Monday, April 21, 2014

Strike a Pose? No, Thanks: Why I Don't Take (Many) Pictures

The last time you logged onto Facebook, what did you see? Was it a cute selfie of your best friend and her boyfriend? Maybe it was your roommate’s night out with her sister. And I bet you didn't care, did you? As much as I love to know what my friends are up to, most of the time all I think is, I DON’T CARE. Unfortunately, that’s just part of what social media is for. Sites like Facebook allow users to share their experiences with their friends in a convenient, virtual setting. But too much Facebook may be doing more harm than good. A study from the University of Michigan showed that frequent Facebook users were more emotionally troubled than those who used the site infrequently, and another study showed that the more people were on those types of sites, the more envious they became of their own friends. And what has proven to be the worst culprit on social media sites? Photos.

We’re certainly not the first generation to take photos. I’m sure most of your mothers had you squeeze in close with your brothers and sisters for a photo on Christmas morning or take a break from sun-tanning on your family vacation to “smile for the camera!” But I don’t think even our parents could have anticipated the mass amount of photos millennials insist on taking. My Facebook newsfeed has been constantly flooded with pics of some blurry color blob that my friend claims is Beyonce’s concert or a table of empty glasses that were once filled with booze which I guess are supposed to signify a “great night” but just looks like a “hot mess.” Let’s face it: people love to share their experiences. But in sharing, they are actually forgetting.
Recent research has shown that individuals who took pictures of something were less likely to remember it. Psychological scientist Linda Henkel found that when people took pictures of an object in a museum, they had more trouble recalling small details later on. “When people rely on technology to remember for them,” she said in an article for Psychological Science, “It can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences.” She says people who take pictures often rely on their camera to remember the event for them rather than being fully present.

While looking at a picture after the fact can actually help jog your memory of the event, be honest: how many of you actually go back through and look at pictures you took last year? You don’t. You post them for other people to see. And what’s worse is that this action can actually harm your personal relationships. A U.K. study reported that people who frequently posted photos to their social media accounts did more damage to their personal relationships. When you’re constantly posting photos, research has shown that your family, friends, and colleagues begin to feel alienated. The worst perpetrator? The selfie. While all photos had this distancing affect, selfies proved to be particularly damaging. So while you may think that your makeup is so cute this morning and you have to show the world, just remember that it may be doing more harm than good.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love taking the occasional picture. When you’ve spent hours getting done up for a formal event or met up with a friend you haven’t seen in ages, you want a photo to remember it by. Plus, my parents always appreciate feeling like they’re involved in my life by just scrolling through my newsfeed. But I’m wary of relying on photos to capture everyday experiences. They’ll worsen my memory, alienate my friends, and I’ll most likely never look at them again. That’s why I choose to put down the phone and enjoy the experience. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Incomplete Guide to Subway Etiquette

Now, you may read this title and think to yourself, why would someone write an incomplete guide to anything? Isn’t that a little bit of an oxymoron? Yes, but I’ll tell you why the title: undoubtedly, when I get on the subway again tomorrow morning, fighting with the other Stuyvesant Town residents for the handful of spots on the L train, I will run into a dozen or so people who are doing something to piss me off and wish I’d added it to my guide. Unfortunately, that’s life in NYC. People can always find one hundred ways to annoy you on public transportation. But if you follow this guide, you’ll be a little less annoying on your morning commute.

Recognize you’re not in more of a hurry than anyone else
I mention this pointer first because it is the one I fall victim to most frequently. I just want to push past everyone and scream, “I’m kind of in a hurry here!” But at 9am on a Monday morning, chances are good that I’m not the only one rushing to work. Be patient with the slow walkers and tourist gawkers. They all have somewhere to be and they’d like to be there sooner rather than later.

Stay in your “lane”
I understand that some people are slow. I resent you for it, but I understand your plight. However, if you’re going to meander your way down into the subway, please don’t do so in the middle of the stairs with a hand on both railings. Move to the right, the slow lane, and take up as little space as possible. I’ll hate you less for being slow if you’re not in my way.

Let people off before you get on
Look, I know that you don’t want to miss this train because God knows when the next one will come, but if you don’t let me off first, there won’t be any room for you. Before elbowing your way into that tiny space in the middle of the car, take a step to the side and let people out. It’ll be an easier process for everyone.

Share your seat
Bad                  --                    Good
There are many rules to the subway seats, but I’ll share with you the most important. First, and probably most obvious, always give your seat to pregnant women or the elderly. I know your feet are tired, but come on, have some decency. Secondly, if you get on a packed train and a seat magically opens up, leave it alone. The people who have been standing on that train long before you deserve to rest their feet for a second. And lastly, be cognizant of your belongings. If you have a clutch and someone comes on the train with bags literally hanging off of them, let them sit. But, if you’re the one with a plethora of bags, you still have to keep them to one seat. Put them on your lap, under your feet, on your head, for all I care. It doesn’t matter who you are, you get one seat. End of story.

Turn down/off your volume
I turn off the volume even when I play Candy Crush, so I really don’t want to hear you playing it. Even if you’re wearing headphones to listen to music or game sound, it still might be audible to everyone in your car, so just keep it down. Not everyone likes your tunes as much as you do, pal.

Consider a cab
I know, I know, cabs are expensive. Why spend $20 to get somewhere when $2.50 will do just fine? But there is nothing worse than trying to squeeze onto my train when I’m running late from work only to realize that someone’s oversize suitcase is taking up a space I could have had. I grumble at the tourists who slowly meander out of the open doors only to stop dead and consult their map to figure out what train to take next. If you’ve got the means, stop being so stingy. Just take a damn cab and get out of my way.

Don’t be so cranky
This, again, is a little piece of advice I think I could be a bit more cognizant of as well. I know that the seemingly endless morning subway voyage may feel like the worst part of your day, but that doesn’t mean you need to ruin everyone else’s day by pushing, shoving, cursing, or yelling. Just take a deep breath and realize that everyone else is hating this experience just as much as you are and we’re all trying to get from point A to point B.

Next time you ride the subway, consider these etiquette rules. Know of one I forgot? Mention it below! There are an infinite number of ways to piss people off on the subway, so try to avoid as many as you can.