Step Away from the Screen

Platforms Become More Toxic When Mixed with Misinformation

Since the very birth of social media, it’s use has been a highly debated and controversial topic. It’s destructive – rotting youth’s brains, destroying their capacity for empathy, ruining people’s ability to distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake. We’ve heard it all. On the other hand nothing can bring people together quite like the latest Tik Tok dance trend.

No one is more aware of the impact of social media than the most active users: teenagers (that’s us!). Because we are so often engaged in social media, we know firsthand the impact it can have on our lives. It’s no secret what’s going on in the head of a teen isn’t always pretty and the majority of us struggle with our mental stability on a daily basis. Many times, the issues can be traced back to social media and its hold on us.

Common byproducts of social media usage are not limited to depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, etc. These occur in response to the content we’re being presented with, whether it’s false narratives on issues related to health care being pushed, the consumption of overwhelmingly hateful material, or a more personal encounter of online drama and cyberbullying.

Quarantine

Especially now, in the midst of a pandemic, we are susceptible to a decline in emotional well-being and either the influx of new mental illness symptoms or the worsening of preexisting ones. Coupled with exposure to the toxicity of online platforms, our online world is a lethal combination with the potential to lead one down a very difficult path.

When quarantined, we spent enormous amounts of time scrolling through feeds and this increase in screen-time on social apps can be extremely detrimental to one’s state of mind – depending on what it is you’re looking at.

Staff’s Answer’s

Since our staff consists solely of teenage students, we thought they’d be the perfect people to ask for opinions on and personal experiences with social media.

We asked which social media platform our staff found to be the most toxic and the answers were all over the place. Several students said Instagram, due to the false image many users convey and the use of editing apps like FaceTune that take it even further. Some replied with TikTok because of the diversity of views on different subjects and the tendencies of people to attack those with perspectives other than their own. Twitter and Facebook were mentioned for the seemingly constant gossip on them. Students also said Snapchat because of the anonymity of the platform and the fact users so often bash other users on it.

On Being Aware

On the contrary to the leisurely use of social media, we rely on social media to receive our news and get the latest updates – now more than ever. In the age of the coronavirus, factual accuracy is of the utmost importance. One would think that would be easy to determine, right? Wrong. So much misinformation is spread which can easily fool people, whether you’re typically naive or not. This can be extremely harmful for people who take highly liked posts as gospel and take advice for things off of platforms without checking up on the source or consulting anyone else.

People take advice everyday for physical health, mental health, etc. that could seriously hurt them. For example, someone might watch a TikTok on how someone lost a lot of weight and follow that person’s routine when it may not be right for them physically or mentally. This can lead to eating disorders and other health issues. People give mental health advice as well, making others think that professional help isn’t necessary and likely making their problems worse.

The Upside

Although there are probably more negative sides of social media than you can count, it has its perks too. Mainly, people are able to stay connected with one another. This was particularly evident in 2020, when families and friends were separated all over the world without much ability to remain active in each other’s lives. So many moments were missed in-person due to the coronavirus, though they were posted on social media platforms for those people to see. It may not have been the same as if they’d been there physically, but it was better than nothing as one of the only forms of interaction available.

Social media has its upsides and downsides, but overall the emphasis should be put on the mindset and attitude of the user.

We are responsible for how we approach social media, how seriously we take it. It is our job to always be mindful of the content we’re consuming, however significant or trivial, whether it’s a news report or a TikTok gag. In order to protect our mental health and prevent ourselves from contributing to the spread of false information, we’ve got to stay aware.

Staff Editorial

Book Worm Takes on Library

This year, English Teacher Book Worm Rachel Miller has taken on another position in the building, part time school librarian. After passing the Indiana CORE Assessment for school library, Miller was certified to fill the spot.

Already, Miller has several goals to accomplish with the library. In addition to teaching freshman English, Miller will spend two periods of her day in the library. Miller has made a few changes to the library so far, most noticeably the appearance in the front window of the library as they walk by.

“You may have noticed the library opening up a bit. The curtains have been removed, and I’m doing some fall cleaning to spruce things up. I’m also creating displays to highlight new books every few weeks. More changes will be coming over the course of the school year, so pay attention and come see what’s going on,” said Miller.

Miller wants to increase overall student and class usage of the library this year. She plans to “re-digitize” the library to create easier access to books for students.

“Getting the titles of our books back online will be a huge improvement. Students will be able to search for books online, scan the books to check them out easily, and it’ll make checking books back in a lot easier as well,” said Miller.

In order to make the library digital, Miller plans to label every book and scan them into the system. With the help of Registrar Sara Parks, she will be able to get the information needed to input all of the students into the system. She is also working on marketing the library by building a website and rebranding it “The Ram Resource Room”.

“The library houses Ms. Manship’s office, the Paoli College and Career Academy student union, study spaces, our book collection, and your friendly neighborhood librarian, as well as working closely with the Essentials Project. The library really is a great place for students to access all kinds of resources,” said Miller.

Miller will be in the library available for questions and requests during first and second period and during homerooms. For more information email millerr@paoli.k12.in.us.

Story by Angie Ceja

Walls a Sucker for Her Eyes

I’ve always been a sucker for psychological thrillers. “Bird Box”, “Ma”, and “The Conjuring” are just a few of my favorites. Yet out of all the suspenseful shows I am madly in love with, I have recently fallen deeply for a new series, called “Behind Her Eyes”. This Netflix original is based on the novel written by Sarah Pinborough, with all the same expectations and cliffhangers. I’m not one to rewatch a show or series, but this show – especially the ending – made me restart from the beginning immediately. That’s just how surprising and jaw-dropping the finale left me. (I promise, no spoilers to follow… just reasons for you to watch.)

The Plot

Louise is a single mom who works as a secretary at a psychiatrist’s office. It all started when she got stood up on her date at the pub. Just as she was about to give up and head home, she ran into a dark, handsome man named David, new in town and in need of company. The two had an undeniable spark… until their goodbye kiss was interrupted by David’s sudden regret and rushed departure. Confused and dejected, Louise continues about her days. Prior to the next day at work when she discovered the new psychiatrist was (you guessed it) David. Ignoring the inconvenient circumstances, one morning on her way home from dropping her son off at school, Louise coincidentally (or so we think) ran into David’s wife of ten years, Adele. Oddly enough, these two also hit it off, and become closer friends than Louise would have imagined. Things continue to get messier; Louise begins to have an affair with David, Adele and Louise start to spend more time together, and secrets only get worse. Keeping both of these relationships private from the other, Louise doesn’t realize what she has truly gotten herself into until it’s too late.

Everything from the settings and actors to the plot kept me hooked until the very end. The foreshadowing is insanely clever, and the last episode will leave you sitting in silence trying to process everything you just absorbed. I totally recommend this show to people who like magical, majestic mysteries. This is one of those shows where the conspiracy theories are endless and you won’t be able to stop talking about it.

Story by Gracie Walls

Stout Returns to Classroom for Science

Since the start of the school year, PHS has been on the hunt for a new seventh grade science teacher.

With no luck so far, the administration continues to advertise this opening on both the school’s website and with the Indiana Department of Education. In the meantime, Retired Math Teacher Cindy Stout has been covering the role. As luck would have it, Stout is a licensed science teacher, the perfect fill-in until a permanent teacher can be hired.

“Mrs. Stout is an amazing teacher. She has a track record of excellence! Her willingness to fill in until a replacement can be found is truly an asset to Paoli Schools. I am confident that our seventh graders are receiving science instruction equivalent to what a permanent teacher would provide,” said Principal Sherry Wise.

According to Superintendent Greg Walker, at this time there are currently no applications for the position Stout is filling.

For more information on the open position visit the corporation website.

Story by Gracie Walls

Nobel Takes On New AVID Program

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a program which focuses on helping students to become college and career ready during their junior high and high school years. English teacher Tamera Noble has taken on the role of AVID training this summer and officially became the AVID site coordinator and elective teacher this school year.

“AVID is a great program with many benefits for students and teachers. I love teaching the AVID elective and can’t wait to share more strategies with teachers throughout this school year,” said Noble.

During the class, the students get the chance to learn strategic preparations to help further their education as they go throughout school. These include strategies in taking notes and tests, time management, studying, and using WICOR (Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, Reading to Learn) for exploring college and career options. This year, Noble is hoping to be able to plan extra activities for the students who are in the course so they can get more experience and familiarity with the program, including field trips and guest speakers who share their career experiences.

If you are interested in joining AVID, you may apply at the end of the school year for the 2022-2023 school year. Since AVID is new this year, students who are in AVID currently have been hand selected by their previous teachers.

“AVID targets students in the academic middle who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard. These are students who are capable of completing a rigorous curriculum but may be falling short of their potential. AVID’s goal is for these students to reach their full potential through the support AVID offers,” said Noble.

If you have any questions or comments about AVID, you can learn more by contacting Noble for more information.

Story by Corrine Magner