Flavor of the Week: Facebook Chat

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Since podcasts are so trendy these days, I decided to make one. Well, I was assigned to make one. But I made one (and it might end up on here, undecided as of now), and it’s about all the stuff you’d expect: social media, breaking up, hookup culture, young lurv.

In my interviews, I asked a male friend if he still Facebook stalks his exes. The answer was ‘yes,’ and if you’re wondering, as was everyone else’s, but he justified his tendencies with the following excuse: Facebook puts the people you interact with the most all over your newsfeed and at the top of your chat list. Stalking, therefore, is unavoidable.

Technically, he’s right. It’s hard not to stalk people you’ve been involved with or are involved with because their faces are front and center on the screen. But before I could grant him a free pass for stalking, I knew I needed to do the research on my own. I had to figure out exactly how Facebook does this–what they consider in their “algorithm” and what I need to do to make certain people’s photos go far, far away.

The first thing I did was take to Google. “Algorithm Facebook uses to order your chat bar” and “How Facebook decided who comes up in your newsfeed” were probably too wordy and therefore unsuccessful. The larger problem, though, wasn’t in my diction. I genuinely believe there was wasn’t, or isn’t, a solid answer out there.

A few articles mentioned that Facebook declined to comment, numerous times, when asked for the variables in its magic algorithm, an algorithm so magical you’d think it was a Baked By Melissa recipe. Nevertheless, many have speculated. They think it has to do with the following: who you’re geographically near to, which is freaky, who you have the most tagged pictures with, recent friend acceptances, who you chat with both recently and frequently, and a slew of some other things I’m forgetting but you’d probably be able to figure out, anyway.

And because I know you were wondering: apparently, none of it has to do with who’s looking at your profile constantly. Apparently.

Unsatisfied with my findings, I thought I’d make up my own list of ways Facebook orders your chat bar.

1. Your hookup/boyfriend’s best friend is always on there. (However, there is a rational explanation for this and it could be because he sometimes messages you from his friend’s account, or his friend messages you to find him.)

2. Not people you have messaged recently, but the one person you usually don’t Facebook-communicate with who messages you three weeks ago asking something very random but specific.

3. People you have recently texted but not messaged via Facebook. Which is weird. But happens more than it should.

4. Three to five boys from high school you used to be close friends with but rarely, almost never, speak to anymore.

5. The president of your sorority.

6. A few people who you never communicate with but stalk on a daily basis.

7. Completely random people because the people you stalk aren’t stalking you in return and Facebook just feels bad for you and doesn’t know what to do about that.

8. Friends of friends. Similar to the friends of boyfriend theory but slightly different. Like you two aren’t friends at all but share a best friend. You probably have never even met before because you’re from different places and go to different schools. “But, like, if you two met, you’d absolutely love each other!! OMG!!”

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On Selena Gomez and Her Bikini

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Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 4.11.58 PM

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about Selena Gomez.

A few months ago, I noticed that she was looking a little different. She, it seemed, had gotten slightly larger.

Selena Gomez has always been a long lean lanky stick. Like a literal branch that had fallen from a tree. In Wizards of Waverly Place her Free People shirts would just hang on her. And I know she wore a lot of Free People because we had the same six to eight articles of Free People clothing that we both seemed to have repeatedly worn to school in only a way Lizzie McGuire would on her graduation day.

I usually am hyperaware of these things–famous people gaining weight, which is admittedly not a good habit of mine whatsoever but I’ll admit it nonetheless–so I figured I was just being crazy and Selena was just being a normal person.

Then, a month or two went by, and Selena stayed the same. A little “fuller.” Certainly, certainly not “fat.” But healthy.

And then the headlines started. The first one I saw read, “Selena Gomez Shows Off Her Curves in Polka-Dot Bikini After Facing Criticism from Body Shamers.” The second one read, “Selena Gomez ‘Is In a Really Great Place,’ Not Bothered by Body Shamers.” That one went up on the same publication less than 24 hours after the first headline.

Here are some memorable lines from the articles:

“Selena Gomez couldn’t care less what you think of her curves.”
And from another publication: “Looking good, Selena!”
“Taking a dip in the ocean, the 22-year-old “I Want You to Know” singer looked healthy as she enjoyed her day on the beach with a couple of gal pals.”

I thought a lot about what I was seeing but never criticizing, and how it was confirmed by my Facebook news feed. And I started to wonder why we, or the media we feed and consume, have made backhanded body-shaming the new black. Think about it: it used to be all about who’s gaining weight. I mean, it’s still about gaining weight, but it used to be OUT THERE. I think for a solid five years in the earlier 2000s all I did was read about Kirstie Alley and her experiences on Jenny Craig. Now, it’s “in” to write about the body-shaming stars endure and then show how they ward off the evil spirits by going to the beach and still wearing a bikini.

Well, have you ever thought that a celebrity’s life mission isn’t to put their haters to rest, but is instead to live a normal happy life, which may involve going to the beach, especially if you live in California and/or have a lot of money like most celebrities do?

Then came Selena’s Instagrams. First, one captioned with, “I love being happy with me yall #theresmoretolove” and another, from just a few days ago, captioned, “Soul cycle aftermath. I. Want. Tacos.”

Holy shit, I thought. She’s playing into it.

I could have been totally wrong, but I saw a weird game of tic-tac-toe going on. She media is insisting that Selena is fucking the haters by wearing a bikini. Now, Selena has decided to play that role–the role of the young celebrity who doesn’t let the body-shamers bring her down, the celebrity who is real and likes SoulCycle but also tacos, too, goddamnit.

What I’m really thinking, though, is that this new thing is probably just Selena’s natural body. You know, the body she has when she isn’t working out for two and a half hours every day and isn’t on a diet regimented by Gwyneth Paltrow. Doctors, nutritionists, moms, EVERYONE talks about the idea of a “natural body” that you have, which is going to be different from everyone else’s, and is the way your body looks when you are treating it just right with *balance*. It reminds me of the two year period where suddenly, all of my friends from all walks of life became a little thicker, or a little wider. No one got “fat,” but we all just started to have “womanly” bodies. We traded lanky limbs for looking like actual humans. It’s a part of growing up.

The problem with all of this is that it’s really kind of difficult to come to a place where you genuinely love that natural body and are happy in it all of the time. It’s a million gazillion times more difficult to do that if you’re famous. The odds that Selena Gomez has gotten to that place, as someone who is currently 22 and has been famous since she and Demi were on Barney, are slim.

The tabloids patting her on the back? Not saying her body looks great, but saying she’s shutting out the haters… that all just draws more unwanted attention to the issue. This makes her think about it more. That makes her accept her body less. Because if it was totally normal, wouldn’t we be not talking about it at all?

It’s like how sometimes, friends tell me, “You have such a unique body, Han!” or “You really are able to work your body.” That’s like saying, “You aren’t super skinny and you don’t have the ‘in’ body shape right now [that’s basically to be so thin you don’t exist] but you still look great!”

So for a while, I let this train of thought convince me that my body was so unique, but in a bad way–in a way that I had no one to relate to, boob to boob, butt to butt–so I would get obsessive about it and spend a lot of time comparing myself to other people just to see if there was someone else like me out there. That way, I would really know how to work it. I would know what to wear. I would know how to make boys think I was a *dimepiece*, though I doubt in reality I actually want to be one.

I loved finding famous people with my body. It doesn’t happen often. I’d like to think I have the body of Scarlett Johansson, which you’ll know isn’t true within watching the first five minutes of Lost in Translation. A personal trainer once told me that I have the Kim Kardashian/J. Lo shape, which made me happy for a few weeks. But, like always, insecurity creeps back.

Things this experience taught me:

Stars aren’t all magically thin. I used to think that being naturally skinny was a requirement for being famous, and that I could never be famous because I don’t have long legs. I used to wonder if it was sheer coincidence that celebrities are all skinny people. I spent so much of my own life trying to look a way I’m not that I couldn’t process how people who aren’t meant to look like that do, and how they become famous.

Selena Gomez weirdly reminded me that stars are humans, and their weight, like mine, fluctuates, and they probably work too hard to be in the shape they’re expected to be in.

But I didn’t need all of this media attention to tell me that. Really, I came to that conclusion when I saw the first Instagram of her, 12 weeks ago, and wondered–

Hmmm, has Selena gained a little weight? Or is it just me?

Image via my homeslice @SelenaGomez


Flavor of the Week: Darty Season

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In reality, “darty” makes a horrible flavor. It would taste like beer, and pizza, and probably some dirt and grass, which are all great things individually but not the best when mixed together.

A darty, for those of you who don’t day drink, who do go to a city school, and who refer to day drinking as “brunch,” is a day party. Day + Party = Darty. And that’s all she wrote.

To darty, verb, is to have slightly alcoholic tendencies at a shockingly young age. A darty, noun, is a place where people express their alcoholic tendencies at a shockingly young age. Dartying occurs at universities with school spirit. They are thrown in parking lots and backyards, or outside of football stadiums. It’s what your dad would be doing if the Giants game was being held at AEPi.

I thought dartying was a college thing for the exception of high school spring break trips. I was wrong. Apparently, like most things, dartying cannot be confined within the boundaries of the American university–not the American University, but, like, the American university in general as an institution–and is now spreading to high schools in the months of May and June.

Some schools darty more than others. I totally understand why the nerdier schools darty infrequently but go hard in the paint when they do–it’s actually one of the very few times that you completely forget all responsibilities and to-do lists. This happens subconsciously and naturally, like Mr. Clean magic scrub. I will not deny the fact that my dartying experience is relatively limited. I have had a few notable dartying experiences, however, and they all follow a very similar pattern:

1. Wake up. Be like, “omg, what am I about to do.”

2. Eat a good breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the (Satur)day.

3. Start drinking, want to kill oneself.

4. Overcome with a wave of sheer euphoria. Wow, it is so light out, it is so pretty out, the sun is really shining. I am so happy. I just want to dance and smile.

5. Start talking with everyone around me about how tired I am, how gross I’m going to feel later, how we can’t believe that it’s 1pm and we’re drinking.

6. Essentially spend the whole darty talking about how we can’t believe we’re dartying.

7. If you’re me, start to get anxious, because this is so disorienting even though it’s also really fun.

8. Realize you’re not sick or going to be sick, you’re just hungry because dartying is basically like a really hard workout. So eat.

9. Nap if you’re going to try and resurrect yourself for the party, which happens at night, unlike a darty, which happens during the day.

10. Sleep forever.

11. Or try to go back out again and then get really mean and cranky. And eventually leave because you’re so tired that your mouth won’t really move, and if you are physically unable to kiss or drink more then what’s the point of really being out at all?

It is darty season. It is something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully commit to being a part of, because it’s now 3pm on a Tuesday and the lower part of the back of my head still hurts.

But we love it nonetheless. The lighting is better in all of our photos, and we just automatically feel less intoxicated, regardless of how intoxicated we actually are, because denial is the first stage of grief and it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that we’re actually drinking during business hours.

Once, a wise woman once told me crucial advice about dartying: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Well, nothing for me in my life is ever a sprint–that’s something I’m normally not capable of–so I have no fear that my dartying methods will rock on for eternity.

Image via