Alone in a Crowd

Written by Amara Hartman.
Part 1 of 2. Read part 2 here.

There are more ways than ever to connect with each other. It’s hard to imagine an era when people awaited the arrival of their correspondence strapped in saddle bags. Longhand letter writing is a charm of a bygone time, and any small sect of people who still try to keep it alive appreciate it for its purity. There aren’t any of the trappings of modern communication. No visible friend counts, gifs, or emojis. Nothing flashy driving the want to stay in touch except suspense and imagination. Even email’s been leveled to one-liners or co-opted by instant messengers like G-chat and Skype. Blogs are popularized by purveyors of trends who want to teach you a lifestyle: how to wrap an infinity scarf or create a refreshing grapefruit spritzer.

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And in the middle of it all stands the behemoth social media. Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat have all morphed from handy tools to actual propellants of our culture. Tweets are regularly featured in the news. Emojis stand in for text within text. We get what the peach and eggplant mean–a far cry from actually having to woo someone into liking you in the first place, much less into your pants.

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With this insane glut, like Augustus Gloop stuffing chocolate in his face, one of the last things anyone would describe an average American as is lonely. It’s a natural conclusion that the more interactions you have, the less you’re alone. In a society of likes, followers, and subscribers, it’s hard to imagine anyone feeling stranded in a hollow abyss of loneliness.

Continue reading “Alone in a Crowd”

Getaway Girl

There’s no place like home.

Aside from the blatant cliche, there is a deeper truth in this quote. When we stay home, we stay comfortable. If you’re like me, you might have spent a lot of time wanting this. Then one day something changes. Maybe it’s a pretty photo on Instagram. Or a cheesy movie starring Julia Roberts, probably. Whatever it is, you get the bite. To leave. Not forever, of course. But to just go somewhere else.

As a single woman just passing the dreaded thirty threshold, travel felt to me like a foreign prospect (pun intended). In my somewhat dated perception, traveling alone for girls wasn’t all that common. And I, having no male companion to speak of, almost felt shut out of the opportunity for long-form vacations, believing they were reserved for couples in love or retirees with savings.

It wasn’t until I hopped my sixth or seventh plane in Southeast Asia, on the first big excursion of my life, that I realized my assumptions were all wrong. Not only was traveling easy for me, the fact that I was doing it my own way, on my own time, made it that much more fulfilling.

Continue reading “Getaway Girl”

Sayonara sucker.

Bill O’Reilly is OUT after two decades at the top of FOX News.

It’s about time some evil stopped triumphing around here for God’s sake. This won’t stop him from running his mouth elsewhere, but at least his most lucrative platform has been whisked away from him. I hope this causes him to take a long hard look at his pathetic excuse for a life and livelihood. I mean, it probably won’t, but hope got us this far.

Phonto
Boy, bye.

 

lol.

I’m getting trolls on Instagram now. I guess that means I’ve made it? Imma pack up my bags and go home. 😉 It’s mostly interesting to me how freely they assume aspects of my life, or even how little they know about the internet. tmonz_the_official_deplorable should comprehend regramming since according to his page he regards his memes very highly.

I also take pleasure in not answering them.

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Good news!

I decided to start a little corner of good news stories. I just read one from my local news station and was like, “Duh! Add that to Smash Up!” Not that I’m usually looking to depress you, lol. But this will be a concentrated feed of uplifting/fun news curated a few times a week and rounded up at the end of each week. There won’t be a lot of political or social commentary related content–I’ll save that for the essays. These are just meant to be briefly refreshing. 😀

Here are a couple I read this morning to kick it off!

 

Variety is the spice of life!

Just read this article at The New York Times about being biracial in America. A lot of articles like this pop up from time to time, but it’s still an interesting read. So many of his points rang true; I was in danger of quoting the entire article. (And sorry, not sorry about that whole being more creative thing 😂 😝.)

What Biracial People Know by Moises Velasquez-Manoff.

After the nation’s first black president, we now have a white president with the whitest and malest cabinet since Ronald Reagan’s.

What President Trump doesn’t seem to have considered is that diversity doesn’t just sound nice, it has tangible value. Social scientists find that homogeneous groups like his cabinet can be less creative and insightful than diverse ones. They are more prone to groupthink and less likely to question faulty assumptions.

A small but growing body of research suggests that multiracial people are more open-minded and creative.

As a multiethnic person myself — the son of a Jewish dad of Eastern European descent and a Puerto Rican mom — I can attest that being mixed makes it harder to fall back on the tribal identities that have guided so much of human history, and that are now resurgent. Your background pushes you to construct a worldview that transcends the tribal.

You’re also accustomed to the idea of having several selves, and of trying to forge them into something whole. That task of self-creation isn’t unique to biracial people; it’s a defining experience of modernity.

But here’s where it gets interesting: When Dr. Gaither reminded participants of a single racial background that they, too, had multiple selves, by asking about their various identities in life, their scores also improved. “For biracial people, these racial identities are very salient,” she told me. “That said, we all have multiple social identities.” And focusing on these identities seems to impart mental flexibility irrespective of race.

It may be possible to deliberately cultivate this kind of limber mind-set by, for example, living abroad. Various studies find that business people who live in other countries are more successful than those who stay put; that artists who’ve lived abroad create more valuable art; that scientists working abroad produce studies that are more highly cited. Living in another culture exercises the mind, researchers reason, forcing one to think more deeply about the world.

Another path to intellectual rigor is to gather a diverse group of people together and have them attack problems, which is arguably exactly what the American experiment is. In mock trials, the Tufts University researcher Samuel Sommers has found, racially diverse juries appraise evidence more accurately than all-white juries, which translates to more lenient treatment of minority defendants. That’s not because minority jurors are biased in favor of minority defendants, but because whites on mixed juries more carefully consider the evidence.

It’s hard to know what to do about this except to acknowledge that diversity isn’t easy. It’s uncomfortable. It can make people feel threatened. “We promote diversity. We believe in diversity. But diversity is hard,” Sophie Trawalter, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, told me.

That very difficulty, though, may be why diversity is so good for us. “The pain associated with diversity can be thought of as the pain of exercise,” Katherine Phillips, a senior vice dean at Columbia Business School, writes. “You have to push yourself to grow your muscles.”

The best fighter is never angry.

*Quote from Lao Tzu.

All my ideas come to me while I get ready for work. Brushing my teeth, a word or phrase will pop into my head, and I fight to hang on to it while I gargle and spit, then rush to my phone for a haphazard reminder of my early morning insight–for better or for worse. This morning, the word was “anger.” More specifically, how anger is not sustainable.

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We’ve all been there.

Smash Up Magazine began, in part, as a response to the political and social discord of the recent election. Not necessarily as an expression only of anger, but as a tool to engage, specifically using the tools I can provide through the lens of being a woman (feminism). But a lot of expressions around the election are still trying to stoke that initial anger that ignited rallies, protests, and obvious displays of outrage. In that light, I wondered: how long can that last? What is it about pure anger that cannot survive long-term? Don’t get me wrong–I recognize anger as an effective fight or flight response in getting a fire lit under our asses. But fires die. The group breaks up and goes home to make dinner, watch a movie, go to bed. Pretty soon it’s just you and Uncle Lou who shows up for every fire, and some warm cans of PBR, griping about ‘nam, which you probably weren’t even alive for.

Let’s look at the word “anger,” from Merriam Webster (it’s been around since 1882; I think it’s got a few years on us): “a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism.” Ok, let’s look at “antagonism:” “actively expressed opposition or hostility.” Perfect. It’s not hard to find examples of this in our news feeds. Everywhere around the globe someone is hostile or thinks someone else is hostile, and therein is also hostile: North Korea, Russia, Obama, Trump, George W. Bush, Paul Ryan, Kellyanne Conway, war, poverty, the 1%, the 99%. On top of politics, we have our usual buffet of problems: poverty, race, jobs, money, the environment, murder, rape, and goddammit you probably lost your car keys too. It’s a crying shame we can’t take our physical heads off and let them rest. There’s no end! It’s angering!

Continue reading “The best fighter is never angry.”