Celebrity Culture in the Age of the Internet — Follow Up

On April 14, I led a discussion about celebrity culture in the age of the internet including topics like parasocial relationships, internet celebrities in the mainstream media, and idolization. The overall consensus among participants was that there are problems on both sides, from celebrities and fans. Parasocial relationships are becoming much more common with the ability to experience more of an allusive celebrity, even possibly interacting with them, and this boundary between reality and imagination needs to be more closely upheld by fans. But on the other hand, many participants recognized some celebrities’ tendency to feed into this narrative and increase their fame by generating an attached fanbase. One specific celebrity is Jack Harlow, who interacts in a flirty manner with almost everyone he is filmed around, including fans, and accepts and reciprocates any flirts that come from fans, leading them to believe that they have a chance and could be the special one. Other instances like this include One Direction’s Night Changes music video showing P.O.V. dates with each of the band members and Brittany Broski referring to her followers as “friends” despite there being millions of them on her so-called private account. Other topics from the discussion included “drama” youtubers such as Trish Paytas and Tana Mongeau who only are famous for being controversial, yet never seem to lose their followers. The idea of people “hate-watching” only fuels their ability to get involved with controversy for shock-value, and therefore, views.

Despite these criticisms of celebrities, another general consensus was that this newfound internet fame is an amazing thing for those who deserve the opportunity. Specific examples of these worthy people included male beauty influencers like Bretman Rock, other LGBTQ+ influencers, and Emily Uribe, who clearly cares about what she does and is grateful for everything. These positives among the ability for such negatives shows that good can come from the internet for celebrity culture.

MTA Switches Its Payment System… Debrief

New York, NY–On April 26, 2022, a class of Pace University students gathered to discuss the new tap-and-go payment method, OMNY, recently implemented by New York City’s MTA. After going around the room and sharing ridership habits and preferred payment methods, a discussion began on the several benefits OMNY has to offer, including fare caps, user friendly interface and quick, contactless payments. This shift to digital wallets, however, leave many concerned for those with less accessible resources, including the homeless population in NYC. Questions also arose on the state’s budget and allocation of funds towards projects for the MTA.

Many students admitted they use OMNY as their main source of payment for train/bus fare, either using Apple Pay on their phone or tapping an electronic chipped card–from time to time, MetroCards are purchased (single rides and unlimited passes), while only one person in the class has purchased a physical OMNY card in the past.

Still, the group highlighted the long history behind the MetroCard and its representation of the foot traffic of the busy, bustling city nearly three decades ago. All age groups are familiar with the flimsy, reloadable card that swipes people into the stations; they are used to standing in line and loading their balance with physical money, keeping track of the time or amount left on their card. Considering the switch to OMNY is already more than a year behind schedule, it’s safe to say the MTA’s change in payment methods won’t be easy.

The cost behind this transition is a whopping $772 million, according to MTA Head of Fares Systems, Amy Linden, which Pace students believe should be used in other ways to benefit the city. Some suggestions around the room included more public libraries, faster wait times for buses/trains, more cleaning services across the city and in stations, larger homeless shelters/outreach facilities, proper NYPD training for deescalation tactics and handling the mentally unstable.

Ultimately, the consensus among the class was while OMNY is undoubtedly convenient in this contactless era (post-quarantine), the gradual phasing out of MetroCards may leave the less fortunate at yet anotherdisadvantage in the state of New York. 


Classroom Report: Defunding the Police

By Eli Chazin

The discussion this past Tuesday on defunding the police was a collective effort of fifteen participants. These individuals actively engaged in conversation that ranged from police reforms to systemic racism while noshing on fresh fruit brought in by yours truly. All fifteen participants had raised their hands when asked if they had heard the term “defund the police” before, had some previous knowledge about police reform, and thought police funds should be reallocated towards better community efforts and trainings. It should be noted that one participant felt strongly about abolishing the police altogether. They, along with a few others, vocalized their concern for the police’s racist historical past and the continual lack of concern and respect for various, intersectional marginalized groups. 

When defining police, the participants had ultimately agreed their job was to serve and enforce the law, but in reality, police are “incredibly militarized”, “racist”, and/or “on a power trip”. Additionally, no participant raised their hand when asked if police make them feel safe and protected. Many of the participants had also concurred that police uniforms, badges and all, brought forth more intimidation and power complexes over everyday pedestrians than using their position of power for good. One participant had felt very strongly about the police not using their budgets effectively or efficiently. “I feel like they’re not using the money?” they said. Overall, the consensus and next course of action was police reform.

“Reform won’t happen unless we all progress as a society”, one participant shared. Another person suggested reform starting at the police academy, where candidates can take the necessary de-escalation and bias trainings to become a part of the police force. Others felt they should’ve done internal investigations of police forces and re-evaluate who they’ve onboarded to avoid more disparaging interactions between police and people of color. It seems to be quite self-evident that the police are not doing their part to make this country a safer place.

When it comes to reform, adding body cameras and banning chokeholds will not completely solve police brutality. Police are notorious for escalating situations unnecessarily and have continued to be portrayed in a negative light on social media and in the streets. All 15 participants agreed that police should not be people to call for noise complaints or other forms of non-criminal reports. The state of New York has a 311 number for these specific instances, but many other states have not prioritized a separate emergency service hotline for non-criminal inquiries, so the police are the ones left to address the concern regardless of their expertise.

Regardless of intentions, police are not looked at in the same way. Since the George Floyd protests, police forces have been continually criticized and condemned for their actions against marginalized communities and the fight doesn’t seem to be over any time soon. Without national conversations around police reform and policy changes, there will be no change in our police.

Violence Against Women on Public Transportation

Violence Against Women on Public Transportation

On Saturday, January 15th Michelle Go left her Upper West Side apartment and entered a Times Squares subway station where she was shoved onto the tracks and was fatally killed by an incoming southbound R train. The man charged with her murder has a history of mental health problems and has been in and out of jails for multiple incidents. This tragic event sent shockwaves throughout the city and shined a spotlight on the safety of the MTA system as a whole. Subway use is half of what it was before March 2020 and concerned riders have pleaded for help from elected officials to do something about the rising rates of crime. “We just cannot accept a situation where riders are being attacked, or even just made to feel really vulnerable in New York City subways…It’s essential to our economic recovery that people feel comfortable riding the system,” said Janno Lieber, CEO of the MTA. Hannah Topliff, a 25-year old Kips Bay resident said in a New York Post interview, “You can’t relax or act timid on the subway — it’s too dangerous… I always stand by a pole on the subway platform, so I can’t be pushed onto the tracks…Saturday’s random attack emphasized that I need to keep standing by a pole while waiting for my train.”

To try and help this situation mayor Eric Adams announced a subway safety plan that involves teams mobilizing in the subway stations consisting of two police officers, an outreach worker, and a clinician. People will be asked to leave the train at the end of the line and people will no longer be able to sleep on the trains or in stations and will be directed to alternative resources. Additionally, police have been told to crack-down more on fare-beaters. John Timpa, a homeless New Yorker commented on this new safety plan saying,’”They just kept telling me to get out, get out, get out. Go outside. Yeah, go outside. Oh yeah, I told them I got nowhere to go,” he said. “He said there were stabbings with people and that’s why they’re getting on me. But I’m not the one that did it.” Time will tell if Adams action ends up helping commuting New Yorkers,or if it just further damages a vulnerable community.

Defunding the Police: Revolutionary or Anarchical?

By Eli Chazin

Following the death of George Floyd in late May of 2020, caused by a Minneapolis police officer, America woke up to an outraged populace that sparked protests nationwide. Social media exploded with black squares that captioned #BLM, Black Lives Matter, a direct correlation to the pro-black activist organization fighting against racism, racial inequities, and police brutality. The term “Defund the Police” took the internet and streets by storm. The virality of the notorious phrase brought forth the topic of police reform and their funding expenses.

According to the US Census Bureau Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances, state and local governments spent a total of $123 billion on police, $82 billion on corrections, and $50 billion on courts in 2019. Although that may seem astronomical, the total they spend on all three only makes up for less than eight percent of the total state and local government expenditures. Over 97% of the estimated $255 billion went towards salaries and benefits.

While there are multiple interpretations of the term ‘defund the police’, the basic definition is to move funds away from the police and put them into other means of community safety and protection, such as on-site mental health specialists or social workers. Some activists want local and state governments to reevaluate, not completely diminish, their spending habits on police departments, while others want to abolish the police altogether. Some argue that we will never get past the police’s racist and problematic history, while others are optimistic at confronting and reforming the law enforcement system.

Should police departments be defunded? Are any police reform efforts helpful? Would abolishing police departments ultimately resolve police brutality for communities of color? Or would it lead to greater violence in our cities?

The Different Narratives of Online Dating and Dating Apps: Post Deliberation

Hearing everyone’s thoughts, opinions and experiences with online dating and dating apps was very interesting to hear and discuss as a group. I feel like the general consensus was the same all around such that it is scary and the media saturates our minds a bit about online dating but either people use them and like them, or don’t think we should get rid of the idea of it.

The first question I posed to the group was, “Are there more disadvantages to dating apps than advantages or vice versa?” Most people had disadvantages to share whether they use dating apps personally or know stories through their friends. The majority was mutual about this as it is different for everyone and everyone uses dating apps differently or even not at all. Those that don’t use dating apps, don’t have anything against them or think there are more disadvantages, just a personal preference. There are lots of issues such as the basis of judging people on their looks and the possibility of talking to someone who is a catfish, yet the advantages of meeting people you would never meet online, and the chances of the dates going well, outweigh the negatives.

The second question I posed was, “Does the media saturate our minds of how to view online dating/is it just as scary as the media makes it out to be? (Movies like The Tinder Swindler, shows like To Catch a Predator or Catfish).” A lot of people agreed that even if we didn’t have dating apps, people would find ways to meet people online since the internet is easily accessible and we rely heavily on social media currently.

The third question I posed was, “In what ways has online dating changed/shifted during the pandemic? Where does it stand now? Does it look different now than it did before the pandemic?” Due to the pandemic we have been able to especially rely on our online connections and even were able to take the time to expand/explore them. Everyone agrees that it did not change too much other than the fact that people were even more excited and ready to get back into the dating scene, and the best way was through people they met online.

The final question I posed was, “Is it worth it for our society to allow this to become the norm of dating and finding a partner? Are the dangers something that we should consider when deciding to need dating apps or if we should get rid of them?” No one truly had negative thoughts about this becoming the norm of dating considering it already has become the norm within our society. This question sort of wrapped up the discussion about this topic.

Overall, there isn’t much to be changed about the online dating world and dating apps other than the fact that there are concerns and the issues posed on the media about online predators is real and true, but that doesn’t stop us from pouring out our lives on the internet in social media. As long as social media is alive.

Award Show Relevancy: Debrief

Thursday (04/28/2021) – I started off the open-forum discussion by taking a poll to determine who within the class actively watches award shows and who does not. About 7 people raised their hand for yes, and about 5 raised their hand for no. Following that, I went around the circle and asked everyone what their initial opinions / thoughts about award shows so that I could get the general “vibe” of how and where the discussion was going to go. The general consensus was that although award shows are fun, they feel a little dystopian and are just an excuse for celebrities to party. It is worth noting that multiple people preferred watching the red carpet over the actual award ceremony as it’s exciting to see and judge what celebrities wear.

            The biggest talking point of the deliberation was the Will Smith v. Chris Rock incident that occurred during the 2022 Oscars. While there were a lot of mixed opinions, it was clear that people are too invested in celebrities’ personal lives / drama. For example, one classmate made the point that people are more likely to talk badly about a couple who is public rather than private Some also felt as if the backlash against Jada Smith was sexist in the sense that she was the victim of the joke yet some watchers blamed her.. Most classmates felt as if Will Smith was punished too harshly due to the slap happening on live television (not behind the scenes) and the academy being worried about their reputation.  

            In conclusion, the class determined that award shows only confirm that we as a society only value pretty faces and what is considered to be tangible (since that’s the easiest way to make a profit). We also determined that award shows are performative and suggest that in the future they open up more to public so that they feel more inclusive / relatable.

Unpaid vs. Paid Internships – Synopsis

by: Leigh Bauer and Britini Dunn

Our class deliberation was an informative discussion about the legality and lived experiences of unpaid interns. We opened with the question “Do you think unpaid internships should be illegal?” to which all 13 participants believed they should be illegal. When each participant discussed their internship experiences, many described them as the “worst experience of [their] life” and said they were “doing too much work to not be paid.” One participant even went so far as to say that unpaid internships are “slavery.” On the converse, some participants said they have positive experiences, saying they learned a lot and were okay with being unpaid because they loved the experience. But overall, many participants never look for or apply to unpaid internships. They feel there are little benefits beyond having the experience to put on a resume and making connections, though it’s unclear if those connections are valuable enough to be worth it.

Many residents believe that unpaid internships significantly contribute to creating a massive equity gap within professional development. One participant said that people who can afford to support themselves can afford to take more unpaid internships and build their resumes. The conversation then shifted to a discussion about job applications, with one participant believing that resumes create the equity gap because “a paper with accolades says nothing about someone’s character.” Cover letters were also a hot topic of conversation, with the general consensus being that cover letters are too much work for not enough payoff. Plus, many people might not have access to help with writing their resumes and cover letter, which puts them at a disadvantage.

Pace University prides itself on offering many unique opportunities to students, including a mass amount of internships through the website Handshake and their career services department. The department hosts resume workshops and allow students to meet one on one with professionals to create a working resume. In order to apply for internships through the University Handshake service, a student must get their resume approved by the department. 

Half of the students in the class expressed that Pace’s Career Services was a large part of their decision to go to the University. We asked University students what their experience has been with career services. 

The class responded in a positive light, with many students sharing the help they received from the career services department. Students expressed that they felt it was a privilege to go to a University with career services and felt the opportunity in itself was a privilege. Students agreed that the department is what students make of it– they have to seize the opportunities, reach out to the department and put in work to even be able to apply to internships. 

One student shared her experience with a career services employee, Matt Healy, stating: “He’s great and really taught me how to make a resume. The only other meeting with career services I have had have been to look on Handshake, which I feel like you have to do yourself, no one can do it for you.”

Award Show Relevancy

Since the early 1930’s, the biggest nights within the entertainment industry are those upon which award shows are broadcasted across the globe. The most notable and respected of which are The Oscars (film), The Emmys (television), The Grammys (music) and The Tonys (theater). While most people find a passion in creating / filling out brackets that predict the award recipients and throughout the year follow trends by watching “smaller” award ceremonies such as the Golden Globes, The People’s Choice Awards…etc., others could quite frankly care less. This is because of the widely held opinion that, today, awards shows are designed to be more performative and politicized rather than having actual value or meaning.  

In the past, people worldwide would have to tune into the live airing of the award shows in order to find out the winners. As a society, watching the award ceremony was a big ordeal and often was used as an excuse to throw a party and hang out with friends. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for people to get live updates from social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram or Google the award recipients the following morning rather than watching the actual award ceremony. This is partially since the award ceremonies can reach up to 3 hours in length, which is a long time considering very little awards are actually presented. Also, it’s disappointing to watch the projects that deserve to win (or at the very least nominated / recognized) be “snubbed” year after year due to what appears to be a non-progressive board of voters.

So, what does this mean for the future of award shows? While it’s unlikely that they will disappear completely, it is assumed that they might transition into a more privet event like the Golden Globes, which as of 2021 is no longer being televised due to a lack of viewership and the amount of backlash against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) for not being diverse enough. Regardless of the way our opinions may sway when it comes to the topic of award shows, it’s important to note their contribution to popular culture and society as a whole.

MTA Switches Its Payment System After Nearly 30 Years—Is OMNY The End of The MetroCard? 

By: Nataly Aviles    April 26, 2022

NEW YORK, NY—With over 1 million taps recorded by the MTA system every day, as of April 8, 2022, the new tap-and-go payment method, OMNY, is proving successful in the contactless era of New York. According to MTA Head of Fares Systems, Amy Linden, the $772 million dollar project is expected to be fully implemented by late 2024, allowing city transit riders to tap with any smart device or microchipped card to pay the $2.75 fare. Prepaid, tappable OMNY cards will also be available for purchase at subway stations and select retailers across New York City.

OMNY, or “One Metro New York,” is one of the many ways the MTA is trying to revive rider membership post-quarantine; the contactless method is connected to an individual’s digital wallet and is meant to be a quick and easy way to enter the subway system. Riders no longer need to wait in line to refill their MetroCard or worry about broken turnstiles with OMNY; just tap your device at an OMNY reader, and go. Currently, all MTA train stations and buses have functional OMNY card readers. If a reader is not properly functioning, however, MTA employees are instructed to allow riders through to ease the transition to OMNY. This virtual method of payment is also meant to reduce the tedious task of handling paper money—according to the American Public Transportation Association, the MTA collected over $1.5 billion in cash in 2019, spending 13% of the funds just to process it.

For those still seeking to purchase physical OMNY cards with cash, plastic cards will be available for $5 at vending machines inside of subway stations and over 2,000 retail/drug stores across NYC—such as 7-11, CVS and Walgreens. In comparison to the current MetroCard, the OMNY card is made of a thick plastic, expires after 7 years and functions with the tap of an electronic chip instead of a magnetic bar that swipes.

Price is another difference between the two payment methods. Currently, MetroCard users have the option to purchase $2.75 single ride passes, $33 7-day unlimited passes and $127 30-day unlimited passes. Select riders, such as students and senior citizens, are also granted fare reductions and other deals. To compete, OMNY is running a four month-long fare cap; the “Best Fare” program grants any rider who taps at least 12 times with the same device unlimited rides for the rest of the week, Monday through Sunday, according to the MTA Board of NYC. While similar to the $33 7-day unlimited pass, the cost through OMNY is split up throughout the week as you ride, instead of upfront in a single amount. OMNY also plans to eventually honor the same fare reductions as MetroCard, as stated by the MTA.

In order to carry out the switch to OMNY, an additional 1,600 vending machines will be installed at all subway stations over the span of 13 months, starting late 2022. A mobile app is currently under work and is planned to launch in 2023. By 2024, the MetroCard may be a relic of the past.

According to Linden, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has not made this process easy. A delay in the production of reusable OMNY cards is due to the global shortage of plastic and electronic chips. There are still technical issues and security risks to be addressed. Many critique and question the gradual pull away from paper money. For these reasons, the initial plan to implement OMNY is more than a year behind schedule.

“We will make sure this system is fully operational before we retire anything,” said MTA Chief Customer Officer, Sarah Meyer.