The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Sarah McCarthy (Page 1 of 3)

Understanding the Importance of Opinions

When I began working for the forum section in the fall of this past year, I didn’t know what to expect. What would I write on? Who else would contribute to the section? Did my articles really matter if no one read the paper? Time and again, I was surprised by this section and by the importance opinions had within our community. Every week, I learned about a range of topics from a recent spike in violence in Bangladesh to the qualities of one of our own Lewiston mayoral candidates. I learned that the paper has a strong readership and that students are not afraid to respond to articles published in The Student. But what struck me weekly about every piece was the nuanced arguments authors made and many times the thought-out responses and conversations that were born out of 550 to 750 words. The eloquence and intelligence of my peers provided me with solace knowing that these Batesies would go out into the world with the same poised passion they displayed in their articles and have a hand in shaping the future of our world economically, politically, socially and in a myriad of other ways I cannot even conceive of at the moment.

Many weeks, I struggled to settle on a topic or felt that the opinion I took in a piece would somehow reflect poorly on me or bring to light the true princess qualities I like to keep hidden from the majority of people. However, as the year progressed, and I got feedback from friends, professors, and peers on the work I was doing, I came to understand that every viewpoint is valuable; you may not agree with it, you may find it offensive, but there is always something to be gained, a new piece of knowledge to discover when well-supported opinions are presented, understood, and debated about. Even when you feel your opinion may be a minority one or you may face backlash for expressing it, it is valuable, even if it is only known by you. It can feel awkward and uncomfortable to say something you don’t think will be well received or to put yourself in a position to take criticism, but if we all exist within our careful constructed circles of similar opinions, we miss out on expanding and affirming our own beliefs. Encourage varied viewpoints, but don’t seek them out just to say you did. Understand your own opinion and why it is valid in order to allow yourself to see validity in all opinions, provided they are not threatening to the safety of others.

So what is my point here? The biggest takeaway I have from my year with the forum section is opinions matter, oftentimes more than facts. Read a lot, learn a lot, and engage with as many different types of people as possible. In the current sociopolitical climate, things can feel hopeless and cyclical. Insecurity and the feeling of being unheard can hinder progress on individual and organizational levels. We must ground ourselves in the lessons we have learned at Bates, use our knowledge to express nuanced opinions, and work to make sure every opinion is heard. At this point in all of our lives, about to embark on a varied set of great paths, a general feeling of lack of control can haunt us, but we must remember our voice matters, our vote counts, and we are capable of change.

 

Reflecting on Social Media and Virtual Communication

When you walk into Commons, how often do you see a table of people sitting together, yet each person in their own world? In class, how often do you see people with their heads stooped down attempting to slyly be on their phones or even rattling away at their computer keyboards even though the professor hasn’t made a noteworthy comment in ten minutes? Recently, I have heard many people talking about how they want to limit their social media usage or have turned their phone settings to grayscale to make it less appealing, but when do we really ever think about what the device that is everpresent in our pockets or hands is capable of and what it means for our lives. With news like the recent Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, many people have been evaluating the virtual identities they have been curating and the implications of these identities. For me, I have been contemplating how and why I use my phone for about a month, since I started participating in #nosocialsunday, a movement to curb social media use on Sunday’s in the hopes of being more present and engaged in the “real world.”

Cell phones, and smartphones to be more precise, have created a world of new possibilities and added a tremendous amount of security and ease to those privileged enough to interact with them. The ability to call and video call people half way across the country or even the world has facilitated long-distance business as well as personal relationships. While ease and convenience are things most people seek in products and vacations and in general, it is hard to not feel that we are sacrificing other things such as face-to-face contact or the silent surprise that comes from receiving a thoughtful letter in the mail. I am guilty myself of sending a text when a call is warranted. While we move towards greater reliance on virtual contact, we should be reflexive about why we are choosing to use particular methods of communication. If we are mindful and conscious about our use of such devices, it may feel less like of a sacrifice when sending a text as opposed to getting a cup of coffee and catching up.

Social media is a whole separate beast. It is used consciously as well as unconsciously. How often do you open an app—say, Instagram—and realize you had literally just closed it? Yet, how long do you take on the app before you post a picture? Maybe you have a special editing app or send it to your friends for advice? To what end are you consciously shaping your image? Social media, in my opinion, is all about curating your life: who you choose to follow, who you allow to follow you, and the pictures you choose to “represent” your lived experiences. But, social media, like the smartphone, has the power to bring people together. Sending people memes and being invited into a meaningful experience in someone’s life via their photos can promote bonds and strengthen connections amongst people.

While this may sound like a confused millennial rant, my suggestion is mindfulness. It seems simple but, when you think things through and are aware and present with yourself, the things you engage with become more meaningful. When you are mindful, and make deliberate choices, it does not feel like you are sacrificing something else to be in the present moment. I’m not saying delete your accounts and throw your phone into the Puddle, but what I am saying is be an active and conscious user.

 

Understanding Marlon Bundo

On March 19, Charlotte Pence, daughter of Vice President Mike Pence, released a children’s book she wrote, and her mother illustrated entitled Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President. The book outlines a day in the life of the Pence Family rabbit who is cleverly named Marlon Bundo. In the book, Bundo follows Vice President Pence to his daily meetings and the children’s book even includes a moment where Bundo contemplates the significance of a Bible verse. The Pence family set dates for a book tour for their picture book, which was published by Regnery Publishing, and pledged some of the proceeds to A21, a charity that works to combat human trafficking, and Tracey’s Kids, a charity that provides art therapy for pediatric cancer patients.

The politics of Vice President Pence have been a target for many comedians and civilians alike, however one outlandish Brit, John Oliver, has taken the cake and written his own book entitled A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. In Oliver’s version of the book, Marlon Bundo is gay and falls in love with a male bunny named Wesley. A direct criticism of Pence’s anti-LGBTQ+ political stances, John Oliver has also pledged to donate all proceeds from his now New York Times bestseller to The Trevor Project, a charity that works to prevent suicide amongst LGBTQ+ youth, and AIDS United. As of March 23, Oliver’s satirical version is out-ranking former FBI director James Comey’s memoir and Charlotte Pence even purchased her own version saying she could get behind the book because Oliver is giving the proceeds to charity. The Second Family’s publisher did not feel the same way, saying in a statement, “It’s unfortunate that anyone would feel the need to ridicule an educational children’s book and turn it into something controversial and partisan.”

Oliver is known for promoting stunts like these amongst his fanbase through things such as creating a fake mega church or remaking a music video of “A Man like Putin.” While a satire, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo has a few very important sociopolitical points to make. It plays to Pence’s fears of the LGBTQ+ community, but also serves as a platform for encouraging discussion regarding queer sexuality with children through the book’s unique love story. Although I understand the desire of Regnery Publishing to ensure their book is profitable, issues like these should not be partisan. Oliver’s decision to write his book is a power afforded to him by the Constitution, and the publisher identifies themselves as “The Leader in Conservative Books.”

Using comedy as a coping mechanism has been a longstanding and worthwhile tradition. The popularity and following that shows such as Oliver’s Last Week Tonight or The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and the resurgence of Saturday Night Live viewership following Trump’s election, reinforce this idea that, in order to digest tough facts and gut-wrenching stories, it is oftentimes easier to receive those stories in a manner that allows for understanding and humor. Not only do these shows provide comfort for their viewers, they also play an important role in critiquing the actions of politicians and garnering public support for holding public officials accountable. Show hosts like Oliver and Noah can use their influence for the betterment of society by vocalizing issues present in society and mobilizing viewers that agree with them to take action and demand change.

 

Have We Become Immune?

Since Trump took office, it feels like every week another high-ranking official gets sacked for menial offenses such as disagreeing with the president or not showing enough loyalty. After the first 100 days, I deleted the news apps on my phone seeking solace from the unstable reality. But silencing the craziness does not change what is occurring, it allows for it to continue and threatens the democratic values of our nation.

As the new slogan of the Washington Post reads “democracy dies in darkness,” thus my own silencing and the sense that many of us have become immune to rash changes poses a problem larger than we all realize.

While members of a president’s cabinet should be generally on the same page regarding policy issues and things of that nature, it feels the agreement and loyalty Trump seeks is unwavering and total admiration. Trump has brought his signature move from The Apprentice to the White House, dismissing four officials including most recently Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and forcing Deputy F.B.I. Director Andrew McCabe to resign just four days before he was set to retire. During his tenure thus far he has also forced resignations from over ten high-ranking officials including Sean Spicer, The Mooch, and Reince Priebus.

Most of these force-outs did not come as a huge surprise to the individual fired, nor many citizens of the nation due to Trump’s constant scrutiny and overt bullying of his colleagues before officially removing them from a position that challenges his authority. After Director McCabe was asked to leave, Trump tweeted “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hardworking men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy.”

While Trump justifies his actions in the name of democracy and the everyday, hard-working American, he acts in accordance to what serves him the best in each moment without thinking about or understanding consequences of his actions. Are Trump’s actions truly serving the values of democracy or has he increasingly barricaded himself in order to protect and ensure a presidential power trip that focuses on the personality cult he has carefully constructed?

Trump has built his brand as a businessman and now a politician on being a straight shooter who is unafraid to speak his mind no matter how vile his world views have become. As a candidate, he built a base on white fragility and the deconstructing of political correctness, two things he has worked to maintain while in office through executive orders and brash rhetoric.

The thing Trump has failed to recognize is that while he attempts to keep his campaign promises and continue his image, he is in fact doing things he heavily criticized Obama for doing and is not weighing all the effects of his decisions such as the way he is handling the “trade war.” Trump’s constant scrutiny of the press and his obsession with fake news as a central role in his personality cult works to undermine the rights of the free press and works in opposition to the protection of democracy by building uncertainty in the population and positioning himself as the sole bearer of truth.

As we progress through this term especially heading into the midterm elections in November, it is important to be educated and engaged citizens. Standing by the wayside is no longer an option, attempting to ignore hard realities has no place in American society anymore.

 

“Overlooked” and Correcting Past Injustices

On March 8, 2018, The New York Times unraveled a new series of obituaries dedicated to important figures from the past for whom they had neglected to publish an obituary when their natural lives came to an end. The Times acknowledges that the majority of the obituaries they have published and continue to publish are those of white men and dedicated this project, on International Women’s Day, to giving due to people who had been “overlooked” in the past. This project is seen as a collaboration between many different people who work at or with The Times, but also with the greater community: readers and such. Readers or those curious are able to submit names of people they felt may have contributed to meaningful conversations or society writ large. A handful of obits have been curated under this project so far including those of Ida B. Wells and Charlotte Bronte. Additionally, Amisha Padnani, an editor for The Times and creator of Overlooked, said that she encouraged her writers to take a non-traditional approach to the writings of these obituaries, in order to present a creative and nuanced re-telling of the achievements these people, mostly women, garnered throughout their respective lifetimes.

Padnani conceived the idea for this project when she came across a woman who had been credited with introducing tennis to America, and realized she was excluded from the obit section. After further research, Padnani saw a pattern that troubled her: many significant women, especially women of color, were excluded from receiving a Times Obituary. William McDonald, the obituaries editor of The New York Times, revealed that on average around 155,000 people die between the printings of The Times and the paper usually runs 3 obituaries per issue, leaving his team with a lot of decisions to make. According to him, the main criteria of entry is newsworthiness, or the number of people who will care about your death enough to read about it, which is in part why he believes the obituaries continue to be dominated by white men. He writes, “Unlike the rest of the newsroom, the obituaries desk covers the past, not the present.” McDonald argues that the obits look back on what the world was and not the direction it is moving or the way we wish it had been and thus the obituary pages are decades/generations behind the current times and the purported equality we have begun to embrace. He also notes that women, people of color, openly gay people, and other marginalized groups were not given the platform to make history or to effect such large change that their death would be considered globally newsworthy.

While one can only speculate the reasons people such as Sylvia Plath were not given an obituary at their time of death, the Overlooked project provides a platform for a discussion regarding reparations and correcting past injustices. On the one hand, it is incredibly important that the stories of the lives of people like Nella Larsen are shared and celebrated, but does that also provide a means of reducing guilt and not truly apologizing for years of mistreatment? I feel this project is incredibly important, but, like most things in modern American society, there is a need for a caveat or, at least, an acknowledgement of why these women were not properly celebrated throughout their lives and in their time of death.

 

Critiquing Trump’s Hasty Regard for Policy

In a meeting with important representatives of both the American aluminum and steel industries this past Thursday, March 1, President Trump announced he would be levying harsh tariffs on imported aluminum and steel, some products may see up to a 25% tax tacked on. This announcement came suddenly and even was a surprise for many in the White House. While domestic producers of steel and aluminum were overjoyed at this announcement, many industries and companies that rely on these metals for their products are fearful of the implications this act will have for their respective businesses. Steel buyers such as major car producers and beverage corporations who rely heavily on aluminum saw a dip in their stocks and are apprehensive about the ways in which this legislation will impact their blue-collar workers. Not to mention, reports have recently surfaced that Carl Icahn, a former senior adviser to the president, sold over $30 million in steel stocks just before the tariff was announced. Through promising these tariffs, Trump is aiming to fulfill his campaign promise of America First, through the promotion of American industry. However, in his signature hasty and short-sighted manner, Trump has privileged some blue collar workers at the expense of many more of their peers. All of these factors beg the question as to whether or not Trump is actually, or ever intended to fight for the little guy, America’s working class?

Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has become a source of worry for domestic metal producers and their clients, but not a communal fear, one that is polarized. Natalie Kitroeff and Ana Swanson write, “the divide between the metal producers and their customers slices directly through Mr. Trump’s blue-collar constituency.” Without thinking through the consequences his actions will have, President Trump has unintentionally acted in a manner that will end up negatively affecting more of his “base” than those who will benefit from the tariff. Monica de Bolle of the Peterson Institute for International Economics argues ,“if the point is to protect American jobs, if the point is to protect small and medium-sized businesses, this is exactly the wrong way to do things.” While the proposed tariff will jeopardize the existence of some medium and small businesses, it will also most likely lead to a reduction of jobs in many large corporations as well. MillerCoors, the beer conglomerate said in a tweet that the tariff will almost certainly force them to reduce their staff. So in pleasing one sector, Trump has significantly wounded the ability for growth in many staple American companies.

Despite three days of very strong pushback, as I write this article on March 4, all signs point to President Trump sticking to his guns and approving the tariff. While this is not the first off-handed or impulsive policy we have seen in the Trump administration (see exhibit A: The Transgender Ban), it begs for greater thought; how does the idea of America first play out in lived experiences? What subset of the American population is actually championed? Legislation is not something that can be created off a whim or expressed in 140 characters, it must be thought out and its impacts analyzed to ensure the safety and ability of American workers and the American economy to prosper. America first must include the needs of as many Americans as possible and should aim to limit the number of workers who will be disadvantaged at the expense of promoting American industry.

Navigating the Gym at Bates

Walk in to the Bert Andrews Room (BAR) in Merrill Gym at 4 p.m. on a weekday, and you are bound to become annoyed. People jocking for treadmills, looking over your shoulder as they are on the elliptical eagerly awaiting you to finish your workout; or worse, not being able to use the machine you wanted because they are all taken. Nevermind the inability to get a cubby to put down your backpack. Being a varsity athlete, I have had the opportunity to compete at and view the athletic facilities offered at other NESCAC schools. With the exception of a small school to the North, every other school has newly renovated multi-floor fieldhouses that cater to the athletic and fitness desires of the entire student body. While I may be hyperbolizing the status of Bates’ fitness facilities, I have frequently heard comments from friends, teammates, and general students about how crowded both Davis and Merrill fitness centers can get during peak hours.

Since the flow of students at particular times is not something that can be controlled, it is hard to argue that this is an issue without sounding like a brat. And steps are being made to improve current facilities and implement more diverse classes into the offerings for physical education classes and the BWell program. Just this fall, ten brand-new treadmills were added to the BAR and are not only better-functioning, but also allow for more people to use the treadmills at one time, due to the restructuring of the layout of other cardio machines. Also recently, more spin bikes have been added to the Gray Cage, allowing for greater participation in the BWell spin classes. But even still, if you choose to show up to the gym at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, you run the risk of riding a stationary bike even though you are a month into training for a half marathon. Davis Fitness Center can be equally as bad, if not worse, with many groups of varsity athletes getting in pre-practice lifts and a limited number of platforms for Olympic lifting.

While this issue does not have a quick fix and is definitely on the radar of the administration and the athletic department, I propose a few things to make everyone’s experience more enjoyable. First is etiquette: while it may seem as though you need to jump onto a machine as soon as someone else gets off, even if their sweat is still all over it, take a breath and let them finish their workout peacefully, so you can do the same. Next, be aware and respectful of everyone else in the gym, use headphones, don’t talk on the phone for the entire duration of your workout, and be swift in cleaning and exiting the machine once you have finished exercising. In Davis, let people work in. And if you are resting or going to use a cable machine for a set, let someone else borrow your platform for a quick set and rotate on and off. Finally, in both locations, carry the shoes you are going to work out in. Sand and salt not only damage the treadmills and the platforms, but also make a mess and are generally annoying to have to deal with when you just want to exercise.

Although the athletic and fitness facilities at Bates need a lot of love, all of us Batesies can do our small parts to make these facilities enjoyable for the time being.

 

Responding to the State of the Union

Last Tuesday, President Trump delivered his 2018 State of the Union address. In this speech he highlighted the need for unity in the government, immigration reform, veteran benefits, investments in infrastructure, and the threat of North Korea, oh and the reopening of Guantanamo Bay.

Throughout the speech he continuously referred to members of the audience and offered praise or sympathies depending on why he had chosen to invite them to the address. Standing back from the podium and applauding himself and the Republican party often, Tuesday night felt more like a campaign rally— except that Trump actually stuck to the script.

For the first time since he took office, Trump appeared to act with poise and avoided any ad-libs. Although Trump’s demeanor was not what I’ve come to expect, his messages and rhetoric continue to be tried and true references to his major campaign promises, such as the Border Wall and a tougher stance on North Korea.

While the State of the Union address did not particularly inspire me, Representative Joe Kennedy III gave a passionate and insightful response as to what we as a nation, but more specifically the Democratic Party, need to do to continue the strength and progress of our nation.

Delivered from a high school in Fall River, Massachusetts, Kennedy’s speech touched on many specific hardships that seemed to be plaguing citizens of the United States throughout the past year. He focused broadly on fear and heartbreak and the many reasons people living in the U.S. have faced these emotions. Kennedy spoke of immigrants and dreamers constantly fearing their deportation and living in uncertainty about their future. He noted the many people affected by the opioid crisis and the heartbreak they experience watching their loved ones struggle with addiction.

But most importantly, like Trump, he emphasized unity and the need for reform in our society. Kennedy argued that our current system pits working class citizens against one another and forces states to compete for federal funding for social programs including health care. He directly attacked the Trump administration saying, “This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us — they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection.”

While their messages called for different things, Kennedy and Trump’s emphasis on unity is vital for the state of our current union and as we head into the midterm elections this November. Kennedy’s speech focused on uniting the Democratic Party, something viewed as dire by many party members since the defeat of Hillary Clinton. This message to his fellow party members speaks to what democratic constituents are longing for, unity within the party to stand up to Trump and the Republican majority.

The time for waiting on people like Paul Ryan to grow a spine and depending on Susan Collins to side with more moderate policies is over, the party must clearly redefine itself and its values and work on listening to the needs and grievances of the average American citizen so that flipping the House in November does not feel like a long shot. The Democratic Party must clarify their objectives across the board in order to establish a more prominent following and in order to be able to work toward a more bipartisan system of governing.

All in all, America is in need of unifying, our nation is founded upon the ability to express individual beliefs and opinions and we must work to limit the divisiveness we are currently experiencing.

Banning The New Jim Crow in Prisons Stirs Unrest

Freedom of information and the ability to advance oneself socially are two pillars that defined the founding the United States. The idea of The American Dream depends on a citizen’s ability to take advantage of the resources of the nation in order to build a better life for their children. Censorship of the media, literature, and other means of communication can significantly inhibit the functioning of these ideals.

This is particularly true when it comes to the existence of banned books lists in prisons throughout the United States.

Most banned book lists aim to reduce the chances inmates have of learning to build weapons or being encouraged to engage in violence, especially along racial lines. However, in some states, Mein Kampf is available for prisoners to read despite the presence of Aryan/white supremacist prison gangs.

The widespread nature of these banned book lists alludes to a greater theme of oppression and suppression in the prison system of the United States.

Recently, state prisons in North Carolina and New Jersey placed Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow on their lists of prohibited books.

Alexander, a civil rights lawyer, argues in her book that mass incarceration was used as a means of discriminating against and oppressing black people; particularly black men. Both in North Carolina and New Jersey, the official reason given for denying inmates access to this book was the fear that it would lead to fighting in prisons.

Alexander believes the choice to bar her book was deliberate, telling The New York Times, “Perhaps they worry the truth might actually set the captives free.” After hard work by the ACLU chapters of both states, the book will now be available to inmates.

The presence of banned book lists in prisons, specifically the banning of The New Jim Crow, speaks to a larger problem with the United States prison complex. Are prisons not meant to be places of reform? While the committers of heinous crimes may be deemed unsaveable, shouldn’t our justice system be actively trying to help non-violent offenders get themselves sorted out and put them on a better path then the one they were on when they came in?

By denying inmates access to books like The New Jim Crow, the system continuously works to keep offenders on a cyclical path, instead of allowing them to read and learn and grow, thus allowing them to make a change for themselves and their families to truly fulfill The American Dream.

The role racial discrimination plays seems to be entrenched in many layers of the U.S. justice system. It is not just who gets arrested at more frequent rates, but also whose values and interests are fostered within prisons.

The fact that Mein Kampf is available for prisoners’ enjoyment, but The New Jim Crow, a book that directly address many struggles of inmates of color, is banned privileges a white dominant/white-centric position.

Alexander seems to wonder if this limitation is strategic in order to prevent inmates from understanding the social and political consequences that led to their incarceration. This is a wonder I echo, the clear bias present in our legal system serves to continue allowing white men to thrive while ensuring a lack of mobility for others.

How has widespread reform not come from the inside? How long will we stand silently by and watch the prison complex destroy our nation from the ground up?

Are Tide Pods a Delightful Snack or a Detergent?

Lately, it seems every two months or so, the social media world embraces a new viral challenge. Some of you may remember the cinnamon challenge from way back when or, more recently, the water bottle flip or the mannequin challenge, but few seem to have infiltrated the college world as deeply as the Tide Pod challenge. Similar to all viral challenges, the Tide Pod challenge seems to be grounded in a group of friends daring one another to eat the detergent pack while recording a video that is subsequently posted to YouTube, Instagram, or other social media outlets. While the Tide Pod challenge has seen less participation than other challenges, such as the mannequin challenge, it has been wholeheartedly embraced by many college students around the nation.

Even though this may seem like an unintended marketing campaign for Tide and its parent company, Procter & Gamble, ingesting the detergent packs can have severe side effects. The chemicals used in Tide Pods are intended to decompose waste materials and include surfactants which attach to water and grease; in the human digestive system, the stripping of these two molecules can be quite harmful to the digestive tract. This can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Additionally, due to the toxicity of the pods, people who eat them may experience numbness in the mouth or, because of the bleach in the Tide Pods, may experience intense vomiting and burning of the digestive tract. The rarest, but most dangerous, consequence of taking part in this challenge comes from breathing the detergent directly into your lungs, causing asphyxiation, which can lead to fainting and, in some cases, seizures.

Initially remaining on the sidelines, Procter & Gamble has recently launched a campaign to discourage users from taking part in the Tide Pod challenge. According to The Guardian the company’s spokesperson said, “We are deeply concerned about conversations related to intentional and improper use of liquid laundry packs.”

The company urged YouTube to remove all videos posted that feature someone eating a Tide Pod, to which YouTube said they were working urgently to remove videos as they censor all content that encourages harm to self or others. Procter & Gamble also created an ad featuring Patriots star Rob Gronkowski in which he says, “What the heck is goin’ on, people? Use Tide Pods for washing; not eating.” Tide’s Twitter feed has also recently fielded many questions regarding the challenge and what to do after consuming a Tide Pod. All of their answers urged tweeters to call poison control or a doctor and to drink a large glass of either water or milk.

Social media phenomena raise important questions about adolescence and the role of peer pressure. While the influence of others during this period of life has long been understood, the era of social media and the twenty-four-hour news cycle bring these issues to life on a daily basis. What does it say about our culture that people are willing to risk serious illness and possibly death in the hopes of becoming “Instagram famous?”

Not only should we aim to end participation in the Tide Pod challenge, but we should also attempt to understand the motivations for becoming a viral sensation or a meme, and how outlets, such as Barstool, encourage unruly and possibly harmful behavior in the hopes of impressing millions of strangers.

Although risk taking and limited inhibition are defining factors of the adolescent period, the role social media plays in emphasizing and promoting hazardous behaviors is pertinent.

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