STUDENT WRITERS: The search for happiness

The Town Line presents the STUDENT WRITERS PROGRAM
This week featuring: ERSKINE ACADEMY

by Aidan Larrabee
Erskine Academy

Do you want to be happy? Most people will answer yes to this question, which is good. Unfortunately, we often try to simplify happiness, and lose sight of what being happy really means. Nathaniel Hawthorne described happiness as, “like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp; but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” It is easy to blame the world and the evil in it for a lack of happiness. If so, then why do we look to the world with all the evil in it for happiness? However, many people believe that happiness comes from something less worldly. Christianity is a beautiful example of finding happiness in a way that relies on no one but oneself and God. Christians believe God is love, and being loved is one of the most important things in the world when it comes to filling our soul and making us happy. Victor Hugo went as far as to say, “The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.”

There is a dichotomy to happiness, which makes it so hard to describe. On one hand there is materialistic pleasure, and on the other there is spiritual happiness. We catch glimpses of happiness through materialism, but that type of happiness is always temporary and goes away. Everybody has highs and lows, as suffering is inherently part of the human experience. Christianity has a unique view on happiness, almost a sort of paradox. “The Christian faith makes sense of the rawness we feel in the face of suffering because it says there is something wrong with the world … God is good but evil is also real and has influence in the world for now … It is only if God exists that our outrage at suffering finds a home.” The idea of humans making human civilization a utopia is never going to happen because of the evil that is an inherent part of free will. It is through our suffering that we find God, and that He wants us to serve Him here on Earth, knowing that the best is yet to come. We catch glimpses of this pure happiness in our lives, but we will never achieve that perfect state of happiness and tranquility until we reach heaven. Christians find peace because they have hope and they have faith.

In fact, Jesus speaks about the topics of happiness and fulfillment in John 6:26-35.

“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27: Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.'” 28: Then they asked him, “‘What must we do to do the works God requires?'” 29: Jesus answered, “‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.'” 30: So they asked him, “‘What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31: Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”” 32: Jesus said to them, “‘Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33: For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.'” 34: “‘Sir,'” they said, “‘always give us this bread.'” 35: Then Jesus declared, “‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36: But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37: All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38: For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39: And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40: For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

It is in this passage that Jesus addresses the importance of spiritual fulfillment above everything else. Jesus spoke to the disciples in the passage after he had just performed the miracle with the bread and the fish, with which he fed thousands. And these people, who want to be fed again, are reminded that it is not food that will ever truly fulfill us. They are told that if they believe in Jesus Christ they will find the “bread of life.”

In today’s society, we have a cancel culture and one of the things that has been canceled is people’s faith. When we look back at America, we see all the things we as a nation did wrong and we cancel everything that the people who did these things believed in.

When looking back at America’s connection to religion, it can be very easy to blame Christianity for some of America’s greatest failures as a nation. But is it fair to totally cancel religion because of the terrible things done by people who totally misunderstood the foundation of the religion: To love God and to love your neighbor? Was God not a driving source of happiness for the people who created America, many of whom lived lives of incredible hardship? Despite all the benefits of technology and the glory of success, people in today’s world still lack happiness. So is it possible that being religious really makes you a happier person? It turns out that there is research done on this by the Pew Research Center.

According to their statistics, “Actively religious people are more likely than their less-religious peers to describe themselves as “very happy” in about half of the countries surveyed.” In the U.S., where 11 percent of actively religious people described themselves as “very happy” compared to others surveyed in the U.S. This illustrates that people who do practice their faith are generally happier.

The absence of religion in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World depicts the dichotomy of happiness. The people in the new world delighted in materialism and in sex and in soma. Mustapha Mond, one of the World Controllers, shared that he believed God manifested himself in the World through His absence.

Ultimately, though, the quest for stability in the New World was not perfect because people whose minds refused to conform to the system were sent to islands. The soma was only temporary. There was happiness in the New World, but there was not true happiness. There was no God, and there was no unconditional love. And while the New World may have succeeded in solving many of the evils of the world such as aging, disease, poverty, and hunger, the people in the world still lacked true happiness. In fact, John the Savage claimed the right to suffer in all of those evils.

I believe the reason for this is that it is in suffering that we can see the beauty and glory of God. The experience John had when he lived on the Savage Reservation and went off by himself into the mountains depicts the peace and the comfort that we experience in our suffering, because we can feel God’s presence. It is in the simple things in life that we find true happiness. I think that is because during these times we feel God’s presence; We feel the peace of His presence and we feel the hope of knowing that the best is yet to come.

Student Writer’s Program: What Is It?

The Town Line has many articles from local students under the heading of the “Student Writer’s Program.” While it may seem plainly evident why The Town Line would pursue this program with local schools and students, we think it’s worth the time to highlight the reasons why we enthusiastically support this endeavor.

Up front, the program is meant to offer students who have a love of writing a venue where they can be published and read in their community. We have specifically not provided topics for the students to write on or about, and we have left the editing largely up to their teachers. From our perspective this is a free form space provided to students.

From the perspective of the community, what is the benefit? When considering any piece that should or could be published, this is a question we often ask ourselves at The Town Line. The benefit is that we as community are given a glimpse into how our students see the world, what concerns them, and, maybe even possible solutions to our pressing problems. Our fundamental mission at the paper is to help us all better understand and appreciate our community, our state, and our nation through journalism and print.

We hope you will read these articles with as much interest and enjoyment as we do. The students are giving us a rare opportunity to hear them out, to peer into their world, and see how they are processing this world we, as adults, are giving them.

To include your high school, contact The Town Line, townline@townline.org.

STUDENT WRITERS: Why fewer people Are Getting Married

The Town Line presents the STUDENT WRITERS PROGRAM
This week featuring: ERSKINE ACADEMY

by Grace Kelso (China)
Junior at Erskine Academy

Growing up, many Americans believed they would get a job, buy a house, get married and start a family. However, it seems that for many Americans, life did not turn out that way. The amount of marriages that happen every year in the US is at an all time low at two million a year. This is half a million less than its peak in the early 1980s. The marriage rate is also at a record low at a little more than 50 percent which peaked at 70 percent in 1967. This percentage is only likely to decrease. The Pew Research Center has estimated that by the time today’s young adults are 50, over 25 percent of them will have been single their entire lives.

Americans are also getting married later in life. The median age for first marriages reached a record high in 2018 with most men getting married at age 30 and women, 28. However, many people don’t want to get married at all. The Pew Research Center found that 14 percent of never-married adults say they don’t plan to marry at all, and another 27 percent aren’t sure whether they want to get married. There are many things that could have caused these trends, such as the change in gender roles and more gender equality, increasing financial instability, and the increasing benefits of staying single.

One explanation for why fewer people are getting married is the changing gender roles and more gender equality in today’s society. In the past, men were expected to be the ones to work and earn money to support their families. Women were not expected to work and instead take care of the home and children. This is not the case anymore. Having to take care of the home and raising children while still working full time is too much for some women, and most women are not willing to give up their career to become full time housewives. Also, women today are more educated than men and earn close to the same income. Women no longer have an incentive to marry for financial security because most women can financially support themselves. This change in gender roles and more gender equality in today’s society makes marriage seem like something of the past, which could explain the drop in marriage rates.

Another explanation could be the increasing financial instability among young adults. In 2017 the Pew Research Center found that 41 percent of single adults who wanted to get married in the future said that financial stability was a major reason why they had not married yet. Getting married and starting a family is a huge financial decision and many young people feel like they are not financially stable enough to make a life long commitment such as getting married. One reason for this financial instability is the record high amount of student loan debt in the U.S.. Americans collectively owe $1.7 trillion in student loans and the average college senior graduates with $37,691 in debt. Having this much debt at the beginning of adulthood has kept a lot of young people from getting married. Also, a study done by Cornell University found that most American women want to get married but many are unable to find “marriageable” men, which can be considered men with stable jobs and a good income. This increasing financial instability has made marriage less attractive or just out of reach for many young people, causing fewer people to get married.

Lastly, fewer people are getting married because of the increasing benefits of staying single. The Pew Research Center found that half of American adults believe society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children. Fewer and fewer people want to get married in order to pursue their own personal goals, whether it be in their career or hobbies. Also single people are actually more social. Sociologists, Natalia Sarkisian, of Boston College, and Naomi Gerstel, of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, found that marriage actually weakens other social ties. On average, single people provide more care for their siblings and aging parents, have more friends, and are more likely to offer help to neighbors and ask for it in return.

This huge drop in marriage rates has many causes, some of which are a change in gender roles and more gender equality, increasing financial instability, and the increasing benefits of staying single. Is this something we, as a society, should be worried about? Marriage has a lot of benefits, including better outcomes for children, less crime, an increase in longevity and generally happier lives. However, the way marriage is today is also very challenging and does not work for everyone. Perhaps in the future there will be other forms of partnerships that better fit the needs of our society without the negative side effects of marriage. There have already been suggestions of alternative forms of marriage such as “beta-marriages” where a couple is married only for a short period of time before making a commitment, almost like a “test run”. Our society is changing fast, so it only makes sense that the relationships we form with other people change as well.

Student Writer’s Program: What Is It?

The Town Line has many articles from local students under the heading of the “Student Writer’s Program.” While it may seem plainly evident why The Town Line would pursue this program with local schools and students, we think it’s worth the time to highlight the reasons why we enthusiastically support this endeavor.

Up front, the program is meant to offer students who have a love of writing a venue where they can be published and read in their community. We have specifically not provided topics for the students to write on or about, and we have left the editing largely up to their teachers. From our perspective this is a free form space provided to students.

From the perspective of the community, what is the benefit? When considering any piece that should or could be published, this is a question we often ask ourselves at The Town Line. The benefit is that we as community are given a glimpse into how our students see the world, what concerns them, and, maybe even possible solutions to our pressing problems. Our fundamental mission at the paper is to help us all better understand and appreciate our community, our state, and our nation through journalism and print.

We hope you will read these articles with as much interest and enjoyment as we do. The students are giving us a rare opportunity to hear them out, to peer into their world, and see how they are processing this world we, as adults, are giving them.

To include your high school, contact The Town Line, townline@townline.org.

STUDENT WRITERS: Reaction to Covid-19 outbreak, and school

The Town Line presents the STUDENT WRITERS PROGRAM
This week featuring: ERSKINE ACADEMY

by Wes McGlew
Junior, Erskine Academy

What seemed like 10 years ago, March, was the beginning of this crazy, terrifying, isolating adventure that we experienced through a screen. Everything I had been looking forward to this year had suddenly been uprooted and thrown out. I think a lot of people were in shock or denial, or I don’t know what.

I was sitting in Global Studies, my sophomore year, as Griffin and I were talking about the up-coming lacrosse season and spring soccer, while the teacher was teaching us about the colonization of Africa. We probably should have been paying attention a little better. Most of it went in one ear and out the other. I asked Griffin, “So, is there anyone new joining the travel team this spring?” He must not have heard me at first, but I made sure to get his attention by throwing a piece of paper at his head. That seemed to work. I asked him again.

“I don’t think so man, just the same guys. We lost our keeper though. He decided to focus on track this year,” he replied. We both thought that was pretty dumb, but before we could start talking about who might be a good replacement, we heard the familiar voice of the loud speaker, but it wasn’t the usual message, like, “Mason, please go to the guidance office.” It was a little more alarming…

What we heard instead shocked us all: “Due to the alarming increase of Covid-19, Erskine Academy will be closed starting tomorrow for two weeks. During the two weeks, we advise you all to stay quarantined in hopes of slowing the spread. We wish all of you good health, and hopefully we will see you soon.” Griffin and I immediately looked at each other, with the same blank expression, like we had just seen a ghost. Little did we know, this wouldn’t only put a hold on our sports seasons, but our lives as a whole.

I went home that day with my older sister Reece. We exchanged just a few quick comments on the otherwise quiet ride home. We both rushed inside to tell my mum the news we had heard at school. She told us to look at it as a positive, but that it would mean that we couldn’t see our friends, and for me it meant I couldn’t see my girlfriend, Sam, for at least two weeks. Luckily for me, I had just gotten my license, so from time to time I drove over to Sam’s house and talked for a while from my car. For two weeks that’s how it was. Boring, but bearable.

We just got worse news after that. Covid had gotten so bad, that school would be closed for the entire rest of the school year. So, I finished the last months of the school year online, having little to no interaction with my friends. Getting bored and depressed, I hated thinking about how much longer everything would be on hold. Months went by. Luckily, by mid-summer, I had gotten a job, which distracted me for nine hours of the day, and provided me with a little enjoyment and something for which to look forward.

Then excitement came in the form of protest. After the death of George Floyd, millions of enraged Americans took to the streets to protest the racism of certain people and certain systems of government. Taking part in these events cured me of any sort of quarantine slump. I started to look forward to hearing about what was going on, and seeing how I could make an impact.

And finally, now, with my junior soccer season over and school halfway back to normal, it seems as though history might repeat itself. Covid cases begin to spike again, school closed once, winter sports are questionable, businesses are starting to close, again. Meanwhile, I’m just thinking to myself, “Here we go again. Ready for round two?”

Student Writer’s Program: What Is It?

The Town Line has many articles from local students under the heading of the “Student Writer’s Program.” While it may seem plainly evident why The Town Line would pursue this program with local schools and students, we think it’s worth the time to highlight the reasons why we enthusiastically support this endeavor.

Up front, the program is meant to offer students who have a love of writing a venue where they can be published and read in their community. We have specifically not provided topics for the students to write on or about, and we have left the editing largely up to their teachers. From our perspective this is a free form space provided to students.

From the perspective of the community, what is the benefit? When considering any piece that should or could be published, this is a question we often ask ourselves at The Town Line. The benefit is that we as community are given a glimpse into how our students see the world, what concerns them, and, maybe even possible solutions to our pressing problems. Our fundamental mission at the paper is to help us all better understand and appreciate our community, our state, and our nation through journalism and print.

We hope you will read these articles with as much interest and enjoyment as we do. The students are giving us a rare opportunity to hear them out, to peer into their world, and see how they are processing this world we, as adults, are giving them.

To include your high school, contact The Town Line, townline@townline.org.

STUDENT WRITERS: Negative Effects of Toxic Masculinity

STUDENT WRITERS PROGRAM
This week featuring: ERSKINE ACADEMY

by Adam Oches
(from Vassalboro, Maine)

The negative effects of various media like television and movies on women and young girls have rightfully been shown time and again. The negative effects on men from these same forms of media is a much lesser known, but no less real, phenomenon. Media is filled with images of unrealistic body standards and the glorification of unhealthy behaviors. Media has negative effects on men that greatly damage the self-image of males in today’s society.

Many movies and television shows with male leads often have men with very muscular bodies on camera consistently. Action heroes such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chris Hemsworth, and Hugh Jackman are all well known for their muscular definition and physical fitness. The average movie male lead has a level of fitness that requires the strict regimentation of diet and exercise that the majority of people will be unable to achieve. These unrealistic standards that require these measures are already a problem, but the superhero look has another problem to it. It is unsustainable.

In preparation for shirtless scenes in the show The Witcher, Henry Cavill had to dehydrate himself for multiple days in order to attain the look wanted for the scene. Bodybuilders, like the aforementioned Schwarzenegger, dehydrate themselves to reduce their fat percentage. This practice is lethal if sustained for any kind of long period of time. It even has the high possibility of being fatal in a short period of time. In 1992, professional bodybuilder Mohammed Benaziza died after competing in a contest from dehydration-induced heart failure.

Stoicism is a philosophy originating with the ancient Greeks. It advocates for mastery of the self through the control of one’s emotions. This idea is not inherently harmful, however it can quickly lead to repressed emotions and the effects those have on mental health. This philosophy has embedded itself into our society’s ideal man. In various action movies, the main character does not cry. He does not show grief. His emotions are kept to himself and are not shown to the outside world.

Since these strong, manly men do not cry; crying must be a sign of weakness. Any sign of sadness is to be shunned and kept in the dark for fear of being exposed as a weaker, lesser man. Society has convinced itself that in order to be a man, they must face all challenges and hardships without showing pain or asking for help. Our media has perpetuated this idea. Its effects are very clear. Young men face pain alone and are afraid to ask for help to alleviate some of their pain. This can lead to the abuse of chemicals like alcohol, a negative self-image, and in the worst of cases, suicide.

In conclusion, the media we consume in our daily lives has had negative impacts on the wellbeing of generations of young men. Too often is the issue of the media’s portrayal of people seen as based on sex. This is not a women’s issue or a men’s issue; it is a people issue. Media has affected both sexes negatively. The problem with media is not its portrayal of women or men, it is with people in general.

Student Writer’s Program: What Is It?

The Town Line has many articles from local students under the heading of the “Student Writer’s Program.” While it may seem plainly evident why The Town Line would pursue this program with local schools and students, we think it’s worth the time to highlight the reasons why we enthusiastically support this endeavor.

Up front, the program is meant to offer students who have a love of writing a venue where they can be published and read in their community. We have specifically not provided topics for the students to write on or about, and we have left the editing largely up to their teachers. From our perspective this is a free form space provided to students.

From the perspective of the community, what is the benefit? When considering any piece that should or could be published, this is a question we often ask ourselves at The Town Line. The benefit is that we as community are given a glimpse into how our students see the world, what concerns them, and, maybe even possible solutions to our pressing problems. Our fundamental mission at the paper is to help us all better understand and appreciate our community, our state, and our nation through journalism and print.

We hope you will read these articles with as much interest and enjoyment as we do. The students are giving us a rare opportunity to hear them out, to peer into their world, and see how they are processing this world we, as adults, are giving them.

To include your high school, contact The Town Line, townline@townline.org.

STUDENT WRITERS: Negative Effects of Toxic Masculinity

STUDENT WRITERS PROGRAM
This week featuring: ERSKINE ACADEMY

by Autumn Boody
(from Washington, Maine)

“The constellation of socially regressive [masculine] traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia, and wanton violence.” That is the definition of toxic masculinity used by Journal of School of Psychology, but it is noted that this definition can change due to the complexity of the issue. Toxic masculinity is a phenomenon that plagues our culture and society. Toxic masculinity is negative because it can lead to aggression, repressed emotions, and psychological trauma.

Aggression in males is not an unusual phenomenon. Men and boys of all ages can demonstrate different types of aggression including: physical aggression, verbal aggression, and sexual aggression. Toxic masculinity is a large contributing factor to this. Part of the stereotype of masculinity is being strong and unemotional. Trying to keep up with both of those can lead to bottling up your feelings and becoming aggressive.

Similar stereotypes are being dominant and assertive, which can easily lead to sexual aggression. When in a relationship, specifically heterosexual relationships, the male may feel that he cannot have emotions and that he has to be the dominant figure in the relationship. There are direct ties from this to sexual assault and harassment. Promundo, an organization that focuses a lot of their work on toxic masculinity, says, “Young men who believe in these toxic ideas of manhood most strongly were most likely to have ever perpetuated sexual harassment.” Some examples the young men said were, “Guys should act strong even when they’re scared or nervous,” and even said things like, “Real men would never say no to sex.” These extreme ideals have led to aggression in all forms, proving their toxicity.

One of the aforementioned stereotypes was suppressing one’s emotions. This has many side effects of its own. Not allowing yourself to feel and cry when necessary can lead to higher amounts of stress, larger depression rates in men, and substance abuse. While substance abuse is more visible, with about 9.4 percent of men over the age of 12 struggling with it, depression isn’t so easy to see. Men with depression are four times more likely to commit suicide. Along with the oppressive symptoms of depressions, suppressing your emotions can make it harder to deal with stress. When you never let out what you’re truly feeling it’s easy to let things bottle up. When you have all these things bottled up you implode much quicker.

The last of the effects of toxic masculinity is psychological trauma. The influence of toxic masculinity can not only come from society but also inside the home. Many men experience their first struggles with toxic masculinity from their parents or relatives. Fathers telling them to toughen up and not “act like a girl” or encouraging degrading words and ideals. This can be damaging to their mental health as they get older. They are faced with the conflicts of what they’re feeling and what they’re told to feel. As many studies and therapists will attest, it’s incredibly difficult to undo that damage that has been done. Once you’ve grown up with the pressure and toxicity it isn’t easy to reverse.

Toxic masculinity is a negative, oppressive phenomenon that not only affects men but also everyone around them. Toxic masculinity is negative because it can lead to aggression, repressed emotions, and psychological trauma.

Student Writer’s Program: What Is It?

The Town Line has many articles from local students under the heading of the “Student Writer’s Program.” While it may seem plainly evident why The Town Line would pursue this program with local schools and students, we think it’s worth the time to highlight the reasons why we enthusiastically support this endeavor.

Up front, the program is meant to offer students who have a love of writing a venue where they can be published and read in their community. We have specifically not provided topics for the students to write on or about, and we have left the editing largely up to their teachers. From our perspective this is a free form space provided to students.

From the perspective of the community, what is the benefit? When considering any piece that should or could be published, this is a question we often ask ourselves at The Town Line. The benefit is that we as community are given a glimpse into how our students see the world, what concerns them, and, maybe even possible solutions to our pressing problems. Our fundamental mission at the paper is to help us all better understand and appreciate our community, our state, and our nation through journalism and print.

We hope you will read these articles with as much interest and enjoyment as we do. The students are giving us a rare opportunity to hear them out, to peer into their world, and see how they are processing this world we, as adults, are giving them.

To include your high school, contact The Town Line, townline@townline.org.

STUDENT WRITERS – Examining “The Social Dilemma”: The real impact on young people

STUDENT WRITERS PROGRAM
This week featuring: ERSKINE ACADEMY

by Olivia Bourque of Vassalboro, Maine
Erskine Academy Junior

It is truly paradoxical that a generation has been raised to be enthralled by inventions detrimental to their mental health and wellbeing. A Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, addresses the evolution of and dangers of social media, an enigma and issue growing exponentially along with the minds of young adults. Simply stated, exposure to harsh and unfiltered content on social media harms teens’ self esteem, while captivating them with unlimited information tailored to their wants and interests. Software smarter than anyone and worth millions of dollars generates a feed of suggested content to keep everyone mindlessly engrossed, though this software was never created to improve the mental state of the person behind the screen, but rather to make some people an enormous amounts of money.

An embellished version of this enchantment is demonstrated with a teenage boy, a standard social media app, and a fictional group of people controlling his suggested feed (replacing the job of designated software for this purpose). At the beginning of the documentary, this group of people keeping the teenage boy actively swiping seems innovative, although the boy’s family and friends blatantly express their concern and frustration with his obsession. Any parent of a child with a smartphone would likely wholeheartedly confirm this aggravation, as these apps truly are addicting. This is expected, however, especially with the knowledge that machines present users with content hand-selected for their amusement.

As the film continues, the people controlling the teenage boy’s suggested feed and notifications slowly come to the epiphany that their job is not in the best interest of the user whom they’re supposed to keep engaged. Though this was a satisfying ending, it is unrealistic, as these groups of people are actually machines, incapable of understanding human emotions, actually observing how its work affects their users, and finally does not have the power to discontinue their work. With this, society does not have anyone to rely on to contain this mass craze, and therefore we must come to this revelation on our own.

In a smaller part of The Social Dilemma, a teenage girl represents a massive demographic of those whose mental health and self esteem is at jeopardy; she is also spending far too much time scrolling through content tailored to her, and along the way she begins to compare herself to others, instilling unrealistic expectations for herself. Like this girl, many young adults question their worth once they see what the ideal woman or man should look like through a series of heavily edited pictures.

This can often lead to numerous mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Instead of taking away social media’s power to contort self-image, the girl responds to this insecurity by fixing her hair, makeup, and lighting, finding the perfect filter, and posting a picture of herself attempting to conform with current beauty standards.

This backfires on her when she receives mean comments online about her ears. From this, her self-esteem plummets, and she does everything in her power to cover her ears. Not only does this teenager unknowingly succumb to temptation of handpicked material online, but she also alters her emotional state as a result. This enforces the idea that a generation of self-destructive slaves to the internet are being created, and it’s almost unavoidable.

Student Writer’s Program: What Is It?

The Town Line has published the first in what we hope will be many articles from local students under the heading of the “Student Writer’s Program.” While it may seem plainly evident why The Town Line would pursue this program with local schools and students, we think it’s worth the time to highlight the reasons why we enthusiastically support this endeavor.

Up front, the program is meant to offer students who have a love of writing a venue where they can be published and read in their community. We have specifically not provided topics for the students to write on or about, and we have left the editing largely up to their teachers. From our perspective this is a free form space provided to students.

From the perspective of the community, what is the benefit? When considering any piece that should or could be published, this is a question we often ask ourselves at The Town Line. The benefit is that we as community are given a glimpse into how our students see the world, what concerns them, and, maybe even possible solutions to our pressing problems. Our fundamental mission at the paper is to help us all better understand and appreciate our community, our state, and our nation through journalism and print.

We hope you will read these articles with as much interest and enjoyment as we do. The students are giving us a rare opportunity to hear them out, to peer into their world, and see how they are processing this world we, as adults, are giving them.

To include your high school, contact The Town Line, townline@townline.org.

STUDENT WRITERS: So what? The real impact on young people

STUDENT WRITERS PROGRAM
This week featuring: ERSKINE ACADEMY

by Hannah Soule, Vassalboro

We all have bad days. Maybe your cat got run over or maybe the jelly in your PB and J sandwich made the bread way too soggy for the desired taste of the sandwich, or maybe you’ve had your head in your screen all day. I find myself having days where I ponder life more than others, where I come up with incredibly insane situations that I would never be in, and then I find myself having days where it kills me to tear my eyes away from my screen for two seconds. Social media is a disease that is being spread upon the youth. Many teens are struggling to find motivation and purpose. Very engaging and authentic opening paragraph, with a clear thesis!

The day I was handed my iPhone was the day my life changed. I stopped being the carefree child that didn’t have a care in the world. I was consumed with dark thoughts. I now had voices in my head making me second guess if my picture was pretty enough, if someone would say something about my imperfections, and if I needed to lose a little extra weight because I didn’t look like the supermodels that would pop up in my ads. My care-free spirit suddenly started to care. That’s what’s happening to our youth. If you hand your child a smartphone, it’s not a matter of if they will become consumed with darkness, it’s the matter of when. Wow!

Growing up a girl, all eyes are now on you and how you mature. I personally hear it all the time, “ oh wow Hannah, it looks like you have lost weight.” or “ Hannah, you look so different”, as if they are looking for these things the second I arrive in their presence, but for a few minutes you have the gladdening thought of the comment. Social media, however, can take this comment too far; all of a sudden the need for compliments takes over and you find yourself googling how to lose weight or how to be prettier. No girl should have to go through the expectations that society puts out for us. All of this could be avoided if the unfair comparison between teenagers and supermodels stopped. 72% of all teens use Instagram daily. This data is scary because that is 72% of the youth being brainwashed everyday.

Sixty-nine percent of children have their own devices by the age of 12, which was a 41% increase from 2015. The problem keeps growing and won’t stop. Smartphones were introduced in 2007 and from 2010 to 2015 visits to doctors regarding depression jumped nearly 30%. Now, I know it is hard to believe that social media causes depression. It is not a direct cause, however, it is a major contribution.

Technology is killing kids’ sense of adventure and their creative wavelengths. Sure, you may think that your kid has it under control because they still get active. For example, they will walk your dog (yay, exercise) but soon enough the whole world knows that your little Susie took old sparky for a walk. Parents now observe children with their eyes gleaned (Glued?) to a screen instead of drawing a picture or playing with friends.

Social media is causing kids’ minds to alter completely. Thirty years ago the biggest worry in parents’ minds was if their kids were going to eat a worm at recess; today the biggest worry in a parents mind is if their child will be a victim of this darkness that consumes young teens. Social media causes so much hate and discontent that we can’t experience the joys of walking alone at night or leaving the house in the morning and making it back just in time for dinner. This is a problem that will become out of hand if we do not take action today.

Student Writer’s Program: What Is It?

The Town Line has published the first in what we hope will be many articles from local students under the heading of the “Student Writer’s Program.” While it may seem plainly evident why The Town Line would pursue this program with local schools and students, I think it’s worth the time to highlight the reasons why we enthusiastically support this endeavor.

Up front, the program is meant to offer students who have a love of writing a venue where they can be published and read in their community. We have specifically not provided topics for the students to write on or about, and we have left the editing largely up to their teachers. From our perspective this is a free form space provided to students.

From the perspective of the community, what is the benefit? When considering any piece that should or could be published, this is a question we often ask ourselves at The Town Line. The benefit is that we as community are given a glimpse into how our students see the world, what concerns them, and, maybe even possible solutions to our pressing problems. Our fundamental mission at the paper is to help us all better understand and appreciate our community, our state, and our nation through journalism and print.

We hope you will read these articles with as much interest and enjoyment as we do. The students are giving us a rare opportunity to hear them out, to peer into their world, and see how they are processing this world we, as adults, are giving them.

To include your high school, contact The Town Line, townline@townline.org.

STUDENT WRITERS: Tribalism in American Politics

STUDENT WRITERS PROGRAM
This week featuring: ERSKINE ACADEMY

by Grace Kelso

Tribalism is the behavior and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one’s own tribe or social group. Tribalism is a natural part of human behavior that can be seen in all aspects of life. More now than ever, we are seeing strong tribalism in American politics. We are seeing evidence of this when people favor policy proposals from their party and disapprove of proposals from the other party based purely on party and not facts or soundness of policies, or when people only make friends with people from their own party. This essay explains where we see tribalism in American politics.

One example of tribalism in American politics is through reactive devaluation bias. Reactive devaluation bias is the tendency to value the proposal of someone we recognized as an antagonist as being less interesting than if it were made by someone else. An example of this could be found in Daniel Stalder’s article, “Tribalism in Politics” published in Psychology Today in June, 18th, 2018. According to Stalder, Republican Senator, George Vionovich, said, “If he [Obama] was for it, we had to be against it.” This means that even if one of Barack Obama’s policies, or a policy that he was in support of, were very beneficial to the American people, George Vionochich and his Republican colleagues would not support it. This is a clear example of reactive devaluation bias. It is not just Republicans who are guilty of reactive devaluation bias. A study called “Party over Policy” found that when liberal college students were told about a welfare proposal, they were not opposed to it, and some were in favor of it. When they were told that the policy was proposed by Republicans and was not supported by Democrats, their opinions changed. Most of the students were no longer in favor of the policy proposal, according to the same Psychology Today article.

Another example of tribalism in American politics is how it can be seen affecting our social lives. Tribalism based on our political beliefs occurs in how we perceive the people around us and with whom we are in relationships. To put it simply, we treat people with the same political views more favorably than we do people with opposing political views.

A political scientist named Shanto Iyengar has done a lot of research into how political tribalism plays a role in our social life. He found that the percentage of married couples that came from the same party had grown from two-thirds in the 1960’s and 70’s to close to 90 percent today. A survey done in the 1960’s found that only 5 percent of partisans would mind if their son or daughter were in a relationship with someone of the opposite party. This seemed like an irrelevant question at the time. In 2010, the same question was asked for a YouGov Poll and found that 49 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats would be somewhat or very upset if their son or daughter were in a relationship with someone of the opposite party.

Today, the political party you align yourself with is not just a choice, but an identity. This is seen when people approve of policy proposals from their own party and disapprove of those from the opposing party and when people do not want to be friends with someone from the other party. These are examples of tribalism. America is facing a lot of challenges and we need to be united now more than ever, but why do we still have trouble working with the other side? Maybe we are too egotistical, or maybe we don’t want to seem like hypocrites for agreeing with the opposing party. Only after we get rid of our “us versus them” complex can we make some meaningful change.

Student Writer’s Program: What Is It?

The Town Line has published the first in what we hope will be many articles from local students under the heading of the “Student Writer’s Program.” While it may seem plainly evident why The Town Line would pursue this program with local schools and students, I think it’s worth the time to highlight the reasons why we enthusiastically support this endeavor.

Up front, the program is meant to offer students who have a love of writing a venue where they can be published and read in their community. We have specifically not provided topics for the students to write on or about, and we have left the editing largely up to their teachers. From our perspective this is a free form space provided to students.

From the perspective of the community, what is the benefit? When considering any piece that should or could be published, this is a question we often ask ourselves at The Town Line. The benefit is that we as community are given a glimpse into how our students see the world, what concerns them, and, maybe even possible solutions to our pressing problems. Our fundamental mission at the paper is to help us all better understand and appreciate our community, our state, and our nation through journalism and print.

We hope you will read these articles with as much interest and enjoyment as we do. The students are giving us a rare opportunity to hear them out, to peer into their world, and see how they are processing this world we, as adults, are giving them.

To include your high school, contact The Town Line, townline@townline.org.