Insignificances of 2012

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As legitimate media outlets go through their retrospectives on world events this year, I’d like to go through a number of the stories that are/will be getting attention on these lists and explain briefly why I care little in the scheme of my own selfish life.

One-year Anniversary of Tahrir Square Revolution: I considered myself moved by, although only minutely relevant to, the Arab Spring because it was an inspiring world event that demonstrated the potential for civilization to change within my lifetime. The anniversary was in the news because the world isn’t patient enough to wait for change to settle; the West wanted to see Egyptians abandon Islam immediately, dammit!

Death of Whitney Houston: ‘Cause IIIIIIIIeeIIIIII was never really into her music. Sad, but I won’t miss out on anything from her passing.

Sandusky Trial: Not having children, and not being obsessed with US college football, this didn’t hit as close to my heart as it would to other people and as it did to America and the connected world at large. It plays a small role in a larger issue of the people we trust with our children, and this is just a secular chapter of what’s been going on in the Catholic church for decades.

London 2012: I didn’t watch the opening ceremonies because I was in transit at the time (on a plane with the option to watch them, but I was using travelling as the excuse), and I hardly paid attention to anything but certain parts of men’s gymnastics and diving. And by “certain parts” I mean segments of the athletes themselves.

Gagnam Style: I still haven’t watched Psy’s videos. It’s a gift to the world that I even know his name. And on that note…

Call Me Maybe: I haven’t heard this song. I haven’t heard Rebecca Black’s “Friday” either. And I haven’t seen Titanic. Sorry guys, I’m just too cool for this shit.

Hostess Going Under: I don’t think I’ve ever had a Twinkie. I’m only concerned about Hickory Sticks, but apparently Hostess Canada is still in business.

Hurricane Sandy: I don’t say this to dismiss its significance for other people. Clearly there were lives devastated, as densely populated as the area affected, and at least from this I got better respect for Governor Christie. On the US presidential campaign trail, which did affect my life through entertainment and fear of consequences, he seemed to be faking hyper-partisanship to cover his ass for a potential future nomination; however, dropping that façade to attend to the emergency in cooperation. But aside from what I saw through media outlets, this did nothing to change my existing views on climate change or the vulnerability of coastal metropolises.

US Fiscal Cliff: That’s not going to affect my life through its haphazard consequences until 2013. Way to go, Boehner.

Anything About the Kardashians: Seriously, let’s stop. They contribute nothing.

Kate Middleton’s Pregnancy: I really hope that my Home and Native Land has abandoned the British monarchy before this child-to-be inherits the throne. The obsession of this story is unhealthy for society as a whole, and one person has already died because of it. It’s ridiculous that the people’s money goes to support royal lifestyles, but it doesn’t mean the public owns the individuals’ lives. The only benefit to my life this story brought was Martin Short on SNL. Oh, Martin Short…

Playing Marbles on the Smooth Ride

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The end of December always has a bug being spread around of looking at the pending year as a whole. As healthy of an immune system I like to think I have (I’ve never had the flu and I’ve never made a new year’s resolution to lose weight), a string of changes in 2012 is enough to map a theoretical projectile of what 2013 will be.

(Many of the changes in 2012, of course, were in logical sequence to events in 2011, which were in turn related to what happened in 2010, much of which started in 2009, which in itself was planned back in 2008; that year was a reaction to both transitions and stalemates in 2007, which in theory should have reached greater accomplishment given the new stage of life I was forced to start as of the beginning of 2006. How boringly linear.)

What’s to come in 2013 is largely a part of what has already started in 2012, or at least what I intended to start in 2012 but never got around to. The arbitrary point of a “new year” is supposed to provide that push, so perhaps I shouldn’t mock people who make new year’s resolutions as much as I do. My role in my own life has grown from a passive inner dialogue commentating on seemingly autonomous functions of day to day life to an active participant in things, as little like me as that sounds. I will inevitably become an executive member of a community organization. If I have any self respect, and that’s one of the transformations 2012 has brought me, I will see career advancement. I am determined to be more creative, healthier, and abide by my own values by seeking constant improvement in an ethical lifestyle.

To balance these improvements that may be coming my way no matter how hard I try to hold myself back, I’m looking to keep safe the parts of me that always question the value and substance of the linear life cycle. (Note how “linear cycle” is an oxymoron.) I’ve transitioned from a bitter pessimist to a spiteful optimist, because being happy with my own cynicism is such a rewarding act of defiance that I will defend it to my hopefully odd and likely early death. I’m no longer suffering regularly from depression thanks to finding the beauty in what’s wrong with me, and I plan on continuing to spite the medical-industrial complex (a phrase I hate using because the people who use it think they’re so fucking smart and profound) by being contently fucked up. In the bigger picture, at least, that will be the case. I reserve the right to be sad and angry, and I will need those emotions to handle all of the normal and positive changes that I can’t stop from coming.

For the Liver and the Mind

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After the holidays I’ve sworn off drinking until my 30s. I won’t tell you exactly how long a wait that is,  but I’m determined to meet that goal no matter how reasonable-for-most-people it is!

This is not because of hangovers, as despite the gallons (literally, gallons) of beer and other alcohol I had over the holidays I didn’t throw up and my headaches were no worse or frequent than normal. This is just because of the sheer shock that I drank as much as I did…and said as much as I did as well. Everybody could always improve what and how much they say, to whom, where, and when. There are many mood-altering substances that affect our talking habits in different ways. I’m somewhat limited and naive in my experience with mood-altering substances, but based on what I know this is what I would suggest:

  • If you want to stop talking too much about deep, dark inner truths, cut out alcohol.
  • If you want to stop talking too much about light and fluffy things and how everything in life is fucking amazing, cut out coffee.
  • If you want to stop talking nonsense that you can’t even turn into coherent words because your speech is slurred and you’re giggling too much, cut out marijuana.

That is why, after Christmas with the family, so many of swear off alcohol – for the new year, and a new start to repress our deep, dark inner truths.

The Right to Remain Secret

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Where can I write something that’s guaranteed private anymore? Communication is permanent. Instant messenger conversations used to be lost when the window closed; now Facebook conversations are kept forever. Who do you trust with an e-mail?

I am a pendulum of on-track and fucked-up. The more I want to put into improving myself the more destructive I want to be when I can make an excuse for it. I led a boring life with insignificant problems when I had better, safer avenues of talking through them with trusted people. Now that communication has become based on text messages saved on two different phones, or a continuous string of Facebook messages that are made to look like they picked up where they left off, it takes greater trust and greater care to keep privacy intact.

This is why, or part of why, enhanced communication technology has stunted the purposes and needs that communication should serve. Forget the lost nuances of gestures, expressions, and inflections when communicating through writing rather than in person; there will be less said based on fear of a paper trail. The mass communication potential of posting something where everyone you know can read it removes the interpersonal aspect, the conversation that goes somewhere that can form a special bond. Forming a special bond leads to the trust to talk about deeper issues, but we’re losing that when status updates are the ways of talking to everyone we know.

It’s a cliché to say that the more ubiquitous communication is the less is being communicated. Most people say it because they heard somebody else say it and it sounds smart because it’s a critique of the way things have become. (They say it through the same means they’re criticizing, but we’re all hypocrites all the time whether through social media or not.) How many people who make that commentary are doing so because they’re living through the tough emotional consequences is unclear, though, because there’s no means for them to express this heart-to-heart.

A pendulum of on-track and fucked-up. But only the on-track stuff is supposed to appear in my timeline.

Instagreat, Just Great

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I guess I was never hugely into Instagram. I started using it when I got a smart phone with a data plan. I’ve posted a few things on there because I wanted to fiddle with it, maybe thinking the filters would be fun or that my rectangular photo should become a square, and maybe it should have a tilt-shift or a border. My number of photos uploaded in over six months is in the 20s. And they’re mostly useless, even to me.

I never used Instagram for its social media purposes on its own. I used it to post to Twitter. That’s it. Since several days ago they’ve severed the embedding ties and now I find it useless. Then Instagram, briefly at least, changed its terms of service to include that they can use ANY user’s photo posted through the app for ANY marketing purpose they want. And the person who took the photo won’t get credit at all.

Clearly, with my intellectual property opinions the way they are, I object to that. While Instagram has to make its mommy money somehow, using what somebody else made for whatever purposes they want just isn’t acceptable. Instagram owns the program that does the manipulation; it doesn’t own the photos created through it.

Many people were quick to backlash, removing all of their photos and deactivating their accounts. I didn’t rush to this because I’ve uploaded so few photos and I found out at work where I had higher priorities. But the backlash was clear to Instagram, and as of typing this they will “have more to share very soon” in regards to this change.

There are many things Instagram is mocked for. Its effects are cheesy, and take away the skill and thrill of the film photography they’re based on. Its social media function puts too many pictures of food on the internet. It is what it is, and you can take it or leave it – but it’s an app, and not the photos taken through it, so prioritize your criticisms and tell Mama Facebook to leave your images alone.

There’s No “Fun” in “Professional”

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Last week I received official confirmation of passing the second and final exam to obtain a professional designation. I hope to use this newly attained qualification to get into a better position more suited to my potential, but there are other sides of this that go beyond a job description. The key word here is “professional”.

Being a professional means taking things seriously. I wasn’t raised to take things at face, because it’s never so simple and there’s no absolute, concrete inevitability of the systems and institutions in society that make it, its economy, and its jobs, what they are. I refuse to drop my sense of humour and my critical thinking skills that see right through much of the modern capitalist market. I also claim full ownership over my free time, so I plan to limit the things I do with the letters of this designation attached to my name. I do this to protect my individual right to make poop jokes.

There are parts of this field that I can take seriously – about respect and treating others as humans with open minds and a willingness to understand their circumstances, for example –and parts where I’m happy to play a role in what’s not a game but is perhaps seen as an on-the-job puzzle. I can apply problem solving skills with mental tools that are not poop jokes, and I’m keen on suggesting improvements. I’ve built up a whole new persona that is based on actively doing stuff, which was not there before.

What will be difficult for me beyond the rough edges of my otherwise sophisticated personality will be the requirement to talk about how important my profession is. I have already been asked that many times at parties by people who primarily know me by what my mother has taken creative liberties to tell. Self-importance is not a strong area for me, and projecting that to a field that is struggling to reach certain levels of respect and recognition is even more difficult. And it’s mostly being done by people talking to other people in the field, talking about how mutually they themselves are so important, not getting anywhere sending out a message.

I’m diving into this too deep, with the cerebral pick-apart of what this change in my life means. I’m not in a suiting position and I don’t have as much experience as so many other people do, and I’m not sure if that gives me a better starting perspective that can last as I progress in this field, or if I will sniff the glue and believe the same things the rest of the professional body believes. Watch out. This could include holding my off-work behaviour to still professional standards. This could kill the poop joke.

Gun Culture

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It’s not guns that kill people – it’s people who shoot guns that kill people.

And what gets people shooting guns? The accessibility of them, in part. Mental illness, in part. And the connection between the two: the perverse fixation cultures have on guns.

I speak of American culture almost exclusively. That’s where something utterly terrible happened today. That’s where most similar things happen. That’s where inspiration for similar things in other parts of the world come from. “The Second Amendment” is a globally understood term because we hear so much about it on account of hearing so much about gun violence in the United States on account of there being so much gun violence in the United States. I don’t think anybody would care about the number of guns in the US if they weren’t used so often.

Tax purchases related to firearms, and use that revenue to offer mental health services universally. That is a totally un-American idea, I know, but it sure beats the very American idea of going on a shooting spree.