Category: s

5 Reasons To Get Sober and Stay Sober (at least for now)

There are many reasons why someone might begin using drugs or alcohol. It could be peer pressure, curiosity, or a severe case of depression. However, there are just as many good reasons to take charge of your life and learn to embrace sobriety. Here are 5 reasons to get sober and stay that way.

Better Health

Alcohol is well-known for the terrible effects it can have on a person’s liver. Liver damage can also result from abusing inhalants, prescription drugs, ecstasy and heroin. Cocaine and other stimulants can increase a person’s blood pressure and heart rate to dangerous levels. While these effects aren’t always reversible, the sooner a person gets into rehab, the easier it is to minimize damage that might have already occurred.

Fewer Legal Troubles

Sobriety eliminates the possibility of getting caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It can help keep you from losing your driver’s license or ending up behind bars for intoxicated manslaughter. When you give up drugs, you no longer have to worry about getting arrested for possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia. You won’t have to rebuild your life again after serving time for a felony.

Improved School or Work Performance

Prolonged drug and alcohol abuse often makes people lazy and disinterested in school or work. Students who frequently get high are less likely to graduate on time or get higher grades. Users are less ambitious than their peers who don’t abuse drugs and unlikely to pursue more demanding careers. Employees who use on the job are more likely to have accidents than those whose minds are focused on what they are doing.

Improved Relationships

Individuals with chemical dependence problems are more likely to have rocky relationships with friends and family. This often stems from the fact that their loved ones lose trust in them. Children of drug abusers are also more likely to suffer from some form of abuse. This can cause problems that are not easily forgotten by those most affected. This widespread emotional pain is one of the biggest reasons people commit themselves to a rehab program.

Better Self-Esteem

A person with a drug or alcohol problem isn’t likely to have a high self-esteem. Intoxication may offer a way to deal with self-esteem issues a person already has. In other cases, the user may begin feeling worthless because they’re unable to control the bad habits that are now ruining their lives. They may conclude that their lives aren’t even worth saving. It’s tempting to want to dull this inner pain by remaining drunk or high.

If you’re even considering sobriety, chances are that at least one of the reasons listed above has resonated with you. You might have some others, as well. Write your reasons down and make a commitment to get yourself into rehab as soon as possible. The sooner you act, the sooner you can begin to create the kind of life everyone deserves.

References

http://casanuevovida.com/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine

http://fortune.com/2011/02/03/drug-use-at-work-higher-than-we-thought/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/heartache-hope/201306/low-self-esteema-disposition-can-lead-addiction

DJ and Singer Chloe Jane is a Rising ‘Superstar’

Chloe Jane is on a roll. The pop singer, YouTuber and DJ released her debut single called “Superstar” just a few months ago, which was written by Meghan Trainor and The Elev3n (video embedded below) and recently deejayed at one of the most famous nightclubs on the planet: Amnesia on the Spanish island of Ibiza.

And, she’s only 14 years old!

Born in New York into a family of professional musicians, Chloe Jane learned piano at age 9 and started singing and dancing at the age of 10. Summer holidays with her parents in Ibiza and a special friendship with the legendary DJ Jellybean Benitez (who remixed and produced some of Madonna’s early music) inspired her to go to the DJ school Dubspot in NYC. She started her professional DJ career by performing at the age of 12 at Le Ti and Do Brazil in St Barth. During the Summer of 2016 she spun at KM5 in Ibiza as well as a string of charity events hosted by Paris Hilton.
We got the chance to do a written Q & A with Chloe for TWK, and she also recorded a quick cover video for you guys, our lovely readers! (Video is embedded at the bottom of the page)

Hi Chloe, nice to e-meet you! Tell us a little about yourself and where you grew up.

I am 14 years old. I sing, DJ, play piano, write songs and dance. I grew up in New York City.

What made you get into DJing and how did you learn how to do it?

My parents met in Ibiza, Spain and Ibiza is the biggest music island in the world. Every summer I went and watched DJs play. I watched them perform and wanted to learn how to DJ myself. A family friend of mine, Jellybean Benitez is a legend in the DJ/music industry. When I was 12 years old I told him I wanted to learn to DJ. He taught me all his tricks and that is how I started DJing.

How would you describe the style of music you play?

I play all different types of music. Depending on where I am playing, and for which crowd, I play different tracks. When I play for teenagers at my Glow Parties at Amnesia in Ibiza, I play a lot of EDM and pop.Which deejay has made the biggest impact on you and why?

I love Martin Garrix because I admire how much he has accomplished at such a young age. I love the music he creates and I love the shows he puts on.

What is the best piece of advice you have gotten from a fellow DJ or mentor?

PRACTICE and always keep looking for new music and remixes.

You are only 14. What was it like DJing at one of the most famous nightclubs in the world, Amnesia in Ibiza at such a young age? Were you uncomfortable at any point?

I loved having my own Teenage party at Amnesia because it gave the kids an opportunity to have a party and have fun as there are really no places for them to party. I always have fun when I DJ and sing. When I am on stage I have so much fun and I get to interact with the crowd.

What do you like to do besides spinning?

I sing, write songs and dance.

Get this EDM Trucker Hat at Zazzle now!
AD: Click pic to buy this EDM Trucker Hat at Zazzle!

What are your goals in show business/DJing—where would you like to see yourself in 5 to
10 years?

In 5-10 years I would like to see myself releasing music throughout the world, touring in large venues around the world and appearing in major movies and television shows.

Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you.

My mom and aunt are from Australia and my aunt was Ms. Australia.

Can we get a quick selfie of whatever you are doing right now?

 

Chloe Jane on Social Media
Snapchat: Chloejanesworld

5 Ways to Avoid Student Loan Debt

Let’s have a moment of real talk real quick. Student debt is absolutely crippling young people in this country. Up-and-coming members of the workforce suffer from massive amounts of debt that will keep them from truly relaxing for decades upon graduation—constantly struggling and worrying about making that next payment. What’s worse – while a chapter 13 can help you avoid a foreclosure or repossession (Want A Fresh Start, LLC), student loans are not bankruptible. They’re not going away.

We’ve compiled the best strategies for avoiding debt—you know debt, it’s the kind of crippling thing that makes a grown man cry himself to sleep every night.

1- Look for Alternative Education Options

The easiest and most effective way to avoid debt, at least of the student loan variety, is to just not go to college in the first place. I went to college, so maybe that’s why I’m a little bit jaded. So let me preface this by saying – I believe in the importance of education! Education is the single most important investment you can make in yourself. However, it is simply not the case that a 4-year degree from a liberal arts university is the only or even the best kind of education for you.

If you’re going to spend money on educating yourself, the education MUST come with useful, marketable skills in the workplace. If you’re passionate about history, philosophy, or lesbian dance theory – I’m very happy for you. A library card is free. Unless you know almost for certain what you want to do as a career, then college may just be a waste of time and money if you’re going just to go, and have no real sense of direction as to what to do with your degree once you actually graduate with mountains of debt and no job prospects (CBS News).

When deciding between a trade school, a traditional university degree, or self-teaching the skills you need, it’s important to follow the opportunities, rather than your passions. Passion is definitely an asset, but it’s entirely possible there is no marketplace value for the thing you are passionate about. Look at the unemployment statistics, growth prospects, and average earnings for each degree, certificate, or program. Research the jobs you think you want to train yourself for. You don’t need to do something you hate, but you need to have a realistic understanding of the opportunities available. Chances are high that the avenue you pursue doesn’t require a PHD in lesbian dance theory.

2- Scholarships

I didn’t apply for scholarships, and boy, what a regret that was. Perhaps if I had been a more diligent student, then maybe I would have looked at all of the dozens of scholarships my university offered, not to mention the several that the state offered in part of its education funding. Sure, I got by with my Pell grants and federal loans, but dang, I wish I could go back and apply for any of the literally hundreds of scholarships available to pretty much every single person who goes to school because there are one easy way to avoid debt.

3- Fellowship Aids

These are almost the same thing as grants and scholarships, but mostly come from the universities themselves. I know that the MFA and MBA programs that my university offered supported students by providing grants to all students enrolled to help stipend their tuition costs. Every school is different, so the one you may want to go to might not offer any fellowship grants to its students, so it might be wise to look into schools that do to avoid serious debt.

4- Student Teaching and Interning

Being provided with your own class and canvas to teach is perhaps one of the best ways for education students to step into the role of the master and begin to hone their craft of teaching. That, and it also helps that most universities offer teaching positions for most of their graduate students as a way to help pay for their tuition, pay for their books, and provides stipends for them to live on while they go to school and immerse themselves in whatever they’re majoring in. Similar programs exist for other professional degrees like healthcare, where you can sign up to work for a specific hospital or clinic for a number of years, and in return they furnish partial or whole tuition reimbursement.

5- Work Your Ass Off

Somehow in our culture we’ve become allergic to work – especially college students. Some young people think they are owed a “college experience” – which pretty much means getting wasted six nights a week at a frat party and waking up in the tub of an unattractive stranger. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. The truth is, students who work at least 20 hours a week actually see a slight bump in GPA, and typically report higher levels of satisfaction with their educational experience despite higher levels of stress (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Besides that, having some work experience under your belt when you graduate will have a more significant impact on your job placement than your GPA.

So there you have it. Some pretty self-explanatory options, but all almost certain ways to help you avoid going in debt to go to college.

How to Be Safe and Healthy as a Sexually Active Teen

If you’re a teenager and have decided to enter into a sexual relationship, you have to make sure you and your partner are safe. The consequences of unprotected sex are lifelong and can be devastating. There are several steps you can take to prevent unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and other incidences. Keep reading for some important information on how to say as safe as possible as a sexually active teen.

You Can Say No

One of the most important things to remember is never to let someone force you to do anything you don’t want to. All sexual acts should be consensual. If your partner is pressuring or forcing you to do anything against your will, remember you have the right to say no. Talk things out, and see if you can’t reach a compromise. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, speak up. It might be the only way they’ll know.

Be Honest

Talk to your partner before you engage in any sexual activity. Ask them if they have ever had unprotected sex, or if they have any sexually transmitted diseases you should know about. Be open and honest. Even if one of you has an STD, there are steps you can take to prevent it from spreading.

Know the Risks

First, you both need to understand that there is no method of protection that is 100% effective. You still take on the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases no matter which method of protection you choose. If you are not willing to talk about this with your partner, it is an indication that you may not be ready for a sexual relationship.

Using Birth Control

If you do decide to become sexually active, females may want to consider using oral contraceptives. They are highly effective against pregnancy when used correctly, and can be obtained from a doctor or clinic. Even with oral contraceptives, the male partner should always use a condom to prevent the spread of disease. Make sure both partners know how to use a condom properly. Incorrect use can cause the condom to fail. A counselor can explain proper use. You can also visit an STD testing service for information on how to use condoms effectively.

Plan B

In the event that your birth control fails, you can get emergency contraceptives without a prescription and also without parental consent. These also must be taken properly and within 72 hours of sexual activity to be effective.

Don’t be afraid to talk to a doctor, school counselor, or any other trusted adult for advice prior to becoming sexually active. You can enjoy safe sex as a teen if you know the proper precautions to take. Be responsible, and use the proper resources at your disposal to stay safe and healthy.

5 Principles to Maintain a Good Credit Score: Start Adulthood on the Right Foot

Do you know your credit score? Not many young adults can answer that question, and even fewer know why it’s even important in the first place. Think of credit scores as an entrance exam test score for adults. It tells potential lenders, insurers, landlords, and even employers about the type of person you are. A higher score opens opportunities to better rates, apartments, and some careers. You’ve probably got a lot on your mind planning your future, with a little insight and common sense, you can learn financial responsibility. Here are 5 tips to help you maintain a good credit score.

1. Understand Credit Score Math

A credit score is a three-digit number used to estimate creditworthiness. It ranges from 350 to 850. The formula used to calculate scores vary slightly between different credit reporting agencies, and while the exact formulas are closely-guarded secrets, some factors are easy to understand. Some of the most important and basic factors to maintain a good credit score are:

  • On Time Payments – Solid payment history improves your score
  • Debt Ratios – Keep recurring credit balances as low as possible
  • Credit File Age – This factor always starts low and only time helps
  • Inquiries – Too many credit applications damages your credit score
  • Variety of Loans – Experience different types of credit to maximize your rating

Your score is a total of these factors, though some of the factors weigh a little heavier on your score than others. Know which factors impact your total the most, and adapt your habits to improve your score. Negative history items like collections, defaults, and bankruptcy penalize your result. Aim to keep your number above 720, because the higher your score is, the more financially stable creditors will see you.

2. Check Your Credit File Regularly

The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to a free credit report from each reporting agency once a year. This report contains details about you, your accounts, and your payment history. While you can read your file for free, scores can cost extra. However, there are independent credit monitoring agencies that allow you to see your score once a month or more. While some of these agencies charge a fee, others are free. By using a credit-monitoring agency, you can catch incorrect or fraudulent activity and report it. To maintain a good credit score, always know what’s on your report.

3. Create Your First Budget

Make a budget and stick to it. Following a budget teaches you about your spending habits and behaviors and will help you maintain a good credit score in the future. Before you start taking out loans, it’s best to test yourself using your own money. If you’ve never thought about tracking your spending before, you might be surprised at what you learn and the trends you see.

Carefully track your expenses for several months and look for patterns. Compare your results to your existing income. Never spend more in a month than you earn, and get into the habit of saving money now. Say no to things you don’t need. If you’ve done your homework, you know what you can afford and what you can’t.

4. Minimize Your Debt Burden

From a lender’s point of view, a high level of existing debt makes it more difficult for a borrower to manage new loans and pay off all their debt. This is why it’s so important to minimize what debt you have. If you don’t need to take out a student loan, find another way to pay for school, because even if you can make the monthly payments for the next five or ten years, the high principal will show up on your credit report and will affect your creditworthiness.

Avoid new debt and pay with what money you have available first. If you’re in college, apply for scholarships or work a part time job. Put high down payments on cars and only use credit cards for emergencies. Pay debt off quickly. The lower your debt ratio is (how much you can borrow versus how much debt you have), the less risky you appear to a lender and will help maintain a good credit score.

5. Use Cash Whenever Possible

Just about every commercial business looks for a way to exploit impulse buys. For example, the checkout lane at the grocery store is loaded with overpriced merchandise. Stores put these items within easy reach and hope you’ll grab them, and many people do.

Credit card companies take advantage of impulsive behavior as well. It’s a well-documented fact that people spend carelessly with credit and even debit cards. The convenience of plastic lends itself to high debt burdens, but if you’re handling physical cash, it’s often harder to let go.

With a little insight and some planning, you can keep your credit score high, even if you know practically nothing about finances. Stick to the basics, and over time, you’ll be able to maintain a good credit score and have no problem getting approved for any loans you may need later in life.

Sources
https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/help/5-parts-components-fico-credit-score-6000.php
https://www.gottabemobile.com/best-budget-apps/
http://www.creditkarma.com/
https://m.wgu.edu/online-business-degrees/accounting-bachelors-program.html
https://www.usa.gov/credit-reports

5 Ways to Avoid Bankruptcy

Declaring bankruptcy is one of the most negative life-altering events you can experience. For teens, the consequences of filing for bankruptcy can last well into early adulthood. Not exactly the best way to start your future. Below, there are five ways to avoid bankruptcy. They will help.

Live on a Budget

Budgets are super easy! At the top of the page, try to figure out how much income you’re going to get this month. Even if this number is the same every month, your expenses won’t be, so make sure you do a new budget every month. Now, you need to try and guess how much you’re going to need for all your expenses. These are clothes, dating, eating out, entertainment and recreation, savings, and any other expenses you are responsible for. Allocate every dollar of your income to these categories, and withdraw that amount of money and put it into an envelope. Try not to overspend in any category – that’s how debt happens! This process is even easier with tools like Mint or Everydollar that will help you figure out your expenses and can even deduct the money from each category as it comes out of your bank account.

Avoid Debt

We’ve done extensive research, and it turns out an astonishing 100% of bankruptcies happen to people who borrow money. Our culture and probably even your parents have always told you that there’s no way to get an education or buy a car without going into debt, but this is just not the case. Most Americans today are living paycheck to paycheck and using their credit card as their emergency fund. All of these things can be done much better by saving up and paying cash. “Building credit” is a scam that has sentenced too many young people to a life of financial servitude. Don’t get a credit card, don’t pass go, and don’t collect $200 in late fees.

Settle and Negotiate Your Debts

Essentially, debt settlement is making a deal with your creditors, and sometimes it takes some creative negotiating. If they are faced with never getting their money back or a reduced payment plan, lenders will obviously choose to create a reduced payment plan. Some creative negotiating tactics work well like asking for a waiver of current payments but agree to make larger ones later. If creditors are calling all the time and demanding money, there’s a high likelihood they’re actually violating federal laws. You may consider contacting Collection Bully – not just to hit back against abusive collectors, but sometimes they can even help get some of your debt forgiven!

Sell off Property

In Chapter 7 cases, the court appoints someone to pick property and sell it off to cover debts. Look at the bare minimum of what you need and sell off the rest. Then, use the cash raised to pay off some debts. Even if you are unable to raise a lot, at least it is on your terms.

When all else fails, remember that bankruptcy is not the end of the world. According to Eric Severeno, “When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, all of the creditors who have been hounding you and performing collection actions against you will be legally forced to stop. All financial proceedings against you…will come to a halt.” Whether you can get current and pay off the debt, or whether you need to file in order to escape, either way the goal is to start adulthood with a fresh start. The important thing is for you to change the behaviors that put you here in the first place, or the whole cycle will start again.

How to Choose Your Major

With all the different college majors available, choosing between them can be overwhelming. Some students find that there are several potential major choices they like, whereas others struggle to find just one that feels right.

You don’t want to stress out too much from choosing a major, but it’s also not a decision to take lightly. There are a few solid strategies for deciding what your major will be.

Basing Your Major on the Career You Want

If you already have an idea of what your dream career is, you can look up what degree you’ll need for the best chance of success in that field. Not every career will have a specific major you need to get, but many will, and if your chosen career is one of them, it makes it much easier to pick your major. Look for professional degrees such as a law, teaching, or healthcare program.

Colleges have expanded their course offerings quite a bit, making it more likely yours will have a major to fit your career. Be careful, however, that you are not pursuing a career with no real marketplace value. Universities will use all kinds of marketing ploys and catchphrases like “lifelong learning” and “broadening your horizons” to shoehorn you into a degree that may or may not yield any economic return. Always look up average earnings and underemployment statistics for your chosen field of study. You’re obviously set if you’re getting into a traditional career path, such as finance, but you can also major in newer fields, such as software development or graphic design.

Going with a Major That Has the Potential for High Earnings

If you don’t have a specific career path in mind but earning a large income is one of your chief concerns, you can focus on developing your marketable skills by choosing a major with the potential for high earnings. Some of the highest-paying majors include computer science, statistics, finance and nursing. Majors related to engineering, including electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and chemical engineering, also tend to be high paying.

The potential drawback with this method is that you could find yourself majoring in something that doesn’t interest you. This will make it harder to do well and stay engaged during your classes. You also don’t want to end up in a career you dislike, which means you should still make sure you can live with any major you choose.

Choosing a Major Related to Subjects You Enjoy

This is the “follow your dreams” approach. While you’re completing your general education requirements, you’ll get the opportunity to check out a variety of classes. You could opt to major in a subject that you feel drawn to. The main benefit of this method is that you’ll be majoring in something you like, which makes it much easier to learn the material and get good grades. Again, however, be sure that your “passion” isn’t leading you down an educational path that will result in years of underemployment in an unrelated field.

There can be a bit of a stigma surrounding certain majors which others view as wastes of time. Although you shouldn’t let anyone else’s opinion change your major, it is in your best interest to consider life after college when you make your decision. Being a major that interests you is great, but make sure you have an idea of how you can use that degree in the working world.

Your Major Isn’t Set in Stone

Especially at the beginning of your college career, remember that you can change your major later if you want. There’s also the option to say “Undecided” when you’re first asked to select a major.

Being unsure of your major is okay, particularly early on, when you’re completing the required general education courses anyway. As you move further along with higher education, it’s smart to finalize your major so that you can take the courses you need and it doesn’t take you longer than necessary to get your degree.

Since your major could affect you for the rest of your life, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time on the decision. Think about all your options, and when in doubt, trust your instincts.

What Do I Do if I Get Hurt at Work?

Getting your first job is an exciting prospect. You get to earn your own money and you have more freedom then you did before. You might be prepared for various challenges, but have you thought about what you are supposed to do if you get hurt while you are working?

Inform Your Employer

If it is not a life-threatening injury, the first thing you should do is inform your supervisor. When you get hurt at work, you are eligible to have your employer pay for your medical bills, but you have to follow the proper procedures. Your supervisor will help you with any paperwork and make sure you know what you need to do.

Seek Proper Medical Treatment

Go see a doctor as soon as possible. Instead of going to your primary care physician, talk to your employer about which doctor you should go to. Your employer has insurance for worker’s injuries and if you go to a doctor outside of their network, they won’t cover your medical bills. If you are confused about this, have your parents come with you to talk to your boss. You should also keep all the documentation from the doctor about your injuries so you can file a report.

Follow the Doctor’s Orders

This may seem like common sense, but you need to make sure that you do what the doctor tells you to. If the doctor tells you not to go to work, don’t go. If they tell you not to lift heavy things, don’t. You run a huge risk of hurting yourself more severely, so be careful. You don’t want to hurt yourself more or cause yourself any more pain than you are already in.

Review Workers’ Compensation

See if your employer provides a workers’ compensation program that benefits injured workers. The information about this should be in your employee handbook. You probably aren’t eligible to collect lost wages, but if the accident was caused by negligence, you may receive some compensation. If you have more questions or can’t find the information, talk to the human resources department.

Consult a Lawyer

Hopefully, your employer is easy to work with and they are willing to pay any medical bills or provide the compensation that they are required to. However, some companies will try to get out of giving you the compensation you deserve. If you run into this problem, find a lawyer who has experience with worker’s compensation claims. They will go over your case with you and help you get the assistance that you need to pay your bills.

The likelihood of being seriously injured at your first job is pretty small. Follow safety regulations, and the chances get even smaller, but they are still there. It’s better to know what to do if you end up in this situation than to get overwhelmed by everything that happens when you are hurt.

Is MMO Toxicity Simply a Reflection of Real Life?

As an MMORPG enthusiast who enjoys peeking into human psyche, I’ve often found that MMOs are perhaps one of the greatest platforms for conducting experiments and observing the many personalities humans possess. Quite frequently, I’ve heard it suggested that MMOs harbor toxic environments, rife with trolls and bullies, especially in guild culture. In this article, I’d like to examine any truth to those statements, and whether MMOs are uniquely conducive to toxicity, or simply a medium of extending our true-life personalities into virtual worlds.

Multiplayer games provide an astounding look into sociodynamic behavior – players who are thousands of miles apart, bonding or dividing over common creeds and goals. For example, players in MMOs can form groups called “guilds”. The actual mechanic name may vary depending on the MMO — they’re called cabals in The Secret World, for example — but guild is the general term. Generally speaking, they’re simply a way for players to form permanent groups, and often revolve around common causes – related to gameplay or not. I’ll explore that latter scenario later in this article.

The size of guilds can range from a handful of players, to several thousand – the largest corporation in Eve Online has 11,880 members as of writing. Interestingly, online games didn’t have guilds in the early days, because there were too few players. The earliest online games, known as MUDs, did have them; but the concept was seen as just another differentiator, in the same way that idiosyncratic healing strategies or the presence of currency were. There weren’t friends lists: the games were so small that you knew everyone anyway.

Today, guilds serve to divide the player base into smaller organizations. However, it’s been posited that they may hinder game immersion – owing to drama, elitism, and a general level of toxicity. Because there are real people behind the screens, real life biases can and often crop up in these social environments. I’m not speaking simply of online bullying, though this is often a major contributor.

Take for example Houses in the online game Achaea. Because Achaea is highly role-playing enforced, the guilds revolve around in-game fantasy concepts, such as protectors of Nature, or evil knights in service to Lord Sartan. Players join these guilds to expand their character’s story, to take part in enhanced roleplay, to leave real life behind and engage in a fantasy world. Yet more often than not, players complain of elitism, bullying, and out-of-game communication channels where players gossip about each other’s personal lives, and then bring these biases into the game itself.

Now what’s truly fascinating is that in games without hardcoded methods of forming player-organizations, people do it anyways. Take a look at Agar.io – an extremely simple yet popular online game. It is fairly devoid of plot, storyline, or any sort of hardcoded mechanics that would reward player groups. The goal of the game is to grow your cell, represented on screen as a colored circle, by feeding on pellets and smaller players. It is a literal free-for-all, with no mechanics for player grouping.

Ironically, players found ways to divide themselves into teams – through online names or cell colors. In fact, Agar.io became a center of political advocacy during the 2015 Turkish elections. Players were naming themselves according to political affiliation, and grouping up to battle players on the opposing spectrum. This highlights an obvious, yet intrinsic value hardcoded into the instinct of mankind – the desire to form like-minded communities. As Plato suggests, unless human persons congregate in groups, they could not survive, or if they could survive, they could not go beyond a minimal, animal kind of existence.

It’s worthwhile remembering this when considering whether or not guilds in multiplayer games are responsible for toxic environments. This piece on MassivelyOP, titled “Dealing with Toxicity in MMO Communities”, reached out to game developers, asking how toxic behaviours could be minimized in MMO games. The majority of responses focused on different aspects of the root causes of toxic behavior – competitive gameplay, the anonymity of the internet, and ultimately human nature. The responses seemed to reach the same conclusion; that humans are inherently toxic towards one another, and only extreme community moderating can begin to solve the problem.

The idea of competitive gameplay as the root of toxicity is an interesting theory, however. Because competition is indeed ingrained into the very cores of evolution. Without competition, there would be very little reason to evolve as species – and while “peace on earth” may be a desirable dream for mankind, it’d make for extremely boring gameplay. In fact, real world history remembers the conquerors – the Genghis Khans, Alexanders, and Napoleons of the world. Were Genghis Khan an MMO player today, he would certainly be accused of “trolling” and “toxic attitude”, as he raped and pillaged his way across game servers, with his guild of Mongolians. And yet, isn’t that the point of MMO gameplay, to a degree?

I know I’ve seemingly veered off into a separate subject than the sociodynamics of MMO organizations, but perhaps not – because as long as we retain that “conqueror” gene, that basic human instinct to categorize ourselves into like-minded groups with the goal of expansion, organizations will always be an element of multiplayer games, hardcoded or not, for better or for worse.

Thus, I posit that MMOs are not uniquely conducive to toxic environments, because toxicity already exists all around us in the real world. It’s simply that it’s easier to notice toxicity in virtual worlds, and we expect someone, like the administrators, to do something about it. Because when MMOS are seen as an “escape” from the real world, yet simply offer a mirror reflection of the real world in virtual form, it’s a very real reminder of the harsh world we live in, and thus the point of playing these games as a form of escapism becomes severely moot.


Bio: Katie Green is a passionate video game millennial with a background in writing. Currently working at CrazyGames, one of the fastest growing browser game websites in the World.

This is the Fittest Teenager in the World (and she’s homeschooled)!

There are a lot of things you can do to get and stay in shape, from running to P90X to martial arts to soccer. One teen has raised the bar on fitness recently through the sport of CrossFit, where she was just dubbed the “Fittest Teenager in the World” in her age bracket for the second year in a row!

Kaela Stephano has been doing CrossFit for about 3 years and Olympic weightlifting for 1 year. In July of 2016, Kaela competed at the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games in the 14-15 year old category, and was crowned in 1st place – making her the fittest 14/15 year old on earth! In addition, Kaela competed at Youth Nationals for weightlifting in June of 2016 in the 58 kilogram weight class in the 16-17 year old category and won 1st place overall. Earlier last year, she also competed in Wodapalooza Miami 2016 in January and took 3rd place in the 13-15 year old category.

Earlier this month, Kaela returned to the Reebok CrossFit Games where she took First Place again! Here is a list of her achievements so far:

2017 Reebok CrossFit Games, 1st place, “fittest 16/17 year old girl on earth”
2016 Reebok CrossFit Games, 1st place, “fittest 14/15 year old girl on earth”
2016 National Youth Weightlifting Champion, 1st place, 58 kg 16/17 year old girls
2016 CrossFit Open, 8th place in the world, 14/15 year old girls
2016 Wodapolooza Miami CrossFit Fitness Festival, 3rd place, 1-15 year old girls
2016 Junior National weightlifting, 5th place, 58 kg 16/19 year old girls

With obesity still a crisis in the United States, we reached out to Ms. Stephano for some tips. Hopefully this motivates to get off your phone for a while and break a sweat today!

Hi Kaela, nice to e-meet you! First of all, tell us a little about yourself…

First of all I just wanted to thank you for reaching out to me. It means so much to me! My name is Kaela Stephano, I am 16 years old and I am the fittest 16-17 year old girl on earth.

So…you were dubbed “fittest 14-15 year old girl on earth” after winning the 2016 Reebok Crossfit Games….and you just took first place AGAIN about a week ago in the 16-17 year old category, right? Congrats! What was the best part of the experience at this year’s games?

My favorite moment of the Crossfit games this year was crossing the finish line on the final event and realizing that I had just won.

At what age did you start training?

I started crossfit in January of 2014 when I was 13 years old.

Tell us about your training regimen—as far as how many days per week and what a typical training day looks like.

I train 6 days a week 2 times a day for around 6 hours.

Did anyone ever discourage you or tell you that this sport is not for girls?

When I first started crossfit, the trainers at my old gym didn’t believe in me and they didn’t encourage me. However, after switching to Crossfit Hype I have found life-long training partners and friends who encourage me, cheer me on, and believe in me.

Have you even been bullied? If so, what did you do to handle it?

Since I have been homeschooled my entire life, I have never been bullied.

What is your personal favorite exercise?

My favorite exercise is handstand push-ups, strict or kipping.

Tell us about your diet…what do you generally eat and what do you absolutely avoid?

I eat lean meats, lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, complex carbs, such as Explore Cuisine pastas, oats, rice and sweet potatoes. I try to stay away from anything unhealthy. I also weigh and measure everything I eat and track it on myfitnesspal to make sure I hit my calorie, protein, fat, and carbohydrate goals for the day. Explore Cuisine pasta helps me to meet my protein goals for each day as it is loaded with plant based protein and fiber and low in fat and carbohydrates.

Crossfit and weightlifting are tough sports…what keeps you going and motivated?

I am motivated by my desire to be the best and to glorify God.

Give me your Top 5 Tips for teens to get into shape.

  1. Work hard
  2. Eat healthy
  3. Believe in yourself
  4. Make exercise a priority and a part of your daily routine
  5. Get a workout/accountability partner

Who are your role models in general…who do you really look up to and why?

I don’t have any specific role models, but I look up to all of the Crossfit Games athletes and to some Olympic weightlifting athletes.

Where would you like your training to take you in the future…that is to say what are your goals?

My goals for the future are to win the Crossfit games as an individual female and to go to the Olympics as a weightlifter in 2020.

Best experience as an athlete thus far?

The best experiences I have had as an athlete have been winning the Crossfit Games 2 times in a row and being able to travel nationally and internationally for weightlifting representing Team USA.

And the worst?

The worst experience I have had as an athlete has been the mental aspect of training. I struggle with being in my head and telling myself that I am not good enough.

Tell us something people would be surprised to know about you.

Something that often surprises people is the fact that I never did gymnastics and that I was a dancer for 13 years of my life.

Biggest pet peeve?

My biggest pet peeve is a lack of order. I love planning, having a schedule, and being organized.

Any causes you are passionate about?

I am passionate about glorifying God with my life.

What’s coming up next for you?

In October, I will be traveling to Colombia for the Pan American Championships for weightlifting with Team USA.

Where can people connect with you on social media?

Follow me on Instagram @Kaelastephano

Could we please get a quick selfie?