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The internet wants to tell us that 2016 has been the worst year in human history. And although some pretty terrible things have occurred since last January, is it too absurd to think this is just us millennials being melodramatic? This isn’t too far-fetched of an idea.
It is clear that this election is unlike any of the preceding ones. Because of this, the dynamic of the political race is going through a huge change. Our overused social media sites have become the newest political tool. Anyone with a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr — you name it — has been able to post their view points on our candidates all over the internet. A lot of millennials didn’t get the chance to vote in the Presidential Election of 2012, but four years have thus passed and it seems as if everyone is a politician in 2016 with the help of this new tool. I have never been one to get too involved in our government's affairs, however, at this point it is nearly impossible to turn a blind eye. It has become so simple for people to voice their outlook on our country’s state of affairs, merely with the click of a button. So, considering all of this, the questions I keep asking myself is whether social media is ruining politics, or if politics is starting to ruin social media? There is no clear-cut answer because both politics and social media seem to be diminishing in value, given that these two things hold such a tremendous influence in American culture.
Rutgers University, the birthplace of college football, the home of the Scarlet Knights and now, sadly, the resting place of "The Alley." Our Rutgers community is going through a grieving period currently after the loss of such a remarkable place — gone, but never forgotten. For those Scarlet Knight fans that are unaware of this heartbreak, or that are not yet tired of hearing about it, The Alley was a Rutgers Athletics-sponsored lot for students and student-run organizations to tailgate preceding the games on Saturdays. Although only 25 parking passes were offered in this designated area, this was a place that some referred to as a “sanctuary,” a “godsend.” People were taking to social media, saying that Rutgers tailgating was back and this is what Big Ten tailgating should look like. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were saturated with posts and articles and pictures of The Alley. But as we all know, this was unfortunately very short-lived, and students had a lot of trouble swallowing the news.
I tend to use my column as a place to discuss my opinions on the constant progress of the digital world (hence the name Digital Canvas), more specifically social media and how it affects different kinds people, businesses and of course, our University. As millennials, social media is important. It drives us to do a lot of things and say a lot of things, so I always felt that my judgments on certain matters would certainly be relatable for those that still read newspapers and op-eds. But for my first article of my senior year, I want to use this space to reflect instead on the constant progress of Rutgers as a community and campus.
Just last year, our University thought it broke school records when we managed to raise close to $700,000 for Dance Marathon and the Embrace Kids Foundation. Because this is the largest student-run philanthropic event in New Jersey, the majority of students know that Rutgers University's Dance Marathon's mission is to provide support, both financially and emotionally, to families with children who have cancer, sickle cell and other possibly life-threatening disorders. From year to year, we continuously surpass the amount raised previously, so the future of the Rutgers University Dance Marathon just keeps getting brighter and brighter. It became clear this year that this Dance Marathon would be the one to break all of our former records by a landslide. The alumni alone raised more than $80,000. Looking back, we have made momentous progress from 1999 when Dance Marathon first hit the ground running. Our Dance Marathon forefathers raised about $43,000, an amount that now looks like just a few cents compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars we just raised. And this number just continues to increase by the thousands every year, evidently, considering this year’s RUDM brought in more than $912,000 — this is $220,000 more than 2015’s total. Whether you danced in a 12-hour shift or for the full 30 hours, Rutgers Dance Marathon is an event that people have grown to anticipate from the beginning of the year. So what has changed from 1999 to 2016 that has raised the cause’s awareness and allowed our school to raise nearly $1 million in a year? But in the same question, why hasn’t our Dance Marathon been able to compare to THON that occurs at Pennsylvania State University?
While only about 10 percent of Rutgers students are a part of greek life, this small percentage is a huge part of what makes Rutgers such a fun and diverse place. Not to sound cliché, but the Rutgers greek community is a place that people usually do not regret becoming a part of. People find their “brothers” and “sisters,” and become family with those that were once strangers. Being that I am a non-member of this community, such a stereotypical phrase pains me to say, but it all seems worth the hype. Aside from gaining a lifetime of friendships, it can offer many different social and philanthropic opportunities, depending on which sorority or fraternity you might join, while also creating a vast network of professional connections. I always recommend joining a sorority or fraternity to underclassmen when they ask for my opinion, because there really is a chapter out there for anyone and everyone. There are those people in greek life that like to fulfill the college-movie stereotypes that we all come to imagine, but at the same time, many of those students promote 4.0 academics and great philanthropic causes. I took the stereotypes to heart when I was a freshman and told myself that I could never really fit in to a sorority wholly and comfortably. Now it’s likely that you can read all of the great things about greek life in a pamphlet somewhere in the student center, but there are some particulars of the greek community they neglect to include.
In past years, health education and government intervention has focused much of its attention on childhood obesity. The First Lady herself promotes exercising, eating right and learning how to stay active and in good health from a young age. The American population has been overwrought with unhealthy kids and adults and the negative affects that excessive weight has on our bodies. But knowing this, the world has gone into health overdrive. Young millennials have taken a stand against unhealthy living and have gone organic. You see people on Paleo diets, eating gluten-free and non-genetically modified foods and working out for endless hours “getting swole.” There are even a surprising number of young men and women taking up body-building and participating in “bikini” competitions, transforming their bodies and ways of life completely. The drastic changes our society’s physical state has gone through is both inspiring and crazy, when you think about it. Although obesity is still a major problem, the entire world is aware of it now, and we are making a conscious effort to better the old habits that led to the obesity problem.
You wake up in the morning, pajamas still inside out, spoon cold under your pillow and you jump up from the comfort of your bed to look outside and see what mother nature has bestowed upon us. Lo and behold, there is snow covering every inch of the ground. It’s a white wonderland! You spend the day inside, maybe watching movies and drinking hot cocoa, snuggling in a warm blanket. An entire day passes with snowflakes perpetually falling from the sky. Sunday morning rolls around, and the snow has stopped. After a day of relaxation, it is finally time to start shoveling outside.
From the day we apply to college, to the day we graduate, a major priority when it comes to picking your home for the next four years is safety. Having campus police, safe surroundings and resident assistants on constant duty are concerns that both students and parents have. Students at universities small or large, private or public, are always reluctant to venture through campus alone after the sun goes down — and with good reason. On Nov. 2, President Obama visited the Rutgers—Newark campus to focus all of our attention on the need for reform the criminal justice system. But in order to do that, he needed to first recognize the overtly dangerous crime problem in the school’s area. To some extent, Rutgers—New Brunswick needs to recognize this too — not just around campus, but within the school as well. We face some of the same crime problems as Newark, with robberies and assaults, and our attention needs to be drawn to this somehow.
Rutgers University is a school filled with intelligent, curious and diverse thinkers. It’s the home of future inventors, doctors, authors and anything else you can think of. Because of our great accomplishments, and even greater students, Snapchat has added the Rutgers campus story, so now everyone is just a few clicks away from seeing and learning about the amazing people we have here. In the past, we were excited with just a simple geotag, but our own story is bigger news. For of those who don’t know, this is a public, live Snapchat feed that anyone around a University campus can view. Snapchat has hired someone, somewhere to receive all of our snaps and sift through hundreds (and maybe even thousands) of pictures and videos for our viewing pleasure. Not only does this give everyone a chance at their 15 minutes of fame, but it allows University students to see what is happening on campus, while also allowing students create a narrative for our University.
Rutgers has been delivering successful students into the world ever since 1766. This school has pushed out famous actors, triumphant athletes, accomplished scientists and thousands of other notable people. But in recent years, Rutgers has been given a bad reputation for things other than its academics. New Brunswick and Piscataway have housed some of the greatest minds the nation has ever seen, and anyone who is currently enrolled at Rutgers, or has graduated from here, will advocate this. So it only seems unfair to have every news source in the tri-state area, and beyond, refer to us as something else.
This generation has an unabashed love for attention, and with social media at its prime, it’s no surprise. Got a new job? Make a status on Facebook. Tried a new hairstyle? Post a picture on Instagram. Bought a cute pair of shoes? Tweet about them. Everything posted online is posted for people to see it and give feedback. We are addicted to this attention, and we crave having a powerful online presence. And are these signs of possible narcissism? Absolutely.
Let’s get real. It’s the 21st century, and if you’re not using some type of social media, you are living under a rock. A huge, dense blindfolding rock. Even if you have been living under said rock, the words "Facebook" or "Twitter" had to have gotten thrown around in conversation at least once within the past five years. Social networks are used to connect people all around the world. They can be used for fun, but they can also be used for professional purposes. And who ever said you can’t mix business with pleasure?
Most people walk around everyday blind to the fact that they hold all of the world’s resources in the palm of their hands. Now, let’s use these hands to give a round of applause to IBM for having launched the very first smartphone in 1992, thus making our lives much easier today. That’s the purpose of technology, right? It’s the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, it’s meant to make things task-free and easy. However, it’s what came before all of this fancy technology that truly changed history. In the beginning, there were just “regular” cell phones and PDAs. Cell phones allowed for calls on the go and PDAs eventually used wireless connectivity to send and receive e-mails. These were some awe-inspiring advances for the 90s, and the secret formula to the smartphone lied somewhere between these two. By melding them together, technology was brought to an entirely new level.
Thinking back, it is quite difficult to remember what life was like before the technologies of today. How did we ever get around without a GPS or call to let our family know if we got caught in traffic and would be late for dinner? The generations to come will never know what it will be like to go a day without looking at a screen or scrolling through a social medium — to their disadvantage of course. Being born in ’95, I can still remember what it was like to spend endless hours playing outside with the neighbors or reading "The Magic Tree House" series in my spare time, as opposed to navigating my way through Netflix and Facebook like so many young kids do now. As the hands of time have moved forward, evidently, so has our knowledge of technology. This improvement, naturally, came with a few downsides to its many positives. As our understanding of computers and electronics flourished, society’s sense of self and worth devolved, in return.
once concerned with Y2K when it came to the evolving world of technology, but
nowadays it seems like society’s worries are more focused around what Instagram
filter to use and how many retweets you can get. Controversy erupted recently
with the recent update to Snapchat, a wildly popular app. Being able to keep in
touch with people by sending cute or absurd pictures to one another has become
a 21st century staple of communication. Your Snapchat ‘best friends’
helped to indicate the people you actually kept in touch with, or who you just
felt like sending pictures back and forth to. The update got rid of this
feature and has, thus, started an unintentional revolution among young
adults using the app. But what does this (along with the many other social media
trends) really say about our generation?