Category Archives: Ethics

RANT: Entitlement & Lack of Gratitude

This is for anyone who’s asked me for ANYTHING in the last three years in social media and|or Life and who hasn’t said thank you. If that means you, you’re seeming like an entitled asshat, and here’s why.

Let’s have a chat.

If you have a question about cooking, something you need help on or want my input with, or you want an invite to Google-plus, or whatever the fuck you’re asking for, well, that’s great, go ahead and ask.

Can I give you a little advice though?

My time isn’t yours. I have a job, and that’s who gets to expect stuff from me without saying “Thank you.” You? Not so much. Not at ALL, actually.

I want to be helpful and kind, I really do, but all the entitlement out there is turning me into the kind of bitch who wants to say no simply because I can.

Why?

Because almost every time I give my time in response to what I’ve been asked — whether it’s actual physical effort or just a reply, I don’t get told “thank you.” Not anymore.

People EXPECT assistance, answers, help. You know what? They’re not entitled to any of it. It’s actually a self-serve world, but we’re lucky people feel tribal and help us out.

I don’t want money, riches, or fame, but I want to know you fucking appreciated the 20 seconds I took out of my VERY busy life to give you my attention merely because you asked for it, and that’s ALL I want in return, a simple “thank you.”

The entitlement I see out there daily is really disheartening.

No one owes you a goddamned thing. Not their time, not an answer, not a nickel,  NOTHING.

Like them, I don’t owe you a FUCKING THING.

When anyone assists you, EVER, thank them.

If you don’t, then people like me are taking notes about who’s appreciative and who’s not. The ones who aren’t, they don’t get my time ever again, because time’s the thing I never have enough of, and it certainly shouldn’t be co-opted by people who don’t deserve it.

It’s the little things in life we can, and do, judge you by.

Rightfully so.

Pay attention, people, and express gratitude to EVERYONE in your life for what they do for you.

Sooner or later, not doing so is liable to bite you in your ass. It’s not just good manners, it’s shrewd thinking.

For me, I’m officially at the point where failure to thank me for my efforts, at the very least, means I’m pretty unlikely to do so for said person again. Real fucking unlikely.

I’m sure I’m not perfect and I sometimes forget to say thanks, but I usually do. It’s a pretty goddamned small thing to ask of anyone.

Wake up, people.

(That bumpersticker up there can be bought at Zazzle: http://goo.gl/dNQ6E)

Big Brother & Vancouver: My Thoughts on Crowd Surveillance

As the dust settles from Vancouver’s riots, a controversy brews.

Public shaming is Vancouver’s new favourite past-time. Know a rioter? Expose that ass!

But should we be doing this?

Some folks have very different opinions, and the loudest voice one hears on the matter is by local professor & author Alexandra Samuel, who explains her opposition very well in this piece, where she says “We have seen Big Brother, and he is us.”

While Samuels has great points, she is not in the majority on her opinions.

My position on public shaming shifting slightly. I worry about the severity of public outing right now because of the passion with which the entire city has jumped on these guys.

I loathe the extent to which some are taking the public shaming, via printing phone numbers and addresses of parents of rioters, contacting employers, and things like that. (Not cool, people. Don’t be an ass and do that, or initiate contact that way.)

We live in an era where the saying “Pics or it didn’t happen” is ubiquitous. Everything gets caught on video. If you had a camera on me 24/7, you’d find some real good footage for upending people’s thoughts on the person I am. This is true of all of us.

You’d sure as hell never catch me damaging public property, harassing or assaulting others, or flying into physical rages, though. You’d never catch me vandalising, shouting down a cop, shoving a citizen, or even littering.

That’s my ethos, and a lot of citizens share it.

We citizens are tired of the permissiveness with which people litter, vandalise, and generally abuse public spaces. We’re tired of people who get away with acting like assholes.

Maybe it’s time public shaming come into vogue.

Maybe it’s time we stop worrying about politicians with prostitutes, and start worrying about punk-assed people who treat cops like trash, who burn our city up, and who generally don’t seem to contribute to where we want to go as a society.

Destroying their lives, though, may do us more harm as a society than good.

In this instance, I believe we need to offer first-offense rioters a chance to redeem themselves. We need to give them an opportunity to give back instead of destroying. We need to allow them the chance to not throw their lives away over a stupid night in which they maybe chose to embrace a mob mentality when they might have never done otherwise normally.

Then there’s the part of me who feels that there are people on those videos doing heinous, awful things — beating people, blowing shit up. That side of me feels those people don’t get the benefit of the doubt. They don’t deserve it, they deserve to be outed.

In the end, my ambivalence on meting out justice the old-school way, in a court of public opinion, is tempered by the thought of living in a world where everyone felt accountable for their actions.

If people realise that being a jackass for 15 minutes on Youtube can have real long-term life effects, maybe then we’ll see people acting like citizens, not hooligans.

Actions should have consequences. Good citizens should be angered when hooligans act this way. Thugs who attack our police and other citizens deserve to be exposed for who and what they are.

However, just being present at the riot doesn’t mean one is complicit in it. Jumping on a burned-out car isn’t the same as burning it. There are levels of asshattedness going on here, and painting them all with the same brush of ostracism isn’t ideal.

So, I’m still at a loss. To some degree, this public shaming of thugs is long overdue. Hooligan behaviour needs to be seen as unacceptable, not “fun”. We need youth and others to understand that we expect more of citizens.

At the same time, lives can be destroyed by this process, and while I trust my own judgment in reading facts and situations in an equitable manner, I do not trust that others can or will do the same. My ethos is liberal and open-minded, which isn’t always the case with others, so whose idea of “wrong” is right?

The only thing that isn’t questionable for me is, if one is celebrating that kind of destruction, if they’re contributing to it in any way, if they’re cheering it on, then it makes them a douchebag, and maybe it’s in everyone’s interest to know that about ’em.

Beyond saying “Hey, this guy is a rioting douche,” I don’t think we should be doing anything. It’s not up to us to contact their employers, their schools, their family. We don’t have that right, and anyone who does it should be reprimanded.

In the end, Alexandra Samuels has a very valid point — it’s a really slippery slope. It’s a worrisome possible trend when one thinks of ways it might be misused.

But I don’t like the society we’ve become. I don’t like the lack of social responsibility so many show. If this is what it takes to have a society where everyone cares about how the street looks, respects others’ belongings, and treats each other with dignity, then maybe it’s time to stand atop that slippery slope and see if it leads us to a better place.

No Meanies Allowed!

There are bad people in this world.

Really bad.

Then there are people like this, who are just demented and cruel, who enjoy inflicting emotional pain but would never have the balls to get physical about it.

Long story short?

“How it started depends on who you ask.  It escalated into frequent calls to police and personal protection orders against the Petkovs.

Besides posting disturbing photos on Facebook, the Petkov’s painted their truck with tombstones and placed a coffin in the back of the truck.  The truck was parked in front of the Rose family home.  The Petkov’s claim the truck is a decoration for Halloween.”

(From the Ron Savage  MyFoxNewsDetroit.com report that originally broke this story wide open.)

The Petkovs are the “nasty” neighbours. The Rose family includes 7-year-old Kathleen Edward, dying of Huntington Disease, daughter to the now-dead-from-Huntington’s Laura Edward (passed at age 24), and grand-daughter to Rebecca Rose, the owner of the home in question.

Now the Petkovs apologize. Sure, now. I don’t care how it started, there’s no justification for doing that to a dying seven-year-old.

That’s nature for you.

There are people like this out there. That’s reality. In the wild, mothers sometimes eat their young. It happens: Cruelty.

But it’s not the only thing that happens.

There’s more people out there who are sickened by this behaviour than those committing it, and it’s up to you to decide which group it is that gets your attention.

For every news story like this (and it IS “news” because it’s not typical, doesn’t happen often) there are dozens of stories of small but amazing acts of kindnesses that are being randomly committed upon every landscape on earth.

We are, in general, good people. We do, on average, help when help is needed. And, because we do, it’s technically not “news” often.

Sure, we fall apathetic and get distracted in our lives, but we usually jump up when the times require us to do so.

The reality out there is, violent crime is at its lowest levels in anyone’s memories.

Personal crime seems to occur less frequently, too.

Volunteerism is escalating.

Awareness on all sorts of issues has grown astronomically.

You see what you choose to see.

You’re surrounded by what you want to be surrounded by.

When you hear about stories like this, try to remember also that there are people who will go to amazing lengths to help strangers.

Every day, little kindnesses unfold, everywhere — not just the big stories, lots of little stories.

If you think the world is worse off, then what are you doing about it?

Just complaining? Feeling depressed? Giving in to your feelings?

Shut off the news. That’s your first problem. Read the news; don’t watch it.

Then, do something. Anything.

Buy someone on the street a lunch.* Every now and then I’ve got $5 I feel like spending on someone who looks legitimately hungry, and it’s the best money I spend all day when they appreciate it and genuinely smile.

But it doesn’t make the news.

When I make small talk on transit with what seems a lonely old person, their day brightens, they smile. That doesn’t make the news. When I see a parking enforcement officer down the block and some rundown car with an expired meter and I pop a quarter in to help a seemingly unwealthy person avoid a ticket, that, too, does not make the news.

They’re little things. It doesn’t take a lot to be kind in small ways.

Brightening another person’s day can often lift YOUR mood too.

There will always be people who don’t appreciate it. Sometimes the bought lunch gets scoffed at. You can’t SEE a meth or crack addiction right off, so you never know. Maybe the old person I get talking to is totally toxic and alone for good reason. It happens.

But when it works outweighs the fails.

It keeps me believing in us.

It keeps me respecting myself.

It keeps my focus on who we can be, not who some of us have devolved into.

And that’s how I prefer to think, the way I prefer to see us.

When it comes to how we are as a society, perspective is everything. Our history hasn’t been written yet, and you are not inconsequential in how it will unfold.

Good/Bad, you see what you want to see. Be the change you want. Live the cliche.

At times like these, the saying “pick your poison” has more relevance than ever. The happy “We Can Do It” juice, or are you more a “Life Sucks and Everyone’s Mean” on-the-rocks kinda person?

Choose. Then live it.

*Get high-calorie stuff.
Homeless folk generally don't have "vegan" tendancies, FYI.
Just sayin'.

Hate Lives Here

Yesterday a local Vancouver paper asked a question on its Facebook page: “Do you think more could be done to combat homophobia?”

In the ensuing comments, a White Pride freak — who I’m really fucking wanting to identify by name here but don’t feel like dealing with the legal hassle as a little blogger girl — put some very, very hateful anti-gay comments.

I wouldn’t call his statements “homophobia” because it was too hate-fuelled to be a mere ambivalence toward gays. White Pride Freak would rather live in a world where they didn’t exist, and it sounded like “by any means necessary”.

The aftermath of WPF’s comments were pretty routine — a few people like me distancing themselves from the “white” part of his comments that smears us by inclusion — and a lot of people laughing it off with “This guy can’t be real” reactions.

The fencepost upon which gay man Matthew Shepard was beaten & left to die.

YES.

YES, he can be real. YES, he can be dangerous. YES, he can be in the house next door.

Someone commented to me that it didn’t seem possible a dude like that could live north of Raleigh or west of Calgary.

YES. It’s not only possible, but it’s real.

We’ve had gay-bashing incidents of late here in uber-liberal Vancouver — by other minorities!

Hey, let’s keep the wagon wheel of hate rolling.

By saying these guys can’t be real, we’re avoiding truth. We’re ducking the reality that hatred fuels much of what goes on in our world — whether it’s women’s centres being bombed, Middle Eastern women being stoned for adultery, gays being bashed for holding hands on the street, or prejudices rising everywhere daily, never mind national strife like Palestine-v-Israel, or Iran spouting rhetoric.

Hatred’s out there, man. Don’t think otherwise.

The Georgia Straight’s Facebook moderator decided it prudent to delete the offensive comments on this particular thread. I disagree. My reply comment:

I’m sort of disappointed that [skinhead motherfucker]’s homophobic, hate-filled rants were deleted.

By a) responding with “haw-haw, he can’t be real” and b) knee-jerk “how dare you” replies, then deleting his words, we’re pulling the wool over allour eyes.

We say “HEY, THERE’S A REAL PROBLEM OUT THERE” about hatred or racism, but then we sanitize the web so no feelings get hurt.

Let’s hurt some feelings! Let’s see these bastards for who they are! Let their names be known! Let their evidence stay up so we can point and say THAT IS NOT RIGHT, LET’S FIGHT THAT, LET’S PROVE HIM WRONG.

Sure, a bunch of people got all bent outta shape reading that kind of hate speech — but the mentality of “Well, if it’d been worded more politely, it’d be okay and we could ‘dialogue’ ” is just ridiculous!

IT’S HATE. Let’s see it for what it is.

Let the world see that it’s still out there, regardless of our pretty little fast-food metrosexual ever-so-aesthetic iPoddy 21st century.

Then let’s fight back and end that hate where it lives. END it, not delete it.

From Wikipedia's "lynching" page. The lynching of Laura Nelson in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1911; she had tried to protect her son, who was lynched together with her.

Deleting the thread has all the brilliance of when a Canadian bookstore chain decided it would never, ever stock nor order Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Right, because ignoring the book the first time worked out so well for us.

KNOW THY ENEMY.

If we want to overcome hatred, racism, homophobia, elitism, all of it, then we need to know exactly what their thoughts are so we can break those down.

This is the internet — the home of anonymity, the tool of free speech, the widest platform for idea-expressing ever invented.

But every motherfucking site has a moderator who goes and deletes the hate, hiding the nasty fuckers that we need exposed.

Deep down inside, we all know cruel people are out there, and we know they’re cowards who hide real, real good.

Thus it’s become easier when we hide them too, and go on with our lovely little domesticated modern lives. God forbid our routines get injected with realism.

These people are real.

They live where you are.

They’re more marginalized and angrier than ever.

And we’re giving them a pass by letting them say what they say, then deleting it. So, then they run back to their little web microcosms and fester with their continuing hate spiel, palling with their little hatin’ buddies, all the while leaving us blissfully ignorant that hate-filled fucks like them are more prevalent than we’d like to think.

Stop protecting us, website moderators.

Our ignorance will not inspire their change. We need all the good peoples in on this fight.

The Creativity Conundrum

“Either it’ll move me
or it’ll move right through me.”

– Gordon Downie

Lately, life dictates that I consider my creative avenues and where my priorities lie, like anyone who choses a creative life to pursue.

By DAVE DONALD from THIS Magazine

The “money” route is easier. Always is. Paying rent’s so rewarding, never mind buying food.

But I was raised Catholic. Religious allusions are never far from mind, especially where the proverbial root of all evil is concerned.

The devil I know — that of paying rent, taking an easy way out with a “Yes, master, and how low should I bend?” kind of agreeability — is hardly shameful. Better writers than me have sold their soul and ink blotter just to make it through another dry period.

Then there are pompous but admirable asshats who never figured out how to sell out, like James Joyce and his times sleeping on a cot in the back of the Parisian bookshop Shakespeare and Co. Poverty’s a suit a lot of writers have worn with pride.

I don’t know.

I really struggle with this, even though I’m pretty sure I know where I want to go, where I need to go — where I will go.

In my long and storied past, I’ve made the mistake of trying to sell out and capitalize on my writing, the bad way. I fucked that up. It messed with me creatively, it robbed me of excellent chances, and left me with creative scarring and a bruised ego.

As this opportunity approaches, I’m left considering my options. I’ve also got risky big projects in mind for proposing, but I need to wrap my head around each. And develop serious guts, say no to other things, and believe in my outcome.

I don’t think my creative dilemma comes down to a matter of soul or integrity, though. It’s not such a high-minded ideal, though artists over the centuries have made it seem as such.

I think it’s a really matter of pragmatism and/or individual work methods.

If you want to do something to the best of your ability, you must do it with the entirety of your focus. Spreading yourself thin and making yourself a jack of all trades is great if you’re content to be well-spread over life, but for those of us who have ONE goal, ONE dream, doesn’t it make more sense to pursue it 100%, rather than diverting efforts?

I don’t want to live out my days writing ad copy or jingles. I have a journalism degree. I have a vision.

You may scoff at the idea of “journalism” today, but I sought my degree out of worship for everyone from HL Mencken to Samuel Clemens,  all the way through Barry Farrell, Lester Bangs, Hunter Thompson, on up to Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and anyone else who threw their voice into the social fabric that built our world.

I went to school out of belief that a single story or photo can change the world, like when the photo of a head on a stake in the Congo in 1880s became the catalyst for the first-ever worldwide human rights movement as the beginning of the Congo’s Rubber Genocide was establishing itself. (See Adam Hochschild’s brilliant King Leopold’s Ghosts to learn about this under-discussed attrocity.)

Fuck TMZ and every other site that denigrates that which I studied out of my own foolishly naive and youthful reasons.

I still believe in truth. My truth, your truth — whatever, so long as authenticity defines it.

The heart wants what the heart wants, and I know what I want to do now.

I just hope financial necessity doesn’t force my hand. At this point, it’s not.

In the end, I don’t have to prove or explain myself to anyone. I need to respect myself in the morning and feel like my life has a clear direction. That’s it. You want my shortlist for basic emotional needs? That’s where mine starts.

There is limit of compromise for anyone. You have yours, I have mine.

Creatively speaking, Gord Downie’s nailed it for me in The Tragically Hip’s song lyrics that opens this piece.

If it doesn’t move me, it will move right through me.

Creatively, I need to care. I can phone it in, I just find it hard to live with myself when I do.

Hurting Kids By Protecting Them

I actually am somewhat empathetic with the “pro” stance on this issue. People are mean. Many folks have thin skin. Protecting the weaker is what the stronger should do. But at what cost? So, when in doubt, I say educate and don’t overly interfere. Read on.

_____________

Hey, I know what we should do.

We should make people scared of things. Like, you know, social media. We should demonize the medium instead of putting responsibilities upon the user. We should say that, because bad things sometimes happen, everything in that realm is therefore always bad.

Because that’s worked with everything else.

Like rock and roll. Or sexy books. Cable television. Elvis’s hips.

If Anthony Orsini has his way, his high school’s students won’t have any freedom or privacy when it comes to social media, if they have access at all.  New Jersey’s Benjamin Franklin Middle School principal sees social media as the beginning of the downfall of civilization if the students keep at it in Facebook, Twitter, and phone texting.

R u srs? I rly dbt it.

As the principal explains in his email to students’ parents:

I want to be clear, this email is not anti-technology, and we will continue to teach responsible technology practices to students. They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause, and I don’t want any of our students to go through the unnecessary pain that too many of them have already experienced.

Some people advocate that the parents and the school should teach responsible social networking to students because these sites are part of the world in which we live.

I disagree, it is not worth the risk to your child to allow them the independence at this age to manage these sites on their own, not because they are not good kids or responsible, but because you cannot control the poor actions of anonymous others.

Learn as a family about cybersafety together at wiredsafety.org for your own knowledge.

The principal makes valid points in his email. Cyber-bullying is insane. Just yesterday I witnessed supposedly intelligent, kind adults being complete dicks to each other over, get this, child care, on Twitter.

Yeah, humanity’s capable of ridiculous things.

And the internet is a portal to all of them.

Abso-fucking-lutely.

Which is precisely why we can’t say “NEIN! NO NET FOR YOU!” to our kids and then just open the floodgates when grade 12 rolls around and the real world comes a-knocking at their door.

How crazy that’d be — all of a sudden hurtled into the all-too-real world of the internet, with its predators and fuckheads and petty people and madness — at the 16 or 18, if entirely sheltered and uber-patrolled by parents who want to bubble-ize the world so their precious kids never, ever get hurt?

Until, of course, they become adults and go out in the world all by themselves. Boy, talk about your culture shocks. Talk about mindfucks. It’s not preschool out there, folks.

Prepare your kids for the Real World by letting ’em get hurt the way nature intended: In high school.

Speaking about nature, did you know some medical journals have been running stories about how we’re doing damage to our feet by wearing these hyper-engineered running shoes designed to protect our feet and soles? Super-padded, ultra-complex sneakers. It’s the anti-Chuck’s All-Stars.

Know why we’re supposedly damaging our feet with all this protection? Because the added support interferes with the spread, support, and reach a foot should normally have on its own, so lesser inner muscles are now rendered unused. Deemed somewhat inconsequential when you look at the whole of the foot, these “bitty” muscles are actually to skeletal structural integrity what a stud is to a building’s stability.

So, we have more foot injuries than ever before.

BUT, HEY, that’s okay, ‘cos we’ve got this awesome new Nike shoe, dude! And it’s pretty.

Increasingly, trainers are proposing barefoot training as part of an overall fitness regimen, to help create better overall strength.

Take away the excess support and the support becomes unneeded because strength increases.

Sounds like some of the 15-year-olds I know could use a little of that therapy.

Nowadays, a “social networking crackdown” for the “protection” of kids is like putting them in a bubble or over-engineering shoes — you’re just making ’em more susceptible when they hit the real deal without all your safeguards.

There’s a reason we don’t let socialized animals return to the wild from shelters — they’ll be mincemeat! Why do we insist on doing it with our children?

Know what life is?

Hurt. Pain. Achievement. Failure. Love. Joy. Accidental. Surprising. Mysterious. Unpredictable.

But it sure as fuck ain’t safe.

This safety-drive’s fucking up everything.

We decommissioned the Hubble telescope because it was “unsafe” for astronauts to work on it. In space. Where astronauts are supposed to work. These aren’t cable guys — safety wasn’t a job requirement for them. “Flaming rocket hurtling into space? Cool. Sign me up. Ooh, oxygen deprivation? Cool!”

We put rubber on playgrounds so kids would stop falling — LOL! — and hurting themselves. Now they just burn the shit out of themselves when they fall on the scorching rubber in the dog days of summer. Protecting equals hurting, oh, ironic! Who knew!

We have labels on coffee cups telling us the hot coffee we just bought is hot. On my planet, if you’re too stupid to know this, you don’t get a label.

You know what?

Stop it.

Get hurt. Get over it. Animals do.

We’ve taken the Darwinism out of human existence.

We’re fucking pathetic.

Educate children. Teach them what a predator is. Empower them to band in groups if it gets them through. Intervene when kids are being dicks. Make examples of bad behaviour.

But don’t tell me the only way to be safe is to stick your fucking head in the sand and pretend the real world isn’t there.

I say teach kids the dangers of the real world, because the dangers will find ’em anyways. I say give ’em slingshots and full-fat ice cream.

Whatever it takes, this wussification of the modern kid has got to stop.

______________

Seriously, though?

Remember Columbine?

What if Klebold & Harris had been on Facebook? Would the worst massacre in American high school history have occurred?

And, just, you know, as an aside?

Have you seen these numbers? Note the advent of the Internet’s use by the general population, starting in 1994, and the numbers of school massacres since? Declining every year.

Your fragile children? Safer than ever. So, back off, mama.