Monthly Archives: September 2013

Essay #2: Social Media: Ego Booster and Mood Depressor

Wake up. Put on outfit. Take picture of outfit and post it on Facebook. Caption it “outfit of the day, press the like button ;).” Go get breakfast. Go on Facebook. Hope you have notifications. New comment on photo. “You look so gorgeous girl!” Feel flattered. Eat breakfast. Go to school. Have lunch. Check Facebook before class. Ten likes on your photo. Check to see if they are from boys. They are. Feel flattered. Gain confidence. Feel happy. Go to class. Go home. Check Facebook. Eight more likes. One more comment. This one is from a boy.  “Wow you are beautiful.” Message him. Develop feelings for him. Give him your number. Go do homework. Stop homework after five minutes to check Facebook.  No notifications. Get depressed. Wonder why no one else likes your photo. Finish homework and go eat dinner. Wait a longer amount of time to go on Facebook. Maybe more people would have seen the picture and you will have a ton of notifications. Go on Facebook after dinner. One like. One comment. Both from your mom. “Honey I like that outfit, but when did you go shopping. I told you not to spend more money.” Great. Thanks mom. Get annoyed. Go watch TV. Get ready for bed. Turn off the lights. Get in bed. Tell boy you were texting, “I’m going to bed, text you tomorrow, goodnight!<33” Plan on not texting him tomorrow. He is boring. Check Facebook. No notifications. What is wrong with the picture? Get self-conscious. Look at the picture. Stare at picture for a long time. Analyze picture. Realize your nose it what looks weird. Realize you don’t like it. Realize your hair is sticking up. Remember that your mom commented on it. Delete picture. Decide to post another one in the morning. Log off of Facebook. Go to sleep. Eight hours later. Wake up. Put on outfit. Take picture of outfit and put it on Facebook.

            Facebook is a never ending cycle. Many a person, including myself, will squander precious time on social networking sites just so they can receive some sort of self-satisfaction. That sound your phone makes when you get a notification from Instagram is like a dog when his owner shakes the treat bag. The sound heard when someone tweets you might as well be the sound of celestial music as heaven’s gates open up. Interaction through Facebook or any other social media makes us feel special. Humans love to talk about themselves and make themselves known, which can become concerning. Social media is an issue in today’s society because online activity is translating into our offline lives; it is an addiction that affects emotional and mental health.

            “Humans may get a neurochemical reward from sharing information, and a significantly bigger reward from disclosing their own thoughts and feelings than from reporting someone else’s.” Frank Rose says this in his article, “The Selfish Meme: Twitter, dopamine, and the evolutionary advantages of talking about oneself.” Rose explains how MRI scans were conducted to see what stimulated the brain. Talking about one’s own opinions seemed to engage the test subject more than talking about someone else. To any social media user, this is completely obvious. Why would you want to talk about other people’s accomplishments when you could talk about your own? Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Vine, and all the other types of social media are used to advertise oneself to a specific audience. Fifteen-year-old Stacy posts a status saying, “Going to the gym because I’m getting fat,” because she wants people to say, “Stacy you aren’t fat, you look great!”  Eighteen-year-old Louis tweets, “So bored, I wish I had someone to hang out with #bored #lonely #hitmeup #please #illpayyou,” because he wants people to respond to him.  Sixteen-year-old Gina posts a picture of herself on Instagram with the caption, “lookin’ mad gross today,” just so people can comment and say she looks beautiful. Approval of others is very important for one’s own ego.

Not everyone has this self-absorbed behavior online but for those who do, the comments and likes create a high that makes social networking addicting. “Researchers have previously shown that certain online activities—such as checking your e-mail or Twitter stream—stimulate the brain’s reward system. Like playing a slot machine, engaging in these activities sends the animal brain into a frenzy as it anticipates a possible reward: often nothing, but sometimes a small prize, and occasionally an enormous jackpot….. we get high from being on the receiving end of social media.”  Rewards, as Rose states in his article, are what drive people to continue their destructive online behavior. Social sites act as a stimulant like the high from a drug.

            Many users can admit to getting this “high” on occasions. However, not receiving any approval creates another feeling on the other end of the spectrum: depression. The research article “Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults,” states that, “Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it.” Depression is a phenomena, and social media can start a depression domino effect. Users may feel worse and worse about themselves when they aren’t receiving any sort of reaction on Facebook or from any social network.

Depression occurs from lack of attention, but it also can be derived from what is on the network. Relationship statuses are changed, which can lead to broken hearts and crushed dreams. A friend posts a picture of their weekend, and then you are left to wonder why you weren’t included in that excursion. A picture of Jesus is shared and is captioned “Like this if you love Jesus. If you don’t you are going to hell.” Social sites are sometimes scary and depressing places and can contribute to one’s already darkened spirit.  

Many of the dejected users of Facebook and other social media have turned to the creation of alternate egos. For the despairing, they find themselves changing their own personality, likes, and dislikes just so they can be noticed. Desperate times call for desperate measures. A whole new person is created, and you may not be happy with that person, but everyone else is. Those users are having an identity crisis. A good example of this is Catfish.

Catfish, the television show on MTV, is a perfect example of social media and how it is linked to self-satisfaction or depression. Urban Dictionary describes the term “catfish” as “someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.” On Catfish, many of the culprits are dissatisfied with their looks, so they use fake images to draw in their “prey.” Insecurity and loneliness drive this attention-seeking method, even though some of the offenders have a hard time admitting it.

At the end of the day, the catfish realize that the attention is nice, but it typically leads to depression. They are still the same person they were when they logged on to Facebook, and they can’t change that. Eventually, they will need to tell the truth. It is unavoidable. The goal of catfishing is to find someone who takes the loneliness away, but in reality, they just seem to isolate themselves even more. The self- satisfaction of catfishing someone is temporary, and the guilt and misery are eminent and long lasting. Yet some catfish still continue with their fabricated lives because once started, they are not sure how to stop.

Another negative effect caused by social media includes bullying.  Many users have been bullied over sexual orientation, race, religion, social status, looks or even relationships.  According to, “Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.”  Another statistic touts, “One million children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook during the past year.” (Consumer Reports, 2011)  Posting hurtful comments and spreading rumors account for much of the cyberbullying.   The detrimental effects caused by cyberbullying include depression, anxiety and even suicide. says that, “Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.” The good connotation associated with social media is overshadowing the problems lying within it.

Social media is an issue in today’s society because online activity is translating into our offline lives. Most avid social media users can agree that their day starts and ends with checking the Internet. Like the opening paragraph describes, the life of a social networker is chaotic and unproductive. It leads anywhere from euphoria to depression, personality changes, bullying, and life-altering decisions. Life is no longer lived for oneself, but rather for the whole world to see and judge.

**The purpose of my essay is to relay the message that social media is an issue in today’s society because online activity is translating into our offline lives; it is an addiction that affects emotional and mental health. My goals are to identify and clarify the problems and also to educate those who were unaware that social media was a problem in the first place. I believe the younger generation would benefit from reading this article for several reasons. First, to make them aware that social media use is a problem and second, to let them know that, if any of the points apply to them, they are not alone. The older generations that read it would most likely be shocked that this is a big problem in today’s society, so I would be concerned with their reactions. My final goal for this essay would be that the readers would take away one thing; social media is not so important that you have to base your life around it. Time is precious and it should be spent on more important people and things.


Passport Life

Traveling is something that I, along with many others, love to experience. Stepping out of the plane onto new territory is a thrilling experience. Walking through the streets of Madrid or learning how to do the Viennese Waltz in Vienna, Austria will always be engraved in my memories. I have traveled to ten countries in my lifetime (Canada, England, Scotland, Whales, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.) In fact, I have traveled to more countries in Europe than states in the US! I learned new culture, ate new food, and  listened to different dialects. It truly is a rewarding experience.

Kenji Summers feels the same way about traveling. He wanted to experience the world but didn’t know how to get there. “Back in 2008, Summers heard the song “Paris Tokyo Remix” by Lupe Fiasco, Pharrell Williams, Q-Tip and Sarah Green. One of the lyrics is, “Fly to Paris, and end up in Tokyo … Let’s start a coalition so even the broke can go.” That was enough motivation for Brooklyn-born Summers to get his first passport….. ‘After that trip, I realized, ‘I need to do this more. This is transformational,’ says Summers. ‘I realized why Pharrell said those lyrics. And it wasn’t just for me, it was for everyone, so I wanted to essentially take the world and give it back to the youth through my organization Passport Life.’

Passport Life is part of a movement that helps those who cannot travel to do just that. They help them get passports and  go out of the country to experience the world. Summers takes people the places like South Africa and  his love for travel has inspired others to travel as well. “I think travel is the coolest thing you can do.”

Summers is right. Traveling can be fun, but also moving and inspirational. You transcend borders and realize that there is a whole different world out there. All people have to do is find the courage to explore and then dive right in.

The Future of Affordable Housing

Dorm life is something that is anticipated my some and dreaded by others. Sharing a space with one, two or three more people seems like an interesting, yet scary experience. It could end in friendship or turmoil. Dorms themselves are usually small and dull rooms and the bathrooms that have to be shared aren’t the cleanest places to be in. Usually freshmen and sophomores are required to live in dorms if they choose not to live at home during their college experience, so dorm life is something they have to be accustomed to. But what if you didn’t have to?

The Swedish firm Tengbom Architects has created a 33 square- foot hut that is ideal for the college student. “Each hut is made from local, cross-laminated wood, and fits a sleeping loft, bathroom, kitchen, garden, and patio into the layout like a clown car for college kids. It has a fold-down kitchen table, and built-in shelving and storage to maximize the space. It’s such a smart layout that apparently it reduces rent by half and cuts down on its carbon footprint by even more.” It is creative AND environmentally friendly!

The only problem that isn’t worked out is if this structure would work on a college campus. They are not stackable, so enough land would be required for all of them. Also, plumbing and water and gas lines would have to be hooked up to all of them. The concept is exceptional, but will it actually be able to work? I sure hope so!

The Boob Tube DOES have educational value!

“Stop watching TV, it will rot your brain! Go do your homework.” Many a student has gotten this response from their parents at some point in their lives. Television, to some, is good entertainment. To others, it teaches bad morals and is pointless. “What’s the education in this?”  That’s the question my dad always asks.  But there really are TV shoes out there that can help you in school in some way, shape, or form. Take that dad!

The Big Bang Theory is by far one of my favorite shows on the Telly and also has Physics in every episode. Even though I don’t watch it for the Physics, I’m sure I would watch it for the Physics if I was actually interested in Physics! Sheldon and Leonard and the whole gang provide audiences with good hearty laughs and information that is healthy for the good ol’ noggin.

7th Heaven had a knack for bringing historical and religious themes into their screenplays, and Gilmore girls had Grammar down pat. Boy Meets World was filled with Philosophy, mostly by Eric. In one episode especially where he calls himself, ” Plays with Squirrels.” (

The Idiot Box? No way Jose! Television shows are filled with some super valuable information that can be used anywhere. So when your parents yell at you for watching TV, start pointing out all the important, useful tips and facts that it provides!

Change How You Eat Ramen Forever!

Wonton soup is one of my favorite things to order at a Chinese Restaurant. The dumplings are to die for and the broth they soak in is delicious. The urge to pick up the bowl, tip it on back and slurp until its gone is unbelievably tempting. Proper restaurant etiquette prevents me from doing so, however.  If only there was a way to drink the broth without looking piggish or unladylike.

Julie Lechner has come up with a way to resolve this issue, and those resolutions are called ‘soup straws.’ ” When you are at a restaurant, you can enjoy your broth using ‘Soup Straws.’ ” Tradition or not, slurping soup broth directly from a bowl can be an awkward experience, if only because you often end up with it dripping down your chin. But instead of letting all that tasty broth go to waste because you don’t have a spoon at your disposal, hopefully restaurants will see the genius in Julian Lechner’s hollow chop stick design he’s named Soup Straws.”

  “An opening at the end, coupled with a series of holes near the tip, allow you to sip broth or other liquids in between mouthfuls of noodles, meat, and veggies.”  These straws are just a concept for the time being, but they certainly are genius. As soon as someone finds out how to mass produce them for as little money as possible, the way you eat your ramen will be changed forever!


A TV on steroids? What?

When HDTV was available on Comcast, watching television was like an event. My dad used to ooh and ahh at the quality. He would repeat, ” It’s like I’m actually there, that’s how clear it is!” My dad may be crazy, but he did have a point.  Television was like an event, and all these new details could be seen that weren’t visible before. Nothing could top that.

Well, now there is something that is even better. It is referred to as ” HDTV on steroids.”   Panasonic created the world’s first Ultra TV: a 65-inch Smart VIERA TX-L65WT600. These TV’s are already out in stores. 4K Ultra TV is the newest in HD television,  and fits four times the megapixels as there was before. “You can see more stars in the night sky, individual leaves on trees, lines on faces, weaves in clothes than your eyes can perceive in real life. Your eyes no longer see mere rows of pixels but instead feel as if the world in the TV is as convincing as the one outside your living room, making it much easier to become truly immersed in what you’re watching. ” No matter how close you sit, the image is as clear as crystal. It’s like going to the movie theater, except now you don’t have to go anywhere!

Researching: Past versus Present

“The advantages are incredible. You literally have the world wide web of knowledge as opposed to our knowledge which consisted of books in a library.” This was said by James Biever, a retired State Policeman, owner of JB Truth Consultants (a polygraph firm) and my father. James has been out of high school and college for a good 25 years. It is safe to say that things have most definitely changed since the last time he had to write a research paper. The researching stage, gathering the information and then writing the paper was very time consuming, whereas today it is a synch. We have it easy.

When students today are told to write a research paper, the first thing they do is jump onto Google and put there topic in the search engine. Pages and pages appear and the material is endless. This makes it easy for all those procrastinators in the world. Back then, procrastination would have been a horribly bad idea. “For me it (researching) was a lot more difficult and we didn’t have nearly enough information. Right now you could type in a subject and get 50 million hits.”  When James used to be in school, the researching period, was much more tedious. “We used a lot of encyclopedias. There was naturally no Internet so everything you would use would be from the library. And that was it. You would go to the library and primarily, if you had the topic of, say the American Revolution, you would go and just look up books. You could look up magazines ever now and then.” He explained in more detail the process of looking up information in a book, saying, “What you would have to do is go in the book, go in the back to the index, look for the topic, go to that page and read. So the research back then was more time consuming.”

Researching papers was at times overwhelming, but typing a paper was also hard work. “The ease of typing papers is incredible. I used to have to type my papers with a typewriter or handwrite them. Now you have a computer, spell check, this and that. I mean there is no comparison between now and then.”

Sites on the Internet aren’t always reliable sources, such as Wikipedia. Ways to look up valid sites have been created. If someone sees the endings of a URL that say “.edu,” or “.gov” that is a pretty big hint that that is a usable resource. How did a researcher know what was and wasn’t valid back then? James said, “If you got material from MAD Magazine or US News and World Report, you ranked the material based on the credibility of the source, the author, or the year it was written.”

Though James said the Internet is something he wished he had when he was a young schoolboy, he also saw the value in reading a book. “When you were researching before you had to read the whole article and you would come across other information that you did not know. That kinda expanded your knowledge a little bit.” This statement is very true when comparing it to most of today’s generation. Take, for instance, an assignment to write a book report. Some kids will actually read the book, while others will go on and just read the summaries of the chapters. As another example, you are assigned a research paper on the Great Depression. Many will look up information in books and on the internet. They will read and understand the information and actually learn something. Then there are the select few who will copy and paste sentences from documents to Word and hope that the professor does not suspect any plagiarism. The Internet is a wonderful invention but can be abused quite easily, which is most definitely a disadvantage.

All in all, James appreciates the new technology we have today, and uses it quite frequently, as do many others from his generation. His sister, Diane Biever, shared her thoughts on technology. “First, everything was paper. 25 years later and there is less and less paper and not a lot of human error like there used to be. That’s why I love technology, so many built in safety features, and you don’t have to worry about handwriting.”

 The consensus between both persons is that there is an ease about looking things up on the Internet. “The other day I was trying to take off wall paper and I just took out my computer and looked it up.” Of course there are issues, like reliability and safety. Social networking causes some distractions, especially when a teenage has to choose between Instagram and writing about a war that happened hundreds of years ago. Overall, researching, gathering information and typing it is not as burdensome as it was for James, Diane or anyone else from that time period. “I think overall though that there is no question that it’s a positive thing.” We most definitely have it easy.

Sony Redefines ‘Camera’ With New ‘Lens-Type’ Cam

I remember when I received my first camera. It was a silver Kodak klunker that didn’t break even if you dropped it down the stairs a few times. The screen was small and it wasn’t touch screen. A couple years later, I bought a new camera that had the biggest screen I had ever seen, was touch screen, and was thin so it could fit in my pocket. And soon after that one, a new Nikon had been developed that let you upload pictures right away to the Internet. I wanted it so bad but unfortunately  my bank account was suffering. When it comes to cameras, companies are always looking for new ways to improve because people will never stop taking pictures.

Sony has recently “redefined” the camera to appeal to all cell phone users. I know i can speak for a few others when I say that I use my phone to take almost all of my pictures. It is portable, always with me, and always readily available. Instagram is just a click away. A few filters later, and it is posted. Sony has recognized this, and has created a ‘Lens-type’ Camera. ” The company’s two new cameras look like lenses, but are, in fact, full-blown digital cameras. You attach them to your phone only when you need an external viewfinder or if you want to instantly share your images.”

Say you wanted just a camera and not attach it. Well, you can do that too. It can be detached easily and can act just like the usual camera would. The article gives an example by saying, “you can hold the lens above a crowd, or slip it into a literal hole in the wall to get the perfect shot, all without the bulk of a traditional camera body.”

Whether you have an Android or an Iphone, the lens can work for your phone. They will be available later this year and are priced reasonably well. The “Quality model will be for sale at $499 each and $249 for the high zoom model. A whole new level of cameras has come into the picture, and Sony will be benefiting from this new fad quite nicely.


Be Yourself


” To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Rebel children, I urge you, fight the turgid slick of conformity with which they seek to smother your glory.” ~Russell Brand