‘Ello! I’m Elles. Of course, that’s not my real name, but it’s the Internet pseudonym which I have grown quite fond of so just call me that. It’s pronounced like saying the letters “L S”.
When I was first born, I used to live with my parents and hang out all day in a crib. Then, when they were at work, I’d go to a daycare center to hang out with other kids my age until I could go hang out with my parents again. At this time, I was a huge fan of Arthur, Barney, and the Magic School Bus TV show and book series. I partly blame this for my early love of science and astronomy. Then, I went to a Montessori school for the rest of my preschool education. After that, I went to a K-8 charter school where I got a proper education in all things from the humanities to mathematics and the sciences. Science was always my favorite class because you always learned something new about the world around you, but it was either too “boring” or too “hard” or too “contradictory to my religious beliefs” for the other students around me.
Despite my social ineptness, life was good at the school. I had mostly great teachers (the occasional idiot) who enriched my learning experience. I learned loads of new things.
And then, my 8th grade year ended and I continued on to high school. I’d known for years that I was going to dread the public school system, but I went in thinking of it as a new opportunity to make new friends, start fresh in my academic life.
It turned out that the public school system was meant to create workers, not intellectuals. I received quite a bit of mocking every time I brought up a topic which they weren’t familiar with. There was still a lot of attitudes which leaned towards anti-science. “Why do you hate science?” I once asked a fellow classmate. “I hate science, I just hate it. It’s so hard. I just hate science, ok?”
I also get a lot of unsplendidness from my classmates because I’m an atypical teenager. I have decided that it is important that you know what I feel makes me an atypical teenager.
First of all, I’ve been watching science fiction since I was four years old. I would stay up until 11 pm just so that I could watch Star Trek: Voyager. If you see me make any references which you don’t get, that’s probably because of that. This science fiction nerdness distanced me from my peers during middle school, but I hope y’all won’t mind.
Secondly, I read books. According to a study done by the National Endowment for the Arts, only 57% of adults read a book which wasn’t required for school or work in the year 2002. Seeing that my bedroom floor is covered with books, I guess that makes me really atypical. I read loads of books about everything, especially philosophy and science. Evolution is awesome, by the way. So is astronomy. I figure that since I like astronomy so much and biology so much I should put the two together and become an astrobiologist. That would be completely awesome.
And finally, I’m not into the same stuff as most teenagers. I’m not a huge fan of popular music (some of the songs I like), I have no idea who Brad Pitt is (well, I know he’s some kind of actor), I’m not really into shopping (my fashion sense allows me to know what to put on to cover up my lower body and what to put on to cover up my upper body), and I get told by my friends that I occasionally use big words without noticing.
I’m going to try to tone down my use of big words, but if I ever let slip something which you don’t know, do go ahead and ask what it means or look it up on Dictionary.com instead of staring at me blankly. I’m hoping not to have to face that here, but I occasionally get mocked when I say something my classmates don’t understand.
Oh, one more thing. I accidentally downloaded the British version of Firefox 3 so it underlines words like “favorite” if I don’t have a “U” in it. I must obey the Firefox, so if anything is in British English that’s why.
It was around the time when I realized that I couldn’t fully express myself intellectually in school without getting picked on that I discovered blogging. I started a blog called “Splendid Elles” because I thought that splendid was a really completely awesome word (fyi, I, as well as my co-author, also use some words besides splendid which your parents may not approve of). It’s mostly a place where I go when I’m screaming in agony at the general ignorance around me, or when I need some time to reflect, or I need to debunk something. It’s my way of shouting at the world.
And so, it was through this blog that I gained some sort of an existence in the “blogosphere” and people came to know of me. One day, Rebecca Watson from old “Skepchick” e-mailed me to tell me that they were starting up a spin-off of Skepchick called “Teen Skepchick” and I immediately knew that I wanted to do it. I got excited and replied “I honestly think that that is a totally splendid, awesome, wonderful, bunnyful, funtastic, magical, brilliant idea!”
Granted, I’m still a teenager and I’m hoping not to sound foolish because of my youth… but I feel that I have gained some wisdom and knowledge in the fifteen years which I have spent wandering aimlessly around the planet. Someone on Splendid Elles once commented to say…
“Teenagers, like creationists, think they know everything.”
I’m going to go ahead and say for the record that I don’t think that I know everything. Why would I love learning if I did? But, like I said, I don’t know everything… If I ever do say something foolish, I hope that somebody will politely correct me so that I may continue to learn.
As for the little wisdom which I do have, it is my intention to share this with others of my age (and hopefully above it too), and to maybe gain some wisdom from them as well.
It is also my intention to inspire teenagers. People often tell me that self-help gurus who have barely achieved even a middle school level understanding of science inspire them for whatever reason. I think that science can be just as inspirational, if not even more so because it’s true. I guess I’m going to become the Wayne W. Dyer or Eckhart Tolle of science.
I want to inspire them to be all that they can be, and no, just because you’re a teenager doesn’t mean that you can’t be very much. I want to inspire them to think skeptically. And, most importantly, I want to inspire them to be curious and try to learn something about this splendid planet we live on.
So, let me share my explorations of the world as I come of age with you. Let us, through science, reason, skepticism, and wonder together, create a brighter future.