Category Archives: Social Rules

Move Over Russia, Here I Come

I went through the process to be vetted to run political ads and content on Facebook’s platform. (Which, as you may or may not know, isn’t limited to the site itself.

Because of the fallout from the 2016 debacle otherwise known as the election, Facebook instituted some exacting rules to ensure that people and organizations are whom they claim to be – and live where they claim to. The rules don’t affect what you post on your private pages; rather, they affect what you post on pages you control and advertising platforms you access. Facebook reaches a couple of billion people. In some respects, it is the biggest communication platform in our shared human history.

Regardless of what content is on Facebook’s platform, it is our responsibility, not theirs, to use our brains in the way they were designed. We don’t adopt attitudes or prejudices at gunpoint; we are the guilty party in almost every case in which advertising is claimed to have been misused. It’s too glib to blame Russia or Facebook for undue influence. We own our collective stupidity.

The 2016 election proved that voting sometimes has less power when compared the reach of a determined voice, even if the voice is shouting disinformation. You can get your opinion and voice heard more effectively than by voting or arguing in a closed system. Even though we know that shouting doesn’t work to change minds, only cement them, we still do it, instead of using appeals to humor, persuasion, and targeted communication.

The most persuasive voice is another human presence, one of open mind and ear. The only sermon or speech which spreads your message is one of example. As we learned from the last election, the next best thing is a communication platform which allows anyone to reach a staggering number of people. The effect is amplified when people are engaging with passion at the expense of their intelligence.

You’ve read my words and creations in other places, many times without realizing that they were mine. You shouldn’t assume that they were the ideas, words, or images you would expect from me, either. None of us is the imagined version in the minds of others.

In an open society, that’s perhaps the best way. The best idea should be given consideration, even if it is disruptive to the beliefs and certainties we all cling to. Buried in the illusion of tribal affiliations of today, we automatically flinch and recoil away from the opportunity to hear new information. Our motto should always be: “I change my mind with new information.” This tendency is necessary for learning and growing. The greater our tendency to fight against flexibility, the more likely we’ll experience a breakage. 7 billion people in the world demand that we stop seeing ourselves as the torchbearer for truth.

I rarely share anything from another source on social media. It’s almost exclusively mine, even if it only my opinion, full of error and disinterest. Much of the problem with social media is that it is too tempting and too easy to use others to give voice to our presence. Much of the time, the voice we choose is whispering – or shouting – information which is slanted, incorrect, or completely false.

This is part of the reason why it is amusing to think that I now can anonymously sway your opinion across the entire platform of social media. The last election demonstrated the power and reach of interactive content. Why hack the vote when we can convince large groups of people that up is down or that everyone falls into neat categories of political and religious ideology? Obviously, most of us don’t recognize that we are being swayed or led astray – that’s precisely why it is such a powerful tool. All of us feel immune to it. Reality proves otherwise.

All of us, every day, see information on social media that we know isn’t true. We think, “What an idiot!” We rarely stop to consider that the idiot in our scenario is often us in the other idiot’s mind.

P.S. Facebook has trusted me to access your eyes, ears, and minds. Good luck to you all. It’s my turn to be the idiot. You’ll find me all over the internet, thanks to the largest communication project ever created. You’re welcome.

Nothing New?

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The stupefaction of those who say things like, “Great, another remake!” Or, “They don’t have any new ideas anymore.”

Like you, the guy saying it.

We’ve heard it before. We’ll hear it again. And again. From you.

The entire development of the human species, in conjunction with some amazing technology, movies, music, and literature, demonstrates that you are full of cow dung. It’s impossible for an engaged and attentive person to be bored at this buffet the world provides.

There’s a movie remake you aren’t interested in? Don’t see it. A song was redone by a new artist? Don’t listen to it. An unexpected revival of an old show that you don’t want to see ‘ruined’? Don’t watch it. I could write 50 such snarky extensions of my point. But I won’t – and not just because I’ll know you’ll complain about that too.

People have always complained about rehashing old ideas. Generally, the people who do it with the least creativity are older and tend to seldom contribute anything innovative to their surroundings. I’m generalizing, of course, and there are exceptions. Not everyone watches “The Office” 43 times or refuses to listen to any new music or mashups of old classics. Find a new genre, a new crowd, a new book, a different perspective.

The world is an interesting place. Not all remakes are worthy. Not all originals are, either. Sometimes, though, someone takes a new perspective on an old idea and breathes life into it. It’s a sight to behold.

So, before you bitterly opine about something being redone again, stop and consider: you are inflicting the same agony on us by voicing such an opinion.

Go out and create something. Anything.

The world is too full of interesting people with something to say for you to blame them for your lack of appreciation of what’s at your disposal.

“Smallfoot” Was My Bigfoot Legend

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It’s interesting that there’s a movie named “Smallfoot” in theaters.

It looks like that I missed a chance to capitalize on the name “Smallfoot” and the marketing revenue that would have accompanied it.

For years, I’ve told stories about the ‘real’ Bigfoot: Smallfoot. The main story I’ve told: that Bigfoot is real, except that he’s exceptionally tiny and evades detection through his diminutive status. Everyone’s running around in the dark, desperately seeking a large creature when, in fact, Bigfoot is a tiny animal hiding in plain sight.

About 5 years ago, I created a Facebook page for the “Smallfoot” community. I filled it with the legends and sightings of a really small Bigfoot.

I even created a website (which I never took live) and made t-shirts. I had a REALLY large size t-shirt made for my co-worker Joe Buss. I made fake publicity stills and even wrote studios such as A&E to generate either buzz or confusion in their minds. For a while, I had a lot of fun with it.

I let it go and never went live with the website. Joe still has his t-shirt, though.

There’s no point to this post other than to say that I misjudged how much I could have taken advantage of my really dumb idea. Whether the studio saw my original nonsense or came up with it independently, I was first. Some of my friends and social media friends probably recall my flirtation with notoriety.

It turns out that my dumb take on the old legend wasn’t dumb at all.

 

Older Blog Post About Smallfoot

Everyone Is Our Equal

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In my opinion, one of the best and immediate steps we can take to retake control of our political system is to stop collectively pretending that elected officials are anything other than well-qualified workers we choose to perform specific civic tasks. They work with us and for us to meet our agreed upon goals.

Much of our distrust of the political system stems from the fact that we perceive “them” as separate from us. It is within our power to insist that “they,” in fact, be us. It is our fault that we allow anyone to stand above us.

I do not understand the pomp and circumstance that so many people seem compelled to provide to the political process. All political positions are just jobs. Those who fill them are constructed of the same DNA as the rest of us and most of us should be capable as adults of doing some of these jobs. If we could somehow be able to approach politics with this idea in mind, it seems as if some of the hostility we feel toward politics would dissipate.

All the titles, all the pompous tomfoolery, and faux prestige should be discarded. I cringe when anyone in a position of trust demands that he or she is addressed by an artificial title. The likelihood that their ego and self-importance interferes with their assigned tasks becomes insurmountable.

You’re not “The Distinguished Gentleman,” sir, you were chosen by the people you work for, to represent our interests. A competent judge is not “Your Honor,” as she or she is sitting in the seat precisely because of his or her legal competence. Both the senator and the judge in my commentary owe us just as much respect as we owe them. Without us, their presence is not necessary. Titles and ceremony create an illusion of hierarchy where none should have ever been tolerated, much less nourished.

From mayor to a senator or president, all of them are people who are compensated for their expertise. It is assumed that each of them values the honor we have bestowed. Those we choose to work on our behalf are compensated for their service. Civic duty in the proper context is rewarding for everyone.

Any elevation of status is a miscalculation on our part and in my opinion is a great deal of the problem we have in our society.

There is no mystery to civic service, no hidden list of qualifications for any of the offices we fill with fallible human beings. Being a senator, councilperson, or judge is an honor to the person performing the position, as we have chosen and entrusted him or her to do his or her job competently.

There is no reciprocal expectation that we should address any of them as anything other than someone working on our behalf. The title does not confer to the person individually, at least not based on the jobs we’ve given them. In an equitable system, we would tend to choose the best candidates for the specific job and the person chosen would reflect well on the level of responsibility we’ve conferred. The person does not reflect on the position, even though we resist acknowledging this idea. Competence is rewarded and incompetence is not -so that anyone we choose to occupy a job will be held to that standard.

All of us contribute extraordinarily to our society, whether we are teachers, judges, police officers, or those who cook our food for us. Those employed in politics are of no greater utility. Judges are legal scholars – or should be; as such, they should refrain from pomposity and reverence toward their own thundering voices. No judge or representative is more than my equal; he or she should be more educated and trained in their fields, however.

There is no mystery in public service. Everyone employed by our government bodies is one of us, hopefully endowed with a specific expertise. Any of us should be welcome and able to fill a position of responsibility if we have the ability. We are all equals in this sense. Titles interfere with the concepts of merit and function.

It is time we push the reset button on the illusion of elevated status in the United States.
Until all political positions are filled by people like us, based on competency, and without expectation of privilege, we will never achieve what we are capable of.

Enough with the titles. You work for us.

While my view is simple, it is not simplistic.
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The Celebrity Opinion Conundrum

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If someone complains about celebrities by saying, “They are actors and athletes! What do I care about their opinion?”

“That’s funny because I’m thinking the exact same thing about YOUR opinion,” might be my response.

Voicing your displeasure with celebrities who give their own opinions is a strange form of hypocrisy.
Whatever job you’re doing is just a job and occupation never nullifies a point of view.
You’ll have to be honest about it anyway, as it seems like we only hear people say this sort of thing when they disagree with the expressed opinion and almost never when they don’t.

Death’s Proximity

There’s a quote out there which asks us to consider whether the issue at hand would seem important if we were dying tomorrow. It depends. Am I on fire? Is the world ending?

It’s ridiculous (but understandable) to use the prism of our own ending as a filter to prioritize the mundane moments and reactions of our lives, in part because 99% of our lives reside in those moments of normalcy.

Unlike many, I learned more than once that death comes as an angry and unwelcome surprise. It often visits without a warning knock or a glance at our calendars. Yes, it even appears with a totally disengaged and indifferent glance in our direction. It simply comes.

Time is irrelevant to death.

At 20, you have no means to determine your proximity to death.

It is arrogance and a disavowal of the way the universe works to believe that you have any inkling of how close the claws of your undoing are.

To live as if nothing is important enough to engage with is a terrible way to move through time, whether you have one day or one decade. It’s possible that you might learn more from spending 23 minutes of your day reading the fine print of a website than you would learn while considering life’s complexities.

It’s difficult to know. Focus on what it interesting to you, now, because it’s what you have.

 

Endergong and Exergong (New Words)

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I’m creating two new words for the English language today.

Are they necessary? No, but neither is “philtrum,” which is the line or cleft between your nose and upper lip. (To the tubercle of the upper lip, to be ridiculously obtuse and exact.)

Luckily for me, the litmus test for word inclusion in our shared collective English language is that there isn’t one. Yes, usage determines inclusion, but a word is a word the second that any meaning is attached to it, even if it doesn’t thrive.  Even “callipygian,” which is an artful way of describing buttocks that won’t get you punched in the epiglottis.

As Douglas Adams once paraphrased, it’s this kind of fact that generally pisses people off.

An endergonic reaction is one in which energy is absorbed and an exergonic reaction is one which results in energy released.

My two new words are these: ‘endergong’ and ‘exergong.’ Words which terminate in “gong” are gorgeous words. Perhaps if the movie had been titled “Gong With The Wind,” it might have fared even better with the general public. We’ll never know. And no, we frankly don’t give a damn.

An ‘endergong’ is someone who requires or takes in more energy than he or she adds to the social fabric.

An ‘exergong’ is someone who adds more to the social fabric than he or she consumes.

The implication is that exergong is a more positive word, characterizing positivity, freedom, and openness. You feel happier with exergongs surrounding you.

An endergong is someone who sulks at the table, complaining about everyone and everything, even the free beer you just handed him or her.

You’re welcome.

P.S. If you don’t like the words, please send a postcard to the American Society For Language, which is a non-existent organization that won’t read whatever it is you have to say about it.

Live Your Life: The X-Hanlon Repudiation

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No matter what, we live our lives in the moment. Often, we convince ourselves we don’t. It’s an illusion. We’ve all said or done things that later come to diminish our ability to continue living good lives. We’ve placed our foot so far into our own mouths that we can taste toenails, so to speak. Whether we’re joking or we’ve simply intersected with the random wheel of life, what we’ve said or done infects our memory and turns us away from remembering the shared joys.

We can’t know that someone is going to die in his or her sleep, fall from the sky, or roll their car 13 times and get crushed underneath it. We do know, however, that these things are going to happen to a LOT of people every day. Statistics tell us that 150,000+ die each day. (106 per minute, if that seems more comprehensible to you.)

If we take overly careful steps as we walk through life, we sacrifice a great portion of what’s possible to what brings fear. We become afraid to speak or to express ourselves because of the immense ‘what if’ lingering on our tongues. Experience teaches us that life is painful. It is also our only opportunity to prance honestly through these ridiculous obstacles we all share.

If humor is at stake, we should err on the side of lunacy and caprice. Life has already sentenced us to death. I see no great reason to allow its shadow to overcome us as we go about our routine lives. A great gaffe will survive a long time. We all love to share stories of incredulity about what friends and family said or did.

Hanlon/Heinlein’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is explained by stupidity.

X-Hanlon Repudiation: Assuming you are interacting with people of mutual like or respect always feel free to do or say the thing which expresses pleasure, joy or greater enjoyment to the moment. Errors may arise – but humanity will exonerate.

I wince when I see the pain that results from good people regretting the things they’ve said or done in good spirit. Life is not only short, but it laughs at these self-conscious hesitations.

Good people will not bear malice toward you for openly embracing life and its whims. Mistakes are going to happen.

Go ahead and tell your grandmother that her house smells like boiled derriere if it makes her laugh. If it’s the last time you speak to her while she’s alive, you will have shared a moment of frivolous life together. There is no greater compliment than sharing your wit, wisdom and laughter will someone. Do not soften who you are because fear sits on your shoulder.

For anyone who knows me, you’ll know that this idea is one I earned one stupid comment at a time.
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