July 29, 2014

Know Thy Selfie

By:  Jose Oropeza

Contributor

If you have an Instagram or Facebook account, chances are you’ve seen one. Sometimes with more than one person, and often with a “#” symbol in the caption.

The selfie, a trend that took social media by storm, rose to hashtag status shortly after the introduction of smartphones – specifically the iPhone 4, which was released in 2010 and came with a front-facing camera.

In 2013, “selfie” was made ‘word of the year’ by Oxford Dictionaries, and is defined as “A photograph that one has taken of oneself and…uploaded to a social media website.” Researchers at Oxford found recorded uses of the word “selfie” rose from less than 500 per billion instances in January to more than 5000 per billion instances in October.

Although the concept of the selfie is by no means new, recent events like Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie at the 2014 Oscar’s ceremony caused a record breaking, re-tweeted selfie, that crash Twitter. The 2014 EDM song “Let Me Take A Selfie” has given the term new levels of popularity.

Judith Naeignacio, a John Jay sophomore, shared her outlook about selfie content: “These people do the duck face, their tongues sticking out like Miley Cyrus. Trying to look silly and cute, sucking in their stomachs and pouting. Some people are narcissistic.”

Two years after its first 2002 online appearance in Australia, social media outlets like Tumblr have been using “selfie” as a hashtag. Since then, users having been referring to self-taken pictures as such.

Younger people post more selfies on Instagram than older users. In New York City, the average age of people that post selfies is 25.3, a study conducted by the CUNY Graduate Center found.

The Mental Health Association is buzzing about Selfie addiction dominating places like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Even astronaut Steven R. Swanson got in on the fun. While in orbit, he one-upped his peers by being the first to Instagram a selfie from space.

Selfies are 38% more likely to receive a ‘like,’ and 32% more likely to receive comments when compared to snapshots of places, a Georgia Institute of Technology study found.

Women were found to be more likely to take selfies than men, according to the GIT study. They are also 150% more likely to tilt their head in the selfie.

Women who base their self-worth on their appearance are more likely to post selfies and maintain a large following on social media sites, a SUNY Buffalo study found.

Nikita Shurygin, a freshman at John Jay, doesn’t find the study hard to believe. “I think people who take a lot of selfies are trying to draw attention to themselves.  Maybe they have self-image issues,” he said.

And self-image issues can lead to greater problems. Danny Bowman, a 19-year-old from Britain, spent 10 hours taking selfies on one occasion.  He skipped school, lost his friends, and attempted to take his own life after not being satisfied with the quality of his seflies, The Independent reported.

“People take this selfie stuff way too seriously,” Shurygin said shaking his head. “It seems like selfies on Instagram and the ‘likes’ they receive socially rank people.”

But selfies are not to blame, some experts say.

“Clearly there’s something more going on. Selfies were just a medium [Bowman] was using. It’s not the selfie that’s the problem,” Deborah Miller, a certified school psychologist, said.

“He sounds like he has obsession, and clearly, self esteem issues. His suicide is not connected with selfies, nor are selfies a cause of what occurred.,” Miller said.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a treatment offered to combat this trend of socially handicapped individuals. According to the Beck Institute, CBT “helps people identify their distressing thoughts and evaluate how realistic the thoughts are. Then they learn to change their distorted thinking. When they think more realistically, they feel better. The emphasis is also consistently on solving problems and initiating behavioral change.”

Regardless of emerging statistical evidence concerning selfies, they might be helpful to individuals.

“Young adults in college are typically very concerned with their appearance, and when they can take photos of themselves when they look their very best – that’s important,” Miller said.

Selfies can boost a person’s self-esteem, Miller argues. “Individuals are able to stage how they look, and post photos that they find to be most attractive. It’s a quick fix for issues concerning self-confidence, and self-esteem.”

Well, thank goodness for selfies. #winning 

Marcela Sanchez contributed to this article. 

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Uncertain Future for Horse-drawn Carriages

By Fathema Ahmed

Staff Writer

Frank Riccobono has been a horse-drawn carriage driver for nine years. His father was also a carriage driver. To him it is a family business. He even claims that his horse Angelina is part of his life.

“This is a piece of history that’s left. It’s a tradition,” said Riccobono.

Horse-drawn carriages have traveled the streets of Manhattan since 1858. Central Park  carriages can be seen as far as 34th Street.Long known  to be a tourist attraction, the carriages are facing opposition with many wanting to ban them including Mayor Bill De Blasio.

Mayor De Blasio has vowed to ban horse-drawn carriages saying that they are inhumane and outdated. The mayor wants to replace the  carriages with vintage-replica electric cars. The mayor says this move will be good for the environment while also helping the carriage drivers   stay employed. The horses will be sent to live on rescue farms.

horse-drawn carriage pic 11

By: Jenifer Valmon Horse-drawn carriage in Central Park.

De Blasio is not the first to raise the issue of whether or not horse-drawn carriages are humane. Animal rights activists such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been advocates for banning the carriages, because they believe that horses are mistreated and overworked.

“The carriage industry subjects horses to miserable weather extremes,the dangers of congested traffic,and crowds and also retires them to dark, damp concrete stalls at the end of a long, strenuous workday. Instead of gazing in green pastures, horses used for carriage rides in the city live a nose-to–tail pipe existence,” PETA representative Ryan Huling stated in an email.

Riccobono has his own thoughts, “There are three sides to the story, their side, our side and the truth,” Riccobono said about horse-drawn carriages being inhumane.

While there are many who are for banning horse-drawn carriages, there are others who oppose the idea. According to a Quinnipiac survey from March 19,64 percent of those polled were against banning horse-drawn carriages while 24 percent were for it.

“It would be a shame to lose something that’s so instantly identifiable with New York,” stated Penny Faith, a tourist from London who was taking a stroll in Central Park on a recent morning.

Stephen Malone and his horse Tyson in front of Central Park

By: Jenifer Valmon Stephen Malone and his horse Tyson in front of Central Park.

Susan Somerville agreed that the carriages are an essential tourist attraction, It would be a drop in revenue for the city. Tourists come specifically to ride the horse-drawn carriages,” said Somerville.

There are five major stables involved in the industry. They are all on the far West Side of Manhattan from 37th Street to 52nd Street around 11th and 12th Avenue. These stables are Bryne Stable, Westside Livery, Shamrock Stable, Chateau Farms and Clinton Park.

To get to work, the carriages usually travel up 10th Avenue to the Central Park area, which begins at 59th Street. When returning, the carriages go by 9th Avenue to get back to the stables.

“I believe that it’s mainly not about the horses. It’s more about the real estate property where horses are located on the West Side,” stated Riccobono.

Riccobono also explains how he would be affected if the carriages were to be banned, “I wouldn’t know what to do if they got rid of the horse-drawn carriages. It’s all I’ve been doing.”

Adam Lee standing next to his horse in front of Central Park.

By: Jenifer Valmon Adam Lee standing next to his horse in front of Central Park.

On average, a New York City carriage horse works for four years. PETA states that when it is no longer able to work the horse is often taken to a slaughterhouse instead of being able to retire to greener pasture since it is more cost effective.

“I think it’s good that they’re thinking of banning the horse-drawn carriages, because you don’t know how those animals feel, you don’t know how those horses feel, you’re using them for those people to go around. I think it’s inhumane,” said Daisy Lozano, a junior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“There’s other ways to get around the city. Tourists don’t have to be sitting on the carriages. It’s not the end of the world for them. The one’s that are suffering are the horses,” added Lozano.

There are approximately 350 carriage drivers in the city. Over 200 horses are used for the horse-drawn carriages and only 68 carriage horse medallions or licenses in the industry. There are no restrictions as to when the carriages can go to and from Central Park. They are even allowed to travel during rush hour.

Horses lined up in front of Central Park.

By: Jenifer Valmon Horses lined up in front of Central Park.

Carriages can not operate above 89  degrees, or below 19 degrees and during blizzards. The carriage capacity is four adults, or three adults and two children under the age of 12, or one adult and four children under the age of 12.

A standard carriage ride is 50 dollars for up to twenty minutes, plus 20 dollars for an extra 10 minutes. On Mondays and Fridays, rides start at     10 AM and 9 AM on Saturdays and Sundays.

Many cities have already banned horse-drwan carriages. These cities include Las Vegas, Reno and Santa Fe.

“There are more entertaining ways to take in the sights of New York. Bikes, pedicabs, rickshaws, segways, and other human-propelled modes of transportation are fun, cruelty-free alternatives to carriage rides. And as an added bonus, the proposed eco-friendly cars will finally get rid of the horse droppings that inevitably accompany carriage rides as guaranteed romance killers!” stated Huling.

DeBlasio had pledged to act on this plan in his first week in office. As of now, there is still no bill that has been introduced. There has also been no timetable set for these actions to take place.

horse-drawn carriage pic 12

By: Jenifer Valmon Horse-drawn carriage on path in Central Park.

“We’re considering a range of options that move the horses off our streets, safeguard the animals and protect the livelihoods of the men and women  who provide carriage rides,” DeBlasio’s press office stated in an email.

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NewsFeed: Murder Is Down, But Why?

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This year alone New York City has experienced its third lowest homicide rates of 502. The lowest being in 2009 of 471 and the second being in 2007 of 499. The decline in homicide is also more significant or sharper in the city than anywhere else in the nation. Mayor Bloomberg attributes the decrease to the work of police and fire departments but experts are not too sure about that. Experts such as Andrew Karmen, sociology professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, attributes the decline to the current lifestyle of young adults. Karmen believes because young adults from ages 18 to 24 are attending colleges,  they are less likely be murdered then young adults that do not attend college.

Dialogue In The Dark

Ever wonder how it would feel living without one of your five senses? Living with just the ability to hear, smell, touch, and feel without the capacity of seeing what’s around you. What would your reaction be, having your sight being away by nature from your everyday life?

“Dialogue in the Dark”, an exhibition at the South Street Seaport in the same facility as Bodies The Exhibition, is an experience in which you are blinded from the world and you cannot see anything but pitch darkness. Explorers will discover how it feels to be blind as you walk through a simulated version of New York City. You go through Central Park encountering the aroma of flowers and hotdog stands. You continue by shopping for your necessities at an A&P Supermarket, crossing the street through traffic, and most importantly riding the subway. The only things that accompany and guide you is your tour guide, your four senses, your blind stick, and the family you create with other people during the experience.

As the tour progressed, I began to help other members in and we soon became a family together. We made sure that all of us were at each stopping point. We yelled for each and held hands as we made our way through the streets of NYC. We didn’t leave anyone behind. I was afraid to play a part of this exhibition at first because I came there alone, but as the minutes went by, I felt bonded with these people that I have never met before in my life.

As the tour was coming to an end, Angelo Quinones, our tour guide, sat with us at a round table. Quinones then began to describe the purpose of this exhibition. He stated that “this field trip had the purpose of people gaining a realization of how to appreciate life more deeply as we live through it every day. The exhibition is going to be widespread. So many people would learn how the blind interact and dialogue through pure darkness. Exhibitions in Argentina, Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, Israel, and China have been open so far but the main objective is to have it open even further across the globe so people could gain an experience from this tour.”

When a tourist asked, “were you always intending to work in New York exhibitions?” Quinones responded “I wasn’t expected to work in New York. I always wanted to work in the exhibition that’s located in Atlanta because the museum has a boat instead of a subway and people tend to sometimes get wet.”

He describes his life of being blind in this way, “it was not easy, but as the days get by, the darkness becomes friendlier since you are not part of that loneliness anymore.” As he finished with saying a “goodbye” and receiving a round of applause for the valuable educational mission that everyone had accomplished, he wished that “everyone would pay a visit and experience this tour as memories would emerge from them, along with excitement.”

Throughout the exhibition, it taught me how to be really appreciative of what I have, including to respect the people who are blind without the ability to see nature and the world that revolves around them as we see it. It also taught me a way to communicate in a different attitude, a process that I have never experienced doing in my life. This sensitivity was hidden inside of me but was discovered during a long period of darkness. The only way you could discover your ability is if you visit the exhibit, as it will engulf you with its unforgettable message. The Exhibition is located by the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, and J trains at the Fulton Street Station. It cost less than $25 dollars to enter and it is worth every penny.