Monday, January 09, 2017

Left-right is not the axis that matters anymore

I've been thinking about a meme that's going around. It plots media sources on a liberal-conservative x axis and a sensational-complex y axis.
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By being a picture with words on it on Facebook, this chart itself, ironically, scores on the low side of the y axis, in my opinion. (I am really going to have to stop using phrases like "in my opinion" as we go deeper into the rabbit hole, but tonight is not the night.) However, it raises a point that I can't get out of my head for the last few days: the plight of ill-fittingly complex sources/politicians/people in a "basic AF" world.

This is, arguably, part of my problem with my career, my writing, and my existence in modern America. It's why Jim Leff's Slog, one of my favorite, most insightful personal blogs -- written by someone with a measure of modern online fame, even, (he founded Chowhound) -- has not set the world on fire yet y'all are still sharing HuffPost. (As I was pondering the effect of the complex/analytical/basic/sensational axis on our politics and our world, Leff published a post called "High Impenetrability From My Pointy Pointy Head" which addressed his supposed "readability" based on a scale I had previously never heard of but am now afraid to use on myself. (Ok, I just did it, on the first 4 paragraphs of this post. 11.99 out of 100 to Leff's 8.81. Another piece in the puzzle of why I'm socially awkward and long-term unemployable. Just by writing posts with more than 4 paragraphs in 2017 I am probably toast.)

Now this sounds like "me and my cronies are smarter than you, neener neener" but the inability to tell the difference between intelligence and complexity is something intelligent people also fail at. I've known some people with PhDs who are not what I would call smart, mostly because they are boring. I've taught some kids who can barely read but are fucking deep.

Some of my favorite people to talk to or read when shit is bananas are the big-picture people. The people who, on September 12, were still crying but also wondering about long-term effects on global policy. I try to be a big picture person, though it's also very easy for me to disappear up my own butt. Since our country (and Putin's) elected an Internet troll to the presidency, I've been trying not to full-time panic but to also think about what this means and how we survive and what the planet (if we still have one) will look like in 10, 20, 50 years.

The big-picture people like to say history and politics are a pendulum. We've swung right before, and we always swing back left. (Or, for my Republican friends, we've swung left before, and we always swing back right). But what if the left/right axis isn't the one that matters anymore? Arguably, many voters don't know enough about issues and policy to know left from right. (Side note, this has got to be part of where third parties and none-of-the-above'ers get off saying things like "there's no difference" between Clinton and Trump. Obama vs Romney, yeah, I get it, both centrists, party labels less and less relevant. But a boring neo-liberal warmonger vs...Trump though? Peace, Green Party, I'm OUT. It's 3:47 in the morning and I can already tell this is not going to be a day I am going to be good at seeing everyone's point of view and remembering the words to Kumbaya.)

So here is my prediction for the 2020 (or god forbid 2024) election, again, assuming we live that long and still have a democracy. My four loyal readers who still use RSS feeds (complex!) heard it here first. Our next president after Trump will be left of center on the issues but will also be simplistic, pandering, mediagenic, not as smart as either of us, and possibly as inexperienced and unfit for office as Trump.

Welcome to Idiocracy. I hope you packed a good book.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Ambitious to-do list for people with depression

☑ Get out of bed
☑ Brush teeth
☑ Make coffee
☑ Drink coffee
𝥷 Shower
𝤿 Go to job
𝤿 Eat something
𝤿 Maybe even a square meal or something with a vegetable
𝤿 Salsa is not a vegetable

Friday, December 30, 2016

Everybody's dead, Dave

Look, we are a celebrity-obsessed society. My own demographic is also getting older, confronting our mortality, seeing our parents become elderly, and watching our peers start to die of what can only be described as old-people stuff. So maybe dead celebrities are starting to hurt a little more than they used to, even for those of us who don't consider themselves into all that. We're losing the people we looked up to as kids, the people whose creative output helped us survive our teens, the people who helped us have a good time and forget about life for a three minute song or a two hour movie or the length of a good book. Feeling a little sad about the death of someone who helped me enjoy my youth (or my last Tuesday) has no effect on my ability to be angry about Syria, but we are also a storytelling species and I have a lot of music/movie stories to post but I don't have any Aleppo stories (I wish I did. It sounds like it was a fantastic place. Fuck you 2016.). 

Speaking of social media mourning: much like you are "allowed" to be sadder about a family member dying than a stranger ("shut up about your grandma, people die every day!" is not a thing, right?) you are allowed to feel a little closer to tragedies in places you've been, lived in, or worked in than places unknown to you, which is why some people have more to say about bombs in Paris or Brussels than then they do about bombs in places that have it worse. I'm not saying it's perfect, that's just how the human mind and heart work. Also, I'm capable of being upset about more than one thing at a time. I kind of wish I wasn't. So can we ease up on the "people die every year" and the "I wish people were as upset about [world issue] as they were about [latest dead celebrity]" stuff? I think some of you would call it "tone policing." It's been a rough year, we're in for a rough few more. If something's wrong, let's spend less time criticizing each other's dumbshit social media posts and MORE time feeling, writing, and reviewing our pop culture's classic moments. Art and culture need to thrive in dark times, it can only help. (And if you truly are knowledgeable about celebrities but not world events, today is a good day to start fixing that.)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The people you will meet in a grocery store on December 24

* Hapless, clearly terrified husbands unused to grocery shopping who need to be walked to at least 3 individual aisles. I'm sorry your gender binary has left you so ill-equipped for this basic errand.
* Out of control white children who have never been told "no" in their lives
* "I don't really drink, but..."
* Employee who smoked too much weed on his 10 minute break and now can barely find his ass with both hands
* People who don't usually cook but have for some reason chosen an exotic recipe with at least one ingredient that is either completely obscure or not really a thing. When you suggest a reasonable substitute they will fight you on it even though they only cook once or twice a year. See also, customers mad because "you people always move things around" when the reset they're mad about happened last July. 
* Employee in festive attire but dreaming of solving problems with violence
* "...dry white wine for cooking"
* People who wait until the day before a major holiday to shop then act like their lives are permanently ruined because the store is crowded or out of something
* Buyer or supervisor on the phone to other stores because they're out of something important (NOT IT)
* Random bitch insisting chambord is not raspberry liqueur, blanc de blanc is a winery, etc
* Entire departments whose employees have apparently put on Harry Potter's invisibility cloak and have their radios on the wrong channel
* "Do you work here?" (the fuck do you think the nametag and apron are for?)