True Reflection and Depressing Vision

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On Friday, October 21, 2016, Netflix released six additional episodes of Black Mirror.  This was the third “season” for the show, now with a grand total of nineteen episodes including one holiday episode from 2015.

My wife enjoys cooking shows, baking contests, and true crime mini-documentaries.  I grew up on sitcoms, got hooked on police- and medical dramas throughout the 90s, and really enjoyed Lost (in its early years, at least).  With children now, I am aware of a cartoon who can cure stuffed animals, a talking train who weasels out of mischief episode after episode, and can recite all of the lyrics to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, thanks to They Might Be Giants.

This past week, however, the missus and I have watched all six of the newest Black Mirror episodes.

My writing idol David Foster Wallace did not own a television in adulthood.  Another favorite named Dave Eggers always wiggles in the trivial nugget that he and his family are virtually tech-free at home (no smartphones, social media activity, etc.).  Ironically, one of the shows my wife watches features a home renovation couple from Texas who also do not have a TV in their own home.

Black Mirror, identified by Netflix as containing “near-future” settings, is equal parts riveting and terrifying.  To me, the episodes involving technology (and specifically social media) contain themes that most viewers already recognize as problematic.  While some of us can vividly remember a time before the internet and our supposed “connectivity” involved with it, can we really imagine our current lives without those luxuries?  Perhaps it’s not an all-or-nothing life we should live with regard to being connected or not.

Image result for secluded cabin meme

This is the point where I remind readers of Thoreau and Walden.  He purposely removed himself from a busy society (in the mid 19th century) in order to return (Romanticize!) to the more attractive natural settings accessible to him.  He desired a connection with the earth and a deeper understanding of his existence.  Most of us do, I would argue.  Yet, we busy ourselves with newer technological distractions and continue to think we’re postponing the inevitable.  By the way, this particular meme is worrisome to me.  What is the need for a million dollars if this is the proposed environment/lifestyle?  I’m also doubting the author’s proposed future of “CHOOSE”-ing to live.

What happens to you when your internet goes out?  What do you look like when an app won’t open?  How much stress have you incurred based on any post by anyone on any social media outlet?

What, we must ask ourselves, is the fucking point of it all?

Is this the legacy we wish to leave?

Memorial Service speaker:  Tony was a good man.  He was a father, a brother, and a son.  He had 49 likes on his 21st birthday status.  (waits for crowd to settle down).  A tweet on September 30, 2014 was shared by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  (waits longer…)

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Take a stand on Kneeling

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1. Colin Kaepernick should have a job playing for an NFL team.

2. As of this writing, he doesn’t, but the debate lies in why no team had employed him.

3.  Kneeling during the nation anthem is among the most peaceful acts of protest a human can complete.

4.  When I watch a televised game at home, at a restaurant, at a bar, or at an.individual’s residence, no one in my observation has ever made a point to stand if the anthem is played.

5.  At every professional game I’ve attended, most of the fans in they assigned seats stand.  Some sing along. Many remove their hats.  Those attendees not in their seats, however, have never stopped in their tracks during the playing/singing of the anthem.  

6.  I’ve never seen a concession stand worker pause during a sale during the anthem.

7.  I’ve never noticed the employees at the entrances halt their ticket scanning during the anthem.

8. I doubt that everyone who works for the radio and television broadcasts stops what they’re are doing either.

The athletes who are on the field are paid members of an entertainment sport.  They have a tremendous platform and have taken the opportunity to use that exposure to bring attention to a severely important issue.  

Two Quick Takes

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You’ll never convince me that writing cannot be therapeutic.  I’ve written before about a natural high that I experience when I finish a story. revise a poem, or get a few thoughts out of my head and onto a screen.  In this stressful world, I believe we all need to have an outlet for our frustrations, whether it’s annihilating a punching bag, exorcising the inner demons in a morning run, or pounding away at a keyboard before sunrise.  So, with this, I trust that I will meet scrutiny and disagreement–and that is always welcome.  These are just some takes about the world around us in mid-October of 2017.  Feel free to stop at any time, but I invite you to share this with anyone you wish.  PS: I’m not selling anything other than perspective.

  1.  If your house is on fire, you don’t stand outside–matches in hand–while watching the flames and ask your family to appreciate you for closing the dishwasher last week.

This is my analogy for our current president consistently asking for credit during an era of division that some believe he himself is masterminding.  Simply put, adults in general should never request to be acknowledged for doing things that generally moral people would do on any given day.

2. Intentionally spreading a false narrative about why some people have begun a silent, peaceful protest has to be among the most egregious and insulting acts of “white-splaining” or “man-splaining” humanly possible*.

Imagine having a notably bad experience at a bakery.  “Bad” isn’t at all the right word, but it might help here.  You walked in with money to spend and you are immediately disrespected to the point where you felt you were invisible and that your existence meant absolutely nothing to the shop owners and other customers.  You are so angry that you announce aloud and online that you are reporting that bakery to the Better Business Bureau and vow to convince as many friends, family members, and strangers that the business in question has horrible business practices and should make massive changes or should be forced to close its doors forever.

Now imagine that the world reads what you said about the poor customer service, the price gouging, the insulting actions of the employees and management and tells you that you’re completely wrong–that you’re being incredibly disrespectful to blueberry muffins and that just isn’t what America is about.

Would you be confused?  Disconnected?  Disrespected?  Voice-less?

*I’m fully aware that I am “white” and “male” and am explaining things to you (the two things I’m admonishing with #1).  Thanks for reading this far, by the way.  At any rate, I don’t have the time, financial backing, or general interest to change my skin tone or anatomy, so I guess you’re stuck with me remaining to look like this.  The terms I used in #1 are two words that I believe are the most applicable in this situation.

I wish you all peace and love.  Let’s all make an effort to be comforting and understanding.  If you’re struggling with this–much like I am if you’ve seen any of my tweets–then I suggest writing your ideas out as a way of unburdening your heartsick soul.

 

Imagine the Outcry

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BREAKING: A series of larger-than-life statues of Hilary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry will soon be on display throughout significant places in this great United States. Even though each of these three lost an election, the statues are meant to honor our past and heritage. Therefore, no one should ever, and I mean ever, challenge the fact that they were created and placed in a location where future generations can see it. There’s no political agenda here. Their legacy shall be honored and maintained forever. Anyone who believes they should be taken down is unpatriotic, disrespectful, and un-American.

Who’s the Parent, Here?

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I just read a student’s essay where she recalls being 8 years old, with her younger siblings, and stuck outside her locked house for over an hour in the middle of winter. All because her parents were at work. Oh, and the girl’s mother also told her she could “skip lunch” since she was a little chubby at the time. The essay is about a neighborhood woman who took it upon herself to help this young girl and her siblings by providing warmth and food. To me, the neighborhood woman is by far a better parent than either of her actual parents.

it takes a village

Teachers: Discourage White Letters!

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Teachers: I was just reminded of something I recently learned from one of my college freshmen: Students have been (and will continue to do so) writing X amount of nonsense words at the end of an essay, then change the font color to white. This means the word count you see (grade?) will be larger than what they actually constructed.

Of course this is ridiculous, but then again, so is assigning a word-count minimum (in my opinion).

We need to stop the “easy-to-grade/penalize” mentality of counting words, correcting spelling, and writing in missing commas. Instead, work with young people to develop their thoughts in a clear and organized manner.

If you are reading this and you plan to use this in a future paper or assignment, please re-consider.  Your teacher may dock you for not meeting some arbitrary number he/she established, but you can continue in life knowing that not every one of your readers will concern himself/herself with how many words you can write.

When it comes to your words, quality will always outweigh quantity.