Category Archives: Uncategorized

Social Media- helpful or hurtful?

          I recently read an interesting chapter this past week from the book It’s Complicated by Danah Boyd, called “Is Social Media Amplifying Meanness and Cruelty?”. It predominantly focused on the role social media plays in how girls and adults perceive ‘bullying’, although it also had several other undertones of differences between generations, the heightened culture of ‘drama’ among young girls, and the blame that adults often  place on modern technology for their children’s social problems.

         I particularly enjoyed this chapter; the author had a very authentic voice that was different from other authors who seem to think social media is the sole driving issue of our generation today. Instead, Boyd mindfully compared and contrasted the opinions of a teenage girl who seems to think that platforms like Instagram do not particularly help her friendships with others but don’t necessarily hurt them, and a mother who sees her teenage daughter suffering socially and believes that a world without a phone glued to her daughter’s face would be a better one. Why is it that so many adults seem to believe that it’s technology that’s the problem? Perhaps it could be the fear of the unknown: they may be picturing their daughter sitting alone in her room, scrolling through dozens of anonymous comments posted on her page, throwing around hurtful phrases like ‘slut’, ‘you’re ugly’, or even ‘kill yourself’. Rightfully so, these adults didn’t get this extremely negative perception of social media from nowhere; media itself (movies such as Cyberbully and Unfriended) purposely depicts very extreme situations of bullying online in order to more strongly convey an anti-bullying message, or solely just to entertain a wide audience.

            However, speaking from the perspective of a teenage girl who uses social media quite frequently, social media is not constantly exploding with hateful messages and death threats. If used correctly and maturely, social media can be used very positively and can help young girls find a voice. If cyberbullying does occur, it is often so much more discreet. Just like the social media platforms themselves, girls have adapted over the years to learn how to most subtly criticize others, in such a quiet way that most observers will think nothing of it. Most often, it consists of short captions on Instagram or stories on Snapchat of girls using the ploy of sarcasm or ‘venting’ to criticize another person or group of people. It might often begin with the words “It just bothers me when someone…” or “Can people just stop when…”. Hiding underneath general terms like ‘people’, or ‘someone’, they’re strategically dodging the act of what others might be able to call cyberbullying. And what might possibly be the worst part: no one is willing to speak up, so we just double tap, drop a quick ‘haha’ comment, and keep scrolling.

             Social media is an extremely complex concept, and it’s not adults that are the masters of it, but teenagers themselves. We know all the unspoken rules, and that is undoubtably extremely difficult to grasp to anyone who hadn’t grown up thinking that every emotion and activity had to be documented and posted. Thus, how can we expect young people to be taught proper behavior on technology if adults aren’t even sure themselves?

            My late elementary and early middle school years consisted of a heightened sense of excitement for the freedom that social media gave us. It was almost like the equivalent of getting your first car: you can go anywhere and do anything without your parents breathing down your neck about it. Kids are now being exposed to that feeling of independence earlier and earlier, and this undoubtably sets them up to make mistakes and misuse it. Imagine: a kid in middle school gets her homework done early, so she picks up her phone and scrolls aimlessly through Instagram. She sees a photo of her best friend and other girl, and immediately feels overrun by jealously and anger. She doesn’t yet have the skills to handle these feelings in a productive way, so she begins typing a nasty comment to feel some sense of satisfaction. This type of rapid reaction-to-response is so new in our society. Although one could argue that it offers young people a feeling of empowerment and a voice, which is most often a positive thing, it’s walking a very thin line with almost giving them too much voice, allowing for self-destructive actions.

            I don’t want to sound like a majority of adults when I say that social media should be used less, or not at all. Instead of entertaining the idea of an alternate world in which teenagers live in the moment and find joy through face-to-face interactions, we should instead be informing the younger generation of how social media can be used to make you feel confident with yourself in a healthy manner. Instead of blaming Instagram, let’s observe it, and accept it as the monumental new aspect of life that it is. As soon as we are able to use its influence over the younger generations for good, we will have an extremely powerful force on our hands. Let’s continue to use it for social change, for more #metoo and #blacklivesmatter movements, for more happiness and support for one another.

– Liv

learn more about Danah Boyd’s work- http://www.danah.org/itscomplicated/learn-more/

“Is Social Media Amplifying Meanness and Cruelty?” It’s Complicated, by Danah Boyd, Yale University Press, 2014, pp. 128–152.

image- Communications, United Methodist. “Finding Teenagers on Social Media … Again.” United Methodist Communications, 15 Apr. 2014, http://www.umcom.org/learn/finding-teenagers-on-social-media-again.

I am becoming a proffesional stalker…

As I am reaching out to girls to interview for this project…I have come to realize and accept that I am becoming a stalker in many aspects. I know this sounds creepy, but stay with me.

Getting a general background on a candidate can take me hours of searching and reading, and obtaining contact information on some people can be impossible. To find, research, and contact girls that I believe would be good for my project, I go through a rigorous process that can take me hours just for one candidate.

Here is my process:

  • Find a girl who I feel has a story/needs their story to be heard
    • Whether it is through Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube, other journalist cites, or any digital outlet of the sorts, I am always looking for girls that I feel would be good for this project. I will google, I will search through Instagram, go through Youtube videos, read articles, and go through any source that is available to me to try and find girls who have stories that need to be shared.
  •  Do a background check
    • I begin to look at how she started out in her field of work. Where did she go to school? Does she have any social media? Youtube videos? What is she passionate about? Getting a background on a person before interviewing them is key. Asking them about certain events in their life can help tell their story, and knowing some basic information about them also makes them realize your legitimacy.
  • Getting their contact information
    • This has to be the hardest part of my process. This step can take me anywhere from a couple of google searches and about 5 minutes to calling their colleges and high schools to try and get in contact with them. It took me almost three hours to find the email of my most recent candidate for Project G.I.R.L, and that is normal for me. This is typically the time where I feel most like a stalker: when I have all of their social media accounts up, am calling their schools to get their contact information, and I am knee-deep in dead ends.
  • Emailing candidates
    • This email, though does not take me very long to compose, is vital to my chance of interviewing candidates. This is their first impression of me, and I need to make sure that each introduction is tailored to the candidate. For example, if I am contacting a candidate that has done interviews before, I will be able to talk more about my company and my vision. However, if I am contacting someone who has never been interviewed like this, I have to look over both my company and the legal process of an interview.
  • The interview
    • This is my favorite part. Seeing them, hearing them, listening to them, and writing down their story is my ultimate goal of my project, and it reminds me that all of the stalking, emailing, and calls from different time zones were worth it though I do not LOVE being woken up at 3 am from a call from the UK

So yes…I have become a professional stalker, and it can make me wildly uncomfortable when I am knee-deep in tabs trying to look for an email address or a phone number, but I’ve found that the interviews always, ALWAYS pay off.

Inspired by long nights,

Sabrina Schoenborn

CEO and Founder of Project G.I.R.L

Semester Progress – KC

Throughout this semester, I have continued to build the infrastructure of my organization – which manifests in multiple ways.

First, I have been working meticulously to clarify and focus the organization’s message and mission statement. I want my organization to be laser focused and understood by at a glance from the general public. After a few more revisions, new pages on my website with a Theory of Change, updated mission, and supporting information will be uploaded.

Networking and partnerships have also played a large role in this semester. I worked to secure my first endorsement for my legislation and first official partner. I have also been reaching out to various people in the field and introducing myself. I want to build as many relationships and coalitions as possible.

Media coverage and digital momentum has been another area of focus. I already secured multiple articles through reaching out to journalists with more yet to be published (the biggest and most exciting from VICE). Many of these articles focused on my story because  it is unique that I am in high school, yet still pursuing this work. Part of what drives media attention is my story, so that’s why I’ve also been building my own branding. I cleaned up my online presence and expanded my digital horizons.

You can even find me on Twitter here!

This is just a sample of my Semester work. So far I have had a very successful and productive start to the Independent Seminar and I look forward to the rest of the year.  

Image Link: Signs That You Are Making Progress in Recover.jpg

 

 

The Four Failing Pillars of Sex Ed – KC

Sex education needs serious renovations – dare I say an overhaul. We are failing to teach students how to keep their bodies happy, healthy, and safe. Here are four reasons why sex education is failing students in Pennsylvania and across the nation: Continue reading

The Importance of Press – KC

On October 2nd 2017 a Q&A about the work I’ve been doing was posed on Vice News. It was later added to their national snapchat story. It’s hard to say how many people saw the article but this was national coverage which means a TON of people saw it all across the country and perhaps the world.

Let’s look at the numbers we do have:

We can use Facebook’s article tracking feature to see how many times it was simply shared on the popular social media site. In the past two weeks it has been shared by nearly 2,000 people and popular pages.

Screenshot at Oct 15 19-54-20.png

I don’t have any way to quantify any other post-based social media websites like twitter, but this gives an audience rage on one.

We can however extract a few numbers from Snapchat’s stories. Vice News is one of the most popular snapchat stories, and while the app does not release official viewership counts, NBC released their own count earlier this year.

Read more: Quakerism’s Influence on my Activism – KC

According to Variety, the multi-media giant garnered a whopping 29 million views in the first month of starting their new snapchat story. While this number is probably inflated because of first month promotion, it allows us to see the amount of people who are tuning into a specific story – a new one at that.

It is safe to say that over a hundred thousand people saw the story on Vice. We don’t have any way of quantifying the number of people who then chose to read the article, but they were all able to see this video:

 

So why do these numbers matter? It’s simple, good press is one of the most crucial parts of any organization or movement. Over the past two weeks since my article dropped, my mailbox has been flooded with new people wanting to get involved. Leading activist in my field have begun reaching out to partner.

Read more: Timing is an Art Form – KC

I’m really excited about working with these people and continuing to build my organization. To those trying to build something new, I suggest you start working on news coverage. Reach out to local reporters or people who frequently write about related topics. Start sending press-releases when new things happen inside your organization.

These kinds of articles will help propel your message and build a wider audience.

Groundbreaking of the mushroom production facility in China

I had some difficulty getting through my project in the past two weeks since the Commissioner was out in China for the groundbreaking of the mushroom production facility. However, I am able to track his visit and proceed with my project from here. According to my recent communication with him, they had a successful launching activity in China and the activity serves as a starting place for future cooperation opportunities.

Funan is where the groundbreaking event took place. The county is located in Anhui Province. Its unique location and abundant resources allow Funan to become an ideal place for producing mushrooms. At present, the county has a cultivated fungus area of 1.2 million acres. The area consists of 7 different kinds of mushrooms, of which four products are recognized as pollution-free product, and the other three are given green product certificates. Funan Lianmei company is an American company based in Funan for the production of mushrooms. The company is planning on investing 1 billion Yuan and use advanced technology in America to achieve an annual production of 30,000 tons of mushrooms. If all goes well, they will be able to gain an annual profit of 100 million Yuan, and provide 1000 job opportunities for the local community. To read more about the cooperation, click here(you might need some translating tools, I was not able to find the same article in English). The picture below captures the groundbreaking event.

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It is interesting to see how a small county in China gets into business partnership with a company in Chester County area. I think China Initiative is definitely powerful and will bring more prosperity for both China and America. I will be blogging more about this cooperation after talking about it more with Commissioner Farrell.

In the meantime, I had a conference with his assistant last week about some plans moving forward.Commissioner Terrence Farrell has gained permission from the other two commissioners to establish a Sister Municipality agreement. Their decision allows me to move forward as a liaison between both places. I am very excited for the future development of this project.

Picture: http://kfq.ahfn.gov.cn/content/detail/59dd67727f8b9a6e6a060091.html

 

Timing is an Art Form – KC

I’ve reached the point in the development of my organization where great things are happening each week. In the beginning, I’d see a stroke of good luck maybe once a month. And it wouldn’t really matter if I ran to Facebook and announced the news or posted here for the community to see. Now, I find myself having to play closer attention to the release of information. Continue reading

How Hannibal defeated Game Theory—Summer

hannibal-300x212.jpg

Today, I am going to examine with you, through the lens of game theory, the most famous war in my favorite era (Classical Antiquity!), the 2nd Punic war between Carthage and Roman Empire. In particular, Hannibal’s invasion into Roman territory through the Alps. Continue reading

Semester Goals – KC

Last semester I was able to reach a large majority of my goals. This year, the Independent Seminar is not built into my schedule. I added it on top of 6 other courses because of my dedication to advancing sex education in this country. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m tight with time, but still have a long list of goals. This semester I’m focusing on financial planning, team expansion, and event planning. Continue reading

Back on Track – KC

For many students, the summer is a time primarily to relax and binge watch the latest Netflix shows. Don’t get me wrong, I did do my fair share of relaxing in St. Croix and plowing through episodes of Shameless. But most of my time was spent working. Both on my nonprofit and full-time job at Jaco Taco. Continue reading