I’m sure everyone on the Interwebs has, by now, heard of or seen Frozen, Disney’s newest animated musical.
While there has been strong backlash against the movie from feminist and minority groups – and indeed, the backlash is warranted – I found myself drawn to it for more reasons than one, and the biggest reason is Elsa.
Elsa’s character development through the first half of the movie plays on themes of isolation and fear. After she accidentally hurts someone when she is little, Elsa is first isolated by her parents, and then learns to self-isolate since she cannot control her condition. Her entire life is about fear: fear of herself, fear of losing control, and fear of hurting people she loves.
I did a little research and I’m not alone in thinking this: Elsa’s fear and anxiety is so visible and well-crafted that those of us in similar conditions or situations can relate immediately. Whether it’s mental or physical illness, sexuality, or something different, Elsa’s constant fight for control, her happiness when she apparently finds a place free of worry or fear, and her complete despair when she finds out that she is no longer safe, are powerful dramatizations of the inner struggles that so many of us face.


Maybe it’s the bird in me, but I like high places.  Mountains, eighth story windows, top bunk beds, anywhere I can watch for enemies crossing the event horizon.  As far as I can get from the stench of ancient blood in the earth and as close as I can get to the point in the sky where the blue deepens, where I can pretend I am falling into the Mariana Trench, where I can pretend I am precipitate settling in a beaker.

The New Storytellers: Of TV, Apple, And A Changing Culture

Last night as I was watching an old movie, I came across Apple’s holiday commercial, which depicts a teenage boy apparently glued to his smartphone throughout the holiday season – until he surprises his family with a homemade video compilation he’s been recording the entire time.  Maybe it was because of the late hour or because I’d been watching pure, unadulterated Christmas corniness, but I loved the commercial and thought it was very sweet and very well done.

I wasn’t prepared for the amount of backlash I found on the Internet towards the ad.  Detractors focused on the fact that the ad seemed to be promoting the depersonalization, not just of the holidays, but of life in general.  We’re moving towards a less personal, more isolated future, they said.  One where rising generations won’t even be able to read, much less speak in proper (insert preferred language here).  Our children are missing out on vital parts of the human experience because of the amount of time they spend hooked up to social networking.

Which I agree with.  Kind of.

I remember something my English teacher told me in high school.  She was confused about why so many people seemed to hate the central position TV occupied in many homes.  (Remember, this was in 2010.)  “People have always had storytellers,” she said.  “Throughout most of human history, we’ve had oral tradition.  When books first began to gain a foothold in average homes, people gathered to read them aloud.  Why is everyone so surprised that TV has become so popular, and why is everyone so upset about it?”

I think one of the reasons why people disapprove of the new role technology and social media play in our society is because they’re not used to it yet.  It’s weird, when you’re used to seeing people read a big ol’ newspaper at Sunday brunch, to see them reading off a laptop, iPad, or smartphone instead.  Yet it’s still the same thing.  But humans don’t like change.  We say we do but we don’t.  

And then there’s this whole issue of children using technology.  Is their social development being stunted by the amount of time they spend hooked up to their electronics?

I would argue no.  From personal experience – and I realize that personal experience isn’t the most valid of argumentative techniques, but that article I linked to up there used it as well – my participation in social media has enriched and enabled my social life, although not in a traditional sense.  Parents, teachers, and police officers told me about Internet predators when I was little, but they never told me about Internet friends – people whom I met online and whose acquaintance and friendship I more often than not made in real life later.  I have friends from Canada, Oregon, New Jersey, England, and even The Netherlands, despite never having been to any of these places.  Of course, making and sustaining online friendships requires a certain amount of caution and skill.  Social skill?  Why, I believe so.

As for my real-life friends, I’d say a good 75% of our conversations revolve around things we’ve heard or seen online.  It’s not that increased electronics usage is making us dumber or less communicative; it’s that our entire social structure is changing.

Finally, I’d like to point out that at the end of the commercial, the boy still uses his technology to connect, in real life, with his family.  Physical human interaction is, and will remain, incredibly important, and people will seek it out autonomously (see any number of classic psychology experiments.)  I can’t imagine a future in which technology will replace real-life interactions completely, because humans just aren’t built that way.

Do I believe technology can become too intrusive?  Definitely.  Do I think social networking can have bad, even terrible outcomes, as well as good ones?  Of course.

But let’s not let our fear of change keep us from moving forward.

Why Is It Always About Sex?

“There are many varieties of Christian experience. Let’s just say I prefer the Pope’s.”


The Dish


Phil of the Duck Dynasty reiterates the fundamentalist view of sin:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious. Sexual immorality, is number one on the list. How many ways can we sin sexually? My goodness. You open up that can of worms and people will be mad at you over it. I am just reading what was written over 2000 years ago. Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom. All I did was quote from the scriptures, but they just didn’t know it. Whether I said it, or they read it, what’s the difference? The sins are the same, humans haven’t changed […] But there’s a way out, do you want to hear the rest of the story or what? Jesus will take sins away, if you’re a homosexual he’ll take it away, if you’re an adulterer, if you’re a liar, what’s the difference?

In that…

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Maybe, like the U.S. dollar, years have depreciated in value.
It takes more of them to purchase things
we always took for granted, like maturity or self-confidence
or a place, for sure, in this world.
My grandmother was out picking cotton when she
was twelve, a year I spent on the couch,
afraid of my changing body, afraid of a world
that was too big. I was afraid to set my feet
on the ground, the same ground she crossed
all those miles on, wrenching the stubborn
white clumps from their nests with tiny, nimble fingers.

When I was twelve I thought twenty was so far away
and could buy so much. I pictured a life like a shopping cart
full of apartments and jobs and pets. I didn’t realize then
that twenty these days will only buy a stack of textbooks
and a body that still isn’t finished, some assembly required.
Being twenty in this economy is like getting your first paycheck,
that first few hundred dollars you worked so hard for,
and seeing it traded in for many fewer and less
glamorous things than you imagined:
bills, white bread, rain boots, Cipro. Age is just a number
and we’re all 75% cotton, anyway.

TMIM: End-Of-Semester Edition

Dear all the lonely (and not-so-lonely) people.

Okay, so I’ve been a bit lax about updating TMIM lately.  But can you blame me?  I had a total of six hours of finals yesterday, and I have a seven-page paper to finish by Wednesday afternoon (which is surprisingly difficult for a STEM major.)  Yes, I’ve already written four pages, but you’d be surprised how much more … interesting the Internet gets when your only choices are between finishing an essay and browsing its many pages.  Never mind that I’m going to have all of winter break to do nothing but play on the Internet!  My social networks and funny blogs demand I check them now!  RIGHT NOW.

However, if I manage to get the paper done tomorrow, maybe I’ll treat myself to a museum visit on Wednesday before I leave for the cold northern climes of central Texas.  It is so difficult to sneak away and visit a museum all by myself during the school year (in fact it’s very hard to get any time by myself during the school year) and I think the best way to browse a museum is alone.  


Anyway, it’s really weird to think that the semester is already over and that I’ve made it to the halfway mark of this mad dash through science.  A friend of mine is studying abroad this semester, and while when I first learned about it last summer I couldn’t imagine so many months without them, I knew that if I worked hard and stayed busy the time would fly by quickly.  And it proved to be so.

I’m not sure if I will continue TMIM through break or through next semester.  I think I will revert this blog to its original purpose of creative writing and quotes, pictures, and songs that would annoy my Facebook friends and are too special to be lot in the shuffle of Tumblr.  Perhaps I will embark on a new writing challenge.  I hear 750 Words is supposed to be fun, or maybe I’ll do the automatic writing thing and let the Interwebs see the workings of my innermost self.

Whoooo knows?  Sorry not sorry.

Whatever happens, I look forward to the future with unwavering hope and excitement.  As much as I can’t wait to go home and see my family, I also can’t wait to begin a new semester full of biochemistry, physics, and psychology (PLOT TWIST.)  I hope your holiday season, dear reader, is restful and happy as well.

Looking into the sallyport