humor, music, social media

Oscar the Grouch never invited anyone to his trash can…

The weirdness of the past nine months are starting to get to me somewhat. Last night, I was feeling “cheeky”, as the Brits would say. Although I haven’t personally suffered as much as a lot of people have, I have been feeling kind of “tense” lately. Little things bug me more than they might usually, not that I’m a particularly laid back person to start with.

I always get a bit nutty during the holidays. When I was growing up, the holidays were always fraught with expectations that were never quite met. As I became an adult, the holidays became downright unpleasant. For several years, my eldest sister hosted our family gatherings in her house. I can remember a lot of fights with my sisters and tense moments with my parents, especially my dad.

The last time I spent Christmas with my family of origin was in 2003, just after my sister Sarah had her son, who turned out to be the last grandchild. Imagine that. My parents had four girls. You’d expect there would have been a lot of grandkids for them. But nope… My sister Betsy had two kids, a girl and a boy, Becky never married, Sarah had a son, and Bill and I couldn’t have kids thanks to his vasectomy. The older I get, the more I think that might have been a blessing. Family life has become surreal these days. I feel kind of divorced from mine.

Add in the shitshow that 2020 has been, and this year’s holiday season is even weirder than usual. So I had a good laugh when I ran across a funny video by Sandy and Richard Riccardi, a talented couple on YouTube and Facebook who make funny parodies of popular songs. A lot of their material is political, but sometimes they do songs about common situations that come up in everyday life. I think the first song I ever heard by this funny duo was a song called “Unfriend Me”…

Listen all the way to the end for the punchline.

Since Trump came on the scene, this couple has come out with some very amusing songs about him, as well as some of the current events that affect everyone. I like a lot of their stuff, but I don’t always love what they do. Like, for instance, I wasn’t a big fan of this song…

Yeah, I know… I know… but I am so fucking tired of hearing about it.

To be clear… I get that the masks are necessary for now. I’m just really fed up with some how people feel emboldened to constantly clobber people over the head about them. I hate the aggressive, belligerent, and obnoxious hashtags, and in your face slogans like, “Wear a damn mask!”. I don’t think those types of messages are helpful. They certainly don’t inspire respect or compliance.

Yesterday, I was reading a Facebook thread started by true crime author Kathryn Casey, who wrote that she had sent away a couple of maskless workers who had come over to do work on her house. The workers mocked Casey’s husband when he asked them to wear masks while they were working. A thread ensued, in which people were congratulating Casey for sending away the maskless workers and hiring a different company. Casey’s choice to fire the workers would have been alright with me, but accompanying those comments were others that were hostile and aggressive. One lady wrote about how she was tired of how non mask wearers were so “belligerent”. Then she wrote, “Wear a damn mask or stay home!”

Another lady wrote that she was tired of people telling her to “wear a damn mask or stay home.” She explained that she has an eating disorder, lives in a remote area where grocery delivery is unavailable, and has a medical problem that prevents her from wearing a mask. None of her friends or family have offered to help her, so she’s been having to deal with people getting up in her face about her lack of a mask for what, I assume, is a real medical problem.

A third woman came along and, in a rather haughty, holier than thou tone, asked what the woman’s medical problem was. She included a news article (which is what everybody seems to use to cite their points these days) and claimed, per the news article, that there are very few medical problems that actually prevent a person from wearing a mask. This woman added that maybe she could see it if the woman with the eating disorder had a burn on her face or something. But otherwise, she felt the lady with the eating disorder was full of shit– despite not knowing her or her personal situation.

I couldn’t restrain myself from commenting. I feel like a lot of people aren’t really giving this issue much consideration. If I sit here and think about it, I can think of several medical problems that might make wearing a mask difficult or impossible for some people. Just off the top of my head, I’m remembering the two men I’ve met at different times in my life who were literally missing parts of their ears and had trouble using their hands due to injuries they’d sustained in wars. Then there are people who don’t hear well, have speech impediments or breathing problems, deal with severe anxiety or PTSD issues, or have trouble with their vision.

But most people don’t stop and consider people who really do have legitimate problems with wearing the masks. They just say, “Wear a damn mask!” If someone doesn’t or can’t comply, they think they are entitled to an explanation regarding another person’s private medical situation. And they think their opinions about another person’s circumstances have merit, and they are entitled to weigh in, even though they don’t know the other person from Adam and aren’t any more knowledgeable about the pandemic, or public health issues in general, than the average person is.

The “Wear a damn mask” slogan, in my opinion, is too aggressive. Those who truly don’t care about others will simply ignore it. Those who can’t comply will just feel worse than they need to about something beyond their control. And that harsh directive just adds to the overall dehumanized, dystopian, and downright creepy vibe in the air this year. It’s very depressing to me. Although personally, I don’t have it bad at all, I often think of the relatives I’ve recently lost and think they’re lucky to have escaped this living hell. The future seems bleak, and the constant anger and polarization only makes it worse. It makes me want to check out.

I can’t be the only one who feels like this, so I decided to respond to the woman with the eating disorder. I wrote that I was sorry she was having a hard time and I hoped it would get better for her. And I find it rich that people are complaining about belligerent “anti maskers” while they make aggressive demands like “Wear a damn mask!”, and aren’t willing to consider why people legitimately can’t or won’t wear a mask. I added that I won’t ask her what her health problems are, because they are none of my business.

Frankly, if I see someone who isn’t following the rules, I just stay away from them, if I can. I don’t automatically assume they’re selfish assholes. While I’m well aware that there are selfish assholes out there who simply don’t want to comply with the rules, it’s less depressing to me to assume the best about people whenever possible. Or, at least I like to tell myself that.

After that little exchange, I was feeling tense. But I ran across another funny, snarky song by the Riccardis. This one was called “Braggy Christmas Letter”. It had nothing to do with any of today’s most annoying and pervasive topics. I just thought it was funny, so I shared it.

I don’t get too many of these. It’s probably because I don’t go to church.

I had a good laugh as I listened to this song. It reminded me of how, about fifteen years ago, I ran across a family Web site created by a Mormon doctor in Wyoming who, by all images, seemed to be living the perfect life. I remember this guy had every single braggy Christmas letter he’d ever written posted on his site. He’d been divorced, but he even included the letters he’d written while he was with his first wife. I remember sharing that site with people on RfM, who are very familiar with “braggy Christmas letters”. While I don’t think the Mormons have cornered the market on this particular habit, I do think churches that promote a “prosperity gospel” message– ie; if you’re doing really well financially, that means God is smiling on you– prompt certain religious people to send these types of Christmas messages, even if they’re stretching the truth. It’s the whole, smug “seriously, so blessed” vibe that, on the surface, may seem harmless, but can make other people feel really small and devalued.

I didn’t think the above video would be controversial, but somehow even the most innocuous things can become that way. Why? Because everyone is different and sees things differently. Apparently, some people like getting “braggy Christmas letters”. I’m sure they have their reasons for feeling that way. Maybe they genuinely like reading that others are “seriously, so blessed”, with expensive houses, fancy cars, perfect figures, and fat bank accounts. I guess they’re above the petty, snarky people who poke fun. Or they like to appear that way.

I don’t mind getting newsy letters that contain positive news, especially when they aren’t mass produced. But there’s a big difference between a friendly letter with happy news in it and a letter that seems meant to make other people feel insignificant and second rate. The letter Sandy Riccardi is singing is the latter type, and I can’t imagine being happy to receive one of those, especially if they come every year like clockwork. I wonder if the people who were being contrary on that thread actually listened to the song before they commented. Or maybe they just wanted to feed their own egos by being contrary and “above” the snark.

So I got even more tense and grouchy… and Bill, who is always game to make me laugh (and it’s not hard to do), said “You know, Oscar the Grouch never invites anyone to his trash can.”

To which I responded, “But I invited you, Bill. How do you like the smell?”

And then we both laughed.

There was a time when most people had real conversations with people face to face or, at least, on the phone. Nowadays, a lot of us connect via social media. That can lead to a host of communication problems that range from everything from misunderstandings to people feeling emboldened to be mean or smarmy because they’re behind a screen. Some folks also feel that social media is the best place for them to preach or “set a good example” for others to follow. I will admit that it’s annoying to me when people feel the need to check their neighbors and give them unsolicited “special help”. It makes me grouchy.

At the risk of rambling on too long… here’s another example that came along last night. I read a news article in the Washington Post about people who have decided to get plastic surgery during the pandemic. Why? Because they don’t like how they look on Zoom calls. I don’t usually comment on newspaper’s Facebook pages because comments there invite interaction with unusually obnoxious people. But I thought this was an innocuous comment…

I don’t even wear a bra anymore. I figure people can deal with my sagging boobs as well as my wrinkles and jowls. It’s been a rough year.

A lot of people thought it was funny. But then I got this response, which sounded like something my mother might say…

I choose to care about my appearance because if I look good, I feel equally good!

(My mom did actually say that shit to me when I was a teenager, dirty and stinky from hanging out at the barn all day, or simply not wanting to dress up and put on my face. Mom likes wearing her makeup. I don’t. What can I say? People are different.)

So my response was…

Here… have a cookie. Or a Coke and a smile… and then, kindly STFU. You do you, and I’ll do me, mmmkay?

Most of us are legitimately guilty of being smug sometimes, and inflicting our self-righteous, superior bullshit on others. Sometimes I do it myself, although I try to be conscious of it. I mean, you might say I did the same thing to the woman who was harassing the lady with the eating disorder about her reluctance to “wear a damn mask”. But I doubt the lady with the eating disorder will offer me a cookie, especially as I dwell in my trash can of grouchiness.

One last note: I think my landlord’s grandsons think I’m grouchy. They rang my doorbell yesterday while I was binge watching The Crown. I thought they were delivery people. I opened the door; the dog was barking; I wasn’t dressed; and they were speaking very quietly in German. I didn’t understand or even hear them very well, so I said I didn’t understand and closed the door.

In my defense, in Jettingen, I used to get visits all the time from all manner of people wanting to sell everything from many kilos of apples and potatoes to religion or charities. The visitors came in all shapes, sizes, and ages. I had not met my landlord’s grandchildren, so I didn’t know who they were.

They rang the bell again, and my landlord asked me if I wouldn’t mind fetching their ball, which had gone over the fence. I felt pretty bad, and I noticed that one of the boys was cowering under our front stoop. I got the ball and tossed it to my landlord. Then I noticed he’d left us a wheelbarrow full of firewood. Later, I spotted their ball in the backyard again and felt another pang of guilt. I guess the kids were too afraid to tell me the ball was back in my yard. I tossed it over the fence for them. Hope they find it.

I’m really not a bitch most of the time… I’m just on edge, as we all are. Hopefully, next year will be better.

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language, modern problems, psychology, rants

A profoundly unhelpful comment…

Last night, I happened to notice that Carole King (or someone on her social media team) posted a picture of herself donning a turquoise colored face mask. She had typed “Just wear the mask” “#MaskUp” on her post. Many people were praising her for encouraging people to wear masks. I decided to hide her post because I’m tired of the constant social media face mask reminders and nagging from people. I mostly stay at home, but I do cooperate with the mask rules when I’m around other people. I neither want nor need the reminder to “#MaskUp”. If I want to be nagged, I’ll call my mother (although my mom, as a general rule, isn’t the type to nag).

However, just because I can’t help myself, I decided to read a few comments before I hid the post.

As to be expected, some people were posting that they can’t or won’t wear masks. I noticed that lots of people were arguing with them. I’ve written before that I don’t think arguing with these people does a lot of good, even though I expect to see them do it. I suppose it’s human nature. But one guy took it a step further. For each person who was not championing the idea that face masks will save us from doom, he posted “RIP”. On a couple of people’s posts, he added something along the lines of “and we’ll dance on your grave when you’re dead!”

After reading that same hateful comment from the same guy several times, I finally left one of my own. I posted, “What a profoundly unhelpful comment.”

I think wishing sickness and destruction on people is childish, stupid, and short-sighted. You think someone deserves death for not wearing a mask? Well, I think you’re an asshole for spreading hate and wishing the virus on another person. The virus is spreading just fine without your help. You don’t need to wish for it to affect more people than it already does. Every person who gets infected can potentially infect many other people… people who are completely innocent. It’s not productive to hope that someone who doesn’t cooperate gets sick and dies. I think it’s much more productive to hope that we can come up with a treatment, cure, or protocol that makes the masks unnecessary.

I do not, for the life of me, understand people who try to get cooperation by wishing bad things on other people. How is it helpful to wish illness and death on someone just because they don’t want to wear a face mask? Even if someone doesn’t wear a mask simply because they’re a selfish jerk, I wouldn’t want to wish illness and death on them. Their illness and death would certainly affect blameless people. Everyone from the healthcare professionals who must take care of them, to the people to have to handle their remains, to their friends, loved ones, and co-workers would be affected, along with any other person who happens to be nearby when they are infected with the virus. Those people would all suffer, to some extent, because someone got the virus, got sick, and died. But people who wish death on the uncooperative never seem to think about that part of the equation.

I get that people are frustrated and angry, but why in the hell would you want the virus to spread? Even if it’s to someone you think “deserves it” for not doing as they’re told?

Of course, this example is specifically about the coronavirus, but it can be applied to most other situations, too. Being mean to people isn’t likely to make them want to cooperate with you. Wishing death on someone and being hateful to them is more likely to make them hate you right back, rather than inspire an attitude of solidarity. If your goal is to change someone’s behavior, you have to make changing the behavior appealing. Posting #RIP to them is just unkind, and it does nothing to make things better.

Someone I knew in high school posted a comment to my thoughts on this issue. This person is now a lawyer. I met her when we took speech (public speaking) class together. She always impressed me as a very bright, empathetic, and kind person. I remember my ex bestie didn’t like her, though, because she was only at our school for a year and yet was ranked third in our class. Ex bestie was ranked fourth, hence the burning resentment (and likely jealousy).

My high school acquaintance wrote that the “gotcha” attitude has gotten way out of hand and has affected freedom of thought and freedom of expression. I thought that was an interesting comment, especially since I know she’s a lawyer and she’s always been very intelligent. Even if you think someone is wrong, it’s probably worth hearing what they have to say. At the very least, you should hear the arguments against something, so you can come up with a rebuttal. But if you just dismiss someone and wish they’d drop dead, you haven’t really learned anything and it’s likely that you’ve strengthened their resolve. It’s just a really antisocial attitude to take. It doesn’t help anything. In fact, it makes things worse.

Recently, I was hanging out on RfM and encountered several regular posters who often behave like bullies. A couple of the posters are females. Both are clearly bright people, and one is supposedly a brilliant attorney, but they both have a habit of shouting down anyone who doesn’t agree with them. One of the posters actually seeks out certain people she doesn’t like and leaves hostile, bullying comments. Granted, sometimes the people she targets deserve some derision, but it’s almost like it’s a sport for her. She gets to the point at which she doesn’t consider anything the other person writes. It’s all negative all the time– and she insults, belittles, and bullies them. I’m not yet one of her targets, yet even I find her constant badgering tiresome and unproductive. I know she’s intelligent and she might even be a nice person, but she comes across as overbearing and obnoxious.

I don’t think that insulting people and wishing bad things for them is a very good strategy, especially if they’re perfect strangers. I’m not impressed with people who claim to be very smart, but don’t consider other perspectives. It seems to me that someone who argues for a living would want to hear what others have to say, consider their points, and then come up with a counter argument. Moreover, if you value freedom– especially of speech and expression– then you should value and respect it for everyone, even those with whom you disagree.

In any case, I strongly disagree with posting RIP to people who are against wearing face masks, although I guess the person has the “right” to post that. I don’t think it’s helpful to wish death on most people, although I will agree that some people might “need killing”. But I usually confine my feelings about people “needing killing” to those who have deliberately and maliciously done something horribly wrong. Refusing to wear a face mask has not been a dangerous thing for that long. It takes time for people to change their opinions and habits. Yes, it’s been five months already, but that’s not very long in the grand scheme of things. I don’t think the constant nagging and shaming helps, although I can understand why people feel compelled to do it.

Coronavirus is going to kill a lot more people. Most of them won’t “deserve” death. Death, unfortunately, is part of living. It’s something that happens to everyone. Hoping someone gets very sick and dies a horrible death just because they don’t want to wear a face mask is petty, cruel, and makes you no better than the most disrespectful and egregious face mask protester. It serves absolutely zero purpose and makes things worse than they need to be. Just my opinion.

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rants

Three chords and the TRUTH…

Special thanks to Mary Ellen for the inspired blog post title…

Yesterday, as Bill and I were on our way home from the Eifel, we were listening to my iPod and Merle Haggard’s hit song “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” came on. It occurred to me as I listened that I could probably play that song. It’s basically three chords repeated over and over again. Granted, I’m not skilled enough to do the guitar solos yet, but I sure can follow the chord progressions. They aren’t hard. They don’t even require a capo.

Yesterday afternoon, I finally picked up my guitar again, having taken the weekend off from playing it. I turned on Merle Haggard’s classic ditty and made my first attempt at playing along. Sure enough, I was successful. I felt momentarily self-congratulatory, then realized that song could be my own personal anthem. When Mary Ellen wrote “Three chords and the truth”, I realized that could be a fun song title… And it’s also high time I wrote another one of my famous parodies, particularly since I am getting so fucking tired of Facebook.

Yes… Merle Haggard has it going on.

Maybe that’s what I’ll do today. Bill went in to work, since our Internet service is uncharacteristically fragile right now. He needs to be able to use his Internet connection without fear of being bumped. The house is empty, except for Arran. Maybe it’s time I wrote a song… and even played along with it. My playing is still so rough that it might not even be recognizable as a cover of anyone else’s song. And I can make up some funny or wry lyrics about life.

It might take me some time to accomplish this little project. I can probably come up with the lyrics quickly, but the music and guitar playing will take time and effort. But why the hell not? I’ve always wanted to write a song. And I am soooo tired of reading most Facebook posts. It’s not even fun anymore, since most of it is either about some kind of social justice issue or another tutorial on public health matters. Much like Merle Haggard’s song, it’s basically the same three chords played over and over again, with only slight embellishments and variations. Lately, I’ve been especially irritated by the following meme that’s floating around.

Seriously? If you want to judge me, I don’t give a fuck. Why should anyone? How about I judge you for spelling “judgment” like a Brit when you’re clearly from the United States?

To be clear… I did spend the whole weekend complying with the face mask requirements, just as I have the whole time this stupid virus mess has been going on. However, I haven’t actually worn the mask much because I have been staying home instead of mingling with sanctimonious idiots who make it their mission to judge what other people are doing instead of focusing on their own damned business.

Is it a bad thing that instead of going out and mingling with people while wearing a mask, I sit at home and play guitar and write in my blog? Is it a bad thing that I’d rather be in the privacy of my own home, unharassed by virtue signaling busybodies, than out and about with other people’s eyes on what I’m doing and “silently judging me” for it? If I sit at home, my germs stay home. Man, I think living in America must really suck right now. Everyone is judging each other and acting like cops.

One really refreshing thing about living in Germany is that people here completely understand that the masks suck. They are willing to wear them because they are community minded people, and they want this shit to be in the past as soon as possible. But make no mistake… I haven’t seen a lot of cheerleaders here insisting that everyone else get on their goddamned bandwagon and react with indignant outrage when someone has the nerve to say something that counters the pro-mask narrative. The masks suck. They do. Deal with it, and don’t harass people for saying that the masks suck. If I want to complain, what’s it to you? Particularly if I comply as I complain? The best thing to do is to take your own public health advice, socially distance, and leave me alone. Edited to add: it does occur to me that I don’t see the cheerleaders here because I don’t make a concerted effort to read things that are written in German unless I have a really good reason to. I don’t need to be preached at in German, so that could be why I’m not seeing any hostile cheerleaders.

A couple of people on my friends list shared the above meme. I saw it right after I saw a thoughtful but irritating comic strip shared on a page called “Woman with a Brain“. This thing was originally posted on Medium.com, but now it’s making the rounds on Facebook. It’s not that I don’t agree with what’s written… it’s more that I’m really tired of reading this kind of politically correct lecturing shit on Facebook. It makes me wonder if the people who spread this stuff are hoping I’ll give them a cookie or something.

There’s a big fucking “smug alert” on Facebook…

When did social media become the place where everyone feels the need to “set a good example” for everyone else? When did it become the preferred medium for preaching to other people about how they should think and feel? Why do people feel like they need to take it upon themselves to “correct” other people’s behaviors and opinions, particularly when they are complete strangers? And why do people think that angrily confronting people, particularly when they are total strangers, is going to make them want to change their behaviors and opinions? In my experience, that kind of confrontation has the exact opposite effect. Moreover, when you point your finger at someone, there are usually at least three fingers pointing back at you. Isn’t Facebook supposed to be fun? There was a time when it kind of was… although it was probably at least four years ago.

I wondered if other people felt the same as I do; so last night, I asked my friends if Facebook is fun anymore. Quite a few friends responded with the simple word “no”. A few mentioned ways that Facebook is still fun. One friend went as far as to post a picture of me when we both waited tables in Williamsburg, Virginia. I will admit– that was fun to see! I was quite a bit thinner and had a cute, short, professionally done haircut, and a big smile on my face. However, make no mistake about it– that was one of the toughest times of my life. I was never so physically sick so often; I was taking high doses of expensive antidepressants; and although I was thinner, I was a lot more depressed and anxious than I am now. It was still fun to see those photos, though. I met some really good people during that time period and many of them are still friends today. Even when things really sucked for me personally, they didn’t totally suck.

That’s the kind of stuff I like seeing on Facebook– good memories with old friends, thought provoking articles, things that make me laugh or are entertaining… not the fucking lessons on how to wear a face mask, admonitions about how strangers are “judging” me on what I’m doing or not doing to “flatten the curve”, or how I should feel about #BlackLivesMatter or #BlueLivesMatter or any of the other social justice causes that are trending right now. Since I am an adult, no one else is qualified to tell me how I should feel, what my opinions should be, or how I should behave. You want to judge me for it or call me a “spoiled brat”? I can’t stop you. But I also wonder why you think I, or anyone else, should care about what you think about me. Frankly, your “silent judgements [sic]” should remain just that, and as long as they do, who gives a shit?

Bill says I remind him of Mr. Burns when I laugh. I must agree, he’s kind of right…

And that, my friends, is the truth… as I see it, anyway. So, now that I’ve written this, I’m going to see if I can write a song called “Three Chords and the Truth”. Wish me luck as I battle this second wave of “caution fatigue”.

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condescending twatbags, modern problems, social media

“Calm down. Have some dip.”

Listen to George.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been giving more thought to ditching Facebook. With each passing day, it becomes more and more of an attractive option to me. I think dumping Facebook would spare me a lot of aggravation. On the other hand, I worry that without Facebook, I’ll be bored. I never really got into Twitter, although I do have an account there. I don’t use Instagram at all, and am not wanting to start. But Facebook is becoming more and more of a problem for me, even though I know if I quit using it, there would be a handful people I would miss. And I mean, out of just over 400 friends, I would probably miss about 25 or 30 of them. The rest, I really could take or leave.

Yesterday, as I carefully hid post after virtue signaling post about the importance of wearing face masks, I was prompted to do a Google search. It was because yet another one of my “friends” posted the “wear a damn mask” meme. I wrote a few days ago that I find that phrase very off putting and rude. I don’t think that’s an expression that true friends would use toward each other. When I see it written, I imagine someone snarling at me. Maybe it’s because I’m an old fart now, but being snarled at isn’t appealing. I mean, I hope at some point, someone besides Bill will show me basic respect… although maybe that’s a lost cause. Figures Generation X would get screwed like that. We were all taught some basic home training, but by the time we got old, that all went out the window.

Anyway, my friend posted “wear a damn mask”, which irritated me, if only because I know she’s bright enough to come up with something of her own that is clever, rather than passing around yet another stale platitude originally stated by a politician. If you search “wear a damn mask”, you will find many results by people who have co-opted that cliche for their own news articles and blog posts, and that annoys me even more. So I headed to Google and typed, “I hate wear a damn mask”. It actually pains me to write that here, since it’s not grammatically correct. But I didn’t want results for “I hate wearing a damn mask”, which is already a given. I wanted to know if other people out in Google land are as annoyed by the phrase “wear a damn mask” as I am.

I didn’t find what I was looking for, although I did stumble across a very clever and entertaining article on a site called Damage. It’s apparently a magazine that seeks and actually pays writers for content. A writer named Amber A’Lee Frost wrote a very witty post called “I’m Not Wearing a Mask”. That’s probably a great title, since it will beg people to click it. A whole lot of people are full of righteous indignation and sanctimony about non-mask wearers. They’re calling them “selfish”, “thoughtless”, “reckless”, “stupid”, and even “murderous“.

Amber A’Lee Frost wrote about checking her email and being relieved to find one from Banana Republic, telling her she is to wear earth tones this summer. It was a shred of normalcy that reminded her that summer would, indeed, happen this year. The world wasn’t and isn’t about to end. Like me, Frost is sick of the fucking ads for “cute masks“, another topic I have bitched about on this blog. And, like me, she is writing about cooperating for the common good, which I have been doing, but not liking. These two paragraphs very nicely nailed how I feel:

I do wear a mask (so congratulations if you made it this far into the essay without calling the cops on me), and I hate it. I’m aware that not liking the masks is neither an original nor productive sentiment, but it doesn’t hurt anyone to admit it either, so it would stand to reason that it is an appropriate and healthy thing to feel and to say. And so…

I hate The Masks. I hate wearing them, I hate seeing other people wearing them, I hate seeing the discarded ones all over the ground. I fucking hate them. I feel like I live in an open-air hospital, or a particularly cosmopolitan leper colony. I miss human faces very badly, and I hate the sensation of being trapped in a breathing swamp of my own self, as each damp exhale rolls back onto my face.

Yes. YES! Especially the part about feeling like living in an “open-air hospital”, although fortunately, so far, people in Germany aren’t quite that gung ho yet. Most people around here only wear the masks indoors or on public transportation.

I enjoyed the rest of Frost’s essay very much. She has a way with words, and some of her comments were very funny to me, while still being oddly poignant. For instance, Frost writes about how children during the World War II era wore gas masks that looked like Mickey Mouse. The beloved mouse styled gas mask was designed by the U.S. Army and was supposed to be comforting to children as they wore the masks to protect themselves from deadly mustard gas. But the “cute” design only served to make the masks look weirdly menacing and dystopian. Like me, Frost finds the current trend of “cute” face masks upsetting, creepy, depressing, and when it comes down to it, repulsive. She writes, “the new market of boutique facemasks repulses me far more than any makeshift from a bandana or scarf, or the cold medicality of the N95 respirator. But make no mistake; they all suck.” I completely agree!

I showed the article to Bill, who also found it a good read. So I shared it on Facebook, and got some good comments. One friend even recognized the post as a great perspective on this whole pandemic thing, particularly involving people who are reacting in an extreme way. I completely understand how serious the pandemic is. I’ve been saying so from the get go. But that doesn’t mean I am willing to wear a face mask 24/7 for the rest of my life. I expect these measures to be temporary, just as they have been in the past when there’s been a war involving poisonous gases as weapons or a pandemic going on. In those days, we didn’t have social media, though, so we weren’t all subjected to everyone else’s views on how people should be coping or reacting to this current reality.

A friend didn’t like Amber A’Lee Frost’s post. She wrote that it was just as annoying as all the preachy virtue signaling posts by the pro mask brigade, and it’s just another form of virtue signaling. I advised her not to read articles she doesn’t like. She then implied that the fact that she’d read the post was my fault, since I had enjoyed it and was enlightened by it. In other words, she thought she’d like it, since I had. And, I guess, since she didn’t like it, I somehow “let her down”.

To be honest, I was kind of non-plussed by this response. I have over 400 Facebook friends. I should probably have far fewer, but that’s beside the point. How can I possibly be expected to know what will or won’t please or enlighten my friends? I didn’t realize it was my duty to entertain them on my Facebook page. I liked Amber A’Lee Frost’s essay, and I think that should be good enough, at least when it comes to deciding what to share on MY page. I can’t please everybody, nor can I know what will appeal to everybody. It’s not like she didn’t know by the title of the piece– “I’m Not Wearing a Mask”– that the post was going to be about face masks. Moreover, most blogs are full of virtue signaling. God knows, mine is!

Amber A’Lee Frost’s post is the first and only one I’ve seen so far that accurately addresses how I’ve been feeling. I’ve been struggling to convey the same thoughts in my blog that she did so well in her essay. I’ve not been as successful. I was delighted to read how she’d put the experience of living in this new reality. It was funny, witty, and easy to read, but it was also startlingly accurate to me. We know that the masks are necessary for now, but we don’t have to like it. And saying out loud or posting that we don’t like it and don’t want it to go on forever doesn’t make us bad or irresponsible people.

Just as I was recovering from that altercation, I ran across a news article about Joe Biden and his thoughts on mask wearing. The CBS News headline states, “Biden says he’d use executive powers to force Americans to wear masks in public”. That headline makes me worry. We don’t need a politician acting like Trump, only from the other side of the political spectrum. Trump has been using a lot of forceful, obnoxious, rights ignoring language. I don’t want to see or hear that from Joe Biden. I want him to be sensible and a good role model. I want him to consider all viewpoints and do what is best for the country in a moderate way. I am not looking for Trump behavior, only with a liberal bent. The word “force” is not a good one to use in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. America is supposed to be about freedom. There is nothing “free” about the word “force”, and it won’t win over reluctant Trump supporters who don’t like the orange menace, but like “leftism” even less.

In the course of our discussion about that thread, someone brought up seatbelts and how long it took to convince people to wear them. And yes, I DO remember quite well. In fact, I always hated seatbelts when I was a kid. I didn’t consistently have to wear them, which was probably one of the problems. The other problem was that they were uncomfortable, confining, and restrictive, and, in fact, weren’t really that safe. Seatbelts in the 1970s were not at all like seatbelts of 2020. Today’s seatbelts are a lot more functional and comfortable, even with the added shoulder belt in the back seat that we didn’t have in the 1980s.

But– I still don’t see wearing a mask as the same as wearing a seatbelt. It’s always been unsafe to ride in a car unrestrained. That was true even before seatbelts were invented. Face masks, on the other hand, are a very new thing for the vast majority of people and, until very recently, it was not considered unsafe to walk around in public without one. For most people with normal immune systems, it truly wasn’t unsafe.

It takes time and evidence for people to change their opinions and habits. Trying to force people to change, berating and insulting them, and not using common sense is not the best way to change hearts and minds about an issue. All you have to do to know this is look at some of the failed public health campaigns of the past… and present, really.

Like, is anyone really convinced that only providing sexual abstinence education to teenagers helps fix our nation’s issues with teen pregnancy? Look at where the teen pregnancy problems are the worst and you’ll easily find the answer to that question. Ditto for promoting condom use to prevent HIV infection. In the 1980s, public health experts were threatened with a withdrawal of federal funding if they made any health promotion materials that implied that homosexual behavior is acceptable. It also ignored the fact that condoms blocked what most gay men enjoy most about sex– physical contact and sensations. Consequently, a lot of homosexuals ignored advice to use condoms to protect themselves against the virus that causes AIDS. A lot of time and money was wasted, and the pandemic continued until scientists finally started finding ways to effectively treat the virus and condom manufacturers started making products that addressed what their customers were looking for in a sexual experience.

Someone decided to take me to task on that issue, too. I was bombarded with links to articles about the coronavirus in such a way that I couldn’t possibly read or respond to every link in a timely manner. Frankly, I found that approach insulting because I can Google with the best of ’em. The person told me they once were paid to do online research. Well, guess what? So was I! And I actually earned an advanced degree in public health and worked in epidemiology, so I’m not exactly a slouch myself when it comes to research, particularly in the field of public health and healthcare policy, another area in which I used to work. But really, I didn’t want to talk about research. I wanted to talk about common sense.

What has me especially concerned is that a whole lot of people– a lot of them people lucky enough to be on or beyond the edge of elderly, who have been fortunate enough to enjoy long, productive lives of relative normalcy– are pleading with young people to give up the prospect of living a “normal” life themselves. They are acting as if we should all simply accept that the virus is here to stay and we should grin and bear the prospect that we’ll be uncomfortable and inconvenienced by it for the rest of our lives. Some of them sound like this is how they think it’s going to be from now on, and the rest of us should simply relax and be okay with it.

Well, friends, I’m here to tell you that I’m NOT okay with it. I do not want to wear a mask from now on. I will wear one for now, out of respect for the common good, but I expect the masks to be a TEMPORARY measure. I am not willing to give up seeing people smile, hugging and kissing, eating good food and drinking fine wines in restaurants, listening to people play saxophone on street corners or hearing choirs sing in churches, feeling cool breezes on my face, wearing pretty lipstick, or hearing people speak unmuffled in public. I am not going to just sit still and accept that as my future without complaint.

Feeling this way doesn’t make me crazy or irresponsible or in need of a lecture. It’s COMMON SENSE. I hope and expect that scientists will find a way to arrest or treat this virus, the same way science has handled prior pandemics. So yes, I will cooperate with the mask requirements for now, although I’d rather simply stay home, and I suspect that pretty soon, that will be an issue because it will affect the economy. But I absolutely expect that I won’t be putting up with this shit for the rest of my life. I would hope other people feel the same way. And I would also hope that before they go off on someone for complaining about the masks and rightfully saying that wearing them sucks, people would use common sense.

Wearing a face mask sucks. I doubt that many people really enjoy it. Admitting that it sucks isn’t a bad thing. It serves as motivation to make disease prevention more practical and comfortable for everyone. People who say the masks suck and admit to hating wearing them aren’t necessarily in need or a lecture or an intervention. They aren’t even necessarily non-compliant. And I’m getting tired of thinking this and posting it only in my blog as I quietly hide, ignore, or scroll past posts and stale memes about the importance of face masks because I don’t want to be harassed by my so-called “friends” who apparently think I’m stupid and need a clue.

I get it. Many people think face masks are important and should be mandatory. Most of your friends either get it, or won’t be convinced. Hitting us over the head repeatedly with the same message isn’t going to do much more than piss us off… and, in my case, make me think about ditching Facebook altogether– although I mostly think I might do it because I’m pissed off about being falsely accused of posting “hate speech” on Facebook and not being able to complain about it to a real person. That is lame as hell, and it tells me that Mark Zuckerberg and his ilk have way too much power in my life.

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The orange badge of shame…

I woke up this morning to yet another Facebook threat in the form of a “warning”. When Facebook warns you, they send you a warning that takes up your whole screen and shows off the offending post. In this case, it was a post I made on May 22 about a really offensive game Facebook was advertising. Behold:

The game “Imperial Beauties” is not the only offensive and racist game I’ve seen pimped on Facebook. I’ve also seen games involving Middle Eastern female characters who want to be the chosen ones of a sultan. I recently saw another game advertised about a woman who gets pregnant by a rich man. I also see, from the game’s Facebook page, that I’m not the only one who thinks this game is offensive. But I’m the one who gets tagged for being hateful. Check out these comments:

  • This game has a lot of issues, the topmost being that there is no response from their customer service. They used to at least respond, now they don’t even bother anymore.
  • I am not happy with seeing ads about this chauvinistic stuff in my field. I must have “hidden” this ad a million times. Thumbs down, leave me alone!

The video I saw advertising this game depicted an Asian woman with a black eye who was supposedly “ugly”. Note– I don’t really think she’s ugly, but the premise of the game is that she’s not beautiful enough for the emperor. She has to impress the “granny” in order to become the “chosen one”. But if you make the wrong choices for your concubine wannabe, you end up in jail. The video implies that the ugly Asian woman dies in jail. I originally thought she was beheaded, but upon looking at the video again, it appears that she just dies.

Here are a few screenshots:

If Facebook does “ground” me for “hate speech”, I think I’ll just ditch it altogether. It is the source of a lot of my blogging content, but it’s also the source of a lot of stress and stupidity. This is one of the more stupid things that has happened recently, and it’s mainly because there aren’t as many human beings working at Facebook right now due to the fucking coronavirus. Consequently, content that isn’t actually offensive gets tagged. I disputed that what I posted was “hate speech” and nine minutes later, it was denied with no explanation from a human being. They simply closed the case.

This is the definition of concubine. You can see in the above screenshots that this game is about a woman who wants to become a “sexual subservient” or “secondary wife” for sexual purposes. What’s wrong with calling this game “fucked up”? Especially when it REALLY is.

The funny thing is, if I ever did decide to quit Facebook, I know from personal experience that Facebook will continually spam my inbox trying to get me to log in again. It’s like being in a cult. They will “punish” you when you’re an active member, but if you eventually decide to quit, they’ll relentlessly bug you to get you to come back. What’s more, I get offended on the daily by some of the things posted on Facebook. I once got a private message inviting me to commit suicide. I reported it, and was told by a fellow human being that there was nothing they could do about it. And yet, this is not the first time a post has gotten wrongly flagged over a month later and I’ve been threatened with being put in Facebook jail for something completely arbitrary and stupid.

So what’s going to happen next month? Even if I am on my “best” behavior, am I going to wake up one morning in late July with a notification that something I posted weeks earlier has landed me in “jail”?

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t really a big deal. God knows, I lived most of my life without social media and, on a daily basis, I remember those times fondly. I can just as easily read a book and watch Little House on the Prairie or something.

In other news, Arran is sulking because he wasn’t allowed to have breakfast. We’re getting his teeth cleaned today. They really need to be done because they are just caked with tartar. I know how he feels. I need to have my teeth cleaned, too. Maybe we’ll do that next month. Especially if I end up in Facebook jail and have the time for a trip to Stuttgart.

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