The Myth of Social Media: Accessibility

Accessability

Welcome to part One of my Three part series discussing the phenomenon of social media and its affect on how we interact with one another both on a personal and cultural scale.

In this section we will be talking about Accessibility.

I love starting sentences with “Back in MY day” because it makes me feel like a senile old woman, and because it happens to be the name of my favorite Improv game.

Back in my day, if you wanted to know what was going on in someones life you had to either pick up the phone and call them, or physically drive over to their home and talk to them.  I suppose you could also hope to run into them out in the real world as well. Point being, there was a certain amount of effort that had to be put into it.

So how did something like dating look Back in my day…

Let’s say you were at the grocery store, or church, or school, and you ran into someone who you felt an attraction for.  If you wanted to get to know that person you would probably have to pluck up the courage to ask for their phone number, and then you would have to call their house and hope that they answered and not their crazy mother or homicidal father, and then you would ask them out, and then physically meet them somewhere, and make real conversation without the use of GIF and Emojis, or dick pics, and try to glean as much information as possible in the few hours you had together, and then you would take them home and wait for another opportunity to see them again, or talk on the phone.

Let’s compare that to how dating looks now…

You sit in the comfort of your own home ordering your groceries online. You are swiping through the latest dating app and you make a selection based off of a few photographs (which could be 10 years old), and a profile limited to 250 characters (which tells you nothing).  This is where your Social Media Sleuthing Skills come into play.  You scroll down to see if you have any mutual friends.  Since you are only provided their first name, if you find a mutual Facebook friend you are then able to go into your friends account and pop that first name into their list of friends and see who comes up.  Once they have been located on Facebook (depending on how locked down they keep their profile) you are then able to stalk photographs, posts, and interests. Based off of what you observe via Facebook, this could be as far as your interest goes.  Maybe they posted something about Global Warming and you happen to think the whole thing is a hoax…game over.

Let’s pretend there are no mutual friends, and no way of doing any pregame Facebook stalking.  Now you have to actually make the effort of sending a cute, funny, and/or clever opening line and hope that they choose to reply, which often they do not, which in turn makes you wonder why the hell they are even on this stupid app in the first place…but you digress. They respond to your message with messages of their own and you remark to yourself how cute, funny, and/or clever they seem over text.  More often than not, this is as far as it ever goes.  They will chat for a little while and then frankly disappear. No warning, no reason, just no response.  Sometimes you are able to convince them to meet in person for coffee or a drink or something that doesn’t require more than an hour or so from their day.  You meet up, you pray to God that they look like their pictures, and you quickly learn that they are a lot more cute, funny, and/or clever through text than they are in real life.  Not always though.  Sometimes there is a real connection and you decide to level up.  Instead of talking through the app you exchange actual phone numbers and you agree to add one another on The Facebook so that you can both “like” everything that you each have posted for the last 3 months.  Of course you are also going to check of all of the photos so you can play “Am I more attractive than the ex”, and you are going to make sure that they haven’t posted anything that you deem unattractive, or offensive.

After this point you will continue to communicate mostly through text until you see each other again.  You will either jump quickly into some sort of physical or sexual relationship OR you will go out on maybe 1 or 2 more dates before you call it quits.  Now when I say “call it quits” that is actually a very misleading phrase.  For there will be no actual calling involved.  There will be no text, no GIF, no emoji, just…silence.  The kids call it “ghosting” isn’t that adorable? After the ghosting you may try and reach out to them, through text or Facebook, but to no avail. This is going to frustrate you because you know they know how to operate a cell phone and all other forms of communication. You know this because they had no problem doing it while they were still interested in you.  The funny thing is, most of the time they won’t “unfriend” you from Facebook or block you from Snapchat.  In fact, you may still get the occasional consolatory Snap or GIF, but it is never going to be like it was before.

The main difference between how it use to be then and how it is now, is that if someone took you on a couple of dates and then just stopped calling you, there wasn’t this physical and technological reminder of it in your face.  The original ghosting had a lot more finality to it.  And make no mistake, people ghosted before technology.  Waaaaaayyyy way back it probably meant they just stopped “calling on you”, or they stopped writing 10 page letters.  Humans being flaky is nothing new per say, but we can talk more about that later. The problem with technology now is that it’s just like salt in open wounds.  She isn’t calling you back, but she is posting about how hard it is to find a “good guy.”  He isn’t asking you out anymore, but there he is tagged in a photograph with another girl and now you are reaching crazy status because you are trying to look HER up on Facebook and see if she has posted anything about being in a new relationship.

It’s enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel.

Couple of things…First, I realize that I just focused on dating, and that there are many other kinds of relationships that are formed and maintained on social media.  I could have just as easily used the example of how posting on someones wall has replaced sending them a get well card or a condolence casserole.  I also realize that I focused primarily on Facebook and Snapchat, when there are many other social media platforms that people use to interact.  Instagram is also very popular in the dating world.  I have seen tons of guys post their Instagram accounts right in their introductions.  Which makes you wonder…are you here to meet people or gain Instagram followers? Again, these are just some of the complexities of social media that make the waters of human interaction murky.

Whether it’s Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Tinder, Bumble, Pintrest, and so on, we have all become incredibly accessible to one another.  On one hand, this is awesome because it is so freaking convenient and it means that we don’t have to try super hard to maintain superficial relationships with a lot of people.  On the other it is really really shitty because it is freaking convenient and it means that we don’t have to try super hard to maintain superficial relationships with a lot of people. We can stalk an ex’s while simultaneously search for a new ex.  All of this, by the way, leads directly into the next posts topic which is Disposability. Stay tuned for that.

Here is something else to consider.

Say you were dating someone and they broke up with you.  Maybe you got the courtesy of a phone call or text message, or maybe you got ghosted. Either way, I’m sure you have heard the expression, “I can’t miss you if you don’t leave”?  There is something to be said about allowing someone who has “passed” on you retain access to your life.  I know a lot of people think that maybe if their ex sees them posting all of this really fun and exciting stuff they are doing, and how totally unaffected they are by the rejection, and “can’t you see how happy I am in all of my Snapchats which totally means that I don’t miss you at all meanwhile I am pretty much dying a little  more inside every day”………….Yeah…that’s a real thing….They believe that if they can stay in sight then they will stay in mind, and if they stay in mind then someday the person who has rejected them will suddenly realize what they are missing out on and beg them for another chance.  I’m not going to say this doesn’t happen…I’m just saying that it’s probably pretty rare, AND even if that could work, there is also a strong possibility that all you are doing is giving that person what they really want which is to keep tacit tabs on your life .

I have tried to come up with a good analogy or metaphor for this, but all I can think of is some sort of harem situation where even though you ain’t been picked in a long while for the breeding you continue to stick around under the watchful eye of the Alpha as he screws every deer but you.  As hard as it is, and trust me, I suck at this just as much as anyone, I think that there is probably something beneficial about the finality and closure that comes from cutting off the accessibility of yourself from other people.  Maybe I’m wrong.  I do know though that we as humans are extremely voyeuristic when it comes to other peoples lives.  I also know that primates in general try to squeeze the most reward out of the least amount of effort. Enter social media.  All the access with none of the effort.  We don’t call anymore because we don’t HAVE to. We don’t show up anymore because we don’t HAVE to. We don’t try anymore because we don’t HAVE to. And really, I hope that above all, that is the take away from all of these posts.

I don’t believe most people are malicious. I don’t think most men are jerks, or most women are flakes.  I DO believe that we underestimate the primate inside of all of us and its need to be as lazy and yet self-serving as possible, but even then, I don’t attach any moral judgement to it.  It’s annoying as hell, particularly when you recognize it, try to do differently, and then realize you are still the only one who seems to be trying…but really…you know…humans.

My purpose in writing these have less to do with any notion that I am going to change human behavior, but rather to bring awareness to it.  If we understand human nature, and we see the affects that social media has on it, then perhaps we can begin to adapt or find some sort of middle ground. Or perhaps the entire population will lose their ability to interact in any sort of intimate way and this will have marked the beginning of the end of our species. Probably not. I mean…Tinder will make sure that the population continues to grow at least.

I want to know what you think. Are we too accessible? Is that a bad thing? What has been your experience? Feel free to leave a comment below.

 

The Myth of Social Media

Modern Keyboard With Colored Social Network Buttons.How many friends do you have? Well now that is a complicated question isn’t it? Are we talking Real Life Friends? Work Friends? School Friends? Facebook Friends?

In an interesting article from The New Yorker entitled The Limitations of Friendship , it discusses the actual number of people another human can logistically care about…in essence. A really smart dude by the name of Dunbar came up with algorithm that mathematically discovered how many people humans are actually capable of being “friends” with.  He takes into account the different kinds of friendship, but ultimately the number of people he claims a person can be a part of your true intimate emotional support group is 5. Yup…5… 5 whole people.

Social Media has changed the way we interact…and don’t. It has also changed the way we view the concepts of friendship and cultural acceptance.  In a way, we can be whomever we want to be on Facebook.  We can portray our lives through photographs and status updates in whatever fashion we’d like.

Now, I know many won’t agree with me, but I believe that Facebook in particular is doing a great disservice to the human race when it comes to the illusion of real connection.  In general, much of our technology and connectivity is actually pushing us away from one another, making us disposable, and training us how to disengage.  Over the next few posts I am going tackle each one of what I believe to be the three biggest culprits of intimacy destroying influences. In tandem, I have decided to conduct my own experiment..

I have uninstalled Facebook and Snapchat from my phone.  These are the two biggest time wasters for me.  I have an almost Pavlovian response to notification alerts, and I am ready to try unplugging for a while.  My Facebook account is still active so that I can post about my blog, but hopefully, if all goes well, I will be Facebook free by the end of the year. That all being said, I recognize that in a way, I am cutting off my own nose to spite my face…book.

The really shitty part of all of this is that I realize that even if I find a way to live without Facebook, the very act of me leaving Facebook is going to isolate me from society.  Let’s be honest, there might be a handful of individuals who throw up their laptops and cry “NO MORE!!” …but that still leaves the majority of the population who choose to conduct most of their social interactions online.  I realize that this means I will probably miss out on parties, events, job opportunities, and dating options, but I suppose I am fed up enough with all of it at the moment to not really care. I’m fed up with this passive culture.  I want to reconnect with people, to the world, to life.  It’s been 5 days since I began this experiment and I already feel less anxious.  There are moments where I feel like I am missing out, and that “life” is happening without me, but overall, I actually feel…better.

Just for the record. I fully acknowledge the hypocrisy of posting my blog updates on Facebook. Like I said…in a way Facebook is like a frozen accident.  It would take more effort to undo what we’ve done, than it would to just sorta deal with the negative aspects.  Be that as it may, it is what it is for now.

An Muse Meant: Never as Good as the First Bite

 

mac

 

I am a fan of Mac and/or Cheese.  I don’t get too fancy with it, I am typically satisfied with good ol’ Velveeta Shells and Cheese, but sometimes I will venture outside of my go-to and try something new.

Trying new things is hard for me, because trying new things leaves you open to being disappointed. There are a lot of people out there (and often I am THOSE PEOPLE) who would rather just stick to what is familiar, instead of venturing out into the unknown.

I recently decided to give The Cheesecake Factory the opportunity to WOW me with their version of Mac n’ Cheese, and I got to tell you, that first experience was AMAZING! That first bubbling cast iron skillet of noodles and melty dairy was pretty much everything I had ever hoped for.  I couldn’t get enough of it, I devoured it in minutes. I wanted more, but I told myself that there was always tomorrow, and now that I knew where to find the perfect Mac, I could always come back to partake in its’ glory.

Maybe a week or so later I was back. I needed my Mac fix.  I ordered, I waited patiently without filling up bread because I was saving myself fully for the main course.  The Mac n’ Cheese arrived, I dove headlong into it, and to my great shock and dismay…it just wasn’t the same.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it was different.  There were no obvious visual or textual imperfections, nevertheless it just wasn’t as good.  I was baffled, bewildered, utterly beside myself…and yet…I figured that everyone has an off day and perhaps whomever was in the kitchen just “forked” it up, and that certainly it would be better the next time.

In wasn’t.

In fact, every subsequent time I have ordered the Mac n’ Cheese it has utterly failed to even come close to the quality and the enjoyment of that first experience…And I still can’t tell you why.  I’m fairly certain that all of the components are the same, and that it was prepared the same, and presented the same, and yet…it’s just not the same.  The truly interesting thing to me however, is the fact that even though I continue to be consistently disappointed with the meal…I continue to order it every time I go there.

My best guess is that this is a combination of my often detrimental hopeful nature, and my desire to replicate that first experience.  Seriously, if every time could be like the first time, then I can’t see any reason why I would want to stray to another menu item EVER.  But as it stands currently, I go, I order Mac n’ Cheese, I’m disappointed, and I leave vowing to never order it again, until the next time I go and do… in fact… order it again.

I think human relationships are sometimes like terribly disappointing Mac n’ Cheese.  I think sometimes we meet someone, and that first initial experience with them (however long it lasts) is amazing…it’s incredible…it’s quite possibly the best we’ve ever had.  But then something changes.  Either it changes for us, or for them, but something, and then it isn’t the same, it isn’t like was it was before.  Maybe it wasn’t us.  Maybe we were just as excited and interested as we ever were, but something changed for them.  When that happens,  I think our natural response is to try and justify, rationalize, and to make excuses.  “They must just be having an off day…that has lasted 4 weeks”…..or…..”Maybe I’ve done something wrong and they are waiting for me to fix it, even though they aren’t telling me what I have done wrong or how I can fix it.”

We can drive ourselves mad trying to figure out the WHY behind why it isn’t like it was before.  Meanwhile, we continue to go back to that same person, and we continue to try and make things works, and we continue to be hurt and disappointed.  I don’t know why we do this, and I’m sure it is not as simple as I am making it out to be…But…I do think that a least a PART of why we do it is because we are trying to recapture how amazing it was at the beginning.  When we know how good something or someone CAN be, it makes it really hard to walk away from it or them.  In times like these, our hopeful natures can actually hinder us from positive upward progression .

If we weren’t spending all of our time trying to recreate something that doesn’t exist anymore, then it would leave us open to finding something equally as good, and possibly better.

There is a whole 20 page menu at Cheesecake Factory, packed with so many options you could probably order something different every time you go there and still be trying new things for years.  There are millions of people in the world.  There may not be millions of people we can date, or form meaningful relationships with, but there are still more than what we allow ourselves to believe.  If we are constantly disappointed by a person, or situation, or relationship, then why do we keep going back and believing that it is going to change?

Maybe that person is giving us false hope.  Maybe they are saying one thing and their actions are showing another.  If that is the case then there still comes a point where all of that becomes largely irrelevant, because at the end of the day, we are unhappy, we are unsatisfied, we are hungry.

I’m not married, so I wouldn’t feel right telling anyone what they should and shouldn’t be doing with their dating lives.  I’m not telling you what to do, I am merely going to say this…

Take a look at your current relationship.  It doesn’t have to be a romantic one, but it does need to be one where you feel constantly and chronically disappointed.  Even if you can’t walk away, even if you feel powerless to move on, or try something different, I just want you to just try and be aware of what you are doing.  That’s it, just be aware.  See it, own it, accept it for what it is.  When you are ready, you will let it go, you will move on, but not until you are truly ready.  And that’s the point really. No amount of analogies and metaphors on my end are going to finally convince you that your time is worth more, that YOU are worth more. But someday, some moment, you are going to have a very real moment of clarity, and that moment of clarity is going to be the catalyst for you to make a change in your life, but again…only when you are ready.  Take your time, this is your journey.

But if you are going to keep ordering sub par Mac n’ Cheese, I hope you at least order dessert as well, because you know…dessert.

 

 

The Return of The Anxious White Virgin

Look who’s back

Back again

Virgin’s back

Tell a friend….Nope

That didn’t work.

A lifetime ago I had to create a blog for one of my college courses.  The blog could be about anything, so naturally I chose myself.  Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything else that I wanted to spend that much time creating content for.  I always thought my life experiences would make for great daytime TV, and so the AMV was born.

Even though I specified that this was a character, or rather, a caricature of myself, I soon realized that the more personal I got, the more people wanted.  At some point I became overwhelmed and quite frankly a little mortified that I would share so much of my personal life in such a public forum.

I’d like to say that this time will be different, but who knows.  I hope that I can figure out this whole internet thing and add more interesting content in the form of videos and the like.  I received several letters in absence asking me questions that I do plan on addressing. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me a message, or comment, however that is done.

Alright you little voyeurs. Let’s have some fun.

First Loves. Last Loves. True Love. *Abridged*

 

Oh hey, it’s been a moment hasn’t it? And by a moment I mean almost 5 years, or is it 4? I don’t math good. To be honest there was a part of me that was content to light a match on this blog and walk away, but apparently there are 5 or 6 people out there who really enjoyed what I was doing.  I imagine these are the same sort of people who enjoy watching NASCAR.  Come for the hotdogs, stay for the carnage. So here I am. Older for sure, wiser…meh.

So much has happened during these last years that I find myself at a loss for where to start.  I hesitate to jump right back into the gore that is my life, so perhaps we will try more of an “old man easing into a hot bath” approach.  I am going to go back to some of my original posts and interject new thoughts, revelations, or whatever else seems appropriate.  For those who have never read my blog, this will give you a chance to catch up.  For those who have been faithful followers, this will give you a first row seat to my hindsight.  Is it weird that part of me is looking forward to mocking my own work? Nevertheless…here we go…

New text will appear in the bolded font.

 

Do you remember your first love? I’ll bet you do. When did you first lay eyes on them? What were the thoughts that were going through you head? Were you immediately taken by then, like you see in the movies? Or was it a slow burn that ultimately consumed your entire being? And I’m not talking about your first crush; I’m talking about your first over-the-moon-cant-see-straight-when-they-are-near-my-mouth-suddenly-has-forgotten-how-to-form-intelligent-sentence-structure love. How old were you when it happened? Was your loved returned, or unrequited like Quasimoto’s love for the gypsy Esmeralda?

That is a liberal amount of dashes.  I am still obsessed with The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  You wanna see something sexy as hell? Watch this  …It’s not porn. Unless French men in makeup is your idea of porn. Then it’s porn.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly felt like Quasimodo in high school, for all the male attention I was getting, or rather, Not getting. I guess you could say I was a “late bloomer”. But worry not, I feel as though I have more than made up for all the nights I sat alone in my room writing or singing along to Phantom of the Opera, while other girls were attending homecoming, and any other boys choice dance for that matter. It stung, no doubt, and I cried my fair share of tears and speculated on what I must have been lacking that all these other girls seemed to have in spades.  Not surprisingly, I figured that it was due to some physical defect that I was undesirable to the opposite sex. But the thing was, I could have cared less about the male population as a whole. The only boy I cared about played a set of drums and fancied himself a rock star in the making. My first love.

You COULDN’T have cared less…COULDN’T. Talk about angst. True though. Nobody wanted to date me in grade school, or middle school, or high school. I was bullied pretty much the entire time. I think jerk kids can smell the weak ones in the pack.

Oh how I adored that boy. From the moment I first laid eyes on him…till the day we laid him to rest… I thought that he was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen in real life.

I don’t know why I didn’t use his name. I think at the time I was embarrassed by apparent obsession. I was 15 for hell sake. Dustin. His name was Dustin. And he died, suddenly and tragically, and it messed me up pretty good.

And though my affections were probably painfully obvious to everyone, including him, I never actually told him how I felt about him. Even though I am fairly confident that our situation would have been that of love unrequited, I still regret to this day not being honest with him about my adorations. But I was so scared of what it would mean if he said he didn’t feel the same way, even though I already sort of knew that that was the case. In all of my teenaged longing, I wanted to believe that somehow, someday, he would realize that he did in fact feel the way I felt about him. It was easier to live in the fantasy of what could be, then in the reality of what was.

The reason I chose to share this story is not an attempt to gain sympathy, or even to illustrate what a well-meaning but highly deluded dweeb I was back then. The reason I chose to share this very personal story in a very public forum, is in hope that there are those of you out there who know what I am mean when I say that I believe to some extent, there are those of us still choosing to live the life of fantasy because we are afraid of what it means to live in reality.

Heh…Dweeb. OK, so not telling people how we really feel until it’s too late. I have become a little obsessed with this over the years.  I’ve lost too many people too tragically, and too quickly to believe that any of us are safe from fate.  If you love someone, tell them. As far as living in fantasy…

There are many aspects of our lives in which we may do this, but the one I want to specifically focus on is, in our romantic dealings. In a world where we have been raised on a steady diet of Disney on one hand, and divorce on the other, it is understandable that many of us may feel a bit, hesitant and perhaps also a bit unrealistic concerning our views of love. If you are at all like me, you might have found yourself a little duel-minded at times, regarding the subject. On one hand I long for the fairy tale romance and that same tingling feeling I got the first time I saw my first love. I want the white knight to ride up on his trusty steed and together we will ride off into suburban bliss. But when I sit and think about the actual implications of such a relationship, I find myself wondering if maybe a life of spinsterhood doesn’t sound that bad. I’m not a cat person however, so I would be the crazy dog lady, or maybe even the crazy chinchilla lady, that sounds like fun.

I have mentioned before that I have had the opportunity of dating many great guys, several of which I believe would have made amazing husbands and fathers. There were even a couple who were ready to take that next step if only I had been willing. And to be fair, even though the moment I learned that my first loved had died, I was convinced that I would never love again, I did in fact meet another man who I felt like I could indeed love in the way I had before. But like it goes so often in dating, that relationship ultimately ended at his request, and I was once again faced with the task of picking up the broken pieces of my heart and finding a way to heal.

I see where I am going with this, or at least, where I went with it. I think what I missed was the reason WHY we would choose fantasy over reality.  It might be that we are afraid of rejection, but when you are a person like me whom fate seems to really like to mess with, then you can actually become afraid of getting what you want.  Sometimes the anticipation of the pain that you imagine will come when you lose the thing you want is so daunting that you convince yourself that it’s better to not want it. Which works super well. Don’t want what you want. Simple.

It’s interesting though to sit in the seat of perspective and look back on things. I think what I am coming to realize that so much of what we call love, or rather being “in” love, has less to do with reality and more to do with the stories we tell ourselves about that person. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing by any means. In fact, I think that in order for a relationship to progress, both parties need to have a slightly idealized conception of their beloved. After all, if you find them just as charming, engaging, alluring, as any other guy or gal on the street, then how are you ever going to come to a decision about which to spend the rest of your days with? To an extent, there does need to be that little extra undefinable something that draws you to that person. And I don’t believe that we need waste time trying to dissect and figure out exactly what that “something” is. You can drive yourself crazy with such endeavors. And if the relationship ends, you can drive yourself equally as mad trying to figure out what happened to that “something” that seemed to be there when you first started dating but now seems to have mysteriously vanished like the other sock in the dryer.

I’m giving perspective on my perspective. Mind blown.  This paragraph is SO interesting to me for a number of reasons that I can’t go into right now. I will say that Narrative continues to play a huge part in my world view.  In fact, I used the concept of Narrative throughout my grad school application essay. We are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, about each other, and about reality. Who is writing that story? We are. But is it a conscious thing?…..Meep?

So if we can agree that not all fairy tale-ish feelings are a total crock, then can we also concede that perhaps the stock we place in such things may be a bit…over zealous?

Fairytales are snapshots of the best and worst parts of humanity.  I recently had to argue with a certain someone about why it isn’t harmful to let your child believe in Santa Claus. The underlying question being…Is fantastical thinking detrimental?

The truth is, we all have expectations for ourselves and for the person we hope to someday marry. What I am proposing (See what I did there?), is that maybe juuuuuuust maybe those expectations are better served as plot fodder for a poorly written vampire series, than they are for an actual relationship. To put it bluntly, ain’t nobody perfect, and if that is what you are looking for then you are going to end up alone or extremely disappointed. Many people will say that they are not looking for someone who is perfect, but just someone who is perfect for them. That’s cute, but I feel, still perhaps a bit too Disney. This is not to say that we should throw our lists out the window entirely, but it does mean that maybe we take a second and third look at that list and then be reeeeaaally honest with ourselves about which realm of existence we are inhabiting; romantically speaking.

Who hurt you?!?! Oh yeah, his name was Scott. I think this was the Scott fallout timeline. Scott is a musician. Never date musicians. I think Scott and I dated in 2010…But he broke my heart, or as he would put it, “I broke my heart up against him”…Musicians.

We all want love. We all want that feeling we felt with our first loves, who at the time, we all probably thought would be our lasts loves. But may I be so bold as to say that there may indeed be a love out there that surpasses both of these, but that ironically, and in reality, are as different in nature from these other loves as the night is from the day. There are aspects of all in all, but the kind of love I think we are really wanting, is that of true love. And not true love as it has been come to be known in pop culture and fairy tales, but rather love in truth, with all of it’s accompanying flaws and challenges. It may not be a fantasy, but it’s real. And when something becomes real, it takes on an authenticity that is so much more satisfying than any fantasy could ever provide. We can touch it, and hold it, and trust it, and rest in the knowledge that we have indeed found something true in this world of smoke and mirrors.

Let us all be brave enough to live in reality, so that we may enjoy the endless possibilities it holds.

Man I was cryptic. I am a Master of the vagueblogging. Also I kinda wonder what my ultimate point was.  So fairytales are bad? Lower your expectations? Don’t settle? Invest in bitcoin?

Narrative is a Bitch.  I don’t think I have the desire to get into all of this right now, so I will just leave it at this…

Everything is true until it is not.  Everything is impossible until it isn’t.  You are never going to find someone until you do. And never date Musicians.

Until next time!

And Now For Something Completely Different. *Abridged*

Observations of an Anxious White Virgin

I actually have no issue with this post. I hate fruit still. Unless we are talking the grilled pineapple at Tucanos.  Fun fact: After writing this I actually got the worst food poisoning of my life from some cantaloupe. My working theory is that someone in the fruit industry read my post, realized the influence that it would have on the stock markets, and decided to taint my cantaloupe with E.coli. Seriously though, I have never been more sick in my life.  I probably should have gone to the hospital, but I didn’t have insurance at the time. I do now (Thanks Obama). Well…until Trump takes it away (Thanks Obama). 

Observations are like people. Some are funny, others deep and thought provoking, while still others are inspired and legitimately contribute to the human race as a whole. But in general, most are useless and an utter waste of time.

That said, may I present the first installment of Observations of an Anxious White Virgin.

Observation 1
I believe fruit to be the most deceitful of all the food groups. When I purchase a Twinkie, carrot, or jar of peanut butter, I can rest easy knowing that said item is (more than likely) going to taste the same way the last Twinkie, carrot, and/or jar of peanut butter did.
But such is not the case with fruit. OOooooooh no, not fruit. Fruit is cunning and misleading. Fruit is full of trickery. Fruit wants you to believe that it is something, which in reality it is not. It beckons you with its temping color, assuring you of its ripeness. It taunts you with its fragrant smell and passes each squeeze test you subject it to. And yet, and YET! inevitably, when you peel back its deceptive shell and take your first long-anticipated bite, you are left with a feeling not much unlike that of ordering and using a cream off of the Internet meant to “dissolve cellulite in the blink of an eye”. I blinked. It’s still there.

In short, you are left feeling misled, deceived, and utterly betrayed. For fruit, like women and peacocks, are often all show and no go. Sure she looks pretty Now, but just you wait till that carefully orchestrated mask of Mary Kay and Spackle comes off. Not. Good. And as for peacocks, all I need point out is their abundance of gaudy feathers and total LACK of aeronautical abilities.

And so it is with fruit. But I, like a fool, continue to believe the lies fruit tells me. Like a jilted lover who continues to believe the lies of an unfaithful ex, I return like a dog to its own vomit…(too much?)

When I enter the produce isle I can here fruits siren call. It says “You can trust me, I will be juicy and ripe and sweet, the way a fruit ought to be. The way that fruit was intended to be.” And I, that same fool believe the lies once more and make room for that most deceitful of foods in my hand basket, right next to the always reliable and ever consistent Twinkies, carrots, and jar of peanut butter. Inevitably however, this short-lived love affair with all of its encompassing hopes, anticipations, promises and so on, ultimately ends the way it always has in the past, with nothing short of total and utter disappointment.

But really, should we be at all surprised? For truly, was it not fruit which was the tool of that cunning serpent in the garden? And was it not by means of this same fruit that brought about the fall of, and subsequent expulsion from the garden of Eden, nay, of paradise itself? What more needs be said on the subject than this?

Judged. Juried. Executed.

After all, there are always Starbursts. Sweet sweet reliable Starbursts.

Perception and The Should Game *Abridged*

 

Let’s see what kind of fever rant I had going this time.

Today’s topic of blogservation (copyright anxiouswhitevirgin via me) (I see what you did there) that I have chosen is that of Perspective. As we can see from this oh so charming illustration pictured above, both of these beloved household necessities find themselves suffering by means of comparison. But why is that? Or rather, how is it that this suffering comes about? While I realize that there are many reasons why we as human beings suffer, and that not all of them can be attributed to any of our own doings, I would like to present a the theory that attributes a great deal of why we suffer to what I like to call, “Playing the Should game.” If you are the kind of person who believes that all the suffering and misery in your life has and continues to be caused by forces outside and beyond your control, then I suggest skipping this post and rejoining me again for the next installment. For nothing I say here today will be of any value unless you, I, or any of us are willing to at least consider the possibility that our level of happiness and satisfaction of this life rests squarely in our own hands. I may be totally full of crap, but it might be worth losing the next 10 minutes of your life (depending on how fast you read) to find out. Let us then proceed.

Close your ears Millennials! It looks like we are going to be talking about personal accountability. Though to be fair, I think life is a combination of attitude AND how much shit life throws at you. Because let’s be honest, some people have way shitter lives than others.  I mean, I get that it’s all relative, but I do think that there is a non-discriminatory amount of shit that we can agree is shittier than other shit.  

Like our toiletry friends, I have often found myself suffering and unsatisfied with life. In fact, you could probably say that in my mind, the reason for my suffering was directly due to my dissatisfaction with my life. And even though I may not have been consciously aware of it at the time, as I look back now it is clear to see that I have been playing the Should game with frequent regularity for the better part of my life.

Wanna hear something that is going to make no sense? I have decided that I am simultaneously totally dissatisfied and utterly satisfied with my life.  How can that be? The human mind is evolutions proverbial finger in the air to humanity.  

Side Note: I have chosen to capitalize Should for a reason. My aim being for the reader to realize that when I say Should, I am not referring to reality, for example: The sun should rise tomorrow. In this sense, the should is referring to things that actually occur. But you will notice that these are also things that have nothing to do with free will. Unless of course you want to make the argument that someone might believe that the sun shouldn’t rise tomorrow and therein find suffering. But this is beside the point I am trying to make. The point is that when I use the word “Shoulds”, what I am referring to is that idea or concept within our own minds of the way WE personally believe things, people, and more specifically our own lives ought to be, compared to way it is not, thereby causing us to suffer in comparison. Simply put, Shoulds are personal opinions and have no basis in universal truth or fact.

I use to read a lot of C.S. Lewis. Can you tell? All I am doing here is making the distinction between subjective reality and actual reality:  I should get out of bed before noon, subjective reality. I Should be paid to watch Dance Moms, actual reality.

While I believe that ever human that has ever lived on this planet, with perhaps the exception of Jesus Christ, has experienced suffering by comparison; it has also been my observation that certain groups and individuals within those groups seem to suffer more than others. And while I am no expert in the field of psychology, and while I am not saying that there very well may not be a biological aspect in the form of chemical imbalances and the like, that could contribute to any given individuals schema; I would like to state that if that is indeed the case, then even those who find themselves victims of their biology may still need not find themselves victims of their Shoulds.

Schema hu? Must have been my Word of the Day Calendar. Also, I get the point I was trying to make, but I sorta wonder if I was wrong about Christ.  There was that moment in the garden when He asked that the cup pass from Him. Maybe in that moment He wished that He could have been one the apostles taking a nap under a tree. Maybe not though.

Like I stated earlier, a Should or suffering by comparison occurs when we look at some aspect of our lives, be it ourselves, our physical forms, friends, romantic partners (or lack thereof…Hello! 29 year old Virgin here) and we decide that it is not as it Should be. Which would logically lead us to conclude that there is in fact a way life Should be, but isn’t. Here are a couple of what I would consider pretty common examples of people playing the Should game:

” I am so depressed. All of my friends are married and I am not” = I Should be married but I am not, therefor I suffer.

“This sucks. These skinny jeans fit me last summer, but now I can’t even get them past my fat thighs” (I like to picture a man saying this just because it’s Hell-arious!) = I have put on weight and I use to be skinner, I Should be thinner, therefor my day/week/life is ruined.

“Everybody I know is already graduated from college and well into their careers and Im a 29 year old actor/waitress who is barely making ends meat. My life is never going to amount to anything.” = I Should have graduated college already. I Should be into my career. I Should be making more money. Life isn’t anything like it Should have been.

Did any of those sound familiar to you? Have you ever found yourself saying similar to yourself? I hope that as you read these examples, which may or may not have been taken directly from my own life, (with the exception of being a man) that you will start to recognize all the Shoulds you impose in your own life, and the needless suffering that they are causing you.

This would be the perfect moment to address the virginal elephant in the room, but I’m not gonna.  This post is long enough.  But I will say that essentially I am just talking about expectations.  That probably would have been a more streamlined approach.  We all have expectations, we don’t always get what we expect, some of us seem more personally offended than others when our expectations are not met.

Now I know what some of you are already thinking, and I’m sure it goes something to the tune of, “Now wait a cotton pickin’ minute! Are you REALLY trying to imply that we should release every expectation we have for life and for ourselves? Can you really be so naive as to believe that it is somehow destructive and harmful to our mental well-being to have goals and ambitions and are then are understandably disappointed when those things don’t happen? If we don’t have an idea of how life Should be then how will we ever accomplish anything? If we have no stick to measure ourselves against then how will we ever know that we are growing? Isn’t what you call suffering merely just God’s way of letting us know we are on the wrong path and that we need to do better?”

That’s a stupid question. Nobody is advocating that, unless that person is a carrot. If a person tells you they have zero expectations they are a liar, or a robot, either way run.

Let me start by saying that in a lot of ways, this logic seems quite sound. And there is some truth to the argument being raised. A person with no goals, dreams, or ambitions is a person without progression. But here again, the argument hits near the point, but falls short of the mark. For what we are not debating here is whether or not a person should have goals, but rather the idea that the accomplishment or failure of said goals are the litmus test for whether or not you are happy in life. When you say a person should have goals, what you are really saying is that having goals are a way we progress in life and therefor are useful if indeed it is our goal to progress. But even here we must tread lightly lest we impose our own Shoulds onto somebody else.

That paragraph just sounded like me enjoying the sound of my own thoughts a little too much.

A good example of this is the redefinition of what it means to be a successful woman in today’s society. I plan on spending an entire blog on this on some future date; but in short, it is the reality that in the past, it was thought that women Should remain in the home and men Should be the ones out in the corporate world. But as we have seen, this Should is crumbling under the weight of both men and women who believe that a woman Should be as much a part of the working world as her male counterparts. But what about those women who chose to stay in the home? The point is that there will always be conflicting Shoulds in the world. Depending on which part of the world you grew up in, the religious ideologies you adhere to, right down your opinion about which way the toothpaste should be dispensed, there are always going to be as many Shoulds as there are people. But we are not here to discuss whether or not there Should be, or in reality are, any universal shoulds (e.g.) the moral law and so forth, we are instead here to get us all to realize that in general most Shoulds are not in fact shoulds, but rather personal and totally opinion based Shoulds.

We live in a varitable world of Shoulds, and you don’t have to look very far to find someone willing to spew their own personal Shoulds all over you. In fact, if you think about it, in a way that is what I am doing right now. I am telling you that Should let go of your Shoulds. Did your mind just blow? I know mine did.

Ermahgerd…you got your Shoulds all over me. Groooosssss. No but for reals, I think the biggest complaint I have about our current culture isn’t that we disagree a lot, it’s that someone somewhere convinced a large portion of our population that it ISN’T OK when others disagree with you.  Everything is a trigger, everything is an attack, everything “proves” that the “other side” are just a bunch of bigoted morons. And don’t you dare say shit about anything related to the topic of gender, sexual identity, race, religion, politics or it will turn otherwise rational human beings in mega internet trolls. The message of today’s culture is clear, if you have an opinion that goes against the majority, or even just the group that yells the loudest, keep your damn mouth shut unless you  want to endure this cultures version of Amish Shunning.

I could probably continue to discuss this topic for hours on end. But in the interest of attention span of the average reader I am going to attempt to wrap it up.

So in summary here are the key points I am wanting you take from this post. The first is that we all have Shoulds in our lives and that those Shoulds cause us to suffer by means of comparison. This suffering by comparison occurs when we look at some aspect of our lives and make a personal decision that this aspect is not what it Should be. In doing this we are stating that there is indeed a way it should (universal truth) be, but that it is not. And because of this, we suffer. We beat ourselves up, we curse God or fate or our parents or any number of people or things, and because of this we are unhappy. We are in essence saying to the universe, “Life Should be X, but instead it is Y, and until it is X, I will never be truly or even temporarily happy.”

Making happiness something external vs. something internal. Got it.

My second point is that this doesn’t mean that we stop striving and wanting. This doesn’t mean we are to sit on our butts and never have any goals beyond converting oxygen into CO2. Though if you think about it, there are those individuals out there who due to accident or illness have been reduced down to a vegetative state and this process is pretty much the sum of what their lives consist of. But if there is one thing I have learned and continue to experience is the phenomenon of people who you would except by all accounts of logic and reasoning and Should be unhappy, Should be miserable, Should have no reason for joy or contentment in this life, and yet, somehow, these same individuals are deeply and genuinely happy. And what I believe to be their “secret” for happiness is my third and final point for today.

Expectations are fine as long as they aren’t the thing making you unhappy. Happiness is relative. Got it.

My final point is more a belief than anything else. And it is simply the belief that those who are the happiest in life are those who have learned to love what IS and refuse to compare that to what it Should be. They have thrown the Shoulds out of their lives. They still continue to hope and dream and strive, but they do not place their satisfaction of life on these things. They have made the separation between happiness as a state of being (a choice, an interpretation) and happiness as a result or product of something, someone, some action, some whatever. For them, happiness is not the result of listening to the tune, but rather, it is the tune itself. And for these people, it is the tune by which they spend their lives dancing to. It is the means and not the end. It is the journey and not the destination.

My hope not only for myself, but for us all, is that we can slowly start to remove the Shoulds from our lives, be they Shoulds about ourselves or Shoulds about the people and the world around us. And that in doing so, we may come to know a life free of Shoulds, which in turn may bring about a life free of needless suffering. I would like to end today by sharing two verses of scripture taken from The Book of Mormon, which I feel are God’s words trying to convey this very idea to us. Regardless of your religious convictions, I hope that you will be able to find the truth written in these words, regardless of their origin.

2 Nephi Chapter 2

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

 25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have JOY.

Things got biblical just then. Well…Book of Mormonical

I don’t disagree with anything I said just then, but I would like to raise a question to go along with it.  How much of our suffering due to expectations are directly related to level to which we believe that we are “owed” our hopes and our dreams? Or simply put, is it the expectation or the entitlement to the expectation that causes the most suffering? If I had an expectation that you should treat me with common decency because that’s what I want, but I didn’t think that I was OWED common decency, then would I be as pissed off when you treated me like garbage? Expectations seem more logical or philosophically driven, where as entitlement seems to carry more identity and emotion.

Just a thought.