Guest posts are magical, and if you check out the ones that I have already posted on this blog under “Other Voices,” you might understand why.
Never Stationary is just my tiny slice of the huge internet pie; the gathering of people sharing their opinions is replicated constantly, and all over this terrain.
New blogs can emerge because someone wrote for another blog and decided that they wanted their own slice of pie.
You’re going to go many places during the course of your life, but I think it’s absolutely vital that you have a place that you refer to as home.
Home…is the center. Wherever you call home has shaped your personality is so many subtle but intricate ways. It’s the foundation and the location that you compare to every other place that you live.
Personally, I would be fine travelling from place to place, as long as I never forgot where I grew up. Home is the city that I lived in for the majority of my childhood. Even though I have since moved from there, the city will always have a special place in my heart. Whenever I drive half an hour back to this place, nostalgia overwhelms me. There’s the backyard that seemed to never end, the beautiful willow tree that I used to play under, and the neighborhood bubble tea joint run by the adorable couple of grandparents.
Home wouldn’t be home without the people that made it such; some of my childhood friends have since departed from the city, but the memories are still there…
The nomad life seems to be an inevitable part of life. Of course, lots of people stay in the same city for the entirety of their life, but I find nothing wrong with leaving your hometown for college and moving somewhere else, as long as you never forget where you come from. As long as a certain physical location is remembered with metaphorical significance, and as long as you never feel ashamed of your background, it seems completely appropriate that you may venture all over the world. The opposite – never leaving a city – has the tendency to confine you to a physical location and mental perspective.
There is no place like home. – L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Yesterday at debate camp, we had an intense discussion about a college debate team that used the Wizard of Oz as a metaphor for the debate community that they wanted. So that got me thinking – does a home necessarily have to be a place? Why can’t it be an activity or a community?
Debate is my home. It means not being ashamed that a majority of my friends are in the debate community, and it means that you feel more comfortable being yourself than anywhere else. It entails making memories that you will look back to and remember. It’s about triumphant wins and tragic losses, but it’s also NOT about triumphant wins and tragic losses. It’s about the people, the activity…
It’s really weird being a senior because I actually feel myself getting better at debate every single round. I can explain concepts in more detail, I understand strategies, and I have an urge to discuss debate in general. It used to not be like that. Back in freshman year, I used to have to force myself to listen or make blocks or highlight cards. What changed?
I angled my life more directly towards the debate community; I let it pervade every aspect of my life: school, decision-making, and extracurricular. It has become my home!
So in conclusion, yes. Meander where you’d like in life, because physical location is not the most important, as long as you never forget where you come from. Whether the impact of your “home” on the rest of your life has been positive or negative, know that your reaction to certain events has shaped who you are and made you a net-better person because of it. If all else fails, remember that there is a metaphysical “place” you can call home…for me, that’s policy debate.
In the debate community recently, an anonymous soul started a Facebook account dedicated to posting compliments about people in the debate community (Debate Compliments). The goal was simple: to spread joy to the debate community. Within hours, the person (or should I say, two people?) had acquired over one hundred Facebook friends. Now, they have almost 700. It seemed as though every five minutes, gracious tributes to fellow debaters would show up in my newsfeed. The posts would vary in content. Some people would shout out a whole team (as in, people from one school), and some would send in inside jokes that would be posted. Most, however, are recognizing members of the debate community from both the national circuit and local circuits for traits that are both related and entirely unrelated to their debating skills. People are acknowledged based on their personalities and their achievements of the season. So, the creators say: “if there is something nice you have to say about someone but don’t feel comfortable saying it to their face, inbox away.”
The trend has spread! Less than a day ago, two mysterious individuals at our school started a Facebook account with the same objective, of showing appreciation for the members of our community (Westminster Compliments). Refresh your newsfeed every couple of minutes, and you will see posts with multiple likes, representing the mutual agreement of opinion. At this very moment, Westminster Compliments has 174 friends. WOW!
Of course, everyone has a hunch about who the creators are. However, all of these guesses are only guesses until someone decides to step up and provide proof that they started either Facebook account. I doubt someone will though. If their intentions are genuine, anonymity is crucial to maintain the theme of gracious appreciation for individuals without the annoyance of drama or the hassle of judgment.
The way I see it, the creators of these Facebook accounts are reverse Gossip Girls. Or rather, after seeing the very last episode of the series, perhaps they are just Gossip Girls, since Dan Humphrey ended up using his social power for good.
These accounts all possess the Gossip Girl effect. No one knows who Gossip Girl/Debate Compliments/Westminster Compliments is. And yet people send in their “tips”. Of course, the difference is that Gossip Girl would post reliable and credible gossip, while these other two accounts simply aim to bring happiness to two different communities through compliments. And yet, who knows what the potential implications of these social phenomena could be? Could the creators use their powers for evil instead of good? And if they did, would the public follow along and send in statements that are not compliments?
From watching from the sidelines as my Facebook friends have eagerly latched onto this new social trend, all I can conclude is that there have only been benefits. I’ve learned things about people that I’ve met that I probably wouldn’t expect. I’ve found out wonderful things about people that I’ve never met.
Many questions remain. Is the popularity of the Something Compliments accounts fleeting? Is this whole thing just a fad? A joke? Or will it become a trend that spreads nationwide?
Hypothetically, if other “Something Compliments” accounts were created, who knows what sort of effects it could have? Could it possibly alleviate bullying? Or would bullies just create “Something Insults” to counter to positive effects?
It could change the way social media functions. Different from Formspring, this group would most likely be operated by someone within the community. That way, it would have a more personalized aspect; perhaps followers and supporters would be more likely to accept, and not immediately judge the effects of such a group.
Whoever you are, I hope you use your powers for good, and not for evil. Keep on doing what you’re doing. I won’t pester you anymore about the subject. Just know that most of the people in either community (whether it debate or school) greatly appreciate what you’re doing. It’s not like everyone has the time to copy and paste messages into status boxes! Even if it were the job of two operators.
It’s not that I don’t love writing, because believe me, I do. It’s just that some days I come home absolutely deflated, and not in the mood to write. So I turn to my inspirational muses (in no particular order).
I remember about a year ago, before I’d even considered starting a personal blog, that I found an extremely thought-provoking post from Thought Catalog. It was about snuggling. The reason why it stuck with me is because it was very descriptive. I found myself looking through my internet history trying to find it a couple of months later, for motivation to write a descriptive paper in English class. And I looked back again right before I wrote my first post for the blog. Thought Catalog was the first blog I ever followed, and the sheer variety of topics that it blogs about astounds me. Of course, it’s made up of a diversity of writers, but that just means that there’s a section for every sort of reader. I find myself looking a lot to this blog when I’m looking for topics to write about, and styles to adapt and take notice of. Its minimalist design and breadth of articles makes it my go-to source for inspiration. Continue reading
To debate is to participate in one of the most beneficial activities that young people could ever participate in. We, the future generation of our country, will be comprised of the professional football players and cheerleaders, the innovative scientists, the actors, the playwrights, the occasional Broadway performer, the cosmetic surgeon, the teacher, the soccer coach, and the list could go on and on. But imperative to the future generation are the politicians, presidents, congress people, and even the educated voter that has acquired such knowledge from something such as…policy debate.
Intro to Debate
Policy debate is a fast paced, excruciatingly intense activity that teaches many different skills. As technology becomes increasingly common in our everyday lives, computers, flash drives, and whatnot have transformed the style of debate into something contemporary and high tech. Debaters talk at high speed, the best speaking as rapidly at 400 words per minute (while the average person manages about 100 WPM). My sister, who has never seen a policy debate in her life, tells me that when I ‘spread,’ (speed read) I sound unreasonably mad. I tell her half-jokingly that it’s more passion than anger.
Before I joined our debate club, I was expecting to walk into a room full of smart, intellectual geeks that talked about politics. In some sense, I was correct. But there’s so much more to the debate community! They are passionate people; I was constantly in awe to hear people speak with such enthusiasm in their voice. Each year I have debated, I’ve learned so much about the topics that are chosen. Who would have thought that policy debate could have allowed me to know so much about military withdrawal, space development, and transportation infrastructure? I have a clear idea of how our economy functions, as well as what’s going on in world politics outside of the United States. I’ve become knowledgeable about presidential debates and various bills that go through Congress, and the effect it has on our country. Who would have thought that the entirety of my sophomore year I’d be arguing that it was imperative that the United States invest in an asteroid-detecting survey system because an asteroid collision was the greatest existential risk to humanity?
I’ve learned risk calculus. I can make better decisions, because I can weigh one choice against another. I LOVE IT. I USE THESE SKILLS IN MY CLASSES EACH AND EVERY DAY!
I love the debate community. I am very fortunate to go to a school that is very competitive and involved in policy debate. I’ve always been surrounded by wonderful role models that consistently inspired me to improve and learn more. I was shocked when junior year started and I started advancing to elimination rounds; younger students that had just started debate would ask me questions and look up to me, just like I used to admire the junior and senior debaters when I was a freshman.
But even greater is the relationship between schools. While most maintain secrecy about new strategies and files that are constantly updated between tournaments, debaters have consistently managed to maintain strong friendships. Despite the extremely (and I mean EXTREMELY) intense competition between schools and even within them, the community is able to stay tightly knit because of the inside jokes that no one else in our schools seems to understand. Whether it be about a funny rebuttal speech or an absurd argument test-driven to observe its effectiveness on a judge, non-debaters at my school swear that it sounds like we’re speaking a different language. In a way, it is a private, exclusive form of communication that few people can speak and write in. I’m constantly asked by my peers to “spread,” the same way that someone would ask me to speak a different language; it entertains and intrigues them.
I see this happen on a small scale: debaters that live within one state congregate at parties and have fun. I also observe the astounding relationships that are able to be maintained all over the country! Who would have thought that a high school kid living in Georgia would be able to create wonderful friendships with people from Kansas, Utah, Ohio, Illinois, California, or New Jersey? Perhaps it’s because we are all engrossed in our computers doing research, but we have also become accustomed to emailing, chatting, and video-calling each other. I’ve always feared the possibility of becoming socially awkward when being forced to speak face-to-face with people after spending so much time online, but I feel as though debaters are an exception to this phenomenon. We spend so much of our time eloquently persuading others why our point of view is correct that there isn’t much of a reason to worry.
Just like great relationships that emerge from sports or other extracurricular activities, debate friendships are made to last. From those of us that will grow up to be politicians, diplomats, or ambassadors, or even those that pursue another career but are educated in politics, we won’t look back at our debater days and remember “that one round where we won/lost against that one team on that one argument with that one judge;” chances are, we will remember fondly those who shared those special moments with us. Debaters tend to accept each other for who they are, continually learning new things from each other. It’s more than an extracurricular activity; other after-school activities cannot compare with the lessons we learn and the bonds that we form. It has become a way of life for so many people.
Education and Skill Set
Wow, am I a better public speaker or what? I’ve developed so much in public speaking through the years. My palms don’t sweat as much, my voice doesn’t shake as easily. I can give a final rebuttal with confidence in my tone, which really can set me apart to the judge, when he/she must decide which team was more persuasive.
Now, I’ll rant about the internet. One of the greatest benefits of policy debate is the information that accumulates in your brain over the years, all thanks to the World Wide Web. It’s free, unlimited information that obliterates many of the barriers that certain schools used to face when it came to doing research. While some people live in different regions where the judges can be drastically different, I’ve always remembered a very short but simple quote from Jarod Atchison: “On any given day, anyone can win.” The sole purpose of this activity is to convince the judge, not dispute the other team. When it comes down to it, the ultimate speech stems from all the confidence and knowledge you’ve acquired from camp, debate practices, and other debate rounds. I think that a good debater should be able to adapt to whatever the judge has ideologically engraved in their mind.
Disadvantages to Consider
On the other hand, whilst I love the activity with all my heart and soul, there are obvious disadvantages to pursuing such an activity. I can think of one major setback: the time commitment. Oh man, does this activity grant me so many sleepless nights! I finish my homework at 11 PM some nights, glance at the block, and mentally ask myself: Sleep, or debate work? The answer is the same every time: Debate, duh. If you want to be a good debater, you can’t expect to have the skills and information innately. I’m sure colleges will be taken back when a resume portrays four years of hardcore debate, but they probably wouldn’t expect you to provide much more in other extracurriculars if you were truly invested. Debate is the single most time-consuming activity you will ever know. Some people start at zero ground, knowing nothing about the topic. Some people might start at negative ground, disadvantaged by lack of funding, strange geographic funding, etc. But no matter where you start, there is ALWAYS the possibility of ending up at the same place as any other team, even the most prestigious team in the nation. The only thing standing in your way is the question: do you want it badly enough?
One last question to ask: Do you have the passion? If you’re doing debate simply for the opportunity to put it on your college apps, go sulk in a corner and rethink your decision. If you’re doing it because you don’t KNOW whether or not you have the passion, then I salute you! Whatever the future has in store, good luck. Whatever happens, happens. Being passionate about debate is crucial to bring you above and beyond. You can transform from this technical-debating robot that wins some debates by simply making more arguments than the other team into an emotionally wax-poetic lunatic that tugs on the judge’s heartstrings, allowing them to ponder the debate works. This is how to acquire the highest speaker points! This is how you earn your reputation in debate as being extremely persuasive.