Posts tagged knowledge
Silver Linings: Censorship

Hey y'all!I'm here today to talk about something that's very important to me. If you're a blogger or an avid blog reader, you may have seen many of these posts this week. This week is Banned Books Week, a week celebrating the right to read.As a teen, a reader, and a person, I can't stand the thought of anybody trying to ban books from me. Books are how I learn about the world. I'm fourteen, and while that may just seem like a number to you, it means that a lot of people try to protect me from the world and people don't necessarily believe in how serious I am.One of the many problems with banning books is that without books, you aren't exposed. Being exposed is not the same thing as being vulnerable. It makes me angry when people try to "shelter" teens from the things in books. Do you not realize that we're exposed at school every day? That we don't have drinkers, pregnant teens, and stoners in our classes? That we don't know what sex means or how drugs can impact you? It may be considered more "adult"  knowledge but we have the right to know. We already don't know enough about the world at the moment. Let us know.An argument that I always use when people try to say that young adult is "inappropriate" or that I shouldn't be reading a book because of content is that I'm curious. Wouldn't you rather me read about something than go out and do it? Reading about a teen whose pregnant and understanding deeply how it affects her life scares me. Being exposed to these things through book instead of in life doesn't make me vulnerable; it protects me. I take pride in the knowledge that I'm aware of the consequences that my actions can easily have and through reading, I understand those. Reading about a girl similar to me who wrecks her life through a reckless decision makes me aware of the impact of my actions. Banning this from teens is morally wrong. Lack of knowledge wrecks lives, not too much knowledge (at least for me).When is censorship ever a good idea? Plus, it's not  a permanent solution; it's temporary. Those adults worrying about how much their sons and daughters should know are seemingly oblivious to the fact that in a few years, we'll be adults. We'll be living in this world considered too dangerous to know about.I used to sneak books from my older sister and from my family. I read The Lovely Bones and Go Ask Alice and Speak at shockingly young ages. Many parents would probably be horrified by my age. The thing is that I was thirsty for knowledge and eager to know about the world. I don't consider myself any less innocent or worse off because of it. I have the awareness to understand when a book is too inappropriate for me and when I should read it. I know that there are some things that I don't want to know about yet and that yes, ignorance can be bliss. I'm not saying that not knowing should be condemned. I'm saying that teens should be able to have the choice what knowledge that they have and what experiences they can read about. Chances are that they're going to be exposed to those experiences soon enough anyways.While some teenagers that I know make extremely reckless and life-altering decisions, I'm confident in my beliefs and morals. I think that it's because I've been allowed to know the pros and cons of all these things through reading about people like me going through the same dilemmas. When confronted with drinks, drugs, or sex, I have the uttermost confidence in myself that I will make the right choice because I've read about it.Many of my favorite books are books about scary choices and life-changing experiences. Many of my favorite books are banned books. I shudder to think about which books I never would have been able to read and what kind of person I would be if I hadn't read those books. If I hadn't understood the character with every fiber of my soul and completely connected. If I hadn't gone through those experiences, if only in my head. I wouldn't be who I am now, that's for sure.Last year, I read Fahrenheit 451 in my English class and was completely horrified. The kids in my class watched my reaction through the book burning scenes and I'm sure that I must have given them a good show. I thirst for knowledge; I want to know about the world, whether it's bad or good. Reading a fluffy book won't make me a better person. Reading books that expose me to the world -make me think- are the books that I remember and the books that change me for the better. Who are these people to take these rights away from us? Who are these people to say what teens can and cannot handle? Ignorance is the cause of many problems. Imagine how much better society would be if everybody read about these dangers without going out and participating in them first. That's what books have done for me. They've exposed me to the world without making me vulnerable.Banning a book has no benefits. What use is an ignorant world? Teens deserve to have the right to read and have access to knowledge. Who are these people to decide that a teen can or can't handle the content of a book? What content is truly bad anyways that teens aren't already exposed to in their everyday lives? What kind of choices would at-risk teens have made if they knew how their lives could change, through books? The world is a scary place. We know that. But it doesn't have to be ignorant.Teens are the next generation. By knowing about these things, we can plan ahead and gain more perspective about how these things can easily shape our lives. It's amazing to me - in an awful way - how people can honestly believe that censorship is a good idea. It baffles me completely. I could go on about this topic for hours and take up pages, but I'm trying to slim down my posts a tad and I also just don't want to completely all out rant about it. Censorship is wrong; reading about the good AND the bad things have made me a better person. I just...I don't understand how somebody could think that taking this knowledge away from teenagers would be a good idea.Celebrate Banned Books Week!Love y'all!Grace

Silver Linings: Social Media Safety

Sometimes it can be easy to forget how much we put ourselves out there. We're so immersed in the idea of showing off or connecting to the people around us that we forget that we're also showing the world who we are. Not everybody is like us and that can be easy to forget.This post inspires a lot of feelings for me because it happened to one of my best friends. It can be especially scary for me because a huge amount of my life is lived online.   There's a rush of pride that comes with talking about my blog. I love having something unique going for me - blog people know about my personal life and people in my personal life know about my blog. The line between my blog life and my personal life can be crossed, but it should rarely be crossed.One reason why this applies to book bloggers is because of the recent Stop the GR Bullies controversy. A website scrounged up extremely personal information about reviewers on Goodreads who they claimed were "bullying" reviewers. This can be explored to some extent, but never should they have gone so far as to give out personal information such as addresses, emails, phone numbers. And in most cases (of course, this is entirely in my opinion) the reviewers didn't do anything wrong! Many reviewers have kids and families - people put in danger by this reveal of personal information. John Green and Hank Green have had to put on their websites that it is not appropriate to try to find their addresses and come to see them. It's dangerous.I've done a few security measures - I don't say where I go to school, I block people on Twitter who make inappropriate comments. I don't give out my personal email to anybody in my blog life other than a few really close friends. But until now, I didn't realize exactly how easy I was making it for people to find out my personal information. But on my Twitter and blog, I have where I live, my age, and several other tidbits of information. As of today, it will be gone. Once I finish this blog post, I'm changing all my passwords, removing personal information, etc,. I'm going to keep my age up because it's a part of my identity and helps with the perspective of my blog, but I am going to be much more careful from now on.Something scary happened to my best friends today - somebody hacked her Instagram and posted porn on her feed. They had access to her accounts even when she changed the password and it was just scary to know how easily somebody could find her personal information. Her mom emailed everybody to let them know that she was hacked and that everybody should either set their Instagrams on private or delete it. Her dad is musing that it may have something to do with business - hackers working from a list of accounts to make Facebook look bad and make stock go down. Either way, it was freaky.I have two main uses for social media: "in real life" and "blog". The first is to make connections with the teens in my community. Without social media, I would be screwed. It's how I find out about parties, organize dinners with my friends. Many of the connections that I've made and friends that I've made have been started by a TBH on Facebook or a casual conversation. It helps to be recognizable and seen on social media in real life because it lets people know who you are. I'm of the belief that too much knowledge is better than too little and social media is a great way to know more about people. It's also the best way to know who is going out with who, who's done what, and other things that are helpful to know, especially going into high school. Before now, the only negative that I've sometimes experienced is hurt feelings when I haven't been invited somewhere with friends. There's another negative to it: sometimes we can forget that it's not just people in our immediate community (school, friends, etc,.) can see what we post and our personal information, especially if profiles are public.The second use for social media is for my blog. Without Twitter, my blog would have never have gained more readers. It's how I've connected with my favorite authors. I can't praise Twitter enough.  On Twitter, I don't screen my followers as much just because of the pure joy of reaching eight hundred followers (I'm four away!) and I sometimes only see the numbers and not the people. Twitter was such a helpful tool at BEA and is fantastic for publicizing blog posts. It's so easy to be another person on Twitter and social media that it also makes me feel better about myself. On Twitter, I can pretend that I'm somebody I'm not sometimes. I can be more confident and I have people who get me, when in real life, that's not the case. I have a great number of followers and regular conversations. The problem with this is that I still have a PUBLIC profile. As more of my friends have gotten Twitters, I've been tweeting more and more personal things, especially since I'm about to start high school. Tweeting with a public profile can mean lots of retweets and random conversations but it also means that everybody can see it and not everybody has the same standards or morals that we do. I put myself out there so much on my blog and social media and make myself vulnerable to my friends and community - but I forget that I'm also making myself vulnerable to the world.I've always wanted to be an "established" blogger and social media is a huge part of that. It's also a huge part of being a writer! I see followers and I feel popular and it makes me happy. I've left it really easy to connect with me - my personal Facebook is friends with a lot of authors and bloggers. Twitter is the best resource for a blogger. This is what I want to do and this is the best way to do this. I practically collect social media accounts. I let my normal life bleed into my blogging world. I don't want to be impersonal to my readers but there has to be a line. Safety should trump everything else. I'm going to be more careful about tweeting pictures of myself and my friends and just about what I say in general.  I definitely live a lot of my life on Twitter and I've forgotten how scary that the internet can be. The internet is also forever. Whatever you put up there, other people can see. People still get really freaked out when I mention blogger friends or a conversation that I've had on Twitter and I always got kind of annoyed with them until I realized how much of my life I live on the internet.Obviously, not everybody should take the following measures and not everybody is going to do so. I'm just saying is that this is what makes me FEEL safe. Do what you feel comfortable with. I'm not saying that everybody should be doing the same thing that I'm doing:What am I saying? Well, I support the usage of social media (especially Twitter) but take extra precautions. If you tweet a lot of personal things but you also want to get lots of blog followers and publicity, make separate accounts. I'm about to do this. Set the personal account to private. Screen your followers always. Don't put where you live in your profile and be very careful about what you put out there. Keep your blogging and personal life separate enough to be safe, be careful about what you put out there, and be careful about WHO you interact with.Some measures that I will be taking soon include creating a personal Twitter, setting my Instagram to private and ONLY using it for blog things like which book I'm reading, sorting through Facebook friends and Twitter followers to make sure that they're all appropriate, and making sure that I'm safe.   I'm going to keep my age up, but also sorting through tweets to make sure that I haven't revealed the school I go to or anything dangerous. My passion for blogging and networking is one of the biggest parts of me but please, if you network, be safe about it. I know it can be thrilling when you first start out to get a review request from an author and get all these books in your mailbox but be picky about your review request. If you suspect somebody, don't give out your address. I believe that Katie from Mundie Moms has a P.O. Box.This should also be obvious, but if you meet up with somebody that you've met online like a blogger friend or somebody, either meet with them at an industry event (BEA or ALA, for example, is where I met a ton of people!) or in a public place with somebody else present. Check through mutual friends whether this person is legit and be picky. For example, my (now ex) boyfriend Jacob was actually somebody that I met through blogging. We emailed for a while (using my blog emailed) and I checked with my friends who went to his school. I got my twin sister to come with me when we first met and we met at a carnival where tons of our friends and many parents were.Change your passwords a lot and if you even suspect anything. Better safe than sorry. Don't email your passwords to yourself if you have trouble remembering them. Keep them in a physical place! My mom, for example, has hers on Post-Its inside a cupboard.Like I said above, this is just what makes me feel comfortable. Do what you want! I have no authority to be telling you what to do but this is my opinion.It worries me to know how vulnerable I've been making myself without even realizing it. It can be hard to realize exactly how much you're putting yourself out there by having a blog and social media accounts. I definitely recommend social media for blogging, just be careful about what you do with it and what you put on there. Don't believe me about danger of social media? Read Want to Go Privateby Sarah Darer Littman.Please be safe. I love y'all!Grace