#ALSIceBucketChallenge Participants: You’re So Vain, And That’s OK

“Who knew dumping buckets of ice cured Lou Gehrig’s disease. And all this time, i thought stupid things like “research” helped…” STFU, DEADMAU5.

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Sorry, but that isn’t how the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge works. It works because our generation gets off on peer approval and is completely obsessed with self-image.

And for charity’s sake, that’s A-ok in my book.

Ya see, vanity and charity aren’t the mortal enemies everyone is making them out to be here (even though they may be *moral enemies (LOL see what I did there?)))

Charities need money to function, whether for research, to hold events, to raise awareness, etc, etc, and they get that much needed money from generous donors. And you know who else needs money to function? Those generous donors, who spend upwards of 40 hours a week often doing things they hate just to make enough sweet green to get by. It’s not hard to see why people sometimes need a ‘lil incentive before giving away their hard earned #youngmoneycashmoney.

Now, I operate under the (false?) belief that people are generally good, so it stands to reason that it shouldn’t take much to get the public on board to support a great cause.

Events like walk-a-thons and dance marathons are the perfect example of this, where the fundraising event itself is the incentive: people come, have a great time, maybe enjoy some free treats provided by sponsors, and raise money and awareness for the cause. BOOM. Win-win.

BUT, these events take a LOT to put together (last year, my best friend organized the incredibly successful first annual New York Dance Marathon and I’m surprised she had any hair left by the time all was said and done.)

Sure, the Ice Bucket Challenge is a one time thing, and this cannot be a reliable and consistent way for charities to make the necessary funds to continue operating, but why do haters gotta hate so much on this brilliant social media hack when its clearly doing so dang well? Especially when, unlike a walk-a-thon or dance marathon, the ice bucket challenge required no effort on the part of the charity it benefits.

No free towel. No free food. No #swag. The incentive was merely a small ego boost for each and every participant in the form of Facebook and Instagram ‘likes’. In my opinion, that is the opposite of a bad thing.

Now for the numbers portion of our segment, because I know some of you love that: TIME magazine says that on Tuesday August 19th alone the challenge raised $8.6 MILLION in cold hard cash. The ALS Association reports that, “As of Wednesday, August 20, The ALS Association has received $31.5 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 20).” JE. SUS. That’s SO much money I can’t even.

AND, along with all the dollars raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge, every participant has been turned into a figurative part-time publicist for the ALS Association. Even the naysayers who “SRSLY wish my newsfeed would stop being clogged up with all this #ALSIceBucketChallenge crap!!!1!” are unwittingly spreading awareness. You can’t buy that kind of advertising. (well, you can but it’s gonna cost you, and as we know from Deadmau5, that money should be going towards “stupid little things like research”.)

So @Deadmau5, I’m really happy that you’re “totally dry”, but keep in mind the reason you felt compelled to donate to the ALS Association in the first place.

(And also, you still tweeted about it, so enjoy your ego boost while I enjoy mine 😉 )

If you’re still not convinced (or you just need a good cry) listen to this guy explain the issue better than I ever could in a million years.

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A Response to ‘Women Against Feminism.’

iwantedwings

Imagine this:

The year is 2014. You are a white Western woman. You wake up in the morning in a comfortably sized house or flat. You have a full or part-time job that enables you to pay your rent or mortgage. You have been to school and maybe even college or university as well. You can read and write and count. You own a car or have a driver’s licence. You have enough money in your own bank account to feed and clothe yourself. You have access to the Internet. You can vote. You have a boyfriend or girlfriend of your choosing, who you can also marry if you want to, and raise a family with. You walk down the street wearing whatever you feel like wearing. You can go to bars and clubs and sleep with whomever you want.

Your world is full of freedom and possibility.

Then you…

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Stop Trying to “Love Your Flaws”

If you’re a female between the ages of “can read” and “death bed”, odds are you’ve been targeted by endless real beauty/positive body image campaigns, all advocating the same thing; you should learn to love your flaws. Well, I want you to stop that. Right now.

 

Please, just stop trying to learn love your flaws

 

Instead, lets take a step back, and try to learn exactly what’s so intrinsically wrong with the concept of “learning to love your flaws.” For one, it suggests that self-love is a behavior that women need to learn. Logic dictates that if we must learn it, it needs to be taught to us. And who’s going to teach us how to love ourselves and our bodies? Society? The media? They’re doing a goddamn brilliant job already, so why not let them continue. (That’s an example of sarcasm. See? You’re already learning things!) After stumbling through my teenage years in a cave darkened by self-hatred, looking for peer approval to light my way out, I’m just now finally beginning to understand that self-love is something that (GASP) has to come from your SELF. MIND FREAK. It cannot be derived from an external source. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a family and friends who love you, and it doesn’t help to have advertisements fired at you point blank on the daily depicting what “real beauty” looks like. But ultimately, self-love and a positive body image have to come from inside you.

The most offensive part of the concept of “learning to love your flaws” is the fact that it is founded on acknowledgement that any part of you is wrong. Ladies, FLAWS. ARE. A. MYTH. They rely on measuring how far any given characteristic deviates from socially constructed ideals of beauty, which were created and are perpetuated by the media for the purpose of making money. Because when we are told something is flawed, we desperately desire to fix it. And who is selling you the fix? THE SAME PERSON WHO POINTS OUT YOUR FLAWS. Boobs are too small? Victoria’s Secret has a bra to fix that, for the low price of $60! (Wait, why do you think your boobs are too small? VS catalogue photos got you down? See where this is going?) It’s a vicious cycle of creating problems and selling fixes. Can we just stop this Godforsaken ride and all get the hell off please?

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You refer to parts of you as “marked”, “faulted”, “marred”, “defective”, “foible” (whatever that is…), and you kiss your mother with that mouth?

Go look in the mirror. Take a good hard look. Turn around a few times, lift up your shirt, show your stomach, smile, frown. What do you see? Belly rolls? Acne? Gangliness? WHATEVER. Personally, I know how hard this can be, but just realize that whatever you’re unhappy with about your body, it’s because somewhere along the line someone or something told you that you should be. Is your nose “too big”? Who says a nose can even be “too big”? Is it inhibiting your breathing? Can you smell things? Good. Then the only one telling you your nose is too big is a socially constructed myth dictating that smaller noses are more beautiful. That’s RIDICULOUS. And honestly, SCREW IT. We get like, what, 90 years on this planet if we’re lucky? (People who believe in reincarnation, just shut up and let me have this one.) Isn’t that too short of a time to be bogged down with thoughts as trivial as how much more fun you’d be having with a flat stomach?

Self-esteem is a war I’ve been fighting my entire life, and I haven’t won every battle, either. But it’s time for all of us to say enough and give ourselves the most generous thing we can; self-acceptance. Know what? My thighs touch so hard when I run that they create their own special type of friction burn. But those legs have carried me all over the world, from NYC to California, to Australia, to 19 different European countries. My rounded front teeth ever so slightly overlap, and one of my canine teeth is disconcertingly larger than the other. And when I think something is genuinely hysterical, I smile and laugh so hard it fills up an entire room.

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Okay, maybe my canines aren’t Dooneese bad.

Those parts of my body don’t look like a magazine model’s, but they enable me to do great things, so I think they’re pretty fuckin’ fantastic. What kind of world do we even live in that women are measured not by the content of their character, but by the size of the space between their thighs? (Martin Luther King is disappointed in you all). Flaws are a bullshit, socially constructed concept, and I’m genuinely sorry if I have to be the first one to tell you this, but you don’t have any. Whatever you do concerning your body, please do it for you. If your nostrils aren’t functioning properly, then go ahead, get that nose job, you deserve to be able to breathe. If you’re obese and want to cut down on your risk of heart disease, you go ahead and work out, you deserve to live a long and healthy life.  Just remember that “accepting” or “learning to love” your flaws means acknowledging that someone else’s negative opinion of you is valid. Let’s just cut out the middleman. No “learning” to love your “flaws”. Just loving and accepting you.

ImageTruer words have never been spoken, Bey.

*Insert your name here* Died at Ezoo

As a friend of mine so cleverly put it on twitter this morning, “I feel like a kid who woke up on Christmas only to be told Santa was murdered” (-@shakashuma). Unfortunately, that was exactly the case for many other EDM fans and ravers this morning, when it was announced that the Sunday events of Electric Zoo were cancelled.

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The ravers equivalent to the ‘blue screen of death’

According to the Huffington Post this morning, the festival was cancelled in a combined effort between the mayor’s office and the creators of the event to protect the lives of concert goers after two reported deaths at yesterdays events. Four others remain in critical condition. The cause of the deaths is still under investigation, but party drugs like the ever popular MDMA are a suspected cause.

There are two kinds of (mainly angry) reactions taking place on the web, each by people who think the other is like “s000 ruhtarded”. (How could anyone ever have a different outlook on a situation that mine, OF COURSE I’m right). Maybe it would be nice for a second if we could take a step back and look at both sides so we can stop yelling at each other on twitter? (Seriously guys, it’s very unbecoming).

Reaction 1; “F*CK THIS, F*CK THIS. People lyke NEED to learn to handle their drugs, and two little deaths/4 potential deaths should NOT deny me Sunday EZoo. #fight4theright2PARTAY
Logic behind it; Look, here’s a person who spent anywhere between $180 and $500 or even more under the pretense that they would be having the time of their lives today, seeing their favorite artists, hanging out with friends, and doing whatever other questionable behavior they planned to do today. Outfits were purchased and plans were solidified (I actually had my outfit sitting on my bed, it was so fetch :(.) All this planning creates a lot of anticipation and excitement, and to be cancelled on such short notice is OF COURSE going to cause a social media uproar. It’s our generation’s preferred method of coping (anyone remember password journals? If they had just stuck around about a decade more, all of this could have been avoided…) Between people who want to notify friends and people who want to express their dissatisfaction, there will be some negative feelings present. Just let these kinds of reactions go. People are allowed to social media sulk. (If you’re still upset in a few hours, imagine the deceased was your best friend, and people citywide are angry because your best friend’s death denied them the opportunity to deliberately partake in the same activity that got YOUR BEST FRIEND killed. I can’t even imagine.)

Reaction 2; @(reaction1); Are you kidding me? Shut your whore mouth for a moment of silence for the dearly departed. #RIPstrangers
Logic behind it; PEOPLE DIED. Yes, this is horrible, I agree. The cost of a life is well beyond $180-$500 (I’ve lost 4 iPhones so my net worth is at a whopping estimated $3,200). We can all agree on that. But just like my friend mentioned in her tweet, a kid on Christmas doesn’t think about the fact that Santa Clause got murdered, they’re blind sighted by their desire for the presents they had been anticipating for so long. They’re being selfish, aka human. Just because at the moment you are able to realize the deeper significance of the situation that your friend who had a three day pass doesn’t mean you should try to force this realization on them. Most of the people I know who are bitter right now will have calmed down in an hour to realize that yes, it is someone’s son/daughter/best friend who died yesterday and that for someone, this was more than a $200 loss, but the loss of their entire world.

The way I see it is this; I’m disappointed that todays festivities are cancelled as much as the next three day/Sunday pass holder. In a very selfish way, I wish the festival would still take place today, but I don’t think that makes me or anyone else who feels that way a bad person. What we can do is (oh God, she’s gonna say it) learn from this. Drugs have become so engrained in rave/EDM culture that the danger behind the substances almost have lost significance. Very serious drugs seem like a casual thing to do now. To many, it’s not ‘Are you going to take something?’ but “What/how much are you on?’ Take a step back, know what you’re doing, and please, the next time you rave, do so responsibly or it might not be a stranger’s name making headlines.

A broad, abroad

January 24th through May 24th. 4 months. 119 days.  2,856 hours. 171,360 minutes.

However you want to put it, it’s a long time to be a long way from home. 4061.282 miles away, to be precise (I have a lot of free time on my hands).

I’ve been a lot of places since I got here, something like 18 or 19, but at some point a weekend trip becomes a photograph. A new city becomes a new postcard or shot glass. What made any place feel warm, feel alive and like home, was the people who I experienced it with. I moved to Prague with a group of strangers, friends of friends at best. And at the risk of sounding like a goddamn ten year old, I have to say that what I found in Europe was actual magic, because in four short months, my relationship with those strangers turned into a type of friendship that normally takes years to build. Through our 5 am budget flights to other countries, our Retro Wednesday blackouts, our miserable study sessions. Though our (my) run-ins with the foreign authorities, our late night potraviny trips, our fake band that we try to convince strangers existed. Through Prague, and Germany, and Italy, and Ireland, and England, and Scotland, and Spain, and Hungary, and France, and Vienna and Switzerland and the Nederlands. Strangers became best friends.

Leaving Prague with tears in my eyes, warm memories in my heart, and nothing else to say except a genuine thank you to everyone I’ve met here, for enabling and sharing in the best four months of my entire life.

Pars, France

Pars, France

Prague, The Czech Republic

Prague, The Czech Republic

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

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Florence, Italy

Dresden, Germany

Dresden, Germany

London, England

London, England

Dublin, Ireland (St. Patrick's Day)

Dublin, Ireland (St. Patrick’s Day)

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Gran Canaria, The Canary Islands

Gran Canaria, The Canary Islands

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich, Switzerland

Amsterdam, The Nederlands

Amsterdam, The Nederlands

Munich, Germany (Springfest)

Munich, Germany (Springfest)

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

The Amalfi Coast (Sorrento, Capri, Positano)

The Amalfi Coast (Sorrento, Capri, Positano)

Prague, The Czech Republic

Prague, The Czech Republic

The Blog Heard Round the World; A Modern Day Revolution

Riddle me this: Over the past few years, what has been surprisingly successful at creating new jobs, raising awareness and funds for worthy causes, and supporting freedom of expression (hint; the White House has nothing to do with it)? One could argue the answer is blogging. And by ‘one’, I mean ‘me’. And by ‘could’, I mean ‘going to’.

The blogging revolution is a powerful social media phenomenon unlike any that the world has experienced before. In no more than a few minutes, a digital post can reach hundreds of thousands of eyes, attain all kinds of feedback, and create hundreds of connections. By adding tags to blog posts we can expand our audience to reach strangers, and effectively have our own, “humble” (LOL) opinions reach way more people than they ever could via a Facebook status typically only seen by our online friend circles (which, you could have guessed in my case, isn’t large). Blogging really has seen exponential growth over the past two decades, and the proof is in the numbers. According to Carl Sessions Stepp, American Journal Review’s senior editor, “Before 1997, the word blog, now defined as a regularly updated online journal, didn’t exist. By 1999 there were a few hundred blogs. Today, the search site technorati.com tracks 23.5 million of them.”

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Original image courtesy of Tales from the Casbah via blogspot.com, modifications by author.

Blogs are an influential vehicle, which can be used for many different purposes, from makeup gurus sharing their favorite beauty tips to activists trying to gain support for a cause, to teenagers ranting about the horrible suppression that is white suburban life (I wanted the BLACK 64GB iPhone 5, NOT the white one, why didn’t you just abort me, MOM?!). It seems everyone is blogging nowadays, and as a member of a very impatient and self-important generation, I understand the appeal; It’s nice to have a service which allows you the unadulterated self-expression of your ideas at the quick and simple push of a button, and its even nicer to receive peer approval for it. Whether it’s your grandma or your ten-year-old cousin, they all have something to say had have flocked to sites like WordPress, Blogspot,  YouTube (for vlogging), and Twitter (for the concise) to do so.

And as per usual, in any activity that the masses partake in, some people will be better at it than others (I was always picked last in dodge ball, so I’m allowed to say that). These big league bloggers can acquire huge followings, therefore making their opinions valuable. So valuable, in fact, that professional bloggers can turn revenue from their opinions, either in the form of a paycheck from the host site or free products from sponsoring companies looking to be promoted in their posts or videos. In essence, not only has the blogging revolution given those who want to share their opinions a platform to speak from, the actual Internet is paying them to do so (that’s how it works, right?) Considering the fact that most presidents can’t seem to create new jobs, I’d say that’s pretty awesome.

The fact that actual corporations will invest capital into a single persons opinion just proves how influential and powerful a bloggers voice can be. And, considering the fact that literally ANYONE can start a blog that has Internet access, it opens up the doorway for those previously without a voice to speak. Nobody loves getting angry over injustice like a person behind a computer. ‘Slacktivists’ (lazy activists) like these are amazing at getting fired up and sharing posts with friends on Facebook (Kony 2012, anybody?). Even if they aren’t physically helping the cause, they are at least spreading the word, possibly to someone who may be able to through donations or service. There is serious potential in blogs to change the world, especially when concerning those who often go unheard.

Whether you blog to vent, to express yourself, to make connections, to make money, or for a cause, I believe that blogging is for everyone who has something to say and wants that something to be heard. Keep on talking to that virtual wall. Eventually someone is bound to listen (if not, you can always get a cat).

Instagram: Creating A Generation of Fauxtographers

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Image courtesy of Weighty Winds via flickr.com

          On the seventh day, God created Facebook, and He saw that it was good. Circa 4.6 billion years later, social media experts attempted to isolate and split a single Facebook atom in order to clone its success. The result was an unanticipated and enormous success. Instead of creating a new Facebook, two opposite descendants arose; the witty Facebook status and wall post chromosomes formed a new site called Twitter, while the mobile upload and photo album DNA became that which we refer to as Instagram. The photo-sharing app burst onto the scene in early 2010 and has been rapidly gaining popularity. How much popularity? The InstaArmy is reported to be about 100 million strong. That’s more than the population of New York City. Times ten. But what is it that makes this app so special? Is it the way the ‘Veranda’ filter can make a normal meal look like it came from a five star restaurant? Or the way ‘Hefe’ can transform a random side street into a spectacular destination? Maybe the way any filter can turn a regular girl into a #selfie-proclaimed supermodel #nomakeup #nofilter (#yeahright)? A typical post will garner at least 11 likes from friends. If you’re really good, you can get tens of thousands.

There’s no denying that Instagram can make one feel like a great photographer. When I post a photo of a black-and-white filtered landscape and it gets 70 likes, I feel like a star (The name’s Adams. Ansel Adams).  But does taking a quick iPhone picture and slapping a filter on top of it qualify as photography? In the classical sense, I would say it does not. There is so much more to photography than anything one can do with an iPhone. Photographers spend days, weeks, lifetimes documenting places, events, and people. They can shoot hundreds of frames of the same shot to get what they feel is perfection. Personally, I have spent days upon weeks in the dark room working with film and printing photos so I could begin to understand the bare basics of the art of photography. No matter how much thought you put into your instagrams, the whole process maximum from taking to posting the photo takes about five to ten minutes (if you’re spending any longer you’re doing it wrong/need friends). Instagramming itself, to me, is more of a science than an art. One must figure out the proper angle and composition of the photo which makes the subject look most appealing to a viewer, which filter creates the most dramatic effect, at which time of day to post said insta to optimize the number of likes, and which hash tags to utilize to get the largest audience possible. It combines some photography skills along with SMS savvy and knowledge of marketing, including knowledge of your target audience and observation of feedback from your followers.

I don’t think Instagram poses any sort of a threat towards the art of photography; there is a clear division between what makes a good photo and what makes a good Instagram. To sum it up, Geoff Livingston said “For the vast majority of Instagram users, it’s about people sharing their lives, not engaging in photography as a profession or hobby.” I believe that while Instagram can be a good way for artists to show off their work, it does not merit any iPhone-wielding teenager a degree in photography. Digital enthusiasts and film fanatics alike can breathe a sigh of relief. (The minute you start seeing “Amaro” exhibits in photo galleries or “Lo-Fi” advertisements in magazines, then you can start to worry.)