Throwing Shade is Only Cool if You’re a Tree

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We’ve heard it, seen it, tweeted it, posted it, and pinned it. From celebrities casting “shade” like Redwoods in the forest to little backhanded remarks in our Facebook feed, it’s becoming cool not to be nice.

Throwing shade: “To talk trash about a friend or acquaintance, to publicly denounce or disrespect. When throwing shade it’s immediately obvious to on-lookers that the thrower, and not the throwee, is the bitchy, uncool one”

Thank you, Urban Dictionary, for perfectly describing this gross social phenomenon.

There is a celebrated history of shading (can I make it a verb like that?). From the conniving and beautiful Mean Girl Regina George and company (whose funny insults can now assault you from T-shirts), celebrities galore, and the cast of Real Housewives of Wherever, giving sass is almost an Olympic sport.

Let’s clear this up right now. Throwing shade? It only seems cool on TV. In true reality (meaning the life the rest of us live without walk-in closets the size of a kitchen), no one wants to hang with the girl or guy who only rags on people and then attempts to disguise their critique under the umbrella of, “Oh, I wasn’t talking about you.”

I get it though. There is that undeniable rush (a high Walter White had nothing to do with) that comes with a well-timed zinger and dramatic side-eye.

“Conventional theories of moral behavior and decision-making assume that unethical behavior triggers negative emotions,” Psychology Today wrote in “Warning: Being Bad Can Feel Good.”

“These theories help support the idea that we are internally motivated to do the right thing, because it makes us feel bad not to.”

Nice theory, but nope. A study by researchers Nicole Ruedy, Francesca Gino, Celia Moore, and Maurice Schweitzer, at the University of Washington, the London Business School, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania found that during their study, The Cheater’s High: The Unexpected Affective Benefits of Unethical Behavior, people who cheated on a test didn’t feel a rush of guilt overtake them, but rather a positive emotional boost. This boost was dubbed a “cheaters high.”

The researchers further said “once people have this experience, it may be difficult to resist future unethical behavior, especially when someone can derive both material and psychological rewards’ from the behavior.”

And that’s why it can feel good to be bad. But are the “material and psychological rewards” worth the brief rush and the cheap laughs? Let’s vote no. Let’s support and promote each other without belittling.

And if you’re still really into throwing shade? Help save the Redwood trees. I hear they need it.


Loners Unite (separately, please)

Alone with yourself doesn't equal #ForeverAlone.
Alone with yourself doesn’t equal #ForeverAlone.

Friday night in summer. I can hear the cars buzzing, kids laughing, radios blaring “Bad Blood” and where am I?

Snuggled up on my couch reading or watching some YouTube vlogs, completely and utterly by myself. Am I sad about this current state? Against society’s social stigmas, I am completely in favor of this self imposed isolation. Being alone does not mean I am lonely.

And that’s what unnerves people the most. Author Sara Maitland puts it quite well in her book, “How to Be Alone.”

“…being alone can be beneficial and it is certainly not detrimental to well-being, provided the individuals have freely chosen it. A good deal of the ‘scientific evidence’ for the danger [of solitude] to physical and mental health comes from studies of people in solitary confinement.”

For the social butterflies of the world, I sometimes wonder if all those activities, brunches, running clubs are really things they are truly interested in or go just to not be alone. Can people really be themselves only when surrounded by other people?

That is a slightly concerning proposition. It opens up the kind of questions that would normally come up in a office with a leather chair, large tomes of Freud, and a lady with a salt and pepper hairdo with an impressive doctorate from Stanford. “If you can’t be alone with your own thoughts, what about yourself bothers you so?” and “Am I not complete without someone else?” Forgive me, Jerry Maguire, but please hit the self-actualization pause button before we go an further, eh?

Simply being able to be alone is a kind of time and space gift. Dear twenty-somethings, please get to know yourselves without the bars, brunches, and outings. Your life does not have to be like Monica and Chandlers’ apartment, filled with “Friends” all the time (completely unrealistic, simply in that fact). Give it time and your life will fill itself so full, “alone time” will sound like the next new Disney fairy tale.

And my dear Millennials, let us banish the super stigmatization of loners, shall we? As Maitland writes, “Fear muddles things up; it is difficult to think clearly when you are scared. When we are frightened we tend to project this onto other people, often as anger: anyone who seems different starts to feel threatening…At the moment a very popular media-inspired terror is the threat of the ‘loner.'”

Let’s make the new form of acceptable solitude be the kind that doesn’t have to be a solo adventure (really the most dangerous type of isolation). I will write my thanks to you all when I have a quiet Friday night by myself.



Mentors offer Millennials advice beyond their years

As young Millennials encounter older generations in the workplace, relationships can be built between employees that benefit both sides through a process called mentoring. A mentor is a fellow employee at the company or one who also works in the same field. They can be someone a Millennial can discuss workplace issues or concerns as well as simple everyday questions.

Baby Boomer Sara Jansen said she thinks mentors aren’t just a passing fad.

“I see mentors being very important in the next few years as different generations are coming into the workforce. I think a mentor would be an asset with the younger generation helping them learn how to handle office situations, how to handle office meetings and how to deal with interoffice situations,” Jansen said.

Jansen said mentors had never been offered at any of her jobs, though it would have been helpful.

 “I have never had a mentor at any of my jobs.  At [my current job], I had about three weeks training from the lady who I was replacing,” Jansen said. “I think a mentor would be very useful, especially in companies that are large, have many corporate offices throughout the country and internationally. When you deal with several different cultures you run into many different ways of thinking and views on how companies will handle situations.”

 Mentorship – It takes two

According to an article by Levo League, an online community of professional women who share the advice and tools required to achieve career goals, “mentorship is ultimately about collaboration, sharing ideas, asking for feedback and not being afraid to ask for help or advice.”

 Young Millennial and Wartburg College student Angela Zook served as a mentor during her high school years and believes the relationship created between a mentor and a mentee is incredibly valuable.

 “Both people involved in mentoring are positively affected. The mentee has someone he or she can go to for questions about anything and has a role model,” Zook said. “The mentor gains leadership skills in helping give life lessons to someone.”

As a student, Zook said her current mentors are mostly faculty at her college, but looks forward to finding new mentors outside of college.

“I think mentors are important in all aspects of life, especially in the workplace when you first start out a job. You need advice, the best way to carry out a task and even life lessons,” Zook said.

Beneficial to all

Before asking someone to become your mentor, Management Mentors suggests sitting down with the mentor prospect and really getting to know them. Later, send a formal email asking them to consider the possibility of mentorship.

 Jansen said though the workplace is full of different generations, mentorship does not just benefit younger employees.

“Generations think differently now and have different opinions on how business works,” Jansen said. “They could both help each other bridge that generation gap by working together more.”