Monday, January 28, 2013

Gender Roles

Gender roles are stupid. It’s been a tool to oppress both the sexes in various ways and generally hold people back from their full potential. This fact seems incredibly apparent as I learn about the fifties in social studies class. It’s no surprise that second-wave feminism came in the sixties.

From the crib, children are indoctrinated with messages telling them how to act based on their gender. The girls’ toys aisles are literally a barrage of pink and the boys’ aisle is a barrage of blue and silver. Girls have princesses to look up to while boys have superheroes (both who teach exaggerated gender stereotypes). If they deviate this, it’s met with the harshest penalty. Boys are automatically considered “gay”. Girls are told that they can be tomboys as young girls, but, of course, when puberty comes around and they don’t ship up into a more demure self, they are labeled as “butch”. And so it continues throughout adolescence. Girls are seen as somewhat helpless, sweet, demure, pretty, sexy without being a whore while boys are supposed to be macho, muscular, never cry, playboys. Both suffer from incredibly low self-esteem as they try to squeeze their round, dynamic selves into the square stale box of a gender role. Even if they try to break out of that system and decide to be nonconformist, they will always feel the tug to follow that whispers to them with every decision they make (whether they are aware of it or not); no matter how hard they try, even the best of them will find themselves caving into the pressure and feeling conflicted). It only gets worse from there.

The worst part about gender roles is that they are an entirely a product of society. While the sexes as a whole do have natural proclivities towards certain thing, it’s a pretty loose standard and certainly not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. To try to make it a total binary system is ridiculous.

As I said, it’s gotten way better since the fifties. And yet, it’s still not good enough. There are still so many people who are stifled in roles that they aren’t meant for and don’t feel comfortable with. If you are a girl and you don’t wear makeup, you’re ugly. A prude even. Same if you decide not to shave your legs, pubes, etc. If you are a girl and you want to sleep around, you’re a whore. If you’re a woman and you don’t want to have kids, you are selfish. If you are a boy who wants to wear makeup, you are gay. If you are a man who doesn’t act like you think with your dick, you’re weird. If you are a man who wants to stay home with your kids, you get strange looks. It’s actually a little ridiculous.


And, if we think about it, every inequality that either side faces is because of gender roles. That’s why I’ve never understood why the feminist movement and the MRA movement haven’t just teamed up already to stop the root of the problem instead of arguing over which sex is more oppressed. Why are women slut-shamed and objectified more so than men? Why are they forced to beauty standards they can never uphold (and why are men also held to such standards)? Why are their rights to birth control and abortion constantly threatened? Gender roles. Women are supposed to pretty, the pursued, upholding to perfect standards of beauty and sexual conduct. Why do men get heavier sentences than women, less custody, less equality in domestic violence cases? Men are supposed to be stronger; they aren’t naturally adept for child-rearing like women are; women are so much weaker and defenseless so, of course, women are not taken as seriously in court.

Gender is not a binary system. It’s not either “boy” or “girl”. Gender is a spectrum. You can be a girl, a boy, both, neither, somewhere in between and with attributes masculine, feminine, androgynous, etc. Gender is whatever we want it to be. Gender is a label and while labels can be somewhat useful, they can be divisive and confining. Biologically, you’re stuck with one of two sexes and, no matter how hard you try, you can never change your chromosomes. However, gender surpasses that in importance because it refers to how you see and label yourself (and that label should be respected).

I am a girl who, in many ways, fits the gender roles expected of me. I wear makeup and girly clothes and jewelry; I care a lot about my appearance; I'm sensitive. At the same time, I'm opinionated and generally obnoxious; I hate shopping and many girly things. I most definitely identify as a girl. I don't know how much of that has been influenced by my surroundings but, at this point, it almost doesn't matter. I don't strive to be anything but myself.
 
Next time you find yourself trying to cram into a box of any sort, stop and consider. Gender roles are simply roles, not real. It is your choice whether or not to take them on.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Writing Milestones

Writing comes in milestones: first page, first chapter, first type of writing done (memoir, novel, etc.). A book finished, a book revised, etc. In a way, each project accomplished is a milestone. Today, I finished the third draft of my book. I still don't feel like it's good enough and I still don't feel like it's complete but that's okay. 

Writing milestones, no matter how frequent, feel incredible. This is especially true when this is a novel simply because novels take an extraordinary amount of effort and time to complete. It's a strange feeling when a novel is over, almost a daze. 

The joy from each writing milestone is this: I stuck through with this. No matter how shitty this piece is, I stuck with it. And that's more than what a lot of people can say. Us writers certainly have a tenacity that is hard to come by. 

Hopefully, the next step will be with a literary agent. I have worked incredibly hard on this novel over the course of years and now hopefully that can culminate into something. 

The joy of each milestone is that there is only another milestone to conquer. That there is more and more things to accomplish and each thing we do pushes us even closer to that. 




Friday, January 25, 2013

The Simple Things


The simple pleasures of life are like sips of honey from a jar. Simple pleasures are simple and quick, short and sweet. One little simple pleasure is nothing but, all together, they are a little something. They aren’t exciting but sometimes they are the things that I go back. 

Alright so I know that my post from yesterday was a downer. Yesterday, I tossed and turned in bed, heavily considering taking it down. The idea of someone seeing beneath my happy mask freaked me out. I had said that I wanted my family to understand me but, to be honest, part of me didn’t want to. Yet I want them to know, want someone to know, so that maybe they can help me help myself and offer the right form of support. I’m not taking that post down because I refuse to silence myself yet again. I need place to express myself and tell the truth as I see it.

I can, however, state here that I am not entirely hopeless. Or, at the very least, I can

say that I am not entirely hopeless all of the time and that it fluctuates. Yes, there is a hole inside of me and yes, it has been harder to smile lately. Yes, I happen to be in a shitty situation living as a teenage misfit who always happens to be incredibly sensitive and that there’s no way to change that.  But I can still get pleasure from the simple pleasures.

Sometimes, the black spells are too strong to focus on anything else. In those moments, I need release such as that in the previous blog posts. Yet sometimes, I can distract myself from it. So I do. And it’s usually the simple pleasures that get me out of it.

The following is what I have found helpful to get me out of the black spells or get my mind off of it in no particular order:
 
-Looking at cute puppy videos and pictures.
Apparently, looking at cute puppy videos releases a chemical in the brain. But looking at cute things always makes me smile.

-Cuddling with my real life dog or hamster. 
There are cuddle hormones, too. Plus, they're so freaking cute and loving little things. People might suck but they are good and they will always be good. 

-Masturbating
Yeah, this is probably a little bit of TMI but, hey, it does help when I'm feeling down and out.  

-Writing and reading. 
Not venting, of course, or reading downer books. No, I mean writing and reading drama, things that will help me escape or allow me to think about abstract things. Nothing consumes as much of my time, of course, as writing a book does: the plotting, the research often needed, the actual writing of the first draft, countless revision... It's all very distracting. 

-Listen to hopeful music 
Sad music is when I cannot escape the sadness and need to express it. But sometimes, that can only make it worse and so I need hopeful music. Not fake bubble-gum crap but the real stuff that acknowledges real things. 

-Play around with my photography. 
Taking pictures is fun for a variety of different reasons. I have to find one perfect angle and make sure the coloring's just right. Oh and I forgot: playing with Photoshop consumes even more time!

-Dreaming 
This is incredibly hard to do, but sometimes I can. I like to dream about simple things too because grand things are too hard for me to conceptualize. Planning out my future pets can be a great way to do this. 

-Surfing the Web
Great mindless activity that can waste hours of the day. 

-Exercising 
I think exercising releases endorphin too. I didn't used to like exercising but now I really enjoy it. I feel a rush when I exercise, a thrill. Not to mention, focusing on physical sensations means that I won't have to focus on inner sensations. 
And, I suppose, those are all of the simple things that don't cost much at all but they still help me out quite a bit. That blackness does seep into so much that I do, causing a hole that's always present, but, at the moment, I suppose I can cope with them. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Depression

 The black spells come when I least expect them. They come hardest in the morning and persist throughout the day. It hurts to smile, hurts to move, hurts to think. I have no reason to live and no reason to go on but simply to just be. My insides reverberate and echo in the hollowness that is my chest. I am unable to see anywhere but where I am at, the darkness giving me tunnel vision. A tunnel vision of my thoughts, making me see the world and myself in the darkest shades of black. I am completely alone from everyone around me because no one cares enough to help me (a select few say they want to but it feels insincere) and I don't care enough to reach out to them. I feel numb and empty but somehow the emptiness aches to make me hurt to make me feel not so numb anymore. Every second becomes just about surviving. It hurts so much that I feel like I'm going to explode. It hurts so much that I can't think, feel or care about anything else. When those people around me speak to me, I just feel so damn angry at them that they can't help me and that they don't understand and that they want me to do stupid shit that doesn't matter. And that's what depression is for me and lately that has represented most of the days of my life.

I hate myself for it. I feel so guilty sometimes about it; I hate my life and yet I appreciate so many things in it. I wonder why I'm so weak. I know that's a stupid way to feel about the situation, but I do. I hate myself for thinking the stupid thoughts I feel when I get into one of my black spells even though I know that I can't help it. Even though I know that it, like my anxiety, is mostly genetic and out of my control.

And yet the blackness pervades everything that I do. The black spells are when it gets most intense but that feeling seeps into my mood most of the time. Strangely enough, it loosens its grip enough for me to let into a laugh, a smile, a flicker of joy. And then it’s back, tighter than ever.

I hate it when everyone tells me that I have a good life, that I shouldn’t feel this way. And part of me wants to agree with them because what I’m going through doesn’t compare to what other people are going through. But you know what? It still makes me not want to live most of the time, to go to sleep and never wake up.  I hate living this stupid life that never turns out quite right, this life filled with shitty people who do shitty things, this life where I am alone, this life where I fuck things up most of the time. It just doesn’t seem worth living anymore. Because, yes, I do have opportunities but so what? I don’t care about any of it because it doesn’t make me feel very lucky. I don’t have what I crave the most. I can’t help but feel that my life is going nowhere, that I am stuck in a life that I have no control over. I have to go to school and waste my day doing things that I hate and then go to college to do the whole thing all over again. And the worst part is I pretty much am alone the entire time, surrounded by assholes who hate me for being myself.

I’m alone because I’ve given up my fifteen year struggle of trying to please people who don’t give a shit about me, who don’t care about me enough to fight for me or care what happens to me.  I have a family that loves me but they will never understand me and what I’m going through so, yeah, that’s something but it doesn’t change the fact that I am completely and utterly alone right now. I’ll just keep shipping up and keeping my grades good like they want me because right now, I can’t bear to deal with anyone else seeing me as a great big disappointment too. I’ll suck it up for them because, if I don’t, they would realize that I’m a freak too and probably ship me off to some kind of mental institution. They think I express myself to them and I want to but I can only react in small increments because that's what makes them happy. And I want to make them happy because what's the point of me taking them down with them?

And yeah, a lot of people will tell me to suck it up and I know that so that’s why I always act happy to them, always try to keep up my normal fa├žade because that’s what will keep me safe and them feeling like everything’s good and they’re doing the right thing by ignoring me.  They won’t hesitate to fail me if I do decide to ditch one day to clear my head or if I just let myself fail out of all of my classes like I want to. The only way they would ever pretend to care about me is if I suddenly died in my sleep and they would say how great I am.

I know my family wants to help me but they don't get it. It's like they think giving me medication (most likely harmful) and taking me to some shrink who only wants to take advantage of me will make it magically go away. I have encountered many a psychiatrist and psychologist but none have been my friend.

I know I’m pathetic. I really do. I'm acting like that stupid emo kid in the corner except that's only because I feel like I can't act like that stupid emo kid that I always feel I am inside.  I bet the world would be better off without me in it anyway. Without my complaining. I'm a fish in a bag, shaken my life and too dizzy to stand. Strongest of the fittest, right? I’m not very fit. 



Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK Day

 "I have a dream that one day I will not be judged by my appearance but by the content of my character." And so an iconic man spoke an iconic speech. Despite repeated death threats and massive opposition, Martin Luther King, Jr. soldiered on for his cause and eventually died for it. Today is Martin Luther King Day. For most, that just means a free day off from school. However, I couldn't help but think of the implications of this day, especially given that the Google homepage edited itself just for the occasion.

I am sad to report that today there is still mass discrimination against black people and other minorities in this country. When my teacher talked of Black History Month in an all-white classroom, I wanted to laugh. What really had been done? The cycle of poverty continues, oppressing non-white people in an entirely new way. White suburban kids can spend their high school career smoking pot when they're supposed to be in class and they'll still probably pass. Hell, they'll probably at least get into community college. And yet for inner city black kids? They have to have actual intelligence and to the umpteenth degree and an incredible amount of inner strength. Even if they get into college, they'll still have to work very hard to teach themselves the information that teachers were supposed to have already taught them as they race to understand their college courses. That's incredibly, incredibly unfair but it seems it will take decades to undo that mass damage (if it can be undone at all). And that's only one example of the inequalities that still exist (not including profiling, discrimination, unequal pay, harsher jail sentences).

But still, despite this, Martin Luther King truly did accomplish quite a bit. Yes, he wasn't the only figure of the civil rights movement but he was one of the most important ones. He empowered people to fight and he did so in a nonviolent way, which is absolutely incredible (versus Malcolm X. While I admire his charisma and understand where he's coming from, he's still rather crazy). He fought for black people to at least get some civil rights and not be treated like dogs while making white people understand exactly how wrong their behaviors were. So, while it wasn't everything, it was something.

I will never truly be able to understand racism. Despite the fact that I am labelled "Hispanic" (despite also being half white and half- European Spanish) on record in order to get affirmative action, I pass enough as a white person to not have to deal with the discrimination that that title is supposed to alleviate.

I'm a dreamer, though. An idealist, a rooter for the underdog. I'm an equalist and I will fight for anyone who is oppressed: the LGBT community, women, minorities, anyone. I hope one day I can live in a world where inequalities don't exist but for now, I at least can marvel at what has been done.

black and white pictures of people holding hands

My Personal Narrative

My personal narrative is my life. Being as I live, I have a personal narrative. The two go hand in hand. This personal narrative of mine shows a bit with each and every piece that I write. Of course, it is a book that is growing with each passing day and I find that the most interesting thing of all.  With each word I write, I am leaving something behind even if it is something that no one will ever see. Most will never know my personal narrative truly and fully; perhaps that I will never know it in this intimate way, either, since my memory is filled with holes.

And yet, with each word I write, I start to unravel it and analyze it and, with that, I actually start to get somewhere.

We all have personal narratives but writers are some of the only ones to write it down. Non-writers will just flit through their lives and they will never think about their lives, never think about their personal narratives until they are old and they finally realize how insignificant they really are. They realize that they will perish and, within a century or so, no one will remember their name. And that gets them wondering, possibly, what their purpose ever was but they won't know. Writers will go through the same struggle, of course, but they will simply do so earlier and try to fix this problem before it becomes a problem.

I am perhaps the worst offender of this. I think and feel so intensely that it blows me away. I am constantly wondering what the point of existing even is, wondering how the universe hasn't wiped out humanity yet at all. And so, in my terror, I write to deal with it all, hoping that it deals with this problem.

Humans are intensely complicated beings. They might try to record their lives but they will never really be able to do so. When they try to make a mark, they only leave that: a mark. An imprint and a shadow. Most likely, they will never be able to leave their true self behind for others to understand after they are gone.

And so they make their personal narratives while they are alive with each action they do. They constantly leave imprints, shadows but it's only ever a smudge mark. Some humans bear themselves out to the world fully to try to leave as much of a mark as possible but most people try to leave as little of a mark as possible in their present state. They try to be invisible or present inhibited selves that they think look good. They never really leave the full pictures. For this reason, human beings will never truly be able to understand history and history will never ever be full because we will never understand history and the people within them; we most likely will never be able to hear the other side of that story, I guess.

It was after writing an essay to send to this camp I wanted to go to that I started to think of all of this. Funny how that works, I guess.

I am insignificant in comparison of the universe. Quite average too. I am a biracial (seemingly white) teenager living in upper middle class American suburbia who has lived a typical American life. I have done a few great things; I have done a lot of stupid things. I have not impacted the life of anyone in a particularly great thing nor have I done anything particularly amazing. I scribble poems in my notebook and I read a lot but honestly that is the only thing that differentiates me from my fellow humans. There is nothing special about me, nothing remarkable. I live and, one day, I will die. Perhaps I will be able to make a mark by donating my organs but those people will never truly know me.

We all have personal narratives and these personal narratives make us who we are and yet... Yet, we will never be able to see those personal narratives and so we will only be left to deduce it based off of the actions of others and the words of other people. We will never truly know our fellow humans.

And so we will keep making our personal narratives until we die and another is born to take our place, to start their own narrative...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Personality Tests and Writing

Our personality is intrinsic. Yes, experience can change us but at our base we stay the same. Our core is the same as it was when we were small children, formed in very early childhood. Personality typing offers a broad overview of one's personality that can be surprisingly helpful in dealing with them.

Of course, most people think of Myers- Briggs when they think of personality tests. This is my favorite personality test, of course, because it is the most specific. And, to be honest, they should. I don't know about most people but that test was spot-on when it came to me and members of my family. My sister is an ESFJ, my mother an ISTJ, my dad is an ISFJ and I, of course, am an INFP. It has not only explained us and how we think and our family dynamics.

There are other types of personality tests, of course, and I tend not to like them because they aren't as specific. I match Type 4 the most on the Enneagram test and I am a Type C. The Big Five, which is more scientifically founded, is a bit more complicated measuring how open, conscientious, extroverted, agreeable and neurotic one is.

I find this all extremely fascinating. Of course, personality tests can't be taken too seriously. Obviously, there are more than sixteen types of people in the world. But, still, I see this as a broad overview of one's personality, a basic sketch. We all have different experiences and environments and I'm sure this affects us in different ways. One ISFP, for example, might cower back in a corner at parties and the other ISFP might be jumping right into the crowd making awkward attempts to blend in with all of the extroverts. The one might be seen as shy and the other social but, at the end of the day, they both need to seriously unwind and get away from all of those people. But, at their core, they are very similar. For this reason, it might help if this is seen in conjunction with other personality test types.

Knowing one's personality type and others' personality type might help gain insight into reasoning behind their behavior as well as one's own. Why am I so freaking passionate? I'm naturally an idealist. Sure, I might have anxiety issues but, overall, I work pretty freaking hard to be laidback most of the time. Why do I feel so alone so often? I'm the rarest personality type and I'm also, well, pretty intense. I work very hard to make sure that I'm living the right way and that my values are correct and, then, if deciding that they are, work very hard to defend them. Why is my sister so manipulative and cruel sometimes, especially to those she loves the most? Well, it's a complicated question, sure, but her personality type gives some answers. She takes her value system from those she currently hangs around, making them somewhat shady. She is not intentionally malicious and she truly thinks she is being helpful and doing the right thing when she is so controlling. She wants to control her environment and depends on security and rules to keep her afloat and those include social rules; she also wants to please people and do nothing to compromise their opinion of her. Thus, having a non-conformist sister does not bode well for her although I know that she certainly has tried very hard to love and accept me. Again, personality types don't say everything but they certainly say a lot.

In addition to real life application, personality tests can be extremely helpful to a writer also. Classifying one's characters helps to understand them better and also helps enrich their personality within a story. Questionnaires are all well and good but personality tests target their cores. One of my favorite characters, Harry is an ENFP while another is an ISFP. I find this all completely interesting. Like I said, a writer can't rely on a personality test alone in developing a character or base a character off of a personality type but it's certainly extremely helpful. Many personality types also have tumblr pages attached to them as well as many famous people, which is important in deciding how the character should reasonably act within their personality.

Knowing a character's personality type (if of various types, all the better!) can help determine how they  will deal with problems and come up with solutions, of who they would be compatible with and why. This is especially helpful if a writer is stuck or if something about a scene doesn't seem to ring quite true.

It's interesting to see how much psychology is a component is in this and I can tell much research has been done on the topic.

It's almost like astrology but it's better and more accurate. If there were MBIT horoscopes in the newspaper, maybe I might actually give them some thought!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why is it So Hard to Be Polite?


Look at the above scene. One man opens the door for another person and that person comes through the door, grateful and presumably thankful for the kindness. Most, however, would not do that. They probably wouldn't even look them in the eye. This truly epitomizes the state of our incredibly rude society. I hate rude people. They're literally the most annoying things ever. 

Now, let me take the time with you to, I don't know, learn a basic life lesson that you should have learned from a very, very young age. However, being as many people have lacked proper parental guidance or were raised by genuinely shitty people, they haven't learned this. If you are one of these people, don't despair. There's still hope for you being as politeness is a lesson that even the stupidest among us can grasp. 

First of all, I want to ask you a very important question. Why? Why are you and others so rude? Perhaps your rudeness is a result of impatience. It would take too much energy to open the door or, God forbid have take a millisecond of your precious day. Perhaps you are so important that your needs trump all others. It's seriously not that hard to take five seconds of your day to open the door for someone or clean up after yourself at a table or actually wait in line instead of butting in front of someone. Or, it might take ten seconds to help someone who has fallen off of the ground and walk a little farther so that someone else can have a handicap. Seriously, so many people act like basic consideration is like sacrificing their whole life to altruism. It has never occurred to them that some people might actually appreciate living in a society where most people act like semi-decent human beings instead of rabid animals. 

Or, it might take, who knows a millisecond for you to take a second and truly, truly think of someone else. This is an even shorter period of time to do although it might cause further inconvenience to you. Maybe, you might decide, "I can turn my terrible music down just a little bit so a non-Directioner might  be able to enjoy her quiet time." Or, you know, "Hey, maybe I can scooch over on the bus so someone can sit next to me. Maybe I can give my seat to someone who needs it more." Or, even better, "Oh wait, I don't want to throw my bubble gum on the ground for someone to step on. It wouldn't be nice to ruin someone's nice UGGs because I'm too much of a lazy dumbass to take a few extra steps to the trash can!" Or, the most shocking thing of all, "Maybe I can actually return the wallet I found on the ground to the Lost and Found instead of taking it!"  

Maybe we can even take this a step further. Not only can we actively go out of our way not to be rude, but we can actually go out of our way to do nice things for people! Hurray!

I could go on in this in depth and the benefits of being polite to people but it should be fairly obvious. Being polite, in however small of a way, makes the world a better place and more of a pleasure to live in. It might benefit you to be a little bit nicer for your fellow human beings. 

For everyone who is actually a decent person already, thank you. You keep the world a better place and I appreciate your consideration for your fellow humans. 

Me with most people especially as they charged the pizza line for snacks during debate, snacks they were supposed to have already paid for. Not only did they butt me, but they didn't even pay for their pizza. Thanks for robbing me of the pizza I paid for, guys. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Anonymity


"Anonymous" is a term signifying an immediate image: usually some hooded figure or something like that. With the group Anonymous, the word has started being associated with Guy Fawkes masks and Internet hackers. With the recent Steubenville rape case and Anonymous' reaction to it, I have been thinking about the power of anonymity especially as it pertains to the Internet.

An anonymous person could be anyone. Literally anyone. This is obvious from the definition of "anonymous", of course, and it's easy to simply say it but, if the meaning is truly grasped, is so mind-blowing it's incredulous. There are so many possible identities that person could have, so many personalities, so many struggles. It could even be anyone we know, someone who had a side completely foreign to us. From day to day, most people live as stymied selves. Out in the open, most present fronts and control their hazardous impulses. They worry (rightfully so) about the consequences of their actions. Their name is attached to them and they are accountable for anything that is said. 

However, in online anonymity, they are free of that burden. The results are mixed.
In many ways, this causes people to show the primal sides of themselves that they hadn't explored before. Often, people express their rage, insecurity, lust, revealing their truly pathetic nature. It is not uncommon to see cruelty and stupidity all over the Internet. YouTubers are routinely harassed for their appearance and subjected to other harsh criticism and objectification (especially if they're female). It is also not uncommon for people to leave spam comments or, worse yet, "troll" or leave shocking comments on a video with an intent to start an argument. As I said, there are also people who are just downright stupid in their comments that vary in the level of sheer stupidity, doing everything from pulling magical facts out of their ass or stating incredibly ignorant opinions. These people don't need to answer to anyone or anything in the Internet anarchy machine they inhabit and, sadly, some take advantage of that.
The negative sides of anonymity have been stated numerous times, though. The positives, however, have not. This is a shame because there are truly beneficial sides to anonymity that most people don't mention.

Anonymity gives you the freedom to say whatever you want to say. Often, this gives people the freedom to say the opinions that they wouldn't have other had the courage to say. Sometimes, these people have truly great ideas that they have kept silent for fear of retaliation; sometimes, YouTube gives them an outlet. On YouTube and other commenting/ forum places, they can say what needs to be said and positively impact someone. Through anonymity, these people can explore ideas that they wouldn't have otherwise been able to explore and engage in interesting debates that they wouldn't have otherwise had. All of this would have been impossible without anonymity. And, also, yes, people can be stupid but that can be a good thing too. Sometimes, a place to be stupid can be a good thing. Human beings need to be stupid and make mistakes before they can move forward, after all, and that includes intellectual thoughts. Anonymity can give them the ability to be corrected and to learn. Sometimes, anonymity can even power someone to ask for help. Most of all, though, anonymity allows people privacy, keeping them safe online and their beliefs and habits private from people who might discriminate them. In many ways, anonymity makes the Internet a safer place yet, at the same time, a worse one. 

I think anonymity is integral to the Internet, though, and I think it's the reason why it's been so successful. But that might change. Google has been pressuring its users to release their full names in YouTube comments. I disagree with this. If they release my name, I will have no choice but to refrain from commenting or to make up an alias. Without anonymity, I wouldn't be able to reveal my thoughts. Sometimes, being anonymous is the only way to stay safe.

Now, in terms of Anonymous? I suppose they make it somewhat easier to commit cybercrime and to cover it up as well as to endanger other people through hacking. In theory, I should be opposed to what they're doing in the Steubenville case because they're obstructing justice. I'm not, though. What they did was very brave and they are bring to justice when there would have otherwise been none. Yes we are not giving them a "fair trial" but with a rape case in a rape culture, the odds are stacked in favor of the rapist. In this regard, anonymity has empowered Anonymous to do something very courageous and they are, as I said before, saying what needs to be said (or shown what needs to be shown in the case of the video released).

I suppose that brings another point: some people simply don't deserve anonymity. As (possibly potential) rapists, these boys have (most likely) committed a violent crime. The fact that they have done so makes them a (potential) threat to society and thus people need to be notified of their presence. The fact that they are juveniles does not diminish this fact. Anonymity is a privilege and, if abused, is one that deserves to be lost. I cannot know when this is the case because there are so many shades of gray there. So when can we deduce that anonymity should be lost? I don't quite know.

Anonymity is a mixed bag. But it is whatever people make it and it appears that it's here to stay. We, as the Internet community and as people, can each decide whether to use our anonymity for to do good or to do harm. However, we all must take responsibility for what goes on the Internet and elsewhere when we are anonymous. Because, in many ways, each and every person is Anonymous. 


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

To AP or Not to AP

 To AP or not to AP, that is the question. Or, at the very least, that is the question that I am facing right now. It is the middle of the year but already, courses are being decided for next year. And now as I approach junior year, that is the question I am asking.

Should I take AP English? AP World History or European History? AP Art History? AP Psychology? How many AP classes can I take without my head exploding and how many can my classes take on? Or, the more relevant question is this: how much farther do I need to bend down so college can sufficiently kick me in the ass? If college tells me to jump, I must ask the obligatory "How high?"

I'm taking AP psychology, by the way and waiting to possibly take some sort of AP Social Studies and/or an AP English next year. I feel obligated to take at least one AP course but, not knowing what to expect, I am going to take the purported easiest class to get some sort of feel for what AP is. Plus, psychology is interesting. But that's of no matter because my agonizing decision is only one detail in an even bigger decision: the decisions of millions just like me.

To AP or not to AP? It seems like the end of the world and of my college career. Our school places so much pressure on us to heavily consider it, to go into it even as he freak out inside. Levels, of course, matter. In elementary school, the pressure was on for us to be in Humanities. In middle school, the pressure was on us to be in Honors. Now, in high school, the pressure is onto us to be in an AP level course.

That's all my teachers have been talking about and it has been stressing me out. This whole thing seems incredibly stupid and irrelevant. Yeah, it will count for college credits, but so? I'm taking a variety of English course in college regardless.

All of this pressure is ridiculous. I feel the pressure really started to cook and it's just stressful to think about. This decision will alter the course of everything forever, apparently. Or, at least, it will affect my  junior year, which is what colleges look at, and college is, apparently, my life.

Ridiculous, right? How am I supposed to have it all figured out right now?

You're not supposed to be too smart but not too stupid, either. In regards of grades, we need to be in the highest levels of each course and get A's or B's within them (but easily and with no passion) and that's how we'll succeed.

Is this what life is really about? Are these courses so important? And, in addition to all of that, why is so much pressure put on them? Why would they even foist that much pressure on us in the first place?

I've never been in AP but they're making it sound so, so difficult with an incredible amount of workload and I can't help but wonder what the point of it all is in the first place. This competition is crazy and needless suffering all around. Like junior year isn't hard enough. They're making it sound like the perfect thing in the world.

My peers act like there is a requirement to  have a skinny body, an impeccable image and oh, now   to take an AP class before graduation! Lovely. All of this ruthless competition and incredible stress is supposed to add up to something. It's so fake too and so ridiculous. It seems that college, like everyone else, is in love with cardboard cutouts.

I'll deal eventually but that's not the point. This only shows the problems with society as a whole with our ambition and our need to save face and all of these insane expectations set for ourselves and others.  And it all is shown in one question too: To AP or not to AP?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Resolutions

Today is officially the start of the new year. The first day of 2013. I'm not sure if that means something, but everyone sure thinks that it does. After all, it's the start of the calendar.

And yet that's it. I'm still in the same place, the same frame of mind and... The same routine. Nothing life-altering has happened since yesterday (or last year). The only major thing that the year will start with is, sadly, school.

However, since it is a fresh start of sorts, I might as well make a declaration while I still have some inspiration.

So here it goes. Hopefully, this will be more unique than most of the other videos and blog posts people have made on this subject although I'm not entirely sure.

This year, I will do the best to find myself and get to know myself. I will try to find the self-awareness that I have been lacking for so long and perhaps I will finally find some peace within myself. I will not do anything that I feel degrades myself and I will make sure to tend to my own needs rather than anyone else's. I will be true to myself no matter what.

This year, I will try to be happy and to find things that make me happy. This year, I will try to escape from all of the things that make me unhappy. Perhaps this might be difficult given the toxic, stifling environment I am forced to enter every week but I shall try to make the most with what I have.

This year, I will edit more of my books and not just the one I hope to publish. I will try to get a literary agent and a publisher but I will not take the rejections to heart. I will simply try to be the best writer that I can be and create the best books that I can. I will use writing in my mission to live that life to the fullest and be the best that I can be as well as to further explore myself. In addition to writing, I will also try to embark on all other opportunities that are presented to me and try all of the new things that I can. I will take risks.

This year, I will try to be the best person that I can be but not beat myself up when I cannot meet a certain standard.

This year, I will not look back and I will not focus on my past. I will not regret because what it is done is done. I will only do the best that I can do and I will only look forward because that is all that I can do. As I do this, I will live in the present and say "Carpe diem!" I will live my life to the fullest.

Most of all, I will not expect myself to follow all of these idealistic proposals nor be disappointed when I cannot complete all of them. I will only try.

I hope 2013 will be a great year for me as well as all who have bothered to read this post.