I’m 20 and I feel like I know virtually nothing about my country. I feel constantly bombarded with negative media coverage, and most of the time, I get so frustrated and confused that I just tune it all out. I don’t understand American politics very well, and every time I’ve sought out to learn more, I’ve come up incredibly annoyed with the apparent hypocrisy in my nation’s capitol.

I do have American pride… To an extent. But I also don’t know how to be a 20-year-old college student with a sufficient knowledge in history, as well as current events, without becoming utterly enraged. I don’t know what to listen to, what to think, how to stay positive, how to make progress, how to make my votes count. I am the perfect example of why so many Americans don’t get politically involved at all, yet I believe that is entirely wrong and counterproductive.

In the year 2015, one of my resolutions has been to stay better informed, while still be conscious about the news I take in. My communications class is actually making that quite easy for me, as one of our weekly assignments is to watch “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill” on PBS. When I first started watching these 20-minute segments on current events and politics, I was skeptical. Now, I’ve come to enjoy the episodes and I feel like I’m gaining multiple perspectives by experts in the field.

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t think listening to ONE news broadcast is a good idea at all, but if you’re a busy college student, or you’re working constantly, or you’re just fed up with hearing about American politics all together… Give this show a go. All it takes is 20-minutes a week. I believe that if more of my generation were to just spend the mere 20-minutes a week on seemingly neutral news shows like Washington Week, we would have a generation better informed to deal with the American future.

Here’s last week’s episode. Check it out.

http://video.pbs.org/video/2365405925/

I had the pleasure of having this short story read to me by my Dumbledore-esque humanities professor. He has a white beard, a vivid imagination, a wonderful voice for reading aloud. It only took 5 minutes to sit and listen to The Egg by Andy Weir, but it immediately became my new favorite short story. The next morning I read it aloud to my boyfriend because I just couldn’t wait to share it with those I love. I love you guys and I want to share it with you.

The Egg by Andy Weir

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup,” I said.

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

“Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be all right?”

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. And into lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“Where you come from?” You said.

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

“So what’s the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m Jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

And I sent you on your way.

APTOPIX_Washington_Sc_Smit_3

What is constantly inspiring me is how much potential

our generation has to inspire great change.

With social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we have the power to reach millions with the click of a button. We have the ability to create dialogue and recognition for the great social causes that plague our world today. With trending abilities like the “hashtag”, and the ability to communicate with practically anybody regardless of their location on planet Earth, we can connect with people we would have never before met. To some capacity, space doesn’t exist in our virtual world, and that gives immense power to social media.

Unfortunately, our access to the internet is getting clogged with videos of meowing cats and dancing goat memes. We are completely undermining great social issues by neglecting to post about them on our personal pages. We are holding back the potential of social, political, and cultural progession by only retweeting the “most watched” Vines.

This has recently come to my attention in my own life, and I now see how I’m a part of a much bigger problem. And so are you.

Less than one week ago, the worst school shooting that has happened since Sandy Hook occurred at a high school not one hour from my hometown. I repeat… this happened less than a week ago, and the national coverage it has accumulated is close to nothing. Nobody, virtually or otherwise, is talking about this tragic event. 

It got swept under the rug and left behind before it had the chance to even catch fire, and now major newspapers like the New York Times are more concerned with Tennessee abortion voting news than the loss of three teenager’s lives by the hand of one of their peers. Major news reports are more concerned with international gun regulations than the blood that has been shed in one of our very own lunchrooms.

When I first heard of the shooting Friday afternoon, I reacted like just about everybody else. Shock, horror, and then I continued on with my day. Although the shooting was fairly close to me, I still had work to do, and I still had plans that evening. Hours later, I only thought of it again when my roommate brought it up and we Googled what had happened.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday passed and I thought of it less times than I can count on one hand. And then all of a sudden, scrolling through my newsfeed, I remembered. It hit me dead on that yet another school shooting has happened. I was surprised by myself and the fact that I hadn’t even thought about it. How did I let this go so easily forgotten?

I started to research what else had been found out. Scrolling through Google, I was surprised by how little national newspapers were talking about the event. Where were everybody’s reports on what had happened? In fact, why hadn’t I seen this on the news this weekend?

The main reason I didn’t think of it much over those few days is because nobody’s talking about it. Not only is it getting scarce national media attention, but not even people who live as close as I do to Marysville are reacting and feeling the weight of Friday’s events.

I keep thinking that perhaps neglecting to publicize events like these is an effort to reduce the risk of “inspiring” other mentally unstable teens to do a similar act, but I also know that if we continue to ignore this issue, there won’t be one school in the United States that is safe anymore. In fact, I would argue that there isn’t a single classroom that is safe anymore.

New programs weren’t neglecting to report about the Marysville-Pilchuck shooting consciously; they weren’t reporting about it simply because those watching didn’t care. It seems to me that we are becoming numb and unaffected by mass shootings. It’s becoming so engrained in our culture that its fails to shock anyone anymore. “Oh, another school shooting? Next.”

In order to seek any solution, we have to acknowledge the immense problem our generation is facing. Mass shootings are becoming a part of our popular culture, alongside Katy Perry and LuluLemon. Do we even fully understand the gravity of that? How the hell is #nationalcatday trending and yet nobody even remembers the three lives that were lost but 5 days ago?

If reporting on a new yoga sensation for men called “Broga” in light of such tragedy is going to continue, it’s time that our own social media platforms are used for social good. If the New York Times won’t call for attention, then we must.

Regardless of your stance on gun control, you cannot deny the fact that lives are being lost, and much, much worse, lost lives are being forgottenWe have the power to tell important stories to people living across the globe. We have the power to tell important stores to our neighbors. We have the power to create trending topics about more than cat videos.

I’m not asking for us to become news junkies and social media reporters on only horrific events. I’m not even asking that you post about the most recent United States public school shooting. I’m just asking that you use your own following on sites like Facebook and Twitter to bring attention to the need for a change in gun policy, or to the need for a change in gender inequality. I simply ask that as we come across stories, horrific or inspiring, we use them as launching points for change on the bigger issues.

What I ask is that as you read this blog post, you think of the things you care about. I ask that you think about the social issues that you want to see progress and change. I ask that even without the tragedy of a school shooting, you use your influence to better our world. Because now more than ever before, you have the opportunity to be a part of that change.. With nothing more than 140 characters and a few hashtags.

I vow to use my influence on social media to create a more just and humane world. I vow to speak (and type) with passion, care, and attention to those who need it. I vow to never forget about the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Shooting (which is now among 80 reported school shootings since Newtown), and I vow to use our virtual world as a platform for progress.

Do you?

Let’s use the #socialmediaforsocialgood and talk about issues we care about and think deserve attention.

Check out the must-read article that truly inspired this blog post… Thanks Piers Morgan for writing about things that MATTER.

Click here.

I’ve been pondering this for a while.

“A website. Huh. Maybe I should get one of those things.”

So much of my life is on the internet. So many great opportunities have come from my involvement on BookTube. I started making videos over two years ago and people actually watched them. In fact, almost 30,000 people watched and liked my videos enough to subscribe. THIRTY THOUSAND (almost).

So here I am… Making a website in effort to further myself in a hobby, and now part-time job, that I love beyond words. I make videos talking about books (and stuff), so why not have a website that expands my outreach?

I want my viewers to have a centered place to go besides my YouTube channel to know what’s going on in my world: what I’m reading, what I want to read, what I just bought at the bookstore, etc.

In addition to the normal book gab that’ll cram up the content of this website, I also want to modify and think outside my typical box. I’m branded as “abookaffair” and I LOVE that, but as I grow and change, my love for reading does as well. My love for LIFE grows and changes.

I will always be an avid reader. That will always be a big part of what I post. But I’m more than a reader. I’m a woman. I’m a friend. I’m a college student. I’m a worker. I’m a daughter. I’m a lover. I’m a fighter. I’m a human. I have so many other interests other than reading, and I want to start sharing those.

The stories I’ve read have shaped me and will continue to do so, but now it’s time for me to take my nose out of a book, and to share my own stories.

This website is going to be about me, and how I view the world. What I’m up to, and what I’m planning. I want this to be a place where I can connect even better with my viewers, and a place they can go to stay informed about not only my latest reads, but my latest projects and ideas.

Book lovers and friends alike, enjoy.