Workers don’t want to come back? It’s not because of unemployment

I agree that people, by and large, need to stop worshipping at the altar of “work”. Martyring yourself for your job is not a good thing. We shouldn’t be admiring people who ruin their social /family life in favor of working all the time. That’s not a healthy or good thing; not for the person nor for the economy. Yes, there’s been countless studies on how important a balanced life is for workers in our economy. Any company who tries to short-circuit that truth is not just greedy, they’re short-term greedy. But that’s another rant. The thing is, your life shouldn’t be defined by your job or how hard you work or how much you sacrificed for your freakin job. There’s something to be said for being in a place where you can do what is your passion, your calling, your love…

On the other hand, not everyone *has* a passion/calling/love. Not everyone is endowed with the brains and fortitude to just forego working in order to survive. The flip side to that is that we still need basic workers in our world – it doesn’t matter whether it’s a capitalist economy or socialist economy or anything in between; we’ll always need someone to set the table, sweep the floor and dig the garden. And there’s always going to be people who are only really equipped to do those things. We used to call that “menial labor” but that became a bad thing? Like there’s something to be ashamed of just doing a basic job and then getting paid and going home? In fact, in some ways, it’s far better than any “higher profession” – people who do menial labor can finish their job and go home and not worry one iota about the business once they leave. They can still do their job with a sense of pride and there’s no reason they can’t be praised for doing a good job, whatever it is. Menial labor can be fulfilling and satisfying. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

And there’s people who went up the academic “ladder” and found it to be the most exciting, fun and fulfilling thing they ever did. They want nothing more than to sit in their lab/office/podium/desktop forever working on that amazing discovery or breakthrough. And there’s people who learned a trade that has limitations of quality and promotion and they’re perfectly happy to do that to the best of their ability.

It all can fit into our society. None of it has to be thought of as bad or lesser.
What matters is the ability to CHOOSE what you’re going to do and even change later if you want to. Choice is what matters to everyone. In our mixed-mostly-capitalist society here in America, choice is what’s curtailed and punished the most.
That’s what’s really wrong.

So what we’ve got to teach our corporate overlords right now, is that we have realized that even though many of us “need” to work (survival) none of “need” the punishing jobs that corporate-orama are trying to force us into. I see this lesson starting to be taught by the “menial laborers” and I’m hoping it doesn’t fizzle out, I hope it doesn’t die down. Because middle management, corporate overlords and CEOS – they may run things, but they don’t make the company RUN. If your drones don’t show up, you can’t do the business part that actually makes the money. You’re left with just people who push the paper and count the beans. Not to say there’s anything wrong with pushing paper and counting beans – those workers should be treated well too! – but those people aren’t the ones who make the donuts every day.
If you take away the choices, punish those who try to balance their lives and then shove the workers into barely-survivable boxes, there’s nothing left to be proud of. There’s nothing left to desire. It’s all just drudgery and sadness.
Well we just spent a year getting our priorities in order and we are starting to realize that there are other ways to survive. Maybe, we can make it without you, corporate-orama. Maybe we can hold our longer than you can. You think gig economy is a flash in the pan? It’s gone to street-level now. Gig economy is now normalized.
It’s not that government paying us means we’re lazy. We had enough time to take stock of our lives, grieve our losses and ask ourselves some hard questions about the quality of life. And our answers don’t really include being afraid of you anymore. When our priorities changed. our perspectives changed.

Maybe you better start getting YOUR priorities in order, corporate-orama.


smart phones and the decline of society

I am coming to the conclusion that it’s not smartphones that are screwing up society, it’s the indirect effect of “immediacy” – because of tech like smartphones, everyone expects immediate answers. So it seems like everything you do requires another meeting, another answer, RIGHT NOW

that’s what’s driving me nuts. Before this tech, people communicated by phone and letter,. so people were used to waiting and scheduling things in advance or just muddling along without everyone’s input all of the time

now in order to be a part of something you are expected to show up all the time and be an active participant on everything

no more assuming people will just do their job. You have to go to endless meetings and discuss every freakin thing at any hour of the day and figure everything out together. Which normally I’d think is great but geeziz it’s true of EVERYTHING. nobody will just do a decent job of whatever, they expect everyone to be a part of it because after all you have a car, you have email, you have a smartphone so clearly you can just show up

Breaking Bad was great….

When I watched Breaking Bad, I thought was the absolute best show I’d ever seen on TV.
Then I saw Orphan Black.
Then I saw Mr Robot.
Then I saw Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.
Then I saw Stranger Things.
Then I saw Sense8.
Then I saw 3%.
Then I saw Dark.
Then I saw Altered Carbon.

Breaking Bad was amazing with the plot, and characters but the other shows have other shining accomplishments. I can’t say enough about Dark’s incredible cinematography and intricate plotlines with acting that goes above and beyond what we ever see here in America. But Altered Carbon is like watching Blade Runner ramped up times ten. 3% is character-driven and brutal in its depictions of human aggression whereas Sense8 has a sensual joy that no other show has ever touched (or probably will try) StrangerThings has its nostalgia and amazing acting. The Marvel shows are intense fantasy with shades of moral questioning thrown in. Mr Robot gives you a roller coaster ride not unlike Fight Club while Orphan Black was just identity exploration gone haywire.

though it’s been slow to catch up, I’d put Cleverman as an honorable mention becuase of it’s vast array of characters who, much like the old show Heroes, struggle mightily with racism, identity and ethics while navigating a terrifying world teetering on the brink of fascism

Why I Take Selfies

1) I get worried I will die and my loved ones won’t have any current pics of me at my best

2) I want to remind myself that I don’t look as hideous as the world makes me feel sometimes

3) when I look good, I want to record it. Not so I can gloat about it later, but so I can build up a library of “i was looking good that day” – sometimes I will look back a month later and swipe through thinking “actually I had a lot of good days!”

4) Sometimes, it really is nice to have people say “wow, you look great!”

5) it helps counteract the reactions I get on the street sometimes

6) mostly I do them without makeup (or much makeup – sometimes I hide my face-picking which I think is totally fair) so later I can remember that I can look nice without exaggerating anything. I look okay as JUST ME

7) I imagine someday Lil Miss will look through my pics and maybe she’ll see her own looks peeking out behind my eyes and i want her to not be afraid of looking bad when she gets old

8) Some days I just feel good about myself and want to record that feeling

9) I remember looking at old photos of my parents (My step-mom and my birth-mom) and thinking many thoughts, all of them warm and wonderful. I want to pass that moment on to my kids

10) sometimes a selfie is a reminder of something that happened that was important. One of my favorites was “this is the face of someone who has taken her last final” – the day I earned my bachelors by taking my final final. It was a unique expression and I love looking at it because I feel that feeling all over again

11) I like to record how my hair changes

12) I notice how little my face changes

Tinder: the good, the bad and the vain

SO in my quest to enter the modern world of dating, I joined Tinder. Two things prompted this decision. My ex had met his fiance on Tinder and I had heard a few other stories from people about starting actual relationships via Tinder. I really didn’t believe this was going to happen for me, but I was curious as to how Tinder really worked. So I joined. I put up a profile with several headshots and a basic run-down of myself. I mentioned my height first, being a super-geek next and the fact that I am absolutely not looking for hook-ups. I went in with NO expectations.Then I began the great swipe-fest.

DISCLAIMER: My search parameters are set to men and women but there was a ratio of men to women of about 50-1 and many of the women’s profiles I saw were very vague about whether they were looking for a romantic meeting or a purely social one. So I only swiped-right a couple of women. There were SOME women who were clearly looking for hook-ups and I swiped-left on all of them. So all of the following is based on my experiences with men.

Here was my criteria:


  • no profile information (its a hook-up)
  • no picture (what are you hiding? Its the modern age, you can upload a selfie in .005 seconds, no excuses)
    over 5’11” (purely a practical matter)
  • frowning (wtf dude)
  • REALLY bad lighting (C’MAN)
  • flashing “I’m a wannabe gangstah” signs (I bet you work for FedEx, amirite?)
  • posing with dead animals (no, I do not care that you caught a big fish or shot a deer)
  • posing with beautiful women (what are you looking through Tinder for? Is that supposed to make me feel competitive or something? Newsflash: most women will just deflate and feel inadequate. How would you like it if I put up a picture of me cuddling someone who looks like Vin Diesel? You’d think that’s what I expect to find, that’s what)
  • picture of dog in pic pool (I am not looking to date your dog no matter how much you love him)
  • pic with tiger (yes, there are a LOT of pictures with tigers. I do not know why but I have my suspicions)
  • pic with expensive car/watch/boat/champagne (I do not care about how rich you pretend to be or how rich you actually are)
  • pic in obvious foreign location (you travel a lot. that means you’re not around much. I do not have the luxury to travel a lot right now)
  • corporate headshot (seriously? you can’t take a damned selfie in your natural habitat? Oh wait, maybe that IS your natural habitat. Yuck)
  • pic with sport-team love (MAYBE you’ll find a woman who adores your sports team but honestly I don’t think that is a good basis for a relationship)
  • profile stressing travel (see “pic in foreign location”)
  • profile stressing outdoorsy/sportsing/workout stuff (I’m disabled and trying to get my health back up but for now I can’t keep up with someone who wants to hike the Appalachian trail)
  • profile marrying the word “woman” with any of the following: Classy, sexy, special, or real (I might think I am all of those things but I have no idea if you’d agree with me. That bar is too vaguely high for my tastes besides its so FUCKING CLICHE)


  • something in the picture that makes you look a little “different”
  • actual smiling (there’s a difference and its in the eyes and you can’t fake it)
  • mentioning being a father but NOT putting more than a photo-bombed headshot of your kid(s) in the pic pool (seeing full pics of your children makes me uneasy. we’re looking for a romance, and you’re splashing your kids’ pics on a very public place… that seems entirely too reckless)
  • talking about things you like AND things you do (we don’t all get to do the things we like and sometimes the things we do may seem boring to us but are interesting to someone else)
  • being frank about what you want in a RELATIONSHIP (not a person; people can be so many things at once its intimidating to read a laundry list of vague qualities you are hoping to find)
  • profile reads like you’re happy already but wanting to share your happy life (I don’t want to be with someone who hopes I will “complete” their miserably empty existence)
  • equally okay with doing things “out and about” or “stay home”

I swiped-right on about 50 profiles. Of those, I received messages from four people first. I also sent messages to about six people and about five of them replied. In every single case, the person I was chatting with, asked me to text them on their phone within about three sentences. Not being comfortable with sending my phone number to strangers I managed to demur.(I had a not-great experience doing that with someone from OkCupid. Even though we had talked for nearly a month and realized we weren’t dating material for each other, we decided we were cool with hanging out occasionally. Next thing you know, I’m blocking him for drunk texting suggestive things to me *sigh*) I suggested meeting up with two people. One ended up begging off later (he was here to attend a funeral so I really understood him changing his mind) the other never responded. So my actual contacts with people show that Tinder guys have the exact same problem as OkCupid guys: they don’t have the whatever-it-takes to actually follow through on a dating prospect even when its handed to them on a silver platter. Suffice it to say, I’m not interested in dating someone who can’t get it together to finish a conversation, respond to a request to meet up or even message back. And those were men I swiped-right who had swiped-right on me. So its not like they were repelled by my unsexiness or anything. They already decided they liked me (pic and/or profile) yet could not bring themselves to even say hello (or much beyond that) The one and only guy who managed a good fun conversation and said he wanted to meet was only in town for a few days for a funeral and we just couldn’t get our schedules together. He did text me later to apologize and ask if I was free later which sadly I was not. Ah well.

So all the men I swiped-left? Oy and Vey. Endless streams of “look how great I am” pictures and profiles. It became boring, in fact. And somewhat depressing really.

Overall, I have ascertained that Tinder is in fact pretty much what I expected. I wasn’t interested in using it previously because the notion of finding someone based on a picture was just rather… superficial. And that’s pretty much what Tinder is: superficial. The vast majority of what I’ve come across (and I’m talking about the ones who say they don’t want “just a hook-up”) are braggarts and swellheads. The vast majority of pictures I see are all about showing how superior the subject is in the arena of money, material possessions, adventure and/or looks. I can’t possibly speak for all or even most women but the subset of type of women I belong to and the fact is that we generally aren’t interested in snagging the Most Superior Male on the block. In some ways, that’s a turn-off, in fact. To be with someone who sets themselves up as superior, you feel as if you also must be a superior specimen and face it, most women do not go around feeling superior to other women. Hierarchy and competition is not a common thing among smart, lively women who take command of their sexuality. No matter how awesome we view ourselves (and most of us do) we do not do it relative to other women or by a standard of measurement that society sets out. So my only conclusion is that Tinder is a social meeting place for the most banal, average and superficial folk. Not to say there aren’t women that like, of course there are, but considering the qualities that most men say they are looking for, Tinder doesn’t offer much in the way of choice for women who actually have those qualities. Because women who are bright, lively and take command of their sexuality are generally looking for someone who is in a similar mindset, not someone who wastes energy bragging about their accoutrements of acquisition. The spending of money and the position of power within one’s career does not translate into personal qualities beyond the average, it just indicates that you have been more successful (which implies plenty of luck) than others. But success doesn’t indicate personal fortitude or work ethic or even smarts – just opportunity. Relationships aren’t successful because of opportunity. Matching up with someone isn’t a just a matter of chance, its a matter of matching someone’s projected qualities with your desires, now and for the future. That’s not something that I can judge based on what car you drive, how many fish you caught or how much you love your dog.

Goodbye Tinder. You’re definitely not for me.

Social Media

Look at this Cartoon .

Social Media. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, G+, Reddit, Livejournal – those are only the ones I’m somewhat familiar with. Those are the generalized ones. There’s many more that are specialized too. Videosift, Youtube, dailymotion, Foursquare, Linkedin…

All virtual meeting-places. Forums, communities, groups, hangouts, guilds elists and PMs. We know what they are and how they’re used. Despite different tools, commands and symbols, they all do basically the same thing: bring people together online to share with each other.

The general consensus is that it is sucking up our socializing. We no longer rely on “real-time” or “face time”. We don’t interact on a daily basis in a “normal” way. Social media is making us all strangers. Social media is stealing our potential quality time. Social media is engulfing us in virtual reality and we are letting life slip by unnoticed. Our children are neglected, our work is sub-standard and our interactions are minimized. We are addicted to unreal relationships.

What did we do before social media?

The general consensus is that we actually made plans to see each other. We had conversations, went out and got to know each other. We looked at each other. We acknowledged one  another. We had “real” relationships.  Parents paid attention to their kids, SigOths went on dates, and we had hobbies that didn’t require looking at a screen.

Did we really?

All my life I’ve been fascinated with paucity. I read Lois Lenski and the “little house” series. I imagined what life was like without electricity, indoor plumbing or interstate commerce. Reading by candlelight, sitting on a latrine and relying on a garden for dinner…. not things I romanticized or wanted, but fascinated by nonetheless.  All my life I’ve been grateful to live when I do; no slavery, women can vote, and modern “conveniences” like light, heat and ready food. There’s many thing I remember “the old fashioned way” – stick shift driving, gas heaters without thermostats, fans instead of air conditioners, ovens that had to be lit.

I remember everyone using cash to pay for things. A check was a huge hold-up at the store and a calculator that you could put in your purse was an amazing thing. Credit cards were for emergencies or rich people. In fact, rich people didn’t use credit cards much either; they had “line of credit” at stores and could simply walk in, pick things out, and have them delivered to their home and billed later.

Being billed later… the doctor, the grocer, the dress shop,… that’s what rich people did. Everyone else did “lay-away”  Credit was a luxury.

When you were growing up, what did you think was “luxurious”?

I thought having a house with more than one floor was luxurious.  One of my earliest dreams was to own a house with a master staircase. And have a credit card. And two phone lines.  And being able to buy a new tire for my car. A NEW tire. That was “luxury” to me.

I remember when answering machines arrived. My parents refused one for a very very long time. My parents are not luddites, but they are logical: “if we buy an item, it will be because we NEED it” was their main philosophy on purchasing things. Because of course, we were very poor.  So an answering machine? “Pah! If we’re not here, what’s the point of a machine telling people we’re not here? they can call back later!”

Then “call waiting” happened. It annoyed my mother. But I was a teenager and my penchant for phone conversations that lasted all night forced my parents to rationalize paying for call waiting. They saw the logic in the purchase the same day we got it. But they didn’t buy an answering machine until they became landlords.

I remember car seats for babies. Shoulder seat belts. VCRs.

But what I remember most?  What changed everything for my family?

Programmable calculators.

My father bought one as soon as they were available. My father has a degree in physic engineering. Nuff said, right?

My father loved the programmable calculator so much he bought the next version as soon as it came out and gave me his old one. I was eleven. That was my first lesson in programming. Looking back, what I learned would be akin to what’s called a “script” or “macro” today- a short program that tells the computer to do a series of steps it already can do. Instead of having to input every step individually, the script or macro calls up the series of steps with one button. We thought this was amazing. I’d been to IBM on a field trip in school more than once so I knew what a computer was. And here was something very much like a computer, that fit into my backpack. Amazing.

So of course PCs came out. Of course my father got one. Like most early nerds, he bought a kit and built it himself. He learned rapidly. He taught some to me. I knew basic before high school. I fiddled with machine code. I learned to make pictures with ASCII.  Fun times.

So what were we doing, socially, back then? Were we really a culture of people going outside all the time, walking around looking at each other, making eye contact and starting up conversations with strangers? Were parents paying rapt attention to their kids in the evenings? Did families go out and do all sorts of “organic” fun? Were we all really acknowledging each other all the time? Were we all full of so much social time that we engaged one another constantly? or even continually? did we use the phone to call each other all the time? did we write letters left and right? Were we a nation of hobbyists and athletes and artists producing and creating and generally making life pleasant without gadgetry?

Well yes, we were.

Did we do it so much more than we do now?

Well no, not really.

We didn’t stop doing any of those things. We haven’t retreated into a silent world of screen-gazing and info-sharing while neglecting the real flesh and blood of relationships any more than we used to sit every night around a campfire and sing kum-bah-ya with locked arms and loving glances.

What we did was trade. In some cases, we traded one type of communication that was cumbersome and time-consuming for much more efficient version of the same.

Do people sit down and write letters that they will later mail at the post office later? Some.  Mostly, people write emails. It’s an exchange that actually broadened the scope of communication and made interaction more commonplace.  Because “snail mail” letter-writing required a significant investment of time, money and mental energy, it wasn’t something everyone did. When a person did choose to write a letter, it was an endeavor which could take up much of their resources and as such meant the letter had to justify said effort. Of course, some people didn’t write their own letters to begin with. Many people would hire someone else more skilled to write on their behalf. Because of this, letter-writing was considered something of a talent; one could actually gain a reputation as a “good letter-writer”. Sending someone your thoughts, ideas and questions wasn’t something to be done lightly. So many people didn’t do it at all. Think of all those thoughts, ideas and questions that never got put out. All that information, clarification and interaction that never happened.

Email erased that and gave the power to exchange to everyone almost equally.

I hear the lamentation that grammar and spelling have gone out the window with the advent of social media and the internet. Some think its because the internet has made people stop caring, taking pride in their expression. I think the internet, for all its egalitarian beauty, merely opened the floodgates for those who are not talented or skilled in letter-writing to attempt to interact anyway. No longer is letter-writing an intimidating prospect that could eat up considerable time and energy. Now anyone can do it, so long as the “rules” for exchange have softened.

Do people sit and have conversations via phone or gathering like they used to? Of course they do. But social media has changed that landscape too. No longer does one have to be subject to the influence of whoever happens to be in their vicinity; with social media, one can choose to interact with whatever type and strata of person they like at any time. Barely speak English? Know nothing about current events? Only interested in discussing llama farming? Find your group online and start talking! now!  Introduce yourself – ah remember that? “introduce yourself”  used to be one of the most dreaded phrases in social gatherings. Standing in front of a crowd of strangers, you had to on-the-spot come up pertinent information about yourself that would entice people to want to know you, accept you and validate you.

Strangers you say? Bah! Why waste time with strangers when you could find an online “gathering” of people you share things in common with. Take as long as you need to write your introduction. Read other people’s posts so you can get a feel for how this group functions and whether you are “on their level” or not. If you realize you’re out of your depth, or sailing above everyone else, you can leave quietly and no one will even remember or care that you stopped by. It’s all in your hands. And if you want, at any time the “real world” is still out there, waiting for you to go join it. But now when you do, you can set your stage beforehand using social media. Much of the dreadful, terrifying unknown has been swept away from socializing now. No more standing around with total strangers wondering how to break the ice, present yourself and find out who everyone is. When you get to your meet-up you come armed with important knowledge that allows you to bypass hours of awkward fumbling and guessing.

So what is all this really building to? What are we getting from social media that isn’t being talked about?

Social media gives us one thing we have never had so much of before in our long history of socializing: the power of independent choice.

Social media is so seductive, attractive and wonderful because while it fulfils our need to be social, it also allows us to control everything about our socializing. Even the power to retreat, if we want to. Often with very little repercussions.

Think back… when you first started getting online, what did you do? When you first started dipping into social media (in my case it was IRC) did you make “mistakes”? How long did it take you to figure out “how this thing works”? Once you figured one social media out -the rules, the rituals, the expectations and of course the tools, how hard was it to move on to another type of social media and figure it out?

Social media doesn’t define our culture. It doesn’t supplant “normal” socializing. It hasn’t killed “facetime” nor has it erased the need for relationships. It has expanded our reach, broadened our capacity for inclusion and lowered the price of interaction for everyone equally.  It has also allowed us to reimagine ourselves as social creatures. The person I am when I play an online game is not quite the same person I am when I discuss current events on a forum. the person I am on my public blog is not the same person I am on my friends-only blog, my facebook, my twitter, my emails… who I am is what I want to be, who I think I need to be for each unique online situation.

I have recently learned something new as well: I am not required to stay the same on any social media. I have grown all my life and social media is no different. My growth has included many lessons about myself, people I know and the world around me. But some of my favorite lessons have been about social media itself and how its changed my expectations and my interactions. I realized recently that I do not have to feel beholden to anyone for an explanation unless I am on a neutral-ownership place. If it is MY facebook, MY blog or MY twitter, I owe no one anything in explanation or expectation. But when I am on a forum, an email list, or any other group, I am no more important or less than any one else in that same  group. I have never felt more equality than when in online discussions. Despite the fact that there are still bigots, assholes and patronizing jerks, the general tenor of online groups are egalitarian. We are all anonymous to some degree and yet we all have reputations as well. We gather personality traits over time like any other form of socializing. Yet because of the differences in online interactions and “real life” interaction, those traits are seen more as individual traits than indicators of whatever classifications of humanity I belong to. I may have a reputation for being quick-tempered and mouthy but I am not taken to be the token spokesperson for all white, disabled, female bisexuals. My traits are indicative of ME. Unlike many “real time” interactions wherein any type of noticeable reactive traits can easily be considered hallmarks of “your kind”  The anonymity of the online world is good like that.

Lastly, I want to touch upon the intricate nature of social media’s place in parenting. Obviously, I am a big fan of parenting forums as my recent post about Special Needs Parenting forums clearly showed.  But overall, social media has given parents a gift that has no ‘real life” component: individualized networking.

Before social media, parents had magazines and some books. If you wanted to meet other parents, the best you could do was to join the PTA or church group. If you did, you had to hope there were other parents who had similiar parenting philosophies but more importantly, you had to hope that your philosophies were NOT the type to get you branded as “one of THOSE parents” by the majority of wherever you were. Because if you went to your local school and mentioned an unpopular parenting idea…  you were stuck for the next 12 years. You could be outcast, ostracized, gossip-fodder possibly even harassed through CPS if you said the “wrong” thing. So parents have gained solidarity in social media but they have also gained something more valuable: understanding and acceptance. Which goes both ways. Nowadays, even if you live in backwater USA and your entire PTA goes to church every day of the week, think Jesus rode dinosaurs and women must wear hats everywhere they go, even then, you still have heard of other parenting philosophies. You may not like them, you may think they are weird, but , you’ve heard of them and you know, whether grudgingly or happily, that you must have some level of tolerance.

And that first tiny foot-in-the-door of tolerance? Is better than humanity has had for the last thousand or so years.

Because of social media.

So yes, go out occasionally. Talk to people sometimes. Smile at strangers. Enjoy “real life” interaction. Its just as wonderful as its always been. But I suspect people haven’t stopped doing those things or craving them.

People just need to be reminded once in a while that social media enhances interaction, even as it doesn’t replace it. They live side-by-side, supporting each other. Use them both wisely.