I had quite the long day today. We had two orientations – both for respective programs – and many hours of small talk – something I enjoy, but also find slightly draining. As a result, I decided to take a break and head over to The Atlantic.
If you’ve been following the news about Somaly Mam, and especially the Newsweek articlepublished on May 30th, The Atlantic’s, “Victims Can Lie as Much as Other People” article shouldn’t have been a surprise. I, on the other hand, after living under a rock for the past two weeks, stared at my computer screen. In some ways, I am still blankly staring, even as words are being typed out by my hands. How did I fall for it? How did I get swept away in the stories and narratives and compelling descriptions, agonies, and anguish… without question? I remember how I felt after reading Three Cups of Tea. I also remember how I felt after reading the exposés and articles denouncing Greg Mortenson and his fudging of details and even entire schools. And I remember thinking, never again.
My interest in human trafficking started, much like many others – reading Half the Skyand avidly following the documentaries, and then picking up to read Somaly Mam’sRoad of Lost Innocence. I remember reading some reviews and reading the suggestions of exaggeration and fabrication. So how did I fall for it?
Easy. In reality, I was lazy. I was lazy to do my own research, to follow up on those reviews, to look for other sources, to spend time researching and critically analyzing an issue that I “supposedly championed.” I was lazy, but I also was and still am naive. I wanted a heroic narrative and Somaly Mam, in all her passionate glory – one I experienced first hand – had it. And I stepped on the bandwagon, refusing to question the stories because I didn’t want to. I wanted my Disney Hercules, with the story of struggle, climax, and resolution – a narrative that was engaging, compelling, and moving. And to question the details meant I would have to deal with the nuanced relationship between storytelling and fundraising, the ethical complications of compelling documentaries, and wrestling with “the truth.” And truthfully, it was much easier, and I was happier, believing the story
In a year, I read somewhere around 100-200 books. I don't have a TV and I use reading as a form of escape, and I especially like reading outside of academia. It also helps with improving my writing :)
When I'm trying to concentrate, I like having background music that's super dramatic. For some reason, instrumental music is instrumental (pun!) in helping me concentrate. Most of the songs are Korean-drama OSTs (original sound tracks), w/ a few classical music scores in the mix!
I don't categorize anything other than my "random round-ups" because it takes too much work (insert laughing emoji).