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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sacrificing one for the good of the many

Murder. What a concept. Killing another human being.­ If you're not some sort of psychopath, your moral compass is telling you that murder is wrong, malicious, unlawful, bad. Speaking in generalities, I don't think anyone has the right to take another human's life — death row, abortion, war and similar issues are subjects for another post, okay?

Murder. Many dictionaries use the word "premeditated" in the definition of the word, or something similar, like the readily used Merriam-Webster. To avoid breaking this post down to bare semantics, let's say, just for this post, that murder is defined as killing another human being but is not always premeditated or with aforethought of malice.

Now that I've warmed you all up, let me get to the point. Using murder to sacrifice one for the good of the many and the question of whether or not it is morally acceptable. Impersonally, without specifics, my reaction? A lukewarm "yes" — ignoring legal and religious consequences. I know what you're thinking: "But in the first paragraph you say no one has the right to take another human's life." Yes, I did say that generally I abide by this. But what I'm about to present to you are specific situations that even the most moral of us would probably grapple with.

I was listening to NPR recently (hold your opinions, let me get to the point) and two dudes (I don’t retain information like names) brought up a challenging moral dilemma, which I will paraphrase. You’re at a railroad crossing and there are five men working on the tracks. A train is nearing and for some reason — reasons that NPR ignored, I guess, for the sake of the argument — the men do not hear it coming or feel the vibration. The men are going to get hit by the train and be killed. However, there is something you can do. There is a lever that you could pull which would cause the track to switch to one going another way, thereby saving the five men. But there is one man on the other track. And if you pull the lever and make the train go onto the other track, the one man will be hit and killed. We have no information about any of these men, so I think we’re just supposed to assume that they’re all Average Joes. The question is, would you pull the lever?

The NPR dudes reported that 9 out of 10 people randomly interviewed said they would pull the lever. Burn that stat into your brain; it’s the only one I recall and I’m 100 percent sure that’s what they said. You can easily defend this 90 percent of people by arguing that you’re sacrificing one for the good of the many. I get that. But then the situation was changed slightly to say that instead of pulling a lever you had to push the one man in front of the train. Why? Who knows, but again, we’re ignoring missing details and such. Did that 9 out of 10 again say “yes”? Nope. Many (pardon my brain, I don’t remember any more specific numbers) said that in that case they would not do it.

Here is where the report started to annoy me. The NPR dudes brought in Scientific Guy (da dada daaaaa!) who described a study involving taking pictures of people’s brains while they decided what they would do in these train scenarios. The “pull the lever” pictures and the “push the man” pictures were different (cue gasps). While thinking about what they would do, totally separate areas of the subjects’ brains lit up for the different scenarios. According to Scientific Guy, this is surprising, telling, and incredibly interesting. Scientific Guy kept maintaining that this was so amazing because the two scenarios are inherently the same, so there should be no difference in brain activity.

Sir, your theory is flawed!

And this is where the problem pops up. Scientific Guy is basing his findings on the assumption that he is asking essentially the same question twice. But I don’t think this is true. In order for me to take his findings as true and accurate I have to believe that the variable (the scenario) is constant. And it’s not! The two scenarios may look inherently the same, but you cannot rely on what is and is not inherent when human emotion is involved. What Scientific Guy is loosely presenting is that different parts of the brain were determining morality assumedly based on human emotion. Understandable, I’ll definitely concede to that. But he kept insisting that wow, this is so amazing because the questions are exactly the same. Nope, nope, and nope.

I think Scientific Guy is missing the part that the questions are not, in fact, the same firmly because of human emotion. Otherwise, human emotion would be irrelevant and the brain would light up in the same area for both scenarios and we could all go home.

Granted, I am not a scientist, a psychologist, a researcher, or any sort of scientific professional by any standard — my profession and Scientific Guy’s profession don’t even send each other Christmas cards. I am, however, a human being. And as a human being with thoughts, feelings, and emotions, I really think that the two questions are different. Isn’t that what the brain shows us in Scientific Guy’s findings? He says that there is differing brain activity when pondering two questions that are inherently the same; I feel the fact that the brain reacts thusly is proof that the two questions are not the same. The first scenario of pulling the lever feels (it’s important to note the word that I’m choosing to use here) less direct, less personal, like there’s less “blood on your hands.” The second scenario of pushing the man is direct, personal, forceful. There’s real contact.

I understand that what I’m saying and what Scientific Guy is saying are two sides of the same coin, but it really bothered me that he was blindly ignoring that the questions cannot be inherently the same precisely due to what his study found. Of course, this is just my opinion.

The next situation the NPR dudes presented did somewhat alleviate my frustration because it more directly addressed what bothered me about the train scenarios. Would you kill your own baby to save others? The complete scenario takes place during a war and your village is being raided. You and many others are hiding under a house and have to be completely silent so you won’t be found while the invaders search the house. But you have a colicky baby. One cough, one sniff could draw attention to everyone hiding and risk everyone’s lives. You have to decide if you are willing to smother your baby to keep it quiet in order to ensure that the many other villagers live.

It’s difficult for the “sacrifice one for the good of the many” to stand here. It may feel easier to do it if it were a random child instead of your child, but the parental bond and human emotion here could easily overrule any moral conflict you would be feeling. Of course, most people said that they didn’t think they would be able to smother their child. But surprisingly, the NPR dudes did report that there were some people who said they would kill the baby. They played a sound clip of a woman saying that she would do it because she had the “right” to do so, it being her child. Her answer isn’t quite on point, but it is shocking nonetheless.

I specifically remember one the NPR dudes reiterating this second scenario in a different way, and this one sound bite keeps playing in my head: “would you murder — ’cause that’s what it is…” This brings me all the way back to the beginning of my post: murder.

You probably see now why I went out of my way to define the word in the simplest of terms. Without premeditation. Without malice. Even so, can these two scenarios be boiled down to “would you murder?” I think the more appropriate question is “would you sacrifice one for the good of the many?” As the slightly differing train questions and the baby question show it’s not black and white.

We don’t know anything about the men on the train tracks. We know how most of us would feel pulling the lever or pushing the one man. We wonder if — as one of NPR dudes pointed out — killing one baby would be justified if it meant the surviving villagers would live to have dozens more. We know that we don’t want innocent people to die.

We don’t know if we would sacrifice one — commit murder — for the good of the many.


*note: As some of you many notice, this article has a down-style headline, when normally the headlines are up-style. I'm making this statement to let you know that I did it on purpose. If you're like me, your brain might go "MISTAKE!" without a style-change explanation. In conclusion, it's not a mistake, I'm just trying it out.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Pot: I Don't Like It But I'm Not Sure Why

Okay, I admit it. As liberal as I strive to be about most social issues, I don't feel comfortable with pot. There, I said it. And, to be honest, I have no concrete reasons why.

I've been thinking about it lately, and I just can't put my finger on it. You know how sometimes you get a gut feeling that says "Don't do that" or "This is wrong"? That's the feeling I get about marijuana. Needless to say, I would never partake myself, but I do have friends who smoke (sometimes pretty regularly) and it doesn't change my opinion of them. I'm not going to stop hanging out with them, I do not have a lower opinion of their morality or judgment, and I am certainly not going to tell them what to do.

But I do worry about said friends. I can't help it! I always tell them not to drive when they're high. I get nervous when they go to buy it. I worry about how it will affect their schoolwork or job. And I guess the worst thing is that I try not to be around them when they're high. I just get kind of uncomfortable, which doesn't really make logical sense. None of them are obnoxious high, none have ever put me in danger while high, none perpetually hang around with dealers or hard drug addicts, and none have ever pressured me into trying it.

The way the U.S. is coming around to pot should put me more at ease. The "it's illegal" argument is slowly but surely becoming null and void. I grew up in Vermont, where its recreational use was no secret well before the state legalized medical marijuana in 2004 (see the complete list of 22 states here). The most recent state to legalize medical marijuana was Illinois in 2013, while Colorado and Washington state got buckets of media attention when they legalized recreational use in 2013 and late 2012, respectively. From what I've read, like this article, the legality of it seems to be handled fairly well for being so new. For example, in Colorado state residents 21 and older can only buy an ounce at a time and can also be ticketed for driving under the influence. Personally, I wish this was treated the same as a DUI, because I don't think you should drive if you're under the influence of anything that alters your mental state, but that's probably a topic for another post.

Anyhoo, my point here is that when I read about the legal policies that go along with pot and think about it objectively I really should be fine with it, knowing myself. And really, if everyone were responsible and didn't put themselves or other people in danger (like driving while high), it would make sense. People of age can imbibe alcohol responsibly (or at least they're supposed to) and, as my one friend constantly points out to me, there are no laws against caffeine, which is something many people take in daily -- and probably in excessive amounts.

So, what IS it, then? The only thing that makes sense is that I don't want the people I care about to get in harm's way, whether it be getting shanked by their dealer or thinking they can jump off their roof and fly when they're as high as a kite.

Maybe my feelings will change as the legalization progresses, but until then, should I be feeling bad about not liking pot?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Back on the Writing Horse?

I have been at my new job in the greater Boston area for about six weeks. Today, one of my co-workers asked me how I like living here and what do I like to do on my days off. I drew a blank.


"What are your hobbies?"

"Uhhh...I like to read and watch Netflix. And I have a ukulele." That was it. That was all I could come up with. 

Someone made a joke about how I must be a "dud." I laughed along with it, but the whole time I was thinking: "Oh my god, she's right. I am a dud. I am a hobby-less loser."

It got me wondering: What do I like to do? I didn't lie; I do watch a lot of Netflix, I do like to read and I do have a ukulele (even though I haven't touched it in a few weeks). But I don't have any real hobbies, nothing that I'm passionate enough to do on a regular basis. I love music and I can't get through one day without singing, whether it's in the car or in the shower, but I'm not motivated to get involved with any music groups. What exactly am I doing with my free time? Nothing productive, I know that.

While I was thinking all of this, the woman who originally asked the question was listing off all the things she likes to do and she mentioned writing. Ding, ding. ding.

Writing, of course. This blog and my online portfolio have been sitting here collecting metaphorical dust for months. And, if my memory is correct, I like writing. Hell, I even voluntarily took writing classes in college. I mean, it's not a secret that I'm no Jack Kerouac or Hunter Thompson (shout out to certain writer friends), but I remember doing it. Often. In all forms. I wrote crappy poetry as a kid, I wrote cliche song lyrics as a teenager, and I wrote essays and articles in college.

So why not start up again?

This blog was originally for a senior capping project that I tried to keep going, but to no avail. I think this primarily was because I was trying to keep all my posts relevant to my industry — grammar, media, things in the news, blah blah blah. But now, I'm thinking about a makeover, about making the blog my "hobby." Maybe I'll write on this blog when I want, about what I want. And maybe people will read it, maybe they won't. Maybe I'll even start adding things to my online portfolio again...I'm probably getting ahead of myself.

The point is, I should — I want — to start writing again. Let's just see if anything worth reading escapes from my brain to my fingertips.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

California Prisons, Lawmakers Making Controversial Decisions for Inmates

Posts on this blog have been intermittent (at best) since my senior capping class ended. I suppose that without expectations looming over me I lost motivation to post regularly, let alone at all. But lately the itch to write has come back. And, after all, to become a better writer you need to write. Writing just to write without really having something to say is boring and, at least for me, produces poor writing.

However, something in the news recently sparked my interest. I saw two separate articles about California prisons, which I'm sure almost everyone has seen. One was about supplying condoms in male prisons to cut down on the STD rate, the other was about forced sterilization of female inmates. Obviously, both of these articles bring forth questionable issues. I'm going to come right out and share my opinion about the sterilization: I absolutely believe that forced sterilization is 100 percent ethically wrong.

One hundred and fifty women were reported sterilized in California over the course of five years. No one can say for sure if every one of these women did not willingly agree to the procedure, but the general assumption in the media is that it was forced sterilization for the most part. Not only was it forced, but it was also illegal since the prisons did not go through the state's proper channels to legally perform the procedures.

While I understand the legal seriousness of the issue -- misuse of funds, mis-documenting procedures as "medical emergencies" -- I feel the ethical seriousness has been downplayed. I have read some quotes from inmates, saying things about how they overheard prison nurses pushing sterilization on other inmates and such. One sterilized inmate said that doctors convinced her that sterilization was the best thing to do since she already had five children, but that she later regretted the decision. I understand that these women are inmates, in prison for crimes. And criminals should be punished -- I am all for solitary confinement and the like when circumstances warrant it. But basically stripping a human being of their reproductive rights is heinous. This is comparable to a civilian's right to choose an abortion being taken away.

The beliefs of some should not dictate policy for all. Meaning, in this case, inmates' reproductive rights should not be abolished simply because some think it is the right thing to do without medical criteria backing it up. Criminals, drug addicts, homeless persons, a mother of 10, I don't care. Unless a medical professional has solid, indisputable evidence that sterilization of an inmate -- or anyone-- is necessary, forced sterilization is wrong. This is my ethical standpoint. I can foresee people reading this tearing their hair out, citing statistics about unfit mothers who have more children just for the welfare check and then use the money for drugs, et cetera. I get that, I really do. Those kind of situations are horrible, and those mothers should have the welfare cut off and their children taken away. But as much as I agree with such concerns, I cannot condone the act of a human being taking away an inherent, biological right from another human being.

All this being said, my view on condoms in male prisons is not nearly as clear-cut or lengthy.

Having sex in prison is a felony. Clearly, this is not stopping many inmates, consensual or not. By giving them access to condoms, California is sending one of two message: "Go ahead, we condone this." or "We do not condone this, but at least be safe." Either way, I do think that the premise for such an action is justified; the state wants to cut down the STD rate. This concept is great! And California wouldn't be the first state to try something like this. Vermont (my home state) has had condom accessibility in prisons for years. Other states have more restrictive rules, such as those involving conjugal visits.

Again, the concept behind the idea is great. But I think about how often men get raped in prison and I worry that by supplying condoms the state is giving rapists another reason to rape. I do not think that lawmakers are considering supplying condoms in order to validate or encourage inmate rapists. However, I wonder if these abusers will see it that way. On the other hand, a small part of me thinks that perhaps giving out condoms is more about protecting the inmate victims rather than the rapists. Though that may be little comfort if they are still getting raped.

When it comes to inmate rapes, my view on supplying condoms is murky. Consensual relationships are definitely a different story. Maybe if prison couples disclosed their relationships the state would feel more justified in supplying condoms for consensual sex. Unfortunately, that still leaves rape victims unprotected and may even make them feel discriminated against.

This post isn't about coming up with answers to the condoms issue or sterilization issue, but they are two things that people should think about. We tend to discard people once they are sent to prison, disregard them as human beings deserving of rights. And in some cases like cold-blooded murder I'm sure one could create a strong argument for it. Another debate for another post. In the two instances presented here, when you get down to it, one is about reproductive rights and the other is about sexual health. Just think about it.

(Citation: Specific information in this post gathered from the two articles linked above.)

Monday, January 21, 2013

My First Real Job ("I Cried in Front of My Boss")

Yes, that's right. I am no longer among the huddled masses of unemployed college graduates. My last post lamented over my job search, but about a month and a half after that was posted voila: a job appeared! A real, live journalism job with an office and coworkers and a water cooler. In case you were wondering how I was blessed with such a stroke of luck, I will share my secret.

Flickr's NS Newsflash
Avid job seekers in the journalism or writing field probably already know about this, but if you don't, here it is: It was my lover, my beacon of hope and opportunity, and now I am sharing it with all of you. You can search for jobs in or relating to the journalism field by category or state/country or view all listings. There are freelance jobs, reporter jobs, editing jobs, copy editing jobs--like the one I got. So before I write a love poem about JournalismJobs ("Ode to the Best Journalism Job Search Site on Earth"), let me share a little bit about my first real job.

For the past three months I have lived in Lake Charles, Louisiana (flat, oh my Lord, how flat) and worked at The American Press, a daily newspaper serving six parishes (they call them parishes here, not counties). My title is "copy editor," which can be a little misleading since many of us associate copy editing with proofreading, assuring the writing is competent, and maintaining Associated Press or the publication's personal style. (For example, did you know that in AP style MLK Day is written out without a comma before "Jr."? The things you learn.) But what I really do is pagination, which means I help put together the layout of the following day's publication by pulling articles and photos onto the page, making sure everything is feng shui and mistake-free. Sounds easy, and sometimes it is, but you really have to dig paying attention to detail in order to enjoy it when things stop cooperating. Like when you need the article you're working with to be just a couple of picas longer to fill up the space. (A pica is .1667 of an inch--can you handle all the knowledge I'm dropping?)

So far the job has been great. I'm learning a lot about InDesign, recent AP style changes, how to tone photos, and I get along with my coworkers. Huge relief, right? Everything has been working out--almost everything.

Of course, this being my first real job, I am going to make mistakes, sometimes really stupid mistakes. Sometimes I'll ask for help on something and realize as soon as someone helps me that the problem was very easy to fix and had I resisted panic to spend more time figuring it out, I wouldn't have had to ask for help. Yeah, you shouldn't do that. I would recommend that you exhaust all your own knowledge on something at work before asking for help. Because when you do ask for help you can avoid saying "Oh. I'm an idiot...Thanks."

You know what else you shouldn't do at your first real job? Cry in front of your boss. I had made a huge mistake on a page that was my responsibility due to a miscommunication, and evidently the guilt and shame got the better of me when I turned myself in. In my defense, we had been having trouble with this page, the obituaries page, for a few weeks, but it didn't help that I cry at the drop of a hat. So there I was, trying to explain what happened, when the sobs came bursting out. I could feel myself fighting the "ugly cry face" and kept choking/whimpering out phrases like "just ignore this" and "I'm not even that upset" to my boss. Once I got it together, my concerned boss kept asking me for the rest of the day if I was all right ("Swell, boss, I'm just going to lie in a pit of embarrassment over here if you need me.")

Everything ended up being okay, but that was definitely the lowest plateau of my first real far, anyway.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Job Search: What I've Learned So Far

It has been approximately three months since I graduated from Marist College, and approximately six months since I started looking for a job. Although I have had only three interviews, I have sent out countless (literally--I lost count) résumés and cover letters, and have learned a lot along the way. Now, I would like to share a few things that I have figured out. Past readers have probably noticed that I am a fan of lists and bullet points, but surprise, surprise, I am going with traditional paragraph format for this one. (caution: long post)
Flickr's photologue_np

Possibly the most important thing I have learned thus far is that though it is good to be confident and available while interviewing, it can go too far and become negative. This is what I call the "Eager Beaver." In one interview I went through, the two interviewers were very friendly and I felt comfortable with them. Perhaps too comfortable, because for some reason I felt it was appropriate to make painfully obvious the fact that I had nothing going on in my life and that getting the job would help me not die of boredom. I vividly remember my answer when they asked me when I could start if I got the job: without a moment's hesitation I said "Tomorrow." They asked others questions like "Is your schedule flexible?" and "Why do you want this job?", and I responded way too openly, explaining how my one friend is moving to China and my other friends are going back to school so I had absolutely no plans for the foreseeable future. I was trying to show why I could be so flexible and committed to the job, when really I came off as desperate.

The opposite of the "Eager Beaver" is "The Undercut." This mistake is when you sell yourself short for fear of misrepresenting your abilities and qualifications. Or simply because you do not want to come off as cocky. But being confident and using affirmative phrases like "I can do that" or "I'm a fast learner, I could pick up that project" are not cocky--and even if it does come off like that, employers want people who are sure of themselves. In an interview different from "Eager Beaver," I exemplified "The Undercut." I primarily made this mistake when it came to computer skills. Compared to my information technology, engineering, tech geek, and overall brilliant friends and colleagues, I probably possess average to decent computer skills. But I was so nervous about over-qualifying myself and then falling flat on my face that I severely undercut myself in this area which in all likelihood hurt me in the end. I was kicking myself later, knowing full well that I could have said that although I am an average computer user I can usually figure out programs and databases with some direction.

Another interview mistake is one that I would win every time if it were a competition: "Mouth Open, No Sentence." Ah, yes. I am the grand master of opening my mouth too quickly without forming a coherent thought first. Words start pouring out, not really forming proper sentences, and my grasp on the English language (which is something I'm supposed to have a splendid hold on) starts to loosen. When the answer is finally pieced together the interviewer usually likes what I have to offer, but is a little disoriented by the delivery. Recently I had an interview for a job I am really interested in and the woman was very nice and welcoming. But "Mouth Open, No Sentence" set in and I ended up tripping over my tongue so badly I had to make a joke about it to save myself ("It does say 'Communication' as my major on my résumé, right?"). It was not until later that I remembered something the director of Marist's Career Services, Stephen Cole, had told me once: it is okay to take a moment to think about your answer before starting to speak. The interviewer knows that you're nervous and would probably prefer a little awkward pause rather than having to hunt through a poorly-worded monologue for an answer. 

Flickr's USAG-Humphreys
Not only should an interviewee have answers, but they should also have questions. Usually at the end of an interview the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them. Even if you honestly do not have any questions, at least have a few "gimme" questions ready ("Does your office use Outlook?" "How many clients do you have?" "What did your company do to earn X Award?") to show that you're interested and you did a little research about the company. And actually do some research on the company before you pursue a job with them. I made the mistake of not doing that once and was very excited about a job lead until Deirdre Sepp from Marist's Career Services told me that the owner of the company had been convicted of fraud. Oops. The last interview tip I have is to always have a conflict/resolution story to tell. Chances are an interview will ask some kind of question about handling crises or problems and it helps to have a real life example--"One day I had an irate customer on the phone and this is how I handled it..."

My final suggestion is that job seekers should make their own opportunities. It recently dawned on me to check out the online freelance community and it turns out there are a lot of resources. I have been working on a profile on oDesk, a place where media/communication/journalism freelancers can find jobs and clients can find contractors. You can take tests to show your skill levels at certain things, like word usage if you're a proofreader or social media if you're into public relations. Other freelance websites include,,, and But you don't have to look only online to make your own opportunities. A friend of mine has the kind of personality where he can make friends with anybody anywhere he goes and is always talking to new people. Just by talking to people, engaging them, and mentioning his skills does he discover job leads. For example, he's a magician so he easily engages people by asking if they want to see a magic trick and later suggesting that the venue may be a good place to have a magic show. I'm not saying we should all go out and buy a deck of cards and a rabbit, but use what you have to make it happen for yourself. 

I hope this post helped at least one person like me, plugging along looking for their break. Please do not be shy if you need advice or resources or just want to talk about media/journalism/writing/et cetera--I can at least direct you to someone who will help. Until next time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Internet Jargon and Other Web Trends

Hello, cyberspace! It has been a long while since I last posted, but I have been out of school (graduated, actually) for over a month and have been thinking of bringing this blog back to life. While trying to come up with potentially interesting topics to write about, my brain went off on a tangent about popular terms on the Internet. I kept coming back to the word "trolling." I have been seeing and hearing this word a lot recently and have had a difficult time figuring out the official Internet definition. (But then again, a lot of things on the web these days lack a concrete definition.) Same thing with memes. Everyone knows a meme when they see it but when asked for a clear explanation people seem to struggle. 

While pondering "trolling," "meme," and other jargon, I came to the realization that in addition to jargon there are also some trending applications/websites that I am woefully ignorant of. Can you believe that before I knew what Instagram was I would always read it in my head as an exclamation ("Instagram!")? Like it was a proclamation of an artsy photo that someone took with a camera phone. Being so aware of my Interwebz (I know this is not a real word, but I could not resist) under-education, I have compiled a short list of popular terms and applications/websites that similarly Internet-illiterate people should learn. Enjoy!
  • trolling - As I briefly discussed, I was recently in the dark as to what this word meant. As I asked around on Facebook, my friend Ellyn and I discovered that the both of us knew the old school definition--"when a guy goes out looking to get laid by whoever is willing" (in the words of Ellyn), aka "Let's go trolling for bitches." However, this is not how it is used on the Internet. Urban Dictionary gives several minutely varying definitions, which were confirmed by a consensus among my friends. "Trolling" is intentionally creeping for opportunities to cause a ruckus or online disturbance using sarcastic, stupid, or loaded comments/remarks.
  • meme - Everyone knows a meme when they see it. Everyone knows how to use the classics, like Forever Alone, Derp, Y U NO, Okay Guy, et cetera. But how do you explain what a meme is to someone who has never seen one? The common definition found by any search engine is always something like "a unit of cultural information, like an image or video, that spreads and becomes popular via the Internet." This definition scratches the surface of how memes came to be, but I do not think it fully describes what a meme is. I think a meme is an image or video in which a character with an agreed upon value/function/personality is exposed to or instigates an unsatisfying, funny, bewildering, inappropriate, or embarrassing situation (depending on the character).
  • ftw - I am not sure if I was the only one, but I used to think that ftw was just the opposite or positive version of wtf ("F*ck the WHAAAAAT!"). Apparently it means "for the win." Do not judge me for my ignorance.
  • yolo - It means "You only live once." It is a also a popular hashtag on Twitter. I think it looks and sounds like a combination of "yo-yo" and "Rolo."
  • Instagram -  I kept seeing photos being posted on Facebook "via Instagram." I now know that it is not just a fancy way of saying "Ta-da! A picture!" From what I gather, Instagram is a free application for smart phones that lets you add a cool filter to any picture you take and then share it. The Instagram website says that "It's photo sharing, reinvented."  Also, Facebook recently bought it--thus, all the "artsy" photos showing up on Facebook.
  • Pinterest - My initial impression of Pinterest being like a Facebook-Tumblr hybrid was not far off. Pinterest's concise slogan hits the nail on the head: "Organize and share things you love." People use Pinterest to share their hobbies, interests, and life events. It is like the "about" section on Facebook morphed with the concept of Tumblr and became more organized, pretty, and specific.
  • Reddit - Although there are many forums and chat rooms online, Reddit is unique in that it focuses on a democratic system to organize conversation between users and communities. A community on Reddit is simply a group devoted to a certain topic, beliefs, debate, et cetera. I said it is democratic because users vote on content, deciding which discussions are more important than others. Reddit is sometimes compared to Digg.
If you are sometimes ignorant about Internet trends like me, I hope this post helped. If not, I hope you at least got a laugh out of it. 

Until next time!