Other peoples minor miseries

It’s not that we want other people to suffer from the various minor miseries of humanity. But it’s nice to know other people have them. Then we don’t feel so imperfect ourselves.

Hollywood movies are an example of extremes. Not everyday miseries. Hollywood is good at pointing to characters who suffer major problems like the loss of a loved one, cancer, alcohol, drug use and violence. But rarely does Hollywood tackle issues like eczema, hairloss, toothaches, athletes foot or yeast infections. Minor miseries that people suffer every day but mean a lot to us. Things that make us feel unattractive, sore and depressed.

There are of course exceptions. The Kings Speech comes to mind as a movie that pointed out an issue that was not life threatening, but an everyday misery for a given individual.

But usually the best we seem to get are drug commercials trying to push some new drug on us with a billion side effects. I don’t know about you, but I tend to tune those commercials out because they seem like nothing but a huge bag of depression I don’t want to hear about. Or I think to myself, I don’t have that problem so I don’t pay any attention to them.

It’s not like I’m anti-drug. I’m not one of those people. But I am skeptical and don’t believe that all problems have a solution contained in the form of a pill. If anything I’m one of those people that believe that life is about minor miseries. It’s just part of the package. As a result I’m more open to hearing stories about people who have them and don’t let them stop them from living their lives.

Which is why when i do have an issue that does relate to me, like eczema and I hear about someone I know also having it, I almost feel good. Not because i want them to suffer, but because I can relate to them. I don’t feel so alone or imperfect. I realize at those moments that Hollywood really fails us for not pointing them out and making us feel better about not being perfect. They don’t need to be the center of the story, but it would be nice to see an action movie where the main character has an issue taking the shot because his foot itches like a motherfucker and is very distracting.

Just saying.

Pinterest and the downfall of patience

So basically they took a photo hosting site, renamed albums “pinboards” and renamed share “repin” and suddenly they have a service that is making women everywhere orgasm in delight?

Ok. Cool.

I guess realistically the idea of taking a womens magazine and “twitterizing” it for the internet was bound to happen eventually.

I thought my girlfriends response upon first seeing it was kind of funny. “Oh that’s cute, but they don’t show you how to make it.”

To which I thought “Of course not sweetie, no one has the attention span to read anything anymore.”

I can’t say I dislike Pinterest. Obviously the site is a knock out success. But it plagues me that this is what the internet is turning into. Hell even on facebook it’s a chore to get anyone to read anything longer than three sentences.

I’m worried we’re heading toward the Idiocracy point of the internet. Maybe it’s data overload. Presented with so much we feel overwhelmed to spend any real time on a single thing. But the truth is it’s remapping our minds. It’s like drug use. We expect that faster and faster high. That can’t be a good thing.

How is it that we could walk into a library or a bookstore previous to the internet and not feel overwhelmed with thousands of great books before us? Yet with the internet our attention has increasingly become shorter and shorter.

I aim to figure that out. But something tells me the secret has to do with value association.

Michigan Bans Public Smoking

So yesterday the state of Michigan (my home state) passed a law to ban smoking in public bars and restaurants. As a former smoker and current vaper I have mixed feelings on this. Should the government be allowed to tell business owners that they can’t allow smoking in their business? I want to say no, but unfortunately the government already tells these business owner what they can and can’t do in many other ways.

That’s the problem with government isn’t it? It’s capable of both helping and hurting and something the opinion on which is which, can vary.

As far as smoking is concerned, I can understand the position of many nonsmokers. Especially when it comes to restaurants. Why should the nonsmoker be subjected to smoke of other patrons while trying to enjoy their meal? It’s not cheap to eat out and that could certainly ruin your experience. Even when I was a smoker I could clearly see that the nonsmoking and smoking section of most restaurants were often not very segregated. Often times separated only by a few feet without any solid barrier between the two. So to assume that drifting smoke isn’t going to find it’s way into the nonsmoking section is just silly.

But perhaps there was another way about it. Restaurants already have certain health standards they have to abide by. Laws could have been put into place regulating “smoking rooms” in the back of restaurants that are blocked by solid walls, double doors and the addition of smoke eater machines inside those rooms. Regulation is at least the better alternative to an all out ban. It would have represented balance and choice.

Another alternative could have been a regulation that stated your business either had to be an all smoking establishment or an all nonsmoking establishment. Thereby giving the business owner the choice and letting the free market determine which businesses succeed. Something tells me there is room for both.

But it’s not really about tolerance is it? The truth is some nonsmokers just hate smoking and would probably love to see it outlawed. They see it as a ridiculous act which only harms people. Beyond that they make bold statements like “why should I have to inadvertently pay your health bills through my higher insurance fees and taxes?” Smokers meanwhile retort by saying things such as “We live in a free country, we should be allowed to do what we want with our own bodies and if I enjoy smoking then I shouldn’t be told I can’t.”

It is a hard call. None of us are here forever. Our goal is not to arrive unbeaten and unbruised into the grave. I’ve heard many a smoker make comments like “it may cut ten years off the end of my life, but those are the worst ten years anyway.” There is some logic in that. It’s not like we go on living forever if we just eat healthy, work out and don’t smoke. We’re all going to grow old and die one way or the other. Whether it’s breaking a hip and slowly losing your health or slowly dying of lung cancer or having a heart attack and going quickly. So until science can find a way to extend our lives to the point where we can live healthy and happy in a 24 year olds body for hundreds of years, we’re going to hit that point where death is upon us. But even then I could smoke for 20 years and get hit by a car. Wouldn’t have really mattered how long I smoked then, would it? To a smoker their quality of life is enjoying it. Being free to do as they wish. Exploiting the various sins of man to their satisfaction.

On the other hand nonsmokers take the approach that they want to feel better, breath better and not stink of smoke. That’s how they want to live their lives.

The question is, should one side really dictate how the other should live?

Personally I like to take a middle ground approach. While I believe that smokers should be free to smoke I think they need to take more responsibility with it. They should have the decency and concern not to smoke around kids and other nonsmokers. Or at the very least ask the nonsmokers if they mind and not take offense if they say they do. Smokers should also stick to areas that are smoke friendly, including bars which are all smoking.

On the flip side, nonsmokers shouldn’t put themselves in situations where they have cause to complain.

But then so much of this isn’t really a choice anymore is it? Because the government here in Michigan has just banned the practice in most public places. So I guess this is a victory for some and a show of intolerance for others.

Of course there is a third option. E-cigarettes. These are a better solution for everyone. So long as smokers can handle the slight change of texture and nonsmokers can get over their hatred of anything that remotely resembles a cigarette.

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but…

Ever hear the old saying “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover”?

Usually this saying is applied to people. Generally the saying is true. But I think more then anything, the real message behind the saying is not “don’t prejudge people” but instead “take the time to get to know them after you’ve prejudged them”.

We all judge people. It’s human nature. First impressions are key indicators in a whole range of situations, whether it be a job interview or a first date.

I like to add to this saying “… but you can get a pretty good idea what it’s about.”

The reality is you can tell a lot about a person from their exterior. The way they dress, the way they carry themselves, the way they talk, the things they do, the way their body is shaped, their hair style and so on.
We try to tell ourselves that inner beauty is the most important thing. But inner beauty is a relative thing. Just like qualities such as “nice” or “mean” are pretty relative at best. I could say “he’s fat but he’s a nice guy”. Well what’s nice to me might not be nice to you. For all I know you could have a personality clash with him. Just like you could think he’s mean and I think he’s sarcastic and funny. However neither of use can disagree that he’s fat. That in itself shows a certain insight into his personality and how well he takes care of himself, what his diet might be like and how often he works out. These are visual indicators of certain aspects of his personality. It’s perfectly fine for us to judge him on that aspect of his personality. What’s not ok is to judge him as a whole on just that one single aspect.

Let me give you an example. I’m not a big fan of tattoos. When I see someone with tattoos I judge them. I know right off the bat that their sense of style is different then my own. The more tattoos they have, the further their sense of style is from my own. I like things clean and simple. Now does this mean they are bad people or that I’m not going to enjoy their company and conversation? Not at all. But will I go out of my way to try and meet them? Probably not. The important thing is that if I’m in a situation to meet them, I don’t go out of my way to let my prejudice stand in the way of getting to know them better.

While I can’t judge a book by it’s cover, it has to grab my attention to even give it a chance. It’s one thing to just not take interest because what you see doesn’t interest you, it’s another thing to let that initial judgment take precedence over everything.

Now there are people who will do the reverse and go out of their way to meet people who they might otherwise feel they would clash with. Nothing wrong with that. But those same people have to understand that if the rest of us don’t do like they do, it’s not because we aren’t open. It’s more because we’ve spent some time on this earth and have tuned ourselves to understand that generally our stereotypes are true. Stereotypes do exist for a reason. They are based on common observations over time. The important thing is, once again, not to let our stereotypes stop us from diving deeper. As well as certainly not to use those stereotypes as a means for hate.

The one thing that’s great about humanity is our capacity for change. We are capable of adapting our perspectives over time based on new information. It’s when we stop ourselves from adapting, that’s when the real danger sets in.

Bi-sexuality

Lets talk about bisexuality. I think there is a certain level of distaste for bisexuality even as acceptance of “gays” becomes more mainstream in pop culture. Bi-sexuals are grossly misunderstood by society as a whole so I would like to try and clear up some of the misunderstanding. First: What is a Bi-Sexual? — A bi-sexual is a person (male or female) that finds both the opposite and the same sex attractive to the point that they would be willing to engage in sexual activity with either gender. Read More