humanity

On Special Snowflakes

Part I of probably many, many more to come.

I don’t advocate violence. I try to be a good person. But if I read one more thing about being special or different or atypical followed by the words “but that’s okay,” I’m going to start throwing punches. Of course not literally, because all of this bullshit is online, due to the fact that if anyone said that in a face-to-face conversation with someone, they’d have already been bullied, gotten over it, and become a better, more tolerable human for the experience. (more…)

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The Well

I know a lot of random information, and I have the blessing-curse combo of being able to see every side of a problem. I figured I could put all this to good use. So I’ve introduced “the Well,” my contribution of knowledge to the world. Ask me anything–advice on a relationship problem, how to make your own jewelry, what book you should read next, how to properly use punctuation, whether the moon is made of cheese, etc. The world is your oyster, and I want nothing more than to help you harvest the pearl. So ask away!

Endemic Species

The world is full of oddities: naked mole rats, haunted dolls, toe socks. The whole spectrum of human emotion is an oddity if you think about it for to long. As is the entire human body. There are so many things that no one understands. And there seems to be a startling lack of curiosity in the world.

The more time I spend with other people, the more I wonder how the human race got to the point it is today. Are people less curious? Or have there just always been the select few who say, “screw your laws and customs” to the universe and go ahead and make scientific and humanitarian and technological advances despite it all? (more…)

How Not to Suck at Everyday Life: Personal Space and P’s and Q’s

I recently spent some time in Disney World, and the thing that struck me the most was the utter lack of regard people seemed to have for the people around them. Now this may turn into more of a rant than a how-to, but here are some things to remember next time you’re in a large crowd of people.

1. Your body is large. I don’t care how much you weigh; your body takes up space, and when it is positioned in front of mine, it blocks my view. Moving your head or body from side to side in order to get a better view makes me move to get a better view which makes the person behind me move to get a better view, and so on and so forth. It’s a chain reaction of annoyed people. So please, if you’re standing in a crowd watching something, find a good spot and stay there. It’s better to not be able to see a few inches of whatever is going on than to make everyone behind you want to punch you.

1a. When you’re behind someone, leave some room. I don’t want to feel your breath on the back of my neck or your hands on my back or butt every time you move; it gives me panic attacks and makes me want to punch you in the face.


Pictured: When not to practice jumping jacks, breakdancing, or random hug attacks.

2. When you add things to your body, it becomes even larger. While Mickey Mouse ears are adorable on children, after about the age of twelve, they start getting really annoying really quickly. Having a five-inch wide ear at eye level in front of me does not make you blocking my view any cuter. Wearing a backpack, too, means that if you’re not careful, you will hit me every time you turn to talk to someone. So please, just mind what you have on your body and how close it is to the people around you.

Blocking views since the 1950s.

3. Having something with wheels does not entitle you to run people down. I understand this is somewhat more controversial than the others, since people won’t get out of your way and there’s often no other way to move forward. But you can, however, learn the words “excuse me” or “pardon me.” I hear they work miracles. Strollers should not be used to push people out of the way. Just don’t do it.

Pictured: How not to move through a crowd.

3a. On the flip side, don’t move your wheeled vehicle slower than molasses. Your electric scooter chair is incredibly hard to pass when it’s moving at less than a mile an hour.

4. Walking to the front of a line and assimilating into it is not ingenious, it’s rude. This is the same concept as the cars who drive up the left lane of traffic to the front of a standstill and then put their blinker on. It’s just not okay. Don’t be that guy. I understand if you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing. But that’s generally the exception, not the rule. You’re not being sneaky, we know what you’re doing; wait in line like the rest of us.

5. Stopping in the middle of traffic is rude and inconvenient for everyone around you. If you’re on a pathway, don’t just stop. If, by some miracle, people don’t run into you or each other, at the very least you’ll cause a traffic jam. If you need to look at a map or see to your child, walk to the side of the path, then stop.

6. Do not text and walk. Or look at a map and walk. Or look at your child and walk. Watch where you’re going. I don’t want to run into you any more than you want me to run into you. But it makes it a lot easier when we’re both watching where we’re going.

If I’m looking where I’m going, I’ll expect you to do the same.

7. Keep your hands to yourself. If you’re in a thickly-packed crowd, stop talking with your hands. Stop pumping your arms when you walk. Stop widely gesturing. If I don’t know you, I don’t want you touching me, purposefully or not. And if you do accidentally touch me, apologize. Don’t make a stupid joke, don’t glare at me like it’s my fault, just say sorry and keep walking. Chances are, if it’s an accident, I won’t care. And neither will anyone else.

8. I don’t want to get sick. Teach your child to cover his mouth when he sneezes or coughs. Nothing starts deteriorating my mood quite like a child (or adult, for that matter) sneezing directly in my face. When there are people on all sides of you, simply turning your head doesn’t work. So please, cover your mouth, or your child’s mouth.

Pictured: What I don’t want all over me.

9.  Mind your p’s and q’s. Say please. Say thank you. Say excuse me. Let someone in worse health than you have a seat. Let people pass in front of you. Don’t scream at strangers. Don’t scream at your family. Wait patiently in line. Be nice to me, be nice to the people helping you, be nice to each other. It’s not hard.

If you’re a nice, conscientious person in large crowds, then thank you. And I understand that sometimes things just happen. But the rude people just ruin it for everyone.

Now, feel free to disagree with me. You are, after all, entitled to your own opinion. But know that at least one person out there feels this way, and please at least consider being more aware of the people around you. Let’s make the world a better place together.

And here’s a cheesy quote to help you on your way to not sucking at everyday life.

*Reposted from a site I worked on in college that is now, unfortunately, dead.

I Got a Tinder for Anthropological Purposes. This is What Happened.

One of my friends, ever the bad influence (just kidding–if you’re reading this, I love you) convinced me to download Tinder and make myself a profile. I’m a little too paranoid for full on online dating, but in this instance I decided what the hell. I included one picture from like three years ago and a sentence fragment of a bio, yet I still got a fair amount of matches. I learned some things, too. So here, in no particular order, are the things I learned while using Tinder.

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Ready?

So many people are named Mike, Nick, Matt, or Chris. At least 75% of the men I flicked through had one of those names. (On a related note, did you know that 84% of statistics are made up on the spot?) Okay, so I didn’t count, but the point is there were a lot. Maybe “Mike, Nick, or Chris” can be this generation’s “Tom, Dick, or Harry”? (Or “Tom, Dick, or Stanley,” if you’re more of a Disney buff than real human being. To be honest, that’s what I thought it was before I looked it up. It just has a nicer ring to it, don’t you think?)

Pictures of a man holding a fish while wearing a cutoff t-shirt are not very attractive. And are far, far too common. The same goes for four-wheelers, drunken poses and Red Solo Cups, hunting rifles, and cigars without a three-piece suit. The fact that you like craft beer and sports above all else is not even remotely interesting or attractive and, judging by the amount of people who claim it, possibly not true. I very much don’t want to see a picture of you with an ex-girlfriend, prom date, or bar hookup, and there is absolutely no point to having six other people in all of your pictures. How can I properly judge you by appearance alone if I don’t know which one is you?

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On the other hand, yes, your adorable golden retriever will make me more likely to swipe right, as will the cute child you’re playing with, as long as you specify it’s not yours. But that’s enough about generalizations and stereotypes. (I wonder if they’re different in different cities. Don’t know that I care enough to find out of my own accord.)

On a personal level, Tinder is a great confidence boost. No, really. I know you’re not supposed to get your self-worth from what other people think of you, but you can’t deny that sometimes it’s nice. Every time you get a match, a little part of your brain goes off, saying, “Hey! This person likes me!” And, while that not may be entirely true, at its barest form, you can say, “Hey! Look at all these attractive people who want to bang me!” (Thank you, Emma Stone, for letting me know that word was still relevant, at least circa 2011.)

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It’s also a great way to practice flirting. I had no intention of ever meeting anyone I met on Tinder, for multiple reasons. (All of which I will keep to myself, lest you judge me.) But that didn’t mean I couldn’t chat with anyone. I’ve been told I’m terrible at flirting. (Don’t feel bad; it’s true.) I even once had a friend take me to the mall with some of her friends so I could “practice flirting.” That turned out about as well as you would imagine. Honestly the only thing I remember from that day (aside from someone getting a date at a Wendy’s) is this comment: “Ooh, sass. Boys like sass. You know what else boys like? It rhymes with sass.” And then he winked. Words of wisdom to live by if I’ve ever heard any. So I figured Tinder would be a good way to practice flirting. After all, it wasn’t real.

Eventually I started swiping right on players and jerks, just because I thought it would be fun. If his bio contained the phrase “I usually won’t message first” or had anything cocky and disparaging to potential swipers, he was the one for me. My favorite was a body-builder who thought very highly of himself and demanded pick-up lines from anyone he matched with. I gave him a pick-up line (which to be honest, I’m not sure he fully understood), and then made a bet with my friend how many messages it would take for him to stop talking to me. Even without trying to sabotage it, I was right: three. He just didn’t understand the rare pleasure it was to be speaking with me. Hah. But this pattern repeated. I got pretty good at flirting over messaging, actually, so bonus. But I, for some reason, felt bad when I just stopped talking to them when I got bored. Maybe that means I still have a conscience?

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If you’ve stayed with me through this partial Tinder commercial, it all goes downhill from here. But I’ll pause for a confession first: I never actually swiped left or right. I couldn’t ever remember which was which, so I just hit the little heart or x, depending. Unless I dropped my phone and accidentally swiped one way or the other, which happened a few times. But I’ll continue to use the swiping terminology, because that’s what most people know. If you’re anything like me, right equals yes, left equals no. Oh, and confession number two: Yes, all of these gifs are going to be Emma Stone gifs, because she’s wonderful and lovely and I want to be her. Anyway.

Tinder is a cesspool. It’s a who’s who of the underside of humanity. With a lot more filtered pictures and bad pick-up lines.

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(Except this one. Because it fit.)

If you could take the concept of objectifying people, and boil it down to one of its most basic forms, you would end up with Tinder. You’re shown a picture or three of a person, maybe a few sentences describing their personality, character, likes, or dislikes, and asked whether or not you find them attractive enough to talk to and/or hook up with. A couple of the bios I found said something along the lines of “I don’t expect you to read this,” which made me indescribably sad. Are people really that shallow and pathetic? I refused to swipe right on someone until I read their bio. Even if they didn’t have a bio, that in itself said something about them, something that I needed desperately to know before agreeing to anything.

Anyway, if you both find each other attractive enough, you’re then subjected to stupid pick-up lines or infinite varieties of “hey.” Seriously, infinite. There’s the typical hi, hey, hello, sup. There’s the double, triple, quadruple y (i.e. heyyy). There are multiple pet names, all with varying degrees of familiarity and degradation. There’s the colonparenthesis, semicolonparenthesis. And emojis. So many emojis. And the cream of the crop? Well they mix and match these options and still somehow end up unoriginal. It’s pretty much magic.

So you get past the painful intro, the useless small talk, the “You like coffee? I like coffee!” and… there’s literally nothing else. Very, very few people were interested in having any sort of legitimate conversation. I would ask a question, hoping to maybe get to know someone or at least engage in some witty banter, and I would get some half-assed answer, a winky face, and maybe a “haha you?” So boring. I’m pretty sure the collective IQ and social ability of Tinder is the approximate size of a pile of dog crap. If Tinder had encouraged reaction gifs (and if anyone there had half the sense of humor they claimed to), I would have gotten this on a daily basis:

emma stone then we bang.gif

But alas, people are not that creative. I would have actually appreciated the thought put into that one. I was talking to one guy (he had a kid; he accidentally slipped past my filtering system) and asking him about his life, about his kid. He responds to one of my questions with the completely unrelated statement, “I’d be good to be friends with benefits.” (That was me paraphrasing. The original was not nearly that grammatically correct.) But really? If there’s a lull in the conversation, maybe. If it actually addresses something I asked, sure. If you start with that, you’re awful, but okay. But to respond to a completely unrelated question?

emma stone dropped on your head.gif

And, see, the worst part of all of this, to me, is that people do it voluntarily. If humanity was forced to sign up for this dating service as some kind of big brother mind control thing, then sure. But people legitimately think that it’s a good idea.  They make a profile with the pictures that flatter them the most (at least, I hope they do. I had my doubts for some of the profiles I came across), they do what they can to make themselves agreeable to strangers in a bite-sized piece, then say, “Hey! Catcall me! Hey! Judge me! Hey! Objectify me and reduce my life and emotions to how attractive you find me, agreeing to me not even as you would a piece of meat, but as you’d agree to take a flyer for a band you’ve never heard of forced on you by a stranger with too many piercings!”

emma stone judging.gif

I think the idea was that people could present themselves as a fancy dish from a nice restaurant–pretty, unique, desirable, and in an incredibly small portion that leaves you wanting more. But they all come across more as a two-piece chicken nuggets or a Whopper with three bites already taken out of it: pointless and kind of gross. Do you remember that scene in Crazy, Stupid, Love where Steve Carell is trying to channel his inner Ryan Gosling and every time the woman tells him something, he cries, “BORING”? That’s what I felt like doing to almost every single person I talked to, and not even because I was trying anything. They were just legitimately boring. The most interesting guy I talked to, in his main picture, was wearing a bed sheet toga. I don’t know what that says about me, or humanity, but I don’t think it’s anything good.

Tinder is a fascinating idea, to be sure. It plays to the microwave generation’s need for immediacy, and it’s efficient. And the name is brilliant, really. Tinder: All you need is a spark. (I should work for their marketing department.) But it is the epitome of inauthenticity. The fact that it links to Facebook should have been my first clue, now that I think about it. There’s nothing real, nothing meaningful, nothing even remotely authentic. People are pictures and pick-up lines, no more. I didn’t take it at all seriously, but it still drained my energy, my happiness. I want to believe there are still good people in the world. Tinder gives you proof after proof that that’s not true, and you have to constantly remind yourself that this is only a lonely and pathetic subset of the population, not exactly the winners, the stars, the stand-up citizens. It’s seriously exhausting.

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I didn’t even really learn to flirt. I picked up a few phrases and emoji placements that work better than others, but nothing incredibly helpful. The slightly degrading, sort of flirtatious phrases and pet names were a crowd favorite (e.g. oh come now, darling) and a properly placed winking kiss emoji can make anything tempting. But that’s not a lot of help when I come across an attractive man in a Barnes&Noble. Still totally clueless there.

emma stone bad flirting.gif

Actual picture of me flirting.

All this to say, don’t get a Tinder. Even if you don’t take it seriously, it just shows you how awfully sad humanity can be, the depths it’ll sink to if given the chance. If you want a date, go to a coffee shop, a bookstore, a bar. Be original. Be interesting. Be authentic. Treat people like they’re human beings, like they’re worthy of time, effort, and respect.

But if you’re just looking for a meaningless hookup and you don’t think you’re attractive enough to find one at a bar, by all means, use Tinder. But whatever you do, keep it classy.

emma stone wine classy.gif