ifIknew is a health initiative for young adults that uses a multi media approach, including social media and in person programs, to address the contemporary issues that impact the well-being, self-image, careers, and relationships of people in their 20's and 30's.

If I Knew is a prevention education project that raises awareness about risky behaviors that can profoundly impact lives.

Filtering by Category: Media Literacy

What if You Are the Bully?

We live in a world of snark. Online comments, rude texts, flippant snarkemails, and snappy comebacks are all part of daily life for most people. Often we are the on the receiving end of rude remarks, but sometimes we are the perpetrators. Why do we feel so justified when we come up with what we think is a clever retort to someone’s perceived deficiency? For starters, snark is cyclical. When we feel threatened or stung by someone else’s rudeness, we carry that with us and in turn often throw it at someone else. If we read something uncomfortable directed toward us on Facebook in the morning, we keep that with us when we leave the house, we wear a scowl, we snap at the Starbucks barista. Then the barista feels stung and tweets something uncouth to someone she barely knows, and so on and so on.

We also use wit, sass, and sometimes outright meanness to protect ourselves.  It’s a classic defense mechanism: we say something nasty before someone else does. There is also a flipside to this. In a world where we are constantly plugged-in, it can feel boring when nothing happens for minutes, even seconds. So in the online world, it’s easy to prod and provoke, all in the name of playing Devil’s Advocate.

How do we stop negative behavior? Cold turkey. Before you type, before you speak, before you roll your eyes far back enough that you can see your own brain: think. Who benefits from what you are about to say? If the person you are saying it to doesn’t benefit in any way, stop and take a moment. Close your laptop, turn off your phone, shut your mouth and breathe. It’s a beautiful day.

How Millennials can get the respect we deserve

millennials-360 We’ve all heard it. From teachers or journalists, politicians or parents: the “Millennials” are lazy. We lack direction, we’re unfocused. We’re spoiled andcan’t detach from the teat of society. We are over-educated, under-achieving, couch potatoes. We’re too obsessed with social networking to really DO anything.

Is this perception true? If not, how do we reverse the perception, and if so, how do we reverse ourselves? First we must acknowledge that the assumption isn’t totally out of left field. As a generation we do spend more time on phones and computers than any other, and many of us are unemployed or underemployed. That said, there are many encouraging trends for people born between 1980 and 2000. Constant connection to the internet means constant connection to the world.  For example, Twitter is more than just a way for celebs to connect with each other. It’s aided in major protests all over the world by, keeping people connected. Social networks have allowed a platform for debate, and a forum for questions between politicians and voters. And who are those asking the questions? That group is largely made up of people under 35. We are also using these tools to market ourselves. Millennials have an innate understanding of the forward momentum of technology, and are often ahead of the curve. Musicians, writers, researchers, fundraisers, and entrepreneurs all have ways to broadcast their message and their brand for free.

It’s also true that we buy things. A lot of things. From iPads to skinny jeans, Millennials have an incredible buying power. This is a sticky wicket, because we also live with our parents longer than any generation before us, so where is all of this money coming from? Shouldn’t it be going toward paying our student loans, or putting down a security deposit on an apartment? You’d be hard pressed to find someone to say no, but it’s also true that buying power has the word “power” in it for a reason. We’re trend-setters, meaning that we have the power to advocate for socially, ethically, and fiscally responsible items. When the popular crowd makes a good-hearted decision, the trend will spread- as it has with the popularity of hybrid cars, ethically made goods, and organic food.

As a generation, we tend to fall on the educated side. This can be tough because the demand for certain types of education rise and fall with the state of the economy and innovation trends (think tech, financial, and automotive industries- each with specified training, and their own ups and downs in the last 15 years). But we sometimes forget that school offers more than just a degree or a course of study. Our experiences, in and out of a university setting, shape who we are and can be used to give us a leg up. Social skills, public speaking, time management and a host of other skills are all part of higher education, and can help you create the best career for yourself.

Millennials are blessed with another characteristic: energy. Boundless energy is our best friend and our most powerful ammunition in the desire to move the world forward. We can use our connections, our social media skills, our degrees, our savings to create the world we’ve envisioned for ourselves, but none of those things will get us very far without the fervor of youthful energy.

Much of the world is in the hands of Millennials and it’s a trend that won’t end for decades, so we’d better get used to it. We’re often handed greeting cards, posters, or refrigerator magnets urging us to heed Gandhi’s words and “Be the change we want to see in the world,” so let’s do just that. Even if we’re using Kickstarter to get there.

Rant - You know what I hate?

I hate lying. I hate deceit. I hate playing on your personality and interests for personal gain. And I especially hate when all of the above are mixed together, along with bright colors, catchy mastheads, and pop culture to produce a concoction that’s sticky sweet in all the wrong aspects. You know what I’m talking about?

I’m talking about those irritating advertisements that take up the first and last thirty pages of whatever magazine you’re reading. Those ads that promise good fortune, lush hair, silky skin lots of friends and lots of easy sex? They are there aimed at increasing hormone-induced fuzzy thinking so we’ll buy their products.

You know why it sucks?

Because we are already genetically prone to temptation, which is hard enough to avoid as it is. You hear all these stories about people who have altered the way their brain and lungs function by drinking and smoking too much, so you resolve that this sort of thing won’t happen to you. You don’t want to grow up to forever regret accepting that Solo cup of Skyy mixed with Redbull, and you promise that this won’t be your future.

You know why this could be your future?

It could be your future because whether or not you want to see this stuff every day, you do. And even though you have that "this-won’t-happen-to-me-because-I’m-smarter-then-that" attitude, you probably check out the ads because they’re colorful, they’ve got hot guys or girls in them, and/or you know the product.  Some ads show people, especially kids doing stuff that requires some serious coordination and alertness, like swimming, for example.  Does anyone you know actually go swimming after ingesting 16 ounces of Four Loko? The problem is they don’t live to tell you about it. So just why are the guys in the picture smiling? We need to remember they are acting and getting paid to appear like it’s all fun and no consequences. - R.S

Want to see for yourself? Check out the website: http://www.camy.org/

Everything Causes Cancer!

The Internet and media never lie, right?! Unaware of these anonymous “sources” behind websites, people buy into whatever they read, and don’t even bother to think for a second, no less fact-check. As we discovered on Stumble Upon: A student at Eagle Rock Junior High won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair by testing this idea that we are all so used to consuming whatever the media feed us, especially about “dangers” being all around, that we don’t even bother to check what we’re reading. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide,” citing 7 side effects of the chemical. The potential side effects of dihydrogen monoxide are as follows:

  1. can cause excessive sweating and vomiting
  2. major component in acid rain
  3. can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
  4. accidental inhalation can kill you
  5. contributes to erosion
  6. decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
  7. has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients

He asked 50 people if they supported a ban of the chemical.

  • Forty-three (43) said yes,
  • six (6) were undecided,
  • and only one (1) knew that the chemical he was referring to was water.

One of the most important words I learned growing up was “ascertain.”  Not only did I think it sounded cool and intelligent, but once I learned its meaning, I realized it came in very handy in many occasions. Ascertain is defined in the dictionary as: “to find out definitely; learn with certainty or assurance.” Had these subjects ascertained their facts, they could have discovered that dihydrogen monoxide was just the more complicated, chemical name for H20, or water.

Instead, they relied on one source to provide them with information, rather than stopping to really think and then checking reputable sources. This young student provided a great example of why, in so many cases, it is important to take a step back and think and to verify the information you are receiving.


Now You See It

I was watching my new guilty pleasure the other night – MTV’s new series Teen Wolf. There was one scene where the protagonist, Scott, was in the middle of a make out session with his love interest when his phone rang. He leaned over to turn it off and as he did, the AT&T logo flashed on the phone’s screen. “Nice product placement,” I thought to myself. With the decline of print media and commercial television viewing, advertisers are always looking for ways to keep up with the changing times. They have become very good at sneaking ads in to everything we do, from the shopping carts at the grocery store to the sidebar on Facebook. The next time you’re on your Facebook page, look at the ads if you don’t already.  It’s amazing how they tailor them to exactly what you would be interested in.  I recently went skydiving and posted pictures on my Facebook.  Suddenly I noticed that there were three new ads on my sidebar for skydiving schools close by!

For those of us who still occasionally read magazines, it’s important to realize that everything we see is a fantasy.  The models wish they looked like their finished photos.  I recently met a professional photographer’s assistant who told me that every photo that gets published is now altered in one way or another. It’s one thing to know this, but it’s another thing to remember it every time you see a picture. Seventy percent of women feel worse about themselves after viewing a magazine for only 3 minutes.

Advertisers know that their consumers are preoccupied with affluence, attractiveness, and achievement, and they use this to their advantage.  For example, look at Kim Kardashian’s ads for Sketcher’s Tone Up shoesYou can fire your personal trainer (What? Don’t you have one?), and achieve Kim’s attractive and sexy body.

Before you make any larger purchase, do your own research. Here’s one site which disagrees with the Sketchers claims. http://fyiliving.com/health-news/kim-kardashian-skechers-ad-the-toning-sneaker-scam/

One of the most tried and true methods of counteracting advertisements is to talk back to them.  I know it sounds silly but it works.  In my house we like to dissect them and laugh at how gullible the industry thinks we are.   Do you really think that Kim Kardashian fired her trainer and works out by just wearing these shoes?  Do you really think she wears them at all?  Just looking at the print advertisement, can you see that, while she is beautiful, she has been touched up?

Do I still want to go out and buy the latest and greatest mascara advertised?  Yes!  But I try to be an informed consumer and not just a mindless drone.

Selling Booze to Fight HIV?

When we read that Belvedere Vodka & Product (Red) with the help of Usher were launching a special edition vodka bottle to "help eliminate HIV/AIDS," we hoped it was an April Fools' joke. Unfortunately, this is for real. The specially designed vodka label reads: "(PRODUCT)RED HELPS SAVE LIVES."

Even if 50% of proceeds go to the Global Fund, this product choice seems a wildly insensitive and hypocritical move.  Rather than saving lives, alcohol is the cause of 4% of deaths worldwide- even more than AIDS! Alcohol is a causal factor in 60 types of diseases and injuries.

Beyond this, alcohol use plays a major role in HIV transmission. Alcohol can cloud decision-making abilities and lead to high-risk sexual behaviors or drug use that can spread HIV. Alcohol is also quite harmful to people who are HIV positive; it can lead to failure of medications and other complications.

In a statement, the President of Belvedere said, "As one of the world's leading spirit brands, we are in a unique position to harness the power of our customers to benefit the millions of people who are at risk, or are living, with HIV. We want to raise consumer awareness and incite more global action to eliminate AIDS in Africa. Our message is simple - (PRODUCT)RED helps saves lives." The (PRODUCT) RED campaign also added the Penfold brand of wines to its lineup recently. This trend is worrisome.

The real message should be about the negative effects of alcohol advertising and that drinking can put you at risk for HIV. As this recent reaction from the Marin Institute puts it:

"If Usher and PRODUCT(RED) really wanted to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa, they would counteract the oversaturation of alcohol advertising, rather than promoting it. Instead, it seems that Belvedere and its parent company...are targeting the populations at highest risk of HIV, to increase sales and consumption of a product that increases both the risk of contracting HIV and the progression of HIV/AIDS disease."

Can Love be Addictive?

If you’ve watched the video of Rihanna and Eminem’s “I Love the Way You Lie,” or if you’ve listened to Rihanna’s “Rehab” song, you’re familiar with the concept that relationships can be addictive. Some studies have actually found that love can light up the same parts of the brain as those that correspond to drug addiction. But at what point is likening love to a disease going too far?

“I Love the Way You Lie” is raw, intense, and painful, as it shows two people being equally violent against each other.  Eminem sings about feeling angry but not knowing what to do with that anger. In “Rehab,” Rihanna, who had a violent relationship with singer Chris Brown, sings about a man being her disease.

Weigh in: Do you think relationships can be addictive? Do you think intensity is one of the most important things to have in a relationship? Can it rationalize abuse?

For more about relationships, click here or visit Love is not Abuse.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Well, to start, a live woman's hips are generally wider than her head. Obviously, this picture is the result of some serious Photoshopping.

This photo appeared in a Ralph Lauren advertisement in 2009.  The picture was so shocking that it started discussions about whether digitally altered fashion photos harm women by promoting standards of beauty that are simply unattainable by natural, non-computerized means.

Some governments have discussed banning digitally altered images or requiring the addition of warning labels, much like the government requires for cigarettes or alcohol.  Some people argue that fashion photography is not supposed to show us something attainable.

What do you think?  Are these images dangerous?  Do they contribute to body image or eating disorders, or do they play upon ideas we already have?  Can or should they be regulated, or is it our own responsibility to be able to detect what's real and what's robot?

Sound off in our comments section!