Mr. Fox is in the Building

“Mr. Fox is in the building…” It’s a code one of my previous schools used for lockdowns. Looking back, it wasn’t the most discrete code, but all of the students knew what it meant. We had a real lockdown at one of my schools and I don’t really remember it being scary. There had been a situation blocks away with someone in a hotel. They’d kept us afterschool though, and I remember parents everyone, showing up and wondering where the heck their kids were.

It’s really different to be a staff member during lockdowns now, rather than a student. I’m the one making sure the door is locked and the blinds closed. I’m the last one to the designated spot.

A week ago today was the Parkland shooting in Florida. It was the biggest school shooting since Sandy Hook. Since then, the media has predictably and figuratively exploded. Everyone is talking about it. There’s at least one conversation about it each day at work, and more at home. Since yesterday alone, there have been 2 districts within 100 miles that have reported threats. At least 1 additional district had a lockdown today that was reportedly not a drill. Police presence on campuses has increased. More doors have been locked. Name tags are required of staff. Students are watching their words and asking what they should do if they see a threat on social media. Class debates on gun control are a daily staple. Classes are never left unsupervised. And some students are certainly being handled as fragile. Less conversations happen around them and everyone is more wary.

Blame is thrown every which way. Of course, with my background in Sociology and having taken criminology, terrorism, and specifically studied school shootings, a lot of staff and students come to ask me questions. “What’s different with this one?” “Do they know the motive?” “Where?” “How old was the shooter?” Having kept up on the news articles and other reports, I’m usually able to give answers to a lot of these questions, particularly what’s different. I’ve spent the time analyzing statistics on the topic. I’ve ran the tests myself to look for significance and understand what the common shooter, and the shooting “looks like.”

What I struggle with is the speculation and redundancy of “solutions” and blame. I wish I had a word analysis of frequent use in articles, media, speech and news following instances such as this. If we did, I think a lot of the common words (besides the obvious shooting, shooter, school, etc.) would include: Gun control, violence, video games, motive, here, my kid(s), they should be in trouble too, why didn’t they…, what if, why, liberals, conservatives, republicans, Columbine and (insert whomever is currently President or FBI director here).

A lot of times, I keep my mouth shut tight while these conversations go on. I know that if I get involved, I will get frustrated and have difficulty explaining in simple Facebook-layman’s terms the statistics and other things I have studied. I also like to take the time for the event to cool down so that I can formulate my thoughts, hence the reason this post hasn’t come out sooner, even with a previous shooting. Additionally, I always find it incredibly useful for controversial situations to focus on supporting the argument opposite my opinion. This allows me to see the strengths and weaknesses of both sides and gain understanding of where everyone else is coming from. Altogether, I feel I’m able to come up with some decent arguments for either side that I like to use to counter conversations with. Let it be known that each of the articles I will cite in this post will be scholarly peer-reviewed articles with actual studies unless otherwise stated.

For the argument of “video games cause/bring/encourage violence” (one of my favorites to counter) I’d like to bring to the table the article, Video Games and Youth Violence: A Prospective Analysis in Adolescents by Christopher J. Ferguson (2011) which findings conclude that both violent video games and television are insignificant in comparison with crime (not just shootings, but all violent crime among teens). The sample size for this article was 300 youth. Not enough for you? Here’s another: Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in Eastern and Western countries: A meta-analytic review. by Craig A. Anderson (et. al). This study additionally found very limited correlation. The samples that did have a correspondence were few and far between. There was no differentiation between males and females, which I would say is another big part of this argument, that males are more subject to video games to lead to violence than females. This study says differently. There are countless other articles studying the same thing with different samples and different focuses that have resulted in very similar findings. So tell me again how video games and/or television is the cause of violence? And why is your personal experience better than a study of hundreds of randomly selected teens? Oh, I didn’t realize it was you yourself that feels more violent when you play video games…carry on then….

For the argument of “it’s this idiot generation that spends their time eating tide pods. It was different in my day.” With this idea, I’m not going to go out and say that kids are smart, however I am going to say that you probably weren’t much smarter in your day. One thing I will agree is different: stress and the way mental health is handled. I’m not going to focus on that a ton right now, but I personally believe that stress levels have changed. Students, particularly teens have an immense amount of school work and pressure placed upon them. It’s often said that Generation Z (current elementary-high school students) are the ribbon generation, where everyone gets something for their participation. That had to come to be somehow, and who is it that is giving those ribbons? Who is pushing their children to win and putting that pressure on? Blue participant ribbons aren’t enough for many people, and we push student to do more. They are drowning in life and in school work and in the mere controversy on every topic surrounding them every day. This is not to say that this all hasn’t existed previously, however it is amplified by ever present social media and communication. With this argument, I hear a lot of “kids brought guns to school when I was a kid and no one did anything then.” My article to help with this point is not a scholarly approved, however I believe the purpose will be served the same with a mere Wikipedia article, focusing in on the dates of school shootings. The first one listed is in the year 1764. Take a moment to think about that. The United States was founded in 1776. Over a decade earlier IN WHAT BECAME THE UNITED STATES, there was a school shooting. 10 people died (more than just guns were used). Jumping ahead past several instances, into 1900-1910 there are 17 schools shootings. In a single decade. This continues on. There are 479 reported shootings listed on this page. There were shootings when you were in school, no matter your age. You may not have heard of them, but during this time, news was very local or very world based. It was not until the 1980’s into the 1990’s where broadcasting became more available and constant. 1980 was the year of the first 24 hour news broadcast and at that point, it was boring. This is why media began spinning stories. They were bored. Their viewers were bored. They wanted money. Now we have constant news from hundreds of sources. You are certain to know within hours, if not minutes of an event’s happening. This has it’s pros and cons, but again, that’s another post.

Moving onto our beloved topic of gun control. It is really difficult to take something away from people that already have it, particularly when that something is a given freedom. But let’s play with that idea. Take away guns. What happens next? Suddenly there is no way to hurt people? I always like to tie this idea into motive. Motive is never a clear idea because there are so many factors that influence everything we do. However one thing is common, and that is that events like this take place to create chaos, pain and confusion. Attacks work because they do that. The media, again, helps in this by spinning stories and spouting off even more things. If you take away guns, violence and attacks do not go away. In an article by James Alan Fox and Monica J. DeLateur in 2013 titled Mass Shootings in America, analysis found that enforcing more gun control would have limited results in prevention of mass murder. There have been a number of situations, including terrorism situations in recent years where guns were not needed to create chaos. Other weapons like knives, can create this same chaos. Sure, there aren’t as many deaths, but this still induces fear. Another common one is driving vehicles into things. For this reason, most government buildings have really large flower pots outside them, and it’s not for decoration. Those are blockades to protect. This problem will not go away with guns being taken away. If this situation were to play out and cause guns to become illegal, the underground sales would initially skyrocket and likely level off later on. In addition to that, grandparent laws would prevent current gun owners from losing their guns. That’s the same thing that keeps people in prison even if a law is altered in a way that would have made their crime legal or less of a punishment. So then we decide not to take away guns. Then what happens? Nothing really changes….unless, there is another solution. But what is it?

This brings me to motive, my least favorite question to be asked when incidents occur. Every single time though, someone inquires, “Do they know/have the motive?” No is the answer. It’s always the answer. Even if there was a note from the attacker, deliberately laying out the motive, there will still be questions. You are asking to know the cause of the effect when it is much more complicated. Why do you do anything that you do? It’s a complicated collaboration of influences from a variety of sources, values, beliefs, peers, learned and observed behavior, and so, so much more. No one and nothing is without influence, both conscious and subconscious. You may not even know what is motivating you to do whatever it is you do. This is where I like to turn my attention away from the media and away from the attacker. I like to look at those in the community/area/school. A student may commit an act of violence like this, but why, did the other kids in their class not act in the same way. Sometimes in order to best understand why a behavior happens in some, you have to look at why it doesn’t happen in others. What is causing these other kids to not act out violently? Is it their beliefs? Their friends? Love? Family? Goals? What is it? I don’t think that there is a clear answer to this question either. There is no one answer and as far as I know, it hasn’t been studied in depth (likely due to sensitivity around students within the premise of what the study would include). What is it that motivates people to act in accordance with the boundaries of comfortable society and maybe more importantly, should they?

I don’t have all the answers; I don’t even have most of them. I can’t say what the solution is to stop things like this. Perhaps there’s an underlying problem/theme altogether that we are missing; something that is broken and has to be fixed. I can say that I don’t think situations like this will decrease. With each one, it triggers another set of discussions and situations. Sometimes the tipping point for one person is for another to act. I don’t enjoy watching all of this unfold in the world, but it is our reality and we have to learn to either accept or change that.

Be sweet, parakeet.

❤ Annee


Love Will Find You There

Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
This I tell you brother
You can’t have one without the other

—Frank Sinatra

I’m currently taking a class entitled “Sociology of the Family.” We’re mere days into this class and already there has been so much good information. One of my favorite things about school is the classes and things that make you think. I’m not talking about “Give your opinion on blah blah blah” or “What was the author trying to say…” No. But what I do enjoy is the classes with readings that I actually want to read and I end up marking the margins of the book with thoughts and questions.

This class is doing all of that for me. We are reading a book called, “Marriage Go Round” and it’s so interesting. Along with this, we have articles to read for class each day. For class on Tuesday we had to read this article which was so informative to me. It enlightened me to ideas I had never considered or realized that these were even real things. Marriage without love? Who-da-thunk-it?

As I learned in class, the idea of love before marriage and falling into love has only existed for about 200 years. Before that, the feelings of “love” were something associated with adultery and a socially disapproved of relationship. Arranged marriages were popular, but even if a marriage wasn’t arranged, it was simply a union based on the benefits that would come. A man had no reason to marry unless he inherited land or something so that he could start a family to help him care for the land. Marriage simply made sense for society. In fact, if a marriage was not approved of, it could be annulled simply for that reason. One thing my professor pointed out between differences of relationships today and in the past is that it used to be that marriage, sex, and childbearing were a package deal. Today though, those things are very separated. In fact, you can separate all three of them. (If you didn’t know this, go have a talk with your Mommy or Doctor 😉 ).

 Immediately after learning all this, my mind started going back through history and trying to understand and it surprisingly made a lot of sense.

Take the classic example of Romeo and Juliet. They were in love. It was disapproved of because A) it was not an arranged or approved of marriage and B) they were “in love” but “love” didn’t exist like it does today. So many people romanticize Romeo and Juliet, but for what purpose? They were going against societal norms and we find it romantic. Kind of odd if you ask me.

Now let’s talk about fairy tales. If you’re up to date with the modern world or have read the original tales, you probably know that most stories don’t have the happy endings we generally associate with them (Thanks Disney). A lot of the princess-y stories center around this idea of true love. Many of them meet and “fall in love” after hours or days and sometimes it’s even “love at first sight.” When most of these stories were written, love was still the taboo thing that I talked about earlier. Perhaps that’s why these stories fit in so well to our modern day is because of our acceptance of things such as “love at first sight” and “soul mates.”

 Another example could be the book, “The Giving Tree.” I’d like you to think of this book as a mix between the old view of love and the new. The book begins with the old kind of love. The boy and the tree love each other and do things for each other which makes them love each other. Later on, the boy’s view changes though and he begins to have the new view. In this view, individualism is a large part. He takes from the tree without giving back. The boy is happy throughout these parts, but the tree is not. In the end of the book, he reverts to the old views and their love is true because they are focused on that idea of self sacrifice again to make the other happy.

Basically the old idea of love is that marriage and such came first for the benefit of everyone and then you grew to love that person. However, that love was not necessarily the romantic type of love. Nowadays, we fall in love first, and then get into a relationship. The author of the article mentioned earlier talked about this. Her point was basically that if we view marriage as a business type deal, then a union has been made that allows for the benefit of both parties. However, if we have to “fall in love” to get married, then without any other foundation, we can “fall out of love” and therefore destroy the marriage. “George Bernard Shaw once described marriage as an institution that brings two people together under the influence of the most violent, delusive, and transient of passions, and requires them to swear they’ll remain in that abnormal, exhausting condition until death do them part.”

(Update: I’ve also realized that this whole idea of no falling in love before marriage completely eradicates the modern view on same-sex marriage and transgender and all of that. If marriage is just a business contract for the benefit of both parties and attraction plays no part in that, then same-sex marriage and attraction is irrelevant).

All of this thinking this week has caused love and marriage to separate in my mind. Why the heck do they have to be involved? Do I want love or do I want marriage? Isn’t it better to attain marriage and then gain love rather than risk loosing love AND marriage?

Of course, it’s absurd for me to say I don’t want love, especially when this new view is the only one I’ve ever had until this week. But now I’m beginning to realize that this romantic love really isn’t what I want at all. Of course I want the feeling of excitement when my potential mate walks in the room. Of course I want him to hold my hand and dance with me in the rain. But I don’t need this romantic love view that we could lose for that. All I need is a best friend who I care about. Love should be about that self sacrifice and benefiting of each other. It should be a companionship with which you navigate life rather than the fireworks that go off when you kiss but eventually fade away.

All of this had been on my mind this week, and then in class today I asked a few questions which sparked a discussion. It ultimately ended with us questioning whether love was even real or not. We talked about Lee’s different styles of love and how he came up with different words to explain different kinds of “love.” Another thing mentioned in the last class was the idea of how our increasing technology and such causes people to continuously ask “Is there someone better out there for me?” There’s so many dating apps and such which widen the dating pool on such a grand scale. In the past, there was the people you met in real life and that was it. I would guess that this question is what causes people to cheat and/or break up. It causes unhappiness.

My patriarchal blessing when talking about my future husband mentions something about a “choice.” Because of this, over years I’ve come to realize how much of “love” is a choice. I am a firm believer that I do not have a soul mate. I can make a marriage work with any man who loves God so long as we are willing to work together and choose to love each other.

Within the church, there has been some talk of this in recent years. I know that church leaders have said that soul mates are not “real.” In addition to this, Elder Hales gave a wonderful talk. This information from the church is great, but I’ve also realized that I need to dig deeper. We’ve learned in class about the history of marriage, but what about marriage within the church? What about polygamy? What is God’s “stance on love” and does he think we should get married and then fall in love or fall in love and then get married? What is “right”?

What do you think? Am I right about all of this? Or do you completely disagree?

I’m constantly surrounded by couples and “I love you’s” and I’m pretty sure that 95% of my songs on spotify have some mention of love. Valentine’s day is in a few weeks so it’s only going to be getting worse. I’m curious though and I want to know more. I’ll get to the bottom of this and maybe find myself a man along the way 😉

a voice inside is telling you,
you’ve never gone too far,
whispering the promise of a prayer,
love will find you there.

Blow a kiss, Goldfish!

❤ Annee

If it Makes You Uncomfortable…

If this post makes you uncomfortable, literally in your own skin, and makes you think a little harder about the world around you, I will have succeeded in purpose. You guessed it, it’s time for Sociology again. The other day in class I was shown a video a faced with a question that I had never before considered: Does White Privilege exist?

I want you to take a moment to think about this, and if you find yourself question what White Privilege actually is and itching to Google it, hold off for a minute. You’re not alone in that lack of knowledge and I’m going to help you understand better what it is.

While you’re thinking about that, pause for a few minutes and take one of these quizzes for me. You don’t have to share your results although I would be curious to hear what they were, rather I ask you to keep your results in mind as you read the rest of this post.

After my class the other day and being faced with this question, I was curious about what others had to say, so I turned to Facebook.  I asked a few questions:

1. Does white privilege exist and if it does, why does it exist?
2. How has white privilege affected you?
3. Does reverse racism exist and is it the same thing as white privilege?

With the responses I got, a few things were obviously apparent:

  • People don’t know what White Privilege really means
  • They also don’t know what Reverse Racism means
  • People are very adamant about their beliefs
  • Most of their beliefs on this topics are based on a few experiences and not educational experiences on the actual subjects (to be expected)
  • I was surprised by the people that responded

That all being said, I got a large variety of answers all of which were really interesting for me to read and I want to discuss some of them but first, some definitions.

White privilege has many different definitions as it is a socially constructed concept, but in my own words, “White Privilege is the tendency for Whites to be treated with unearned benefits due to their skin color (whether consciously or subconsciously) by the majority of society.” Please take note now that my own interpretation and definition may not be the same as yours. Also, this is a MACRO idea. This means that this idea applies to society and institutions on a large scale, not individuals personally. That means that you may say, “Well I don’t treat people differently based on their skin color!” And while that may or may not be true, it doesn’t matter because this idea doesn’t apply to you. Rather it applies to large groups, such as an organization, city, state, etc.

That all being said, also take notice that White Privilege is not how you treat others, but rather how whites are treated and “privileged” in society. Here’s some examples of how that could happen. While going through this list, I ask you, no matter your skin color to see how many of those things actually apply in your opinion and tally them up and then tell me. I’ll tell you how many I can apply to my own life: 48/50. I can also tell you that when I first read over this list, I was really surprised by a lot of things on there. My thought was, “People really have to worry about this? I thought everyone had this benefit.” But because that list was even written, I know that someone of a different skin color than mine has felt the opposite of every single thing on that list. That right there is evidence to me of the existence of White Privilege.

So now take a moment to look over that list one more time. This time think about someone of a different skin color than you. How would they agree/disagree with those statements? Does it surprise you? Every time I look through that list I find another thing I’m surprised by. No one should have to go shopping alone with fear that they will be followed or harassed. I don’t face that, I’ve never have and I likely never will. But someone does and it’s because of their skin color. I have a privilege that they don’t. That is White Privilege. Now before you get all upset, I’m not condoning this or bragging on my skin color, I’m just trying to help you understand what White Privilege is.

White Privilege is the stories that plague the media these days about whites committing crimes and getting let off easy. It’s this. And this. This. This. And this. And this. It’s why I can wear any one of these and people will tell me it’s cool. It’s why people think this movie is funny. Open your eyes. Look here. Or here.

Go ahead and tell me it’s not real, I will listen but you better have some good arguments to make your case.

That being said, some of the arguments against it are interesting to me (borrowing from things I’ve heard and from responses to my Facebook post).

  1. It’s a made up term: Yes, thanks for noticing, it definitely is. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value or isn’t real. Race is a socially constructed concept as well and you don’t argue very often that that isn’t real (a post for another day). Nearly everything in our society is socially constructed. Why does money have value? Because we say it does. What the heck is a selfie? You can answer this, because the term was made up and became popular.
  2. It doesn’t exist because I’m white and I’ve never been given anything just for that: See the list I linked to above. Maybe you have and you just haven’t realized it. Also remember again that this is a Macro idea and doesn’t necessarily apply to you alone.
  3. No, because sometimes I’m favored in society and sometimes people with different colored skin than mine are more favored than I am: While this may be true, remember again that this is not a Micro idea and doesn’t apply to just you. There are more factors, including class, gender, age, sexual orientation and religiosity but based on our social stratification, we can attribute much of privilege to skin color.
  4. Everyone has equal opportunity: Tell that to the family living on the corner, see how they like your comment, and surely don’t give them anything to help them out because they of course have the same opportunities you do.
  5. What about whites having less opportunities because of minorities taking them? (I.e. Jobs, Scholarships): Look up the statistics and then come back to me with this same argument. I dare you.

So basically in my opinion, White Privilege is very real and apparent in our society. Racism is very real and apparent. The facts are sad. I’ve nearly cried writing this post while looking at a few things and I’m still not finished. We still have more to talk about. Ready?

Reverse Racism, I’ve realized, is a very misunderstood topic and term. My definition of Reverse Racism would be something along the lines of, “A form of racism that occurs as a response to or result of past or ongoing occurrences against group A, where group B was the group originally wronged.” That being said, I’m just going to tell you now that I think this is real too. It happens back and forth and it’s similar to White Privilege in that that may be one of the responses or causes of White Privilege.

This term is also socially constructed and you could argue that it’s simply racism. I would argue back that it is only a form of racism. I’m going to be blunt and point out simply that racism and arguments between people of different skin colors seem to always be “whites” against “insert skin color, ethnicity or ‘race’ here.” Am I wrong? Maybe in some instances but in my experience and education it’s always been just that. Sometimes it’s even whites against whites, but still.

For example, Reverse Racism is what I would call it when Whites complain about scholarships that are directed towards and exclusively for people of a specific “race.” These whites feel as though they are being discriminated against. Racism generally occurs from a majority population to a minority population. Reverse Racism is the opposite, when a minority is discriminate against the majority. Doesn’t happen? Look here.

I’m not going to point of the disputes of Reverse Racism because the responses I got basically consist of disputing the term—which is a concept whether you like it or not—or misunderstanding the topic. If you do have an argument though, I will happily discuss.

Anyways moving on, to sum up here’s a few more interesting thoughts and things to think about:

  • On the conversation of “Black Lives Matter” vs. “All Lives Matter,” Why do people say “All Lives Matter?” Ex. Is it just a way to distract/detract from the meaning of Black Lives Matter and put them “back to where they belong in social stratification”?
  • How would you say the Social Stratification in our country is organized? I.e. Who has the power in society?
  • Are the Young or the Old more empowered in society and why do you think this?
  • Is one group or section of society more ignorant to these concepts (everything discussed) and why do you think this? Statistics to show for it?
  • What should be done about inequality?

Thank you for reading and I hope this was enlightening. Comments are more than welcome and I’d love to hear more opinions (So go poll your friends and come back with more data for me 😉 )

So long, King Kong!

❤ Annee

The Stigmatization of Failure

Life is really scary sometimes. And our society and education system are set up in a way that your only goal is not to learn, to gain an education or even to have something to do. No, the goal is to succeed. To do well. To avoid failure. The grading system of schools is a measure of worth in a way, telling you how well you do at something, supposing you try. It does take effort to do well, but you don’t have to learn to do well. You simply have to memorize things and give the teacher what they want. Students are so plagued by this sense of having to get things “right” that they don’t care if they are learning something.

I’ve heard in a few of my different Sociology classes about this Stigma of Failing. We are afraid to fail and so we sacrifice our learning for an “A” in a class in which we had the potential to learn things about life and about ourselves and more. We’re afraid to raise our hand in class unless we are certain that the answer we are giving is right. If it’s not, we feel embarrassed. Due to this stigma, many of my Sociology teachers and others have challenged me to raise my hand anyways. The worst thing that’s going to happen is you learn something new from your failure. This happens in dance classes too. My beginning social dance teacher always has encouraged me to try hard things. He says, “The worst thing that will happen is you’ll laugh.” Eternal Salvation does not depend on a 4.0 GPA.

This semester, all of my Sociology teachers have really implemented this idea. They want us to learn to fail, so that we can succeed and actually learn something. So to do this, many of my assignments that I do won’t count. That way there’s room for me to mess one up or forget to do one. There’s extra credit in my dance classes to make up for missed things and even some of the assignments in those classes will be dropped.

I ran across something a few months ago (I can’t recall where) that really struck me as interesting. It’s a challenge of sorts that I wanted to take on. So why didn’t I? I’ve been too afraid to do it as ironic as that is. It sounds really hard and very much out of my comfort zone. The thing is, that’s the point of it. What is it? It’s called Rejection Therapy. The idea is that you learn to embrace failure and learn from it. Once a day for a set number of days (30-100) you do something that will result in rejection. It might be asking for a raise with your job or a discount at the store. It might be asking someone to do something with you or asking someone to do something out of their comfort zone for you. The rules are this:

1. A rejection counts if you are out of your comfort zone
2. A rejection counts if your request is denied
3. At the time of rejection, the player, not the respondent, should be in a position of vulnerability. The player should be sensitive to the feelings of the person being asked.

Terrifying, right? To play this game, you actually have to let yourself fail. Every day. I think it’s something my teachers would definitely approve of just because I would be learning something valuable. I’m still too afraid to do it. But I guess it can’t hurt too badly to try. Maybe I’ll start at once every few days and just update this post as I am rejected and try to be rejected. I think that because I’m in the Mormon bubble it’s likely that I will fail to be rejected at least a few times because people are so nice and willing to serve. Even last night at dance I asked huge favors of people and they were all willing to help me. (Next time I’m taking them cookies). Anyways, will you help me with this challenge? Join me and help change the stigmatization of failure?