Is the American Dream Dead?

The livelihood of the American dream depends on what benefits you think the “dream” is supposed to provide.

Take a trip through a college town and you’re likely to hear someone say “The American Dream is Dead”. Scroll through Facebook or Twitter for a few moments and you’ll probably see an even stronger claim; “The American Dream is a Nightmare!”. The fate of the American Dream often becomes a topic of debate, especially when elections roll around. People never seem to settle on a final verdict on the livelihood of it, and that’s largely because people have different ideas about the way of life that it’s supposed to deliver.

I’ve realized that many people think the American Dream implies that life in the United States is supposed to be easy. There aren’t supposed to be any hardships. Citizens should get to do whatever they want without consequence. People are supposed to be able to reap benefits without sowing any effort or sacrifice. Well if this is your definition of the American Dream, then yes, it is dead and gone. In fact, it was never alive. There has never been a time in the United States (or any other civilization throughout history) where there were’t struggles and hard times that people faced.

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“The American Dream” was a term first made popular by historian John T. Adams in his 1931 book “The Epic of America“. In it, he pointed out that the American Dream “is not a dream of  motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream … in which each man and each woman shall be capable to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable“. People often take the American Dream as a promise of materialistic surplus, but I think the dream should be considered to be a promise not of affluence, but more so a guarantee of the liberty to freely pursue  one’s goals and aspirations to improve their quality of life. The ability to invest in your future is a privilege within itself, even if there is no guarantee that there’ll be a return on those investments.

By no means am I downplaying or ignoring any of the socio-economic problems that America is dealing with right now. Corruption and oppression exist in too many facets everyday life. The future of our economy is discouraging. People in power, from politicians to police officers, care more about their wallets and egos than the lives of the citizens they are supposed to protect. Despite all of that, we need to recognize and appreciate the opportunities we have to make our voices heard and to encourage change for the better. I find it annoying and a bit oxymoronic that many of those who claim the American dream is dead are college students who have their own cars (probably at the expense of mommy and daddy), jobs, homes/apartments, and are registered to vote. We need to remember to not take these things for granted. After all, transportation, employment opportunities, and a political voice are privileges that many people around the world can only dream of.

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The 15 Most Annoying Trends of 2015

2015 was a year full of internet sensations, dance crazes, and innumerable trends. I saw countless swarms of people overuse some creepy and downright disgusting snapchat effects, and I saw people drop water-filled condoms on their heads. These trends and movements got old fast, but many just unfortunately refused to die. Here is my list (in no particular order) of the 15 most annoying trends of 2015.

1)The whip

This was cool for about a week until the entire universe started doing it. Or should I say, attempting to do it.

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2)The Nae-Nae

I always thought this dance looked stupid. NFL and NBA players certainly would disagree with me, though. I still have no idea how this dance got its name.

 

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3)”Watch Me” (whip and nae nae)

As if they weren’t each annoying enough on their own, somebody made the decision to combine both dances into an annoying song, with an annoying instrumental and an even more annoying melody. Of course, the whole world started doing this dance. I think this song even made onto a couple of commercials. But you know it’s time for the song and both dances to retire when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders start doing it.

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4)Ripped jeans
Who’s responsible for bringing this back? Maybe it’s just me, but jeans with holes in them just look weird, especially if the holes are way above knee-level.

 

5)Profile Picture Filters

From the equality filters, to the rainbow filters, to the Nigerian filters, to the Paris filters, Facebook tried to give users a way to express their views by changing their profile pictures. It became overwhelming and less unique when the entire Facebook community started doing it.

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6)Don’t Judge Me “Challenge”

This isn’t just the dumbest thing I saw in 2015, it’s one of the dumbest and most self-contradicting “trends” I’ve ever seen in my life. Basically, you make yourself look as unattractive as possible trough the means of thick glasses, fake crooked teeth, fake pimples, drawn-on unibrows, etc. Then, in the middle of the video, you cover the camera lens and remove all of the fake crap and reveal your “natural” face and appearance. The problem is that the “don’t judge” trend did the very opposite; judged people with glasses, crooked teeth, bushy eyebrows etc. as if they are less attractive or important than people without classes or acne or crooked teeth. Also, this isn’t a challenge at all. A challenge is when you put yourself through some type of risk, pain, discomfort,or humiliation (like the Ice Bucket Challenge or the Cinnamon Challenge). But all the don’t judge challenge does is glorify the participants’ physical “beauty”. This was started mainly by a bunch of millennial, conceited social media zombies that crave popularity and trendiness, so it’s no surprise this insensitive and judgmental trend took off.

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7)Hover Boards

They looked kind of cool and futuristic at first, but after a while, they got annoying. This is just my personal opinion, but when I see somebody roll by on one of these, I get a sense of arrogance and laziness. A small part of me rejoices on the inside when I see people wipe out on these things.
Hover boards seem like more of a hassle than just walking like a normal human being. Not to mention they have a reputation for spontaneous combustion, so there’s that. Also, can we stop calling them “hover” boards? If it has wheels, it doesn’t hover.

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8)That Stupid Rainbow Tongue SnapChat filter thingy 

SnapChat added a new feature where you could add effects to your pictures/videos. As a result, what seemed like every snapchat user in America spent about a week doing this:

 

 

9)Bandwagon Fans

I don’t know who’s worse, the cavalier-turned heat-turned cavalier again-turned warriors fans, or the seahawks-turned panthers fans, who will jump ship to which ever team wins the Super Bowl this year.

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10)Binge-Watching

We are on the brink of WWIII, in the heat of another Cold War with Russia, and on the receiving end of corruption and abusive of power from our government. Nothing is more frustrating than when I try to hold a intelligent conversation about societal issues and none of my peers have a clue what I’m talking about, yet they can go on for hours about Empire, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead.

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11)Hashtag Activism

From serious social media movements like #standwithisrael and #prayforcharleston to less important ones like #dezcaughtit, hashtags may help raise awareness about a certain event, but rarely ever do anything to actually change the outcome of the event.

 

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12)Meme-Sharing

The amount of people that legitimately try to make political, religious, and social arguments using memes on Facebook is disturbing. I guess researching and fact-checking are things of the past.

 

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13)Celebrity-Worshipping

Equally disturbing is the number of people that literally get into fights when someone criticizes their favorite athletes or musicians. Sorry to break it to you, but your favorite celebrity doesn’t even know you exist.

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14)The Dab

Thanks to Cam Newton, the whole world is doing this “dance”. Men and Women. Old and Young. Needless to say, most attempts at the dab are ridiculously entertaining.

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15)Uptown Funk

Bruno Mars is one of the most talented artists of our era. And to be fair, Uptown Funk is actually a decent song. But if I hear those trumpets one more time.

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Can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store.

Americans are too celeb-crazed, ignorant to the world around us

Americans salivate over the lives of their favorite celebrities and athletes. We worship them as if they are gods, defend them as if they are our younger siblings, and follow their every move as if they are dogs on a leash. Due to this infatuation with their personal lives, celebrities generally have bad relationships with the media. As a result, the press is often demonized by Hollywood stars and their fans. Many people fail to realize that the scrutiny paparazzi often receive is driven solely by our obsession with celebrity news. The media is simply giving the public want it demands. If we weren’t so addicted to celebrity gossip and trends, then perhaps our favorite musicians and athletes could go to the grocery store without getting bombarded with camera flashes and annoying questions. However, the fragile relationship between the press and celebrities is a seemingly irrelevant consequence when compared to the far more serious problem at hand; Americans care and know more about celebrities than we do about important people/events happening in society.

In today’s world, trivial “news” dominates the headlines instead of prominent issues taking place both domestically and overseas. There used to be a time when the press did its job and informed the people of important situations happening both politically and socially, but those days are long gone, and the public (for the most part) couldn’t care less. In 2013, MSNBC interrupted a live report (regarding the NSA spying on U.S. citizens) with “BREAKING NEWS” about Justin Bieber appearing in court for a D.U.I. incident. Who cares about the NSA unconstitutionally keeping track of all of our phone calls and text messages? Justin Bieber showed up in court. That’s way more important, right? Most Americans could probably tell you anything you wanted to know about Justin Bieber like where he’s from, who’s the last girl he slept with, and what underwear company he recently modeled for. I wonder how many of these people know what NSA stands for or what the 4th amendment is?

This symptom of brainwashing is running rampant in the streets and social media feeds of America. Need proof? Approach a group of strangers and ask them what NBA team Lebron James plays for and they’ll give you the correct answer in probably less than a second. Yet ask them what Benghazi is and they’ll probably think it’s a water park. Ask them who Beyonce is married to and they’ll give you the correct answer without any problems. But ask them what they know about Operation Fast & Furious and they’ll think you’re referring to the street racing movie. Ask them what day of the week  “Empire” or “The Walking Dead” airs and they’ll answer without hesitation. Now ask them what they know about Vladmir Putin, Lois Lerner, or what’s happening in Syria and you’ll probably get a pathetic response, if any response at all.

People often try to excuse their ignorance to global issues by saying “those things don’t affect me personally, so why should I be worried about any of it”? Well just because a particular issue isn’t  impacting your livelihood at the moment does not mean that it won’t affect you in the near future. Vladmir Putin may not be able to make as many three pointers as Lebron James, but his relationship (or lack thereof) with President Obama has catapulted the U.S. and Russia into another Cold War. Lois Lerner may not be as talented or as popular as Beyonce, but if she was, there would be no way she could’ve gotten away with her crimes, and we would have the IRS abolished immediately. You may not have to duck and dodge bullets being fired in the Syrian civil war right now, but the geopolitical effects of the war are pushing us to the brink of a global conflict never before seen.

The sad part is that it’s not as if Americans are deliberately choosing to not care about these world-changing events, they are simply clueless. The most important names around the world are unfamiliar to the American public. Yet Kim Kardashian-West, who made a career by just sleeping with black celebrities, has a mobile app/game about herself called “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood“. What do you do on this game? You simply pretend to be Kim Kardashian (or a Kardashian-like celebrity). Surprisingly (not really), this app made over $100 million in 2014  with God knows how many downloads.  In similar fashion, Justin Bieber averages 32,ooo retweets per tweet. I’ll rephrase that; every time just Bieber tweets, you can bet that he’ll get around 32,000 retweets. In fact, Bieber tweeted “Lol”, and got over 30k retweets while an inspirational quote from President Obama received just over 1,000 retweets. Do you get the picture?

It’s time for Americans to prioritize our interests and refocus our interests on things that matter. No, there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging a celebrity’s talent or attractiveness, but idolizing them (as if they give a damn about you at all) is the reason why government scandals and humanitarian crises often go unnoticed among the American people. The world is being soaked in a highly-flammable fluid of ignorance. We’ve already lit the fuse with our apathy and self-centeredness. Yet we don’t even smell the smoke or hear the fuse sizzling because we’re too concerned with who’s banging who, when so-and-so is dropping his/her next album, and why my favorite team is better than yours. There’s only two possible endings to this dilemma: either we wake up from this trance now and extinguish the fuse while there’s still time, or we keep hitting the snooze button and awaken later to a world burned down to the ground, wondering what the hell happened.

 

NFL too soft on Ray Rice?

For the past several months, Baltimore Ravens’ running back, Ray Rice, has been the center of attention in the sports world. On February 15th, a surveillance camera captured him carrying his unconscious fiancee out of an elevator at a casino. It was later revealed that the two had a physical altercation in which Ray struck his fiancee, knocking her unconscious. Reports still conflict as to what/who started the altercation. Regardless, however, Ray punched Janay Palmer, who is now his wife, in the face and knocked her out cold. The NFL community knew that Rice would eventually get suspended for part of the upcoming season. The uncertainty remained as to how long of a suspension he would be given. Rodger Goodell finally ended the waiting game and officially issued the length of Ray Rice’s suspension; 2 games.

There were opposing reactions to the Ray Rice’s punishment. Some people feel that the punishment was nowhere near as long as it should have been. Others feel that the suspension was fair, especially since Ray RRay-Rice-3ice has never been (to my knowledge) in any off-field trouble in his football career. I frankly have mixed emotions about his suspension.

I have always liked Ray Rice. He’s one of the smaller guys in the league, yet he plays with as much heart as anybody else. Despite his height disadvantage, he’s a tough guy to bring down (just look at his biceps). At one point, many people considered him the best running back in the league not named Adrian Petereson, though LeSean McCoy is better than both of them (I’m an eagles fan). Aside from his physical skills, he seems like a respectable, kind-hearted individual based on the interviews and news stories I’ve seen him featured in. I am not condoning domestic violence in any matter. One thing I despise more than anything is a male who is willing to hit a female (unless his life is endangered). But we don’t know the full extent as to what happened that night. Some reports claim that Janay struck him first repeatedly and then spit in his face. To those of you who’ve never had your face spat in, it’s not the easiest thing peacefully walk away from. Also, it’s not as if Rice is a repeat offender. If this were a trouble-plagued player like Pacman Jones, Chad Ochocinco, or Josh Gordon, then of course I’d expect a much longer suspension. But since this is seemingly one of the only times Rice has gotten in any off-field trouble, I can understand why some people are satisfied with the two-game suspension.

On the other hand, I can sympathize with the mass of people who feel that the two-game suspension sends the wrong message to the public and seems like a mere slap on the wrist to another millionaire athlete. Several celebs took to social media and blasted Rodger Goodell for what many call hypocrisy and bias. If the NFL calls itself trying to clean up its public image by holding all athletes to a higher and more professional standard, Goodell has to make sure that the severity of his disciplinary actions fits the players’ offense (no pun intended). Richie Incognito was suspended for basically an entire season for the “verbal bullying” of his teammate, Jonathan Martin. Numerous players have been suspended within just the past few months for substance abuse (such as marijuna and performance-enhancing drugs) which carries a minimum 4-game suspension policy. It looks bad when players such as Lane Johnson (whom my eagles will definitely miss for the first four weeks of the season) humbly make the mistake of overlooking a certain supplement on the quite lengthy list of Substances banned by the NFL, yet Rice hits his lover in the face with a haymaker and only serves half the suspension these players have to serve.

I honestly believe that Roger Goodell was stuck between a rock and a hard place when it came to this decision. He knew that Ray Rice had to be punished for what happened that night , but he also knew that the details of the incident that took place that night are still unclear. Had there been clear and complete footage of what happened from start to finish, I believe Rice would have been dealt a longer suspension. Once again, I am NOT saying that a man sucker-punching a woman is okay. All I’m saying is that I believe Rice’s clean track record and unclear evidence as to what truly happened that night are what led Rodger Goodell to suspend Ray Rice for only 2 games.

 

3 Reasons why I’d have no problem with LeBron & Melo teaming up.

We are currently experiencing one of the most anxious moments in recent NBA history. Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, arguably the two most dominant offensive forces in the league, are now both unrestricted free agents. Why the anxiety? Because for the first time since being taken at the top of the 2003 NBA draft, a draft class that many call one of the most talented ever, Melo and LeBron have the opportunity to play alongside each other. Ever since high school, the two have always been paired in comparison to each other, similar to the way Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were. Despite the fact that they attended different high schools, the two eventually becatumblr_ls3tjqvG4w1qzto45o1_500me good friends. In 2002, LeBron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary high school took on Melo’s Oak Hill Academy in a highly-anticipated matchup that was nationally televised. Melo, who’s team was victorious, finished the game with 34 points while LeBron ended with 36. After this marquee game, the basketball world was convinced that Carmelo and LeBron had the capability to go on and dominate at the professional level. To no one’s surprise, they both became instant superstars during their rookie seasons. In fact, LeBron was awarded Eastern Conference Rookie of the month for every month during that season, just as Carmelo was awarded Western Conference Rookie of the Month for every month of the 2003-2004 season. LeBron barely beat out Carmelo for Rookie of the Year, which speaks to how dynamic the two stars are. It was at this point in time that basketball fanatics began lusting over the fantasy of how unstoppable the two would be if they played on the same team. However, that fantasy could very possibly become a reality in the coming weeks.

During the 2014 NBA finals, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported that there is a strong possibility that Carmelo and LeBron could end up being teammates if the two ever happened to become free agents at the same time, as they both have expressed desire to play on the same team together. Less than two weeks later, Carmelo opted out of the final year of his contract with the New York Knicks. Surely enough, LeBron opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat shortly after. So here we are. Free agency officially begun on July 1st, and both Carmelo and LeBron are unrestricted free agents. Will they actually decide to team up? Who knows. At this point, one can only speculate. However, there has been much criticism and scrutiny at the idea of them playing together. Many have argued that the League should not allow LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to join the same team. Some claim that they would stop watching the NBA all together if the two are allowed to join forces. These critics hold the belief that LeBron and Carmelo on the same team would be “unfair” talent-wise. Arguments like these are presumptuous. I’m going to give you three reasons why I have no problem with Carmelo and LeBron teaming up.

 

1: There’s no guarantee that the two will be successful as teammates.

So many basketball fans make the faulty assumption that a LeBron and Carmelo-led team would instantly become favorites to win the NBA title. This is simply not true. Just because a team has star power does not mean the team will win a championship. Just look at the rosters for the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Los Angeles Clippers. Both teams are loaded with young and exciting marquee players. Contrarily, let’s take a look at this year’s champion San Antonio Spurs. None of the players on their roster are as popular or glamorous as Carmelo and LeBron, yet they were the best team in basketball this year by far. A talented roster on paper does not always translate into success. Ask the 2013 Lakers. Steve Nash is one of the best point guards to ever play the game. Kobe Bryant is one of the best players period to ever step on the court. Dwight Howard (when physically and emotionally healthy) is easily the most physically gifted center in the league. So when these three became teammates, many people thought they were instantly favorites to win the championship. Boy were they wrong. The Lakers have been a laughing stock ever since Nash, Bryant, and Howard initially teamed up. Even the Miami Heat have not reached the level of success the world expected. They’ve gone 2-2 in NBA finals since the “big three” assembled. They actually would be 1-3 if it weren’t for Ray Allen. So even if LeBron and Melo decided to join the same team, there is no telling if they would be able to complement each other successfully, especially considering the fact that they both have been crowned the go-to-guy from the moment they entered the league.

2: They’re free agents. They can sign wherever they want

Many people have animosity towards “super teams” assembling through free agency as opposed to teams built through the draft. At the end of the day, however, an NBA player has the right to take his talents where he desires after his contract is up. For the first time in his career, Carmelo has total control as to where he wants to play basketball. He put up with a mediocre Denver Nuggets team for the first eight years of his career before being traded to an even more disappointing and mediocre team in the New York Knicks. An argument many fans make when their favorite player loses in the playoffs is that he didn’t have any “help”. This is likely the same mindset that Melo has had throughout his career. It’s the reason he demanded a trade from the nuggets in 2010. It’s also the reason why he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Knicks. He feels (and I agree) that he has not been surrounded by adequate talent to help him succeed in the postseason. Free agency allows Carmelo to evaluate all thirty teams in the league and decide which players he wants to play alongside. If one of those players happens to be LeBron, so be it. Plus, after Melo signs, he will no longer be able to use underachieving teammates as an excuse for why he isn’t successful in the playoffs. The decision is solely his. This is the blessing and curse of a player choosing to sign with a new team in free agency.

3: Melo needs a shot at a ring.

This reason is personal. Carmelo is my favorite player. He has been ever since he was drafted. Initially, the pressing question in the NBA was who would be the first to win a ring out of Melo and LeBron. Unfortunately, Carmelo hasn’t had anywhere near the amount of postseason success as LeBron. For this reason, Melo has been lost in the shuffle behind Kobe, LeBron, Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade whenever the question is asked, “Who is the best player in the league”? Melo seems to lack the hunger and drive that other superstars in NBA have. However, though he may not be in the discussion for best all-around player, I believe (and always have believed) that he is the best pure scorer in the game. His ability to put the ball through the hoop at will on a consistent basis is unmatched in my opinion. Melo is a scoring machine. I mean come on. He scored 33 points in one quarter. With that being said, I would hate for his career to end with him falling into the category of talented athletes that never could win a ring. Adding insult to injury, Melo hasn’t even come close to winning a ring. As a matter of fact, he’s only made it past the first round one time in his entire eleven-year career. Such a despicable postseason record will only cloud the sheer talent that Carmelo has. If it takes joining forces with another star (King James) to make his playoff record more reputable, then I’m all for it. After all, that’s exactly what Shaq, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and countless other players throughout the NBA have done to finally win a ring.

In the end, I find it unlikely that Carmelo and LeBron will join the same team in free agency. I feel as if Melo and LeBron have too much pride to play with each other. I would imagine that they both want to be “the man” on their own respective teams, so I don’t think Melo will want to join the heat (who I think LeBron will resign with). I think the best fit for Carmelo is Chicago. Derrick Rose will be back and healthy. The Bulls already play great defense. The one thing the Bulls lack is the one thing Melo can offer; scoring. However, if LeBron and Carmelo do somehow end up playing together next year, for the sake of Melo’s legacy, I’m perfectly okay with that.

But those are my thoughts, what are yours?