Category Archives: School

The Day I Listened to the Great Bindi Irwin.

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BY ABBY MAC

A week or so ago I went along to something called the National Young Leader’s Day.  I would like to tell you it was only a very select group of people who were invited to attend, however, there were around 1600 kids, just from one city, aging between 6 and 17.  So, it was basically a free for all. In essence, it was a day where around six speakers came and spoke to 1600 kids about the ways to be a good leader and what they can do in society to keep being a leader.  I met some really nice people and the speakers were pretty good, so all in all, it seemed as though it was a successful day.  Apart from one thing.  Apart from the treatment and reaction of Bindi Irwin, one of the six speakers.

For all of those who don’t know Bindi Irwin, she is a 15 girl, born into a family passionate about wildlife and conservation.  I don’t like to think of Bindi in just this way, but she is the daughter of the Late Steve Irwin, and he has definitely helped create and nurture her love of wildlife.  And endless list of awards are also included in her incredible achievements, however, I think what is more important, is Bindi’s ability and dedication to thinking about topics which people typically believe are beyond someone of this age.  In particular, Bindi is thinking and working through, over-human population.

Bindi

Miss Bindi Irwin.

I know.  I’d briefly thought of over-human population before, but, I’d never considered the causes, impacts or solutions to such a serious level and how vast and seemingly uncontrollable this issue is –  which is also seriously hurting our world.  When Bindi spoke at this conference, she was passionate and knew her facts.  Her knowledge was endless and unlike many people these days – particularly youths – she was dedicated to a cause greater than herself or something to help herself.

Bindi spoke of an essay that she was asked to write for Hillary Clinton’s e-journal about her views on conservation and she primarily linked conservation to over-human population.  An aspect which I remember is the analogy she made between over-human population and too many guests at a party.

She asked you to imagine if you had invited 15 friends to your house for a party and you had prepared 15 party bags, food and drink for 15 and only had enough space in your room for 15 people and then 70 people arrived.  How are you meant to cater for this extra 55 people when you don’t have the resources to support them?

A lady that Bindi knew lived for 104 years and during that time she had seem the world grow in population by 5.5 billion.  5.5 billion.  So, Bindi states that if the world only started or was intended to hold a certain amount of people, just like her hypothetical party, how is it still catering – equally – for these people today?  And, as Bindi puts it, this crisis is what Mother Earth is having to deal with, presently.

It’s a good question.  It’s a really good question.  I have thought about it and though it’s not my own greatest passion, I really believe that something must be done to conserve our planet and all its incredible attributes – flora, fauna, food, water and its people.  And, I am thankful that we have someone like Bindi Irwin, at only 15, who is caring about something as important and urgent as over-human population.

But, the leaders at the National Young Leader’s Day did not see this.  They saw a 15 year old girl trying, really trying, to talk about something delicate and crucial – and it just didn’t seem right to them.  I don’t know whether Bindi has been coached to speak publically or it was just her immense amount of passion, but she did seem over-enthusiastic.  To some, it seemed a little bit fake.  To me, it was passion.  When people asked her a question, she always answered “that’s a really good question.”  Some saw that as condescension.  I saw it as politeness.  She then made the fatal mistake of calling someone “love” to which this arena has erupted in disgusting sniggers.   Our future leaders.  Bindi handled it perfectly by commenting – “oh! Sorry!  I do sound like an 86 year-old woman, sometimes!”  And then that comment also received those little judgemental high school laughs and eye-balling.

I am Somebody

I am Somebody. The Banner for National Young Leader’s Day.

People walked out after her (amazing) speech, mimicking her, gossiping about her and didn’t even bring up the fact that she had STUMBLED UPON A REALLY IMPORTANT GLOBAL ISSUE THAT WOULD IMPACT THEM BUT SHE WAS TRYING TO FIX IT, FOR THEM. No.  They didn’t notice that, did they?  They didn’t thank her for taking the time out to talk to them, to try to inspire them. In fact, these leaders walked out as judgemental teenagers who claimed to dislike her because she was condescending but honestly, it was because someone possibly years younger than them was thinking about something more complex than the Snapchat which they didn’t get enough time to look at.  They were jealous because she was confident in herself and was making a difference in the world.

And, this annoyed me.  It annoyed me on the day, and if you can’t tell now, it’s still annoying me now.  Okay, so Bindi may have been over-excited but that is not something that she should change.  What needs to be changed is this culture that teens breed into themselves that for someone to be over-excited, passionate or thinking about something beyond mundane life, that it is laughable.  It’s not.  It’s great.  And, it’s time the whole world appreciated that.

Do you know someone or are you like Bindi?  How did you or others react?  What topics are you passionate about?

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It’s Grade Four Long Jump. Not The Answer To Stop World Hunger.

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BY ABBY MAC

I stand on the sideline of the long jump pit measuring the scores of each grade four girl, at the school athletics carnival.  I smile and tell them well done and try to dismiss the obsessive parent in the background who insists in telling each girl their exact measurement, how far behind or in front they are from the previous girl and the exercises they need to do to be a better long jumper.  Then, the teacher makes a crucial mistake.  She asks for volunteers.  That parent I was trying to ignore is now in my face, her necklace jangling and earrings swinging side to side.  She’s bouncing up and down to be selected.  She’s the only one volunteering.

Now she has a job at the long jump.  All she has to do is measure how long each girl jumps.  Round it off to the closest centimetre and if you really want, millimetre.  The first girl jumps, she starts measuring and for the next five minutes debates whether she jumped 1.02 metres or 1.03.  Her two year old son, Miller (???) who is a great “helper”, jumps out in front of the girls each time they’re jumping.  Miller, seems to have trouble to know what the word “no” means, but I am reiterated to that he is a great “helper”.  The mother starts talking to me again, trepidation and excitement mixed in her voice.   Her daughter is about to jump.  Will she meet her PB?  Oh, how nerve-racking?  Her daughter jumps, and just like her brother Miller, doesn’t seem to understand me when I speak.

“You fouled.  I’m sorry.”

This is where you're meant to jump from.

This is where you’re meant to jump from.

 

“I did not foul,” yelled the little girl!

“I don’t think my Lily* fouled,” yelled the mother/volunteer.

“I’m sorry but the rules are you have to jump before the white line.  Lily jumped whilst she was in the sand.  That is way over the line,” I informed them.

 

This is where the little girl jumped from.

This is where the little girl jumped from.

This debate continued for another five minutes, arguing that we could just grant her with the benefit of the doubt.  Eventually, the little girl stormed out of the pit (she actually walked to where she was meant to jump from, which I could technically measure her from there because that was the last footstep in the pit, but I didn’t because it wasn’t the OLYMPICS) and her mother ran over to the tantrum-ing little girl  and reassured her that she was still the best – she would do better on the next jump.  Once their little pep talk was over, the mother raced back over to me where the following conversation took place.

“My Lily, she just gets really sad when she fouls so I just have to make sure she is okay.”

“Right.”

“Yes.  Yesterday, she was doing discus and she threw a really good shot but it was a foul, as well.  The sports teacher there, Mr Clohe*, said that was the best shot he had ever seen and if it wasn’t a foul then it would have been the best discus throw ever.

Because Grade Four discus would compare to something like the Olympics.

“I can imagine.”

“Grace was just great!”

This mother continued with her fascination of being the coolest, most knowledgeable and completely over-rated mum there.  She compared kids in my grade with each other (how does she even know their names?  Her own child is in grade four???) and went on to measure every jump to 1.03792 exactly.  And she annoyed me.  A lot.

I stood at that athletics carnival and had a look at the parents who were there.  I listened to their conversations such as, “I cannot believe the technique they are teaching for shotput!” (Grade Three) and “I was so angry that my child did not get a PB in high jump, yesterday!” (Grade Three, again).  I looked in utter disbelief and thought:

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE WORLD?  WHEN DID ANYBODY CARE IF A SEVEN YEAR OLD DIDN’T MAKE A PB?  THEY’RE SEVEN?  WHEN DID THEY EVEN GET A PB?

Initially, I was just struck in absolute shock and then I became quite angry.  These parents, these obsessed and pressuring parents, are become so fanatical with their child and minor achievements such as the extra 0.000001 they added to their long jump PB that one day, that child will just give up.  That child will feel so much anxiety and pressure to win or get a PB that their fuse will just burn out and in turn, so will they.

This constant obsession that our society seems for our children to be able to play Grade Five piano when they’re five, winning nationals for swimming, cross country and netball, academically receiving A++ in every subject and being socially perfect is just rubbish.  I cannot understand why a parent would choose to inflict such pressure onto their child – such pain for a child to endlessly desire to live up to their parents’ growing, changing and heightening expectations and let their child run until the ends of the Earth just to please, but, nonetheless, it happens.  I see it every day.  I see what the parents want and what the child wants.  I see the polar opposites trying to meet and then one day, everything that child has ever done and the person they have become is stripped.  They get to a point where they can no longer cope with any pressure at all so they let everything go.

 

Let your child grow up.  Let your child lead their own life and nurture their talents, gifts and weaknesses.  Your child should be the most beautiful thing in the world to you, no matter their PB in Grade Four long jump, and if you can’t appreciate them just as they are, then you’re not being a true parent.

 

Did you know any parents who pressure their children?  Do you do it?  Why?  Do your parents pressure you? 

When Did Society Start Opposing Others’ Achievements?

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BY ABBY MAC

A few weeks ago, my school attended a sustainable business conference, initiated for high school students to see alternative methods of doing business to achieve ultimate sustainability.  One of the aspects to the program was each school being lectured on an individual topic and ours was Coal Seam Gas.  At the end of the presentation, we were again split into groups of four to answer questions about Coal Seam Gas.  The answers we submitted would be provided to a panel of judges who would select a winner from all the schools.  Surprisingly, the group I was in were announced as winners of the business conference.

We were the youngest  students to attend the conference and have only just begun studying Business in school, compared to Grade 12s from other schools who have been studying for two to three years.  Definitely a shock winning the conference, though, a very happy one.  We donned our small prizes, caps and water bottles, and proudly walked back to school with our trophy.  For the five minutes that we were oblivious to the world, being overtaken from immediate euphoria, we didn’t notice our fellow classmates snidely looking down on us.  After being told “to get over ourselves”, we woke up and came back to Earth to see a sea of class members scowling at us and refusing to respond to our questions if anything was wrong.  One girl turned around and gave us the finger.  How endearing?

We were quickly “put in our place” and shown that our “achievement” wasn’t even “that big”, according to them.  Now, after years of bullying and many mistakes, I have learnt to quietly accomplish and not live off the accolades of others to feel successful, thus, when we were awarded the prized, I didn’t jump up and down and bombard people with my feelings of absolute accomplishment and joy.  No, I smiled and congratulated the other group members for their prize and hard work.  Yet, I was still told to “shut up” and “get real”.

So, my question is, when did everyone reject the achievements of others?  Has this always been the case or is our society forming into one of feeling cheated if another person wins or does better than you do?  When did people just not accept that sometimes there will be a winner and a loser, or to not hurt their feelings anymore, almost winners?

Sometimes there will be times when you feel like you deserved something more than other person, but life is not about winning all the time.  Life is not about the end result but how you recover from it or enhance it.  I still can’t believe how our classmates reacted to our achievement.  We weren’t from an opposing school, we were on their team.  We were meant to be their friends.

I ask everyone to acknowledge that life’s not always fair but it is critical that we don’t reject our fellow mates, acquaintances, countrymen or whoever you are.  Follow the well-known saying – “treat others how you want to be treated”, ensuring that when you are the one deserving praises for success, one isn’t “congratulated” with the back of another’s finger.

Are you happy for other people’s achievements? Have you encountered negative response to accomplishment? 

When Did “Rape” Become Fashionable?

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BY ABBY MAC

Every person has either said or heard a joke around a touchy subject.  A subject that most people wouldn’t dare venture into, let alone joke about.  For a very long time, I thought one of those subjects were rape.  Other people don’t seem to agree

I have noticed, been slammed in the face with an alarming trend joking about rape.  Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you.  Teenagers and young adults, and I stress that I have only found it in us youths, are joking about rape.  I am usually one to try and defend teens or help to understand us a tad easier, but here I am fleeing for the hills and leaving them all on their own.  Actually, I’m more the person when has started the fight against them and making others flock elsewhere.  The plain truth is, it’s not right and it needs to stop now.  Right now.

These are the sorts of statements I hear on a daily basis.

“If you don’t give me a …….., I’m gonna rape you.”

“Oi!  Come over here or I’ll rape you.”

“I love you so much I could rape you.”

“I would love to rape your mother.”

My google search

This is what my Google search came up with when I looked for rape. Initially, “rape statistics australia” was below “rape seed”.

Yes.  Re-read.  And re-read again. I hear this every day.  Girls say it to girls.  Boys to boys.  Boys to girls and vice versa.  Sometimes it is said with insignificant intimidation but most of the time as a joke.  In fact, just on the weekend I heard a girl mutter to another girl on the sideline of the hockey game, “If you don’t score a goal, I’m going to rape you.”  Unfortunately, the girls talking were actually nice girls and it’s sad to admit that those who toy with rape aren’t just the typical people who always go over the top, but it’s being said by, to and about almost everyone.

So when almost everyone is joking and accepting jokes about rape, we create a rape culture.  The most unfortunate part of it all is while we joke and see light in rape, a horrific and mortifying criminal offence, every 152 seconds in the U.S. someone is sexually assaulted, 1 in 6 American women have been the victim of attempted or completed rape. So, in context, there is a high chance and you will drop a joke about a person being raped and someone who has actually been raped or who has been affected by rape will be standing there.  Maybe they might blow up and let you know that what you had just joked about wasn’t so funny and then maybe they won’t say a thing.  And you will continue going on and making your unfunny rape jokes.

Only 20% of sexual assaults are reported to police when nearly 100% of motor vehicle thefts are reported to authorities, in Australia.  17,757 people were sexually assaulted in 2010, remembering only 20% are actually reported so really there are around 88,785 people who were sexually assaulted in 2010.

This is not a technological failure.

This is not a technological failure. I would prefer not to show the disgusting memes centered around rape, like “rape sloth”.

Now, this isn’t a story completely based on rape and hurling at you all the statistics but it is one to let you know and your friends that it isn’t okay.  I am closely connected to a person who has been raped and it is not okay to joke about what they went through.  And this goes for all the other words that you think are hilarious to use like;

“Come here whore!”

“You’re my bitch!”

“I just love you nigga.”

All of things insults demean, degrade, undermine and trivialise important events which have occurred in the world’s history like the fight for equal rights between black and white and then men and women.

 

Rape will never be and is not something to laugh at.  It hurts the victim and family and friends.  So stop think it’s funny and truly recognise what an idiot you are for thinking so.

 

Do you or have you heard someone joke about rape?  Do you really think it’s funny?  If you have been affected by sexual assault and someone does joke about it, how does it make you feel?

 

Definition:

 

Sexual assault and abuse: actual or threatened, including sexual assault and the sexual abuse of children, that can be a single incident or a series of incidents that are located on a continuum of behaviours from sexual harassment to life-threatening rape;

  • any form of pressured and unwanted sex or sexual degradation by an intimate partner or ex-partner, such as sexual activity without consent;
  • non-consensual sexual acts;
  • causing pain during sex;
  • assaulting genitals;
  • forcing or coercing a person to have sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease;
  • making the victim perform sexual acts unwillingly (including taking explicit photos);
  • criticising, or using sexually degrading insults;
  • forcing a person/child to take their clothes off or remain naked against their will;
  • forcing a person to watch pornography or sexual activities;
  • lewdness or stalking;
  • indecent assault;
  • date rape;
  • drug-assisted sexual assault;
  • child sexual abuse or incest;
  • deliberate acts that groom children for sexual activity or exploitation ; and
  • exposure of a person/child to pornography, use of a person/child in the creation of pornography

The Way to Solve Bullying Is Not Through Awareness

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BY ABBY MAC

Through all the seminars, awareness programs and group chats at school that revolve about bullying and the urge to stop it, none have succeeded.  I am probably bursting dreams of many of the motivational speakers which have come to schools trying to convince various people not to bully and how to cope with bullying best, but the fact of the matter is; THEY’RE NOT WORKING.  I am sorry to break it to you but unfortunately, the hours spent promoting and having various “Say No to Bullying” days is not putting an end to bullying.

I have been severely bullied most of my schooling life (so far this year there has been none – let’s not jinx that) so I think it is fair that I have an opinion on this.  There are many different ways to attack the issue of bullying and each method will work better for a different victim and put a stop to the bullying faster.  There is no “one-size-fits-all” and sometimes that can be the largest problem with teachers, adults or anybody trying to solve bullying.  Approaches have to be different depending on the situation, type of bully and who the victim is.

Before writing this post, I questioned what I thought could end bullying and to be honest, I don’t know 100%.  I can provide advice and how I would have liked to seen the bullies be dealt with but they aren’t definite answers either.  Who knows what goes through the mind of someone that openly chooses to demean, degrade, criticise, inflict pain and damage another person?  Sometimes, nothing at all.  Below are a few things that I think need to be actioned more and unfortunately, more harshly.

1.       Accountability

Throughout the years that I have been bullied, not one person who has bullied me has ever had to apologise.  Not one.  Ever.  Quite frightening?  Not once have that had to admit to bullying me and apologise.  People not being made accountable for their actions means that haven’t had to see any fault in their behaviour.  It means that they aren’t being told that they’re behaviour they are showing is wrong.  Consequently, no effort has to be made by them to change.

Most time incidents of bullying has occurred, I have reported it to a teacher or if matters become worse, a year co-ordinator, deputy principal or headmaster.  Each time, they have either denied the bullying is occurring (Yes, because they would know sitting in their offices) or promised some sort of action which has never been followed through with.

Ensuring that bullies become accountable for their actions can firstly help to recognise their behaviour is wrong and in doing this, it tells them they have been caught and an excuse is not going to be provided for their behaviour.  Hopefully, this will lead to a cease in the bullying.

2.       Identifying all types of bullying

Bullying is not just punching someone.  It is not just calling them fat.  It is not just writing them a mean message.  Bullying can also be being a bitch.  At my last school, bitchiness, what the prime type of bullying I received, however, bitchiness is sometimes the hardest to identify and the easiest to cover.  Many people underestimate the power of people, particularly, girls being bitches to each other because bitchiness, is most of the time silent and adapted to directly hurt the individual intended.

Bullying is not okay

Bullying comes in all forms. And none of it is okay.

For instance, I was standing in line at school waiting for a class and a group of girls came up to our class and waved and said hello to everyone standing there.  Apart from me.  They did this every time we had that class for one and a half terms.  To an adult, it’s something you should just get over.  But when that happens every day, in front of everybody else, it hurts.  Or a group of girls playing “What Do I Hate” in class.  They were all sitting around me and it started with, girls with blonde hair, girls who wear their hair in plaits (I was wearing my hair in plaits), girls in White House (I was in White House), girls whose names begins with ‘A’.  It’s bitchy.  And it sucks.

Trying to tell an adult that them simply death staring you every time you go to your locker and following you to your next class but they aren’t in your next class, can just sound petty.  Most of the teachers I told said that I was just interpreting their behaviour wrong or for me to just grow up.  And that’s because they just don’t understand that bitchiness hurts and is hard to stop.  Identifying this and all types of bullying is key to stopping it.

3.       Why?

Most of the bullies that I have encountered they either suffer from issues at home or have reasons (not always directly linking to the victim) for why they bully.  Some have been bullied at home by parents or siblings, are acting by rumours they have heard or from friends and jealousy.  None are justifiable for the bullying but it helps to understand why.

Identifying and fixing the biggest question of all – why, is the greatest milestone of stopping individual cases of bullying.  Though it is the greatest achievement, it is often difficult to discover.  In some circumstances it is embarrassing, not yet understood or they are found out to be wrong.  As an example, in grade one I was bullied by another girl and it started because she was being bullied and abused by her mum.  Now, what she was doing to me wasn’t acceptable but it helped to explain why she was acting in the way that she was.  She clearly wasn’t cared for or had any control over her own life and so she needed to inflict the pain she was on me.

Questioning and attempting to understand the thought process of the bully can also be hard for them as speaking their reasons aloud can be embarrassing on their part.  Now, embarrassment isn’t always the solution but it aids in ceasing the bullying.

4.       Enforcing punishment and change

I don’t always source complete agreement on this point, however, I believe enforcing stronger punishment is crucial to stopping bullying.  Solving the root of bullying, which I addressed above, is the real solution to stopping bullying though this process is time consuming and in the meantime, we solve the more immediate issue with direct punishment – showing that for every action there is consequence.

As an example, I came out of the gym one day to the sports notice board.  For a couple of days, photos from our school touch football team were on the board and there happened to be one of me about to pass the ball.  As I walked out towards the board a group of girls from my team were standing around the photo of me.  When they saw me, they looked back, giggled and walked away.  The photo of me was now a photo of my body with my head ripped out and in the team photo, my face was scribbled out with pen.

Nothing happened to those girls.  The photo was simply taken down and replaced with a new one after I reported the incident.  These girls continued their parade with refusing to pass the ball to me on the field and different tactics to get me out of the team.  There was no punishment.  No consequences for their actions.  In this incidence, immediate punishment would have stopped their behaviour.  The school instigating that they will not play any games until their torments stopped.  I can almost guarantee I would have no longer been bullied if quick enforcement of the rules had occurred.

More action needs to be taken to bring an end to bullying instead of pitying the bully for the punishment that they might get or giving them one more chance when they have clearly abused the amount of rope you have already supplied them with. In cases like this, how much the victim suffers and will continue to suffer without punishment towards the bullying, is far worse than small punishment for poor behaviour.

5.       Becoming real.

Many teachers, parents and adults don’t like to believe that the perceived Good Girl is oh so bad.  As parents, I can imagine it would be hard to think that the son or daughter you brought up could not be the person that you thought they were.  Though, it is better to make small admissions and fix their behaviour than letting it continue and escalate.  At my last school, they refused to admit that girls were bullying each other and preferred to live in a perfect world of perfect people.  Such action caused the dux of their grade, most valuable hockey player, needed touch player for the undefeated team and competitor in swimming and athletics to switch to a different school.  Just because they didn’t become real.

Having pictures around the school with a big, red zero around it does not stop kids from bullying.

Bullying

These sorts of posters. They don’t help.

If schools think this is a good enough solution to bullying then they are very stupid and frankly, partly responsible for bullying.  I have witnessed first hand the commence of “Bullying Awareness Week” and having a discussion in class about actively trying to stop bullying, and kids walked out and impersonated and bullied a boy in our class.  Bullying awareness isn’t the answer.  It also isn’t completely invaluable.  It helps in some aspects of bullying, but it does not solve it.  When the world works this out, so will bullying.

Have you been bullied?  Was it fixed?  If so, how?  

Back To School: Yay or Nay?

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BY JESS WRAY

Yes, that time of year has come back yet again. The time to open up and clean out your cob-webbed school bag and slip back into the busy, mind-numbing routine. However it’s not all bad I guess. I quite enjoy going back to school after a long holiday, getting to see all your friends and the familiar faces that appear here and there around the school. My favorite part of going back to school for a new year is definitely the shopping! I know many people may find that a trip out to Office Works is extremely boring and a waste of their time but I happen to find it very exciting. I love looking at all the new, fresh books and imagining myself writing in them. They look so clean now but I guarantee you that all my books will be scribbled and doodled on by Term 2, but who cares! I decided to pick mostly pink books this year as it’s my favorite colour and I figure, looking at a pretty, colourful book while studying Modern History or Study of Religion is far more pleasant than a plain, old grey book. I know you can’t judge a book by its cover (excuse the pun) but I do believe that a bit of colour can really make a difference to my mood!

Anyway getting back to the topic; back to school. When it comes to this time, holidays seem to rush by like the blink of an eye but I’m usually ready by this time to go back. However for some people it’s a completely different story. I have counted about 5 Instagram photos of people photographing their new text books and accompanying the photo with hash tags like #hateschool or #feellikecrying, you name it. Oh, of course I also can’t forget the numerous Facebook statuses along the lines of, “Omg, school in like a week. FML.” Rather annoying really and so unoriginal. I often wonder if most girls at my school actually do hate school, or if they are just saying that because they feel the need to say and do what is widely accepted as being “cool”. Am I weird for being excited to go back to school? Am I ‘normal’?

That’s where I come to the realisation that I will be surrounded by many of those “cool” girls once again and that’s often the ‘Nay’ part of going back to school. As well as the judgement, gossiping and bitching that goes alongside everything else at school. I am scared I will feel isolated again. At the end of last year I didn’t have a very good time. I had many problems in terms of group work, friendship problems and just overall cattiness and unfriendliness. I lost a friend of mine who had become so rude and horrible that eventually I was glad to see her go. So then there was two, once she left. Me and my friend Natalie have become a lot closer now but we both felt isolated and felt that many girls would look at us nastily or judgmentally because we were in such a small group. So we took safety in the library at lunch times. I know what you’re thinking, “NERD ALERT” and I probably am, but we had a really good time there, we didn’t hear the gossiping and there was no one looking at us funnily. We were free to just talk about everything under the sun, laugh about nothing and just enjoy each other’s company. Bliss. We loved to make fun of ourselves too, pretending to talk to the books and act as if they made up the rest of the ‘group’. We were and still are nutters but I think it’s refreshing to be different and to not just always try to fit the profile of “cool”. Nat used to get worried about if we were pathetic or loners and that made me even question myself at times but then I thought, I would rather be in a group of two with a friend that I really get a long with and like than be in a group of 10 filled with girls who gossip and dislike you if you are different to them. I know Abby has also had her fair share of problems at school too, but to be honest, who hasn’t? We have often talked about it and tried to help each other get through it and I hope you have or may one day find a friend in which you can trust.

This year for me is a daunting one. I’m starting senior school; the serious stuff. Two words; Semi Formal. Other than that I’m really nervous that I won’t be good enough for Grade 11 but then, I had the same feelings and thoughts last year and doubted myself for Grade 10, and apart from some social mishaps,  I survived. So I have a bit of faith in myself and I just hope I do well. I aim to study and prepare myself for exams earlier than last year (this is sounding like my new years resolution list) and I will try to not get so caught up in the drama and politics of friendships and other girls at my school. I really hope I get nice teachers this year, I had such lovely teachers last year so it would be nice to continue on with positive teachers. Hopefully this year everything will be alright, I hope to get to know some new people and continue to build on my existing friendships! I am also so grateful to have Abby as a friend outside of school, we haven’t known each other for long but I feel like we are so close already and I love being apart of this blog and I hope you enjoy what we post! I want to wish you all a wonderful first day of school for the year; whether you are starting a new school, returning to your current school or beginning homeschooling again, I hope you do your very best and achieve your goals, whatever they may be.

Are you excited to be going back to school? What’s your school like, do you enjoy school? 

We have a different opinion. Can we still be friends?

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BY ABBY MAC

Is it possible, as teens or at any age, to be friends with someone and have differences of opinions? Not just a difference of opinion on a dress or a boy, but on a topic that you are passionate about or directly affects you. Many people often believe that you must be perfectly in sync with all your friends and all share the same opinions and same values. At some time, this delusion of perfect must be corrected. No two people share the exact opinions and values and so therefore no one can be your perfect match, in that aspect.

I watch friendships at school somersault into the depths of no goodbye just because they don’t agree on something or other. They attack each other, not their opinons or reasons. They say things that you can’t take back. Is that really necessary? I try to respect everyone’s opinions, but I often fall flat in respecting their arguments. Uneducated, ignorant arguments make me angry and it is these opinions that I can’t respect.

Difference in Opinon

Can we still be friends? Help.

I was sitting in class and a friend of mine whispered under her breath ‘ew’.
I looked around and said ‘what’?
‘Gays.’
‘What about them?’
‘They’re disgusting.’
‘Why?’
‘They just are.’

Uneducated. Ignorant. And I was angry. This is a fight I decided to pick. I often choose to leave an argument before it starts because it doesn’t affect me or it’s just not worth fighting about, but this one was worth it. I feel very passionately about equality worldwide, whether it is between men and women, adults and children, wealth to poor or homosexual to heterosexual. I believe that everyone is born with equal rights and they deserve to be treated with that respect.
So, as you can imagine, my friend unjustly commenting on homosexuality left me annoyed. Her opinion on homosexuality did not stem from her religion, culture, family up-bringing but her fear and ignorance to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender persons. She had no reason to hate them or be disgusted by them, but she did all the same. People’s opinions are formed by their religion, culture, family and friends, fear and ignorance. Especially when we are young, our opinions are similar to our parents because that’s all we know. At a young age, all we know is what we are brought up with but her opinion was only influenced with fear and ignorance. Not any other.

I was initially  angry about her opinion and at her. I needed to take a step back and leave it. I needed to sort through and find a position on the difference of opinion and whether it was worth our friendship, time or a fight. Of course, I considered all avenues and realised that it wasn’t worth a fight or our friendship. It was worth understanding, though. Both of ours.

I still don’t completely respect nor understand her opinion and her arguments. But that isn’t worth sacrificing our whole friendship. I try my best to educate her and possibly grant her an opinion that is educated and fair. Not necessarily my opinion or the ‘right’ one, but one that has reasoning behind it. I can’t stop being friends with someone because of their fear and ignorance but I can only hope one day to change it.

It’s difference of opinion which makes friendships diverse and not the same. I think friendship and life would be incredibly boring if everyone felt the same way.

Just as I did, I think one should pick their battles. Deciding to discuss a difference opinion of means you have to be respectful, just like they should for you.

Don’t you agree with me?

Can you still be friends with someone and have a difference of opinion? What do you disagree upon? How do you fix it? Why do you feel this way?

Abby: Why I Deleted My Facebook Account.

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BY ABBY MAC

Facebook can connect us to friends and family all over the world. It allows us to share photos, videos and information about ourselves and as the viewer; we can like and comment easily on people’s lives. But for me, Facebook can no longer offer this glossy cover. As a teen, it has been infiltrated with hate, misery and falseness which is enjoyable to the people causing it.

I deleted my Facebook account for a variety of reasons but the biggest one was that some of the users, particularly teens, had lost sight of what the true purpose of it was. It was hard every day to see some form of bullying and sadistic comments from these faceless people behind their computer screens.

Media and other adults often portray the biggest threats online to be strange predators that are 50 year old men looking to find you, though they are serious threats, there are other predators which can easily be friends of Facebook; the people that you share your photos, videos and information with, every day.

For me, Facebook was no longer a place of sincerity but teens sharing their lives only to be let down and bullied by their ‘friends’ (friends on Facebook; not necessarily friends in real life).

It seems that your Facebook profile is meant to be perfect and glossy with perfect pictures of yourself, or stupid pictures of yourself which still make you look cute and sexy. But that’s not my life. I don’t take a perfect picture every time. When I look stupid in a photo, I genuinely look stupid not cute and sexy.

Un-Facebookfied

This is un-facebookfied. It isn’t perfect! But look! Do you like my pyjamas?

When I say ‘Facebook’ as a general term, I mean the Facebook world constructed by teens. Facebook, by teens, is no longer about sharing our lives, not the real ones anyway. It is a fake, perfected life for all those ‘friends’ to ‘hate on’ or ‘like’ and then ‘unlike’ only to be mean. You’re not meant to share the photo of you still in your pyjamas eating birthday cake at 9 am but in fact the beautiful, already ‘Instagram(med)’ photo with all your friends wearing high heels and way-too-short dresses in the city. Apparently, I’m unlike the rest of the teenage population on Facebook and don’t own a way-too-short dress (that I wear in the city at 9pm at night) and I don’t celebrate my birthday by taking enough cute and sexy photos to fill a real photo album.

This perfected Facebook life isn’t fair on the rest of us ‘normal’ or ‘unperfected’ people. People like me. People who then strive to have a perfect Facebook page. It became that a lot of photos I took and activities and I joined in on, were based upon what I could get out of it for Facebook. For instance, ‘If I go to this dance, I’ll be able to take these photos with my friends and then upload it onto Facebook’ or I went into this weird extreme place thinking if a photo isn’t good enough to be on Facebook, it was deleted. It didn’t matter whether it was going on Facebook or not.

Facebook-fied

That’s ‘perfect’. No, it’s just boring. My pyjamas were way cooler.

Fake photos, videos and the status updates don’t connect our lives to people. They only share very fleeting parts of our lives that are ‘Facebook-ready’ and are good enough to not be attacked online. The photos that girls put on Facebook with their flat tummies and beautiful bikinis aren’t real. They have most likely stood there for 50 or so shots, with either the peace sign, sitting down or pretending that they don’t know the photo is being taken to find the ‘Facebook-ified’ one. And my least favourite part – when they then have the caption ‘ew my bod is disgusting. just want to die.’ That’s not fair. It’s not fair on so many levels but the biggest one is, they have taken a photo of their beautiful body and then demean themselves in hope to be presented with 189 likes and 67 comments all saying ‘ew no. your bootfiul. i just want to die now.’ or ‘get some ugly.’ It’s these photos and comments which make the rest of us all sit back and be brain washed with all these beautiful girls saying their ugly and as a result, we are feeling twice as ugly as them.

It would be nice to think that Facebook is still living up to its true purpose in the teen world, but it’s not. I can’t stand the bullying and the falseness. People trying to be someone they’re not. Whilst we continue to be tricked that everyone’s life is just so perfect, we will continue to feel how imperfect we are.

Facebook is like a reality show; it’s meant to be real but it is just so fake.

Did you delete your Facebook page? Why? How do you use Facebook? Do you think Facebook is changing?