Paid to be Powerless

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Again, we have a post that comes from a stream of thought already expressed in a series of tweets:

  • My job gets to me. I take things personally in both directions when someone has problems and I have to bother someone else to fix them.
  • And when I do bend over backwards and contort things to fit as best as possible the best response I get is “Well I guess that will do…”
  • People should be forgiven for honest mistakes and should be credited with creative solutions wraith [sic] the best tools available. Simple respect.
  • With, not wraith. Ugh. Not worth deleting and editing, because no one will thank me for it anyway.
  • It’s a frustrated, defeated, exhausted kind of day.

I try to keep work out of here and my Twitter stream for reasons that should be common sense by now: a) it’s boring, b) I like to use these tools to keep my mind off work when possible, and c) I don’t want to get fired or lose out on opportunities in the future by either identifying my employer or saying bad things about it or my coworkers.

But this does not name names, it’s not a personal grudge, and it doesn’t get into any specifics to the work that I do because it’s applicable to so many jobs out there. When I worked in a photo lab I felt similar, although it was to a lesser extent because disappointing individual customers seems less serious than disappointing business clients. And also because I was younger then, and years later I should have improved to perfection by now. But even in the field I’m working in now I can’t be omnipotent in fixing all problems, omniscient in providing all the answers, or omnibenevolent in thinking nobody’s in the wrong but me.

I spent periods of last weekend being angry about something work-related. I was kept there 15 minutes past quitting time on a Friday to put together a calm and coherent response to a dissatisfied e-mail that incorrectly blamed me for an error. I worried that weekend that my response may be interpreted as rude because I challenged/corrected an accusation, the desired solution wasn’t possible, and because the person was already frustrated enough. I thought that I would come in on Monday to an exploded situation. But instead had I stayed at work an extra five minutes, I would’ve received the response that conceded and compromised, and my weekend would’ve been greatly improved (except for being five minutes shorter). If I didn’t take things personally I wouldn’t have needed to pace myself in writing a response because I didn’t need to worry about cooling down enough, and I would’ve left on time. If I didn’t take things personally I wouldn’t have worried about this throughout the weekend. If I didn’t take things personally I would save myself a lot of trouble, including the risks associated with writing on the internet about work.

So Much in So Much of So Little

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If Diogenes-level cynics (well, not the public masturbation part) say that text messaging is ruining the skills of spelling, grammar, wit, and conversation in young people, they need to read my texts. Brilliant. I carry on quite the conversations through texts, and even Twitter, and the challenge of keeping them short, or keeping a train of thought through serials one by one. Instead of counting up to the assigned minimum as on university papers (extending sentences as far a length as possible, with unnecessary fluff, jams of redundant adjectives, and jargon galore) I count down to the number of characters left. It’s a good challenge.

This is my 200th blog post here on khristopia. (YAAAAY!) Blogs can be as short or as long as the writer prefers, but the emphasis of the media is to make it as easy to read through as it is to get to. Over a 10 or 11 year span, my old LiveJournal reached thousands of posts/hundreds of pages of things of varying length. The very long were ramblings that one might write in a paper journal when emotions won’t stop flowing out. The very short were vague and guarded comments that one might say to somebody who asks how they’re doing. Blogs still have flexibility in space, but since I’ve become accustomed to writing more in less – that is, I use text messages to communicate and Twitter to shout out to the world more than other methods – I’ve tried to be more conscious of the relationship between length and content in what I publish.

There never is a simple, short way to post the full extent of one’s thoughts…unless you’re stupid. No matter how much you can convince other people to read, they will not come close to understanding you until you stop. They will think, they will respond, you will think, you will respond, and everybody will learn more, bit by bit.

The time and place for a never-ending stream of consciousness is by yourself, somewhere private. Remind me of that if I drag on too long here, where they don’t put a limit on characters.

Calm, Cool, and Irrationally Violent

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I have enough self-awareness and general wisdom about the place of the individual within the grand scheme of things, and the place of the grand scheme of things within the individual, to know on one level that most things don’t matter enough to make a big deal out of them. One of those is the luxury of owning the magnificent technology of today’s home computers, and being able to do an astounding amount of things with them through constant access to the internet. It’s amazing how I’m able to do what I’m doing now, how I can access a broad library of entertainment at the click of a mouse button, how I can communicate in full vocabulary a seemingly unlimited length of words, possibly even by audio or video, to the couple billion people who have similar access. Astounding.

But when that’s taken away even slightly – when my home internet provider is having technical issues (evident by the number of failed attempts to unplug the modem and/or router and plug them back in, and by the busy signal I  kept getting on their customer support line) – I freak out and think that my life is ruined, that this is cruel and unusual punishment. I try removing myself from that myopic sense of entitlement but if there’s something that just shoots up my irrational energy of hatred and rage it’s that. And when my six year old desktop or four year old laptop freeze or need to be restarted or restart on their own. Oh my, do I get mad.

Last night, when the first of those two scenarios happened, I vented about it to expend the frustration on Twitter via my phone. Yes, I could still access the internet because my mobile provider is a different carrier, and again in this AMAZING modern world with INCREDIBLY ADVANCED consumer technology I can access almost the same range of things from my phone as I can from my computer. Last summer I was having the reverse problem – I had frustrating phone issues that had limited solutions, while my home internet connection worked fine – and I was crying on the phone with tech support. I knew at the strongest level of my thought process, the one that guides me for the rest of the day with rational judgment and a relaxed attitude, that it wasn’t a major threat to my survival or even my quality of life, and there would be solutions. But I still cried, and last night being confident that it was a widespread issue that the service provider would fix as soon as possible, I still wanted to throw things at walls.

I contain myself, by the way, aside from crying which I usually can’t control. I don’t hold anything against anyone, as much as I love to scream at inanimate objects. Irrational reactions are just the fight response to sudden stresses, and they’re very much a part of our human ancestry for the sake of survival. It’s physiological. But I don’t know why, amongst all other things that don’t bother me or don’t light my fuse, the internet tempts me into fits of so much destruction.

Commemmorating Our Most Boring Moments

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I wish every day were Hourly Comic Day. That was a lot of fun. Well, doing that every day would be more than an annoying hassle and very distracting from other things, but it would be nice to celebrate that way more often. I suppose I don’t need a special day to draw comics every hour on the hour. Okay, so I don’t even need Hourly Comic Day to draw hourly comics. It’s just an excuse not to do it other days of the year. I need to scrap that excuse and do that more often.

See, this is all part of lost opportunities to record a thought somehow. The flaw of organic sentience is that not every thought is recorded before it is lost. Think of the magnitude of all the brilliant ideas that have disappeared almost instantaneously to their conception. If you’re the creative type think of all the ideas you never had a chance to write down, and subsequently turn into something of substance.

When the idea is mundane and not creative – as the results of Hourly Comic Day tend to be – it’s at least a stress reduction method that makes something of tedium. Something may come out of these anyway. In my recent purging ritual I decided to keep a barely-used notebook, ripping out the pages with outdated useless things, to take with me so I can write thoughts and emotions down, and turn them into a deeper piece of prose. Sometimes it’s a paragraph, sometimes it’s a page. It’s usually around a very preoccupying topic for me, but vague enough to mean more than the specific situation. But even with the resolution to put this into practice, there’s still a lot lost. There are still things that seek to rot my brain with meaninglessness that I don’t coax into becoming something. This is when I want to jab a pen in my eye rather than apply it to paper.

If I were pressed by a voluntary ritual observance I would probably make a little more out of the completely useless. It’s making something out of nothing – the genius of creativity that has fuelled much of the growth and sophistication of human societies since the establishment of what we call “civilization”. Some people build upon past people’s work – stand on the shoulders of giants – but as fundamental as that is to improving the wider quality of life, we must not forget our roots, creativity’s origins, and continue to be inspired by and produce something out of the really, really fucking boring moments we live.

Wrongly Accused

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So much for micro-blogging. When I go on a multi-tweet spiel I might as well write it up in real paragraphs here – there’s a time and a place for yadda yadda yadda a-wop bop a doo-wop boo-wop bam boom.

I should really do both, though, because Twitter helps me clear out my thoughts better by making me separate them into points first. And I’m usually funnier there.

But – ONTO THE POINT! A lot of people for some reason think I’m smart, but I often do not. I went through a train of thought on that route over four tweets today:

  • The problem with people thinking you’re smart is when you’re wrong their expectations are shattered and they will never respect you again.
  • …except that never happens; people will either not notice or enjoy the chance to show they also know things, and still respect you.
  • And yet we all think it’s going to go the first way. Well, I guess both ways are part of everyone being self-centred and wanting to impress.
  • Basically, thanks for liking me even though I’m often wrong, because I stopped liking myself since my first self-aware mistake.

I’m wrong a lot – foolishly wrong, speak-too-soon wrong, not noticing obvious things. When I’m in control of my mouth and keep quiet for long enough, I don’t break silence with questions, because I’d be too ashamed, and instead I wait and observe enough to piece things together myself. When people say I’m smart – and a surprising number do – I think back to foolishly speaking too soon and moments where I revealed I didn’t understand something incredibly simple and commonly known, and wonder what the fuck they’re talking about. My skills to multiply any two two-digit numbers in my head fairly quickly with explanations of how I did so in relation to other numbers is not “smart” or “intelligent”, and I’m not as well read in popular areas of public discourse as other people are. I stick to useless knowledge that makes me sparsely relatable. It’s quite common in conversations that I get things naively wrong. I can’t exactly blame that on being young anymore. I just don’t read enough best sellers or watch enough documentaries on contemporary topics.

When I know things others don’t, I react as described in the second tweet. Unless I perceive the other person(s) in the given dialogue as “opponents” (which I rarely do, because why turn this into a conflict?) I will gain nothing from labeling someone “wrong”. I will either gain respect and admiration for all the crap that I do know by adding greater depth to the discourse, or I will be seen as a strange and alienating person with no social skills (in which case I probably wouldn’t want to carry the conversation on anyway).

Here’s the healthy perspective on things like this: if you’re wrong or uninformed and somebody else is right or informed, it’s a win-win situation if you use it to learn. If you can’t learn because the informed person won’t tell you what he or she knows, then he or she is a dick and you should stop talking to him or her as soon as you or you (wait, second person pronouns aren’t gendered) can.

Briefly put, don’t let being wrong stop you from being smart.

Subliminal Put-Down of Passive-Aggression

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“Subtweet” has become a catchy buzzword, and it refers to passive-aggressive, not-naming-names, vague and critical messages posted to Twitter. The assumed context is that the person being complained about is on Twitter but isn’t being mentioned – the subject can read the tweet, but the tweeter doesn’t want to be “mean” and address it directly.

The word “subtweet” limits this to Twitter, when it happens everywhere and always has. I suppose there’s an added element of common courtesy in using the @ usernames to formally, for lack of a better word, tag the person when what’s being tweeted is positive, because it’s public and tagging the other person is incredibly simple. When somebody wants to be critical but not start an argument, though (or wants to provoke an argument but make it look like someone else is the shit disturber), the ever-so-quaint human flaw of passive-aggression manifests in this new medium!

Rather than dismiss this behaviour as petty, I will live up to it: I complain about things in vague ways when I have specific people in mind. This usually doesn’t concern other people on Twitter, although there MAY BE PEOPLE (subtweet
) who read mt Twitter feed but not through a “following” account. When I complain about stupidity on Facebook you can be sure it’s a general statement provoked by specific people. What I write on here gets sparked by real interactions. And yes, a large motivator for putting this all out there is the chance of it being read by the subliminal target.

That subliminal target probably deserves it, because of their vague passive-aggressive indirect words and behaviours. So it’s a vicious cycle. And yes – you know who you are – I’m accusing you.

Under Cover Stakeout Going into Overtime

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The other night I had a terrible sleep. Something’s wonky with the heat in my 80 year old building, so it was incredibly cold and I couldn’t fall asleep properly. Even though it was a Friday, last night I crawled under the covers at about 10:30, in snuggly warm footie pajamas, to curl up with a book for about half an hour. Then, like on a normal weekday, I turned the lights off at 11.

Like a normal weekday I woke up a few times throughout the night just to see where the temporal dimension was at. When it was just after 6, like a normal weekday, I was more or less awake but stayed lying in bed cozy and half-dozing off before the 7:00 alarm buzzed.

Yes, I leave my alarm on for the weekend. Here’s why: I get my best rest in lighter stages of sleep after first waking up. This is why I will sleep in every weekend, no matter when I went to bed the night before. Each Saturday I wake up again after turning off the alarm at about 8:15, and then at 9:10 when I usually get out of bed for breakfast. Then I take my breakfast to my bed and check things on the internet from my phone.

People who…believe, or buy into the “anti-establishment” position that working for an employer is giving up your soul to a miserable existence use as one reason that at a job with a set starting time you have to force yourself out of bed without actually being rested or actually feeling awake. Well stick your nose up and brand me a mindless peon, because that’s what I do during the week. Clearly this repeating pattern when I don’t have to get up at a particular time shows my mind’s internal schedule. But even those not bound by the chains of a day job have to get up and do some work eventually if they don’t want to be a meaningless vacuum of public participation (that’s right, them’s waging a war of words) and any time they spend sleeping in past 9:10 is costing them money. Eating breakfast in bed lowers their productivity. Even if I only get to do so on the weekends, at least for me it will always be a treat.