The Timeless Art of Debate

The timeless art of debate. At its greatest, it is a showcase of two opposing views finding mutual respect for each other’s perspectives and in the end each walks away not only swelling with pride at the affirmation of their own beliefs, but able to further understand the rationale behind their opponents differing opinions. At its worst, people call each other doody-head and stick their tongues out whenever they hear something they don’t agree with.

Oh, how I wish that second half wasn’t true. Sadly, even though that juvenile behavior is a shameful thing to see displayed amongst first graders, we adults haven’t evolved much past that either. Sure we gussy it up some and cover it in anger, but that’s all just smoke and mirrors to the reality that when we don’t get our way, some of us become assholes.

I’ve recently been noticing more and more that someone, let’s call him Joey, will start a conversation (either in person or on Facebook — that wonderful venue for open discussion) that promotes an idea that differs from what someone else, let’s call her Monica (I may have watched some Friends re-runs recently, don’t judge), believes. The back and forth starts and for some reason instead of staying civil, it turns into an all-out argument where both Joey and Monica are getting defensive and trying to cut down each other’s arguments by calling them unsubstantiated. Why can’t we all seem to remember that, hey, it’s FINE if someone believes something different from you? It’s not the end of the world people and I hate to break it to you, but what you believe is not always the only right answer.

Now, if we’re talking about a fact-based argument then it gets a little murkier, but it still boils down to the same thing: belief. Joey can substantiate his viewpoint and provide BBC links and NPR interviews and whatnot, but if it’s something Monica really doesn’t want to believe then all that “proof” doesn’t mean anything. She’ll just find her own proof or take the ace from her sleeve and point out that not everything that is printed is actually true (shocking, I know) and then we’re right at the beginning again.

I can speak from personal experience. Recently I was giving someone a little industry info that’s been gathered from years of extensive research, investigations and inside information. You know, the things I’ve seen with my own two eyes and talked about with people who were actually on-site. But I was re-buffed, doubted, and scoffed at because what I was saying hadn’t been published in the paper. “How can it be true if it’s not in the newspaper?” was the look I got in return.  Because the newspapers didn’t pick up the story it might as well have been a fairy tale.

Facts are still facts even though they don’t show up in the press. A tree still makes a sound when it falls and no one’s around to hear it.

Since when does public accessibility mean that something must be true? That’s like saying that just because Katherine Heigl has been in movies she must be a good actress. Visibility should not automatically bestow validity. Watch an episode of Friday Night Lights or Almost Human and try to tell me that Minka Kelly can act. Sure, she’s on screen but that doesn’t mean jack. Just because something can be seen doesn’t mean it should automatically be believed. Especially when dealing with the press.

So these debates keep driving and driving and driving themselves towards a cliff where both sides shut off from hearing what the other has to say. That’s when posts get deleted or comments dismissed that have anything whatsoever to do with a perspective that differs. It’s just so incredibly frustrating to talk to people who are hunkered down in their ideals and resist taking the blinders off.

Let’s really think about that metaphor. What if you actually had blinders on that only allowed you to see what’s directly in front of you? Sure, you may like what you see so why change? I get that. But think about how much you’d be missing without any peripheral vision. It’s like our mental peripheral vision is slowly going and we need to get it back before our tunnel vision steers us in the wrong direction.

nifty argument techniques

nifty argument techniques from the ever hilarious Dave Barry — sadly too many people take these ideas to heart

FB Cleavage (Or with friends like these, who needs enemies)

Riddle me this: What would you do if you were clowning around on the internet, maybe visiting the very popular site Reddit, and saw a picture of yourself posted with lewd comments about you from strangers across the country? The picture itself may not be lewd. It might be a shot of when you were at a baseball game wearing a t-shirt of your favorite team. All that you know is that you did not put that picture on the site and you do not know any of the people who have leered at it. Spoilers: this site gets all of its material from so-called “friends” on Facebook.

Sounds like make-believe, right? You shouldn’t have to worry about anything like that happening because, c’mon, has our society really sunk that low? Oh wait, yes, yes it has. The Huffington Post wrote a report a while back (but I just happened about it recently) about a new page on Reddit called “Facebook Cleavage.”  Its creepiness is very simple. As the name implies it’s a page where anyone with Internet access can view women – most of whom are sporting  various degrees of cleavage or have on short shorts, are maybe just have pigtails, or possibly wearing roller skates, all of the strange and sometimes incomprehensible tropes that men supposedly find desirable – at their leisure and sans consequence. Oh, but it gets better.

These women are not models. Or at least that appears to be the primary goal of the site. I’d venture to say that most of them (upwards of 99.9% of them) don’t even have a clue that their picture is even on this page. How gross is that? What makes it even worse is that if you go to the site you won’t be inundated by images of models laying seductively on the beach in string bikinis or bending over the hood of a car with garden hoses in their hands. No, these are just regular pictures of women on vacation, taking selfies, partying with friends, in a restaurant, wherever. Yes, they’re sexy.  That’s the point.

In short, this page only exists to objectify women who, in all likelihood, don’t even know their photos are on the site. And before you even go there — no, it’s not the woman’s fault for posting a photo of herself in a bikini or taking a selfie shot that exposes her cleavage or god forbid that photo of her and her friends at a party.  It’s one thing when a woman decides to post a photo to her Facebook wall. That’s her choice.  It certainly doesn’t mean anyone and everyone should be able to then steal it and post it willy-nilly wherever they want. But that’s exactly what’s happening.  What I can only assume are mostly guys are now stealing those photos and plastering them on a page meant only to soothe voyeuristic tendencies.

Obviously the pictures can only be posted by friends of the girls (or whoever might be privy to their Facebook timeline), but what kind of “friend” does this? Okay, so did I mention the creepy factor behind this whole venture? If not, now is a good time to bring up the “ick” factor of having these kinds of friends.

The page, in a terribly transparent attempt at decency, has a set of five rules but even that goes down in flames pretty quickly. They are as follows:

1. Find sexy pictures of your hot Facebook friends. Upload the pictures to imgur.com, and submit them here.

2. Doesn’t have to be cleavage. Any sexy pic will do.

3. Don’t post pics that don’t come from Facebook. You will be banned.

4. Only post people of age. Underage posts will be removed. And user banned. Report underage posts to the mods.

5. Please don’t mention real names.

Notice that none of these rules have anything whatsoever to do with getting permission from the girl before you post. Apparently, that’s not anything to be concerned about. I mean really, why would it be?

I have no idea how much traffic this page gets (I’m sure it’s a lot), but just the mere fact that it exists is enough to make me shake my head.  And again, it really makes me wonder just what kind of person would look at their friend’s Facebook photos and decide, “Hey, I know! I’ll steal this private photo of my friend and post it for everyone on the internet to see and ogle!”  With friends like that, who the hell needs enemies?

E-Voyeurism at its Best…or Rather, Worst?

Sorry folks, time for a bit of a rant.  But hey, it has been a while! Soooo, this entry is about an issue that has been annoying me for some time now.  Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I’m behind the times (See? I admit it!).  But back in the good ol’ days voyeurs (a.k.a. creepers) had to put in some real elbow grease to leer over the private lives of others. There was no Facebook, no Google Images, no online profiles, smart searches, or mutual friends. If a voyeur wanted to drool over some stranger, they had to break out a Kodak Instamatic, hide in some bushes, and wait til the right moment. Not so much anymore.  It’s actually become disgustingly easy to accomplish.

I understand that online “stalking” is a common if not accepted new activity. Employers search for job applicants to make sure their FB page doesn’t have pictures of them doing body shots in Cabo or twerking at a wet t-shirt contest. They have to cover the company’s bottom line and that’s understandable. Or if a woman tells her friend she’s going out on an OKCupid date and can’t decide if the guy is a possible creep or not. That friend can do some online investigative work to see if the DJ with the soul patch is good people or a potential future “person of interest” in a sexual misconduct investigation.

So for research purposes the online check-up of people has its functions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. This is the internet in case you’ve forgotten. This is the home of trolls, creepers, and shady individuals. In my opinion the stalking has simply gone too far. I’ve come to see just how far some men will go to check out pictures that they really have no business putting so much work into uncovering.

I’m not talking about slowly scrolling through pictures of celebrities. Men are visual creatures and lusting over a low-cut top Scarlett Johansson just wore on the red carpet I can understand, especially if it’s done discreetly and in moderation. It’s just who men are. It’s in their wonderfully twisted DNA. What I’m more concerned about is when men go on Facebook to check out friends of their friends or their family member’s friend, or even their friends’ wives in order to feed their lecherous appetite.

Like, as an example, Random Creepy Guy is at his son’s college graduation where he meets his son’s 20-year old bottle blonde girlfriend. When Creepy Guy gets home he goes on FB, goes to his son’s page, clicks on the girlfriend’s page, checks out whatever photos he can (oh, bikini pics with sorority sisters over spring break!), then starts clicking on the pages of her friends to see what pictures they might have public for his viewing. So in the end he’s feeding on images of strangers that he only found through a loose connection. They’re not Victoria’s Secret models who are paid to have people they don’t know look at them. And they’re not posting lewd photos that one would expect to garner attention. They’re just regular women. If you told them that a man they never met searched for them online and was checking out that shot of them in a pair of jean shorts and spaghetti strap pink top that was snapped at their nephew’s birthday party, wouldn’t that just be flat-out weird?

I’m a fan of moderation in just about everything. Diet, drinking, cursing…whatever. Even porn I can sort of understand since the “actors” (hahahaha) know they’ll be watched and are compensated for it. But this ogling of real-life strangers using the internet as a tool, I can’t condone any of it, especially after seeing how addicted some men can get to the salacious practice. They even go so far as to find out the name of a neighbor so they can eventually have access to their girlfriend’s Facebook information. A fake community friendship all with the strategic purpose of possibly leering at photos of a pretty girl who visits next door.

And it doesn’t stop there either. If Facebook doesn’t automatically give a treasure trove of tight-shirt pics, I’ve seen men up the ante quite considerably. Going through Advanced Searches. Name searches on Google.  Possibly going to the person’s alma mater’s page to gain info on their new married name or place of employment. Some men go through an exhaustive amount of time and energy scouring the internet to find any morsel of information on the pretty girl walking her dog down the street and might be named Betty.

Imagine what they might accomplish if they put that energy elsewhere!

I’m not naïve. I realize that Facebook is inherently a voyeuristic activity…but to me, since these are real people, wives of friends, friends of family members, and friends of friends, this degree of voyeurism borders on being flat-out perverse. I mean, I wonder if they’d have that same mind-set (of it being okay) if their viewing pleasures were public?

I’m certainly not advocating for voyeurs to go back to taking Polaroids of random girls at concerts (something else I’ve seen done which, yup, still creepy).  I see the allure of Facebook stalking because it is just so damn easy, but I wish these people would just consider more seriously what they’re doing. It’s the equivalent of hunkering down in the nook of a tree at midnight to see into someone’s bedroom. Just because it’s the internet (so you don’t have to don that black ski mask and wear latex gloves) doesn’t make it alright.

creeper

God of Cookery

Recent meme I saw on Facebook: “I tried cooking something from scratch and ended up summoning a demon.” God, I wish I had thought up that statement because I swear that exact thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion in recent years. I’ve come to find that cooking is not like riding a bike. You can definitely forget.

I used to be good. I have memories of when the things I pulled out of the oven were met with mmmmms instead of uggggggghs. This was another lifetime ago, though. A time before I had a family who wasn’t willing to try something new or eat something different. If it’s not a slab of beef, hot dogs, or chicken nuggets, they’re not having it. Any of it. And it has seriously destroyed my cooking game.

I used to come up with crazy concoctions on my own or take notes from gourmet cooking shows (to be put to good use at a later date). There I’d be in the kitchen, like a culinary wizard mixing up some great elixir. I’d toss in dashes of paprika, sprinkle in finely minced basil leaves, and have all the burners blasting under bubbling cauldrons or sizzling pans. Now, after years of inactivity in the creative department of the kitchen, I’ve lost the touch. I’ve tried dusting off the cooking bike and have fallen flat on my face numerous times. No matter how much care I put into it, everything I try (and I stress the word try) to make comes out mushy and burnt when it’s supposed to be firm and, well, not burnt. The spice levels are always out of whack. The consistency wavers. You name it and it’s off.

Thankfully no demons from hell have actually popped out due to one of the abominations I’ve created, although that’s probably not far off unless I get my chef chops back. Until then I’ll simply have to deal with the demons I already have in my house who are currently pounding the table for Kraft Mac n’ Cheese.

 

cooking from scratch pic

Facebook Cliques

Sometimes I feel like none us of have ever actually left high school. The same lunchroom politics that influenced our “coolness” junior and senior year are the exact same ones that still come out in many social situations to this day. Take Facebook for instance. It’s just one big online lunchroom. The cliques that have organically developed as we all get more and more intertwined with the social media bazaar seem much like the groups I would see in my high school cafeteria when I tried to find the “correct” spot to sit and enjoy my PB&J.

At one table would be the bullies, the jocks, the guys who thought life will always be that awesome, that they’d always be revered as a god amongst men, and are now stuck in a suburban hell of their own making desperately pining to be 17 again, which is pretty sad when I sit and think about it. These are the hyper-aggressive people on Facebook that attack others by writing uncalled for things on their walls condemning their political views, religious stances, or just about anything they can grasp onto that will demean their “friend” and puff up their own chest a bit more as they hope for a fleeting whiff of the bygone glory days.

Then you have the gossip mongers. Remember them in high school? The girls who would whisper and giggle in the hallway as they played their own game of telephone to spread the news about who made out with who in which basement the night before (but don’t tell anyone because if his girlfriend found out there’d be drama…which they all secretly want of course). On FB these are the ones who post inappropriate pictures of others or call out people unnecessarily. Or they gather in their little clutch to discuss what Sally was wearing in that awful profile pic…and just what was she thinking with that hairstyle!  Or how Johnny’s new business that he just posted about isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (or so they heard) even though they have no idea what it is that Johnny even does for a living. They’ll post (and tag) someone in a photo from a casino night knowing that the person in the picture told their significant other they were going camping for the weekend. They set down the powder keg, light the fuse, then sit back and enjoy the fireworks show of their own creation. I mean seriously, you’d never guess these were grown-ups.

Of course not everyone is stirring up trouble on Facebook. You have the do-gooder clique as well. In high school these would be the people who would come by your lunch table asking you to sign up for a car wash on Saturday morning to raise money for the library restoration or volunteer to clean up the cigarette butts and broken bottles under the football bleachers or help out at the animal shelter….future great advocates.  And the news they now spread on Facebook is commendable.

But like with everything, some took it too far for their own personal reasons….the over the top go-getters.  These were the people who loved organizing completely unnecessary study groups at their house and were members of every single school committee possible…mostly because they enjoyed telling others what to do.  Facebook has their own version of this crowd as well and it’s quite transparent that they just want to get attention and prove that they’re better human beings than the rest of us. OK, fine, you’re better than me at life, alright? Now will you leave me alone?

Good for you. All of you. You bullies, you pot stirrers, you over the top go-getters. You all make things more interesting for our Facebook feeds. But let’s remember that by and large most of us on Facebook are just like most of us were in high school. We’re just trying to get by, man. Leave me alone and let me eat lunch with my friends in peace. In Facebook speak: let me just read a couple posts, see who’s pregnant, post some news, write a couple of messages, and get the hell out of there. Just minding my business, folks. That’s all I want. Is that too much to ask?