Fees continue to rise at an alarming rate, class sizes are growing, social support accessibility is shrinking and the job prospects outside of school are looking more bleak with every passing day, yet a large majority of us tend to deny that a unique problem exists at this campus and nation-wide, and it is the impact of mental health stressors on our academics and our lives as a whole.
At the University of Toronto, roughly 1 in 5 students presents and are diagnosed with at least one mental health issue in their undergraduate career. Citing overwhelming stress and loneliness as the main contributors to stress in an academically competitive and socially cold environment like that which exists on the campus, such students are increasingly becoming more frustrated with the lack of focus spent on the issue of mental health at the institution. The issue is a huge one, and needs to be addressed now. U of T should no longer be allowed to feign ignorance with regards to the mental health of its students and the stressors that influence it.
De-stigmatizing mental health problems at the University should be among the top priorities in terms of student wellness, and it’s nice to see that some student groups on campus are fighting to do accomplish just that. The UTSU Mental Health Committee convenes regularly to discuss ways in which mental health can be destigmatizes, awareness around the issue can be exposed and is looking deeply at reforming the notably inadequate system in place at the university that purportedly aims to deal with students’ mental health issues, CAPS. Some up and coming smaller groups that hope to accomplish similar goals include “Powerful Minds” U of T, and “SPOT - Students for Positive Outreach in Toronto”. It’s great to see that mental health issues are being talked about more on campus, but change is a long and tedious process. October is Mental Health Awareness month, in addition to Breast Cancer awareness month. You probably knew the breast cancer bit, but mental health issues affect a far wider audience and you’ve probably never heard of October being its month — therein lies the problem. Awareness is a serious problem, and people are often to apathetic or too ignorant to care about the issues surrounding them unless they’re advertised through huge, expensive marketing campaign. Imagine that, marketing reasons to care about and effect change in serious and ubiquitous issues? It’s a strange thing if you think about it, but you do have to spend copious time and money convincing people to care for issues that they themselves are affected by, and it’s just the way society works, unfortunate as it is.
The month is still early, but great things are being planned. A “How Happy Are You” campaign is being kickstarted soon on campus, which involves volunteers stationed around campus asking passerbys about their happiness levels from 1 - 10. The results will be displayed on a fun but informative graph and compared with other areas on campus. This is a simple but interesting initiative aimed at destigmatizing emotional expression and might allow individuals dealing with some of these depressing emotions to literally see that they are definitely not alone. The initiative will occur a few times throughout the year, in hopes to guage whether happiness on campus increases or decreases over time. Hopefully the university will see more unique and engaging awareness promo like this and perhaps, one day, there will be notably more smiles in academia.
One can only hope.
Overnight the internet community blew up over Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance yesterday that featured her, scantily clad, twerking and actin’ a fool on stage. Many called it crazy, others called it empowering, but some have called what she did an act of racism.
I disagree with that last bit, and here’s why:
Racism manifests its ugly head when it works to directly or indirectly further subjugate those in a lowed power group than your own. It’s a function of internalized superiority, based on your race, and is actually quite prevalent in contemporary society. What Miley did, though offensive to some, was likely not an act of racism. Through her attempts at black culture appropriation (although assuming that Miley, in twerking and acting ‘ratchet’, is a form of ‘Black Culture’ is a whole different story altogether) may have been offensive to some, it didn’t work to subjugate blacks or poke fun at their culture, for it was simply a function of ignorance.
Miley grew up white, privileged and wealthy. The most exposure she has to ‘ratchet culture’ is through her television screen. Perspective is difficult when you’ve been raised to not only ignore it, but reject it. This is the case for the vast majority of child stars, which is why they seem so alien to a large majority of us. Miley’s trying desperately to separate herself from the image that the “Hannah Montana” identity has painted her in the eyes of the public. Her ‘twerking’, stripping and provocative actions are simply acts of rebellion, the same way getting excessive tattoos and piercings are for some others.
In short, what Miley did was intentionally meant to offend and provoke, but was not meant to be racist. The accusations of racism are misplaced in this instance and belittles the true, systemic and institutionalized racism that exists in this world. As The Office’s Ricky Gervais once put it, “I always expect some people to be offended. I know I ruffle feathers but some people’s feathers need a little ruffling. And remember: just because someone is offended doesn’t mean they’re in the right. Some people are offended by multiculturalism, homosexuality, abortion, atheism – what should we do? Ban all those things? You have the right to be offended, and I have the right to offend you. But no one has the right to never be offended.”
Anger is a curious emotion.
We’ve all been at both the giving and receiving end of anger, and we all know, oh so well, that when we give it we’re in the right, but when we receive it, the giver is in the wrong. Anger is perhaps the curiousest (yep, that’s a word) emotion out there, but how angry should we be at other seemingly angrier people?
In an argument or debate you generally have two sides discussing an issue: FOR, and AGAINST. It’s usually black and white. Debates can get quite a bit heated, and the ugly face of anger often peaks its unwarranted head. However, is this such a bad thing?
Why do people get angry? Apathetic people definitely don’t, and purely self-centred people don’t care much for issues involving a macrocosm enough to get riled up over them. People usually get angry because they care deeply about the issue at hand, and are so frustrated by their oppositions view on the matter that it evokes the curious emotion. In short, people get angry because the they recognize there needs to be a solution to an issue, or at least a discussion around its significance.
One of the things I hate most in this world is blissful ignorance: outright refusal of education with no desire to even listen to fact. I’m a scientist, and though I will sit and listen to people talk about things that don’t directly influence my life in contemporary times like books, art and history of the French renaissance, if I go to those same people and talk about huge scientific discoveries they instantly block their ears and utter things like "blah blah blah are u actually explaining boooring science to me? I dont caaaare". That frustrates me, and has made me seeded with anger at my partner more often that I’d like. Science has a direct bearing on everyone’s life and to feign ignorance when someone is trying to explain a short, but important scientific discovery or concept just makes me feel like the person is afraid of both knowledge and the truth, and are perfectly comfortable in their perpetual ignorance.
Angry people, however, are only angry because they’ve given the issue some thought. However ignorant their stance may be, at least there’s a stance. If you debate with an angry person and there’s some good back-and-forth, you both end up gaining perspective and shaping your critical thought. Progress around controversial issues can only happen when people get angry, and people get angry when they debate, and people debate when they care, and people care when the issue matters.
Aubrey Oday once said "I would agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong". It’s among my favourite quotes, but if I were to change it, I’d add … “however, at least you care, and that’s all right by me.”
Anger… is a curious emotion.
The Zimmerman Case concerning the slaying of Trayvon Martin, a young black boy from Florida, is certainly a controversial one and will be talked about in classes the world over. Public opinion is pretty split on the issue, but not randomly so — certain groups of people tend to be for Zimmerman, while other groups tend not to, but how much should we care about this case? After all, people are gunned down all around the world for more trivial reasons that self-defence, and nobody bats an eye.
You should be outright outraged, and here’s why:
- People are championing Zimmerman as some sort of hero — a self-admitted murderer of a young boy who was simply minding his own business and on his way home from a neighbourhood convenience store armed to the teeth with an oh so dangerous bag of skittles and can of iced tea. It’s one thing to feel strongly about justice for an accused killer who could possibly have been framed, but to feel strongly for a self-admitted child-killer? It’s nonsensical to extend your psychosis that far into sycophancy, but there’s no shortage of that on the internet, evidently.
- Zimmerman was not arrested after shooting a child dead until media and socio-political forces called for his head. He followed a kid with a gun, shot him dead, claimed self defence and went on his merry way. The boy he shot, Trayvon Martin, was found guilty until proven innocent as far as the local law enforcement was concerned, because their prejudice blinded their objectivity. It took 44 days and an address by President Obama before a trial was finally considered and an investigation was conducted. That’s ridiculous by any means.
- The fact that Trayvon was deemed suspicious enough to follow, in defiance of a 911 operator that told him not to, is suspect. Trayvon was wearing rolled up khakis, Jordan sneakers and a hoodie. On anybody else this just appears to be the way teenagers dress, on black youth this screamed “SUSPICIOUS THUG”. Let’s be real for a minute: He was targeted because he was black, and was killed as a result. Had he not been targeted, he would not be 6 feet underground today. Get riled.
- There is a public sullying of Trayvon’s character now that the case is finished. He’s physically dead, but now people are trying to use any biased and selective forces they can in order to paint him out to be a dangerous young boy and kill any positive esteem of him too. Trayvon didn’t have a weapon nor was he MMA trained. Zimmerman was, and had a criminal history of violence. These are facts, yet, people insist that Trayvon must have been the thug. Why? Because if he’s black and does what a teenager does, then he’s a thug. He was pictured holding a gun (though we don’t know if it was truly him because all we see is a black hand holding a gun, and not the wielder’s face), in a state where owning a gun is legal, in a state where rifles are literally marketed to toddlers, yet people are giving him trouble for this? Zimmerman actually had a gun, and shot a kid, but that’s not the same I suppose.
- Zimmerman, when asked if he regretted doing it and if he would change anything if he could, said that he didn’t and he wouldn’t. He killed a kid who he thought was suspicious enough to follow, and didn’t regret it. A sane person would answer “I wish I’d never left my car and just let the kid be - perhaps I could alert the police and they would handle it like they’re trained to.” Nope, not Zimmerman. He doesn’t see Trayvon as a human being. He saw him as a threat to his social order, and killed the boy in cold blood - without regret. Sickening, to say the least.
There are so many more reasons why you should be outraged, but none of them should have to do with the jurors. The laws in place allow things like this to happen. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law essentially permits the slaughtering of another human being in the event that you “feel” they have murderous intent towards you. Basically, if you feel threatened by anybody, and can tell a good story in the absence of witnesses, then you can shoot them dead without consequence. When a reckless law makes such allowances, it is perfectly legal to have murderers acquitted of any potential charges. This brings us to a paradoxical state where the legal justice system demonstrates how well it both works and fails, in America. Outraged? You should be. It could have been Trayvon that was attacked first and was trying to stand his ground. Alas, we will never know because all we have are the “unbiased” accounts of a killer, and one dead little boy without a voice to tell his side.
Zimmerman may have not been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, but he’s no American hero, and should not be supported as such. If you think otherwise, then you are part of the problem in America.
Your opinionated friend,
[Front page of a major tabloid]
I don’t usually pay any attention to tabloids, but this one was just ridiculous. Not only was this plastic surgery fiasco pure speculation, the pictures used were completely unrelated to be sensationalist. A sensationalism that was unwarranted, to say the least.
Underneath the heading it reads “…to protect the one thing that’s most important to her: her looks”. What on Earth? Are we actually judging her life to the extent that we know how much she adores her physique in comparison to her child? Imagine you’re pregnant and some keyboard warrior attempts to convince the public that you’re neglectful of your child because of vanity. You’d flip your shit! Just the other day the tabloids were running pieces on how the PREGNANT Kim Kardashian was turning into a whale, getting fatter and taking less care of herself. Now the tabloids are shitting on her for (allegedly) doing what they wanted all along? Deplorable, at best.
I did not bother buying the magazine, but from the front cover it appears that the “plastic surgery” is referring to facial enhancement (botox, lifts, etc). These are all local (only affect the targeted area) procedures. How on bloody Earth will it affect the child? It wont. However, it’s still going to turn heads and make tabloid readers cast their eyes in judgement.
Who are we to manage the way a woman handles her pregnancy, anyway? We champion for pro-choice and a woman’s right to her body. Yet, when one does something that we may not agree with, we judge in the vilest of ways. We’re not Kim K, and her life is her own. We don’t need to give ourselves heart attacks over pregnant mothers wearing a bit more make up than usual, and we don’t need to bother ourselves with sensationalist media.
Live and let live. It’s significantly less effort.
Simple. It’s poorly worded. It suggests that you cannot have a cake and be allowed to eat it. What, then, is the essence of having a cake?
There’s this game, called Telephone, where your friends and you stand in a circle and one phrase is passed from person to person via word of mouth (whispered in your friend’s ear). You are not allowed to have the phrase repeated to you, so you must tell the person beside you the phrase as you think you heard it. By the end of the circle, the terminal member must repeat the phrase aloud to the group, and it is compared with the original message by the first member.
This game almost always ends in disaster.
As you see the message being passed from person to person, giggles in tow, you can only imagine how screwed up the message has become. By the end of the circle, it’s made clear that people are bad at passing messages word of mouth without having it change dramatically.
Such is the case with this phrase. The original, purportedly (i.e. Wikipedia), was something along the lines of “You cannot eat your cake, while at the same time still keep it”. Meaning that as you enjoy your cake, you will incidentally have less and less of it less — it’s the consequence of enjoying it.
So what’s the moral of this story?
Take everything you hear with a grain of salt, because society is just one giant game of telephone, and we’re not exempt from screw-ups. Not in the slightest.
// Could be better, old sport, but only marginally. This silver screened story unfolds as well as any of your much acquainted romanticised flicks should, albeit with a twist (1920s pun intended, copyright Nzube Inc.). Its quirky characters, and charming play doesn’t fail to capture the audience’s heart, and will have you rooting for the lives of those who gloss and glitter and bathe in superfluous excess — however corrupt that rumours may allege them to be. Its short comings near terminus are aptly compensated for by its strong (though perhaps mildly rushed) beginning, and that’s why "The Great Gatsby" (produced in part by Jay-Z) scores itself 8 Canary-Yellow Superchargers out of 10.
PS: The answer is yes, I liked the music, however eclectic it may have been.
Starting tonight (May 20th) begins my (almost) week-long Facebook hiatus. It will be hard fought; it will be painful, but it will also be a humbling experience.
I don’t quite consider myself a Facebook addict, but I will not underscore my dependence on the social networking site. It’s hard for me to go an hour without checking my news feed, let alone a day. This will be five days - without warning and without notifying those who are so accustomed to my undeniable presence on Facebook.
Tonight I deactivated my account.
Tomorrow begins the first full day of
the rest of my life my Facebook Five Challenge. Hopefully, if I last long enough, I will be reactivating my account no earlier than Sunday night.
In the brave words of Obama, “here goes everything”! See you when I do, World!
Follow along below. Updates will be edited into the post as I go.
Note: Quotations above are not guaranteed to be accurate, nor factitious in any way.
Read more …