By Casey Holland
Last updated: 10/28/13 9:20pm
Wouldn’t it be nice to have the ability to predict how long your romantic relationships will last? While there has yet to be an irrefutable equation determining a relationship’s length, researchers have discovered a way to draw conclusions about romantic relationships from Facebook.
Jon Kleinberg, a computer scientist at Cornell University, and Lars Backstrom, a senior engineer at Facebook, recently published a research paper on their “dispersion algorithm,” the New York Times reports. The algorithm uses circles of social network friends to identify a person’s spouse or romantic partner and predict the likelihood of that relationship remaining intact. Their research tracked 1.3 million anonymous users every two months during the span of two years.
The dispersion method measured both mutual friends and friends further outside of the couple’s shared social circle, high dispersion occurring when when a couple’s mutual friends do not share any connection. It proved to be accurate more than half of the time it was applied, correctly identifying 60 percent of the user’s spouses or romantic partners.
Low dispersion rates lead to trouble in paradise for the couple — couples with low dispersion rates on Facebook are 50 percent more likely to break-up within the next two months than those with high dispersion rates.
With how dependent this generation has become on social media, it would make sense that we could even apply it to our romantic relationships. How convenient would it be to just plug in the numbers and know whether or not you should waste your time pursuing someone, or whether you two will last long enough for a big wedding and a couple of kids? It could certainly save people a lot of heartache.
Some things shouldn’t be left up to the data, though.
Life is unpredictable. One person will go through countless events that define and shape who they are, and whether that person is suited for you can’t be determined solely on the friends you have in common on Facebook. At the end of the day, social media connections aren’t a substitute for the genuine compatibility of two people.
While outside friendships can definitely have an impact on romantic relationships, there are countless other factors that can lead to a break up: distance, different interests and cheating to name a few. Relationships are made up of too many different variables to predict whether a couple will go through a break up.
Leave Facebook for keeping up with your friends, and leave your relationship up to you and your partner. We already rely heavily on social media for multiple aspects of our lives, and the thought that people could eventually start clinging to it as a lifeline for their romance is taking it a step too far.
By Summer Ballentine
Last updated: 10/21/13 9:32pm
The story of a woman who spilled coffee on herself and then sued McDonald’s for $2.9 million seems clear cut, but as a recent New York Times report shows, lack of context skewed the facts of the case wildly out of proportion.
Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman who embodies the stereotype of a little old lady, took the lid off a cup of McDonald’s coffee as she was waiting in the drive-thru in February 1992 and spilled it all over herself. At that time, the company kept coffee at about 180 to 190 degrees. Ouch. She ended up in the hospital for burns on 16 percent of her body, 6 percent of which were third-degree.
She wrote a letter asking for $10,000 to help cover her medical bills and for McDonald’s to lower the temperature on the coffee, a point that was not often reported. It was only after they offered her $800 that she decided to take them to court.
So yes, she was awarded quite a large chunk of dough, as media outlets widely reported. But bear in mind it was the jury that first recommended $2.9 million, and most reports say the judge reduced that to about $650,000.
Liebeck also is responsible for that nice little reminder on every cup of Starbuck’s you slurp down that “the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot.” It seems obvious, but let’s be real: there likely are students among us who would accidentally dump steaming Pike Place down their throats in a groggy frenzy during finals week if the message wasn’t literally staring them in the face. McDonald’s will not release the current standard temperature, but some evidence shows it’s about 10 degrees lower.
It’s unfortunate that shortened coverage of the case left out so much from the story and helped turn so many people against Liebeck. Next time you hear a seemingly one-sided story, think hard about the other side. Things never are as black and white as they seem.
By Olivia Dimmer
Last updated: 10/21/13 9:30pm
If you’re socially awkward, can’t get a date by any conventional means and enjoy comparing women to dogs, Carrot Dating might be the right alternative for you.
This new app was debuted by a desperation-soaked MIT graduate named Brandon Wade, who, not surprisingly, also founded the “sugar baby” website SeekingArrangement.com. Carrot Dating is primarily marketed toward men and allows users to “dangle a carrot” to bribe women into going on dates with them, using incentives from a romantic dinner to a shopping spree to plastic surgery and cash. Basically, men offer women gifts and most likely expect to get certain sexual favors in return.
In a press release, Wade made no attempt to hide the true purpose of the new app, saying “There’s only one method of manipulation that has stood the test of time: bribery. It’s a concept so simple that even animals understand — give a dog a bone, and it will obey. Give a woman a present, and she’ll…”
I don’t even know where to begin tearing this comment and this blatantly sexist idea apart.
I’ll start with the obvious statement that if a man needs to offer any kind of incentive or bribe for a woman to go on a date with him, he’s doomed from the start. No self-respecting person should need to offer or accept bribes while pursuing romance. Any man or woman who is willing to participate in this kind of dating has some serious issues to work out.
Secondly, women are not dogs. If the general idea of the app didn’t already stink of chauvinism, Wade’s comment should outline exactly how disrespectful this app is. To assume that all women will give sexual favors to any man who offers them a present is already offensive. To overtly compare women’s mental capacity to that of a canine is downright disgusting.
What’s even more eye-rollingly ridiculous is that the website’s press kit FAQ has the audacity to claim that the Carrot Dating app is “Teaching men that it’s not OK to show up empty handed for a first date and are training (men) to strive to become more chivalrous.”
Mhmm. Sure. Because that’s what chivalry is: degrading women by expecting them to perform sexual favors in exchange for some sort of offering. Being chivalrous means to be courteous and honorable. And there’s certainly nothing honorable about paying for a stranger’s dinner and expecting a blowjob afterward.
Offering presents and money for sexual acts verges on prostitution. It’s an easy way out, a last-ditch attempt. But no amount of money and no present will ever forge a lasting relationship. This app preys on men with the idea that women and their affection can be bought, but all that glitters is not gold for Carrot Dating.
Whether it’s dating online or in real life, both men and women deserve to be treated with respect. Not only does this app showcase the sexist ideas that some men hold toward women, but it also degrades men as willing to do anything for sex. Carrot Dating is offensive no matter which side of the gender spectrum you are on.
So I say to Mr. Wade: Good luck ever finding a genuine romantic connection in your lifetime if you practice what you preach.
Because in this case, all that glitters is a gold-digger.
By Micaela Colonna
Last updated: 10/17/13 8:07pm
An act of kindness that occurred Tuesday night in a restaurant in Boston gives hope to humanity.
A single man was sitting at a table next to a mother and daughter when, sometime during their meal, they received a life-changing phone call, according to Boston’s ketknbc.com. Once they hung up the phone, the two began to cry. While paying for his bill, the man sitting next to them slipped the waiter a note that read:
“Do me a favor and bring me their check, too. Someone just got diagnosed. Don’t tell them.”
The waiter followed the instructions and combined the two checks together on the man’s credit card. Once the man left the restaurant, the waiter informed the mother-daughter duo of the stranger’s act of kindness.
With controversies, poverty and war occupying the news today, it’s sometimes hard to find a silver lining. We tend to focus on negative stories about killings and economic downturns instead of those that bring positivity and heartwarming feelings.
But the reason behind why we as a society tend to focus on the negative is puzzling. If you were to ask me whether I look at the world in a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty perspective, I honestly would answer with the latter, and I’m not proud of it.
“Pay It Forward” has become a global movement that involves the beneficiary of a kind act “paying it forward” — doing something kind in return for someone else. This could involve something as simple as paying for someone else’s bill, as was the case in Boston.
You don’t realize what a simple act of kindness can do for someone else. I attended a life-changing retreat in high school centered around the fact that we might think we know someone, but, until you put yourself in their shoes, you don’t have any idea what they’re going through.
Imagine if everyone were to devote two minutes per day doing an act of kindness for someone else. A simple smile might make the day a little better for the man who recently lost his father. Striking up a conversation in line at the grocery store might take the woman’s mind off of the fact that she was let go from her job the day before.
What exactly the woman’s phone call at the restaurant was about is unknown, but it’s clear these kinds of stories inspire hope. And for those who struggle to find kindness, these stories lead to the realization that it exists in the world.
So, the next time you see someone standing on the bus with crutches, be kind and give him your seat. Or if you notice someone is a quarter short at Sparty’s, toss her 25 cents. Standing for a few extra seconds, or lightening your pocket won’t break you, but it will make an impact, even if it’s small, on someone else.
By Summer Ballentine
Last updated: 10/17/13 9:57am
Although at first glance cities might appear to be more racially integrated, a comprehensive new map plotting America based on race tells a different story.
The map was created by Dustin Cable of the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service and uses 2010 U.S. Census Data, according to Wired. It shows what many probably already know: that although there is growing diversity in cities, race creates a clear divide among residents.
A frame of Detroit shows little to no overlap of blacks and whites past 8 Mile Road. On a larger scale, Michigan, and much of the Midwest, is a sea of blue (representing whites) with a few dots of green (representing blacks) sprinkled in areas such as Flint and Detroit.
After living in Columbus, Ohio, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., I can attest to the fact that cities still are separated by racial borders.
It was most obvious in Philadelphia. Although a plethora of different people live in the city, neighborhoods varied drastically. Walk 10 blocks in one direction and I was the only white person around. Five blocks in another direction and I was in the center of a wealthy white neighborhood.
We have made progress, but clearly not enough. The healthiest cities or neighborhoods include a mix of ethnicities, incomes, ages and beliefs. Mixing ideas and cultures spurs creativity and enhances inclusion.
I don’t want to be surrounded by no one else but people who are just like me — that’s how I grew up. Fenton, Mich. is not exactly a melting pot. And that’s part of the reason why I left Grand Valley State University and transferred to MSU. I didn’t feel like I was being exposed to a variety of different people from different backgrounds.
I want diversity in my life after graduation, and I plan on moving to a city where I will be around people who are different from me. If cities want to attract young, creative people, change needs to happen to make them more integrated.
By Micaela Colonna
Last updated: 10/16/13 11:59pm
On Sept. 9, 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick climbed a tower at an abandoned concrete plant and jumped.
The central Florida resident was a victim of the national issue that has become prevalent as social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter increase in popularity among teens: cyberbullying.
Two girls,14 and 12, have been arrested and charged as juveniles with third-degree felony aggravated stalking. The arrests came after the 14-year-old posted on Facebook that she bullied Sedwick and didn’t care she died.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the 12-year-old arrested was a former best friend of the victim. He said older girl convinced her to turn against Sedwick, and she complied out of fear of being bullied, too.
The parents of the accused girls do not believe their children had anything to do with Sedwick’s death.
“My daughter is a good girl, and I’m 100 percent sure that whatever they’re saying about my daughter is not true,” the 14-year-old’s dad told Associated Press.
Judd is determined to find any charges police can bring against the parents.
Teen bullying today seems to have escalated to a point of no return. Since the rise of social media, there have been countless cases of teens, some even preteens such as Sedwick, who have taken their own lives in response to the criticisms and hate messages they have received online.
And parents with teens involved in these situations feel just as hopeless. In the Sedwick case, Sedwick’s mother took her out of school and finally decided to homeschool her daughter in hopes the bullying would stop. Unfortunately, with the power of social media, the bullying continued online.
I do not understand why teens feel the need to be so cruel. I came from a small, Catholic school where the majority of the families were well-to-do. Many might think the economic differences would be a feeding ground for bullying but, contrary to popular belief, it was tolerable because everyone wore uniforms to eliminate the wealth factor.
Cliques probably were more prevalent than usual, but the high school population just barely reached 700, so there weren’t many people to pick friends from. Nevertheless, the intensity of the cliques never reached a point of blatant cruelty to others.
The fact that the older girl posted on Facebook to say she didn’t care about Rebecca’s death sickens me. We all are human beings with feelings. How can you be so cruel to someone else that they take their own life and not give it a second thought?
Government websites such as StopBullying.gov are aimed at educating people about bullying— how to prevent it, who is at risk, the effects and how to get help. There are other campaigns, such as United Federation of Teachers’ Be BRAVE Against Bullying and the National Education Association’s Bully Free: It Starts With Me. But are campaigns enough?
First and foremost, social media sites need to take action themselves. They should promote anti-bullying movements because of their capability to reach and catch the attention of millions of people. Teens are more likely to take a message from either Facebook or Twitter to heart because they are more comfortable with the organizations.
Bullies are people with personal insecurities who feel the need to take their emotions out on innocent bystanders, whether it be through physical actions or hiding behind a computer screen. It’s not right that our nation allows this to continue. We need to reevaluate our national policies on bullying, because people should never consider taking their own lives, especially not at young 12 years old.
By Micaela Colonna
Last updated: 10/14/13 8:35pm
An honors student was punished for doing the right thing: helping out a friend in need.
Erin Cox was a senior captain of the volleyball team at Andover High School in Andover, Mass. Two weeks ago, she received a call from a friend at a house party who was too intoxicated to drive home. She then decided to drive to the house to pick up her friend.
The police arrived just as Cox pulled up to the house. She was questioned by them, but released without charges.
After hearing of the incident, officials from Andover High School revoked her title as captain and suspended her from five games because of a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol.
It’s clear Cox was not intoxicated herself. However, just because she was physically outside the house hosting the party, her school claims she was in violation of the district’s zero-tolerance policy.
The Cox family has since tried challenging the school’s decision in court, but to no avail.
One of the first things teens learn when they first sit behind the wheel of a car is to never drink and drive. If intoxicated, they are taught it is imperative that they call for help, not making the risky trip home. Failing to do so would not only result in severe consequences for the driver, but also puts innocent drivers on the road at risk.
By society’s expectations, Cox did the right, responsible thing: She didn’t let her friend drive home under the influence.
The fact that Andover High School only took into consideration her physical appearance at the party and punished her for it, instead of her helping a friend in need shows a major flaw in our school systems and in our culture.
Fortunately for MSU students, Michigan passed a medical amnesty law in June of 2012 that allows intoxicated minors to call for help for a friend in need and not be charged with a MIP. Instead of punishing minors for doing the right thing, the state is rewarding them for taking responsible action.
Incidents such as those at Andover High School encourage teens and young adults to second guess their decisions about helping those in need. And this ultimately goes against everything we are taught.
If we are only expected to think of how a decision will affect ourselves and then act on it, that’s one thing. But if we are meant to look at the bigger picture, then it’s important we take the needs of others into consideration, too.
By Summer Ballentine
Last updated: 10/09/13 1:08am
An email from a Georgia Tech fraternity advising members on how to lure “rapebait” at parties is going viral, unleashing a stream of moronic comments on Gawker.
The social chair of Phi Kappa Tau emailed members tips on how to “mack and succeed” at parties, ending with a rousing “If anything ever fails, go get more alcohol.”
The email starts out implying that brothers and pledges who do not have sex or get with women at every party are unwelcome in the fraternity. It’s embarrassing that anyone would shame someone into having sex — maybe unwanted — to feel accepted, especially if that person is your fraternity brother.
Not only does the email chastise celibate brothers, but it also encourages sex with women who have been drinking.
Advising brothers not to rape does not negate the inappropriate advice throughout the rest of the message. Although the author did not encourage anyone to force alcohol down a woman’s throat who said “no,” repeatedly offering to get women drinks with the intent to later have sex with them is a pathway to non-consensual sex.
No matter how you slice it, it is not legal to have sex with someone who is too drunk to give their consent. It’s especially immoral when you don’t know the person well, as the email insinuates. If you’re meeting someone for the first time at a party, you don’t know them well enough to know exactly how drunk they actually are and whether or not they’re conscious enough to consent.
What is most disgusting is that some people don’t see anything wrong with the email’s message, as evidenced by the horrendous comments listed on Gawker.
“If you remove the word ‘rapebait’ from the title it’s pretty much just a script for most college parties,” a comment from MCA noted.
From Dubsteppa: “How is hooking up with some chick at a party rape? If that’s rape damn near every college student in this country is a rapist.”
We should all be ashamed if this is considered the norm at college parties, and I hope most men and women are decent enough never to act like this. It’s unfair to both men and women, and normalizes unhealthy sexual behavior without appropriate boundaries.
By Summer Ballentine
Last updated: 10/03/13 10:13am
Hate doing laundry?
According to an article on HealthCentral.com, difficulty with boring and repetitive tasks such as laundry or other housework is a sign of ADD/ADHD in women, along with a slew of other stereotypes sometimes associated with the gender.
Saying things without thinking, appearing selfish and shopping addictions also were cited as symptoms of the disorders.
I’m not doubting that many women with ADD or ADHD have a harder time than the rest of us sorting colors from whites, but the article (which is less of an article and more of a slideshow ticking off symptoms alongside generic stock photos of women) was irresponsibly misleading.
I stumbled upon the article because one of my friends posted it on Facebook. Then her and her friends proceeded to list off which “symptoms” they had.
Let’s be reasonable.
If someone who actually had undiagnosed ADD or ADHD read that article and got the medical help they needed, that’s great. If you understand why your friend with ADD interrupts you constantly in conversations (another sign from the article), that’s great, too. But I’m more concerned that listing common social issues as medical symptoms could send the wrong message: that for the thousands of women out there (myself included) who simply hate doing the laundry, an attention disorder is to blame.
Don’t conflate social issues with legitimate health issues. There isn’t a medical explanation for every social struggle in your life.
By Summer Ballentine
Last updated: 09/27/13 11:57am
If National Security Agency surveillance wasn’t enough to shake any expectation of online privacy from you, then a federal judge’s ruling on Thursday deeming Google’s interception of email is subject to federal and state wiretapping laws should do the trick.
Google mines emails for key words to cater advertisements to individual users. Google tried unsuccessfully to thwart a class-action suit by arguing that users give consent under the Terms of Service and Privacy Policies, according to a report from The Hill.
Google even had the audacity to claim that “by merely sending emails to or receiving emails from a Gmail user, a non-Gmail user has consented to Google’s interception of such emails for any purposes.”
Really? Commodification of almost every aspect of the Internet is enough to deal with. When companies cross the line and breach basic expectations of privacy, they deserve to face legal repercussions.