New Life Counseling

How Are Community Aesthetics and Screen Technologies Affecting The Personalities Of Those You Love?

“The enjoyment of nature is the mark of a good soul”  –Immanuel Kant–

Personality, Aesthetics and Screens

Richard S. Waguespack Jr., BTH, MSW, LCSW

2.21.22 Last Revision

Insufficient facts always invite danger.”Spock

Aesthetics

In the past, Aesthetics has been mostly confined to fields such as art and philosophy — addressing constructs of beauty, taste and how they relate to judgements, values and morals.  However, in the past couple of decades those studying psychology, art and other humanities have become increasingly motivated to relate Aesthetics to perception, human development and other areas, particularly the sciences.

In this essay, I hope to point to a broader constellation of essential variables to relate aesthetics to personality development, motivation, and community dynamics. This is so very important to understand as it relates to how people form basic likes and dislikes in many varieties of human expression – from movie productions, music, paintings, video games and photography to architecture, interior design and landscaping.  All these components and more make up the emerging Metaverse of online communities.

For starters I would like to conditionally affirm Palmer and Shimamura’s inference (2012) that “Aesthetic experiences drive hedonic responses” – as basic human processes that drive emotions. At the same time I think it important to point out that a person’s deep experiences with certain varieties of artistic beauty can certainly be transcendental and even transcendent. Deep imprints on personality, motivation and emotion are tied to aesthetic experiences and in some sense aesthetic choices, both within an introverted personal level and within group dynamics.

In both philosophy and psychology perennial questions of aesthetics tend to revolve around why a person, group or community prefers exhibit A more than exhibit B, C or D. On a developmental level, we certainly understand that when one’s child or daughter hangs around a certain group, the prevailing collective “taste” and aesthetic decisions for good or ill will definitely affect his or her sense of aesthetics. Will this not be partially influenced by the group’s perceptions and penchants as well as the emotions and memories associated with the group experiences as they are recounted within a group of solitary recounting of the experiences?

Community Aesthetics

Mainstreaming and fortifying the construct of “community aesthetics” should be of great help to parents, teachers, counselors and others looking to reform or improve culture and to help fortify the optimal development of personalities of those they love. It is a way to constructively evaluate the learning and social environments of children, adolescents and adults of all ages, including those who have retired to a nursing home.

When artists, including authors, musicians and filmmakers display or attend their work over decades they are in a sense “creating culture”. If they become celebrated enough, their hometown, friends and teachers as well as other places where they have lived become interesting to a wide range of followers. When interviewed, the inquirers often want to know what their intentions and related thoughts were at any given interval.

After a celebrated artist passes away, some communities seek to preserve his or her property and form foundations to keep their memory alive. Somewhere along the way people explain what they liked or found interesting about the figure and in some cases what they disliked or found uninteresting. As our highly diversified culture continually expands and partitions various categories of aesthetics (entertainment), living persons with families may have to decide whether the artists being evaluated as well as many other influences on their children are to be approached or avoided. This includes food and various restaurants.

On a primal “hedonic” level, each person prefers some food over other food and most people have foods they strongly like and dislike. Moving up the scale, people like some media more than others and prefer some types of prayer services over others. We find “good” aesthetics something to be grateful for and “bad” aesthetics something to be uneasy or even alarmed about.

If you took your family to a special symphonic orchestra one week you are probably not going to be happy if your teenage son and daughter decides to attend a decadent heavy metal ‘concert’ in a big field outside the city limits the next week. What is their motivation? It might start off being “cool” and “with it” for peers but after they attend together for hours and hours in a peer to peer experience, they now have memories reinforced by the “music”… and then when they relive the “adventure” at various times in the future, the imprint on their taste and judgment might be long lasting.

One thing that aesthetics may study in psychology in the future is why certain people have a very wide and developing taste in music and others, even in their 60s or 70s have been focused on “rock and roll” that with certain groups like Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones or “Grateful Dead”. When it comes right down to it, they are not particularly interested in most Christian music and many other genres available. They seem “stuck” in their likes and their likes are very narrow and in the minds of many “distasteful” and “juvenile”. Yet these very same people could very well be high functioning businesspeople, scientists, teachers, professors or school principals.

There is some mystery here, but the reality of these people’s taste influencing future generations is quite significant if not formidable. In one high school environment I saw a high school band learn how to play a particular song almost soley because the principal was a big fan of the painted rock band that created it! In a number of other instances I have seen how leader’s aesthetics was something quite influential if not contagious among many students. In the most lamentable scenarios, I have seen at least one high school theatre teacher produce a school play with immoral and amoral undertones and overtones so thick you could cut them with a knife

In such environments it can be quite uncomfortable to challenge entrenched ‘affinities’ and cultural acceptance or even routine celebration of a certain set of variables we might think of as built in aesthetics affecting the culture and communication patterns of hundreds if not thousands of people. Can it really be in so many instances people are merely interested in the instrumentals and are not worried about listening to certain lyrics over and over again? What are the social and psychological implications of a culture that routinely functions with this ethos?

It is becoming increasingly apparent that schools in America have demonstrated the potential and even the disposition to be morally harmful to students, perhaps doing more harm than good in many cases. If a teacher is ‘cool’ and ‘laid back’ but persistently demonstrates an orientation with aesthetics and values that are antithetical to what their parent’s prescribe, at least some children are not going to be self possessed and secure enough to orient in more optimal ways with pressure from peer groups and teachers combined. If such an individual is confronted by a group of parents, he or she will probably frame them as ‘extremists’ and people with persecutory impulses with too much time on their hands.

While we need to keep an open mind to allow students to view artistic expression in a wide variety of cultures and contexts: music and other expression from around the world and in many different venues, and we surely must keep an eye on the quality of emerging community aesthetics. Once we contemplate just how powerful these influences can be can be it is time to consider ways to intervene on the most problematic. Understanding the nature of community aesthetics is an essential step in this direction – a useful way to have discussions with family members, students, friends and others. Perhaps we can be too conservative or cautious, but perhaps there is little risk of that.

What are the effects of well selected classical music as well as contemporary and classical folk music? I think the aesthetic effects need to be compared with more problematic forms of entertainment on an interdisciplinary level – from science to English literature to psychology to pastoral psychology.

Virtually all students are heavily involved in technology and screens which fortify “community aesthetics”. Those who are more introverted may seek community in online video game groups that take on a much broader scope than many from older generations might imagine. Already Southwestern Oklahoma State University has for the last year or two (or more) supported an eSports program and Arena. When one weighs the trickle down effect on high school and middle school students as well as young adults living in their parents basement with no strong career plans, we know that examining the emergent cultures from video games is something observing families, groups and communities cannot avoid.

Neurology of Music Aesthetics

 

Music is an ancient, primordial feature of people and civilizations. Some of the oldest instruments in the world are over 40,000 years old according to experts. Clearly music has been a major social glue of tribes and civilizations for a very long time.

In our study of contemporary Aesthetics we ask why so people prefer some types of music rather than others. What information can science provide to guide our assessments? According to Zatorre (2018) the portions of the brain dedicated to the perceptions and productions of musical sounds are the auditory cortex connected in a loop to motor systems which are also very active when people produce music. It is obvious these regions are connected because we often will listen to music and at the same time sway, tap our feet, drum with fingers or dance (Harvey 2017).

Zatorre credits Santiago Ramon y Cajal for his scientific hypothesis in 1904 that musical training changes the anatomy (or structures) of the brain. In 1906 Cajal shared the Nobel prize with Camillo Gogi for their work on the structure of the nervous system.

Music develops new neural pathways and helps facilitate progressive growth of nerve terminals. It is common knowledge amongst researchers that the auditory, motor and frontal cortex are more developed in those with musical training and is linked to the age you started as a musician (Zatorre, 2018). He goes on to explain that we experience pleasure from music through deep structures in the Striatum that activate dopamine. Note that most video games have unique music and also heavily engage the motor cortex to play the games.

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Music and Language:  Philosophy, Medicine and Education

DIAGRAM BELOW

[Brain Regions Associated With Music]

What Is The Metaverse?

Computers make excellent and efficient servants, but I have no wish to serve under them.  –Spock

In its current meaning, metaverse generally refers to the concept of a highly immersive virtual world where people gather to socialize, play, and work. Awareness of this term surged on October 29, 2021, when Facebook rebranded itself “Meta” and released a video in which CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, “I believe the metaverse is the next chapter for the internet   current meaning, metaverse generally refers to the concept of a highly immersive virtual world where people gather to socialize, play, and work. Awareness of this term surged on October 29, 2021, when Facebook rebranded itself “Meta” and released a video in which CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, “I believe the metaverse is the next chapter for the internet.”                                                                                                                                                          –Merriam-Webster (2021)

At this juncture it is worth reminding that corporate leaders, particularly those in multimedia operations of the Metaverse and movie industries will be highly motivated by commercial interests to manipulate our emotions and other faculties in order to sustain the highest retention and more profitable levels of engagement.

These earlier mentioned industries will have an added advantage of decades of marketing and retention insight as well as access to contemporary research using brain scanning instruments such as the MRI as well as those that closely examine our heart and cardiovascular systems (refereed to as some as our second brain) and our enteric system (also considered a second or third brain).

Entire industries are now investing billions in creating online virtual communities complete with music, characters, animations, voices and much more! We need to be open to all that is good about these developments while still assessing true problems and dangers. Remember, these are now FIXTURES of American and International Culture. RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. Keep an eye on the products of Sony Computer Entertainment, Tencent Games, Microsoft (Xbox Games), Nintendo Company, Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Namco Bandai, King, Ubisoft, and Gung Ho Online (Jones, 2019).

Newzoo estimates that mobile gaming generated $93.2B in 2021, a 7.3% increase. To put that figure into perspective, the global Box Office revenue was $21.4 billion in 2021 according to a Variety analyst, and the global recorded music market generated around $57.05B in wholesale revenues in the same year according to The Business Research Company.  In other words, mobile gaming alone generated more annual revenue than the music and film industries combined. Let’s take a look at more statistics and trends to help us understand what to expect from gaming in 2022. (Silver, 2022)

Just as architecture, interior design, photography and fashion are based on aesthetic appeal so are the constellation of components that make up virtual online communities. Audio, visual participation in real time PLUS trailing means of communication to leave messages in select inboxes within a very enriched, dynamic and engaging environment glued together by many social interfaces is the general modus operandi. In order to understand how much younger people may bond in these environments follow this sporting quote:

“…donations from friends and other viewers on my Twitch channel helped me scrape by for a couple of months…” (Collegiate Staff, 2022).

Assessing Select Precursors And Components Of The Metaverse

The music of Top 100 VideoGame Music is quite interesting but also DOWNRIGHT ALARMING. These are posted by an individual known as “Kristian Kumpula” whose succinct measure featured on his YouTube banner tells you all you need to know about his moral perspective.

What might we find inside this cave? A mix of the good bad and mixed. Lets start with a downer (just what our cynical and emotionally liable kids need, right?) Our Kingdom Will Fall from Crusader Kings 2. How much will this song and others on the influence the outlook of young listeners? Remember that the three main influences on the subconscious are repetition, trauma and peak experience. This song sings about how our demoralized kingdom will fall and you (the adults in the room) do not care – jaded asleep at the wheel! Many songs before and after feature cinematography and posters that are engaging and some mind boggling (along with the programs they support). You see, they don’t go to movies in these communities… THE ARE THE MOVIE!!! GET IT?

Now consider the impact of young people whose video community features We Will Rise Again in the “LineUp” of repeated music. My goodness! While not too offensive on the surface, it does seem to possess a very firm but brittle socio political outlook that many might describe as Marxist and less than holistic. The music sings about our current society burning down and the new communistic (?) order taking over to make economics fair. What is your child, grandchild or great grandchild listening to and PLAYING for hours and hours a day… often repeated over and over again!

This is just one of a 100 and there are many more out there… many video game communities, often attended by less than emotionally stable individuals. People immersed for hours and hours… some so enthralled and invested they collapse or even die from exhaustion. How can we be assured that ‘objective outside observers’ have adequate assess to form judgements about the health of such environments over time?

Consider these theme songs played frequently:

XCOM II: New World Order

XCOMII: No Values

Memory Reconstruction” from Remember Me

Suicide Mission” from Mass Effect 2

Harmless? When do we cross the threshold of making too big of a deal of a social phenomenon that may well make it own internal adjustments without our help? YET…What is going on here? What about the community aspect(s)? Perhaps the seemingly innocuous Main Theme from Tales of the Borderlands offers something a bit more consumable, healthy and innocent. Well… not so good but maybe marginally acceptable compared to most of the others MONEY IN THE BANK | Tales From The Borderlands – Episode 1 Zer0 Sum. Here a dated early version of the game with a solo operator is shown. Today the communities are populated with many texting back and forth and getting to know each other in a more enriched environment.

Did we not learn in 21st century psychology that if we see life as zero sum game we are in big trouble? This is one strong tendency of video-game-music and related themes / challenges. Black and white, winners and loosers. You see, they have outgrown the sling shot catalyst they learned growing up – “everyone gets a trophy”. Now it is “winner take all” to quicken the competition and make it all more fun.
Brinkmanship is they middle name!

Oh well… bigger fish to fry… these Borderland characters are only scheming, dishonest, robbing, ‘higher class’ hip gangster people in a very provocative ongoing Saga… continually crafted to blur the distinctions between good, evil and ‘cool’.

Christian Art and Related Social-Aesthetic Environments

How might we create communities that celebrate Christian music in various ways and also develop meaningful activities supported by such music. Perhaps traveling adventures including citing beautiful scenery driving may inspire more interactive communities that may include very appreciated social and even business opportunities that exceed those typically found in gaming communities.  Beautiful Aesthetics – Beautiful Personalities!!!  Wire Together – Fire Together!!!  Nature becomes art when it is painted and photographed and there is a lot one can do with this.  Just a few days ago I visited a dentist who had almost an entire wall dedicated to a life size nature scene in the woods with two deer staring at you.  This very creative idea definitely improved the experience!

Provided enough interest is shown, I can write more about this topic and perhaps even participate in developing some type of alternative community to elevate our culture. For now, my contribution is to provide a very broad playlist of mostly contemporary Christian music from a variety of venues that at a minimum may enhance one’s day more than some alternatives. Two artists that produce wonderful music — sometimes explicitly Christian and sometimes not are Karen and Don Peris (i.e. Medjugorje and Superhero and many other songs)!  They are quite underrated!!!

Moving along, I hope there is something for everyone in the following music Christian song list compilation!!!  I think if we become creative the best online communities can emerge and sustain growth by elevating beautiful themes into community aesthetics and advance love and many other virtues to heal persons, personalities group dynamics, confused cultures and society at large.           –Richard Waguespack

–Warm regards to readers, loved ones, patients, clients, students and audiences! -RSW

CITATIONS AND SOURCES

Collegiate Staff. (2022, January 11). Online gaming, communities, and friends that saved me. The Collegiate. Retrieved 2.12.22 from https://thecollegiatelive.com/2022/01/online-gaming-communities-and-friends-that-saved-me/

Editors. (2021, August 18). Social Gaming Communities: 10 Online Gaming Communities to Join in 2021. Ritual Motion. Retrieved 2.12.22 from https://ritualmotion.com/articles/social-gaming-communities-10-online-communities-to-join-in-2020/

Eight Oldest Musical Instruments in The World. Oldest.org. Retrieved 2.12.22 from https://www.oldest.org/music/musical-instruments/

Harvey, A. (2018, June 27). Your brain on music. TEDxPerth. Retrieved 2.16.22 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZFFwy5fwYI

Jones, J. (2019). 10 Largest Video Games in the World. Largest.ORG. Retrieved 2.16.22 from https://largest.org/entertainment/video-game-companies/

Merriam-Webster. (2021, October 30). What is the metaverse? Retrieved 2.12.22 from https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/meaning-of-metaverse

Nguyen, L. (2017, July 26). 15 People who have died playing video games. Retrieved 2.12.22 from https://www.thegamer.com/15-people-who-have-died-playing-video-games/

Palmer, S. & Shimamura, A. (2012, March 13). The Psychology of Aesthetics. TEDxHECMontreal. Retrieved 2.11.22 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwsEeQpxkFw

Silver, D. (2022, January 25). Mobile gaming overview. IronSource: Mobile Gaming Trends 2022. Blog. Retrieved 2.12.22 from https://www.is.com/community/blog/mobile-gaming-trends/

Slater, B.H. (n.d.). Aesthetics. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN 2161-0002. Retrieved 2.11.2022 from https://iep.utm.edu/home/about/

Spielberg, R. (2014, June 6). The healing power of Music. TEDxLancaster. Retrieved 2.11.22 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LTusPwrH9E

Zatorre, R. (2018, April 12). From Perception to Pleasure: How Music Changes the Brain. Retrieved 2.11.22 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVX8j5s53Os

More About the Work of Richard Waguespack

In addition to licensed mental health services in Oklahoma, my work may extend to coaching for select clients in a broader vicinity. Services include support for individuals anticipating work/life transitions or struggling in the midst of them. This includes identifying best goals, setting goals, working towards interior spiritual and psychological transformation, improving relationships and outlook. I am particularly good at generating new ideas, innovation, supporting healing from past difficulties and assistance in finding a “new life” most suited for authentic personhood and best development from a Christian perspective. This includes addressing the challenges of small business, retirement/aging issues and optimal development with handicaps throughout the lifespan (i.e. Executive function challenges for those with attention deficit problems). Short term online coaching groups may be developed if enough interest is expressed by multiple people within the framework of a few months.                            

580-500-8050

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