Martin Freeman is voting Labour, are you?

Oh Obama. You will be sorely missed.

On Friday (19th December 2014), it was Obama's annual end-of-the-year press conference. Instead of taking questions from the crowd (Journalists, News Reporters... Men), Obama took questions from eight women and no men - a move that did not go unnoticed. It was said by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest that they wanted "other reporters not regularly called on to get to question the [President]". In other words: those from a minority group. 
Now yes you may be thinking woah what? At first I was. I was thinking FINALLY! But after looking at some of the responses of his actions I'm now sat rather uncomfortably on the wooden fence when coming up with my own view on this situation... or revelation.

I'm vaguely amused that the Fox correspondent complained that the women's questions weren't "hard hitting enough" while two men called out questions at the end asking what Obama's New Years Resolutions would be and if he was going to smoke a cigar... The eight female journalist asked about Sony's decision to pull The Interview following threats by North Korea, and asked about diplomatic relations with Cuba (which incoming majority leader Mitch McConnell said will be the first matter up for a vote). Yeah... really not "hard hitting enough".

So my first response: YOU GO OBAMA! Finally, a man in power has acknowledged women as part of a minority in politics and has gone about a way to change that. And clearly it has turned a few heads. It's interesting how when Obama was advised to answer the people who were usually ignored, it turned out they were all women. It's like an accidental revelation. Now here's a man in charge who is comfortable with, and recognises and acknowledges, strong women. So GREAT news... right?

My second interpretation of this: No no no no no.
You know you live in a patriarchy when this is news. Has there ever been a headline about only male journalists being called on? I mean of course I'm so glad Obama did it! I'm just sad about the fact that giving women a chance to speak is seen as revolutionary in 2014. It should be the norm! But sadly, we're still not there yet.

Another frightening factor about this is that on Fox News, White House correspondent Ed Henry joked that he was "outraged for men everywhere" but then admitted seriously that he wasn't happy about the questions that were asked by the eight women. He said (quote) "Frankly some of the questions just didn't press him". "There's so much going on right now and the questions were trailing off. The president was almost like, let me remember what you asked because it was so unmemorable". Okay sure! Yeah maybe their questions weren't ON POINT, (my opinion differs), but you know what's pretty frightening? the fact that all of the major networks only had male reporters present. They had no females representing any major networks at the press conference.

But finally my third interpretation of this, and the opinion I most strongly stand by, is that in reality no progress has been made. Why does it have to be at opposite ends of the scale to make a difference? ALL Men! ALL Women! Surely we should put men and women in the same playing field rather than completely dividing them like you do in a zoo to keep two different species from ripping each other apart? Equality is calling on an equal number of the two sexes. OR how about just not caring at all? Does it matter if a woman, man, black, white, elder or youngster asked the question? Do those titles really matter? They are all people doing the same job. We will NEVER make progress anywhere unless we move past the kind of thinking where it's revolutionary that a BLACK prime minister answered only FEMALE reporter's questions. There shouldn't be a MINORITY or a MAJORITY. It's that black and white (excuse the pun). 

So Obama thank you for putting it out there. Let's hope that you've pushed the first domino that will spur on other events that will change the way we all perceive minorities so that they aren't even minorities any more. Let's hope in the near future we're just people again.

In my media classes I'm taught that my generation are classed as "The Social Networking Generation". This means that everything we do, every part of our identity; our hobbies, our likes and dislikes, our interests and even the relationships between others, is governed by what we see behind a screen. As Prince Ea so simply puts it, we live in a society filled with imacs, ipads, ipods, iphones - so many I's and "selfies" and not enough "us" and "we". 

It's quite remarkably sad isn't it? That in order for me to keep a relationship healthy between friends I have to go onto Facebook or "Direct Message" them on Twitter or "like" one of their pictures on Instagram or "pop up" to them on Whatsapp or send quick message on Imessage or send them a 5 second picture on Snapchat. Too many "snaps" not enough real "chats". What happened to the good old dialling their number and ringing them? Or actually going into the fresh air, you know... outdoors, where there is an absence of screens. Where you actually have communicate with people to their face, reacting from their reactions and being able to know what their tone of voice means or if you ask how they are and they say "okay" they actually mean it. But instead, we judge that by how many kisses they may send us or what kind of Emoji they send us or whether they type "ok" "Ok." "okay" Okay" or "k". 

The other day my Dad asked me that if us (youths) know that these sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Formspring etc are dangerous and that it is so easy for people to anonymously say something to you... anything, then why do we allow ourselves to go through the pain? Why do we pay attention? Why is it that we're known as the "Social Networking" generation and not just another "social" generation? He then said to me, it's like someone looking at a busy road. The chances are if you walk into the road, you're going to get hit and if you don't then you are lucky and have survived the danger. But why go into the road anyway? 

It was difficult to answer him because he's only just recently learnt how to send an email and even doing that causes him difficulties. I remember high school was when social media was at its peek of importance for me. Those annoying status' that everyone does "Like this and I'll tell you what I like about you" and the number of likes you got confirmed how popular you were. Or how many people pressed "like" on your profile picture or how many you had on your friends list. It sounds so shallow now, and I would not consider myself a shallow person. But like so many I was swept up in this trend and would sometimes stare at a screen for six hours a day- no wonder I need glasses now. 

What worries me is that I hear my peers say "the next generation will be so messed up". Two year old's are taught how to use an ipad before they're taught how to read and write. Words like "connect", "Buffer", "like", "subscribe" and many more are becoming so overtly used.

As a Customer Assistant I find it very interesting how un-sociable my generation is. And yet we're supposed to be the generation of social networkers right? Some kids won't even make eye contact. They'll look at the ground, and mumble what they would like, or stand behind their parents leg. I'm not talking about the typical shyness of a toddler, I'm talking about ten to sixteen year old's. Scary right? What's frightening is how uncomfortable they get when they put the money in my hand and our hands touch - skin to skin contact... real contact. They try to get out of their as quickly as they can, back to the comfort of their homes, behind a screen, where the technology does everything for them. It's no surprise that there's more and more films and TV series, such as Black Mirror, (which I recommend) and films where technology takes over the world are becoming so popular. 

One thing that really struck me in Prince Ea's Video (link below), is that he mentions how we measure our self worth by how many likes or friends we have on these networking sites. Self worth. Not by how many human lives we affect through our everyday actions, not by how many smiles we put on a person's face or how creative our minds are... how people who we don't even know perceive our online profiles. 

It's 2014.

It's about time we stop caring so much about the things people are posting behind a screen with the keys of a message board. What people WANT you to look like, or what you SHOULD look and act like. Or how desirable we are to others so that they'll swipe right and not left on apps like Tinder, and start building real and raw relationships so that they will "like" your real personality and "follow" the advice you give them when they're in times of need and they'll "subscribe" to important events that happen in your life and be there for each other so you can "share" your experiences and "connect" with each other's emotions and "auto-correct" this ANTI-social networking generation.

Prince Ea's Video: 

This moved me to tears. It is so frustrating and terrifying how much we truly don't know what is going on in the world. Here I am today, complaining that I have too much work to do, that I'm hungry when all I have to do is go to the nearest vending machine with the money in my pocket in a building that is providing me with free education in a country run by a government that cares for the well being of its people.
This is an upsetting video and an upsetting topic and I feel utterly helpless against it. But like Yeonmi Park says, making it aware of what is going on is absolutely vital.
Watch the video, and share. Make it known to those who are safe in their countries that there are those who are living in this unimaginable torture, simply because of the country they have been born into that is ruled by dictators who control everything down to how people think.
Spread awareness.

In the Southport Champions 46th issue dated the 12th November, the words "Parents in call for KGV chiefs to step down" are splashed across the page. I am a student at KGV in my second year and recently the college received an "Inadequate" report from school inspectors "Ofsted". But my problem with these allocations that the college is not up to scratch isn't that it's being publicly announced in every local newspaper or the concerned questions I get from previous friends who attend other sixth form colleges, MY problem is where are the student's of KGV's voices? Ofsted have had their turn at giving their opinion. As have the parents, whom without I wouldn't be reading about the possible closure on a newspaper front page. But I have not seen any responses or opinions from the students who are being affected the most, which is what this whole predicament is all about.

My first year at KGV was different to the one I'm experiencing now. I had three different teachers all of whom loved their jobs and were passionate about their subjects. And where are they now? Two of them have been made redundant and are teaching students at Runshaw College what they could have been teaching us students at KGV. These teacher's taught me English and Sociology and I know that students who are doing other subjects will agree with me when I say that they miss their old teachers.They gave me time when I needed it. They were friendly. They worked on the relationships with their students as well as helping them with work. I became friends with my teachers. And because I put the effort in and because I felt like I had support, I did rather well in my AS year. But now, although I have been lucky and still have teachers who are professionals in the subjects they teach me, I sometimes have one lesson a day because my Media teacher is the only Media and Film teacher and is having to go back and forth to Edge Hill University to do some further teaching. My drama teacher is the only one left who has to support second and first year drama students whilst also holding together a performing arts class and sorting out college production. And as for my English teacher, I see him once a week for half an hour and haven't had a real English lesson since September. All because these teachers have been restricted of time whilst I seem to have more than all the time I need that isn't being filled with learning.

Now here's me, a student who really cares about my education and works hard to get good grades so I can get the best experience I can at University. But what about the other students who perhaps aren't as passionate as I am? Who struggle to get good grades and need more help than I do? Who makes time for them? Last year my teachers would offer the help, they would ask if we need help, but now we have to go on a treasure hunt to track down a teacher to help us or explain why we didn't do well on a particular homework.

So in this article, there is a line which reads "standards of teaching, learning and student progress [are] deteriorating". But as a student attending the college every day and actually seeing what happens behind classroom doors I can say that I am very happy with my teachers, I just don't see enough of them because they're so busy juggling other classes that should be taught by other teachers in the same field of teaching.

So sure, get rid of the principal and Chair of Govenors, but I ask as one of the students at this "deteriorating" college, that used to hold so much promise, that my older sister, who is now studying Sociology at Durham University described as two of the best years of her life (before she went to University), that the people in charge take better care of the teachers, because they really do impact on us students. That they give us students the opportunity to have a say in the big changes that are made in the College. That we are asked if we want a big creative arts building to be built if it means that we lose our favourite teachers, especially as now we don't have the teachers, students or subjects to fill the building. And most predominantly, that we are given a voice and that you actually mean it when you say "the students are at the heart of what we do". And this doesn't just apply to my college, students should have more of a say in what happens at their colleges as it's them that are being affected.

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