1. I don’t have a driver’s license, although I know how to drive.
2. I’ve been to Disney World 9 or 10 times.
3. When I was 16, I met Neil Gaiman (at the time, the pinnacle of humanity to me) at a book signing, and I was so flustered and tongue-tied upon speaking to him he ordered me to give him a hug. It’s still one of the better hugs I’ve received.
1. I’m a cat person, not a dog person. Not that you can’t be both, and not that there aren’t SOME dogs I like (@mahleemak’s poodles, for example, and most puppies, hahaha), but on the whole dogs and I are not each other’s biggest fans. This is probably just lingering resentment from a childhood fear - I’m still a little bit scared of extremely large dogs. Most of my friends are really into dogs and none of them have disowned me yet, so I guess I’m okay.
I adore cats, but I’ve never been able to have one, since my mom is allergic to all things furry and adorable. But someday! Someday soooon.
2. Hot beverages generally bore me, I lose interest about halfway through. I drink iced things, outside, even in the deepest depths of winter.
3. My favorite colors are pink (I can never decide what shade), mint green, cranberry red, and azure blue.
I’m the worst at parties. Not like, small to medium-sized gatherings of people, those are great, but enormous “college” parties with many many people and very loud music and cheap beer. They generally just overwhelm and upset me, but I’ve come to terms with this part of myself, and luckily at Bryn Mawr it’s not a big issue. XD
I’m getting better at it, but generally I have a REALLY BAD sense of direction (especially at night, never go anywhere with me at night), and unless I know a place really well I have trouble remembering street names or what corner I’m supposed to turn at or whatever - so I just memorize things by sight. This makes me completely useless when OTHER people ask me for directions, though.
Stranger: Can you tell me how to get to PLACE?
Me: Uh…go past the blue thing, until you see that one store, with the…stuff…I have to go.
(Once I got lost in my own neighborhood where I have lived my entire life.)
The professor was talking about acquisitions and mergers, and how diversifying doesn’t just mean within the company but also buying others, etc. TEACHER: This is just like what happened with NBC and — [she can’t remember] — you know, with — [looking to us for the company’s name] ME: Comcast!…
The Social Network & My Generation an open letter to my friend Peter Travers
Hey man! So, I finally watched The Social Network the other night, and today I read your review of it, curious about your claim that this film defines my generation. First let me say, I agree that the movie is impeccable, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I have nothing but praise and admiration for the folks who made it. But on behalf of we who are inheriting a new earth connected by the Internet, I must raise my hand to say that while Mr. Fincher’s Facebook drama certainly nails a lot of today’s more ominous trends, this story only tells half of our tale.
You say that technology is winning a battle against actual human contact, and that we have become a nation of narcissists, reshaping ourselves online in the hope of being “friended” by others. First of all dude, the cool kids don’t really use “friend” as a verb like that ;o) But in all seriousness, you and I share some of those concerns which The Social Network so poignantly portrays. Whether judging a person’s worth by Twitter followers or a movie’s merit by box office scores, the Information Age has introduced some disturbing new ways for us to measure our culture and ourselves based on trivial statistics and exclusive hierarchies. The low self-esteem and obsession with social status represented by Mr. Eisenberg’s protagonist speak to that brilliantly. And yes, using new communication technology in this way does indeed have the potential to alienate us, to stratify us, and ultimately to weaken the human race.
However! Mr. Travers — I know because of your work and because we’ve had a bunch of awesome conversations — you are a man of letters and a lover of cinema. Well, aren’t the printed word and the motion picture both technologies that blew open doors to new forms of human expression? Technology is not fighting a “battle against actual human contact” any more now than it was then. The Social Network sounds a pertinent alarm against some arguably unhealthy ways our culture is currently using new communication technology, but to say that this film defines a generation is to dismiss the sense of community, the shared empathy, and the collective beauty that our new connectivity has allowed us this past decade. This generation, my generation, we are reaching out to each other, communicating with one another, and creating a shared world in ways no prior generation could have.
Yes, you could focus on the friend-counting narcissists, but you could also focus on countless meaningful relationships formed across national borders and cultural boundaries that would have been logistically impossible before sites like Facebook. And yes of course, there’s the spam-bots slinging Viagra, but there’s also unprecedented opportunities for independent artists and entrepreneurs on sites like Etsy and KickStarter. Or how about the simple fact that I’m sitting here writing this in New Orleans and you’ll read it by tomorrow in New York, along with thousands of movie-lovers like us from all over the world, who will also chime in with their own opinions?
These relationships, these opportunities, these connections, these are the unique blessings of my generation. So who’s gonna make the movie about us? I don’t know, but if I had to guess, it’ll be some group of kids who’ve never physically met, living in all different places, all far from Hollywood, trading ideas, uploading videos, and working together via one or another social network.
@saynotozombies is one of my two best friends. I met her online in 2003. Since then she’s helped pull me through a breakdown and several nasty depressive episodes, and I’ve watched as she became a mother and dealt with everything that that meant. We’ve made transcontinental visits and I knit a freaking baby blanket for her son. Technology is the reason we are able to sustain our friendship, able to communicate every day. I plan to visit her in the spring/summer but if I’m not able to I know I’ll be able to keep speaking with her.
And my other best friend, @herestothefuture? She may have been someone I met in college but the sharing of common fannish spaces on the internet has always been a huge part of our friendship. And being able to IM her or carry on a conversation through tumblr reblogs or fill a Livejournal post with fifty random comments is part of why we stay so close even though we don’t get to see each other for months at a time.
I could keep listing people I’ve met online that I count as friends and have met - @codalion and @shazari come first to mind - but really, I’ve been saying for years that there’s no distinction between “internet friends” and “real friends.” Facebook statuses have nothing to do with the ways in which technology can bring us closer together.
My world would be a very different one (and I would be a very different person, in many ways), without the friends I’ve made on the supposedly isolating internet. It would be an emptier place, certainly. That’s pretty obvious, but sometimes you just have to step back and really look at how these connections have changed everything, because it’s one of the most incredible things ever.
I wouldn’t have made it through high school in one piece, been able to become friends with my BFF in college before we even got there, be writing the things I’m writing, fanfic or otherwise. I wouldn’t have been able to discover so many kindred spirits all over the place without whom I now cannot even begin to imagine my life.
There’s been countless times when an IM window popping up, or an email, an incredibly silly post or a piece of mail, has made an otherwise terrible day salvageable, or a great day even greater, or an ordinary one special. So, I guess, THANKS GUYS. I love you all so much, I will never stop getting my feelings all over you, DEAL WITH IT.
Ask people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness – especially a serious one like Schizophrenia – what they think about media coverage of the issue and certain words come up time and again. Words like: ‘offensive’, ‘stigmatising’, ‘sensationalist’, ‘inaccurate’ and ‘distorted’.
Similar terms are also used to describe the depiction of mental illness across the wider media landscape, including drama and entertainment.
The natural next question to ask is: why? Why is it that this overwhelming sense of negativity is what people are left with when they read newspapers or watch television programmes where mental illness is featured?
Indeed - why does it matter if ‘Schizo’ or “Psycho” is used in a headline, or if stories featuring mental illness also tend to make links to violent behaviour?
Partly, all of this matters because of the place many people living with a mental illness feel they hold in our society – one of isolation, fear and shame. Time and again research (in numerous countries) has shown that despite years of vigorous campaigning to change public attitudes around mental illness, negative stereotypes remain and that these attitudes can make recovery for some individuals all the more harder.
The idea of someone with a mental illness as “dangerous” or “deranged” or “threatening” persists and – research also shows – is a common impression reinforced by media reporting. In essence, the way the media reports mental illness does matter. A lot.
To find an eloquent summing up of why what is written and reported by the media matters we need look no further than the seminal book by Otto Wahl, “Media Madness.”
In it Wahl writes: “Media depictions, in their persistent and pervasive inaccurate stereotypes perpetuate the negative attitudes of the public toward people who experience mental disorders and thus help to maintain the stigma, rejection and discrimination that has added to their burden.
“For people with mental illness the images of mental illness that the media currently present have very important, very personal, and very painful consequences.”
For a more personal perspective, take a look at what one person who has lived with psychosis (and who is also a mental health campaigner) has to say on the matter: “People touched by mental illness - and if that’s not you, it’s your brother, your mother, your niece or the bloke sitting across the desk from - get a raw deal. Job applications get thrown in the bin, friends don’t know what to say to you.
“We listen smarting down the pub, the constant butt of unthinking jokes it would be intolerable to make in civilized company at the expense of ethnic minorities or the physically disabled.
“But what makes it worse is sitting in your own home, listening to a Radio 4 discussion about someone or other being mocked as ‘psychotic … ha ha ha!’. I’ve experienced psychosis - and you know what? It’s not very funny”.
Research on media coverage of mental illness is a growing field. In recent years, as campaigners and mental health service users have tried to encourage the press to rethink and refine the way the issue is covered, studies have emerged to show that the volume of negative – and potentially stigmatizing – coverage remains extremely high.
Indeed the Press Complaints Commission has latterly recognised coverage of mental illness as worthy of concerted and individual attention. Will Gore, a spokesperson for the PCC points out that the organization is working closely with editors, journalists and campaign groups to improve the situation.
The Code of Practice enforced by the PCC, has been updated as recently as 2006 on the issue and is, Gore says, very clear: “The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s…physical or mental illness or disability.” Moreover, “details of an individual’s…physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.”
Gore adds: “We have long-recognised the particular importance of raising standards when it comes to reporting on mental health issues. In recent years we have stepped up our efforts to raise awareness of the continued need to avoid the type of reporting that can breach the Code and cause distress to individuals as a result.
“People with mental health problems can be particularly vulnerable to inaccurate, intrusive or discriminatory press reporting. That’s why we believe it so vital that the PCC plays a proactive role in this arena”.
For the past year and a half I have, courtesy of a Fulbright scholarship, been conducting research on coverage of mental illness in the US and British mainstream press with a team of researchers at Berkeley, California. I’ll be presenting some of the key findings to Guardian journalists this Friday - including how coverage has changed over the past 25 years (and how the Guardian stacks up against broader trends).
What my research – and other studies – clearly show is that there is no room for complacency on this issue. Editors and journalists have a significant role to play in the type of coverage of mental illness - and those people living with it – get. It is an area that warrants our attention and our action.