This weekend, I went on a hiking trip with some of my Spanish friends. Reus, the town I have been staying in, is situated fifteen minutes from the sea and a half an hour from nearby mountains. Thus, the people who live here are really active. My friends and I have had active plans for nearly every single weekend. And this weekend, we decided that we wanted to hike alongside a river to bathe in the midst of a neat waterfall.
Our hike’s trailhead was at a restaurant situated five minutes from a small town in the middle of the mountains. When we arrived at the restaurant, we parked and had some coffee and juice before starting on our excursion. The restaurant was really neat. It, and an old church, stood alone on the side of the road amidst the hills. From the doors of the restaurant, there was a view of the declining mountainsides, the cities below, and the small outline of the blue sea. After enjoying our drinks, we took off.
The hike reminded me of the Big Bear Mountains of California. Pine trees were scattered across the mountains, with their needles strewn across the ground. Many of the bushes were also similar to those in Big Bear. Some of the big differences, however, were the trail upkeep and ruins of older buildings. The trails were poorly conserved, forcing us to search around a couple of times to get back on them. But, the old, decaying buildings added an interesting aspect in our hike. We imagined what it would be like to live there, out of contact from the road and completely submerged in the nature. But, as we looked around for signs to find out the purposes of these buildings, we were left disappointed. There was nothing to help us figure out anything about these buildings. Much like the poorly kept trails, the buildings received no attention from people in an effort to preserve their history. We had to keep on hiking, never to know the uses of the buildings.
The end of the hike was absolutely beautiful. We looked down from the trail and could see the waterfall (a rather small one) hidden between two ravines, with a swimming pool at the bottom. Water streamed through at a steady pace, and created a tranquil, magical scene. After taking pictures (how could you not?), we climbed down to the pool, and took a swim. The water was so cold! But, it was great to escape the Spanish heat. We swam up to the bottom of the waterfall, and under it. From behind the waterfall, we could see out into the pool. Because the water was really cold, we only stayed in for five minutes. But, we relaxed on the outside rocks for more than an hour afterwards, taking advantage of a peaceful afternoon away from the noises of the default world.
After seeing the waterfalls, we hiked down the mountain. We had coffees again at the little restaurant in the mountains to conclude our hiking trip. And we drove back home. Thus, this concluded a spectacularly average day trip in the mountains of Catalonia.
While in Europe, I decided to keep Snapchat to stay in contact with family and friends, deleting other social media outlets to concentrate my focus in the now. Snapchat is an app which allows users to send pictures to friends for a certain amount of time. It is used the most among the youth, giving them opportunities to send pictures to friends and share their experiences in life. I particularly like Snapchat because I get to send and receive pictures to my little siblings and close friends every day.
However, Snapchat has evolved from an app used to only send personal messages, into an outlet for people to connect with other “snappers” around the world in the form of global stories. While this may seem really great – people get to see other people in other areas of the world – it may be dangerous if people only watch the stories, instead of reading educational articles, to get to know other cultures because they are only getting the viewpoint of the youth, which misrepresents the country or culture as a whole. Even potentially more dangerous, Snapchat has recently allowed companies to post daily stories on the Snapchat story feed, even if each user does not add the company and choose to follow it. With just a finger’s tap on the screen, users can easily access articles, blogs, and posts from these companies.
So, what’s wrong with that? Well, by letting users, especially young people who probably do not yet have a holistic view of the world, read these articles, Snapchat and these companies unconsciously shape the minds of the youth. The quick and easy news is not always factual, or even evocative, making the user used to not having to think too much while reading it. In addition, many of the articles falsely advertise the contents, and many still are extremely poorly written. I have been shocked by so many of the articles, and yet, these articles are so easily accessible, it seems so harmless to just click them and scroll through. If these news substitutes were only about harmless, nonpolitical subjects, they would possibly just negatively affect the user by making them accustomed to using little thought. However, not all of these articles are of innocent content. Much of the content of these stories would be considered as immoral by principled people. Yet, perhaps because mainly only youth use Snapchat, parents do not realize and do not know what their children are reading. Snapchat evolved from an app used to communicate personally into a news source which targets the vulnerable youth.
In a time of growing political division, or hardship, it is important that our youth equip themselves with the skills necessary for the future. Namely, reading, writing, and discussing using sound logic. But, if our youth becomes accustomed to being spoon-fed poorly written, illogical articles, it may be harder later in life to ask the tough questions and logically make good decisions. One way to combat the new Snapchat news source is to read and write good articles. Through making the real news appealing to the youth, and through encouraging the youth to broaden their news sources, they may be better prepared for the future. If not, if our youth become comfortable in accepting things, they may wake up in reality too late to realize their rights have slipped away to the sideline.
Jessica De Gree
Jessica teaches English as a second language in Spain and plays basketball professionally there. She recently received her Bachelor's degree from Hillsdale College, one of the nation's top Liberal Arts schools in MI. At Hillsdale, she played basketball and studied English and Spanish. Some of her hobbies include reading, writing, painting, surfing, and playing the piano.