Cyberbullying Is So Out Of Fashion

Here are a list of things that are no longer relevant today: the Katy Perry-Taylor Swift feud; apple-bottom jeans and boots with the fur; the T-Mobile Sidekick; and privacy. Yes, privacy. If you haven’t noticed, “What you say can and will be used against you,” is no longer just a Miranda Right.

The 21st century has been a dangerous era for teenagers in particular. With a lack of privacy arrives the need to keep up appearances. Uploading a photo onto your Instagram account is never as simple as sharing a moment but sharing wealth and status. A critical tweet is not just about an opinion but being inarguably right. Networks comprise of the easily offended and those who are “just putting others in their place.” After all, next to Disneyland, social media is the happiest place on earth–for people who are winning at it.

As a person who is far from soft-spoken, my handles are laden with bare-faced selfies, erotic poetry, and new philosophies. I often receive a generous amount of likes and positive comments regarding my boldness and bravery, save for the occasional hater who thinks I am “too loud.” When sharks bite, do you bite back? A younger me would’ve certainly thought so. But if social media is a perpetual game of who can be meaner, who wins? Does it even really matter?

Believe it or not, not everyone is out to offend you. When someone has realized they have hurt you by means of understanding facial expressions and the tone of your voice, they will, more often than not, apologize. This doesn’t exist on FaceBook and Twitter, where movements are carefully calculated and empathy remains a thing of the past.

Cyber bullies, who are shielded by a trusty sheet of fiber optic glass, are plagued with mob mentality, as they are usually part of one. People thrive on validation, and those who join Internet mobs don’t always do so with bad intentions. After all, if the majority thinks it, it must be true. Sometimes, they are just ill-advised.

This isn’t to say there aren’t some truly nasty players out in the virtual field. Some studies claim that cyber bullying has exponentially more negative effects than face-to-face abuse–this is because people feel less obligation to help, especially when disparaging tweets are easily swept away by a sea of song lyrics, play-by-plays, and borderline-creepy statements about Harry Styles.

Instructing kids to stay off social media is no longer an effective method of protection. After all, having an iPhone is no longer an option but a necessity. So how do we avoid getting cyber bullied? The simple answer is we can’t. But it’s up to us to respond.

Bullies thrive on attention. Anger is the fuel to their vehicle. Kill them with kindness or leave them in the dust. Whatever the case, act dignified. Compassion is a bully’s very own Kryptonite.

Report them. Harassment is by no means free speech. Reach out. Hardly ever is there a case where you are the “only one.” Educate yourself and others. Draw the line somewhere. The mute button is just a click away. Attack no one, but defend yourself. Know that bullies are people too.

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Preteen Delivers Baby Brother

 

On my mother’s side I have twelve first cousins, so despite being an only child, I’ve seen my fair share of births. While I can stomach the sight of blood, I surely wouldn’t have the guts to deliver a baby, which is exactly what this 12-year-old did.

Just 18 months ago, Jacee Dellapena ,of Jackson, Miss., had asked her mom and stepfather, Dede and Zack Carraway, if she could be in the delivery room for the birth of their son Zadyn.

Jacee… simply wanted to be present at the birth because she thought “it would be a really great experience for me.”

Still, when she heard the doctor tell her to suit up, she says, her initial reaction was, “What? He is crazy! He is just playing with me!” But the “serious look on his face” told her that he was absolutely serious — and so, as a result, she was too.

The photos (which have been been shared more than 175,000 times) prove that birthings are emotional, slightly gross, exciting, and beautiful all at once. Not only did Jacee realize the true difficulties of birthing, she now also aspires to be a, ob-gyn.

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How To Be A Successful Volunteer

In a world plagued by terrorism, hate culture, and the devastation of natural resources, lending oneself for the betterment of society seems to be an inherent response–and a good one. Philanthropy is undoubtedly the most meaningful way to rebuild and improve communities and becoming a volunteer will more often than not be beneficial to both giver and receiver. However, it takes a lot to be a successful participant.

Understanding why you want to volunteer is crucial. Some are passionate for a particular cause; perhaps battling poverty, environmentalism, assisting the disabled, or nurturing the abused. Others are motivated by personal reasons; whether it is to be removed from daily life or align oneself to a certain principle. Whatever the case, choosing to volunteer should not be an obligation but rather, a selfless desire.

Choosing where to volunteer is key. Picking out an organization to collaborate with is similar to matchmaking. The process involves seeking a group that is perfectly suited to your skills and interests. Can’t get enough of all things cute and fluffy? Join an animal welfare group! Want to see the world in a new perspective? Try going environmental.

Once you have chosen an agency, know how you can personally contribute value and measure your strengths. Be vocal about what services you can provide. Your productivity will depend on where you can be most useful–whether in administrative work or something more hands-on.

There are certain qualities a volunteer must always uphold. One should be flexible, and we’re not talking about the splits. Allow yourself to be elastic in terms of time and responsibilities. In the world of volunteering, carefully crafted plans are often subject to unraveling. Situations that involve a lack of resources or manpower may demand extra work. Volunteers with a strong sense of adaptability and focus are an organization’s most valuable assets.

Characteristically, volunteers should also be creative and energetic. Imagination can easily fuel one’s vigor and enthusiasm. An organization will not always meet its quota of goods and materials–being innovative will allow a group to consider alternative plans. This will also require energy. Volunteers often have to work long hours on tedious tasks. Being active and spirited may also encourage others to uphold integrity. There is no room for the dull and tired!

Lastly, volunteers must be open-minded and committed. Working with people of varying backgrounds and, more importantly, with those who are marginalized, entails being unbiased and without judgment. If volunteers are frank and honest, they will ultimately be accepting others as part of their own lives. Volunteering is not just about breaking the status quo–it is about realizing our own realities and where we fit into society. The volunteering experience, of course, is more significant when one is fully dedicated to the cause at hand. Commitment also gives the volunteer a true sense of immersion. Don’t slack off!

There is no denying that volunteering isn’t glamorous. More often than not, exposure to the hardships of our community is difficult to comprehend, much less accept. But there is time to learn. If there is one thing that volunteering teaches us, it is that time is valuable and should not be wasted.

Much can be accomplished in our world today, given that we are willing to make the sacrifice.

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This Hoodie Will Outlive You!

New water-proof, fall-proof, and everything-proof phone cases have had me wondering whether we’ll soon come up with something along the lines of immortal. Though I certainly doubted so, I was quickly proven wrong. After barely five minutes on Google, I stumbled upon the 100 Year Hoodie, designed to last throughout generations.

The London entity, under the direction of twins Nick and Steve Tidball, is hawking the centennially dubbed item as “the most indestructible hoodie you’ve ever worn.”

“If there’s a tougher hoodie out there, our 100 Year Hoodie is ready to beat the crap out of it and steal its crown,”… the costly innovation… can survive at extreme temperatures ranging from 572 degrees Fahrenheit to -378 degrees Fahrenheit and whose reliance on sun-dyeing will even make it look different from one day to the next.

The germaphobe in me is screaming, but the Tidballs claim a hygienic retention for the hoodie, which incorporates materials that are components of, “aircraft carriers, body armor, and space suits.”

While the idea of passing something on through generations is an attractive gimmick, the fact that everyday items are now so durable brings hope to a society that predicts an annual apocalypse.

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Therapy Dogs Are Not Just For Humans – Cheetahs Need Them Too!

Dog is man’s best friend for many legitimate reasons. They are eyes for the blind and companions for the suffering. We have turned to dogs for comfort in the face of hard times and now, cheetahs at the Richmond Zoo need them too.

Kumbali is a cheetah cub at the Metro Richmond Zoo, and as a newborn, the cub was losing weight because its mother wasn’t producing enough milk to feed her litter. Once Kumbali was cared for and brought back to health, his family rejected him, but the anxious cat, very social by nature, still needed a friend. That’s where Kago, a companion dog, came in.

Dogs–and Labrador Retrievers in particular–are calming by nature, but also extremely confident. Kumbali takes behavioral cues from Kago, and while Kago is the dominant protector, Kumbali is not intimidated and will not cause his friend any harm.

This symbiotic relationship would never happen in the wild; however, we believe the positive outcomes outweigh any negative. As the two grow up together, they create a bond that becomes almost inseparable, sibling-like.

Kumbali and Kago’s story screams “Real Life Fox And The Hound” and I’m all for it!

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Trash Photography Project Sends An Important Message

I was in the fourth grade when my class was asked to participate in a recycled art project. Sifting through our bins that afternoon was easy. Majority of what we had tossed were things that were still fairly useful–bottles, various containers, and the like. I had built a house of mostly plastic. It was fitting, seeing as households are dumpsites in themselves. Just to show the public how much we waste in a few years time, French artist Antoine Repessé collected his recyclables for four years and produced stunning trash-inspired photographs.

Antoine Repessé stopped throwing away recyclable waste like plastic bottles, toilet paper tubes or newspapers back in 2011, storing it in his apartment, instead.

Over the four-year period of his project, Antoine collected 1,600 milk bottles, 4,800 toilet rolls, and 800 kg of newspapers, among other things, which he later used as props for a powerful photo series on modern consumerism, called #365 Unpacked.

Repessé’s reasons for embarking on such an ambitious project were hardly personal. He needed to educate viewers.

“I was interested into seeing how an object can lose its singularity when it becomes a part of something massive. We’re often told about the amount of waste we produce, but I think a picture can be more powerful and impactful than a ton of words,”

Many large companies have taken on the responsibility of minimizing waste through various methods. However, it’s households that have yet to participate.

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Need A Therapist? The Internet Is At Your Service

The most exhausted word of advice to those who have been newly diagnosed with some form of depression is, “Go see a therapist.” While therapy is most often successful in treating mental illnesses, it is not always affordable nor accessible. But don’t worry, the Internet has a solution.

Research, including a meta-analysis of studies involving internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, suggests that digital therapies augmented by coaches who are available by text or phone can be as effective as evidence-based traditional therapy in treating some people with depression.

Once again, your trusty iPhone can save the day, as studies by the U.K. National Health Service has found that the recovery rates of ‘online’ patients have had the edge on those who undergo therapy in-person.

However, with apps like Koko, where online communities can respond to people’s calls for help, how can we be sure that these spaces are safe and reliable? The American Psychological Association suggests “stepped care.”

Stepped care might start with a brief in-person assessment of a patient who shows signs of depression, so that therapists can identify any behavioral or health concerns.

“Then, depending on severity, we would provide each patient with a self-help book or access to web-based education. If that didn’t work, perhaps we’d move to a computer-assisted intervention, and then move toward in-person treatment,”

I am a therapy-goer myself, but also a tenacious skeptic. Would I try online therapy? Perhaps. But the statistics will have to throw me a bone!

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Could Drones Be Life Savers?

In times of emergency, we rely solely on human action, men or women driving ambulances through winding traffic in the hopes of tending to their patients before it’s too late. Constantly developing technology has allowed such emergency procedures to improve, and now drones are being used to transport defibrillators to people stricken by cardiac arrest.

Researchers tested the idea and found drones arrived at the scene of 18 cardiac arrests within about 5 minutes of launch. That was almost 17 minutes faster on average than ambulances – a big deal for a condition where minutes mean life or death.

The versatile drone, used primarily in capturing live videos, surveying dangerous areas, and monitoring wildlife, is now expanding its areas of expertise.

Drones are increasingly being tested or used in a variety of settings, including to deliver retail goods to consumers in remote areas, search for lost hikers and help police monitor traffic or crowds. Using them to speed medical care seemed like a logical next step.

The researchers used a small heart defibrillator weighing less than two pounds, featuring an electronic voice that gives instructions on how to use the device.

Drones are among a myriad of new machines with a great potential for saving lives. Preliminary testing of drone defibrillators is currently taking place in the Northwestern University in Chicago.

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When Superstars Give Back: Charity Benefit Concerts

When tragedy strikes, most everyone is eager to help. Experienced philanthropists and those with expertise in rebuilding communities are equipped to handle such situations. But what about those part of the world’s entertainment industries? Celebrities such as Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres, and George Clooney have been known to endorse a number of charities–but it seems music superstars want in on the goodwill too. Here are some of the biggest benefit concerts held throughout the years.

Broadway for Orlando:

“In the case of charitable endeavors, you want to know that it’s doing good,”

Concert for Bangladesh:

The… concerts raised close to $250,000 US, but the subsequent album and video recordings of the show eventually boosted the donation to approximately $12 million US.

And most recently, One Love Manchester:

One Love Manchester Emergency Fund, created by Manchester City Council and the British Red Cross to support victims and their families, “help alleviate suffering and ensure [they] do not face short-term financial difficulties.”

However, not all charity concerts see success to its end. The Concert for Bangladesh encountered issues with the Internal Revenue Service after failing to properly communicate with UNICEF while the Hope For Haiti funds (which pledged over $9 billion) were ultimately mishandled and lost.

While I am no expert in the politics of major charitable foundations, smaller-scale fundraisers should turn to goal-setting to monitor where exactly donations go.

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Difficult Conversations You Need To Have With Your Significant Other

How many kids to have, whether or not to share a bank account, and where to host a dream wedding don’t make first-date conversations. In fact, you may end up with a runaway date and dinner bill all to yourself. But somewhere along the road, they become increasingly relevant, especially when long-term partnership is in the books.

Whether you have been together for a year or five, these are the conversations you definitely need to have with your significant other.

Once a relationship has been defined (or DTR’d, for millennial readers), it is crucial to lay down your expectations of one another. Are you a private person? And if so, how much of your relationship are you willing to openly share on social media? While it is not uncommon to experience the occasional bout of insecurity, do you expect your partner to provide you with updates throughout the day? Whatever the case, it is important to express your expectations, within reasonable limits.

The popular saying, “opposites attract” is the case for some couples. However, it isn’t always fun and games when your notions and ideas clash. Beliefs are a vital area of discussion, especially if you hail from two polarizing backgrounds. If you are a devout animal rights activist, can you stomach a partner who loves steak and frites? Appreciating the politics of another is something that is naturally realized between two people–but couples exist on a different level of intimacy, which is not always as simple as it seems.

It remains inevitable for a couple to engage in the periodic argument. Perhaps he had forgotten to do the groceries or she forgot to let the dog out to do his business. Regardless, a means of communication must be established. Are you the type who is confrontational? Do you need time to gather your thoughts before discussing the issue at hand? Your partner must eventually familiarize themselves with your habits–how you get a point across. Addressing how your partner thinks he or she can best handle a difficult situation may not be the most comfortable discussion (in fact, we know it isn’t). Instead, recall a particular argument you may have had and analyze how your significant other handled the situation.

Meeting a serious partner’s family is always a formidable moment. While it may be intimidating, it is also exciting and something that should be discussed beforehand. Talking about your family relationships is a topic that shouldn’t be avoided. Your mother may prefer quiet brunches on Sundays while his or hers may be boisterous and all about nightlife. Find common ground–an activity both parties can appreciate. Know how to approach your partner’s relatives. Maybe they are soft-spoken. Maybe they are loud. Nevertheless, it isn’t about being impressive. It’s about demonstrating your best qualities and showing nothing but respect.

Talks about the future may be fun and casual, but this will not always be the case. Together with your partner, enumerate your goals as a couple. What do you foresee when the honeymoon phase comes to an end? Do you plan to live in the city or perhaps somewhere more remote? Agree to compromise when you can’t completely see eye-to-eye.

 

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