EVERYTHING I'VE DONE EXCEPT MY BACHELOR'S THESIS
Or, adventuring with Wen into the Wikipedia rabbit hole.
Editor's Note: Our girl did actually complete her bachelor's thesis. Wen was one of the first contributing writers we interviewed and brought onto the team; she's part of who we are and we adore her. Congratulations on your graduation, Wen, we love you and would go down ANY rabbit hole with you.
In the Netherlands, our Bachelor’s degree is expected to be completed in three years, and our Bachelor’s thesis is expected to be completed in four months. With just a month left to spare for each, and the finish line within eyeshot, I can’t help but commit one final act of self-sabotage a la the hare (from the titular fable of ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’).
I’d spent the first three months of my thesis process overthinking it to every extent, so did I really have any grounds to be calling the shots on how apps are mediating social practices? I spent my days battling between the delete and return key, in hopes of a better word, a stronger sentence. Days before I turned in my first draft, I had a vivid dream of me in front of the examination board defending my thesis. I woke up in the morning drenched in sweat and in need of another round of proofreading.
My unsubstantiated fear of failing my thesis derives from my fear of a study delay: more specifically, explaining to my parents what exactly a study delay is and why I will have to extend my studies for another semester.
Now with a month to go, I only have a handful of motivation left, and it’s rapidly slipping through my fingers. . I’m sure there is humor in me writing what you’re reading right now rather than me having a eureka moment and cranking out the last final paragraphs. Maybe I’m just a duck, calm on the surface, and paddling for the life of me underneath.
But now that I have a substantial amount of progress for my first draft— which certainly makes it easier for me when it’s time to procrastinated on the final draft, I have some time to tell you everything I’ve done except my Bachelor’s thesis.
1. The British Royal Family and The Crown
Starting off with a real killer. While I had previously hopped on the British royal family bandwagon for each new season of The Crown, Meghan Markle’s interview and Prince Philip’s death have sent me down a rabbit hole of all-things British Monarchy, namely catching up on the past decades through The Crown.
Meghan Markle’s interview revealed the alleged racist behaviors of the royal family behind closed doors.
A lot of netizens compare Markle to Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée that was also disapproved of by the royal family. I wasn’t sure if the people making these comparisons on TikTok and Twitter are for or against Markle because I think people are forgetting Simpson was proved to be a Nazi sympathizer and had conspired with Adolf Hitler. Not an appropriate comparison regardless of the intent.
Also, Prince William, “We are very much not a racist family” is exactly something someone from a racist family would say.
If you’re into some period drama lore and had an immigrant mom that loved Princess Diana, The Crown is the perfect show for you to start before the much anticipated ‘vax girl summer.’ It has served as the perfect white noise to my writing sessions, with me occasionally looking up to admire Olivia Coleman’s performance as the queen.
The fifth and sixth seasons of The Crown are not due to start filming until later this year, and due to arrive in 2022 and 2023 respectively. To the graduating classes of 2022 or 2023, rejoice. This rite of passage shall be yours, too.
2. The Dutch Royal Family
The British Royal Family’s distance cousins to the right; 679 kilometers (422 miles) right, to be exact. The current King of the Netherlands is the fifth cousin twice removed to Queen Elizabeth II.
To be honest, I didn’t even know the Netherlands had a royal house until months into my stay here. People are not as into the monarchy here as they are in Great Britain, many of my Dutch friends even go as far as to predict the dissolution of the Dutch royal family in the coming years. Even so, the ‘Orange’ family did not catch my attention until months into quarantine when they kept getting themselves in one scandal after another. King Willem-Alexander has been making more apology videos in the past year than a disgraced YouTuber.
3. The Environmental Impact of Fast Fashion
Whether you like TikTok or not, there is no doubt that the content creators on this platform have changed fashion in the past year. While TikTokers are dictating global fashion trends, they’re also doing it faster than ever before. Fashion cycles are accelerating; people are expected to be up to date with the latest trends every week; and once enough people have hopped on the trend, the trendsetters move on to the next.
While not everyone is shopping fast fashion for these trends, many are turning to Depop for a sustainable alternative to these trends. But truly how sustainable is Depop? One of my personal favorite YouTubers, Ali Vera, recently washed her hands of it. Depop and Depop sellers alike have been criticized for their role in gentrification, namely taking resources away from marginalized communities at thrift stores.
It is even thought that thrift stores and the availability of reselling have prompted overconsumption. As people would make room for their new purchase and excuse their fast wardrobe rotations through donations and reselling.
My thesis topic revolves around how apps mediate social practices. In particular, how apps can contribute to gentrification and overconsumption. The more I read about the topic, the more I am unwilling to participate in Depop, and contribute to the culture of unethical consumption, and taking resources from those in need. There is a line of selling what you don’t wear anymore at a reasonable price, instead of selling other people’s donations at an unfairly high markup.
4. Frenemies Podcast with Ethan Klein and Trisha Paytas
Onto a guilty pleasure of mine, the podcast co-hosted by Ethan Klein and Trisha Paytas. The pair are amongst the most controversial figures of YouTube throughout their respective careers. While they have been falling in and out of public opinion throughout the years, the podcast has won them many points with the general public. By no means are Klein and Paytas perfect figures, but since the earlier weeks of blowout walkout arguments, the pair has repaired and built a friendship on common ground. Klein and Paytas often speak on controversial issues in the online sphere — namely holding abusers and predators accountable. The pair has been largely credited for exposing the predatory behaviors of James Charles, Dominykas Zeglaitis, and the abusive behaviors of David Dobrik and Jason Nash.
Watching Klein and Paytas is like watching the popular girl in school befriend the class clown. Their fast-paced humor and off-beat pairing make for entertaining episodes week after week. Paytas is candid with her mental health struggles, often shedding light on her personal experience with borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. While some have criticized Klein for exploiting Paytas, Paytas has repeatedly spoken on how the show has been beneficial for her mental health.
I am paying €5 ($5) a month (on top of my one-too-many streaming subscriptions) to watch Frenemies a day before it comes out. But considering time zones and my ongoing need to get my 8 hours in, I am only watching it a few hours before it comes out. Still, I get an early look at their extravagant costumes and sets ahead of time, and spoil them for my friends.5. Crying about Crying in H Mart
Crying in H Mart, written by Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner. What was originally a viral New Yorker essay in 2018, now serves as the opener to her memoir of the same name.
The release of Zauner’s memoir garnered a significant amount of attention in the Asian American community, and many resonated with her depiction of the diasporic and familial experience: the way Zauner portrays the interlocked relationship with food and family, and how food can be the glue holding people together in the time of grief.
Even though I am only halfway through the book, many of the chapters make me want to curl up into a ball into the fetal position and call my mom. I feel like this is the kind of writing I looked for as a teenager, and is still relevant as an adult.
While they should have been distractions from the already stressful thesis, they were beginning to stress me out more than the thesis itself.
When I finally submit my thesis in 4 weeks, I will know the 10,000 words are not only my blood and sweat but also my best. Seeing how three years of hard work boil down to a narrative that I am so passionate about has been a crazy experience, to say the least, and I cannot imagine how it will feel to complete my Master’s thesis one day. But for now, I am dreading another Zoom office hour; between the awkward silences between Zoom fatigue and Zoom latency, I could not wish to be Zoom-ed out of here any sooner.