Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘Magazines’ Category

The Time Has Come

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Okay, I’m back. Sorry about that. I wish I had gone somewhere or done something worth writing about, but that’s not the case. Everything just came at me at once. You’ve been there.

It’s too late at this point to offer in-depth commentary on the royal wedding and the assassination, so I’ll say something short. There’s an adage that “bad things happen in threes.” This time, good things happened in threes (or A three). First, the Birth certificate was released (no he never should have had to show it, but it shut everyone up and knocked D. Trump out of first place for Republican presidential nominee), then the royal wedding (it is nice when the world gathers to watch a joyous event), and the assassination (in this case, the end justified the means). I am very happy for President Obama. I’m happy for the nation, too. This gave us a nice morale booster. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts!

Now, what has me excited at this very moment? The May issue of Psychology Today. I’m going to pick up a copy this afternoon . . .

2011 Comes Early

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday and is psyched for the New Year. The January 2011 issue of Main Line Today (a local Philly magazine) is out and in it is my first restaurant review. The article is called “Restaurant Revival.” Please take a gander. It’s an exciting challenge for me to cover a new topic—especially one that involves all the senses like food.

As far as resolutions, I have one so far: Stop putting sugar in my tea. That’s all I can come up with. (Keep in mind I drink a lot of tea, which equals many spoonfuls of sugar).

A Fear Worth Fearing?

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

In the past two days, I’ve read back to back the most disturbing articles I’ve encountered to date concerning kids and their cyber ways. I’ll discuss the first today and the second tomorrow. The first is the cover story in the December issue of Philadelphia magazine called, “Is it Just Us, or are Kids Getting Really Stupid?”

The piece opens with the writer, Sandy Hingston, discovering that her son in high school is not reading any classic literature in English—just watching the movies. That sent my head spinning, but I calmed myself down because I don’t think that’s the norm—at least not yet.

I asked a woman I ride the train with if her son, a high school senior, is reading—you know books—in school. She says yes and he even reads on his own. The leisure books he reads are not Shakespeare or Chaucer, but he likes to read biographies of famed football players. I was relived to hear it because the article suggests that reading—the act itself—is becoming increasingly difficult for young people. How can black words on a white page compete with the cosmic colors and psychedelic graphics of the Internet?

I also take comfort in the lovely existence of my cousin Julia. She graduated from college last spring. She is bright, ambitious, and working as an actress with a small theater company. Naturally, she knows how to text and has 847 friends on Facebook, but she keeps her cell phone far away from the Thanksgiving feast and she can engage anyone in stimulating conversation–on Shakespeare or Chaucer. Whew!

Julia stands in opposition to my cousin Kimi, who is also lovely and notably stylish, but who has a much more difficult time keeping her hands off of her cell phone. She is so subtle about it, too. I didn’t even notice she was texting under the table when her mom came over and insisted she put her phone away. Kimi is a senior in high school.

I understand when one writes an article, generalizations must be made, and sometimes it’s difficult as a reader not to think “Oh my God this is happening to everyone, everywhere!” Granted it must be happening to someone, somewhere otherwise there wouldn’t be an article about it. One of the main points the article makes is, because kids can look up anything at any time, they aren’t bothering to learn basic facts like times tables and how to use a ruler (yes, that’s an actual example).

Emotional Repercussions

Academics aside, the article also zeros in on the emotional imprint of technology on young minds. This change I absolutely believe is taking place, because I see it happening with adults who didn’t grow up with cell phones in their hands. Some good points Hingston makes:

~ “Technology was supposed to set us free, to liberate us from mundane, time-consuming tasks so we could do great things, think great thoughts, solve humanity’s most pressing problems. Instead, our kids have been liberated to perform even more mundane, time-consuming tasks (including the average 3,339 test messages they send and receive each month—or more than a hundred per day)”.

~ “So the tech stuff isn’t benign, though kids think it is. And it’s been deliberately developed to make it hard for them to turn away. ‘The nature of addiction,’ says Chatterjee, ‘is little rewards doled out in unpredictable fashion. The information kids are getting from texting or tweeting has that unpredictable quality. They don’t know what they’re going to get, and what they do get, they really like. It’s a set-up for addictive behavior.’

Learning Curve

The thing about texting, tweeting, and using Facebook is it’s pretty easy to learn. I lived without all of it for twenty-five years and picked it up when I had to. So why do we feel the need to give cell phones to teenagers anyway? Part of it may be wanting to give our kids what they want–not that that’s always bad. And there’s also the safety factor. We want them to be able to call in case of an emergency. How do we strike a balance? Here’s one idea:

My cousin Alicia has three kids under the age of seven. She’s starting to think about what she’ll do when they start begging for cell phones. She decided that she’ll mimic the approach of her neighbor who has three teenagers. He has a “no cell phones in the house” rule. When the kids come in, they have to plug their cell phones into the cell-phone station. The alleviates aimless texting all hours of the day and it ensures that their friends have to call the landline—so the parents have a better idea of who their kids are hanging out with. It also instills the notion into the developing mind that there is a time and a place for cell phone use.

I’ll admit, part of me is nervous about the way this is going, and part of me is completely open minded. Maybe this is the 21-st Century version of losing the oral tradition and gaining the written word. We’ll see . . .

Tomorrow’s article is “As Bullies Go Digital, Parents Play Catch-Up” – in case you’d like to read ahead. Class dismissed!

Endangered Arts

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

In the December issue of Psychology Today there is an article entitled “Endangered Arts.” Below you will find the four endangered arts that the magazine names and my comments on each. (Statuses determined by Psych Today):

1. Meaningful Conversation
Status: Threatened

The good news is, if you want meaningful conversation then I believe you can still find it. Most of us treasure significant discussion and recognize that it strengthens all types of relationships. The bad news is we don’t know whether or not this will be lost on the younger generation. Hopefully the boys I saw playing basketball over the weekend (see blog below) are also learning the art of conversation.

2. Letter Writing
Status: Near Extinction

Ah-ha! Our beloved topic. The article sites that in 2009, mail sent through the U.S. Postal Service dropped to its lowest level ever. Of course I fear for letter writing (that’s why I write about it!), but I thought it was on its way out long ago, and it’s still around. I’ll believe it’s gone for good when Hallmark no longer carries greeting cards.

3. A Do-It Yourself Mentality
Status: Staging a Comeback

The other day my sister said, “Do you notice that all the parents stand with their kids at the bus stop?” It’s true. The parents in our neighborhood and other neighborhoods, I’m sure, walk their kids to the bus and stand there until the bus arrives. This is odd to us because we walked ourselves to and from the bus stop since we were in first grade.

My sister and I credit this small act of walking to the bus station sans adult with giving us the independence we have today. Once college came, we were out of our parent’s house for good.
We rarely borrow money, and if we do we pay it back.

I realize that Psych Today isn’t necessarily talking about a “sense of independence,” they’re talking about knitting, cooking, gardening, and refinishing wooden door frames. However, I think that the two go hand in hand. Having a strong sense of independence makes those DIY tasks even more satisfying. When I first moved into my house, I cut some lilacs from my lilac bush and put them in a glass vase. As I placed them on the table I felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. In that moment, I realized that I owned the home, I owned the lilac bush, and I was taking simple pleasure in this experience that I earned.

If you’re used to having others do things for you, then doing anything yourself seems like a chore. And thus, I encourage parents, living in safe neighborhoods, to let their children walk to the bus station. (You can watch from the window.)

4. The Renaissance Personality
Status: Threatened

I don’t really have a reaction to this one. Psych Today laments that “We are more educated than ever, but we’re not sure what’s worth knowing and why.” They refer to the era when all students could speak several languages, play the piano, and recite poetry after dinner. I think what we lack these days is the self-discipline to learn to do all those admirable things.

Old is the New Cover Girl

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

When I bought this month’s issue of Vanity Fair with Miss Marilyn gracing cover I wondered “Why does VF keep featuring starlets from another era?” Apparently Gawker thought the same. Not that I don’t love me some Grace Kelly (May 2010), Liz Taylor (July 2010), and Jackie Kennedy (not this year but still), but I think exhibiting a gorgeous girl from a time gone by on the cover ONCE a year will suffice.

vf_front.jpg

As for the article on Marilyn, I was disappointed. Her “secret diaries” revealed everything we already knew about her. She had low self-esteem, she was very lonely, and her marriages were difficult. I empathize with what she went through, and I can look at photos of her all the live long day, but I won’t tell you have HAVE to ready the story. Unlike the Liz Taylor letters, those really are a must read.