Why Humans Love Negativity

Whether it is in the news or social media, negativity seems to be everywhere these days. Tragic incidents, accidents, celebrity bashing, roast challenges, you name it. While exposure to negative content is important and inevitable, it is the fact that humans love it that is interesting. We know it is bad, yet we cannot stay away from capturing or consuming it. Why?

It has been reported that there are about seventeen negative news reports for every positive one in the media. Evolutionary psychologists and neurologists say that because our brains evolved in hunter-gatherer environments, we immediately attend to anything dramatic and threatening for the sake of our survival.

Another explanation is the probability theory which suggests that the probability of unusual/tragic events happening in large cities compared to local neighborhoods is higher.  Becuase the media focuses on large-scale cities, the prevalence and distribution of negative content increase greatly.

Researchers find that a negativity bias exists in which people have a desire to hear bad news.  This bias exists mainly because people tend to believe that they are “above-average” and that the world is a much better place than it actually is.  Thus, when bad news comes out, they give it more attention.

The brain has increased sensitivity to bad news as opposed to good news. In other words, an insult stings more than a compliment, unpleasant feelings linger longer than positive/neutral ones, and bad news overshadows good news. Thus, despite the presence of all the good in this world, the negativity sticks out like a sore thumb.

In specific, I want to focus on the vastness of negative content online, mainly Youtube. Whether it roasting other Youtubers, hating on celebrities, or capturing another person’s pain, there is plenty of negativity out there. What is concerning is that these are the videos that trend and gain the most attention.  If a video is circulated rapidly on the Internet, it is defined to be viral.

In April 2016, a 16-year-old girl named Amy Joyner-Francis was beaten to death by three girls in a high school bathroom.  Dozens of other girls simply stood by and watched the violent encounter unfold.  Some even chose to record it, rather than intervene. Click here to read more about this incident.

How sad is that?! Is the chance to create a viral video worth risking someone else’s life?

Research shows that negative videos can become viral because they trigger high arousal emotions like anger and disgust. Videos bashing celebrities and capturing accidents/fights gain attention because of the immediate response the viewer experiences.

However, there is an incentive for positive videos as well. Another component in virality is dominance- when you feel in control of your emotions. For example, a high dominance emotion is happiness, whereas a low dominance emotion is fear. Thus, videos that elicit high dominance feelings, such as happiness, admiration, and love have been proven to trend.  Trending videos like “In A Heartbeat” and “Grace VanderWaal: 12-Year-Old Ukulele Player Gets Golden Buzzer – America’s Got Talent 2016” promote positivity and inspiration.

In the long run, creating positive content is far more impactful.  Think about it.  Once the short-lived relevance of a negative video dies out, it is quickly forgotten.  This is because negative content is solely remembered for its content, whereas positive content has a lasting impression.

And the misconception that it is impossible to trend without negativity is just false.  Whether it is #DamnDaniel, Gangnam Style, Watch Me Whip or Carpool Karaoke, these videos have managed to become viral without promoting any negativity.

It is impractical to hope that negative content will cease to exist because there will always be an audience for it. However, if people make an effort to resist watching and sharing these types of videos, then people will be less encouraged to record such content.  So, while it is tempting and difficult to focus on negativity, do not bash what you hate.  Instead, promote what you love.

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Stop and Think Before Eating that Turkey

Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving – I love the food, I love spending time with my family, I love the sentiment behind it, and I really, really love the break from school –  but I think it’s also important to recognize and acknowledge its history while we’re celebrating it. It’s especially important when you consider recent events: the Keystone Pipeline – which, if you recall, was heavily protested by Native Americans – leaked over 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota a few days ago.

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We learn in elementary school that we celebrate Thanksgiving to honor the first harvest of the Pilgrims after Native Americans had helped them learn how to farm and survive on the land after arriving what eventually would become the United States of America.
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We draw hand turkeys, make little paper dolls of pilgrims and Native Americans, and watch Pocahontas, learning  how the pilgrims and Native Americans hated each other, but came together after clearing up some misunderstandings and they all live happily ever after.

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As we get older, we learn that really wasn’t the case. I mean, there was a feast celebrating the harvest around Thanksgiving time that was celebrated by about 50 Europeans and 90 Native Americans. That’s true. The “happily ever after”? Not so much. In reality, Pocahontas was was about 9 or 10 when John Smith came to America. When she was 15 or 16, she was kidnapped by the English, forced to marry John Rolfe, then died when she was 20.

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They changed her name to Rebecca, too

People don’t like to talk about this, but that’s why it needs to be said: this country’s history is not without the suffering of Native peoples and, as a nation, we still have progress to make in alleviating the long-term effects of that suffering. 

There’s the Keystone Pipeline, first of all, which was protested for, as we know now, 100% valid environmental concerns and the potential destruction of sacred Native American lands and burial sites. Native American reservations, which were lands that the US government allowed the Native tribes to live on (despite the fact that they were here first), have low standards of living and the people who live there suffer from high rates of poverty, substandard housing, lack of utilities like electricity and running water, and sub-par health services.

Then there are things like this:

This was from a textbook assigned to Canadian third graders. Recently. Thankfully, backlash on social media caused the textbooks to be recalled, but, frankly, it is 2017. This shouldn’t have happened in the first place. We shouldn’t have schools telling our children that the Native peoples “agreed to move to different areas to make room for the new settlements.”

And there are the little things, like the name of that Washington football team or the fact that people still dress up as “Indians” on Halloween, like their culture is a costume, like they’re not real. It’s the fact that they’re treated like second-class citizens despite the fact that they were here first.

I’m not saying people should stop celebrating Thanksgiving – that’s not what I’m trying to communicate here. In my opinion, I feel that people have certain ideas about the history of Thanksgiving and the colonies that need to be corrected. Eat the turkey and the gravy and the mashed potatoes (I know I will, and to excess), give thanks to everything you’re thankful for, and spend time with your family watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. However,  also be mindful of history. It’s as important as your present.

 

“To Teach, To Learn, To Inspire”

This time last year, I made the last minute decision to apply to be an instructor for the FIGS program on campus. At the time, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into, and now, almost an entire year later, I can honestly say that getting involved with FIGS has been one of the most challenging and most rewarding opportunities I have undertaken as a student at Rutgers. If you are unfamiliar with the program, FIGS stands for First-Year Interest Group Seminars. These seminars are 1 credit classes designed for first-year students– they all cover different topical areas that connect to different majors, as well as more general information about navigating the enormous university that is Rutgers. The unique thing about these seminars is that they are taught by upperclassmen–juniors and seniors that take on the role of “Peer Instructor,” and receive 3 credits for attended several training sessions over the summer break, creating 10 weeks of lesson plans, and actually implementing those lesson plans in the classroom. This semester, I taught “Exploring English Literature” to a class of 23 first years.

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“To Teach”

Even after an entire summer of careful planning and prepping, walking into my classroom during the first week of September was one of the most intimidating things I have ever done. I felt awkward and rushed, and having twenty-three pairs of eyes examining my every move didn’t help. Ten weeks later, I am comfortable leading discussions, even when things begin stray from my lesson plan. I see students making connections between different poems and texts we have read throughout the semester. I get to read their reflections and first responses to short stories I selected as a part of their reading lists. And tomorrow, during our last class, I will be able to watch my students present their final projects on authors they chose and researched. I am excited to see what my students create and what they have learned from my class throughout the semester. I’ve always been interested in teaching, especially at the level of higher education, and writing and instructing my own FIGS seminar only confirmed this.

“To Learn”

When I really stop to think about this past semester and the FIGS process as a whole, I truthfully think that I learned more than my students. Some of the most important lessons I have learned directly apply to my future career interests, and will definitely give me something to talk about in future job interviews. As FIGS was really my first experience in a leadership role at Rutgers, I have become so much more confident speaking in front of people and leading group and individual discussions. My time management skills have improved, as well as my general organizational and administrative skills. I have learned about my students and the variety of backgrounds and different high school experiences and educations that they have. I have also learned more about myself, both as an individual, and as a teacher.

“To Inspire”

While there were many moments this semester that stand out, the most inspiring was something that happened just last week. After nine weeks of class, one of my students approached me as asked, “What can I do to become a FIGS instructor?” As cliche as it sounds, it is a really cool thing to think about the ways in which I possibly inspired her to take on the same leadership role as I am currently in.

It’s been a long semester and FIGS as a whole has been a lot of hard work filled with more than my fair share of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. If you are a sophomore or junior this semester, and you have any interest in teaching, or even just really love your major and want to share it with the next generation of Rutgers students, I cannot recommend the FIGS Peer Instructor experience enough.
The application comes out in the next week or so, and will be available here: https://figs.rutgers.edu/peer-instructors/teach-a-figs.

5 Unconventional Things to be Thankful For

1. Fat Sandwiches

Our wonderful college cuisine is definitely a highlight of Rutgers, and while Tacoria, Stuff Yer Face, and Surf Tacos all contribute to the college experience, there is nothing quite as unique to the Rutgers experience as the fat sandwich. It is a gluttony of cheese, carbs, and sauces. It’s the sandwich where you don’t bother looking at the calories because there’s no point avoiding the truth – you’re about to gain some weight, but more importantly, you’re about to have the best food of your life.

2. The Rutgers Facebook Page

Among the poorly crafted memes, and the tears of students taking Data Structures and Organic Chemistry, there is also the magic that brings people together: losing things. If you were to lose your RUID anywhere on campus, a search by the FBI’s finest could not compete against the powers of the Rutgers Facebook page. Within minutes people will have plastered your lost ID across the Facebook walls, and all your problems – or rather one of your many – will be resolved.

3. Taco Bell Delivers

2017 may have been a rough year so far but it hasn’t been all bad, Taco Bell started delivering food this year. It just goes to show that miracles do happen. It helps for all those late night exams cramming sessions and 3AM cravings. Sometimes it helps to be thankful for the little things.

4. Being a Student

Being a college kid may be hard sometimes with upcoming deadlines, overwhelming responsibilities and never ending to do lists, but it has its perks. You may not realize this but by being a student you can get a discount on so many different things from great companies such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple, Spotify, and free entry to tons of museums! SO cheer up and be a little thankful that there are companies out there that understand your struggles and are willing to make your Netflix bingeing sessions a lot cheaper.

5. Cold Weather

The upcoming cold weather may make you not want to get out of bed, but there are actually many advantages to the dropping degrees. The first one being of course that winter fashion is the best. I personally love wearing knit scarfs, baggy sweaters, boots, and beanies. It’s comfortable, snuggly, yet chic. Also, colder weather means lazier people, so if you’re a coffee-holic like me that means shorter lines at the Starbucks truck, and buses don’t seem as crowded when the people around you serve as a warm barrier from the harsh winds of the outside world.

Good luck for the Semester and Remember to Stay Thankful!

Winter Commuter Tips – Safety

Here in New Jersey (and I guess most of the Northeast region), the long, cold winter months are almost upon us. And while some weather websites are predicting a warm winter (please, oh please), we commuters need to prepare for these cold and shivering car rides we are about to face. These colder months, there are many risks that we need to be careful of. So here are a few tips that have helped me over the years:

  1. Start your car 10-15 min before you leave home. There is no worse feeling than sitting in a freezing car (okay maybe there are worse; I definitely would not want to be sitting in a car that just rear ended a police car). I have found out from many winters that 10-15 min is the optimal time of starting your car and heating it up before you leave.
  2. Pack a windshield de-icer and a snow brush. These come especially in handy when after a long day’s work at school, you come to the parking lot to find your car buried in snow and ice. Yeah you can use your hands…if you want to freeze them off!!
  3. Pack jumper cables or a jump starter. While at Rutgers, we are very lucky that the RUPD can come and jump-start your car if needed. But when you are off-campus, jumper cables or a jump starter will save you in the most unexpected times!
  4. Have enough gas! I admit I am one of those people who fill up the gas when I have only 5-10 miles left till empty. But in the winter, I try to make sure I have enough gas at all times. You do not want to experience pushing your car to the gas station in freezing temperatures!!!
  5. Always wear winter/ rain clothing or keep them in your car. Again I am one of those people who step out of my house at 1pm and say “Ah today is a warm day it seems. Don’t need my heavy jacket”. And then I find myself shivering to the bone at 6pm lolol. Learn from my mistake; pack warm clothing!!                             
  6. Always have a support system. It’s never a bad idea to let family or friends know that you are leaving school or home in bad weather. If anything goes wrong and you don’t have any communication (a dead phone for example), they will know something is wrong if they don’t hear from you.

I am really hoping we don’t have a horrible winter. A few inches snow here and there and cool weather I don’t mind. That’s my favorite kind of weather. But please, no below  zero temperatures and black ice (every commuter’s worst nightmare). After checking some more weather sites, it seems we will have a warmer winter than usual. But always keep these tips in mind whether you are facing snow, rain, or cold weather. And remember always keep your safety in mind. If you think you are having a hard time driving, just pull over and relax. Tensed driving can lead to worse problems.

I’m Never Going to Not be Excited for Thanksgiving Break

I feel like Rutgers should give more Fall Recesses, just saying. I love learning, don’t get me wrong, but I just want a nap.

Anyways, I’m excited for Thanksgiving. I think last year I wrote about a seitan turkey replacement my sister made, and how cool that was, because she essentially made a meat substitute out of a sponge. So, I’ll talk about the food I want to make this year, because I’m always super excited to cook for the holiday.

Now, I watch a lot of people cook on YouTube, which I mentioned a bit before (Maangchi is still the love of my life I promise). Recently I’ve started watching this channel called Hot for Food (here’s their blog link, because even though I’m not endorsing them, they do have a delightful bank of recipes that you guys can look at if you’re so inclined: https://www.hotforfoodblog.com/welcome” . This is a vegan cooking blog/channel, and honestly it’s the best one I’ve seen. I watch a bunch of others occasionally, and all the food they make looks so d u l l. It’s upsetting man. Like I saw someone make a fall “grain bowl” and it was literally a giant bowl of quinoa with some sad looking pan fried Brussels sprouts and a small amount of a mustard sauce they made, and no way can that actually be a tasty meal, Imma be real with you. That seems to be what a lot of people think vegan cooking is, but it can be really nice. Hot for Food does it really nice. My sister told me like months ago she trusts these people with her life (we make their macaroni and “cheese” recipe a lot and it’s amazing, it uses softened cashews and nutritional yeast as the sauce and it’s really good), and after watching them a bit, I have to say, same. These people seem to understand cooking and balancing flavors to maximize taste of a vegan dish, and it’s so fun to watch.

I say this b e c a u s e I’m going to make two dishes from them for Thanksgiving, and I’m super excited. Idk about you but honestly, the turkey was never my favorite part of a Thanksgiving meal, the sides always had much more flavor. So, we’re just doing away with that this year, and I’m going to make what Lauren (the women in their YouTube videos), calls a Thanksgiving Vegan Roast (here’s the video for this recipe if you’d like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SNEly05Nmg). This seems so cool because it’s like a leftover sandwich, as your meal. But instead of bread, they use puff pastry, so it’s fancy. I’m actually interested on what vegan puff pastry is, because traditionally it puffs due to a bunch of layers of butter in between a flour based dough, so when the butter melts and steams, it lifts and separates the layers, giving you a “puff”. But I know vegan versions exist because we’ve used them before, I just don’t know how they work. If someone does tell me, I’d think it’d be really cool. Anyway, yeah, fancy sandwich, filled with mashed, spiced sweet potato, a lentil and mushroom mix, and a cranberry apple sauce. I’m probably going to do the cranberry sauce differently, because we have a recipe we love that we’ve been using for years  (super easy, a bag of fresh cranberries, cinnamon sticks, orange peel, water, if you like a jalapeno, and a metric ton of sugar it’s crazy, and you just boil that forever until the cranberries open and it’s thick and delicious. I’ll just add chunks of apple to that). So I’m excited to try that.

We’re also making (from the same blog, because like I said I trust these people with my life), a “Hazelnut Torte” (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujNE1J_D9Kw), which is a cake made with more crushed hazelnuts than flour, and it has mocha flavors in it (mocha is coffee and chocolate, in case you’re not a coffee addict or something), with a coconut whipped cream as it’s icing. I think it’s fun cause it uses something called “aquafaba” as it’s rising agent, as opposed to eggs. What is aquafaba? It’s bean water. How crazy is that. Either cook chickpeas, and it’s the water you cooked the beans in, or drain a can of chickpeas and it’s that water you usually rinse down the sink cause of sodium. And it foams, how cool is that?! Like, I’ve used it for things and it looked exactly like meringue, it was the coolest thing of my life. I checked a few sources, and I’m notoriously bad at googling information so maybe I’m wrong and they do know, but from what I can t e l l they don’t exactly know why the aquafaba foams just like egg whites would. The water has plenty of protein after cooking the beans, much like an egg white, so that’s a fair bet, but what exactly in the substance makes it behave the way it does is unknown. Whatever it is, it’s cool though. So this cake is made with aquafaba and more nut than flour, and has coffee and chocolate and it looks delicious, so I’m making it.

Then the less interesting stuff, I’ll do a fresh spinach salad because it’ll be a meal of roasted vegetation, and freshness is nice. Probably mashed potato because my sister demands it (she’ll be the one making it anyway she does it better than me, the jerk), and what I’m actually a bit excited for is trying out a vegan brown gravy. I figure soy sauce will be the most prominent ingredient? Who knows though.

So yeah, guess that’s all I was excited about lately. I did well on my midterms so far, so that’s nice. Hope you guys did well too, have a fun break when it finally comes. If you make anything fun and want to tell me, please tell me, I like comments, they’re fun. Bye!

My Summer (A story told a little late)

Hi there!

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, because life has been a little crazy (when isn’t it?). However, this one summer experience I had is one I’ve been meaning to share and now seems as good a time as any.

The Rutgers Institute of Women’s Leadership has many programs throughout the year to help female college students develop leadership skills they can bring to their careers and communities. This summer I took part in one of them,  the Community Leadership, Action and Service Program, otherwise known as CLASP. Through the program, students work in internships at local non-profits for five weeks. During that time, they also take a seminar on women’s leadership and responsible ways to help a community. For me, the experience was eye-opening and amazing.

The program placed me with the Sanar Wellness Institute, a non-profit in Newark that works with survivors of human trafficking. Specifically, they provide psychological support to survivors, mostly through yoga and art therapy.

Now, I didn’t work with clients, because I’m not a social work major, but I still learned a lot. My job consisted primarily of two things: social media and curriculum development. For the social media aspect, I managed their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. However, the more meaningful part came from the curriculum development.

The Institute had been chosen by Rutgers to rework the curriculum used to teach social workers about how to deal with survivors of human trafficking. My job was a combination of fact-checking, lesson arrangement, and secretarial duties(see: type, copy, paste). As far as the fact-checking went, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. For example, just this year Polaris published a new typology (see: listing different categories) of human trafficking: There are 21 types of Human Trafficking. Also, that big deal the news usually makes about human trafficking increasing around wherever the Super Bowl is happening? False. If you want more details, just ask and I can go through the PowerPoint.

In addition to this, the seminar also taught me a lot. It was an odd combo of Intro Race and Gender studies, Social Justice, and Community Building with the other volunteers from the program. Everyone there was really amazing and worked with organizations across New Brunswick like Unity Square, Youth Empowerment Services, and New Labor. If you’re interested in Women’s Leadership and/or helping out the community, be sure to check this out, as the applications will probably open soon.

 

 

 

 

 

RU struggling with choosing your classes next semester?

Many first year students are probably now not only considering what classes they want to take next semester, but also considering all of the other ones that they are about to sign up for within the next four years of undergrad as well. Although that could be a bit too much, it is quite often very normal, especially if you are an honors student.

Honors students have to figure out how many colloquiums they should take, what Honors sections/classes they want to sign up for, whether they should take interdisciplinary seminars instead, when they should start their honors thesis, and how to keep track of their SAS core requirements on top of all of that. Although that might seem a bit too much, I am about to inform you of a strategy known as the FUNNEL strategy ( I really want to believe that i came up with that on my own, but I probably didn’t) that made balancing all of my requirements feasible for me.

So, this extremely easy method is all about starting with the most important things first, then working your way down. In my case, that was placing the Honors program requirements in third place, with the SAS core requirements being in first place, my major in second place, and my minor in fourth place. This made the most sense to me because of the classes I personally have to take, but it is different for everyone. I hope you are still following!

Why am I placing the Honors program requirements in the third place? Simply because you do not know where life is going to take you a year or two from now. You might find that your major is really difficult to handle on top of the Honors program, and in that case, you might have to strategize your schedule differently, for example, by taking a class that fulfills both a major and an Honors requirement (there are so many Honors sections offered of classes!). Or you might experience some life-changing event that could delay your graduation date, so you would be better of getting all of the SAS core requirements out of the way first,right?. Of course, I am not saying to delay taking any of the Honors program sections until you are about to graduate. You should definitely take one or two honors requirement courses/sections a year…just do not overdo it.

To conclude, figure out what courses you want to take based on the order provided above, taking into consideration that amount of credits you think you can handle per semester, and the huge possibility that sections could close up very quickly so be ready for backups, and always ask for help from an Honors dean or mentor or any random upperclassman. There is always someone in RU that would love to help.

And congrats on making it half way through you freshman year…almost.

 

 

Last of Many WebRegs, First of Many Tears

Guys, it’s happening. The G-word is upon us…. Don’t make me say it. I’m not going to say it. I’ll just find a meme that says it for me instead.

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Last Sunday, I registered for the last time. It was such a bittersweet moment because I thought about the first time I scheduled and how I was in tears because as a freshman, I registered last, and believe it or not, I got none of the classes I wanted. But now, three years later, I changed my major twice, changed my minor twice, took classes that had nothing to do with my major just to explore different topics, and I am still finishing on time having completed every requirement from all 3 schools I am in (SAS, Bloustein, and SCI) on top of finishing my SAS Honors requirements. On top of it, I am interning at Robert Wood, working part-time, and reading….for fun… so listen up underclassmen, you can do it all, I promise you. Want to know how? Just breathe, prioritize, and plan. I’m not kidding. (And yes, in that order).

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BREATHE. 

One of the most important lessons I have learned from my last seven semesters here at Rutgers has been to always take a step back, breathe, and remember that it will all work out. Whatever that it is, I promise you, it will work out. I am an extremely busy person – I take 18 credits a semester, I intern, I work, I am a research assistant, I am a peer instructor, and I am very up-to-date on all my TV shows (yes, I know what I said). Sometimes, I feel like I am on a hamster wheel, never being able to get off. But I make sure I make time every single day to unwind, whether it be by napping, by FaceTiming my little brother, or just hanging out in the kitchen with my housemates. When I feel anxious about a deadline or an upcoming presentation, I forget about it. And by that I mean I literally forget about. I step away from whatever is making me nervous or anxious or worried and I do something else until I am ready to come back to it. Sometimes, you just need a little breather for you to look at something with fresh eyes. Whatever that breather is, yoga, ice-cream, Netflix, going on a run, a nice bubble bath, napping, or writing – take that breather. You can do anything you want if you remember to take care of your own sanity and health first. You come first.

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Prioritize. What do you want? When do you want it done by? First, figure out what you want. When it comes to your classes, explore different subject matters your freshman year. Just because you think you’re pre-med, it doesn’t mean you can’t sign up for Intro to Computer Science or Art History. Join clubs. Go to your professor’s office hours. Talk to someone on a different floor in your residence hall. When you explore, you broaden your horizons. And when you broaden your horizons, you learn what it is you really love. My freshman year, I took Biology, Computer Science, Calculus II, Greek Civilization, and a Public Health class. Some classes stuck…some didn’t. But I learned by taking those classes what I never wanted to do again (I’m talking about you partial derivatives) and what I could see myself spending the rest of my life learning about (Public Health).  So I prioritized. I had three priorities scheduled for myself second semester of freshman year: graduate with a B.S. in Public Health, complete all of my requirements, and get involved in the health care industry through internships and/or research. And that is exactly what I did. By focusing on what I wanted to do first, I was able to better plan the other aspects of my life… which brings me to….

plans

One tip I highly recommend is to plan out your next four years now in regards to classes. Open up Excel and create a schedule for all of the semesters you have left. I did this my sophomore year and I really wish I did it sooner because it really helped me figure out what classes were offered and when (as some classes are only Fall or Spring) or if two requirements overlapped in class meeting times, what was the best way to handle that. And best thing is, since it’s Excel, if you change your mind or change your major, you can just readjust your schedule and see if you’re still on track with your goals. Use Degree Navigator, the Honors Program website, Course Schedule planner, and your Honors advisors to figure out what classes you want to take and when. This will help you make sure you finish your requirements as well as give you opportunity to plan for studying abroad or internships.

You should also plan your future after college. No, I don’t mean you need to know exactly which graduate school you are going to go to or exactly what career path you want. Rather, I mean you should take advantage of the career-planning resources that are all over campus such as University Career Services or the Career Fair. Drop in and have your resume critiqued or sit with an advisor and learn about different post-grad options. Go to the career fair with an open mind and a pen – just expose yourself to the outside world, because unfortunately, we all have to face the G-word sooner or later.

 

Why Snapchat Is Making Us Crazy

Now before I begin, I should mention that I am a loyal Snapchat user, so I am guilty of being absorbed in this obsession as well.  I’ve been thinking about writing about this for weeks now, but I refrained because I did not want to be hypocritical.  Yet, the more I have thought about it, the sillier and more trivial Snapchat became.  To clarify, I am not suggesting that everyone needs to delete their Snapchats or even break their streaks (oh, the horror!), but I think it’s important for us, including me, to take a step back and consider the extent to which social media has taken over our lives.

Our obsession with Snapchat only works to the company’s advantage with each update becoming more and more exciting and tempting for the consumer.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Snapchat is a fun way to connect with people, share our lives through pictures, and even experience others’ lives (including celebrities) in a quick 10-second video and a five-word caption.  It’s also a simple way of interacting because it takes the pressure and effort from having a full conversation and typing things out.  However, some features on Snapchat which seem “fun” are actually quite problematic.

Here are 4 ways that Snapchat is making us all go crazy.

Streaks. 

Streaks are basically a challenge you have with another person, in which both people send one snap daily.  A fire emoji appears next to that person’s name after 3 consecutive days, with the number increasing every day.  When you approach the 100-day milestone, a 100 emoji appears to celebrate the achievement. Not going to lie, reaching this mark for the first time was pretty exciting!

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But, here is where the problem begins.  Once you start one streak, you are suddenly tempted to start more. It almost feels like an unofficial rule that once you reach a certain stage of a new friendship, a streak must be initiated.   As the number continues to increase, the pressure to maintain the streak increases.  It’s a commitment that I honestly did not sign up for.

Some of my streaks are with people that I barely talk to. If a daily snap back and forth is the only communication you hold with someone, why is so much value placed upon the streak? The truth is I’d rather have streaks feel exciting like they initially did rather than a daily task I have to complete.  Of course, I do have some friends and groups on Snapchat that I actually share meaningful things with.  Streaks that are built this way are totally awesome! But, if the only reasons I snap people daily is for the sake of the streak, then something is wrong.

Sending mass snaps or blank screens with “streak” written on it, asking my friends to take over my account when I’m on vacation or cannot use Snapchat, and attaching too much value to a streak are signs of the obsession. Can we just take a second to acknowledge how silly all of this is?! What’s worse is that the easy solution of breaking streaks is frankly not-so-easy.  After a certain point, breaking a streak feels like betrayal.  Like, why break it now after coming so far?  But, we really need to ask ourselves: if not now, when? 

Stories.

Stories are great ways of sharing memorable moments with all of your friends at once.  Even better, it lasts an entire day, so it’s cherished longer.  However, I think stories lose their purpose and value when people feel the need to share every moment of their lives without taking the time to put their phone away and really enjoy it.  Because, trust me, no one wants to go through 2 minutes worth of a concert that you are attending on his/her phone.  Instead of watching the whole thing through a screen, I bet you that being present in the moment is much more fulfilling.  And it’s okay, you can spare the rest of your friends the shaky footage and replace it with one or two pictures because they are probably tapping through it anyway.

But, I get it.  Some meals, moments and places are so aesthetic that they have to be captured. However, people who snap everything they eat, every place they visit, and every party they’re at are a bit concerning.  Stories are a lot more interesting to look through when they are something new and exciting.  Seeing my entire Snapchat flooded with the same old stories every day is honestly a bit depressing.

Snap Score.

Snapchat scores are a sum total of all the snaps that you have sent and received.  Like other social media websites, the higher the number, the more “authoritative”, “cool” or “popular” you seem.  Humans are naturally competitive. Increasing their scores can become a motivation to constantly add new people, send pointless snaps and keep loads of streaks.  In fact, the Internet has tons of websites on how to increase snap scores. Here’s an example:Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 9.47.24 PM

Just the fact that such websites exist is scary because it shows how deeply engrossed we are into social media.

Emojis.

Ah, the infamous best friend list on Snapchat.  The emojis next to people’s names code for so much, effectively ranking friendships and increasing paranoia everywhere. The fact that it’s so indirect makes it exciting and sneaky, but also super nervewracking.

In particular, the smirky face and gritting teeth emojis are prone to making people feel jealous and insecure.  Also, the hearts hold special value.  The red heart appears after 2 weeks of being each others #1 best friend, and the two pink hearts appear after 2 months.  Losing a heart is heartbreaking to some people, and can potentially lead to salty feelings.  The whole ordeal is stressful and worrisome.

Snapchat should not be about maintaining unnecessary commitments, but rather sharing and interacting with friends.  If once in a while, your best friend list changes around, it should not mean the end of the world.  Friendships on Snapchat are ranked according to the number of snaps you send people.  It’s impossible to send snaps to the same person for a prolonged time unless it’s done purposefully. Therefore, your best friend list is bound to change around and does not necessarily equate to your real-life friendships.  If not being your friend’s BFF on Snapchat is enough to get you paranoid, how strong is your friendship?

I have yet to break my streaks or even consider deleting my Snapchat because quite frankly, I’m weak and easily tempted. However, just realizing the extent of the obsession is important.  As they say, acceptance is the first step to change.  Personally, I’m taking little steps to step away from social media once in a while and really enjoy the moment.  Resisting the urge to snap everything, not adding all of my suggested friends, and not worrying about my best friend list are some ways I have addressed the problem.  At the end of the day, real-time interactions hold so much more value than a three-second snap.