The two-dimensional representations of real life

How social media is a necessity today, and why that might not be beneficial

In sixth grade, I made a deal with the devil. In the middle of the night, I created a Facebook account against my parents’s wishes and, like most of my friends, lied about my age. Within a few years, I amassed more than 2,000 “friends.” Bizarrely enough, many of my friends in the social media world were acquaintances at best. In my opinion, social media transports its users into an alternate world in which friends are not friends, and a false sense of connectedness often leads to emotional distress.

A few years later, I made another deal and created an Instagram account—this time, I did not have to lie about my age. Slowly, I learned the platform’s complex code of conduct: when to post, how to write a creative caption and, of course, the importance of maintaining a ratio of more followers than following.

Later came Snapchat. Travel became a chore for me. If I didn’t post about my location, how could I prove to my friends where I had been? As if by some invisible deity, the pressure to post began to feel forced and, in hindsight, took away from my ability to truly engage with the places I traveled to.

Of course, social media is not entirely evil. It allows family and friends separated by distance to stay connected. However, the connection these platforms promise is not true interaction. Posts on social media are two-dimensional representations of real life. Social media gives the user a fleeting sensation of connectedness, but these moments are illusions that leave the user feeling more disconnected than before.

Beyond its influence on our emotions, social media wields a disturbing amount of power. According to Newsweek, Facebook is the parent company of Whatsapp and Instagram. Its increasing monopoly on how we connect ought to concern us all. I am part of one of the last generations to experience a world that connected without technology. Younger generations are going to grow up with technology companies documenting them from the cradle to the grave. Consider the facts—as of 2018, according to Forbes, Facebook has over 2.2 billion active users. That’s larger than the population of any country. According to Pew Research, Facebook is the primary news source for 67 per cent of Americans. Additionally, these social platforms offer their services for free, often misleading the user into forgetting that their information is now being exploited by corporations, without any sort of compensation.

Companies collect information about our posts, likes, and friends to create complex algorithms that categorize user information, demographic, dates, political beliefs, and even who we are attracted to. This is the hidden cost of social media; we are literally selling pieces of our personality in exchange for fleeting moments of connectedness.

I regret using social media. In my last year of high school, I deleted all of my social media, but like an addict, I am back again. Ironically, I had to resurrect my Facebook to participate in a Concordia club. The world is changing into one where living without social media comes with consequences that impact our friendships, employment opportunities, knowledge of popular culture and invitations to social events.

Mark Zuckerberg—ranked among the annual Forbes most powerful list eight times––has changed the way we learn, shortened our attention spans, and radically transformed political discourse. Elections around the world have been impacted by social media platforms; Twitter played a role during a series of revolutions known as the Arab Spring, where people were able to communicate en mass throughout the revolutions. Today, social media platforms are changing history, and users are giving their personal information away for free. If they can do that today, shouldn’t we be afraid of what they may do tomorrow?

Graphic by Ana Bilokin


Editorial: Without access to transportation, you’ll be left behind

It’s that time of year again—elections are coming. We’re surrounded by empty promises, eager politicians and platforms that try very hard to appeal to specific people. Yet, there’s one facet of a platform that got our attention. Don’t worry, we won’t be telling you who you should vote for in this editorial (but please do vote). Instead, The Concordian felt the Quebec Liberal Party’s promise to make public transit free for seniors and full-time students is quite compelling—and frankly, it’s about time.

The party’s leader, Philippe Couillard, said, “We want the next generation to develop the habit of using public transit and to turn away, by choice, from driving solo,” according to CBC News. He brought up how some families could save about $2,000 per year, and seniors could save up to $600 annually.

In a utopian world, one where everything was good, public transit would be free. We wouldn’t be forced to sell our souls in order to afford a $110 monthly pass. We wouldn’t have to dig deep into our couches and try to find enough change to pay the $3.25 needed to ride the bus for three minutes. Life would be so much simpler, right?

The truth is, we’re living in a time when free public transportation should be seen as a basic human right. We at The Concordian believe public transit should be free for all—even if you aren’t a senior or a full-time student. There are way more benefits to free public transit than there are disadvantages. For one, we would significantly lessen our carbon footprint. If people used less cars and more public transit, the environment would be less exposed to harsh gasses.

The book Free Public Transit: And Why We Don’t Pay To Ride Elevators tackles this issue in a fundamental way. It describes how we should be looking at public transportation like a public good, similar to garbage services. Co-edited by Jason Prince, an urban planner and part-time professor at Concordia, the book emphasizes how free public transit is a vital way to achieve “greenhouse gas targets in industrialized cities within a reasonable timeframe.” According to an interview with Prince by the Montreal Gazette, approximately 60 to 65 per cent of greenhouse gases in the Montreal region come from the transport sector, with 80 per cent of that being from cars.

Our city is comprised of 1.7 million people; one simply has to stand in downtown Montreal to realize how many of us are constantly moving. From one place to another, we are either on our feet, our bikes, in our cars, on busses or riding the metro. We’re hustling and rushing to get to where we need to be and, at this point, we shouldn’t have to pay for that. The same way Prince’s book questions why we don’t pay to ride elevators—just another way of getting to our destination—we shouldn’t be paying to reach our jobs, homes or daily destinations on time.

Those who can’t afford public transit are often left behind. Not only in terms of being ignored at the bus stop by rude bus drivers, but in life. We’re (unfortunately) living in a capitalistic, dog-eat-dog world, where being on time and showing up to opportunities is often essential to doing well in life. Job interviews, classes, auditions—whatever it is you’re trying to do—is only more difficult when you don’t have a way of getting there in the first place. We all know that unequal distribution of wealth leads to unequal opportunities. That same inequality is mirrored in our public transit system—those who can’t afford those steep monthly passes, or even a $3 bus ticket, can’t reach their full potential.

We should all be pushing for a fairer society. Making public transportation free is just the first pit stop on our long journey toward equality.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin


Student Life

Practicing mindfulness with Moksha

Take a break and reconnect with your mind, body and spirit through yoga

Juggling work, studies, and trying to maintain an active lifestyle isn’t easy. We all dream of being fit and healthy, but not everyone is up to the commitment of subscribing to a gym, paying the monthly fee, and going three to four times a week. Some people may have it all scheduled perfectly, but for those who don’t, you’re not alone.

I treasure my down time spent on the sofa, with one hand in a bag of chips and the other queuing up Netflix—heck, I need those relaxation days. But I can’t argue with studies like the ones outlined by Natalie Gil in The Guardian, that show a staggering correlation between physical activity and academic performance. According to the article, students committed to routine physical activity are more likely to possess skills such as self-discipline, time-efficiency and leadership than those who are not. The issue with these articles is that they aren’t convincing enough, at least not for me.

For those, like myself, who are not a fan of aimlessly jogging, chasing after balls in a field, or hate going to the gym, I’ve found yoga to be a great way to stay active as well as in tune with one’s mind, body and spirit. “What I love the most about yoga is that it gives me a chance to check in with myself everyday,” said Julia Speirs, a Concordia student, front office secretary and regular student at Moksha Yoga in Griffintown. “I always feel a hundred times better when I leave the class. It gives me the chance to just reconnect my mind and body and breathe for an hour.” There are Moksha Yoga locations in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) and on St-Laurent Boulevard as well.

Moksha offers hot yoga, which is different than a regular practice because the classes are held in a humid room, typically at 35 °C to 40 °C. In general, yoga is not just a great way to sweat out the toxins in your body, it’s also conducive to overall good mental health. “It helps with stress management and, especially [since] Moksha yoga is hot yoga, it’s really soothing to my muscles. Afterwards, I just feel so much healthier and so much more energetic,” said Speirs. If you’re ever having a bad day and want to get rid of some negativity, Moksha might prove to be something that works for you. Am I not convincing you to drag your butt out to the studio? I get it. It’s easier said than done.

Despite all the benefits of yoga and its trendiness in pop culture, many feel intimidated by it. We walk past Lululemon advertisements with people practicing yoga so gracefully and with such precision. We see Instagram videos of people holding handstands for minutes on end with apparent ease, while we can barely reach our toes—how can we not feel intimidated?

“I always remind myself and the clients that you don’t practice yoga to be good at yoga. You practice it for yourself and the benefits you feel from it,” said Speirs. She explained that, while practicing yoga does require strength and concentration, most importantly, it requires respect for our bodies.

“A yoga room is a place of peace. If you feel like just laying down the whole class and focusing on your breathing, that’s perfectly fine,” said Speirs. “Yoga is about connecting body and mind, and each person has [their] own way of feeling that connection.”

Some Moksha classes are $5 or pay what you can, and there is a Facebook group where instructors working towards their Moksha certification offer occasional free classes! If you don’t have your own mat and towel (and you will need a towel), they’re only $2 to rent. More information about classes offered at each Moksha location can be found on their respective websites.

Feature image by Alex Hutchins

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