Category Archives: Social Rules

11232014 Grief Porn, Mourning Sickness  Link to original picture by Peter Griffin

Glossophilia Link to “Mourning Sickness” and “Grief Porn”

Gawker Article About Grief Porn

I’ve had a working draft about “grief porn” sitting in my queue to finish for about a year. No matter how I approached it, I couldn’t finish it. Anything I said came off as unintentionally harsh or dismissive. It’s not a trend that I fully understand. It certainly affects me. Some of the content is very well done and is virtually impossible to avoid getting a visceral reaction to it.

I deleted it and instead decided to go with a couple of links about the idea. I like the term “mourning sickness” better, as the cliché of adding the suffix ‘porn’ to everything has accelerated a bit too much in the last couple of years.

Following social media, you can see that the mourning sickness trend is much more prevalent than it used to be. Technology has made it much more difficult to create and distribute, in real-time. People have become more accustomed to it and this has loosened people’s tolerance of it. Much of the coverage about it seems to focus on the minority of those who thrive on consuming it.

It’s difficult to know how to process much of it, as I don’t have a personal connection to much of it. Some critics say that it’s a way to socially demonstrate that we are compassionate and identify with human emotion. Others say that it’s a variation on “elation porn,” the drive toward saturating everything with “feel good” stories and content. (Surprising someone with a new house, a returning soldier appears by magic at a sporting event…) The ice bucket challenge earlier this year was an example of the overall tendency, although it doesn’t fit neatly into any of the categories.

11112014 Things That People Insist on “Knowing”

People are not more discourteous than they once were. 

The world is not growing stupider. 
The crime rate isn’t increasing. 
But the insistence in parroting these claims is an apparent epidemic.
For much of the human race, life is better than it ever has been and we have the ability to make life for the entire planet better for everyone if we focus on that goal.
People sometimes call me negative – yet they are often the ones spouting the craziness of how they feel the world is “dumber, more rude, and more dangerous” than in times past. It’s not true. But what a great sound bite.

11102014 Defending Yourself Can Backfire

Let’s face it: many times you are often right about something. When you are confronted by someone with superior debate or wordplay skills, it doesn’t take long to feel very defensive. Or stupid. Argument isn’t always about being right – many times it is about dominance. Why would you want to engage in that sort of behavior automatically? Some people are astoundingly good debaters and orators. Some are blowhards.

You should generally be open to listening to ideas and evaluate them based on merit – otherwise it is probably indicative of you being the one with the problem. But you also always have the final say about when or if you are going to listen to them. Anyone who is verbally bullying you into “listening” should be shooed away as quickly as possible.

I don’t know about you but I don’t learn much when I’m being screamed at. Or intimidated. Or when it feels like anything short of totally voluntary. I don’t need Bill O’Reilly in my life.

I have a couple of people in my life who are so confrontational about any difference of opinion that I don’t even engage, even if they erroneously conclude that they have talked me into a loss. People who are really great at argument always rephrase your point to either ignore it to belittle it.The only real loss is one involving your time and energy.

(We’ve also learned that the only way to win is to not play the game.)

Many people also tell me that I come across as smarter and self-confident when I choose to stay silent. But mostly, like many people, I find it hard to not engage. The more pompous the accuser, the more difficult it is for me to avoid putting my foot in the other person’s mouth.


11112014 Facebook and Social Media Reveal More Than You Realize…

Originally, I had snippets of posts from people on FB. Some of the profanity, violence, and anger is difficult to reconcile with living, breathing people. Were it 1 or 2 instances of this, it could be chalked up to hyperbole, accident, or a misunderstanding.Whether our president, senator or city council is liberal or conservative, I hate that people I know would resort to calling for hanging, beheading, or violence toward them or their families.

Personally, if you are frequently posting or hitting ‘like’ on posts that contain inflammatory and hateful language such as this, you are approaching some level of responsibility for it. If you hit ‘like’ where the majority of the people posting are saying things like this, all your protestations notwithstanding, it’s logical to deduce that you are generally in agreement with them. You can hide behind the fact that you didn’t personally hit ‘like,’ but it’s illogical to argue that you don’t condone hate speech or that type of discussion. I try to avoid being associated with the fringes, instead participating in places where people observe the decorum of racous debate and interaction without the need to resort to horrific name-calling and violence. I like crazy. Just not “angry crazy.”

It is evident that many people don’t have the “ticker” on the right-side of their FB – or if they do, they may not understand just how much it reveals. For the most part, if you hit ‘like,’ comment, post, share, or do any activity recorded by facebook, people can see what you are doing, what sites you are interacting with and click on these in real time, or scroll backwards in time and see what you’ve been up to. If you find me in the ticker, you’ll find that I’m clicking on a lot of liberal nonsense and posting zany commentary and pictures. I work to avoid jumping into the crazy pools of people spewing anger without any creativity or imagination. (I like when I’m insulted, for example, as long as whoever does it is creative and avoids clichés or boring methods.)

I’m having trouble reconciling the people I know with the hateful, angry, twisted activity that shows on facebook. People might be cautious about what they comment on or share, for example, but the ticker reveals a much different personality than that which they are concealing indirectly. I’m not stalking anyone, just observing and, over time, coming to conclusions.

It’s one thing to be a crazy liberal or conservative, but I don’t think it’s smart to be communicating your participation in hateful, angry content on social media. It’s certainly your right to do so, but please don’t be surprised when people start noticing a pattern of engagement.

I understand that you might hate Tom Cotton or Obama. Disagreement, even passionate disagreement, is a great thing. Poisoning your own views with violent language and crazy speech is only going to hurt you in the long run.

If you are hitting “like” or participating on the fringes of social media, FB is keeping track and in many cases, sharing your activity with others, even if you don’t realize it.

10162014 Pre-Eating: Moral Necessity or Social Gaffe?    Link to original picture before modification by me, photo by Peter Griffin.

For years, I’ve been a strong advocate for “pre-eating.” In fact, years ago, I submitted several alternate entries for Urban Dictionary. Since then, I’ve noted with pride that the shame previous associated with the practice has mostly disappeared. Many people do it without realizing how many others are doing it, too.

For perfectionists out there, I concede that if you eat prior to a social engagement and then fail to eat during said engagement that you are no longer “pre-eating.” Instead, you are simply eating. Noted.

It is a very complex process, so here it is:
Before any social engagement where eating is an integral aspect of the function, eat until you are mostly satisfied BEFORE going to the social event. That’s it – I was just kidding about how complicated it is.

Does your sister-in-law routinely prepare food after shaving her 6 dogs on top of the stove? Do the dishes at your cousin’s house look like they were rejects from a Hoarders Episode? Are your friends crazy vegans? If you are a woman (or weird guy) concerned with her weight or concerned with other people’s perceptions of your eating habits, “pre-eating” is the recommended course. The focus is on regaining control of your own dining. Without shame or remorse.

Pre-eating takes away the thrill of possibly fainting from lack of food. It puts the control directly in your hands about when and what you eat. It eliminates the doubt about every variable. Granted, if you pre-eat, you can still eat lightly at the social engagement in question. But you don’t have to arrive and then begin to fantasize about eating the napkins, or grown increasingly concerned once you discover that the main course is a half-cooked mongoose served on bamboo shoots. You are covered in either scenario.

Likewise, if you misjudge how much you should have eaten, there are few things more rewarding than an unplanned run to Taco Bell or McDonalds.

Pre-eating works at Thanksgiving, for birthdays, or even parties. There is no shame in eating before arriving. The host has already spent the money and prepared the food – technically, you haven’t deprived them of any money or enjoyment. The point of a social engagement is conversation, sharing company and enjoying moments together. The food is secondary. It is NEVER a good idea to get so hungry that the social function becomes a distraction to the question “Is it time to eat yet?”

Pre-eating also works for business lunches, suppers and dinners. All of us have been invited (or ordered!) to attend a business lunch or supper. But we often don’t control the place, time or specifics. Who hasn’t been seated, only to find out 2 hours later that your main course was just accidentally snatched from the kitchen by wild dogs? Since it is a professional setting, you can’t do like you would normally do and start kicking and crying, begging the waiter to bring you a slice of white bread and dab of butter – before you either pass out or imagine strangling someone else and taking their food from their hands. Who hasn’t been to business luncheon with the promise of food, only to find 6 packages of crackers and a block of dried Parmesan cheese on the table, with 9 pairs of hungry eyes secretly jockeying for position to both act disinterested while simultaneously planning the best method to poke the next guy in the eyeball with an umbrella if you don’t get your share?

Pre-eating: take control. 

09232014 Stapp’s Ironical Paradox

Stapp’s ironical paradox: “The universal aptitude for ineptitude makes any human accomplishment an incredible miracle.”
P.S. This picture is of my dad, after he miraculously avoiding being killed after driving into a holler while incredibly intoxicated. True Story, too…