Writing, The Web, And Me

Writing, The Web, And Me

How the internet has impacted my life--and how important it is to maintain it for the future.
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I don’t remember exactly when I first put my hands on a book. Obviously, it was when I was a little girl, seeing that I now read today. My parents would frequently take me to the library, let me check out a few books, and then have me read them. Initially, I would read them out loud, before learning the skill of absorbing all the information silently, without taking two seconds to read two pages or two hours.

A few years later, I began to write. I started out with poetry, which got published in my elementary school magazine. It expanded more into a novel and a flood of poems, followed by short stories, drafts of a play, and articles. From when I was nine years old, I would keep a diary about my daily musings and try to incorporate creative aspects into it. Even when my writing is confined to writing research papers for class, I did continue to write, albeit as a way get high grades.

Combined, it forms a major part of my identity.

However, the internet also makes a major part of me.

My first computer ran on Windows 98—I don’t remember what brand it was, but it was one of the larger, beige computers with boxy monitors and keyboards with larger keys. I remember going to America Online to play makeover games, and having my parents tell me when to get off because they needed to talk to somebody on the phone. I also remember discovering YouTube for the first time—and opening a Pandora’s Box I have yet to completely close. And articles—I read them for research and to discuss in my politics classes, but now I read them for information and leave them for later…only to never read them.

For a while, I never learned about the concept of “net neutrality”—a pinpoint issue lost among other pinpoint issues. I do not know how I learned this term, but once I realized it’s meaning, in which cable companies couldn’t make people pay more to garner more access to certain websites, I knew it was serious.

I do not understand why the FCC would put this issue on the vote, and then eventually vote 3-2 on mostly partisan lines to repeal these rules. Assuming that corporations have taken the reign of policy, it may be to their benefit—and their benefit alone.

Yet on the day of the vote, I found a hope spot: if a simple minority in Congress turns against this ruling, they could nullify the FCC’s decision.

And that’s where I started calling.

The relevancy of both personal and political narratives intertwines here: one day, I would like to publish my works and share them across the world. Whether as a freelance poet or a journalist, a professional author or a researcher at a think tank, I want at least some of my writing to appear digitally. Without net neutrality, I may not be able to share as much as I would like.

The same could be said with almost everyone else who is at the mercy of the internet—while a good library is invaluable, one could have the entire contents of it in the palm of their hand. And that’s what’s important when going through this week.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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A Glimpse Of My Adventure In Germany & Poland

This why everyone should study abroad.

Learism
Learism
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Two days ago, I arrived back in the States from a two-week study abroad trip to Germany and Poland. This trip was entitled Experiences in International Justice. On this trip, we studied the Holocaust and its consequences through the lens of criminal justice. This trip changed my life in so many ways.

Firs, I really connected with all the other students on my trip, so I know that I can find friendship and understanding in them because we shared this experience.

Secondly, I discovered a newfound respect for life and need to work towards a more just world through learning more about Adolf Hitler's Third Reich and the Holocaust. We visited three infamous concentration camps: Dachau, Sachsenhausen, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. I don't know if I can explain to you the emotions I experienced, but I would like to try since I think it is very important to share my experience with others. It was so surreal to be in a place where millions of innocent lives were taken away. Seeing where the many Jews, Roma, and many other groups slept, worked, suffered, and died really put my life into perspective.

It got me reflecting on what I have to be thankful for, and the problems that I feel are a too big deal to handle. Nothing I could ever go through can be compared to what those poor people went through. Because of this realization, I have become empowered to do what I can to help those who are suffering and who do not have anyone to stand up for them. I know I can't effect change all over the world, but I want to help others in any way I can, in my community and in my future career as a Forensic Psychologist, as well as with my friends and family.

I also have been inspired to be a torch-bearer for the memory of the victims as well as the Holocaust itself, so that something like it never happens again. Knowledge is power, and so being educated about what happened and how it happened can help us take a stand for what's right. Because not everyone has the privilege to travel to the concentration camps as I have so I have an obligation to share my experiences there with the world. I do not want the victims to disappear, from the Holocaust or any tragedy. From a criminal justice perspective, it was also very interesting to read more about the perpetrators, how normal people can be so violent and destroy fellow humans without remorse. I think it is beneficial to study them because it shows that anyone can become overwhelmed with power and let it go to their heads.

My trip to Germany and Poland was an amazing experience that expanded my mind and my world, inspired me to continue down my chosen career path, and gave me great friends. I hope that everyone has a chance to study abroad and always be curious and open-minded because it will do so much good for you.

Learism
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