Issue 9 | Fall | 2020
ISOLA ISOLA ......
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ISSUE 9 ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION
ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION ISOLATION
Editor-in-Chief Haley Ayotte
Creative Director Brionna Poole
Advertising Director Blake Roselle
Lead Graphic Designer Sam McNeal
Co-Public Relations Directors Ashlyn Delaney Avery Jackson
Public Relations Staff
Mark Elgersma Isabella Gross Jason Mason Zachary Reynolds Jordyn Wilcox Corrine Bass Shianne McMillian
Advertising Staff Matt McNeff
Event Management Trever Lloyd
Emmanuel Carter Madeline Morley Trey Raab Anessa Schweitzer Audrey Balcom Cassidy Palmateer Simone Thiede Hailey Urbane Laken Hoody
Brenna Klenk Kelly Klouw Brianna Maloney Alexa Monroy Jillian Roberts Ava Unti Mollie Wiltzius
THERAWMAG.COM Facebook: The RAW Magazine Instagram & Twitter: @rawmagcmu
FOUNDERS: Jordan Moorhead Kaitlyn Lauer Alexis Kelly
Letter from the
2020 has been nothing but easy.
The pandemic has made it so that everyone has to wear masks and practice social distancing. Change is never easy, but this is why we wanted to highlight the artistic and realistic troubles that we’re all going through. This issue was made to be relatable to our readers, supporters, and students. Despite the troubles we’ve all been facing throughout 2020, including the semester being entirely online, it makes me happy- that we have been able to publish this issue. I’m so proud of all of my staff for creating such awesome content. I never thought that I would be in Editor-inChief. I feel honored every day that I get-to have this position — writing this feels surreal. With that being said, don’t ever give up on your dreams or stop working hard. There are so many opportunities for you out there, so take them and run with them. Be your most authentic self ALWAYS.
The RAW Magazine // 9
Haley Ayotte Editor-in-Chief
Contents 7 | All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go 11| Mission Accomplished: Platinum Never Again 19| The Good Student 26| Descent 31| 2020 In a Flash 33| Missing My Birthday 37| Introvert In Isolation 39| $1 For Any Size 40| 2020 Google Search Keywords 41| My Two Dimensional Life 49| Nature Notes 51| Masks 59| The Money Song
Photographed by: Haley Ayotte Model:Tabitha Masters
The RAW Magazine // 7
A D U N T
All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go
The RAW Magazine // 9
Written by: Mark Elgersma Photographed by: Haley Ayotte Models: Zhiyon Mitchell and Mollie Wiltzius
M ISSION ACCOM PLISHED:
m u n i t a A r e v Ne
n i a g
I don’t know where I was on 9/11. I, being only three years old, was probably shielded and shuffled away to play with Rescue Heroes or Lincoln Logs, both deemed more suitable for me than terrorism. What I do remember is two years later. On May 1, 2003, only two days after my fifth birthday, George W. Bush appeared on my classroom’s CRT Television. He stood on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln with a massive banner overhead, “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”
superimposed over a field of stars and stripes. It was imparted to me that bright colors and harmonies were synonymous with success, with pleasure; I could strip away suffering and loss if I watched enough platinum age television, each channel screaming about its own individuality while simulating every other channel. The new “cool” was to be unique just like every other mainstream pop culture icon, and I swallowed it along with the sugar-injected foods that were advertised to me every five minutes. And it wasn’t just me. The 2000s seduced Americans into collective and neo-nationalist identities ready to be pitted against other countries’ and communities’ identities. We were supposed to be impossible televisions stars and neo-nationalistic heroes with airbrushed skin, armed against the ugly and the other. We became individuals obsessed with our individualism.
The RAW Magazine // 12
The rise of hero complexes and neonationalism in the United States did not begin with Donald Trump. He may have caused more to join the empty call to “make America great again,” but the past greatness of America first had to be theorized in media. The singular identities that were thrust upon us from buzzing television screens were selected by our parents, but each fell into similar lanes. Say two children exist—one child watches Blues Clues, and the other watches Dora. For the purposes of this thought experiment, we will pretend that neither child has access to the other’s program. They are isolated. But each, time and time again, has imparted to them the following sequence:
Through the story’s telling, the children both discover the problem, the solution, satisfaction, and the subject. A problem, requiring a solution, needs a subject or group of subjects to discover the best set of actions to reach perfect satisfaction. What’s imparted to both of the children, no matter their television show, is inherent agency and magical voluntarism: any subject can solve a problem if they are correct and able to put in the effort, and the only requirement to be such a subject is willingness. If this individual is willing to confront an act in the correct way, they reach satisfaction. They are introduced, subversively, to the peaks and the pitfalls of individuality. In charting this path, we’ve uncovered the plot of many children’s shows, including Codename: Kids Next Door, Wonder Pets!, Mickey Mouse Club House, and more. And if we expand this formula to include the possibility that the issue is the protagonist’s own fault, we see Jimmy Neutron, Fairly-Odd Parents, Danny Phantom, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, Drake and Josh, Wizards of Waverly Place, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and innumerable others come into focus. These, geared toward a more “mature” audience, introduce the concept of personal responsibility of individual problems.
The RAW Magazine // 14
These pieces, individualism and personal responsibility, dovetail wonderfully when a child is given political views from their parents. Personally, I was told that George Bush is a hero; I was made to be one of his disciples. Any problems with America was the fault of its constituents, and through yard signs and voting, it was up to them to put the correct party in power. I never questioned who that was, as my parents had already told me. George Bush and similar heroes took the place of television characters in my mind. I believed there was a Dora-esque goal, and Bush was our guide. According to the map, all we needed to do was cross the Atlantic River, go over the Middle Eastern Field, and walk through the Terrorists’ House, and we’d be able to reach the legendary “weapons of mass destruction.” Myth married truth, and I believed, as fervently as my community did, that Bush was a hero that would be able to sing “we did it” at the end of the episode. He likely believed it himself. Ironically, the growing individuality-obsessed, neo-liberal celebrity chorus was one of the forces that challenged him. Rather than actually contradicting Bush, the powerful few filled more channels, sites, and forums with vague calls for “peace.” Policy and praxis gave way to watered down resistance. You didn’t have to care for anything in particular if you said you cared for everything. “Human rights” campaigns took the stage and pushed off specific, individual movements.
AGA NEV INU PLAT AGA
AIN PLATINU VER AGAIN P UM NEVER A ATINUM NEV AIN PLATINU “Activism” was popularized as long as it wasn’t offensive or extremist. “Celebrity” became an identity rather than a category, and it privileged those who wanted change, as long as that change wasn’t specific or policy-based. Even calls for justice became about individuality, something that was done for admiration. The rise of YouTube, MySpace, and digital cameras allowed everybody to have dreams of grandiosity. You could be a star. This, along with American Idol, Survivor, and other reality TV allowed anyone to become part of the coveted celebrity culture. Even the term, “celebrity” means that you are celebrated and worthy of celebration. The two most popular political paths, conservative or liberal, were parts of the same whole. They each spoke to the want to be indelibly correct while avoiding reality.
Each group mirrored the other. Identifying with small communities of people who sympathized with our vague, individualistic causes, made us more valuable. As long as we were vaguely different within a certain range, we could be significant. Instead of holding values, we could align with communities that related to us. News stations, and eventually the internet, emphasized this. All we had to do was choose the correct channel or website, and we could find people to confirm what we already hoped to be true. Instead of focusing on truth and the pursuit of being as close to reality as we could be, we determined that party lines were what we required to live by to be close to life as we could be. Political parties became what they always were: idols built to the individuality of the masses.
The 2000s was only Platinum in the sense that the Enlightenment was—it destroyed the idea subjectivity and made us think—it made me think there was something that we were moving toward; it convinced Americans there was a mission to be accomplished, and those in power, whether politician or celebrity, were to be worshipped as technicolor superheroes. We must disown the things we adopted then, even elements encoded into us as children. We are not trying to reach the ultimate individual goal of celebrity or hero. As such, moving outside of power structures rather than operating as cogs must be our goal. We must escape the thought of the individualistic hero and instead reconsider and reframe our thought patterns constantly. If we are not adapting, we are rotting. The only “mission” to accomplish in this realm is philosophical suicide..
The RAW Magazine // 18
WRITTEN BY: JASON MASON PHOTOGRAPHED BY: AUDREY BALCOM MODELS: JASON MASON & MAYA BRAITHWAITE
Along with nearly everything else in the country, the American education system was blindsided by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly overnight, students went from normality to abnormality, from on-campus life to digital learning. At CMU, students went home for spring break and never returned. Soon after, the stressful implications of online learning became more and more apparent. Students were faced with a new set of challenges. Increased technological effort, fading motivation, paired with the inability to participate in on and off-campus activities began to weigh heavily on the shoulders of university students across the country.
As many have said before, things arent going to return to normal anytime soon. There are questions to be asked that must be answered for the future of education. How does one maintain academic success in this unfortunate context? What is the role of the university in aiding the student? How does the student sustain emotional wellness during the school year from their rooms? These questions become more pressing as the pandemic draws on.
The RAW Magazine // 20
Success in online learning looks and feels much different than success on campus. In 2019, a successful student was one who participated in class, attended office hours, and reached out to fellow students for discussion and advice; tests, presentations and projects were a faceto-face commitment. Academic success in 2020 takes on an entirely different meaning. So what are the best practices for online students? One of the greatest difficulties in online learning is simply keeping track of it all. An immensely useful, and immensely easy practice can aid this: Write everything down on paper. Everything. With so many resources and so much information on display coming in so fast, having them all in one place and in an organized manner is a strategy I recommend to any student. Your work schedule, homework, class schedule, even when the dining hall is or isnâ€™t open, canâ€™t simply be left to memory. Log it somewhere, for the sake of efficiency and sanity. Students must create discipline and commitment even in this difficult context.
Students are not alone in the struggle of online learning; university staff and faculty have also undergone massive change, and with little room for error. Professors who once led engaging discussions in front of a crowd of students now attempt the same in front of a computer screen. Course modules that went unchanged for years were adapted hastily to be communicated via BlackBoard, WebEx and Microsoft Teams. Nearly a year into online learning, it seems an equilibrium has been reached, where staff and students are able to complete necessary tasks, but what is needed for the university to thrive?
The RAW Magazine // 22
The professor-student relationship is in a particularly sensitive place. University success has always relied on this relationship, but now more than ever. The tension in this element of student success has become very obvious this school year, through an abundance of complaints and dialogue on the issues of communication and expectations not only from professors but university staff in general. The best thing students and professors can do for each other is establish a mutual understanding, that neither party is going to operate at 100% capacity during a global pandemic. If students and professors expect perfection from one another, frustration and disappointment will follow.
The RAW Magazine // 23
Perhaps the most important aspect of education in a pandemic is the emotional wellness of students. Many are more stressed than ever before, and without the ability to socialize with friends, enjoy a night out at a bar, or go on dates. The increase of stress and decrease in socializing has potentially damaging consequences for college students, so what can be done to maintain mental health?
Understand that people are going through what youâ€™re going through. Understand that these new struggles and hardships are not unfamiliar or particular to you, and that your campus has resources to help. This new college context is a time for self-awareness and to identify what relaxes us, and implement these routines into our schedules to maintain sanity. 2020 has been far from easy; in past years, the involvement of college can be a useful distraction from the stress of the surrounding world. Now, as we attend classes remotely, the lines between our stressors blur. We experience the stress of school, work, family health, social deprivation, political unrest at the same time, from the same place, and sometimes the combined weight of them all can feel like too much to handle.
So, take it easy on yourself. Reach out to the people you love. Understand that this is a time unlike any other, and that expectations have changed all around. Try and give yourself the time and space you need to adjust. Every aspect of our planet is going through a period of accelerated evolution, and great change is never easy.
The RAW Magazine // 25
DESCENT DESCENT DESCENT DESCENT DESCENT DESCENT DESCENT DESCENT Written by ZACHARY REYNOLDS
Photographed by CASSIDY PALMATEER Model: MATTHEW CAMPBELL
Mom always told me I needed to stay calm. She told me, “Johnny, you’d better watch that temper before it gets you in trouble again.”
Those were the last words she ever said to me, as she hustled out my door. Coughed up a fit. She passed just a few days later. Lung cancer. She knew she had it, but she never told me. Two years ago. Her words bounce around my head as I sit here in my apartment. Three rooms, all of them old and musty, but I do what I can to keep it intact. Every night I stare at the popcorn ceiling as I fall asleep on my twin mattress. When the carpets were put down, twenty years ago probably, they were cream white. Now they are pale brown. The tiled kitchen floor has suffered the same fate. There’s a blizzard outside, so I am inside. The howling cold wind beats against my smudged windows. I have been inside for a long, long time. Although my apartment is not the shiniest or most expensive, I am proud of it. I’m proud of myself, somehow. Someway.
The RAW Magazine // 27
I was not blessed with an easy childhood. My dad was a drunk. He was the drunk. Kids at school never let me forget it. I was six when he got tossed out of my little league game for scuffling with the umpire. He fell back on his ass and fell asleep in the dirt. They wouldn’t let me forget it, as if I ever could in the first place. I don’t think they knew how much it bothered me. Or maybe they did. Some people like to watch others as they are in pain. The scales shifted back to balance as I got older, though. I’ve made the most of it. I moved states away, joined the plumber’s union, and even got back on my medication. Mom was happy about that. The only thing she could ever admit that made her proud. This place has its perks. The neighbors are interesting characters, but they keep me entertained. Sal lives two doors down. He has a thick Brooklyn accent, always very friendly. Every time I see him in the hallway, he tells me about a new hotdog joint, or a new comedy he saw in the theater. My apartment is the only peaceful home I have ever known. The smell of pungent, stained carpets are a small price of admission for peace and quiet. The leaky faucet does not bother me; the white noise helps me sleep. The faint chitter chatter from outside the hallway makes me feel less alone. I sometimes press my ear against the door, hoping to get a glimpse into a stranger’s life. I was never the best at making friends. Living here keeps my old self at bay. Well, that and the meds. He was an angry person, destructive. Now I am loving. I want to be loving. Although, I do sit up at night and long for something back. Any feeling. I just want to feel again. Anything. Every day is a repeat of the last. Same shit, different day. Perhaps I should toss these pills down the drain, flip on the garbage disposal, and listen to it rumble down the pipes. The RAW Magazine // 28
I fell in love. Once. It’s just a burning memory. Lady Luck never met Little Johnny. Shit mom. Shit dad. Shit family. Shit friends. Shit life. New John tries and tries and tries. These memories burn in his stomach, night and day. I lose touch with it all as I lay inside this place. Even as I gaze upon my tidy kitchen, it feels as if I’m lying to myself. As I look in the mirror, all I see is an imposter of myself. I try to take pride in the new me. New apartment. New job. New friends. New clothing. New attitude. New everything. I feel nothing. I feel like I need something I don’t have. I always knew dad would end up like Jumping Jack Flash. His favorite song. How ironic. Mom hated that stereo. It shook the floor as it blared the jingles and tunes of his glory days. I play those old records as I stare aimlessly at the winter wonderland below my apartment window. Little Johnny loved the snow. Snow angels. Snow forts. Snowball fights. As I look around this apartment, out at the billowing snow outside, I see all those faces. My mother, my father, Sal and all those pesky children on the baseball team. Like they’re from another lifetime.
It all should have been easy. I rebuilt myself from the ground up, only for the foundation to be torn out from underneath me. Everything has, will come tumbling down eventually. Shelves will crash to the ground, dishes will shatter and bottles will break, and the floor will crumble beneath my feet. I feel like I’ll wake up some morning, and forget it all ever happened. Like I was having the strangest nightmare, that would soon be nothing but a burning memory.
Written by, Zachary Reynolds Designed by, Maddie Morley
Lightning never strikes twice.
It’s only January 3rd, and we’re already on the brink of ww3? give me a break. I know the US likes thier airstrikes, but on a highway? That’s ambitious. Wildfires in Australia? Boy, this planet sure hates forests...and koalas apparently. Hm, people are getting sick in China? I better check th-... Kobe Bryant...DIED? Are you SERIOUS? There’s no way...there’s no way. This year couldn’t get any-... Muh-muh.....MURDER HORNETS? They’re just trying to scare us now, aren’t they? What the hell even is a “murder hornet”? People are getting sick in Italy? That’s bizarre. Must be pretty nasty over there. Hope they’re doing-...
The RAW Magazine // 31
Jeeze, people are getting sick in New York too. That’s too bad. Well, it’s spring break, Flordia here I come! Wow, maybe I shouldn’t have gone to Flordia...
I probably could have expected the extra week added onto spring break, but I did NOT expect to be locked inside of my house for the entierty of March! April too... The only time I get out of the house is to get in a fistfight in the toilet paper aisle. They’re not joking, huh! What day is it?
What month is it?
Wow, California’s burning too now. And Oregon. Jeeze, Chadwick Boseman died? Trebek? The President did what...? Another lockdown?
Are we going to be okay?
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: CASSIDY PALMATEER & HAILEY URBANE
MISSING MY BIRTHDAY MIS ING MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY BIRT DAY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY MIS ING MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY BIRT DAY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY MIS ING MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY
The RAW Magazine // 33
SSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSG MY BIRTHDAY MISSING Y BIRTHDAY MISSING MY RTHDAY MISSING MY BIRTHY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY SSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSG MY BIRTHDAY MISSING Y BIRTHDAY MISSING MY RTHDAY MISSING MY BIRTHY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY SSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSG MY BIRTHDAY MISSING Y BIRTHDAY MISSING MY
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SSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSG MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY THDAY MISSING MY BIRTHY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY SSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSG MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY THDAY MISSING MY BIRTHY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY SSING MY BIRTHDAY MISSG MY BIRTHDAY MISSING MY THDAY MISSING MY BIRTHY MISSING MY BIRTHDAY SSING MY BIRTHDAYMY BIRT Y MISSING MY BIRTHDAYMY
The RAW Magazine // 37
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: HaileyUrbane MODEL: Jessica Campanda
$1 For Any Size You ask me to write a wish on the back of this McDonald’s receipt and remind me that dreams aren’t free. You say the good ones cost as much as a Big Mac and a medium side of fries. My dreams cost as much as any size drink. $1 for a large Coke $1 to cough on the syrup sticking to your throat, stir the ice with your straw swat away a black fly with the back of your hand like a mortician check your teeth for stray pieces of wilted lettuce in your reflection in my eye, backwards and glaring. With your leaking pen I sign my name, leave it on the plastic table like a birthmark. I wish that stars cost as much as any size pop $1 for a star, pop it between my teeth like bubblegum check that my heart is still beating against the wings of a monarch mid-journey. Don’t join me among the fireflies and the blades of grass. Don’t join me waist-deep in a sparking spring, laughing at my reflection, sipping from a can of Sprite — green and lemon, like you. Don’t join me in the search for summer within the forgotten R in February, where dreams could never die, even in a McDonald’s.
The RAW Magazine // 39
2020 Google Search Keywords after Camonghne Felix
sleep;music head;too;full chest;too;empty
ibuprofen;or;tylenol;covid cold;sweat;covid bender;quiz childhood;shows;anxiety spirit;world michigan;deaths zukos;mom;explained 99;fever;ok michigan;deaths sleep;music
WRITTEN BY ISABELLA GROSS
Written and photgraphed by Mark Elgersma Model: Alexa Monroy
Note: the photos included with this story are stereographic, providing images of the subject from two perspectives. If you are able to focus each eye on one of the two images, as is needed for Magic Eye visual puzzles, the photos will become three-dimensional.
If I was a millimeter tall, and found myself on the surface of my phoneâ€™s screen, I would be bathed in light. Red. Green. Blue. Red. Green. Blue. Red. Green. Blue. They would illuminate me in uneven spotlights, flashing along with whatever website or picture appeared on my phone at that moment. From where I stood, I would be traversing an unrecognizable field of color. My newsfeed would be able to be seen as what it is: flashes of intermittent, uneven light that only have meaning when viewed from a distance.
The RAW Magazine // 41
Our phones and technology are illusions, where we’ve learned to maneuver digital spaces—imaginary spaces. Twitter has areas and communities without having volume. We build fake rooms where we can whisper and yell without a word being uttered. It’s in constructed spaces that people can build their false, twodimensional lives. They can let people see certain thoughts and pictures, and they can focus on what makes them look moral in a moment, forgetting it when the clock ticks. They build effigies of themselves designed to seduce others into discipleship and following. I am the same, having joined my own cult of personality. I’ve convinced myself that I am correct on every subject I research for more than a minute, and if I am wrong, I regard it as a fluke, a fly caught in my electromechanical computer. Having full access to an infinite sea of information— the internet—I believe myself to be all-knowing, even when I’ve tasted only a drop from the local shore.
The RAW Magazine // 43
Now, I am trapped in a hive with bees who make the same sick-sweet honey as I do. Early on, when I was still forming my beliefs, I looked for people to validate my feelings and fears. I was seduced by my heart to join communities that agree with what I wanted to agree with.
Now, even when I see the emperor naked, I pretend to see his beautiful robes. Academics do the same. In 2017, three scholars began publishing counterfeit papers, designed to be fashionably phrased and absurdly designed. They were supposed to appeal to humanities journals that published the postmodern. This event is now known as the “Grievance Studies” affair. They wrote 20 articles for publication, with their subjects ranging from how rape culture affected dog parks to how masturbation is sexual assault. Each was purposefully and terribly designed to be flawed and biased, exemplars of dishonest and convoluted academic writing. They were full of words that meant nothing, only filling space. Of the 20 papers, seven were published. The hands they had been passed through moved them along, their content having confirmed what the readers thought they wanted to think. The researchers never disagreed with what they looked at, as it wasn’t disagreeable. It didn’t challenge their beliefs, and so it didn’t need to be challenged. The RAW Magazine // 45
The impersonality and deceit of online interactions and constant access to information strip away the self from my expression over the internet. Online, I feel more disconnected and able to say things that do not reflect my lived self, choosing instead to build idols to my fake identities.I could and can divorce what appears on my screen from my lived reality too easily.
I am not singular; I am multiple when I’m online—the screen names and profile pictures I’ve chosen let me put together a being that will fit how I want to communicate with the outside world. Twitter is for my jokes, and Reddit is for my hobbies. Facebook is used to keep up on family and their deaths, and Instagram is used to keep up on friends and their babies.
I could and can divorce what appears on my screen from my lived reality too easily. My online accounts are warped versions of me that I can work from above like marionette puppets with invisible strings to show how much I can pretend to care. Video chats are the same. I can turn on my camera when I look good, and turn it off when I don’t. I can pre-type out my thoughts in the chat, editing them until they’re more perfect than my spoken words could ever be. It isn’t and never is me; it’s performance.
I make my usernames get in fights with others’ usernames, seeing them not as people but as KorDor_12 and xXTheUnderdogXx. They see me the same way. The only other real people are those who have the same ideals as I do. Others are hypocrites living in a parody world, their logic based around gut responses and bigotry. I do not see their humannes
One can see it in politics all the time: millions of Americans were soothed when the President removed racial sensitivity training from Federal agencies. It was validation that didn’t have to think the challenging thoughts anymore. Instead of having to consider why they could be wrong or why their actions could have deeper and more violent influences, they could choose to accept that they were right. They could pull their comfortable blindfolds tighter. Even the now-President-elect Biden has refused to say the simple words “Black Lives Matter,” as it could challenge what some of his voters wish to believe. I personally cast final judgement after final judgement based on headlines that have been algorithmically catered to my political and world views. I am biased, but I always, foolishly choose to think that it is a bias toward correctness. The sources I select support what I think. I must deliberately convince myself to look for flaws in research and articles that I agree with fundamentally. I find plenty, most of the time. And I know this happens for others. Across the political spectrum, ideological others are just objects to be made fun of and villainized, while issues with our own arguments are ignored, as they are things we already believe in. This is done both in judging groups and judging people; we want people to see our side as right, and we want people to see us as desirable.
The internet has allowed us to sign up for fake teams and to socialize only with those who agree with us, letting our views go unchallenged. Even when writing this, I am building my own ultra-truth of what I am, and I hope you see this false me (critical and reflective) as the real, true Mark Elgersma. I’m no more what you read here than I am my own footprint. It may show the shape of my heel and the height of my arch, but it will never be able to capture my real, lived self. Each online account I open is a fragmented version of this—sometimes I post a toe, and sometimes my foot’s sole, but I still only post a portion of a portion of my being, and I only do so after editing and scrutinizing until all divots have disappeared. My right middle toe’s wart is replaced by a beauty mark. I have to train to save the warts and look for where they are removed. Analyzing how we produce and reproduce information is vital if I want to reintroduce critical thinking into my own online interactions. Instead of should, however, I must say that I will. Only then, once I’ve made the active choice, can I follow my new strictures.
I made a list of statements to help me. Here are some of them: I will look for propaganda and call it such. I will not deny or make excuses for my own argument’s pitfalls; I will look instead for ways to fill these informational gaps, and create a view that is singular, not collective. Many times, this will have to be rooted in diversifying who I speak with and who I read. I will read the opposition and the responses to the opposition. I will look for those who oppose my philosophies, and I will critically think of their arguments along with mine. The internet allows constant access to information, so I will access it. I will consider myself ignorant at all times, as I haven’t read everything, but I will educate myself as much as I can. I will hear experiences of discrimination from those who have been discriminated against, as not doing so is cutting off the communities that are most affected. I will not worship a person as being the ultimate truth-speaker. Only by choosing to seek information myself will I grapple with issues as they are. I will develop my social and mass media literacy. Otherwise, I am just running to and from individual spotlights on my phone’s screen, and holding them up as the whole truth. The RAW Magazine // 48
The RAW Magazine // 49
Photographed by: Audrey Balcom Model: Alea Czepeska
Written and Modeled by: Jordyn Wilcox Photographed by Simone Thiede
We wear a mask in class when we want to look like the smartest in the room. We wear a mask at parties when dancing lights blink on our faces in our brief moments of connection with complete strangers. On Instagram, we wear a digital mask that captures only our best features allowing for a flood of comments and likes to validate our egos. At work, our mask is prim and proper to avoid quarrels between co-workers and customers. Our masks crack a little when we are surrounded by people we are comfortable with, like family and friends.
The RAW Magazine // 51
At home is when the mask can come completely off. These “masks” represent the different identities we present to the world. Different facets of our true identity used to highlight certain traits and diminish others in order to blend in with the social norms of the current environment. So, what happens when there is no one to please, no goal to accomplish, and you lose your mask completely? Coronavirus made its way onto US soil on January 21st, 2020 and by March, all 50 states were on lockdown. No school, no work
(outside of essential workers), no parties, no friends coming over for a Netflix night, and no reason to provide a façade of an identity to people outside of ourselves. For the first couple of weeks, when there was still hope of a dreamy return to normality, people still updated their social media with smiles, pets, optimistic TikToks, celebrities singing “feel-good” songs, all in hopes of showing the world that they had things together. That even in an time of extreme duress, there was still hope. Was this simply a final act of composure? An attempt to cling to a piece of identity?
Do the people we surround ourselves with truly influence our sense of identity?
For a short period near the beginning of quarantine, I would experiment with different outfits. By experiment- I mean throwing anything on in order to find some type of creative outlet. Some good outfits came out of it. I would set up things in the empty room by my bedroom and take countless pictures to post on social media. In hindsight this was my own attempt to maintain my crumbling “mask”. Above all else, I got my clicks Pre-quarantine, I would look in the mirror and fret about my flat- and likes. But soon, playing in my ironed hair and how it didn’t look closet didn’t cut it anymore. Nor did texting friends, or working as straight as I wanted. I would out, or going on walks. Anxiety carefully pick out my outfits so about the safety of my household that I could look my best going filled with essential workers, to school or out with friends in hopes of gaining attention- some school, and my future set in. sort of validation from my peers. I would make sure my eyebrows were freshly waxed and arched because my unibrow was an unfriendly beast. The hair above my lip was another insecurity, in addition to countless chemical burns from my attempts to get rid of it, if only for a short amount of time. This established routine led to a difficult transition to the COVID 19 pandemic, when outside appearances began to carry less weight
The RAW Magazine // 54
Going outside felt futile. Seeing one or two cars driving past on each block felt like there were only a few people left on earth. The news shouting the climbing numbers of cases decreased my hopes of living a normal life. Life events I knew I was missing kept crossing my mind and for the first time ever, I felt exposed. There was no mask. The mask had cracked over the long meandering weeks. I don’t know when, but at some point it had completely broken. I questioned who I was. Am I the funny life of the party? Am I stoic and mysterious? Am I weird and mundane? Who did people see me as before? Could I even remember? Looking through pictures from the past year, I realized how much I had changed since I had taken them. Near the end of July, I came to terms with the “new normal”. I realized that I had been wearing different masks out of fear. The fear of judgement, fear of rejection, fear of being “odd.” My identity is mine and particular to me. Our identities are ever-changing and evolve as we learn more about ourselves.
By the time the lockdown was lifted, I didn’t look at all as I had before. My straightened hair had been wildly curly for a month, my eyebrows were unruly, and the hair above my lip was no longer chemically erased. If anything, I looked like an alternate universe version of my previous self. But, in a way, I felt free. Free of my previous prison of fake smiles, fake laughs, and fake conversations. Talking to people I once talked to daily felt- different. I felt more confident. I felt free to say what was on my mind without fear of criticisms from my peers.
The RAW Magazine // 56
I realized that life is short and that I couldnâ€™t dwell on how I was perceived because it is not my responsibility to maintain a faĂ§ade to make others comfortable. The people we surround ourselves with wear a mask, but at what cost? Is it worth happiness to lie for the sake of artificially crafted convenience and peace? Moving forward, make the choice to not worry about the masks with strings around your heart, and wear the one with strings around your ears instead.
The MONEY SONG Written by Jason Mason Photos by Laken Hoody - Longing for Contact
Only when it is financially convenient will the climate be returned to its natural state, will the worker not be exploited, and will oppressed people across the globe be unchained and liberated. An occurrence as this is unthinkable and so, the future of this planetâ€™s environment and its people lay at the mercy of the most controversial economic system known to man: Capitalism. The social and health crises we are in finally pose questions about dual issues of racial equality and environmental reform. Now, it is clearly apparent when a systemic problem, a short in a circuit, is neglected and ignored rather than solved. There has been an unending flurry of supposed explanations to our problems and ideas for solutions over the course of American history. Now, the most potential a solution seems to have is to be a pinball bounced between political parties. Hundreds of years in reformative pursuit and political policy have somehow resulted in increased economic inequality and violence.
The RAW Magazine // 60
I, like many, in my analysis of the quality of black life in this country, held an ineffective government accountable. I shared those same popular, recurring sentiments regarding corrupt politicians, lack of general consciousness, and racism. I would not disagree with anyone that believes that these concepts have a dire effect on this country; in fact I think most Americans feel this way. Still, the common American must understand that all of the United States may be as environmentally progressive and socially conscious as can be, and still see no change in the numbers. The common American must understand the context that a corrupt politician, unconscious citizen, and racist individual live in; these are not isolated incidents. They are intertwined together, mutually beneficial and mutually destructive. Derek Middleton, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor were killed not simply because they were black, but because of what these intertwined issues determine black to mean in a capitalist society.
These days, an attack against capitalism is a borderline threat to national security. Anti-capitalist rhetoric is treated as a rebellious, new-aged affront to American society, when in reality, it’s nothing new. In fact, it’s an integral theme of much of our art and our belief systems. Dean Martin, Dean Martin, acclaimed American singer, translates an anti-capitalist sentiment in a more witty and less overtly political way on a track called, “The Money Song.” Martin sings:
“Them that have it get more of it/ Less they need it the more they love it/ And it sticks to them like glue/ Funny, funny, funny what money can do.”
Martin, in a few lines, captures an individualist American mentality that is pivotal to the continuous oppression of race and class. That we live in a country where the rich get richer, and the poor can do nothing but try and keep up. Dean Martin, a mid-century American icon, shared these anti-capitalist beliefs with a country still knee-deep in the Cold War. These sentiments didn’t start with Martin, and they didn’t end with him either; the Bob Dylans, Jimi Hendrixes, and Kurt Cobains of this world have serenaded us with this tune since our system began.
Still, the roots of anti-capitalism reach deeper into American beliefs. The Latin phrase, Radix malorum est cupiditas, which translates as “greed is the root of evil”, has frequently been rendered to mean “money is the root of all evil”. This idea is not one that is alien or radical, but recognized as a fundamental truth in western culture. The largest concern here is that money, being the root of all evil, constitutes the basis of our society. If the root of our society acts doubly as the root of all evil, there was bound to be a rough situation somewhere along the line. It’s unsurprising how much the Bible gets waved around in defense of American values. After all, nothing appeals more to a conservative, traditionalist way of living than old religion. Even less surprising is the willingness many people have to appoint scripture to their own distinct purposes, and to neglect its original meaning. Those who believe the American purpose is to defend wealth, the economy, and the sanctity of Wall Street must also remember: “ It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God,” (Matthew 19:24). If it is true as we understand it, that money is the root of all evil, then we should not live by a political, economic system that is convenient for the greedy, inspired by the individual hoarding of wealth, and driven by exploitation. If we are to be true to ourselves and or values, we will change. The RAW Magazine // 64
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