Tag Archives: Twitter

Everything is Stupid: A Rant from the Edge of Pathos

I’m currently stuck in that place between hating everyone and thinking I’m too brilliant to be in gen-pop.

There are no sharp objects on my desk today. This is good.

middle-fingerI’d be all Hulk-smashing the shit out of everything if only I could give enough of a fuck to do so. It’s that double-edged sword of anger and apathy that comes only from a really righteous chemical imbalance. Oh, PMS. A monthly license to hug all that is dark and vengeful within me.

Fortunately, I use my PMS evils for good — I blog. Sometimes. Rage is a lot more fun if you pepper it with humour, then share it with the world so others can commiserate and rail against the stupidness.

I’m trying to stay off social media, like Twitter, because I keep reading normal people saying normal things and then I want to punch the desk and shout YOU ARE A STUPIDHEAD. WHY ARE YOU ALLOWED TO BREATHE?

Then I start wondering things like if there was some little ethical justification or litmus test where we could employ eugenics without incurring the wrath of the United Nations. Like, say, sterilize only people who are completely asshattedly-moronic but who have every opportunity to educate themselves and learn sciencey, facty thingies.

Then I remember that it’s hard to be immune to stupid people and even stupid people could wind up in charge of a eugenics program and start sterilizing people willy-nilly, and so I give up on this little Utopian stupid-free fantasy of mine.

Still, one could argue that the skyrocketing population of  7 billion humans on Earth might suggest that maybe, just maybe, a little indiscriminate stupidity-suppression could improve the planetary futures. Less stupid people, more oxygen, better climate control? Sounds good to me. I know I don’t need them adding more carbon dioxide to the mix with their ignorant antics.

1154794_origTake stupid people who don’t believe in Climate Change, who insist on things like “coal rolling” to make this ignorant fucking point scream loudly, they make my head explode. Everything I think is wrong with the planet, people like them are causing it. They’re a carte blanche raison d’etre when it comes to unpopular ideas like eugenics and sterilization.

Or maybe we could just sterilize all the annoying entitled people. You know, the kinds who snap “Don’t you know who I am?” — especially when they’re just another asshat with a healthy following on social media. Or other entitled folk who feel there’s nothing wrong with embezzling, theft, and all those other groovy crimes.

Then there’s racist assholes. We don’t need them, either.

I’m just tired of all the jerks in the world. And the stupid people. And the stupidity with which jerks are explained away by stupid people who don’t have the guts to end it.

photo 1
For instance, Ray Rice, who plays football for the Baltimore Ravens. In a supposedly “mutual” attack in May, the big, hulking football star was found on tape dragging his unconscious wife out of an elevator. The NFL thought this horrible thing was so horrible they decided to make him miss a whole horrible two games as punishment.

But what galled me today was hearing that his arrival on the gridiron at training camp resulted in fans cheering loudly. And I’m also annoyed the team has yet to delete a tweet from May 23rd in which they state the wife “regrets” her role in the “incident.” Because, yeah, getting hit is so inconsiderate. Being dragged across a hall, that’s just rude. How dare she?

At least some of the fans called out the organization for their ridiculous victim-blaming. Way to rock the public relations game, Ravens.photo 2

Or, hey, maybe it’s just all my feministing raging hormones that are stupid, and this kind of assoholic behaviour is the norm. Maybe I need to suck it up and accept that we live in a world of narcissistic asshatted entitlement, and that’s just the way it rolls.

But no.

Lucky for us all, I’m Irish-Canadian and too stubborn to think those stupidheaded assholes are in the right or deserving of tolerance. In my world, it’s not okay to be entitled, violent, ignorant, stupid, rude, bullying, or mean.

Those behaviours will never be okay.

And if it’s only once a month that it unleashes a Hulk-Smashy-Ragey thing in me so I scream and rail at the gods about the Stupidheads Wrecking Everything, then so be it. Once a month I will rail and curse the cosmos and demand better.

Anger — it’s a good thing. If it causes just one person to recognize their ignorant, stupid ways, and it helps them be a little less of a dick, then it’s all worth it. I’m more than willing to Hulk-Smash my way to a better, kinder world, one stupidhead at a time. Are you?

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Mojo Rising: In Which I Want To Be A Blogger

307153_272353769461853_100000616957975_876750_1805170655_n (1)Hey, reader.

So I’ve not been blogging on purpose. Didn’t have it in me. For two years. Yeah, I know. You can fake it if you wanna, but I don’t phone it in.

What you don’t know is, the more annoyed or passionate I’ve been of late, say the last six months, the more I’ve been writing, and never doing anything with, new posts.

So it occurs to me that I’m, you know, one read/edit and a click away from having a shiny new blog post. Yeah! Something to ACTUALLY read, for you, the reader-person.

Doesn’t that just blow your fucking mind? A click away, man. A click!

•click•

But that’s the thing that’s been missing — the desire to write for public consumption. Or even write at all.

Lately, though, I’ve actually stopped what I was doing just to write something. Write a thing that doesn’t even pay me money! Lemme tell you, friendly reader: That blows my fucking mind.

You got your writers who’ll tell ya that writer’s block doesn’t exist. I’d agree with that. I can write six ways to Sunday all day long, but it doesn’t mean it’s got anything worth saying. And sometimes the saying of it is just a thing that keeps you hemmed into an already-troubled mindset. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

You wanna yammer on because there’s “no such thing” as writer’s block, or wallow in your you-ness, you knock yourself out. I know when I’m writing crap I wouldn’t even line a birdcage with. Let’s call 2012 and 2013 my “Bird Sanctuary Years,” okay? The Epic Saga of When the Crap-Writing Canary-Cage-Liner Sings.

But I got out and dialed up my creativity for photography and cooking, things a brain can pause for. Pause, a nice thing to use. Lovely. Pause. We should all pause a little but more, but petting zoos should have unicorn rides and shoulds don’t mean shit. Creativity is creativity and a writer doesn’t always need to write, I discovered. But now’s a different thing entirely.

So here’s the deal. I’m back. Not in a blogging-daily type incarnation, but then who knows? Maybe. I used to do the EB White write-500-words-a-day and it mostly wound up on here when it went well. Far be it for me to eliminate anything.

But wait! There’s more!

There’s something in this for me too. I’m writing ebooks. Not just one. I have a very crafty scheme in mind for taking this whole entire blog and giving you a radical reinvention of it in ebook form. This one will remain as it is, but I’ll have my fun. I need to get you all riled up about it. All in due time, reader. The grand tease thing. I’m shameless, friend. I’ll admit it. But I’ll make it worth your while too. Found my mojo, after all.

Thus it’s time for me to resume blogging for public consumption. I had my break. It was groovy. I have several things kicking around I can fire up and finish off. Longform stuff too.

I have mounting anger about the stupid-ass bullshit in the world and a raging hard-on to tell you why. I want to write. I’m twitchy. I’m ranty. I’m occasionally funny. I’m freeing up time in my life to take back writing and to own my voice.

Giving myself permission to just not write was what made me eventually write for the hell of it. It’s like rediscovering your golf-swing. You can’t just order it on Amazon. It’ll find ya when it finds ya.

So… I said Hey, reader.

In case you missed them, I have blogged lately… three times this year in larger posts I wrote and stuck on Medium. There was this about Philip Seymour Hoffman that got widely read and was an Editor’s Choice, and then there All The Fucks I Give, my thoughts on people who self-censor and the act thereof, which also was an Editor’s Choice, and finally this on how Twitter Doesn’t Suck, you make it suck.)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Let’s Talk Mental Health: Life after Depression, My Story

Today is #BellLetsTalk day in Canada. It’s an initiative by Bell Media to get Canadians talking about mental health. Use of the hashtag on Twitter results in 5 cents per tweet getting donated to mental health awareness by Bell, but the tweet needn’t be about mental health to count. Tweeting about a donut? Tag that.

This big-biz-sponsored day on mental health has prompted me to want to talk again about my own experiences with depression, because I know for a fact it has helped people in the past, something that fills me with great pride.

I consider myself major-depression-free for 5 years now. (Woohoo!)

Sure, I got pretty depressed at the end of my time in Vancouver, but that’s different. That’s what you call “situational depression,” in which you get depressed as a natural result of a situation in your life — whether it’s a death, a job loss, bankruptcy, or any other major stress that can result in anxiety and other disorders. You can medicate yourself to manage these situations, too, or you can just hang on tight, knowing that it’s related to something that’s going on and that it’ll pass. When I thought about the stress of moving, I was depressed.

When I thought of the life I expected after moving, I felt momentary glee and hope. That’s how I knew it was a situational depression and that it would subside.

So, I hung on for the ride, then I moved to Victoria. It passed.

And that’s life.

It’s a lie to try and convince anyone that once depression goes away it’s all sunshine and roses. It’s not. Some are prone to depression and moods. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m “prone” to it, but I know that I have been susceptible in difficult times. The safe thing is to assume that I might always have a hard time in some situations. I’m a passionate person. Maybe that’s part of the package.

I think occasional susceptability to deep moods is a pretty normal deal. The important thing is being able to recognize it.

When I suffered my major, major depression that was chemically induced by a bad birth control prescription that closed in on me fast and changed everything. It began early 2006 and lasted into the autumn. I had to ask for help. I had to place an emergency call to a shrink in August, and then I went and got meds, and things began to improve 3 weeks later, but it was a long struggle back to normalcy.

I took those meds until spring 2008, but had to rapidly get off them because I had changed my diet and exercise routine so dramatically (and would lose 80 pounds that year) that I was able to get my body chemistry back to normal. At that point, the “anti-depressants” began making me aggressive, and we knew what was going on: I was getting balanced through natural means and no longer needed the chemicals to regulate matters.

Since then, I need a combination of time alone, vitamins, quality exercise, and regular sleep to keep my moods regulated. And if I “go off balance,” it’s usually only a couple days before I’m back to where I need to be.

Depression, once you’ve had a REAL depression — not just sadness or stress or a down period, but clinical dark-as-fuck, will-I-survive-this depression — I think it’s always there. Like a mole on your leg or your social security number, that experience just becomes a part of you.

I don’t mean in a way that you’re always AWARE of it, or that you always feel it. I just mean that when a real wave of sadness or sorrow hits, you remember that time when you couldn’t escape that feeling.

It’s always a relevant thing. Any time those moods return, I think it’s when a formerly depressed individual has to ask themselves if the emotional response they’re having is suited to the situation they’re experiencing, or if their response is illogical and possibly a sign that something chemical is off in the body.

Last week, I had just that kind of a week. I was moody, depressed, not wanting to do anything, and after a few days I realized there wasn’t a causal reason that deserved the reaction I was having. Then I realized I’d not been taking my vitamins for over a week.

Boom. Took vitamins, slept better, and then next day I was back to a normal level of grumpy I-Hate-February self. And that’s okay, because I’ve always hated February, and then I’m like a little kid in March when sun comes and flowers bloom. That’s my “normal,” and it’s okay, as long as I know that’s what’s going on.

Eventually, being a survivor of depression is just like being a survivor of back-pain or the owner of a shifty knee. You’re aware it’s a weakness you’ve had, and when things go awry, it’s okay to ask if it’s a Big Picture situation, or just a fluctuating phase like everyone experiences.

And it’s still okay.

I survive grumpiness. I also experience a lot of joy. I smile a lot, even when I’m alone. I get angry, too, but then I tell people why, or I write about it.

Mental illness comes in many, many different levels of severity. Not all are debilitating. Not all are perceptible by others. But all of them have struck someone you know, someone who may not have had the courage to tell you or anyone else about it, and that’s the only thing shameful about mental illness I can think of. Please encourage people in your life to talk to you, to feel safe in admitting what they’re going through, because lives can depend on it.

When you’re in it, depression feels like forever.

When you survive it, it’s hard to believe you ever felt as bad you once did.

It can be survived. It’s the fight of a lifetime, and there are tools of all kinds you can wield against it. Talk to someone who knows.

If you’re depressed and you want to read an amazing account of what it felt like for Pulitzer-prize-winning author William Styron, read his Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. If you love someone who’s depressed and can’t understand how/why they’ve changed so much or why nothing you say seems to help, please read Styron’s book, and you’ll understand it for the first time. Here’s an excerpt in Vanity Fair.

_____

Don’t forget… you can read about my new, improved life I’m leading in Victoria on my new blog, VanIsleStyle.com, my take on a lifestyle blog.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

One Month Down, Eleven to Go: The State of the Steff

Why, hi there, you.

I’m just checking in. It’s a nice morning. My coffee cup is full. I thought, “Why don’t I go say hello to my minions?”

Yoo-hoo, minions! Hallo-o-o-o-o, minions.

Your friendly neighbourhood blogger is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.

My year of Being Better is underway. I promised myself I wouldn’t make New Year’s Resolutions, and I didn’t. Instead, I would become a better version of myself by the year’s end. In, well, hopefully every way.

A better writer, a better exerciser, a better eater, a better sleeper, a better relaxer, a better coper, a better friend, a better daughter. You know. A better me.

We get so hell-bent on timers in this digitally-powered world we live in. We have reminders to set reminders. From iCal date-planning to the extreme, to actually CHOOSING to get Facebook and Twitter notifications, as if life wasn’t full enough of micro-management.

You know, if y’all like that shit so damned much, you can keep it. I set reminders for when missing something would cost me money. Otherwise, I roll with it. And I’ve never, ever had any smartphone notifications turned on besides texting. Because life is meant to be lived, not full of alarms.

On this quest of betterment, I’m not micro-managing myself. I’m not setting a timeline and measuring my progress constantly. Instead, I find myself now and then remembering where I was a year ago today (packing and panicking ahead of my move to Victoria), maybe 4 years ago today (just beginning to make progress after my first back injury), even 8 years ago today (recovering from a head injury).

What was life like at those times? What were my goals? How would I stack up now?

Uh… everything is better now. I’m better now. I have far to go, sure, but don’t we all?

I’m in a lucky place because I know exactly how far I’ve come on the inside. I need to be in a place now where that shows on the outside.

I need to eat better and exercise better because it’s not an option. Either I feel good and enjoy life again, or I continue hiding out in the Cave of Mordor (what I call my apartment).

I’m much further along both those paths than I expected to be just one month into the year. How very exciting, minions. Do you see my excitement? I see my excitement. Yes, I do.

Soon to be my shiny new bike.

2012 ended with an incredible gift: The complete, final realization that my bike is continuing to be the main reason my back issues exist.

There’s a point in chronic injury where pain or discomfort (whether a livable level or something debilitating) is so omnipresent that you just lose your ability to discern what improves it or hurts it. It’s when you’re so unable to tell what the spikes are from that you just don’t know what to change to move beyond that.

I rode an upright hybrid bike recently, and better yet, one fitted to my measurements taken by a great bike shop. This was like a Dutch-style bike with a step-thru frame, suspended front forks & seat, nice big tires with semi-slick tread, and elevated close-to-body almost-wrap-around handlebars, and it was almost a religious experience. All this pressure inside my back kind of fell away, the strain on my shoulder and neck reduced.*

To imagine cycling, that thing I love, being comfortable? Even painfree? Or… dare I even think it, beneficial?

This weekend, it looks like I can buy this bike. Let’s see.

Today, I’m showing my old bike, Mighty Murphy. (Named, of course, for Dervla Murphy, the old Irish travel writer who cycled Africa’s Ukimwi Road in her 60s.) Hoping it sells. It feels like I’m breaking up with my past. Like I’m stomping my foot and pulling a Gloria Gaynor moment. You’re not welcome ’round here no more!

And it’s kind of like that. The painful breakup of a relationship. That bike is two worlds for me. It’s the thing that makes me one of the rare people who can say I know what it’s like to lose 80 pounds through nothing but hard damned work and powered by ME, but it’s also the thing that makes me one of those rare people who can say they know what it’s like to live with chronic pain for more than four years.

Love/hate” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Had I not gotten sick at Christmas and laid low with a massive marathon of three seasons of The Wire plus an endless tirade of overrated TV on the PVR, my back wouldn’t have gotten the rest it needed so I could get on my bike in the new year and actually discern what was really going on inside me.

Then I had pain again, and I saw how I couldn’t stand straight when walking, and finally everything made sense.

Some might think the solution would be getting off the bike. But that’d be like telling me to live life without writing or photography or cooking. It’ll never, ever happen. I need that to be myself.

So. The new-ish me, the bettering me, the under-progress me is pretty pleased to be starting a new phase as “the urban cyclist” this weekend.

A shiny bike, a clean slate, and roads I’ve never seen before in a town that’s been my home for less than a year.

Being better, becoming better shouldn’t be an ordeal. You shouldn’t be punishing yourself for failing to meet expectations or demanding greater than what you’ve done. All progress is progress. Our lives are long. We can always keep becoming better. Growth has no end-point. Stop thinking you need to be the person you dream of being tomorrow, and be present in the moment while you’re getting yourself there. Maybe you’ll never be this person, this version of you again. Remember the moment.

Relax, grasshopper. Enjoy the ride. Like I am. Or soon will be.

______________________

* Buying a bike isn’t a “Ooh, shiny. Look, it’s green!” thing. You need to get FITTED for it. The right bike for ME could be entirely wrong for YOU. I not only have been fitted by a fantastic bike shop, but I was referred there by my Ironman-competing masseur and I got my bike style approved by my physiotherapist. The last time I bought I bike, I bought what I thought was pretty. It’s cost me thousands of dollars in lost income, pain, and more. Do your research. Don’t listen to anyone except professionals. Period.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

I Hate The Way That You Twitter

STEFF NOTE: I think we all do some of the following to some extent. It’s stuff we can all cut back on, but doing any of these points to excess is irritating to many folk, like me.

I thought the timing was right for me to have my say about All Things Twitter.

In the interest as someone who’s NOT trying to sell you social media systems, who doesn’t want to fix your blog, who doesn’t give a shit about your search engine optimizing, and who’s on Twitter solely for the reason it was invented — to microblog and interact — I’ve got some ranting to get off my chest here.

Now, if you’re new to Twitter, you might foolishly think there are rules. And if you’re some old guard on Twitter, you might foolishly think there are rules. Yer wrong. There are no rules on Twitter. And that’s why it’s fucking awesome, but you can still do it badly.

I know, anything I write here really doesn’t matter, because this is all about how I like my Twitter. But that’s cool. And I should warn you, I actually *am* PMSing and have chosen to embrace it. You’ve been warned.

1) Starfuckery.

I’ll reply to celebrities occasionally because they’re “part of the conversation” once you get past the “famous” bit, but I don’t do it on a daily basis and I don’t actually delude myself into thinking they’re likely to read it or respond. I’m generally aware I’m throwing 140 characters in the wind and maybe 12 people will read it.

But to indulge in this often? What are you, in grade 10? Come on. Talk to real people. They may actually reply. People who engage in chronic starfuckery are people I’m assuming are trying desperately to raise their Klout scores, and you don’t want me going there.

2) Circlejerking.

When you mention a specific group of people all the time, people who are of benefit to you business-wise but aren’t pumping out great Twitter content, then you’re wasting my time and everyone else who follows you. Instead of “chatting” to 9 specific people in your group, remember that you have 500 or 2,000 or however many OTHER followers you’ve specifically not mentioned by name.

Twitter is about content, not you getting a reach-around and a smile, so if you continue down this path of exalting a few users over everyone else, you may do so at the cost of having an audience who no longer are invested in you.

3) Noise.

No, you don’t need to thank people for retweeting your stuff. If people can’t assume you’re grateful for spreading the word on your tweets, then they’re stupid.

Of course we want to be heard. Of course we want to be retweeted. Of course we want our content to grow legs and cover a wide territory. When I’m retweeted, I notice, and I’m happy about it. But it happens 10, 15, 20, or more times a day. If I start thanking all these people, then I’m increasing my tweet count considerably, and with absolutely NO VALUE in its content. Then I start hating Twitter because it feels like a job.

Hearing me THANK people isn’t why people follow me. I’m not a fucking Walmart Greeter. If you want gratitude lessons from me via retweets, you got the wrong guru, man. Stop with the endless thank-yous. No one really gives a shit except the 12 people who think Miss Manners invented Twitter.

4) Music & Lyrics & Check-ins.

Who died and made you DJ of the Year? I don’t really care what you’re listening to on Spotify or what you’re watching on YouTube. I certainly don’t want to see you channeling your inner-13-year-old and typing line after line of broken-hearted lyrics. We get it. You like music. And you got dumped. Wow. Aren’t you special?

Every now and then, tweet it, but don’t default your third-party apps to broadcast every track you play. It’s noise, and most of us don’t want it. These reasons are also why I don’t give a shit that you’ve “checked in” to a coffee shop or a drug store. You don’t need to push those notifications to Twitter, so don’t be surprised by those of us who think you’re a douche when you do it constantly.

5) Event Tweeting.

If you’re out for dinner with people, and you tweet the location, and you mention everyone by Twitter names, and it’s NOT a public event, NOR an invitation to have the event crashed, then shut the hell up. Just grab the KY Jelly and get on with your little circlejerk then.

Again, you’re excluding EVERYONE in your following except those who are there. It makes you look like an exclusionist douchebag, or else some happy little tag-a-long who’s just thrilled they Made The List. Either way, I’m betting the majority of your public thinks it’s douchey. Again.

And if you do happen to see event tweets, no, it’s NOT an invitation to you, so don’t go crashing events without at least asking. (I hear you can do actual replies and ask permissions on Twitter. Wow, who knew?)

6) The Sanctimony.

Don’t assume everyone follows every aspect of Twitter as religiously as you. I’ve accidentally retweeted things that have come back to bite me, and never even knew I’d retweeted it, because the UI on Twitter’s apps makes it far too easy to kneejerk retweet or unfollow/block people. Don’t presume you’re always in the right, or that people knew when they fucked up. Get the chip off your shoulder and just relax. Ask people if they meant X in Y way, rather than getting on your high-horse and getting bent outta shape about it.

7) Grammar.

Not everyone’s got the writing thing down pat, and I get that. I don’t mind some spelling mistakes or missing grammar, but can you stop turning it into an Olympic sport? This isn’t TEXTING. It’s communicating. It’s out there for the public. It’s on record.

It’s in the Google now, bitches, so maybe demonstrating your communicative powers in succinct tweets like “I c wut u mean” is a little inappropriate. Strive higher. If I see people at least attempting to make sentences, I’m a lot less judgy, and I know I’m not alone.

8) iAwesome Tweeting.

Oh, look at you, you got “#FollowFriday“ed. Aren’t you special? Wow. THANKS for retweeting that, you douche, but I’m already following you. Or I fucking well was before you started retweeting other people name-dropping you. Then I decided to embrace UNFOLLOW Friday and ditch your smug self-congratulatory ass. What is this, high school?

9) The HumbleBrag or PityParty.

This is the crowd that belongs in a narcissism support group. Yes, the Twitter is all about you. Yes, we’re all here to support you and quell your little ego panics. Yes, yes, yes. No, no, no! I think everyone does this to some extent, but some take it to new heights. Get over yourself. Or at least don’t constantly tweet it.

10) The ReTweeter & OldNewsers.

Don’t be surprised that I don’t follow you when I see 90% of your stream is made up of retweets. I can find other people’s content too. I can also read the news. So, when you’re THAT GUY who logs in Monday morning, ‘cos you’re some marketer or weekend warrior, and you just start arbitrarily sharing news links without realizing everyone’s been talking about that celebrity’s death for 2 days already, you’re a waste of tweet space. News has a 6-hour shelf-life on Twitter, so don’t bother if it’s a day old. Seriously.

________________

I’m sure there are far more infractions that get under my skin, but here’s a good place to end it.

I mean, god, this doesn’t even touch on the misinformation, retweeting broken links, not checking the article you’re about to tweet, and so forth, but there’s only so much a girl can do.

What’d I miss? What pisses you off? Why do you agree/disagree with?

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Alone Together: Urban Life In Vancouver

There’s been a lot of fuss of late in the Vancouver media about dating, meeting people, and the perceived isolation that seems so typical of Vancouverites.

I don’t know how we have a reputation for friendly people, but I’m betting those folk who think so are judging us from sunny days. This is Jeckyll/Hydeville, and it’s a rainforest. When weather rolls in, so does a whole new grumpified citizen.

But I read a reader’s response in VanMag this week and the writer later suggested on Twitter that perhaps our anti-social bad-flirting ways is because of our dearth of truly public gathering places, like European plazas and public courts, where people can really mingle together.

Unbelievably, it’s been nearly two years since the Olympics landed in Vancouver. Those halcyon days were truly amazing for us because we’ve never been that gathering kinda community in this town. It was a new world.

Cynics would say every time we get together it ends in a riot, but that’s bullshit. Riots happen in civilized cities too because asshats are omnipresent. Welcome to life.

It’s true, though. Vancouver doesn’t “gather” a lot. We’re not into community like some other places. We like to think we are, but we’re not.

We’re the city Arthur Erickson helped build, for all its pluses and minuses.

Instead of grand sweeping public places where you’re all in it together, we’ve got spaces filled with hideouts, different levels, and either manmade or natural divides.

Look at Arthur Erickson’s legacy project, the heart of Downtown Vancouver, Robson Square.* Littered with little spaces where you can shun others and be alone, it’s almost as if to suggest being in public is good, so long as you don’t have to actually mingle. Three people here, five people there… it’s still a gathering spot, just filled with micropockets of people. Alone together, the Vancouver way.

Ducking into alcoves for privacy and hiding seems like a great option, a wondrous thing for readers and lovers, but it encourages us to have distance from one another too.

With all our forests and twisty long miles of beaches for us to get lost in, and the pockets of ethnic neighbourhoods and the growing economic/class divides, it kind of makes sense that we’re this disconnected community here in Vancouver. We don’t chat or talk on streets. There are endless commutes between communities, which means picking a neighbourhood means likely committing to a neighbourhood, unless you’re driving a car.

Add it all up, and we’ve stopped talking to strangers, and have become insular. It’s frustrating for anyone who doesn’t want to be in that mode. Deep down inside, I’ve got New York-meets-small-island sensitivities, and this town confuses me.

Plus, this insular world is a game-changer if you’re single but don’t want to join a club or do the online-hookup thing.

So, this fuss about “Vancouver men suck” for dating, well, it goes both ways, sugar. I know I’m guilty of not flirting, smiling, or starting enough conversations.

That’s oversimplifying things, though.

I think it’s bigger than that. I think the cost of living here affects how much we want to date, I think the changing economy and how so many of us in the city have ditched cars doesn’t help the dating life either. Every added inconvenience or wrinkle makes dating, et al, a bigger social chasm to cross. This thing, that thing, those things — oh, lord, can’t it just be simple?

For me, personally, I’m in that “life is complicated” stage and dating’s inconvenient. Hell, life’s inconvenient. 168 hours a week, and I don’t know where they go.

I know a lot of folks who think the same as I do, “Well, sex would be nice but I don’t want to feel obligated to anyone right now” or however you want to define the resistance. Relationships are made for compromise, that’s what it’s all about. Give, take. When you feel like you’ve got little left to give at the end of the week or the pay period, well, why try at all?

Does money, commute, weather, geography, and everything else all conspire to make Vancouverites more insular and sucky for dating? Probably all of the above, yes.

I’m leaving town at just the right stage, I think. I’m ready to have a more insular work life that encourages more after-hours socializing, rather than vice versa, but I’m happy I’ll be in a smaller city where it might be easier to do all of the above, and on a more friendly budget.

I’m sure I seem like the non-dating type these days, but I wasn’t always this way, and I’m excited to change gears on that front, and many others. I’m open to blind dates once I move, and plan to dial up my Flirt Number too.

After I cross the pond, gaining an outsider-looking-in perspective on my hometown will be interesting, because much of Vancouver’s allure baffles me in my jaded hamster-on-a-wheel present lifestyle.

I don’t know what’s broken in this town, but it’d be nice if the locals would learn to smile more, talk more, and celebrate that we’re all in this life together. Being civil to people on the streets actually feels good. Engaging with humans, it’s a positive thing. Feeling like we’re all a little more connected makes the big expanse a little less scary.

Live a little. Get out of your head. Say hi to people. Smile. Character is who you are when no one’s looking, but it’s also who you are in passing, too.

And if they don’t say hi or smile, do it again until someone else does. Don’t stoop to their level of isolation. Be in the world, not just of the world, as the old Biblical quote goes.

And what do you think? Why are we so… Vancouverish?

*Arthur Erickson’s “alone together” style of design also makes Simon Fraser University what it is. The campus is bleak but beautiful in the dark season, filled with isolated spots and, ironically, convenient places to jump from.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)