Imagine a world where everything you do is being rated on a scale from one to five. Everyone can judge your actions based on their interactions with you, from the stranger you met on the street, the barista from the local coffee shop, to the co-workers you greet during elevator talk. Each rating affects a person’s social status. This Black Mirror’s episode “Nosedive” is created as an uncanny thermometer to measure how absurd a society controlled by social platforms could be.
Directed by Joe Wright, “Nosedive,” shown on Netflix, portrays the possibility on how our obsessions towards tech and social media culture today might build up into horrors in the future. People are judged solely by their ratings. The main character Lacie Pound, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, is trying to please everyone to gain acceptance. She believes that her value is equivalent to her app rating.
Her aim is to manage the coveted rating of 4.5. This involves practicing smiles in the mirror, brandishing goodwill to everyone, posting fashionable photos for her timeline, brown nosing “prime influencers,” while rating others five stars with the hope that they rate her favorably back. This show disturbingly shines an uncomfortable spotlight on the ways we live now.
Let's be honest – we are already more than halfway there. We have like and dislike buttons, follow and unfollow, match and unmatch. Many are obsessed altering their lives to build online personas to seek validation from others' likes and comments. We create the image of ourselves we like to portray and project to others, one post at a time – whether it's through people snapchatting pictures of their food or pining hope for another 50 followers on Instagram.
We already can rate movies, hotels, apps, doctors, government agencies, and college professors online. Yelp’s reviews determine the success of one’s business. Airbnb guests can submit star ratings and written reviews. Not just the driver, but we as passengers also are being rated each time we take Lyft or Uber.
The problem with the rating system is evident. Leaving an unbiased and honest review is hard. Check Amazon.com for example. Most sellers are giving out their product for free in exchange for positive "fake reviews." Putting subjectivity aside, most people who leave reviews either really love or hate the subject.
“Rating systems have turned customers into unwitting and sometimes unwittingly ruthless middle managers,” wrote Josh Dzieza for The Verge. “Customers expect Ritz Carlton service at McDonald's prices.”
Today, customers are also being reviewed, which means sooner or later the rating system is going to apply to everyone.
Peeple, known as the “Yelp for humans,” caused Internet backlash in 2015. It is a rating platform that would let anyone post public reviews of their acquaintances, from exes to bosses. Users can be rated based on three categories: personal, professional, and romantic. Peeple wants “character to be a new form of currency.” Ironically, the application only received one star in its App Store’s reviews. It ended up raising fears in public shaming and harassment.
As a part of Black Mirror's marketing, Netflix launched RateMe.Social, where you can check your social media rating or rate others. I received a 3.8, which in the world of the show is frowned upon.
People are afraid of being marked down. I once got a bad Yelp review, and I was devastated all day. Now I admit that I force myself to smile in front of customers to avoid another one star.
If we don’t like something about someone, have we forgotten that we can just tell him or her nicely in person? Instead of fake smiling and leaving bad reviews online, just be lovingly honest. Also keep in mind that if we are receiving feedback, we should always be open to constructive criticism.
Perhaps ratings could be the dystopian way to control the world. But the real question is, can we still behave even if no one would rate us down? Perhaps we need to question what the right amount of rating others is.
Since I moved to San Francisco, I’ve been hearing people saying that they are in a polyamorous relationship. Last year, I was dating a guy whose roommate is “poly.” Sam, a 35-year-old nurse living in Concord, has three boyfriends, and her main guy, who just moved in with her is also dating another woman whom he had a kid with. At that time, I didn’t dare to ask more about their relationship arrangement.
“I am married,” said Brad, 40, a Stanford and Princeton graduate who works for an aerospace startup. “My wife and I both see other people. She has a boyfriend, and I have a few casual partners who I see once in a while, though I am looking for something more serious.”
Another friend, Becca, is a successful owner of a startup in New York. The 42-year-old married her husband in 2010 after being together for 12 years. Their marriage has always been open from the start. She now has another boyfriend. I am unfamiliar with all of these stories.
I grew up in a conservative family in Indonesia. What I’ve been told all my life is: no sex before marriage and a man should only be monogamous with one woman “till death do us part.” I am writing this article with an open mind since I have no actual experience of a polyamorous relationship.
The word “polyamory” was first coined in the 1960s and means “many loves” in Latin. The arrangement and number of partners often varies depending on what works for each. For many, polyamory means having multiple committed relationships. It is different from polygamy, which means a state of marriage to many spouses. The level of intimacy and emotional attachment makes it deeper than an open relationship, a hookup, or a one-night-stand, which are mostly based only on sexual acts.
By some estimates, there are now a half-million polyamorous relationships in the United States, though underreporting is common. New York University Sex Researcher Zhana Vrangalova’s recent research suggests that 4 to 5 percent of general heterosexual U.S. adults, or 10 to 12 million people are engaged in consensual nonmonogamy.
Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont, is conducting an ongoing study among 5,000 poly individuals. So far, the result shows polyamorists tend to be educated and smart, with more masters and doctoral degrees than the general population.
"My wife and I have been together for 15 years, and we've been married for 10. Six months ago she met someone that she is interested in and she wants the freedom to explore it,” said John, who is on a journey exploring the concept of polyamory in a phone interview. He lives in the Bay Area, works as a senior product manager in a transportation network company, and has a beautiful four-year-old daughter.
“It’s something that my wife is interested in pursuing, and if I am denying something she wants in life, she is going to be unhappy,” the 36-year-old explained. “That won’t make us happy as a couple, and she might leave. The way that we envision love is about supporting each other, empowering each other, and becoming stronger. We don't want our marriage to be limiting and controlling."
So, is polyamory just a term for justifying infidelity? No. Being a polyamorous is the opposite of cheating, which involves deception. The main core of polyamory is communication, full disclosure, openness, trust, and respect – things that are often missing in a monogamous arrangement. "People in these relationships really communicate. They communicate to death," said Holmes to LiveScience. "They're talking a lot, they're negotiating a lot, they're bringing their feelings to the table a lot."
“I’ve introduced everyone that I am with to my wife and everybody is meeting each other. There are a couple of people that I've seen for awhile now, and one of them wants me to leave my wife for her," John admitted. "So you can imagine the very complicated and dangerous situation. I can't keep everybody happy, so I have to break it off."
What started as his wife’s desire now also benefits John as an individual. "I feel that I am far more confident as a person. Frankly, I feel a lot more attractive and desirable,” shared John. “You get to meet new people, you get to have new experiences that you’ve never done, you are constantly expanding your horizon. I still very much enjoy the freedom, the ability to be my authentic self, and not to have artificial restrictions.”
Unfortunately, being polyamorists face many stigmas as swingers, kinksters, promiscuous, and being all about sex. It can be hard for society to wrap around its head around polyamory. The big misconception is that polyamorous relationships are purely sexual and noncommittal, where in fact polyamorous arrangements involve high level of commitment.
"Trust me, there are so much more ways to get laid,” said John. “Polyamory can be emotionally draining since you have to invest in multiple relationships." The inference that John makes is it’s possible to go on dates, drinks, dinners, movies, and sharing lives, just like any other romantic relationships. Sex is just a component of it, but polyamorists connect intellectually, mentally, and (again) emotionally in supporting each other.
The cultural taboo keeps many polyamorous people not want to come out of the closet. “Many poly people stay closeted out of fear of discrimination, social alienation or because they simply prefer privacy,” sociologist Elisabeth Sheff writes in her forthcoming book “The Polyamorists Next Door,” quoted recently from CNN.
In John’s case, most of his friends know, but his family and most people he works with don’t. He said, “They are pretty conservative… They probably wouldn’t expect it.”
What about the fact that there is a child in the mix? John said, "She is a little bit too young now. Once she gets old enough that she asks questions about it, we are not going to hide it from her. The consequence of that is the whole family will find out because she'll be hanging out with grandma and she will be talking about mommy's boyfriends.”
It seems like John doesn't have much to worry about. Sheff has interviewed more than 100 members of polyamorous families, including about two dozen children of polyamorous parents ranging in age from 5 to 17 years old. Her research is suggesting that polyamory doesn't have to have a bad impact on the kids. Children also reported liking having many adults whom they trusted. They also spoke of the advantages of growing up knowing they could make their own decisions about how to build their families.
But what is the hardest thing for John right now? Jealousy. He admits that he still gets jealous and trying to figure it out. “If I am all that person needs, that makes me feel really good,” he said. It’s almost like you need a supreme confidence to be able to be okay with them wanting to have other people in their life beyond what you are doing for them. If I am in a primary relationship with someone, and I have a child with her, then she is thinking about someone else all day – obviously, that makes me feel horrible."
“I think jealousy is caused by a thought that I am not good enough for that person, I am not enough to make them happy in life," John continued. "But it is also almost ridiculous to think that you would be since you are just one person. Ten people, of course, will have far wider range of interesting exposure to life than you, as one person, is able to bring. “
The interesting question is, do we get more from jealousy or freedom? There is another theory that says jealousy is nurtured rather than nature. If we can learn to be jealous, we can unlearn it too. When someone makes us jealous, there is a range of ways that you can respond. Are we more civilized to learn to control our jealousy? Or, are we just fooling ourselves into believing that we’d better be happy with people that have more than just us in their life.
From John’s perspective, it is a new way of life that looks for many like a six-month experiment with an unknown result. However, many testimonials from other couples suggests that it is possible for polyamorous relationships to be successful. People that practice polyamory feel that loving one person does not take away any love from another person. Many claimed that being a poly couple saved their marriage by building an environment of love, openness, and communication. Polyamorists share their trials and tribulations while continuing to go on dates and pursuing other relationships with everyone’s full support.
Poly is not for everyone. We just have to keep an open mind that a relationship can be fluid. If everybody is onboard, and nobody gets hurt, then there is nothing wrong with it. Polyamory can be a viable option to monogamy, and everyone has a right to decide a relationship system that works for him or her. The goal is to create a society swhere people can be free in deciding what they want of their personal relationship with no judgment.
When we have to ask Google to answer that question, then perhaps the answer is yes; we are getting dumber. The 21st century is the Information Age, when technological development has changed the way we work, learn, play, and interact. But frankly, as our machines have progressed, we have suffered from computer dependency. More information available online does not necessarily equate a knowledge-based society. Technology is taking over, causing things infinitely easier to achieved – is this necessarily a good thing?
“We are a gadget-happy nation, but the gadgets make us dumber, not smarter," wrote Sydney Justin Harris, an American journalist, in 1977 for the Lakeland Ledger. Imagine what Harris (1917-1986) would think of human's intelligence today, and of the technology progress and changes we have experienced over the last decade.
Remember when we were able to memorize phone numbers? When we use to write letters with hands? When technology means typewriters, home telephones, cassettes, and pocket calculators? Have we forgotten how to use our brains without the help of computers?
Today you buy a smartphone (notice the word "smart"), and then stare at it for eight hours. The next thing you know you are sleeping with your phone in hand. And soon you discover there is an app for everything – shopping, cooking, sleeping, and even peeing (see Run and Pee). App Store now hosts two million applications worldwide. Sensor Tower predicts that the number will grow to reach 5.06 million active apps by the end of 2020.
One of the top five most used apps in 2016 is Google Maps. People rely on the app more than their spatial navigation memory. Many scientists including McGill University researchers suggest that with increased dependence on GPS, hippocampus (the front part of the brain that controls memory) is progressively getting smaller.
"Far from making us stupid, new media technologies are the only things that will keep us smart,” cognitive scientist Steven Pinker wrote a counter-argument in his Op-Ed for the New York Times. “Knowledge is increasing exponentially; human brainpower and waking hours are not. Fortunately, the Internet and information technologies are helping us manage search and retrieve our collective intellectual output at different scales, from Twitter and previews to e-books and online encyclopedias."
Ok Pinker, let’s talk about the Internet. Twenty-six years after the introduction of the World Wide Web, the availability of all information in the world at our fingertips has made us dimmer. Again, we become less dependent on our memories for data storage and retrieval, and this caused “digital amnesia.” Google might provide the best external memory bank, but people got to have knowledge stored in their head, not just in their computers.
“When people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it,” wrote psychologist Betsy Sparrow of Columbia University, quoted recently from TIME. “It’s good to know where to find the information you need—but decades of cognitive science research shows that skills like critical thinking and problem-solving can be developed only in the context of factual knowledge.“
Students do their research online, and technologies are the number one resource for education. Everyone has easy access to a lot of examples, and it's easier to copy work from other sources. We don’t have to work hard on experiment or experience things in first hand to get the information needed. We become mindless consumers of data; this is when we lose our originality, creativity, narrowing our thinking to programmable computers. “The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers,” another quote by Mr. Harris says it all.
Of course, more information means more options, and highly advantageous technology truly makes life a lot easier. But how we choose to use technologies impacts our analytical, spatial, and cultural intelligence. First, choose carefully things that you want to put in your brain since stupidity is also more visible online (Kardashian, Kanye, Trump). Then don’t depend too much on computers; the solution is not to ban technology altogether but to develop strategies of self-control. Care more about the real life and not gadgets' battery life.
If things continue as they do, humanity will eventually be divided into two groups: the techies that understand and control everything, and everyone else that completely dependent on technology to survive.
Here is a fact that you need to know: the more Internet-connected wearable devices we use, the greater the chance that we expose our privacy to prying eyes. First founded in March 2015, a new startup company, Revealo, creates a small tracking device that can be used to find lost valuables, pets, and people while still keeping its users’ locations safe.
Chief executive officer of Revealo, Piotr Oleszkiewicz, 36, is an entrepreneurial expert in information technology security. Originally from Wrocław, Poland, he was the senior security consultant of Surfland Systemy Komputerowe, S.A., the biggest IT integrator in his country. He is also the founder of the cybersecurity company SentiNode, a public speaker, and a Mensa member. Just like other young tech guys from all over the world, Oleszkiewicz came to the Bay Area to try and make it in Silicon Valley’s startup scene.
On July 15th at RocketSpace, the technology campus and networking space for startups in San Francisco, Oleszkiewicz discussed his latest development, Revealo technology. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Marisa Tania: Tell us more about yourself, what have you done in the past?
Piotr Oleszkiewicz: I created my first company, Inter-Pi, when I was 15-years-old. It was a personal computer sales company, and my high school was my first customer. As time passes, the margin on PC sales is growing smaller and smaller, and I wanted things that required more knowledge.
Then I created another company, SentiNode when I was 26. SentiNode is an IT security company, but it also has equipment sales, integration, and application developments. We are partners with Xerox, Adobe, and many more. And now I’ve created a management team to take care of SentiNode back in Poland while I am here in San Francisco focusing on my latest project, Revealo.
Tania: You have a strong cybersecurity background. How did you get involved in the IT security industry in the first place?
Oleszkiewicz: My first Internet access was when I was 10 years old in a university where my parents worked. This was three years before the telephone cable Internet, the time when probably there were only 100 world-web-servers in the world. When I was bored, I just used the university computer. I learned a lot about Internet security and how easy it is to break it. Now I want to use the knowledge in a good way and make money out of it.
Tania: Are you saying that you were a hacker?
Oleszkiewicz: You said that (laughing)
Tania: In your own words, can you explain what Revealo is?
Oleszkiewicz: With Revealo tracking technology, it is possible to track people or items on a citywide scale while keeping full privacy. Our patent pending technology allows us to scramble the wireless digital fingerprint using encryption systems, and limit the tracking capability only to the users’ encryption keys. So, no one unauthorized can track you unless you want them to.
Currently, we have ready prototypes. We are working on funding right now, and we are hoping to introduce Revealo to the public at the end of this year.
Tania: What technology does Reavealo use?
Oleszkiewicz: Revealo technology is different from the GPS and GSM solutions that are very power hungry. It is important for tracking products to work a pretty long time, and a GPS tracker that is lightweight and doesn’t have a big battery won’t work that long. If you want to protect your children or the elderly, they won’t remember to charge it every day. This is the first problem, and our technology allows the tracker to work for half a year to a year on a single coin cell battery. We are modifying Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE for privacy and two different wireless technologies for long-range tracking so that we can achieve 1.5 to 3 miles range in the city.
Tania: What does it look like in the tangible form?
Oleszkiewicz: The prototype is a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) at a fingernail size. For tracking people, it will be in a bracelet form or integrated with shoes. For tracking items, instead of having it as an attachment, the best way to use it is to integrate it directly into the product by the manufacturer so it would be impossible for a thief to remove it.
Tania: How about the patent? Is it a United States patent?
Oleszkiewicz: We already filed for a patent for our core intellectual property cryptographic system at the beginning of October 2015, and we will be extending our coverage internationally and adding more protection for different functions. The U.S. patent gives us a yearlong priority right for a worldwide patent from the first filing date.
Tania: Who is your target market?
Oleszkiewicz: We will probably be going the way of B2B2C (business to business to consumer), so we will interact directly with businesses that provide the service to the end customer.
Tania: Who do you think needs Revealo?
Oleszkiewicz: If you use a fitness tracker, smart watch or a simple “find me” type tag, then most probably you are at risk. The real problem with the existing tracking technology devices, like Tile or TRACKER, is that anyone can locate them. And this means it is easy to be tracked by criminals, simply a privacy disaster. For example, with pet trackers, Whistle, we want to protect our dogs, but at the same time we put them at risk by exposing their locations to others.
Criminals have access to a very basic and cheap tool set that can put people on their map. Our real-time location data can now be bought on the dark web (the black market of the internet) for as little as $13.30 per person per day.
Tania: But most people like me are not under a threat of being hacked, so why should we be aware of this?
Oleszkiewicz: You may not feel it, but it is happening regardless. And criminals are doing it on a massive scale. But of course it also depends on the level of risk you can accept, and also how interesting a target you are for the criminal.
Tania: What do you think about the future of wearable devices and cybersecurity?
Oleszkiewicz: Cybersecurity is becoming very important since more data is being exposed online. Wearables will grow smaller; probably they will be integrated into everyday devices. Imagine the functionality of Fitbit in your garments. And this could go bad if those products don’t have technology like ours.
Tania: You are originally from Poland. When and why did you move to San Francisco?
Oleszkiewicz: I first came here in February 2015. San Francisco is the world capital for startups, more of 50 percent of global funding happens here; it is the place to be.
Tania: What do you think about the startup culture in San Francisco?
Oleszkiewicz: Compared to other places, people have ‘the give it forward’ attitude here. People are really open; they are willing to share their experience and expertise. Some people will help you to achieve what you want without expecting something in return. But they will expect you to help someone else in the future, which is very nice.
Tania: Many high-profile startups ended up shuttering their doors. What is your opinion on this?
Oleszkiewicz: Most new startups have close to zero business experience or don’t have a real idea. If you try to create a startup that would be, let’s say, Uber for single moms, it doesn’t make sense because there is already Uber, and single moms can use it. The approach of taking an existing model that succeeded and trying to take compete in big markets is why a lot of these startups are dying.
Tania: How are you confident that Revealo will survive?
Oleszkiewicz: We are ahead of our competitors because Revealo is both safe and battery friendly. It is possible for distinct products to upgrade their current products with Revealo technology. Our goal is to become the biggest item tracking platform in the world.
I’ve run businesses for 20 years now; I am a technical person, but I am also a businessperson. It is also very important to understand that no one knows everything. When I don’t know what I am doing, it’s a wise thing to ask people who have been there for guidance.
Tania: So, you are a member of Mensa, and your IQ even surpasses above the maximum a test could measure. How does it feel to be a genius?
Oleszkiewicz: I would not trade my brain for anything else. It is super fun to be able to analyze complex issues in the blink of an eye, and it definitely helps my success.
Who Do We Wear Lingerie For?
It was a windy evening in San Francisco’s Union Square; I was standing in front of the Victoria’s Secret store. Lingerie from the latest runway collection including the VS angels’ wings were on display. “Wow, this one was worn by Kendall Jenner,” said a young woman. Her friends nodded and they both entered the store.
You told me, then, why on that day my feet stood still and then walked away from the entrance. I am used to spending a few dreamy hours buying enough bras and hanky-panky panties of every shape and color. So why not then?
Because I was single.
For whom was all that decadent sexiness? No one would see me wearing the boudoir outfit anyway. Then I started to think: Lingerie, was it a gift to myself, or was it a gift for some lover?
Many women like myself wear lingerie for men. Some women only wear the naughty nighty on special occasions, which usually match with the presence of new boyfriends. Women strive for comfort, especially when we assume that we are not going to be seen.
“To sleep, I prefer comfort over anything,” shared Adriana Oliveria, a 24-year-old fashion styling student at Academy of Art University. Many women agree with Oliveria; we tend to wear oversized t-shirts with shorts or cozy flannel pajamas to bed. “I only wear special underwear when my boyfriend and I are doing something special,” she continued.
Marlen Hernandez, 27, a Mexican full-time student and a part-time retailer at Banana Republic added, “One thing I do have more in common with Californian girls, or really most girls regarding sleepwear, is that the bra is off!“ Amen to the free the nipple campaign. Christ Fei, a 25-year-old teacher concluded the previous tip, “Loose your bras, put on a top, and good night!”
We feel like agreeing that women put extra effort into their appearance for our partners; will that last forever?
“I hardly spend anything on lingerie because I have been married for a long, long time,” said Cindy Mesaros, 47, Vice President Marketing of Lundin Calling. “I'm not one of those women who wear sexy lingerie all the time. I prefer cotton underwear and comfortable bras. I also think that men like white cotton underwear on women too!”
Nikita Dancel, 29, one of the women who wears lingerie daily responded, “I believe in everyday glamor. When I look at lingerie, I don’t see it as a sexual thing. For me, wearing lingerie is the same like wearing other clothes. I don’t go out wearing nice undergarment just preparing for an encounter.“
We’ve heard from the women; however, what do guys actually think about women’s lingerie? As a matter of fact, we know that the average guys won’t be able to tell the difference between La Perla and La Senza.
“Lingerie helps create fantasies and provides opportunities for couples to get out of a routine, and explore new things,” said Alex Silver, the 37-year-old Actuary, referring to a way to keep the spark alive. Some, like 3D Modeler Hayden Steinbock, saw lingerie as non-trivial, “I like lingerie but it doesn't matter if the girl doesn't have sexy underwear. If I like the girl enough to be in bed with her then superficial things like that aren't important.”
Reid Walker, 42, a sales director, bluntly agreed to disagree, “Lingerie is just a detail. A hot woman can wear granny panties and be hot. An unattractive woman in hot lingerie is still unattractive.” Ouch! Yes, the truth hurts. “But a hot woman in sexy undies is extra good! I like the effort; it shows pre-planning. Women don’t wear hot undies so they won’t be seen.”
Is that really accurate? Do women use lingerie “merely” to grab men’s attention?
“Women wear it to please men and also dress up for themselves, to feel more powerful,” said artist Tony Salza. He also mentioned the fact that lingerie is often worn underneath the daily clothing, private and unseen. Also, don’t forget one thing, “A lot of women dress to impress other women, to be a trendsetter,” added Mwansa Comba, a 25-year-old female doctor in training.
Using lingerie is clearly not just because women love men’s attention. Deanna Rae Motley, a 21-year-old undergraduate from Atlanta, simplified everything with her comment, “Sometimes people just want to feel sexy and lingerie gets the job done, period.”
Looking back to the history, during the early 20th century, lingerie was worn for three main reasons: to alter the outer shape, for hygienic reason, or for modesty. Instead of the original role as body supports, why do we often correlate lingerie with eroticism? The hypersexualizing counter ` effect of the underwear today predominantly caused by the lingerie advertising that caters to man’s fantasy.
The idea of sexual femininity intriguingly characterized by lacy dainty things, leopard prints, thongs, and suspenders. “Sex never goes out of style” is the motto of Frederick’s of Hollywood, the pioneer of lingerie’s retailer in the United States, founded in 1947. Victoria’s Secret arrived on the scene in the 1980s, overtaking the market of lingerie business with its sexy ambassador angels.
Quoted recently from the New York Times, “Agent Provocateur, which opened its first boutique in London in 1996: ‘Selling whips and pasties alongside bras and panties, the label helped to spark a trend for high-end, overtly erotic lingerie that continues today.’”
There are some online stores where guys can subscribe to pick lingeries as gifts based on sizes and raciness. “I think it is more likely that men buy this for their wives or girlfriends. That seems dangerous to me - because I think maybe men and women have different ideas about what is attractive,” said Mesaros, couldn’t be more right.
So what happens with women who don’t feel sexually attracted to men, does this idea of lingerie also apply in the lesbian community? “No, it’s not the same, at least for me it’s not. I couldn’t care less what my partner wears to bed, I prefer she wears nothing though,” said Hershey Bautista, 28, who also prefers to sleep in her birthday suit. Let’s just assume that the image of two hot girls playing with each other in corsets, garter belts, and stilettos only exists in porn; again to cater men’s fantasy toward women.
Now hold on there a minute. “How about trans? Don’t forget that. Also some guys like wearing lingerie themselves, or gay guys who love using it for a role-play, as well as drag queens,” said Mareldo Prabowo, 23, my gay best friend. Today, people can wear whatever they want across the gender continuum. “Unless they are being forced by their partner or others, then it won’t be a pleasant experience.” Our society is shifting from 'dressing for men' towards 'dressing to fit in the subcultures of the city.’
“I would consider myself old-school. I wear lingerie just for myself,” said Julie Shi, 25, a music production graduate student who vows to save her virginity until her marriage. “Even when you wear lingerie to please your partners, it will make them happy and then it will also make you happy. So, why not? In the end, you still dress up for yourself.”
We are human beings with sex drives, and wanting to be attractive is natural. It's just a way to package ourselves up and if it makes you feel good, then more power to you. (MT)
Fickenscher, Lisa. "Can Frederick’s of Hollywood Become Relevant Again?" New York Post. 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.
Johnson, Ken. "Built on Historic Foundations." The New York Times. The New York Times, 2014. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.
"Sexy Panties & Gifts For Your Wife: Luxury Delivered | Enclosed." Enclosed. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.
It seems just like yesterday I blew out candles for my sweet 17th birthday party. Gone are the up-and-down days of awkward puberty. All of a sudden, I’m turning 25 this year. Am I getting wiser or just older?
There are many things that I probably should be able to achieve by now. But here I am, in San Francisco, still in my first year in college, worrying about my GPA. I am completely bewildered about the future and am questioning my life goals. How did I end up here?
I was a straight-A student for as long as I can remember. My mom taught me how important it is to be a perfectionist, which I often resent. She enrolled me in a drawing course, ballet lesson, and classes in just about every instrument: guitar, electronic organ, trumpet, and drum – a little too much to handle for a child. I used to win every academic competition the school urged me to join, and was one of the very few to be chosen for the gifted program.
At 14, I became an Indonesian delegate for UNEP international children’s conferences. It was not unusual for me to be in social situations with the president. As the Princess of the Environment 2005, one of my duties was to escort political leaders. I clearly remember one afternoon when, at 15, I accompanied the Indonesian Minister of Environment to plant the first tree at my hometown, Surabaya’s family tree campaign. The media were taking picture of us; it was chaotic and crowded. Ignoring the entire ruckus, one thing popped in my head: “Everyone is proud, but what do I really want?”
By 11th grade, after a terrible first breakup, I went from a top student to being on the brink of expulsion. My ex cheated on me with a very pretty girl, and then I became obsessive about my physical appearance and how I dressed. My interest in fashion was building during my high school years, and I was sketching clothes in class instead of listening to the lectures. I came to school for the art classes and ignored the rest. My thought was: High school is not important if I want to be a fashion designer. I missed six months of school but luckily, my parents, the school principal, teachers, and classmates pushed me to take the national final exam (they physically dragged me out of my house, all 42 of them), and thank God I still managed to graduate!
I wanted to be the next John Galliano; that was my life goal when I entered the fashion design program at Raffles Design Institute Singapore. I am pretty sure all of my lecturers remember me; not just because of my perfectionist projects, but because I failed to show up for most finals. Once the final was looming, I stopped going to classes and curled up inside my room, having panic attacks. I dropped out of college when I was 21, three months before my final graduation fashion show.
All through the ups and down of high school and college, I struggled with mood swings. I had multiple breakdowns and decided to seek professional help. Four doctors diagnosed me with severe bipolar disorder. I had no control over my emotions and suicidal thoughts often crossed my mind. I spent a year doing nothing, depressed, gained 40lbs, and was too ashamed to leave my room. The next two years were still very rough. I helped my mom’s business, selling machinery for factories and laboratories. The position was not for me and I wasn’t happy even though I could earn good money.
When I was 23 I got a job at the largest event organizer in Surabaya. It ended with a huge fight with my ex-boss because of my insubordination. He threw stuff from his table all over the room while yelling at me. I simply stopped coming to work and was hospitalized because of several major panic attacks that immobilized my body. My parents were very sad while trying to be supportive. My friends were scared of me. People called me crazy.
In 2014, I scrolled through an Instagram post: Dewi Magazine, one of the most prominent fashion magazines in Indonesia, was looking for an intern. I quickly applied, and it was the best decision. Life started to get better after I moved to the capital city of Jakarta. I enjoyed every bit of the internship, which surprised me – I’d never considered being a journalist or a stylist. My understanding about fashion was limited to the title “designer,” and I never saw any other possibilities to work in fashion industry. From then I realized that I love to write, I love to go to fashion events and review them for the public; I ultimately want to work for a fashion magazine.
Even though Dewi wanted to renew my contract, I couldn’t resist an opportunity to go to China for four months to learn the Chinese language. It was another good decision – I needed a change of atmosphere, and I learned about myself more than ever.
I was sitting in my Shanghai hotel room on my last day in China, alone, sipping my hot cup of Twinning’s tea, while watching The September Issue, a Vogue documentary featuring Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington. The two hours of magical moments made me decide to move to the United States and pursue my dream to build my career with an international magazine company. Over the next three weeks, I applied for my U.S. visa, grabbed my passport, and was ready for the next adventure: San Francisco. The Academy of Art University is the only school that offers a fashion journalism undergraduate program, and here I am happier than ever.
As an aspiring professional writer, my life philosophy is quite similar to the writing process. All writers know the idea of shitty first drafts; very few really know what they are doing until they’ve done it. Let the words pour out without being afraid to make mistakes. If I try to hold onto the obsessive idea of perfectionism, I will be insane my whole life. The only way to get anything done at all is to write the shitty first draft as a taxing first effort. The same thing with life; I needed to start somewhere. (MT)
Beside the beach, beautiful sunset, cocktail, and exotic food, playing couple with a “holiday-boyfriend” complete the perfect combination of a holiday romance. When your friends keep nagging you about marriage, this time you are bringing a holiday-boyfriend home so you can pretend if your life is complete.
Instead of true love, we get forced down through our throat during every holiday season’s slew of romantic comedy. Let’s cut to the case, New Year’s Eve is the worst time to be single and alone; wanting a companion during the holiday makes a perfect sense. However, now in the tinder era when relationships are dead, we present romance on a truly practical level. Yep, the holiday-boyfriend is a guy that you have a love fling with during a vacation break; the deal is sweet, romantic and not causing any emotional baggage.
Or is it actually becoming something? You explore foreign places together, you taste strange food together, get drunk in a smoky bar together, share confessions, passions and dreams of your future life together. It is intoxicating and the feeling is inevitable. Now it is rolling around to the end of the “honeymoon” trip, but you are not sure how to end a wonderful but short-lived holiday’s love crush. It might be a little sad; both of you like each other, or you wouldn’t have become involved, right?
However strong our determination not to expect too much from a vacation fling is, somehow we find ourselves wondering at some point: Could this last? It is difficult not to get emotionally involved. Even though you enjoyed the time together a lot, but it would be unfair and totally unrealistic to pretend it can continue back in everyday “real-life.” We can’t all live out the The Note Book fantasy, when Rachel McAdams managed to live happily ever after with Ryan Gosling only after a short summer love affair.
The trouble with holiday-boyfriends happens when we persist in trying to make them something they are not. An overseas fling can be a beautiful thing, but that doesn’t mean the charmingly cocky guy with a cute accent you spend the break with is turning out to be “the one.” He might have five other girlfriends somewhere else, and you will never know. Be rational, enjoy the flattery, but don’t be taken in. When the emotion is building up, keep reminding the fact that it is most likely will never last. There are no long-term promises and it is sadly too good to be true.
Away from the pressure of the everyday life, the ideal holiday romance should be relaxing, fun, adventurous, and forgotten the moment we step on the plane home. You are sure jealous of his next girlfriend, but the feeling will be temporary. The chances are the love will fade as quickly as your tan - so cherish the time, live in the moment but be prepared to let go. Holiday romance should stay just where it started: on holiday. Maybe someday you’ll cross paths again with your holiday-boyfriend. And as time passes, it is always nice to have a friend you know in another part of the world. (MT)
Have you ever heard about the quarter-life crisis? The quarter-life crisis is the period from the mid-20s to the early 30s when an individual is struggling to define their life as an adult. It used to be the stress of entering “the real world”, and the emotional upheaval about how to transition into adulthood. Depression, insecurities, disappointments and loneliness are seemingly worse when you are hitting the quarter-life crisis as a student.
There are more students in their mid-20s that are still in the university than ever before, either earning an advanced degree, changing majors or deciding to go back to college after some breaks. But what happens when you are still in school when your biological clock is ticking and you’re about to turn 30? Educated 20- and 30-something are most likely to be hit by quarter-life crisis. People have a certain image in their head about what they need to achieve by a certain age: steady job, identity of life values, living up to the parents’ expectations. The fact is here you are, still worrying about your GPA, and before you know it, you are completely questioning your life goals.
According to licensed therapist Jennifer Burton, our society's ideas about time frames for accomplishments stem largely from Erikson's eight stages of development. Erik Erikson was famous for coining the phrase,” identity crisis” in his comprehensive psychoanalytic theory.
“The reason why this is concerning, however, is because we are living much longer lives than we did when these stages were developed,” said Burton who has a practice in Southern California. “Because of modern medicine, the stages technically need to be backed up by about ten years, meaning that life accomplishments normally achieved during mid-twenties (degree, job, starting adulthood, finding a spouse) are more likely accomplished in mid-thirties.”
The fact of the matter is, a lot is asked of college students. Students are expected to get stellar grades, do an internship, have a job, be active in the school club and somehow manage to have spare time for a social life.
Arely Villanueva is a fashion journalism student at Academy of Art University. She used to study law before she decided to change her major last year. She is trying to build her resume by working 45 hours per week as a manager in a retail store besides being a full time student “I do feel frustrated when my friends already have their first careers. However it is really hard to balance the work responsibilities when I reach home everyday at 11pm and still need to do assignments for the school. Sleeping is a privilege as this point of my life. My whole life is fucked up, I am starting to feel like it is not worth it,” said the 24-year-old.
Living in the social-media era also makes society become an envious generation; they are bombarded with daily basis information on how well their friends doing in life. Adam Amiley Poswolsky, the author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough came up with the term FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out, comparing with what other people were doing. This makes it very easy to feel like student in their mid-20s are underachieving in life.
“As such, someone in their mid-20s is more likely to be struggling with the issues of the teen years (which in fact they are struggling with, but thinking they are flawed as a result). There may certainly be some outliers who actually "have it all together" and know their life path early as well as how to achieve their goals, but we can't be fooled by what we see on social media, since everyone is putting up the facade vs. what is really happening in their lives,” explained Burton.
She added: “Also, in brain development terms, the cortex, which (in simplistic terms) is the thinking part of our brain, is not fully formed until 26 years of age. Thus, the expectations 25-year-olds put on themselves is highly unrealistic, and it is more ‘normal’ to not have it all figured out.”
Burton also mentioned that there is no many ways to avoid a quarter-life crisis, any more than we can avoid other life struggles. In order to fully "lean in" to the joyous and pleasurable things in life, we also have to "lean in" to the other stuff too.
“This is not to say that if someone is truly experiencing severe anxiety or depression that they shouldn't seek medical help and therapy. In many cases, therapy alone can be very helpful - and in a recent study, it was found that a combination of medication and therapy for depression works better than medication alone,” She acknowledged.
Therapy does not have to be a huge expense. While therapists in private practice can be pricey if they don't accept medical insurance, there are other options. Many local agencies that train therapists have very low sliding scale rates, and college counseling centers offer free therapy for students. In addition, one major benefit of the Internet and smart phones is that we can access coping skills and helpful apps. There are apps that will provide meditation training and other methods for coping with stress, anxiety and depression.
Like many conditions the quarter-life crisis affects some of us more than others. However it is really important for students to understand that it is normal to have the quarter-life crisis. Overwhelming instability often causes depression and anxiety, preventing us from getting the best of ourselves. But with the right coaching and approach, it can also be a positive and transformational experience. (MT)