The Green Field

We sit on the edge of nature. My friends and I, on a green pasture. We guard the field since the beginning, Guarding peace and harmony above everything.   You humans used to come and go, As there was no living space before. But once you created one, you remained. And since then, our lives began to change.   When the day ended, the bustle would fade, We’d look up to the sky and watch the sunset. We cherish those moments with you, Just staying quiet and basking in the view.   One day, came a young child with bright, Warm, brown eyes and short height. She was loving, gentle, and careful. Our days with her were always beautiful.   Because of that child, more humans came to us. And we protected them as one would. We made an unspoken promise. Unexplainable For you humans, but––for us––it was simple.   As we grew old, the city became busier, more alive. While others turned away, the girl with brown eyes Continued to stay. We watched her grow Alongside the city you call home.   Suddenly, she was gone and I became older, My skin rougher and my leaves withered. They say wisdom comes with age, but I could not foresee The roaring of the machines that would ravage the field.   I hear my friends scream. I hear the agony of their pleas. I have never witnessed such a slaughter Or felt such pain and such anger.   You pretend you can’t hear. You close your eyes so you can’t see. You leave and wash your bloody hands. Remove the dirt and dusty sands.   Perhaps the skies feel sorry for me. For they cry and wash away their bodies. It makes things easier for you, right? You don’t have to see your own blight.   How many moons has it been? Hard to gauge when all I see Are grey concrete and dull nights, The stars refusing to show their light.   Why should my friends be gone? Why I should remain? Not one Day would go by without me Wondering of what could’ve been.   “It’s a new start,” I always hear. But can you see the consequences of your greed? Your new start meant the death of my friends. Your beginning is––to many––their end! Hope is no longer something I can reach. It’s just nothing but a distant dream. Everyday I live like it’s my last. Always scared of you repeating your past.   A vehicle arrives to the concrete home you built. A husband opens the door to his wife’s seat. He takes her hand and leads her out. She cradles Their newborn. She looks troubled.   Our eyes meet for a second, Before anything happens, The husband calls for her. “It’s a new start,” he murmurs.   Today, I sit here, winter biting my skin, Leaves all dried, weak, and thin. I thought I was alone, but then I see her. I recognise that girl.   The same bright brown eyes, But much taller in height. She looks at me, and Says, “I miss you, old friend.”   Instead of her newborn in her arms, She guards something else from harm. A small sapling, Now sits beside me.   “I’m sorry you’re hurt.”

Online Dating

The dating landscape has drastically evolved over the decades. The ways of finding and expressing love have transformed – from sending love letters physically via paper, to electronic text messages, to now swiping left and right on an app on our phone. It is fairly strange that nowadays chatting and meeting up with strangers via the Internet is regarded as more socially acceptable than asking them out for a coffee while waiting for class in daylight. Internet has changed the rule of dating. For one, it has enlarged the size of dating pool. For those living in the past millennium, they would have had the help of parents and/or mutual friends to find dates if they hadn’t yet found “the one” after university. They were basically swimming in an indoor pool of friendship and familial acquaintances. It was very rare to meet someone outside this circle - although on some exceptional occasions, people did bump into their significant other on the street. But the chances for this romcom-inspired rendezvous are very low compared to having friends and family as the primary option to finding love. Those who are living in this millennium, however, have the luck to swim in the Pacific Ocean of dating pool. Online dating provides us with the chance to chat with strangers via our virtual profiles. We are no longer bound within our parents’ circle of acquaintances - we have more freedom and autonomy in our romantic lives. We could even select and filter the types of people we prefer to see online. In fact, most online dating apps automatically do this using their advanced algorithms as they obtain data from our, say, Facebook or Instagram profiles. They then try to match us with people with whom we share common interests so that we have topics for icebreakers! Online dating apps offer us a sense of “safety” and “confidence”. The virtual nature of the Internet does not demand physical connection - that is until we, or the other person, requests an actual encounter. This means that online daters can conceal themselves behind the screen, which hides their insecurity and boosts their confidence to chat with strangers. In any case, it feels safer to chat with strangers on the app rather than to directly converse with them in a bar. The virtual network and instantaneousness of online dating apps afford us that physical distance with the mentality of being “nearby”. However, the large dating pool online entails a higher chance that we will meet the “weirdos” of the world. This is because the epidemic accessibility of online dating apps means that everyone, including serial killer or rapist, can sign up for the service. Thus, the sense of “safety” offered by online dating apps may be deceptive, especially since 80% of online daters lie on their profiles. Although most deceits consist of only misrepresenting their height, weight or age, we absolutely have to keep a look out for ourselves when we meet strangers online. Online dating has also altered the meaning of dating. A few centuries ago, dating paved the way for reproduction and marriage. A few decades ago, the more progressive society rendered the goal of dating to find love. Now, the ease of finding (and tossing) love has eroded deep human connections. The liberty of swimming in the ocean has been misused to get casual sex with no strings attached, which generates the stigma of online dating apps as mere platforms for “hook-ups”. The provision of many fish in the sea means that monogamy and marriage are no longer the primary goal of dating. It is even safe to say that online dating apps assists the society in adopting a more liberal view of sex, which perhaps undermines the historic meaning of the intercourse altogether. The rampant availability of online dating apps has made the daters lazy and casual, and not only in a sex-related way. Our predecessors used to write love letters with poetic rhymes that require high level of intellect. Some of them had even written songs and played instruments for their beloved ones. Now? The online dating apps have eradicated the needs for those efforts, and if they get too clingy or fussy, we can just swipe them off and ditch them for the “many other fish”. The instantaneous swipe of left and right relies on our subconscious judgment, meaning that we won’t have to put a lot of thought into it. Online dating has revolutionised our efforts in our romantic lives, in a negative way (although granted, some online daters have the cheekiest and funniest pick-up lines I have ever heard in my entire life). Perhaps this is why people who seriously are trying to find “the one” prefer to stay away from online dating. However, one cannot simply defy the fact that online dating offers the possibility of removing the historic obstacles to true love. Distance, time and lack of mutual connections no longer hamper us from swimming in the ocean. There is a high chance that we might bump into some sharks, creeps and perverts on the online dating apps, but it should not deter us from trying to find love on the Internet altogether. It’s because there are some genuine people out there who might just be “the one”. And whilst we are young, what’s life without a little adventure and danger, eh?

The Misfits of Sensitivity

There are rising movements of student activism that discourages free opinions because it could be offensive. I recently shared a funny video on Facebook about a kid who sings about flirting with someone. I typed, “this girl is way cooler than me,” as the caption. A couple of minutes later, someone mentioned that the kid in the video was a boy. I replied with, “What about the hairpin then?” Someone then sends me a text explaining to me about how I shouldn’t have asked because hairpins aren’t just for girls. I could have explained to them that hairpins are marketed to females, and mostly females wore them. Sure, males can wear hairpins, but it should be understandable why I would think the kid was female. So I apologized and moved on, only to tilt my head back in surprise. An ordinary afternoon of fun became a lecture. Anyone who is active in Facebook or Twitter would see that their feed in 2015 and 2016 was highlighted by the presidential election between Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There was another current, however; a river flowing right underneath the ocean. It started before the 21st century but has recently become popular in North America and continues to spread further over time. The Atlantic calls it, "The Coddling of the American Mind". The New Yorker deems it, "The Big Uneasy". It asks everyone to be politically correct, demands professors to put trigger warnings across their syllabus, and requests schools to make safe-spaces. Is it righteous to its cause? In 2014, several university student unions requested the school’s board members to officially implement "trigger warnings" before lectures. Trigger warnings are intended to warn students of "triggering" materials, or materials that have the potential to trigger an unwanted or traumatic memory and response. This allegedly arose after a student suffered a panic attack after watching a rape scene in class. Such warnings are sometimes beneficial to the well-being and growth of students, but its implementation has escalated quickly in recent times. Jeannie Suk once wrote in The New Yorker that some students pressured professors to avoid teaching rape law in a criminal law class. It’s like a person who wants to be a swimmer but won’t hold their breath after watching a guy drown in a movie. Is a pre-emptive warning important for the wellbeing of students? Seeing the number of teenage suicides in Australia supports this. The 2015 Orygen report states the young Australian suicide rate is the highest in 10 years. The mental health of millennials’ is a dangerous problem right now, thus any measures to prevent or to heal are brought to the table, but trigger warnings might not be the right answer. I spoke to my former lecturer, Rachel Wilson, who discourages censorship in academic spaces. “I've thought about this in detail. […] My main perspective is worrying about an intellectual dumbing down of university space. The university is one of the only spaces we have left, culturally, to explore and unpack difficult materials. The world is made up of difficult circumstances, and if we’re constantly are having to apologize that, then it makes having those conversations very, very difficult.” Wilson was particularly concerned for academics like herself. Giving warnings before a lecture was usually a choice, a strategy to teach. But now it is an obligation. “I do talk to students at certain times on certain contexts about the nature of this kind of material, and it is a fantastic topic to be having a conversation about. But I worry as an academic there would be an administrative that I and other lecturers would have to put in trigger warning that would actually result in a form of self-censorship,” she explained. Rather than engaging students in meaningful conversation, teachers would hold the materials out of fear of backlash. It seems to me that academics welcome arguments when a student brought it to their attention. Resolving an issue through conversation is refreshing and challenging. The problem is when students feel that they are obligated to find support in social media. In the digital world, words travel in the simple click of a “share” button, and there is power in the number of shares. More often than not, only one side of the story gained popularity and the other side of the story wouldn’t be given a chance. Like Black Mirror’s, “Hated in the Nation”, trending hashtags literally kills people. For students that felt attacked or denied, a safe-space can become a place for refuge. Filled with “coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh… and a video of frolicking puppies" Kathryn Byron explained that the safe-space is a place safe from "troubling" or "triggering" comments, where people won't have to worry about judgment or differing opinions. Unfortunately, as inclusive at they believe the place to be, safe spaces only promote exclusivity. Judith Shulevitz wrote in response to Byron in The New York Times “Once you designated some place as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe". People with diverse opinions are not welcome. Safe spaces, Trigger warnings, and everything ‘aggressive’ has created social justice warriors, that not only force their opinion on others, but also condemns opinions that aren’t theirs. They gain power from the internet, where they can be anonymous anytime they want. Teachers, parents and students, all are entitled to express their opinion. However contrast that idea is to another, it cannot be hindered. Free speech is the base of democracy. It allows the people to have a voice. “Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.” Such is the word of William Blake is his book, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”. The 1984 Universal Declaration of Human Rights say “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”. Arguments are hard. Having personal comments challenged by others may hurt feelings, but it is necessary to learn. Without free speech, oppression is inevitable. A diamond underwent hours of cutting and polishing to be valued more than it should have been. An eagle must break its own beak to grow a newer and stronger one. A human need to lose its milk teeth for the stronger, permanent ones to grow. Pain hurts. But the only response is to fight or fly from it. Indulge in opposing views as an opportunity to dive into intellectual conversation, and grow from it. Being sensitive is for the weak. As George Orwell says “The greatest enemy of clear language is insincerity”

The New Wave of Young

Youth is a state of mind. We all want to look young forever. No matter what our age is, we can always express ourselves through fashion. Marc Jacobs once said, ‘’ clothing is a form of self-expression - there are hints about who you are in what you wear’’. Every area in thefashion industry is now influenced by culture of the young that is very rebellious with strong sense individuality. It is not only appealing to youths, but it also extends its appeal across generations. As a means of self-discovery, teenagers are more open and flexible to changes, which is can lead to fashion trends without borders. Inspiration can be taken from anywhere in the world with the rise of social media. The youth of today have unlimited access to information and can follow current events globally. The young and outspoken creatives are now more socially aware about the accepted and unaccepted norms, resulting in fashion trends that are shocking and pushing societal boundaries with its gender fluid styling. Taking a break from the modern world, teenagers also have the ability to look into history and inspire each other by creating new trends that is familiar but fresh. From doing so, they implementing characteristics from the past and redeveloping them to create something new and original, resulting in the current fashion trends that are inspired by the ‘70s look. Throughout the trend you can see uses of bold graphics, mixed proportions, oversized silhouettes, highly saturated colors, deconstructed surfaces, and the clear visual statements of typography. Therefore, street wear is becoming a popular trend to teenagers. This look to the past helps push the fashion world, which is often driven by certain nostalgia. The rise of disco in the late 1970’s still has a great impact in the current trends. The youth of today are channeling their energy through music and clubbing. They begin to look back and take inspiration from legendary nightclub scenes, such as Studio 54 in Manhattan in 1977. Fashion designers are also aware of this. Taking references from the euphoric disco club culture, high fashion street wear designers have successfully brought back a nostalgic feel to their designs. Take a look at the Yeezy’s stretch led, body con design, which is also influenced by the 80’s disco era. The dropped shoulders and the elongated sleeves of Vetements design are reflections of the 1986 skate culture. Designs from Marc Jacobs feel very retro with its technical sportswear, eccentric hues, and bizarre pattern that gave us bold graphic messages of gender fluidity and veering from traditional ideas. Classic pieces are updates with a youthful twist, resulting in an avant-garde look that is masculine and cool. The trend of classic typography that started in the 80’s is making a good comeback. Young souls are hunting for fashion brands that can showcase a strong identity through typography in logos and prints. Fashion is switching gears, and the underground club kids are back on the dance floor.