Thursday, October 16, 2014

Instaneous Communication: A 3x3 Window on a Fast Moving Train

Is the internet to blame for a major shift in humankind's communication methods? Originally, we were visual creatures. Messages were shared through hand motions. Using earth-derived paints, we drew pictures in sand and carved caricatures into stone. Next, we developed language. Now we could tell stories with symbols and sounds. Through language, our culture changes from perceiving ideas via movement to comprehending concepts through the shapes of symbols or letters. For centuries, the power of the written word controlled our societies. Those privileged enough to be literate and have access to texts, those who truly understood the publications of Kings and Gods and Lords and Landowners, had the advantage of interpreting such as they chose and filtering what was passed down to the illiterate masses.

The development of the printing press was perhaps more a tool for democracy than any other technological advancement. Suddenly, the illiterate masses could own books and even learn to read and interpret the text in which their newly acquirred books contained. Language was power and books were a means of rebellion. Not only did words mean something, they meant a lot.

The internet was, once upon a time, a space for words. We logged into read live journals, message boards, wikis, blogs, and even *gasp* live-breaking news! People, anyone with access to the internet, had a platform to say whatever they'd like, and we, as readers, could find those words and read it all. The internet emerged as the place in which people, all people, could speak.

Say, three years ago, blogging reached what I fear will forever be its peak. I decided to go public and created a space to channel the thoughts keeping me up at night into words. Strange thoughts about punk boys and getting older, important ideas addressing feminism and the contents of the Millenial generation. I came here, wrote, and expelled. You, my readers, would actually read those thoughts. Those ideas. And, then, my time would come and I would read yours. In that odd pixeled way, I feel we knew each other. I felt we truly connected. There was so much comfort in knowing that you simply exist.

Blogging gave way to microblogging and we learned to speak less freely, more compactly. Twitter rewarded us for being clever and to the point, for being witty and curt. Although I appreciated the challenge, I longed for the verbosity of blogging. So often it's not the conclusion of the story that matters, but rather the manner in which our prose winds and tangles upon reaching that end. Sometimes, the journey is the story and the destination is quite dull, but at least we grew in getting there. Twitter doesn't understand that part about me about anyone.

Just as blogging paved the evolution of microblogging, microblogging gave way to visual microblogging. Fuck words. Use a single image. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Or is it? You can scroll past hundreds of photographs in mere seconds, absorbing it all in entirety at the speed of light. That's the whole phenomenon behind Instagram: it is instant. However, when something becomes instantaneous it sacrifices its comprehensibility, its completeness. Instagram is a 3x3'' window on a fast moving train. Do you truly understand anything discovered through a window? If a train moves through Oslo going 100mph while passengers stare through a tiny plexiglass square, were the passengers ever really in Oslo? Did they see enough to accurately say they have seen the city? Did they come to understand anything about that place through such a journey?

I fear that eventually, visual microblogging will give way to a whole culture that communicates solely through pictures and emojis and abbreviations. No longer will humans greet each other with a verbal "Hello." We'll instead project an image of a hand waving in front of each others' faces. The punchline of your jokes will not conclude in a cascade of a laughter, but a projection of crying smiley faces. Maybe we'll use sign language to spell out the letters R, O, F, and L, separately like that to emphasize the abbreviation.

Shouldn't the future excite us? Why then, does the very prospect of veering away from written language depress me so? Are visuals a more efficient way of communicating? Perhaps my opinion has something to do with the way in which I, in particular, communicate. I find myself lost within the transition from words to images. I want to talk it through. I structure my thoughts in complete sentences and blocks of prose. I find comfort in hopping from point A to point B in my own head with an audience watching.

Click. Another picture of a face captured, but behind every selfie exists a brain containing so many complete sentences. That's the side of people we ought to know and relate to. Yep, that inside globby bit. Otherwise, what's the meaning of all this? What's the purpose of technological experiences when there's no level of humanity behind them?

Anyways, how retro is blogging? So quirky. So charming. Bloggers have so many feelings. I have so many feelings. Well, isn't that cute?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

High Fives for Low Lives.

Grunge is an addiction and you're worse than nicotine. Scratch that. You are worse than the black tar I would kill for. Two years sober and I swear I'd tear flesh from bone and drink blood like wine off the nearest junkie who was as sick as I was: as sick as I still am.

But, what if you are real? Eat acid. See God. We could meet up next weekend to eat pizza and complain. Your cells contain the universe, but I'm afraid you're growing up. Giving up. What's the difference? Fuck pizza. What the world needs is a group hug.

In a search for something higher I found only trash. Began a search for myself just to pass time. We all burn hotter in the end, so with a Marlboro hanging from my lips, I'm here to tell you how to live your life.

Two pills a day to calm my brain, but it's my mind that chooses not to behave. So, did smack steal your appetite or did some monster of a man? A lifetime spent trying to wash away the dirt entered through windows you remember locking and a summertime spent underneath a pear tree making a love sweeter than that blessed fruit's nectar.

Flashback. We're in your old bathtub on 42nd, shampoo in our hair, only water in sight bred from the nipples of my face and absorbed into the fabric of your flesh. I'd love to be back in that place in your head, but you're just too good at being alone.

Bragging now, "My first time was with a grown man," you'll recreate memories only needles can erase as I am left seasick in an endless epiphany of implications. The witch who gave birth to me no longer bothers to call, so when I'm shipped home like a Russian mail order bride, the paramedics scream, "Everybody back up, she's still alive."

Track marks - not hieroglyphics - so you read me like braille. Perhaps I'm too busy being the needle in someone else's arm to belong to myself. Perhaps I've seen too much unknown through another's dope-tinted lenses. If that last line left you confused consider yourself lucky that such men are not archetypes in the plot you call life.

We plan for life but only live in binge and purge moments. Inside two star motel drug holidays, there's no love, only words to obtain what you want. I'll walk alongside the nervous laughter of the girls whose arms are only filled while their man is around while secretly lusting after such a bourgeois luxury.

Pet snake sleeps on my arm like a childhood bracelet while seventy two hook and eye closures led to bolted legs unhinged. Sans man. Voodoo realm entrance accepted. Am I more of a woman? Baby Jesus and the devil are fucking inside me. One more sick without you.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I will write about abortion until all people stop cringing at the word. #teamgia

Once upon a time there was a girl who had sex when she was just a child. It ended in pregnancy and she felt obligated to share her decision to terminate the pregnancy with the boy who impregnated her. When this bastard decided to run an online smear campaign bringing this brave lil' lady's character into question her life turned upside down. No longer was she Gia the track star who wore fishtail braids before they were a thing and was the only eighth grade girl in advanced physics. Gia's talents, alternative hairstyles, and fiery personality no longer meant a thing. She was reduced down to the "whore" who got an abortion.

Far too much of Gia's story has been dictated by this single jerkoid. So, eleven years later, here's my message to the cowardly little boy who impregnated one hell of a woman.

Stop attacking the morality of a fourteen year old girl who selflessly terminated a pregnancy in order to prevent a child being brought into the world who neither parent had the ability to care for. Gia's decision preserved your youth and stopped a child from being raised in circumstances unfit for any child. So, why then, is it Gia's morality that's in question? What kind of fourteen year old boy has sex with a fourteen year old girl without protection and then starts an online smear campaign demonizing her for making a decision with her own body that best fit the needs of her, her family, and you? How did you plan on raising a child at the age of fourteen? How would you afford to feed it or watch over it? You would not have had the resources. You would dump it on her or your own parents and continue to live like the carefree little shit you are while occasionally playing with your son or daughter whenever it was most convenient. You both had unprotected sex at age fourteen, but it was Gia who was faced with an unforgettable decision. You owe her so much more than what you gave her. Your words suggest that you believe it was Gia's responsibility to give birth and that she somehow owed this fetus something. A pregnant woman does not owe a developing fetus anymore than the fetus owes his or her parent's an apology for being alive. Suck on that.

Gia took a job just eight miles away from her old junior high and next month she'll move back out to California to a town she has avoided for the past nine years (the town she departed before high school to escape misogynist pro-life bullying.) So, a big fuck you to pro-lifers. Looks like you lose. Again. Because Gia is not the girl who got an abortion at age fourteen. She's the super slick physics nerd with a smarty-pants engineering degree who only wears hoop earrings, taught me that frozen grapes will change your life as much as lip liner does, has a secret knowledge of mechanics who hopes to someday adopt foster children. #teamgia

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Go ahead. Judge me for my make-up.

Sans make-up my face exists as a amalgamation of tissue, protein, cartilage, and cells. The arrangement of all that previously mentioned reveals nothing about who I am as a person. I simply crawled out the womb and aged. Conversely, my cosmetic choices did not simply crawl out the womb and age alongside my face. Unlike nature, my gene pool, and my DNA, I exercise control over the products I smear on my face. I chose it. I put it there. Me and my personality carefully select this routine. Thus, make-up (tattoos and piercings included) is the absolute closest humans will get to facial self-expression.

So, when a dude tells you he prefers you without make-up, there's an even more serious issue than the fact that he's taking relationship advice from Drake. He's telling you that he prefers you when you do not make choices that advance your personal identity. Such statements suggest that your body is preferred over your brain. Your brain is the reason you rimmed your eyes with coal black liner. Your brain is the reason you lips are always masked in NYX, Tarte, or Lime Crime (all vegan approved!). Your brain is the reason you think glitter, not concealer, is the best way to camouflage under-eye circles.

Your naked face and body are inane vessels through which you operate and reveal nothing about your ideals, personality, interests, skill set, etc. Does our economic identity and need to physically protect ourselves sometimes deter us from expressing our truest selves? (I totally cannot afford every shade of MAC lipstick or the newest Jeffrey Campbell’s and there are definitely cities I would not feel safe experimenting with my gender identity/expression.)Yes. Of fucking course. But even taking that into account, every time you make a decision to clothe your body or apply cosmetics you are making a decision to reflect yourself through the canvas of your physical being.

Motivated Millennials needed to Spark next Iconoclastic Movement

I belong to a generation sans alternative, but how can a subculture exist alongside a mainstream culture that is nothing more than a synthesis of every subculture that has ever been? 

I find myself pissed off a lot. Scratch that. Not pissed off. Disappointed. Disappointed in the fact that my peers, my fellow Gen-Yers, are not angrier about life - about insurance companies selling us shit deals because it is all we can afford, about pre-packaged food working as population control, about how nine-to-fives pulverize human souls, about how we work those nine-to-fives because someone somewhere proclaimed living for free unfathomable, about how kids do not read for fun anymore, about how vinyl is now on the endangered species list, about the wealthy investing to produce more excess to hoard, about the ever expanding income gap, about all of the social inequalities that divide us and how confidently all too many people declare those inequalities do not exist. I am disappointed with the contentment of my generation. I am disappointed in the fact that we all complain about the ways things are but do little to nothing to change these things. I am disappointed that I am part of the problem.

Yet, there is no noteworthy anti-cultural movement here today. The world remains thirsty for something fresh, something thought-provoking, something to kick us in the ass and yell, "YOU'RE ENTIRE REALITY COULD BE SO DIFFERENT." I refuse to believe that my generation is too lazy too talentless. Our generation's jazz movement, our flapper movement, our beat movement, our hippie movement, our punk movement, our gangster rap movement is a fire just waiting for fuel.

So, will there be another iconoclastic movement? And if so, will we Millennials be the founders or a distant memory reduced to a chapter in high school textbooks? What's going to make us hear music like we'd never heard music before?  Will we have something to tease our children with and brag that we saw first? Will anything at all change our generation's ideals and value system? Exactly how can our generation have a voice if we don't know what it is we are trying to say?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ten Ways to Make your Teen Years Count.

1. Get a job, rather it be after-school, or something seasonal. Even if you are not in financial need, get one. It will probably be terrible. You will complain and fall in love with it at the same time. You may think you are smarter than everyone there, and there is a strong likelihood that your work environment will be completely corrupt and the most bogus thing ever. You will learn to support yourself, and acknowledge your privilege, rather it be financial, access to educational opportunities, intellect, able-bodiedness, etc. You will learn to work with a team in the hopes of achieving a common goal. If you work with the public you will see how your actions appear to other people and learn exactly whom you do not want to grow up to become. Additionally, if you plan to enter the professional work sphere someday, how do you expect to know how to have a successful interview and interact with coworkers if you've never even had a menial part-time job?

2. Make out with someone you would not normally make out with, rather that be someone of the same-sex, opposite sex, or outside of your usual "type." Do not be lame and do it in front of a group of people to prove how "edgy" or "free-spirited" you are. Do it privately, for your own purposes, and with someone who will not place you in a dangerous situation for kissing them.

3. Get punched in the face for a good cause. Stand up for someone getting bullied or tell some bigot jerk-oid that their parent's did a shitty job of instilling respectable values in them. Please do not put yourself in any real danger. Stay away from people who carry weapons or people who are so super insecure that they will do serious bodily harm to others just to prove a point. Teach yourself to not be afraid of the little things and to always stand up for what you believe in.

4. Do something you are forbid to do. Go on private property and share a joint with your best friend. Get caught up in the heat of the moment and cast aside your clothing. I am not encouraging you to set yourself up for chemical dependency or heartbreak, but you can not be afraid to make mistakes. Without them you will never grow as an individual. You must challenge where you place importance in order to fully comprehend your true values. Your moral code should be a reflection of your life experiences, not a regurgitation of what you have been preprogrammed to believe. Do not be stupid and run off with someone you've never met twice your age just because he promises you acid. Stay away from meth. There's a reason why calling someone a "tweaker" is an insult. Steer clear from heroin. You'll think you're really deep and misunderstood until you met someone who has fallen in love with the needle.

5. Experiment with your hair. Chop it like you've never chopped it before, bleach it and dip your locks in a thick dye. Hair grows back and it will teach you that your appearance is not important.

6. Take advantage of your privileged access to endless amounts of information, knowledge, entertainment, and perspective. Read. Give your history teachers hell by reading Karl Marx and Angela Davis. Give your friends something to playfully tease you about and read Tom Robbins. Be cliche and read Bukowski and Plath. Earn yourself some street cred and read Kathleen Hanna's zines and Kurt Cobain's journal entries. Read Bust Magazine so that you understand the importance of calling yourself a feminist. Read teeny-bopper magazines and Nicholas Spark novels so you can understand what the fuck is going on with our nation's youth.

7. Do well enough in school that you can afford to cut class every once in a while. Make your ditch days count though. Drive to the beach to create memories with a loved one, express pent-up emotions through horrible art, create a zine addressing a social justice cause you're passionate about. Whatever you do, do not sit at home and watch television. Your own life should be more exciting than the fictional depictions of television characters.

8. Teach yourself how to do something, rather how to play a musical instrument, how to make spoon jewelry, or how to knit mittens. The goal is to improve your skill set and stick with something. If possible, work together with a group of friends who are equally talentless (to start with anyways), or, if you know someone who is particularly skilled, ask them to tutor you. Write bad songs. Craft ramshackle knitwear. Play every show you possibly can. Give all your friends your shitty mittens for their birthdays. Have fun and laugh when you make mistakes.

9. Trust the kindness of strangers and be nice to everyone you meet until they give you a reason to act otherwise. If someone insults your physical appearance, you can dish them some sass back without necessarily stooping to their level of asshole-ness. You are hot, I swear. Remember you can find something "wrong" with anyone's physical self if you look hard enough. If someone insults your character, weigh their input and learn how to grow from their criticism, regardless of if their original intent was constructive or not. If you are attacked for your race, sex, gender expression, and/or sexual/romantic orientation, fight back when it is safe to do so, but remember that people are unpredictable when their biases are threatened. Remove yourself from hostile environments because you are irreplaceable.

 10.  Leave town upon turning eighteen, regardless of your financial situation. Do not limit your adventure because of your parent's or guardian's fears. It does not matter if a prestigious uber awesome college is located right smack in the middle of your town or if your hometown is Los Angeles or New York City. To grow is to explore and adventure. If you find your hometown is where your heart is, you can always return, but you will never know that for certain without trying life outside of its borders. Your place of residence should reflect your desires, not the choices of your family to reside within a particular city.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Appropriateness and Moral Condemnation: Why Sex Matters but Shouldn't.


in·ap·pro·pri·ate [in-uh-proh-pree-it]
not appropriate; not proper or suitable: an inappropriate dress for the occasion.
improper, unsuitable, inapt, unfitting.

Here's the difference between a scantily-clad woman and a scantily-clad man. The man will read as humorous and good-natured, people will laugh. However, people will interpret the woman's lack of "proper" attire with sexual aggression. Why? Simply speaking, women is not seen as equally human, thus she is instead interpreted as a desirable object for men to twist, churn, and fuck. If she were seen as human, rather than as a sexualized object, others would acknowledge the plethora of interpretations behind her partial or full nudity beyond those that are strictly sexual in nature. 

Whenever someone expresses their opinion that a woman is dressed "inappropriately" due to too much of her body being exposed, they're outwardly suggesting that a woman's body is inherently inappropriate. Now, why would a woman's body be inappropriate? Society largely limits female bodies sole purpose to that of a sexual nature. Juxtapose contemporary western society's mutual demonization of sex and objectification of female bodies, and the final result is confusing and contradictory. The idea that the female body is provocative by nature implies that a male's exposure to too much of the female form will "provoke" him to act out in a sexual way. This manifestation of reductionist sexist assessment of the reasons for which women exist continually promotes the notion that a woman's body exists solely for the sexual satisfaction of heterosexual men.

Women do not exist for the sexual satisfaction of men. They simply exist, and in their existence, their body will serve a multitude of functions. It is not our responsibility, as women, to shroud our bodies from men. Just as it is a woman's responsibility to understand the appropriate time and place to view a man as a sexual entity, so too is it a man's responsibility to treat women with the same regard. 

I do not shout sexual suggestions at men jogging shirtless down the street. I do not stare at men's crotches when they choose to wear body-hugging pants. I do not ogle at muscle-tee wearing men in the hopes of getting a glimpse of naked torso. We understand such actions as unwanted and inappropriate. So, why do all too many men feel entitled to stare at a girl's ass when she bends down to adjust her boot strap, or catcall women on their way to work, or wink at a woman in a sports bra at the gym? If I know when it is appropriate to sexualize a man's body and when it is not, I expect the same consideration from men.

The normalization of sexism complicates one's ability to effectively respond to it in the heat of the moment. How do you demonstrate the injustice behind one's comments when institutionalized tolerance has been so deeply ingrained in their minds that the speaker is both the victim and perpetrator? Here are some statements you could say when you are presented with a situation in which someone is morally condemning a woman due to her outfit choice:

"Why are you sexualizing her body? You're making me uncomfortable."
"Do you understand how your comments promote rape culture? You are suggesting that it is a woman's responsibility to not be sexualized without her consent, rather than the responsibility of men to not sexualize women against their will. This mentality leads society to think women who dress a particular way are 'asking for it' and invalidates their experiences of sexual misconduct.
To school administrators/fellow students:
"Do you think it's appropriate to humiliate female students and make them ashamed of their bodies?"
Or, just straight up:
"Stop creeping on that woman. What's inappropriate about the flesh, bone, and muscle that together make up her legs?"

The most effective responses aim to educate, rather than perpetuate feelings of shame and humiliation, the individual/group of individuals who are making such comments about the implications of their words. Yes, there are men who are elitist assholes who act as if they are God's gift to women, but unless you have reason to believe otherwise, as the patriarchy encourages men to behave in such a light and not recognize the consequences of their behavior, you can often assume the ignorance of the perpetrators.