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No autographs, plz

I’m baaaaack! I’m sure everyone missed me but unfortunately, I can’t say I missed North Carolina.  Jamaica was beyond amazing and I’ve never had such an incredible trip before: an incredible house, incredible staff, incredible views, and even better friends all made the trip absolutely perfect.

But before I can get to that, I have to talk about something great that happened before my trip even started.  I’ll give you a hint: it involved UNC and Dook and an orange, round, bouncy ball.

If you guessed the UNC/ Dook basketball game, you’re correct!

Before Spring Break started, I blogged about my excitement for the game and for my trip to Jamaica, and at that point in time, I had a phase 2 ticket.  I wrote that I had given up my search for a phase 1 ticket and would be fine crying myself to sleep not ever standing in the risers for a game.

I’ll admit that I was lying about being okay about not standing in the risers: I was trying to convince myself that I would be fine but I wasn’t doing very well.

Luckily, I didn’t have to cry myself to sleep for that reason because there are great people in this world.  A friend of mine named Emily is one of those kind individuals.  Friday afternoon (almost a day after I had given up the search for a phase 1 ticket), I get a phone call from Emily.  She got a phase 1 ticket from the UNC Student Lottery and wanted to swap her phase 1 ticket for my phase 2.  She said she would rather go with friends in phase 2 than go alone in phase 1 and that she knew how much I wanted it so she’d rather me enjoy it.

When I heard her utter those words over the phone my heart skipped a beat, goosebumps covered my body in 1.5 seconds flat and I started jumping up and down while screaming.  In other words, I freaked out.

Even though I really wanted the chance to stand in the risers for the biggest rivalry in college sports, I was conflicted.  Emily is also a second-semester senior so why did I deserve this ticket more than she did?  I don’t.

I kept reminding her that she didn’t have to switch with me but she didn’t change her mind.  She’s an angel, y’all.

Now that I had acquired a phase 1 ticket, I started making plans with my friends with phase 1 tickets about the next morning: College GameDay.

Phase 1 and phase 2 tickets would be randomized at College GameDay so it didn’t matter how long people waited at the Dean Dome before that.  As long as we were in line with a numbered wristband on by 9:15 am, we would be randomized (and ahead of everyone else that didn’t participate in the randomization process).

We agreed to meet at 8:20 am and walk down to the Dean Dome together with plenty of time before the randomization ended.

I didn’t finish my laundry list of items to do that I blogged about until at least 10 pm Friday night so I only had a few hours to pack before I crashed.

Regardless of how little sleep I got the night before, I was ready to go on Saturday morning (with the help of a cup of coffee).

When we were finally let into the Dean Dome, I had some good luck again.  Someone working for the Carolina Athletic Association told us to go sit in section 104, a section that had 0 people in it at this point.  I ran all the way down to the floor and secured the first row of this section for me and my friends.

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As the morning progressed, we got free hats from State Farm and free tshirts from Carolina basketball. I don’t think I sat down for more than 5 minutes of the two hour production and danced around announcing that it was the best day of my life.

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UNC has a Snapchat account and my friends and I were filmed dancing with Rameses and put on its Snapchat Story.  This happened because I was dancing around the entire time (probably looking a little crazy) and they noticed us.

This lucky streak didn’t stop at that.  We were on television.  ESPN to be exact.

I can’t figure out how to attach the video but here’s a picture of our television debut.

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My friends and I would freak out every time we’d see each other on the big screen and would dance around like fools, but that’s okay.  We were having a great time.

After College GameDay finished taping, my friends and I started discussing our plan of action for the new hours before we had to be back at the Dean Dome for the big game.  We didn’t get very far when a man got my attention and asked if I could put my State Farm hat back on and come speak with him.  Confused, I obliged to this man’s requests because he was on the court so he had to be somewhat important.

He took me to a camera man and then explained that since I was so enthusiastic and (his words) a “super fan”, he wanted to interview me for ABC11’s coverage of the game.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

This seemingly perfect day kept getting better and better.  And now I would be on ESPN during College GameDay but I would be on the news too!

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My excited nerves were making me literally shake.  Not a cute shake either, I was convulsing out of excitement/ terror/ fear of making a fool out of myself on television.  I obviously looked a little ridiculous because the reporter told me to take a deep breath and try to calm down.

Uh, that’s easier said than done.

I took a deep breath and answered all of his questions as best as I could.  I’m not 100% sure what I said but I do know that I talked a tiiiiiiny bit of trash about Jay Bilas and Jay Williams predicting a Dook victory.  They’re obviously bias because they went to school there and they’re partial to some hideous shade of blue.  I may or may not have said that if it weren’t for the rivalry between the two schools, they wouldn’t have a job.

Okay that logic isn’t the most sound but whatever, I blacked out from adrenaline and that made my almost nonexistent filter completely disappear.

You can watch my interview in the video on the top of this article: I appear at 3:30 and 4:30.

My friends and I left for a few hours to return to the Dean Dome at 3:30 pm for a 9 pm game.  We got let inside at 6:30 pm so we played cards and some games to pass the time.  When we finally got inside, we had seats in the risers (omg dream come true) and it didn’t even matter that our feet hurt and we had to fly out of RDU early the next morning.

I spotted Larry Fedora, UNC’s head football coach, at halftime and yelled “Hey! It’s Larry Fedora!” and he waved at me.  About 10 minutes later, someone said hey to me and said we should take a selfie.  ‘Who was it?’ you ask, take a guess.  Y’all, I kid you not, it was Larry Fedora.  He even tweeted the picture of us!!! Like what??????

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He was kind enough to take a selfie on my phone as well, which I promptly tweeted as well.

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He’s smiling a little bit more in this picture, so we’re best friends now.  Yup, I said it.  Larry Fedora and I are best friends.

This day was incredible.. but not perfect.  Unfortunately my Heels lost to the spawns of Satan– uh, I mean the Blue Devils– despite a great game.

The camera man from College GameDay came and found us again, but this time he wanted to film me about to cry at the end of the game.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.  I won’t be the girl crying about a loss on television.  I just won’t.

They day didn’t end as I had anticipated (I talked trash on local nightly news, so I’d say I was confident in how I thought the game would end), but it exceeded my expectations in every other way.

Thank you again to Emily for opening the door to all of these great things: you rock, never change.

Since I’m famous now, I’d appreciate if everyone bowed when I walked in and gave me chocolate ice cream every few hours.  Deal? Deal.

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Jamaica or bust

Y’all I’m so excited!  I’m going to Jamaica for Spring Break with some of my best friends here at Carolina (along with about 100 other Tar Heels).

I’ve never done anything extravagant for spring break before so this is a first.  Freshman year I went to Myrtle Beach, S.C. with a few of my best friends from high school.  Sophomore year, I returned to Myrtle Beach, S.C. but with friends from UNC.  Junior year I went home to Charlotte and eventually rode the train to Greensboro, N.C. to watch UNC play (and lose) in the ACC Tournament.  I had a good time all three years doing something low-key and, quite honestly, inexpensive.

Below is are pictures of the house 13 girls and I are lucky enough to spend next week in.

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I’m honestly expecting Ashton Kutcher to pop out at the airport and tell us that we’ve been Punk’d because that is outrageous.

Truth be told, this trip is making me a little bit anxious because I’ve never been out of the country so this is all new to me.  I’m bad at packing and always seem to forget something (despite my obsessive lists) and I don’t want to forget something when leaving the good ol’ U-S-of-A.

Discussions of what my friends are packing, what the menu of the week should be, who’s going to be there and how close we are to arriving are blowing up my phone with texts.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond excited, but I can’t focus on that just yet.

What’s holding me back from obsessing over my packing list and day dreaming about the beach?  Everything.

Thanks to the snow messing up all of my academic schedules, this week has been Hell.

  • 1 food diary.
  • 1 food critical reflection to readings.
  • 3 blogs on happenings in the media.
  • 2 blogs about me.
  • 1 blog for my internship.
  • 1 take home test due Thursday at 12:15 pm.
  • 1 take home test due Thursday at midnight.
  • 1 quiz.

Throw in a few Greek Groove practices to the mix and that’s basically how my week has gone.

I’m done with almost everything.  Except for 1 blog about the media (keep an eye out for that, I’ll most likely discuss how we keep track of what happens in life because I’m obsessed with taking pictures and turns out, that may be hindering my memory……. you can subscribe on the sidebar or below this post, depending on how wide you have your window…… if you want to….. you should).  And except for 1 blog for my internship.

I’ve made todo lists on sticky notes on my computer, in my agenda, in the margins of my notes, on random pieces of paper around my room and in the notes section of my phone.  I discouraged myself from doing this in another blog post, but I seriously need to list everything or I’ll forget something.

Don’t worry, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and am getting closer and closer to being free of things to do.  Then I’ll be able to focus on packing.

There’s another super important event standing between me and Jamaica: the rematch between UNC and Dook.  We cannot have a repeat of last game for more reasons than one.

I was lucky enough to get a Phase 2 ticket from UNC’s Student Lottery despite it hating me for every other game this year.  I’ve never stood in the risers for a basketball game and I’m judging myself.  This is an experience every Carolina student should experience at least once, yet I didn’t make time to.

Enter distraction #1: finding a Phase 1 ticket.

I’ve pleaded with random people on Facebook and begged friends to give me their tickets.  Unsuccessful.  I’ve even tried to find another ticket so that I could trade my 2 tickets to get a Phase 1 ticket.  Unsuccessful.  Being in the risers may not be in the stars for me and I have to accept it.  I’m not even 5 foot 2 so it probably wouldn’t be easy to see the game anyways, so I’m okay with it (…. no I’m not but I’m faking it until I make it).

Phase 2 tickets are going to be randomized just like Phase 1 so I’ll be going to College Game Day on Saturday morning bright and early, so look for me on TV!  I’ll be in the Dean Dome until at least noon then go home, nap, pack more and return back by 5 pm to wait until 7 to get into the building… for a game that starts at 9 pm.  It’s going to be beyond worth it, but leaving Chapel Hill at 7 the next morning won’t be fun.

It hasn’t quite hit me yet that this is the last regular season home game that I’ll ever attend as an undergraduate student here at UNC.  I’m constantly reminded by my daily countdown on my dontmakemeleaveunc Instagram (which, by the way, was a terrible and depressing idea, why did anyone let me do this???!!) but it doesn’t feel real.  It’s unreal, and quite frankly, terrifying.

I love Carolina.  I love everything about it, from tripping on bricks during my walk to class to the hard classes that deprive me of sleep.  The late Eve Carson said it better than I ever could:

“I love UNC. I love the quad in the spring and the arboretum in the fall. I love the Pit on a sunny day and Graham Memorial Lounge on a rainy one. I love Roy [Williams] all the time. But what makes UNC truly special is not our beautiful campus, our distinguished reputation or even our basketball team. It’s us—the student body—who make UNC what it is.”

I could read that any day of the week, at any time, and get chills.

I’m going to stop myself because I’m already a ball of emotions and I don’t need to be crying.

What I’m trying to say is that Saturday’s game against our rival, Dook, is yet another last in my career here and I’m going to enjoy every last second of it.  After the game is over and– knock on wood– we’ve secured a win, I can start thinking about Jamaica.

I’ll make a few more lists until that happens.

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Finally an emoji princess that looks like me!

The day is finally here!!! There is FINALLY a brunette princess emoji and here’s another exciting feature: there are multiple brunette princess and their skin tones range from light to dark.

In other words, I will finally be accurately represented by an emoji!  I think I’d consider myself the first brunette princess to the left of the blonde princess, but that’s not the point.

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Apple has diversified all of its emojis, not just the princess one, making it a better representation of the skin types that people have (other than the creepy yellow ones, no one looks like that… I don’t think).

Reports state that these new emojis will make a debut with the new versions of iOS and OS X.  These diverse emojis won’t all be listed side by side, these variations will be found if you select and hold an emoji.  This is the same tactic that is used to get versions of letters with accent marks on them.

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This is significant for more reasons than the princess emoji (though I still think that’s pretty great).  For one, it makes emojis more inclusive of the diversity in our country.  I always wondered why there wasn’t more diversity in emojis, but the emojis were popular in Asia before coming to Apple, not the United States.

There will be 300 new diverse emojis, including the faces and hands (so you can text with a thumbs-up that looks like your own hand).  There will also be 32 flags added to represent more countries as well as more emojis to represent same-sex relationships.

I think this is a great move for Apple to include diverse emojis for a few reasons: Apple has business in multiple countries and including icons that reflect its customers is a good move and adding diversity can’t hurt anyone.

If Apple had removed some emojis in order to make room for these new ones, I’m sure there would be controversy.  That wasn’t the case.  This move is becoming more inclusive of all people so I can’t imagine that there would be serious issues against this decision.

I actually ignored the comments section of the articles while writing this article (in light of my last blog post) so that I didn’t pick up on any opinions from those sections, so I’m not sure if anyone is up in arms about this move.

I’m happy about the change and I’ll definitely use some of the new emojis.

I’ve always identified the closest to the emoji below but I’ll have to switch my go-to emoji to the brunette princess.

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Undecided on comments

When I was in Introduction to Interactive Media, I had an assignment of building an website for myself that would house my portfolio and resume so that employers could see my online presence.

At this point in the class, I could code HTML and CSS well enough to get by, but WordPress uses PHP to code.  We weren’t going to learn PHP coding entirely, just how to find the HTML and CSS within the PHP, or in other words, we were going to be experimenting with our websites and trying to problem solve as best as we could.

I knew what I wanted to accomplish– remove the sidebar and make everything one column, make everything pink (I wonder if y’all could guess my favorite color) and remove the commenting features– but I wasn’t entirely sure how to do it.

Eventually I figured out how to remove the sidebar and make the main color pinkish red (rumor has it pink isn’t professional) and to remove the comments.

Or so I thought.

I created my site so that commenting on the posts and pages wasn’t an option, but it wasn’t until I started blogging regularly that I realized that it’s possible to comment on my homepage.

This isn’t that big of a deal, but people are posting comments.  Mainly spam comments with a few nice once mixed in, but comments nonetheless.

I knew that I didn’t want the commenting feature on my website before I even started creating it: I don’t like that someone’s thoughts can be on your site without your confirmation, and quite frankly, I don’t think the comment box is attractive.  I also don’t like the idea of giving someone an open shot at criticizing me.  On the other hand, allowing people the option to speak their minds and start a conversation is appealing to me– just not on my site.

My discussion about comments was prompted a few weeks ago after reading a creatively-written blog post by my classmate Dylan Howlett (I recommend reading it if you have a few minutes).  He went on to reference a New York Times column written by Anna North analyzing studies about online comments.  Turns out, certain words within the comments that appear beneath an article, even if only glanced at, are picked up by the reader and help influence his or her opinion.

Dylan went on to cite a study done by Washington State University that suggests that comments sway public opinion more than a public service announcement.  These comments are often unregulated and as long as you have a valid email address, you can post whatever you want.

Yes, I think the First Amendment is a great thing, but I think that because (almost) anyone has the ability to post on the internet, there are billions of things they can say including hateful things.

I don’t think that it is productive to have mindless, hateful comments posted beneath an article (as Dylan showed with fabricated users within his article) don’t help anything.  This is especially frustrating to me because if the study by Washington State University is correct, these comments are very influential on the minds of the viewers.

Here is another issue I have with this.  I know that comments can be written by people that want a rise out of people or those that want to stir the pot and I know that these people are likely not experts on whatever subject they’re referring to.  Everyone doesn’t know that.  I see proof of this all over Facebook when people post stories from satire sites like The Onion or stories from unreliable sources that are obviously hoaxes.

My classmate Nicole Siegel also blogged about comments pointing out that some sites, like the Washington Post, don’t allow comments at all and some sites, like the Charlotte Observer, require a user’s Facebook login in order to post.

I like the Charlotte Observer’s take because when the comments are attached to a name rather than a made-up username, the person has accountability for what they say.  Otherwise, the conversation can get out of hand with people posting comments about their conspiracy theories, hatred for people in power and other random things.

Okay, I’ve been beating around the bush, but I’m not a fan of comments.

Unless they’re genuinely contributing to the conversation (which I very seldom see because I can’t help but look at the comments section of some sites), I’m not a fan.  I think people should be able to think and say what they want, but I don’t think beneath an article is the place for that.

So if you want to be able to comment on my blogs, sorry about it.  I have my Twitter account on my website in multiple locations so instead, I invite you to tweet at me if you have any questions, comments or concerns.  My username is @anastasiabowden if you don’t want to look.

So while I try to figure out how to disable comments on my site altogether, see if you notice the comments under a news article or see if you have an opinion on comments.

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I’m talking about Facebook, again

Facebook has released a new feature so naturally I’m going to discuss it.  I’ve already discussed the somewhat morbid feature that authorizes a user to control your Facebook profile after you die.  I also discussed the partnership Facebook created with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) so that the platform can post Amber Alerts to users close to the affected area.

Facebook launched a feature this past week that is aimed at suicide prevention in a partnership with National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  If one of your Facebook friends posts something that seems like its suicidal, you can report it to Facebook.  The post will then be reviewed by a third-party who will then decide whether or not to reach out to the user.

If the user needs to be contacted, they will be met with this popup.

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Only the user will see this popup and no one else will know that his or her post was flagged.  This is especially important because privacy is important, especially during a potentially difficult time.

The user will see this popup next.

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The user will have the option of seeking help from helplines or from a friend.  The user also has the option to skip this altogether, in the chance that they are not feeling suicidal.

I think this is a great move by Facebook because it’s tough watching people post worrisome things on Facebook and not feeling close enough to them to reach out.  I think the fact that the reporting feature is anonymous will encourage people to use it: the friend won’t see that you flagged his or her post so they can’t be upset with you.

About the launch of the new feature, Facebook Safety’s Facebook page had a post that said, “Besides encouraging them to connect with a mental health expert at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, we now also give them the option of reaching out to a friend, and provide tips and advice on how they can work through these feelings. All of these resources were created in conjunction with our clinical and academic partners.”

Since feature was created with experts in the medical field, I think that it’ll have the resources that those struggling will need.  Whether or not they will be willing to take the help is another issue in itself.

That being said, I think the success of the feature is dependent on whether or not users flag potentially suicidal posts and whether or not the users that really need help accept it.

If you see someone posting anything suicidal on Facebook, be sure to use this feature and help out a friend.