Tagged: technology

21st Century Crushes

eye

The 21st century crush will be defined by screenshotted conversations sent to our best friends, catfishing, and a computer screen of security, which might become the only way two individuals feel comfortable communicating.

The inability of text to demonstrate emotion will make the effective communication of sarcasm very difficult, and we will start to rely on emojis and text lingo to bridge that gap lol :P Continue reading

A shoutout to my long-distance friends

technology

I live in Atlanta, and here I have friends that I can touch and feel.

But I live in Atlanta, and you live on the other side of the country; I see you a few times every year.

As a senior in high school, I’m going to see some of my best friends once more before we’re all whisked off to college, and I don’t know what to do about it.

With my friends here, personal interaction is best. If you’ve got the ability to see people that you care about, why would you leave it up to technology to do the job? It’s lame, it’s lazy, and it’s a poor example of friendship.

But with the friends dispersed all over the country, technology is all I have. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail, as well as texting and Snapchat are wonderful technological developments that have connected us all in unprecedented ways, giving the saying “it’s a small world” a whole new meaning. Continue reading

Powerless

I returned home after driving like a madman through a torrential rainstorm. Apparently, the weather had taken out a power line, and our entire neighborhood had lost power. At this time, it was still light outside. The air inside the house still retained some of its air conditioned effect, so the muggyness was bearable. The refrigerator had just recently lost its cool, so the food was still fresh. This power outage didn’t seem to be so devastating until I checked my phone.

23%

…and I couldn’t charge it. Nor could I charge my computer, which was down to its last hour or so on reserve battery. Nor could I turn on the TV, or access the internet, which meant that I couldn’t do my homework.

So I went to Barnes and Nobles and sat in the freezing cold, overly air conditioned building for a few hours, tying up the loose ends of my homework. I didn’t think much about the power outage, because I assumed that it would eventually come back on, to my earliest convenience. But it didn’t. By the time I arrived home past 10 PM, it was pitch dark outside. Driving through the woods was eerie, as all of the houses on our street seemed to have lost power as well. No street lights, just the headlights of our car making their way through dense fog, shadows abound.

Our house was pitch dark. My mom lit candles.

Finally, the reality set in. I started to panic. I think it may have been the darkness.

Yes, it must have been the darkness. I could not see, and walking around in my house and opening a door would not change the fact that I could see nothing.

What is it about electricity and power that dominates our lives? It governs our lives; I have come to be almost entirely dependent on it. Without it, I feel limited. I feel my phone’s battery slowly waning, and without internet, I feel disconnected from all of reality.

I grabbed a flashlight, and brought a candle to my room. I was actually prepared to shower by candlelight – forced intimacy with the darkness.

Is this panic that I felt normal? Is it healthy? My parents didn’t seem to mind at all. Driving through the pitch dark and seeing the silhouettes of all the houses without electricity, I imagined that no one was overly upset, aside from maybe the small kids who were still afraid of the dark.

Today, I was powerless.

 

I remember once when I was really young, probably still in elementary school. It was right around this time of year, except it was a dry storm that took out a power line. The power went out later in the evening, as the sun was just setting. The cars were parked in the garage, and since my sister and I complained of the heat, my dad had to manually open the garage door so we could drive around and grab ice cream, maybe. So we did. We may even have gone to Barnes and Nobles just for kicks, since both my sister and I were fiction addicts at the time. Perhaps a trend is emerging?

When we got back, there was still no power. It was unbearably hot, and the humidity never failed to remind me of it with every drop of sweat.

The power outage lasted hours. It’s hard for a twenty-first century child to fall asleep without the comfort of her AC; needless to say, I was up long after my sister had drifted off. At 2 AM, I complained to my father. He came and sat with me in my room, and tried to explain the phenomenon to me, alleviating the severity of the whole situation. We perched on my bed for a few moments, him pointing at some power box that was visible from my window. Somehow, the street lights were still on.

Then, a miracle occurred. A truck drove down the street, and stopped at the power box. I began excitedly tugging on my dad’s arm, and we watched in anticipation as people in hard hats tinkered with the box. All of the sudden, there was a buzz. The familiar sound of the AC, the whirs and beeps as clocks and ovens reset. The audible sound of comfort.

Maybe the grownups remained calm because they haven’t developed as strong of a reliance on power. My generation has grown up knowing internet and cellphones and TV and refrigerators.

I am genuinely curious as to what was going through the minds of the first people to experience the first power outage. Rage? Fear? Scenes of apocalypse?

Would it have seemed like the reversal of progress? That, after years of development of electricity by people like Edison and Tesla, it would disappear as easily as that?

In my spare time, I’ll look for accounts.

 

But the fact that I’m writing this and publishing it through the internet obviously means that the power came back on. (It did, just a few moments before I was about to step into the shower. When this happened, I whooped and ran out into the hallway, suddenly powerful)

Five people I don’t want to become

The overly obsessive with looks

When looks come to dominate everything else that I prioritize in life, I know that something is wrong. I never want to be so concerned with my outward appearance that my focus on this inevitably trades off with the quality of my inward appearance. I’ve said it before, and I shall say it again: these features are fleeting. You look great today, but shit happens: accidents, acne, puberty, and life. So if my bathroom were to ever be crowded with only bottles and sprays and combs and brushes and q-tips, someone slap me please.

The funniest is watching people grasp onto their fading beauty with desperate fingers, because the struggle represents his or her inability to accept an inevitable fate. I really do believe in the idea that the more makeup you cake on, the more you have to hide on the inside. The more you curl or straighten your hair, the more limp it is the next day. We are draining the life out of our bodies to try to fit unrealistic visions of beauty! I want to age gracefully.

The perpetually tired

I understand that part of being a high schooler is waking up grouchy and exhausted, but I desperately want some mornings when I’m genuinely happy to wake up. I want there to not always be days where laziness takes over and priorities are dropped without a thought. Whenever I go many days without proper sleep (like here at debate camp), the disastrous side effects snowball and overwhelm me; a crash is always imminent. I can’t stay awake and I’m forced to down cups of coffee and tea, and the acid from both corrodes my teeth. On the other hand, I’m normally not late or overly-jittery when I get a proper night of sleep.

The technocrat

I don’t want to become obsessed with technology, but I fear that I may be very far down this path already. I spend hours on my computer and my phone; of course, some of this time can be attributed to debate, but I definitely spend more time than is healthy. Additionally, I don’t feel comfortable if I don’t have access to it. I live off of wifi.

I would never allow myself to stay indoors all day and to develop eye, ear, and back problems because of both the overuse and misuse of technology, because none of those issues gives me a reason to live life…

The pure adult

I never want to lose some aspect of my childhood. I feel inspiration and nostalgia from flipping through old photos, and I experience pure happiness when I am confronted with something from my past – a TV show, a novel, or a journal. I don’t want to lose myself in the pressures of getting a job or starting a family or paying bills, and I want to preserve the beautiful period of my life that I appreciated so much.

The one who loses sight of the big picture

My friend once calmed me down about something stupid by playing the game of five. Will some issue matter in 5 days, months, and years? Personal crises virtually disappear when you remember that you have a life that spans more than the 4 years in high school, and that this too shall pass.

Friends are super important. Some you meet early in your life, and some you meet towards the close of a chapter, but what really matters is who stays in your life. People will inevitably leave. Those who stay are those who matter, and I never want to forget these people for others who just come and go. Those who come and go erupt into your life with a bang and leave just as suddenly, and at the end of the day, you will want someone to come and sit down with you in a cafe and talk about life, no pressure.

Specifically, this entails not letting others dictate your life. Your parents, your friends, your significant others and their opinions are not static, and neither are you. But when it comes to making big life decisions, it’s really important to realize that your big picture encompasses just you. If you take life just step by step and don’t create a least a general plan for what you want to make of yourself, then you’ve got nothing to look forward to and no framework to follow; the decisions and epiphanies that you make and experience today affect the person you will be tomorrow, as it pertains to education and occupation.

fb iz so kewl

Chances are, unless there is something remotely interesting or special about your birthday (it’s on Christmas, it’s the same as mine, my sister’s, something like that), I won’t know that it is your birthday and I won’t wish you a happy one.

What happened? Why don’t I take the time to learn people’s birthdays and engrave them into my mind anymore, like I tried to do with all of my friends in elementary school? I’d rather not waste my time trying to memorize insignificant pieces of information that can easily be found on the internet, specifically, Facebook.

That’s right, Facebook has made our social lives 100x more relevant to our lives; it has its perks, but it definitely comes with its detriments as well.

The perks of being a Facebooker:

1. We’ve found a way to keep track of all our friends, no matter how far or close they reside to you. With the exception of my Chinese relatives in mainland China, the rest of my family – sorry, the technologically-capable portion – is now on Facebook, and I can keep up with them! Same goes for friends, some of which live in France, Spain, and all over the country.

2. It’s a universal thing. Not everyone has a Gmail, not everyone has a Twitter, and almost no one has an active Myspace account anymore. Admit this to someone, and you’re probably going to find people that will admit the same.

Admit that you don’t have a Facebook, and people will question your internet access. So few youngsters don’t have a Facebook nowadays that those who don’t are often left out of the loop. At least, it certainly feels like that when people will ask if you got their party notification or the meeting update, which forced you to embarrass yourself by showing up to a cancelled meeting or missing the party of the year.

3. It’s a useful way to find out things about people that you otherwise would not have known. I suppose I wouldn’t have asked the girl in my English class about her hobbies and found out that she is indeed a successful gymnast, and I wouldn’t have known that the guy I met at summer camp next year also has a fervor for drawing.

The disadvantages of being on Facebook:

1. Depending on how liberal you are with your privacy settings and how old you were when you created an account, there may be infinite chances to embarrass you lurking on this double-edged social media website. I can’t express how comical it is to scroll back to 2009 when I posted statuses like this (legit, this is one of my old statuses):

eating a banana n my bday is soooon

In addition to this, there are dozens of awkward puberty pics and “thought-provoking” videos to mercilessly tease me for.

2. It’s very misleading:

Obviously most people aren’t going to post negative or embarassing things about themselves; in fact, some people are so restrictive with what they allow on their wall/timeline that we get a narrow perception of who they really are. We all know someone who posts heavily edited pictures of themselves or creates statuses that seem to embody a personality so completely different from who they are that their Facebook might be more than inadequate at depicting who they are. Especially when people post pictures, basing your overall opinion of someone on visuals can be detrimental in so many ways.

People have a tendency to feel bad about themselves (their physical appearance) when they see these beautiful pictures on Facebook, to which I say just this: you’re not going to post pictures of your average self; instead, you’re going to go to some obscure field or hipster-looking alleyway in the middle of nowhere with a high-quality camera, taking dozens of pictures until you find one that looks effortless yet somehow flawless. It’s misleading, yo.

3. It’s a waste of time. I can’t tell you how many hours of my life have been wasted stalking people I don’t know or DO know on Facebook, only to receive a blow to my own self esteem, only to have amassed no useful knowledge in the end. There’s a fine line between interest and addiction, and I have definitely fallen over to the side of addiction, scrolling through infinity for no apparent reason. It’s a distraction and a horrible habit that I’ve had since 7th grade.

In the end, I’ve got 3 reasons for why Facebook can be beneficial and detrimental, so I shall settle this debate the way I do most issues, especially ones that pertain to technology/the Internet:

Facebook is good, but only in rations. Overdose, and suffer the consequences. Fall prey to addiction, and find out just exactly what negative repercussions have sequestered themselves onto the habitual action of periodically checking your Facebook.

The way that Facebook impacts my life, I would say that personally, I should reduce my exposure to it and its influence on me, but I could also say that I’m already in the process of rehabilitation since my rigorous routine here at debate camp has already heavily limited how much time I can spend on Facebook everyday.

– prompted by the Weekly Writing Challenge

SONG OF THE DAY:

The Pessimistic Fate of Future Generations

pessimism

In 50 years, the world will be in chaos.

The nuclear taboo will have be broken, and nuclear weapons will have destroyed the planet. We will finally have suffered the consequences of not taking nuclear threats seriously.

Countries will acquire bio weapons and wreak chemical terror on others. And if scientists are incompetent enough to not know how to create chemical weapons, cyber terrorists will hack our databases and intentionally start conflicts that escalate.

We’re going to run out of space as the population of the world outpaces the space available. It won’t be immediate, but we won’t think anything of it until disaster strikes and the damage is irreversible. By that time, we’ll have stripped all of the green off of the land, and the planet will be a mix of blue and brown. But the blue will be more abundant than the brown; our resource consumption and our CO2 emissions will finally catch up to us, and the resulting climate change will not directly cause extinction, but will cause a rise in sea levels, exacerbating the issue of overpopulation.

We’re going to run out of effective antibiotics, and all of the bacteria will become resistant, eventually allowing a deadly, widespread disease outbreak.

And the polar bears? They’re gonna die. So are all of the tigers and elephants that we’ve been poaching for generations, and overall biodiversity will plummet, and the zoos will be empty soon enough.

Not as though people will want to go to the zoo though. The skies will turn more and more gray and the gas mask industry will prosper, but the overall quality of life will go down. Air pollution won’t kill us all, but we won’t be happy. We won’t have a blue sky to gaze at, and we’ll see fewer stars to wish upon.

Technology? Well, we’re going to develop so many new types of technologies in the coming years that will eventually take over the role of humans. Vending machines replace vendors, and factories and mass production replace handmade goods. While this may be good when you initially think about it, what happens to all of those jobs? My thought is that eventually every role today that requires a person will eventually be replaced by a robot, and that the only new job will be as mechanics and engineers, to fix the robots when they fail, and to create new robots that will fix broken robots.

Increased communication through technology will cause an inability to speak to others in person without feeling extremely awkward, and eventually people will never leave their houses. I mean, why would they need to? You can shop online now. Food delivery is such a commonality, and windows and natural light is overrated anyways.

Computers will be cheaper. People will be less inclined to get out of their chairs and go outside to exercise.

The media will continue to infect our minds with arbitrary and flawed perceptions of beauty. We as a society will become more insecure, prone to suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

In 50 years, we won’t know what an apple is. Everything that we eat will come in the form of a vitamin or supplement and everything will be mass-produced and modified by science because our crops are struggling so badly. The quality of meat will decrease, animal abuse will skyrocket, and even the most exclusive and high-class restaurants will serve subpar food.

The people will revert to savagery. We won’t have anything else to do.

And all of those dreams you’ve had as a kid? They won’t exist anymore.

President? The government will revert to anarchy because they won’t be able to solve problems well enough, and the people will mutiny and overthrow the bureaucracy.

Astronaut? Well, space tourism will be such a plausible concept in the next few years that if you’ve got the money and time, you can fly to Mars or a nearby comet for fun. While the role of astronauts won’t become obsolete, the wonder and mystery and prestige that you initially thought to be associated with being an astronaut will cease to exist; you’ll just be one of those people.

And if none of these manages to throw our planet drastically off of its balance, we’ll probably face extinction from threat from a large asteroid slamming into Earth.

Enough said.

*Note: this is a creative writing prompt; I don’t necessarily agree with everything said above.

The Human Rights Crisis in North Korea – Why Should You Care?

Note to readers: I am not North Korean. I’m not even South Korean. I’m Chinese. Cool? Okay cool.

A summary about the status quo of North Korea

North Korea is commonly believed to have the most oppressive dictatorship on the planet. If you question government legitimacy, you will be denied every basic right, and will either be sent to a prison camp or publicly executed. You are not allowed to leave the country without permission from the state.

These prison camps? They’ve been around for five times as long as Nazi camps and twice as long as Soviet camps. There are often no reasonable justifications for being sent to one of these camps; you might be sent simply because you are related to someone who committed a political crime.

The government has attempted to create an information blockade – no radios, no Internet access, no international calls. North Korea has been isolated from the rest of the world for decades.

The people are starving – the agricultural policies are sub par,  the climate conditions are brutal, and food imports are limited. Malnutrition is a commonplace.

The refugee crisis

People leave North Korea for a myriad of reasons. They might be desperate for food, medicine, or money. They might hear from outsiders about the world that exists outside of North Korea – they might want to experience it for themselves. They will want to escape economic hardship, political and religious persecution, and the lack of basic, fundamental freedoms.

A scanty number of those who attempt to escape to China will actually make it. Over half of the women who succeed will become prostitutes. Those who get caught? Beatings, torture, prison camps, or execution. Take. Your. Pick.

Hope for the future?

A quote from the LiNK website that answers this question perfectly:

“North Korea is changing. Significant grassroots changes have been happening since the late 1990s, driven by the people themselves, and these developments and trends have the potential to lead, eventually, to a radically transformed and better North Korea.

However, there has not been enough focus on these changes happening at the people-level, and the issue of North Korea is not associated with dynamism or change. This is because, traditionally, the focus of the international community has been on the level of international politics and nuclear weapons.

If the world knew of the dynamism and resilience of the North Korean people in the face of extraordinary challenges, and could see that underneath this Cold War style stalemate, there is a far more interesting story of hope for change, we believe many more people would be motivated to help the North Korean people.”

What exactly is going on that we need to so badly encourage?

After a devastating famine, the North Korean people established illegal markets to obtain food. These markets are primarily female-dominated, and the regime has failed to break up these illegal activities. Simply put, “the markets are here to stay.”

There’s also more communication with the outside world. These illegal markets have triggered food imports from China, a country that is significantly more democratized and liberated than North Korea. Through these activities, the citizens realize that neighboring countries are very, very much advanced.

Even if trade with China were to stop, a leap in access to outside information has truly impacted the mentality of the North Korean people. We’ve got phones, TV’s, radios, and foreign media to help them learn about the reality of the outside world.

“All signs are that this ‘education in reality’ will only continue, and will further empower the North Korean people to push for the change they want inside the country.”

That means that the people are growing increasingly suspicious of the government. No longer are they completely oblivious and brainwashed about reality; there has been less tattletaling on people who are questioning regime legitimacy.

“Ultimately this could result in the emergence of a growing civil space for the people, who are breaking off from the state not just at an individual level but increasingly at a community level.”

And like all social movements, no matter where they originate, the driving force behind this sort of progressive change is young people. I’m talking, people in their 20s and 30s, who have not yet accepted the traditional ideologies of the past, who have not yet condoned the omniscient supremacy. These are the people who will be the make-or-break factors in the push for change.

schoolgc

We don’t want your pity

I don’t want you (the reader) to fall prey to compassion fatigue. I know that we see desolate pictures of North Koreans suffering very often. At first, it seems like something to pity, something that you, as an ethical human being, should do something about. But then you see pictures of starving African children, and then women in the Middle East who have been raped, as well as homeless children in upstate New York, and then you hesitate to take action. The media constantly bombards us with images that attempt to call us to action, to make a change, raise awareness, or donate money to some cause. The result of this is compassion fatigue, when we can no longer put up with all these ethical obligations. Only then do funny memes get created and the idea which originally was intended to arouse guilt and compassion starts to mock the subject of the photos, which backfires on the point of these images.

I don’t intend this to happen with this post. The point of my writing about this is not to evoke pity in you. It is to shed light on the flawed lens through which we have been observing North Korea as a regime, a country, a military power, a nation led by a “madman,” and as a group of individuals – citizens that are starting to squirm under the oppression of a tyrannical ruler. We shouldn’t just realize the difference and feel bad about their unfortunate situation. Rather, we should raise awareness. Some sort of revolution/governmental overthrow might happen, and the success of such a movement largely depends on the support that the North Korean citizens could potentially receive from the outside world. We need to know about the humans rights crisis. We need to something about it. But this post is just the first of many others, to shed light on the inequality in North Korea, and to demonstrate how we might do something about it. This first post was just to illustrate what exactly is happening right now.

(quotes are from the LiNK website, linked above)