Category Archives: Social Rules

How’s It Hanging?

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As an acclaimed problem ̶c̶a̶u̶s̶e̶r̶ solver, I finally made an official template for reasonable choices in regard to the herpetic toilet paper roll quandary. Its ongoing existence is proof that the adage, “Everything. Everyone. Everywhere ends, except an argument,” is true.

It’s more pernicious on social media than a case of goat rash. I think Robert Mueller is about to indict all of us for perpetuating it.

I don’t care how you want the roll, nor does anything the patent holder for it might have to say interest me. Let’s be honest, there’s no way we’re all going to agree on the orientation of the toilet paper as it hangs from the holder. We can’t even agree on who is the best presidential candidate to ruin our country.

In the past, I’ve simply pointed out that the roller is not required for household use under federal law. Neither is toilet paper, for that matter, but it makes any food ‘hand-made’ sound terrible. You can put the roll any direction you want, or anywhere you want to put it. Don’t take that TOO literally.

As Neo might have said, “There is no hole and no roll, either.” Interpret as needed.

I can’t go a day without seeing a protracted argument about toilet paper rolls.

(Not to be confused with my recipe for delicious Toilet Paper Rolls & Croissants, which are scrumptious.)

The idea that, as an adult, you can simply choose NOT to use a toilet paper holder (like a savage or Alabama resident) surprises people. If you aren’t allowed to ‘free roll’ it, you should feel free to use any of the horrible guest hand towels in the restroom in lieu of paper in the loo. And flush those, too, just to keep the plumber economy robust.

I hereby grant you the right to simply not put the toilet paper roll on the holder. After years of testing, I’ve determined that it will not contribute to the apocalypse.

Likewise, if you’re are feeling really mean, put two holders in the bathroom. Hang one as “A” and the other as “B.” Fill the bathtub with loose rolls, too, just to cover your bases. It is possible that one of your guests might have eaten at Domino’s pizza and in that scenario, 123 rolls of toilet paper might be just enough.

You’re welcome.

Or ‘your welcome,’ if you are into random grammatical errors.

“How’s it hanging?” will no longer be a casual question we need to concern ourselves with.
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Life’s Privilege

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A couple of years ago, I made a picture for another website. Since it was my picture, I posted it on my own social media. A few people got irritated about it. They didn’t directly share their aggression, though. They snarked and bit at the fringes of their frustration. It’s what people do instead of finding a way to honestly share their uncomfortable opinions.

Because so much time has passed, I’ve learned that the irritation resulted from their displeasure with the word “privilege.” It’s one of those words which people have sometimes weaponized to imply that well-to-do people have become blind to the real world or minority considerations. On the other website, the one which didn’t attribute the photo to a person, the commentary turned dark and sour very quickly. The word has only become more amplified and vilified since then. Memes refuting the absurdity of the implied observation of privilege are immensely popular.

Coincidentally enough, a couple of social media friends recently shared anecdotes about their daily lives. They neatly tied conclusions to their stories. The problem is that they were oblivious to the privilege embedded in every aspect of their stories. I only noticed it because their stories generalized stereotypes about the circumstances of the other players involved in their anecdotes, the bit players serving as the backdrop for their conclusions. Having money, time, and means to travel to a place and have someone else prepare their food, serve them, and attend their needs is a part of the privilege of having resources. I, of course, didn’t mention my observations to them. That sort of honesty draws a bit of anger and retaliation. Most people enjoy the satisfaction of thinking that their success is due almost entirely to merit.

Make no mistake, many people have worked hard and made the right choices. I know several people who deserve respect for the way they’ve played their cards.

As we all know, however, it is possible to do everything right and still lose, though.

For some of us, we know that a single moment, one unearned, can ruin our lives, plans, finances, or health. A body on the floor. A negligent motorist at an intersection. An undiagnosed valve in someone’s heart. Cancer cells in one’s lungs, even after never smoking and living a clean life. A plane falling from the sky on a Saturday morning in September. A call to defend one’s country halfway around the world.

Some feel that their faith or belief in God has favored them. Whether this is true or not, I know several devout people whose lives are infused with compassion and lovingkindness who’ve experienced some of life’s most grievous challenges. Whether it makes people uneasy or not, faith does not equate to favorable circumstance upon us, nor is a lack of it a reason for failure. Grief and good are sprinkled in equal measure upon everyone.

It is possible to feel satisfied with one’s full life. Pride, honor, and fulfillment are natural consequences of threading the complex needle of circumstance in life.

Good people don’t weaponize the word “privilege.”

Good people also don’t fight the necessity of recognizing their luck against the prism of reality.

For some, their mantra is “If you don’t have to think about it, it’s privilege.” For others, “If it’s not a problem to you personally, it’s not a problem.” Also, “The fact that privilege helps you doesn’t mean you didn’t have to work hard, but it does mean that others have to work harder to overcome societal disadvantage.”

These quips are popular because they antagonize the simple fact of privilege and turn it into an accusation as if those with privilege all abuse their opportunities selfishly. These simplistic bumper sticker quips exist precisely because some people snarl and bark when asked to recognize their head start in life.

Fair or not, I feel rich. And privileged. It’s foolish for me to look around and forget how lucky I am. Most of my luck is a result of geography, not effort. I’ve been lucky enough to have decent health and at least access to a massive medical infrastructure to rescue me if not. My youth was violent and poor. I had the privilege of miraculously avoiding making one too many mistakes that would’ve derailed me further. I’m proud of my aversion to the politics and prejudices of those around me when I was young.

Simply put, the majority of my life’s privilege results from where I was born on this planet. The rest falls to demographics, education, and opportunity. I can’t take credit for those things.

I don’t have to curse myself for being lucky, either. Nor should any of us feel guilty. But we should all feel thankful.

Absent some of these factors, no amount of pluck and effort would have propelled me above the station I would have otherwise been assigned.

Privilege. The privilege of being.

If you zoom out above the Earth, you’ll find that your life is one of wealth and privilege. Comparison proves that you are lucky to have been born where you are, with the body and mind you have, accompanied by the geography and economics of opportunity.

If you’re accused of ignoring your privilege, lean into and be thankful for your life.
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Universal Law of Religious Comparison

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“You sound weird.” -A quote from a member of one religion to every other member of any other religion or denomination.

Corollary: “Additionally, while I’m not specifically saying so, your way is misguided.” Also known as “The Highlander Rule of Religion” – as there can be only one.

Corollary Sequel Pertaining to Deniability: Even if you’re not aware of it, almost every religious person looks at the beliefs and practices of others with an aloof, if not a superior, critical, or comedic eye. Including yours.

Bacon? Temple garments? E-meters? Mysticism? Kaparot? Exorcism? Blood transfusions? Self-flagellation? Fasting? Confession? Scripture? Polygamy? Snake handling? Speaking in tongues? Animal sacrifice? Confirmation? Hymns? Silent worship? Reincarnation? Caffeine? Alcohol? Priesthood? Anointing? Penance? Communion/Eucharist/Transubstantiation? Meditation? Sin? Circumcision/Bris? Purification? Genuflecting? Faith healing? Praying? Guru? Karma? Baptism? Rapture? Armageddon? Prophets? Miracles? Crucifixion? Celibacy? Vows of silence? Pilgrimage? Cremation? Burial? Polytheism? Monotheism? Idolatry? Angels? Demons? Heaven? Hell? Purgatory? Sabbath? Original sin? Commandments? Male authority?

This post isn’t anti-religion. Any inspection of religion tends to spark an immediate and wrathful reaction from those who feel accused by outside observation or commentary, even if people are just asking questions. It’s an observation regarding how members of different religions react to how others practice their own distinct faiths. I’ve come to distrust those whose reactions tend to be angry or strident. The only sermon that works in the lives of others is one of example. “Words conceal, actions reveal” tends to be a great way to gauge someone’s convictions. Shouting may result in silence or cooperation but never conversion.

As an outsider, it’s fascinating to observe the huge variety of religions and denominations. Most adherents tend to practice supremacy in regard to their own particular faith and rituals. It’s the human way of doing things. It makes for some dreadful consequences at times, especially to those of other faiths or no faith whatsoever. The insistence of certainty clouds human interaction as thickly as just about any other human condition.

Having lived more than half a century, I still sit in amazement as I observe the faithful from one group interact and observe others as they go about the practice of their faith. One of life’s greatest pleasures is discovering someone with faith who walks their path without regard to the path another person chooses. They often get drowned out, though. The urge to judge the path of another is almost inescapable.

“We all sound crazy to somebody else.”

Except in my case. I sound crazy to everybody else.
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Logo Wars in Springdale

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My apologies to Springdale residents. Satire is my friend. You should all know that NATO is about to declare war on the city logo.

I still hate the waffle-fry logo. The Explore Springdale variant, however, is awesome. Seriously. I love it. It’s simple and the symbolism is obvious. I might be biased, though, with a name like “X.” I’ve noted that many people happily insist that it’s my name due to illiteracy.

Each time I see the official logo, I wonder, “Why are we being punished?” It’s no accident that Kleenex offered to be our Official Sponsor in 2017.

I can’t prove it, but I suspect that the logo itself will soon be featured in some crime documentary. The demented subject of same will be shown on camera, his hair matted with chicken feathers, insisting “That darned logo made me do it.” Defense lawyers will start calling it the ‘Waffle Logo Defense.’ Even the guy from “Making a Murderer” won’t comment in case it causes him to receive a longer prison sentence.

I’ve resisted using the logo as an excuse to play blind man’s tic-tac-toe on the municipal vehicles afflicted with the logo. Or “no-go,” as the case may be. I do have a case of rainbow markers ready for when my willpower diminishes. The prosecutor* told me it’s just a misdemeanor to deface the logos on city vehicles. Also, while I will have to do community service, they will also give me a city beautification award if I manage to discolor enough of the logos to make Springdale residents happier by seeing fewer of them.

*This post does not advocate defacing city property. In my defense, though, if the property in question displays an official Springdale logo, it’s already quite defaced.

“Beauty Spits In The Eye of the Beholder” springs to mind when I see the logo. “We Lost A Bet” is my second thought, followed closely by, “LSD Is Your Friend.” A friend of mine suggested “A Chicken In Every Pothole.” That last part is humor, by the way. The streets and roads are nicely maintained, in my opinion. But if you drive a convertible, it’s no joke to pass or get behind a chicken truck. It’s my hope that some of the yokels figure out that the new bike lanes aren’t just really small third lanes, too. The screaming is getting fairly loud during peak hours.

We all agree that the logo, Ray Doton’s cowboy hat, and the mayor’s hairstyle are the three biggest hurdles facing Springdale. (The mayor as an administrator is doing a great job, though.) The city itself is awesome unless you live on the East side, in which case your GPS is permanently linked to the destination marked “Elsewhere.” Many people don’t know that we now hold the demolition derby on this side of town during normal traffic hours. So far, no one has noticed.

I would post the city logo here again. The last time I downloaded it, however, I got flagged by Facebook for promoting violence and for displaying graphic imagery. Just imagine that five drunken people got into a fight while playing pixie sticks and then became ill on top of the scattered sticks. It’s a pretty accurate rendering of the logo.

I’m biased, though. I like nice things and beauty, no matter what conclusions you might draw by looking at my face.

I’ve made several versions of logos through the years, some seriously intentional and most stupidly satirical, much like my outlook on life.

In case anyone missed it, I think Springdale is a great city, one making tremendous strides as it leaves behind its past.

That logo, though? I think the guy from Key and Peele is going to make a horror movie based on that thing if we’re not careful.
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See comments for examples of the logos. The chicken in this post is one I created. Please note that I wasn’t chained to expectations such as professionalism, common sense, or attention to detail.
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Document

Here’s the official logo for Springdale. I apologize for the use of obscenity.

 

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Here’s on my simple ones. Boring? Yes. But not terrible.

 

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Here’s the Explore Springdale variant. Note that you don’t want to hurl like a high school partier when you look at it?

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Here’s the “George Clooney” of logos. Its beauty is unrivaled.

The Secrecy Ricochet Certainty

 

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Several days ago I wrote about vagueposting.

This isn’t a polished post. It’s just what is running through my mind. Do not take the time to read it if you might get triggered by my stupidity or errant abuse of words and ideas. This post is going to make a few people uncomfortable. Because I suffered the effects of it directly when I was younger, I feel competent to blather about it.

A couple of days later after my vaguepost commentary, a relevant enigma emerged, one involving a tertiary acquaintance and an unexpected death. Instead of just stating what happened, people involved circumspectly concealed the details, which of course is their right. That’s a tough sell in the era of social media. They tried, though. They stepped on toes, left ominous overtones by what was omitted, and generally made many who initially heard of the untimely passing say the worst about ‘how.’ I cringed to read what was missing by implication. As a bona fide lout and perennial foot-in-mouth sufferer, I learned more by what was NOT said.

That’s what people always do. If you think they don’t, you’re fooling yourself. Humans fill in the gaps with whatever information they have and preconceptions they possess. You have the absolute right to live your life in the manner you see fit and to not share things with those you choose not to. You also have the right to remain silent, but as Ron White paraphrased, “That ain’t happening.” Part of the damnable compact with social media is that people are going to ask “What happened?” Some will be tactful and some will not.

I had another one of ‘those’ conversations with my wife: if I get a DWI, shot and killed while impersonating a bank robber, or die in a horrible misunderstanding involving a case of stolen pepperoni, I want her to tell everyone. Publicly. On Facebook. Text blast, too – and even email, if the five people who still use it for personal communication are interested. She can just tell a couple of friends who are worse than a 1950s telephone switchboard operator. She can simply add the don’t-tell-anyone clause, thereby guaranteeing immediate repeat and publication on the hidden channels we all use when we find out anything interesting or salacious. I have one family who is so gossipy that people allege she knew about a family member’s death before the family member even kicked the bucket.

Everyone is going to find out, anyway. Worse, they’ll write, DM, private message, text, call, Skype, or ask 3,587 people what happened until they find out. We all have that one acquaintance who will resort to kidnapping and extortion to find out what we know. It’s easier to spill the beans before the water-boarding commences. Death is a resounding knock on everyone’s door. It is one of the two unifying life experiences we are all guaranteed to share. It is hard-wired into our genetic makeup to ask and inquire.

I’m already going to be hurt, dead, or otherwise encumbered by whatever it is that people want to know about. That people know immediately in no way worsens the situation. In many circumstances, it will improve the sanity of those around me. If whatever happens to me isn’t my fault, there shouldn’t be any embarrassment about it. If whatever happens to me is my fault, it still happened – and everyone is going to find out about it. I just hope I’m wearing clean underwear.

If no one is sure why someone passed, then simply say that. I experienced this same horrific uncertainty myself years ago. Even after getting some answers, all my questions weren’t addressed. It’s okay to say, “We don’t know” if the reasons and details aren’t clear. You can of course also say, “It’s none of your business,” which is the equivalent of throwing gasoline on a fire and ensuring that the person will not rest under the ‘why’ of it is uncovered.

Watching this particular incident unfold once again proves to me a LOT of people were seeking answers behind the scenes. One group was working to find out what happened. The other, of course, was working to keep the details secret, which means that about 1/2 of those whispering were finding out through informal sources. In short, everyone is going to know.

I knew that if I used my particular skills and punched away at it, that I would find someone who knew and had posted on social media. I did so, because I was asked to. Using the most arcane and plodding system you can imagine, I found a post from two days after the incident involving the acquaintance. The route I used to find it resembled a map hand-drawn by a cocaine addict after nine days without sleep. The person posting knew the family by acquaintance. She had been given a minimal explanation, probably in hopes of dissuading further questions. It didn’t, of course. She passed along what she knew. The family of the deceased didn’t overlap much with the person sharing the information so the Control Headquarters For Family Information couldn’t stifle the sharing.

Before you launch into a weird ‘privacy’ argument, it’s important that you remember that the word you’re using doesn’t mean what you think it does. The same holds true for etiquette, manners, or decorum. In the same way that the first question following death is, “What did he or she die from?” attempting to conceal details is only going to make it look like you’ve got something to hide or that an element of shame is involved. Again, yes, of course, it is your right to say nothing. Saying nothing, though, brings consequences too.

It’s true that it is considered bad manners to ask about someone’s death if you are not directly connected. Our brains, though, continue to seek an answer even when etiquette tells us to shut up.

Equally important for you to understand is that I earned this viewpoint in the most horrific manner possible. It’s one of the reasons I’m so hardcore about it. It’s not that people have a right to know your business. I’m not making that argument. People will know your business, though, even if you miss the whispers and back channel communications. I am, however, shouting at you that trying to keep anything quiet is the equivalent of having a picnic and bbq in the trunk of your car during rush hour.

I didn’t come by my opinion lightly.

Got a DWI? Yes, everyone’s talking about it.

Sick? People will feel immense sympathy and many will reach out to help. But they still want to know.

Talk? Yes, of course. Every single time. About everything and anything.

When our social groups were smaller, concealment of the particulars was impossible. In our larger world, one fueled by communication, people still feel that need to know.

You don’t have to like it or embrace it.

Ignore it, though? At your peril.

If I die unexpectedly and the people around me are being coy about it, you can be sure that I died horrifically, as if I suddenly started liking Donald Trump or became a fan of milk as a beverage, watching sports, or testing high voltage wires with my tongue.

You are welcome to make up any story you want to.

Because you’re going to anyway.

And you should – if the people left behind when I sprint off into the unknown won’t tell you what stupid thing I did to hasten my demise.
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The Secrecy Ricochet Certainty
Divulging private information immediately invariably lessens the quantity and intensity of the inquiries which otherwise result in an avalanche.

The Vagueposting Admonition

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If you vaguepost on social media, it’s important that you understand that doing so gives me the right to creatively fill-in-the-blank to anyone, anywhere, about what you’re actually talking about. I’ll be the Rudy Giuliani for your personal news.

Most of us squint our eyes when we see a vaguepost. “What in the heck is he or she talking about?” Of course, our guesses immediately turn darkly comedic, ranging from ‘arrested in Thailand‘ to ‘hid the body in the swamp in Monroe County.’ It’s your fault. Despite all the food and vacation photos, we often assume that you’re just one mojito away from becoming a prison pen pal.

I’ll preface my news by saying, “I heard,” as in “I heard from the voices in my head.” You should never willingly provide an opportunity for someone like me to provide an explanation that you won’t share yourself. I will gladly be the Gossip Girl. With Tourettes.

Social media works best when you use it to communicate to eliminate doubt. On the other hand, it works really well when your intent is to say something highly crazy, such as “Sports are really important,” or “Here’s my opinion on politics, religion, and the best type of beer to drink.”

If you choose to do otherwise, don’t be surprised when everyone who knows you say they heard that you burned down your house while trying a new meth recipe.

If you’re not going to use social media to concisely inform us about important and actual goings-on in your life, I request that you vaguepost about every other topic in life, too. Let’s keep it consistent, unlike the mashed potatoes you make for Thanksgiving.

I’ll your ignore this admonition, I’ll use a random list of buzzwords to fill in the blanks you’ve left: pregnant (regardless of sex), arrested, hoof-and-mouth disease, and LSD-induced, all to keep your friends, family, and school classmates from 30 years ago entertained. And that guy Steve, the one who lurks and accidentally hits like on your 2008 beach photos.

While it is your account and you can post literally any nonsense that you want to, as I obviously do myself, you’re only making your situation worse.

You’re welcome. X

P.S. I’m sorry I told your mom that you hit the preacher over the head with a guitar.
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The Roundabout Proposition

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“No matter how significantly a change might improve our lives, there will always be a section of our population who will immediately dislike it; their dislike is immune to enlightenment.” – X

Roundabouts are traffic control devices used to replace traditional intersections. Chances are, you’ve driven through one, and probably at 5 mph the first time you used one. All of us know at least one person whose hatred of roundabouts is so insurmountable that it borders on the comical.

Roundabouts, like so many other developments, tend to be controversial during implementation due to a variety of factors, not the least of which is user uncertainty. As people, we are generally dense and tend to reluctantly accept change.

Many drivers are unable to overcome their initial dissonance regarding roundabouts.

The evidence is clear, however: roundabouts drastically reduce the frequency of accidents and more importantly, have a huge impact on the severity of the accidents which do occur. Two factors have a disproportionate effect: speed and angle of impact with other drivers. One benefit of roundabouts is they also allow for considerably more traffic flow than a traditional stop-and-go system.

Why is this a social and political issue?

No matter how you present the strikingly clear benefits of roundabouts vs. traditional intersections, there will always be one person (or group of them) in the back of the room or in comment sections spouting off such generalizations as, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Or, “These things are dangerous.” People love being told that the old way was probably best. After all, they survived, so why can’t everyone else? Showing them that roundabouts will prevent crashes, save lives, and increase traffic flow will only make them scowl harder and grunt more loudly.

You’re can’t argue them out of a position they weren’t argued into. You’ll probably try, though, because you sometimes are a bonehead, just as I am. We all fool ourselves into thinking facts will overcome stubbornness.

Right now, someone is reading this and becoming very angry. That’s how you know that cognitive dissonance works: it blinds you to contradiction and inevitably evokes an emotional response to new or challenging information.

This is part of the reason that expertise is so often met with skepticism and irritation. The folksy anecdotal experiences of the people who don’t want to learn anything new will often derail any attempt to make things better.

Additionally, because many of these people aren’t familiar with or engaged in the day-to-day business of government or society, they don’t understand or appreciate the massive machinery of moving parts and people that function to keep our society whirling. For many, the solutions seem obvious and simple. It’s easy to forget that if a simple solution were available, we would have adopted it already. I’ve learned to beware all opinion which preaches ‘simplicity’ in their solutions. Roundabouts are just another one of those things which makes our lives better; they require a little learning and adjustment, though.

Often, we all lose an opportunity to do things differently because the people who won’t listen to reason will have a disproportionate effect on our ability to implement change. Additionally, while a smaller portion of our society is actively engaged with issues and addressing them as part of their daily lives, most people sit on the sidelines and only begin to shout when something interrupts their focus, or a fringe voice clamors for action.

And so, expertise and better ways to live are drowned out.

It’s important that you understand that I’m not saying that just because you dislike roundabouts that you also tend to automatically resist potential social change. I’m simply using the subject as a comparative example most people can relate to. My guess is, however, that many will jump to this erroneous conclusion precisely because cognitive dissonance triggers an emotional reaction in most people, one which disarms their ability to distinguish nuance and subtlety. I am saying, however, that many who dislike roundabouts simply won’t listen to reason in their regard.

The Roundabout Rule refers to the mentality wherein no amount of rational or reasoned explanation will change a person’s mind. The person afflicted has a fixed opinion and data will not sway him or her. Additionally, it’s likely he or she will be unable to distinguish fact from opinion or weigh the overall impact to society as a group. It is the antithesis to, “My opinion changes with new information,” which is the foundation of education and maturity.

I think most people will read this and focus exclusively on the issue of roundabouts, rather than the underlying premise of the rejection of new ideas. This probability fits nicely with the premise.

In a roundabout way, of course.

The Grumble, Grouse & Grievance Guideline

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The Grumble, Grouse & Grievance Guideline

“Why don’t you offer some solutions instead of complaining?”

The pollyannas and positivity-infected among us are now evidently self-appointed gatekeepers for things which bother us. All complaints and problems are first-world from sufficient distance and a timeline lengthy enough.

It’s now another person’s job to curate their own words and behavior to accommodate you? Walk away or scroll. It’s the solution to the problem that you should’ve already have known.

In s-o-m-e situations, this type of question is passive-aggressive, as much as it pains some people to hear it. It’s also sometimes a backhanded silencing tool.

Some of the people who say it without malice are going to read this and get REALLY annoyed. But that’s just proof that they too will complain about seeing this, instead of following their own advice by offering solutions instead of complaining.

It’s true, most of us reach a point at which we simply tire of hearing unimaginative and repetitive whining. But if you’re tired of complaints, isn’t adding another one worsening the situation, thereby violating the rule of “Leave things better than you found them”?

A better use of your time is to focus your energy elsewhere and allow the complaining to flow past. Be Zen. Be silent. Be absent.

Otherwise, you’re just complaining. Pot, meet kettle.

25% of human conversation centers on things which we find to be unsatisfying.

P.S. If someone says this to you at work, it’s because it is almost certainly their job to fix things – and they are being well paid to both listen and address it.
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Social Media Reciprocity Courtesy Expectation

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A greater error than pretending to hold a door open only to slam it against someone’s backside as they attempt to use it is the sin of failing to comment or interact with someone who has taken the time to respond to your post. It is tantamount to interrupting someone answering a question you’ve asked, giving the bird to someone who is waving at you, or hanging up on someone in mid-sentence after you called them.
 
Recap: If you start a conversation, finish it. It says ‘social media’ right there in the description, not ‘soliloquy.’
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