Green Day is Media Literate


Yeah, I think we can all agree that, if there is one group of people on this earth who are media literate, they are Green Day.

You may note that this is the only time I will ever be referencing Green Day ever. Nothing against them, I just don’t know enough about that band to ever refer accurately again. And also, they’re not very appropriate. And they kind of creep me out, too. So…I’m gonna avoid them at all costs.

So, uh, yeah, media literacy. What exactly is that?

Well, it’s basically the fancy-shmancy, scholarly, textbook term for understanding that not everything you hear is true, especially on the internet, in the news, in magazines, on Twitter, etc.

I am currently taking a class right now that focuses on teaching media literacy. The goal of the course is to get you to understand that you can’t just accept information from one source. You have to take in all aspects, view points, opinions, and so on before trying to decide where you stand on something. You should never just accept information because someone with “higher authority” told it to you. You should always question and try to think about things for yourself.

Of course, this is just a theory, and, like with all theories, it’s easier said than done. After all, we humans just love to stick our two cents into the jukebox of life, trying to find some personal jam we can groove to. We simply must include how we feel about a certain topic all the while insisting that our opinion is the correct one–correction, the only correct one.

You can’t even try to deny the above statement. I think we can all agree that the only thing we love more than talking about ourselves (more specifically our feelings) is being right. And don’t even try to go all devil’s advocate up in here, acting like you enjoy being wrong, because you would be a lying sack of dog poo if you did.

Just thought I’d take care of the haters early.

Anyways, as a part of this media course, I was asked to give up all forms of media for 24 hours in order to test my media dependency (and therefore my media literacy). And by all forms of media, I mean all forms–books, newspapers, magazines, the internet, social networks, radio, music, television, photography, advertisements, yada, yada, yada. The list goes on and on and on. All media meant all media.

Seems hard, right? You are absolutely correct.

I couldn’t do it. It was physically impossible for me to give up all forms of media. While I didn’t open any print materials or social networking apps or listen to music or even so much as glance at Google, I couldn’t avoid glimpsing a billboard or hearing a television somewhere off in the distance. By the end of the day, my sister had even started telling me about various events that happened while I was in media lock-down. I mean, come on! She was like a walking newscast, which was against the rules of the project.

So I would have to avoid people, too??

I would have literally had to lock myself away at the local loony bin to physically avoid all forms of media. It was impossible.

And that impossibility started making me a little angry. Shouldn’t we be able to choose when we want to be exposed to media? Why has it become an impossibility to escape “being in the know?” If we want to keep to ourselves and not have information shoved through our eye sockets and up our ear canals, then shouldn’t we be able to do so? When did media become so prevalent that we cannot escape it unless we literally crawl under rocks?

And that’s what made “American Idiot” pop in my head.

I never really got the true message of the song until the day I did my media literacy/dependency experiment. I always thought I was a smart American as per definition of the song and that I was that way solely because I didn’t live off of the tabloids or the evening news or the social media gossip. I was able to tell what was real in the media, and I never accepted anything for what it was reported to be. Therefore, I couldn’t have been an American idiot.

But now I realize that I was and still am and will always be, and that’s because of the American society in which I live.

We’ve all heard the statistic that American citizens are advertised to 2,000-some times a day. But do any of us even realize that we are being advertised to that much? Yes, maybe with TV and radio commercials, but even the ads in apps and the billboards we drive by and the coupons in magazines are all advertisements. Yet we hardly pay attention to them, and sometimes we don’t even recognize they’re there.

And that’s not even considering the music you hear in the distance right now or that was playing softly in the background at that fancy restaurant you went to on your last date. That’s media, too. We’re just so used to it that it’s almost as if it’s natural, as if it’s always been there.

This really makes you think about the ways we live our lives, doesn’t it? How have we fallen victim to involuntary media consumption, and how has it happened so quickly and gone so unnoticed? Part of me wants to say that that’s just the way the world is today so I should go back to not noticing how prevalent media are, but the other part of me says that it’s a problem that needs to be brought forth. That part of me keeps screaming out, trying to say that we’re becoming too homogeneous, too controlled, too docile. It’s almost like 1984 has happened. We really are just puppets of society right now, and the majority of us don’t even realize it.

Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with media; they keep us informed up to the minute and help us keep in touch with one another, which is always great. But, like I said before, we are all becoming a little too homogeneous, docile, and out of touch (ironically) from it. We’re starting to become the same people around the world because we’re consuming gulps of the same mass media that’s produced by the same six or seven major corporations that own everything. So doesn’t it seem like we should be a bit more conscientious about the ideas we are consuming over a couple thousand times a day?

We don’t need to eliminate media from our lives. Coming from a wannabe writer/soon-to-be journalist with an amateur blog, that is the furthest thing from the solution to our media predicament. However, we all need to start thinking about the bigger picture here. How is this gigantic mass media trend affecting the way we are as Americans? How is it (and I don’t mean to go all Karl Marx here, but, for lack of a better word) oppressing us and keeping us from achieving the lifestyles we want to see prevail in our country? Are the big corporations tainting our beliefs by controlling the majority of the media? Should we be worried about society getting to the point where extensive media interference is all that has ever been known?

While I cannot offer any specific answers to any of the above questions (for they are too opinion-specific), I can offer one piece of advice that I have just shown in the previous paragraph: Question! Never accept what you’re told as the truth. Be a watchdog for yourself, for, in reality, you’re the only one who can truly protect your own opinions in the end (no matter how much media interfere). Granted, don’t question the police officer who pulled you over for going 70 in a 50 zone even if you don’t agree with it (unless you have the sudden urge to get arrested). What I’m trying to say is don’t just sit back and accept the first report you hear of the next big hate crime, celebrity scandal, or world conflict. Don’t accept anyone’s answers before you first think about it yourself. I mean, it’s our right as Americans to have our own opinions, so why not take advantage of it? Why just accept the hearsay when it could very well be wrong? Why not do your own research, as brief as it may be?

I mean, the courts don’t rely on hearsay, and that’s because it’s simply unreliable. They do further research, for further research is always needed to show the truth. So if our highest institutions aren’t doing this, why are we? Just think of everything we’re missing!

And if for no other reason, do it because (and I’m pulling out the Green Day card again) idiots are the only ones who never ask questions. And no one likes to be the idiot.

Nerds are better than imbeciles any day.

And This is Why I Hate Math…


I’m good at math. It may take me an hour or two longer to catch onto a new mathematical concept than it does for me to grasp anything else that is poured into my brain, but I do eventually grasp it and memorize it and regurgitate it successfully on a test in order to get A’s. I can do math when I try, therefore I am good at it.

Excuse me while I laugh hysterically at that last paragraph.

Yeah, that’s not being good at math.

Being good at math is comprehending equations and functions and derivatives and understanding what they are and why they exist and what their purpose in life is. Being good at math is being able to learn a simple concept and then take that simple concept and use it in order to figure out a complex, mind-boggling equation. Being good at math is being able to sleep through your basic, college-level calculus class and still get an A.

In other words, being good at math is not being me.

I’ve just always been a person who never understood math for what it was. Yes, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus were all able to be memorized and “mastered,” but they were never able to be understood. No one ever sat me down and explained in simple, average-human-being (and not I’m-Albert-Einstein-e-equals-m-c-squared) terms what math is and why I’m doing it and why it must be done this way and why this theorem will always prove to be true, etc. No one ever broke it down for me, gave me logic to grab on to and remember it by. It was always just, “Here’s the equation. Here’s the steps to solve it. Now go do it.” And for a person who only learns by truly knowing why something is the way it is, that just never works for me.

Learning like this has made me hate math and struggle with the basic concepts. Math homework that would take my sister 20 minutes would take me 40. I just couldn’t do it without thinking hard and long in order to try to bring some reason to it.

And that’s why there’s hatred: I can’t find reason. I hate not knowing things. Granted, there are subjects in life that I’ve realized I will never know, but if something (such as math) is proven at some point to somehow be true and factual, then I just need to know how exactly it is!

A lot of you right now might be thinking, “Um, but math makes perfect sense. It is logical and factual and absolute. How can you not get it when it is what it is, when it is absolutely true?”

I honestly can’t answer you with anything that I haven’t already stated other than this: My brain does not work that way. Nothing for me can ever be simply true. I question everything. My world is not black or white; it is every shade of grey in between. If someone asks me to pick a place to eat for dinner, we will not be eating that night, for there are just too many possibilities and too many options and too many things that can go wrong if I happen to pick such-and-such place and we get there at such-and-such time. Likewise, if someone asks me for their advice, we will be there for seven hours while I talk them through every single option, deeply consider all of the options I have just presented, and then finally decide what I think the best thing for that person to do is. I just can’t jump into anything full speed ahead. I have to sit and think and fully understand every aspect and consequence and angle and decision and outcome before finally deciding and being comfortable with said decision. Grey. I am truly grey.

Maybe that’s why I aspire to be a journalist.

With that being said, I can’t have someone tell me, “Yes, it is this way and no other way because it just is,” and then simply accept it. It is in my nature to question, to wonder why, to not accept the black or white. There’s always grey. I always see the grey. And, unfortunately, that’s a very uncommon trait–especially for math brains, which is why math professors never go out of their way to explain the grey to you. To them, the world is black and white. Being told “it just is” is more than enough reason to agree and understand.

And then there’s me, sitting at my desk, brow furrowed, thinking, But what if it isn’t? It’s human-created and human discovered, so what if it isn’t? How can we ever be sure, even with proofs? What if we’re doing all of this wrong?!?!

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that my genetic makeup doesn’t allow for me to understand math. It’s either too convenient to be true or too complex to grasp without reson, which, in both cases, causes my brain to go crazy.

You see, one moment the equation is ridiculously hard and I have no idea how to solve it, so I panic and forget everything I was taught and get the answer wrong. But then the next second, the answer is so blatantly obvious that I think it’s impossible for it to be that easy (since the last was so complex), so I redo all of my original work to simply get the wrong answer, again, in the end anyways.

My logic fails me in math because no one has ever taught me math logic. My grey trumps the black-and-white, and I flounder in my thoughts.

Grey, grey, grey, grey, grey…

Here’s what I mean.

Consider the composite function f(x(g(c(q(t))))). This I understand. You take the function of t and put it inside the function of q. Then you take that and put it inside the function of c. Then you take that and put it in the function of g. Then you take that and put it in the function of x. And BAM! You’ve got a composite function.

That is absolute. It has a definition that clearly explains why each function would go inside of the next. It’s logical. It makes sense. There’s no grey.

But then there’s the whole divided by zero thing.

Yes, I get why they say an answer to x/0 does not exist. Technically, you can’t divide something by another thing if you don’t have another thing to divide it by. I totally understand that logic.

But then my brain says, if you have something and then divide it by nothing, you should still end up with what you started out with, for you had nothing to split it up by. Which means that it would have stayed exactly the same, just like dividing by one

So I am left inside my head to wonder, which one truly is it? Should x/0 be null, or x? Is math truly absolute, or are there some “proved” theorems that are actually wrong? Am I crazy, or am I actually on to something?

But no one ever answers that.

And that’s what makes me hate it!

Stories from College: How to NOT be a Freshman

One of the many lovely views I have enjoyed since my college journey began.

One of the many lovely views I’ve enjoyed since my college journey began.

I must say, it’s quite shocking going from seniority back to rookie status slowly over the course of three hot and sweaty months, and I know that it will be even more shocking and hard to get used to again in four years when I officially enter the work force and begin a job at which I have no experience whatsoever and will most definitely screw up. It’s going to be delightful. I cannot wait.

Anyways, at the beginning of this past summer, I honestly didn’t think this transition would be that difficult–or even that noticeable–as school drew nearer and nearer to starting. I thought, psh, everyone is essentially equal in college. No one will even be able to tell that I’m a freshman!

Well, I was most certainly wrong about that. Heading into the third week of school now, I see that it is beyond obvious that I have never been here before. Over these last three weeks, I have made so many mistakes and have made a fool of myself so many times that you would have to be a complete moron (or a fellow freshman) to not realize it’s my first year.

I’m not exaggerating here, either. It’s been a beyond less-than-glamorous quarter of a semester. If I wasn’t one to laugh at myself every time I did something stupid, I don’t think I would be here right now. Instead of writing a post in the library before my first class of the day, I would be hiding under the nearest rock, mortified, terrified to show my face to the world.

I guess it was pretty stupid of me to think that transitioning to college would be easy in the first place. I mean, every first day somewhere new is never great, and every time you start out at a new job or a new school, it takes a little while to get used to things. Everyone knows that; it’s common sense. But, if there’s one thing I tend to lack at times, it is definitely common sense, so it doesn’t surprise me that I didn’t see any of my experiences coming.

But, even with all of the horrible things that I have been through over the last three weeks, I do have to say that I have come out on the other side with quite the handful of lessons learned about both myself and life in general, and these have changed me in a bigger way than I could have ever imagined. It’s almost like transitioning to my university was this epic hero’s journey that has left me forever a different person.

Okay, well, maybe that’s a little bit melodramatic, but I will most definitely admit that I am a better person than I was three weeks ago when I walked into my first class on campus. I feel nicer, sweeter, more cultured, more mature, more experienced. I feel like, for the first time, I am actually living my life. Even though I am amidst all of my studies and have already had to write about five papers, I have more free time than ever before. And the icing on the cake: everything I’m learning, I actually care about! It actually pertains to me! Gosh, it’s so invigorating! I just can’t get over the difference from high school. Learning is actually fun, and I’m not surrounded by half-drunk, half-high idiots. I’m with people who love to learn and who, more importantly, love to learn about the same things I do. It’s utterly magnificent. It’s a complete game-changer, my friends.

But, now that that tangent is over with, I should get back to the topic at hand: my first three weeks of my freshman year of college. We’ll start with day one, for that was just riveting.

I commute with my sister to school everyday from our home about 10 minutes away from campus, but her classes start a few hours later than mine (I got that 9 a.m. swag), so I go into town each morning with my dad, who works on the north end of the city. Too bad for me, though, my college campus is on the south end. We have since figured out a better plan for this situation, but on that first day, he parked at his work, and I walked to school.

No big deal, right? Right. It’s anywhere from a 15 to 20 minute walk depending on how many other folks are partaking in the day’s footlight parade, and that length of time is totally okay with me. I love walking places. But there are two things that are not quite so dandy: the walk is always hot, and it’s always uphill. As you probably have just assumed, that doesn’t necessarily make for the best combo.

Now, my school is near the local arena, so I’m used to the walk form previous years when we would park by my dad’s work and walk across town to whatever event we were seeing (typically an NHL game). But even in the dead of winter when it barely reached 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside, I would still be sweating by the end of the trek. It’s simply a path that takes a lot of energy and causes a lot of lactic acid fermentation, thus causing a lot of internal body heat and sweat. There’s just no way to avoid a hardcore workout when traversing this area of town.

Anyways, the point to this is that, by the time I arrived on campus, I was literally dripping sweat. I was wearing a cotton dress, a bra, and underwear only (not necessarily in that order) and it was only 70 degrees outside, and I still looked like I just ran a marathon. I mean, come on! I would’ve had to have been naked to not overheat! It was plain, old unfair.

So, I looked like a sweaty gremlin for the first hour of the first day of school, including the first few minutes of my calculus class, which, might I add, is filled to the brim with fine, fine young men. But, hey, I’m not lookin’ for lovin’ anytime soon–and I’ve never been one to make good first impressions, anyway, so oh well.

Speaking of my calc class, though, there’s a blind kid in there with a guide dog. He sits right by the door (for obvious reasons), and the guide dog just lays across the aisle right where you turn to go into the first row. Of course, with it being the first day, I didn’t know that this kid was blind, that he had a guide dog, or that said dog would be lounging in front of the aisle, so I walked into the room, saw an open seat behind the kid, turned and went to walk towards it…and missed crushing the dog’s left thigh by about five millimeters. Both the kid and the dog gave me very nasty glares. And, being a fellow dog owner, I didn’t blame them. I was mortified! What if I had stepped on his dog??

This sweaty gremlin almost killed a puppy…

As a side note: That dog and his owner (who is only partially blind, by the way) have been the highlight of my first three weeks of college thus far. Archer is the dog–a cute, cuddly black lab–and Nick is his owner (who is just as equally cute and cuddly, but in that platonic sort of way). It’s my goal to be their best friends by the end of this semester. Let’s see if I can make it happen!

I have to say, though, that the biggest ordeal of my first day is what happened 10 minutes into my walk through town. I suddenly heard a woman yelling, “Miss! Miss!” She was saying it over and over and sounded really, really panicked, like this “miss” was about to unknowingly walk in front of a bus. I turned around, and the woman ran up to me. She whispered in my right ear, “Miss, your bag is riding up your dress. You might want to fix that.”

I, of course, was shocked and horrified and mortified and blushing and just generally wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I reached back, pulled my dress down, and lo and behold, I had just flashed 32% of the downtown area my underwear. Like I said before, you’re talking to the queen of first impressions here.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day awkwardly holding my bag in front of me when I walked so that I could spare the college campus the same sight that so many businessmen and women had the pleasure of seeing that morning. And even though I looked like a fool doing so, I didn’t care. Not everyone can get a free show, you know.

Another thing I discovered on the first day: freshmen and transfers are the only ones with no friends. Just like anywhere else in the world, the new kid is the quiet kid, and he sticks out like a sore thumb because of that. But, in my case, I didn’t just stick out like a sore thumb to the veterans of my university. Even in my freshmen-only classes, I was the only one with no friends because everyone else lived in the same building, on the same floor. They had all known each other for about two weeks at that point. And then there was me. #commuterswag

At the end of day one, I stumbled into my car and screamed in relief. My sister! Someone I knew! As we headed home, though, dread started filling my mind, for I realized I would have to do the same thing over and over again every single day for the next 14 weeks. Ugh…

What I learned from that first pivotal day was three things: 

1. Don’t wear a dress without wearing some type of shorts or spandex underneath.
2. Bring a rag if you’ve got a long walk. And some deodorant. Always bring deodorant.
3. Talk to people. Even if you’ve never seen that person before in your life, say hi or talk about the weather. Just talk to someone! You may feel weird, but it will look totally normal to everyone else. Fake it till you make it, baby!

Anyway, nothing else super exciting happened that first week. Really, it was just me figuring out my way around campus, following the same paths, finding out which doors were pull and which were push (mainly by awkwardly walking into them), going to the same places over and over, etc., etc. That, mixed with getting hit on by homeless men during my walk to school and inhaling the cigarette smoke of fellow humans as we made our way through this toxic world together, made it not too horrible of a week. I mean, I could’ve gotten lost or something awful like that.

Cue week two, and, oh, wait, I did get lost. Like, I went into class on the one side of the room, left on the other side of the room, and ended up on a completely different street, down the hill from the campus. How does that even happen?? I still can’t figure it out.

And when I finally got back to the parking garage, the elevator decided to make the same exact noise that The Tower of Terror makes before the ride takes you up to drop you. Never had that elevator made that sound before, and never has it made it since, might I add…

The icing on the cake: I got to the top, and the elevator door was stuck.

Really? Was I being Punk’d? Ashton? You can come out any time now, you know.

No, but really, it was terrifying. I was about to pull a Richard Castle and drop to the floor, just in case. (See the clip right here.)

castle on floor

I also had a wardrobe malfunction in the middle of downtown that week (story of my life, I guess). I wore a skirt that was a little too big on me, so I pinned it to keep it away from my ankles. Well, about two minutes from campus, the pin came undone, and the skirt dropped. Luckily, though, I caught it before it went below my hip bones. Cue Chris Pine, Lindsay Lohan, and McFly, please!

‘Rain clouds are gathering in number, just when I put away my jumper. Luck and love still aren’t on my siiiide!’

Justmyluck (1)

All of this bad stuff, well, it’s just my luck 😦

God bless Danny Jones and that voice of his! Mmmm!

Eh-hem, after that tangent, last–but certainly not least–for week two, I walked straight into the library doors because I had no idea that you needed to use your swipe card to get in before 8 a.m. No joke here, I was that bird that has no idea that windows are a thing before it tries to fly inside someone’s house. Yeah, the looks I got from the people around me as I body-slammed the glass were awful. Oh, and the laughs, too. So, smooth Leah turned around and practically ran into the building next door, then waited 20 minutes before returning to the library. No one even remembered me by then. It was great!

I’m so fly sometimes, I just can’t handle it.

Lessons from the second week:

1. Buy clothes in the appropriate size or get professional tailoring if something ends up being too large. Unless you don’t mind surprise stripping in the streets. Then wear all the over-sized clothes and self-hemmed garments you can find!
2. Unless there is a fire, always exit a room the same way you entered.
3. Don’t be a dumb bird. Read signs on doors before trying to push them.
4. Never underestimate the power of Ashton Kutcher.

Now we have finally arrived at week three! So far, it’s been good, even if only two days in. I’m really enjoying everything and am looking forward to continuing my education. At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked the whole college thing. I’ve always had a knack for school, but I didn’t know if I truly wanted to go through with it. I went solely because that was what was expected of me. But now I love it. I’ve gotten over the original shock of loneliness and clueless-ness (which I haven’t felt in a very, very long time) and am able to finally appreciate the type of learning that I’m entering into. It is focused, specialized, and about everything I love. The professors care more about me and my learning than high school teachers ever did, and they actually know what the heck they’re talking about! It’s just an overall great experience, even if I still have yet to make friends. (Although, I have talked to many, many people in order to avoid awkward situations. Look at me, learning from my mistakes!)

I don’t know if this post actually teaches anything specifically about how to not be a “freshman” when you go to college, high school, or anywhere else in the world for the first time, but hopefully you can at least learn a little something from my personal experiences these past weeks to help you not look like a fool (with or without your pants on the ground) wherever you happen to be in life.

Because if there’s one thing you never want to be, it’s me as a freshman. Ever. Seriously. It’s the worst.

Well, I guess there’s Hitler, too…

Thanks for reading! I’ll be posting with frequent updates as my years in college progress. Hopefully the updates will be just as thrilling as this one. And of this one wasn’t thrilling, well, then I guess I’ve set the bar low, and they can only get better from here!


P.S.- I figured, since I haven’t had the chance to post this quite yet, I would update real quick with a very important lesson learned during Wednesday of this third week: If you ever decide to wear pointed-toe shoes and are not used to wearing such creations on a regular basis, make sure you look down when you walk up stairs. Some unusual extra length added to your foot as you climb, well, I think that’s all I need to say for this one.