Entries Tagged as 'Life on the Hill'

dis / connected

4.19.2017

By Cody Schmitz

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Two years ago, Leyli Beims was starting her freshman year of college, had thousands of followers between her Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Vine, and Facebook accounts, and was just learning to cope with severe depression. But as she logged in to her social media circles in search of connection, Beims says she was met with an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy.

“Comparing myself with others on social media fueled my depression,” Beims said. “When I was home alone on a Saturday night, I saw my friends having fun at a party or cuddling with a boyfriend. And that kind of content just made me feel worse and worse about myself.”

Beims, now 21 and a junior at Washburn University, says deactivating all of her social media accounts in early 2015 was an answer to a question of mental health. In vulnerable moments, as Beims scanned a virtual highlight reel of her friends’ lives, she felt completely alone. The problem with modern social media use, however, is just how widespread these feelings of isolation have become.

Benjamin Stodt, a researcher in the department of cognitive psychology at the University of Duisburg-Essen, co-authored a study about the consequences of heavy social networking in teens. The study focuses on “FOMO,” or the fear of missing out on experiences that one’s friends may have and post about online. Stodt says, “The results of our study showed that having more severe symptoms of depression and anxiety lead to a higher experience of FOMO and a more excessive use of social media. This overuse could lead to further intensification of mental health problems.”

According to a study performed by the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Ottawa, Canada, children and teens who used social networking sites for more than two hours a day also independently reported high levels of psychological distress, a poor self-rating of overall mental health, and suicidal ideation.

What makes this statistic even more alarming is that compulsive social media use as described in this study is no longer an anomaly in modern teens. According to a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens say they go online daily, and 24 percent go online “almost constantly.” Stodt says that — while most individuals use social media as a functional and inherent part of everyday life — “research indicated that a small amount of younger adults and teens show problematic social media use. Although an ‘internet use disorder’ or ‘internet communication disorder’ is not officially classified as an addiction, past research has shown that these behaviors share common symptoms with other substance-related or behavioral addictions.”

Before she deleted her accounts, Beims says she found herself compulsively refreshing the familiar apps in order to feel a connection to the outside world. But what she saw online only fed her feelings of disconnection.

“People get so worked up about a million different issues, and then they dump all of their thoughts on social media. And then you as a user ingest all of that anger. Ingesting all of that toxicity all day long paints the way you see the world,” Beims said. “I got hooked on that high emotion, so I kept going back to it. Even when I wasn’t online, I was thinking, ‘What am I missing? What are people posting?’ That’s how our world is set up right now. You never get any peace of mind when you’re doing that.”

Finding peace on the web may soon be a dream of the past. As politics grow more polarizing, so do our Facebook posts, according to a study performed by Facebook scientists and published in the journal Science. In fact, the months following the 2016 presidential election have seen Facebook, Twitter, and Google implementing new features in order to stop the growing trends of fake news and online harassment, according to NPR. But adding new ways to mute certain sites and individuals may not be enough to quell the often overwhelming sense of negativity that can be found online.

According to a 2016 report from the Pew Research Center, a majority of adults now get their news from social media. Alyssa Soto, a junior at the University of Kansas, says Facebook is one of her primary sources for staying on top of current events, but she’s finding it harder to keep up as her feed is flooded with bad news and strong opinion. “I like to know what’s happening in the world, but I also find it to be overwhelming. The majority of what I see is negative,” Soto says. “I usually leave Facebook feeling drained.”

These feelings of helplessness in young adults magnify when they are observed with a wider lens. Close to 3 million American teens had one or more significant depressive episode in 2015, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Almost 6.5 million have an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Stodt doesn’t think a simple solution like banning smartphones in schools is the solution to such a complicated problem. “Communication through mobile devices is integrated into today’s society, and not every young adult suffers from consequences because of smartphone use,” Stodt says. “Nevertheless, we have to use our devices consciously in order to maintain control over them. Choose to put the smartphone aside and have a face-to-face conversation. Self-regulation is a necessary skill for internet use without negative consequences. Our research showed that these skills can be key competencies to prevent problematic use.”

Two years after first disconnecting from social media, Beims says she has made great strides in managing her depression through regular therapy and medication. Beims also attributes a significant portion of this shift to the release she felt after removing social media from her daily life.

“The peace of mind I felt after deleting my accounts changed everything,” Beims said. “Being on social media really is carrying something around with you. All day long I used to carry around my Twitter and Instagram feeds, and it never led to a positive feeling. To have that weight gone and to be able to think about things that mattered to me — one day I was suddenly like, ‘I am really into my life.’ And after a while, when you are just really working on school and really forming connections with people offline, you think, ‘Oh. I haven’t even thought about what’s happening on Facebook.’”

How It Feels…To Be Racially Profiled

4.17.2017

By Nashia Baker

How It Feels2

Four years ago in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, University of Kansas law student Rhavean Anderson was stopped by police and racially profiled during a run. This is what it felt like.

It was about mid-day on Thanksgiving Eve of my freshman year, and as I got ready for my 7-mile run that my coach assigned for the holidays, I saw my mom cooking away to prep for Thanksgiving Day, and I knew I was finally home. It was the first time I’d been home since I joined the KU track team earlier that fall as a middle-distance runner, and it was a much needed break from school to visit my family in Memphis, where I was born and raised.

I let my mom know that I was headed towards the main street in town, stretched, popped my headphones in, and took off. I was about 2.5 miles into my run when I felt eyes stinging my back from a Memphis squad car, creeping up behind me. I didn’t pay it any mind until the police car sped past me and parked in the middle of my path ahead.

Two white police officers stepped out of the car, stopped me, and coldly asked, “Why are you out running?”

I looked at them, took my headphones out, and cautiously stated back, “I’m a track and field athlete. I’m out training.”

They continued by aggressively asking, “…You’re a college athlete? So where do you go?

I looked down at my outfit covered in crimson, blue, Adidas, and a large Jayhawk on my chest, and said back, “The University of Kansas…”

The questioning continued for about five minutes, but all I could think about was what I could be doing wrong. I was running in daylight, because everyone knows not to run in the dark in Memphis, and I was clearly jogging. But I didn’t want anything to escalate, so I kept answering to their satisfaction until they finally let me go.

As they drove off, I looked ahead, put my headphones back in, and got back to my run. When I got home and told my mom what happened, I could feel the anger welling up inside of me and I could see the confusion in her eyes.

Being a Jayhawk, a college student, an athlete, daughter, and more – those things won’t save me. But the color of my skin will not stop me.

Heard on the Hill

4.13.2017

HOTH crop

  • “You look like a young Santa Claus.”
  • “You can never have too much moonshine.”
  • “Microwaving any longer than 3 minutes is cooking. That’s just not worth it.”
  • “You only call her when you need a ride. And it’s not free because you pay her in sex! You’re a fucking prostitute!”
  • “Bears are the seals of the animal kingdom.”
  • “I wanna go to a Chinese buffet, but only, like, a nice one.”
  • Person 1:”I’m just endlessly eating food, I need help.”
    Person 2:”No, you need sustenance.”
    Person 1:”Damn, you’re right I can’t argue with that logic.”
  • “You’ll be a really pretty grandma, not now but when you’re a grandma.”
  • “I’m going to start drinking my own tears to help the environment.”
  • “I’d cut off my left tit to get out of that situation.”

How It Feels…To Be Told You’re Dying When You’re Not

4.10.2017

As told by Rick Donnelson to Samantha Harms

How It Feels2

Twenty years ago, project manager Rick Donnelson, 55, was told that he was dying of cancer when he really wasn’t. This is what it felt like.

Sitting on the chair in the doctor’s office, I was told the test I had been given indicated pancreatic cancer and that I had less than six months to live. Pancreatic cancer is incurable 99 percent of the time and has a very quick death rate. I was 33 years old and I had five children.

It was 1994 and I was in treasurer school. I wasn’t eating normally. I had lost about 30 pounds in the last three months. I knew that wasn’t healthy. I came home and went to the doctor for a simple check up. I very quickly though received a phone call telling me that I should come in.

I sat down and as the doctor told me that the tests showed pancreatic cancer, a perpetual state of shock just came over me. I could feel the words “I don’t believe you” come out of my mouth. I asked for a second opinion right away.

The sterile, sickening smell of that doctor’s office as I got potentially the worst news of my life is something that I still carry with me. I told him that I knew it wasn’t the case that I had this. I rationalized, with him and with myself.

I always came back to believing that there was nothing wrong with me. Because how could this happen to me? I was in the best shape of my life.

Because of the limited time they had given me left to live my life, they rushed me to KU Med for additional testing. That testing showed that I didn’t have pancreatic cancer, but I had cancer of the duodenum, which is cancer of the stomach and small intestine. So they scheduled me for surgery to see if that’s actually what I had. The worst part was waiting for my surgery, for two weeks thinking I was might to die soon. I had a chance then to think about my life but I’m a believer in God and I knew I would live through all of it and have a normal life.

The nurses kept coming in while I was waiting, asking me “Are you nervous?” I kept saying, “Nope, because I know nothing’s wrong.” And they kept saying “Oh he’s in denial.” But that’s okay because I got the last laugh.

After waiting almost two weeks of thinking I had six to nine months to live, I went into surgery and had what’s called a freeze plug test. They took the part of my stomach out that they were operating on and tested it right there in the operating room. So when I came out, I got that bit of good news that not only did I not have any cancer but there was absolutely nothing wrong. They couldn’t find anything wrong; they just believed that it was some bug that my body overacted to.  Here I sit, 20 years later as healthy as I can be.

Heard on the Hill

4.06.2017

HOTH crop

  • Person 1: “So Tu served you at Dunkin’?”
  • Person 2: “What are you talking about, speak English.”
  • Person 1: “I can’t, he’s Vietnamese.”
  • “I think Great Britain is an anarchy. Maybe.”
  • “Dude I can’t even name five condiments.”
  • “I’m so high. At this right I’m never gonna have downs.”
  • “I smell like dirty clothes and baked potatoes.”
  • “Treating a nature valley bar like an ice cream cone does nothing for me.”
  • Person 1: “What did you do for Spring Break?”
  • Person 2: “Climb a mountain.”
  • Person 1: “Which one?”
  • Person 2: “Uh, I forgot the name of it.”
  • ” ‘Death by cheese’ the best way to go out.”
  • “Lasagna is a great pasta but a shitty horse.”
  • Person 1: “What’s your fetish?”
  • Person 2: “Respecting women.”
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