Keep Your Superficial “Hi”

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This image has appeared on a lot of my friend’s social media streams. I have so many issues with this one sentence, it’s really hard to count them all, but I’ll try. To begin with, this is passive-aggression at its core. This sentence is blaming other people for your emotional issues, giving you permission to be angry at them for absolutely nothing! If that’s not passive-aggressive, I don’t know what is. Next, this is demanding attention from everyone, and telling them they are worthless if they don’t give you what you want. Really? Then, this notion that “it takes 2.5 seconds to text hi” bothers. Why would I want a bunch of people texting a superficial “hi” to me? That’s not communication…not by a long shot! After that we have the desperate, needy tone to this sentence. Why is someone so desperate for those superficial texts? This sentence tells me that the friends posting it have some serious soul searching to do. Do they really want friends to communicate with, or do they want a bunch of superficial texts to boost their ego? Personally, I want friends that I can trust…friends that I can communicate with. In other words, keep your your superficial “hi”.

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Society Through the Lens of MMOs

I may not be a hardcore gamer, but I like to play games. I’ve spent some time looking into a lot of different MMOs hoping to find one that I can enjoy. Unfortunately, here in the West, decent MMOs are hard to come by. One of the issues that bothers me the most is the obsession with PVP. I really think that this reflects on our society as a whole. Unlike Eastern cultures, here in the West we start pushing the Us vs. Them mentality onto our children from the very start. That concept is perpetuated throughout society. As children go to school, they separate into their various groups, and create their own “in” and “out” groups…ostracizing those who are considered “out”. That mentality is continued into the workplace as employers pit workers against one another to gain meaningless trophies and awards for “accomplishments” no one will remember. As a result, we have a society full of aggressive, egomaniacle, insensitive people who are eager to “prove” themselves at the expense of someone else.

This points to even deeper societal issues. The preference towards harming others as opposed to working together toward a common goal (raiding, bounties, etc.) suggests that people don’t want a successful cooperative game environment…or society for that matter. This Us vs. Them mentality has become so ingrained in our way of life that people don’t want to change. They don’t want to work together. They don’t want a better gaming environment. They don’t want a better world. To me, that is both sad and scary.

Optional Discrimination?

A while back I had a conversation with my SO about a friend. I was frustrated because it seemed to me like people objectified her. He responded by saying that being objectified was her choice. If she wants to be seen in a certain way, she should be able to do so. On the surface this seems reasonable, but if you dig deeper, I’m not so sure. I don’t think that minorities…any minorities…enjoy the same kind of freedoms that white men do in our society.

Imagine if one black person decided s/he would prefer to be a slave, and found a way to legally sell him/herself into slavery. How would that affect civil rights in the US? Even if it didn’t have any legal implications, how would it affect societal perceptions? How would that perpetuate existing bigotry and racism?

By that same token, one woman deciding that she prefers to be seen as less than a person affects societal perceptions of women. The LGBT community are already dealing with this phenomena. Milo Yiannopoulos undermines the entire community by supporting the conservative agenda that, by its very nature, takes rights from that community. Conservatives hold him up as a torch to justify their bigotry because he’s gay. They are very quick to say, but Milo Yiannopoulos _______ and he’s gay. Every time this happens, it becomes harder for the LGBT community to gain the rights they deserve. All it takes is one person reinforcing preconceived societal perceptions about a minority group to undermine decades…even centuries…of work towards equality.

The Problem with Modern Business

There was a time when businesses fulfilled consumer needs.  A town along a well traveled road where people often camped would eventually open an Inn to offer those travelers a place to stay.  A mining town that was often in need of tools would eventually open a tool / hardware store.  A town in a hard to reach area, such as the mountains, would eventually open a shipping company to send and receive resources.  All of these businesses satisfy the needs of the customers.

Modern businesses follow guidelines set forth by economist Milton Friedman that say the purpose for a business is to make money.  This incredibly flawed way of thinking has led to the downfall of many businesses.  Businesses cut corners by using poor quality materials, paying their employees next to nothing, moving their operations to countries with little or no safety regulations, and spending as little as possible in the development of their products.  Businesses do not understand their customers, their market, or the people within their own organizations, leading them to introduce poor quality products that fulfill no need whatsoever.  The overall result is a complete market saturation of shoddy, poor quality products that nobody wants or needs.

The main reason for this is Milton Friedman’s perspective that everyone so freely adopted.  He said that the reason business exist is to make money, and that seemed reasonable.  It isn’t true.  The reason businesses exist is to fulfill the needs and desires of their consumer base.  Marketing propaganda will claim that a company can “create” consumer need and desire, but that’s not really true.  Companies can create fads and gimmicks, but genuine need and desire are already there; companies have to tap into it.  Sometimes, it takes an innovative product to find a base desire that people never knew they had, like the Apple iPhone.  In the end, it’s the needs of the customers that must come first.

Making money is NOT the primary purpose of a business.  Fulfilling the needs of the customers is the primary purpose of a business.  Making money is an inevitable side effect of doing good business.

I Survived…

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This meme inspired me to share. I’m sure that many of us alive today survived much worse than what is depicted here. Many of us had to endure the cruel realities of a harsh poverty, illness, homelessness, or worse. People from my generation are probably accustomed to hearing phrases like, “well that’s life,” “suck it up and move on,” or “tears are for losers.” I come from a generation of children that learned emotional blackmail very early. Bullies learned very quickly what would make someone cry…and exploited it. Children learned very early to conceal their emotions…because emotions are weaknesses.

We survived all of it, but did we thrive? Through all of it, are we all good, emotionally available, honest people? I know that we’d like to think we are, but the truth is, we aren’t. We were never taught true empathy, true commitment, and true love because we were too busy hiding what we felt so it could not be used against us.

This meme implies that all of these harmful things should be normal in a child’s life, but is that really logical? Do we honestly think that it is logical to put our children’s lives on the line like this?

The job of every parent is to make life a little better for the next generation. I’d like to think that, as parents, we’re succeeding. Parents, in general, are far more conscious about what is best for their child. Parents today are far more likely to research foods, healthcare options, schools, and other things related to their children than parents were just a generation ago. So many parents today understand a child’s need for free choice and independence–something that was nearly nonexistent when I was growing up. As soon as our government starts caring about our future as much as our parents do, we’ll be set.

Systematic Racism: The En Vogue Cause

I have lived a very diverse life that started out in a culturally diverse community. It took several years to start understanding the concepts that divide racial cultures. It was several more years for the ideas to sink in that people could actually dislike or hate one another without even knowing each other…based solely on their racial heritage. The thinking behind racism confused me as a child, and frankly, it still does. Of course, this blog is not about racism; it’s about people’s attitudes towards it.

Obviously I have an issue with condemning others without knowing them; I always have…and I have always been very vocal about my feelings. Said feeling have been met with apathy, opposition, and denial. Some people don’t care about others, period. I write those people off as lost causes. Others argue that racism is valid for some ridiculous reason or other. I try to reason with these people as much as I can, but most of the time I just have to accept that they are lost causes as well. The people who have frustrated me the most are the deniers. People who believe this world is a happy, harmonious ball of loving fluff, and refuse to recognize issues of racism at all. When offered hard facts and statistics to support your claim of systematic racism in America, they rationalize the figures, cite the fourteenth amendment, and make excuses.

I have been trying my best to show the world how our system is horribly unfair. Blacks, hispanics, and poor people are extremely disadvantaged at every level in our society. If a person is both black / hispanic AND poor, the system becomes nearly insurmountable. People of color are profiled as “prone to violence”, “hot tempered”, “belligerent”, and a host of other negative things that puts police and other authorities on edge. This contributes to more “routine” stops spiraling out of control (because police expect something to go wrong–causing it to) ending with innocent people being hauled into jail. Once in the system, lack of funds cause these people to heed the advice of inadequate, court appointed counsel that tells them to plead guilty to something they did not do for a lesser sentence. This keeps a fresh supply of innocent people strolling through the revolving doors of our for-profit penal system, ensuring that the big corporations make their money off of the backs of the little people.

Until now, people have called me crazy, treated me like dirt, thrown out terms like “conspiracy theorist”, and worst when I’ve tried to explain how this corrupt system works. Now that some of this systematic racism has a media spotlight on it, people are beginning to say, “maybe there’s some merit to these claims.” The big problem is, to resolve these problems, American society will have to face some really uncomfortable aspects of itself. One thing Americans cannot stand is being uncomfortable. So, will the problem of systematic racism remain en vogue long enough for us to do something about it? Or will our society go back to hiding from its flaws?

It’s An “Acquired” Taste

When I sip or taste something that I don’t like, so often someone will tell me, “It’s an acquired taste.” I find that so annoying. I don’t think that anything is an “acquired” taste. When people say that, what they really mean is, “no one really likes this, they just pretend to like it to fit into their social circle.” One case in point is beer. I know that a lot of people will try to disagree with me on this, but it’s true. There are societies, and clubs, and conventions dedicated to people who like beer, yet through all of the “flavors” of beer, they’re all bitter and unpalatable. When people drink beer, even people who profess to love it, their facial expressions reveal the true nature of their palate’s feelings.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against fitting in with one’s social circle. What I have an issue with is people trying to convince of something that isn’t true. I don’t care how much I eat or drink of something, I cannot force myself to start liking the taste of something that repulses me. It simply cannot happen, and I don’t appreciate someone trying to convince me that it can.

Moving beyond the untruthful part, and back to the beer, what I find interesting about beer itself is that on its own, it is repulsive, yet it has wonderful culinary potential.

  • Though beer doesn’t taste so good on its own, adding it to other drinks can give them a little fizz–a bit of pizzazz that makes them a little better than they were before.
  • Adding a little beer to baked beans or chili gives it just enough kick to step it up.
  • Beer batter has become an American staple. Whether seasoned with simple salt and pepper, or flavored with complex spices, deep fried beer batter covering anything from veggies to chicken is sure to be a hit.
  • Used as a yeast accelerator, beer can produce some of the most amazingly flavorful breads.

In the end, I don’t like being told that I can “acquire” a taste for something if I continue to eat something I don’t like, because it simply isn’t true. As far as flavor goes, something that doesn’t taste good on its own can still be useful. Flavor is complex and intricate. Understanding how to use and integrate flavors is the mark of a good cook.