MisterRogersMamaRu

When I was younger, my siblings and I used to watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I say “younger” instead of “a kid” because I watched the show well into my adulthood. Though Fred Rogers has passed, one thing I’ve never been able to get over, is the spelling of the title.

I mean, possession would be indicated by the “apostrophe before the s” at the end of any singular noun (or proper noun). So wouldn’t Mister Rogers, the singular man whose neighborhood we’re visiting, be the host of Mister Rogers’s Neighborhood? It’s not like there is more than one man named Mister Roger, and they’re both living in the neighborhood and hosting the show. That’s what the title leads me to believe, and I don’t know if I like it, because I feel like that is what that means, and I’m missing out on an entire other Mister Roger! I would like to double my fucking pleasure, please. If I’m watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, I’d better be looking at two dudes. At least.

An important thing I learned from watching Mister, is that every one of us has something that nobody else has: ourselves. I forgot to spoiler alert you about your mind being blown. He says, “there’s only one person in the whole world like you… and I like you just the way you are” which is also kind of weird, because it sounds like he’s telling me that there’s someone in the world like me. Is he telling them that he likes them just the way I am? Who is it? Are they old? Are they a baby? Are they a dog? Those are really the only three choices.

I took that idea of there only being one Me in the world, and I ran away with it. I used to do the most outrageous shit to get a reaction from people. I did dances, I wrote songs, I mastered different voices and impressions, I created characters, and on top of being my own biggest fan, I was extremely loud (voted Biggest Mouth and Class Clown in my senior class, thanks). If there is only one of me in the world, the world has long since gotten their money’s worth. I’ve forced friendship on people who didn’t really like me, because of the fact that I was so loud, but I thought I was funny, so they must have thought I was funny too. I used to talk to my friends’ parents like they were my friends, even though they probably thought I was too young to be saying some of the shit I was saying to them, but it didn’t matter because it didn’t feel wrong to me. I was just being myself. And I wasn’t sorry about it, because nobody told me to stop.

As much as I learned from Misterogers, I have to give credit where credit is due, and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race for ten years has taught me more about being myself, than Fred Rogers ever could. It taught me that I could not only be myself, but that I also shouldn’t feel bad about my lack of giving a shit what anyone thinks about it. Everyone has their darkness, and everyone has their suffering, and we all deal with it in our own way, and we all just try to do the best we can, until we die. I never heard that on PBS. And I probably could have used that wisdom in my teens, because the ’90s were brutal, and being a feminist back then was not very popular, especially in Bumblefuck, Maine. Wanna know who didn’t like me? Pretty much everyone, at some point. But I won them over with my humor and lack of shame, and then they had no choice but to hear me when I wasn’t being funny (but still loud), at least for a little while, until they could get out of earshot. And I wasn’t sorry about that, either.

The difference between what I learned from Mister Rogers, and what I learned from watching RuPaul, is how it pertains to me. I found Mister Rogers to be informative on how to be a good person, but I never felt like it was realistic to my world, because when I turned from the TV to the window, I was sadly disappointed in the disparity. People weren’t good, and they weren’t nice, and the sun wasn’t always shining, and things didn’t always work out in the end, and there wasn’t always a lesson to be learned, and nobody helped anybody that day, and everyone returned home with a frown. It wasn’t the same, so why should I try to be that nice person? RuPaul and the queens on the show are open and honest about ugly struggles, and have seen that people aren’t always kind, and the sun never shines on some people. It doesn’t set the expectation that everyone is doing good deeds and being selfless to make the world a better place, because the world is not like that. It can be made up to look pretty and sweet, but underneath, it’s really a hairy man with a dick.

I don’t love everything about myself, but that’s mostly because I hate feeling the physical pain that comes with being out of shape and almost old. The fact that I have stretch marks, cellulite, uneven boobs, body hair, a lazy eye, E.T. fingers, and hobbit feet… doesn’t bother me one bit. I will gladly take those things, because they’re just little things. I don’t apologize for being myself, even still. I realize not everyone is going to like me, but it’s important to remember that not everyone is going to be liked by me, either. They’re just doing their own thing, and trying as best as they can until they die. I’m a blip on their radar, if they want me to be.

I don’t even think my big mouth is my biggest drawback, to be honest with you. I’d say my lack of follow-through and ambition is probably the worst thing about me, besides the fact that I’m always right. Kidding about that ambition thing. I’m totally ambitious, just not in the way that everyone else is.

Don’t apologize for being yourself. No matter what it is, even if someone can rattle off 20 things they hate about you, so what? Fuck it. You’re you, you’re gonna be you when that person is a distant memory, and nobody else is going to be you, so you might as well fuckin just do that shit to the fullest. My kids have asked me for good comebacks for when people are putting them down, and I always tell them “Fuck off” works for me, because it literally does not matter what someone else thinks of you. It’s what you think of yourself, and how you want to represent your time on this planet.

“There’s only one person in the whole world like you… DON’T… fuck it up!”

-jg

Did Someone Just Fuckin’ Say “Christmas”???

It’s only October.

But it’s late October, which means a few things in this consumerist society in which we’re drowning. The first, is the Party City enema everyone is forced to endure on television. I don’t watch much television, but Hulu shows enough commercials to offset any lost time we may have experienced otherwise. Thank you, Corporate America! It’s virtually impossible to miss the fact that it is, indeed, Halloween, but that doesn’t stop us from putting up our own decorations, even if our neighborkids are just going to rip them down and destroy them anyway. We’ll probably make our own costumes, like we always do in my family because we’re cheap, because we just love the idea of being someone else, for just a few hours. It’s an escape no other holiday can offer. In my opinion, costumes should be heavily marketed all year round, but that’s not this blog post. It’s another one.

You may have also noticed that it’s prime season for pepperings-in of holiday commercials. While still few in numbers, there is no denying that these earlybird companies are merely the first to dip their toes into the icy cold water of the dreaded SHOPPING SEASON. That means more commercials, more catalogs, more magazine ads, more store displays, more articles about the “big toy of the season” that you’ll definitely have to pre-order, because just the very mention of something potentially becoming popular, is enough to make everybody want it. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, really; it’s only popular because consumers were afraid it would become too popular, and so they take “precautionary” measures, and those precautions result in what we call A Clusterfuck.

Since I’ve been cognizant of the phenomenon of holiday product pushing, I’ve always noticed the stark absence of commercials for clothing, other than Macy’s or Kohl’s, and those ones are fuckin strange. The ads show a group of people usually laughing, and they’re bopping around or moving in some unnatural way for hanging out, and literally nobody is saying anything. Everyone is just laughing and smiling. What was that shoot like? Was it… like this….?

Director: “Hey, put these pants on, and get in there and laugh.”
Actor: “At what?”
Director: “I don’t know, just laugh. You’re having a great time wearing that sweater and scarf and super tight pants.”
Actor: “That’s not funny, though. What am I laughing at?”
Director: “Think of something funny. It’s method acting.”
Actor: *shrug* “Okay.”
Director: “Pick up that giant red ball, too, and throw it at her.”
Actress: “Me?!”
Actor: “You want me to throw the ball at her?”
Director: “Yeah, it’s fun. It’s what people do in scarfs and jeans. Make sure you get that kid laughing too.”

I’ve seen some good old fashioned snowball fights on commercials for clothing, too. Mostly for outdoor clothing, but some featured people without coats -but with scarfs and earmuffs and gloves- throwing snowballs at each other. I don’t know.

The majority of holiday ads are geared toward children and teens. You know why. It’s because they’re the ones who are doing all the watching; watching TV, streaming Hulu, or they’re checked into YouTube to watch some idiot watching something else. They’re getting their daily dose of commercials, and they’re going to know exactly what they want for the holidays, because it’s not just the adults who lose their minds over the next Tickle Me Elmo, it’s the young ones too. They know what The Big Ticket is, and if they don’t see it for themselves on TV, they’ll hear all about it, and you bet your ass they’re going to let you know. And then, the deal is fuckin sealed for you, because if you don’t get that thing, you didn’t do enough. Doesn’t matter what else you get them. If it’s not that particular thing, you get to hear about how you should have pre-ordered it, and you’ll learn the names of 16 other kids who did get it, and you realize holiday consumerism is a scam, and watch your hard earned money just sit there on the floor, because it’s not The Big Ticket.

And then they play with something they already owned. Is that in the holiday ads? Where the kid just says fuckit, and starts playing with the Legos he was playing with the night before? Or where they get mad that they can’t have candy canes or bell-shaped chocolates for breakfast? Where are those ads? I remember one time, my dad put dry Lucky Charms in my stocking, just to get me to eat cereal instead of candy. I ate the marshmallows, and left the rest. Holiday Loopholes.

Speaking of loopholes, there needs to be one for relatives, because physics has forbidden me from being in two places at once. I’ve used up all of my freebies with the universe, so now I can only be in one place at one time, and that essentially guarantees that someone is going to be feeling like the asshole (spoiler: it’ll be me). I have to tell somebody no, or at the very least, reschedule for a time that is convenient. You know what isn’t convenient? Having to tell someone that they are the person you chose to reschedule. Friggin holidays… creating unrealistic expectations and incredibly realistic arguments since too-long-ago.

I don’t know if you know this or not, but there’s a holiday we celebrate here in the United States, and it’s called Thanksgiving. It’s a bullshit holiday by its very existence, but it’s cloaked in an air of “appreciation” so people aren’t allowed to talk shit about it. You have to be thankful. Don’t be a dick. That’s for the other 364 days of the year. Surely, you can spare one day of your year to not be so greedy, because that’s what Thanksgiving is about!

NO IT ISN’T.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a food holiday that we use as an excuse to eat more than we normally do, and we pretend to be nicer than we really are. There are not usually gifts involved, but like Christmas or Chanuka, there is a fair amount of prep work that must be done, in order to successfully drive you insane execute the holiday. There is usually a big-ass turkey as the star of the meal, unless you’re a vegetarian, or you have a weird bird thing. I don’t know what people eat, if they’re not having turkey. I could eat turkey every day for the rest of my life, and be alright about it. Aside from that, you gotta have potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and pie. That’s the big four, as far as I’m concerned, and I would need nothing else on my plate, to make it a good night. But for most people, that’s just the appetizer.

I used to run a Biggest Loser competition at my old job, and when Thanksgiving came around, I had to tune everyone out, because even someone who is trying to lose weight will still glorify the horrific extent of consumption that happens on this holiday. It’s almost a necessity to over-indulge. Americans are convinced that this day just doesn’t count, and their bodies won’t pay for the random day of odd dieting that could easily equal 3 days’ worth of caloric, sodium, and fat intake. The fact is, if you give a day a special name, Americans will find a way to incorporate food into it, even if we’re unhealthy. It’s what we do. It’s why we are the way we are. If you try to figure it out, you will get lost (make sure to bring some snacks, in case you get hungry along the way).

I’ve seen some Thanksgiving dinners that were ridiculous. My sister and mom are notorious for doing way too fuckin much. 3 turkeys, AND ribs, AND roasts and stuff. And that doesn’t even include the milliondy-four sides they have prepared. You’d think they were going on vacation, and wanted to cook up everything in their house before they left. Nope, just cramming enough food for 50 people into 10 people. Because it’s a celebration! It’s weird how far we have come, from celebrating our hard work paying off in a plentiful harvest, to spending $500 on a meal that normally costs you $40 to make. Happy Thanksgiving.

The funniest thing on Thanksgiving, I think, is the sheer number of hours we spend watching the Christmas commercials. You think you’re watching football, or the Macy’s parade, but you’re just being violated by the grubby intentions of corporate America. They know you’re watching. They can practically smell the food on your breath. They know the kids can see, and if they aren’t in the room, that’s okay, because the toy ads play just a little bit louder than the show you’re watching. The second that one kid hears the annoyingly sugary voice of a woman excitedly telling you about a tiny plastic dog that just shit out some puppies, the stampede is imminent. They need the toy, but they also need to see the commercial for the toy. Right after that, while you’re still reeling from the sound of screams, it’s the commercial that tells you what your wife wants for jewelry. They know your wife can see, and if she isn’t in the room, that’s okay, because the jewelry ads play on EVERY FUCKING STATION.

Let me tell you something about jewelry ads: they’re funny as hell. The only commercial funnier than jewelry ads (and As Seen On TV ads) is a food commercial. Sidetracking for a second… What kind of reality exists, where someone takes a bite or a drink, and they close their eyes and breathe in deeply so their shoulders shrug up toward their ears, and they smile, so you know they’re thoroughly enjoying what they just consumed? Seriously. It’s lunch meat. It’s coffee. It’s a pasta dish. It’s a damn chocolate that is gonna send you to heaven, apparently. I have never eaten anything like that, in my entire life, and I love food more than I love some of my siblings. But jewelry ads are so fake, they make the food orgasm scenes look like Shakespeare in the park.

“This Christmas, show her you mean forever. Get her the Eternal Sweetheart Wife In Love diamond set from Shitz’s.”

Let me stop you there. I like the fact that they’re encouraging people to show love, instead of just saying it with dumb old words (who does that anymore?) but this is a pretty expensive way to say it. Diamonds? I’d much rather have $400 in nachos, or massages, or shoes, or cookware, or books, or paint, or scrap wood. In fact, don’t even spend that much money on me, unless it’s in car repairs or vacation details. Diamonds have no purpose, and still, they’re constantly pushed on couples, as a means to prove how strong their love is. Why not just get her the 100% steel set instead? That shit is strong. Not even jet fuel can melt it.

Christmas is the time for buying a car. If you have been putting off buying a new Lexus, now is the time. If you have perfect credit, come down and get the best deals, so we can work on your credit score. Get $1,000 off a $45,000 car, with no money down, and 0% APR. There’s no better time to surprise your spouse with a major expense, without discussing it with them first, financially. Hurry in to your Lexus dealer, before all of the cars are gone… because that’s something that ever happens. When this sale ends, it ends, until our New Year’s sale, and then our Presidents’ Day sale, and then the St. Patrick’s Day sale, and the Easter Sale, which is right before the Spring Clearance! See your Lexus dealer TODAY, and get a large red bow at no extra cost! The large red bow indicates that it’s a gift, even though the payments will be a joint expense, and you’ll probably also drive or ride in it. It’s a gift for them, which you’ll be able to successfully hide until Christmas morning, because they’ll never look in the garage. No garage? That’s okay, we will drive the car up into the driveway for you, when you’re ready to present it to your spouse (as a gift, for your spouse) and then sneak away stealthily on foot, back to the dealership on Christmas day! We have nothing to do, trust me, it always works out this way. It’s the Christmas miracle.

It would be funny to see holiday commercials change with the season, to reflect how tired we are of the ads by mid-December. The guy has the sweater on, and he’s making the Angry Dad Face at the kid, who has half of his clothes off, and the pants have grape juice and cheesy fingerprints on them, and the dog is working on the turkey, on top of the table, while the woman is drinking a glass of wine and running away. There’s half-written Christmas cards on the floor, without stamps on them. A toddler is pulling a Santa costume out of Dad’s bottom drawer. Nana is snapping the Christmas records in half. The director might tell them: “I don’t give two fucks, I just want this nightmare to end,” and they’ll all be motivated by that.

I’m not ready for the holidays yet. I can dig Halloween, because I love candy, and free candy is always good (well, maybe not always, don’t listen to me, Kids). I don’t want to think about Thanksgiving, and I certainly don’t want to think about Christmas yet. There are so many things that have to happen between now and then, and if I start thinking about the holidays, the other things will just become unimportant bumps in the road, and I don’t want that. I want to enjoy each day, and experience each bump for what it is. We are always so obsessed with time going by, that we’re forever reminding ourselves of what’s to come, instead of just living it when it gets here. When it finally does arrive, we are too busy thinking about what’s next, to fully appreciate what is happening. Let the days go by, but don’t forget to live them. Make something special out of each day. Just like Mr. Rogers said for you to do. I’m copying him, is what I’m trying to say.

It’s only October. Let it be.

-jg

Oldies, Not Goodies

I like just about every style of music (almost) and when I find myself getting “bored” with one style, I just start binge-listening to another style until I get sick of that one too. Right now, I’m back on “oldies” music, because I’ve been listening to a lot of old hip-hop, and I get fixated on the samples, so here I am. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the genre of “oldies” music, it refers to the clean-cut, radio friendly, seemingly innocuous songs of the 1950s and ’60s, which mostly focused on love and happiness.

In the spirit of the zeitgeist, this post is to highlight some of the things music artists used to get away with, that just sound ridiculous now. Society has changed, in the way we interact with each other, our interests and priorities, and the way we express ourselves. People don’t sing about the same subjects, because we don’t worry about or value the same things we used to. That’s not to say music has gotten better, where profanity is now encouraged to be as explicit and sexual as possible, but there is at least a new taboo around certain slurs that used to be allowed (I don’t even want to go into the numerous songs I found, which used “faggot” and “retard” freely on radio versions). Different things bother us, as well as delight us, and as a result, music is drastically different.

Take the song “Down In The Boondocks  by Billie Joe Royal:

Down in the boondocks/ down in the boondocks
People put me down cause that’s the side of town I was born in
I love her and she loves me/ but I don’t fit in her society
Lord have mercy, I’m a boy from down in the boondocks

People don’t really sing about caste or class in songs anymore. With the advent of Tinder and Bumble, as well as online services like Match.com, people can date across the tracks, and not have to face any backlash. I tried thinking of a recent song that deals with this issue, and I could only think of “Sk8r Boi” by Avril Lavigne. He wasn’t good enough for “her” but he was certainly good enough for Avril (wait- was Chad Kroeger the sk8r boi??). He just had to stick to his own demographic, which is something Billie Joe Royal couldn’t abide.

Have you ever listened to “The Wanderer” by Dion a million times, like I have? The message in this upbeat tune is pretty questionable on its own, without Dion actually doubling down on it: “You say to a chick, ‘Stay away from that guy,'” Dion said in 1976, “and she would say, ‘What guy?’ Chicks loved a rebel.”

How charming, Dion. I mean, you told her to stay away from the guy, and she didn’t listen to you?! The nerve! She must be asking for it, I guess. It’d be like, if your buddies told you to stay away from a girl, and you didn’t, but then when your buddies were right, you blamed it on the chick.

Oh wait, YOU DID. On the SAME RECORD. Let’s talk about “Runaround Sue” a minute, shall we?

She likes to travel around, yeah
She’ll love you and she’ll put you down
Now people let me put you wise
Sue goes out with other guys
(-Runaround Sue)

Okay, so what about:

Oh yeah, I’m the type of guy that likes to roam around
I’m never in one place, I roam from town to town
And when I find myself a-fallin’ for some girl
Yeah, I hop right into that car of mine and drive around the world
(-The Wanderer)

So let me get this straight: The Wanderer is some mysterious sex bomb, born to drive the women crazy (which is clearly all we want in life), while Sue doesn’t even get the luxury of being called by her first name, without the slut-shaming prefix? Interesting.

If you’re wondering why she goes out with other guys, it’s probably because you’re out fucking every girl in the world, not even telling them your name, because to you, “they’re all the same.” If you were home once in awhile, perhaps Sue would be happy to get a good dicking, but you’ll never know that, because you’re drivin’ ’round the world in your car.

I mean, you literally talk about how, when you’re spending the night with Janie (not Sue), you tell her you love Rosie (again, not Sue) the best, so Sue probably has the right to be going out with other guys. It’s only fair. Sounds like you either drove her ass crazy while you were in your “Wanderer” phase, and she couldn’t take it anymore, or, maaaaayyyybeeee… she was such a powerfully crazy whore, that you finally broke down and turned into a whore as well, and now they call you The Wanderer.

Still, if the latter were the truly the case, you said it yourself, “ask any fool she ever knew, and they’ll tell you” so why the fuck didn’t you listen?? You knew she wasn’t trying to settle down. It’s like when you tell a chick to stay away from a guy, and she doesn’t. Don’t expect monogamy from someone who is sexually liberated, and then go blaming them for your own transgressions.

Here’s another song I’ve always hated, that still makes me shake my head:

The purpose of a man is to
love a woman
and the purpose of a woman is to
love a man…
Come on, baby
‘Cause the time is right
Love your daddy with all your might
Put your arms around me
Hold me tight
Play the game of love

c’mon baby, let’s play the game of Love
(- The Game of Love)

Say what???

First of all… let’s just say we’ve learned our lesson on sexual attraction being limited to heterosexual couplings. Let’s pretend we all Oops!ed our way away from that whole tragedy, and agree that it’s a horrendous indoctrinating mindgame. Beyond that… I’d say the purpose of a man, back then, was mostly to either serve his country, and/or go to work and be the breadwinner, and provide discipline to the family, and wash the fucking car in the driveway. He didn’t have much purpose, beyond that. And let’s not glaze over the purpose of a woman, which is apparently to love a man?? Can we still pursue our dreams, though? Or rear our children? Do we have any other options, or can we do other things with our lives, while waiting to fulfill our life’s purpose? Just checking, for someone else.

Don’t even get my overly-analytical ass started on the disgusting Daddy/control issues at work in the last part. He feels the need to tell her that the time is right, as if she has no say in the matter, or simply can’t tell if the time is right or not, and then he keeps bossing her around like she’s some kind of voice-commanded sex doll. Why does he have to call himself her daddy? Why?… because daddies are bossy? Let’s shrug the daddy shit off, shall we?

Also, why have we not updated this song, to say “The purpose of a human is to love themselves, and the purpose of other people is none of your fucking business“?

Much better.

Tommy James had a song that goes: “My baby does the hanky panky”  over and over, for the whole song. I never actually knew if he was excited about it, or if he was slut-shaming, but he apparently felt the need to tell everyone about it in a song. I mean, there are only a couple of ways a person could take that line, both of which I’ll go into now.

If his baby does the hanky panky, and one assumes that he is the one doing the hanky panky with her, then why is he putting all of the focus on her? In that case, he and his baby are both doing the hanky panky, and he’s telling everyone that she’s doing it. Not cool. Own that shit, dude. If you’re proud of your lady, and you’re open enough to let others know she’s boning, be proud of the fact that she’s boning you.

That is, assuming “hanky panky” means boning.

On the other hand, if his baby does the hanky panky, but he is not doing the hanky panky, then he sounds unnaturally upbeat bout her doing the hanky panky with other people. The whole thing smacks of Open Relationship vibes. In either case, it sure does seem like he wants everyone to know about his “baby’s” sexual appetite, and could think of little to say about it.

Not exactly a ’50s or ’60s song, but in 1970, there was a fun little summer ditty called “In The Summertime“, in which Mungo Jerry celebrates all of the free-spirited excitement and adventure the warm weather brings. You’ve heard it in movies and TV, on the radio, in stores, and probably just in passing, more times than you can count. But have you ever listened to the lyrics? Particularly these ones:

“Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find
If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal
If her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel”

Couple things: if you’re drinking and driving, it’s bad enough that you’re taking your own life into your hands, but your lack of compassion for other motorists on the road… not a cute trait. I don’t know about you, but I don’t make it a habit to get into a car with a drunk driver, much less, one that has been trolling around for “whatever he could find” before settling on me. This song doesn’t relegate the singer to his own class, as mentioned in the lyrics, though I’m still unsure if he truly understands the distinction between rich and poor. Who knows, maybe he’s spot on. Just seems more logical that the girl with the poor daddy is going to need that meal a little more than the rich girl. She would probably also be more inclined to be financially conscious at said meal, or at least bring home the leftovers, and probably eat them, and definitely not just leave the doggy bag in the fridge, like I do.

1970 produced another gem, called “Vehicle” by a group called Ides of March (like the warning). The very first line in the song lays it all out on the table, in the creepiest way possible:

I’m a friendly stranger in a black sedan
won’tcha hop inside my car
I got pictures, candy, I’m a lovable man,
and I can take you to the nearest star”

Uhh, what the hell?? That guy is using every cliche available to rapists in 1970. I mean, at least he’s friendly, but damn, he’s still telling you straight-up that he’s a stranger! Apparently he wants you to hop in his car, based solely on your looks, which just doesn’t ever lead to anything substantial, but if he can get you to the nearest star, he’s wheeling and dealing extremely well. Pictures? I can get those anywhere. Candy? You’re speaking my language, but again, I can buy my own damn candy. But when you start talking about taking me to Alpha Centauri, well, I just might be putty in your 1970s hands.

Not to further my point about the ’70s being equally weird, but in 1972, The Four Tops decided it was time to remind us what #RelationshipGoals look like, with “Ain’t No Woman.” I admit, I used to love this song, because it’s otherwise romantic as fuck, and I still do enjoy listening to it, but I cringe so hard when he sings the line “I would kiss the ground she walks on/ ’cause it’s my word, my word she’ll obey.” 

You mean, her value above others in your world is strictly contingent on whether or not she’s going to do whatever you say? Why does she have to obey your word? Do you have some unreasonable expectations, on which bullshit has been called? Not to be a buzzkill or anything, but that ain’t romance. It reminds me of that line in The Labyrinth, when Jareth says “Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.” What is it with guys thinking that’s a fair exchange?

“Hey girl… your free will, for some dick?”

I think we have arrived at a point, in our current society, where it really isn’t safe to sing or talk or write about anything, without incurring some backlash. I have come to accept this, and it seems that more and more performers are coming to the same conclusion, plowing past the red tape of PC civil rights and humanistic compassion, and glorifying misogyny, rape, murder, and racism. If you think the lyrics from the 1960s were questionable, just turn on your radio today. There is nothing to even question anymore; between the lyrics and the video themes, the messages are clear, and they set both genders (and society as a whole) back so many decades, the 1950s seem like yesterday.

But remember: nothing is safe to say, so even this post itself will come off as “anti-feminist” to someone, because they could argue that music videos nowadays are sexually liberating for [insert gender here] and I should break free from the chains of sexual repression in the media. I like to think there is a happy medium, where sexuality and the human form have their platform to be celebrated, AND creativity and ingenuity get to shine on their own platform as well. Sexuality can be liberating for people, and anxiety-inducing for others, but it has its place. Using sexuality as a replacement for anything, seems to surrender your own power over it, defeating the purpose of it in the first place.

Love and sex and relationships between people will always be changing. We will look at each other differently in the future, than we do now, than we did 50 years ago, and hopefully learn from our poor choices. I wonder what we’ll be singing about in another 50 years, when Li’l Pump and 6ix9nine are considered “oldies.”

-jg

Is This Real Life?

I have been thinking about what (or when) my next post would be, after posting 2 days early last week out of a completely unexpected -but still very welcome- burst of ambition. Since then, it’s been a whole lot of nothing, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been “getting inspired” shall we say. (it’s okay to keep reading, it does get funny, if not solely for the sake of keeping you reading)

I’m never left with a shortage of inspiration, because I study the relationships between people, specifically where it pertains to technological advancements. The world has changed dramatically in the way we interact with each other, but of course the world does tend to do that, especially as our civilization society booms (in number, not in strength or intelligence). But the advancements have made things so “convenient” for us, that often, we glaze over many of the not-so-obvious changes that come with them.

Social media has been one of the biggest catalysts in the decline of our manner toward each other. That sentence alone, alienates so many people, almost as if I were trying to shame people off of social media, but I’m really just spittin’ the facts. Highlighting truths, such as the fact that we spend less time talking face-to-face, we trust less of what people are saying, we become “friends” with people we don’t actually know or like, we spread information that has no basis in fact, we spend our money differently, we give out our most personal information to strangers, and those are just to name a few.

Here’s another big one: without social media, we would have to remember everyone’s birthdays. Do you think everyone who wished you Happy Birthday this year (or last year) just happened to remember that it was your birthday because they had committed it to memory? I guarantee you, most of those wishes were to save face and to abide by the code of facebook ethics, which also requires the response that goes something like this: “Thanks, everybody, for the birthday wishes! #soblessed”

Tell me I’m wrong.

I’m not trying to say the internet and social media don’t have their place. Obviously, this blog is important as fuck. This post is about how stupid people sound when they’re bullying, which isn’t exactly trolling, because sometimes -sometimes- trolling can be funny. The bullies are the keyboard warriors who definitely know MMA and could beat you up, and if that doesn’t scare you, it should, because they can find where you live, and they’ve kicked people’s asses for less.

The bullies are the Comments Section Heroes who see one sentence they don’t like, and spend 540 sentences letting you know about it, and then letting you know what they think of you and your family, and what they’re going to do to all of you, when Hulkamania comes for you!

The bullies are the ones who talk a whole bunch of shit, based solely on your profile photo, and whatever you are so liberated to let the world see, because you honestly don’t give a shit who sees it. If you thought you were ugly before… you just better think again, because you’re gonna know how ugly you are, when they let you know about your ugly face and your ugly body and clothes. You’re so ugly. Isn’t that just the most clever, and hurtful thing you’ve ever heard??

The bullies definitely have no flaws or personality traits that are disgustingly repulsive, making it so that nobody wants to date them or admit to being their relative. That’s why they’re looking through the comments for things to say to strangers. Because they were charming and considerate, until you went and fucked it all up, by being ugly, with your stupid, ugly face.

I’ve been trolled plenty online (the funny and not funny kind), and I have admitted to trolling as well. Harmless stuff, on my part; no personal attacks or bringing family members into it, just some light poking at their ideologies, in an attempt to educate them. Something like that. I’ve never tried to “get” someone by hurting them, or sinking to the level of dissecting their profile. It’s not in me to do that stuff, because I study the internet with one purpose, and that is to LAUGH MY ASS OFF at everyone who is trying so hard to live the #internetlife.

Let me explain to you what I mean by that. #Internetlife is when someone super-edits their photos before selecting the one (of thirty identical photos) that will go online. The background is staged to subliminally convince you that they’re living a specific way, or that they’re into a certain thing, but it’s not necessarily the subject of the photo; it’s just a little static for you to build up the version of them that they prefer you to have.

#Internetlife sometimes requires you to do a certain challenge, which people readily jump for, but not if it’s exercise or charity work. Just if it’s a dance, or game, or something else you can quit when people have moved onto another trending topic and stop paying attention to your thing. Is there a “Pick Up The Trash” challenge that people are doing? No? A “One Sit-Up Per Fucking Day” challenge? No? Okay, that’s what I’m talking about when I say #INTERNETLIFE.

I invented a personal challenge back when I was on facebook, and that was to say something nice to someone every day. I also did a separate mini-challenge, where I would text a delicious compliment to any friends who needed to hear something that wasn’t bad news or insulting. We face way too much negativity in life, and our compliments are limited to emojis and ‘likes’ on the internet. That’s mostly why I hate to compliment people on their looks, but I still do it. If someone has amazing eyebrows, I let em know how jealous I am, with my practically non-existent eyebrows (and lashes, honestly). If someone is wearing a cool-ass jacket, I say they have great taste, and that it looks good on them. If someone has a new haircut, I notice it. Rarely do I just say “You’re pretty!” and when I do catch myself saying it, I almost always follow it up with, “like that’s what’s important” just to let them know how much I can’t stand the stronghold society has placed on our physical looks. I guess that’s the real challenge: stop placing importance on looks. But it will never happen as long as we have social media, because it does little else beyond offering a snapshot of a person’s vanity.

That was too sad. Let’s get back to laughing.

Here’s something that never fails to make me laugh:  people who “chase” others out of threads, as if they had no other choice, and no other reason to leave. After you have gotten bored and left because they’re not quite making you laugh the way you thought they were going to, they brag about how they “SHUT THAT BITCH UP.”

Seriously? C’mon, Hero, has nobody ever told you that you were boring before? Or that they didn’t want to be around you? Or just straight-up walked out of the room while you were talking? That’s this. You’re literally bragging about someone realizing that they’ll never get back any of the minutes they have already wasted on you, and deciding to forget you exist. Just to be clear.

In a way, I sort of feel sorry for the chasers, because it’s obvious that they’ve dealt with rejection many times before, and have yet to cope in a healthy way. But then I remind myself that those are the same types who hold their significant others hostage with empty threats of self-harm, but real threats (and actions) of harm to the significant other. I know that narcissistic asshole, and robbing them of their target/audience is the worst thing you can do to them. Do yourself a favor, and “leave the chat room,” if you catch my drift.

(But also, just leave the fucking chat room, for real.)

I laugh at how fake the internet is, and it makes me laugh SO hard, that I forget I’ve been sitting there for fifteen minutes, watching some stranger get legitimately angry. The internet can be so real for some people, that it can affect their ability to control their anger. Think about it: have you ever had someone say something dumb as fuck to you, and it made you mad, and your muscles started to feel flooded with adrenaline, and your pulse quickened, and your face became hot, and you just wanted to savagely shut them down? It’s familiar, because lots of people say lots of dumb shit all the time. It’s how we deal with that anger, that differentiates us (me and cyber-dumbass in this situation), because even though my brain is saying “Hey, aren’t we gonna do something about this, and roast this fucker to pieces?” I know the person doesn’t even truly exist in my world at all, in any capacity. They’re a piece of matrix in my hand-held device’s brain. I don’t need to saddle myself with that by worrying about it. But there are some people who just live to say the nastiest thing possible, and nothing really shuts them up, so I refer to previous tip, “Walk The Fuck Away.”

In a time when internet bullying is so prevalent and cruel, that we have kids committing suicide over their experiences, we have to place importance on distinguishing between what is real, and what is NOT FUCKING REAL. Don’t let someone on the internet end your real life. I mean, don’t let anyone end your life anyway, but social media is a choice. It’s a choice you’re making, and if you’re allowing yourself to keep feeling worthless, it won’t end well. You need to shut that shit down. If you have a problem with what someone is saying to you online, shut it down. Walk away. Turn off your computer for three days. Turn off your phone’s data. See if you don’t realize that social media is an option for you to accept or refuse, or curate to be what you want. You don’t HAVE to deal with that shit. Make your profile private. Disable comments. Sign up under a generic email. Or hell, stay off social media. These are all better options than killing yourself, I promise.

If I get really honest with myself, I think the reason I laugh at Comments Section Heroes, is because I see those people believing in the internet version of themselves, and it reminds me of when you see someone’s shadow in the silhouette, and they look huge, but then when they come out, they’re tiny. That’s the way we have inflated our egos, to appear bigger and badder and meaner and more powerful and hotter and sexier and richer and tougher than we really are. It’s scrawny young boys, dressing up in their dads’ clothing, pretending to “go to work.” It’s little girls with the high heels and lipstick on, looking ridiculous but passing it off as “cute.” It’s a chihuahua with the bark of a doberman. It makes me laugh, because they are buying it 100%, even if you aren’t.

The internet is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

I mean, it can actually convince you that you need it. It can convince you that you’re a better person than you are, and convince others of that as well. It can swing an election. It can get laws changed. It can make you think a color is a different color, or a word is a different word, or that someone looks better with a mustache than with a beard. Sheep mentality guides us toward the popular opinion, which we don’t want to be excluded from, and social media is the mecca for that weird shit. There will always be assholes, fake news, distractions from reality, and unreasonable standards, just as there will always be inspirational humanitarians, beautiful photos, poetry, and art. Social media is forever shaping our society. We can take it or leave it, but whatever you do, don’t be a Comments Section Hero. It’s just ugly.

-jg

The “Custumor” Is Always Right

I’m one of those people who drives around checking out billboards and signs, looking for typos, or unintentional suggestive images, and other clever shit. Awhile back, I saw a sign outside of a strip mall near me, which has a Kmart and a grocery store and Verizon store and all that fun consumerist crap. The strip mall has that stuff, not the sign. But the sign said:

“Custumor Parking Only”

What the fuck is a Custumor? I’m not saying I never make mistakes, because I think I have before, but this was no mistake. The sign had to go through a process, consisting of at least two – if not all – of the following steps:

    1. whatever writing/typing/printing that went into writing the description to begin with, which
    2. then goes to a proofreader, which
    3. then goes to someone who approves it, which
    4. then gets typed up and finalized and
    5. sent to a media company for print.

And yes, I realize the company is probably going to quote policy on printing “exactly as the custumor presents it to you.”

But what about when the sign got delivered to the store? Nobody caught it, even then?! Not the idiots who received it against the packing list? Not even the idiot manager?? When the idiot putting the sign up was drilling the holes in the metal, did they completely miss the glaring error??? They should hear of their idiocy. Perhaps if someone had broken the news to them sooner, this idiot shit wouldn’t be happening (but then I wouldn’t have this brilliant material, so nevermind).

Know what else I hate?

“Let me put you on hold, and I’ll see if I can find the answer for you.”

Only, when they come back on the line, they tell me that they’re transferring me to someone else. That’s not an answer! That’s a fucking repeat performance, on my part! I don’t want to have to ask my question 4 times, just to not be helped by anyone. I called you for help! That’s when I hit ’em with: “Cool, let them know what my question was before you transfer me, would you?”

It’s especially nerve-grating when you have to transfer to numerous departments, because nobody knows what’s going on, and you have to give your access information every single time. “Ok I’ll need to access your account, can I get the last 4 of your social? Your zip code? Okay, and your date of birth? Aaand, your address? Yeah, and the exact time you last took a dump? Okay, and, your account number, please? Great. Now how may I help you?”

Well you fucking can’t, I’m sure, but let’s bring more people in on this clusterfuck, what the hell. The more people who get to deal with me, the better. I actually almost sort of pity any customer service representative who has ever had to deal with me. Even on my best day. On my best day, I love messing with reps. On my worst day, I channel all of my frustration from the days when I worked in a call center, and I convince myself that my wrath is a rite of passage for the rep lucky enough to be making the choice to work in a call center now. They deserve it. They need it.

I’ve worked in every side of customer service, and they each come with their own specific agony. I’ve done cold calling, insurance claims processing, inbound sales, member services, billing, collections, and mail correspondence calls, to name a few. I’ve sold CDs, clothing, phones, and dietary supplements. I’ve worked as a competitive employee, and as an equally competitive team member, as well as in thankless positions that got no recognition or reward. I’ve dealt with state departments, doctors, angry parents, sick and injured people, and people who threatened to “come find me” if I didn’t stop calling. There wasn’t anything about the easiest of customer service jobs that was remotely enjoyable. So please believe me when I say I understand how much it sucks to wake up to the knowledge that you have to drag your ass to a customer service job. Truly.

I also know that I don’t care how you make your money, as long as you do the job you’re being paid to do. And if that includes going back into training, so you can more effectively help me when I call and ask you for the low-down on your area of expertise, then that’s probably what you need to do. I’m just a consumer, though, what do I know?

I went to Wal-Mart, a chain well-known for having terrible customer service at their brick-and-mortar locations. Maybe it’s the area where I live, or maybe it’s the caliber of people who are willing to show up every day, but the customer service at the location in my town is probably one of the worst ones. If they’re not loudly reading your full name and address off your license in full earshot of anyone in line, they’re playing(?) dumb until you just give up and do their job for them, or just walk away. I would rather throw away a gift card, than to have to troubleshoot it at customer service. I’m that petty.

There’s a gas station/convenience store chain in our area, that doesn’t require their cashiers to provide anything more than the bare minimum customer service. They count the money, and put the stuff in a bag… sort of like a bank robbery. They don’t acknowledge you; they just start scanning your shit, and yell at you if you don’t drop all of your items quickly enough. They don’t tell you the total; they just expect you to read it off the screen yourself. They don’t give you a receipt unless you ask for it, and they don’t say anything to you once the transaction is done. It’s an oddly cold practice, but it doesn’t require people skills, which is probably the main perk to the job. A high school diploma/GED is not required, and you can be any kind of felon or addict you want. As long as you don’t mind spending a lot of time refilling kerosene right next to the register, you’re in! Welcome to the team! (they don’t probably actually say that, because they’re rude).

There is also a local restaurant, which I won’t name, because I don’t want to give them any free advertising, and it’s about a stone’s throw from my house. They usually have live music and pretty good food, but it’s a bar, basically. The guy who owns it is an asshat, and the employees are all junkies, and even though that’s status quo for most places, this was some velvet rope treatment type of shit. Matt and I got overcharged one night when we went there to see a friend’s band play, and the next day, we saw that we had also been charged for another table’s bill. We brought the statement (online banking on an app) to the restaurant to see the manager about getting it cleared up, and shit went all kinds of wonky from there.

First of all, they wanted us to just take their word for it, that there was no double charge, even though two different amounts were showing as debits from my account. No evidence to back up their claim, no reasoning they wanted to share with us, just their word. Of course, I don’t take anyone’s word for anything, especially when it’s money at a bar. I wasn’t having any of it, so the guy asked if he could take the phone out back so that they could “double check against the database of charges.”

That’s a hard FUCKNOTHANKYOUVERYMUCH. There’s got to be a better way!

The guy says, “I’ll go get the printed list of transactions.” Well why didn’t you suggest that first? That seems way easier than taking my phone back there. The guy comes back with the list, and he’s looking through it like a proper accountant, and he looks at us and says he can’t find our credit card swipe anywhere. He double checks. He triple checks. This is a bartender, by the way, not the manager. We haven’t even gotten to see The Wizard at this point. The bartender tells us the chargearen’t on the ledger, and just looks at us, hoping we’ll take his word for it, like he suggested already.

“So?” I says to him.

“Soooo…. It’s not on there.” Spinning my wheels with this guy was getting old, so I demanded the manager come out. And before I knew it, he appeared; his banana yellow shirt looked almost distorted, or like an upside-down light bulb, as it clung to his gravity-defying beer belly. The oily sludge in his hair seemed to be permeating the skin on his face and neck, and probably his back (*shudder*). His Dockers were horizontally crinkled at the top of the thigh, telling that he had been sitting for a long time (probably doing nothing). But the only thing I could focus on, were his annoying gold chains swingin’ about. He was so slimy and disgusting, that Matt still talks about him, to this day (he encouraged me to be more descriptive, because this did no justice to how vile he was. He was the epitome of a sleazebag bar owner.) His smug-ass face (smug ass-face?) made it abundantly clear that he didn’t want to be bothered. I don’t know what he was doing back there, but it was only 10:00 AM, so he couldn’t get the waitress to offer us a beer, and that put him at an obvious unease. He wanted to get back to whatever he was doing. And this time, free alcohol wasn’t going to get us to cooperate. So he started looking through the useless ledger, and asking us – in what can only be described as the whiniest voice I never expected to come out of his mouth – what we thought he should do.

Not my company, asshole. I don’t think you’re paying me to make your business decisions. In fact, you’re not paying me any of the money you owe me, so let’s get to that. I tells him, “I think you should give me the $25 you charged me for someone else’s drinks.” And you know what this clown decided was the best response to throw back at me?

“What if that extra charge doesn’t go through, how am I gonna get my 25 bucks back?”

I walked away at that point. There are not many things in this world that are worth $25 to me, and that was absolutely not something I would have thought was worth $100/hour. I would have gladly paid the $25 again just to avoid the exchange altogether.

The worst part about being “helped” by someone, is when the actual transaction/exchange is over, but they have about 140 more things to say. So you get to the point where they’re no longer useful to you, but they still want more of your time than what you’ve already given them. They want to tell you about their website, and all the dumb shit you can do on there, and they want to tell you that they’re available monday through wednesday, and friday from 8-4, except for the hours of 10-3, and they want you to know that they strive to provide the best customer service, so you’ll be getting a follow-up call to ask you some questions about the call where you asked them questions. For someone who does as much Consumer Reporting (ahem*complaining*ahem) as I do, you’d think I would be watching the phone for that call, for the opportunity to recount all of the things the rep did that weren’t up to my standards.

Well I hate that call. I don’t like any automated calls, and I get a ton of them. Appointment confirmations, school updates for my kids, surveys about whateverwhocares, or some cruise that I definitely did not inquire about. I didn’t inquire about a cruise. The only inquiry I will ever make into a cruise, is to ask why the fuck anyone would ever go on one. That’s the end of the inquiry. If there’s anything I hate worse than interacting with a robot on the phone, it’s being isolated in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of humans.

Cruises are a lot like life on Earth, in that way. We’re just a bunch of beings isolated in the middle of nowhere (space). And life, like the ocean, is unpredictable and powerful. I guess the difference is, I just don’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of rich assholes in the middle of the ocean. I’ll take my chances with my friends and family and all my cool stuff, on dry land.

Are cruise-takers even called customers, when they’re on the ship? Are they cruisers? (I just checked, and they are called cruisers, so I guess I know my yachtie lingo, and can now set forth on my journey to swindle a rich dude to take me as his trophy wife!)

I was joking about that last part, before anyone comes for me about being anti-feminist, or misandristic, or whatever. I am nobody’s trophy, nobody’s wife, and nobody’s anything. I am sometimes a customer, though, depending on how you use the word.

An entry from the late 14th century (spelled “custumer,” which might explain the typo, possibly, a bit) states that a customer is a: “customs official, toll-gatherer,” but the entry after that, referred to the Shakespearean definition implying prostitution. So if someone is described as “a cool customer,” that guy is probably getting some that night. Currently defined as “someone who buys things,” it’s safe to say that neither definition carried over into the 21st century very well. It also currently has a second definition:

2.

a person or thing of a specified kind that one has to deal with.

Now that’s more like it. I think we can agree that I’m the good ol’ 21st century definition. The jury is still out on whether or not the strip mall guy’s boss’s boss is a fan of 14th century English. 

 

-jg

High School (Not) High (Enough)

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a banquet at my kids’ school, and it really opened my eyes to why I used to smoke so much pot in high school: it’s because high school kids are fucking annoying as hell.

Don’t believe me? I’ll give you some examples.

At this banquet, there were 20 tables. Each table sat 8 people. It wasn’t going to be a very big event. When my family of 4 arrived, there was only a total of 8 kids there. Did they all sit at the same table? Of course not, and I wouldn’t expect them to. Let ‘em spread out. My family sat around one half of a table that was in the middle of the room, and left the other half of the table open for another family of 4 (or fewer, whatever).

Here’s where my first example begins: as the other students started arriving, the sitting students would scream their names, as if they hadn’t seen them for like, THREE WHOLE HOURS. And one by one, these kids were invited to “The Cool Table” at the front of the crowd, leaving the rest of the peasants to feel collectively excluded. I didn’t even know that shit still existed.

And can I just sidetrack for a second, about the fact that MY table WASN’T The Cool Table?! I mean, my family is fucking hysterically funny, and we have THE BEST dinner time conversations. If our table isn’t The Cool Table, then I don’t want to be cool, I guess, and it’s my choice, not because they said I wasn’t.

Back to the examples of my nightmares personified. The Cool Table started filling up, until there were like 450 kids at this table. What I want to know is, how is it The Cool Table, if everyone is sitting at it? Wouldn’t that just be A Table? As for the handful of parents and other students who weren’t screamed at invited to sit with all those hip turds, I’m sure they all loved hearing the sound of screeching banshees in their dreams last night too.

The Cool Kids started taking the chairs from the other tables, while those people were up at the buffet, WHICH WAS AMAZING. The buffet, I mean, not the stealing of chairs. That was pretty annoying, because they took 6 of the chairs from our table while we were gone, and we had to steal them from other jerks from Less-Cool-But-Still-Pretty-Cool tables. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but I have principles, and I was not about to eat a whole plate of delicious meatballs while standing up. Those kids thought I wouldn’t be that lazy, but they obviously underestimated me.

The banquet presentation began, and just in case you were wondering, no it did not shut them up. On the contrary, there was a slideshow, so every time one of their faces was on screen for even a half-second, they would erupt in a roar of laughter and screams. This went on for 10 long minutes. It was a nice slideshow, and I’m sure they were just excited. But, I’ll go back to my earlier statement about having to cope with that excitement, with the help of my bff, Mary Jane.

Now, I know what you’re saying: “Well, my kids don’t do that stuff.” And I would say to you: shutup and stop lying to yourself. Just because your kids aren’t doing these particular things, doesn’t mean they aren’t acting like little shitheads when you’re not around, and they’re allowed to be “cool.” Believe me, they’re doing just that. And they’re good at it. No matter how great you think your kid is, I guarantee there is someone whose nerves they love to work on. Maybe it’s you. Who knows.

Some people like to say, “When you were their age, you did that too,” and to some extent, they’d be right, but I wasn’t even remotely excited about anything my peers were doing in the 90s, so they’re also kinda wrong. I mean, I remember being annoying, but everyone is. Everyone is annoying, including your kid, remember? But there’s a difference between being annoying, and being an experience that everyone has to live through. Perhaps it has something to do with how big the person’s platform is, how many people they reach with what they’re doing and saying. In that vein, we can rest a lot of the blame on social media, and the constant flow of positive reinforcement kids/teens (and adults too!) receive from their peers online. They adopt the position that they have gained unconditional acceptance among others, and that the virtual flow of adoration is going to be relatively similar in their real-life interactions.

So maybe yours is not screaming at the top of their lungs, to welcome a peer to the table in the most extravagant way possible. Maybe they’re the peer that is being showered with those feelings, making them believe they are extra special, just like everyone else who walked in. Maybe yours is wildly unpopular, and would die to feel the acceptance that others so freely give away. Maybe yours is like me, and realizes that, after you graduate high school, shit changes. Prom King and Homecoming Queen don’t translate well on a resume, and certainly not when it comes to keeping yourself alive.

My high school experience was full of days that I swore I had wished away hard enough, but didn’t. Every day was a struggle, in and out of school, and graduation day seemed like an eternity in the future, to the point where I couldn’t even decide what that would look like. I just knew high school was not what I thought life would be like, so I tried to laugh through as much of the bullshit as I could, which was a lot, it turns out. And as soon as I graduated, life got real.

I was back at the starting line, with everyone else, even the popular kids, and the century was turning. The next generation was already being born, and technology was changing the way we perceived each other (and life). The internet taught us how to parent, and we took those tips (sometimes from people who weren’t parents, and had no education on the topic) and we ran with them. We kept checking back, to make sure we were doing what everyone else was doing, and NOT doing what everyone else thought was wrong. It changes all the time. One day spaghetti is the best thing for kids, and the next day, it causes brain death. We could no longer afford to make the mistake of not being in-the-know.

Spaghetti doesn’t cause brain death, so if you’re not one of my regular readers… I exaggerate sometimes. Go ahead and feed your kids spaghetti. Or don’t, I mean, I’m not your kid’s parent, so that’s just some advice you can take or leave. I feel like they won’t die without spaghetti, but I’m no doctor.

Innovations in social media and personality shaping, as well as unrealistic hyper-active parenting woes, as well as the deadly sharpening of peer scrutiny and judgment, have all created a monster. Kids are being held to impossible standards, not by parents (though that’s another topic I could go on about) but by their peers. They feel the need to change. They feel the need to chase perfection. They feel the need to fit a mold. They feel the need to replicate what others admire. It’s just an image, based on the heavily edited photos and videos they see online and on television and in magazines, and we know this, but girls and guys alike are all susceptible to it. It isn’t just the ladies who are feeling the pressure. It’s everywhere, and if they aren’t adhering to the latest tweet or post from a major influencer (which is a fucking job now), they can expect to be rejected everywhere in their physical life.

That’s something I find annoying, and new. I didn’t have to deal with social media, so maybe that’s why I think things are so much worse now. Remember, I thought high schoolers were annoying before; there is nothing new about this. The part I find new, is the immediate broadcast of every feeling and reaction people have, before they have the opportunity to process the emotion. A minor tiff between friends can easily escalate to someone’s entire life being ruined, because social media allows us to share our feelings (about a person or event) amongst a wide net of people. The bigger the audience, the more people to share in that view, and the faster that immediate reaction turns into a group opinion. I’m not sure how I would have made it through high school, if I had to deal with social media. Knowing my own self, and my own mental health, I can honestly say I may have been one of those cases that didn’t make it out alive. It’s a scary thing to realize, especially when it’s mapped against my own daughter’s experience in this modern world.

Neither of my kids have social media, mostly for the reason that I don’t want them to be subject to the cruel judgment that is obviously the result of others’ insecurities. When they’re grown, they’ll have the choice to jump on the Social Media Bandwagon of Doom, but that will be then, and this is now, and I won’t allow it to work its corrosive magic on my offspring’s sweet minds. It’s not helpful. If my kids wanted insecurities projected onto them, they’ve satisfied that interest fully, by tormenting each other every single day. Getting into unfair biases on looks, body fat, talent, taste, and opinion, is something they can do without, for now. As I said, that’s a choice they’ll make for themselves, and hopefully once they see how fucked-up it is, they’ll just live in the real world and call it fucked-up enough.

I am fully aware that I am subjecting myself to criticism every day, and that I am also still vulnerable to unfair attacks, but it never occurred to me to care what others think, so until I’ve caused harm to someone, I’m not likely to apologize. Yes, this post is about Parenting and Pot, in the same sentiment, but I’d much rather be judged for making investments in my kids’ health and well-being while under the influence of cannabis, than to be that person who has nothing better to do than look for shit like that on the internet. I’m not beating my kids. They’re fed, they’re clean, they’re up-to-date on their education and current events. They don’t swear in my face, they don’t get physically violent, but they know not to be pushed around. They are accountable for their whereabouts, they aren’t partying (yet), they care about safety, and they are open about it. They care about humans as a species instead of a group of smaller sub-sets to be classified. They show love every day, as well as respect. And, super important, they see how plastic their generation is. They know how fake it is, and how much manipulation and hypnosis goes into growing up in the age of social media.

Not saying my kids are better than yours. They’re annoying too. But they’re well-adjusted enough to know they don’t want to be applauded into a room by attention-starved kids, who are really just priming the pump for reciprocated adulation. And that’s something I can feel good about, even without the influence of Mary Jane.

-jg

*Please note that I think students who participate in activities and get excited about school are absolutely wonderful. Students who could care less about the time and effort that is being given to them in the name of a free basic education: crap. Sorry. It’s my blog, and as much as I criticize schools, they’re still providing a service to your child, that you aren’t providing. (I know, homeschooling is a thing, but I can’t tell you how much I MYSELF ironically complain about the free school system, which is actually what I am talking about. No need to educate me on the fact that homeschooling is a thing.) I used to hate school, but I realize how valuable people’s time is, and teachers get paid bullshit to sit in a room with a whole bunch of annoying kids who aren’t all having their best day, day after day, after day after day. It’s hardly rewarding. The school I am speaking of in this story, is a wonderful school. The students work hard, and they have fun. Sure, there’s exclusion and constant evaluation and fake praise, but anyone in a thankless job such as -oh, i don’t know- a teacher, could tell you that there is a healthy dose of all that shit in any job. It doesn’t end after high school. This article was purely satirical, in the name of justifying the reasons I hated being in high school, and the reasons I hate seeing the weird unfair treatment teenagers bestow upon their peers now. I guess I’ll always be in high school, in my heart.

No FOMO, or A Summer Without Facebook

Just after el cinco de Mayo of this year, I closed my facebook account. I didn’t just deactivate it; I shut that bitch down for life. I remember that it was right after el cinco de Mayo, because one of the last things I posted was a story about hearing French people say the phrase “sink-o duh my-o” while telling each other their plans for the ‘holiday‘ upcoming. Not many people of Mexican ancestry up here, but everyone was celebrating, thinking they were being supportive of some sort of Mexican Independence.

El sigh.

For the final couple of weeks on the ‘book, I was simply going through the motions: waiting to close the account, because I had already gotten myself super amped up about it, and I just generally hate anticipation. When I decided I was leaving, I gave my friends and family 2 weeks to provide their contact information before I fell off  the planet facebook. I didn’t even want to stay on for those 2 weeks, and several times, I’d considered just closing it anyway and saying “fuck the 2 weeks!”

Not many people responded with their information, but they all seemed like they couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. Ones that said “please don’t go!” haven’t talked to me in the past 4 months, and those that said “don’t lose touch” have barely replied to my correspondence outside of facebook. (I guess those were threats, after all.) That’s not to say none of them have talked to me, but it’s clear that facebook makes you think you have a lot more friends than you actually have. On the contrary, you probably have a ton of *ahem* friends who are curious about what is going on in your life, but don’t want to get involved in any capacity, other than bystander. That’s more like it.

A lot of people who do see me in real life, have uttered the phrase “oh, you’re not on facebook, nevermind” to the point of exhaustion. Yes, I am the outlier, and thereby, require other forms of communication in order to stay in the proverbial loop, as it were. It doesn’t mean I am incapable of understanding what is happening to people, and can even be told/shown in the exact same manner as if I were a facebook onlooker. Simply show me, or tell me. Just like a computer. Or a kindergarten class. But, you know… me.

I used to share a lot of lengthy and opinionated posts (no, it’s true), which turned into this blog, and I used to share a lot of photos, which turned into google photo sharing, and I used to get bothered by shitty articles and sourceless stories, which turned into being bothered by my general news search. Some might say I’m making lateral moves that don’t mean anything. To them, I say, “Remember Cambridge Analytica?” (and then I disappear into a cloud).

I mean, sure, someone is probably still spying, but it ain’t facebook. I’m not taking quizzes and bumping polls and registering for this-or-that-side in some stupid faceoff about candy or the color of a dress… AKA Profiling Myself For Free. I don’t care to argue about my political beliefs anymore, or argue about whether I should be trying to understand the current racial atmosphere, or get into arguments about *anything* with people who probably aren’t even real, because facebook isn’t real to me. It doesn’t exist, that is, until I try to look up a business, and their only fucking web representation is their facebook page. Why would anyone limit themselves in such a way? My favorite blogger changed her platform to facebook posts, which devastates me, because now I don’t get to read it. In times like that, I want to miss facebook, but then instead I just don’t.

Another thing that I don’t understand anymore, is how the over-all organization of your life on the facebook platform – dates, concerts, baby showers, birthdays, political gatherings, holidays, educational institution details and dates, career specifics, area of location, photo documentation of your family’s upbringing – makes anything easier. I used to think it was convenient, but in reality, it’s just a nice compact version of everything about you, sold to the highest bidder. It’s a social media platform, not a government file (well, it is now), so why are people trying to get so intimate with everyone, that even the most distant connection is one worth letting into your innermost circle?

Matt has asked me several times if I miss facebook, or if I wish I had it back. The answer never changes, and I wouldn’t even be thinking about an answer if he wasn’t bringing it up, because I literally never think about it. I hear people say “Did you see on facebook…” and I immediately interject “nope” but then they start pressing to figure out what the problem is, like my computer malfunctioned somehow, or I just was “too busy for facebook” somehow, or facebook must have malfunctioned somehow because I hadn’t seen it yet.

Nothing is wrong. I haven’t seen it. I’ll never see it. I don’t want to see it now, or tomorrow. If you have a photo to show me, show me the fucking photo. Not the facebook post.

ANNNNND… And and and… I don’t want you to do that move where you “share your phone” in some ridiculous side move where I get to see you scrolling through your feed for 3 minutes in order to find the picture. I didn’t like that when I was on facebook, and I don’t like it when it’s your crap.

Not that your stuff is crap. I’m sure it’s great.

So, not having access to the many “good times” people have been checking into, or the books and drinks they’re enjoying, or the articles they thought were shareworthy, has given me some perspective on life. Perhaps a selfish perspective, but one that I’m willing to live with. I don’t have to worry about who likes my photo, or my rant. I don’t have to see other people praising the disgusting things I hate about society. I don’t have to wonder if I’m living a life that is better or worse than anyone else’s. I don’t feel as anxious, I have been much less skeptical because I can choose what news to read, instead of following a prompt based on my scrolling, and I don’t feel like I’m being constantly judged for what I say.

Which brings me to the most serious part of my fexit. I write things sometimes, and have opinions sometimes, that aren’t regarded as “awesome” by some people, and that’s something I am okay with. But other people aren’t okay with it, and they react. Truth is, there will always be people out there who don’t agree with what you’re saying, but social media has created a breeding ground for hate to flow freely and, seemingly, without consequence. Everyone can see what you’re doing and saying, far beyond when you have said it or done it, and just because 250 people have “liked” your comment, doesn’t mean you’re in good company. I’m sure there are a million pieces of shit strangers out there, who completely agree with what you’ve said, but the one person who takes offense to it, could be someone who you care about and truly affects your life. Facebook has created a platform for people to do and say things they wouldn’t do or say in real life, if faced with those same circumstances. Bravery can soak into your bones and make you feel invincible, but once you bring social intelligence into the physical interaction, I guarantee people will act completely different. People have already started acting different, but for the worse. The 2016 election kicked everything off, and facebook is the reason we have the president we have now, and thereby, many of the societal problems we have now.

Wait, don’t go.

If you disagree with that statement, I am going to bet my first child that you are still on facebook (and like it), but let’s say for shits and giggles that you aren’t.

You’re not on facebook, and you’re so very woke to the drawbacks and breach of privacy, and you read all about the Zuckerberg hearings, and you actually followed the election outside of facebook,… and you also happen to be of the opinion that the election was clean and fair, and not carried out via facebook. For this to be the case, you would have had to completely ignore the very word “facebook” in the news for the past 3 years, as well as any relayed information given by facebook account holders, even if you trust them.

I can tell you, to witness firsthand, the galvanizing of people who think the way the president does, was terrifying. These are people who, prior to the consequence-free zone of facebook, were ashamed to take their beliefs public, because the established collective morality tells us to be socially intelligent, and our brains tell us how to act (or not act) when in a physical confrontation. Well we can remove that stigma, because the president has glorified some of the most divisive and abusive behavior, and has reinforced the idea that you don’t have to ever answer to anybody, and you can take whatever you want. I watched hate groups form on facebook at an alarming rate, between 2014 and 2017, and people really stood behind the messages.

Also on facebook, as with other social platforms, if you express an opinion that goes against someone else’s, they will rake through your profile for something to hurt you with. Some people actually go after others, because their exchanges become so intense. And if they can’t get at your profile, they’ll google your name until they find something else. People have committed suicide because of facebook. People have lost their jobs. People have been stalked and killed. People have been separated from their children.  Imagine that in a real situation: when you’re having a heated argument, the person gets to start rifling through your things, and reading your journal, and going through your phone and computer, and screaming obscenities at you the whole while. They threaten you with physical harm, they threaten you with murder, threaten your family with murder, tear down your looks, your family, your job, your place in life, with no basis for it, other than the fact that you disagreed on ONE THING.

I act completely different now, and I feel like that’s a good thing. I know there were times when I let my reactions to someone else affect how I treated people around me. I think back on that, and I’m like “What?” People are still doing it right now on facebook. I also know there were times when I tried to connect an ordinary app to facebook, and it asked for access to my personal information, both on my computer and my phone, among other unreasonable requests. People are still accepting that request right now on facebook. I remember getting friend requests from people without names or faces that I recognized, and deciding I didn’t really want strangers having a full view into the details of my life. People are still happily and excitedly accepting those requests right now on facebook. A friend is a friend is a friend (even if they’re a bot or a spy).

Unfortunately, facebook has created a monster in that way. Vanity has taken over our interests, more so than anything in the past has, and has dumbed down our vision of what society is. We yearn for more approval, more friends, more likes, more requests to follow, more affirmation. Often, that is the only point behind a post. Nobody is dolling themselves up, taking a selfie, face-tuning themselves, and posting the photo cropped all to shit, unless they were looking for compliments. Next time, just show the fishing pole in the photo. It will bring less confusion. Or, how about #fishingnotfishing.

I’ve discovered the difference between those who call themselves my friend, and those who are just looking to call people ‘Friends’. The reason people send/accept friend requests, is so they can reach more people, because when you reach more people, they can see all of the great things you’re doing that are reflective of your real life I swear, or the totally selfless act you’re performing solely for someone else’s benefit and not for your own karma points no way, or that amazing update about your efficiency at doing laundry AND going to the gym AND tanning…all in the same day! How else would people you know (as well as those you don’t know, as well as the bot accounts, as well as the marketing spies) know about all of those highlights, if not for facebook?!

And the more people who get to see your perfectly groomed profile (instead of the nightmare you are in real life), the better of a person you actually are, and the more advantages you’ll have in life! You need to have thousands of friends, because that’s what regular people (not celebrities who make money by simply existing) normally have in life, right? A close circle of 2,500 friends you want knowing every detail about where you are, at all times, and what you’re doing, as well as who you’re with? Nobody has 2500 people who actually like them.

I was not serious about that last part. I know there are at least 2500 of you who really love me.

I’m not saying facebook is the only place this happens, but facebook is the only place in my world that ALL of this stuff happens. It’s a fucking app. An app that could ruin your world, and the worlds of those around you. An app that HAS ruined MANY lives. An app that shows us how deep into our vanity we can get, while stealing our identities behind our backs. How is that not ironic? We admire the outer shell so much, that we’re too distracted to notice as our insides get sucked out the back door.

That was a poor choice of wording. But you get the idea.

So, after 4-ish months of being free, the only question that still remains, is this: why would anyone ever go back to facebook? With everything that is already wrong with this world, it seems like walking away from an explosion, only to go back and bask in the nuclear winter. It makes no sense. If you are smart enough to walk away, and take control of your life, what makes you revert back? Is it like one of those brokeback mountain relationships, where you just wish you knew how to quit it? It would be interesting to see a brain scan on someone as they reactivate a new facebook account, after having ditched. I bet that would show some significant mid-brain activity, and probably not much else.

The obvious compartmentalizing of people, exposure of their information, hijacking of their time, and exploitation of their weaknesses, all at the willing hand of the victim, has convinced me that I want no part of it. There is no benefit to being on the platform, and even from the outside, it is clear how quickly and dramatically it is deteriorating the world. I officially have no FOMO.

-jg