Film: “Unfriended” Illuminates the Lonely Side of Social Media

Story by Kyle August, Reporter

“Unfriended” turns ordinary social media interactions into terrifying en- counters. In the horror/thriller, teenager Blaire Lily receives a Skype message from her classmate Laura Barns. Blaire dismisses the message as a cruel prank because Laura commit- ted suicide a year ago after someone anonymously posted a mortifying video of her.

However, it soon becomes clear that the message is no prank and that whoever is responsible wants revenge. The rules are simple: cooperate or die.

The entire film is seen from Blaire’s perspective, or rather her laptop screen. The audience watches as she instant messages her boyfriend, checks Facebook, and Skype chats with her classmates, all while frantically reacting to the mysterious force.

The film, directed by Levan Gabriadze, has the same grainy, real-time approach as the 1999 horror thriller “The Blair Witch Project.”

The chatroom frame approach may seem weak, or even anticlimactic, but Gabriadze’s use of this technique takes these relatable, routine actions and effectively turns them into panic and terror.

As Blaire and her friends are haunted by the vengeful stalker, their own dark secrets begin to surface, pitting them against each other.

The funny, stereotypical characters take the edge off Unfriended, but the kill scenes are not for the faint of heart. This jolting film will make you think twice about cyberbullying, and you may never use a blender again.

In our increasingly connected world, it’s downright effortless for bullies to harass their targets via email, instant messaging, texting and social media. Posting hurtful messages online, or circulating embarrassing photos or videos have led many teens to suicide.

Courtesy picture of Bazeleus company and Blumhouse productions

Program has Austinites running for Shelters

Story and photo by Kyle August, Reporter

Austin is home to runners and dog lovers alike. Combine the two and you get RuffTail Runners— a program that inspires Austinites to take shelter dogs out of their kennels and onto the trails for exercise and exposure.

“There were a lot more benefits than we realized,” Rob Hill co-founder of RuffTail Runners said.

The runners act as extra trainers, and the vast majority of the dogs are well behaved as a result.

Each month, Ruff-Tail Runners holds training sessions to teach volunteers how to properly handle the dogs. Group sessions are fairly small, and include both classroom and hands-on training.

“What we try to do is keep the runners, dogs, and public [on the trails] safe”, Hill said. “We average about 300 runs a month. All these runs, we’ve had virtually no dog fights”.

Running with the dogs is not a requirement. Many participants walk the dogs.

Hill has no statistics on the program’s effects on dog adoption rates, however he said that getting the dogs away from the stressful shelter environment results in happier, healthier, pets.

The program also allows people to spend time with the dogs without the full-time commitment of ownership.

Before each run, dogs are fitted with bright vests that read, “Adopt Me!” Hill, a native Austinite, has two adopted pets of his own— adogandacat.

“I’m a magnet for strays!” he said.

RuffTail Runners is open to the public at the Austin Pets Alive! Town Lake facility at 1156 W Cesar Chavez.

For more information, visit www. runnersaustin.




ACC Board Clears Smoke On E-cigarette Policy

Kyle August, Reporter 

Last fall, debate surrounded the topic of electronic cigarettes and whether or not vaping was subject to the same regulations as cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Last year on Nov. 17, the ACC board of trustees voted to expand the college’s smoke-free policy to prohibit nicotine vapor products. This ban, which also includes smoke-free tobacco products, went into effect Jan. 5 of this year.

“We want to maintain a healthy and safe environment for our students and employees,” Dr. Mary Hensley, ACC Executive Vice President of Operations, said.

This new restriction has sparked controversy, and many students argue that school officials lack any real supporting evidence that vapor smoke is harmful. Collin Hayes, a student at the Northridge campus, believes the ban is too harsh.

“[Tobacco smoke and vapor smoke] are two completely different substances,” Hayes said. “I feel it’s more of a moral attack”.

In the ACC online Newsroom, students criticize the ban as being imposed without any sort of consensus or representation.

Accent sought to capture differing viewpoints on this topic, but the few students who seemed to be in favor of the ban chose not to go on record with their opinions.

There is not enough data to determine whether there is any risk associated with secondhand nicotine exposure, but scientists have confirmed there are no combustion related toxins present in vapor. Electronic cigarettes are most often used as smoking-cessation tools, and can help reduce the risk of relapse and tobacco related death. Vaping is, however, a relatively new trend; the long term effects remain unknown.