Click! “Ew! This photo is ugly!” Click! “This photo won’t get any likes.” These thoughts run through your head before you even take a picture. But is it worth it to appear perfect? What’s the point? History says that in 1839, a Philadelphia photographer named Robert Cornelius was the first person to take a selfie. His method was to remove the lens cap and run into the frame. Mind you, there was no such thing as a social network at that time, so why did he take a selfie if he couldn’t share it with everybody? His purpose was simply photographic innovation. Selfies can be fun until they hit another person’s eyes and someone starts to criticize the flaws in you, not the photo. When people say a photo is ugly, what they really mean is that your hair is not “done” or your facial expression looks “boring,” “stupid,” or “aggy.” Many teen girls are pressured into looking great before they take a selfie. They have to get their hair fixed, moisten their lips, and make sure they have good makeup. It’s all based on looks, but what about her personality? The song “#Selfie” by The Chainsmokers describes what many girls think before and after they take a selfie. “I only got 10 likes in the last 5 minutes/Do you think I should take it down? Let me take another selfie!” and “That girl is such a fake model/She definitely bought all her Instagram followers.” What caused them to think this way? Judgmental comments that people made about their appearance, of course. It’s a vicious cycle that selfies have caused in the modern day. She calls you ugly, and then you feel ugly, so then you want other people to feel ugly. Yeah, you get the picture. If you want to take a selfie, do it. Don’t let anyone stop you from posting a photo that you want to show the world.
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Lately, I’ve lost sight of who I am. I’m no longer the goofy person who is carefree. I’m no longer the one many come to for help because I no longer have much to say. I am no longer me. I’ve become the person who is no longer strong, but weak and harsh; the person who is too scared to fail, so I don’t try at all. I don’t really laugh enough. I simply don’t care about the results of my actions. I feel like ignorance is bliss. I now put down the body I once worshipped and thought was beautiful, even though it looks pretty much the same. I’m simply a mask. I push people away before they can push me away. I used to make funny faces in the mirror. Now all I see is the darkness surrounding my eyes. I have no idea what has caused this change, but I am no longer me enough.
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I am not smart enough for my chemistry teacher. I would not be beautiful enough if you were to ask the world of social media. I am not a good enough friend if you were to ask the ones who do not stick around anymore. I am not patient enough if you ask those who need me to wait on them. I am not rich enough if you ask the ones with full wallets. I’m not cultured enough because I don’t know the lyrics of that one song by that one artist. B ut take me out of that context and stop comparing me to others. Think of me as an individual. Then, I am smart enough to become anything I want to be. I am beautiful enough to look in the mirror and be pleased with what I see. I am a good enough friend if I am allowed to be and if I am treated like one. I am patient enough to keep living every day to see what awaits me in the future. I am rich enough to stay well fed and content. I am cultured enough because I know the lyrics to that other song by that other artist. I am enough for myself and that is all that matters.
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On paper, I am a somewhat average student with a less than average attendance record. I am not industrious enough. I don’t turn in every single homework assignment nor arrive to school promptly every day. Some days, I am unable to give my undivided attention to the given task at hand. I remember telling a teacher I was shooting for an 1800 on my SAT. She told me to go for a 1500. I once told a teacher of my dreams for college. He reiterated how college just wasn’t for everybody. I recall going to some in search of comfort, but being reminded I wasn’t Latina enough to take pride in my heritage, not mature enough to be considered an adult, not proper enough to be considered a woman. Focusing on all the things I was not contributed to a restless and unhappy outlook on life. Still, I resolved to ignore others’ impressions of me. I have been self-sufficient since the seventh grade. I’ve been the youngest in multiple work environments and still did a better job than many of the adults surrounding me. I failed an English class, but received one of the highest reading and writing test score averages in my grade.
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The fine line between innovation and distraction exists in today’s generation. More and more you see teens running to iPhones rather than running toward the local library. Still, the preconceived notion that teenagers do not read is false. “It feels like you’re in another world, but if I had to lose one, I’d lose Twitter. If you lose books or anything like that, you’ll be stupid,” says 16-year-old Dustin Bailey, of the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science. In a world of YouTube clips and Vine compilations, it is difficult for authors to capture audiences as attention spans falter. These days, many educators try to incorporate technology into the classroom in an effort to get teens engaged in the curriculum. “Books aren’t something I do every day, but it’s just that reading is too good of an opportunity to miss,” says 17-year-old Eliza Lin, of Boston Latin School. While splashy films, television, and online services hog the stage, the simple pleasures of literacy are not lost on teens. “I like to read,” says Julyn Frazier-Ryan, 17, of the O’Bryant. “I find it enjoyable.”
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