OPINION

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PUT THE PHONE DOWN

By Jared Huey

 

 

Photo By: Tyler Aguallo

With modern technology, it may seem people are more connected to the world than ever, but I think we are less connected than before. To be clear, I am not against technology and smartphones. I use and enjoy technology, but, like any tool, it can be abused. 

   

What has once been used exclusively for calling has become so much more. The capabilities of smartphones evolved so rapidly in just the past ten years. GPS, music player, camera, and many other tools have been merged into one small device most of us use on a daily basis. Now, these small and powerful devices are crucial to our daily lives. According to a survey conducted by Onepoll, Americans check their phones on average of once every 12 minutes. 

   

First, I think it is important to understand why so many of us are over reliant on our phones. Many apps, including Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat are designed to maximize time the users spend on apps for advertisement revenue. These apps use features like notifications to give users instant dopamine hits over and over again. Excitement and the fear of missing out make notifications so effective in tempting users to click. 

 

So why is it bad that we are reliant on our smartphones? Dependency is a need. Smartphones aren’t necessary to survive, so we shouldn’t use them to feel fulfilled. These devices should supplement activities we do, not complete them. Using them may be entertaining in the moment, but not fulfilling in the long run. 

 

Dependency may also be a sign of addiction. When you are addicted, you are constantly thinking about when you will get your next dopamine hit and you may be less present in the moment. 

 

An entire family could be at the dinner table with everyone on their phone. They’re all next to each other, but no quality face to face interactions are happening. 

 

Phones can also be very distracting when you are trying to get work done. A task that takes 20 minutes to complete if you’re focused can take hours to finish when you frequently interrupt your work with texting and scrolling through social media. 

 

Psychology teacher Julie Reis says, “It has completely changed our attention spans, it has changed our ability to focus, ability to form memories, our abilities to read and spell, and the richness of our language.”

 

Luckily, you can develop a healthier relationship with your phone. No, you don’t have to throw it away or delete all your social media apps. You just need to follow some simple tips. Be aware that simple does not mean easy.

 

First, determine how long you use your phone daily and what apps you use the most to become more aware about your phone usage.

 

Next, set time limits on how long you use certain apps and turn off notifications when you are working to minimize distractions. 

 

Lastly, work on your hobbies or play sports on a regular basis. 

 

For further insight, I recommend the book “How To Break Up With Your Phone” by Catherine Price.

 

Smartphones are an amazing resource, just don’t let it take over your life.


 

 

SUMMER READING IS IN DIRE NEED OF CHANGE

By: Joseph Sarabia

 

 

Some of the books featured in the 2019 summer reading list.

Photo by Joseph Sarabia

 

Summer reading is a lowkey mundane and boring activity that I don’t really enjoy. Yes, I know that reading can be a fun and enjoyable activity, but when forced to do it for the sake of a grade, it can ruin the experience. In my opinion, someone shouldn’t be forced to read a book to have fun. I, for one, do enjoy reading in my own time and can see the fun in reading. Although students do  have a choice of what books to read, they are very limited and most students may not want to read those books. And in complete honesty, many students and even friends I know don’t even do the summer reading. Some may just dislike the options available, or in other cases, view it as nothing more than a waste of time. To solve this problem, I propose we make a change to summer reading.

      

In all honesty, I know many people, myself included who don’t do summer reading, but I believe there’s a way to get those numbers lower and get people to read. If there were an option for us to choose any book we can, or have an even larger selection available, it may help solve this dilemma. People like choice, imagine if a menu from a restaurant had only 6 options available, and customers could only buy from those 6. It would become pretty bland and boring after a while. Now imagine the same restaurant with a larger menu of 10 items. More choices mean more freedom, and with that, the quality of life within the restaurant becomes much better. People are enjoying the new menu, and there are even people coming to see what’s new.

         

People enjoy reading books that help them escape reality and immerse them in another world, reading the drama of a good story, and even the suspense of a good plot unfolding. Some books that require a higher level of reading but have a good plot include; “Black Rain” by Masuji Ibuse, “The Hobbit” by J.R.R Tolkien, “1984” by George Orwell, and even the “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”by Mark Twain. All these books require a little bit of a higher level of reading and have the ability to capture the imagination and interest of the viewer. Yet books like “The Metamorphosis” by Frank Kafka are a little bit boring and bland in comparison to these books I mentioned.

      

The incentives for summer reading don't suffice to what many students want. Students may want a good grade, but shouldn’t be penalized for not reading these dull and tedious books. Yet this is all based on opinion; some students may enjoy these books, and some may not. 

 

I, for one, want a change in the summer reading protocol. Rather than force students to read a select few books for a grade, I’d rather have the reading be a larger portion of extra credit, which will incentivize students to want to do the reading, without it being a requirement. Summer reading will be more of a boost to your grade rather than just another austere assignment. This extra credit assignment should help make a student’s grade, not break it.

       

I am not saying that I hate summer reading, but I’d rather see change to this long standing requirement that seems to pervade to this day. If summer reading has to continue, changes must be made to the system. I personally believe that minuscule changes like turning the summer reading into extra credit, expanding the summer reading list, or even having the ability to choose the books outside the list will have a major beneficial quality of life change.

 

Students want to enjoy the summer, and these books I mentioned could help improve people’s interest in books, and maybe even make their summer more enjoyable. Yet I wouldn’t want to force the student to read during their summer break. Students should do whatever they want to enjoy the summer (as long as it’s legal) , and if reading is a part of that, well then, let them enjoy. If not, then no harm done and carry on, students will have plenty of time to read during the school year.

 

 

YOUTH JOKES ABOUT SCHOOL SHOOTINGS NUMB OUR EMOTIONAL REACTION TO THE PAIN SHOOTING CAUSE

By: Sage Leverman 

 

Terrorism, suicide, human traficking, racism, homophobia and all topics that would be deemed as “touchy” and “negative” are now being flipped on the Internet to make memes. Most of these memes are harmless, but some target tragedies such as school shootings and make what were once innocent and funny jokes into “edgy memes.” Making fun of dark subjects is not new to comedy, however at a level where everyone can access these dark memes, they are causing young students to normalize and accept this disgusting behavior. The more common edgy memes become, the more desensitized we will be to such tragedies.

A massive traumatic experience that is heavily abused when it comes to edgy memes is school shootings. We always hear about families wanting guns banned, or see an increase in products that prevent injuries, like the new bullet proof backpacks. 

 

People deliberately turn school shootings into jokes. For instance, these memes make fun of the “emo white kid” and support the idea that he’s the “next school shooter.” Kids shout “school shooting” when we have fire or lockdown drills to be “funny”; these are all clear examples of normalizing such traumas.

 

The students who often make these jokes believe they are appropriate because of all the memes that get put out on the internet. We follow what we see: when we see people laugh, we want to laugh with them, but when we get hurt or inflict pain on others, we see a reaction, which is often sadness. Imagine yourself in a vulnerable state of mind, feeling lost and confused. Talking about the traumatic situations makes the trauma more real than ever, but ignoring the trauma will only cause more melancholy subconscious thoughts. The only way to erase the pain is to numb students to it, and comedy helps with turning light into dark. Students abuse the trauma for dark humor or edgy memes to get rid of the pain and erase all the negative stigma in such dark events.  

 

The problem with normalizing school shootings (or ANY traumatic events) is that we forget why they’re so painful, which leads to accepting the ideology of “it is what it is” when we should be thinking forward and focusing on the fact that “school shootings are terrible” and asking ourselves “what can we do to put a stop to them?”

 

We have to stop installing the dark humorous memes into our brains and remember that, sure, they suck, but laughing at school shootings does not fix the problem, and instead blends them into problems that we face that are already considered “normal.” School shootings are not normal, and we can’t afford to normalize them. Crimes like tax fraud are normal, because they are common, but nothing about a teen killing other students is funny or normal. 

 

Mocking school shootings and numbing ourselves to the reality of kids dying all for jokes will only make us forget and erase our emotional drive to put a stop to these shootings. No examples were shown of the memes being referenced because they shouldn’t have a platform, and for those who wish to visualize them, here’s what I can describe them as: messed up and mocking death. 

 

Here is an example of a meme that is insensitive; how do you feel?

 

 

LINCOLN’S AP CAP IS UNIDEAL AND SOMEWHAT UNFAIR

By: Gordon Liang

 

 

Ken Huang studies for Biotech to earn the highest grade he can.

Photo By: Gordon Liang

 

All of us have heard: “The sky’s the limit.” We’re told that if we put enough effort towards a goal, we can accomplish the said goal. Now, the new enforcement of a policy at Lincoln High School turns this saying into a fallacy. 

   

In an attempt to have more students take Advanced Placement (AP) courses, Lincoln High School limits their students to three AP courses a year. Previously, the policy was very loose and occasionally some students were able to exceed the limit of three AP courses.

   

AP courses are the image of high school. In middle school, getting a GPA above 4.0 was a myth that one could only dream about, and getting a 5.0 was--for the most part--unheard of. Now, getting a 5.0 would remain unheard of because the AP cap makes it nearly impossible for all of our classes to be worth five points.  

    Of course, other facets play a crucial role in our high school career. High school students should partake in programs outside of the academic world to balance their strengths. However, facets like sports, volunteering and clubs aren’t new. Any middle schooler can join a sports team, volunteer at a shelter, or join a school club. No middle schooler can take an AP class (barring extreme cases). The possibility of taking an AP class distinguishes high school from middle school.

   

One defense for this policy is that more students would be allowed to take AP courses. More students would be able to take AP courses if more periods were dedicated to each AP class. Only two periods are dedicated to classes like AP Biology, AP United States History, and AP Language and Composition, while only one period is dedicated to AP Literature and Composition. The shortage in space for AP classes is far more detrimental to the amount of students taking an AP class than the students who decide to push themselves for the better of their own future. A school’s purpose is to help a student expand, not to limit their growth. The policy doesn’t promote diversity, it promotes suppression of growth. It puts training wheels on some and speed bumps on others. Increasing space in AP classes would promote advancement for all. Not only will those who need training wheels get their training wheels, but those who have already ditched their training wheels will be able to fly freely without the inhibition of speed bumps.

   

Another defense is that by limiting AP Classes, Lincoln limits the stress of their students. The purpose of an “Advanced Placement” course is to prepare students for the rigor that comes with college courses. While some students are content with going to college in general, others aim for the big league universities that have “stress” written all over them. Some students want to challenge themselves to simulate the college experience, so let them. Should they find this burden unbearable, they’ll at least get a sense of their boundaries when they head to college. High school students are nearly adults. We know the caveats that come with taking AP classes. We know that at times we get more ambitious than we should. Most importantly, we know that our mistakes are our problems and that mistakes are part of growth.

    I understand that other factors affect Lincoln’s policy to limit AP classes. I trust that Lincoln does what they believe is best for the well-being of every student, but other options exist. More AP spots can be created to include those who have less AP experience and those with more AP experience, instead of limiting those with more experience to include those with less experience.

 

 

 

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