As the first semester of my freshmen year ends, and I think back to the first day of this class, I can’t help but think how fast it went by. I knew when I entered this course I had the goal of becoming a more skilled writer. And because of this classes useful and creative assignments, I feel like I have done so. The assignments I feel have benefitted my development as a writer the most are the Annotated Bibliography, “Strawberry Spring,” and weekly Scrabble.
The Annotated Bibliography was an assignment where us the students chose a topic of something related to technology and gathered reliable sources on that topic to then explain the source in a paragraph and relate it back to our original topic. The challenge of this was more the research aspect rather than the writing. The assignment had me stumped looking for reliable sources, with little or no bias, and with enough information to relate back to my main topic. An example from my Bibliography reads “All the major companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram do have thousands of moderators to combat harmful content it is nothing compared to the millions of harmful posts that are published. Researchers have concluded that tons of this harmful content can stay on these sites for days, months, and even years before anyone notices them and removes them. The content can range from violence, scams, hate speech, and pornography that can and have triggered problems in the real world” (Pignataro).
The next assignment was a reading called “Strawberry Spring.” This reading is a short story included in a collection of stories called the “Night Shift” all written by Stephen King. The story follows the main character and narrator in college at a small school in New Sharron as a series of serial murders occur. We don’t find out until the end that the killer was the main character the whole time. Our job with this reading was to analyze it and, pull out certain elements that gave us clues that revealed the author was the killer. Writing Analytically describes analysis as “Divide the subject into its defining parts, its main elements or ingredients. Consider how these parts are related, both to each other and to the subject as a whole” (Rosenwasser and Stephen 4). This was a fun spooky assignment that allowed for peer collaboration and fun to learn more about analyzing a piece of writing.
The last element of this class that has helped me develop is the weekly Scrabble games played on Fridays. Every Friday we are put into random groups and we play a game of Scrabble and record all our words that each team plays. This game has helped me in many ways. It teaches problem solving, teamwork, critical thinking, imagination, and most importantly expands vocabulary. Coming in on Friday is always a joy knowing an intense game of Scrabble is going to be played.
To conclude I thought going in this class would just be one big writing assignment after another, but to my surprise it turned out to be a creative learning space with collaboration and fun. I have enjoyed many assignments in the course but overall the Annotated Bibliography, “Strawberry Spring,” and Scrabble have been my favorites and have taught me the most about my writing. I am sad to see this course end but excited by what it has taught me and what I will accomplish at Highpoint with the skills it and Dr. Lucas have taught me.
“Social media is a collective term for websites and applications that focus on communication, community-based input, interaction, content-sharing, and collaboration. People use social media to stay in touch and interact with friends, family, and various communities.”(Lutkevich 2021). Unfortunately today social media has taken a turn for the worse instead of bringing people together it tears them apart. When Facebook was first created it was a hot new social media site created by a young enterperunuer. But because of careless and sloppy work, Facebook now has become a place where one can see just about any sort of information and according to Max Fisher author of “The Chaos Machine”, he states “But virtually everywhere I traveled in my reporting, covering far-off despots, wars, and upheavals, strange and extreme events kept getting linked back to social media.” (Fisher 2).
Fisher and others have reported on the issues of social media for years. Particularly issues regarding hateful and extreme posts online that instead of being taken down are allowed to circle and be promoted to grab users’ attention to make them stay online longer. And while of course, all the major companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram do have thousands of moderators to combat harmful content it is nothing compared to the millions of harmful posts that are published. Researchers have concluded that tons of this harmful content can stay on these sites for days, months, and even years before anyone notices them and removes them. The content can range from violence, scams, hate speech, and pornography that can and have triggered problems in the real world.
Of course, these companies cannot stop every single piece of harmful content that is posted but the lack of responsibility and action that these companies have taken is the scary part. It seems all the companies care about is time online and how many people use their particular sites. And when faced with backlash from the media they turn to most of the same answers with stats that have little to no meaning in fixing the issue. It is said by Fisher that Facebook was accused by the United Nation of provoking a genocide in Myanmar, and even with all the monitors and algorithrithms to prevent this content it always seems to worsen. This issue with social media allowing harmful content to stay on their sites is a real issue and has occurred everywhere and continues to occur today.
“Facebook Is a Harmful Presence in Our Lives. It’s Not Too Late to Pull the Plug on It | Jathan Sadowski.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 6 Oct. 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/oct/06/facebook-scandals-social-media.”
The author of this article Jathan Sadowski describes the issues regarding Facebook and its recent problems with harmful content and the companies’ lack of response to fix the issues. “The accusations of Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election; unrestrained hate speech, inciting, among other things, genocide in Maynmar; the viral spread of disinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines” (Sadowski). The article goes on to explain the harm that Facebook and its partner Instagram have had on people and their serious lack of responsibility when being called out. It was reported by Facebook’s algorithm team created to make the site safer that “The platform’s algorithm is designed to foster more user engagement in any way possible, including by sowing discord and rewarding outrage” and when the team wished to make changes to this algorithm Mark Zuckerberg creator and owner of both Facebook and Instagram denied the request. The source also speaks of a whistleblower in 2019 who came out saying Facebook’s content harms children, sparks outrage, and weakens democracy and accused Zuccerburg of knowing the ways to make the platform safer but values profit over protection.
The article “Facebook is a harmful presence in our lives. It’s not too late to pull the plug on it.” written by Jathan Sadowski was written in 2019. Sadowski is a research fellow in the emerging technologies lab at Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia.
Fisher, Max. Prologue: “Consequences.” The Chaos Machine. Little, Brown. 2022.
This source is by author Max Fisher a reporter who went to Facebooks headquarters to discuss the recurring issue of harmful content on Facebook’s platform. Fisher describes his time at the headquarters discussing issues with high-ranking members of the Facebook team and explaining some of its biggest issues throughout the article. The author explains that because technology has such a powerful pull on our society and individual identities it can change and influence us as humans in very positive and harmful ways. According to Fisher Facebook is leading down the path of harm as “In summer of 2020, an independent audit of Facebook, commissioned by the company under pressure from civil rights groups, concluded that the platform was everything its executives had insisted to me it was not. Its policies permitted rampant misinformation that could undermine elections” (Fisher 4). The algorithms designed by Facebook are supposed to keep the platform “safe” and “civil” however Facebook’s failure to contain the streamline of harmful content has allowed this content to be seen everywhere by Facebooks two billion users.
Max Fisher is an international reporter and journalist who reports for the “New York Times” He covers mainly foreign conflict, diplomacy, and foreign change. He also writes “The Interpreter” a column about major world events.
Dalomba, Frances, et al. “Pros and Cons of Social Media.” Lifespan, 1 Mar. 2022, https://www.lifespan.org/lifespan-living/social-media-good-bad-and-ugly.
This source from Life Span talks about some statistics on social media usage and some of the major pros and cons of social media usage. At social medias birth only about five percent of people in the United States, today that number is around seventy percent. While most adults are using Facebook and Youtube most teens ages ten to eighteen are found using Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok. The article also reports time on social media stating “One report indicates the average teen ages 13 to 18 spends about nine hours on social media each day; tweens ages 8 to 12 are on for about six hours a day” (Frances Dalomba). The article also dives into some benefits of social media like being connected to friends and family, quick access to information and news, interesting facts, and fun interactive experiences that can inspire. Some serious problems that social media is usually involved in are spending too much time on social media, the online world that seems like reality, self-image concerns, and harmful content. Unfortunately, many of these problems on social media have led to a rise in suicide rates, with the rate going up fifty percent in the last decade.
The author Frances Dalomba has received a BSW and MSW from Rhode Island College and has worked in psychiatric, educational, and community settings with children and families for over twenty-two years. The author also is the chair of the Lifespan Advry on Anti rascim and health equity.
3, May, et al. “How to Avoid Extremism on Social Media.” RAND Corporation, 3 May 2022, https://www.rand.org/blog/rand-review/2022/05/how-to-avoid-extremism-on-social-media.html.
The final source deals with the hidden types of harmful content that are subtly thrown in with everyday social media content. Alexandra Evans a policy researcher at RAND has had the opportunity to dive deeper into where extreme speech is hidden throughout media. It was discovered that extremist groups would often post articles about issues in American society today hoping to peak the interest of people leading down the rabbit hole to that specific group’s beliefs. Researchers discovered that many sites that believe in protecting all speech were found to have the most harmful and extreme content, however, it was discovered that sites like Instagram and Twitter still did have a number of harmful content. “The researchers used their scoring system to identify dozens of sites that could host all manner of extremists: anti-government militia members, neo-Nazis, White supremacists. On some sites, the researchers found content that was so disturbing, they decided it was probably criminal” (Doug Irving). The unfortunate reality is that kids as young as fifteen go online for information and get sucked in by these groups and are inevitably fed wrong, harmful, and extreme information from not credible sources that can seriously corrupt them in the future.
The author Doug Irving graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in journalism/news editorial. He is currently a communications analyst at the RAND Corporation and its lead writer for the companies magazine. Before joining RAND he spent fifteen years as a journalist covering politics, transportation, and political investigations.
The “Blind Side” written by Michael Lewis tells a story about a young, poor, homeless African American boy named Michael Oher who is taken in by the Touhy’s, a very well-off white family that convinces him to play football because of his tremendous size. At the start of the book, the author opens with a football game that took place in 1985 between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants. Lewis, however, has an incredibly unique way of telling this story of what happened to Theismann and why fear even in the NFL is still a contributing factor. His ability to break down the play as if it were slow motion while also using incredibly descriptive language to make a real-time event come back to life is amazing.
The author tells the readers immediately that this play only lasted four seconds before Theismann was injured. The first paragraph describes what is going on in those four seconds in a unique way. The author describes the entire scenario in clear vivid detail while also keeping the reader informed on the play call, score, and teams. He builds up this moment with what things are happening after each second until finally, he states, “The play is now 3.5 seconds old.” leaving the readers on almost a cliffhanger never actually describing Theismann being hit. Of course, if one had seen that game that individual would already know the outcome of Theismann but for a person who has not and is reading the book for the first time not telling the reader exactly what happened but rather saying “From the snap of the ball to the snap of the first bone was closer to four seconds than to five.” It is understood as soon as the book is read that someone is going to be seriously injured.
A very crucial element in this excerpt from Michael Lewis’s “The Blind Side” is how he describes the fear and how it can play into NFL teams’ and players’ careers. Lewis tells us that because of this hit by the Giants Lawrence Taylor quarterbacks are now at the leisure of what they cannot see, hence the term blindside. It is the spot where quarterbacks are absolutely blind to seeing any defender approaching from their backside which is why an offensive tackle position is so important for it is their job to protect that quarterback’s blindside. Lewis goes on to explain that in the average person’s mind we tend to believe that these NFL players are without fear and that imagining them to be nervous and sweating before a game is “preposterous.” However, the New York Giants coach Bill Parcels did believe in fear after that game against the Redskins. He saw what his two-time Super Bowl Champion and three-time Defensive Player of the year did to Joe Theismann and Parcells used that fear that Lawrence Taylor struck in every player to his advantage.
The last detail that makes this piece of writing so effective is the author’s care and attention for such a clear description of a real-life event. The book “The Blind Side” was based on a true story and the excerpt “Back Story” was taken from a real NFL football game in 1985. The way the author structures this back story explaining why a blind side is so important is so unique in its way to tell the readers what is going on. It paints an incredibly clear picture of the event and feels as if one was at the game experiencing this moment in slow motion. Lewis’s attention to not just what happened but also to all the logistical aspects of the game itself tells the reader every bit of information they need while also leaving them with a suspenseful opening line and a heavy description of the importance of fear within the NFL.
To conclude the excerpt “Back Story” from the story “The Blind Side” by Michael Lewis is a captivating and heartwarming story about how Michael Ohr rises from nothing to playing college and eventually NFL football with the help of his adopted family. Michael Lewis uses an arsenal of incredibly specific elements about Joe Theismann’s injury in the 1985 game between the Giants and Redskins to give the readers a look at just how dangerous football can be. He also shows us the importance of how fear was utilized in that game and because of what happened how the Giants would go on to use that fear factor as an ally. Lewis also does a stellar job explaining really everything there is to know about what happened during that game, basically transporting a reader into the physical game itself to give one a clearer view of the story.
- Lewis, Michael. Chapter One: “Back Story.” The Blind Side. 2006. Norton, 2009, pp. 15-16.
“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20). This quote from the Gospel of Matthew was written on the back of our bright salmon-colored shirts as the rest of my mission team and I roamed the airport on August 6th at four in the morning getting ready to board our flight to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Just an hour before I was waking up dreading going on this trip as this summer was one of the best and this trip was taking up an entire week of fun. I begged and pleaded with my parents to let me stay as I only had my own interests at heart. What I did not know was that this experience would change my life forever. The trip took months to plan, the seven teens were tasked with applying with a formal essay, raising over 5,000 dollars, hosting multiple charity events, and weekly meetings to allow us to grow closer as a team. We also had seven adult leaders who were tasked with planning most of the logistical elements of the trip and serving as older role models who have gone on the trip before. We finally landed in Montego Bay at around two in the afternoon and while the entire group was celebrating my best friend and I were miserable. Until we arrived at Blessed Assurance Orphanage at four-thirty.
We stepped off the bus and were greeted by the staff and many of the children singing and dancing holding signs reading “Welcome Holy Apostles!” The energy and happiness of these people who they had never met was like nothing I have ever seen. Immediately I was filled with joy and a smile came across my face as I was eager to meet all the children and get to know them. Unfortunately, all thirty-two of these children have been challenged both physically and mentally quite severely. And as we were taken into the Gazebo where the children spent most of their time doing activities and eating, I was at a loss for words. The severity of their disabilities was just purely overwhelming, most of them couldn’t walk, talk, or even move. And it almost felt wrong and awkward to just approach them and try to have a conversation. I knew now that this experience was not about me it was about the children, so I sat down with a little boy about four years old who was incredibly underdeveloped and was missing some of his fingers due to complications at birth. I discovered his name was Rashim and for an hour I sat with him clapping and playing, just seeing him smile and laugh I knew that I had made the right decision on coming.
Throughout the week, we would eat all three meals together as a mission group, go to daily Mass (one of the adult leaders was our Pastor for the Church), conduct chores like painting the children’s houses, and fun activities like crafts and music, and finally feed the children their meals. Over the week, there were two particular children who I got to connect with extensively and build an amazing relationship with. The first was a fourteen-year-old girl named Okeliah, she had an extensive mental disability and could not speak in full sentences but was very mobile. She communicated through her actions, every morning when I would walk out of the mission house there she was calling my name and running up to me, funny enough I was the only one whose name she knew and would say regularly. She means a lot to me personally and we even made each other bracelets with our names on them as a way of remembering each other. The second child was named Javier, he was a twenty-year-old boy who had a very severe underdeveloped disability which caused him to not be able to walk or talk and he looked like he was about seven years old. I met Javier during feeding time when the staff asked us to feed the children their meals. I went over to him and sat down and held his hands and man was he strong he would continuously squeeze the life out of your fingers till they were purple. I was spending so much time with him that he eventually knew my face and would always smile when I approached him. It would even get to the point where he would hug and clap to music with me, it was amazing to see how smart and strong he was regardless of how severe his disability was. These kids taught me that even though they were living with extraordinarily little they were still the happiest people I have ever seen, probably happier than folks in the U.S. who have extensive luxuries. They changed me from a kid who didn’t appreciate privileges and who was selfish to someone who cares so much about the people around me.
To conclude, this trip which I was originally against going on changed me in ways I cannot even fathom. It changed me mentally and the ways I think of people and life in America, and how truly lucky we are to have the things we do, things these children only dream of. It changed me extensively in terms of my spirituality as the trip not only brought our group closer to God but brought me personally closer to God and to better understand that we are all his children no matter what our background is.
The serene and starry sky and the shining sun are peacocks. The calm, azure heavens, bespangled with a thousand stars, a thousand brilliant eyes, and the sun rich with the colours of the rainbow, offer the appearance of a peacock in all the splendour of its eye-besprinkled feathers.
When the sky or the thousand-rayed sun (sahasrânçus) is hidden in the clouds, or veiled by the autumnal waters, it again resembles the peacock, which, in the dark part of the year, like a great number of vividly-coloured birds, sheds its beautiful plumage, and becomes dark and unadorned; the crow which had put the peacock’s feathers on then returns to caw amongst the funereal crows.
In winter the peacock-crow has nothing remaining to it except its disagreeable and shrill cry, not dissimilar to that of the crows. It is commonly said of the peacock that it has an angel’s feathers, a devil’s voice, and a thief’s walk. The crow-peacock is proverbial.
According to Onesicritus, in those parts of India where there is no shadow, the men attain the height of five cubits and two palms, and their life is prolonged to one hundred and thirty years; they die without any symptoms of old age, and just as if they were in the middle period of life. Pergannes calls the Indians, whose age exceeds one hundred years, by the name of Gymnetæ; but not a few authors style them Macrobii.
Ctesias mentions a tribe of them, known by the name of Pandore, whose locality is in the valleys, and who live to their two-hundredth year; their hair is white in youth, and becomes black in old age. On the other hand, there are some people joining up to the country of the Macrobii, who never live beyond their fortieth year, and their females have children once only during their lives.
This circumstance is also mentioned by Agatharchides, who states, in addition, that they live on locusts, and are very swift of foot. Clitarchus and Megasthenes give these people the name of Mandi, and enumerate as many as three hundred villages which belong to them. Their women are capable of bearing children in the seventh year of their age, and become old at forty.
Artemidorus states that in the island of Taprobane (Ceylon) life is prolonged to an extreme length, while at the same time, the body is exempt from weakness. Among the Calingæ, a nation also of India, the women conceive at five years of age, and do not live beyond their eighth year. In other places again, there are men born with long hairy tails, and of remarkable swiftness of foot; while there are others that have ears so large as to cover the whole body.
“He had all the body of a fish, but below the head of the fish another head, which was that of a man; also the feet of a man, which came out of its fish’s tail. He had a human voice, and its image is preserved to this day.”