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.’”

The Ultimate Glossier Super Pack Review

4.18.2017

By Rebekah Swank

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I have been using the Super Pack for about three and a half months, and I can say with confidence that Glossier has stolen my heart. When I began this (kind of expensive) venture, my expectations for these three serums were low, but I was still hopeful. My skin was cluttered with small zits and terribly dull, but I think these serums have helped improve both of those problems.

At the beginning of my experiment, I was using Clean & Clear Continuous Control acne cleanser with benzoyl peroxide twice a day. However, a month ago I started using Alba Botanica Good & Clean Toxin Release Scrub, along with St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Green Tea Scrub and Aveeno Positively Radiant brightening cleanser. I’ll use one of the scrubs in the morning, and one at night, and follow each of them with the gentle Aveeno cleanser. I still use the Clean & Clear cleanser with a Clarisonic brush if I fall asleep with makeup on, or if I feel like I need extra exfoliating, but I typically only use it two or three times per week. I believe using products with more natural ingredients in combination with the Super Pack has boosted my results.

What I love most about these serums are the ingredients. Each serum has natural, gentle ingredients that help skin reach its healthiest form. Although my blemishes haven’t vanished completely, I can definitely see a difference in the texture and brightness of my skin.

These serums also go a long way; meaning I’ve been using them for nearly four months and I am only about half-way through each bottle. Because they are so concentrated with magical vitamin goodness, you only need to use three to four drops every day. That makes coughing up $65 plus shipping for these bad boys a little easier.

My favorite serum is Super Pure, which helps with blemishes and irritation. It flushes out impurities from makeup, junk food and alcohol—it’s like a free skin pass to do whatever you want! It feels light and clean on my skin, and I think it’s the Super with the best results.

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The Supers are a great, less expensive starting place for people looking into high quality skin products. They really do take care of your skin. However, I probably won’t purchase all three of them at the same time again. I like Super Pure and Super Bounce way more than Super Glow, so I will most likely buy those separately. I highly recommend the Super Pack; it’s easy to use, easy to incorporate into your routine and feels phenomenal on your skin. Overall, I give it 8.5/10.

How It Feels…To Be Racially Profiled

4.17.2017

By Nashia Baker

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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

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  • “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.”

Stick and Poke

4.12.2017

 

By Melissa Yunk

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“You do not want to poke too far to make yourself bleed but far enough to hear an audible “pop” when you pull the needle out.”

Rachel Bennett, a senior from Basehor, cringes at her friend’s words, but continues to wrap her sewing needle with some thread. She finishes sketching a small tree on her wrist, dips the needle in the bright green ink and gets to work. Stick. Pop. Stick. Pop.

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Bennett and her friend are giving each other stick and poke tattoos in her friend’s attic, surrounded by burning sage, discussing witchcraft.

“I was not initially planning on giving myself a tattoo, but I like to think of myself as a spontaneous person so it didn’t take much to change my mind,” Bennett says.

Stick and poke, or DIY tattoos are not a new trend—they’re common in jail cells across the nation—but they are the latest thing in tattoos among young adults and on college campuses.

A simple Google search makes it clear how much of a trend this is. In a matter of seconds, you’ll find quirky how-to videos, endless tattoo ideas on Pinterest and Instagram, and even DIY kits in stores such as Etsy and Amazon.

But you don’t need a kit—it’s possible to do at-home tattoos using common household products. All you need is a sewing needle, some thread and ink.

Caroline Roe, a sophomore with eight stick and pokes, has perfected the process. After cleaning and shaving the area of the tattoo, she does a rough sketch of her design idea. She then sticks the needle in the eraser of a pencil and wraps the thread around the sharp end of the needle to hold the ink.  After putting together her tool, either she or a friend continuously pokes over the sketch until it is finished.

A small stick and poke can take around two hours, approximately four times as long as a traditional tattoo. They also fade faster than professional tattoos and tend to hurt more. Roe says the consistent speed of a tattoo gun needle often helps numb the pain after a few moments. However, when tattooing yourself, the inconsistent speed and depth of the poke makes pain constant and more intense.

Roe also has a few traditional tattoos, but likes the DIY method because of the extremely low cost—practically free—and artistic freedom. “Sure, parlors might be more clean and it is nice supporting artists,” Roe says. “But I really like the spontaneity of stick and pokes and being able to have full control of the designs.”

However, sacrificing the cleanliness of a tattoo parlors is not such a good idea. Kim Ens, director of clinic services for the Douglas County Health Department, talked about the risk of acquiring infections such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and even HIV when using unprofessionally sanitized needles. The only way to guarantee a needle is sterile, she says, is to use a brand new one. Bennett sterilized her needle by running it under a flame and wiping it with rubbing alcohol.

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“It may not have been smart,” Bennett says. “But it was something.”

Ens added that ink that is not diluted or meant for tattoos can also lead to variety of infections or allergic reactions, so it is important to use the correct ink. “Overall, my opinion is to not do it to yourself,” Ens says.

Despite these concerns, there is still appeal behind stick and poke tattoos, whether it be the elongated adrenaline rush, the comfort of doing it in your own home, or the gritty appearance both girls spoke of.

“I feel brave and accomplished after finishing,” Bennett says. “Sure, slightly endangered but the feeling of doing it and being proud of something I made is worth it.”

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