Photo Courtesy of NBC Sports

AKABAS | Bracketology: Who/What is winning 2016?

There are many things that literally everyone on Earth hates, such as hangnails, hotels that charge for WiFi, late-2000s M. Night Shyamalan films, and that moment when you don’t check your phone for an hour and there are 257 unread messages from a single group chat when you come back. There aren’t many things that literally everyone on Earth loves, but one of those things is March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament. A single-elimination bracket – the concept that you need to win every single game to stay in it – is ingenious. I support using the bracket concept whenever humanly possible, so let’s make a bracket to determine who or what has had the best 2016 so far. The competitors were determined subjectively by me, and the seeds, listed below, were determined primarily by number of Twitter followers (credit to former Grantland-writer Rembert Browne for this idea).

Photo Courtesy of Digital Trends

PUTTING INTO FOCUS | Facebook’s Emotional Side

Earlier this week, I was greeted by the recent changes Facebook made to its “Liking” platform. Rather than only seeing the familiar blue thumbs up, I was met with a plethora of options, ranging from like to happy to surprise to angry. Sure, Facebook had warned us about this change, but none of us were entirely prepared for it. Now, as I scroll through my newsfeed, I am presented with a broader range of emotions, each characterized with a simple emoji. This year, I had heard many stories of what Facebook likes mean to the broader public.

Courtesy of NASA


It’s the year 20-something-or-other. We’ve made contact with the aliens. We still call them “the aliens,” even though it’s quite possible they’re not the only aliens out there — even though we too, are space creatures, whether or not we choose to think of it that way — and even though “the aliens” has long been a conceptual colloquialism rather than a scientific label. (“Kind of like the word planet,” says Pluto.)

So, we’ve made contact with the aliens. They tried to dodge our calls.

SUSSER | The Fall of the Wall

In middle school, Facebook was a novel concept. A cyber-venue, not to be confused with MySpace, where one was compelled to maintain a certain minimal level of social acuity. Most importantly for me at the time, it was a platform to join friends in fiercely juvenile exhibitions of hand-eye-coordination through games such as “Helicopter” and all derivative variations (if you anticipate a wistful, Buzzfeed style walk down memory lane, I apologize in advance). Looking back, I could easily envision those games as a hook-and-bait strategy to lure teenagers to the social media website. Unlike the buoyant and cheerfully colorful media of Miniclip — Bubble Trouble — the competitive Facebook atmosphere likely had ulterior motives.

SUSSER | Are We Aware?

How far are we willing to go to become aware? What even is the goal of awareness? Is it to promote research for a given disease, to provide information about a previously obscure condition or to make sure we realize the implications of our comments and actions? Or can it take on a more destructive form, such as acts of terrorism intended to promote radical religious views? Recently, it seems like the idea of awareness has become so diluted that each new campaign is mere lip service for an issue.

HARDIN | Social Media Solidarity

Last week the world seemed to implode. At home, thousands of college students mobilized against the institutional racism of our higher education system  — and received death threats in the process. Across the world, terrorist attacks took hundreds of innocent lives. The sensationalist media presence only increases our sense of helplessness as observers. In times like these, it often seems much easier to turn off the news.