August 25, 2013

Musicians Don't Join

As August draws to a close I ponder the sweet mystery of summer lovin, which allegedly happened so fast, and the wonderful music made specifically for us to savor those romantic moments. A summer soundtrack, filled with the latest pop songs, classic love ballads, and of course the one song whose lyrics "perfectly describe our relationship, like seriously." It may be miserably hot and humid, but 80% of love is in the air!

Why the statistical qualifier? Because according to 1 in 5 relationships are born online. In other words, 20% of love comes from your internet service provider. For all the sketchy, creepy, and downright unsafe possibilities that online dating offers, matchmaking sites do present a tempting offer. Several sites cater to specific cultural and social interests (i.e. Christian Mingle, Black People Meet, Date Hookup) and provide multiple matches--because, you know, why not relax the rules on the whole one true love element? 

Look I get it, we work longer hours, join fewer community volleyball leagues, and watch more Netflix shows (usually alone). Who wouldn't be excited about trading their email address for the chance to find their soul mate? Still, I remain unconvinced that online dating is the future of relationships for one simple reason:

Nobody writes love songs about

Music is a central element of the human experience. It is beautiful, sad, solemn, frantic, fantastic, and everything in between. Emotions are complex and hard to describe--music is not. Somehow, a specific succession of notes and chords can capture our deepest feelings. How do I know this? There are way too many love songs on the radio and in the iTunes store. There is skinny love, burning love, one love, tainted love, same love, bad love, and a few hundred other adjectives to boot. But there is no online love. Nobody composes a melody for dating profiles, inbox messages, or cat-fishin' floozies. You can't make a mixtape for a relationship that started online--well, not a good one.

So we're left with one of two options here: Either musicians just don't go on, and thus aren't able to compose these chart-topping tunes OR despite what the statistics say about success and efficiency, there's just something impersonal about the whole process of trying to make a personal connection through a computer. 

Does online dating work out for some people? Absolutely. But here's the thing that people dating is an opportunity to meet new people, not a solution to your chronic loneliness. It takes the very best effort to find somebody compatible, to go out and risk failure at a bar, concert, or wherever you want to go on a date, and to take the time and sacrifice to do it all again next week, or month, or whenever. It's a lot of work.

Even the best song about love falls short of the experience itself.

August 19, 2013

YOLO: Here's to Freshman Year Memories

Let me just get this out of the way real quick-like:

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I’ve been, well, gone. I’d make up some excuse and say that work and my personal life have just been too busy, but I owe you more than that. Honestly, I was just feeling a bit uninspired. And no one wants to read an uninspired blog post, right? That’s right—now I’m putting the blame on you. Anyway, my friend Jimmy from The Highly Questionable Blog came to my rescue with the idea that we could guest post on each other’s blogs. Inspiration acquired! And now I’m back. So thank Jimmy. Seriously. His blog is wonderful.

If you’re a reader, I’m going to guess that we know each other somehow. I might even go so far as to assume that I met you at Drury. If that’s the case, I’ve got something to say to you, friend.

We are getting old. Unless you graduated this year or haven’t graduated yet. In that case it’s just me who’s getting old. But it’ll be you next year. Or the year after.

I moved into Sunderland Hall five years ago around this time. I can’t believe it! I met some of my best friends, took the two classes that helped me decide on my majors, and had my first taste of Pineapple Whip and Andy’s. So we’re going to reminisce a little bit tonight about some of the crazy things that happened during that first year of college. I hope you’ll be reminded of some stupid times too.

The summer before I came to Drury, I spent most nights with my best friend writing obscenities in whipped cream that we'd slathered on my kitchen table. Then we licked it up. 

I also made a “slumber party” cake for two of my best friends. It was at once the cutest and most horrifying thing I'd ever made. I wasn’t ready to grow up. 

Then I came to Drury, where people replaced whipped cream for shaving cream and wrote “I win” on the mirrors instead of “I love so and so.” 

I attended my first raging dance party. There was a man in a gorilla suit (who shall remain unnamed). I was frightened.

I saw Bob Barker. He was old.

I thought this was the coolest photo I’d ever taken. I was probably right. 

Renee and I went to Blockbuster (yeah, it was still in business) dressed as Audrey Hepburn and the joker on Halloween.

I watched a completely sober dude shave his head for no particular reason.

I sang Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend” over and over and over again. I seriously considered buying a Jesus chain and reenacting that scene from It’s Always Sunny.

I shamelessly watched shirtless men play frisbee on Sunderland field. And I'd do it again.

I missed my cat A LOT.

I ran around looking like a Russian Babushka doll on more than one occasion.

I played the pterodactyl game like a boss.

And I miss it all like crazy. What are some of your fondest memories of that first year?

August 15, 2013

Piper Chapman is Not My Bestie.

I had a fight with my friend the other night. Per usual she ignored every piece of advice I gave, acted as if I wasn't even there, and faded to black after an hour. The only thing more pathetic than fighting with a TV show character is not knowing if you even won.

Netflix is like a treasure chest of gold that's been laced with skin-penetrating poison (which I assume exists). It has completely changed how we watch TV and on the surface it looks like the greatest thing ever to all people who don't own a Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. know, there's still the poison thing that slowly works it's way into your system and fucks you up. I take no liberties with this analogy, Netflix does fuck you up

I have never spoken to any fictional character before, much less argued with at one. Too much time passes between shows for my feelings to boil over and blast out of my mouth. Even when I'm wasting my day with a Law and Order SVU marathon (thanks USA network!) the commercials always give me a little time to check myself before I wreck myself. But with Neflix I can instantly stream entire seasons with no commercials. Now the time I spend with those characters is really only interrupted by the occasional bathroom break. That's totally false, I have Netflix on my phone--not even nature's call can stop me.

When you spend too much uninterrupted time with characters you start to think about them outside of the episodes' context. You try to predict not only their behaviors but also their justifications for the behaviors: "Of course Picard would do that! Why just two episodes ago he..." Moreover, instant streaming almost necessitates that the time you spend watching those shows will be spent alone. I mean, who hangs out together for 3 hours just to watch Weeds? So there's nobody around to tell me how weird it is to start talking to the characters. I don't care enough to remind myself, so now talking to fake people is normal. 

But most importantly I start caring too much. I care too much about what happens to the characters because I get sucked into their world for long periods at a time. I'm like Jane Goodall in the tall grass watching gorillas. A few weeks ago I started Orange is the New Black, a show about a middle class woman who ends up in a federal prison. Now this show originally aired on Netflix and came out with all 13 episodes of Season 1 available to watch. I don't have to play the waiting game like I do for normal network shows. Sure enough, this series was prepackaged for my unhealthy interactive habits. I've grown overly attached to the show's main character, Piper Chapman--I'm way too invested in her choices. Since I'm not a Sally-spoil-the-show I won't tell you why I was arguing with Pipes, but suffice to say she didn't make a wise decision and now she's ruining her life. How could she do that?

How can I be doing this?

August 9, 2013

Santa Claus should work for the NSA.

Maybe it's a little early to start calling the highlights of 2013, but I'll put a sizable wager that the NSA ends up in TIME's 2013 year in review--wait they already published it? Shit. Whatever, I'll still put money on Eric Snowden finishing in the top 3 for "Person of the Year" status. Ever since Snowden, henceforth known as the worlds biggest tattle-tale, spilled the beans on our National Security Administration's spying practices every U.S. citizen has decided to either (a) complain about their lack of privacy, or (b) complain about the number of people who complain about the their lack of privacy.

Fair enough, the nation is outraged. Save for James Bond-type movies and MADtv cartoon mice-things, spying isn't the most respectable trade out there. I mean it's one thing to be spying on others, but it's downright egregious to spy on your own people, right? And yet anytime I hear a customer service complaint about the NSA peeping into our personal lives I can't help but think...didn't you folks ever believe in Santa Claus?

I know there's still 137 shopping days til Christmas, but let me recite a part of a festive Christmas song for you:
He sees you when you're sleeping, He knows when you're awake, He knows if you've been bad or good...So be good for goodness sake!
Take that song apart and suddenly jolly old St. Nick doesn't seem so fun anymore. Somehow this guy's keeping tabs on all of us. Maybe it's just super fun Christmas magic, or maybe Santa's got his elves monitoring our every move. To all the 8 year old's listening to the radio during the Christmas season that song is a reminder: You aren't alone. Privacy? Doesn't exist in Chris Kringle's world. But do you think 8-year-old me cared about Santa's spy program? Nope, I agreed to the terms and conditions of "good behavior" monitoring so long as the presents got put under the pine tree. To me, the reward was worth the loss of privacy.

Santa Claus isn't real, don't worry I know that (just kidding Santa!). But the concept is the same. Nothing's private anymore because we would have to give up way too much to keep our information completely secure. Let's see if I can find a few more examples...

Ever notice how good those side-bar ads are getting at showing you exactly the right products you want need? Big stores are paying companies to gather data from your previous online purchases and your search form entries to better understand how and what you shop. Legal? Absolutely. Remember those terms and conditions you agreed to? Only after completely reading of course. Chances are you signed away some part of your privacy in the agreement. But hey, now you get great deals on the types of products you were going to buy anyway. Privacy vs. convenience: Convenience always wins.

Sometimes we exchange our privacy for non-material rewards. Think about your information privacy: Are you really doing your best to monitor what you share with others online? Facebook's an obvious example of our blasé approach to information sharing, but thankfully it still has some privacy settings that we barely read. Twitter should change the term "tweets" to "future regrets" to better resonate with most of its audience. And the worst of all? 4square! What was the thinking behind this social media monstrosity? "Let's create an app to let stalkers know exactly where you are at all times!" Oh and others can tag you at the place you're going so you don't even have to give consent. What a relief! I'm surprised the app never developed GPS capabilities for large white vans.

Even if it doesn't feel like it, we put way too much of our personal information on social media sites. This is a fact not missed by frauds, identity thieves, and general hackers. But, yet again, we'd rather have the rewards of an active social life, status likes, and networking opportunities. We choose to hand over our private information to the world so people we've never shook hands with can be our friends.

I used to think that there were some things about us that were still private. Our own bodies for example. Sure, clothes are skimpy, but at least we still wear something, right? Next thing you know I'm watching Robin Thicke's new music video for his song "Blurred Lines." WARNING: That link's a risky click if you're at work. In the video the two male singers are wearing pretty sharp suits while the girls dance in a suit of the birthday variety (that means they are naked). Here's the kicker, I can find that video on Youtube. I don't even have to look very hard. While I realize naked girls on the internet is nothing new, there used to be a time where you had to lie about being 18 or older to see them.

And it dawns on me that this is the future of music videos. Even if there is a ton of negative reaction to Thicke's video, we'll eventually get to the point where we watch others dance naked to music on a public forum. So what do I tell my future son or especially my future daughter when we have the talk about the privacy of their bodies? One look at that Youtube video and it's pretty clear that our most personal privacy doesn't exist anymore. It's gone. And for what? The chance to be famous? Yikes.

So forget about the myth of privacy. It doesn't exist. It hasn't existed since Santa first came down your chimney and it doesn't exist now. People know things about you. Now it's your job to start controlling how much they get to know.