Tag Archives: Random Things I Found on the Internet

4 Kinds of People Who Must Love/Hate the Internet

We all live in a new age. Since the Internet has connected all of us in ways previously thought impossible, our very culture has changed in so many ways. Some companies have profited greatly from the rise new technology (Google), while others have been ruined (Blockbuster). Some people, however, have a mixed bag. These people include

1. Photographers

Despite my own complete artistic ignorance, I am aware of the fact that there is a group of highly skilled artists who take pictures. They understand concepts like lighting, focus, mood, color, and other artsy words to create pictures that are dramatic and inspiring. I think about guys like Robert Capa, who covered five wars. He was quoted as saying “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough”. To put that in perspective, this is the same man who covered relatively dangerous situations like…oh, D-Day.

Doesn’t get much closer than this.

These kinds of people still exist today, I am sure of it. The problem is that they are completely overwhelmed by millions of teenagers with Instagram. Having an iPhone and access to the internet virtually guarantees pictures with sepia filters will be posted #nofilter to Facebook at some point in time.

The upside to being a photographer nowadays is also the internet. Building a portfolio, maintaining a website, and social networking give easy access to potential employers and give an aspiring photographer more exposure than was possible years ago. It’s also possible to edit all of your pictures with photo shop, but that’s an entirely different story. In college I had a roommate who was a photographer. He would shoot weddings and senior pictures, and actually rented out a studio in his hometown (which was ~2 hours away). He was very talented, and would upload his pictures directly to an iPad so his clients could see them immediately after he took them. Keep in mind he was about 20 at this point. He made thousands of dollars in cash every weekend (which he unwisely decided to keep in his desk drawer for a long time), and he now works for ESPN, shooting college sports and parts of their annual swimsuit edition. He relied absolutely on the internet and 4 different computers to keep all of his projects straight, but he was very successful.

2. Cable Companies

Cable companies want you to buy their big cable packages. That’s where they make their money, and it’s also why I get ads in the mail every week to upgrade to cable and phone. It is becoming increasingly common for people (like me) to skip out on the cable part and just pay for monthly internet. Cable costs about triple the price, and I know we won’t watch it, so we don’t pay for it. From their perspective, they just lost a significant part of their “income” from me, their customer, while still having to maintain the infrastructure necessary for me to have that service. Netflix, YouTube, and medical school suck up huge amounts of data, and the race is on to keep up with society’s insatiable need for bandwidth (upgrading to fiber optic cables, for example). This is expensive for them, but it might also save them in the future as more people ditch the traditional cable packages but remain customers for the internet access.

3. Actors

Admittedly, celebrities have always had many people paying close attention to them. In fact, there are other people paid to follow them around and report on what they are doing, which is ridiculous, but whatever. This applies mostly to people who are already rich and famous, so it isn’t the worst thing that could happen, but it must certainly be annoying. They used to run the constant risk of having unattractive pictures taken and then finding those pictures on magazine and newspaper covers everywhere.

Now things are much worse. Paparazzi still follow celebrities around, like those little fish that attach themselves to sharks, but now they can post things to the internet. Once things hit the web, they will never ever go away, just like when you eat a single piece of pizza for lunch and you can still taste it two days later. Instead of having yourself on a magazine cover at the grocery store checkout for a week or two, you now have thousands of copies of that picture or news story circulating on the internet. Forever. Awesome. Paparazzi are also assisted by people who attempt to hack cell phones, Facebook accounts, and laptops to produce scandals and generate publicity for themselves, and they do it for free.

Most celebrities are also benefiting from their ability to use the internet to generate positive publicity. They can maintain an online presence and still generate attention, even if they aren’t in any upcoming movies or TV shows. I follow a few celebrities on Twitter just because they are funny (I have absolutely no idea if they are in any recent movies).

4. Musicians

Becoming a professional musician that makes a gazillion dollars is a lot like becoming a professional athlete. At one point, most boys in this country played baseball. Only a fraction of a percent of them ever sign an MLB contract. Tons of kids learn to play the piano, guitar, or drums. Very few of them ever play for Maroon 5 and make tons of money. Becoming a successful musician isn’t always about talent. Certain Disney stars have turned into “musicians” and continue to make money and sell songs despite their (sometimes) questionable musical ability.

I would hate to be a professional musician. It’s one of those fields where, no matter how good you are, there is always someone better than you. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, those people can be anywhere on Earth. Even when popular mainstream bands create good songs, it won’t be long before some talented teenagers with good equipment make a cover that is better than the original song.

One more thing. Remember when we bought actual CDs? From music stores? From the perspective of the band, that’s actually a good thing. How many times did you really like 4 (or less) of the songs on the CD, but you ended up buying the whole CD for those 4 songs? That created a good margin for groups, who got a whole CD of sales, even if they only had a single good song. Now nobody buys CDs. Instead, we buy music on iTunes, if we buy it at all. I haven’t bought music in years, I just listen to Pandora, YouTube, and the radio and I’m fine. Even if there was a song I absolutely had to buy, I’d get it on iTunes for $1.29. That doesn’t work out nearly as well for the band, since I am no longer paying $12 for the CD.

I could add to this list, and you probably could too. Authors lose money from illegally downloaded PDF copies of their hard work, but the Fifty Shades of Grey series started out as a PDF and that lady made a gazillion dollars. Many doctors who lecture at medical school complain about patients who are convinced they have cancer (thanks, WebMD), but huge advances in electronic health records have changed the way we do medicine. I’m convinced that an internet outage at my medical school would cause some students to have serious anxiety attacks. I am on the internet for hours and hours every single day, and many of my hobbies (like writing this blog) rely on the internet. I love it, but I hate it.

Thanks for reading! Thanks to a recent guest post featured on Student Doctor Network, I have had a huge influx of new readers from more than 15 countries, which is awesome. Thanks for the emails and comments, it’s been a lot of fun.

sortadrwordpress@gmail.com

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Let’s Talk About Drugs

Maybe the timing is coincidental. Maybe studying pharmacology so much lately is making me more attuned to notice stories and posts regarding drugs and disease. Or maybe there has legitimately been a lot of really terrible Facebook posts, links, and comments lately (at least on my Facebook page). When someone on Facebook posts a story and claims “this is why I will never get my kids vaccinated!” I sometimes die a little inside. I would love to dissect their claim, present some objective evidence, and state my own claim in a reasonable manner, but we all know how that goes. Instead, I have turned to my blog, where I will be presenting some of the more common statements I’ve seen and the reasons why they are ridiculous. We’ll start with….

1. Doctors overprescribe drugs. They need to stop throwing pills at problems. They put my friend on too many drugs and he developed all of these side effects. Etc.

As seen in:

Image

Yeah…I’m pretty good at MS Paint

:

First things first: it is very possible to be taking too many drugs. We had an entire lecture on this last week. It’s fine to be on a handful of drugs, but if you have a patient routinely take 10+ pills per day you are going to run into problems with side effects, compliance, and drug interactions. So why is it that patients accumulate so many medications? Why do doctors consistently prescribe drugs for patient complaints?

Probably because that’s what they are trained to do. And because it works. I am not attending medical school to learn how NOT to prescribe drugs. I’m learning how to harness the incredible therapeutic potential available to me and every modern physician. There are so many drugs that work so well at fixing common problems I would be remiss as a physician if I didn’t prescribe.

Example: If a 48 year old man comes into my practice for a check up, and I notice he has high blood pressure, I have two options. I can tell him he needs to eat healthier, exercise, and drink less alcohol. Over time, this would make him healthier and lower his blood pressure. Of course, very few patients will actually do this. He is most likely to walk back into my clinic a year later and tell me that he was busy at work, tried walking but hurt his foot, and otherwise didn’t get any healthier. And he was exposed to an extra year of uncontrolled high blood pressure, increasing his risk for serious problems later on in life.

I could also give him a prescription for Lisinopril. He could take a pill every morning, his blood pressure will go down, whether or not he improves his lifestyle, and I improved his chances of living a longer, healthier, happier life.

The trap of this example is when a patient comes in with an upset stomach, so I give a script for that. They take it and their stomach is better but they feel dizzy and sick, so I give another script for that. That’s usually when people start experiencing really bad symptoms from taking too many drugs. Do people think that the doctors were intentionally trying to hurt people with these medications? There’s nothing nefarious here. The intention was always to treat.

2. If I vaccinate my kids they will get autism. It’s unnatural. I don’t want to expose them to those terrible things. It’ll do them more harm than good.

As seen in:

This has come up a few times lately, especially after we watched Jenna Mccarthy on the Rockin New Years Eve a few weeks ago. I’d like to start by saying that if you are taking healthcare advice from a Playboy model, please re-evaluate your life and see an actual physician immediately. Vaccinations do not cause autism. I’ve looked at the evidence for it, and its pretty slim. For the rest of this article, however, I’ll assume it could (I’m feeling generous). People who don’t vaccinate their children are susceptible to two fallacies. First, that by avoiding vaccination they are somehow protecting their kids from exposure to the pathogens that cause disease. Second, that vaccination is primarily intended to protect their child specifically.

Ever heard of a kid with polio? Rotavirus? Smallpox? Probably not in recent memory. How about whooping cough? Few Americans (or none, in some of those cases) ever develop these diseases. The reason isn’t that the disease doesn’t exist anymore, but instead that vaccination has prevented the pathogen from causing disease. Viruses and bacteria are everywhere. Always watching. Always waiting. Just kidding, but there are way more of them than us, and our immune system clears them very efficiently ever day. If you don’t vaccinate a child against a disease, that doesn’t guarantee that they will never see that pathogen. It just handicaps their immune system if they should ever come across it.

Second, vaccinations aren’t exclusively intended for your child specifically. The key here is a concept called herd immunity. If you prefer to think of the human race as something different than a herd, call it population immunity. When the herd is vaccinated (say 95%) against a disease, only 5 out of 100 members will be susceptible to developing a disease. Should one of them acquire the disease, their chance of spreading it is low, because only 4 of the remaining 99 members can acquire it. If the herd is unvaccinated against that disease, however, one member acquiring it will cause a rapid spread through the herd. There will be a few members who are naturally resistant (there is always a small percentage of people with natural resistance to some disease), but the rest of the herd will be devastated. Getting your child vaccinated is less about their protection than it is for the rest of your kids class. Some vaccines don’t matter for kids, but for adults. Children don’t develop symptoms when infected with Hep A, but they can spread it to adults, where it causes serious illness.

This is what comes to mind when I think of “herd immunity”

3. I’m so worried that I have the swine/avian/llama flu! Everyone is going to die!

Actually probably so. If there is a total disaster to worry about, it would be a mutated influenza virus. We all remember the H1N1 outbreak a few years ago, and ever more recently new mutations like last years H7N9 virus caused concern. Should a strain of influenza develop easy transmission between humans as well as the ability to easily cause disease or death, it will be scary. Influenza changes and evolves quickly enough already, which is why there is a new flu shot every year. Millions of people died in 1918 during an influenza outbreak, where massive global troop and refugee movements allowed it to ravage the world. Despite the present lack of a world war, we have a constant state of travel and mobility, both internationally and regionally. Scary scary.

4. Have you heard about all of these new resistant bacteria? MRSA, VRE, CRE? It’s going to be the end of medicine!

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Surely you have heard of these new “super bacteria”. Are they scary as well? Yup. Are they the end of modern medicine? Nope. That link above was shared by a friend but written by a lawyer. Antibiotic resistance is certainly a problem, but it’s one that we will solve. I have had antibiotic resistance pounded into my head for the last six weeks. When to use antibiotics, when to hold them, how to identify resistant strains, combination drug therapies, etc etc. I can remember a high school teacher from years ago talking about MRSA, how terrible it was, and how that would be the end of modern medicine. Multiple resistant bacteria have developed since then, nastier than MRSA, even. Why am I not worried as much about CRE? First, because its nosocomial (acquired while in a hospital). These super bugs don’t exist everywhere around the world. They usually only infect people with extended hospital stays and invasive therapies (like catheters). Second, they will be beaten as well. People far smarter than me are always working on drugs to combat these resistant strains that develop. A resistant infection is never a good thing, but in order to find yourself developing one of these you would probably already have had something pretty serious going on.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or at sortadrwordpress@gmail.com

Thanks for reading

The World Is Hilarious and Sad

NOTE: It’s been a week since my last post. My bad.

I made an honest attempt at reading my entire inbox today. I get exactly 3 million emails a day on my medical school email, as well as a surprising amount of emails on my undergrad email (which I am slowly cutting off) and my personal email. Having gone most of the weekend without checking any of those accounts, then not catching up during Monday and Tuesday, I finally made an effort to catch up. See, while a majority of the emails I get are blasted to my entire class, and are mostly advertisements for events, classes, socials, etc, there are a few IMPORTANT emails that have to be detected. So I missed the one telling me NOT to come to my small group workshop today because the faculty member was sick. Just great.

So, faced with an unexpected afternoon off, I had several options. The most logical choice would be attempting to catch up on the library of biochemical pathways thrown at us during lecture this week, in a last ditch effort to pass Friday’s quiz. More attractive options included going home and sleeping, perhaps later followed by a run. Instead, I found myself reading the newspaper on a bench, enjoying the gorgeous weather outside today. While I may be a millennial, I do have this habit of reading the newspaper every single day (especially the comics and crossword). And so, ironically, I am more caught up on current events than I am lecture material, a situation medical students rarely find themselves in.

This happens all the time, actually

While I have the same chance of beating the average on Friday’s quiz that the Jaguars do of beating the Seahawks on Sunday (less than zero, for my non-NFL readers), there’s a lot going on outside the walls of my medical school that is ridiculous/tragic/interesting enough for me comment on. I promise this will be interesting even if you don’t follow the news or current events.

Let’s start small. My medical school is hosting a “poverty simulator” in a few weeks (I actually read that email). Some faculty noticed that most medical students have no experience living in poverty or low-income situations. Really? Gee, who could have known that a bunch of 20-somethings attending a private medical school likely came from middle class families? I picked up on that in my first week of medical school, before I even knew where the cafeteria was. To help us gain empathy for those with lower income, we will do a simulation where we have to pay bills, find childcare, contact agencies, and arrange transportation to a job (as well as maybe finding a job) based on scenarios that are given to us. So how long does the scenario last? 60-90 minutes. The sad part is that many patients in our city are living in poverty, but the best our school can do to help us learn to help them is a 90 minute class on a Friday morning with free breakfast. I’ve spent enough time in free clinics and outreach centers to know that there’s more to poverty than a lecture, but I will still probably go because there will be free food.

Next topic. There was much discussion among my iPad wielding friends last week about a certain article published in the New York Times by one Vladimir Putin. While many were impressed at the open tone of the article, I found it hilariously hypocritical and misleading. He references our alliance during World War 2 as if we were pals back then. We may have been allies, but we certainly weren’t friends. Allies of convenience, if anything, but mostly we shared a common enemy. He also references that the conflict in Syria is fueled by “foreign weapons”. And just who could possibly be supplying weapons to Syria? Who gets implicated every time North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, or other unfriendly countries begin acquiring weapons? RUSSIA! Despite this article, we are not friends with Russia. Period. The list goes on, but I will cut to the chase.

He makes one last point that will help me transition to the broader context of this article. He says that it is “dangerous” to encourage any people to consider themselves exceptional. Specifically, he means the idea of “American Exceptionalism”. In my mind that’s an adjective, not a theory. To argue that we aren’t exceptional is a little bit silly. Everything we have done in the last 100 years has been exceptional. We put men on the moon, won a bunch of wars, and provided the driving force for progress in science, medicine, technology, and civilization as we know it. Even things we do poorly are done horrifically. Not only are we the fattest country in the world, we are getting fatter FASTER than any country in the world. Not only are we spending our money quickly, we are spending MORE AND MORE money FASTER than other countr- you get the idea. Even Assad himself said in 2009 that there was “no substitute for the United States of America”. True story. There are very few countries in the world that can blow something up anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours, and no countries that could spend more money doing it.

When you step back even more is when it gets even weirder. It becomes more and more obvious that Obama is terrible at foreign policy. This second term has caused him to wade into the shallow end of international diplomacy, and he is already in way over his head. I like to think of his strategy lately as “leading from somewhere”. First, he declares that we will certainly do something about Syria. Then, he decides to ask Congress first (reversing a 150 year old precedent). Then, when he goes to Britain for help, they say no. Mind you, this is the first time since 1782 that Parliament has said no when the government asked for a declaration of war. That’s crazy! England has a long history of invading countries because there wasn’t anything good on TV.

The countries in red are ones that have NOT been invaded by England

The next step of hilarity came when an accidental remark turned into serious policy. Kerry (or maybe his hair) mentioned that Syria could just give up the weapons, and suddenly Assad (and suspiciously Russia) seemed ok with it. What? What? Since when has any country ever stockpiled illegal weapons against international law, then decided to just “give them away”. What is going on?

That’s really the crux of the issue. There’s a lot happening here that we don’t know. Lots of the intelligence is classified, and so the reasons that various governments have for making their decisions can’t always be public. It’s in situations like this where we need to be able to trust the people we elected to weather this storm and protect our interests. The problem is that I don’t trust Obama. I have seen enough in his last five years to doubt his motives and ability to handle a situation like this. If he would have appeared on the news in June to announce that Syria was stockpiling chemical weapons and we knew it, so we went in and blew them up, I could have supported that. I could also have supported a similar press conference two weeks ago where he explains that we won’t blow anything up in Syria, but that we will be watching closely and actively working to confiscate the weapons. I have a hard time supporting whatever Obama is trying to do right now. Side note: Putin used to be the director of the KGB, which is a nastier, meaner version of our CIA. Obama was a community organizer in Chicago. Who do you think will out maneuver the other?

Well that went longer than expected….and I’m not even done. If you are still reading this, perhaps I earned a like? Tune in later today for the rest of this long post.

I love this show.

Reality Check

Our first big exam is coming up on Friday. We have already had some smaller quizzes and evaluations, but this will be our first really big one. It really shouldn’t be too bad, but you wouldn’t know it based on the opinions expressed by my classmates last week. When asked how much I was going to study this past Labor Day weekend, I honestly told them “very little, if at all”. I got a lot of wide eyes with that comment.

The things you can find on Google.

I am specifically talking about three or four people in one of my small group activities. They get pretty worked up about everything, and I don’t really see how they learn anything. In lecture a few days ago they would constantly ask each other (and me) annoying questions like:

“What did he say? How do you spell that? How do you know that? Why does it have to be that way? How do you know that? How do you spell that?”

I’m surprised they were able to hear enough of the lecture to ask questions about it, much less learn anything. I do try to learn a few things in lecture, every now and then. In fact, all the way through undergrad, I have been able to sit in lecture, hear what is told to me, and then promptly regurgitate all of that knowledge onto an exam a few weeks later. I think I also have a special kind of laser-like focus, such that I remain completely engrossed in the lecture or totally concentrated on my iPhone.

My class looks something like this, just with a few additional iPads, so no one even notices.

So anyways, we have all kinds of time given to us to study for this exam, so that’s beautiful. We still have to learn things that are most likely pointless knowledge. For example, I spent a good portion of the day re-learning the steps and enzymes in metabolism. Our lecturer today told us we will need to know this stuff exactly twice. Once on Friday for the exam, and again next year for Step 1. After that, we can just look it up on the Interweb.

Anyways, (I’m so good at transitions. I just switch to my new topic and let you catch up). So anyways, lots of crazy stuff happened over the long weekend. I wanted to touch on two things and tie them in with my main point for the night. In case you were distracted while watching for another post from this blog, I’ll help catch you up. First things first, the Slane girl. A few weeks ago a young girl got a little extra friendly with a guy at an Eminem concert in Slane. Over the last few days this has spawned multiple memes and quite the commotion over some social stereotypes (the women is considered a slut, but no one seems to hold the guy accountable here either). Interestingly, she is claiming sexual assault, and I think she may be a minor.

Then there is the slightly more important tension with Syria. The crazy guy who runs Syria is apparently using chemical weapons (WMD’s) to murder his own people, and Obama may or may not do something about it, depending on what Congress says. I’m not even going to bother linking that, since it will continue to develop even as I write this. Needless to say, no one seems to have any idea what’s happening, especially in Washington D.C. I know this because I was stuck in yet another auto store today and forced to watch CNN, where I saw the hearings. There was lots of posturing and nonsense from both sides, and no one was thinking clearly. Interestingly, however, they used the word “reality” a lot.

I thought that was interesting. One person would express an opinion, and they would then be either reassured or rebuffed by an appeal to “the reality of the situation”. What’s interesting is that reality is the state of things as they actually exist, not the way we perceive them.

And so, of course, my way of viewing reality is the right way. “&$#! no it isn’t,” you think as you reach for your mouse to email me. And you’re right as well. To you, your way of viewing the world is reality, and mine is just a construct. Some people think the girl from Slane is a slut. Some think that everyone there is terrible for even going to an Eminem concert. Others are reading that article, grateful that there were no cell phones at concerts/parties they had attended in the past. I think we should probably get involved in Syria, but my neighbor wants nothing to do with it.

Fact is, both of our views are probably constructs. Since our view of reality is shaped by so many factors, many of which are completely out of our control, it is unlikely we will ever experience enough of the world or life to be able to claim we have a grip on “reality”. I was fortunate enough to be born in a wealthy, middle class American family. I have no knowledge of living paycheck to paycheck, I have never had my utilities turned off, and I have never been in any real danger of becoming broke, as I have a small army of friends and family members that would help me out if I really needed it. That’s reality for me. Others know the flip side, so reality for them is a much grittier experience.

I’m not saying “reality” doesn’t exist. As a concept, it certainly does. It just isn’t a concept we could ever conceivably grasp enough of to ever claim we understand it. Any time you hear someone tell you what the world is actually like, they really are saying something like “This is the way the situation seems to me, based on how I see the world”. Does anyone actually think that John Kerry (and his hair, rumored to be an entirely separate, sentient organism) actually understand what life is like on the ground in Syria now?

See? I don’t think they are attached

So undoubtedly some of my classmates are still at the medical school right now, frantically making flash cards and studying even harder to get 102% on the first exam. Out of 40 exams. Out of one year of medical school. Whatever. That may just be worth it to them.

(I’m also really good at conclusions. I just end the post and go watch Netflix)

Thanks for reading!

I’m Predicting the Future

Friday was a good day for me. I received good feedback from a very intimidating surgeon who facilitates our small group project and scored well on our first exam thus far. I typically finish exams earlier than most of the class, which gives me time to sit around, read, and just generally waste time until everyone else finishes the test.

And so there I was, sitting in the lobby outside the lecture hall after my first exam, still shaking slightly from the extra cup of coffee I drank that morning, returning to all of my normal time wasting habits (Facebook, surfing the internet, etc). That is when I saw another trailer for Ender’s Game. Click the link if you haven’t heard about it yet. The movie is based off a fantastic series of science fiction novels published in the 1980’s. There are four in the series, and each one is distinctly different from the others. I highly recommend all four of them, even if you don’t think you like science fiction. My sister read them, and she doesn’t care at all for science fiction, but she thoroughly enjoyed them.

It also has Han Solo in it, so you have to go see it.

Not only is the book amazing, the movie looks like it was done really well. It has all of the ingredients to be a hit at the box office, except for one little detail. Orson Scott Card, the author of the series, is decidedly anti-homosexual. He has gone on the record and made multiple comments regarding his views on homosexuality and politicals, and that has created controversy in the past. Of course, until recently, he has been only the author of a (relatively) obscure collection of books in science fiction. That is all about to change. His first book is about to become a major movie, and there are billions of dollars on the line, as the success of his first movie could well dictate whether or not the next three are made. Which they should. But that’s an entirely different discussion.

So here is what’s going to happen. I’m predicting the future right now. As we get closer to November, we will first begin to see articles about this upcoming movie, with little blurbs about how the author of the book is homophobic. This will morph into newspaper editorials, blog posts, and news specials about how his intolerant views just aren’t acceptable in modern society. Eventually, a boycott movement will be started, and we may even see people with signs at the theater during opening weekend. In fact, the storm is already brewing.

Everybody loves signs!

I can predict this months in advance because it follows a well established pattern. Do you remember the fiasco with Chick-fil-a last summer? I do, since I head there at least six times a week for delicious chicken sandwiches. The boss of CFA is Dan Cathy. His dad started the first CFA, and it remains a family business to this day. The family is openly Christian (and very generous as well). It should be no surprise that, when asked about their views on gay marriage, they were not exactly supportive of it. Not only did they support traditional marriage and Biblical beliefs, the non-profit arm of Chick-fil-a had given money to lobbying groups that fought against LGBT organizations. Several LGBT groups organized “kiss-ins” at local restaurants as a protest, but with the support of Mike Huckabee, everyone and their mom ate at Chick-fil-a on August 1st to support the company. Since I know several people who work at CFA, I also happen to know that they broke exactly every sales record ever set that day. Many places ran out of food, and still people lined up to buy waffle fries and drinks.

So I predict the same backlash against Ender’s Game later this year. What I can’t predict is the response. I don’t know if the Chick-fil-a mob will all go see the movie in a sort of counter-demonstration, or whether the controversy will generate more hype (and more profit), or whether the backlash will actually succeed in keeping people from the theaters, but either way it sucks. The CFA incident and Ender’s game both show a hilarious double standard in society today regarding homosexuality (and expressing your opinion, really).

I’m not supporting either side in this debate, either. Don’t get worked up over that. Get this. Orson Scott Card is a Mormon. It should be no surprise to anyone that he doesn’t support gay rights. Additionally, Ender’s Game really has nothing to do with homosexuality. At all. Even remotely. In fact, the major themes in the story will make those who see the movie think long and hard about the way they see the world. So when gay rights activists pick up on his beliefs and decide to organize a boycott of the film, they get coverage and support. Consider an opposite scenario, where I decide that Tom Cruise and his crazy practice of scientology is too much for me, so I organize a boycott of his film. Even if I got all of the Mormons in the state to boycott the film, I doubt I’d generate the firestorm that is surely coming this fall. That’s one half of the problem.

Now I arrive at my main point. Orson Scott Card could believe he worshiped a giant panda in outer space and I’d still see his movies, if they were good. The same first amendment rights that allow musical “artist” and general douchebag Macklemore to sing/talk his way through seven minutes of his own opinion is the same first amendment that lets Orson Scott Card or Dan Cathy express their own opinion. If you plan on skipping Ender’s Game because Orson Scott Card is “intolerant”, I hope you see the irony in refusing to acknowledge his view out of your absolute belief in your own. Tolerance, after all, is not a one way street. Get over yourself and try to enjoy a good movie.

Or don’t. Go make signs and demonstrate at your local theater. Who knows….you just might make it on the news.

Late to My Own Party

A few weeks ago I had the chance to sit down and talk with a friend and mentor of mine on a nice summer morning. This guy is articulate and insightful, and our conversations are usually fairly interesting. On this particular morning we talked about work he was doing for his masters program, specifically studying changes in the attitudes of young people as generations have gone by. Because he works with young people, his focus is on the Millennials, or Generation Y. The milleninals make up most of our teenagers and twenty-somethings in America today.

I am a Millennial. You are likely a millennial as well, if you are reading this. We were born after 1980, and most likely before 2000. Generation X came before us (1960is-1980ish), and this would be my parents generation. The baby boomers came before them, and my grandparents are likely best represented in this category. Before them comes the silent generation, one that was raised during the Great Depression, fought and won World War II, and returned home to shape much of what America is today. 

If you haven’t done so, you can read an interesting article from Time (a few months old) here, or do credible background reading here (citation needed). To summarize, Millennials tend to be characterized by confidence, optimism, and idealism, despite coming of age during tough economic times. We are the most highly educated generation. Most millennials are tech savvy, liberal, less overtly religious than previous generations, frequent users of social media, and generally friendly with their parents and respectful of elder generations (I didn’t make that last bit up. Pew Research Group backs me up here). Critics of my generation call us lazy, narcissistic, overly confident, and entitled. There is truth to all of those descriptions.

At first I felt as though I didn’t identify with Millennials. By lifestyle, religion, and values I am often distanced from my peers by those very decisions. I began to list in my head all of the reasons I may not fit well in this Millennial grouping (of course by writing about it on my personal blog I fall right back into that Millennial stereotype. Oops). To run down the list from the Pew article, there are tons of differences. I married at a very young age (20). I have no tattoos. I have strong religious beliefs, and make no efforts to conceal them. I have been gainfully employed for the past six years during high school and undergrad (this will change in about 4 days when I move to begin medical school). My Facebook profile is very private, I don’t have Twitter, rarely take selfies, don’t have cable TV, and spend much of my free time reading. 

Armed with this notion in my head, I headed to the Internet to prove myself right (the fact that I turned to the Internet should have been a great clue here). Sure enough, Pew research has a quiz you can take to see how Millennial you are. The scale is 1-100 (not 1-Millennial, as I was hoping). After 15 quick questions my results popped up. 

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You can find an online quiz for almost anything these days…

Shocking, right? I started the quiz so confidently, checking off questions. No piercings, yes I’m conservative, no tattoos, etc. Other questions seemed silly. Of course I spent about an hour online yesterday. Do I have a house phone? Heck no! How many texts did I send? Hmm…around 40. It was a slow day. Did I play an hour of video games yesterday? Well, I did happen to spend 90 minutes or so on the amazingly addictive time sink called Minecraft (seriously though…I start on building something cool, then next thing I know it’s 2am!!)

So I’m definitely a millennial. It’s official, the Internet said so. I still have to hold on to the hope that I’m an unusual millennial, since that makes me sort of special. There is some truth to that idea, I think. I already talked about some of my non-Millennial traits, but there’s more to it. At a medical school interview this past year, I learned that the median age for fist year medical students was 26. I’m 22! By the time I’m 26, I’ll have either a) graduated medical school or b) died of a sweet tea overdose. 

Worth it

Once a practicing physician, I will be about as young as a new doctor can be, without being some sort of prodigy. In fact, the first millennials were born in 1980, so the oldest would be around 33 today. This means that millennials are just now finishing residencies and becoming physicians, entering a field currently dominated by Generation X. I’m interested to see how we change medicine in the next twenty years. Will our confidence, idealism, and optimism usher in a wave of reform and growth, riding the momentum handed to us by a wave of medical breakthroughs in proteomics, epigenetics, and gene therapy? Or instead, will our spirit eventually be destroyed by the grind of life? We were all told, while growing up, that someday we would change the world. Will we wake up in our forties, with debt and family problems, and realize that won’t happen? In that case, the idealism we currently hold may change to a characteristic cynicism in two decades. Only time will tell.

I’m curious what my kids will be like. I’m young, but I can remember not having the Internet. Maybe our kids will end up being the Networked Generation? The Wireless Generation? Let’s wait and see.

Thanks for reading!