SHOCKING! THIS JUST IN: Not All Females Are Bitter Over Their Ex (Take Note, Hollywood)

When I start hearing people drag out the end of sentences to sound more like questions, I start to think that this person must watch a lot of the Kardashians. Similarly, when I find myself thinking about the whole Brad and Angelina snafu more than I would like to admit, I start to think I must be spending too much time on Facebook or Instagram.

I’m not a huge into celebrity gossip. I’m not going to say that I never read an article about juicy celeb rumors, but I also don’t really eat it up either. Still, harmless memes posted as jokes on Instagram give me parts of a story that I piece together as I go. This week, it just happens to be Jennifer Aniston in a cheerleader’s uniform, “cheering” about the divorce of her ex.

I’m just going to say, I am a huge fan of Friends and Jennifer Aniston. I know about the whole Brad and Jennifer break up, not because I’m some ruthless vulture that gets off on the drama of others, but because I could relate to it. I always felt like Aniston got shafted, and yet, she held her head high and still had a successful career. Things didn’t turn out the way she wanted but she still made the best of it. That’s my idealized, hint-of-underdog take on it. It inspired me.

And, you know, I never really hated Brad and Angelina, either, because I just thought, “Hey, that’s the way it works out sometimes.” My first serious boyfriend broke up with me and started dating someone else right away. I was devastated, heart broken, angry and felt betrayed. I HATED her. And him. And really everyone.

But, as time went on and I matured in age and emotion, I let go of all that anger and hatred and betrayal. I got to the point where I just thought, “Hey, that’s just the way that one went. That’s what made them happy. It sucked for me, but it doesn’t make them horrible people.” And, if I can do that at age 20, than I’m sure Jennifer Aniston is capable at age 40.

What I’m seeing in the media right now is ugly. Memes of Jennifer Aniston portrayed as some kind of vindicated, smug school girl who finally got hers. Angelina Jolie has been dubbed a ‘crazy lunatic’ by Chelsea Handler, indicating that the only thing Brad did wrong in all of this was marry a woman that couldn’t hold her shit together. Apparently, Brad’s off shagging someone else, but we don’t really care about that because we’re too busy watching the spectacle of women being assholes to each other.

(I’m just going to stop for a minute and remind everyone that we actually don’t even know these people at all. We know their public image and they are all playing the game because it’s what they are paid to do. So EVERYTHING we see and hear needs to be taken with a grain of salt.)

But, for arguments sake, let’s say that what we see and hear about these people are a true indication of what is actually going on here. I’m going to (try to) break this down to you in a way that takes out all of the stereotypes of crazy, vengeful women and just propose a story line free of biases.

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt fall in love. They get married. Brad works on a movie with Jolie and maybe didn’t mean to, but he fell in love her. Maybe Jennifer was distant, maybe they both got really comfortable and didn’t feel it anymore, maybe their relationship was more about looking like the perfect couple rather than actually being the perfect couple. Maybe the end was already coming and this just happened. Or maybe she really was super in love with him and he loved her but they outgrew each other. Maybe he felt bad, maybe he didn’t, maybe he’s shitty or maybe he’s not. We don’t know.

I’m not condoning cheating, but they are both humans and shit happens. I guarantee anyone reading this article knows SOMEONE in their life who has cheated but could still be considered a good person overall.

Now, for Angelina’s part in this…

Perhaps she wasn’t the seductive mistress she’s been portrayed as or the “other woman” who won in the end. Maybe she didn’t mean to fall in love with Brad, either. Maybe it just happened. Maybe she even felt bad but in the end ultimately decided that she didn’t want to give up the man she loved just because someone else was going to get hurt. Who hasn’t been in that situation before? Or maybe she wasn’t worried about Aniston. We don’t know.

Either way, both are successful women. Angelina Jolie supports at least 29 charities, most centering around children, she has been on field missions in more than 20 countries, started her own foundation, was named UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, was the first recipient of the Citizen of the World Award, and so much more. That’s not to mention her success as an award winning actress and filmmaker. Why aren’t we talking about that?

Jennifer Aniston supports at least 22 charities, most centered around children, the homeless, and cancer. She is an advocate for St. Jude Children’s research Hospital, has donated more than a million dollars to charity, and won the GLAAD Vanguard Award in 2007 for “outstanding contributions to increase understanding and awareness” to the LGTB community. She is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood and is an award winning artist, producer and business woman. She did this, even after 10 years of being asked ridiculous questions about her ex and his new wife.

Jolie and Pitt didn’t work out, and yet somehow, Jennifer Aniston’s name is still being thrown around like candy during a parade, which is insulting to her, to Jolie, and really every female who has ever been accused of not being able to properly handle emotions (myself included.)

Here’s what women ARE NOT:

  • Crazy, vengeful beings that are obsessed with the lives of their ex
  • Waiting around for the men that cheated on them to come back
  • Hoping the girl that came after them “gets hers”
  • Crazy “c*nts” that deserve to be cheated on because of an action they participated in over 10 years ago

Maybe some people find themselves in these situations, but the majority of females are not.

Once, when I was particularly upset of the end of a relationship with a guy who really wasn’t good for me at all, my parents reminded me not to be bitter about the girl who comes next. When that girl did come along, and I bashed her for “being ugly,” my parents condemned my behavior. (I see now my behavior was actually the only ugly thing in this situation.)

They said, “If you know how he treated you, and it wasn’t great, why aren’t you being more empathetic for the girl who will have to deal with his behavior next?” Good point. Furthermore, I came to realize that my ex may have changed. Maybe the behavior he had that I found unfair, he worked on. Or maybe someone else didn’t find it as unfair and maybe it’s good he found someone like that – a conversation for another day, but you get it. What I’m trying to say is, human nature is fluid. There is good, there is bad, and people grow and transform every day.

I hate the idea that people may think I’m still hurt over my ex, because I think it’s an insult to me. It implies that a woman feels like nothing without a man. That a man was so good for me, meant so much to me, that I am still bitter over his exit from my life. This is insulting at face value, but even more so when you consider all that I’ve accomplished before he walked into my life, during his stay in my life, and afterwards. It discounts how I picked myself up after a break-up and assumes that in some way, however small, I am still pining after him. This whole media storm of Aniston vs. Jolie implies that Aniston is still bitter over Brad, suggesting that she was and is still unable to find complete happiness without him. THIS JUST IN: Females can find happiness without male sidekick. Don’t believe me? Ask me, I’ll tell you how I did it.

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“I LIKE IT HERE” AND OTHER PHRASES YOU SHOULD NEVER UTTER ABOUT SCRANTON

On any given weekend, I find myself running into people who are home, visiting. For them, home has become a place they visit because life has taken them to different cities – usually New York or Philadelphia. Which is much more exciting than this boring old town, Scranton. The city of high taxes and bankruptcy and former coal miners. The city where nothing ever happens. Or so they say, but somehow, I hardly have time to sleep, so something must be happening.

We all know that there aren’t many jobs to come by in this town, so when people leave, you can guarantee they are probably moving on to better things career-wise. Which is cool, if that’s your thing. And not that I don’t want to advance in my career, because I do, but I also would like to be close to the people who have raised me, to the friends who understand me, and the places I know best. But somehow, in 2016, not wanting to leave your family is somehow a weakness – at least it seems that way to me. I can’t count the amount of times that my friends who have moved away have said to me, “You can’t stay attached to your family your entire life, you have to go out and see the world.” But sometimes I don’t know if anyone stops to realize that maybe this arrangement is what makes me happiest, and if so, how does that make it wrong?

The conversation with those who got away is always more or less the same – what they are up to in the city and why they are home visiting. Then they’ll ask what I am up to and I’ll usually say something along the lines of, “Oh, just working. Not much.”

I say this for two reasons – 1) I am not really interested in going into any detail about my life to someone I am seeing in passing and 2) Many times, no matter what I say I’m doing, there will always be some kind of comment or look or indication that ANYTHING would beat being back here.

And I get it, because I once moved away to a city I found much more exciting and I begrudgingly moved back for reasons I wasn’t happy about. Then, for a year after moving home, I desperately searched for another way out. I would not get stuck here.

But then something happened. I started meeting all kinds of wonderful people. People who made amazing art and showcased it in local stores downtown on the first Friday of every month. Comedians who attended open mics, penning fresh new jokes that made us laugh for free. Musicians who wrote their own music, recorded demos and won local awards. People who loved to snowboard just as much as I do. People who hike, people who act, people who dance. After a while, I came to realize, that when it comes to people, NO city is better than another. There are amazing people everywhere.

What made it even better was this: I could meet someone, and given the small proximity of the city, I could run into them again. This was a stark contrast to my time at both Penn State and living in Philadelphia, where if you wanted to form a friendship, you had to really work for it. Which is okay, but not as easy – I was never really good at it.

So, last Saturday at the bar, when I ran into an old friend who is now living in New York City, he asked me, “So how is Scranton?” (To be fair, I don’t think anyone really means to be condescending when they ask that question, but at the same time, more times than not, it does seem to come off that way.)

I’ve come to find that people almost always assume that no one would willfully choose to live here, but instead got stuck here by forces beyond their control. They couldn’t find a job. Or maybe, like me, got out for a few years and had to move back.

I’ve had many people gossip to me about so-and-so getting out and winding up back here as if I hadn’t done the exact same thing. When they realize, half way through their sentence that I did the very same thing, they’ll usually say something like, “Well, it’s different for you. You wanted to come back.” Or, “Well I know you are here but you could leave again, right?”

People have sent me job postings from out of town. Charlotte, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc. My response is usually the same, “I don’t really think I want to move right now.”

And it’s true. I’ve considered it many times. I’m not opposed to leaving, but right now, I have come to find I really like it here. And it’s exhausting moving and starting over new, especially for someone who loves people so much. I just do, I love people.

So last Saturday night, when asked, I replied, “I actually really like it here.” Which was different from my usual, “Well, you know, it’s Scranton.”

“Really?” they replied, with curious interest.

“Yeah,” I said. “It turns out I’m a people-person, and the people I love most are here in this city. I like being close to my family and my friends.”

And, even in 2016 when the world seems so very small and begs to be explored, I hope that is enough.

 

in defense of those who ‘feel too much’

A doctor once told me I feel too much. I said, so does god. that’s why you can see the grand canyon from the moon. – Andrea Gibson

If you were a female who grew up in the early 2000’s as I did, you have most likely seen Mean Girls twenty times over. If you are anything like me at all, your life is still speckled with references from the movie, because let’s admit it, it was highly entertaining. Still, I thought it was a bit culturally damaging, if I could be quite honest. I still remember the impact it had on my peers – mean lines from the movie were repeated again and again, as jokes of course. We were all old enough to know how socially unacceptable and perhaps bitchy Regina George was, but because we had this intelligence and knew better, it made it okay for us to jokingly mimic her behavior. We were just joking.

I often wonder how pop culture effects our behavior. Are movies based on our actual behavior as humans, or as humans, do we base our behavior on what we see in the movies?

This question is one that has created so much anxiety within me that I tend to often not watch many movies or television shows, because I believe that we do base our behavior off of movies more than we like to admit. How many females have watched No String Attached and believed that the guy they are hooking up with was just one month away from making you period mixed tapes and realizing he can’t live without you?

The problem is, people who write and produce movies have an ability to manipulate situations and feelings in a controlled environment while also making them appear to be incredibly realistic. We don’t have that ability in real life.

Which, by the way, means horrible things for me.

Let me back up a little.

I recently listened to This American Life’s latest episode on the bliss of ignorance. How sometimes it’s for the best. The episode featured a man who was diagnosed with HSAM or highly superior autobiographical memory. Basically, he has an intensely accurate memory. In the episode, he spoke about how when he dates people, even if for just a short time, his emotions latch on to his very vivid memories and as a result of HSAM, he finds it very hard to let go if it doesn’t work out. After reading some other interviews that he has done, I learned that this has become an issue for him, as he is constantly looking for closure when the other person has already moved on.

Here’s an excerpt that struck me from his interview with New York Magazine:

“Alternatively, if it’s a bad breakup or unrequited love then the memories of that linger and hurt when I think about them — especially if there’s no closure. I’m thinking, What did I do? I’m forced to pick back through it. I can remember the last time I saw the person. I can remember where we were. I can remember a funny face they made or a thought or a feeling however fleeting or however lasting it was; I can remember those things. Even if the person ended up doing something wrong or ditches me, the initial positive memory is so strong it’s hard for me to separate: ‘How can you be this way now, when I remember you so vividly as something different?’

“What I do a lot is try and force conversations with people, which clearly they aren’t interested in, in the name of closure. I’ll try and seek a person out just to set the record straight, and I feel really awkward about it because I know it’s something that’s not socially acceptable and even therapists have told me it’s not worth it. But it’s very hard for me to not do that. In the case of a colleague I recently had a brief thing with, I tried a few times to sit them down, to get their attention, and they’re almost militantly, like, No! You have to leave me alone; you can’t talk to me about this. I’m putting myself out there in the name of closure and I end up looking like a fool. Or I end up making the person even more angry. They’ve already moved on and they aren’t even concerned with having closure.”

This struck a chord with me. It’s not that I have HSAM, but I have always been a very emotional person. But that word — “emotional” — sounds horrible. It sounds like that girl in the corner crying over a puppy that died in a commercial for dog food. (Okay, there has probably never been a commercial for dog food in which the dog dies, but you know what I mean.) It sounds like I lose my wits at the drop of a dime. It sounds like that girl in Mean Girls who crashes the self-esteem workshop because she “has so many feelings.”

But I want people to understand that’s not what I mean when I say I’m emotional. Or maybe it is, but it doesn’t have to be so stigmatized. When I think of my patterns over the past 26 years, I’d have to say that maybe I just feel things a little more strongly than other people. It took me almost as long to realize that sometimes, other people don’t. But I’ve always just expected that everyone was the same way as me, and so I would be that girl writing letters to the guy who screwed me over – because if that memory of us playing our favorite song while driving downtown could evoke such strong emotion in me, it must do the same for him, right?

I always felt that this was something I needed to hide. Well, mainly, because I couldn’t come to terms with it. And everyone was telling me to stop. Don’t write the guy. Stop telling every person how much they mean to you. So, why did I feel so deeply? Why could I remember what he was wearing that time when he told me he loved me for the first time? And worse, why couldn’t I just forget?

To make things worse, other people had those same questions for me, too. It seemed to me that other people were better at moving on, forgot more readily, and looked at me as if I was some sort of overly-obsessed alien missing a backbone. Get over it.

It was hard for me to explain that if I could just “get over it” that would be the first thing I would do, because the intense emotions weren’t exactly welcome visitors. I wanted to explain to them it was like a mother-in-law that came to visit for a weekend and decided to stay for the rest of her life. I couldn’t get away.

But how do you explain something like that when emotions are so mocked in the media? No one wants to be Ted Mosby pining over Robin or Ross Gellar pining over Rachel. No one wants to be the person with intense emotions. But what happens when you are?

Nothing.

It took me 26 years to realize this and it will probably take me the rest of my life to understand it.

Some people hardly feel things at all and some people feel things with such intensity it may drive them to insanity. It has nothing to do with you as a human being, it has to do with how you were wired. Just as some people are prone to stomach pain while others could eat greasy foods and caffeine for the rest of their life and their stomachs can be fine. People with allergies may love flowers but the pollen is too intense for their nose, while their friends only sneeze when they get a cold.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by things other people don’t see as a big deal and I cry. So fucking what? Let me cry. Unless my teardrops are comprised of poison, I’m not hurting anyone. Sometimes I look at a flower hanging upside down and think its unconventional beauty is a metaphor for my life. So fucking what? Let me write a poem about it. Sometimes I think about all of the people I have ever loved and how much I will miss them when they are gone. Sometimes I try to hold on too tight because I know how intensely I feel and love and care. So fucking what? Let me tell them how much they mean to me.

But what I don’t do often enough is look at the beauty that presents itself in this wonderful arrangement. I mean, if given the choice, I’d rather feel too much than not enough – wouldn’t you? It’s a strength, not a weakness.

What I’m saying is, we are all made differently and we ought to stop hating ourselves for it. I mean, I think my dog feels too much when he runs full speed into the kitchen cabinets because I said “treat” from 5 rooms over. And coincidentally, that’s precisely why I love him.

thrift store finds: when you are looking for more than just clothes

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
Kurt Vonnegut

I could feel myself start to annoy my best friend.

“They have everything. So many clothes and books. The room in the back has records, you should check it out. Upstairs there is a room dedicated to all vintage clothes…”

My sentences all ran together because I wanted her to know this was my place.

But then even I started getting annoyed with myself for repeating the same story over and over again. “I used to volunteer here, when I lived in the city. It was far from my apartment so I…”

It would be the first time I visited the store since I moved away in 2014. And while I do love thrift stores, I was having a hard time wondering why I was so excited to visit this particular place again.

It had been so long since I left Philly, or so it seemed. I guess in the grand scheme of life, a year and a half isn’t that long, but my life is a tenfold different now. The scared person I was at 23 seems lightyears away. Maybe the main difference is now I have money in my bank account (ahem, not a lot). But at that point in my life, overdraft letters showed up at my house through every crack, window, wall – not unlike Harry Potter’s Hogwarts acceptance letters. Intangibly (and perhaps more importantly, at least in my book), I am no longer as god-awfully lonely as I was then.

To be quite honest, when I left, my time in Philadelphia was a chapter I wanted to close. I loved the people I met and the places I got to experience. I loved having my own apartment I could decorate any way I wanted. But my life and mental wellbeing could use some help. On its best days, Philly was an adventure and taught me how to live on my own and survive. On its worst days, I would pinpoint it on the map as the city where I went through the worst depression of my life.

But here in the present, Philadelphia was my city again, just for today. I visited all my favorite places in the thrift shop starting with the room with the mugs, cups, and plates. It was in this very room that I scrounged around, looking for matching sets of dishes and cutlery. After finding the perfect un-matching but charmingly rustic set, I would go home and soak them in bleach for hours. At the time, it was the only thing I could afford, but in my eyes, it was still as special as any expensive set I could find.

Next, I visited the dollar room where I used to look for clothes to refashion with my sewing machine on boring Saturdays in my apartment. Then I (somewhat shamefully and somewhat proudly) visited the Self Help section of the book room where I had found books upon books that were there to help me get over my ex-boyfriend or give suggestions on how to cope with my anxiety. And I did the work, too, because at that time, I had all the time in the world to dedicate to my own sanity. I’m proud of that today.

Being a volunteer there gave me three-hour chunks of time where I wouldn’t be lonely, but instead could hang out with the cool people who worked there. I often would look around the room and realize that these people would never know how much the simple task of returning clothes to their proper place in the store was saving my life. I remember once they told me I was one of the few volunteers that actually did work. It wasn’t work to me, though. It was kind of the only thing I had at the time. I would look at the clock knowing I would be parking for three hours in a two-hour spot, but yet, I never did get a ticket. Maybe god just knew that place is what I needed.

It was funny being back. When I touched the clothes, I remembered what it felt like to find an over-sized sweater that I hoped would keep me warm in my always-cold apartment. I missed the girl I was back then, looking wishfully at any cute guy who entered the store, hoping that maybe we’d fall in love over worn out smelly shoes. And how at the end of the night when it was time to pack up the store, I’d hoped that one of the cool volunteers would invite me to go out with them for drinks. They never did, but that was probably because they were as broke as I was.

I get so nostalgic when I visit places from my past not because I miss the place itself so much, but because I miss who I was at the time. So lost and confused and broke. But living in my own apartment in a big city nonetheless. Picking out a basket from the thrift store to hold my dishrags in the kitchen, finding old picture frames to hold the images of people I missed most from home, and buying old rustic coffee mugs that would keep me warm on Saturdays when I was so lonely I could burst.

That was my life then, and strangely, sometimes I miss it.

When Happy Up & Walks Away

How perfectly draining to at the same time always feel like far too much and yet never quite enough. – Tyler Knott Gregson

Be prepared;
Insecurity is going to come
It will not knock, but break down your door during a dinner date
Invite itself in and sit at the table,
Foam at the mouth like a hungry dog
It’s okay, let it in, set an extra plate
Tell the boy he has to leave, it’s not a good time,
Insecurity has something to say and you need to hear it
Feed it and love it, for this is a gift in disguise

It has a message and it goes something like this:
You are confusing the people you should love with the people you shouldn’t
You are confusing the people who love you with the people who don’t

Insecurity is here to teach you a lesson about packaging
The boy has a great singing voice, he makes a lot of money
He does things you wish you could do,
Volunteers with children and uses a French press
He showed up on your doorstep in a shiny new package
And when the magic hits you, you forget the reasons you are special

In the brightness of his light,
You forgot all the reasons you love yourself
After all, the package you are wrapped in was stamped and sent decades ago
You were swept away by all the reasons you love him,
it’s okay. Insecurity is here to teach you that new isn’t better,
Shiny isn’t superior, trendy isn’t triumphant
When he held your hand while you dreamed, you forgot the magical way you can quiet your own mind when it’s time to sleep
When he rolled with you down the hill, you forget that you once climbed a mountain all by yourself

And when it’s over,
You might be scared because your happy seemingly just up and walked away,
You are confused because lonely looks different than you remember it
It’s no longer an empty room,
But, rather, a room filled with thirty people and none of them want to hold your hand

It’s okay, remember, your happy isn’t gone;
Your happy is just no longer 5’9” with strong arms,
It’s the tall peppermint latte you buy yourself on a long day.
It’s a short trip to the bookstore to buy flimsy paperback books.
And, it’s okay, it’s still your happy. It just looks a little different now.

And, baby girl, remember your strength isn’t gone just because insecurity outstayed it’s welcome

Don’t forget; strength isn’t a penny pressed in a factory,
It is the painting that didn’t come out like you wanted, but still looks beautiful
Your strength hangs limply on your wall, when everyone else’s dances in the night
The rest of the world has strength that screams out loud, and yours never speaks up
It’s okay; your strength is quiet, maybe different, but it’s there
It’s spending the day simply just trying to survive your unwelcome visitor
It’s learning how to weather phrases like, “I just don’t like you that way”
It’s being brave enough to cry when your mind tells you not to

In time,
You may wonder if anyone will ever notice how hard you are working
The person next to you just fed fifteen homeless people
All you did was get out of bed.
It’s okay, keep working.
Your strength doesn’t have to grunt like a jock at the gym,
It just needs to get the job done.

And, now, finally, insecurity will pack its bags and leave
Because you gave it everything you had and it still took more
It chewed up your carpet so now you can build sturdy hardwood floors
Ripped off your packaging so now you can choose your new design
Your colors will shine brighter, you’ll wrap yourself in translucent paper
So people can see your humble soul instead of just your tough skin,
And, maybe now, it’s time for that dinner date again

-M.Noelle

Be Less Afraid: You Are More Likely to Die in a Car Accident than from Terrorism (Sorry, Research Supports It)

“Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s really an easy way: Stop participating in it.”
Noam Chomsky

I want to preface this post by explaining that I believe all bombings, shootings, terrorist attacks and hate crimes are extremely important for us to mourn for, examine, and ultimately use to change legislation that will make the world a safer place. However, sitting behind our computer screens instead of going out in fear of what may happen in public places is not necessary. Well, at least not when you take a careful look at the statistics and research not provided from hyped up articles from CNN, Huffington Post, Fox News, etc. because, after all, they are trying to use shock value to get more readers.

Trust me, I’ve felt the anxiety and the sadness over the attacks in Paris the same way I felt the bombing in Boston or the shooting in Charleston. And, yes, I am very aware of the fact that I do not pay attention as much to bombings and shootings in Beirut or Syria. It’s not fair or even humane of me, but I think it just hits closer to home when you can identify with a country or state that is very similar to your own. Again, it’s not ideal, but it’s just kind of the truth. Call us privileged – we are! – but it’s just hard to imagine what life is like for people in those countries. It is sad, though, because it really comes down to chance or fate that we were born in this country. We didn’t work hard to get here. We aren’t here because we are better people.

Okay, I’m getting off track, I’m sorry.

I’ve heard many people speak about how they are afraid to go to the movies, the mall, a sporting event, a big city, you name it… and when I say “people,” I also mean myself. No lie, when I went to see Dark Knight Rises after the movie theater shooting in Colorado, I cried and missed most of the movie because I watched the exit sign instead of the actual movie.

But, do we need to be so afraid? I would argue that, yes, we should be a little fearful, but no, we do not need to be so afraid. And because I don’t think you should just take my silly little opinion as a rule for your life, I did some research to support my opinion.

I’m going to start with some quick stats for those of you who like to skim:

  • Population of Paris as of Jan. 1, 2014: 2,241,346 people
  • Number of people killed in recent terrorist attacks: At least 129 (As of this article published 11/19)
    • Translation: A very small portion of the population
  • Population of Boston: 645,966 (United States Census Bureau, 2013)
  • Number of people killed in Boston Marathon Bombing: 3
    • Translation: A very small portion of the population
  • Population of Charleston: 127,999 (United States Census Bureau, 2013)
  • Number of people killed in July 17th Shooting: 9
    • Translation: A very small portion of the population
  • Around 32,727 people were killed by terrorists worldwide in 2014.
  • Approximately 1.24 million deaths occurred on the world’s roads in 2010 

Now, let me break this down for you. I do this not to be heartless, I am sad for these people who died in these brutal attacks as well. But, every day most of us wake up and drive to work. We do not create Facebook statuses about how scared we are to get in our car and drive to work. We hardly think about it, mainly we all accept that we may get in a crash because, well, that is just life. But we are all terrified of terrorists (pay attention to the name TERRORIST; this is the point, after all). But based on the stats above, we are 38 times more likely to die in a car accident than a terrorist attack. (Roughly, I am NOT a mathematician, I am a writer. Also, feel free to correct me if my math is wrong.)

Also, in my opinion, it would make sense that some legislators may want you to be afraid. I am not a conspiracy theorist (uh, for the most part), but a basic psychology class would tell you that if they have a war agenda, they would like to play on your fear to get themselves there.

The truth is, ISIS is a threat. A huge threat to the freedom we have thrived on for centuries, and it needs to be examined under a microscope. However, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions and pass laws. There is a danger in this.

For example, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, they were in the midst of an education reform. Regardless of whether you agree with privatization of our education system or err more to the side of public school systems, this particular reform benefitted from the fear and turmoil caused by the hurricane. In Noami Klein’s The Shock Doctrine she examines the change in education after the hurricane:

“Friedman’s radical idea was that instead of spending a portion of the billions of dollars in reconstruction money on rebuilding and improving New Orleans’ existing public school system, the government should provide families with vouchers, which they could spend at private institutions, many run at a profit, that would be subsidized by the state. It was crucial, Friedman wrote, that this fundamental change not be a stopgap but rather “a permanent reform.”

In other words, instead of rebuilding public schools, they opened private schools and gave families vouchers. Which, may seem okay, but how long would those vouchers exist? My guess is the private schools would be around long after the vouchers ran out. Not everyone in New Orleans can afford a private school education.

I say (er, write) all of this for two reasons:

  1. So people will stop being afraid to enjoy their lives in fear of ISIS
  2. We can pass legislation based on facts and logic, rather than emotions and fear (pssst- refugees).

Thanks for listening. I am open to hearing some other opinions as well.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Paris

http://isreview.org/issue/71/education-shock-doctrine

Noami Klein’s The Shock Doctrine

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11995246/Paris-shooting-What-we-know-so-far-on-Wednesday-afternoon.html

Shut Up; Our Generation Actually Doesn’t Suck

I don’t know about any of you fine folks, but I read a handful of articles a day about how narcissistic our generation is, how we can’t stop taking selfies, we ignore each other in favor of looking at our phones, we have no idea what it means to work hard for what we want, the list goes on and on…

That all looks great on paper, especially to the Baby Boomers. But when I finally find the time to glance up from my beloved iPhone, I look around to see my peers doing amazing things. My best friend planned at least 5 events this year that brought in more than 100 people to local bars and businesses. I have friends who write and perform their own music on a daily basis. Another friend just traveled all over Europe. Furthermore, I have a friend who is a producer for ABC News, a friend who has his doctorate in Pharmacy, and a sister who has two master degrees.

I go to an open mic night for underage people at a local coffee shop and these kids are writing amazing poems and creating freestyle raps and just overall killing it – and most of them can’t even drive yet! Tell me that’s not impressive.

People I know are running marathons and competing in Tough Mudders and going to the gym on the regular. I know vegetarians and vegans and people who eat meat but are super healthy.

What do these people have in common? They are all a part of the dreadful millennial generation and yes, they have probably all taken a selfie at least once in their lives.

On top of all of these amazing accomplishments, most of us are buried under overwhelming mounds of student debt – and we still find a way to smile for our profile pictures! Take that, boomers!

In all seriousness, though, our generation gets a bad rep. But I have a social life that is far from sitting around typing on my cellphone. And, me saying that could probably seem narcissistic to people who think it’s better to be modest than talk about your strengths (and my social life is DEFINITELY a strength ;)). Even if my friends and I Instagram the pumpkins we just carved, it doesn’t mean we didn’t just have the most fun carving them with each other. So, we still do things – we just have different tools now to share our lives. We do it online instead of writing letters. We text instead of call. It’s just different.

It’s wonderful that the internet and social media has brought such awareness to mental health, depression, personality disorders, etc. but I do find it a little disheartening how easy it is to throw these labels around. People who post selfies are narcissistic, histrionic, while people who post sad songs are depressed. I have seen so many people wear the I-hardly-post-to-social-media like a badge of honor. As if resisting the impulse to update people on their lives makes them a tad bit less conceited and a tiny bit more of a respectable person. And, I mean, kudos to them. I haven’t researched this, but I just tend to think if people worried less about how people perceive them on the internet – post too much, too whiny, too whatever – and just did what they feel, they’d have more time to focus on their individuality and creativity.

I don’t know, I’m just talking out of my ass here. I guess it comes down to this: every generation is great and shitty all at once – ours is no different. But watch out, the background in our selfies gets a little bit more impressive every time. That’s right, we’re making our way to the top and documenting our successes along the way.