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The Online Dating Game


The Online Dating Game


The Online Dating Game

It’s rare to hear of college students logging onto Match.com or OkCupid in search of “the one.” In fact, most are quick to pity anyone with a dating profile. So what happens when a 21-year-old tests the waters of the online dating pool, regardless of Catfishers and the like? Distraction sent its Executive Editor Ashley Brozic to find out.

On the list of all things socially taboo in America, online dating falls at the top. In fact, I think the only thing that might garner a more concerned stare from friends and family is if you told them you met your current beau at a porn store. And can you blame them? The world is still recouping from the bitter aftermath of online chat rooms, and MTV’s “Catfish” series has shed a new light on the creativity some have while using these sites. I mean, imagine the horror of finding out that the girl you’re about to go on a date with isn’t actually a girl at all. 

But even with all of the notoriety that follows them, online dating sites seem to be outrunning their tainted pasts as more niche sites are popping up everywhere. A friend of mine recently went on a date with a guy she met on a site for singles who like to exercise, although I’m not sure how attractive I’d feel (or look) after running a half-marathon. Sweat aside, though, the whole online dating process baffled me. Why was it so taboo? After all, people date other people they meet at bars all the time. They can’t possibly have learned about their eye candy’s criminal record while trying to compete with a DJ in the room. And besides, we connect through a myriad of sites online: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Couldn’t you find the same amount of creeps there as well? I was curious and so I decided to dive face-first into the digital dating pool. I just hoped that curiosity wouldn’t kill this cat.  

Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go completely balls to the wall with this project. I set myself up with some standard rules: 1) Don’t speak to guys who don’t have a profile picture 2) Don’t accept rides from potential dates and 3) Absolutely no hooking up on the first date. No hooking up on any date, actually. I also gave myself a nom de plume: Riley Walsh. It might sound silly, and yes, it may have been a little awkward to admit that it wasn’t my real name, but I didn’t want to risk being Googled and stalked. To keep life simple, I stuck to three sites: OkCupid, a generic dating site; DateMySchool, a niche site for college students; and Grouper, which set you and two friends up on a blind date with another group of three. 

After I signed up for each of these sites, filling out personality profiles and questionnaires, I gave it a day or two before I checked back, relieved to find over 10 messages in my inbox on OkCupid and seven profile views on Date My School. It would be over a month before I heard back from Grouper. But while the sheer number of responses on these sites was decent, I could count only a handful that I was actually interested in keeping a conversation with. They were either too boring or too forward, sending me what felt like their dating cover letter along with all the reasons they thought we’d be the perfect match. I could tell they didn’t score very much. 

As a modern-day-girl obsessed with old-fashioned social graces, it was hard for me to admit that my take on dating had to change, as online dating is a much more liberal ballpark. I stopped waiting for Prince Charming to message me and instead put myself out there. After all, I had already opened the doors for judgment by creating profiles on not one, but two sites. The one drawback to using these websites without a subscription is that people can see when you’ve viewed their profiles. Personally, I used that to my advantage. To get a guys attention, I just had to click on his picture and scroll through his profile. He’d get the hint that I was interested, at least in his thumbnail. I didn’t have a flawless success rate; every so often my message or profile view was ignored. But when all you know about a guy is what he does for a living and what he likes to jam out to in the car, it’s a little hard to stay hung up on the whole thing. Online dating helped me grow a thicker skin when it came to rejection, as I was able to forget about every incident, except for one. 

He was a 26-year-old law school student at UM and I had proof: he had a debonair picture of himself standing outside Richter. If that didn’t prove it, I didn’t know what did. He was sarcastic and witty enough to grab my attention, plus his grammar was impeccable, which to me is the equivalent of chiseled abs. By the way our messages were going, I thought we were hitting it off. We exchanged our favorite colors and what songs we liked to belt out to in the car (Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” if you’re wondering). Silly topics, but in retrospect it’s the silly things that people included in their profiles that told me more about them than what they wanted to do for a living. But when I couldn’t provide the law student with a sufficient answer on where to get in trouble on campus in college, he bid me farewell. I had been virtually dumped. 

I won’t lie and say I wasn’t bothered; a guy I hadn’t even met rejected me! But with a magazine deadline coming up and little time to sulk about my loss, I found myself a rebound (or two). One was a grad student at FIU and the other owned a self-operating vending machine business while also attending college at Miami-Dade. They were polar opposites; the grad student couldn’t stop studying and the other couldn’t stop cracking jokes. I had the best of both worlds: a man who could focus and a man who could make me laugh. Now all I had to do was meet them. I gave them both my number and before I knew it, I had scored a date with the funny guy. The grad school student on the other hand, turned out to be a loose cannon. He came off as a sweet guy at first, but he couldn’t handle my greatest weakness: sloth-like texting skills. When I didn’t answer him for a couple of hours one day, he accused me of being difficult and asked if this was even worth it. Well, for a guy who I’d never met to be scolding me via text, I had his answer. The grad student was soon out of the picture. So the funny guy and I went out one night for drinks and a trip to the Miami Improv. The date started off great. He was making me laugh so much my cheeks hurt, but as the night progressed I found his one flaw: he was cheap. Now I understand the plight of the poor college student, but when you invite a girl out and suggest sharing a drink instead of buying her one, especially when you mention you have your own business, there is something seriously wrong. I got my payback at the end of the night, though. When he leaned in for the kiss, I went frugal too. 

So my first online date was a flop, but I wasn’t worried. After all, I had a Grouper date scheduled for that Thursday night, and I had two friends to be excited about it with. Grouper requires a $20 deposit in order to use its services, scans your Facebook info and asks that you fill out a few simple questions: are you looking for a hookup or your true love? Are dive bars your thing or would you prefer table service? Based on the information from both they pair you with another group of people, whatever your sexual preference may be, and set you up on a date at a swanky spot in town. Your first drink is on them. The only thing that could go wrong is a cancellation. And as Murphy’s Law will have it, that’s exactly what happened. We were a little disheartened, but a week later we were back on the saddle, sipping cocktails and talking EDM and baseball with a group of cute guys who had just moved to Miami. It was a cool new way to meet people, and going with friends took the edge off of it. The group dating trend seems to be taking off in Miami though, as we found the sextet sitting to our right were also on a Grouper date, although they didn’t look like they were having half as much fun. Like all blind dates, it’s either a big hit or an even bigger miss. 

About a month into my dating project, I had grown bored. Although I was having fun talking to different people and going on dates, the superficiality of the process was getting to me. There are only so many times you can have the whole “where are you from” or “what do you do for a living” conversation before you’re tempted to say you’re a goat trainer from Iceland who carves clogs on the side. I was about to throw in the towel, call the whole online dating thing off early and blacklist it with a dating article, when I received a little message from the aforementioned law school student. He asked if I was alive and I replied that I was still kickin’. He asked me out to dinner and as I was about to decline, he mentioned he would meet me at the Local, a prime dining spot in the Gables. I couldn’t resist - the way to my heart is through my stomach, after all. When I arrived, he’d already ordered an appetizer and round of craft beer. We were already off to a good start. The fact that we both went to UM gave us something to talk about and put us on a more relatable level, and so the conversations flowed and flowed, even as we pulled into Gramps in Wynwood (yes, I broke one of my cardinal online dating rules. I survived). We spent the night dancing to Jackson 5 and Fats Domino, and while his moves did resemble my fathers, I found him to be endearing. I wasn’t in love or anything, but I did realize that the whole online dating thing didn’t have to be about finding your soul mate or a one-night fling. If you were open to it, it could be another great way to try something you’ve never tried before, maybe making a friend along the way. 

After spending over two months on OkCupid, DateMySchool and Grouper, I think I’ve earned the right to have an opinion about online dating. It’s not as bad as your parents tell you it is and it doesn’t merit a look of pity, especially if it comes from your single friends who complain about their current relationship status, or lack of one. It’s just a different way of meeting people, not much different than meeting someone in a dark crowded bar, since the most you might learn about them is their beverage of choice and what their area code is.

But I will admit that I don’t think online dating is necessary in college. You’re surrounded by thousands of people in a three-mile radius every day. If you can’t find at least one person you’d be interested in going on at least one date with, then you should probably stop watching reruns of “How I Met Your Mother” and get out of your dorm, because you haven’t tried hard enough. But on the off chance that you have met all 10,000 students on campus, then I don’t think making yourself a profile is such a bad idea. At the end of the day, it’s not about how you meet someone, but about whom you meet. And it’s no mystery that the brightest of sparks always come from the least likely of places.   

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Gentleman's Guide to Liquor


Gentleman's Guide to Liquor


THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LIQUOR

What constitutes a bourbon? What ingredients are used to make vodka? And what does rum have to do with Staten Island? You may think being in college gives you the authority on all things alcohol, yet why do most of us always order the basic screwdriver or vodka cranberry?  You may think being in college gives you the authority on all things alcohol, but inebriation has rules, gentlemen, so before you order that whiskey on the rocks check out our basic guide to the world of rum, whiskey and vodka.

 

RUM

Sea faring and hangover bearing, rum had its upbringing in the Caribbean and comes from sugarcane juice or molasses. Its color depends on where and for how long it is aged. America’s first distillery was actually in Staten Island and rum was originally called kill-devil due to terrible hangovers (we’re guessing pirates weren’t morning people).

Light Rum

Light rum, also known as silver or white rum, originates in countries such as Puerto Rico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic and is often used as a base for cocktails such as daiquiris, mai tais and mojitos because of its light, sweet taste. It retains its clarity because it is fermented in steel barrels and filtered after aging to remove its color.

Gold/Dark Rums

Gold and darker rums are stronger and more flavorful than lighter rums. They originate in countries such as Bermuda, Trinidad and Jamaica and, according to GQ, are aged in charred oak barrels that once contained bourbon whiskey. They can be mixed, but they are traditionally consumed solo or used when cooking. Never confuse these with spiced rums, which are top sellers at liquor stores in areas that are highly populated with college students. “Most students that come in here buy Captain Morgan because they think it’s good”, said Al Broche, manager of Gulf Liquors. Spiced rums, like The Captain, contain extra spices and artificial vanilla and caramel coloring to cover up cheap base spirits- the culprit of your wondrous post-Grove mornings. 


WHISKEY

If there is a type of alcohol manlier than whiskey, please rise now. No takers? We thought so. After all, whiskey is produced only after making beer. According to whiskyforeveryone.com, there are two types of whiskey: malt whiskey, which comes from malted barley, and grain whiskey, which comes from corn, wheat or rye. A single malted whiskey is created in one distillery, whereas blended malts are a mixture of whiskies from many. Whiskey has its origins, like most great beverages, in Ireland and Scotland- Once upon a time, their monastic distilleries lacked the grapes to make wine, so they made barley beer instead. 

Irish Whiskey

Besides shamrocks and Guinness, Irish whiskey is Ireland’s claim to fame. It has a much smoother and delicate taste than scotch, which is why it is often mixed to make Irish coffee.  Notable brands are Baileys and Jameson. 

Scottish Whisky

Clearly, scotch is the cool kid on the block, dropping the “e” and adopting the “whisky” spelling. “Scotch Whisky is the second most popular spirit in the United States and, I believe the most popular in the world. Johnny Walker Black is certainly Miami’s favorite scotch”, said Scott Mayer, head bartender at Señora Martinez, a popular restaurant in the Design District, known for their ever changing and creative drink menu. Scotches have a much smokier taste than Irish Whiskeys, and prefer to be sipped solo.  

Bourbon Whiskey

We as Americans should appreciate Kentucky, not just because they gave us fried chicken, but also because they gave us bourbon. In order to be considered bourbon, the whiskey must be produced in the United States, made of at least 51% corn and aged in new barrels for at least two years. Budget friendly versions include Jim Beam and Evan Williams. If you want a smoother taste, splurge on Makers Mark. Similar to Bourbon is Tennessee Whiskey, most notably Jack Daniels. This type is filtered through ten feet of sugar maple charcoal after distillation, which according to whiskydistilled.com, “refines the whiskey’s flavour, giving it a distinctive sweet taste. Plus, it apparently removes further impurities called congeners from the alcohol”, which are the little fiends that gave whiskey a bad rep for hangovers. 

Rye Whiskey

While it’s uncertain if George Washington had a cherry tree, we are sure that he had a rye whiskey distillery. Rye has a bold, bitter and peppery taste, and is also aged in charred oak barrels. While American brands are made with rye, Canadian rye whisky, such as Crown Royal, actually contain little or no rye at all.

A Whisky DON’T

NEVER order whiskey on the rocks, lest you want to be shunned by the Gods of Barley. According to Scott, “The argument for drinking whiskey with a splash of water instead of on the rocks is all about dilution. Most bars use copious amounts of cheap and fast melting ice in their drinks. They do this to (a) make the drink appear to be larger and (b) to keep the customer from noticing any imperfections in the spirit”. Instead, ask for whiskey and a splash of water - this actually brings out the flavors and dulls the sizzling sensation you feel as it trickles down your throat.


VODKA

Vodka, a spirit so sneaky even Sherlock Holmes would have difficulty framing it. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, vodka is classified as a “neutral spirit, so distilled, or so treated after distillation…as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.” While vodka is definitely a drink that will sneak up on your sobriety, you can be rest assured that it is more forgiving when it comes to weight gain. “Vodka is popular because it has less calories than liquor. Being a bartender in Miami, you get a lot of customers who order vodka and club soda because it’s the healthiest thing to drink. Big cities like Miami, NYC, L.A.- I’m sure find that vodka club is very popular since looking your best is a priority” said Brooke Weidhaas, a senior and bartender at JohnMartin’s Irish Pub and Restaurant

The Origins

Originating in Russia and Northern/Eastern Europe around 1400 A.D., the name “vodka” stems from the Russian word “voda” meaning “water” (although we don’t recommend replacing this with your H20), according to probrewer.com. It did not gain popularity in the U.S. until the 1930s and 1940s when Smirnoff made its way to the land of the free. “Brought to America in 1939, Smirnoff spearheaded the cocktail revolution in the U.S. as Americans were introduced to the versatility of ‘white whiskey’ in such drinks as the Bloody Mary, Cosmopolitan, Kamikaze, Martini and Moscow Mule”, as stated by thebar.com. This “white whisky” can be distilled from any fermentable ingredient: potatoes, corn and, most commonly today, grains such as wheat. 

The Process

Unlike whiskey and rum, vodka does not have different categorizations and is not aged. Instead, grains, vegetables and malt are mixed in a mash tub, somewhat like a washing machine. The mash then goes through sterilization and fermentation. The liquid that results after the ingredients are distilled usually contains 95 to 100% alcohol, so water is added to decrease the alcohol percentage (usually to about 40%)  to make the Vodka drinkable. 

How to Drink It

Because vodka is so pure and odorless, it can be mixed with practically anything. The Russians wash it down with beer, but in America it is commonly used in lemon drops, bloody mary's and martinis. We like ours shaken, not stirred.

 

 

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Breaking Down Wynwood Walls


Breaking Down Wynwood Walls


Breaking Down Wynwood Walls

Fine Art for the Streets

Stroll down Northwest Avenue and you’ll start to notice that you’re not in Cane-sas anymore. On the walls of this seemingly rundown neighborhood you’ll find blocks upon blocks of bold-colored, stenciled and intricately spray painted street art. 

Wynwood is one of Miami’s greatest hidden treasures. It offers pedestrians a chance to break away from the flat walls of conventionality and enter a whirlwind of color and creative genius. 

One mural in particular can be found on the corner of Northwest 25th Street and Second Avenue. Here, inside the Wynwood Walls, is a striking red, black and beige collage of Burmese women, Islamic references and propaganda-style posters: a visual commentary on human rights and non-violent protests. The word “OBEY” is emphasized throughout the facade, but the street art has one aim: to defy. 

Street art is the visual expression of an anti-establishment sentiment. It gives people insight because it reflects ideas and realities without censorship. 

“It brought us some New York City. Wynwood has its own subculture. It brings together everything unique and, dare I say, hipster about Miami,” sophomore Julian Malegon said.

Thanks to events like Art Basel and Second Saturday Art Walk, Wynwood has emerged from the shadows. Artistic real estate developers Tony Goldman and Jeffrey Deitch have taken notice.  In 2009 they developed what is now the focal point of the district: the Wynwood Walls. It is a collection of 20 murals and other installations created by Kenny Scharf, Nunca, Stelios Faitakis and other artists. Goldman’s next venture is The Lightbox at Goldman Warehouse, a cutting-edge performing arts theater that is set to open this April. 

Wynwood houses one of the largest organized outdoor museums thanks to the art collective Primary Flight, who turned this nearly abandoned garment district into an oasis for the urban avant-garde.

Since 2007, over 150 renowned artists have left their mark on the neighborhood’s streets. Prestigious names include Ron English, Tristan Eaton and Shepard Fairey, the mastermind behind the “OBEY” wall. Remember Obama’s iconic Hope posters during the 2008 elections? Fairey can be credited for that design.

While some of Wynwood’s contributors are unknown to the general public, others, like Fairey, are well-respected and influential artists in the contemporary art scene and commercial arena. But how do they get noticed when they dwell in a world where profit and popularity are the ultimate taboos? Before their pieces can make it into prestigious galleries and poster-filled bedroom walls, they must first gain respect in dark alleyways and abandoned sidewalks.

“Rebels will go out there and put up a tag name without the consent of owners. Anything with charges over $1000 could be considered a felony,” said City of Miami Gang Detective Michael Cadavid. Fortunately, most of the murals of Wynwood are commissioned. 

Although there is a thin line between the two, street art should not be confused with graffiti. 

“Graffiti’s main goal is ‘getting up.’ Street art isn’t concerned with branding a name. It’s more about branding a concept,” said JLLBird, a street artist behind the “Fake is Good” project. 

Graffiti is about tagging, the act of getting your signature out there as many times as possible. Street art, on the other hand, is about the message. It utilizes techniques like stenciling, yarn bombing, spray painting, sticker slapping and wheat pasting, where artists print out graphics and paste them onto walls using a mix of starch and water. 

Wynwood is becoming one of Miami’s hippest neighborhoods, but what does this beautification do to the over 6,221 households who have a median household income of $11,293? Could local artists face the same fate as the bohemians of Greenwich Village in the 1960s, who were forced out of their studios because of skyrocketing rent prices? 

“Over time, as property values increase, residents may be displaced. It’s a byproduct of improving a community. It’s different from SoHo though, because the artists lived where they worked. The galleries in Wynwood won’t disappear because they are essential. They’re what draw in the people,” said Joe Furst of Goldman Properties.  

Whatever the future effects of this artistic emergence may be, they are not felt now. “I like the artwork. I think it looks nice,” said Shaquanza Black, an employee at Salsarita’s in the Hurricane Food Court, who lives close to Wynwood.

With new developments sprouting around the district, Wynwood could one day be up to par with cities like Sao Palo and Los Angeles, where artists flock to claim their space on concrete canvases. 

 “It will soon be the culture hub of Florida and the southern United States,” Furst said.

That seems like a heavy title to put on a neighborhood that has just recently sprouted on the radar. But at the rate Wynwood’s popularity is growing, this underground art scene will not be buried for much longer.

Surviving the Apocalypse


Surviving the Apocalypse


APOCALYPSE 101:

SURVIVING THE END OF THE WORLD

We’ve heard talk of the apocalypse for years and now that December is here, it’s time to  prepare. Be it falling stars, raging aliens, monstrous zombies, a worldwide tsunami or the return of the Black Plague, the outcome is the same: we’re all doomed. And since the end is inevitably here, Distraction has created the ultimate survival kit. Whether you’ll be the last man standing or the first to go, here is everything you need to know in eager anticipation of the apocalypse.


1. GATHER SUPPLIES (AND HIDE THE WEED)

Raid out Costco. Caprisun, Cap’n Crunch and their fine selection of cheese will surely keep you filled for a few days unless you hit that emergency stash of Mary Jane you’ve hidden in a scent-concealing spot (old sneakers, maybe?). Zombies are known for having some major munchies after a good toke.

2. SECURE THE ARMORY

As for your  weapons, a gun, a harpoon or a steak knife from your kitchen drawers will work. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s sharp and fast. There’s nothing like chasing aliens with dull knives. Flashlights and rape whistles are highly suggested as well. 

3. FIND EASY TRANSPORTATION TRANSPORTATION

Now that gas stations will probably have been blown up, it’s time to trade in that Prius for something more practical. Remind your mom to overnight your old rollerblades and that Razor you got for Christmas ‘99.  Bikes, longboards and skateboards are also options. If all else fails, run.

4. LOOK BADASS

Shave your head. Yes, shave it all. You can’t have all that fluffy hair getting in your face when you’re trying to escape death. Dawn your best combat gear as well. When you get weird, you get real.

5. ASSEMBLE THE TROOPS

Although you may feel like Rambo, you can’t possibly take on a spacecraft full of evil E.T.’s solo no matter how many Reese’s Pieces you may have. Gather an assortment of people, friends, foreigners and foes. Put that roid head to good use at the front of the corollary. Hold on to that pushover friend of yours- bullying is excused during a time like this. Befriend the Texan. Someone has gotta start planting the crops, right? 

6. KNOW YOUR ENEMY

Although it’s too soon to tell whether doomsday will be the product of a pandemic or a Pandora’s box of monsters, be prepared. What you’ll encounter will probably be taller than 10 feet, have eyes full of puss-filled pupils, an abyss of a mouth and veins upon ghastly skin. And if deadly diseases are creeping through the airwaves, get yourself a gasmask. 

7. DON'T FORGET TO PARTY

So in the event that you survive, a celebration will definitely be in order. Have a nice bottle of champagne or even a bottle of whiskey (if you’re man enough) to celebrate this victory. Hell, you’re alive! It’s time to crank up some tunes and get your Wobble on. 

 

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Occupy Twitter


Occupy Twitter


Occupy Twitter

From riotous activists to digital pacifists: how social media has transformed America's youth.

On April 23, 1968, 1,000 Columbia University students and faculty rallied together at Low Plaza. Their mission: to protest the university’s involvement in Vietnam and to stop the construction of a student gym in Harlem’s Morningside Park. They would then storm into Low Library, present their demands to the administration and request to be given an open hearing.

But as the demonstration wrapped up, the crowd soon learned that all would not go according to plan. Mark Rudd, the radical yet charismatic leader of Students for a Democratic Society, hopped onto the sundial affront the library and announced that its doors had been locked. With nothing to fear but expulsion, the Columbia Protest of 1968 began.

What ensued within the next week would set the bar high for future college protests and demonstrations. Posters of Che Guevara and Karl Marx overtook campus buildings. Students took Dean Henry S. Coleman hostage in a classroom. The entire effort was organized through handwritten letters and face-to-face conversation. Not a laptop was opened. Not a tweet was sent. And although their mission was eventually met with police brutality, the effort put forth by this group of visionaries was a success, as plans for the gym crumbled and Columbia cut its ties with the government.

“It was a combination of years of organizing - meaning educational work on campus, agitation, confrontation, involving people in discussion - and a perfect storm of a political moment which occurred in the spring of 1968,” said Rudd, whose future involvement in a radical leftist organization, the Weatherman Underground, would lead him into hiding for almost seven years.

With the dawn of the Internet and social networking, our ability to contribute to society is no longer bound by our location or our lack of accessible mainstream media.

Fast forward 44 years and you can see that same desire for social change in our generation. With the dawn of the Internet and social networking, our ability to contribute to society is no longer bound by our location or our lack of accessible mainstream media. From the comfort of our dorm rooms, we can exchange political viewpoints with someone whom we have never met in California. We can help save someone from cancer solely by convincing our Twitter followers to join a bone marrow registry. We can aid in catapulting a man to presidency simply by making his name a fixture on newsfeeds everywhere.

So, when a YouTube video gets mentioned on the Twitter feed of a celebrity with over 1,000,000 followers, you can bet it will be retweeted and shared more than a handful of times. It took the popular Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 campaign just two days to reach 9.6 million views. Four days later, the video reached 100 million views, demonstrating how quickly digital content could spread when placed upon the fingers of a few key influential account holders. While both speed and efficiency have become even more important in this technological age, they don’t necessarily go hand in hand. There are no fact checkers on Facebook or Twitter. Information can flow freely to millions, which is both the beauty and the curse of the World Wide Web. It did not take long for people to discover that Joseph Kony was but a minor facet in Uganda’s flowing stream of issues and that much of the funds raised by Invisible Children were allocated towards staff salaries and production costs.

“I think sometimes social media can get people really excited about something that they may not know a lot about. There was a lot of support for KONY at first, but people backed out in a matter of days,” said Elizabeth Phulp, vice president of Invisible Children at UM.

Following the release of the video, she saw no increase of participants at their bi-weekly meetings nor donations from people on campus. This perhaps proved that we make a big to-do about something, but actually do a whole lot of nothing.

While the KONY craze may have faded into history, it did show that we are not numb to the world’s socioeconomic affairs. Still, if we are so willing to show support for a cause that has no direct relation to us, then we must have the desire and drive to change things in our own backyards, right?

Well, let’s look at what the Occupy movement accomplished. It swept the nation, mobilizing thousands of people in cities all across the country. It spread its wings far beyond Wall Street and even settled here in Miami. Protesters shared their experiences by the minute, creating blogs to tell their stories and tweet and tumble what they heard and saw. For the 99 percent, social media was the ultimate tool of expression. It allowed people across state borders to share ideas and inspiration, and to educate and mobilize believers to meet and discuss a plan of action. It is also a medium with no hierarchy, which resonates with Occupy’s core beliefs.

“The interesting part about Occupy Miami and Wall Street is that it was based on the premise of being a leaderless movement, which is what made it so unique. The premise of the movement is that there is a move towards a horizontal platform of leadership, meaning that everything is decided through democratic means,” said Kristyn Greco, a senior who has been involved with Occupy.

It was supposed to be the movement of our generation, fighting for the causes that directly affected our age group: income disparities, excessive student loans and a hardly existent job market. Yet it dwindled almost as quickly as it began. These are supposed to be the issues our generation cared about, yet why do people still question what the movement stood for?

“It’s amazing how easily Facebook, Twitter and all the myriad of other agitators can get huge numbers of people going over something, actually doing something,” said John Wilcock who, as co-founder of New York’s most famed underground paper in the 60s, The Village Voice, has seen quite the number of movements. “But most of these things appear to me to be pretty trivial. They’re not going to change anything much, if at all. Strong characters with strong persistent voices make things happen and you could make a case for saying that sometimes large numbers of participants actually dilute the cause -whatever it may be.”

Occupy succeeded in raising awareness of an issue in our country, however, it failed in one thing: structure. And while a pure democracy may succeed with a small group of people, trying to organize millions over chat rooms and comment threads with no official director is impossible. The message got lost within sheer numbers. There were too many cooks, but no kitchen.

As Occupy and KONY proved, social media is a powerful tool for raising the awareness of a cause. Just look at the 2008 election, which marked the first campaign where the use of social media closely paralleled that of traditional media. It was the start of a new way of campaigning: speaking with voters, not to them. No other campaign team understood that more than Barack Obama’s, which found that the only way to get the young vote would be to find them where they were hiding: behind a computer screen. In fact, according to a study done by the PEW Research Center for the People and the Press, 66 percent of voters between 18 and 29 voted for Obama, whereas only 31 percent voted for McCain.

Social media is instant, easy and free. Best of all, you don’t need to leave your house in order to make a difference. You can make a donation with the click of a button, having just enough time to return to your kitchen before your toast burns.

But perhaps that is the problem with social media - the ease with which we can help.

We can access facts, yet we can’t seem to access each other.

Networking works only for causes that require low involvement, where the maximum amount of effort is simply grabbing a credit card and clicking a payment button. Hell, if you could make a dent in a cause without even having to put pants on, why would you bother to do more?

“It takes a lot for people to engage and commit themselves to take action on political and moral issues,” Rudd said. “Generally one does so, not as an individual, but because your friends and family bolster you. If those strong group ties can be developed via digital contact, fine.  But I also think people need to sit and talk and learn to trust each other and develop mutual courage.”

It’s hard to say whether or not technology has pushed our society forward or if it has held us back. We can access facts, yet we can’t seem to access each other. Sure, we show support for friends when they ask us to like a page, but are we really supporting their cause when the maximum effort we give is a trackpad click? We place importance on what we see mentioned and hashtagged, but do we care enough to know the facts before we retweet it?

We seem to have forgotten how to connect in the most important of ways- personally. The protesters of Columbia 1968 didn’t have the facility of Reddit communities to share ideas or group chats to spread information. Their tool was face-to-face conversation. And while their message may not have reached the masses at lightning speed, it was that extra effort to form connections that gave their mission a backbone.

A lot is said, but no one is talking and even fewer are doing. Let’s close the laptops and raise the picket signs. Drop the smartphones and see the road ahead. Differences aren’t made by a couple of texts, especially when messages have such a short shelf life. Let’s be more than just a digital generation, because if that’s all we are, we better hope our batteries don’t run out.