Friday, August 27, 2010

The Ethics of the Internet

The internet. It's kind of scary. Putting thoughts and opinions on the internet? Only scary when you're the first to do it. It seems that rejecting and subsequently making fun of someone's opinion on the internet is very easy to do.

But what are the ethics of this? It's easy when you're some 13-year-old nobody with nothing better to do, but when you're a 20-year-old who has yet to break in to the professional world, holding two jobs of some stature...all of a sudden it starts to get tricky.

This is a personal blog, and I say a lot of personal things. I've said things that I didn't think were controversial, but a lot of people proved me wrong. As a full-time RA, and a Supervisor at RenX, I represent RPI in lots of different ways. Do the opinions I put here reflect on them? I don't think they should, and I would never assume that of someone else. But as I said, what I think is obviously not necessarily what other people think.

I took a break from blogging because I thought this was important to reflect on. A lot of habits I have had to be put in check. If I put opinions on here, I'm reflecting RPI. If I put pictures on here, I am reflecting RPI. I don't really know what RPI's stance is on some of the issues I like to write about, so it's not really fair for me to put words in their mouth, is it?

I don't drink, for lots of reasons, but a major point being that I am not of legal age to. It doesn't bother me that my friends drink, I don't really have a moral objection to it, it's simply a personal choice for my life and who I am.

However, as an RA, I have to take issue with my residents drinking. It's my responsibility to enforce the rules and, obviously, the law. So does that stop with JUST my residents? Does that stop with JUST students? I represent RPI, remember. RPI does not take kindly to underage drinkers.

I have enjoyed the freedom of only representing myself in the past. But now, if I go to a party where there are residents who I know are under-age and they are drinking, I've put myself in an uncomfortable position. Normally I would go to friends' parties, not drink and enjoy the social scene, but I don't think my job affords that luxury any longer.

This is hard for me, because I've enjoyed being an open person here, in fact I've talked about how much I've enjoyed it, but I don't know if I can continue to blog, at least so publicly. I don't see some things the way others do, and I tend to be less conservative in my opinions on things like sex and relationships, so while censoring is an option I don't know that I trust my ability to do so. Something that seems innocuous to me may in fact be offensive and out of line to others.

The internet makes things tricky now, as we really don't have official stances on anything. Some employers let their employees send email all day while others limit personal conversations. NSFW is common all over websites, but sometimes you can't trust others' judgment. Honestly, other people's thoughts would be greatly appreciated here, because I really don't know what to think about this. Whether you leave a comment or stop to talk when you see me, please give me your two cents to help me start figuring this all out...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Geezer McOld

I'm so old.

When I got home today, I had the same sensation I used to get being at Grandma's. It feels like home, but I still feel like a guest.

I go through a process of discovery every time I get back from school. I have a couple shoe boxes full of stuff in my closet and around my room with little things that I've forgotten about after being away for so long. It's like there's little presents all over just waiting to be remembered.

My favorite box is the one full of junk. Nostalgic junk. Like the tennis ball I used in the match against that girl that mooned my team when she lost. Or the atta-girls from camp that I got as a CIT. Or the jump rope I used during recess in elementary school. And a whole bunch of other stuff.

But what really got me was a picture in there of me. It was taken at camp when I was probably 14, maybe 15. My hair was a lot blonder, I was a little tanner, and I was really happy. I remember that period of my life, and I remember how happy I was with myself. I was getting really good grades in school. My home life was good. I really thought I was beautiful.

But I think what's weirdest of all is that I really appreciate how that part of my life is over. That girl in the picture? We're really not that different. I am really happy with myself right now. Everything I just said describes me now. But she's not me, and I'm not her. I felt like I was more looking at an old friend in that picture than I was looking at myself.

When I come home, I get reacquainted with myself, and I gain a lot of perspective on where I really am in life. It's so easy to forget when I'm three hours away and spending all my time focused on my future. But when I come home Siri is still here to greet me with purrs and my room is still the same it was when I left all those months before.

I'll go back to school in a couple days for RA training, get back to obsessing over the future and where I'm going, but for now I'm going to re-visit my childhood.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Genie Is Handing Out Some Money: The Graph of Evil

I found an interesting website detailing a cute way to graph morals. It's not all-inclusive and it doesn't account for numerous "what-if" situations, but it's a fun exercise.

Say you meet a magical genie, and he promises to give you a dollar, with no repurcussions to anyone else. Do you take it?

Well. Duh.

Say he'll give you a dollar, and a stranger a dollar, do you take it? Now he'll only give you the dollar while also taking a stranger's dollar away? What if he gives you two dollars and takes the stranger's dollar?

You can kind of see where this is going now. It creates a fun graph like this:

With a minor amount of thought and a little bit more paint skill, I've determined this is what my graph looks like:

Besides making me want some watermelon, the colors represent the areas I would not accept the genie's offer (reddish-pink) and the areas that I would accept (light green).

I decided that as long as I was getting as much or more money than was being taken away from the stranger, I wouldn't care because the net value of the genie's actions is good. I also don't care if the stranger gets more money than me because as long as I'm getting money, why the hell do I care how much some other guy is getting (this is of course assuming there could be no bartering with the genie).

But I'm definitely never going to lose money, even if someone else gets money. I'm assuming that it is always a stranger getting the money, so I don't even get the satisfaction of knowing the money is going to someone who deserves it, or someone I even like. The money could go to Bill Gates, and here I am out a dollar. Why would I lose money so some other person can get money and I don't even get emotional benefit (much like gift giving usually provides)?

This, according to the website, puts me somewhere between logical and proud. I'll let you go see the graphs for yourself if you want, but I've colored in the area difference:

Logical included the green plus the blue area, proud only included the green area.

I guess logical is assuming that as long as the net gain/loss is at least equal, or someone is at least getting something, then it's a good deal. I'm too sefish for that. Proud thinking is that I should always get more or equal to the stranger, but heck man, money is money. I'll take whatever I can get, even if the other person gets more.

This was an entertaining exercise, at the very least. I don't know that I learned anything about myself, but it's kind of cute.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Coming Out Is Scary, and Not For the Reasons You Think

I've mentioned before that I consider myself a feminist, though I'm often afraid to say it. Not because I think people will assume I'm a "femi-nazi." I mean really, if people want to accuse me of being angry because I want the genders to be equal then they have their own psychological issues to work out. The term "femi-nazi" doesn't scare me in the slightest. I know who I am, I know I am more than capable of having civilized discussions, to the point where if the argument is not civilized it's more than likely not because of me.

No, the reason I don't like saying it is because there always seems to be another feminist out there ready to jump out and tell me all the reasons I'm not a feminist.

For starters, while my career is important and I consider myself ambitious, when I'm honest with myself, in 10 years my family will be the most important thing to me. The people in my life will be the most important aspect of my life. My potential husband, my friends, my parents. I could claim that in 10 years I'll be climbing some sort of corporate ladder, and maybe that will be true, but when push comes to shove it's not going to be my priority.

That doesn't sound particularly anti-feminist to me, though. It doesn't sound like I'm playing in to the patriarchal plan for our society. I mean, I guess maybe I am, I guess a sexist person would say a woman should only think about her family and husband, but I don't think that way because of male forces in my life. I think that way because it's what's important to me and I'm trying to make myself happy.

And honestly, I don't want to end up with a man who prioritizes his career. I want to be with a man who puts as much of an emphasis on family and relationships as I do. That wouldn't make him any less of a man any more than it makes me less of a feminist.

I think the defining emphasis for feminism is choice (and no, dear god, I am not, and will never, get in to the abortion topic here. That is not where this is going. Waaaaay too heavy for me). It does not bother me that there are women out there who don't go to college, don't become engineers, and don't go on to break the glass ceiling. What bothers me is that there are women out there who make that decision without realizing what all their options are. They choose that path because they don't know they don't have to.

I know what I can accomplish. I know full well that if I want to I could probably do a hell of a lot of things. It would be harder for me as a woman because, despite what you may think, there are still lots of people out there who think my sole purpose is as a uterus. There are people who think I don't deserve the same kind of pay as a man due to my mere potential to produce children. There are people out there who really don't think women can be engineers. Despite all those people, I know I could accomplish a lot. I just don't want to make those kinds of accomplishments.

I could look at the big picture and think it's my duty to and force myself to go on and break boundaries with my female peers from RPI. But if that doesn't make me happy, why should I? Didn't I just talk about this in the last post? Growing up is about figuring out what makes me happy, and not forcing myself to be unhappy for other people and outside forces. No matter how important feminism is, my individuality will always be more so.

Monday, August 9, 2010

But Really all I've Ever Wanted to Be Was a Super Hero

My fall is looking pretty busy. I've agreed to be an RA full-time (this happened just today. I was only offered the job a week ago. It's been a whirlwind of a week). I'm going to be a Supervisor at RenXChange for the first time. Also class. And maintaining friendships. Diabetes. Don't forget diabetes.

But despite all this work, I'm really excited. I'm so excited. I really think I'm going to do a good job at everything. I'm confident in my ability to excel at exactly what I've signed up for. My obligations don't sound like chores; they sound like fun that I'm getting paid to do. How awesome is that?

In high school I was busy, too. I had a lot of officer positions: French Honor Society, National Honor Society, Math club. While it was a great starting point to learn how to take charge and lead, I didn't really get anything out of it. I was really just filling up my schedule and putting things on my resume in a kind of soulless sort of way. In hindsight, it's really not surprising that I didn't get in to the "Ivy League" schools. Ivy League schools want people who are passionate about something. People who have picked a cause and raised money for it. People who have started a business and cultivated their entrepreneurial spirit. People who have mastered their talents and obsessed over them to the point of perfection. I didn't have passions like that in high school. That's not a bad thing, or really unsurprising, it's difficult to find something that quickly. I just hadn't found something that was truly that important to me yet. I was forcing myself to do things that sounded like a good idea but at the end of the day were just sucking up my time. It was aimless wandering.

Now I'm finally getting somewhere. I'm letting myself do things that actually sound fun. I'm filling up my time with things that are worthwhile and enjoyable to me. Really, that seems to be the key. The more I do things that get me good experience AND are fun, the closer I get to figuring out what I want and should do with my life.

Don't get me wrong, I have no regrets about my life. I definitely ended up at the perfect school for me, and in hindsight, if I would change anything, I'd apply to less Ivy League-like schools and more schools like RPI. I didn't know what my passions were, yet, but RPI has given me the right opportunities to find them, if only by showing me the kind of people I truly enjoy spending my time around.

I'm figuring out my life. Slowly. But being excited about so many commitments is a huge step in maturity for me. It's hard to overcome the incessant "but all I want to do is STUMBLEUPOOOOONNNNN" voice in my head.

So go ahead and put a little gold star on my chart for me. I'm excited about the person I'm becoming.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Wisdom of Kanye West. No Really.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that I love Kanye West.

Okay maybe it does.

I love him in all kinds of ways. I actually really like his music, I like his personality (he actually has a good sense of humor! Can't count the times he's poked fun of himself on twitter), and I like all the dumb stuff he does in public. Makes him really entertaining. In a lovable, human sort of way.

He's also one of my favorite internet memes.

Recently he finally got a twitter. I have no idea why it took him so long. Some of the ridiculous stuff he says is super awesome. One day I tried to find my favorite tweet to make my status on facebook, but I couldn't do it. There were just too many.

Today, however, there may have been some actual wisdom he said. Or maybe he was just doing more insane rambling and I'm reading too much into it. Either way:


I AGREE. I agree whole-heartedly! I agree so much I thought of actually replying to him to tell him how much I agree. But I didn't because come on, it's KANYE WEST. I am not worthy to tweet him.

Mistakes. Mistakes are what make us! No one is born perfect, knowing everything, capable of doing everything right the first time. We think we have to avoid mistakes but I challenge that! Go out and MAKE mistakes. Raise your hand. Give wrong answers. Break stuff. Do something stupid. Education will teach you a lot of stuff, but it can't teach you to be who you are meant to be. Only mistakes can do that.

This blog was, at first, kind of a terrifying idea. I'm a pretty private person most of the time. I don't trust easily (geez, how many times have I said that already?). I think carefully (most of the time) before I act. Now I want to just write stuff and put it out there on the INTERNET? It was like jumping off a building. I knew as soon as it was out there there was no turning back. But now that I've done it I feel so free. I'm not ashamed of what I think, and I've learned a lot from writing things that people disagreed with. I've changed my mind about some things. Maybe I've changed others' minds. It's been a learning experience. I've enjoyed learning with you guys!

There are still some things I'm afraid to write, still things I keep private, but oh goodness, when I finally work up the nerve I think it will be a breath of fresh air. For me. Maybe I'll just offend everyone else.

I've said stupid things. I've done stupid things. But most of my life I've been pretty straight and narrow. I don't know that I regret that, but I do respect people who put everything out on the line for the life they want to live. The people who drop everything and go and live in some two-bit apartment. Those people who literally live day by day. It's scary, but I bet it's exhilerating too. A mistake? Maybe. Do they learn a lot? No doubt about it.

So, Kanye West, being the kind of person who has made so many public mistakes I wouldn't even know where to begin, seems to at least understand the value of such experiences.

So go make some mistakes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pseudo Wish-List Wednesday!

No Wish-List Wednesday this week. Nothing has sparked my interest this week. You fail, internet. Except for this shirt, though:

Anyways, I'd like to take a moment to talk about people who change your life. This is on my mind a lot recently because this past Sunday, Camp Carefree started it's session for 2010. I was fortunate enough to attend as a camper, learn as a counselor-in-training, and learn even more as a counselor. Unfortunately, things did not work out this year so I could not go back. But I keep thinking back to all the adults who taught me to stand up for myself, do things for myself, push me out of my comfort level. I hope I was able to do that for some campers on some level. It's so important for a diabetic child to learn independence, it's so scary and so important. Even counselors whose names I don't remember, I remember what they did for me.

It's memories like that that keep me thinking that I want to be a teacher. I think I'd be good at it, and I think I'd like it. As someone who is pretty ambitious in her life, admitting to wanting to be a teacher can feel like a let down in some ways. Not exactly awesome pay, no guarantee you're going to really change any lives, you may even just be around a ton of smug young adults who have no interest in what you have essentially dedicated your life too. But despite all of that, somehow I still want to do it. Somehow all those great teachers I've had made me think it's still worth it. They must have done a pretty good job if they make a seemingly thankless job look fun.

I try to keep in touch with my teachers as much as possible, but it gets harder the more my roots settle here in Troy. Fortunately one of my favorite teachers, dear Mrs. Krones, is on facebook AND has a blog. Wooo!

On said blog she's having a giveaway. She's giving this away:

I guess in a way this is sort of turning in to a Wish-List Wednesday. Anyways, I really want this guy. So freaking adorable. If I win the giveaway, I get THREE. If I was more talented in the ways of crochet and knitting I'd totally want to make this. As it is I can knit a (mostly) straight line: a scarf! It's only impressive to people who have zero understanding of knitting.

One of the conditions of entering said giveaway is to link to the giveaway, so here's the post. And as a plug and encouragement for more people to read it: I really enjoy the blog, as someone who intends on having a happy family and successful career some day it's a good glimpse of what to expect.

(Also: mad kudos to me. Best transition EVER)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Jealousy is Not the Same Thing as Love

I stumbled this article, and felt the need to add my own comment to the issue.

I've been in enough relationships at this point in my life to have a good idea of what I like and what I don't like in men. I've tried dating different types of men, some of whom are on complete opposite ends of some spectrums. I've spent a lot of time thinking about what made some relationships work and what made others fail. Through these introspections, I gain understanding not just of relationships, but of myself as well.

Jealousy is an oft misunderstood emotion. The idea is that a jealous boyfriend or girlfriend is someone who "cares." If they weren't jealous, then obviously they're not that in to you, right? Telling you that they don't like it when you hang out with someone of the opposite gender means that they love you so much they can't bear the thought of losing you to someone else. They hate that someone else may think of you in a sexual way. They want to protect you.

It's a lie. It's all a lie.

Jealousy is not an indication of love. Maybe the perpetrator thinks it is, I'm not saying they're intentionally lying about what they think they feel. But jealousy is not love.

I'm usually very careful about this kind of relationship talk. Different routines, different expressions, different behaviors can be lots of things to different people, but I feel that this is one of those few instances that is a universal truth for everyone. People are individuals, and therefore people should be independent at least to a very basic extent. People are not meant to be controlled, no matter the gender. Jealousy is not an emotion of love, it's an emotion of control. If you can feel the same emotion about objects, it's not love.

I've been with guys who were incapable of jealousy, and I've been with guys who got nervous whenever I hung out with a male friend. The first time I was with the "jealous" type, I admit, it was a nice change. It was an outward expression of how much I meant to them, at least I thought. They care about me, they care about what I was doing, and they wanted to be reassured that they were the only guy I wanted to be with.

It was great when I was in high school, but then I grew up.

Now my life as an individual is fiercely important to me. No one can tell me what to do, and I don't ever want to be with a guy who does. It created an unhealthy mindset in me when I was with a jealous guy. I was always afraid that what I was doing was going to upset him. Having male friends, wearing certain clothes, hanging out with certain people, it all stressed me out. A relationship that makes someone feel that way is not a good one. Feeling like I had to dramatically change myself was not good. A guy who let's me do what I want loves me, because to love me is to respect me. There is no respect in jealousy, only primal fears and a desire to control. Love manifests itself in many ways, but I firmly believe that jealousy is not one of them.

Jealousy is about trying to change someone, about trying to make their behavior what you want it to be. Love is about wanting the person to be exactly who they are. I'm starting to ramble now, so here's a quote from Joss Whedon who is far more eloquent than I:

“When I say, "I love you," it's not because I want you or because I can't have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I've seen your kindness and your strength. I've seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You're a hell of a woman.”