Folyosó Autumn 2022 - Page 2

Running Late

Bernadett Sági

Rose started her day just as always. It was a Thursday morning, which meant she had to go to work. She was a financial manager for a quite large company, and she lived for her job, trying to do her best every day throughout the year. On that Thursday morning, looking at the clock, she realized  she was late. Getting ready in a hurry, Rose left her apartment with less than fifteen minutes to get to the building of her company. She rushed along the way between her flat and workplace while giving finishing touches to her hair. Stopping at the crosswalk in front of the company, she started panicking. She had already imagined her boss firing her, making all of her hard work meaningless. Staring at the red lights across the street she became more and more worried. Then she suddenly heard a loud crashing noise from behind and instantly turned her head towards the sound. Not very far from her Rose saw two  cars clearly bump into each other. Everything around them turned silent; people who were also in a hurry  stopped, and everybody was looking at the scene in front of them. They just stood there not knowing what to do with the situation. After a few seconds of shock, people slowly went about their business one by one, leaving the street. Rose looked around and saw that nobody seemed to help. She made a small step towards the cars because she really wanted to do something. But then she took a look at her watch and realized that she had nearly five minutes to get to work. The lights at her crosswalk turned green and she hesitated. She made a rapid decision and walked through the crossing all the way to her workplace, then stopped at the entrance. She took a glance back at the crashed cars and felt relieved as a man hurried to the vehicles, checking if anybody was hurt. He was holding a phone to his ears, probably calling the ambulance. Rose slowly turned again and opened the door. She stepped in, ready to start her day.

Walking the Line

Dorottya Turza

Our world is constantly changing. Some would say it is for the better, some think the complete opposite. Even with the bad things in our mind, we can’t deny that in many aspects our current society surpasses that of our predecessors. Living conditions are certainly better than before. We gained a bigger space to freely practice our rights, as well as many opportunities for workplaces and ways to engage ourselves in our free time. Considering the above, many would even say that parents have a much easier time raising their children. It sounds good in theory. However with our continuously altering society, the problems haven’t disappeared. They have simply changed as well.

My husband, Ben, and I met during our teenage years. We clicked pretty much instantly. In a blink of an eye we were already living together, and not long after that we got married. And a few years later we were expecting a baby. Her name is Emily. The moment she was born she became my whole world.

Surprisingly (considering our stubborn personalities) she turned out to be a precious angel growing up. Still had her temper tantrums as no doubt every baby does, but I like to believe that we handled them properly. I much preferred to talk things out rather than just plainly brush them aside. Maybe I was a bit soft-hearted at times, but I had Ben at my side on those occasions to help me navigate through them.

Emily’s bond with me was extremely strong. She used to tell me everything from mundane everyday things to more serious matters. She seemed to naturally gravitate towards me during those times and await some advice or even just an opinion. For a parent it is certainly a relief to know that your kid trusts and values your thoughts enough to approach you and consider them.

So it was all the more frustrating and at the same time crushing to know that something could alter this state of affairs.

The change was so sudden it felt like a slap to the face. One day she happily learned a new braiding style, and the next day she wanted to shave her head completely. I wasn’t against the idea, simply curious as to where this came from. However, when I asked her she went berserk. She started to yell at me that I can’t understand her and finally shut herself in her room. I was stunned. This kind of breakdown had never happened before. At that time it surprised me, but I simply blamed it on puberty..

I was entirely wrong.

These kind of situations became more and more common. We coudln’t even remain in the same room without one of us shouting. It got out of hand. Until ultimately she confronted us.

She told us that she didn’t feel like a girl and she felt like she was born in the wrong body. She said she was a boy and would like us to accept her. I like thinking that we received it well. As well as we could in that moment. The fact that your child isn’t comfortable in their skin is quite shocking. Especially at first. So what do you do in that situation after the temporarily freak out? We asked a lot of questions. I mean a LOT of questions. She (he?) answered all of them. After all of this, we reassured him that we will try our best to make him fell accepted and comfortable in our home.

The next weeks were really awkward, because we didn’t know how to behave around him. For a long time we slipped up a lot, but with more time we adjusted relatively well. He looked extremely happy, and it seemed that our problems were solved at last, or at least I hoped so.

Then it hit again…

One evening he came forward with a serious face and claimed that he was a non-binary individual with ADHD. This time we were a lot more skeptical. The rapid identity changing was bizarre to say the least. And compared to the previous conversation we were at a complete loss and couldn’t understand half of what he said. Apart from this we moved on, with difficulty.

Later at night I discussed the issue with Ben, but from his attitude it appeared he had kind of given up and taken it as a phase that would go away. Simply going with the wave didn’t soothe me, just made me feel even more lost.

Now the slowly built up routine fully crumbled, and the uncomfortable atmosphere appeared once more. We tried to get back some normality, yet the absence of communication did the complete opposite instead. Usually we avoided any topic involving gender or sexuality. As well as calling Emily/Emil by name, instead using pet names like darling, sugar, etc. This condition lasted till it was time for high school, when everything finally made sense.

They continued their education in another city, so we had to start packing to be ready on the day of departure. While I was focusing on organizing the different belongings I overheard some things. They were having a conversation probably with one of their friends, where they were speaking about a strange sounding thing. Something called Tiktok. Apparently they did a Tiktok test which told them they have personality disorder and extreme anxiety. These aren’t unheard-of things, but you can’t just toss them around lightly. So I downloaded the application and started researching.

It was certainly an experience. A really concerning one. This platform was stuffed with different kind of influencers. Unfortunately many of them could easily impact people and their way of thinking. Especially children who are still developing individuals. With a curious click they can easily find themselves on more mature platforms. After witnessing a huge amount of people doing the same thing, you feel a strong sense of pressure or need for belonging, so you simply follow their example. These are so-called trends. Trends are circulating through the app, causing people to make instant, thoughtless decisions. Some of them seem fairly harmless (like cutting your hair during the pandemia), but countless others could alter lives forever (like changing toddlers’ gender with different operations, because they don’t like to play with trucks or dolls).

I only needed a few hours to have enough of this. I approached her room, gathered my thoughts, and stepped inside. I told her that I knew about these trends and wanted to know how much of this was influencing her current identity. She flipped, and started to shout that it was completely natural to be a boy today, but a girl tomorrow. That there are certain things that can trigger this. We are the ones who were too conservative to even comprehend this.

From then on I don’t remember much. I felt so angry and disappointed, mostly in myself. I should have paid more attention to her and questioned these sudden shifts more. At the end I confiscated her phone and stormed out of the room.

After I calmed down, Ben and I had a discussion to try to figure out what to do from here. When we came to a solution, we called her in. We told her that we wouldn’t oppose her identity-searching journey, but that she shouldn’t expect us to support it either. If she wholeheartedly committed to it with different kinds of operations or hormones, then there would be no turning back. That she can’t just change gender for the sake of convenience. Also she can’t just self-diagnose serious conditions, even if at that moment one or two symptoms seem plausible, However, if she truly thinks a gender transition is best, then she can talk about it when she reaches adulthood.

Of course after we gave our opinion, our farewell was sour, but I felt much better. We did everything; now the only one who can decide where things will end is ultimately her.

Goodbye Forever

Áron Antal

– Good morning, dear.

– Morning, Mom.

As soon as she closed my door again, I wanted to fall asleep, but I just couldn’t. Kept turning for ten minutes until I got tired of it, and left my room. The sunrays struck my eyes like a car’s highbeam on a dark night.

– I made breakfast for you – said mom.

She made the best bread with eggs, and tomato salad to top it off. Salty and dripping with vinegar.

– Would you mind turning on the radio, please? – asked my mom. – If you bought it at least use it once in a while.

I bought this old humongous radio at a garage sale down the street a week ago for half a dollar. It was a beauty, made from wood that was in good condition, and I had a bakelite plate player as well, long, middle, short and ultrashort reception with a ferret-antenna, and at dawn you could even get Japan on it, although with a lot of static. My mother hated it.

So I pushed the ON button, the radio sizzled, and the old speakers started to play a song from the 70s.

– Where is dad? – I asked.

– At work as usual – she replied. – He said that after you woke up, you have to help him. They are fixing a harvesting machine or something. So when you finish your breakfast, you have to go help him.

– Okay – I said, and continued to consume the delicious breakfast. Our dog was sleeping on the porch, turning from left to right, sometimes yawning. The birds were chirping in the garden, and the sun was rising higher form the horizon. It was quite peaceful, considering the fact that a war was raging in our “neighbor.”

The news came on the radio:

– Mortality rates are increasing while there seems to be a stalemate in the war….

My mom took a leap forward to the cord, and pulled it out.

– I hate when they speak about the war. Why can’t we live in peace after hundreds of years of wars? Humanity has had enough bloodshed already.

– I have to agree, but what can you do about it? Next year, if I graduate, I will buy Bill’s old BMW, and go travel for a bit in the summer.

– If you can earn the money, then you may. Although I will miss you – said my mom with a frown on her face. – I even miss you when you spend two days at Jack’s working.

– I should go now, or dad will rip my head off.

– Yeah, you should go. Be careful while fixing that harvesting machine, I have a bad feeling. You know maternal instincts!

– Yes I know, be assured, nothing will happen. Bye mom.

I walked out to the garage, where my motorbike was parked. At the moment I started the engine, our dog was standing next to me. She always got here so fast when someone was leaving, you would think she could teleport or something. She looked at me with a sad face.

– Okay girl, I won’t be away forever. When I get home, I have to fix Mr. White’s Honda, I will play with you while doing so, okay?

She was just staring at me, but I know that she could understand what I said, or maybe not understand but just feel from the tone of the speech that I had some good intentions for her.

I opened the gate of the garden, and went on the road. The traffic was minimal, as one would expect from a small agriculture town in the middle of a plane, or in the middle of the geographical location, where nothing happens. Life just flows like in a spring, never disturbed and uninterested in what happens.

As I was going on my way, enjoying the warm weather of May, in front of a house with a detailed fence stood a man in army uniform, around twenty, getting hugged by his mother, his father waiting in the car.

– Poor fella – I thought. He enlisted for what? To die out on the field “protecting his country.”

Soon I arrived at the ranch out of town, at our family ranch. Although the word “ranch” is quite demeaning, as our “ranch” had forty-five thousand tonnes of grain storage, eighty thousand liters of gasoline and thirty thousand liters of nitrosol artificial fertilizer storage capacity, so it was big to say the least. As I rolled in the main gate and went behind the mechanic hangar, my blood froze in my veins.

Two tanks were parked there and a military truck. My father seemed to be arguing with an officer.

I stopped at the gate of the hangar, and with rapid steps approached the vehicles.

I always had an amazement for huge and heavy machines, and was a great heavy machine operator, but now I was terrified by the sight of the tanks.

– Good morning – I said with a resonating voice.

– They want to take you away!’ – cried out my father. – They will take you away.

– What?

– Good morning Mr. Goodman – said the officer – your father is quite right. We have the order to enlist you and some of the workers of the facility, while placing it under military control.

Two soldiers approached me, took me by the hand, and led me towards the truck where George the tractor driver, John the mechanic and Nate the heavy machine operator were sitting with their heads hanging low. They were between the ages of 19-23. I couldn’t say a word as I stepped up onto the truck. I turned back when we were driving away, saw my father crying while he was waving goodbye, maybe forever, and heard him shouting something like: “How could this happen, why not me, your mother…” but I could barely even raise my hand to wave goodbye to him. I didn’t even know what I would have to do, whether I would be deployed almost after enlistment or stationed until the time came.

The sun shone on the back of my neck as the truck bumped on the road, and I was just thinking: I couldn’t even say a proper goodbye. Who will play with my dog, who will fix old Mr. White’s Honda, who will buy that old BMW and who will stop my mother from throwing out my radio? The answer is easy: no one, because I won’t be there.

Value What You Get

Áron Antal

I have been sitting here for more than two hours. Some modern music blasted in the background, people were talking to each other, some were sitting around me in the living room. I was staring into the abyss of the striped grayish white carpet on the floor, while holding a can of beer, my fourth or fifth along with countless shots, I couldn’t remember.My childhood was on my mind.

….oh my God, why don’t you leave that fool, you deserve better….

I was at my grandparents’ house. I remembered playing in the garden with my sister. I was frustrated because I hadn’t seen my dad for weeks.

All of a sudden my mind switched back and realized that staring at a carpet while people are talking around me is kind of rude, so I raised my gaze.

– How drunk are you? – asked Samantha. Her high-pitched voice was like a police siren screaming in your ear. I didn’t even know why I had been sitting around the girls. I wasn’t even remotely interested in any of them. I wasn’t even sure what on earth I was doing here or why I had come.

– Let me assure you that I am not  – I said, stood up, took a last glance at the grey carpet on the floor and walked towards the kitchen.

George was creating some sort of abomination out of whiskey, tequila and rum. I stared at it in disgust, but my stomach was made of steel. Greg’s wasn’t, because as soon as he drank up that fence ripper, he threw up. Loud cheering followed, and Greg received a pat on the shoulder from Mary, and an F for effort.

– Who will come to the next party on Friday? – asked Jack, half drunk, from among the crowd.

– Meee, Weee!- shouted everyone; everyone except me.

– Come on man, why not? Don’t tell me it’s a bad party!

– It’s not that, Jack. I have to work starting next week.

– Pfht! – he said and made a sluggish movement with his arm, denying the sentence I just told him, in the effort of which he knocked over a shot glass that shattered on the floor. He stared at the shards for twelve seconds, tried to walk over them, which resulted in him stepping into them, and held me by my shoulder.

– Your father can’t be so cruel as not to let you come.

– He wouldn’t be. I don’t want to come. I wouldn’t have the time and energy, and couldn’t be in proper shape for the next day.

– Then you are just a wuss! Ahhaha!

– Yeah, go to hell then!

He stood there laughing, still standing in the shotglass he knocked over as I walked out to the street and directed myself towards home, still holding that can of now piss-warm beer, drinking from it on my way.

The day arrived when I had to work during the summer break. My alarm clock rang at 6 a.m. I got up so rapidly from my bed in excitement that I left my blood pressure under the blanket, so I had to sit back down for a moment. My father was already up, and after half an hour of gathering, we sat in the pickup and drove out of town to the ranch. The morning attendance meeting started at 7.

I shook hands with all the workers who were there, and with all the others who came in late.

– One sugar and milk right? – asked Anita, the measurement facility’s operator.

–Yes, please – I answered.

By the time my well-awaited coffee was ready, the instructions were given out. I was tasked to prepare my tractor and wagon by 9 a.m., and then go out on the back gate, turn right, then turn left and go until I saw the harvesting machines. Today was the first day of harvest.

I drank my coffee like a shot of whiskey, and walked through the ranch to where my tractor and wagon were parked. I drove the Old Lady, the 1993 John Deere 7600, which had a 40 speed gearbox (20 forward, 20 backwards) that could be operated with two gear levers. It was an art to drive this beast. Last year I had a 2017 John Deere 7230R, with a 40 speed automatic, but I hated the on-board computer and the fact that everything was electronic. That’s why I asked specifically to work with the Old Lady.

I did what always had to be done: checked the oil and coolant level, the pneumatic and hydraulic hoses, the wagon attachment, and the connectors of the hydraulic cables and brake valves. I also brushed out the interior. When I looked at my watch, it was 8:56, so I was ready to start. I sat in the seat, pulled the steering wheel up against me, and turned the ignition key. The engine started after two seconds of cranking, shooting a cloud of soot up to its white cousins. After the air pressure reached 4.5 bar, I put the main gear lever in B, and pulled the second gear lever from Park to Neutral then into the fourth gear forward, and left the ranch.

It was midday, the June sun was scorching the surface of the earth, and by that time, there were no clouds to at least ease the heat.

I just had my lunch, which was pasta with cottage cheese and a hint of wheat stalk. I put it out on the hood of the tractor with the hope that it would heat it up, because I had picked it up from the fridge the second time I went back to the ranch with a full wagon. Unfortunately, as it was working in the sun, and I fell asleep because two tractor were ahead of me, one of the harvesting machines passed by, covering me and my lunch in dust and straw.

After an hour it was my turn finally, and after relieving three harvesting machines of eight tonnes of wheat each, I headed back.

This went on until 8:30 p.m., when after arriving with my final delivery, I could go home.

On my way home, I asked my dad to stop for a minute, because I wanted to have an ice cream to crown the day.

And to my suprise, Jack was there, with another guy and three girls, all of them dressed up in fancy clothes, and expensive ones at that. I was approaching them in a torn shirt covered in dust and sweat.

– Ay man, how’s work going? – he asked.

– Fine, I guess.

– You look like crap, maybe you should just quit – said Jack, and all of them giggled.

– Yeah, this is so lame, working all day. I can tell you I wouldn’t even talk to a guy who is not available for me the whole time – said one of the girls.

I took my ice cream, paid the guy, turned toward them, smiled, and said:

– All of you are worthless.

Jack hopped up at the instant I finished the sentence, and tried to hit me in the face. The outcome of this event was that I hit him in the nose as he changed his mind after I sent my arm toward his face before he could hit me.

I think it goes without a saying that after this incident I was never again invited to his parties, which I will not miss. I realized that with hard work, you can make a difference, which you can’t do by just wearing expensive clothes and drinking your mind away.

Beyond Perception

Áron Antal

I went to the bath at 7:40 pm. The warm water filled one third of the tub. I submerged my body in the warmth and washed my body. It was time to wash my hair. I applied shampoo, washed it down, but felt a warm sensation and an urge to remain submerged. The only thing I could hear was the changing of the rhythm of my heartbeat according to my breathing. Inhaling; heart beats faster. Exhaling; heart beats slower. My head was about at the middle of the tub, hands folded behind my head, my feet up on the wall. I was lying in that position as my head sank in the water that was just high enough to keep only my nose above it. Then I lost my perception of my body. It felt like I was in the womb of my mother. Then I lost my perception of time. It felt like a make-believe concept, and I existed in a realm of timelessness. I was aware of what was happening, but I couldn’t do anything. Then thoughts rushed through my mind, many nonsensical thoughts, disjoint and unintelligible. This happens every time before I fall asleep. Yet I didn’t fall asleep. I existed between two concepts; I wasn’t quite sleeping, but I wasn’t quite awake. Then I encountered myself.

– Hello! – I said with doubtful confidence.

– Hi there! – I replied.

– Are you my subconscious? – I asked.

– I am.

I noticed that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t think or even say a word in Hungarian, my native language, no matter how hard I tried. I have been learning English for twelve years, and had many dreams where I spoke it, but I never sensed that Hungarian could feel so remote from me.

I wanted to see if I was having some deep thought process, or if I was really “face to face” with my subconscious.

– Prove it! – I said. – Show me a memory that only I can know, a memory that is so important that my consciousness couldn’t recall it.

I saw my perspective when we moved to our newly built house in 2007, with me sitting in the kitchen gazing out the window. I was two years old at that time, and from around this age I only had two memories of our old house; all the memories I could recall were after the birth of my sister.

– Show me my desire!

I saw an image of a primary school classmate of mine, who I have been talking to on the bus for a month now only on Mondays, but I have came to the conclusion that I like her and probably she likes me too although we weren’t close before, and now we have had about six twenty- to thirty-minute conversations since our coming together. I couldn’t admit to myself that I liked her, but deep down I knew I did.

Then I saw an image of my grandpa’s motorcycle in the garage, a four-year project I couldn’t finish because of school and other activities of mine.

– Can I access my full brain capacity?

My subconscious stood in silence, or so I recall. This response could be interpreted in two ways: that my subconscious didn’t know the answer to this question, or that it refused to answer me.

Then I had some conversation with my subconscious, conversation that I cannot recall, but I felt that my subconscious was superior to me.

I have since then come to the logical conclusion that I was talking to myself in a matter that one would talk to themself if they had a perfect copy standing right in front of them. I “stood” in silence.

I noticed a strong sensation in my body, as if my blood were flowing through my veins and arteries like a rushing river. It felt good. I had zero perception of the outside world, and my body felt alien. I felt that I could perceive my surroundings from a higher position relative to the theoretical position of my physical body. I felt that I was floating above me.

– Can my soul leave my body? – I asked my subconscious.

– No, not yet.

I could feel my soul “reemerge” with my body. Now the only thing I could feel was a strong sensation right in the middle of my forehead, in a spot that was approximately equidistant from my eyes, forming a triangle.

I was in a realm where the absence of thoughts enabled thoughts to be formed. It was thinking without thoughts. The only conversation I can remember was some existential questions I proposed to my subconscious, questions that I cannot recall. It was comfortable. The whole experience was. I heard heavy footsteps approaching, but that was the only thing I perceived from the outside world. Then as the footsteps became louder and louder, I could feel my heartbeat again, the rushing rivers in my veins were reduced to mere springs, and the sensation on my forehead was gone, my subconscious faded away as, triggered by an external stimulus, my consciousness began taking control over my body.

My father grabbed my shoulders and asked:

– Are you alright? It’s been 40 minutes since you entered the tub!

– I am alright, I guess.

I told my parents what I had experienced, and they could barely believe it. Still as I’m writing down these words two hours after this self induced ultra-meditative state I was in for about thirty minutes, I can barely explain and comprehend what went on in my mind. I have never felt so mentally relaxed and calmed before, and I can still barely believe what had just happened and understand how it happened.

I have always had a special way of thinking, perceiving, experiencing and recollecting, but this event was beyond anything that happened to me. It was bizarre, but felt calming.

ASD in Society

Erika Szántó

The stigmatization of neurodivergent people is still prevalent in this current age. This is highly surprising considering the fact that approximately 15-20% of the world’s population is neurodiverse. So why are we like this? Why don’t we know more?

Let’s take a look at Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), for example. Even to this day, diagnostic criteria is often based on outdated findings that cannot accurately show how autism actually works. Most of the research surrounding autism was based on how it presents in young boys, even though it is nearly as common in girls as well, and can display entirely differently in adults. Because of this, the older you are, the more difficult it is for you to get diagnosed properly, especially if you are female. To make things worse, if you have the diagnosis, you can be discriminated against on the job market and probably won’t even be able to access proper accommodations.

ASD is often demonized by a certain popular autism support group, a “charity” that overshadows other charities that actually help people on the spectrum. A surprisingly large amount of people still believe in the repeatedly discredited study that says vaccines cause autism, and would rather have their children possibly become seriously ill just to “evade” that threat. The portrayal of autistic people in the media is likewise inaccurate, often infantilizing or even making fun of autistic traits. Furthermore, people are starting to use “autistic” as an insult because they’re learning that it’s offensive to say “retarded” now, so they just target a smaller group.

It is in human nature to exclude difference and cherish similarity. Perhaps this is causing so many issues in modern society.

The Failure to Retain Awareness of Global Issues in Modern Society

Kaya Tunçer

In our day and age, global interaction and ease of communication are at their all-time peak, and it is plausible that they will only increase. However, one might come to realize that there is no shortage of half-truths and unnecessary information in the minds of the people, occupying the space that could be better used to combat the struggles humanity faces. This could be linked to the bloating of the main network of communication on Earth, the Internet.

Of course, it could be argued that people have the freedom to think and care about whatever they wish. As much as people believing in things that aren’t correct or caring about insignificant things may harm our society, attempts at changing their minds would prove futile. Then, what about those who—seemingly—care about the well-being of society?

This piece will focus mainly on Western society for convenience.

Occupy Wall Street

In September 2011, a crowd of people gathered in Wall Street to protest the social and economic inequality, greed, corruption perpetuated by big corporations and their unnecessary political influence.

These gatherings did reach some success, as one of the major goals, increasing minimum wage to 15 dollars, was reached. Even if not on a federal level, many states did increase the minimum wage.

Still, in 2022, it would be considered childish by many to believe that the world’s corporations don’t have a massive, unprecedented and unacceptable amount of power. Then why isn’t this discussion still being had now, at least not on the scale of 10 years ago?

The Death of George Floyd

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed in police custody. We all know the massive wildfire of protests, looting, outcry and socio-political debate born from the spark of his death.

The people who followed the events following his death would also be familiar with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act; a legislation aimed at avoiding a similar situation in the future, combating police misconduct, racial-religious bias/profiling and the usage of excessive force in policing which passed the Senate and was integrated into the Government, right?

In fact, the act never passed. It was blocked in 2020 as it could not get enough votes in the Senate, and when it was reintroduced in February 24th, 2021, it still failed to pass and collapsed in September 2021, preventing any kind of meaningful police reform.

Surprisingly (or not), most people who are aware of the events regarding George Floyd’s death don’t know about these particular events.  

Keeping in mind that the whole reason any kind of investigation and legal action against the murderer of George Floyd happened in the first place was because of public outcry and the fact that by 2021, conversation on George Floyd had died down, it is reasonable to assume that the public’s lost attention on the topic contributed to the failure of the passage of the bill.

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

In the beginning of 2022, the Russo-Ukrainian War escalated, and Russia launched an invasion on Ukraine. The invasion has lasted for 7 months and still continues.

Thousands of civilians, children and soldiers alike have been killed, tortured, maimed; there has been tremendous economic loss since the beginning of the invasion and there is no indication that it will end any time soon.

Media coverage of the atrocities committed was very high near the beginning of the invasion, but it seems the world’s attention towards the ongoing incident has diminished.

The Common Denominator

In the three given examples, each problem has failed to be resolved. Quite simply, this is because the general population has stopped caring or has completely forgotten about it.

Society has forgotten about these problems, and in doing so, has condemned and deemed “worthless” those affected by them.

 Why Does This Happen?

The logical conclusion is that this is linked to the influence of social media and the characteristics of its average user.

The overwhelming majority of users on social media suffer from having short attention spans and craving acceptance, praise and attention from others. This leads to people resorting to virtue signaling and focusing mostly on top trends and controversies. As people lose attention and interest in a topic, a cascading effect occurs, which ultimately leads to the complete abandonment of the issue. In other words, the rate at which trends and subjects lose attention is augmented. 

These “symptoms,” paired with social media’s hold on society, result in what we see has happened with the three events above.

All in all, social media’s massive influence on societal issues and commentary, paired with its user base which is unfit to wield it, results in massive consequences, with seemingly no simple solution.

If not solved with haste, this unapparent, self-manifesting and dangerous problem could have serious consequences in the future, even if we pretend it hasn’t already affected who knows how many things for the worst.

The most terrifying thought concerning this societal phenomenon, though, is the fact that this is not a plot or a conspiracy by any group or person. It is a simple result of that which humanity has set up for itself. There is no one to blame, no one to bargain with and no one to seek a solution from.


Dorina Dian

Freedom can mean different things to different people; we can approach the concept from the whole universe through a planet to a society made up of individuals. We might think that in the universe the planets and stars and everything is free, but in reality, gravity controls everything, and they very much depend on each other, or else the whole system would collapse in an instant. Nature and societies work the same way. So what if a society doesn’t depend on another? We can say it’s free. What if a human being doesn’t depend on others? Then they are free.

But in human life, everything we do or say has an effect on those around us, because that’s how the system works: We communicate and work and evolve together so we can go ahead. We are brought up and controlled by our parents so we can evolve, we are controlled by our teachers to evolve, then we are controlled by employers and companies so we can be helpful to society. So basically limitless freedom could never be reached, or as I have mentioned, the system would collapse. We can never be utterly free in our lives BUT we can experience small fractions of it as we go on our paths.

So how does freedom work within the borders of our society? Equality before the law is freedom, religious equality before the law is freedom, because, according to such law, we are not oppressed or controlled by others. Obviously this is not entirely true, but if in some cases we are allowed to choose, that definitely constitutes freedom. For us teenagers it is compulsory to go to school, and by that time in our lives when we are so close to maturity, it becomes more and more obvious that we are controlled and we don’t want to be. But what is hanging out with friends from school, what is reading or watching films or listening to music? For us, those could be called freedom. For adults, freedom could be much more because they are able to do so many things that we can’t, including traveling or buying things. To be able to do these kinds of things is freedom. So we fight for it all our lives. We learn and work so we can move out and start our own individual lives, with our own house and own friends and money. So we could be independent, so we could be free.

But what if we forget society and all the alarming factors that cause dependence and just look at the big picture? Because freedom could be anywhere at any moment. A girl sitting on a plane and looking out the window at the clouds could feel freedom. Birds flying high in the sky can feel freedom. Antelopes running in Africa are free. Whales hunting in the sea are free. Atoms in the air are free. Shooting stars in the sky are free.  Freedom can be captured in moments, tiny or big, it all depends on how you live them. When you are happy you can feel it, and you can be happy any time.

Freedom is a hard concept to describe because it means different things to different people. But what is for sure? It’s worth fighting for it because life would be meaningless without fighting for things. Reading a book after a long day at school feels better than just reading a book. Hanging out with friends is more exciting when you have worked so hard all week, and swimming in the sea on holiday after a long year is just the best thing ever. Everything is made of freedom, we just have to find it.

Truth as Primary Importance

Joshua Robles

“It is not their passions I shall appeal to. I ask only for their cool and impartial reason.”

– William Wilberforce, Abolition Speech, House of Commons, 1789.

What are our primary goals in life? What is it that we long for and search after the most earnestly? When a conflict of desires occurs, what is it that trumps all others? These are the questions that affect our society to its very core. Society’s opinion on these questions non-negotiably affects every facet of our personal life, as well as how society’s structures are set up for the accommodation of whatever the answer to that question is. What we value is of vital importance. In recent history the abolition of slavery in the United Kingdom is one of the most powerful examples of the answering and the application of this question. The United Kingdom changed their whole economic system on the belief that “all humans either black or white were created equally in the image of God.” This primary belief of the abolitionists is the very reason that they were willing to forsake all other interests, such as not setting their economy back 30 years. When faced with the truth and conflicting desires they valued the truth over all. Looking back we can all see the goodness in the truth. Everyone of us has a value that trumps every other value. If that value that trumps all others is not actuaIly the most valuable then we will constantly be neglecting things of primary importance. The searching of truth must be the highest value of all.

The “value ladder” as it is used in this essay refers to the objective value of different things. The purpose of this essay is to analyze a particular value ladder of our age and to propose a value ladder that is more in line with reality and thus better for all of us who happen to be heavily affected by reality, that is “the truth”.

An increasingly common sentiment in mainstream media and social life in general is this idea of personal happiness over all other values. We frequently hear, “Whatever makes someone feel better and does not harm anybody else I don’t think should matter to anybody,” or, “If that’s what makes them happy then it is fine with me.” Both of these sound somewhat nice and frankly quite liberating. Why shouldn’t happiness be our main goal—or, even if you think it shouldn’t be our main goal, why do you care that it is someone else’s?

“Contentment is a dangerous thing.” This phrase seems to hold less prominence in our age. What it means is that when a human being gets a taste of life that they enjoy more than their previous life, they become fearful of engaging in anything that would challenge their newfound, comparatively seemingly better life. However illogical this behavior may be, we all suffer from it one way or another.“Contentment is a wonderful thing,” is probably the phrase that is more compatible with today’s world. Undoubtedly one of the main reasons people are willing to give reason the backseat to contentment is that a lot of people think that the conclusion they will come to with reason is unpleasant and not really worth living. Thus, they embrace whichever lifestyle they want and refrain from any form of critical thinking that would challenge it. Now if it is true that the reality and the truths of this world are so abysmal that living in accord with them is just simply not worth it, that would be one thing (I will comment on this later), but if the opposite is true then we are shortsighted, and we find ourselves in a very dangerous and tricky situation. It is this shift from the content being afraid to engage with the thinker, to the thinker being afraid to engage with the content that is so dangerous.

Critical thinking is in its very core opposed to placid contentment as well as to contentment as our ultimate goal. Critical thinking requires that freedom of thought and expression be granted to all, which in turn requires an ability to endure offense. I say “free thinking” because the taboo of questioning the present norms of contentment is very frequently hushed or canceled. Many people do not even pause to really think or engage in conversation about why they believe many of the things they agree to in daily life. They simply brush it off with a cliche like “Everyone has the right to believe what they want,” while completely ignoring the fact that if any belief is worth anything at all then it deserves to be engaged with and shared, for it would be selfish not to do so, and if it is worthless then what was all the fuss about offending it in the first place?

In practice we do not believe in the same free speech that those before us believed in. Freedom of speech at its beginning was intended so that with the exchange of diverse ideas in an inclusive setting we would be able to refine our views and get closer to the actual “λογοs”(truth, reason). Now free speech, in the areas in which it is tolerated, is done so that people can proclaim whatever they want, but striving after truth is no longer the primary goal. In our daily lives we give values to ideas primarily based on how they make us feel, not whether or not they are true. As a consequence, it is becoming increasingly difficult to freely strive after truth.

Our present-day society is under the illusion of change; it defends this with the statement that freedom is at an all-time high. I would argue that in many ways we do not realize how much work we still have to do and that even, in some ways, we may be worse off than when we started. It seems to me that when Charles Dickens said “Good never comes of such evil, a happier end was not in nature to so unhappy a beginning,” he was right. The rebels of the French Revolution, though fighting against ruthless oppression, became just as ruthless if not more so. We may have changed what we got ruthlessly unforgiving and angry about, but at its heart the same sentiment remains. Charles Dickens caught the never-ending cycle of history that those within history seem to always fail to realize. In the Middle Ages people would be silenced for questioning or calling out the Catholic church; now people are silenced for questioning or calling out mainstream media.

Now, what must be said to someone who thinks that reality is so abysmal that any notion of happiness that is grounded in reality is simply depressing and pointless? Even if reality is bad, is it possible to be happier disconnected from reality? Initially I am tempted to say that this is possible as long as the figment of our imagination is better than reality. But I believe this answer is way too simple and seriously misses some points, and in doing so produces a problem that is impossible to escape. First off, what does it miss?

One of the main causes of depression is a sudden event in life that demands we have a right perception of reality, combined with our thinking being disconnected from reality. This can happen, for instance, when a social media influencer expects perfection in themselves and then suffers an accident that mars them in some way. They are thus left with a false idea that has defined their life and a reality that they can’t reconcile. It is this state of despair and confusion that has been one of the leading reasons for the 56% increase in suicide among adolescents in America. According to Jennifer Weniger, PhD, a licensed psychologist and marriage and family therapist at Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center, the feeling of not belonging in society (or having an idea that does not belong in reality) is one of the primary factors that leads to suicide. Thus, if we are living a life that is disconnected from reality at some point or another, reality slaps us in the face hard enough to put us in a serious existential crisis. And the less we care about truth, the less it takes to put us in that existential crisis.

Secondly, the problem is that anyone who claims that having happiness not grounded in truth as your primary goal can make you happier than truth as your primary goal must claim that it is possible for a human to live their whole life unaware of reality as well as unable to sense reality. This is obscenely preposterous, not to mention far from anything anyone should desire lest they live a completely self-centered life completely devoid of meaning and usefulness.

Happiness is a very narrow goal; it falls short of our basic needs. What are you going to do when you are suffering or dealing with a challenging situation, events which make up a great deal of our lives? Rather, it is far healthier for a society to search after an accurate sense of reality and truth. Such a pursuit feeds our most burning desires and can be undertaken throughout our lives no matter the circumstances in which we inevitably find ourselves. In other words, happiness should be the result of seeking after truth rather than the thing we are primarily seeking.

A Poem About Hypocrisy

Lili Forgács

You say you are environmentally friendly,
your friend is Bear Grylls on Wednesdays.
Your TV is always on Nat. Geo.,
but you’ve never left home, have you?

You say you protect the trees,
you hate erosion and things like these.
You are digitalized in a way,
but go to bookstores every day.

You say you try to save the Animalia,
you are nothing else but a vegetarian.
You always share lost pets on social media,
but a furskin coat is what’s seizing you.

You say I’m a bad friend for calling you a hypocrite,
your  actions do not harmonize with your dictates..
You’re oblivious to  your own impropriety,
and that’s the problem with the rest of society.