Category Archives: Internet

The Desk

Four weeks later, the “Happy Birthday” Mylar balloon survives, defying gravity as it levitates beside his bed. When he wakes, he usually startles, peering into the darkness and waiting for IT to attack in his clownish terror. But the boy does not lay in his bed, but instead hunches over the desk writing on index cards, his arms, the walls, and his mind– any sort of memorization trick he can think of.

Periodically, he reaches for his laptop, opens up Facebook, wastes fifteen minutes reading a bland twitter feed. When he looks up to see the books and papers and notebooks stacked around him like a fortress, he closes the laptop and returns to work.

The boy is me, naturally, too lazy to use first person because after studying this much, can you even be sure that you inhabit your own body anymore? You’re a robot, a clone, that strange alien double agent sent into a high school to infect the student body as well as the teacher, but there are a few resistant students who team up and fight against you. Either that, or everyone’s losing their minds.

Studying might not be the right word, though. More like boarding up a house in Florida before hurricane season or gathering your army for war. Washington, I have crossed the Delaware. I have faced the enemy, and he is no Fuhrer or vaguely-racist-depiction of Communism, but final exams.

As much as I would like to say that these exams are why I haven’t blogged in so long, I can’t say that. After all, the Mylar balloon has been there the whole time, egging me. Write, write write, and no doubt, I have been writing. Perhaps a little more than a week from now, when the waiting and preparing ends, I can write more. Also, I will be putting up videos of poetry performances in the next few days, so look out for those.

Modern Mating: A Fable

Indian Summer, the sun shining like an IPad 2, the birds tweeting: “Can’t wait to head back down South. #winteriscoming”.

                Jane sat on a bench alone eyeing the boy who sat facing away from her with a laptop propped on his knees. She spied on his Facebook profile, wishing she could log on to quench her lonliness. Out here in the real world, she felt only sorrow and awkward failure, never able to properly communicate with those with whom she wished she could.

                Jane craned her neck, hoping it would signal to the boy she wanted to talk to him. For some reason (maybe because he wore Dr. Dre Beats headphones, which block out sound like a plane door being wrenched open mid-flight, the sound-machines designed to optimize the boy’s listening experience as if he were in the studio with the artist which through his open Spotify playlist she could tell was Smash Mouth which she herself had not even heard since she was seven), he did not notice her initiation of the conversation.

                She then tried something more drastic, something that may have come across as so forward and attention-seeking, the wild prey could be scared away. She muttered to herself, “Bored, hmu.”*

                *H.M.U.: Acronym for “Hit Me Up”

                He did not, however, hit him up, and she felt cheated as he liked “Scarlett Johansson” who surely he only followed on Twitter because of her breasts, but in no way her acting abilities. Such a cursory glance offered all of this information to Jane, who could sense things about people. She called this naked intuition.

                She began to resort to less lady-like measures, which included blurting out in repetition “I’m single,” “I’m in a relationship,” “I’m single,” “I’m in a relationship” and whipping out her phone to snap pictures of her cleavage. But with no Instagram to which to upload these pictures, she soon felt her efforts defeated.

                Then she was struck with the most awful idea, a notion so radical that if she were French, they would slice off her head with a guillotine. And the guillotine would be branded with an Apple logo and cost three times as much as normal guillotines. She decided, in a fit of hysteria, lunacy, or brilliance, that she would attempt to evoke vocal contact with the boy.

                He was super cute, wearing his hair like Justine Bieber, with the complexion of Edward Cullen, the combined eyes of every band member in One Direction rolled into one. She strut over to him, trying to only reveal certain angles of her face to appear most attractive because he would have to buy her a few movie tickets and they would have to sit through a few boring Adam Sandler or Madea movies before she could show him “her true self.”*

                *Her true self was a pimple on her neck, inconveniently right blow her left cheek. She also considered it a great secret that she clandestinely loved Dashboard Confessional, but who doesn’t? Also, sometimes she possessed the horrible habit of wearing a dream catcher in her hair as an accessory.

                Jane: Hi, whats up? J

                Boy: Heyy, do I know u? Ur not on my contact list

                Jane: No im jane

                Boy: Cool, wanna go out? :P

                Jane: Sur! :O

                Boy: Were do u wanna go? O.o

                Jane: A new movie this wk end. Billy Madison 2

                Boy: Pick u up at ate

                Jane: XoX :D

               

                Twenty years later, Jane married this boy over Skype via her IPhone.

140-Character Musings On the First Harry Potter Movie

Whoa! SOMEONE is pretty good at whittling.

I sat down tonight to watch the first Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone because well, I don’t really have work tomorrow, so why not? I meant to watch the other movies and tweet about them as well, but I soon grew tired. Pretty soon, I shall enter the land of Nod but not before sharing these thoughts on the movies, which I announced to the world via tweets!

Watching a #harrypottermarathon Gonna tweet all night about this. Starting with Sorcerer’s Stone. #whydowizardsweartophats?

Is the actor for Olivander the same actor as for the final two movies?#harrypottertriva #harrypottermarathon

Harry Potter’s face when he gets an owl for his b-day from an umbrella-wielding giant: priceless #whydidyougetmeanowl#harrypottermarathon

When Harry needs to talk to Dumbledore so badly, why doesn’t he just use the card from a Choc0late Frog box? #harrypottermarathon

Why did they stop making Bertie Bot’s? Flavors like acid, centipede, earwax, glue, latex, mucous, rotten egg, soap, sulphur, Worcestershire.

Flavors that make Bertie Bot’s worth it: bacon, chicken, cough medicine, pasta, menthol, shampoo. Oh and banana. I like banana.#harrypotter

When Nearly-Headless Nick shows the place where his neck separates: my first experience with gore as a child.#harrypottermarathon

Whoa, almost thought the flying teacher at Hogwarts was Jane Lynch. Craziness. #harrypottermarathon

“We’re on the third floor where we might die immediately. Oh, no! Filch’s Cat!! Let’s risk death, cool?” #Hogwartsfreshmenprobz

Oliver Wood wears a turtle neck. You know it’s freezing in England when everyone wears thick sweaters under their robes. #Britishprobz

During Harry’s first Quidditch game, he just sits watchimg the game until the other seeker finds the Snitch, then goes to catch it. #lazy

Invisibility cloak: best christmas present ever! #swag

Snape: A student is out of bed? TO THE BATCAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!#harrypottermarathon

What if you saw someone naked in the mirror or Erised? That would be so awkward. #harrypotter

Detention? Oh no, we have to search out unicorns in the awesome dark forest! #bestdetentionever # harrypotter

Survives a giant dog, killer chess, and strangling vones. Ghost of voldemort knocks him out for a week. # harrypotterprobz

 

Maybe I went overboard and annoyed everyone who follows me, but I hope I shed some philosophical light on one of the most culturally significant films of our time. Follow me if you like updates about Harry Potter far too often: https://twitter.com/#!/TheSavagePen

The Summer of Informal Education

Explorations yield learning and if not, we would not know the things we do today. Because men and women from our history undertook the endeavor to discover, we thrive today on the knowledge of their experiments, thoughts, and ideas. We hear many great stories about Aristotle who was a scholar among scholars. In his life time, he studied physics, math, language, and theater. He acted as both a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. He sought knowledge and enlightenment throughout his life, but had no formal education.

Aristotle believed that education should evolve from a form of habit, a general curiosity to learn more about the universe and humanity. He laid the foundation for the essential liberal arts education.

To truly enjoy life and learn about ourselves, we must explore beyond ourselves, our comfort zones, and even our fancies. Should a physicist be able to write poetry? He should not have to, but to do so would make his life richer. Can a musician also talk about the aesthetics of logic, about metaphysics? Why not? We’re pigeon-holed into believing we must study only what can flourish an occupation. While it is extremely important to learn a trade, we misuse education as a means to entering a higher strata of income.

What education should really be, rather than a means to getting a degree to start a job, is an exploration of humanity. Aristotle learned from Plato this way, not simply focusing on one subject but spanning all subjects. Wait, you may say, but then people will waste their time and money at college. They will take courses they do not need like sailing, basket weaving, or medieval literature when really, they only wanted to become doctors. I agree fully that pursuing a degree in something you may not want a job in is worthless, pointless, but that does not mean we cannot study these things.

Over the summer, students tend to dull, the sharp wit and sword-edged intelligence becoming rubbery and useless. Why do so many high school and college students cease to learn over the summer, stop challenging their minds? Simply, we base our education around not learning but a structured way of doing something. We toil at projects not designed to teach us, but to keep us busy. We spend our high school careers completing tasks, checking off all the boxes so we can receive a degree at the end of four years. But how many of us truly learn mitosis or cognitive psychology or function integration? If we do not retain this knowledge, what is the purpose of high school? A time when we simply prove we can temporarily gain knowledge and regurgitate it? We do not prove anything else, that we have truly figured out something or that we can do something useful.

We should not show up to class simply to show up. We need to learn something, and the lack of learning is the fault of the system, the teachers, and the students combined. Somewhere, everyone is doing something wrong and that became the huge gap of true education we now face.

Sadly, a degree does not signify that you have learned anything, only that you’re willing to put your mind to tasks (which is a mightily useful skill, true). But how about those things we must learn about philosophy, humanity, music, arts, communication, bar tending, swimming, sky diving, Batman, and photography? Surely we cannot get degrees for all these things, and we don’t have to. We only need to follow Aristotle’s example. If public schooling fails us, we can at least take it upon ourselves to continue learning things that interest us to better flesh out who we are.

I encourage you, especially if you’ve just graduated high school but even if you haven’t been to school in fifty years, to continuously educate yourself. There are books written on everything possible, and with the advent of the internet, we cannot be excused to not know something. No, you don’t need to go to college to learn something. Professors offer insight and structure, but you can create your own structure and form your own insights.

When studying like this, we can use our own ethical, moral, and cultural views to examine the views of others’. We can learn almost anything as long as someone else has learned it already, and through introspection, experiment, and thought, we can discover new ideas no one has ever considered before. I will certainly be devoting a lot of my free time to independent study. Not oppressive, like school, where we are forced to work on things we will soon forget. Instead, I will explore things that interest me, things I won’t be able to study in college.

For example, I’ve taken a hobby-like interest in higher physics. Now, I’m terrible at math, so to actually pursue physics at school would be suicidal. But my interest can afford me the time during this buffer summer to explore the ideas. If I took a class, I would fail. My curiosity would be punished. But here, I can safely learn about something without the repercussions of failing out of college. Do you realize the significance now of pursuing an informal as well as formal education?

I will also be studying comic books, not just reading them, but trying to understand how they have affected society and how superheroes can reflect each generation’s ideals. Again, not something I’d suggest taking in college, but very interesting none-the-less. Therefore, when I enroll in school as a Freshman next year, I won’t be totally clueless. I won’t have let my brain rot into a gelatinous mound during that summery hot weather time.

I will also of course continue writing. With much free time comes much responsibility to do something useful. I’ll blog more about the project I’m working on as I draw closer to finishing. Needless to say, I have been rethinking how to approach my writing career and have been whittling away at something big. Watch out for that announcement.

I’m going to relax, of course. Sleep in, yes. But I won’t stop learning just because summer has come. I hope I never will.

Want to learn something but don’t have a lot of extra time. Check out TED talks on a myriad of subjects. It will take maybe 10 minutes to learn something incredible.

Billy Collins Teaching

 

An Elegy of Consciousness

The strangest thing is to be alive. Or to be conscious. Especially to the fact that, right now, you’re alive. And that your body will keep pumping blood through your heart down miles of thin veins that dangle like the fragile yarn of the Fate’s within your living carcass. One day, your body will die. Unless you do not die, which might be possible. It has yet to be proven that either you or I (unless either of us are zombie or ghost) can die. When someone proves us wrong, it won’t even matter.

But being conscious does not simply mean being awake, yet it means exactly that. Not simply entering into daytime out of deep REM cycles, because even waking, we sleep. Our minds are passive rather than active. We spend a lot of time watching cat videos on YouTube, passively processing information we might possibly forget. That’s why it is strange to finally take deep breaths and truly consider your existence. To ask, what is my purpose here? Why am I alive right now? How am I alive right now? What will happen next? Or most importantly, what will happen when this body of mine crumbles to dust?

Even overweight and overly hairy, I’m not too fond of the idea of my body deteriorating underground, the diet of worms. But we must face the truth of death; we all must. Death is the only disease no doctor can cure. So, if we’re not dead, why are we not alive? Why do we drool while living droll lives? Why do we stare so often at nothingness so that we forget ourselves, forget we even exist?

It is strange to be human, strange to be anything at all. If we were simpler animals, then the existence from moment-t0-moment would make sense, acting on whims and fulfilling basic needs. Yet we are capable of higher faculties, able to wield our minds like razor-sharp swords. We are intelligent with powerful, breath-taking bodies. What our brains do without us even trying, that is incredible in itself. But with application, what our brains can comprehend, explain in words, calculate– those things are worthy of some consideration.

I have undertaken this notion for some time now. To truly consider what it means to be alive, to experience everything as novel and incredible. Even getting a tooth pulled can be a worthy experience. Edgar Allen Poe, as we can see from his gruesome stories, was obsessed with sensation. He once suggested that any prisoner being beheaded should take heart that he is experiencing what not many are able to experience. But it is difficult to think about pain as good, as useful, but even pain is a teacher. For anyone to truly understand himself, he must experience grief, heartbreak, and ultimately death.

He must stand at the abyss of eternity, looking into the dark, uncertain depths. He must teeter forever at the edge, since we can never prove eternity exists or does not since we will never reach the end. And if we do, those who might could have gloated will not be able to.

It is difficult to imagine ceasing to exist while it is also difficult to imagine existing forever. And at least as humans, we can take solace in knowing we were made into being, that we have some origin. When we consider God, who has no origin or end, our minds fail to come to terms with these things. Yet these are the unsettling, fascinating thoughts that make us lie perfectly still in our beds just before sleeping. Those overwhelming questions that can leave you weeping in confusion, that can blast the breath from your lungs with their pure incomprehensibility.

The best we can do, perhaps, is concentrate and appreciate the present as we often do not do. I do not suggest you forgo the past or eschew anxiety for the future, but perhaps to live as we are now with eyes open. Notice what happens around you. Consider who you are and who you want to be. Compare everything you do, each trivial action, to those visions. Often, they collide because we do not live with the constant consideration of our own core beliefs. We stuff them down our own throats for the sake of personal benefit, laziness, and selfishness.

But one of the only ways we will learn to consider others, to consider our own actual beliefs, is not to live so sleepy, where we must consume energy from aluminum cans. You are a body brimming with energy if only you breathe, if only you use it. If only you begin to truly pay attention to the fact you’re even alive.

Evolution of Writing (Part 4): Where We Write Matters

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

An environment in which to write in is fairly important for us. Where we write can actually affect how we write, whether at home or in coffee shops, on trains or in the park.

I write in two main places at my house. In my room, I sit at a very cluttered desk to write because it is quiet. My bedroom sits at the far end of the house where no one ventures unless to talk to me. But because the room provides neither heating nor air conditioning, it can be quite uncomfortable. We recently bought a new small recliner with awesome back support. Whenever my other family members are not occupying that room, I set myself up in the chair to write. Sitting up in such a chair really helps my brain function for some reason.

There is also a local cafe in Aiken in which I enjoy the write. The mixture of coffee smells, light chatter, and my blood pumping full of caffeine get me in a hyper-writing mood. My muse comes out to party like he/she has just taken LSD. Well, there are some interesting things about where we right.

Firstly, we must consider the variable of habit. If we associate a certain place with creativity, we can breed creativity in that place. For me, at times, it’s new places. Whenever I visit where I’ve never been before, I feel out of habit and also feel a great need to express my impressions, that I am seeing, hearing, and smelling. Either way works, depending on how dependent you are on place.

Although it is a cliche to see a lone writer typing at some coffee shop, it has been scientifically proven that this helps. Check it out: http://litreactor.com/news/study-shows-coffee-shops-foster-creativity-through-ambient-noise

Another factor to consider is actually the absence or presence of wi-fi. When we have access to the internet, we are more likely to get distracted by social media and Youtube videos of cats playing with balls of yarn. You do, however, have the accessibility to research which (unlike books) is usually up-to-date and more vague, less accurate.

Where we write, how we write, why we write… these are all interesting questions to consider.

Is there a particular place you write that helps you?

Is It a Sin to Be a Christian in America?

Warning: Author expresses his actual opinion without succumbing to popular beliefs. Be forewarned if you disagree. And here’s the great part: if you disagree with me, you can do that and I won’t hold it against you. It’s your right as an American.

America was founded on great principles, the freedom to believe whatever you wish and act on those beliefs without government officials knocking down your door and shooting you in the head. We have an idea in this country that if you believe in something, you should be allowed to believe it, no matter if other people do not. For the past two hundred years, however, the major religion in America has been Christianity. And interestingly enough, it still is statically so. We, however, have perpetuated a weird illusion that to believe in something that popular and well-known is to “be ignorant,” to be a simpleton. Why, then, if the majority of Americans profess themselves to be Christians, is Christianity attacked so often?

Let’s get down to brass tacks. As a group, we Christians haven’t exactly been the most accepting sort of people. In the past, The Church has prosecuted non-Christians, but those who did do not represent the whole of the Christian nation.

For the most part, presidents have been predominately Protestant which keeps politics mostly in line with the Christian doctrine. In fact, because of the Christian majority, many laws have been made that somewhat delude the rights of other religions. Before reading on, understand that I understand that. I totally get that the establishment of “The Church” has done some really despicable things throughout history, and because most people do not differentiate between “The Church” and the body of Christ, this makes Christians look pretty bad.

It seems now the tables have turned and it is Christians who are being persecuted for their beliefs. Before you stab me with pitchforks and burn me with torches screaming “There’s no real WAR on Christianity,” think again. The truth is, those in power have a very difficult time coinciding their personal beliefs with their jobs. Think about this. You have very strong views on something, let’s say… anything, but you also have an obligation to listen to the will of the people. Which means putting aside your personal beliefs to kowtow to the wants of the people who put you in power. You are their figurehead, after all, right?

This moral dilemma of doing what one personally feels is right and what others believe is right has caused serious schisms in the political world. And as long as we’re being completely honest, there are really only two groups taking part in this argument: Christians and non-Christians. Those who are Christians say that what they’re doing is exactly what America wants, but those of other religions and those who do not proscribe to any religious beliefs claim that Christian lawmakers force their own beliefs onto the people through public policy. And for the sake of argument’s sake, both groups are actually kind of right.

But now more than ever, in today’s society, it is especially unpopular to be a Christian. Why? Well, it is extremely popular to claim Christianity, to say “Jesus is my homie” and that “God is love.” That’s all fine and dandy as putting a Bible verse bumper sticker on your hybrid car, but saying something isn’t the same as doing something. So, what’s so hard about being a Christian that it causes consternation? Again, being perfectly honest, it’s extremely difficult. When you want to express your opinion as a Christian, which so happens to be what the Bible says, you get labeled as “brain-washed,” a conformist who doesn’t bother to rely on facts. Someone who accepts what he is told.

There is this stigma of Christians as bleating sheep, repeating the same things to each other. But that stereotype simply isn’t true. Just because someone is a Christian  doesn’t make them unenlightened. Forget for the fact I too am a Christian and think of this: if I said that yes, cells are the building blocks of biology, you would not question me. And some people know that as absolute fact who, unlike me, have never studied cells, who have never looked at micro-organisms under a microscope. To believe this, then, takes faith, yes? Some people simply read this in a book and call it fact. So, why are Christians the only seen as the ones believing things they read in books?

Another question we should ask ourselves is this: should we base our political beliefs on our religion? One of my not-really-friends on Facebook once said, “I don’t understand why everyone has to have certain political beliefs just because they have certain religious beliefs.” My response to this is, Huh?! What someone believes about life and about the afterlife, understand, are not at all mutually exclusive. You can’t say, yes, I believe everything the Bible says, but when it comes to politics, I have my own set of beliefs. And the obvious problem everyone will point out is that we’re aligning ourselves with the exact principles of a religion. Which makes us in the eyes of society close-minded. And what ever happened, you say, to the American spirit? So what if your holy book calls a person wrong? They’re entitled live the way they want, right?

Of course they are! But because of that doesn’t negate the fact that Christians too are allowed to hold and voice their own beliefs. I am not trying to say either that people legally restrict Christians from expressing Christian beliefs, only that media construes these beliefs as “bigoted” or “narrow-minded.” When the real truth is that when it comes to beliefs about the afterlife, God, and morality, we are ALL close-minded. That’s right. We HAVE to be, or else we’re left believing nothing. Sure, we’re not going to deny someone a job because of their religion, but that doesn’t mean we’ll agree with them on theocratic doctrine solely because we’re accepting people. No, because no matter what you believe, you BELIEVE that. And by believing that, you are– however unawares you are of it– calling everyone else essentially wrong.

Believe in God? Well, that means that you believe people that do not believe in God are simply wrong. There’s nothing wrong with that. And if you don’t believe in God, that only means you believe those who do believe in God are wrong. And this is a simple example, but everyone facet of life we base on our beliefs: what the purpose of our life is, where we go after we die, who rules the universe, and so on and so on. Only those without any conviction at all are truly “open-minded,” and is that even a good thing? To believe in nothing, flip-flopping, changing opinions based on who we talk to?

Yes, we need to keep open minds. We need to allow others to change us, but that’s a fine line to cross, a difficult trapeze walk. You’ve got to allow yourself room to change for the better without compromising what you know to be true. So, many of you will disagree with me on this and on many other things. If that’s what you believe, that’s fine. If you gain pleasure from shooting down other people for your own amusement, what does that make you?

So, why is that? Why do we claim to be a free country where no one should be condemned for anything, yet Christians are condemned for stating what they believe? The Church is viewed through a skewed lens where it is no longer accepted to act morally. We spend so much time in America defending the rights of those who wish to act immoral that we stomp all over those who want to do any good. Tom DeLay mentioned in an interview by NBC that Christianity is treated as “some second-rate superstition.”

When we approach political debates, like legalization of abortion of gay marriage, and Christians side with what the Bible tells them, people deride them for not being progressive enough. But being progressive for the sake of it means nothing. If people didn’t stick by what they believed, there would be no point in voting on laws in the first place. And it’s not just Christianity, honestly. Almost any religion is seen as a fallback for a belief system when those who believe see it as the truest of belief systems.

Okay, so let’s crack this shell open slightly further. Why, then, does it seem that Christians always side with right-wingers? I have for one hold no political affiliations, and I think one of our problems as a country is that too many belief rely on supporting a party rather than deciding on candidates based on what they personally believe. Because right-wing candidates use religion as a crutch, as if to say, “Hey, I’m a Christian too, so if you’re Christian you should vote for me,” we have an overwhelming amount of Christians voting in the right wing. It makes sense as these politicians have more conservative views. What we fail to realize, however, is that these same self-proclaimed Christian candidates take our votes for granted, then turn around to use their power to make things worse, not better. And if this is an OMG moment for you that, yes, Republican politicians do some very crummy things, then take a big look around.

Christianity has taken a beating in the past decade or so. On television, we’re depicted as Hell-raising fanatics coming from a bloody history. Any Christian character on any Primetime show is there only to show how bigoted Christians are, how hypocritical we are. And because we sin too (of course), we can never really escape that image. We can’t always act exactly how we preach, so when we do preach, it comes across as condescending, even pretentious, a “I know the truth and you don’t” vibe. When really, it should be a “I want to share the truth because I love you” vibe.

Think about this. Around Christmas time, you see a lot of complaints that Christmas displays are too religious. We as a country prefer the secular Santa Claus and his reindeer. But what many people fail to realize is that Christmas is a Christian holiday. We commercialize this holiday to remove the religious aspects from them, pumping it full of sugar and fluff. Why? We hardly ever take other religious holidays and begin making it a secular tradition. The idea of gift-giving and Santa Claus basically override the original meaning of Christmas SO much, that those not celebrating religiously complain about too many religious affiliations with Christmas, even changing its name to X-mas. If you celebrate Christmas for no actual reason, why are you complaining? The entire holiday has been turned-upside-down. This is one more specific example of how Christians are attacked. We have a holiday and are attacked for actually celebrating its true meaning.

If you’re not a Christian, remember to keep an open mind to us as we do to you, and even if you ultimately disagree, don’t hate on what we believe and we will not hate on you for what you believe. As Christians, if you hate others because they don’t believe what you believe, you’re sending a really bad message to the world about us. We’re supposed to be accepting and loving, so think twice before you condemn another to Hell for not agreeing with you.

Again, don’t complain about this being biased. It’s biased because I have something called an Opinion which I’m not at all afraid to voice. Share your thoughts below, but keep it clean.

Privacy? We May Need It, but No One Wants It

Facebook, over the course of its existence, has changed many times its privacy settings. Some people limit everyone from seeing pictures on his profile and some allow anyone to see all info. In fact, privacy settings are very rarely used by Facebook users under the age of 25. Middle aged users tend to use privacy settings more prudently. We teenagers, we allow anyone to see what music we like, what books we like, and what celebrities we admire but get offending when someone “stalks” us.

It annoys me that some people will say they have read my blog or seen a picture, then apologize for “stalking.” If we were really a generation afraid of unwanted attention, we wouldn’t have Facebooks, tumblrs, and Youtube accounts. We would not recklessly share our inner lives with a computer screen.

No, we don’t mind that anyone may be stalking us because it stokes our ego. We feel better that someone is paying attention; who cares how creepy it seems? If all info is available, all info is free-game. No one is a creeper or stalker for looking at another’s profile, just worshipers of a single ego.

There is a voyeuristic pleasure we receive with allowing others to see into our “inner selves.” What we portray on social-networking sites like Facebook, however, we can manipulate. We can make ourselves appear exactly how we want to appear. A moralistic Christian? Post Bible verses all day and list Jesus as an inspiring figure. You don’t even need to go to Church. Want to be seen a stoner? Why not simply like “weed” on Facebook? It won’t even matter that you don’t smoke as long as you perpetuate a certain image. And we enjoy intensely luring others into believing they’re learning our deep, dark secrets when we have shaped those secrets meticulously.

Teens are like D-list celebrities who complain about the paparazzi, then wear sheer shirts onto the red carpet so pictures of their nipples end up on the internet. We love that attention. Attention is the new love. Facebook is the perfect mirror to preen in, making ourselves into what psychologist Maslow would call our “self-realized selves.” We’ve reached a stage where we can lie without making any facial expressions because words on the web give no social cues. On the internet, we can create new identities.

We’ve seen this time and time again where some fourteen-year-old girl meets her internet boyfriend for the first time at Target only to be kidnapped by Buffalo Bill. But creepy skin-wearers aren’t the only ones who reform their identities via the internet. We do it too. Facebook merely is a better tool to facilitate how we get others to perceive us. Back in the day, we would subscribe to certain stereotypes, then dress in a certain manner. Today, we’re allowed far more uniqueness to express ourselves through what the pins on our Pinterest boards say.

The internet offers the perfect fantasy. A social illusion, where you are the all-important person. Any person following your blog does not simply appreciate your insights but is a “creeper” obsessed with you. Aren’t we all in love with that idea, that celebrity status where people check Twitter just to see whenever you poop in public?

Earlier today, I worked very minimally to post a blog about The Avengers. I am really excited for The Avengers and definitely want people to know how much of a comics book geek I’ve become (especially superheroes), but it was for that reason I wrote the post. That, and because Avengers is such a popular search item currently, I figured it would boost my view count. Does that not just shout megalomania, Tony-Stark-style? I didn’t feel passionate about revealing my thoughts; I was too tired to write and forced myself to just because I hadn’t for two days. We’re all on the internet like it’s some high school party, keeping up appearances.
Obviously, I’m not immune. I’m consumed, sucked in, and obsessed. I crave attention as well and am as self-centered as Superman if he hadn’t found Earth and had instead floating in space his entire life thinking he was the only living organism in the universe. Of course it affects me. That’s the nature of the beast call ego-centrism. When my psychology teacher inferred it passed after adolescence, I wanted to laugh. Our generation may never grow out of this, never stop fueling our own need for obsession and rejection of privacy in return for new-age love.

No need to stop feeding the ravenous machine that is Derek Berry’s ego, so comment and like and view this post sixty times to give me delusions of internet-grandeur. Just giving you something to think about.

Hipster Fever: How To Combat the Disease

*WARNING, KEEP DISTANCE AS SCIENCE HAS PROVEN HIPSTERS SPREAD DISEASE THROUGH THEIR SPIT AND BODY ODOR*

Hipsters take on many forms, but sometimes look like this.
Photo Credit: http://cavemancircus.com/2010/02/26/hipster-douchebags/

Recently, there has been a hipster witch hunt in our immediate area where people have pinned down those they believed to be hipsters and burned them at the stake to stop the infection from spreading. Well, not really. Instead, several would-be hipsters were quite offended to be labeled such, because labels are so defining, right? But why? Why is it equal to blasphemy to name someone a hipster?

To be a hipster means to be a pretentious jerk who thinks he or she is better than others simply because he or she likes more unique clothing, bands, or books. Hipster-ism is like identification with the alternative to the extreme because those who do generally identify themselves as hipsters actively seek out new things to “like” so as to upkeep their image. You can see why this is a bad thing: if we all seek out unique identities for the sake of it, we don’t really become “US” but rather something that is different than others. Identity is tricky like that. Of course you don’t want to be boring, but hey, if you’re a boring person, embrace that. Don’t succumb to the disease.

The last thing you would want is anyone calling you “a hipster.”

Here are some surefire ways to make sure you escape the plague:

1.) Listen only the the Top 40 Charts

Hipsters are notorious for their obscure taste in music, like new-age banjo. They generally attend concerts no one else goes to, ensuring their uniqueness. Combat this by listening to the most popular songs of the moments.

2.) Make sure you’re wearing the same clothing as someone else each day.

Call up a friend. Red Blouse? Check. Blue skirt? Check. Remember, the worst thing you could POSSIBLY be is unique and pretentious because GASP!, that would be terrible.

3.) Punch Vegans in the face.

Hipsters like to take up vegan diets, so renounce hipsterdom by attacking any vegan or person who suspect to be a vegan. This will win you non-hipster points.

4.) Do Everything Literally

“Oh, so you’re voting for Mitt Romney… ironically?”

“No, I’m actually voting for Mitt Romney because I want him to become President. If you don’t want him to become President, why would you vote for him? Even ironically, your vote counts.”

“Right… are you being ironic?”

Nope, everything you say or do must be literal. You could eat a horse? Then…. eat a horse.

***

The worst possible thing you could do is give in and begin living a unique lifestyle just like everybody else. Break the mold and conform!

Wait, what? Derek, you make absolutely no sense. How can I conform to something and show my unique identity at the same time? Well, you can’t. Sorry to break that to you. No matter how you choose to live your life, you will be pigeon-holed into a stereotype. Remember back in middle school when everyone who wore polos were preps and every who wore black goth demon-worshipers?

Well, we never really grow out of that phase in our lives. The human mind is meant to categorize. So, if we see a single group of people intending to not be categorized, the need to do so is overwhelming. There is no such thing as living outside of these socially-imposed groups: accept it. Even if you wear feathers in your pink hair, wear platform shoes and a leather vest, we have found a way to bestow upon you a stereotype. Whether hipster or hippie or flower child is appropriate, it doesn’t matter. There’s no real escape from someone else identifying you one way or another.

So, what are you supposed to do with this shocking information? How will you survive? How will you express yourself?

Be yourself. Cliche, I know, but true every time any old person, young person, middle-aged teacher says it: be yourself. And maybe deep down, you really want to wear feathers in your hair. It doesn’t bother me, so knock yourself out. Deep down, you care about animals and want a vegan diet? Doesn’t bother me. Go do it!

But don’t do anything for the sole sake of appearing cool or special. Why is it such a bad thing to share some traits with others? If you spend your life shouting “Nobody understands me,” no one will even try to; we need human connection, and therefore, we need to find other people like ourselves. But if we put loads of effort into breaking those connections and socially isolating ourselves, we miss an essential part of life. Human contact is not just nice, it’s psychologically necessary.

If you’re a born fisherman, fish. If you feel compelled to be a hipster, go do hipster things. Isn’t it time we stopped caring so much about what bands we listened to or what clothes we wear? Can we not as a society rise above the need to categorize people? The answer is no, but maybe that’s a good thing. Else, we’d spend our entire lives trying to live as we’re not, trying to become something different for the sake of doing so. Settle down. Look around. Enjoy life. Stop decrying every band that’s played on the radio. Whatever you choose to do, do so because you enjoy it.

Instead, do you. Then, stop caring about what other people label you. In the end, it’s not death they’re giving you, only a way they can relate you within their world schema. So, if someone wants to reduce your explosive personality into a single word, who cares?

A girl who nicely gave me a ride home the other day after my car broke down told me this: “I don’t think I care if people call me a hipster. That’s just their perception of me, and that doesn’t really matter.”

So, if someone has squeezed you into a word, don’t take it upon yourself to “prove them wrong.” They’re just missing out on getting to know people for more than a label.

Thank you.

Internet Trends Are No Reason to Be an Idiot: #YOLO

“Oh, that’s a very funny status my friend– I mean, that person who happens to be in my chemistry class but I’ve never talked to before– posted. Maybe I should leave an equally funny comment, or…. I could un-originally post a *rageface* because LOL, YOLO!”

Memes, internet fads, and pictures of f**king cats: I hate them all. But if you want to Brace Yourself for being Forever Alone because like a pretentious Willy Wonka, you post so many captioned pictures that it becomes a First World Problem, that’s your business. Maybe. I honestly don’t understand the obsession, and I also hate memes’ torture of decent grammar.

“Hey guys, I heard this really funny joke, so I’m going to apply it to everything in life until people want to stab my in the eyes.”

For those who live in nursing homes or under rocks... this is a meme. They are annoying.
Photo credit: http://nuevosmemes.tk/scene-wolf-11/

I really hope it’s just a teen thing. What if pretty soon, you’re grandmother joins in until life is nothing more than Awkward Penguins and spitting your cereal out each time something incredulous occurs? But if I can stand not to implode the world over idiotic internet trends, there is one thing I cannot allow to continue. A motto for poorly-clad, soon-to-be-pregnant preteens: YOLO.

These four letters sprang up all over Twitter and Facebook within a matter of days and continue to trend. Admirably, people take the advice far too seriously.

The phrase “You Only Live Once” has been around for quite some time, meaning “Hey, don’t give up on your dreams because you’re pretty much going to die.” But then again, maybe YOLO isn’t the best philosophy in life. If you spend your life thinking of things to do simply because one day you will die and, unlike zombies, will never be re-animated, you must spend your life making very poor decisions. Just because you live only once is no excuse to do the following things:

- Inject heroin into your veins

- Post naked pictures of yourself on the internet

- Run in front of my car at BI-LO screaming “YOLO” (I will hit you, you crazy crackhead middle schoolers)

- Get admittedly-funny-now-while-we’re-drunk-but-not-even-close-to-funny-later tattoos, such as having YOLO written across your forehead. As if you need to proclaim your idiocy more efficiently to the world.

- Take sixteen shots of tequila in a row

- Have a foursome (What’s a condom? Who cares!? YOLO!)

We take something seemingly normal to say and turn it into an internet trend, but you don’t expect it to wear out and seem stupid after awhile? Once anything hits the internet, it’s ruined, worn out, beaten like crazy until it’s dead, then raised from the dead, then shot in the head because that’s how you kill zombies. I’m not trying say that YOLO is always bad advice, but I’m not sure that everyone understands what it actually means.

“Didn’t do my homework. #YOLO”

Oh, so you blame the fact that you’re a lazy procrastinator on the fact you only live once? Great. You live such an adventurous life. I’m sure you used that time wisely, ogling over pictures of One Direction band members on Tumblr.

YOLO cannot be a motto for living wild, because really it’s just an excuse- something to say- to justify your own stupidity. By saying “YOLO,” people try to make it okay to make bad decisions. When was it ever good to make bad decisions? But I guess when the greatest advice in your life is the advice you get from a Drake song, you already have some serious issues.

If you want to save the world from water pollution because #YOLO, good for you. If you want to snort cocaine off the rim of a toilet because… #YOLO, well… It’s annoying and pretentious. By even using that phrase, you advertise your own lack of development in your frontal lobe. In a court of law, you cannot be freed merely because #YOLO.

Seriously. Stop it.

Have an idea? How about use your words (not pictures someone else drew and used a caption under) to express how you feel?

And if you want to do something stupid, do it because it’s stupid, not because it will give some false vilification that your life was worth living.

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