111 Words of Speechlessness

More disappointment from the so-called ‘debates’. Is that enough equivocation for you? Both a so-called and scare quotes, but it’s all verbal violence and no education. Clearly the “Debate Association” or whatever the moderator called them in the beginning should just give up and go home. Just hand it all over to the media companies, that’s what they’ve done in spirit anyway.

I’m sure they got plenty of soundbites, but all in avoidance and rehearsed campaign speeches. What’s the point of even getting the candidates into the same space—with the expense and time—when they aren’t listening or responding to each other. And I didn’t tune in to hear the moderateor talk.

scare quotes around "yes we can"

 

 

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Refereeing Sanity

If the referees who made the bad call at the football game—which I know nothing about, as I don’t follow sports—aren’t getting death threats, I will be flabbergasted, flattened by shock.

What a terrible thing, this lack of surprise. How has it become acceptable to wish death on complete strangers? And for something, as dare I say, as useless and pointless as a sport game.

Some time ago, I read that, with all the movement of modern life, and lack of geographic and family connections, the college is the new hometown. That’s the place to which you swear allegiance. Perhaps sports are the same? We carve niches for ourselves, our identities, out of these fragile things like sports, or books.

On Goodreads today, I read several negative reviews of The Name of the Wind. One commentator wished the reviewer to die in a fire—it’s a common expression on the internet, though not one usually said ‘face-to-face’ in even that most figurative sense. But for that Rothfuss fan, did he truly believe the reviewer deserved that level of rhetoric? for disagreeing over a book?

And what about the commentator who offered cancer as an appropriate punishment, though more sardonically.

I’m sure, were these people actually interviewed, they didn’t mean it. What’s online isn’t real, after all.

Sports seem to bring more sincere anger though, more passion, more savagery. A bad call at my high school football game (an honest injustice) also lead to death threats, to the point where the referee had to be escorted from town by police. My aunt told me a story about substituting for a mail carrier, when something went wrong: “She said, ‘I hope you die,’ right to my face.”

I can’t claim full innocence myself. Driving exposes me to stupid people without any filter (unlike the internet) and when I’m nearly sideswiped (and alone) I’ll shriek aloud and think I hope you get in an accident (though more likely profanity-laced because I can’t seem to stop myself) but am immediately after shattered with guilt. I have to pray for their safety and happiness—which is almost worse, because I would rather they learn their lesson and not do it again.

As I hope is obvious, this is a trend that bothers me tremendously.

What little I know about the football bad call came from Good Morning America. Now I suppose I can’t blame them for giving it priority—the show isn’t designed to actually give anyone important information, just the highlights of what’s popular for ratings (although people could just go online and see all these memes for themselves). Still, when they joked about the referees hiding in the dark in their homes…I was taken aback, to say the least. People can be violent, and when you’re being threatened anonymously, likely by others who can find out far too much about you, it’s just not funny. Given that the GMA hosts have been pushing the problems with online bullying, I’m surprised no one thought to warn them that this is exactly the same problem.

I touched on the idea that all of this is due to misplaced passion. Because our modern lives have so much upheaval and so little stability, and so rarely prioritizes self-knowledge, society pushes worth based on exterior markers. With so many people in the world and the idealization of ‘individuality’, never defined of course, people latch on to anything they can to create smaller communities: things that make them unique, but not too unique. In The Googlization of Everything, Siva Vaidhayanathan calls it the “local cultural movement”, and details its causes and effects.

And I have so much else to say about that: see these bookmarks?

bookmarks

The downside of library books is that I’m not allowed to write in them.

In other words, people get irrational and won’t accept any criticism because they are insecure. No one has taught them how to learn who they are—and while this is a cultural thing, education should be a solution. But since we’ve turned schools into nothing more than a standardized test factories, people don’t even have the chance to learn it anymore (the real learning was always optional, because it can’t be forced).

I keep touching on other posts I want to do, so before I get too off track: please try to take yourself less seriously. If you love something and hear someone else talking about how much it sucks? Take a deep breath. It’s not you, I promise.

In fact, difficult as it is, try reaching out specifically to those who disagree. Don’t attack them, just listen. Try to understand.

Maybe you’ll learn something.

I feel like I’ve said this before…

Just One College Class Tells Me This Is Wrong

Every time I see another story or mention of the attacks in the Middle East, it’s always “because of the anti-Muslim video.”

I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous, and they need to stop using it as an explanation, or worse, excuse, for everything going on over there. It may have been a catalyst for this specific outbreak of violence, and I’m sure it is a particularly offensive film (having not seen it).

However, there is so much cultural history and modern conflict one film can only barely be relevant. The media using it as a shorthand for all the history of warfare and dictatorship and imperialism…well, I find it rather offensive.

Not that I’ve done much research, I know.

So I’m not trying to say what really is going on, or why it’s happening. I just know it’s from more than just one video. Nothing is ever that simple, and presenting it to the already ignorant public as though all the rioters have nothing better to do than watch YouTube is even more irresponsible.

Not that I’m excusing the violence, either. Much of it sounds more like mob mentality than anything as specific as a protest. I just wish it were acknowledged that there are no easy answers and that’s why there’s a problem.

Okay, I don’t have the expertise or knowledge to comment on the wherefores or the hows. But our televised media is problematic enough in their so-called news coverage, I would like to see at least this one change made. Sure, we’re in the days of the sound-byte; fine, worry about the ratings and bottom line; but deleting one short phrase would fix so much of this issue.

Don’t tell the people you know why this is happening. If you did, someone(s) could push the delete button and it’d be sunshine and roses.

Humor: all our future ambassadors during such protests should be Mormon. “This is what you do when people are making fun of your religion.”*

Greater Middle East

Greater Middle East (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*Please note, I do not advocate making fun of any religion. It’s just tacky and unnecessary. However, it’s also pretty common. If you don’t accept it, you’re in for a lot of anger, and probably going to kill people. That’s generally not good.

Let’s Not Talk Politics, Talk About Sex!

 

It bothers me that we worry more about talking about politics in public than sex. Mostly because I find sex fairly irrelevant except for the participants.

But considering how concerned people are with what’s going on in other people’s bedrooms (or wherever), I don’t know why we can’t talk about politics.

For example, one of the creepy shows on TLC (remember when it was The Learning Channel? haven’t I mentioned that before?) was about fetishes. Well, okay, why not? If you’ve got a fetish that’s a little out there, it might be comforting to be introduced to others like yourself: although one would think with the rise of the internet it’d be less necessary, and less freak show—all right, I do know TLC only airs it for the freak show reason. Look at these weird people, aren’t you glad to be normal?

So uncomfortable.

But most awkward was a point where the subject of the episode talked about how he’d “come out” to his family and friends about his fetish, which was balloons. I don’t object to anyone having a fetish. Not my business, right? But to announce to family and friends what you like to do on your own time is just too much information. That’s not coming out. Coming out as gay, for example, may be important, because parents and friends might not expect it. For a friend they may want contact information for the parents, for a significant other they’re going to want to give the talk, and you don’t want to confuse the two. Announcing you’re aroused by balloons means I’ll never invite you to a birthday party. What you think about balloons, unless I’m a romantic partner, is never going to be relevant to me.

I’m not the only with with issues with our glorification of over-sharing in our culture.

But if we can talk about what you want to do to balloons, or statues, or cars, why can’t we talk about politics?

For example, and this relates to my post on audience behavior from a few weeks ago, I saw a clip of Romney making a reference to the Americans killed in the embassy attacks, and some guy, probably a college kid thinking he was actually making a point, started yelling from the audience about, I don’t know, not politicizing Libya.

You know what? Politicians may not be the best suited at giving honor to those who’ve given their lives for the country. We have demanded that they do, however, and so every politician is and should be talking about that loss. You, kid, are not standing up for any grand social right, you are disrespecting those killed.