Category Archives: Millennial POV

My 2Cents: Internet Privacy, the No Mans Land for Governments

I’m not sure if you have seen this article on Buzzfeed, but it outlines how a sophomore at Ohio University, Rachel Cassidy, has basically been attacked by the forces of the internet. Why? For allegedly being a featured in a public sex video as a willing participant and allegedly pressing charges for sexual assault. Where the situation gets hairy is when an international “watchdog” organization who identifies female abusers of the justice system at the expense of their male victims, identified Cassidy such an abuser. As punishment, they have brought on hell, fire, and brimstone on this student,and she is not even the right person.

There are various aspects to this story that make me tilt my head to the side, squint at the screen, and potentially attract attention from my co-workers. Questioning looks aside, the big questions that come to mind are: how in the world did this happen and how have we gotten this place?

Right to Privacy?

Peter Nolan, the featured member of Crimes Against Fathers organization looks to correct the government’s inability to respond in an appropriate fashion to the plight of men. Slow government reaction time seems to come up repeatedly in issues as local as the need for a stoplight at an intersection to as international as a response to the war in Syria. Although we can point the finger at the inefficiency of our governments (even though they were designed that way), what really is the issue is the complete lack of privacy while online. According to the organization, appropriate punishment was to release all of her personal information. The result? A colossal case of cyber-bullying requiring Cassidy to completely eliminate her web presence and take time off of school.

In our digital world, where it seems privacy is more of a luxury rather than a right, where is the legislation and the government protections for us, the individual? Instead of shutting down the government because a political party can’t move past a battle lost, why not actually take on a real problem: creating a solution for our loss of privacy in the digital realm. But who’s responsibility is it to protect users? The provider of the service, like Facebook or Twitter? Local authorities? International governments? The NSA? (since they have a proven track record of snooping the interwebs?) There isn’t an apparent institution that could logically take on internet privacy, calling into question if our current government systems are even relevant.

The Justice System

Another aspect that our current governments can’t seem to get right is how to deal with criminals and those taking advantage of the justice system. One of Nolan’s central arguments worth discussing is the amount of abuse in the justice system. At least in the United States, the very system designed to protect the rights of all people has been reduced to a battle between who has acquired the pricier lawyer. With such constraints how can true justice be served? Furthermore, with social media a microphone has been provided to just about anyone with an opinion, individuals are defenseless to libel and slander on the internet. The target of Peter Nolan’s attack, Rachel Cassidy, has had her life destroyed for something that she didn’t even do. As great it is to have such a free flow of information, there is no oversight or no safety net to protect users. Should we be asking our governments to step up in this way? Or will they never be able to appropriately take on this task?

I for one, see this as a HUGE problem. With plans to get the entire population online, there are only going to be increased issues with privacy and power on the internet. Digging our heads in the sand on this issue, is not a solution. But educating ourselves and actively participating in our government is.

The importance of having Faith

The other night,  I had a conversation with my devout Catholic father about why more young people were not involved in the church. He initially pointed to video games and movies and the rush of our modern day lives. The more we talked and the more I thought about it the more I kept thinking about how lonely it can be in your 20’s. 

When our parents were our age they had the house, the kids, the family near by because no one ever left, and the worship or school community where they could commiserate with other burnt out parents. Despite the flaws of religious institutions and the harm many have inflicted on members of the community, nothing has the gathering force of a well supported place of worship. In all of these ways it was less common for our parents to experience feelings of isolation and lonliness, because they had no choice but to be surrounded by the nosy neighbors or the very involved community members.

While I loved living in Pittsburgh, feeling close to a community was what I was missing. This whole time that I’ve been in Florida I’ve taken notice of how being home is not as suffocating as it used to be or as restricting. Going out of my comfort zone is what I needed at the time. I needed to learn about what I wanted out of life and truly destroy who I was before and grow into the adult I need to be. I’m still not sure what that looks like, but that’s just part of the adventure. Being able to be at my childhood church has contributed to creating that sense of community.  Where do you go to find that sense of community?

Life: It’s Like an Outdoor Shower

They say that in times of transition that we learn the most about ourselves. I think its mostly because we are caught in our most vulnerable state, like bathing in an outdoor shower. You’re outside, so its out of your (and society’s) comfort zone and feels a bit risque, but yet so nice to bask in your vulnerability. The more you let go and enjoy the freedom, the closer you dance with the danger of being caught by a passersby, or unsuspecting comrade. If you are caught in this excruciatingly mortifying predicament, you find yourself making a crash landing back to reality and become acutely aware of your surroundings. Once you recover from complete mortification, you try to grasp at whatever reverie you were in because you were on the brink of some wonderful revelation.

That whole process, though painful for the psyche and the accidental Peeping Tom, is how I have sort of felt after each transition: graduating from college, graduating from graduate school, and accepting the fact that I was unhappy with where my life was, etc. I would find myself lost in the calamity that is the ending of a phase, only to be left with the acute awareness of the beauty and the foul nature of our reality. For example, when I completed graduate school I was completely overwhelmed with the opportunities and the deeply held belief that I could single-handedly be involved in “saving the world,” but I was also overwhelmed by the possibility of becoming a complete failure left to live off the streets for the rest of my days.

But as I have been navigating this current transition, the quote from the great philosopher Epictetus continues to come to mind: It is not what happens to you, but how you react that matters. You’ve gotta trust a man that was once a slave, then became a philosopher, and then was banished when it comes to dealing with life’s challenges… and if he was able to focus on the present, then why can’t I?

I, as well as the rest of my type-A peers, get so wrapped up in “the plan” and when things don’t follow it exactly, we feel like the world is crashing in on our outdoor shower. How have we let ourselves see these “bumps in the road” as negative and wrong, when really – it’s just life? If we just embraced ourselves —childhood battle scars, muffin tops, and all— for who we are, would we be able to see through these catastrophes and see them for what they are: unfortunate events? Well, while you scramble for a towel, I’m going to practice flaunting and celebrating the spontaneous for it is a practiced skill, not a talent.

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The Wall Finally Broke: The Lessons I Learned From Failing

Last week, I learned about the law of attraction and how if you put something out into the universe, the universe will respond. Now, I totally thought this was a load of bull because, let’s be real, we are the masters of our own destiny …. right? Well, a couple Tuesdays ago I was lamenting to a friend of mine about how depleted I felt because I was so miserable at my job. I equated it to banging my head against a wall and the wall was showing no sign of damage nor was it causing enough pain that it would force me to stop. It was only a matter of time until one of them did. The next day, my boss called me in for a heart to heart. By the end of the conversation and a parting of ways was settled upon. Day after that, I happened upon a free week long teleconference by Christine Hassler that brought together experts on how to “upgrade” the various aspects of your life.

Call it coincidence or call it the power of the law of attraction, either way I found myself recuperating from the all too common challenge that all people, especially 20-somethings face: failure. Learning how to overcome and build back better from failure is crucial to succeeding in life, especially for those of us who aspire to be influential in this world. It is not enough to have excellent ideas or develop a beautiful vision, but truly successful leaders know how to learn from failing. I have seen this advice given by several thought leaders, and often thought about how that could possibly relate to me.

Reflecting back on my professional experience, I realized that I struggled to bring the best version of myself to work and allowed myself to fall into a vortex of misery and whining. I avoided making new friends and focused solely on how I was stuck in this awful situation with no solution. As awful as it was, I can now say I learned so much about myself and what parameters I need to be successful.  Some of those parameters are: a supportive and positive work environment, the sun (I guess you really can’t take Florida out of the girl), and the ability to connect with diverse cultures.

What about you? How did you overcome a failure and what lessons did you learn from that experience? What are some parameters that you need to be successful?

Our World is Changing, but Are We?

I went to a community discussion several weeks ago in anticipation as of the DOMA decision announcement. And as we discussed gay rights abroad, gay rights at home, and the right to marry, among other things, one of the panelists reminded us that nothing was permanent. He pointed to the Roe v. Wade decision, a Supreme Court decision that was seen as a huge victory for women’s rights. Forty years later, and across the country legislation to restrict a woman’s ability to have an abortion is becoming increasingly popular, making Roe v. Wade practically irrelevant.

As the rest of the week unfurled, other historic events took place in the marble halls that house our federal government ranging from removing the protections of minority voter rights in the Supreme Court to immigration policy reform in the Senate. All of these momentous decisions will have direct impacts on our daily lives….eventually. What actually impacts us today didn’t even get discussed before Congress took off for their summer homes: student loan debt.

Caring about what happens in D.C., let alone our state capitals, is time consuming and often so depressing that it is just better to find more funny cat memes (guilty!) But, sparring with your Facebook frenemy over the role of government in our lives isn’t particularly helpful either. What happened to the book burning, thunderous protesting, in-your-face statements of how we feel about our government? Are we unknowingly living in scarily realistic version of the Hunger Games? Or is it that we have given up on the system before we even tried to change it?

 I always think back on what a friend of mine said when John Mayer came out with “Waiting on the World to Change.” While I kept turning up the car radio whenever John’s magical voice would grace the speakers, my friend Amit would turn it down in disgust and say, “Why do we have to wait for change when we can make it happen now?”

As this is something I struggle with, what are the best ways to get involved in changing the world? How do you even pick which one to devote your time to?

The Internship – the unexpected lesson

Turning an idea into a reality is often easier said than done. Everyday I open up my Twitter account or favorite news page to inspiring stories of people who are turning their back on conventional life paths to pursue their dreams.

Although these success stories kickstart my little dream machine, the logical side of me starts to wonder: could that really happen for anyone? Or are there a set conditions that allow these “everyday” people to rise to the top and live out their dreams?

From a Millennial’s perspective, I desperately want to believe that hard work and belief will pay off (a la every Disney movie ever made.) But it has become increasingly hard for me to buy into all of that, especially when today’s reality is terrifying and ridden with strife.

This debate was played out in the feel-good summer movie: The Internship with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. As two middle aged workers refusing to become obsolete, Wilson and Vaughn take internships with Google in an attempt to turn their lives around. Critics will note that the film followed a similar storyline to Wedding Crashers (a favorite of mine) and other Owen + Vince films, but The Internship warmed my heart by showing how the “entitled” millennials have really been robbed of their ability to dream with reckless abandon and believe that they can achieve those dreams.

Well, much like The Internship I hope to find real people who have achieved their dream lives by opening their own businesses or starting their own non-profits. I plan to share their experiences and their insights so that we can learn and be inspired by the changemakers of tomorrow.