Culture Shock: The Netherlands

For those of you who are thus far informed, I am a Dutch person. This means I am from the Netherlands (not to be confused with the ‘Deutsch’ from Germany, please). As every culture has their own traditions, habits and assets, so do we. Since I have been lucky enough to compare this culture to those of other places I’ve visited, I’d like to summarize the main cultural aspects of the Dutch. And no, I am not going to talk to you about wooden shoes, tulips and windmills.

Culture shock

  1. Straightforward

Dutch people are very straightforward. They don’t like to waste your time or their own. They are brutally honest and can be very blunt. This might seem rude to some but this is how the Dutch are in their daily dealings. In our minds, it just means we are being honest and sincere. We don’t like to play around or be made fools of or do the same to others. Phony compliments aren’t really a good idea in this country. Just be real with us!

  1. Celebrating a newborn

This one occurred to me when I was on my way to visit my friend and her boyfriend to meet their newborn baby boy. While I traveled I was conversing with an American friend and I told him how we celebrate. Besides cards and bears, we also have a treat for guests. The parents provide the treat. Round biscuits are covered in a layer of butter and then sprinkled with a treat we call ‘muisjes’, which translates to ‘little mice’. The small circular objects are made of sugar and coloring. Packaged muisjes contain either white and blue, white and pink or white, blue and pink substances. The colors of the musijes indicate the gender of the child or children that was/were born. When I visited my friend, I was given a biscuit with white and blue mice.

  1. Koningsdag

In the Netherlands we have an annual day of celebration called Koningsdag (King’s day). Though during some years we had a queen ruler and then it would be called Koninginnendag (Queen’s day).

On Koningsdag, people celebrate the king. Most citizens however use the day as an excuse to drink and party. People can sell their used goods on the street without needing permission for it. As a child I often visited these markets to look for cheap toys.

It is also common for people to dress in orange, as that is our country’s color. Some people dress in symbols of the lion as well. The date of the day corresponds with the birthday of the king (or queen) that is currently in power.

  1. Terraces

The cities in the Netherlands are not prone to parks as you would find them in the United States, for example. We do not have big squares within the centers dedicated to greenery and ponds and benches where old men can feed ducks.

Instead of this, we have terraces. A terrace is basically an outdoor eating place. Restaurants and cafes have tables and chairs set out on the pavement in front of their locations. Guests can enjoy the weather and a nice plate of their favorite food at the same time. This is the ideal place to catch up with friends, in my opinion. I love going out for lunch and/or drinks with friends, weather permitting, of course. Our weather is very bipolar, after all.

  1. Stroopwafels & Hagelslag

Let’s talk some more about foods. First off there are stroopwafels. This treat is the combination of a waffle and a cookie. And yes, they are delicious.

Hagelslag is sprinkles that is eaten on bread. This is a common breakfast and lunch food. My mother still eats two slices of bread for breakfast and two for lunch. The hagelslag she (and I) eat are made from dark chocolate. They can be found in various chocolate types and also some fruit-flavored types.

  1. It’s all flat

The Netherlands has gained the nickname ‘the lowlands’, which is rightly given to it. The reason why it earned this name is that the land itself is located blow sea level, shielded from the waves by dykes (constructions of dirt and grass that are like extensive ‘hills’ around the country). The country itself is very flat, too. If you want a summary of the landscape; it is level, with small creeks dividing off square of grassland. That is basically what the Netherlands is.

  1. Happiness

For some odd reason, it seems the Dutch think everyone needs to be happy. Everyone is trying to enjoy life. Everyone is living the good life and everyone is going on vacations and showing off their pictures. Additionally, this country often scores well on rankings of happy countries; usually accompanied by the Nordic countries, Switzerland and Canada.

  1. Camping

I wasn’t completely aware of this one being typically Dutch until I browsed across the internet a bit. It turns out that the Dutch are quite prone to camping. My family does it every year. Often times when I mention it to friends abroad, their response is, “Oh, I’ve done that once.” or “I’ve always wanted to go camping.” Yet here in my country, nearly everyone has done it before. And why not? Camping is absolutely delightful. In many instances, I prefer the forest and my tent to a luxurious hotel.

  1. Dutch cuisine

Ever wondered what the Dutch restaurants have to offer? Well then, I challenge you to find a Dutch restaurant. They practically do not exist. What comes from my mother’s kitchen is not what you get in any restaurants here. We’ve adopted countless cuisines from abroad and thus relinquished our own. Even in my own kitchen, it can’t be said that I eat Dutch foods.

  1. The G, J and R

Since I am writing in English (to an audience that understands Englih) I am gong to talk about these letters from an Anglophone view. The G, in Dutch, is a very hard and rough sound that has no equal in English nor in other languages I am familiar with.

The J, on the other hand sounds like the letter Y in English. An example is the Y in the words ‘you’ and ‘yard’. That is how our J sounds.

The R works the same as the R in Spanish, if that helps anyone. The R is rolled and thus gets a more vibrant sound to it. Add onto this that we have countless words that sound with ‘gr’ therefore giving them a very hard and lively sound right off the bat.

On a note; the region in the North of the Netherlands known as Friesland (I know that sounds funny) has a more gentle G. The rule for this is quite strange though. When the letter is placed at the start of a word, it is pronounced in the way an English G would be. However if it is found later in the word, it is pronounced in the same hard manner as the rest of the country says it.

Peculiar folk we are.

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Personalities

A few days ago, a friend of mine introduced a link to me that pertained to the ’16 personalities’ by Myers and Briggs. This model is often abbreviated to MBTI. The website I visited offered a free test to see which personality I am.

You can find the test here.

You can also read about all the personalities there.

The test is fun and easy to do. I enjoyed doing it. Finding out my result was even more intriguing. It turns out that I am a Mediator personality. This personality is seen as quiet and reserved but will speak when they feel compelled. They are people who want to led a hand to other persons. They are eager to find harmony. Their career will not feel meaningful unless they are helping a cause of some sort. They value their principles and are usually very poetic and dreamy people.

Read more about Mediators here.

One thing I noticed is that the corresponding website gives a lot of insight into personalities and offers advice on careers, romance and friendships. It also shows a few famous people who have the particular personality type. Mine is shared with Shakespeare and Tolkien. Wow! Yes, I feel honored by that.

I’m not saying that every single part mentioned in the Mediator description is me to a T, but it is very close. A few things I feel a bit different about or adapt in a way that matches me more accurately but if I must establish a general opinion about the validity then I would say it is very accurate.

I had a long conversation with the friend who showed the link to me about our personalities. His is different from my own. I read his description as well and we talked about it. We matched up things we read with actions the other person had taken that we recognized. He mentioned my ability to learn new languages. I mentioned he’d always look for plot holes in movies we’d watch (he is a logician; very analytical and precise people).

One thing that interested me is that the Mediator personality emphasizes sensitivity strongly. At first I felt a tad confused. I am not an emotional person at all and do not generally look towards emotions to guide me. Yet as I continued reading, it identified that Mediators use emotions in a way other than to just monitor their own state. They use it to reflect what other people might be thinking and feeling. They pick up on subtle cues and use those hints to identify feelings. Empathy, I’d call this. It also mentioned that Mediators (and other personalities in the Diplomat group) are also subtle about their own feelings. They do not explicitly express them. People need to read into it more. I find that to be a beautiful though. I rarely let emotions overwhelm me; as people who know me would be able to tell you. I have emotions, yes, but I keep them in check and only show what I feel is appropriate.

The text also reminded me of a conversation I’ve had with another friend about a year ago. I told him, “I just want to see people happy.” He noticed that through the gestures I make, the principles I have and the things I say that such a phrase comes from the depths of my happy. It’s true. I just want people to feel happy and understood in their own respects. Of course I hope they too will be kind and good people but that is not the first and foremost thing I want for others. My friend noticed during our conversation that I do not want to please people to receive something in return. I just take pleasure in seeing them happy. That is the reward that I receive and that is more valuable to me than anything else.

I am not a goddess who wants to be acknowledged for the good I do. I am not a ruler who needs taxes or other payments. I am not a manager who pleases people so they will work hard and help the business. I am none of those things and I don’t (completely) aspire to be. I just want to do things that make the world a better place; step by tiny step.

May destiny be kind to you.

#GoGL

While sunlight was abundant, many of the citizens of my nation left their homes last week on the 15th to cast their vote for the Second Chamber. The Second Chamber can be compared to congress, roughly. There are a select amount of seats in the Chamber. Every party gains a certain percentage of the seats, depending on how much votes they earn in the national elections.

I spent the day in front of the news. I observed a commercial-free live broadcast of the current votes and other information. Many of the party leaders took time to speak to their party. These speeches were broadcast as well.

Now that all the votes have finally been tallied, we can see that the biggest party is definitely not the extremist party. Many journalists and other forms of media dub this the ‘Trump effect’. The people of the Netherlands saw that an extreme candidate will make such a mess of things and decided that they do not want that. Which is good!

I voted for GroenLinks (GreenLeft); the party that is mostly concerned about the environment but is also involved in making education available to everyone, including those who can not afford it too easily at this moment. As of yesterday, March 21st 2017, I am a member of GroenLinks. I will be contributing €10 a month from now on to their cause. I will also willingly campaign for them in another four years when we have new elections or sooner if the current coalition fails.

Coalitions need to be formed here. The biggest party has to add other parties to their coalition to gain a majority of the seats in the Chamber. If the parties an all agree to work together, they form a coalition and will be allowed to rule for the next four years. GL has 14 seats now. This isn’t even half of what the biggest party has but it is a record high in their entire history so there is hope!

Regardless of whether they will be asked to join or not, I have decided that I will start writing letters to the Chamber to ask them to consider our environment. I’m sure they are aware of the situation since my country has joined the Paris agreement but my country is doing worse than every other EU country. That’s quite shameful and I think our government should really be urged to step up their game on this. Unlike Trump, our elected government has shown that they are willing to listen to the people they represent. We have fired them before and are not afraid to do it again. They know this, luckily.

While March is drawing a close, spring is knocking on our door. Let’s hope that the increased amount of sunlight while shine through to our government too.

May destiny be kind to you!

#GoGL

Meanwhile, in Politics…

It has become a daily occurrence that the news broadcasts a ridiculous story about Mr. Trump. In my mind I often compare him to a toddler. He is going about his office and decides what things he doesn’t like. He complains about it and then attempts to throw it out the window. Coincidentally, everything Mr. Trump seeks to destroy is something I highly value.

In Trumpland

He is ridding science of their freedom of speech (censorship of scientific departments). Luckily however, science is fighting back. Rogue accounts have appeared all over Twitter to continue informing the public. Furthermore, scientists and supporters of science have banded together. The March for Science will be a nationwide (if not worldwide) attempt to force Trump to revoke his decision.

Mr. Trump is trying to fight terror. He does this by banning people who have nothing to do with terrorism at all. His so-called ‘Muslim ban’ inconveniences countless people from countries of which the majority are Muslim. It takes the minimum effort to know that Islam is not the same as ISIS. Muslims do not support ISIS. Also, the American President made up an ‘alternative fact’ about Sweden to attempt to gains support for his ban.

On the notice of alternative facts and the two decisions explained above, there is another noticeable problem. Misinformation is one thing the president himself excels at. It seems that he hopes the entire USA will follow in his footsteps by making up lies, changing factual numbers (that can be obtained through one Google search), obscuring reality, changing what people (including himself, most commonly) said and of course the detrimental state of the Department of Education. They too have managed to offend multiple people as well as continuing the stream of vague information.

The environment is something else I am very passionate about. I don’t speak of it often enough on my blog but it is something that is on my mind more often than not. Earth needs us to change. Change will have to be worldwide. If everyone changes their way but the USA does not, it will hardly make a difference. However this is what Mr. Trump seeks to do. He is eager to get rid of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and he wishes to pull out of the Paris Agreement; an agreement made by countless nations to minimize their greenhouse emissions. Then again, Mr. Trump is convinced that climate change is a hoax.

Something else worth mentioning is that Mr. Trump will get rid of Obamacare as soon as he can. We also know he is eager to build his infamous wall. He will tax Mexico’s products so he can afford this wall—all the while ignoring the fact that it will be the US citizens paying these taxes and not Mexico—to keep out the people who are helping him gain these taxes.

There are a lot of things wrong with this man and his decisions. These are but a few I have boiling at the moment. Before the elections, I did not wish to be one of the people to rant about this man’s visions although I had opinions a plenty. I wanted to see how he would play the game before making any written judgements. Hence; here is my post about it.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands…

In my own country, we don’t have people of such extreme calibers. Yes, we have those who don’t agree with the open borders of the EU. Yes, we have people who want more individual freedom for investors. No one goes much further than that. No one is looking to censor, ban or otherwise inconvenience thousands of people.

On the contrary!

We have a party oriented towards the wellbeing of elder people. There is a party geared towards the protection of animals, as unbelievable as that might sound to most Americans. We have a party that is geared towards the average person; students and laborers. We have a party who focuses on maintaining the environment and expanding on green fuel. Of course we also have the parties geared towards lowering taxes and increasing infrastructure. There is a party who wants to close the border and separate from the EU.

In less than a month, everyone who has a Dutch nationality or a legal permit of residency may vote for the Second Chamber. The members of the First Chamber make laws and then send them to the Second Chamber. The Second Chamber may then approve or decline these rules. If one party earns 40% of all the votes after election day, they will have 40% of the seats in the Second Chamber (and no, there is no Electoral College to intervene). The party with the highest percentage of votes will have the head of their party be the prime-minister. This person is a figure-head, a spokesperson. They do not have power. They are but a symbol.

It is obvious that the Dutch government is a lot more diverse than America’s. We do not go by an all-or-nothing principle. This way—no matter who you vote for—your vote will matter. You could cause the difference in that extra percentage that your party earns and thus another seat. Therefore, the ideas the party supports have a bigger chance of being approved. Now isn’t that a delightful idea?

Here’s to hoping

I know Americans are more rooted in traditions. People have always voted Democrat/republican so they will do so again; regardless of the candidate. If anything, I hope that Trump’s extreme attitudes will lead to one thing; that the American people will open a newspaper, a book, a magazine or will turn on the news more often. I hope they will observe the goings-on and make decisions based on their own values and what they think is ethically correct. Here’s to hoping Trump’s terrible ways will lead to wonderful ways.

Ego Depletion

I can’t precisely recall when it first came to my attention; the subject of willpower. Science is always looking for answers and one answer it was seeking was the one to the question, “Is willpower limitless?” This question entails if people can persevere on willpower alone for unlimited amounts of time. It implies that willpower is infinite.

Yet various studies suggested that this is not the case. The first was carried out by Roy Baumeister who asked his subjects to eat either radishes or delicious, tempting cookies and then to complete a puzzle. After his experiments, many more followed. From the studies conducted, the scientists concluded that willpower is not limitless.

The drainage of willpower (dubbed ‘ego depletion’ by some) means that you will steadily grow fatigued if you have to use willpower to either resist things or push yourself to do things you do not like. I have personally noticed physical tiredness after a long day of activities that I did not fancy. It drained my willpower to remain dedicated to them and made me tired. There was no energy retrieved from this.

Staying motivated

Then what are we to do? We live in a society where human beings are pushed to follow certain obligations and hold certain responsibilities. These activities can be tedious and we may only commit to them if we push ourselves through willpower. Although willpower can be very powerful at the start, it can easily lose its ground.

It’s common for students to start out a schoolyear with a lot of motivation but as the schoolyear drags on, they lose a lot of this initial motivation. This is likely due to ego depletion. They are losing the willpower to study or do their homework and simply end up dragging themselves along and tiring themselves out.

broken_heart-svgAnother example comes from my personal life. Several years ago, I was in an honest and committed relationship with someone I held quite dear. There was not a shard of doubt in my mind that he felt the same about me as well. He would mention it to me now and then or he would make it obvious through other means.

At one point, I wanted to become a bit more serious with him and take certain steps towards that end. He seemed however reluctant for certain reasons. So it ended up being only me who kept trying and compromising. No matter how much one loves another, even here willpower to commit can run out. Therefore, persons that tell you they will be with you through sheer persistence might want to rethink their love declaration…

You could also think of a tedious project at a job or a paper that is due for a certain class. Towards the end, the person involved might become more tired and annoyed by the subject matter because they have run out of willpower and have hit a wall.

Retrieving ego

I know it all comes off a bit depressing now after all the sad stories, but I assure you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Below I will mention a few tips on how you can restore ego and remain balanced.

  • Routine – While willpower can be depleted, routine is something that is hard to change once adopted. It takes only a month to incorporate a routine. If you want to walk a certain distance every day or exercise, you will need discipline to start out these changes. This discipline will drag you through the first month. Once this month passes, it will become easier to perform the tasks you want to complete.
  • Obtain balance – In order to cope with the activities you enjoy less, you need to perform actions that will grant you energy. Various professionals have stated that partaking in enjoyable activities has many positive effects. I’ll also tell you, as a former social work student that people dedicated to make you feel happy (social workers and psychologists) will always ask about what activities give you energy and will then suggest you do them more frequently. This subject too can be incorporated into a routine if you do not wish to overdo it. You can limit yourself by setting a certain timeframe.
  • Rewards – Consider rewarding yourself for jobs that you did well. For example, when I study, I tell myself to read a certain section and summarize it. If I complete this, I am allowed to eat a cookie/snack and drink something I enjoy (like chocolate milk).
  • Take time off – No one can continue running forever. Every human being needs a break now and then. Consider taking a day off in between your busy schedule to simple cater to your own needs and desires. On this day, you shouldn’t fret about life or its components. On this day, all you need to worry about is feeling comfortable where you are and with what you’re doing. This will greatly help replenish your ego.

In conclusion, you must try to find what resonates with you best. Some methods might be more effective for one person than for another. I am not very keen on routine so that is not something I’d consider.

Something I found helpful was getting other people involved. This is something I’ve done for a writing project. It’s a long story and though I like to write, it’s easy to get lost in the length of the project itself and the tediousness of rewriting (the less fun and less easy part). When I tell other people about what I am doing and get them interested, it motivates me more to actually write the story so I can present it to the curious eyes that are waiting.

What methods do you use to stay motivated?

Introverts

Are introverts antisocial? Are they shy? Do they dislike people? Are they quiet? These are often assumptions that people make about introverts. I am one and I am not any of those things. I’d like to take this chance to explain what introverts are actually like; both from my own experiences and pieces I found on external websites.

Extroverts, as we often see them, are people that go out and party. Then the introverts are always depicted as bookworms and/or loners. This is how movies make it look. They also often take a party boy and make him fall madly in love with an introvert; making some unlikely love possible. Charming… Honestly, the way movies make the two ‘types’ seem bothers me for two reasons. 1. A love based on opposites is less likely to succeed and 2. Introverts, if not both types, often get misrepresented.

Companionship

Every human being feels the need to belong. No human being is likely to choose for absolute solitude. Every human being likes companionship to some extent. Some of us (extroverts) like the company of big groups. The presence of a lot of people gives them happiness.

On the other hand, introverts too enjoy company. But introverts are more common to establish a few deep bonds with people rather than surrounding themselves with a large group of people. They also don’t need company as much as extroverts.

So introverts aren’t antisocial. If anything, they could have social anxiety. This is common for introverts. This does not mean they don’t want to be around people, it just means they have difficulty doing it.

Because introverts struggle a bit more with the pressures of large groups of people, many of them prefer the company of animals; especially cats. Dogs require them to go out and be around other people. Cats allow them to stay in their ‘safe spaces’ and just do their thing. I mentioned this before in my Cat Lady post.

Analyzing

Take a leap of faith? Just do it ‘just because’? Do things you never did before without really thinking about it? Ideas like these are called impulsiveness and are often associated with extroverts. Extroverts are usually considered to be bigger risk-takers and more adventurous.

While the extroverts are having a ball just doing whatever they feel like doing, the introverts sit and think about it. They analyze and strategize. What will be the consequences of doing this? How can I best achieve this? Introverts are planners.

Peer pressure, where a group will attempt to egg on an individual into doing something, could be problematic for an introvert. The group will say it is nice to do the particular thing but that might not be true for the introvert. That isn’t the introvert’s fault, either! It is about brain processes. Risky or impulsive acts give extroverts more satisfaction through the release of dopamine. The same activity will not have the same chemical outcome for the introvert.

Isn’t science fascinating, guys?

Utilizing strengths

Here’s a fun fact for you; introverts are commonly better at public speaking than extroverts. Why is this, you might ask? It is a combination of earlier named traits. Sure, extroverts might enjoy the company of the group, but there isn’t necessarily interaction. Introverts, although perhaps anxious, are better planners. Therefore, they will function better in such situations.

I’d like to take myself as an example. I am an introvert. I don’t build deep bonds with many people. There are just a few I let in. But at the same time, I enjoy doing presentations. Things like presentations also allow me to utilize all my creativity. Because introverts tend to think more and use their time on reading or other individual activities, they often come up with creative and new ideas. Many of my introverted friends are avid writers, painters or artists in some other way. I’d like to think I am too. The few compliments now and then that I get are pleasing.

Another reason why introverts might be creative minds could be to allow for an escape from expectations. Many situations nowadays call for close interaction with other people. School projects or work are often executed in teams nowadays. Teamwork is important but it can be difficult to achieve for people who like the comfort of their own company. To avoid the stress that these activities are causing, the introvert will try to express themselves.

I’m not sure if other introverts experience that. It works like that for me, anyways. The more stressed or upset I get with situations, the more creative I become. Counter-intuitive maybe, but true nonetheless.

Ambivert

Now, I’ve never been one to think of the world in a black-and-white pattern. So here I will present to you the ambivert; which is someone who takes traits from both the extrovert and the introvert. Do you have a lot of friends but still like to take a moment to yourself rather than go out to party? Do you analyze an adventure but still get a rush from it? Do you function well in a group as well as individually? You might be what is called an ambivert.

Of course, I’d like to remind everyone that in-between every extreme, there are grey areas. You could still be an extrovert but keep only a few close friends or be an introvert but like to go out.

Personally

I am not shy, I am not quiet. I am someone who will speak up in class when the teacher asks a question, given that the lesson I am attending is with my own class. I know them. They are familiar. Only then do I have the courage to speak up.

I can work in a group but I prefer to work on my own. I like to do presentations. I like to read school books and fiction. I have several friends whose company I enjoy. It just never has to be overly much or I will start to feel tired. I need my own time to write blogposts, stories, music and do all the things that I need to do to regenerate mentally and emotionally.

I like a party now and then and I will fully be present if I am around people I am familiar with. Otherwise I will enjoy it in the company of the people I actually do know. I am not unfriendly but I will have reservations with people I am not close to. Perhaps something like that makes me as black-and-white as the concept of ‘types’.

What do you think about introverts, extroverts and ambiverts?

Fear

American flag

Fear has always been a powerful tool in politics. The method has been used multiple times. After the incident of 9-11, Bush used the fear of the American people to win another election. He mentioned terrorism countless times in his speeches and promised to deal with it; thus earning votes.

Of course, you can’t blame people for being afraid of something. It is human nature to have fears. They allow us to decide what is safe and what isn’t. It’s a survival mechanism. Yet there is something more relevant that you can blame people for.

Their own ignorance.

People are being told 9-11 was disastrous—and it was—and that it had been executed by terrorists that were angry with the modern, western world. Sure, it makes sense. But that does not mean it is necessarily the truth. I wouldn’t be the first person to propose that it might have been a government conspiracy to create fear. The internet is full of such theories. I did my own research by reading what both parties had to say about it. After careful analysis, I’ve decided that I too, think it was a conspiracy.

The fear that such events create, can cause the people of entire nations to become submissive overnight. Governments, in the name of homeland security, will promote methods that supposedly protect the people. Various parties have proposed the use of microchips that would be implanted under a person’s skin. This chip would help track where they are and contain vital information that could be essential should something occur to the person that has such a chip. For example, it could notify medical attendants of certain allergies that the person has and will thus not use medicines based on such a substance.

All good and well, one would think. It seems like such a chip would help for the greater good. However, consider how such a chip would advance over time. It would become your identity. It would contain your personal information, your bank accessibility, your tracker and perhaps even more frightening things that I, at this moment, can not envision. The reason that I think this is frightening is because such advancements would leave you with no privacy. Yet the more chilling aspect to be considered is that authorities would be able to control you. If you misbehave or do anything displeasing, authorities—which, as mentioned before, supposedly keep you safe—can disable your access to your chip. That would mean you’d lose part of your identity and a lot of public access will be gone. You can no longer access your bank, travel or perhaps do other things. I find that terrifying…

My dear mother no longer uses various social media platforms because of her fear of this happening. She wants to remain out of the loop and I don’t blame her. Google is already using our information to track where we are and to display targeted ads. For now it is but for commercial purposes but you can imagine how much that could grow in a brief period of time; especially if another occurrence takes place that strikes fear into feeble hearts.

Though I understand my mother’s reaction, I don’t intend to wipe my footprints off the internet. I still have my Facebook that I use casually and of course the medium you are currently viewing will always remain. Neither do I think you, my reader, should panicking right away and deleting yourself everywhere online. That is not the answer. Instead, use the internet to your advantage. Be mindful of what you share on it and use it to educate yourself and share such knowledge. I am doing the same. This does not mean you can’t be afraid, it simply means that you can understand your fears more thoroughly. I believe they say that the more you know about your fears, the less frightening it will become. I can’t guarantee that you won’t be afraid of ISIS or such, but you will be more aware.

Protect yourself, educate yourself, grow.

A Social Media Rant

Modern societies are driven by technology. We do not simply use it, we rely on it completely. Many persons are plastered to their phones as if it were connected to their person. We use the internet to keep up with other people, to take care of finances and to gather information. It is a source of many things and a tool for others. The technology we use needs to be powered. We give this responsibility to third parties that we pay for their services. We rely on these things nowadays and I myself can’t honestly see that changing any time soon.

Currently, I can’t say if it is good or bad. The reliance on phones and other such shiny things could be a problem if they ever stopped working. There are also those that blame these devices for a lack of social interaction. I want to give my own response to that, but I am too young to know the two different experiences.

Yet there is also an upside to our reliance on social media and collective, public sources. In this way, we can become a system. Our collective knowledge helps us to help one another, in which way we can strengthen our own system. For example, I know little about what to do when my laptop shows me an error message. A quick Google search however, will tell me what it means and what to do. This information I obtained online; from a person that placed it there. They had the knowledge of this problem and made it public for those that needed it. Generous, I think.

The main concern I have with the modern world (besides its wars and other problems) is that I find there is often too much information. Everything is happening at once. You can’t possibly keep track of but one thing at once. Televisions throw commercials at you, Facebook contains posts from everyone about anything, ads for products and links to external places that I’ve never even heard of. The radio is no different. Besides that, nearly every ad or commercial tells you to visit their website for more information. There is no way to avoid this, if you want to remain updated on current events.

Our brains become overly stimulated. Because of that, I do not think it is surprising that many persons in our societies suffer from psychological illnesses such as anxiety or depression. They are attempting to handle life while also attempting to keep up with the presentations of media. What of the expectations this media presents to us? What of our knowledge of the world’s poverty and wellbeing does it present? Quite a bit. That is likely to affect us.

Young people, more than ever, suffer from psychological problems. Many studies have proven this. Stress levels are high. We need to achieve, we need to have a job, a social life, an online life, we need to have fun, be fun and we need to be able to balance all of this somehow. That is the idea that media gives us. It’s pressure.

To me, it’s more often discouraging than encouraging. I lose focus upon one task because so much else is being thrown at me. My concentration falters. The tasks I need to do will not receive the attention and care that they deserve. It also discourages my creative side. Inspiration falters or the motivation to actually use the inspiration drains or is not there at all. Why do this? I can’t measure up to everyone else out there.

I consciously know that this is a delusion though. I remind myself that the internet gives us an image that is not necessarily true but it is easy to become lost in the pool of information presented. It is easy to forget that it is fake when it presents itself to you every day. They say that if you are being told something repeatedly, you will believe it. That is exactly what our social media does, too.

Is there something we can do? I don’t think it’s time to throw away your phone and shut down all your social media. Instead, I think a person needs to keep reminding themselves to shut it off once in a while. Before I wrote this article, I had Facebook shouting at me and the television was making noise as commercials passed. I closed my browser and turned off the television before the inspiration faltered.

Another note before I finalize this piece; though I mentioned social media can raise stress levels and cause anxiety and depression, I do not blame it completely. I know that it wouldn’t be right to do so. People with these illnesses have often been worn down until they break and start to show these symptoms. To them I’d like to say that I believe in their strength and that I know they can win against their illnesses. I know my blog is also social media and that it might also influence these people, but I want only one thing for them; encouragement to overcome it and inspiration to do so. Don’t let it dissolve. Social media is a trend. Life is a moment. Everything comes and ends. This too shall pass.

Money Buys Happiness

“Money can’t buy you happiness.” I think we’ve all heard that expression at least once in our lifetime. Though I’m not overly wealthy, I’d like to give my own, personal perspective of the situation. If anyone would like to disagree, feel free to enlighten me in the comments.

Money, currency, cash, bucks… There are many words to describe the element that drives not only our economy today. This element is integrated everywhere you look. You pay to remain healthy; healthcare and/or insurance cost money. When you wish to simply be entertained by viewing art, you will be asked to pay a small fee to a museum or other exhibit. If you wish to watch a movie or listen to music, you have to pay the people that made it a small sum. Though, of course, many persons choose to download both sources from the internet. In this case, you also pay someone, though this is most likely not the artist or creator of the source. You pay the power of the home you live in and the wireless internet connection that you use. Also, you have most likely spent some of your own money to afford the device that you use. Should you be at a library or other public venue and you use the internet, power and devices provided there, then you need to realize that a library is partially funded by governments. Therefore, in paying taxes, you have paid the library.

You pay for clothes, food, supplies, a house and in most countries, you need to pay to be granted an education. You pay for any forms of entertainment and often times, attending a job will cost you money as well. You need to have an appropriate computer at home to prepare things for your job. You need to adjust to the dress code that is required and thus will need to buy more or specific clothes. Every source within this world costs money nowadays.

My Situation

Since I stated I would like to give my own view on the matter of currency, I will need to explain my own situation, I would think.

I live in a small downtown apartment. There is a bedroom, a living room, a bathroom, a kitchen and a hallway that connects the various rooms. I pay the rent. I pay for power and water through my landlord as well. I pay taxes to the local authorities for their various services in keeping the city pleasant. I pay the store near me for food and other general products such as cleaning supplies. I pay the pet store for my fish food. Every month, my bank is diminished by a small amount to pay for my phone, the television reception and the internet at the house. I pay an annual fee to be given a discount during certain hours on train transportation. Yet I am still required to pay them while I travel, even if it is during the discount hours. I pay an online store or local store for CDs, games or books I buy from them. I pay the clothing stores and general stores if I need something from them. And finally, I have purchases such as a laptop, a radio, a television or other large and/or expensive objects that require a large sum every few years. Formerly (and hopefully in the future) I may also spend on attributes relating to a course at university.

Those are my expenses, or at least the ones I could remember. It pains me to simply list them all. The income list is a lot shorter and a lot more pleasant. Receiving money, to me, is more pleasant than having to spend it. My income is made up of various funds for social security relating to details of my situation. Though these sums are fairly large, they just about cover everything for a month. Then on some occasions, I receive royalties for my book.

Now then, as I stated above, I wish to soon return to university. Due to personal reasons, I did not complete my previous course and quit towards the end of the second year. But since people tell me how important getting an education is, I feel a certain pressure towards getting one… But at the same time, I feel I’d rather make some more money, rather than spend it all. I am keen on working hard and achieving goals. One of them is to get off of the social security plans I am on now and to be able to make my own money. I wish to make a reasonable amount that can sustain my preferred future lifestyle; one I am not currently living. I hope for a bigger house and the resources to be able to keep a few cats with me. Besides that, I’d like to take a few trips now and then. A little more luxury wouldn’t bother me either; a dishwasher, a laundry dryer and perhaps a bath tub in the bathroom… I have dreams, too.

I am aware that to obtain these further luxuries, I would need a steady job, a successful business or a lucky lottery ticket. Since the latter of the three isn’t much of an option to rely on, I will have to settle for the first or the second. A little business of my own has never seemed like such a bad idea to me. I come from a family that is prone to take initiative. We’ve undertaken many moves and my parents both own businesses. Therefore, I would love to follow their example and start a business of my own.

A Personal Conclusion

Now that I have given a short summary of my situation and my ambitions, I would like to conclude this short article. Though I agree that money will not buy you happiness, it can make life easier and help you obtain the objects and services that make you happy. It is not the currency itself that gives happiness. It is simply the opportunities the money provides that can grant a person happiness. I know that many persons would say it’s very selfish of me to say I’d like more money and I think it could make my life more pleasant, but I like to think that in their hearts, many persons would agree.

Is it really so bad to want to be able to pay all the bills? To want to provide for a family and pets? To want to give a little extra to yourself when you feel you’ve been working hard and have been achieving? I do not think so. Therefore, yes, I wish to make a lot of money and I am willing to work hard for it, too. Then I can obtain the money, that can buy me happiness.