O.k I am going to talk about my LEAST favorite genre in the young adult books. This is also the one I am pretty concerned about because there are some themes that are being retreaded over and over and over.
When I was a kid, if you wanted to read YA romance novels you usually turned to sweet valley high. They weren’t perfect- they are pretty darn close to pretty little liars- but it seems Ya fiction has come a long way from that former assessment.
I guess romance novels have become a beast in of itself, and while I was sort of expecting chick lit- which I don’t seem to mind reading from time to time- this seemed a lot more like harlequin romances than anything.
They are also trending number one in teen novels…beside fantasy/ sci fi and dystopian novels.Which have the same similar themes. As I started to read them a lot of them became blurred into the same darn plot albeit some key changes here and there.

Lover Boy as the Bad Damaged Distant Guy

He has penetrating eyes, and strong biceps tends to be a ladies man but doesn’t seem to connect with anyone. He is damaged , in some way or another. He has a dark past which usually involves sexual, physical or some kind of abuse. He has horrible parents or absent ones. He has no direction in life until he meets….

Wimpy Damaged Heroine

Our damaged heroine is a victim. She has been a victim of horrible parents/death/rape/incest/domestic violence… but somehow is still pretty wimpy. She shivers a lot and is unaware of her captivating beauty. That all changes when she meets ( insert ridiculous name here ) who awakens her and frightens her at the same time. Even though he is dangerous, and can’t stand having anyone talk to her or any men around her she feels ALIVE. She has no real ambition of her own. We don’t know any of her talents, we don’t know how she thinks and quite frankly she is pretty annoying. Despite people saying how great she is, she is pretty one dimensional

I hated these two themes more than anything else because it promotes the idea that if you fall in love, your pain and scars will disappear… if anything without therapy a relationship with two very screwed up individuals can become even more conflicted , toxic and codependent. It is not a cure, and romanticizing codependency is an extremely irresponsible thing to do . They very rarely really deepen on how this pain affects the characters. If you really want to know the effect of physical or sexual abuse go read i know why the caged bird sings, among other books. It’s really very dark and you do not recover just by some manly man cradling your weakened body into your arms.

Unecessary Conflict
After a lot of misunderstanding they get close… like fall- in -love- after- three- days -close. And then like there is some random stupid barrier that doesn’t allow them to get closer …. some misunderstanding

At the last minute
They realize their love until

Another unecessary conflict
Usually someone is about to die, is going to die or will die. Only they don’t …they make some miraculous recovery.

The girl is always a virgin
There is a lot of very steamy love scenes in this which surprises me because it is catered to teens where the stupid inexperienced virgin ( that everyone is surprised she is a virgin at 17 ….) gets experienced finally by the bad boy.

All Characters are white and American…
These guys don’t get around much in terms of diversity.

The characters get married
They get married without finishing school, having any ambition or even a view of the future. Most of these characters get married within six months of knowing each other.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Bad romance novels bad. I am not a romance novel expert so please school me but surely we don’t have to retread the same plot over and over to appease teenagers.

If you have read this blog for awhile, you will know my beliefs on beauty. Recently, i have come to see the other side of the coin. What is beautiful anyways? What makes a person beautiful? Why do we throw this word around so much in today’s society as a means of flattery but few truly mean it ? 

I get called beautiful on a regular basis, I also get called fat or ugly or whatever else people are throwing around. Does beauty have to do with the timbre of your laugh or the cadence of your words? If we truly listened to what everyone had to say about us, we would be going mad in the process. Some people might hate your dress some people love it. Some think your smile is beautiful some hate it.

What’s interesting is that the paradigm for beauty is quite individualized yet our paradigm for say, generosity is almost always universal.  We can all agree that a sunset is beautiful but we can never think that everyone is good looking. What our perception is defines how we see the world. The problem is when we factor in others, we tend to get a distorted sense of self.

In a society where women can be objectified or self objectified and place all of their worth on beauty, it can be a confusing concept. A girl dresses to please someone, but is labelled a slut in the process. A girl is dressed comfortably yet it is not flattering. It is interesting that things which were once practical as clothes can give a whole new definition based on how you are wearing them. Social cues give ideas of what a person is like purely based on what they are wearing.

For 1.5 years I did not own much of a cellphone. And even when I did,  it didn’t have internet. I didn’t really need it, I worked from home and pretty much connected through there whenever I wanted to. The point , though , was I was disconnected for awhile. Having so many friends in different countries and not having things like Whatsapp or Viber could sometimes be annoying but I managed all right.

I did not do this out of some statement to the world to go against technology, I just couldn’t be bothered. It was a time of silence. In that time, I read 300 books. In that time, I came to listen to my inner self . It was quiet, it was solace in some ways. I didn’t really miss it

I noticed how attached people were to their devices. I was intrigued how it is now the norm to talk on your cellphone while you are going out with someone and no one considers that rude. I was looking up instead of a screen, and sometimes I felt like I was the only one.

However, when I moved to Boston I found that is virtually impossible now to live without being ” connected” to a cellphone. I couldn’t get proper directions without a GPS, I couldn’t text properly without a smartphone and I couldn’t take pictures or be online.  In the end, getting a smartphone was a no brainer.

 

What I didn’t expect was the huge shock this produced in my daily  life and how a series of adjustments occurred in the process.  I was also intrigued how different it is to start using text, photos and videos when you hadn’t really done so for a long time. I still find the whole process jarring. There are times when I purposely don’t turn on any of my devices to try to get a certain amount of solitude.

1. The Noise Factor

After installing the numerous devices on my phone including all the dating apps, text apps, games, facebook messenger, skype, etc  I was avalanched by a torrential sea of messages. The phone was never quiet. I could never get a moment with my own thoughts. Instead I was bombarded by half written messages that most people forgot five minutes after they wrote them.  Even an expert multitasker such as myself would get overwhelmed. On average, I would get about 50 messages a day .  I wonder how much of a quality amount of time we can spend with all the people around us if we are only writing a couple of sentences a day. I am not opposed to texting or chatting but it is such an impersonalized means of communication. We are literally talking to a computer screen all day. As much as I try, i can’t seem to get totally involved in it except for a couple of people .

2. The Selfie factor

I hated taking pictures of myself. It was just one of those things that made me self conscious. I found that by having devices where I could take more pictures of myself I got more confident, but in so doing I became hyper aware of what I looked like at all times. It was a weird dichotomy. It was also an awareness of how others might perceive myself based on the feedback of others.  I was externalizing my self image based on what others thought of me. I can see how a lot of self objectification happens in young girls with this.

 

3. Losing time

I noticed that I wasn’t reading as much as I used to. There were more distractions, more apps more things to occupy my time. 

4. Ephermeral nature of Texts/ contacts

I guess this is limited to people you meet online but I noticed how quickly people come in and out of your life and how easily people just stop contacting you . They don’t even offer an explanation they just simply disappear. It’s almost as if by doing this you are negating that I ever existed in the first place. On the same coiin, with the aforementioned noise around me I am sure I have done the same thing with others.

5. Documenting your life isn’t living it

A lot of times we feel the need to document what we do but sometimes we spend an inordinate amount of time appearing to do something rather than doing it. I remember in October going out with a friend who was here visiting, he decided to go to to the Charles River . It was sunset and the golden leaves of fall were dissolving into reds and oranges as the sunset deepened. What did he spend his whole time doing? Taking pictures and posting it on facebook.

 

I guess I don’t regret having a smartphone, but I can’t begin to think some of the things I am losing in the process. I know what it was like not to have it, and I have to always remember that I don’t NEED it to be happy.

http://youtu.be/Z7dLU6fk9QY