Modern day friendships: Little to no effort required

If I read one more article describing the detrimental effects of social media on modern day friendships, I may just tweet about it.

There are a plethora of arguments that claim that our media-based world is redefining the concept of friendship, but in actuality, humans are becoming too self-absorbed to be able to sustain true friendships. We blame the advancement of technology instead of looking toward the heart of the issue: the users of technology.

There is no doubt that the social media landscape has changed the way we communicate. As of March 2013, Facebook reported having 1.11 billion users, Twitter, 200 million users and Instagram, 100 million users. Don’t blame the trend; blame the trendsetters.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are not to blame for the decreasing value of friendship. These social media websites are not forcing people to depersonalize their relationships. But human beings will always look for a scapegoat.

In the past, friendships were taken as seriously as romantic relationships. Aristotle explained it best when he wrote, “Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
Today, people have exchanged this concept for self-promotion and the appearance of having friends. We no longer perform the simplest expressions of friendship by giving another person our time, trust and thought. Instead, we prefer likes, favorites and retweets.

We mistakenly believe that our mere physical presence serves as a sufficient dedication of our time to another individual. A friend deserves uninterrupted time and attention, not the leftover scraps of energy that remain at the end of the day.

To give a part of oneself to another individual through verbal expression – to open up one’s soul, to trust another person – is now terrifyingly difficult. The number of people who can actually be trusted is diminishing because of the number of people we blindly welcome into our lives via staged profiles. Our egos seem to deduce that if we don’t get X number of likes, we aren’t attractive, intelligent or fill in the blank.

When a friendship requires more effort than we desire to put forth, it is thrown aside because we subconsciously know that there are 1.11 billion other people out there who are in search of another effortless Facebook friendship.

It is easier to be distant friends with 100 people than it is to be meaningful friends with one. With a multitude of friends, relationships become about what you can receive instead of what you can give.

If our friendship is devoid of sacrifice, then consider us strangers. If the question, “What can I do for this individual?” isn’t popping up inside our heads, then we are unaware of how friendship works.

I grew up under the label “popular,” but it was really a less sophisticated epithet for “people pleaser.” It appeared as if I had a lot of friends, but in reality, all I had was lists of acquaintances. People thought that they knew me because of a shared class, sport or town – common interests that initiate a friendship but should never determine one.
I felt it necessary to divide my time amongst these “friends” because I was afraid of being alone – as if not having a person by my side at all times meant that I was incapable of being loved, or that having a Friday night to myself meant that I was a loser.

Today, my solitary moments are my highest-valued moments. I can count my close friends on my hands, and I’m not afraid to admit that staying in on a Friday night would be the highlight of my hectic week.

I can be that way while actively posting from my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. If I am having a problem with a friendship, I don’t attribute it to an online medium, but rather, I accept that the problem is rooted in personal differences.

It is time to stop observing the communication problem and start administering a solution. Social media is here to stay, and maybe the solution is as simple as relearning how to be a friend. How ironic is it that the more complex the world becomes, the simpler the concepts we forget?

Hook-ups and heartbreak: The problem with our generation’s concept of relationships

“Boys only want one thing,” my father used to say to me. I thought that thing was friendship, but my father would always reply, “boys don’t want to be your friend.”

It’s the classic case of father knows best. My dad repeated those precautionary lines so frequently throughout my high school years that it became a mission of mine to prove him wrong. But once I got to college and began interacting with the opposite gender in a more romantic way, I realized yet again, daddy was right.

Well, partially right. Guys definitely want to be your friend, but not without benefits, and they rarely want a relationship title included. The same goes for girls.

Relationships seem to be a taboo topic in college today, as if they are a plague to be avoided. They are recommended only for those lost in love. Though, even with the negative connotation that the relationship possesses, it has not been entirely abandoned by the university scene; instead, it has been modernized in the form of hook-up buddies.

“Hook-up buddy” is a condescending term used by men and women alike to condone a lack of commitment. What would have once been referred to as using somebody is now a sought-after role. Individuals use each other simply to satisfy their carnal needs, and the whole act is justified based on the sole fact that it is mutual.

Regardless of what is decided prior to this pseudo-relationship, one person is bound to get more attached than the other, and someone will get hurt. Do we really need to question why so many marriages today end up in divorce?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that for every 1,000 people in the United States in 2011, the marriage rate was only 6.8 percent while the divorce rate was close behind at 3.6 percent. Meanwhile, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that depression affects an astounding 9.5 percent of the current population. Could not divorce and depression be the side effects of a generation that took the once selfless concept of a relationship and turned it into a selfish delusion?

It doesn’t help that people are labeled as “wife material” or “husband material” –a slap in the face dressed up like a compliment. People use this to put the good girls and guys on a sort of layaway, as if they will be around in a few years when the opposite party is ready to settle down.

To each his own method of living, right? Who am I to judge the actions of another? But this style of relationships exceeds an optional lifestyle choice; it has become the standard operating procedure of dating. People with positive intentions, who are willing to give their hearts and trust to another individual, are the ones getting hurt. I see it everywhere – in my friends’ lives and in my own.

The dating pool is polluted, and it is impossible to wade through without getting covered in debris. One person may think that he or she is entering a relationship when the other participant sees it as much less. This happens all too often, because intentions are never vocalized.

Activities that prelude becoming involved in a true relationship, such as conversation, flirting and simply spending time alone together, are the same as those that prelude becoming involved as hook-up buddies. How is one to distinguish between a budding romance and a mere physical attraction?

Is the point of this article to insinuate that you need to find a serious relationship in college? Absolutely not. If it happens, let it. If it doesn’t happen, let it go. And if you have gusto in leading another individual on, you can at least inform them of your intent beforehand. It’s beyond common courtesy; it’s called being a decent person.

One Step Towards Professional Journalism: Objectivity

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The sudden outburst in the usage of the term “professional journalism” makes me wonder if previous decades of journalists have been unprofessional in their field. A journalist’s job has had the same description since it’s creation in the early 1800’s: tell people what is happening throughout the world. The politics and money behind news stations have made it common for journalists to report news from their paper’s perspective. You want to keep your job, you report a certain way.

According to InTheseTimes.com, professional journalism has exploded recently. Partisan journalism is no longer the standard and in most cases it is disregarded as actual news. Objectivity in journalism allows the reader and viewer to postulate their own opinions based upon the facts given by the reporter.

While media is still driven by money and politics the expansion of technology has allowed many to speak against one perspective journalism. Journalists are no longer found as employees for big companies signing off their objectivity in their contracts. Journalists are everywhere and have the ease of tools such as their smartphones to record nonpartisan news.

Although journalism has always had the purpose of providing news to citizens the objectivity of it has been questionable over the years. Today’s journalists not only have to use more visuals over written word to adhere to their audience, they must report the news in an unbiased fashion. Today, you want to be a professional journalist, report objectively.

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Image courtesy of Lyn.

A Hofstra Student’s Perspective on a Forced Mandate

What’s overpriced and sub-standard? On Hofstra’s Campus, we call this Lackmann Culinary Services.

As a freshman, you are mandated to obtain a minimum meal plan of at least $1,750. At first, you think that California Pizza Kitchen tastes like everything that college should, but as you begin to see how quickly your money dwindles after a few Dutch runs that ring up bills of $60 for a box of cereal and an expired Snapple, you start to mature a bit. When sophomore year begins, you decide to give your wallet and digestive system a rest and buy some regular groceries. Not any longer.

Hofstra is now mandating that every resident, regardless of class standing, have a minimum meal plan of $825. Whatever happened to freedom of choice? How can we pay over $50 thousand in tuition and still be told where we can and cannot eat?

How can Hofstra force its students to pay for something they don’t want to? As a private university, Hofstra knows that students must follow what it puts into law regardless of disagreement.

While it is true that some other colleges mandate that their students have an on-campus meal plan, students are aware of this before they choose to go to the particular school. Hofstra waking up one morning and deciding that they need to add another bill to our tuition should come with more of a warning. They should at least grandfather the rule so that students who attended Hofstra before this law was passed can opt out of a meal plan.

As if it weren’t bad enough that the university takes so much of our money, it now forces us to spend our stolen cash on exceedingly expensive meals that pose as healthy options.

Hofstra claims to adhere to our dietary needs by offering 18 locations, but it’s almost impossible to eat healthily on this campus without taking out additional loans. A banana shouldn’t be $1.19. I can go to the local farmers market and get 15 bananas for that price.

The fact that Hofstra has to force its students to buy campus food should say something about its quality. It would be different if the food here were actually good. Frozen vegetables and stone-like bagels are not my ideas of fine dining. A Hofstra meal plan is the most expensive laxative anyone has ever been forced to buy.

As a student who pays for college by myself, I am always conscious of how I spend money. If I can spend a fraction of the to cost to actually eat edible food, why shouldn’t I? There is no incentive to having a meal plan other than having someone prepare my food. Lack of convenience is a small price to pay to avoid decreasing my student debt.