Society, Here Are Your 2015 New Year’s Resolutions

Look around you, because this is how we’re going down in history. Are you satisfied with that legacy, or do you think we owe it to ourselves to do better?

Maybe it’s time we:

8. Start caring about the environment.
Climate change is real, and if you want a future for yourself and your children, it’s time to take action.

7. Stop telling women what to do with their bodies.
You’re too skinny, you’re too fat, you’re a slut, you’re a prude, wear more makeup, you’re trying too hard, SMILE. It’s exhausting, and our energy is better spent on things like getting an education and killing it at our jobs than it is on complying with paradoxical (not to mention imaginary) rules.

6. Try to see things from a foreign perspective.
Realize that you’ll never truly walk in someone else’s shoes, and accept that you must keep trying anyways.

5. Don’t confuse vanity with a larger issue.
We know that #NotAllMen are rapists and that #AllLivesMatter. We know.

4. Stop devaluing the experiences of others.
Say it with me: “Just because I have never experienced it, doesn’t mean other people haven’t.”

3. Think before speaking.
Know what you’re talking about before you open your mouth. Realize that, as tempting as it may be, you don’t have to make a heated statement on Twitter just because everyone else is. Emotional and uninformed chatter does nothing for a cause, where as informed and carefully thought out commentary paves the way for a better future.

2. Don’t yell.
Take the time to calmly and rationally explain your point of view. Don’t victimize or blame them; teach them and show them how to help. It just works better.

1. Listen to other people.
Listen. Not with a smug look on your face, not while interrupting or formulating your own response, but with an open mind and heart, and a real desire to hear and to understand.

Ultimately, be kind, be respectful, be conscious, be healthy, be a good listener, work hard, don’t let others be mean to you, and shower every (other) day.

Let’s do 2015 better.

#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.

A Response to ‘Women Against Feminism.’

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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…

View original post 1,400 more words

Suicide Is

A few months ago, I was hanging out with one of my best friends at my apartment. I hadn’t seen her in a while, so we were just catching up on each other’s lives over a pitcher of sangria. She had just gone through a pretty bad breakup, but we were joking around about it (i.e. verbally bashing every aspect about the bastard while stalking his Facebook). In between LOLs, she got up to use the bathroom.

A few minutes too long went by so I went to check on her. “You takin’ a shit in there?” I jokingly called through the closed bathroom door. No answer. I twisted the knob, and there she was, sprawled out on the floor, two empty prescription pill bottles lying beside her. I dropped to my knees and grabbed her by her shoulders. She came to for a second then went back out as I fruitlessly tried to force her to vomit. I don’t even remember my phone call with 9-1-1. Partially because we’d been drinking, partially out of pure unadulterated terror, the kind of fear that makes you lose all your senses and turns everything white. My best friend is still alive today, but only because the moment she chose to attempt suicide we just happened to be together. I don’t think about what would have happened if she had been alone.

Suicide is a hot media topic these days. A new month means a new story of a “bright, young scholar who had everything going for them” ending their own life being plastered across every major news platform. These kids are smart and promising future leaders-gone, in an instant.

But suicide is not just something that happens to some one else’s family, or someone elses friend anymore, like I had thought it was.

Suicide is your 20-year-old best friend. She’s tall and thin and pretty and comes from a wealthy family. She excels in her classes, and has a job and friends who love her.

Suicide is the guy who sits next to you in class. He’s the quarterback of the football team and has a wonderful girlfriend.

Suicide has been around for a long time, but keeps getting younger. At first he was middle aged, then a young adult, now teenaged.

Suicide is poor, and middle class, and a millionaire, too.

Suicide is black and white and yellow and brown.

Suicide is gay and straight and bi and trans.

Suicide is an athlete, a sorority girl, a chess pro, a guitar player, a math major, a creative writer, a son, a daughter, a sister, brother.

Suicide is. And that’s the problem.

Our culture demonizes mental health issues like depression to the point that people feel like they need to keep it all bottled up inside until they can’t take it anymore, and that’s a large part of the reason that suicide is becoming so prominant. What if this was the way we treated physical illnesses, too? If you had a broken leg and had to hide it every day, and go about your business like you weren’t hurting at all, seeking no treatment, don’t you think that would leave you feeling…suicidal? The news sensationalizes the stories of people like Madison Holleran, a UPenn freshman who jumped to her death off a parking garage. How could she do this? She had everything to live for. She was a bright, young, gorgeous girl, and a star athlete, too. And just as if she had been afflicted with a broken leg, those positive attributes would have done nothing to assuage the pain.

I think there’s a reason suicide is infiltrating colleges at such an alarming rate (Yes, alarming, I go to NYU, where suicide is so common that special barricades have been installed in our library to prevent students from jumping to their deaths in the middle of writing a paper.) Stress levels are at an all time high, especially for college kids. We are not only told that we must accomplish whatever the task at hand may be, but that we must do it better than every one else as well or…I don’t know, some type of consequence will happen, you’ll never get a job, your parents will stop loving you, and you’ll probably develop leprosy and gangrene as well. And as in Madison’s case, “having it all” was probably what lead her to eventually commit suicide. When you’re an extremely promising person, people set some high standards for you, yourself included. Failing to reach those standard (i.e. falling below a certain GPA) can be devastating. This same reasoning probably played a part in all of the suicides that took place in the NYU library. School is all too often the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I don’t know where the idea that the importance of maintaining a 4.0 could surpass the importance of being alive came from, but we need to work on that pronto, and stop shaming those with mental health problems into silence so we can move from our era of ‘suicide is’ to an era of ‘suicide is not’.

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It’s never too late to get help.

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