Is the US doomed?

A new Pew Research Center Poll was published this week  concerning the impact of the news media and colleges/universities on society and I’m not entirely sure why I’m surprised by the results, but I am.

“A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year.”

The poll goes on to say:

As recently as two years ago, most Republicans/Republican leaners held a positive view of the role of colleges and universities. In September 2015, 54% of Republicans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country; 37% rated their impact negatively”

By 2016, Republicans’ ratings of colleges and universities were mixed (43% positive, 45% negative).

Now, nearly two-thirds of conservative Republicans (65%) say colleges are having a negative impact, compared with just 43% of moderate and liberal Republicans.

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I’m really curious as to why the increase has been so drastic in such little time. I’m in no way an advocate of everyone going to college. I don’t believe you HAVE to go to college to be successful. Hell, I’m a college graduate (in debt) who’s working at a job that doesn’t require a degree. College isn’t for everybody (and it’s way too expensive), but I’d never say that it’s having a negative impact on society. I think that doctors, engineers, etc and their college degrees are positively impacting society. If we’re talking in terms of personal debt, then I could see viewing it in a negative light, but what other possible reasons are there?

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The other information that surprised me in this poll is how distrusting everyone has become of the media.

Democrats are divided in their views of the effects of the national news media. Nearly half of Democrats/Democratic leaners say the news media has a negative impact on the country (46%) while about as many (44%) view its impact positively.

This marks a major shift from just a year ago, when 33% of Democrats said the national news media had a positive effect and 59% said  it had a negative effect.

Currently, 85% of Republicans/Republican leaners say the news media has a negative effect on the way things are going in the country, up 76% two years ago and 68% in 2010. 

As a person who went to college for journalism, this is hard to hear. Yes, it’s absolutely true that most news sources have some level of bias and it’s fair to question what you hear instead of blindly believing it, but it’s not hard to find relatively unbiased sources.

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This is a pretty basic summary that can be found with a simple Google search

NPR, BBC, AP, Reuters and FactCheck  are my go-to sites to check the information I’ve heard from mainstream media.

Please, instead of accepting what you hear from the president/Twitter trolls about the media being liars and “fake news” (which honestly, Repub distrust being up 76% from two years ago has to be majorly influenced by that), don’t just decide to be distrusting of all media. Do some work and find whatever unbiased source satisfies you. They are out there.

Why do you think Republicans’ views on colleges/universities has become so negative in such a short amount of time? What are your views on college? What about mainstream media? Do you trust it? What are your favorite news sources?

 

Immortality, Five Years Later

My first WordPress article, posted in 2012, was titled “Immortality.” Five years (and a ton of writers block) later, I’ve decided to revisit this post to see how my thoughts have changed.

In a sense, we are all crashing to our death from the top story of our birth to the flat stones of the churchyard and wondering with an immortal Alice in Wonderland at the patterns of the passing wall. This capacity to wonder at the trifles–no matter the imminent peril–these asides of the spirit, these footnotes in the volume of life are the highest forms of consciousness.

This excerpt from “Lectures on Literature” by Vladimir Nabokov is a lot deeper than I originally found it five years ago. I had a very shallow interpretation of his words; that eventually we will die and because we don’t know when death is coming, we have to “wonder at the trifles,” otherwise we won’t have time to reflect when death does come. I related this to writing, in that it’s the only way to achieve immortality. We may die but our words will live on; our writing evolves with us and the only way to reach that highest form of consciousness is to continue writing and evolving.

Looking back on this blog entry, I’d like to think my thoughts are much more coherent when put to paper (well, computer screen) now. While my interpretation hasn’t entirely changed, it’s certainly much less shallow.

Nabokov is right: we are crashing to our death from the moment we are born. We’re never as young as we are in this moment, while it’s simultaneously the oldest we’ve ever been and we never know when there’ll be a stone with our name on it six feet above us in a churchyard. While we’re living, for the most part, we aren’t constantly in a state of existential crisis (though it’s certainly a common occurrence). We are “wondering at the patterns of the passing wall.” That is, we are in the moment and focused on what’s happening in our life as it is happening and has happened and we’re planning our futures despite not knowing if that future will come for us.

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This kid gets it

There’s always imminent peril in our lives – just because we aren’t focused on the fact we’re growing closer to our death than we are to our birth – doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I believe Nabokov is saying that human’s ability to not constantly be living in a state of existential crisis is the highest form of consciousness. We know death is inevitable and yet we are still able to enjoy the trifles, even if they are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

But this is where I am uncertain if I agree (and also unsure if this is a thought I’ll be able to coherently express).

Is it fair to call events in life “trifles” just because they’re insignificant in the face of death? Yes, we will die. Yes, most of what the average person does with their life will make no difference after death. But unless you are specifically living your life for some sort of afterlife or are doing significant things that will impact humanity, isn’t enjoying your time on Earth the whole point of living?

Maybe it’s because I’m borderline atheist/agnostic and am doing nothing significant with my life, but I believe the trifles are all I have. I wont be able to take anything to the grave (or wherever they’ll put me after I donate my body) so why shouldn’t I wonder at everything? I don’t plan on having children, my family will be long gone (here I am, assuming I’ll live to be old) and I haven’t done anything significant that will leave a mark on the world after I’m gone. I will have no legacy. Everything I have done and will do are going to die with me.

But there’s my dilemma.

Everything is a trifle because it’s insignificant in the face of death while everything is simultaneously not trifles because it’s all I have to live for.

Is there any point of living if we’re only focused on death? Or is there any point of living life when death is the only thing we’re guaranteed?

Existentialism is a bitch.

Together We’re Invincible

It was nearing the second hour I’d been standing in line. I was one of the lucky people who had a spot indoors. It was one of those frigid days nobody wants by the time March rolls around, but you aren’t surprised when it does because we’re in Michigan. I had already done my fair share of people watching (concerts are the best place to do this. Wal-Mart is the second runner up.) There were three very tall, average-looking men standing in front of me who couldn’t have been older than 25. From what I could hear they drove in from New York just to attend this concert. They seemed like nice enough men, would be pretty decent body guards, but I really hoped they wouldn’t be standing in front of me. I was caught by surprise when a security guard shouted that the gates were about to open, and that everyone with floor tickets would have to find the table with wristbands before they could go into the pit. No sooner had he finished his sentence that the gates open and people started running.

I had been to the Palace of Auburn Hills before, but this was my first concert at the arena. I hadn’t expected that people would start running, nor did I have any idea where they were running to, but I decided in the moment that the safest bet was to follow the three large men that had been standing in front of me. Even if they didn’t know where they were going they would definitely keep people from trampling me to death. They did know where they were going, though, because they led me to a large table set up in the middle of the walkway. I sheepishly handed my ticket over to the woman standing behind the table and in return she gave me a two-page piece of paper. She must have noticed the confused look I had because she laughed and said “it’s a waiver, dear, you’re in the pit and anything could happen.” If I wasn’t nervous before, this is where they set in. I had been to Warped tour before and I swore that was the last time I’d ever get stuck in any crazy pits. I assumed I wouldn’t have that issue at a Muse concert, but signing off the waiver and getting my wristband made me doubt my decision to get floor tickets.
By the time I made it down to the floor it was pretty tightly packed despite the concert not starting for another two hours. I managed to weave my way across the floor to the right side of the stage but once I got there I had nowhere to go. I stood off to the side by myself trying to think of the best way to get to the barrier. A sudden hand on my shoulder snapped me away from my scheming. “Hey, you’re the girl that was behind us the whole time in line, right? My group has some room on the barrier and you could totally fit…unless you want to stay in the middle of the pit.” I was so caught off guard that I couldn’t think of any response other than a massive grin and a squeaky “thanks.” I followed him to the front of the crowd and claimed my spot next to him on the barrier. It was the happiest I had been in a long time and the concert hadn’t even begun.

“So, why are you a Muse fan?” he asked, catching me off guard for what seemed like the billionth time that night. Many people would probably answer “because I like their music” or “because Matt, Dom and Chris are really attractive.”Both of which are extremely accurate but neither are the main reason I’m a fan. I knew the answer to this question was going to take a while, and from my hesitation I’m sure he realized this, too.
If you would have told me more than five years ago that a band consisting of three British men in their mid-thirties would be one of the most important and influential things in my life I would have laughed in disbelief and thought you were somewhat crazy. Nobody can feel so strongly or attached to people that just make music and don’t even know you exist, right? I would have been very, very wrong. You see, when you go through difficult things in life you tend to become attached to the person or thing that helps get you through them.

I started listening to Muse after escaping an abusive relationship, and while I did have people helping me through the repercussions, the music Muse created was the only constant I had. This was the first band I’d found that had a song catering to any emotion I was possibly feeling at any given time and the first band that I could relate to. Whenever I was depressed, angry, or in the middle of an anxiety attack all I needed to do was turn on a Muse album and it was able to calm me down. They were also the band that cured my loneliness. I’ve always been a quirky person, with a love for conspiracy theories and deep space exploration, neither of which are ideal when searching for friends with mutual interests. There were three British men that shared these mutual interests with me, though, so when I was lonely I’d watch interviews. Sometimes they’d make me laugh, sometimes they’d make me cry, but they were always there to cure my loneliness and make me feel less ashamed of my interests.
I was snapped out of my thought process when the lights dimmed and the band went on stage. Hands holding cameras and cell phones shot up and everyone went crazy. They began playing their song “Invincible” (the song that bears the most meaning to me because of the moving lyrics) and I felt like I had run into a brick wall. I instantly began crying. With tears streaming down my face I looked behind me and saw I wasn’t the only one with tears in my eyes and that’s when it hit me.
Being in the front of the crowd, surrounded by thousands people, I realized that I wasn’t alone in my strong feelings towards them (read: obsession). I realized that they mean much more than that to many others. I realized that sometimes, three British men and the music they create can make more of an impact on your life than they, or you, know. I turned to the man standing next to me and said “I’m a fan because they saved my life.” He looked at me, tears in his eyes, too, and nodded. I knew he understood.

Muse

I want to be the girl you write about
when you’re tired but cannot sleep
because your mind is preoccupied
with thoughts of me.
I want you to write about being in love
with my smile, laugh, and sex appeal
and how it drives you insane.
I want you to write about your past and future
how things have changed for the better
and how, with me,  you want to spend forever.
I want you to write about the things you miss
the most when we’re apart
and how you ache to be together.
I want to know you’re kept up at night writing
about me because I’m your only
Muse.