Category Archives: linguistics

“Don’t Mind Him, He’s A Republican” shouldn’t be a thing

 

Guys. We gotta end attaching the connotations that someone is bad or stupid based on their political party. It’s gotta end now before it adds to any more reasons to develop unwarranted hate towards others. Stereotypes already exist and we need to question our biases NOW. Here’s a quick example: One of my big projects for my policy class was on the proposed borderwall. Not surprisingly my group took a liberal approach to the problem.  One part of the project was a critique from the class. One of my classmates said that maybe we should’ve looked more at the argument that the borderwall would save Americans money somehow (even though our project clarified this myth). Anyways, he had to critique us, and it wasn’t anything malicious or mean, he was just doing his work as a student. After the class, he and one of his friends and I were talking about my group’s presentation and his friend says, “Don’t mind his remark, he’s a Republican”. I was really confused by this and said I don’t care what anyone’s political party is and laughed it off.

Since then, my eyes have been really open to how our culture is using political parties as a way to insult others. And this is a problem for a few reasons.

First, we really only have two political parties (please let me know if you want to come over the Green side…), so grouping people into two narrow ideologies is stupid. People are way more complex than just Blue or Red.

pinkerton

if i’m being honest, it’s pinkerton all the way.

Second, trying to insult someone based on their political party isn’t going to get anything done. I realize that this is way simplifying it, but just because someone likes Pinkerton better than the Blue Album doesn’t mean that either person is better than the other. When we value ourselves based on the hierarchy of perceived “rightness” or “correctness” we devalue others who are no better than us. People who voted for Trump are not inherently evil. I know this can be hard to subscribe to when the liberal echo chambers of social media and sensationalized news often infers the opposite. But this is where I think it’s important to realize- this is someone else’s opinion, and even though I agree with them on a lot of things, I don’t have to hate, or think less than, the people who don’t agree with them.

Third, reducing people to political parties constricts growth. We need to be eager to have friends from all different ideologies in order to learn! So here’s what’s up. I like the Green Party because it is the party that most closely aligns with my personal values. I realize that a lot of people don’t pick political parties based on this- they are often just born into their political party and don’t question it. However, having open-hearted conversations with people about their own beliefs can be really enlightening for both parties (as long as both parties are willing to listen to the other’s side). Most the time when I talk to my friends who are democrats or republicans, I learn something from their point of view. And more often than not, my own personal beliefs and arguments are strengthened by listening to their side.

So yeah. Short and sweet. We gotta stop using “She probably voted for Trump” as a derogatory term. And guys, I am TOTALLY AWARE THAT I HAVE DONE THIS IN THE PAST AS WELL! But I’ve decided to recognize that this bias is stupid and now am conscious to challenge it whenever it might rear its ugly head. We are in a strange time. We have to work together instead of cutting each other part.

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A Quick Explanation of “Cuck”

First off- googling “‘cuck’ sucks” is nsfw. i learned that the hard way.

cuck robot

it’s just a fucking dumb word for dumb people

Okay. So the word “cuck” (short for “cuckservative”) has been floating around the internet for the past year. Or, at least, I only started noticing it in the past year and it was pretty much reserved to the subreddits of /r/pol and /r/thedonald until a few months ago. Recently, I’ve been seeing “cuck” used as an insult, or to insinuate an insult, on more mainstream internet platforms like Facebook and I’ve also heard it used IRL, pronounced in a bunch of different ways.

I’ve been interested in the etymology of the word “cuck” for a while now, especially because of the alt-right implications, and finally devoted a few hours of a stormy Sunday afternoon to dig in. And boy, oh boy, what a mess I found.

So, I’ve always associated “cuck” with the alt-right. Now listen, my knowledge of the alt right is limited to grabya-headlines about Richard Spencer getting punched in the face and from Chapo Trap House’s explanation of  things like Alpha-males and their riveting reading series of people like Mike Cernovich. If I had to describe the alt-right, I’d say they are a loosely organized far-right group, majorly male, and who aim for a society that furthers oppressive patriarchy for capitalistic gains that is ultimately rooted in hate/fear. Their values revolve around preserving the white man’s race, so hello racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and all the other different ways to categorize hating one group of people that are not white.

Okay, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get back to “cuck”. The word itself sounds like a bad word. It starts off with that hard c sound (see: the same sound in the beginning of “cunt”), and ends in the hard “ck” (see: the same sound at the end of “cock”). The mere pronunciation sounds like words that we already deem as offensive. What my mind first went to when I read “cuck” for the first times online was the sound a chicken would make- cuck cuck cuck! You know, like cucking. Turns out, I was kind of right. “Cuck” is a derivative from “cuckoo bird”… and “cuck” is a shortened form of “cuckold”… and a “cuckold”, by the definition of dictionary.com, is a husband to an unfaithful wife…Okay, wait, what? Okay, okay, okay, let’s recap- The cuckoo bird, which is a bird depicted as “crazy” in many different folklores from around the world, is the root term for “cuckold”, who is the husband of a wife that has sex with other men, which is the root for “cuck”, which is the insult that this whole blog post is about.

So apparently, cuckold is also a porn genre… I’m not well versed in porn genres, but cuckold porn seems to take different forms, all involving a man’s wife having sex. Apparently, a lot of cuckold porn includes the unfaithful white wife sleeping with a black man, which relates back to the inherent racism that exists in the alt-right. Some men in online communities have even professed that they are proud cuckolds- they enjoy watching their wife have sex with another person. So, this is where I am confused- this isn’t really that crazy of a fetish, right? It’s not really all that taboo at all. So here I think is where the alt-right tried to morph this term into an insult. When the alt-right uses “cuck” or “cuckservative” they are calling out men who don’t subscribe to their creed as weak. “These cucks can’t even take charge of their life enough to keep their wives from cheating!” The alt-right are simply appealing to men’s vulnerability about masculinity . “Cuck” is aimed specifically to offend men- to question their masculinity… because a cheating wife is emasculating (in the alt-right’s opinion). I hope that the men I know have a strong enough sense of self and understanding of human relationships that they wouldn’t feel less masculine because their wife was unfaithful. It also is in the favor of the alt-right that “cuck” has a harsh pronunciation and sounds like an offensive word.

For cuckold to exist, a power hierarchy in genders must exist- The implication of the alt-right’s definition of cuck is based on the idea that men should be stronger than women, that they should keep their women in line, and that they should be manly enough to control their life. They try to make the association between cuck and lack of autonomy, and this bias is completely sexist. The idea that a husbands wife is cheating on him with a black man, well that is just unacceptable, the worst-of-the-worst, in the alt-right’s eye! Ugh, what a bunch of sexist and racist fearful little boys.

The evolution of this word is interesting because of its rapid spread throughout online political culture and it’s ambiguous pejorative use.  Any man who is not an alt-right pledgee, is by default a cuck (and therefore a beta, but that’s a whole different blog post).  If the alt-right was actively trying to recruit members, then they would need to rethink their messaging- “cuck” doesn’t pacify men any more than the word “bitch” or “pussy” does. But, I don’t think the alt-right is actively trying to recruit members. Sure, they allow for prospective members to come to them, but they aren’t necessarily marketing themselves in the mainstream. So that’s actually really comforting, because the alt-right doesn’t have nearly as much power as the internet will lead you to believe. They are simply a group of men, who sit behind computer screens, and believe that they are genetically better than non-white men, and that their genetic traits need to be preserved.

I feel like “cuckservative” or “cuck” is just a really dumb and lazy insult. I mean, “cuck” in itself has no real meaning. At least “pussy” has a meaning.  As far as “pussy”‘s etymology, I wonder what came first- the vagina or the insult? Who knows.  I guess where insults come from doesn’t really matter, but my money’s on vagina (my theory is “pussycat” being used as a sexual innuendo dating back to like the Elvis days).

Alright. So what would I want someone to get from this blog post? That the word “cuck” is stupid, and it shouldn’t be given any greater power than the measly muscles it already has. “Cuck” exists in the alt-right universe, and we don’t need to acknowledge that realm of the digital milieu if we don’t want to. Using the word “cuck” just associates you with the alt-right losers and honestly has no real meaning other than the meaning that we give to it.

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The Beautiful Gift of Being Wrong

Holy fuck, 2017 is a lot crazier than ever expected. Our American government has become a futurist fuckery  that has a lot of people deep breathing in paper bags as we gather speed racing towards this universal feeling of annihilation anxiety. Life is way crazy right now and I think a lot of people I know out there are getting a bit worn out fighting the good fight, trying to stay woke and helping others to wake up. I know I am. It’s hard to stay motivated to keep learning, to keep helping, to keep loving, when reality is out of whack and it seems like society has given up on hope and change. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE, AM I RIGHT OR WHAT?

For real though, what a time to be alive. Our grandchildren will most likely question us about what it was like living through “The Great Global Unrest” or whatever colloquial name history deems our current experience. We are living at a point in time where technology is advancing at an exponential rate and where the means of digital information has given us a tool to connect and learn and experience life in a whole different way than ever even imagined, but also a tool that often acts as the gateway to mass confusion, panic, and negativity.

So, what can we do about all the garbage out there, floating and polluting the digital airwaves? How do we deal with people who seem to get off to making life worse for others? How do we interact with those who challenge our perspective?

yeah right, if i give him my hard earned cash he'll spend it on dope, so naw, fuck him.

Jeez, get a look at this guy. Like I’m gonna give my hard earned cash when he’ll just buy dope. Naw, I’ve been conditioned to believe this, so, fuck you dude. 

First, I think we have to keep in mind that people are reactionary by nature, and people are often irrational. Why do we automatically scoff off the homeless man asking for spare change? “How dare he ask for the dollars in my wallet that I worked 50 hours a week for, when he’ll just buy booze and drugs? I have my own to take care of! He isn’t worthy of my charity!” This is an example of a reactionary response, and I believe we’ve been pretty conditioned to think this way (not specifically about the homeless man example, but in general). God forgive we see this homeless man as an individual man, and not as a representative of how we have grown to think about homeless people. Conditioned societal experience often blocks us from questioning situations or thoughts which will hold us back from developing greater understandings of everything in our life and to default on our reactionary way of thinking.

I believe that we must constantly question ourselves and our own views on life in a Socratic way. We gotta check ourselves, and make sure that some of that smelly trash water negativity hasn’t oozed into our way of thinking and is blocking us from seeing the reality of life. We can’t rest on our laurels and believe that all we know is right. WE MUST BE OKAY WITH BEING WRONG.

One of the biggest arguments I’ve ever had in my life was about whether or not the melting of polar icecaps raises water levels. It ended up turning into a screaming match and is one of my memories that I look back at with real, deep shame and embarrassment. A lot of other repressed emotions came out in that argument, and the whole ordeal was an example of great humanistic irrationality. However, at the end I conceded that I was wrong, or at least had the potential to be wrong, and the argument ended. Admitting I was wrong wasn’t embarrassing, in fact, it was liberating! By admitting I was wrong, or that there may be a flaw in my understanding, I killed the discomfort that the argument made me feel. Holy Smokes! What an important lesson from a seemingly minor event! So, when we’re out there, fighting the good fight, getting really worked up about something we believe in, maybe it’s important to step back and ask, “is there potential for a flaw in my thinking here?” and “am I discussing my point in the most loving and kind way possible?”. I think these are really questions to practice asking yourself. Not only will it help you gain a little peace and objectivity, but will also help you strengthen your own understanding about the issue at hand and possibly experience a little deeper connection with your core values of life.

polar ice cap

i still have no clue what happens when the polar ice caps melt

When you realize that you are wrong about something, or that your understanding of an issue needs to change to be congruent with your overall understanding of life, it is not a defeat, but a ginormous win for all of the universe! The prize is a deeper understanding of the issue! Admitting you are wrong or some negative aspect of yourself needs to change is the pickaxe that chips away of that protective ego that makes us assholes in the first place. Relish in being wrong and in the celebrate the act of continuous learning! I really truly believe that the only way we are going to get through the next four years is with a gracious heart and examination of self, which will take a lot of concentration and commitment, but is far from an impossibility.

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Progressives and Political Correctness (or lack of)

on-political-correctness

lulz but 4real

I just watched a Dave Rubin YouTube video entitled” Why I Left the Left”,  uploaded via Prager University (just real quick, incase you’re not familiar- they aren’t a university, they’re a blog/media site that gave themselves the title of “university”). Rubin basically said progressives don’t have a progressive agenda because progressives support censorship via political correctness, they don’t believe in the exercise of free speech as demonstrated from such responses in Berkeley to Milo’s planned speech, and they don’t believe that laws should protect religious freedoms even though the absent of these laws violates religious people’s conscious and autonomy (ie: progressives believe no matter who comes in for a wedding cake, say Adam and Steve, Cathy’s Christian Cakes still has to make it even though Cathy believes that Adam and Steve are the devil). Oh, and the video also asserts that trigger warnings are bad and are for cry baby snowflakes who can’t deal with a little blood/angry words.

None of this is true. At least it isn’t true for myself and the “progressives” that I surround myself with. Videos like Rubin’s referenced here are dangerous because they’re spreading a message that generalizes a huge group of people into one school of thought that has defined, or perceived, limits (cough*propaganda*cough). If we group everyone together we lose individuality, which is where truly great ideas will come from. It boxes us all together, and that’s not real! To say that my ideas and outlook on life are the same as all progressives is wrong and a stupid thing to assert. Just because I’m a progressive doesn’t mean that I think we should be spending all of our money on saving baby seals and giving undocumented people mansions.  It gets especially dangerous when the issues/schools of thought a group of people are linked to isn’t even what they endorse or believe.

PROGRESSIVE TRUTH ALERT: Liberty and Social Justice aren’t Mutually Exclusive.

I don’t believe in political correctness in the sense of censorship. I believe people shouldn’t be bigots, and as a society we should value using language in a way that conveys the most truth. This is really important in the digital age where facts can easily get distorted through the rapidness of communication. The Pew Research Center has recently published their recent and updated findings about racial disparities in American society for Black History Month. In a time of much needed good news, Pew reports that there are more African Americans in Congress than ever before with 50 between the House (47) and Senate (3), comprising of 9% between the two chambers. The gap between blacks and whites for finishing high school is also narrowing, where 88% of African American’s have received their high school diploma in comparison with 93% of whites. So where does political correctness come into play here? It doesn’t. I’m stating facts with the absolute greatest objectivity possible. See, if I said something like “blacks aren’t as smart as whites and that’s why they don’t graduate as much”, then I would be spreading a falsehood and would fall on the dishonest side of the political correctness spectrum. If I said “n*ggers are poorer than whites” then I would be using politically incorrect language that falls very closely to the end of the ignorant, dishonest side of the PC spectrum- but hey, if we’re trying to get rid of PC language totally, then the above statement isn’t just politically incorrect, but fucking ignorant, bigoted, and racist.

It was surprisingly difficult to find any information about political correctness online and depending on what you read you will probably get a different understanding and interpretation of the term. I found comedians doing monologues about the topic and sarcastic articles about political correctness in action, but nothing direct and objective within the first five results of a basic google and YouTube search. The only results that did first appeared were additional PragerU and Dave Rubin videos about the topic, which is interesting that they are promoting political incorrectness the most. They seem to be advocating a dissent view on something that doesn’t really seem to be an issue (coughpropellingpropagandacough) for most open-minded people.

The biggest argument about political correctness that I can find is that it sugar coats language and that people need to stop being so soft and easily offended. And I agree with this argument- in my opinion, free speech is the most important American value and it is imperative that we speak in a way that best communicates our message. I don’t agree with ignorant language, however I don’t think it should be banned. I don’t think the argument is so much about being “politically correct” as much as I think it is not being an ignorant idiot. Derogatory speech like nigger, faggot, retard, and spic are not just “politically incorrect”, but are ignorant and conveys that the sender is a racist/bigot/sexist/whatever and gives the message a subtext of hate and unintelligence.

I am a progressive who strongly believes that freedom relies on the right of free speech. I think that Milo should have been able to speak at Berkeley, and that people who were destructive in order to ban his speech are just as dangerous as his rhetoric. It seems that a lot of objectors to political correctness think progressives only believe that speech should be restricted to what aligns with what is soft and comfortable. This couldn’t be further from the truth. See, progressive want progress, we want our society to evolve to a place where we can live our best lives together. Progress can only come from new ideas, and without the ability to think and say whatever you want, the chance of progress greatly diminishes.

cute-wedding-gay-top

awwwww ❤

And what about the issue of the gay wedding cakes? Should a bakery be forced to make a cake for Adam and Steve if they believe that it should be Adam and Eve? Yes. I mean, we rationalized slavery because of the biblical verses where God said it was cool to own other people as long as we treated them nicely. It is impossible for equality to exist if our society legally allows for inequality in any capacity.

So, what about places like Curves, the gym that is exclusively for women? A quintessential part of Curves’ mission is to provide a space where women feel comfortable while working out, and one way they are able to do this is by not allowing male members. I am very supportive of the underlying value of Curves’ mission- that women shouldn’t feel judged or uncomfortable when trying to be healthy- however, I do think it is wrong to exclude men from joining. I think that Curves should do everything that it can to continue programming and engaging in business decisions that are womencentric, but by principle, should not be exclusive to women.  Curves should be allowed to state right from the get-go that their message is to make women comfortable when working out and the main way this is possible is by not having a male presence. Men who are aware of this should honor this request, but no be obligated to it. They shouldn’t be banned from joining, but they should probably rethink their motivation for joining a woman-centered gym.

One other argument thrown in with the anti-political correctness ravings was about the allocation of tax money. It argued that nuns, who are against the use of contraceptions, should not have to pay taxes which fund organizations like Planned Parenthood. My response to this is: I am against war, but I still have to pay taxes for the senseless killings in the five places we’re actively bombing right now. I don’t like where my taxes are going, but I believe in democracy and representation of the people, and if I really don’t want my tax money to making white-phosphorous bombs, then I need to take a stand and work to change this.  

And real quick on trigger warnings- I always thought they were kind of stupid until very recently. I’ve had knee-jerk reactions to seeing posts online that say things like: “TW: rape culture/assault” followed by a paragraph about an interaction the poster had last night with a drunk stranger who lifted her skirt in a bar. I’ve often read these things and thought, that’s not that crazy that it needs a disclaimer, right? We shouldn’t be that sensitive and people should be able to read about that encounter the girl posted without feeling some sort of way, right?

Ehh, not really. Let me use a real example from last week that ended in the realization of “oh shit, this is why trigger warnings aren’t stupid”. I was scrolling through my facebook feed, procrastinating doing work, and stopped when I saw a friend, who normally posts silly videos about dogs or equally mindless shit, posted a video that lacked description, but looked intriguing enough for whatever reason. At first I wasn’t sure what I was watching, and the video just seemed like a bunch of people watching a cop trying to help a woman stand up who was hunched over. I immediately thought that maybe the woman was guarding a puppy or something innocent, but was shocked into reality after about 10 seconds when I recognized that the woman was overdosing on what I assume to be heroin. I was not ready, nor expecting, to see an active overdose and I’d be lying if I said the video didn’t shake me up. I have had the unfortunate opportunity of witnessing people overdose on drugs before, and it is something that I prefer not to watch. If I had I known that the video was of an overdose, I simply would have just kept scrolling without giving it a second thought.  However, since there was no description, let alone a trigger warning, I endured an emotional moment that I would have preferred to do without.  So even though this video probably didn’t bother most people who watched it, having a trigger warning would have been helpful for the ones like me who would prefer not to see that. This goes for people who have unresolved trauma from sexual assault and have an emotion reaction to reading about rape or sexual assault online. Trigger warnings aren’t so snowflakes feel safe, it’s so real people don’t have to look at shit that might be emotionally disturbing, that’s all.

So all in all, progressives, at least progressives like myself, value liberty and free speech just as much as the next person. Placing people in boxes ends conversations before they can begin and stifles creativity, which is integral for the evolution of society to a more just and loving world.

 

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Digital Personalites vs Real Life

[Editing this article, I noticed that I generalize a lot. I make assumptions and say things like “I think people think that…” or “a lot of people view others this way…”. I don’t know if these generalizations are true. However, I felt that, if I think like this, that others probably do too. This post, along with all of my blog posts, area based off my own observations in life. I may be completely wrong about everything in this post; perhaps it is all just a reflection of myself… but that’s for another article.]

There are the “Album Lists of Your High School Years” statuses going around on Facebook, and I really enjoy reading them. I like seeing the albums that my friends would define as the most influential during their adolescent years, and I liked posting my own and replying to the comments left by friends. Last night was a snowed in, cozy Saturday night, and I contently spent the night coloring, listening to the albums of my youth, yogaing, and checking in on facebook every hour or so to respond to notifications about these lists. And I had a great night! It was a lot of fun!

digital-personalities

I promise I’m not a dog.

I enjoy using social media, and like most aspects of it. I also kind of think that social media is a new type of art, a genre we don’t yet have a name for, in that it can be used as a way to express ourselves and connect with others, and that’s great! However, I think it’s important to keep in mind that social media is an activity. It’s something to do for fun, its something akin to reading, writing, playing an instrument, painting, playing solitare, whatever.

So here’s where I see the problem: I believe a lot of people forget that social media is an activity. I think a lot of people view other people’s social media presence and internet usage as an extension of those people- That their social media usage isn’t something that they are doing, it is a part of who they are. And it is through our social media usage and internet presence, that our digital personalities are created and live.

Ok. Let me share an example of social media defining people. There is this woman who I am friends with on social media platforms. She posts shit that I like (most of the time, I actually ❤ it). And she likes (and <3s) a lot of my posts. We have a few mutual friends in common, and she always seemed like a cool chick. I recently met her in real life, and she sucked. She was rude to my friend, and was not the person who I expected her to be. I was so surprised! I like her digital personality a lot more than I like her actual personality… so, what are the implications of this?

The biggest problem I see with forgetting that digital personalities are not real, is that we judge people before we even know them in real life. We think because someone likes Feminist Pages and endorse #InsertWhatevereHere organizations, then they probably embody the aspects of those pages and things in real life. And depending on how they use the internet (the statuses say that they write, who they retweeet, what pictures they post), most believe that this person is probably similar to their online personality in real life. And this, like my example above, is not true. All digital personalities and true personalities are two different things, regardless of how similar they may seem.

In fact, how I view someone online is made up in my own mind. How I read a status, the tone of voice that I read in my head of a person, is what forms my opinion of them. And this can easily lead to dangerous miscommunication.

Also, there’s the chance of “transference” happening when interacting with people on the internet. I’m thinking of the social work definition of transference, which is when a client is reminded of someone else in their life by the counselor, and then sees the counselor with a tint of the other person’s personality or likeness- which is not who the counselor is. So, another example. Say that Johnny looks at Kim’s profile online. They don’t know each other personally, but Johnny sees that Kim likes “Save The Everglades” page. Johnny’s friend from high school’s sister, Catherine, also likes this page.  Catherine always rubbed Johnny the same way because she was aggressive about her views on environmentalism. Because of this, Johnny already has an idea about Kim, and associates her with Catherine. In reality, Kim just liked the page because her friend asked her to, so the page would get more likes. Johnny doesn’t know this, and decides to not be friends with her online, or in real life, because he doesn’t like how he perceives her digital personality.

This example might seem extreme, but what about when you get a friend request from someone you don’t know personally and they shared a pro-Trump status on their page. Are you going to not judge this person as being a Trump supporter, and then automatically associate them with how you feel about other people who are diehard pro-Trumpers? I’m honestly asking. I can confess that I am guilty of making such judgments.

How about people who aren’t good at using social media? Their digital personalities are most likely not going to be good representations of their actual personalities. What about the person who might not be the best writer or speller? If they use the wrong grammer, do we think they are stupid? This is an easy example, and I’m sure you can think of many more that carry greater weight.

How about the people who seem like they are really good at using social media? Their endless selfies have kabillions of likes, their statues are well thought out, and their videos charming. Is their life really great? Probably not. But that doesn’t weaken their digital personality’s influence on all that they touch.

I’m not sure exactly how my social media/online digital personality is interpreted by people, and that can make me feel a little weary at times. Because I want people to look at my social media usage and think that this I something that I do, not what I am. I also need to be aware that how people view my digital personality is unique to them. I don’t want people to read my posts in a tone of voice that is sarcastic, condescending, or rude, because that’s not the tone of voice I use to write them. However, someone who doesn’t know me and has an opinion of me based on what they see of me online may believe that I am rude, sarcastic, and condescending. And that sucks, man, because its not real.

So I guess the question is, are you aware of your digital personality? And do you care? I care about mine and hope its as similar to my real personality as possible. But it’s still not actually me, just like how I view you online is not actually you. 

facebook-me-real-me

I hope for my digital personality to be as close to my real personality as possible.

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Narrative Theory in our Political Context

Ok, shit,  guys, we need a plan. I have let myself sit the past few weeks in this sad, heavy, cold, quiet panic of our encroaching doom (T-minus 30 days until inauguration), and I need to jump the fuck out of this thinking. Okay, okay, here’s a quick breakdown of how I think about life: I think there are only two emotions: fear and love, and love > fear. Everything boils down to these two things. And because of the internet, because of widespread and easy communication, it’s much easier to let our thoughts be influenced by others. So, I have let myself become fearful, because the collective feels fearful, the news I read, the people I surround myself with, also have a type of fear- which is completely understandable. I’ve been living with fear the past two years. But now I realize that I need to shift my heart and brain towards love. That is the answer.

I need to look to the future with a  sense of belief that the future will be AMAZING. That 2017 will be a great year. Because here’s the deal, we have one life, so I better believe that this life is going to be the best life possible. It’s work for me to think like this, and I need to practice thinking about everything this way.  I don’t know if there’s “God”, and I doubt that any religious version of a deity exists, but I think there’s something, even if it’s just little tiny balls of energy sperming around the universe for eternity.

So, the future is coming no matter what we do. We can’t go back in time. This is what we have: A really crazy person with only interests of corporate greed has guided his entire life, who has been filling his cabinet with the worst of the worst, what’s proving to be a hard brick-red Congress, and likely having a conservative supreme court. So, the opposition is in charge of everything and the hand hasn’t been this heavy in decades. This is not how our democracy is supposed to work out. We are supposed to have checks and balances.

So, narrative theory, or “narratology” as fancy scholars like to refer to it. I wasn’t familiar with narrative theory until this past semester in school, where my practice class was about using different theoretical perspectives and figuring out what my own personal lens is (feminist and narrative). Ok, so narrative theory asserts that people have an understanding of their life based on their own personal experiences. How they understand these experiences is what creates the “life story” of the person, and thus influences their thinking and understanding of life and future events.

We get so stuck in these narratives that we believe that it’s all true. For instance, and I hope he doesn’t get mad at me for using this example, but my father recently retired. This has been difficult for him, as it is for most people who have spent their life working and now have that huge part of their life missing. He was talking to me the other day and said that he felt bad because he knew he always imagined fly fishing after he retired, but the river levels have been too low for him to go fly fishing. So I brought up the idea of, “what if you never thought about fly fishing? What if that wasn’t what you had planned your whole life to do after you retire? What would you do then?” and this was a WHOLE brand new thought. He was so caught up in his self-prescribed understanding of what his life would be, that it was like a door opening when he was able to think about the possibility of opening his mind to doing something else- to changing his narrative.

Ok, so narratives are powerful. I have seen the word “narrative” used a billion times during the past year to describe political events. What someone’s narrative is, influences how others to think about them. We love underdogs. So, we think about Bernie Sander’s narrative, and how he worked so hard to become a Senator and spark up this political revolution that is gathering kinetic energy, waiting to explode. This narrative helped people connect with him, because we often judge people by their narrative.

We love good stories. We love a good movie with a great plot, with great character development, that we can relate to, even if it’s just relating on the surface value and of being empathetic. We can’t really relate to Trump’s narrative because it hasn’t been set out for us. But Trump used his voter base’s narratives. He listened to what they had going on and used it to reinforce their thinking. In many places, including towns in Northeastern PA, the consensus is that jobs have been shipped overseas, and that “true” American’s aren’t gaining in life because of illegal immigrants. Trump helped reinforce this narrative by running a campaign that promised to fix these things. He didn’t help these people understand a different narrative, one that is more honest towards the situation. He didn’t come out and say that companies are moving overseas because of trade deals and that illegal immigrants either work for wages that most people wouldn’t get out of bed for and that illegals don’t have any rights (ie to welfare, etc) in America. It is much easier for Trump to reinforce a false narrative than try to expose an honest one. So in this lack of truth, it is easier to appeal to heartstrings than the brain.

Another good example of narrative theory is the Joe Biden-Barack Obama-BFF memes. I love these memes so much. I love that it seems like Biden and Obama are legit best friends forever and that Joe is a hapless dude who acts as the protector little miniature watchdog for Obama. I love thinking about Biden and Obama like this. But you know what, it’s probably not true. And this narrative only allows us to think about Biden and Obama as good pals, and that’s honorable, and thus their candidacy must be honorable too. It leaves little room for doubt or for exploring what an alternative narrative might be. Although I think it is a form of propaganda, I do love a good Biden-Obama meme.

biden-obama-great

love it

Alright, I’m not sure if this makes much sense, but it’s something that’s been on my mind the past few months, and I figured I’d try my best to explain how I have been noticing narrative theory used in a way to influence people’s understanding of politics, current affairs, and past actions done by our government.  Narratives are formed in the mind, but can be reinforced by using both love or fear. It just depends on how we want to view them.

bidenobama

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Polarized Thinking is destroying our potential to have independent thought

cat vs. dog

You’re Either a Dog or a Cat

I have been sick for two weeks. I’m pretty such my blood at this point is made up of at least 4% Robitussin. I hope this makes sense to people other than myself and my dog:

We vs. They

The need for distinction and separation in a country that once prided itself on inclusiveness is pulling apart America.

Our way of thinking is becoming minimalized, or at least I notice mine often being compromised. By default, we want things to be clean and simple. We want easy choices. And when there are only two choices to choose from, well making a decision that involves the most good isn’t so hard. I relate this to being a vegetarian in a steak house. I never have to worry about what I’m going to get to eat and never regret what I order, because more than likely there will only be one salad that I can have off the whole menu. Case closed.

The way of making choices based on polarized answers has taken over American politics. Things must fit into nominal categories, and for many things there are only two categories to choose from- The We or The They. You either are or you aren’t. There is no other answer. And this way of thinking is dangerous. It is “in-the-box” thinking. It is standardized test thinking. It is biased thinking that we start accepting as truth.

Donald Trump is a perfect example of someone who strives off people who have been beatened down by the media and other social control measures that promotes polarized thinking as the only way. For instance, it’s either you are part of the whole, the WE, that wants the country to be better, or you are part of the THEY that doesn’t care about the country.  There is no middle ground. And to question why there is no middle ground puts you into the THEY category, because, well, it’s not the WE. You either are a cool kid, or you are not. And you’ll pay the price for the not.

Poloarized thinking is everywhere. It is conveyed through our daily language. And I’m guilty of thinking in polarized terms, and using it as language and definitions as well: I am LEFT, not Right. I am a Woman, not a Man. I am White, not Black. I am Middle Class, not Upper Class. As much as I allow myself to be something, I define myself as NOT being something. Follow? I am left, therefore I also am not right. I am a woman, therefore there is no way I can be a man. I am white, therefore I cannot be black.

But I am starting to challenge this way of thinking because of its exclusitivity, and I don’t believe our minds are so black and white that we can only define ourselves in concrete terms. For instance, I am a woman, but can’t I just be a person? (This is where I get annoyed with the term “feminism” because I think it’s too much of a socially constructed word that turns people off more than it would if it was something more inclusive like “everyoneism”.) Anyways, I digress. Can’t we just say that we are a person? I’m a progressive, but I’m really just a person made up of a lot of components that can’t be separated into easy categories.

We Vs. They makes fighting for what you think is right easier. Because I think that we should have a reformed immigration system makes it easier for me to be part of the WE that isn’t the THEY. And the THEY is wrong. No matter what their view is, they are wrong. Which isn’t the correct way to think. There are many different reasons why people are against immigration reform, but by grouping them all together as my opposition, I am not open to expanding my mind of why. Dig it?

The We vs. They way of thinking is pulling our country apart. Trayvon Martin was when I first started noticing the media’s revitalization of binary way of thought. Even if white people, like myself, consider themselves allies with black people and organizations such as BLM, we still have this idea that we aren’t fully emerged BECAUSE it’s black vs. white. And since I am White, I therefore am not Black, and therefore cannot feel fully the injustices that black people feel when a black person is killed for no reason by a police officer. But I don’t know if I agree with this. I don’t have the history in my genes of oppression, but I do by default because I am an American citizen. And therefore I have to believe, that ultimately there is an “us”. And it’s just not letting terms define what we are and what we are not. It’s making sure we are using our voice and standing up for what is the greater good, no matter how complicated it may be.

 

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Dumb White Girl and My Use of Ignorant Language

Yesterday I referred out loud about a song idea of mine as being “gay” in front of my band mates. This is a term that I ignorantly use all too often. As soon as it came out of my mouth I automatically wish I could suck it back in. No one called me out on it, and I didn’t apologize, although I immediately realized that I was wrong to use such vocabulary in a derogatory way.

I’d like to pretend that this was an isolated incident, that I have never used the term “gay”, or any other label, as having negative connotations, but such would be a blatant lie. I have described things in a negative matter as “gay” and have not given it second thought.  I always try to be aware of the garbage that often spews from my mouth but a lot of the times I don’t do such a great job at this. I am still very much guilty of using offensive language, even if I am recognizing my ignorance.

Sometimes I say really stupid shit.

Sometimes I say really stupid shit.

I know I have in the past excused myself from such terms in explaining that they don’t matter. IE: “It’s just a term, I don’t mean any harm”, which consciously is true- I don’t mean any harm. However, the hate, and I believe that it is hate, that is built into words to describe things in a negative way, still is very harmful. I have used the term “gay” in a derogatory way in front of gay friends and straight friends and have brushed it off, without even allowing myself to think how this is offensive to them. When someone refers to something as being “gay” in front of me, I often will feel offended and I am a straight woman. So what makes it different for me to use such disgusting language?

The fact that I have grown up as a privileged white woman probably has something to do with this. I have never really been wounded by a sharp tongue. It’s not like anyone uses the term “white 20-something female” as a way to describe something in a bad way or as a derogatory term. The history that has evolved the word “gay” into a negative adjective has come from the negativity that the term was used to describe gay people. The same with words like “junkie” or “retarded” or “jew” or “nigger”. There is such power behind these words, and to dismiss this is to dismiss the history that has come from these words. 

Now, I don’t think of myself as being politically correct, but perhaps I am more than I’d like to admit. I think a world where we can call  African Americans, Anglo Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, Pakistani Americans, etc. as just “Americans”. I know this idea is a long way off, and perhaps there is an issue of generalization as suppressing cultural history, but I think it would make causal conversation easier. So I don’t know. All I can say is that I need to watch myself and make sure that I am aware of the underlying hate and offense that come with certain terms. So if I could go back last night and talk about my song idea, well, it was fucking stupid.

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