Changing

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She’s changing the world with love and compassion. That sounds erroneously self-important doesn’t it? Don’t worry I think so too but I also think it’s the best way to describe who I want to be.

Today I could go on Facebook and see hundreds of posts filled with violence. There may be news reports of a school shooting, someone live-streaming a fight in the parking lot, or pictures of horrifically abused animals and children. And while I believe its critically important to talk about these issues, I think society has become utterly desensitized to the images, so much so that scrolling past them barely phases us.

In a world that swipes through pictures that should disturb us, I want to remain sensitive to these pictures because they show me what needs to be changed in the world. Pictures of suffering peoples should be intolerable to see because they reveal the dire circumstances that exist and need to be fixed. I think in order to change the world you have to remain affected by it.

peace-sign

Photo courtesy of freerangestock.com and Chance Agrella 

I don’t believe I can singlehandedly change the world; create world peace and end hunger. Those are lofty goals that are far beyond what one person can achieve. Instead I believe that remaining sensitive in a world that forces us to be hard is the first step to changing the status quo.

When I feel outraged by the President’s dangerous actions, no longer can I be indifferent; I am motivated to become a better activist. When I see a news report on a school shooting, I ask what can be done to prevent this unnecessary violence.

I can honestly say that some days I wish I could turn the sadness off. There are days when closing my eyes and saying lalalala as loud as I possibly can are appealing, but on those days it’s more important than ever to act lovingly and compassionately.

My philosophy class has been discussing the Dalai Lama’s Ethics of a New Millennium, in which his holiness describes why the world is in need of a spiritual revolution. He argues that we have become self absorbed, too focused on our own troubles to be in solidarity with others. His statement is not meant as a rebuke of society, especially western society, but rather as a wake up call; a call for our actions to be made with the good of others in mind.

I am not perfect nor would I ever claim to be. To follow the Dalai Lama’s indictment is to radically shift my thought process so that I am consistently thinking about others before myself, which is – and surely will continue to be – a long process. But if I have to contain myself within a sentence, she’s changing the world with love and compassion, is what I strive for it to be.

Modern Friendship: The Reality of Media in Our Relationships

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The Greeks distinguish four separate types of love: agape, philia, eros, and storge. All four are defined differently but they all are based on the love felt in a certain type of relationship. Agapic love is the love between god and person. Philic love is considered that which is between friends and often demonstrated in affection. Erotic love is passionate and sexual. Storgic love is between parent and child. I mention these different types of love because love grows out of relationship but in today’s media obsessed culture where it’s possible to have a thousand “friends”, have our relationships lost their meaning? We can talk to our friends across oceans and mountains but has this level of contact really brought us closer or has it conditioned us to believe a like on Facebook is a fair trade for friendship?

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

To give some perspective one of my best friends lives in Thailand. We’ve known each other for close to 7 years and I can say with absolute surety that we would not be as close as we are today if we weren’t able to stay connected through Facebook. On the other hand, we keep in contact because our friendship is based on more than the occasional Facebook like. In fact we often joke that our friendship is centered on food but that’s a story for another post. Intuitively I can read the sarcasm in his messages and he can read my mood, but I’d argue that if our relationship were based purely in media we wouldn’t know how to read the subtext that reveals our friendship. We are close because we know each other on a cellular level and that’s something that media established relationships simply can’t compete with.

My best friend Key and I, all dressed up with no where to go.

My best friend Key and I. All dressed up with no where to go.

I’m not so arrogant to say that media denigrates the word relationship but it does change it. If everyone on my Facebook page or Twitter feed is my friend then I have to seriously consider my definition of friend. Is it a relationship grounded and grown in love or is it merely a way to show off when I’m having fun and garner sympathy when I’m down and out. I can’t answer this question empirically, therefore, I can’t say whether or not my relationships are made more complex or are deepened by media. What I can say is media helps me to maintain relationships I have already established in the “real world” and for that I am grateful.

The Battle for the Brain: Technology Versus Humanity

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I wake up in the morning to my alarm clock/phone screaming at me to greet the day. I turn over to silence it and immediately check my email to see if any of my professors sent me an 11 p.m. message with a homework assignment for class that day. After checking my email, I transition to Facebook, then the news and so on, all before I get up to shower. What is a little sad about this routine is it’s automatic, no thought process behind it at all.

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

Often I think about this conditioned behavior and I desire to unplug completely, to live in the rural mountains far from the technological overload. A part of me worries that I miss what is going on in the periphery as I chase a story all over the Internet. Do I miss the big moments of people I love, simply to chase the little moments of people I have no connection to? As the devil (technological overload) and the angel (time spent purely unconnected) chase each other around in my head, I’m left to wonder if we’re pushing towards a world similar to Wall-E’s. Debates rage on about whether the rewiring of humanity is positive or negative but no one denies that it exists.

I, for one, believe the rewiring has had permanent negative effects on all areas involving relationships. For example, Tinder, among other dating apps, is designed to introduce single people to one another based on geographic location. Besides the irritating shallowness of swiping right or swiping left based on looks, I am continually bombarded by stories about sexual assaults, vitriolic reactions to feminists, general disrespect of women and sexual trafficking, taking place within the app or as a result of setting up a date through the app.

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

I am regularly disgusted by predators using the Internet to demean and terrify others because they are protected by anonymity and defended by like-minded deviants across the globe. Our laws are neither current nor stringent enough to prosecute these people and thus the cycle of violence continues. If we truly are pushing towards the world of Wall-E, I am terrified for what this could mean in terms of sex and relationships. In fact I’m terrified for the world in general should we continue to be manipulated by technology and brainwashed by the clever sociopaths who scan the internet looking for malleable followers.

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

(photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

As someone who is regularly plugged into the world through her phone, I can’t lead the charge of rebellion against technology without being hypocritical, nor can I deny the benefits technology has given the world. What I can do is conscientiously object to the use of technology for perpetrating violence and demand laws that punish the culprits. I can be an advocate changing the way we use technology.