Tag Archive: society


Final Fantasy and Familial Groups

Since the first anatomically modern humans were ambling about, they have moved in groups. Small family groups, larger tribes, extended family groups… you’ve all heard the trite phrase “man is a social animal” and it does happen to be true, scientifically speaking.

I’ve been watching Jess play Final Fantasy XIII and all the story lines seem to have something to do with family or a family group. One character’s mom dies. One is missing his son. Another, her sister. Due to all these unfortunate circumstances, a they have a suicidal drive to either avenge their fallen families or reunite them. It makes sense, given that the characters are human based, according to everything I’ve read in psychology and my dabbles in sociology and anthropology. It also makes sense that most people would be moved by these stories as a result, as they should have similar feelings. After all,  “blood is thicker than water” and “family is forever.”

It’s like watching a movie I don’t speak the language of, so I only understand pieces. I do love my sister dearly, and while I don’t think that if I was abducted my family would leave me to die, I don’t quite understand a lot of the emotions and phrases playing out on screen. My family was never the feeling expressing sort. Feelings existed and were there, but were not spoken of. Not the more positive ones, anyway. It makes me wonder about us: Would we have been different in a different time? One with more catastrophe, like in this game? What is it about people that makes them pull together in difficult times, or long for their families? What makes them fear they’ll never see them again?

I can tell you the scientific answer, and it all has to do with genes and the fact that if a species wants to survive, its genes need to be passed on. Best way to ensure the genes pass on is to install a mechanism to force one to take care of genetic offspring and those that share your genetics, even if it is only by 50% or less. I can’t tell you the emotional answer, and that troubles me for a cold, self involved reason: It makes me a poor writer if I can’t synthesize a full range of emotions in my mental alchemy lab.

Of course, I’d be lying if I said that was all it was. You know it, I know it. I’m both fascinated and repulsed by the fact that I don’t understand what seems to be a basic knowledge that you put up with your family because they’re your family. I can vaguely understand tolerating idiotic behavior from someone with 50% of my DNA that I see often or has influence over my life. It makes things a fuck lot easier if those that see you often are happy with you, and I’m terribly socially lazy. A lot of the time it’s just easier to ignore it all than bother to fuss about it. However, when people describe relationships with those outside of the 50% range, things become puzzling. I always wonder if I’m seriously missing out because while family seems to bring a lot of headaches, it also seems to bring people a lot of joy.

As I’m watching with the fascination of someone watching an ant farm, I wonder if the reason this game was so family based is not because a lot of people are not like me, but because they are like me. The world is smaller than ever, and now it isn’t uncommon for kids to move away for jobs, to abandon the lands where their family first set down roots, and rarely see each other in person. It used to be that you were with your family all the time, working beside them, running from predators with them, protecting them, feeding them, and taking care of their children. Now, we see each other through screens and talk to each other with keyboards. Humanity isn’t all that way, but where virtual communication has become more possible, people are moving farther and farther away from their families because they can worry less about “keeping in touch” with the new tech. But what happens when your only contact with someone for years is through a screen? Would you run after them if they were cursed with a horrible disease that could infect you too, just to try to save them? Or would it be easier to just weep for them, far away from them, the problem, and having not felt them elbow you in the ribs in play or ruffle your hair for years?

Maybe that’s why this game seems to be more focused around actual blood families than the Final Fantasy games I’ve known in the past, maybe we need some type of reminder.  Our playmates are taunting us from a half world away, our families are on the opposite coasts, and our friends exist on the internet.

I’m betting more people feel as unsettled and alien as I do watching this dedication to others actually being acted upon and not just paid lip service. Others that feel they’re failing the test of whatever it is to be human. With all this technology working its way farther and farther into our lives, it makes sense that we’re in danger of becoming part machine ourselves.

 

So, I started a new job and I’m in training. I love the job. I play with tech, my supervisors are funny, it is GREAT. I’m not here to complain about the job. No, people have gone and annoyed the shit out of me, and here’s why:

So, you all have had a part time job before, right? They hold your pay the first two to three weeks, depending on when in the billing cycle you were hired. So, when you’re paid, you’re paid for the work you did two weeks ago, not the work you’re currently doing. Yes, I realize that’s not exactly how it goes, but bear with me here. Okay, now take into account that even most FULL TIME jobs have a delayed pay schedule like this. I think we can all agree that if you’ve ever had a job, you know about this. Good? Good.

There are three girls that were ranting and raving and bitching and moaning about not getting paid for three weeks. This was brand new news to them. This tells me they have never had a fucking job.

I’m in a room full of, for the most part, 20+ adults, if not 30+ adults. These girls fall into this category. They’re in college. Judging by the shit they wear, the purses they were carrying, and the shit they buy, they’re not hurting for money. Okay, fine, so they haven’t had a job before. Fucking fine. I still don’t think your ass should be sitting in these seats without any customer service experience (since you’ve never had a job, you know, and this is a fucking call center), but whatever.

Then one of them says she has a scholarship. Such a scholarship that MY FUCKING SCHOOL PAYS FOR HER FUCKING PHONE WITH THESE FUCKING SCHOLARSHIPS because she has her phone bill billed to her university account. Convenient. Fine. Fucking fine. I’ll pretend that these scholarships are merit based, even though this chick is dumb and it shows, and also a person that has to open her mouth every five minutes just because she can’t shut up. Okay. Assuming these are merit based, they still have a need based component. Okay, so maybe I was wrong in thinking this chick had money. But then, I wonder, how the fuck has she never had a job… maybe it was a work study type job, if she had one, so she wasn’t paid per se, but instead worked to get money off her school bill.

However, that pissy part of my brain is just pointing out inconsistencies with these theories left and right. How can she afford to buy shit at work every day if she’s so fuck broke? How does she have an apartment (that was later explained– it was a school-run apartment complex)? And most importantly…

HOW THE GODDAMN MOTHERFUCK CAN SHE AFFORD A GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING TABLET WITHOUT A FUCKING CONTRACT AND WITHOUT ANY TYPE OF A DISCOUNT?

She keeps going “I NEVER WANT A CONTRACT” when people ask about who her cellphone is through, so that’s how I know she bought this thing out of contract, and this motherfucking tablet is $800 dollars out of contract.

Now, take into account this chick is stupid, and while I have been in training with her (a classroom environment that you get PAID for being in) she can’t pay attention, she doesn’t follow along, she talks incessantly, and at the first thing that gives her trouble, she throws up her hands and goes “I can’t do it” and waits for the answers to be given to her or just doesn’t do it at all. Now throw on top of that that right now, on top of that tablet, she has a goddamn Blackberry. Those aren’t cheap either, even with a contract, and we know how she feels about those.

Think about all of that. You’ll probably reach the conclusion I did, which is that her scholarships are not merit OR need based, and she had money given to her on the grounds of another criteria. While I have my guesses about what that goddamn criteria is that overrides financial need and merit, it would lead to an entire other rant, so I’m not going there. What I’m focusing on today is that all the words out of this bitch’s mouth are “When do I get this?” “Can I have that?” “Do I get that?” all of which translate to “GIMMEGIMMEGIMME!” This girl, if she finds out that there is anything that someone does not nail down and say “this is mine,” she will take, or demand that she can have. Our trainers have prizes for getting shit right? She wants all of them. As soon as she sees something without a name on it, she goes “Give me it.” Not “What can I do to earn that?” or “What do we do to get that?” it’s always: “CAN I HAVE IT?” It’s also never once. She says things over and over and OVER A-FUCKING-GAIN. “Can I have the prize? Can I have it? Can I? Can I have the prize? Can I have it? Why Can’t I have it?” On loop until it’s put away.

This girl is twenty years old. She’s been in college a while– twenty is at the low end of the spectrum for how old she is. The way she talks about liking margaritas, I’m guessing 21 or older, but I know that’s very possibly not the case, so I’m going with twenty. The point is, she’s twenty years old and she wants every shiny thing she sees, talks to hear herself talk, and has never had a job, and yet HER school is paid for to the point she can afford a $800 tablet while I’m struggling to pay my bills and cannot get a fucking scholarship to save me despite a 3.5 GPA and a ACT of 30 when I can’t afford school, and FURTHERMORE, far more deserving people in far more dire financial straits than I with comparable grades and a thousand times more drive can’t get scholarships and due to credit fuck ups that are not their fault (their guardians managed to fuck their credit in the past year, screwing them out of loans from the government), can’t get student loans to finish school that won’t leave them without, you know, food because they’re such pathetic, meager fucking offerings.

Maybe that bitch just got lucky, and maybe the people I know were really unlucky, but I think that if you have a scholarship and you’re buying $800 pieces of equipment you don’t need, your scholarship should be immediately reduced a WHOLE FUCKING LOT. However, this girl in my class that has all these things? She just wants more. And more and more. And then, when she’s done, she’ll take some more, because I guess she’ll just never have enough.

I realize there are many things that may be at play here that I don’t see– she could (hell, probably did) buy the tablet on credit (such a wise choice, you know, for something you don’t even need) which certainly doesn’t say she has money, just a lack of sense with money. They’ll give anyone a credit card, after all. She could…

No, that’s all I’ve got. Credit and sucking with money. You come up with some other scenarios. I, frankly, don’t give a shit. I’m still back on the fact that this bitch gets her school paid for, and when friends with actual merit and financial need go to the financial aid office, they get laughed at.

Call me a jackass, but that other criteria should not exist. It shouldn’t impact your education or your being judged as worthy for help getting said education. No one should be able to bar you from education based on anything but merit, and no one should be able to get into school based on anything but merit. If you’re a good student, nothing should keep you out of school.

And yet, these brilliant people are kept out of school and this dumb bitch is not only in school, but seems to be being paid excessive amounts to go to school. And she still wants more.

So, thank you America, for teaching your children that they are special little snowflakes that deserve everything their heart desires and that they shouldn’t have to work for it.

I hope you reap what you sow in the form of your entitled fucking kids spending all the money that would have gone to your retirement home and medical care. After all, they needed the money for what THEY wanted, and you always taught them that what they want is what they should get, no matter what the cost to anyone else!

Whelp, I covered the Glee gay kiss causing an uproar, so I think I should at least make comment on this event, even if it IS a bit late.

So. For those of you that live under a rock like me, please watch this:

Toemageddon 2011

Or, for those that don’t like watching videos (I know I don’t most of the time) here’s the quick rundown: A J. Crew ad sent out to consumers via e-mail contained a picture of woman laughing with her son, who has pink painted toe-nails. The quote underneath (the ad is shown here) says “Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”

Some “psychologists” are “slamming” (as the news outlets so love to say) this ad. According to some, it is “transgender child propaganda.”

Let me explain something to those not well versed in psychology– Nothing MAKES anyone gay or transgender. They were born this way, baby. If you believe otherwise, you’re working with an outdated or outright wrong definition of what it is to be transgender.

References to Lady Gaga aside, it is true, at least in the articles I’ve glanced on the subject and classes I’ve taken, none of which I’ve saved, and thus cannot give you as proof. Thus, I will totally understand if you are skeptical on this particular point: transgender brains are actually similar to the brains of the sex they believe themselves to be, for whatever reason. I don’t pretend to know how or why, but even without that particular point to support it, nothing MAKES anyone transgender.

Being transgender seems to me to be innate for two reasons: It has been around throughout history and those that are transgender cannot seem to repress it. One can argue, I suppose, that describing it as something that cannot be controlled makes it a psychosis. However, I would then ask you what the hell heterosexuality is, as it is something that cannot be controlled either. You may really, really want to swear off women and their crazy antics, but you’re just not attracted to men? You can’t control that. You’re great at art, but bad with math? Can’t control that either.

All that said, it is very possible for someone to be a dipshit like me to not realize I can be considered a transgender individual (though I am bi-gender or genderqueer, not the full on “my gender doesn’t match my sex– it’s the opposite” transgender or transsexual person) until late in life. I never knew there was a name for why I didn’t feel like a woman per se, but I also didn’t feel like a man. That said, it is very possible to do what I do (enjoy crossplaying (cosplaying as a character of the opposite sex and try to pass as that sex), idolize males/have male role models) and be completely comfortable saying “I’m a woman!” Identifying as being of the female gender does not say you have to like what “real women” are gender stereotyped as liking. It simply means you say “I am a woman.” It is something self-defined, and therefore, very personal. Some would argue it is simply an opinion or a perception. While this may be true, our perceptions of ourselves are all we have. Actual, factual, untainted, unbiased facts about ourselves and our thought processes cannot be found in ourselves or someone else. Science is getting closer to being able to have some sort of “proof” that someone is gay or transgendered, be it from something that happened during fetal development or due to differences in brain wiring, but for now, if someone has this belief for an extended period of time, it is considered Gender Identity Disorder, which one has to be diagnosed with to be officially, medically considered transgender.

Back on topic here: Pink Toenails do not a transgender or gay son make. And furthermore, Dr. Ablow and accompanying wench: it is not an “attack on masculinity” or a “blurring of gender lines.” No, kids, the gender lines are still there, and as blurry and indistinct as ever. What is being “attacked” by this ad is the assumption that traditional gender roles/stereotypes should dictate if someone should be excluded from activities due to being a biological male or female.

Something about kids I picked up in my stint in a child psych class: As kids grow up, they “try on” different roles to see if they fit them. When my father shaved his face, I tried imitate him with a Popsicle stick and soap. When my mother was making macaroni, I went and found a bowl and started trying to mush noodles and water and American cheese slices together. When I saw the burlesque mouse in The Great Mouse Detective, I spent nights dancing around in a ballet costume on a “stage” made of my fireplace, singing and dancing. Did this mean that I wanted to be a man, or a cook, or a burlesque dancer? No. It meant I saw the role and tried it on like a hat, nothing more.

That is exactly what this kid is doing with pink toenails. Mommy does it, so he was curious if it was fun, most likely. What he likes about it probably has little to do with his favorite colors being on his toes– it has to do with the fact that he gets to spend time with mommy doing what his mommy does that makes her happy, that he probably perceives as being a “grown-up” activity because he’s not allowed to play with nail polish on his own. It is not because he is a “sissy” or in any way not a boy! For those that didn’t watch the John Stewart “Toemageddon” clip, he points out that a pro wrestler paints HIS toenails black. Is this big, burly guy that can win wrestling matches a sissy? Is he a girl? No. Though I have no idea what this wrestler’s personal gender identification is, I’m willing to guess it’s probably masculine. His gender identification is unaffected by the activities he participates in, be it toe painting or wrestling. If he identifies as a man, he is a man. The end. His biological sex has nothing to do with what his personal gender identification is.

As a transgender friend of mine pointed out: “It’s not the fact that Fox News is portraying this as an attack on masculinity. It is the fact it is on EVERY news network and they are ALL portraying this as valid news– that there is some controversy to be had here! There’s NOT!”

So, I thought it was important to address this insanity. This is, in fact, NOT news. A little boy painting his toe nails is not news-worthy. It is not “covering” anything, it is a public attempt at shaming a mother whom is unashamed of her son questioning what he enjoys in life, stereotypes be damned. This ENTIRE new story centers on one thing, and it is what I have already covered in my post on gender early on in this blog: Adult males feel threatened in their gender identity by their sons being allowed to play with dolls and glitter when their father would have beat them for doing the same. It is envy. It is seeing their son’s freedom to choose what they want to be and do without their gender identity being questioned or threatened and wanting to destroy it because these men never had that as children. This has NOTHING to do with this little boy and his mother– it has everything to do with adult men upset that society no longer condones beating up the queers, sissies, and fags to try to make them into “men” as strongly as it once did. It no longer perpetuates this particular brand of rigid gender roles and hatred for those that do not conform as strongly as in, say, the 1950s.

Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen. This is all about trying to tear away the new-found freedoms of our sons and daughters have– which are tiny, tiny victories in the fight for freedom to simply exist and be different, by the way. This kid, if he is gay or transgender, will face hell, just as the prior gay and transgender people of the world did. But for some people, the simple fact that those gay and transgender kids are not beaten severely as they once were for being different makes them feel insecure and upset with themselves and society.

All of this is about one thing: Men questioning if the stereotypes they forced themselves to conform to in order to be accepted are wrong. And if so, if they did force themselves to conform that way when it is different from what they were, if they were forced to suppress who they are, it is now all for nothing. Now you can be a boy and paint your toes.

It’s utterly pathetic that the only news that recognized all of this as the lashing out of insecure men and nothing that should be taken seriously is the fake news, where nothing is taken seriously.

I actually heard this at work the other day. My reply, which was deemed hysterical by the male present and earned me glares from the females:

“You ENJOY the smell of vomit?”

This quickly ranting blog post was brought to you by the boys over at Cracked, via their article on 5 Terrible Situations for the Socially Awkward Male. Look at number one. What is it? Holding a baby.

What the FUCK is it with people and trying to shove babies on you? It’s your stupid ball of vomit, you hold it. I don’t want to.

“Oh, but you really do!”
“No, I don’t.”
“You’re just shy!”
“You’re just a cunt.”

And then they get all pissed.

“Just take it!”
“If you didn’t want to hold it, maybe you should have used a condom.”

Why do people like to inflict their offspring on other people? I’ve covered a little in a prior blog post ranting about how women were batshit at one of my prior jobs and constantly needed to remind me they had kids/were pregnant. Why? I NEED TO KNOW, PEOPLE. Mostly because I need to know how best to avoid it.

A few of you women know what I mean and also object. If it’s awkward for a guy, it’s worse for us– apparently because we have tits we think babies smell like sunshine and unicorns and are omg da bestest cwutest tings evar! The guy has a prayer of escaping holding the thing. We usually don’t. That’s why I avoid all contact. Thank Bahamut, it doesn’t often come up. If it does, I will seriously contemplate punting the thing over a fence if SOMEONE doesn’t come in and tell me why people enjoy inflicting this suffering upon other people.

That’s all for now. Possibly there will be more ranting later, trying to figure out the insanity on my own.

Have a comic by the wonderful person that makes Lackadaisy as a reward for sitting through this inanity. In the same vein, but funnier than my lunatic ramblings.

Who’s Running this Playpen?

Inspired by an essay by Michelle Sagara West “More Than a Marriage of Convenience,” from Finding Serenity

Where are all the adults on TV?

No no. Don’t point at anyone above eighteen years old. Where are the real adults?

Where are the people in real, committed relationships? Where are the people struggling to make ends meet, working two jobs, where are the people that aren’t dancing around in a “will they won’t they?” Where are those that are past that dance?

Firefly fans will know what I’m talking about with this one: Where are Wash and Zoe?

To explain for anyone unfamiliar with these two: Zoe is a kick ass, level headed “warrior woman” and a very reserve, private person. Wash is a pilot that plays with dinosaurs in his spare time, wears Hawaiian shirts, has a strange, slightly silly sense of humor, and mad piloting skills. On Firefly, we walk into their relationship after they have been married a while. They are disagreeing about if to have kids, they are not ripping each other’s clothes off at every turn (though that certainly happens occasionally), and they are out of that young love stage. They are very different, but they are very solidly committed to each other.

The young love stage of a relationship, the “honeymoon” stage, only lasts for two years on average. I’m hitting that end point in my relationship. I know that looking at TV for an accurate picture of life is a stupid idea, but it would be awful nice to see someone like my girlfriend and I on the TV occasionally. The only couple I can really think of that is even sort of close to that is Ellie and Awesome from Chuck, and that’s only up to the point I watched, which was the end of season three. Even then, they weren’t married yet, and the wedding planning stage seems to always fall solidly in the honeymoon stage, or even prolongs that stage if the couple was starting to hit the end of it.

Point is, I don’t know of any couples outside of sitcoms (why I refuse to count those is a whole other ranting post about what cheap, poorly written bullshit American sitcoms are are), that has a real, established couple near the center of the action, that are in every episode, not just visited occasionally as a subplot. And age is not a limiting factor here. There are plenty of adolescent relationships amongst legal adults– House and Cuddy are just one example.

I know, I know, it’s more exciting when everyone has butterflies and can’t keep their hands off each other, when they’re running into the empty closets and exam rooms to have a hot fuck when they should be working. That part of a relationship is thrilling, we wish it could last forever because it’s so exciting. Everything is so new, so wonderful– and you haven’t realized that they leave their socks all over the floor, that they don’t wash their dishes for at LEAST two days after they’ve eaten out of them, or that they’re clingy as fuck and will call you at three in the morning because they had a dream you broke up with them and want to yell at you for it (laugh at that last one and how crazy it sounds, but it’s happened).

The problem here is that television is the main media a lot of people consume, and because of that a lot of people mistake what they see on television for what their life should be. We live in a world centered around media, and in part due to that, the American Dream seems to have morphed into living like a movie star with all the scandal, money, and fame one could possibly have. The general impression seems to be that if you are a normal person, with a job that doesn’t make you famous (or infamous) and makes you enough money to swim in, you are a failure. And what type of relationship does that “normal” person have? A marriage, and not just any marriage– it’s a terrible boring marriage where no one cheats, they “never” have sex, and they have to actually work to earn a living. Who wants that when you could be rich and famous and fucking whoever you want every night, but always have some sap to fall back to when fucking around doesn’t work as well as you hoped?

Well, one could argue that any sane adult wants that former one. The problem is, that first “boring” marriage means that both people have to realize that there is something a more important to them than excitement in relationships. They have to admit they want someone to walk through life with, they have to admit they want actual commitment, not just the excitement of new love. They have to not just throw up their hands and leave their partner at the first sign of trouble.

In my experience, it’s that last one people have the most problem with. Not only are you out of that honeymoon stage, but UGH, your partner is being all… human. Not like the couples on TV. If they’re mere morals, WHY would you WANT to work so hard to keep them when, obviously, you deserve a REAL relationship, one filled with passion and drama and a man that looks like Patrick Dempsey. REAL couples don’t HAVE to work to keep each other. They’re soooo in love that nothing else matters. That’s how it should be. If you get married and it turns into that boring marriage, then CLEARLY you’re not with the right person, and you should get rid of them so you can find “the One!”

I know the above paragraph seems absurd. Looking at it on paper, it SOUNDS absurd. Everyone knows TV is all bullshit. Right?

Honestly, I’m beginning to think that many people don’t. That many people, due to so called “reality” TV, people have a distorted view of what reality should be. I honestly wonder if these type of expectations are why the divorce rate is so high. People encounter one problem and boom, they’re not the right person any more. If having a baby doesn’t fix whatever problem you have (because all couples with babies are happy on tv!) then off to court.

Now, let me say something: there are many, many valid reasons for divorce. People make mistakes. Sometimes, a relationship worked at the beginning but just doesn’t age well. No one should stay in a relationship they are not happy in. It’s terrible for your mental and physical health. What I AM saying is that maybe people need to redefine what they think an unacceptable or unhappy relationship is.

I’ve wandered a ways from Wash and Zoe here, but I have a reason for it. That boring relationship up there? That IS Wash and Zoe.

Wash does not look like Patrick Dempsey, he’s not a male model. He and Zoe fight. He and Zoe do not have crazy wild monkey sex every night, but they still have sex. Maybe infrequently enough to be considered “never” by some people, especially if they’re used eo sex most nights of the week. Zoe and Wash sometimes yell at each other, they sometimes get frustrated, and they sometimes can’t stand to be around each other. They have to work at their relationship. Sometimes they have to work to see why it is they put up with each other, and it is no one person’s fault. Zoe wants children and for Wash to stop trying to rule in on situations he knows nothing about, Wash wants his wife to rank his opinions above her Captain and old War buddy Mal and he also wants Zoe to realize that it is a really, REALLY shitty time in their lives to bring a kid into this chaotic world. So, Zoe agrees, begrudgingly, to wait on children for now. Wash, after a few choice events, realizes that his opinion does matter more than Mal’s– but Mal will always have authority on some subjects due to his experience. Both of them compromise, and both of them realize that compromising is not a slight against what either of them want.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what a real adult relationship is in my estimation. Furthermore, I think the process of reaching compromise is just as dramatic as the screaming fits of “WELL YOU DO YOU LOVE ME OR NOT?” that are on TV now. Just as much yelling is involved. Just as high of emotions are involved. The stakes are just as high. So why isn’t it on TV more? Where are the adult relationships that I can sympathize with whenever I want scream because my partner and I are fighting over something as important as where to move to, if we should ever have children, on who should be in charge of what decisions that are not the silly, dumbed down version of those relationships that exist on American sitcoms? I want to see two serious adults resolve serious problems. I’ve had enough of the high school drama of who kissed who in what hallway and s/he loves me, s/he loves me not. I’m bored, and it’s because I see that dynamic everywhere. I want something new and fresh. I get that those new relationships are so popular and such selling points for their “living vicariously” value, but if you watch more than one show religiously, you’re going to get tired of going on the same ride three nights a week for months.

One last question before I go: Anyone else notice that all those shows that try to hinge their popularity on the “will they won’t they” dynamic of one couple go down in quality faster than you say “Just fucking get together already?”

On the Internet and Being Wrong

*Sorry about the late update, ladies, gentlemen, and those that prefer to remain undefined. It’s been a bit of a rough week, and this will probably only be a quick, dashed off post to boot. Sorry. I promise a better one will come soon, and furthermore, that this one will be edited a bit better eventually.*

This post comes from a search term someone used to trip across my blog: “(Actor’s Name) insane.” Just like that. I laughed my tits off for about ten minutes. Some of you know why, some of you don’t. The why doesn’t particularly matter, but today I’m going to ramble about something I have to remind MYSELF about on the internet: Being wrong.

Now, here’s the deal. In my perfect world, right before someone made their first public post, be it in a message board, a blog, a service like twitter, whatever, a warning would pop up and say thus:

“By posting this content you take full responsibility for the ideas therein. You accept that someone may believe you to be wrong, and may even prove you to be wrong. By clicking continue, you promise not to go batshit fucking crazy if this occurs. You are human and therefore not infallible. Continue?”

In short: Why do we go nuts if someone challenges our views on the internet? I mean, take my flame from a while back. If that had been slightly less rediculous sounding and actually had given good reasons as to why I’m wrong, I probably would have gotten angry instead of laughing at it. Why?

I think it has to do with the permanence of the thing. Nothing ever truly dies on the internet. You can delete posts, tweets, hell, even whole accounts, or you can make those accounts private, but someone somewhere can still find some remnant of what you said or did. It’s precisely why employers take to the internet to screen out applicants– a process I believe is unethical and none of their business, but it is effective (There’s a reason why everything on the web should be posted under a pseudonym.) Due to this permanence, if we are proven wrong on the internet, it’s always there.

That terrifies people.

That means there is permanent record that you are not perfect. Permanent record that- holy shit- you were wrong once. It could be on astrophysics or it could be on how many kids Britney Spears has, but you were wrong about SOMETHING. In this image obsessed society, that can seriously fuck you. If you present yourself as utterly infallible, if some kid living in hickville kicks your ass in an argument when you’re supposed to be an adult and far wiser than them, it takes all the wind out of those sails. You were brought down by someone supposedly lesser than you– therefore, you must be lesser than them. Suddenly, you’re a shadow of your former self and you want to rip that stupid kid’s head off.

Does this make sense? Yes and no. It does in a way because yes, you were brought down by someone supposedly “less” than you, that is, someone supposedly less enlightened/intelligent/informed, but what does that really say about you as a person? That’s an isolated event. An isolated event out of a LIFETIME of events. Events in which you succeeded, failed, improved yourself. What it really says is that this one point in time, you were proven wrong. It happens. And yet we live in fear of it, because in this age of the internet where everything is permanent and appearances matter more than ever, if someone can find just one little thing you were wrong about, they can hang you with it. “SEE! SEE! S/HE WAS WRONG ABOUT THAT, HOW CAN YOU SAY THEY’RE RIGHT NOW! THEY THOUGHT BRITNEY SPEARS HAD TWELVE KIDS, SO CLEARLY THEY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HEALTH CARE REFORM!”

The example is intentionally ridiculous, of course. Why should it matter if someone talking about health care reform didn’t know how many kids Britney has? It doesn’t. It also doesn’t matter if a lawyer thought that babies come from storks, it doesn’t matter if a doctor thought that if you mix blue and green you get pink. They are unrelated. So long as that lawyer knows his law, that doctor knows doctoring, it shouldn’t matter if they suck at geography. So why is it so damn easy to suddenly knock someone down a few pegs if they happen to not be right all the time? The answer is a simple one: it depends on if their image depends on them being right 100% of the time.

To an extent, it’s the public’s fault. We want our leaders and role models to not have flaws. We want them to be perfect. So, to get us to like them, they pretend they ARE perfect, that they’re always right, that they NEVER inhaled and that they did not have sexual relations with that woman. The public expects a lie, so they lie. We know that no one is perfect– but we really REALLY want to believe that our leaders and role models are, because if they are and we follow them, nothing can go wrong. We’re safe. Nothing bad will ever happen again, and we can all sit and look smug because we can never be proven wrong by proxy. We know they are lying liars that lie and that their shit stinks just like everyone else’s, but if we can maintain that illusion, everything is great.

It leads to one of the great puzzles of humanity that I can never seem to unravel: If I know it’s a lie, and you know it’s a lie, and he knows it’s a lie, then why lie? If everyone knows it’s a lie, what’s the point? Is it that we think that the truth is worse? What if it’s better? Why is it so terrible to know the truth? Is it because truth is unchanging?

Perhaps that’s it. It’s the fact that if you are proven wrong, that the truth is uncovered, that the truth will never change so you either have to continue to be wrong or change your view to recognize the truth. If that truth is a contradiction to a deeply held belief, one that you base a lot of things around, it can shatter what you thought was true, it makes the rest of those things you based on that idea wrong by extension. It means you as a person have to change, and people hate change with a passion, especially when it comes to changing what they think about something they deem important. Wars have been fought over people not wanting to be wrong, people have been killed and lives destroyed because they were proven wrong.

And here we are. On the internet. Where your wrongness will display for eternity.

However, I would like to offer a way out before I have to dart back off to class for the day:

What if we all start making no pretense that we’re perfect? What if we all start to have an open door policy of “come in and try to prove me wrong, and if you do, you get a cookie.” What if we changed when we found out the truth* instead of stubbornly clinging to what we thought?

…My, what a strange day on the internet that would be, if everyone had lively debates and no one tried to cover their ass to make certain they weren’t wrong because it didn’t matter. No one’s reputation hinged on it.

Is it sad that the closest I can get to this type of attitude, the attitude that it doesn’t matter if you’re proven wrong because time is still going to pass and life will still go on, is on 4chan…?

*When I’m talking about truth, I’m talking about scientific/hard facts. Philosophy, religion, whatever is in a different category. Hell, if you really want to say so, psychology and sociology are gray and fuzzy too. However, I believe that certain things are universally true in those categories, such as the idea (ideal, really) that everyone deserves respect as a human being and that mental abnormalities exist.

It has been a strange, partly bad, partly good week. I started at a new job and, to my surprise, my tendency to just be hated on sight by women in an office environment was NOT limited to my summer cube job or various random interactions– no, it was that way here, too. This was not helped by the fact that the woman kept going over and over how “wonderful” a Christian establishment this place was (wish they’d advertised that one a little better) and being downright surly toward me. You want to be religious, that’s fine, but when your workers can only wear some sort of religious medallion to work as jewelry, there’s problems. Not a good idea to stay here long, methinks. Here’s hoping things are better away from this woman, who is technically not in my department.

Upset that I had somehow managed to offend this woman simply by existing, while trying to be very nice, all smiles, cooperative, etc. I fucking risked my life to come in that day, with heavy snow, poor visibility, and wind chills of -20+. I asked my friends what it was that was wrong with me, that, despite all that, this woman took one look at me and started being short, curt, and in some ways, downright mean. The answers were, frankly, surprising to a pessimist like myself.

I got that I was pretty and she was jealous, that I was too smart and it annoyed her, that I had the “Audrey Hepburn Effect,” defined as a quiet elegance that made common people feel common, and thus, acutely uncomfortable. I was amazed that so many people saw some sort of good in me. When I seemed surprised at the outpouring, one person commented that “the hardest thing in life is to see our own beauty and worth.”

It got me thinking in what may seem to be an arrogant, self-absorbed fashion. I’ll try my best not to let it be.

The thought was this: If I accept this idea that these things are true, why the fuck is it so difficult for me to get a job at every turn? Why is it that when I get a job, women just take one look at me and decide I’m evil?

I heard a variety of theories on this one too, the most common of which was that if a younger female arrives at a job, the elder, higher up woman immediately gets territorial and assumes the younger one will take their job. Some proposed that these women assumed I was after even more than their job, that I would somehow turn people against them or take things away from them because I’m considered more “attractive” than they are, and the younger didn’t help matters. Another is that they figure that because some would consider me “pretty” that they have to be extra hard on me, lest I think I can get away with whatever I want, because, everyone knows, pretty girls get off everything easy. Especially with men.

Really? There’s a reason I prefer working with men. They’re not batshit insane. They don’t shriek that at every turn people are keeping them “down” or discriminating against them, or bitching that a man finding them attractive, even if it is just their eyes lingering on a girl for a few seconds, sexual harassment. They don’t piss and moan that life is so *hard* for them because they’re not Megan Fox or who the fuck ever the star du jour is today. Furthermore, you know what? Males get over what I look like. It generally goes like this:

Male Coworker/friend: *awkward*
Me: I’m taken, yes these are real, yes they’re D+ cups, no you won’t ever touch them. Hand me that box, please.
MC: *blink* oh! Um…
Me: Don’t apologize. I don’t care. Admire if you want, just don’t let it interfere with work.
MC: *gives box* Okay. [insert job smalltalk here]

Naturally, it doesn’t always go that way (The situation I speak of above is in a very casual environment, not an office and CERTAINLY not with a supervisor. But the point is, If I don’t give a shit, or try to play it to get favors, or whatever, they get over it. They leave me alone. They treat me like their male coworkers, complete with lewd jokes and everything else because I DON’T CARE. Women, however… if you aren’t a part of their church/branch of military/daycare group/have kids to chat about they just hate you. That was the main problem at my summer job: Lady, I don’t give a fuck about your kids. Frankly, I think it’s unprofessional you bring them to work and then walk them around the office expecting everyone to “aww” at them. No, I don’t care that you’re pregnant. I don’t care when you’re due. I don’t care about your wedding, or your friend’s. I care about coming here, getting my shit done, and being left alone to do my job.

I wasn’t impolite and blunt as I’m being here, mind you, I just expressed no interest and made no motion to get involved in the office gossip pool. I didn’t care. That bothered the living shit out of them. They LIVE on office drama, why don’t I?!

It’s really quite simple: I’ve got better things to do with my life. If you don’t, then I think you need a serious rearrangement of priorities.

However, I’m contradicting myself. I make it sound like they spoke to me often, thus contradicting my statement they detested me on sight. They DID speak to me. They did, in passing, after I had been there a while. Mostly to gloat and go “OMG, LOOKY I GOT ENGAGED” when they did so to everyone, despite not liking me. However, when I didn’t fawn over them, it reinforced, I guess, what they initially thought: That I’m a terrible, cold, stuck up bitch who doesn’t care about making friends because I’m out for their job.

My male supervisor? He was FINE. He called me in when I fucked up, complimented my team’s work when it was spectacular. My teammate and I made friends with the IT guys and joked around with them because they liked computers and vidyagames, especially Mario. Guys were cool, civil, decent human beings and didn’t expect me to take non-work time to discuss things that were non-work related. We saw each other on breaks, on lunch. They didn’t come around to my cubicle squealing to their friends “OMG, MAH BABEH JUST KICKED I’M SOOOO EXCITED!”

Women in the workplace scare me. It’s why I want to get (back) into a mostly male staff. They may ogle my tits when I first show up, but they’ll eventually get past it and act like a human being. Women just hold grudges for fucking ever, and in this case, there’s nothing I can do. I’m not going to cut on my own face and become a Reaver just because you have low self esteem. And you know why?

It’s honestly because if you stopped holding grudges and smiled more often, you’d be pretty too. I’m of the opinion everyone has some sort of beauty about them– yes, outwardly. You have something. It might be smooth skin, a type of grace, great style, quirky taste in accessories– but something about you is attractive to someone. So stop shitting on me because you think I’m “prettier” than you, if that’s what your problem is. I can’t change the genetic configuration of my face. I dress modestly at work, I try not to draw attention to my naturally large chest (but, frankly, short of binding, if I’m wearing a t-shirt there’s not much I can do), I don’t wear lots of make up or anything else. I just want to come here, do my job, and be left alone. I’m not here to steal your job, you fucking lunatic. I don’t want it, and even if I did, I’d much rather earn what I get than try to “seduce” someone to get it.

So how about you lay off the attitude and leave me alone, savvy?

Wait, what?

Top Ten Words Looked Up On Merriam-Webster Online:

1. Pretentious
2. Ubiquitous
3. Love
4. Cynical
5. Apathetic
6. Conundrum
7. Albeit
8. Ambiguous
9. Integrity
10. Affect/Effect

Source/Sauce (depending on what corner of the internet you’re from):
http://www.merriam-webster.com/top-ten-lists/top-10-most-frequently-looked-up-words/pretentious.html

This is utterly strange to me. I have known at least eight of those words since I was maybe thirteen. Ubiquitous I had to double-check the definition on, but I at least had a vague idea. The affect/effect difference I had bludgeoned into me at fifteen. Albeit I use a good deal, though sometimes I mangle the spelling terribly and have to look it up in my spell check.

Here’s my thing: As many thirteen year olds as are in the internet, I don’t think they could make those the top words all on their own. That means older folk are looking them up too. Now, I realize I was a weird kid that read too much, but SERIOUSLY?

What the hell is going on here?

Yes, yes, complaining about education going to hell in a hand basket with a cheeseburger and side of fries is not new, but this managed to significantly freak me out. I consider most of those common vocabulary words. One of my favorite insults is calling folk with an overblown sense of entitlement/their own importance a “pretentious prick,” part because it’s true, part because alliteration is fun. While some of these can be explained by assholes like me using them in forum conversations to demonstrate a point, (Ex: integrity, love.
“Integrity is defined by Merriam-Webster Online as having ‘firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.’ You cannot claim you have integrity, as framed by the chivalric code, and then tell a woman she deserves to suffer whatever happens to her because she ‘got out of the kitchen.'” Yes, I’m that jerk.) , a lot of them cannot be as easily.

This bothers me a good deal, probably because my train of thought goes like this:

“If you don’t read enough to know those words at least by context clues, if not the formal definition, then you have little exposure to any world other than your own. You also have little exposure to any viewpoints other than your own and those people you keep close to you. Therefore, you probably don’t exercise your mind by trying to see from someone different’s perspective that often and are unaccustomed to thinking that deeply because you have never had to, which means you are painfully easy to manipulate. Wow. No wonder Bush got elected twice then those same people complained endlessly about him, and people are surprised when Obama hasn’t fulfilled his campaign promises– Not only do they blindly believe what they are told, they cannot see from any viewpoint other than the one they are taught by the people around them from birth so they cannot put themselves in anyone’s shoes to see WHY something isn’t working or isn’t a good idea. No wonder we’re all doomed if we have to depend on the common person’s vote. They can be easily manipulated into voting however the politicians want because they cannot think for themselves.” Long and winding train of thought, probably not entirely sound in reasoning, but I don’t think it’s too much of a leap.

Suddenly, I think I have found the answer to the rampant bipartisanship in America. I’m terrified. You know what, how about we scale back all those shiny earmarks and use the money that is currently going to politician’s pet projects for something else. Hey, let’s dock the salaries of professional athletes too, if we need some extra cash. Let’s pay teachers a better wage. Let’s get kids exposed to a variety of books, cultures, movies. Let’s get teachers that will discuss all of those things, the biases involved, why those biases exist, and how to see past them as well as our OWN biases. Let’s get rid of that textbook monopoly they’ve got running in Texas. And most importantly, present all academic points of view and keep parents, their biases, their religions, their prejudices the HELL out of their kids’ education. Or, of course, we can take the easier, cheaper way out to shore up our failing schools, but that one requires parenting. Ready?

Make your kids read a goddamn book instead of blowing people up in Halo. It doesn’t matter if it’s books, comic books (try Maus by Art Spiegelman on for size if you’re worried about comics being valid literature), fantasy, romance, I don’t care. Have them read maybe ten minutes a day to start, then work their way up to a half hour or so. Start with picture books. Eventually they’ll get from there through Twilight or Harry Potter and start craving something bigger and more adult. And for god’s sake, let your kid read what they want. Nothing will kill your desire to read faster than your every choice being shot down by someone who “knows best.” Guide gently if you must, but for the most part, leave them alone.

Please, please, don’t let the film Idiocracy become reality. I know I’m a freak and over reacting, but damn if it doesn’t seem like there are distant warning knells that it is possible.

For my first trick I will pull a rant out of my ass on mental illness and the stigma attached to it.

“Oh, you silly little blogger, there isn’t a stigma against mental illness! Everyone is on Zoloft now.”

Yeah, yeah.  I’m not talking about that.  It’s fine to pop a pill for anything nowadays.  But popping a pill because you’re sad isn’t what I’m talking about.  It’s fine to knock back some anti-depressants if it makes it more pleasant for the world to deal with you.  However, what isn’t fine is admitting “Hi there, I’m ______, and I’m depressed/have a mental illness and working am on it.”

Why?

Why is because of the lovely idea that anyone that has a mental illness is going to use it as a crutch.  They’re going to lay back and whine and complain that “ooh, my life is terrible because I’m depressed” or “it’s okay for me to be an asshole to everyone, I have Aspbergers!” In this lovely politically correct, apologetic world we live in, if someone pulls that card, you’re not allowed to do much to them except passively aggressively get pissy at them and, of course, avoid them.  You are NOT allowed to say “Well, then you should go get your ass some help for it and stop trying to get special treatment.  Other people have problems too.”

Thus, a stigma, defined here as “a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation,” is born.  “All people that will openly tell you they have a mental illness want special treatment/are using it as a way to be excused for actions that we would not put up with from a mentally healthy person.”

Why is this not okay?  Shouldn’t we point out that, yes, in fact, some people use their illness as a crutch? Damn skippy we should.  However, you should point your wrath toward them and the fact they refuse to do anything about their condition, not the condition itself.  Subtle difference.  The mental illness may, in fact, be causing them to act like an asshole, but if they are making no effort to control it, you should treat them like just another asshole.  You should tell them to stop it. You should tell them it’s not okay to be insensitive to other people, that they are not, in fact, a special snowflake that has a free pass.  When they throw it back at you that “I HAVE A DISEASE!!!1111!!!!” ask them, “What are you doing to control it?”  If the answer is a dumb stare, or a “I TAKEZ THE MEDS MAH DOCTOR GIVES ME!” then yes, treat them as another asshole.

“WHOA.  Hold the fuck up.  They’re taking medication! They’re doing something!  You frigging hypocrite!”

Before you toss out everything I just said, let me clarify:  If your symptoms are NOT adequately controlled by medication, your illness still affects your relationships and actions, unconsciously or not, you need to be  doing something else.  I don’t care if it’s formal therapy or simply taking stock of potential actions before you act, you need to take responsibility and recognize that you are the only person that can control your mental illness, no one else.

Before those of you that are mentally ill chime in that that is harder than most people realize: Yes, it is.  I have been clinically depressed for years.  It’s easy to pop the pills, it is not easy to realize when I’m getting angry at everything, nothing seems to be going right, and that self-destructive behavior is perfectly justified because who the fuck cares anyway if things are this shit anyway that it my perceptions are skewed all to hell.  It is NOT easy to separate myself from those feelings and say “Okay, yes, I missed the bus, my friend is pissed at me for something not my fault and lashing out, I have more work than I can handle and almost no money, but that is not an okay reason to get angry at myself or others.  How can I improve this or prevent these things from happening next time is constructive, self punishment for simply having a bad day is not.”

“You arrogant twat, not everyone is you.”

No, no they’re not.  But in my tiny, screwed up little world, everyone should try their damnedest to fix their problems if they can.  Having to rework your whole way of thinking is not easy, especially under stress and the heat of emotion, but it can be done.  Go check out A Beautiful Mind for the best example of how difficult this is I’ve found.  It’s not that he made himself somehow un-schizophrenic.  He’s not cured.  He has to go through his every step of life checking “is this real? Is this a hallucination?” if it is, he has to ignore it, no matter how hard it is, how hard it fights for his attention.  Living with a mental illness is hard, very hard.  But it can, and should, be done.

“Why should they have to conform to social rules? Why?  Do you really think you can come in here with your holier than thou attitude and hold up the rules of society as being good things when you repeatedly fly in the face of them, are a self-proclaimed misanthrope, and anyone who knows you in daily life knows you act a hell of a lot like Gregory House did in the first four seasons of the show?!”

I do piss people off just to piss them off. You’re right.  Congrats. However, I am holding people to the niceties of society here only to the extent that I want to believe that yes, everyone, in fact, deserves to be treated equally.  The people around a mentally ill person do not deserve to be yelled at, cursed at, beat up on, the mentally ill does not deserve to be excused for their actions, they do NOT deserve to be excused from being a selfish ass to everyone around them and taking their own life.  Yes, yes, I said it.  Suicide is selfish, and it’s a self serving gesture that makes your life a hell of a lot easier by ending it and spits in the face of everyone that cared for you, tried to help you, wanted to help you, listened to you, and makes their life ten times harder because it made things easier for YOU. Suicide is never the answer, and not because I particularly care that you stay alive.  It’s wrong that you think you are special enough to make those around you miserable and question what they did wrong when it’s YOU that screwed up.

I uphold the idea that everyone deserves equal respect. That does not mean that if you are hateful to everyone else and happen to have a mental illness you have to still be treated with respect.  Those people you’re hateful toward deserve respect and aren’t getting it, therefore, you don’t get respect.

One last note on that:  No one is perfect. No one.  We all lash out at times.  But there is a big damn difference between saying “I should not have said that, I apologize, that was uncalled for.  What I said is not true and I know that.” And saying “Sorry I said you were worthless and nobody loves you, it’s just because I have a mental illness and lash out sometimes.”  One says that lack of self control is not okay and that it was the person’s failing.  The other says “I’m allowed to treat you badly because my mental illness makes me special.  I didn’t fuck up, the disease made me do it.”

No one makes anyone do anything.  Nothing made the people that committed suicide commit suicide.  They took the gun, the knife, the poison in a conscious act.  They did it themselves. If someone was forcing them, it isn’t suicide. It’s murder.

Stop lumping the people in that fight to swallow their pride and say “I need help. I’m sick, I need to work to get better,” with the people that sit on their ass and refuse to get help.  Stop lumping in those working to control their illness and sometimes screwing up with those that don’t work to control it at all.

Remove the stigma attached to the mental illness. You want to shame someone, shame them for thinking they’re too special to be treated like everyone else and should be excused from responsibility of solving their own problems. Not because their thought processes are damaged.

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