Every week, thousands of stories fill our queue. Thank you for choosing Vocal as your platform to, well, be vocal.
Every week, we ask the Vocal community to be just that: vocal.
Be vocal about injustice. Be vocal about inequality. Be vocal about climate change, mental health, unemployment, heartbreak — the words you share can touch thousands as we brave these difficult times together.
Every week, we are blown away by the responses. This ever-growing community is honest, passionate, and full of wisdom and insight. Every week, we ask you to share your stories, and every week, we learn something new.
As always, we thank you for using your voice. We're the moderation team at Vocal, and these are the stories we enjoyed the most in the last two weeks. While you're reading them, don't forget to leave your favorite authors a tip, and if you're not already a creator, you can sign up here to get started today.
Why We're Obsessed With The American Dream
They told us America was the Land of the Brave and Free. What they didn't tell us is that it was only really true in stories made up for Movies and TV.
Emmanuel Adelekun has a powerful voice that echoed around our Vocal office (or rather, our respective homes, as we safely practice workplace social distancing). What is our obsession with the American Dream, Emmanuel asks, and is it truly a dream for everyone?
In 1778, Ben Franklin, serving as an American ambassador in France, attended a party with Louis XVI to celebrate France's newfound alliance with the colonies. That night, Marie Antoinette approached Franklin with a thought: "In our country," she said, "a printer's foreman would never have risen to the heights that you have." The American Dream, some would say, was born in this moment. There is nothing that one born in America cannot achieve, the Dream says.
But is this really the case in the land of the free?
... that's all it is, a Dream. The reality is a song written to justify slavery. It's bad fast food and soda. It's Hollywood stars dying of overdoses.
Right now everything that we believe was great about America is being demystified, the Dream pulled back to show it was nothing but CGI and camera tricks.
The Dark Side of Social Media Screening Technology
In this eye-opening tell-all from Alex Marcus, a Vocal creator and recruiter at a New York social services agency, we learn how some algorithms designed to make life easier for employees like Alex are actually preventing strong candidates — especially Black and POC candidates — from being considered for open positions.
Screening technology companies hire experts in Industrial Organizational Psychology to ensure their searches are sufficiently not-racist enough to prevent lawsuits. I would like to believe they are also addressing the moral repercussions of their work rather than simply looking after bare-minimum compliance, but my personal experience with the company we used makes me doubtful.
In a time when injustice is being exposed across the spectrum, Alex is using his voice to uncover yet another intolerable flaw in the system. Ultimately, stories like this will unveil what is unfair, and help us unlearn systemic inequality. Voices for change, like Alex's, must continue to be heard. As always, Vocal is here to amplify those voices.
The Killer's Assistant
On my first date with Mallory, I prayed that she wouldn’t ask me about what I did for a living.
"So, what do you do for a living?"
Every story has a lifespan. From meeting the characters to saying goodbye, we live inside the author's world for a designated period of time. The lifespan of this story from creator Eve Berkovich is measured in cigarettes — seven, to be exact.
Mallory doesn’t know I smoke ... I buried this pack two days ago, and there are exactly seven cigs left for me tonight. I sit on the grass and light #1.
In the early stages of falling in love, it is expected that both halves of the relationship be honest, especially about the basics, like "what are your hobbies" and "what do you do for a living." Eve's protagonist is a Black and queer military employee battling a unique strand of PTSD. This character hasn't been honest with themself, let alone another person, in a very long time. Because of this, they find even the simplest of questions discomforting and disquieting.
Eve takes an introspective look at identity in this romantic short story. If you have the time, give it a read. It's only seven cigarettes long.
Where women lead, the virus loses
The title of this story from creator C Y Gopinath says it all. The analysis is compelling, and the attacks are pointed, as C Y examines where COVID-19 has been successfully rebutted, and where it has not.
Six other countries have acted swiftly and decisively and kept their death rates down: Taiwan (7 deaths), New Zealand (22), Iceland (10), Finland (323), Norway (238) and Germany (8,776). Don't be misled by Germany's larger numbers — it only reflects its much much larger population compared to the other countries. Together, these countries represent the best, most efficient, empathetic and effective response to the pandemic.
All six countries are led by women.
Open water and open minds
... This is about an almost spiritual journey to understanding the beauty of something that's often viewed as evil and terrifying. We're talking about the world of Selachimorpha, commonly known as sharks!
Thalassophiles (those who love the ocean) will be especially interested in this story from creator Summer Patterson, who tells us how she faced her fears and did something few of us are brave enough to do: swim with sharks.
Summer is a native Floridian, but for those who are not coastal, the story does not lose its merit. Rather, Summer's transition from being afraid of the ocean's most infamous predators to understanding that sharks represent that which we do not understand is a journey to which we all can relate. Complete with videos of her underwater adventures, Summer's story paints a picture of a world few of us will ever experience, making it a powerful entry in this roundup.
What the World is Made of
Our latest Vocal challenge asked creators to find a song that sums up the state of the world in 2020. Michael L. Martin understands why we thought this would be a therapeutic challenge for the Vocal community.
In a time of disheartening dismay due to a worldwide pandemic, and disunity within a nation as social injustices and systemic racism are forced to the forefront through police brutality and civil unrest; there are not many positive tension-relieving mediums to turn to. ... But then I remember the music. The music. A simple answer to some of the most complex and difficult questions people have ever had to ask themselves.
People say there is a song for every occasion, and they are right. Michael takes us on a personal journey through the times in his life when music was there to help him process and reflect. The Pretenders, AC/DC, Aerosmith — these bands helped him cope. What artists have helped you through the most difficult times?
To check out more submissions to the 2020 Anthem challenge, you can read them all here.
Every week, thousands of submissions fill our queue. Thank you for choosing Vocal as your platform to, well, be vocal! We can't wait to share more of our favorite stories with you.
Keep writing, and we'll see you next time.