven Fong, a sophomore exploratory major
- Rebecca Ramhap, a senior computer science major
- Mokshita Gupta, a senior in computer science major
- Josue Mejia, a sophomore in computer science
- Tyler Melendez-Fielding, a freshman majoring in biology
What’s the last place in Buffalo where you had a memorable time?
Edwards: During the weekend, I went to LASA’s [Latin American Student Association] party. It was really fun. Everyone was very nice and vibing, and there was a lot of people from different countries. You got a taste of everybody’s culture and their music and their stuff.
Shannon: I went to Pearl Street Downtown with my parents a couple weeks ago. They just came up to get me out of campus for a minute just for fun.
Fong, while grinning: My apartment. I had an event with my friends.
Ramhap: Last night, I went out with my friends for dinner. We went to India Gate, the one on Hertel. We’ve all been craving that, and we go once a month.
Gupta: I’d say the beach. The Woodstone beach? Woodrocks? That beach was pretty, very deserted.
Mejia: Probably at Niagara Falls with my friends. We did crazy stuff.
Melendez-Fielding: I forget the frat that I was a part of last weekend.
How do you spend time on your phone?
Edwards: Definitely Tik Tok and Instagram. They be having some interesting stuff. I’ll be laughing at everything.
Shannon: I usually just use it to brainlessly go on social media, that kind of thing. I guess, Snapchat and Twitter and stuff. I don’t know if they call it X, but Twitter.
Fong: Just games and social media and texting my friends, basically. Tik Tok and Instagram and then games like Pokemon Go, Clash Royale, Word Escape, mostly.
Ramhap: Spotify. Watching TV. Various locations. TV. Movies. Youtube.
Gupta: TikTok. Instagram. Netflix. Youtube.
Mejia: Mostly on Tik Tok or Instagram looking at cat videos.
Melendez-Fielding: Mostly schoolwork like Brightspace, calculators and stuff like that. Also, Tik Tok and stuff like that.
Do you have a favorite online creator? Why?
Edwards: Kai Cenat. He’s my favorite because when he go stream and go live, he makes me feel welcomed. And he’s so funny and also that he’s making a lot of money at a young age too. And then he inspires others, especially people older and younger.
Shannon: Not particularly. Just kind of whatever shows up, I’m like, ‘Yeah this seems interesting.’
Fong: One’s a podcast, it’s “Under the Influence,” is what it’s called. For video games, TenZ. I play “Valorant,” and he’s one of the best players in the world. It’s fun to watch him play and dominate the other team. “Under the Influence” is a really entertaining thing. The things they talk about are kind of relatable sometimes, and they’re funny.
Gupta: My favorite online creator is Taylor Swift because when her team posts on her account, I be looking hard.
Ramhap: I can’t think of anything.
Gupta: Oh, Nadia?
Ramhap: I love Nadia. Oh my god. She just dances and it’s cool. She’s alone in her room. She’s a big fan of Beyoncé and will copy her dances, but it’s not like a TikTok dance. Let me show you, she’s really funny.
Gupta: She’s just a natural cool girl.
Mejia: That’s actually hard. I’d say any person who has a cat Tik Tok. My brother has a cat and my sister’s actually allergic, so I couldn’t have a cat growing up. But my brother got one when he moved out. And so, like, I just love cats.
Melendez-Fielding: No, I don’t. [I watch] A lot of stupid s–t.
What’s the strongest belief you hold about our culture? (state of technology, AI, social media, politics, celebrities, parasocial relationships, etc.)
Edwards: I feel like music is a way to bring everybody together because there could be a certain song that people connect with others through it. I feel like music helps you mentally, emotionally and all that stuff. So definitely music, I like music a lot. I’m connected with my family. When we would host a family reunion, you get that one song and everybody’s up dancing and having fun. So music really brings a lot of people together, it’s really fun and nice to listen to. It’s like a healer. It’s healing for some people. It heals me, though.
Shannon: I guess it’s been good that there’s been an increase in engagement and politics. That’s what I’ve seen in our generation. That’s just been a good thing in general. I guess my personal belief is that the more people just remotely engaged in politics is just going to lead to a better outcome. And in the moment, it might not look very good. But I kind of try to have a sort of optimistic approach to it, even though there’s a lot of negativity surrounding just about everything that I focus on in terms of what I study inside or outside of the classroom. So it’s basically I have to keep an optimistic approach or I’ll lose it, you know what I mean?
Fong: I think social media exaggerates everything that happens, honestly. You’ll watch a video and then think something, and then you’ll actually read about it and be like, “Oh that’s not what really happened.”
Gupta: My biggest belief is that the future is very bleak.
Ramhap: The future is — yeah. Mhm. I feel like social media is definitely causing a rise in parasocial relationships and affecting people’s mental health. There’s a lot of connections to make there. Also I think the loss of the third place is really important because the third place is your phone now.
Mejia: Yeah I feel like people nowadays never like talking to each other. It’s more online. They’d rather talk online. They won’t come up to you and say hello. And it’s just weird. I feel like it’s weird.
Melendez-Fielding: Both sides of the Palestinian-Islamic War are bad. Yeah, America shouldn’t bother with other business even though Israel is an ally. Rights for everybody.
What’s a piece of art that you’ve loved as a teenager and still love now?
Edwards: I don’t really know. I don’t have one right now.
Shannon: There’s a movie from the 80s. They made a movie off of the board game, “Clue,” and that’s a movie I’ve kind of watched with just about everyone. It’s a very special movie to me. It’s got Tim Curry in it which kind of seals the deal. That’s good enough for me. Kind of silly, stupid movies are kind of what I like.
Fong: I think the older TV shows, the ones you grow up with. I still watch it sometimes. I just want to enjoy it and then when they bring it back in games like have skins for it like “Fortnite.” Right now, “Fortnite” came back, and they’re making Lego skins. So I’m thinking “Fortnite” adds Ninjago like the ninjas, they might add a skin for that. I want me and my friends to — we talked about getting the skins playing with it — each get our own ninja skins.
Gupta: I loved trashy books on Wattpad.
Ramhap: I went to the Guggenheim with my sister to see the Hilma af Klint exhibit. She’s an artist that conveys what she learns in seances with these spirits into her art, and I thought that was so f—ing cool. Her paintings are really abstract. She did these paintings at the turn of the century and she was like, “Nobody gets me. I have to put this away.” So she locked up all her artwork for 100 years and then this show was the end of the 100 years. She was like, “Nobody’s gonna understand. In 100 years, they’ll understand.” That was the show and it was very formative for me, personally. I was like 16, maybe.
Gupta: She describes a once in a lifetime experience and I’m like “Oh I love Wattpad books.”
Mejia: “How to Train your Dragon.” That’s like the best movie ever. The best trilogy ever. It’s just amazing. If you’ve watched it, all of it — I’ve also watched the side shows and stuff — the best ever.
Melendez-Fielding: There are paintings from a Jewish artist. He was a survivor of the Holocaust, and some of his paintings reflect the time in the Holocaust and World War II. It’s obviously modern. His name is really long. It’s basically like reading gibberish to me.
What is one thing our generation could work on?
Edwards: Being kind. Just respect people. Treat people how you want to be treated. I’ve been saying that for years: treat people how you want to be treated. Not a lot of people do that. It could also be because of how they grew up in the household. I know my mama taught me some respect. Ma’am. Yes ma’am. No ma’am. No sir and all that. You never know what people are going through.
Shannon: I know I’ve talked a lot about or discussed just like social media in general. I feel like there is a positive to it. And I feel like at the same time we’ve kind of, at certain points, overdone it. There’s a lot of overzealousness to it. There’s a lot of echo chambering, and that’s not a unique problem to our generation but not even exclusive to this campus or anywhere else. It just seems like maybe that’s who I surround myself with. But it just seems like there’s a lot of people who get stuck on one ideology and especially with what’s happened in recent years, there’s a lot less interest in trying to bridge that gap between trying to see if there’s any consensus. It makes it a little bit more difficult to, if there’s an issue, it makes it harder to find a solution. I feel like that’s something our generation could nail down a little harder.
Fong: How we react to things, I think. Overreacting is a big thing that’s going on right now. I mean, if you hear about something and you tell it to someone else, you’ll probably just blow it out of proportion.
Gupta: Putting in effort. People think being nonchalant is so cool.
Ramhap: Especially in relationships, people want to play it off like they don’t like you. But, that’s not cool. Tell me that you like me. I want to hear that, and I want to tell you that. People need to be more vocal about their feelings, I say as one of the most vocal-about-their-feelings person ever, which is not necessarily a great thing. But like I’m up here (signals hand high), people are down here (signals hand low), we need to be here (signals hand in the middle). There’s probably some things I shouldn’t say.
Mejia: I feel like this relates to what’s going on now with what’s happening in Palestine. And people are hateful. It’s hard to say. But people don’t like talking about stuff in a respectful manner. It’s all about hate. I don’t know how to say it but I’d say be more respectful in what you say and try thinking of the other side or other views.
Melendez-Fielding: Socialization. It should be easier to socialize: get out, be more forward. I’m not an outgoing person. Maybe less technology, more socialization, that’ll bring up better social skills.
Do you think Matt Rife is funny?
Edwards: Yes. Oh my god. I was just watching him. He’s so funny. He’s hilarious. Some people don’t like him because some jokes will be offensive, but you just need a little laugh one time. But he’s really funny, especially for our generation now. We can connect to him and relate to him. Older people don’t really relate with him because he talks in our time. He’s definitely funny. I’ll definitely go to his shows one day.
Shannon: Who’s Matt Rife? Is he that comedian that people were saying got canceled, and he’s doing this whole thing?
Fong: Yes. Every time I see one of his videos, the crowd is always laughing. Even if I don’t hear them laughing, I laugh to myself sometimes. That’s one of the few things I’ll laugh to myself about.
Ramhap: No. I only saw one clip, and I clicked right off it. I don’t think he’s funny at all. I’m not entertained. I literally left —10 seconds.
Gupta: F— no. No. Absolutely not. When he made that black eye joke, I wish I could’ve given him a black eye.
Ramhap: *searches him up* This is popular?
Gupta: His entire bit is being too f—ing hot, and his audience is just women. He said his primary audience is only women, and he’s trying to get off of that. He’s like, “I don’t want only women to see me. My comedy is for everyone.”
Ramhap: It’s ‘cause we’re laughing at him, not with him.
Gupta: I don’t even want to laugh at him to be honest. Men like that deserve irrelevancy and icky.
Ramhap: There are so many female comedians that need a special right now than him.
Gupta: I would watch anything of Tina Fey’s. They need to revive her.
Ramhap: Tina Fey is a bit like — I feel like she was appealing to the time but I feel like being actually funny is in her somewhere. I feel like she made a lot of jokes that were deprecating to women, but she had to do that in order to become popular. I think Leslie Jones is hilarious, she’s my most favorite comedian. Leslie Jones and Fran Lebowitz.
Mejia: I do not know who that is. I might have seen him. *searches him up*. Yeah, I’ve never seen this guy.
Melendez-Fielding: I don’t know him.
Tenzin Wodhean is an arts editor and can be reached at email@example.com