Tag Archives: opinion

Being Afraid of The Police as a Law-Abiding White Woman

I’m afraid of the police. No lie: I’ve been afraid of the police for the past 10+ years due to witnessing police brutality and abuse of power. Over the past few years I have worked on this, but there is still an unconscious response of anxiety when I happen to be in a convenient store and a police officer walks in, or when I’m driving down the road and a cop car pulls in behind me, or when I witness a cop pulling over someone else, or when I have to talk to the police for any reason.

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How is this not frightening to see coming down your street?

This shouldn’t be the case, and certainly one would think that a young white woman wouldn’t have a fear of police… but I do. And the more and more the police forces become militarized, the more and more I worry about abuses of power. My town recently had a “Police Appreciation Parade” and my house sits on the parade route (legit, my town has like 20 parades a year, and they are all in front of my house. I never thought I would hate parades until I moved here). So, the police force in my town has a lot of money that is partially funded by a huge, stinky landfill that you can smell from my back yard (and I’m about 4 miles from it). So the police have a lot of toys. The parade scared the crap out of me. Police vehicle after police vehicle set off all of their freaking ridiculously loud sirens, with officers armed in heavy duty SWAT team armor and heavy duty, scarily huge guns (I’m sorry I don’t know anything about guns. These looked like big machine weapon guns). The alarms were so ridiculously loud, and really scared me, and my poor dog. They weren’t just the regular police siren, but were the alarms that were the high pitch beep and the one that says “This is not a test” and stuff like “Stay in your houses, we are on lockdown”. All I could think about was how re-traumatizing this probably was for veterans and people who have been in warzones. The end of the parade had camouflaged humvees and other war vehicles. The only thing that makes living on a parade route tolerable is the candy thrown to those watching the parade. Needless to say, there was no candy being thrown for “Police Appreciation Day”.

Now listen. I realize that most police officers are good people, people who want to legitimately make the world a better place, and for these people, I can’t express my gratitude. I cannot imagine what it is like going into a job knowing that you could encounter dangerous situations, that maybe this is the day you don’t come home. I also can’t imagine the stress police officers are going through, knowing that now people are watching their every move and the blanket of criticism that has been laid on the police force since Ferguson (well, I mean, really since reconstruction, but Ferguson seems to be the easier chapter to look at for millennials to understand the effects of authoritarian policing and stigmatized racism).

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True Dat

How I’ve dealt with my anxiety of police officers is consciously working on turning this fear into love. When cops pass me multiple times while walking my dog, I wave. I say hello when they’re drinking their coffee in the corner store. And I have a friend who is a police officer, and this helps me personalize police officers and reconfirm my belief that there are many good, hardworking police officers who just want to make the world a better place and improve their community. It’s unfortunate when one bad banana spoils the public opinion of the rest of the bunch, however, I can talk from experience, that after seeing police brutality up close I gained a strong distrust for police. I think this is appropriate though. If the only interaction I have with police is negative, then of course my view of all police are going to be tainted. So when there are police departments that support a culture of racism and authoritarianism, of course people in those communities are going to have a hard time believing that the harmful police methods (ie: stop and frisk) will cease.

Just thought I’d keep it short and sweet. In conclusion: wear your seatbelt and download Waze while driving, and try to think of police officers as your equal, not someone who should be feared. Easier said than done.

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Who and Where Are Our Leaders?

Who and where are our leaders? This is a question that I have spent a lot of time mulling over throughout the past year. My mind probably first wrestled with this when Bernie Sanders conceded his nomination for the Democratic Presidential Candidate at the DNC last summer. I’m sure the emotions I felt watching the speech were similar to other Sanders supporters- the feeling of defeat, the disappointment in the American electorate and democratic process, and the frustration that the Democratic Party got away with rigging the election in order to, once again, demand support and submission to their chosen golden calf. It was a rough night, I cried knowing that the hope I had in my heart for a real revolution wasn’t going to come by way of electoral politics.

I would say that Bernie is still probably the most revered US political leader today, however his followers aren’t nearly as energized as they were a year and a half ago. The same is true for HRC supporters. The only other person with a continuous strong following is Trump, and I think this is just because his base fails to ever take responsibility that Trump is ever in the wrong (ie: Trump said we’re going to Syria which is another broken campaign promise. Does his base really care? Probably not. Somehow, they’ll still be correct in their own minds). So this is pretty depressing if our most recognized leaders are Trump and Sanders.

So, why is this? Why does there seem to be less leaders in the era of Trump and Post-Truthism? Is  political fatigue really the reason behind the lackluster support? Are people too tired to care anymore? I have to believe that tiredness is only partially to blame- the real problem is the lack of enthusiastic, idealistic, moral leadership available.

I finally finished Judgement Days which is about the heavy weighted relationship between LBJ and MLK and chronicles their work on the Civil Rights Bill. The revolutionary movements that were sparked by the 60s wouldn’t have happened without these strong leaders and who knows what worse of a state we’d be in had they given up on their convictions. And you know what’s crazy? While I read JD I kind of felt jealous that there were actual leaders, leading groups of people and entire movements towards a real goal. Groups like the ACLU, SNCC, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference all were lead by leaders with strong organizing skills and a passionate heart. Where are these types of leaders now?

LBJ and MLK Signing 1965 Voting Rights Act

LBJ and MLK Getting Work Done and Signing the 1965 Voting Rights Act

A great number of activist groups have popped up and grown since November 8th, which is really great and important. BUT, I have to wonder. Who are the leaders of these movements? BLM? DSA? Who are the leaders of the movements to get money out of politics (other than Bernie?) ? Who is leading the movements to end discrimination against LGBTQI where, even in places like Scranton, PA, it is legal for landlords and employers to discriminate against gay and trans people? Who is trying to create real gun reform? Or criminal justice reform? Who is trying to end the war on drugs? Where are these people, and if they exist, why aren’t they visible and vocal?

Maybe I’m out of touch. These people must exist, but what are they doing for their movements? And why aren’t they actively trying to form coalitions with these like-minded lib groups? It’s so frustrating. I’m happy to be part of a bunch of different activist groups, but I have to wonder, where are we headed? Sure, acting locally is going to allow us to do more work than shooting for national initiatives, but there needs to be an overall national goal, right? We need some kind of roadmap if we really want to transform this nation, but we’re not going to get anywhere if no one is at the front of the line leading the way. 

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Open Letter to Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department

wb township pd

Dear Captain Clark, Officer Godlewski, Patrolman Capparell, and the entire Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department,

I am very concerned about your lack of understanding of why posting a picture of a clothed man asking a topless woman, who is hiding her breasts with her hands, for a high five is in poor taste. I am worried about the character of the police force in Wilkes-Barre Township and am in disgust that by all accounts of the media’s reporting on this, that the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department refuses to recognize why this type of behavior is unacceptable. I am shocked that you refuse to take in mind how sexually abused victims in your township feel and how their reluctance to report abuse is potentially heightened because of your inability to empathize.

It is not a matter of being “offended” by the meme. It’s a matter of missing the point of why posting the picture in the first place was wrong. It’s a matter of balking at people who disagree and instead of listening to why people are “offended”, offering up only other distasteful and dismissive responses to legitimate concerns. It’s a matter of not recognizing that there already exists a hierarchical relationship between victims and police officers, especially victims of abuse and police officers, that creates burdens to people seeking help.

Police officers are on the front lines in times of crisis and have the heavy and respected responsibility of helping those in vulnerable situations. Rape victims, sexual assault victims, child sexual abuse victims, these are all the types of people who need the services of police officers. Officer Godlewski mentioned in the Citizen Voice article that Facebook may be acting like a deterrent for criminals to commit crimes because they don’t want their faces plastered all over the internet. Well, the content you have been posting recently also acts as a deterrent for a different population, as now I, along with many other people I know and social service providers, do not feel comfortable around or referring abused clients to the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Force. I feel less safe around Wilkes-Barre Township Police Officers.

Your defense that you are not always going to please everyone and that the department’s utilization of social media is an opportunity to humanize the force is, in all actuality, extremely depressing and discouraging. The message you send online is that the Wilkes-Barre Police Department is a frathouse of sexist, chauvinistic, “good ole boys”. Your lack of willingness to listen to the people who saw the meme and expressed their concern is disturbing for the fact that you are police officers- you are the men and women who are supposed to help victims! Not help contribute to stigmatizing sexual assault and abuse victims!!!

I recognize that you have by far one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, and I am grateful for your service. Police officers are real life heroes. However, your police force recently has significantly change my opinion about the motivation of police officers and their understanding of victims’ issues. The worst part is, I have a feeling that you will read and ignore this letter or mock it, and won’t take responsibility for your actions. Your lack of apology and dismissiveness towards the situation speaks louder than any social media post.

 

Sincerely,

Chelsea T. Collins

Throop, PA

chelseataylorcollins@gmail.com

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i’m not trying to be sexy, i’m trying to not be sweaty.

This is inspired by a girlfriend of mine who commented on my “booty shorts” when I thought I was just wearing normal shorts…  Reflecting back now, it does help explain the dirty looks I received from the waitresses at the restaurant under her apartment when I was just innocently trying to pick up my take-out.

OKAY. CONFESSION TIME.  I love clothes. I’ve always loved dressing up and having my own style. When I was a little girl, my dad let me dress myself as soon as I could pick out an entire outfit, and I have pictures of myself in these carefully curated outfits- one that comes to mind is 7 year old me, wearing a pink and white dress, with one pink and one white shoe and matching alternating color socks.  I am still proud that I made all of my high school formal dresses (the best was Junior Semi when my dress was made out of a Twister mat) and wish I still had the duct tape skirt I made in 7th grade. I have always preferred thrift stores and the majority of my outfits are from where I like to call, Salvation Armani.  The tradition that signifies the beginning of spring and that I look forward to all winter long is rescuing my summer clothes from the dark, cold, lonely attic and welcoming them back into my wardrobe. Summer clothes are my favorite, and I’ll take floral flock over flannels any day.

Over the past few years, as I’ve been making the migration from the Junior’s section to Women’s, I’ve found myself in some predicaments over how to dress in the summertime. It is becoming harder and harder to find something to wear that you feel cute, comfortable, and conservative in (when I want to dress conservatively). I honestly think that new lines of shorts, dresses, and skirts get slightly shorter every year. There is little compromise between feeling comfortable wearing the same pair of shorts out in public and comfortable wearing them in 90 degree weather. Case in point: Right now, as I type this out, sitting in an air-conditioned coffee shop to gain a little reprieve from the 92-degree day outside, I keep catching myself subconsciously tugging at my cut-off, mom-approved, high-waisted Levi shorts, trying to pull them down a little bit closer to my knee cap. I’m not wearing these shorts to be sexy. I’m not wearing these shorts for people to look at me. I’m not wearing these shorts to show off the tattoos on my legs. I’m wearing these shorts because it is fucking 92 degrees. That’s it.

venn diagram of shorts

There are hardly any summer shorts/skirts/dresses that are both cute and will make you feel both socially and physically comfortable.

So, I guess one solution would be to buy up a few sizes so that the short will extend a whooping half inch further down my leg, but I don’t really want to do that. All I want is to wear clothes I feel good in and that fit so that I am physically comfortable. Unfortunately, I don’t see affordable women’s clothing lines helping create a trend of extending the length of shorts and skirts anytime soon. The other solution is to exclusively wear longer skirts and dresses to try and stay cooler on hot days. Listen, I’d rather wear a dress than shorts or pants in almost every situation, however a mid-length dress or skirt isn’t going to keep you as cool as shorts will. Plus, it’s way more comfortable to wear a pair of shorts than a dress when I want to go for a bike ride or walk at Nay Aug Park with my dog.

 

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The shorts I’m wearing right now still make me feel self-conscious that they are too short even though they’re ugly af.

 

The ultimate solution, the solution that would actually fix everything, would be to figure out a way for society to stop sexualizing women for trying to stay cool during the hot summer months. I wish there was a magic way to unsexualize all women’s summer fashion and teach people that the girl wearing the short lavender dress isn’t a slut or trying to show off her body,  but instead is just trying to wear something she feels good about- both temperature-wise and self-esteem wise. And we gotta educate other people, especially our boys and men, about this. Because it’s easy to think that a girl is dressing a certain way for one reason, when the reality is totally different.

And ladies, it’s okay to wear short-short booty shorts on purpose. It’s okay to wear a short dress because it makes you feel sexy. I just wish our culture could shift the immediate assumption that a woman is wearing shorts on purpose to show off her body, and instead replace that thought with recognizing that she’s probably just trying to beat the heat because its 92 degrees out. I mean, at least for me, it’s not that I’m trying to be sexy, I’m just trying to not be so fucking sweaty.

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Social Media Isn’t Real (And That’s Okay).

Two quick reminders: Social media isn’t real and I write this blog from a female feminist perspective. My views may be completely off the wall compared with yours (isn’t that cool?!), and whatever the next few paragraphs say, they are no means an attack on anyone I personally know- I feel we can all relate to this shit, na’mean?

i like you more than the instagram you

This is probably true, unless ur a garbage person in real life but super sweet online.

So recently, a few people have commented on pictures of me and my finance on social media, saying things along the line of “perfect couple” or whatever. And I’m not gonna lie, that attention is kind of a nice feeling, but nonetheless I’ve been really, really taken back by these statements. Because a picture alone cannot tell you much about our relationship. I’m not saying that my relationship with my partner is bad or anything like that, but it’s definitely not “perfect”, and I don’t want people thinking that about us, because, well, it’s not true! Also, just real quick: no one’s relationship is perfect.

I know a lot of people have been feeling less-than lately because of internet culture, and I just want to reiterate that social media is not real, and perceive people’s “realness” based on their social media persona can be super toxic, yo. What we see online of people is just part of their cultivated digital personality. Ok, wait a minute. Let me back up real quick. What we see online is of real shit, but the meaning we infer from it is not real. I like social media. I get to see pictures of my friends kids, of my family that lives far away, and just funny shit that my friends post. However, thinking that these pictures are actually a true, complete representation of these people’s lives is way misleading.

Yo, you wanna know the real kicker is? It’s that our feeling of less-than in comparison to someone else’s social media life actually has everything to do with our own perceived inadequacy. Feeling envious of anything or anyone is totally based in how we feel about ourselves, right? We can’t be envious unless we are comparing ourselves to someone else, and if we feel shitty about ourselves in the first place, than jealousy is gonna come around a lot quicker. It sucks that social media makes people think that their lives have to be a certain way because their “friends” lives look that way. Also, this is a pretty big realization that I had to learn the hard way, through years of being jealous (including being jealous of people online). I totally was in the camp of “I suck at life because my house is always messy, I don’t know how to be super crafty/good at makeup/athletic/rich/someone who travels a lot/insert whatever here, plus I have split ends and acne on my face”. It wasn’t until I learned that it is freaking impossible to compare my true, authentic personality to anyone else’s, that I started to feel better about my less than perfect life. We are all unique, and that’s a freaking wonderful, crazy, amazing thing! If my house was spotless, and super beautifully decorated from shit I made, and if I went surfing every weekend after having a brunch of grass-fed grass, well… I probably wouldn’t be super thrilled because that’s not being authentic to myself! It honestly took me basically my whole life to understand this- that there is no reason to compare myself to anyone else because it’s comparing apples and anti-freeze. We’re all different and that’s dope.

Ok, ok ok, I’m being a little overzealous. I totally still get jealous sometimes. I look at people’s Instagram posts and that thought will come in my head- the “I’m not worthy” thought. The thing is now I have a following thought that is, “oh shit, social media can’t communicate what the real truth is behind this picture, and this person strategically picked this photo to post”. ALSO, I don’t know what your motive was for posting that photo, just like you don’t know what my motive was for posting another picture of my dog (it’s because my dog is the fucking cutest and I want the world to know).

And also- it’s totally okay to post whatever the fuck you want. Who gives a shit. And if you post something like a selfie because you are feeling shitty, and want some superficial attention- dude, that’s okay. Or maybe you’re really feeling yourself and that’s why you post a selfie. Dude, do you. Sometimes, when I’m down, I’ll take a selfie and filter the fuck out of it because it makes me feel better. But here’s the deal- it’s still not real, and once we all start realizing that about social media, I bet you $5 that a lot of people will start to feel better about their lives. I think social media can be a really great thing. We just have to keep in mind that it’s not real before actual, real emotions develop in response.

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anxiety, insecurities, and sunshine

Thank you, sweet universe, for giving us hope in the form of such a beautifully sweet spring day! Ahhhh, I’m so grateful that it’s nice out and jeez louise, how powerful a change in weather can be to our psyche.

flowers are a'bloomin', there's hope, y'all!

flowering bush is a’ bloomin! there’s hope, y’all!

That past few weeks have been really hard. I feel like I’ve been tirelessly running the final stretch, for like a whileeee now, and I thought that the finish line might have evaporated…but, …hey! today the sun shined! What a good, glorious thing! I don’t want to get too personal, but I’ve been really stressed lately (hello final semester of grad school! hello not knowing what the future will bring!), and I allowed myself to get tired. I stopped trying to proactively find good things in my life. Everything bad and cold and stressful seemed to be snowballing in my life, but maybe, if it gets warmer, these things will melt away; that life can be good. I know this much: the future will not be better, if I am not better. If I am better, the future will be better. Better said then done, am aright,? 😉

When I worry about things, I sometimes let these worries (see: self-hatred, negative thoughts) get the best of me. I get anxious and I bring that anxiety-fear with me and it can make me really uncomfortable, especially in social situations, (sometimes I’ll apt to duck out of social things because of this anxiety, whatcha know ’bout dat?). But you know what helps me to feel better, what helps me to experience life in a more loving way? When I don’t worry about things in the first place. I’m not saying to suddenly stop worrying about your life, but I urge you to try to worry less about things. It’s hard to be totally fearless, but life is way better when you at least try to inch away from the fear-end on the life continuum. And I know, I know, who am I to say “worry less, your life will be better!”. I don’t know your struggles, I don’t know how heavy your heart is. My experience in life is different than your’s, so there’s no way that we’ll ever be able to comprehend exactly what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. I’ll never be able to see out of your eyes, to know what it feels like to hug your mom, to experience your life. Our own experience of life is totally subjective. So, I don’t know. But I promise, just try to not be so mean to yourself about the things you don’t like about yourself and you’ll feel better, a little better, at least.  I mean, it doesn’t hurt to try.

So where does anxiety come from? I think it comes from our insecurities… and insecurities are ugh, so painful, right? It sucks to think about them, they make us feel sad, especially when we dwell and ruminate on them.  So how can we shed the things we don’t like about ourselves? How can we rid ourselves from the things that we can’t think positively about in ourselves? First, we need to recognize their existence. I know what mine are and where they have come from (hello, being called ugly in freaking elementary school; hello, not getting into my first choice college), but figuring this out for yourself might take a little bit of time. (And if you have trauma in your life or childhood, you should process your feelings with a counselor or therapist or even a trusting friend, if that’s at all a possibility. Just ‘cause trauma can really fuck up cognitive development and processing. Dealing with deep deep sludge takes time to really deal with- to really accept. It’s not easy, no matter how far removed you may be from your past.)

So once you recognize what your insecurities are, you can start to change your perception. Once you get rid of those insecurities, you start to let go of your ego. Ego is hard to define. I don’t mean ego as in confidence or over-confidence, I mean it more as like the onion layer analogy. I like to think about ego as a shell made of fear which surrounds us, and the more you grow in this shell, the harder it is to believe that it can be shed. It can become like a second skin, and won’t let any good things in or negative feelings and anxieties out, unless we consciously work to chip away at it.

Dude, none of this is easy. It’s really hard. I’m just figuring out this shit. And I’m so used to not dealing with feelings and letting my ego overpower me. I’ve spent so much of my life constantly worried about what other people think about me, but once I started to understand that life is life, and my insecurities aren’t making my time on this earth any more enjoyable, I was able to become a little more fearless and a little more loving. I still think about what other people think about me, but not nearly as much as I have for almost my entire life. And that’s progress, and that’s good. So I urge you to try and be a little tiny bit more loving toward yourself today so you can break off a little bit of that ego shell and let some sunshine in.

 

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The Beautiful Gift of Being Wrong

Holy fuck, 2017 is a lot crazier than ever expected. Our American government has become a futurist fuckery  that has a lot of people deep breathing in paper bags as we gather speed racing towards this universal feeling of annihilation anxiety. Life is way crazy right now and I think a lot of people I know out there are getting a bit worn out fighting the good fight, trying to stay woke and helping others to wake up. I know I am. It’s hard to stay motivated to keep learning, to keep helping, to keep loving, when reality is out of whack and it seems like society has given up on hope and change. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE, AM I RIGHT OR WHAT?

For real though, what a time to be alive. Our grandchildren will most likely question us about what it was like living through “The Great Global Unrest” or whatever colloquial name history deems our current experience. We are living at a point in time where technology is advancing at an exponential rate and where the means of digital information has given us a tool to connect and learn and experience life in a whole different way than ever even imagined, but also a tool that often acts as the gateway to mass confusion, panic, and negativity.

So, what can we do about all the garbage out there, floating and polluting the digital airwaves? How do we deal with people who seem to get off to making life worse for others? How do we interact with those who challenge our perspective?

yeah right, if i give him my hard earned cash he'll spend it on dope, so naw, fuck him.

Jeez, get a look at this guy. Like I’m gonna give my hard earned cash when he’ll just buy dope. Naw, I’ve been conditioned to believe this, so, fuck you dude. 

First, I think we have to keep in mind that people are reactionary by nature, and people are often irrational. Why do we automatically scoff off the homeless man asking for spare change? “How dare he ask for the dollars in my wallet that I worked 50 hours a week for, when he’ll just buy booze and drugs? I have my own to take care of! He isn’t worthy of my charity!” This is an example of a reactionary response, and I believe we’ve been pretty conditioned to think this way (not specifically about the homeless man example, but in general). God forgive we see this homeless man as an individual man, and not as a representative of how we have grown to think about homeless people. Conditioned societal experience often blocks us from questioning situations or thoughts which will hold us back from developing greater understandings of everything in our life and to default on our reactionary way of thinking.

I believe that we must constantly question ourselves and our own views on life in a Socratic way. We gotta check ourselves, and make sure that some of that smelly trash water negativity hasn’t oozed into our way of thinking and is blocking us from seeing the reality of life. We can’t rest on our laurels and believe that all we know is right. WE MUST BE OKAY WITH BEING WRONG.

One of the biggest arguments I’ve ever had in my life was about whether or not the melting of polar icecaps raises water levels. It ended up turning into a screaming match and is one of my memories that I look back at with real, deep shame and embarrassment. A lot of other repressed emotions came out in that argument, and the whole ordeal was an example of great humanistic irrationality. However, at the end I conceded that I was wrong, or at least had the potential to be wrong, and the argument ended. Admitting I was wrong wasn’t embarrassing, in fact, it was liberating! By admitting I was wrong, or that there may be a flaw in my understanding, I killed the discomfort that the argument made me feel. Holy Smokes! What an important lesson from a seemingly minor event! So, when we’re out there, fighting the good fight, getting really worked up about something we believe in, maybe it’s important to step back and ask, “is there potential for a flaw in my thinking here?” and “am I discussing my point in the most loving and kind way possible?”. I think these are really questions to practice asking yourself. Not only will it help you gain a little peace and objectivity, but will also help you strengthen your own understanding about the issue at hand and possibly experience a little deeper connection with your core values of life.

polar ice cap

i still have no clue what happens when the polar ice caps melt

When you realize that you are wrong about something, or that your understanding of an issue needs to change to be congruent with your overall understanding of life, it is not a defeat, but a ginormous win for all of the universe! The prize is a deeper understanding of the issue! Admitting you are wrong or some negative aspect of yourself needs to change is the pickaxe that chips away of that protective ego that makes us assholes in the first place. Relish in being wrong and in the celebrate the act of continuous learning! I really truly believe that the only way we are going to get through the next four years is with a gracious heart and examination of self, which will take a lot of concentration and commitment, but is far from an impossibility.

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polarization is dangerous

I’ve already written about this, but I have not seen any progress on the situation, only a rapid race to extremes so…

Polarization of our politics and culture is not the answer!

Boxing people into groups based on generalizations is not the answer!

Grouping people into vast generalizations based on anything, ESPECIALLY political parties, isn’t going to help build bridges, it’s only going to create a deeper disparity between the ability to connect with others! Labelling people and letting those label stick without the subjects full ownership isn’t going to help build a culture and society of peace!

us-vs-them

us vs. them is a quick way to the end

I know. It’s hard. It’s really hard. It’s much easier to say that all Republicans are racist and that’s the reason why our county is racially divided. It’s easier to say that old white men are the reason why we’re still living in a patriarchal state (which, I mean, has a lot of truth to it…but that’s not the ONLY truth). It’s easier to say that white, liberal, 20-40somethings are responsible for our culture of political correctness. It’s easy to blame BLM for rising racial divides. It’s easy to blame the Green Party and Libertarians for Trump’s election. What I’m getting at here is that it’s easier to BLAME the OTHER than taking responsibility for creating a culture of inclusiveness.

I didn’t feel the need to write about my experience at the Women’s March on DC because it wasn’t different than other of the marcher’s narratives from around the world. It was empowering. It was a sign of the times. It was being part of a movement. It was a feminist environment, and I’m so grateful I was able to experience it.

However, I was irked about something I noticed at the march, which mirrored a flaw within our society. It was a meaningful event that was exclusive to a certain type of [liberal] woman. I’ve spoken about this to close friends, but my biggest qualm with the women’s march was that it was in no way welcoming to Republicans, and certainly not to women who supported Trump. And that’s a problem, because that only widens the divide we’re creating as a country. I’m proud that we can champion the Woman’s March was the largest rally in history and a gold star for feminism. However, we also must be critical and recognize that there was a subset of women who were not welcomed, and this whole thing was supposed to promote intersectionality!

The only way that I think we can fix this is to stop with the vast generalizations and start having conversations. I vehemently disagree with Trump, but to allow that to influence how I feel about everyone who voted for him is wrong and destructive. It stops conversations before they happen, and more importantly, actively halts the creation of new ideas and new ideals. Polarization allows for the breakdown of all systems in which the participants are left within a society that is understood strictly as good vs. evil, and that’s not realistic, it’s fucking dangerous. But we’ll allow it, because it’s easier, and it’s more fun to think of ourselves as the “good guys” anyways.

So, I challenge you to start thinking about how you may have allowed sweeping generalizations to affect your ability to promote a society and culture of peace, while also reflecting on the possibility that perhaps you have allowed your own identity to be defined by concrete constructs… 😉

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Digital Personalites vs Real Life

[Editing this article, I noticed that I generalize a lot. I make assumptions and say things like “I think people think that…” or “a lot of people view others this way…”. I don’t know if these generalizations are true. However, I felt that, if I think like this, that others probably do too. This post, along with all of my blog posts, area based off my own observations in life. I may be completely wrong about everything in this post; perhaps it is all just a reflection of myself… but that’s for another article.]

There are the “Album Lists of Your High School Years” statuses going around on Facebook, and I really enjoy reading them. I like seeing the albums that my friends would define as the most influential during their adolescent years, and I liked posting my own and replying to the comments left by friends. Last night was a snowed in, cozy Saturday night, and I contently spent the night coloring, listening to the albums of my youth, yogaing, and checking in on facebook every hour or so to respond to notifications about these lists. And I had a great night! It was a lot of fun!

digital-personalities

I promise I’m not a dog.

I enjoy using social media, and like most aspects of it. I also kind of think that social media is a new type of art, a genre we don’t yet have a name for, in that it can be used as a way to express ourselves and connect with others, and that’s great! However, I think it’s important to keep in mind that social media is an activity. It’s something to do for fun, its something akin to reading, writing, playing an instrument, painting, playing solitare, whatever.

So here’s where I see the problem: I believe a lot of people forget that social media is an activity. I think a lot of people view other people’s social media presence and internet usage as an extension of those people- That their social media usage isn’t something that they are doing, it is a part of who they are. And it is through our social media usage and internet presence, that our digital personalities are created and live.

Ok. Let me share an example of social media defining people. There is this woman who I am friends with on social media platforms. She posts shit that I like (most of the time, I actually ❤ it). And she likes (and <3s) a lot of my posts. We have a few mutual friends in common, and she always seemed like a cool chick. I recently met her in real life, and she sucked. She was rude to my friend, and was not the person who I expected her to be. I was so surprised! I like her digital personality a lot more than I like her actual personality… so, what are the implications of this?

The biggest problem I see with forgetting that digital personalities are not real, is that we judge people before we even know them in real life. We think because someone likes Feminist Pages and endorse #InsertWhatevereHere organizations, then they probably embody the aspects of those pages and things in real life. And depending on how they use the internet (the statuses say that they write, who they retweeet, what pictures they post), most believe that this person is probably similar to their online personality in real life. And this, like my example above, is not true. All digital personalities and true personalities are two different things, regardless of how similar they may seem.

In fact, how I view someone online is made up in my own mind. How I read a status, the tone of voice that I read in my head of a person, is what forms my opinion of them. And this can easily lead to dangerous miscommunication.

Also, there’s the chance of “transference” happening when interacting with people on the internet. I’m thinking of the social work definition of transference, which is when a client is reminded of someone else in their life by the counselor, and then sees the counselor with a tint of the other person’s personality or likeness- which is not who the counselor is. So, another example. Say that Johnny looks at Kim’s profile online. They don’t know each other personally, but Johnny sees that Kim likes “Save The Everglades” page. Johnny’s friend from high school’s sister, Catherine, also likes this page.  Catherine always rubbed Johnny the same way because she was aggressive about her views on environmentalism. Because of this, Johnny already has an idea about Kim, and associates her with Catherine. In reality, Kim just liked the page because her friend asked her to, so the page would get more likes. Johnny doesn’t know this, and decides to not be friends with her online, or in real life, because he doesn’t like how he perceives her digital personality.

This example might seem extreme, but what about when you get a friend request from someone you don’t know personally and they shared a pro-Trump status on their page. Are you going to not judge this person as being a Trump supporter, and then automatically associate them with how you feel about other people who are diehard pro-Trumpers? I’m honestly asking. I can confess that I am guilty of making such judgments.

How about people who aren’t good at using social media? Their digital personalities are most likely not going to be good representations of their actual personalities. What about the person who might not be the best writer or speller? If they use the wrong grammer, do we think they are stupid? This is an easy example, and I’m sure you can think of many more that carry greater weight.

How about the people who seem like they are really good at using social media? Their endless selfies have kabillions of likes, their statues are well thought out, and their videos charming. Is their life really great? Probably not. But that doesn’t weaken their digital personality’s influence on all that they touch.

I’m not sure exactly how my social media/online digital personality is interpreted by people, and that can make me feel a little weary at times. Because I want people to look at my social media usage and think that this I something that I do, not what I am. I also need to be aware that how people view my digital personality is unique to them. I don’t want people to read my posts in a tone of voice that is sarcastic, condescending, or rude, because that’s not the tone of voice I use to write them. However, someone who doesn’t know me and has an opinion of me based on what they see of me online may believe that I am rude, sarcastic, and condescending. And that sucks, man, because its not real.

So I guess the question is, are you aware of your digital personality? And do you care? I care about mine and hope its as similar to my real personality as possible. But it’s still not actually me, just like how I view you online is not actually you. 

facebook-me-real-me

I hope for my digital personality to be as close to my real personality as possible.

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My 2017 Goals

After meditating on the subject, I decided to share my goals for 2017 in order to be held accountable throughout the year. So, if you read this, please do not hesitate to call me out on my bullshit this year.

2017 Goals and Intentions

I will be the best version of myself. I hope to do this by being mindful of each situation, each interaction, and each thought I have. I know this is impossible, but this is the overarching goal of the whole year.

I hope to rid myself of toxic people and spend time with the small, but close, kind, and loving people I have in my life. I don’t need to waste my time on people who make me feel bad.

say-no

I just found this pic online, and boy, what a good way to think about saying “no”

I’m going to try to say “no” more. I say yes to so many things, which then stresses me out when my schedule is crammed. I become miserable and hold resentments towards the people WHO ASKED ME whether or not I could help with such and such. When I do say no to different thing, I often experience so much guilt and self-hatred for not being the best helper person in the world that I’ll beat myself up for days/weeks.

I will mediate everyday in some way.

I will have my two research papers published. I am the author of one research study that I’ve been tirelessly working on for the past 5 months (I’m currently taking a break of analyzing data to write this blog post), and am the sole research assistant for a professor at my university- we’re working on a quantitative study which is really exciting. My dream is to get these published, and I will. I’ve never had anything published, let alone a scientific research paper (who would’ve thought?) and I really hope I can make this happen.

I want to write more. Write more music, write more blogs, write more research papers, write more personal stories, journal more, write poems, write lyrics to songs that yet have to be born. I also will write these in a way that is most pure, and for the sole audience to be me when I’m writing. If I want to share them with others, I will, but the real reason is to strengthen creativity in this therapeutic process.

I am going to take advantage of as many moments as I can to be happy. I don’t want to get too personal, but my whole life has been a struggle with this subject, and I vowed in 2016 to try and experience as much happiness as possible, and I did a pretty good job. So I plan to keep this up this year.

I want to be the best friend/fiancé (or wife?!)/daughter/sister/daughter-in-law/dog-mom etc. I want the closest people to me know that I can be depended upon. That I will do what I can to make sure they have the same amount of happiness I have.

I want to be happy and feel fulfilled at whatever job I get after I graduate. I will not be scared away by the idea of relocating or being inadequate or whatever.

I will practice yoga, I will go running, and exercise on a regular basis. My goal for January is to complete Yoga with Adriene’s Yoga Revolution videos on YouTube. I have done each day so far. If you see me this month, please ask whether or not I did a yoga practice today.

no-pizza

This will be the hardest.

I want to eat healthier. Everyone who knows me and Ed know how much we love pizza. I really really want to limit myself with food like this and start eating balanced meals. I expect this to be one of the most difficult goals because I love sugar, cheese, and bread so much it brings tears to my eyes. This also means that I’ll probably have to, like, meal plan, and shit that sounds awful to me. BUT I WILL PREVAIL AND FREEZE FOODS AND THEN REHEAT THEM LATER AND EAT THEM AND NOT JUST LET THEM SIT IN MY FREEZER.

I also want to help the world more. I want to donate the things I don’t need and volunteer. I am really busy all the time, but somehow I can find myself sitting on my phone for 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon when I could easily be doing something beneficial for the greater good.

lackawanna-county-green-party

Green Party of Lackawanna County, I will do as much as I can to help you grow!

I want to be as politically capable as possible. I want to be as educated as I can about the issues that matter most, and really do all that I can to help promote the Lackawanna County Green Party and our efforts. This includes writing more political blog posts, and continuing to do so in a way that allows others to question and challenge my beliefs. I also want to write political posts in such a way that does not come across as intimidating to read, nor pretentious. I think so many people get overwhelmed by politics, and I hope to use this blog to show that it’s not as complicated as it seems.

I also am going to try to love myself. This sounds stupid, but its so hard! One way that I will do this is by not wasting so much of my life on social media (especially Instagram). I like social media to stay up to date with friends, but I often find myself going down these rabbit holes which result in total self hatred because I don’t look like the girls who post pictures of their beautiful faces, beautiful bodies, and beautiful lives. I know its all fake, but that doesn’t take away the feeling of shittiness that accompanies an Instagram binge.

Okay. I think this is a good start. If you read this, what are some of your goals for the year? Do you feel confident in your goals? If you see me out, please feel free to ask about how I’m doing accomplishing these things. One reason why I just confided all these personal junk is to be held accountable! Honestly, next time you see me eating Doritos ask me wtf am I doing

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