I was married to a lesbian, and my girlfriend didn’t know

In the summer of 2015 I married a woman whom I’d met through work. She was openly gay, [period mark] our marriage was a friendly agreement to expedite her pursuit of citizenship. A few weeks afterwards, I reconnected with an old flame. The circumstances and the timing was awkward, and past grievances made my “marriage” a sensitive topic that I kept putting off. The longer I waited, the more difficult it became to broach the subject. I eventually managed to keep it a secret for the ENTIRE process, her naturalization and our divorce.  [A secret does not require a lie.]

As the development of communications technology accelerates our privacy seems to shrink, social media and the internet in general can make it very difficult to keep secrets. However, the technology and features to censor and mask secrets has also developed. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph.] Keeping my pseudo-marriage a secret was just a matter of exploiting the perfect settings on facebook and messenger [Capitalize brand names.]. Even if your profile is public, you can selectively publish photos and posts to groups of people. You can exclude a single person from your Timeline, or half the people you know. A few basic apps on the iPhone allow you to render incoming messages and calls to your phone invisible during certain timeframes. This allows you to check on secret messages only when you’re certain it’s safe, and avoids the need for false contact names. Lying with computers is easy, it was the human component to lying that required effort.

Inevitably, suspicions grew. My girlfriend began to notice certain details change in my stories, and I realized the lie would soon become unsustainable. [Do you think the person trying to penetrate the secret had a desire to know, gain control, feel superior, or be intimate?] My compulsion to lie in order to avoid an awkward confrontation had spiraled out of control and required a great deal of energy. [Relate to class: You kept a secret to protect your personal space and name.] [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph.] A lie, especially a big one, cannot exist in a vacuum. It permeates other subjects and puts a tremble in your voice when you mention certain things. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph.] I had to come clean before a REAL fight broke out. I confessed immediately after my divorce was finalized (the process is quick when you don’t have to split custody or property). She was so understanding it was almost comic, my frantic hide-and-seek game IRL and online was pointless.

Still, the experience served as an important lesson. Secrecy is a powerful tool, the selective withholding or release of certain information can manipulate the very reality of people who are close to you. It is also an incredibly taxing practice which feels unhealthy in the long term [good insight]. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph.] My own success with secrecy has made me paranoid of what web of lies we aren’t aware of. When you consider what the concentrated efforts of thousands of people with billions of dollars committed to secrecy could achieve, it can be frightening. The resources for media manipulation are accessible to the government, the impact far greater than anything I could achieve. [good insight]

Secret Assignment

by Samantha Atherley

My freshmen year of college, I experienced how complicated our lives can really get from keeping secrets. Throughout that year, I broke the sacred girl code by hanging out with one of my friend’s ex-boyfriends. I decided that at the time the best situation was to not tell her that I had befriended him. Knowing how sensitive she was to even the mention of his name, I felt that I had to keep this secret from her in order to keep our confidentiality with each other [Relate to class: People keep a secret to protect personal space or a name.]. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph.] In order to successfully keep this secret from her, I had to keep the times that I hung out with him private. If we were hanging out in a social setting, I would never post any pictures with him on social media. Also, I hoped that none of my friends would post any pictures on us on their own social media platforms. [Relate to class: Keeping a confidentiality puts tremendous burden on the agent.] 

Furthermore, my desire to keep the confidence between us led me to continue to keep the secret from her for months [already stated]. If the secret came out, my faulty loyalty to our friendship would be exposed. Even though it is believed that secrets are supposed to empower someone in the relationship, this secret didn’t give anyone in the relationship power [good insight]. I was constantly filled with anxiety over whether or not my secret would be exposed. Many of my other friends knew my secret and the extremity of the situation. However, none of my friends ever exposed my secret to the girl I was hiding it from. [Relate to class: The friends kept a confidentiality out of a prima facie duty and to show loyalty to a peer.] 

Consequently, hiding this secret was a real danger to the state of my friendship with this girl. In my mind, it was okay to keep this secret from her in order to avoid any conflict or judgment. However, in reality when the secret was exposed it ultimately ended up ruining our friendship. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph.] When my lie caught up to me, and she saw me texting him, all the guilt from keeping this secret hit me. I immediately regretted keeping this secret from her and ruining a friendship over some guy who didn’t care about anyone but himself. Her trust in me was completely gone and I felt like such a horrible person for losing her trust. [Relate to class: A secret can hurt people, intended or not.] 

Looking back on the situation, the best thing for me to do would have been to tell her that I was hanging out with this boy instead of ever keeping it a secret from her. Ultimately, keeping this secret from her just made me a less credible source. When I would speak to her, I found myself constantly lying to her about who I was with and what I was doing in order to keep the secret from getting out [Did you feel a sense of loyalty, guilt or anxiety? Were you angry at having to lie or otherwise act contrary to your morals to protect your secret?]. All in all, secrecy, lying, and confidentiality are all connected in a web of information sharing. In order to keep a secret you have to lie and when you lie you can break confidentiality or keep it.



48 Hour News Blackout

During a 48 hour news blackout, solitude was actually too difficult to achieve. The almost automatic substitution for other faux social activities quickly filled the gaps, so that a lack of “news” was hardly noticed.

This was a somewhat dissapointing discovery, as I was looking forward to the valuable introspection that Deresiewicz describes. However it is not surprising, as the the digital information society we live in encompasses far more than just news. My usual news “exposure” is a mix of Facebook (speculative and “click-baity” articles that I research later), various trustworthy subreddits, and the New York Times. I estimate that with all these sources combined, I spend about four hours every day consuming news. Initially four hours seemed like a considerable amount of time, and that the absence would be significantly noticeable. When video games, quickly torrented films, anime, and Netflix are readily accessible this absence is easily filled. [How might you act on these insights? How might your media consumption change?]

The information age Deresiewicz describes is not limited to news that penetrates our solitude from reality. We simultaneously live in a number of alternate realities. Even when major catastrophic events are being reported in our own world, it is easy to ignore the concern as long as our curiosity can be diverted elsewhere. What happened in Game of Thrones or Neon Genesis Evangelion can hold just as much of our attention. We create news and share it with other people who also enjoy these alternate realities. We report the things we noticed, the latest episode, our theories and thoughts on what we’ve seen. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph] Most MMO’s (massive multiplayer online games) have expansive wikis describing the world and its characters. People spend hours writing and contributing information to a news network for a world that does not exist and has no bearing on our own; I found myself spending quite some time here. [How might you act on these insights? How might your media consumption change?]

Instead of solitude, I experienced some rare moments of anxiety. My car does not have an aux input, USB, or CD tray, and is limited to just radio. I was forced to avoid the only distraction available to me during traffic, for fear of a DJ or radio personality making a quip about the latest Trump blunder. Even this would not have occured if I had a modern car from the modern society Deresiewicz describes. More and more does McLuhan’s vision of a global unified computer conscious come to mind, a reality that seems inevitable now. As it stands, solitude is difficult to experience within a 48 hour timeframe. In the future it may be impossible, and the word may only exist in self-imposed experiments like this one. [excellent insights]

48-hour news blackout – Iman Ismail

After a long 48 hours of isolation from global news and social awareness, an interesting experience and a greater understanding of the impact the news has on us was achieved. To begin with, the first step to enforcing this 48-hour news black out was deleting all news apps and limiting access to social media accounts such as Facebook and Instagram. Of these platforms, the hardest one to completely disconnect from was Facebook. By the second day of this experiment, as the information detox took its toll, it was clear that the only way to prevent feeling withdrawn from society altogether, was to force my self to become socially involved in person, rather than behind a screen. [Good insights. How do they relate to the points that Deresiewicz raises in his essay?] 

During the first 24 hours of this assignment, no loneliness was experienced, however, boredom became a feeling greatly sensed. Instead of laying in bed, scrolling down my social media feed, I unknowingly became increasingly interested in becoming more socially active, as a substitution to being informed or staying connected to the world. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph] On the first day of news-isolation, I found myself wanting to sit in the Graham Center at FIU for a longer amount of time than usual. It was apparent that this was a reaction caused by the fact that the less presence I had on social platforms or news sources, the more social presence I wanted in the real world as a reminder that people were still there. The overall mood felt while engaging in conversation with fellow peers was relaxing. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph] However, after an hour of aimless conversation, the desire to begin political discussion was tempting. Essentially it dawned on me that although it’s one thing to discuss politics and global events, discussing what was going on among peers –basically gossiping- was in a sense similar to being exposed to news. Naturally our urge to remain informed on what world leaders and influential people are doing in the world is not much different than discussing what our peers were doing. As I was ultimately forced to end conversation with my friends in attempt to pursue this isolation, I began to experience loneliness. [excellent insight]

On day two, I decided to go to the beach: a place I hadn’t visited in months, yet a place many would agreeably describe as an anti-anxiety safe place. Sitting there peacefully admiring the beauty of the sea, it dawned on me that I really wanted to pick up my phone, and once again, resume being part of societies “connectedness.” As a I was able to sit there lost within my own thoughts, I was able to see the correlation between solidarity, vulnerably, and finally, loneliness. [Do you think you had some of the same feelings as Major Motoko Kusanagi in “Ghost in the Shell” when she went into isolation underwater?] Vulnerability was a result of feeling powerless or useless, caused by being unaware of what was going on throughout the world. Being part of the global connectedness reminds you that there are people around you, even if you cannot see them. Therefore, it was only natural that despite having people physically around me, the withdrawal of information that was subconsciously comforting, caused me to feel lonely. [How might you act on these insights? How might your media consumption change?]

News Blackout

In “The End of Solitude” by William Deresiewicz, he explains how culture of celebrity is creating connectivity allowing us to become recognized, visible and known. We seek validation from others; this is obvious in today’s day in age. People cannot miss posting a picture of where they went, check into their location, and spend their day consistently checking back to see how many likes and popularity their post has gained. The text says “we want to be seen by others”. I am guilty of this myself. [good insight]

I expected a 48-hour news blackout to be easy; however, I had not realized how news surrounds us almost everywhere we go, any time we talk to someone, or anytime I open up my laptop or phone. I assumed this would be a simple task because I’m not one to watch television on a regular basis, neither do I listen to the radio given that I usually plug in my phone in the car. I typically get my news from the internet, so I figured if I just steer clear of news sites I will be set.

The first challenge I faced was Friday morning. To my dismay, I was in for a rude awakening upon stepping outside the door. It was well below the typical Miami weather. I had to go back in to bundle up a bit. The next problem I had was opening up my Mac Book on Friday afternoon. I had a notification from CNN saying “Breaking News”. I immediately tried to get rid of the notification, but it was too late; it had already redirected me to opening a page on Safari but I tried to quit the application as fast as I could so I can avoid catching a glimpse. Later that day, walking through GC on campus, the television in the GC pit was turned on, tuned into a news channel and I had to immediately sprint away from the area. [How do these experiences relate to the points that Deresiewicz raises in his essay?] 

By Saturday afternoon, I was out of contact with the world; I could not connect with those around me on the same level.  I couldn’t send text messages to my friend because news is usually a topic of conversation. Eventually, when my friend Melissa texted me, she sent a funny picture that was a pun to one of the news that happened recently; however, I wasn’t able to understand to joke given the 48-hour news blackout. At this point is where I felt the most solitude. [How do these feelings relate to the points that Deresiewicz raises in his essay?] 

All in all, this 48-hour black out was more challenging than expected. We are surrounded by news everywhere we go, everyone we come in contact with, and even on social media. There was a sense of isolation trying to avoid topics of conversation amongst my close friends and family. It was a challenge trying to avoid Facebook and social medias where news is frequently shared. News keeps us up to date and in the loop with our surroundings, without it we experience solitude. [How might you act on these insights? How might your media consumption change?]


48-Hour News Blackout

By: Samantha Atherley Team 5

The shear [SP: sheer] terror that came across my face when this 48 hours news blackout was assigned was priceless. Since I never watch cable news and just began to read the NY Times regularly, my initial thought was that this assignment really wasn’t going to be that difficult. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph] However, the panic set in right when I realized that this blackout also meant no social media platforms. I receive most of my news from the information I see on social media such as tweets and Facebook posts. I immediately knew that two days of being removed from social media was going to be a tough act to follow.

I began my blackout by deleting all of my social media apps including the weather channel. Immediately the sense of panic hit in when I couldn’t post a Snapchat of the beautiful avocado toast I had prepared for breakfast that morning. It began to dawn on me that I was constantly seeking views and approval from my followers for every mundane activity in my life. [good insight] Even though I was home alone cooking breakfast, I had never truly felt alone until the day came where I couldn’t share my daily life online. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph] Snapchat gives me a place where I can constantly stay informed on other people’s whereabouts and expose my own. This realization made me think about how Deresiewicz’s idea of our society’s culture of celebrity is an accurate description of the modern world. In an odd way, every day I strive to achieve a mini level [hyphenate] of stardom by having as many people as possible view my snapchats.

Furthermore, as a writer for an online publication called Her Campus FIU, this blackout proved exceedingly difficult when I couldn’t even go on my own site to check out our content. I also found myself unable to check our organization’s group chat where we constantly pitch article ideas for the site. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph] Accordingly, a quote from Deresiewicz where he discusses how “solitude isn’t easy, and isn’t for everyone” related to my current situation. As a communications student, being placed in news solitude is a challenge. A career in communications means being consistently connected with people and what’s going on around the world. The idea of solitude isn’t an ideal situation for my career.

All in all, this news cleanse gave me a new perspective on how distracting the news and technology is in my daily life. Usually, I tend to find myself constantly worried about the information being spread online. I always find myself checking my phone for new tweets and posts. Without, the distraction of news I was able to buckle down and read my politics book for class. This experience made me agree with Deresiewicz’s claim discussing how technology takes away our concentration. Our constant desire to know new information can intrude on our private lives and the clarity of our minds. [good insight]

Secrecy and Lies

Secrecy, lying, and confidentiality are used from the most ordinary and mundane of people to the highest government officials. While the potency of the three may change, their dynamic does not. For example, a friend of mine, Tracy, and her boyfriend, Kevin, had been together for almost three years. I had known Tracy for most of my life, but had a falling out with her which led to us no longer communicating. My other friend, Ingrid, had begun communicating with Kevin recently. They would text each other all the time.

Tracy and Kevin were having problems, but they were still together. While I didn’t agree with Ingrid talking to Kevin while he was in a relationship, I didn’t say anything. I hoped the conversations between Kevin and Ingrid were innocent and left it at that. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph.] However, after years of not speaking to Tracy, she messaged me. She informed me that Kevin and her [case: she] had broken up. She asked me if I knew anything about it, and I lied. I had an idea that Ingrid could be behind the demise of their relationship, but I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Not long after I’ve [tense: I had] spoken to Tracy, Ingrid calls [called] me. She confides in me, and tells me that Kevin left Tracy to try things out with her. She told me that Kevin had feelings for her in high school before he was in a relationship with Tracy, [no comma] but did not pursue anything with her because he thought she would not reciprocate. She then asked me to keep all of what she had told me a secret.

Tracy continued to message me in the following week. She thought Kevin might have left her for someone else and asks me continuously if I had any information. [Do you think the person trying to penetrate the secret had a desire to know, gain control, feel superior, or be intimate?] I lie [tense agreement] again. I reassure her that if I know anything I’ll let her know… but I don’t. [Did you feel a sense of loyalty, guilt or anxiety? Were you angry at having to lie or otherwise act contrary to your morals to protect the secret?] [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph.] I knew that Kevin and Ingrid had gone on their first date not long after the break up. Ingrid didn’t feel anything romantic toward Kevin and decides [tense agreement] to move on. Kevin realizes he’s made a mistake breaking up with Tracy, but it was now too late.

I disagreed with Ingrid contacting Kevin while he was in a relationship, leading him to believe she had feelings for him, and going on a date with him so soon after he had broken up with Tracy. So [comma] why did I lie? I lied because I promised to keep a secret . I lied to protect Ingrid because she was my friend[Relate to class: You kept a confidentiality out of a prima facie duty and to show loyalty to a peer.]. I did not feel empowered by withholding this information from Tracy, I felt ashamed. Every time Tracy attempted to pry into my knowledge, I would put myself in her shoes and I felt badly. [good insight] [Were you angry at having to lie or otherwise act contrary to your morals to protect the secret?] 

I am told to keep a secret. I lie to protect that secret. I lie and keep that secret to protect the confidentiality between Ingrid and me. That is the dynamic of the three. They all work together constantly and simultaneously, even in this situation. [good insight]