#HALFTHESTORY in the Harvard Crimson

Opening Up On Social Media

When I really think about it, I am seldom honest on social media. I decided to change that this year. Last month, for the first time, I was completely transparent on the Internet and posted on Facebook a central aspect of my life that I had previously kept hidden: my depression.

Even though I felt vulnerable and exposed, being honest and upfront was cathartic. The support I received was overwhelming, and I was inundated with grateful messages from people who had endured similar struggles, but had never spoken out.

Social media personas are inherently biased, which limits them from portraying the truest aspects of people’s lives. When you scroll through your Instagram feed, whose posts pop up? The Athlete? The Musician? The Party-girl? Maybe all of those and more. But is that the entirety of who these people are?

Freshman Fall I sat in my dorm room scrolling through my various news feeds. On Snapchat, I saw high school friends out celebrating; on Instagram, I saw pictures of groups of smiling girls in pristinely decorated dorm rooms with their new best friends; on Facebook, I saw faces I did not recognize posing in a tight bunch with a high school friend I was now miles apart from. My life-long friends had busy new social lives while I sat in my room on a Friday night, reluctantly scrolling through social media. The average person spends 1.72 hours a day on social media. I see most of my friends more regularly on a screen than in face-to-face interactions.

These on-screen encounters coupled with superficial Thanksgiving break conversations led me to believe that my friends were all loving their freshman fall. It was only through subsequent connections and deeper conversations that I realized the truth behind the façade that social media helps to create.

Social media can be isolating. But it’s also a choice: you don’t have to play along with the digital world’s customs. Sure, I’m still going to post pictures that I think I look good in. But now, I’ll do this with the understanding that this is not an accurate representation of the entirety of who I am. Through my experiences over the last month, I’ve realized that social media can also be used as a way to connect with others. So with this in mind, I recently decided I am also going to start sharing other aspects of my life that I am proud of, regardless of whether or not I believe they will get as many “likes.”

A social media platform, called @halfthestory, aims to shed light on people’s personal struggles and the hidden talents, ideas, and beliefs that we can use to connect us on a deeper level. @halfthestory allows us to share a part of our identity (positive, negative, anything) that is not typically revealed through social media channels. This platform taught me about a friend’s relationship with yoga — something I hadn’t heard about before. Through her social media activities, I never suspected that she was a yogi, but upon reading about this in @halfthestory, I immediately connected her yoga with my interest in meditation which (yep, you guessed it), was spurred by my desire to find solace in my depression. Now we have more frequent and satisfying conversations about the more interesting parts of our lives.

Throughout all of high school and college, I have coached and volunteered for Special Olympics. I had never thought to post an Instagram sharing this aspect of my life. But this weekend, I had a Special Olympics tournament and decided to Instagram some of my team’s cellys (celebrations). A handful of people reached out to me asking about Special Olympics and how they can get involved.

I firmly believe that the aspects that make us unique are what can bond us together and help us form new connections. My peers constantly blow me away. Everyday, I learn about secret talents and passions that are fundamental parts of their lives — talents that are often absent from social media.

Harvard has a diverse student body containing people with distinct personalities and talents. These unique aspects are seldom shown through social media, but are what can lead to the most meaningful connections. So, ask yourself: What would you want people to know about you that you haven’t already shared? Be aware of how you use social media and how it is used by others. Be honest with your friends and yourself.

Sarah Rodriguez ‘18 is an expected Sociology concentrator living in Leverett House. When I really think about it, I am seldom honest on social media. I decided to change that this year. Last month, for the first time, I was completely transparent on the Internet and posted on Facebook a central aspect of my life that I had previously kept hidden: my depression.

Even though I felt vulnerable and exposed, being honest and upfront was cathartic. The support I received was overwhelming, and I was inundated with grateful messages from people who had endured similar struggles, but had never spoken out.

Social media personas are inherently biased, which limits them from portraying the truest aspects of people’s lives. When you scroll through your Instagram feed, whose posts pop up? The Athlete? The Musician? The Party-girl? Maybe all of those and more. But is that the entirety of who these people are?

Freshman Fall I sat in my dorm room scrolling through my various news feeds. On Snapchat, I saw high school friends out celebrating; on Instagram, I saw pictures of groups of smiling girls in pristinely decorated dorm rooms with their new best friends; on Facebook, I saw faces I did not recognize posing in a tight bunch with a high school friend I was now miles apart from. My life-long friends had busy new social lives while I sat in my room on a Friday night, reluctantly scrolling through social media. The average person spends 1.72 hours a day on social media. I see most of my friends more regularly on a screen than in face-to-face interactions.

These on-screen encounters coupled with superficial Thanksgiving break conversations led me to believe that my friends were all loving their freshman fall. It was only through subsequent connections and deeper conversations that I realized the truth behind the façade that social media helps to create.

Social media can be isolating. But it’s also a choice: you don’t have to play along with the digital world’s customs. Sure, I’m still going to post pictures that I think I look good in. But now, I’ll do this with the understanding that this is not an accurate representation of the entirety of who I am. Through my experiences over the last month, I’ve realized that social media can also be used as a way to connect with others. So with this in mind, I recently decided I am also going to start sharing other aspects of my life that I am proud of, regardless of whether or not I believe they will get as many “likes.”

A social media platform, called @halfthestory, aims to shed light on people’s personal struggles and the hidden talents, ideas, and beliefs that we can use to connect us on a deeper level. @halfthestory allows us to share a part of our identity (positive, negative, anything) that is not typically revealed through social media channels. This platform taught me about a friend’s relationship with yoga — something I hadn’t heard about before. Through her social media activities, I never suspected that she was a yogi, but upon reading about this in @halfthestory, I immediately connected her yoga with my interest in meditation which (yep, you guessed it), was spurred by my desire to find solace in my depression. Now we have more frequent and satisfying conversations about the more interesting parts of our lives.

Throughout all of high school and college, I have coached and volunteered for Special Olympics. I had never thought to post an Instagram sharing this aspect of my life. But this weekend, I had a Special Olympics tournament and decided to Instagram some of my team’s cellys (celebrations). A handful of people reached out to me asking about Special Olympics and how they can get involved.

I firmly believe that the aspects that make us unique are what can bond us together and help us form new connections. My peers constantly blow me away. Everyday, I learn about secret talents and passions that are fundamental parts of their lives — talents that are often absent from social media.

Harvard has a diverse student body containing people with distinct personalities and talents. These unique aspects are seldom shown through social media, but are what can lead to the most meaningful connections. So, ask yourself: What would you want people to know about you that you haven’t already shared? Be aware of how you use social media and how it is used by others. Be honest with your friends and yourself.

Sarah Rodriguez ‘18 is an expected Sociology concentrator living in Leverett House.
— http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2015/11/6/oped-social-media-honesty/

Asian-American Students Launch 'Open Hands, Open Minds' to Celebrate Identity

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month has arrived six months early at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, this year.

Vanderbilt’s Asian American Students Association (AASA) wanted to get a jump on addressing the difficulties and invisibility of being Asian American in the South, and they wanted to do so in a way that engaged everyone in thinking about how their different identities intersect.

”Though there is an emphasis on Asian Pacific American identity and experiences, we want everyone to feel that they too, could celebrate their own identity during this month, since we each hold our own junction of our identity,” student leaders Amy Dam, Jordan Jenson, and Claire Song told NBC News. “We hope to help people understand and celebrate each others’—as well as their own—crossroads.”

Students are making their experiences in the South more visible while also challenging limiting stereotypes with a Buzzfeed-inspired “I am...but I’m not” video about identity, an engaging interactive photography campaign featuring messages about identity and intersectionality written on open hands, a TED Talks-style event with student leaders talking about the impact of diversity on their lives, panel discussions, multicultural line dancing, and a buffet featuring over 30 different dishes from 10 Asian countries.

Vanderbilt Institutional Research Group reports that in 2015, Asian/Pacific Islander Americans account for 11.6 percent; African Americans, 8.4 percent; Hispanic Americans, 8.4 percent; multiracial students, 4.7 percent; and Native Americans, 0.4 percent—totaling 33.5 percent of undergraduate students at Vanderbilt University. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the 2014 Asian alone population in Tennessee was 4.8 percent and the Pacific Islander population was .02 percent.
— http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/asian-american-students-launch-open-hands-open-minds-celebrate-identity-n455836

by FRANCES KAI-HWA WANG

Lady Gaga's Inspiring #HALFTHESTORY

Lady Gaga has never shied away from getting real with her fans, which is partly what makes her army of little monsters so utterly devoted. In a candid new interview with Billboard, the pop star once again opened up about her struggles with depression and anxiety, and blamed Internet addiction for perpetuating a culture of negativity.

”There is something in the way that we are now, with our cell phones and people are not looking at each other and not being in the moment with each other, that kids feel isolated,” she told the magazine. “They read all of this extremely hateful language on the Internet. The Internet is a toilet. It is. It used to be a fantastic resource—but you have to sort through shit to find the good stuff.”

Gaga is the second celebrity in as many days to speak out against the Internet and the damaging effect it can have on a person’s psyche. Lena Dunham also admitted that online hate can sometimes be just too much to take. And while Dunham started a feminist newsletter to help promote positivity online, Gaga revealed that her Born This Way foundation is researching the connection between depression and smartphone addiction.

”I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every single day,” she admitted. “I just want these kids to know that that depth that they feel as human beings is normal. We were born that way. This modern thing, where everyone is feeling shallow and less connected? That‘s not human.”
— http://www.nylon.com/articles/lady-gaga-depression-anxiety-struggles