Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Raised by nature: An all-American farm life

Courtesy Margaux Jubin

I feel safest on the grass, in the dirt, and at the top of any mountain. I value nature more than anyone I know.

At 1850-feet altitude on a peak in the Santa Monica Mountains, I carry the warmth of the heat lamp for the chicks we incubated in my bedroom. And in my body lies the vibrance of the rooster that woke me up each morning, the patience for my long commute to school each day, and the liberation from the chokehold of the digital world. 

We lived at the top of a very, very, very curvy canyon, and as soon as we descended our driveway, we lost all cell service. I had no technology until I was 14. 

Our family had goats, sheep, pigs, miniature ponies, chickens, ducks, hermit crabs, guinea pigs, and dogs. Growing up, I didn’t know being raised on a farm was not a typical experience. As I got older, I observed the surprise and excitement of the other children at petting zoos, and still didn’t put two and two together.

This wholesome all-American farmhood, coupled with an anti-tech father, allowed for a very unique upbringing. Before I was born, my dad had gone on a trip to visit family in France, and my mom took it as the perfect opportunity to get a cable TV installed. Once he got home, already triggered by the new TV, my three-year-old sister’s actions took his tech hatred to a new level. 

My sister had a historic tantrum that included banging on the TV and demanding the Animal Planet channel. Ever since Animal Planet-gate, my dad enforced an indefinite technology ban in our household. Since that fateful day, we never had a television. That is, until my parents divorced when I was 14, and my mother moved somewhere with actual cell service. 

At school, many students would converse about the latest trending TV show, and during these conversations, I always felt left out. I felt like I was a loser and an “uncultured swine,” as I was once called. From “Shake it Up” to “Stranger Things,” the TV show references flew over my head. I felt like I was missing out on pivotal culture. 

Whenever my cousins would come to visit, they would bring their Nintendo DS’s to our house, and I felt lame and uncool next to them. One day, I had enough and I took matters into my own hands. I stole a plank of wood from my dad’s shed and began gluing construction paper and clothes buttons onto the surface, constructing my own Nintendo DS.

In hindsight, my parents made the right decision. Raising us without technology allowed us to flourish without the shadows of the media and societal expectations tainting our development. 

Studies have shown that the more time teens spend on social media, the less connected they feel to others, the more likely they are to compare themselves to unrealistic body ideals, and the higher risk they are of developing OCD. My dad always used the word “alienation” to describe the effects of devices on the brain and behavior. He always had the final say in our parenting, earning himself the title of the ultimate patriarch. 

Fiery May and June days on the mountain invited the farm’s greatest enemies … rattlesnakes. During routine returns home from school, I was greeted with the sound of gunshots, knowing my dad slayed another venomous snake. It gave me a sense of pride. He took satisfaction with himself for protecting our family, though he had a tendency to take it too far. 

I once bravely ordered pizza to our house, which I never did because the delivery people always got lost and it was not worth the aggravation. But I really wanted pizza, so I decided to give it another try, not knowing I’d descend the driveway to see my father pulling a gun on the pizza guy and questioning him. That was the end of Postmates on the farm.

Inside our feed house, where we stored our animal’s food, leads, medicines, and halters, we had a rickety wooden sign with a metal gun-shaped plaque on it mounted on the wall, reading, “we don’t dial 911.” I was raised by the epitome of a macho-man who tried to be the embodiment of what manhood is “supposed” to look like. He was one of my role models growing up, and I inherited some of his worldviews, both the pessimistic and optimistic ones. 

As I grew, I felt grounded in myself as I was created. Rather than spending hours at the hands of addictive media algorithms, we grew intrinsically, free of any societal influences. Many great memories exist within that wholesome, innocent bubble my parents built around us. 

Looking back, our lives were not only simpler because we were children, but because we lived life from the inside out, rather than the outside in. We had no pressures about who to become, no examples of what to be, besides those in the physical realm—rather than the digital. We marched to the beat of our own drums, simply existing out of our truest selves, because we didn’t know how to do anything else. Unlike most people, I was fortunate enough to develop organically, completely removed from the tribulations of electronics. 

Still, I hold that self inside me, even though growing up has led me astray from my roots. The first time I was introduced to technology outside of the classroom was when I got a phone in middle school and immediately downloaded social media. Like many teenagers, I unknowingly fell into comparison and valuing appearance and material over all else. Social media quickly and viciously uprooted everything I loved about myself. Before, I had felt special because of my lush, wholesome, and rural upbringing that shaped me into an untamed and down-to-earth person.

Instagram changed me the most, and my zest for life evolved into a sense of worth defined exclusively by my outward appearance.  In the face of trying to be who I thought I was supposed to be, I didn’t realize I had lost everything that made me who I was until it was too late. I felt that if I could only be those girls I saw on Instagram, I could earn the praise and validation they received and finally feel good about myself again. The adrenaline from running through a wide open field of grass with my dogs was replaced by the temporary dopamine rush from likes and comments. 

I’ve given everything to grow past that. The ranch will always be a large part of my identity, and I want to keep it that way. I keep the mess from the ducklings we raised in my bedroom, strong hands from the rope burn while walking the horses, and the pride from everything I’ve become. I grew from the three roses my dad planted when I was a toddler: one for my mom, my sister, and myself. 

I still move with the wind, and living in Boston, with all four seasons, has reinforced my ability to appreciate every whisper from nature, whether that be the crisp wind in the morning, the torrential downpours in spring, and the blinding snow coating the trees. 

I see the world differently, all thanks to the dirt that runs through my veins from that mountain I will always call home. 

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About the Contributor
Margaux Jubin
Margaux Jubin, Staff Writer
Margaux Jubin is a sophomore journalism major from Los Angeles, California. She is currently a Staff Writer for the Berkeley Beacon. Outside The Beacon, Margaux loves live music, hanging out with friends, and spending time in nature.

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