Buzzing with Diversity

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Whatever reservations or disinterest I have in BuzzFeed as a whole, they are growing and changing to intellectual levels beyond the clickbait they’re known for so far. That’s evident from how open they were today about their hiring process, and the principles and goals they have when recruiting for their growing media operation. This is quite similar to how Canada’s federal Employment Equity program – a legislated requirement of government and some industries. This is an issue of much contention for some people who believe that things should remain as they are. Everybody’s equal under the law, so naturally everybody’s position comes by their own merit, right?

AHAHAhahahaHAHHA*coughcoughhack* No. Let me elaborate with a rehash of my lunchtime tweets.

There is a very logical and very capitalist reason, then, to extend a workforce beyond the Old Boys’ Club. It’s a “trend” covered ad nauseum in business/human resources publications that diversity is a business advantage. There is just a lot to make up for, and a lot to reprogram in our heavily biased brains. This means needing to make intentional changes and dedicated efforts to not falling into the habit we’re often too enveloped in to see. Some people might see it as an attack, or think it’s unfair to punish the white men who happen to be entering the workforce now rather than before, but…

October: Doctor Appointment Month

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I have three separate doctor’s appointments this month. One is with a dentist; one is with my general practitioner; one is with a specialist.

I haven’t been to the dentist in six or seven years. The dentist I’m going to isn’t the one I went to last. The reason for both of those is, at least partially, the dentist I’ve gone to all my life is located at the southern edge of the universe, and the transit services to that location are spotty. I’m going to a brand new dentist. I don’t even know the name yet. I just know that it’s in a building very close to where I work, to avoid relying on unreliable bus schedules.

I’m not anxious about dentists, as many people are. I’ve never had a cavity in my life, so if I have one now I guess I’m way overdue. I’m looking forward to the post-cleaning feeling. I’m looking forward to seeing something other than 20-year-old newspaper comics about dentists cut out and taped to the walls. (Yes, it’s been six or seven years since I saw my last dentist, but I have a vivid photographic memory about his office.) What I’m not looking forward to is having to tell a new dentist things. I’m not looking forward to being asked why I waited so long, or being told I wouldn’t have the minor problems that my teeth occasionally cause if I went to the dentist regularly like a responsible person would. I don’t want to say that sometimes my upper left molars hurt, or I can feel the left incisor moving like my orthodontic work from 1998 is being undone. I’m anxious about being told that it’s a more serious problem than it seems. I’m anxious about being told that it’s no big deal and it isn’t worth bringing up. I’m anxious about the lectures on flossing, or a passing condescending comment about the small gap of eroded enamel on my front tooth. I’m anxious about the parts of dentistry that are a judgment of my character – not about discomfort in my mouth or problems with my teeth.

The appointment with my GP is fairly routine. She’s nice. I don’t have much to report on, so I don’t have much to diagnose. I’m going for that ever-pleasant experience that I don’t need to see a gynecologist for, because why should a basic service that a significant chunk of the population has to get routinely rely on the availability of specialists? A general practice should fall under the scope of general practitioners. I normally breeze through that momentary discomfort, but it’s a number of things can go wrong that makes it awkward beyond the undress and equipment used. There is also the potential scorn for not making this appointment sooner, as I should have. There’s always that risk with routine procedures. Everyone with access to a regular doctor should know that feeling.

With the specialist – when problems within the realm of the specialty arise that aren’t part of why I got referred to begin with, is it appropriate to bring these up? I know the answer to that is obvious, and of course the specialist would rather know too much than too little in case seemingly separate problems are indeed related. It’s a basic part of doctor-patient etiquette, and this specialist is very good at that, to be open to hearing other problems. It’s part of the scientific process of medicine and diagnosis. But, surprise surprise, I’m inclined to worry that what I have to say is unwelcome and I will be judged.

The scary part of Doctor Appointment Month is not the fear of new health problems being detected. It’s the fear of judgment – that I’m living my life wrong, and someone by all measures above me in credentials and accomplishment will wag their finger. Either I shouldn’t have waited this long to see these doctors, or I shouldn’t have bothered to see them at all. In either case, at least I’m getting them all within one month.

Ello Ello

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Once – just once – I wanted to be an early adopter. I wanted to beg to join something early. I’ve usually scoffed at “new” “trends” in things as the anti-establishment cynic. But I changed my mind, and signed up for beta testing for Ello.

It’s a minimalist design and function, and I still don’t grasp the differences. I’m not a very good early adopter because I’m not keenly interested in experimenting with its functions. Well, I like fiddling with new functions, but when the right time, place, and mental energy level meet. The weather’s been too nice to do that yet.

There has also been very good criticisms of the conflict between its mission and its origins. The direction seems inevitable. There is really no purpose in appealing to millions without turning them into measurable aggregates. Like the over-cited Stalin quote, a million of anything is a statistic.

Statistics are data. Data is a commodity. We can’t really escape that. I didn’t get a friend to invite me to Ello for its utopian vision of idyllic social media, free of industry. I wanted to see how they implement it. I’m not a prime candidate for any type of social media, since I don’t share or click as much as desired, and in Ello’s case I’m not a crusader for a cause.

Any attempt to shrink the world by connecting all its people will be capitalized on. I’m interested to see how – and how Ello will not fuck it up with connecting the people we don’t want to “network” with. I don’t mind being measured; I don’t want to be measured by whom I know involuntarily, or whom I knew some time in the past.

Ello is even using the “friend” word. Not among my favourites in the f column.

On Practice and Preach

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What do you do to make a real difference aside from posting your opinions on Twitter?

Uhh, well I write longer pieces here, sometimes, even though nobody reads them…

I, um, am nice to people, or at least try to be when I’m not pretending they can’t see me.

I speak up in conversations with family and friends with an assertive voice on controversial topics, although they mostly just pat my head and carry on ignoring me.

I am the co-chair of the board of directors for a community organization that intersects with many other social problems and underrepresented voices, and advocates for sustainable and inclusive solutions.

I choose active modes of transportation that remove another car from the roads, and try to decline offers for rides from people to shorten their own time on the road. I’ve designed my lifestyle around being car-free.

I genuinely try to reduce my consumption of disposable products and use of water and electricity, although I haven’t turned over all of my habits yet, and I have room for substantial improvement.

I try to be a conscious consumer, shopping online when it benefits independent creators, but going to retail establishments in person when I have an interest in maintaining the presence of the business.

I try to not get defensive when I’m called on for my biases and marginalizing behaviour. I try to change myself to have an open mind, and listen to oft-ignored voices that I can so easily hide from in a comfortable shell of race, class, and cishet priivlege.

I put a genuine effort into making everyday life choices that reflect opinions I spew like I’m a living model of them. I’m not; I’m very much imperfect and deserve to be called upon for it. I deserve to be reminded of my hypocrisies and imperfections. Keep the criticism coming. And live up to it yourself.

Getting Away from the Micro-Blog

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I took a weekend off Twitter – or rather, off tweeting. I still skimmed my Twitter feed, but I didn’t feel like my own self-expression was welcome.

When I returned, I tweeted a long stream of thoughts, replying to myself to keep the flow in context, instead of writing long-form in a place like here. I’m completely aware that virtually nobody reads me here. Not many people read me on Twitter, as much as I’d like to become one of those regular people who somehow amasses thousands of followers who enjoy reading my sociological insight and scatological wit. Either way I’m shouting into a void.

It’s much easier to write out a thought and publish it as it happens than to let it expand into the paragraphs of a reasonable-length blog post. I’ve lost many well-constructed sentences in my head because I’m walking while thinking of them, and the perfect wording never comes back when I get to the resources that let me solidify it into written words.

Younger people are criticized for stopping mid-conversation to post something on social media, as if that is an impairment in emotional intelligence. I mean, in many cases it is, and it’s obnoxious when there’s little actual purpose to it. But it would likely be lost otherwise. Not everybody has the memory to transcribe a conversation as well as it was spoken. That’s not a basic human skill lost to the convenience of communication that them darn kids take for granted these days. The general population has always been distributed along a range of memory skills; there are just more channels to complain about it in public discussion.

I’m trying to put more of my private stress factors into paragraphs as self-administered therapy. Publicly stated thoughts can start out in point form (or at least tweet form) and be elaborated on in places like here. I have a lot more to say than I get around to saying. It may not be taken in by many readers, but a coherent thought should also be comprehensive. It’s for my benefit to get back to paragraphs.

I’d Fuck Me

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There’s a commercial that I see when streaming videos online (the price to pay for legal entertainment) for a Philips grooming device. A ruggedly bearded man goes through the grooming process and with each new facial hair style he escalates on his own evaluation of his attractiveness:

Never mind that he’s not actually very attractive with that moustache; beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder, and if he’s the man he wants to attract, it only matters if he’d fuck him.

That is more or less a process I go through many mornings. Some mornings, like, say, a Monday, I will accept the limitations of a bad hair day, or restrict makeup to foundation and mascara. Some weekends, when I don’t plan on going anywhere or looking in the mirror much. I won’t put makeup on at all. When I will be doing a lot of physical labour I don’t worry about my hair style, because the more effort I put into it the more injustice I will feel when sweat and humidity erodes any meaning it should’ve had.

Outside of those conditions, I aim for a look that makes me sexually attractive to myself. I’m heterosexual, but I am even more so a narcissist. I think everyone else should be, too, when it comes to putting themselves together to present to the world.

This is with the prerequisite of self-respect, in the sense of owning your own sexuality and loving yourself to a certain degree. Nobody should have to be scantily clad to look good. In a work environment, or just in the public where there’s no intention to pursue a mate, you should be impressed with your own sense of style to a degree of admiration. This doesn’t have to be sexual, if that’s not what makes you feel good in your own skin. You can dress yourself to look like a leader you would follow, a person you would hire to do the job you aspire to have, or a stranger you’d strike up conversation with in hopes of becoming a friend.

The important step is to drop any insecurities that may be instilled in you, walls that would prevent you from ever admitting any form of self-love. The man in that commercial is making huge leaps to break one of the shackles of masculinity – that a man can see something sexual in another man, without being any less manly himself. (This is making an assumption that the man in the commercial is heterosexual and looking to impress women; nonetheless, the target audience seems to be broader and the character shows an overall level of masculinity that meets the level of acceptability in heteronormative masculine behaviour.)

Desired partners for sexual activity ≠ people in whom you can see sex appeal. Worry not about what you are led to believe the gender(s) of your sexual desire would find attractive enough to start a sexual relationship. There needn’t be skimpy clothes worn, nor heels or nightclub levels of makeup painted on. Just look at your face, and find the beauty and confidence – enough that you don’t need anyone else to think the same.

Opinions getting thrown around like shit flung by monkeys

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What makes it particularly hard to write is that I have nothing of value to say – or at least the value of what I say falls victim to oversupply in a market with mediocre demand. I fucking hate economics.

There’s a lot to say for improvement, though. Within myself and amongst my peers, opinions are changing. Ten years ago, celebrity nude photos or sex tapes being leaked brought mock upon the classiness of the celebrities involved. Now, and maybe this is just because it’s affecting our dearies like Jennifer Lawrence who is charming and talented and white, more people are asserting that we should not blame the person exposed, but the violators of privacy. There’s also the attached message that people should be more aware of the security flaws of where they’re storing such things, which is true but off track. The most important issue and moral lesson here is that pictures of the private lives of private individuals that are intended to remain private should always be respected as private. Celebrities are still private individuals when they’re off the job. Even people as public as politicians and royalty have the right to privacy. Whatever doesn’t affect their public duties is private business – from Kate Middleton’s topless sunbathing at a secluded beach house to J. Edgar Hoover’s wardrobe around the house. We all decry the morality of paparazzi who stalk celebrities for photos. The people who hack into personal accounts and steal photos are a different medium of paparazzi, along with intellectual property thieves having not taken the pictures to begin with. Fucking shameful.

This same line of thinking should be applied to the controversy around games journalism, about the sexual activity of an independent game developer and the people who review games for a living. I haven’t read deeply into the details. I don’t want to, and I don’t need to. I’m not deeply invested in video game culture and don’t read any games journalism, but since a lot of people I know and/or read do, I’ve gathered the basics. The official outrage is of corruption in journalism – but the blame is going to a woman game developer who is a sexual being. This misfocus has the “gamer” community eating its tail, with many vocal enthusiasts veering off course to get mad at women for playing games and having general opinions. If it were really about corruption in journalism, it would be focusing on holding the journalists accountable – and a good place to start would be in monetary payoffs, or free vacations, or whatever else large games companies can afford to do to get better publicity. It was never pushing that point, and even when it was trying to call out sexual payoffs it was still holding denial that people outside of stereotypes are genuine “gamers”. Like the Fake Geek Girl, a group of people who want to justify their ownership of a subculture are having a collective temper tantrum about the diversity that makes them feel insecure.

But the temper tantrum of a community that sets aside a lot of time to be alone at home on a computer to pretend they’re surrounded by violence and gore gets threatening. They’re generally anonymous in playing games, and that’s their modus operandus online outside gaming activity as well. With anonymity, they can use the same competitive tactics expected in violence-based gaming. This is how several women vocal in the video game medium are being threatened – anonymously, but criminally, to the extent of violence against these women and their families. Anita Sarkeesian is a cultural critic who wants to foster critical thinking and broadening of approaches to video games, but to the men who want the status quo this is enough to warrant threats of rape and murder – enough to motivate digging for details on where Sarkeesian and her family live. The response of local law enforcement, to whom she’s gone on several occasions so far, has been “Why do you keep making these videos, then?” Sigh.

It doesn’t even appear in the minds of most people flinging shit from the other side that this all comes down to embedded misogyny and a sense of ownership over women’s bodies and voices. The threat that this other side feels to themselves is…what? That perhaps they may have to consider the implications of their statements and actions? That their market share of a particular industry will shrink, and so no games they like will ever be made again? (I said I hate economics, but that’s a huge fallacy – video games aren’t a physical resource, so making more of one genre doesn’t necessarily require making less of another.) Some comments have actually been made that men who will never be able to “get with” celebrity women are entitled to nude images so they can at least have something to masturbate to. There is plenty of legal pornography out there, available for free or at a reasonable price for quality and security. Consider your options before supporting something illegal and terribly unethical. If that still doesn’t do it for you, consider yourself a terrible person. Yeah, that was my shit I just flung at you. Fucking monkeys.