Miss Musings

A modern miss provides commentary on sociological and psychological issues concerning politics, the media, literature, and everyday observances.

Why teens should get involved in politics now

Inauguration Dawn

By Erikjc (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It seems that most teenagers are not concerned with political matters until presidential elections roll around. I can relate – I only pretend to be a professional ice skating critic when the Winter Olympics come on. However, ice skating performances do not affect healthcare, laws, government restrictions, taxes, etc. Teenagers approach politics blindly and sporadically, so how can they make informed decisions when they turn eighteen?

Presidencies aside, even local elections are hardly discussed among teenagers. While some may know who the governor of Florida is, not everyone knows our mayor’s or city commissioner’s name, let alone their political standpoints.

The way we can amend the issue of teenagers being unaware of national and grassroots political matters is simple: politics may not relate to teenagers, but teenagers can find ways to relate to politics. Most parties have social network pages that teenagers can keep up with. Similarly, political news channels such as MSNBC and Fox News should all be followed, as they all have different ways of framing political matters. Finally, teenagers should be encouraged to find their own political paths, not just the ones of their parents and friends. The majority of today’s youth “belong to the democratic party,” although they do not really belong to any party until they begin to actively work to meet the goals of that party through voting. I highly recommend that teenagers research different political outlines before committing to one party. For example, only recently did I visit the outline of the Libertarian party’s goals, and I found that while I do not agree with them 100%, I certainly feel comfortable with the Libertarian spin on mainstream politics as of now.

Once teenagers stop seeing the “trendiness” of politics, particularly during elections, they will see politics as they really are: confusing, decisive, heated, and highly-valued. People sometimes guard their parties with their good names, but teenagers have the advantage of not having firmly set views to the left or to the right. By being open to the unpopular opinions as well as the widely tweeted ones, teenagers can be encouraged to examine their true feelings early and make intelligent decisions based on more than catch phrases and hashtags.

In sum, teenagers should approach the political world with open arms, but more importantly, open minds and open eyes. Without researching the goals of all parties and keeping up with their political actions and phraseology, teenagers will have harder times adapting to the highly-detailed world of political affairs.

This is a world where everyone is famous

Social Media Marketing

By Paola peralta (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Tweets. Hashtags. Duckfaces. Selfies. LIKES.

We like those.

With the abundance of social media in our lives, we can create a world that, quite literally, only revolves around ourselves. When I am feeling down I can snap a selfie and put it on Facebook or Instagram only to receive compliments and likes that are tailored just for me.

When we tweet and use Facebook, we make our lives accessible to the world. Our social network sites are our marks in the digital world and belong solely to us, as they serve to define who we are. Since these social network sites nurture “likes” and complimentary comments, we grow to expect our “friends” to make us feel important. Social networks allow us to form celebrity complexes for ourselves. 

Think about the last time you added a friend on Facebook; were they really that great? Do you honestly love all 1000 people who are obligated to like at least one of your photos or statuses? Most likely not, but a like is still a like. Maybe we expect reassurance from other people and treat them like our fans instead of “friends.”

The celebrity complex is dangerous because it can lead to paranoia, low self-esteem, and a great loss of time. While I am only one person who can testify to the existence of the celebrity complex, anyone can reason out its prominence in our world. Why else would we be taking selfies and updating others on our new haircuts? Perhaps we do so out of boredom, or perhaps we are prompted by an expectation of a return on our social network investment.

Social networks, particularly personal profiles, are designed just for us, by us. We only “follow” artists we like, people we are interested in, and political reporting we agree with. We let Facebook and Twitter vet out the content that is well-suited for us and we do not engage with a multiplicity of other perspectives on current events, pop culture, and the like.

Our social networks are our managers – they manage media and blind us to the “unnecessary.”

Our friends lift us up when we snap our fingers – or our cameras.

We are the celebrities in a world where everyone is famous.

Irony time: Follow Miss Musings on Twitter and like her on Facebook for more blog updates! Let’s have a conversation. 

Congrats Lupita – but must we rank beauty?

I’ve always been a bit of a downer when it comes to beauty pageants and contests. Not because they are driven by popularity, but because the message they all send is the same upsetting one: there is a standard of beauty we must all “rise up to.”

 

People magazine cover.

People magazine cover.

 

Lupita Nyong’o was named People magazine’s “Most Beautiful” person as a part of their annual list. This has been received quite well, and I think she is a fine choice for the cover. However, People has worked to prove that they aren’t all about traditional aesthetic beauty: for example, they did a feature on how women who are 34 are most confident about their bodies, trying to emphasize the importance of body positivity.

Here is my problem: the existence of the list sends a bad message. Regardless of the race of the cover girl or the “love yourself” mentality People is trying to advocate, we are still ranking humans – no, only celebrities – based on their looks. Everyone is attracted to different types, this is why there is someone for everyone. So what is the value in telling the world that they can never be considered the “most beautiful person ever,” which is entirely subjective, by shoving this fact into the faces of readers nationally?

Let’s not forget that while Lupita’s Academy Award was mentioned by Peopleher degree from Yale University was not.

Some may call Lupita’s appearance on the cover of People magazine a “social movement” for African-American women. Yet, I think the more important social movement would be in eradicating lists that judge mere humans on their looks.

I know these lists will not go away for a while. Proportionally, judging people about anything from their looks to their politics to their ethnic backgrounds will not. In the meantime, I believe Lupita is quite beautiful in my frame of mind, and I am sure others agree. Not just because she looks “beautiful” but because she is a kind person with a great message: that everyone has some unique beauty inside of them. Perhaps instead of ranking men and women, People should just share this message in a meaningful way.

“What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul…” – Lupita Nyong’o

 

 

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Learning to love being ‘quirk-tastic’

If you commented on my thick eyebrows a few years ago, I would probably have clammed up right in front of you. I would react the same way if you mentioned my size 10 feet, my super-pale-vampire skin, and that one zit on my nose that won’t go away. Truthfully, the list of “flaws” goes on a lot longer… but I only remember this list because I absolutely love most of these qualities now.

 

Just do it - you're going to have to eventually!

Just do it – you’re going to have to eventually! Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wwwchorboogiecom/13973577183/

 

Accepting quirks I once had problems with did not happen overnight. I plucked my eyebrows, stared at the omnipresent zit, and even bought self-tanner (which only made me look like my mom’s carrot juice bottle). In fact, I did not really have any breakthroughs until my mom put a quilt over my mirror, banning me from looking at it except to make sure my hair was brushed in the morning. I was thirteen at the time.

Surprisingly, this act was all my transformation needed to get rolling. I didn’t have to belt out one more lyric of “Let It Go” or “Skyscraper,” nor did I have to read a self-help book for teenagers. Instead, I started seeing myself through my own eyes, not through a mirror.

Later I learned that my feet resembled not only my father’s, but my grandfather’s, a WWII veteran. Now I take a lot of pride in their shape, and yes, even their size. My pale skin is near iridescent at the beach, but after I heard about the skin cancer outbreaks among my family and teachers, I felt great about using sunscreen obsessively. And my eyebrows? I don’t even notice their bushiness anymore. Frankly, I don’t even care.

The most notable landmark on my journey to self acceptance is realizing how many people have issues with themselves. The very people I might have envied a few years ago for their slim figures or non-frizzy hair are the ones who wish they were curvier or had curly hair. We all want what we can’t have, which is why desiring a quality that makes someone else who they are is pretty illogical.

My advice would be to hold onto your flaws. Cherish them. Love them up. Don’t even call them flaws – call them differentiation devices or special quirks. You can even cover up your mirror and start seeing yourself for who you are, not what you look like. Finally, if you do change yourself by plucking your eyebrows or trying to tan, realize that you are not at your final destination on the road to loving yourself. Eventually you will return to your roots, just as I did, and you might even grow fond of the traits you currently detest.

Memoirs of a quiet kid

“Come out of your shell, Samantha.” – Every teacher I have ever had

But I don’t wanna! I would respond indignantly in my head. First, I do not have a literal shell. Second, no humans do. Third, if we did have shells, why would we want to leave a protective and warm casing that is so perfectly designed for us?

As a blooming young introvert plenty of elements in my life were different from those of other kids. I preferred to read books than talk and have my one TRUE friend instead of several acquaintances. I would get really attached to a single concept, whether it was a person or a culture or the TV series Kim Possible. In school and extracurricular activities I often fit in with a group of extroverts as the trustworthy “secret-keeper;” but I would be dumped aside shortly after the entire burden was spilt. Herein you see the drawbacks of liking silence – it leads to a recycled bond of friendship, tried and false.

 

shy

Source: http://www.aboutourkids.org/articles/helping_shy_kids_get_most_out_their_school_experience

 

However, there were plenty of benefits to being a quiet girl. I constantly found ways to entertain myself. In my cozy, metaphorical shell I would dream up outrageous stories, role play with my Barbies for hours, design business plans for fake Parisian bakeries and dance studios and choreograph to the new Radio Disney CD. Some of my fondest memories were formed during blissful “me-time.” But more importantly, I can now visualize these memories instantly since my time spent dreaming sharpened my ability to remember thoughts and generate ideas. I feel my budding intellect was nurtured during the time I spent alone; I read voraciously when I was bored and honed my interests through research and discovery. Sure, I was a quiet child, stuck in a social shell, but I was also quite interesting.

Yet even as I got older the social stigma against introversion loomed over me; I remember sitting down for breakfast on the first day of a summer camp and being asked by a counselor why I wasn’t sitting with anyone. “Because I like to spend time by myself,” I responded confidently. He still sat next to me, too concerned with his own definition of normal social behavior to realize he was ignoring my preference. Naturally, I was annoyed and only wanted to pull the “shell” tighter – especially if it meant having some time alone with my thoughts.

Some people need their quiet time; I certainly know I do.

Is introversion seen as social anxiety by today’s standards? 

Your bumper stickers say a lot about you

Your bumper stickers say a lot about you

Image courtesy of ahundredmonkeys.com

Image courtesy of ahundredmonkeys.com

 

When I walk through a parking lot, I tend to look at the backs of all the parked cars. Sometimes this behavior warrants an amused chuckle: perhaps a Seminole fan is parked right next to a Gator fan or all the cars are from different states. But for the most part, after glancing at the cars I feel like I have befriended the unknown drivers; after all, I now know how many kids you have and that little Bobby is an honor roll student. You might as well invite me over for coffee so we can discuss your stance on free healthcare, since I am fully aware that you were pro-Obama not just in 2008, but 2012 as well.

Image courtesy of cafepress.com

Image courtesy of cafepress.com

 

People please – don’t look at me like I am crazy for knowing your political views, supposed Salt Life, Apple product preference, and alma mater. If you have an issue with broadcasting these facts and using your car as a second Facebook page, take off the stickers. I would love to get to know you through actual conversation.

Like this bright? Comment below if you want more.  

Diagnosis: Writing Anxiety

Everyone has some form of downtime to partake in. I know people who play the flute, read, paint, draw, illustrate, dance, and sing. However, the form of downtime my friends and I share is one special activity: writing.

I suppose I should expect to have a bunch of writer friends; I edit for all of my school’s publications, and a lot of young people thoroughly enjoy writing. I did not expect, however, to experience the reluctance some writers have for sharing their work with others.

 

Just do it.

Just do it. (Still from Sprint commercial). Source: http://www.cultofandroid.com/15519/sprint-starts-say-no-to-sharing-campaign-against-shared-data-plans/

 

Plenty of my friends write, though I have never read a single piece of work by them. On the other hand, I have looked over a handful of friends’ creative writing and reporting pieces. The question that is bothering me is logical: what separates the open writers from the closed?

I have decided that all of us, regardless of our extroversion as writers, face some level of writing anxiety. I fall somewhere in the middle of the open-closed spectrum: while I frequently share my writing with people, I always feel a bit nervous in doing so; I am afraid that they may critique it harshly or worse, not critique it at all. Also, some pieces are easier for me to broadcast than others. I can squelch writing anxiety to a degree.

Perhaps all writers have writing anxiety, even those of us who share words with other people. It is indisputable that we are all secretly afraid of being criticized for our opinions and viewpoints. Still, some of us share our works hoping that we will learn from other people’s comments, while others feel that outside feedback is unnecessary. This does not mean closed writers are more confident in their artistry, but they may not feel a desire to be validated by other writers on something that is so personally connected to them.

 

Don't touch my writing!

Don’t touch my writing! Source: http://mrwgifs.com/no-touchy-kuzco-kronk-in-emperors-new-groove-gif/

 

Truthfully, it is fine to not want to share your writing. For me, writing helps me reason with myself. It is something I do instinctively every day, and I often enjoy the result of the activity. If someone read literally everything I ever wrote they would probably understand my thought process to an unnatural point, which would make our situation as friends rather uncomfortable. Though we all love feedback, especially the positive and constructive kinds, writing is more than an attention trap; it is an art, and it is a form of expression. When you critique someone’s writing, you draw attention to their thought process or view of the world, and then point out its flaws. This process is painfully difficult to accept for lots of people, sensitive or not, so not exposing their worlds to people for feedback is a perfectly appropriate method of self-defensive for many writers. They are simply protecting the one thing people will never be able to fully have access to: their minds.

One final note: when people reveal that they do not want to share their writing, realize they may have writing anxiety, but don’t share your pity – respect their privacy.

Do you have trouble sharing your writing with other people? 

Aloof people + grain of salt = peace of mind

Sometimes when I befriend others their shoulders turn icy toward me a few months into our engagement. While I stay chipper and friendly, they become somewhat… well… aloof and detached.

When people who turn cold toward you for seemingly no reason, it is time to break out your microscope and find that grain of salt; people have their bad days and worse moods, and sometimes these funks can last for a long time. Or, people could simply learn that you are not their type of person. This brings me to my first point: not everyone is going to like you. And yet this is precisely why you should never change to “please other people:” some people just are not going to be pleased with your true self, let alone your adjusted self.

 

Source: http://www.wordsonimages.com/categories/Inspirational-Quotes-Images-Sayings?page=803

 

In this case, the grain of salt refers to self acceptance; you may not be the person that will cheer this human up. However, you will find that in other scenarios, as I have found, people who are kind to you at first and then change their behaviors are often intimidated. I am someone who does not hide my feelings well, so when I have good news, I share it. I never brag. I take compliments humbly. It does not matter; people still get scared, even in the middle of their congratulations. This often spurs passive-aggressive behavior that most people fall back on to establish their faux hierarchy of superiority. It is all highly predictable behavior, albeit inopportune.

Unfortunately, aloof behavior that is triggered by the fear of power, overwhelming intellect, or unattainable talent can be suppressive. You may feel that you can’t share your great news with anyone, as you could “lose friends” over being happy about personal accomplishments. In truth, those who are intimidated by your achievements for more than a minute, and burn bridges due to their fear, possibly are not spending enough time creating their own successes. So, show what you know; just do not brag. If someone can’t hang with you when you are awarded for being yourself and working hard, maybe that is his or her own concern.

Go ahead – be yourself. Accept those awards. Be humble. Don’t fret if people can’t handle it.

#nofilter: Are we selfie obsessed?

The selfie craze hit the scene as soon as Instagram® exploded with sunsets, breakfasts and faces. I explored the selfie world before it was hip with not an iPhone, but a digital camera.

Yes, I said a digital camera. Remember those?

 

Look at this dinosaur!

Look at this dinosaur! Source: http://www.wikibest.com/Digital_Camera

 

Evidently, at the ripe age of 13 I had nothing better to do than take photos of myself, so I frequently took “selfies” with my gray, clunky Canon. Since I had nowhere to post these archaic photos, I eventually deleted them. It was not satisfying to possess one hundred pictures of my face back then, yet it is so common to host many pictures of our faces now.

Why? We are selfie obsessed.

Now don’t get me wrong: taking pictures of ourselves is not a selfish activity; sometimes we look great and want to remember our sparkling skin and perfect hair days. I only consider selfie taking somewhat inappropriate when it is gratuitous. For example, taking an Oscars-inspired selfie at the end of a day out with friends is a wonderful way to commemorate your time together. When you take ten different selfies while ignoring your friends, you are not all that “like”-able. As someone who does not own a smart phone, I do not feel a burning desire to capture my new bangs at a certain angle when I am out-and-about; documenting my face distracts from the moment.

In the same way, selfie taking is a status symbol: it gives us an excuse to whip out our expensive phones and, quite literally, show the world who our true friends are. Only so many people can fit in one shot (Ellen DeGeneres knows this all too well).

 

Photo courtesy of gamedayr.com

Photo courtesy of gamedayr.com

 

On a positive note, selfies are very convenient. This is why we take so many. Not everyone wants to ask a stranger to take a picture of her and her friend. Not only is it awkward, but it puts an expensive phone in the hands of an unfamiliar person. For this reason I enjoy taking selfies every once in a while; after all, it is a casual, no-fuss way to get a picture of me and a friend.

According to Seventeen magazine, selfies are also viewed as statements of self-esteem. While it may be quite a feat to snap a picture of your no makeup, or goodness forbid, #nofilter self, I would not say the action represents the recognition of your inner strength. Within seconds of “selfie” taking, the photo is up on various social networking sites, free to be liked and commented on with hoards of clicks and keystrokes. Just snap a picture, post it, and let the warming reassurance flood into your feed.

To me, if you need someone to “like” your face before you like your face, your selfie taking is the antithesis of showcasing your self confidence. But taking a selfie to commemorate an occasion – without taking fifteen of your outfit beforehand – is perfectly “selfie healthy.”

Do you take selfies for the likes or for the memories?