The Black Mirror and Instagram Likes



I spent my second week of winter break trying to convince my father to like my recently uploaded picture on Instagram.

An hour later, I received a notification acknowledging that my father had double-tapped on my picture- taking it from 59 to 60 likes- a small milestone. In exchange for the favor, I was told to watch “Nosedive,” an episode from the T.V. series Black Mirror.

The episode appears to be set in the future, a world where status and living is defined by an individual’s online rating. Interacting and gaining approval from individuals with higher ratings allows one to boost his/her own rating. A higher rating enables access to a better apartment, modes of transportation, and an elevated standard of living. A low rating can result in discrimination and social isolation, so characters go to considerable lengths to please their colleagues, thereby resulting in interactions characterized by superficiality.

While Black Mirror is dystopian, it is not unimaginable that society may evolve to a similar state. Technology has begun to penetrate all aspects of our lives. Our social media images have become vehicles through which we seek validation for physical beauty and popularity.

I admit that I went on a tech detox for two days after watching Black Mirror. On the third day, I was back scrolling on my Instagram and Facebook feed. This time, however, I tried to appreciate the picture itself rather than examining the number of likes it garnered.  It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve found this to be both pleasant and less toxic.


Coping with Homesickness

I took a plane from Chennai, India armed with two carry-on suitcases and a VISA that confirmed my attendance to Claremont McKenna College. I landed in a country where the culture was foreign, interactions were different, and accents were alien.

I was fortunate to have my parents to ease my transition but that safety net was lost on day two of orientation, when they headed back to India. Orientation week was a blur of new faces, activities, and discussions where I had little time to breathe. But, as soon as it ended, I was lost.

In other words, I was homesick.

“Homesickness is not merely missing a house; rather, it encapsulates a wide variety of emotions, feelings, and warmth that one associates with a place,” says clinical psychologist Josh Kaplow [and make his name a link to the article]

I agree. I missed the humidity, sounds of traffic, my native language, my extended family, and the warmth of people that I grew up with. As an incoming international freshman, this was heightened. I experienced anxiety, difficulty with communication, and even a loss in appetite – all common symptoms of homesickness.

As a sophomore,  I no longer experience homesickness. I do miss my parents; however, I am lucky to have found my own niche at CMC . For those who continue to struggle with homesickness, here are a few helpful tips that helped me get through it:

  1. It is important to call your parents but not too often. It’s always good to touch base with them but you need to establish your independence, too
  2. Don’ot be afraid of seeking help.Talk to a counselor or a friend if you are unable to cope or are experiencing any kind of physical or psychological difficulties
  3. Try to get involved on campus. This will allow you to immerse yourself into the campus culture while also getting to meet new people
  4. Put yourself out there, talk to people, and always try to maintain a positive attitude.

There is no easy fix to homesickness. A tendency to miss home is natural feeling. But, by being patient, positive, and being willing to seek help, you might find yourself slowly adapting to a new environment.

It’s hard to completely replace a home, but it’s not impossible to find your space in a new city, country, college, or continent.


Returning to Kaiser for the summer

Sharon at cooler.png

As an intern last summer at Kaiser Permanente, Sharon Chiang ’17 had the opportunity to explore a field she wasn’t familiar with. This summer, she returned with a goal: to gain more skillsets in healthcare innovation and technology.

So far, she’s worked on five different projects, ranging from presenting products at sales meetings to analyzing the concept of a “concierge robot.” She writes:

“Being exposed to the different stages of innovation, such as the pipeline technology intake meetings, to the mock-up stage, to the user experience interviews, and back to brainstorming, has made me gain a new appreciation for teamwork. Innovation welcomes many different perspectives…I feel like I am making a positive impact.”


CMC is for Life

by LillyBelle Deer ’15

Last year, I worked at the Berger Institute with the Work-Life team. Then, I graduated.

When I thought about my post-­graduation plans, the ideal involved being a part of a research lab so that I could get experience for graduate school. I also wanted to be near Southern California so that I could be close to my brother, who is a sophomore at CMC. I told Professor Kanaya about my plans and she offered to hire me in the coming year to keep on top of the Work-Life project we had been working on together. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up: I would be able to gain more research experience while working with people I like, researching a topic I enjoy, and staying in Claremont.

Working at Berger post­-graduation has been a great experience. I’ve learned so much about how things really work in academia, and this has strengthened my passion for pursuing it. I’ve learned a lot about how research labs such as ours function, which makes me feel more prepared for graduate school.

One of the best part of my experience in my extra year with Berger has been developing a closer relationship with Professor Kanaya. She has been a resource for me this year for everything from grad school applications to life advice in general. I don’t think I would be where I am in my career path without her.

Throughout my time at CMC, I heard many times about how CMC is for life. Nothing has driven home this notion more than working for the Berger Institute. I now have the skills and experience necessary for me to be successful in graduate school and I have the Berger  Institute to thank for it!

On Consistency

by Adrienne Johnson ’16

I knew I wanted to become more involved with extracurricular activities at CMC but I didn’t know through what outlet. I hoped to find an on-campus job that would let me pursue my interests while developing my skills. The Berger Institute’s emphasis on gender and work-­life balance issues immediately jumped out at me as something I wanted to become involved in, leading me to apply and join the team.

Since my sophomore year (I’m now a senior), working as a research assistant at Berger has provided continuity for me throughout my time at CMC. While I have dabbled in other on­campus activities, at Berger I’ve worked consistently with a group of people and seen multiple projects through from start to finish. I’ve developed personal relationships with my team, and we’ve developed a strong group dynamic over the past three years.

Each of us brings a different element to the team. As an international relations major, I bring a unique perspective to the table, as most of our team looks at our work through a psychology lens. All together, we are able to bounce ideas off of each other and generate strong results.

In addition to continuity with this project and my peers, I have also developed a strong relationship with Professor Kanaya. She consistently asks the tough questions about my goals, summer internship (and now job) plans, pushing me to think critically about my future and offering feedback along the way. This is one of those quintessential student-professor relationships people talk about when you tour a small liberal arts college.

My college career has had many ups and downs, but Berger has always been a great point of stability for me.