Saturday, March 12, 2011

return of the myface

It's such a bizarre faux-personal world. Here are some uniquely alienating things about facebook:

1) Everyone seems like they're about to be having a fascinating conversation, but they aren't. People post cool stuff they've found, and they "like" it, and then. . . maybe a pithy comment or two. And that's all. But if you're on when your friends are on, there's a steady stream of new somethings in your news stream--a constant promise that real conversation might break out. It's perpetual, promising, dissatisfaction.

2) Facebook is full of people who I find interesting, but have trouble actually connecting with at all. Facebook will keep us nominally in touch for longer and longer periods of time, but doesn't change the fact that I've no idea how to make it anything more than stupid, expectant button clicks. Imagine a parakeet throwing itself against a glass wall over and over again.

3) I get caught up in the hypnotic stream of other people's "actions," which they probably don't get any more satisfaction out of than I do. Clicking buttons--joining the right groups, "liking" the right things--feels like getting something done. Except it doesn't accomplish anything. . . so you keep observing everyone else's faux-productivity (and a little of their real productivity) and feeling worse and worse about the fact that you aren't accomplishing anything while watching them, no matter how you click.

This is why I musn't spend more than about five minutes there on any given day. If someone wants to talk to me they can send me a God-damned email. That place is distracting.

Monday, March 07, 2011

disagree with his geographic scale, but otherwise. . .

"Not too far from us, a few blocks away, there are kids without enough to eat and without parents who care. A little farther away, hours by plane, are people who are unable to reach their goals because they live in a community that doesn't have the infrastructure to support them. A but farther away are people being brutally persecuted by their governments. And the world is filled with people who can't go to high school, never mind college, and who certainly can't spend their time focused on whether or not they get a good parking space at work.

And so, the obligation: don't settle.

To have all these advantages, all this momentum, all these opportunities and then settle for the mediocre, and then defend the status quo, and then worry about corporate politics--what a waste. . . I don't think we have any choice. I think we have an obligation to change the rules, to raise the bar, to play a different game, and to play it better than anyone has any right to believe is possible."

Said Seth Godin, in Tribes. Which is mostly a pep talk to help people overcome risk-averseness. . . but this, I've thought for a long time.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

to not buy love

I keep coming back to how unfair it is that women's appearance has such impact on their social status. The* counterpart to this is wealth, on which men are unduly judged in all kinds of circumstances.

Being feminist, dating gives me a lot to chew on. By conservative estimates, being male is still worth five percent of your paycheck. For many women dating is an interview process for motherhood, a position of serious economic vulnerability. On some level, generosity and wealth are reasonable, non-discriminatory things to be attracted to.

However, after a certain number of dates with thirty-something geek businessmen who were "proud of their ability as a provider"--and who seemed both delighted by and impervious to my passion for social(ist) analysis--it became clear that accepting the existing system** wouldn't do.

Eventually I arrived at a sort of formula for handling this in my own life. I don't care how much money they don't have, as long as they are good at:

1) Meeting their own needs
2) Making me feel loved, cared for, and appreciated, and
3) Carrying their half of responsibility for a family, should that ever become relevant.

I would date someone who doesn't have these things covered, as long as fixing that was a serious priority in their life. It goes without saying that in the eventuality that finances are combined, communication is prioritized and agreements kept.

I also developed a romantic-gift rule. I'll guiltlessly accept gifts that are just to make me happy, but not gifts of things I need when I'm unable to comfortably take care of those basic needs myself. In a very serious relationship, I would also, carefully, accept gifts related to unmet basic needs, as long as they were targeted towards making me better able to independently meet those needs in the long run.

I like these rules. Clearly they aren't perfect for all situations; in the event of zombie apocalypse, the gift rule would get unwieldy fast. And my understanding of "half the responsibility for a family" is necessarily flexible and feminist, so in practice it would take a lot of discussion. Still, I love having clear boundaries that protect independence.

*the other counterpart is hight, which is interesting because the discrimination is severe, consistent, and not just in romance--despite the fact that being short is not something people have any control over.

**For me, a (theoretically happy?) relationship wherein I would eventually come live with him and have all my financial needs covered, and he would get this niftykeen quirky wife who was all special and smart, and handy for amusing conversation in the evenings and showing off to his friends. Yeech.