The Importance Of Syntax In Lies And Distortions

The Importance of Syntax In Lies And Distortions

In the sport that is election season, polls are the scoreboard that we stare at.

One editorialist yesterday offered an insightful observation that the more obsessed we become on a number as a representation of winning or losing, the further we discourage lawmakers and elected officials from working together to solve problems.

This absolutist ‘win-loss’ mentality deters compromise, as constituents enforce the expectation that one colossal agenda be promoted over the other.

The writer suggests that officials would benefit greatly from collaboration to offer constructive solutions for which they would ideally be held accountable every two years.  This would be akin to a performance review in the private sector.  Instead, when the goal becomes ensuring the ‘loss’ of the ‘opposition’ to defend one set of ideals over another, the spirit of obstructionism prevails and nothing gets done.

Polls have an incredible ability to influence perception of the voting public and to affect outcomes.

For example, if the true, unreported number is 50/50 but is depicted as 52-48 in favor of one candidate and a chorus of pundits echo with certainty that the result is a forgone conclusion, it is very likely that some members of the 50 grow discouraged and elect not to participate.  So in the end the scorecard shows 51-49; had those 49 believed they were the actual 50 instead of the 48, perhaps they would have emerged victorious.

I truly believe that media entities endeavor to directly influence the election with willful and selective presentation of facts and statistics.  For example, the mainstream news media has been expounding upon the The Inevitability Factor for years now.  The contemporary Zeitgeist seems to be ‘fake it till you make it’.

These news organizations manufacture stories with fairytale conclusions in order to profit from their outcome.  Symbolism sells, and it is the grossest manifestation of abounding sensationalism.  I notice often how frequently writers attempt to invoke some historical parallel or reference, to expound upon the great supposed significance of trivialities.

They exalt ‘symbolic’ victories for which we hang sentimental headlines like banners in our front yards.  A fine example is the 2008 election in which, rather than assessing the merits of his candidacy, talking heads like Chris Matthews beheld in awe the beauty and symmetry of a biracial president with a foreign-born father and international exposure who overcame enormous obstacles to realize the American Dream.  In the words of Joe Biden, it was “storybook, man”.  This almost superhuman self-referentialism constitutes narcissism personified.

The post-election headlines read:

“America Atones For Racially Turbulent Past, Elects First Black President”

“Obama Elected On 40th Anniversary of MLK, RFK Assassinations”

“40 Years Later, The Legacy Of Dr King Realized”

These lofty existential assertions read great on a newspaper front page, but all one has to do is observe the trajectory of black unemployment and poverty rates to deduce that electing a half-black president doesn’t do anything for the black community.  It’s intellectualized fluff, and a sheer contrivance in the face of social responsibility.

Ideally the media is a vehicle through which citizens educate and inform themselves, and from this actualization grow empowered enough to demand reformation in every realm of society.  This requires objectivity, which was at one point a sacred oath that journalists undertook to preserve the honor of their profession.

Instead today what we have is an amalgamation of metastasized tumor cells seeking to expand, sell and acquire influence for their own personal gain.

In the past decade this culture has seen a marriage of social and news media  Today, tweets and facebook postings generate as much buzz as traditional newspapers, magazines and websites do.  When personalization becomes the operative word, and once personal interests are embedded in reporting, impartiality is lost.

In journalism class as a high school junior I learned that objectivity meant using neutral verbs and adjectives.  A descriptor word was a sometimes-necessary evil.  The responsibility of a journalist is to inform, not to advocate, I was told.

But in the past decade of reading newspapers, I have observed that word selection, syntax alteration and adjective emphasis has become a science employed to convey reconstructed truths to willing audiences.

Here is an example of a typical AP headline in reference to a jobs report during an historically sluggish recovery:


Roaring?  Like a lion, the king of beasts.  Sounds pretty powerful to me, makes me feel optimistic.

Inspiring social optimism as a means of accomplishing a shared goal is one thing.  Convincing citizens to purchase war bonds to conquer the German Huns was a worthwhile endeavor.  Perpetrating falsities to foster a particular sociopolitical ideology and from it profit, though, is deceitful.

If we really believed everything in the media we would believe that the American economy recovered back in 2009.  The recession ended then, but the end of a recession did not necessarily mean the beginning of a recovery, as those of us paying attention learned in the past three years.

I remember standing in a grocery store while unemployed in April of 2010.  I had just returned from a demeaning job interview at a Chevy’s restaurant in San Francisco, for which I had been competing against applicants carrying briefcases and dressed in business suits.

Frustrated, I turned to the magazine section to search for a Sports Illustrated, and as my eyes scanned the selection I saw the cover of Newsweek, decorative and ornamental, red, white and blue, proclaiming: “AMERICA’S BACK: THE REMARKABLE TALE OF OUR ECONOMIC TURNAROUND”, an article by Daniel Gross.  I was disgusted and offended by such a boldfaced lie, because I had just experienced firsthand what a malaise America was still mired in.

The basic rationale of the mainstream media is that the president rises and falls with the economy, so they need to paint the prettiest picture possible to improve Obama’s chances of reelection.

This has been the theme now for four years, and is every bit as Orwellian as Jack Welch contends it to be.

Numbers do paint a picture, even if they do not tell the entire story.  Therefore they are always worth investigating.  But as we know, a number should never be taken with face value, and unfortunately a lot of people suffer from chronic incuriosity and do just that.

Earlier this month I read the jobs report.  “UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPS TO 7.8%, LOWEST IN 44 MONTHS”, beamed the AP headline.

The first three quarters of the article was very purposefully worded and arranged to convey a numbers with radiant optimism.  Only in the second to last paragraph was it revealed that 350,000 people stopped looking for work, that the job gains of 114k didn’t even keep pace with people entering the workforce, and that the labor force shrank again to a participation rate of 63.7% that still hovers near a 30 year low.

A more accurate headline would have read: “JOBS REPORT OFFERS CONFLICTING NUMBERS”

As a young man looking for work, I know from direct experience as well as anecdotes from friends and acquaintances in their struggles to find work that the media lies and distorts in order to get their guy a second term.  It is offensive and disrespectful to all who struggle.

To counter this ‘bunch of stuff’, I feel an obligation to restate some of the indisputable facts from which one may draw their own conclusions about the state of this economy and the success of this administration.

Infer what you will from these numbers; truth is relative and I do not want to impose my perceptions on my readers:

The working age population in the United States grew by 206,000 during September, about twice the rate of the jobs created (114,000)

Full time jobs in September declined by 216,000

The labor force participation rate was the lowest for men since 1948

582,000 of the 847,000 jobs created last month were part-time jobs for people looking for full time work.

The working age population has increased by 8.4 million since Inauguration Day of 2009, while 5.5 million jobs have been produced

12.1 million Americans are unemployed

40% of the unemployed have been so for six months or longer

8.6 million Americans are partly employed but looking for full time work

2.5 million Americans are only marginally attached to the labor force and not counted as unemployed because they have not looked for work in four weeks or more

8.2 million Americans have given up looking for work or dropped out of the labor force since January of 2009

60% of jobs lost during the recession were full-time

58% of jobs created during the recovery are part-time

Of the Americans employed in the private sector, 1 in 4 earn less than $10/HR

Annual median household income has declined by $4,019 since January of 2009, or 7.3%

The recovery has slowed with each passing year:

GDP growth was 2.4% in 2010, 2% in 2011, 1.6% in the first half of 2012, and 1.3% last quarter

This is not a recovery.  This is stagnation.

Some counter that while the recovery has been slow, things are getting better.  In some respects they are, yes.  The economy is no longer in a free fall as it was four years ago.  Housing prices are at pre-recession levels.

They demand optimism and are intolerant of anything else.  If you politely point to the contrary, you are a ‘negative’, ‘obstructionist’, ‘oppositional’ ‘troll’ who ‘bets against America’.

How about somebody who simply wants an accurate assessment of what’s really going on?

My expectation of the media is that they provide me with the facts objectively and allow me to reach my own rational conclusions.  The media tells me that the economy is recovering, and my personal experience tells me otherwise.  The numbers that I garner from every possible source appear to support my position.

Look, I am aware of the gravity of our past and present situations, the depths to which we plummeted during the recession, and the enormity of the task that our current president elected to take.

I do not believe that one man, party or policy will fix in four years what took decades of unraveling by both parties to accomplish.  I do not blame our president for the greedy corporate swine that endeavor to impose Western slavery on desperate workers and profit from a global system that promotes worker exploitation.

I do fault him, though, for adding 1 trillion dollars annually in debt for four consecutive years, because my generation will be picking up that tab.

But what I do expect is truth and honesty, an accurate depiction of the situation at hand.  I resent being lied to for political expediency.  I find it humiliating and degrading.  I do not intend to walk around with a ‘Trust No One’ sign on my back, but I am beginning to react very negatively to being played for a fool.

I do not begrudge others their successes, nor do I wish to see others fail.  I wish to enjoy the same opportunities that my parents and grandparents enjoyed as they made their way in the world.  I want to see this nation return to its former glory and prosperity.

My overall opinion of the American economy is that it is improving, but not nearly fast enough, and that for whatever progress we have made since the official end of the recession, our position remains very fragile.  And I fundamentally believe that Obama has not done the job that he said he was going to do, and I am suspicious of his ability to do so in the next four years.

In a court case the legal teams present all relevant facts before the jury, and I expect to be shown the same respect as a freethinking, autonomous adult capable of forming his own opinions.  This is why I did not vote for Obama in 2008 and why I am not voting for him now: I am opposing the institutional monoliths that seek to dictate my reality.

2012 Vice Presidential Debate: My Sentiments

I felt that Biden asserted himself on foreign policy, whereas Ryan emerged decisively on domestic matters, particularly the economy. On the merits I would give Biden the edge, but quite frankly his pomposity, condescension, sneering, interrupting, scoffing and general arrogance and aggression really turned me off.  What an intolerant blowhard.

Paul Ryan, meanwhile, demonstrated the classic Midwestern poise and humility that I so greatly admire. I appreciated his ability to maintain a level head in the face of taunting and provocation. A lesser man would have engaged Biden in an equally distasteful fashion. In American politics, one must never underestimate the importance of a likable personality, and so when combining both merit and delivery, I personally assess Paul Ryan as the winner of the debate.

What a reflection of the state of intellectual dialogue in this country.  Although I still identify myself as a Blue Dog Democrat, I am growing increasingly dismayed with what I perceive to be the arrogant insularity of my party.  Mine is becoming the party of hatred.  If Biden’s objective was to ‘fire up the base’ as pundits surmise, he accomplished his objective, but in doing so likely alienated the Independents and Undecided voters.

While I may patently disagree with many of the positions espoused by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, I am still an adherent to the principle of civil discourse.  If we as a nation truly aspire to spur economic growth and shared prosperity, ensure affordable healthcare, salvage floundering social programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and enact a sound foreign policy that furthers our interests abroad while strengthening our international relationships, then we need to collaborate respectfully with each other.  Displays of boorish antagonism such as Biden’s debate performance have no place if we truly intend to move forward.

Sons Of Anarchy Season 5

I read in an article last week that Kurt Sutter received a contract renewal with FX Studios for a six and seventh season of Sons of Anarchy

Naturally this excited me, especially in the wake of Opie’s tragic passing.  But after two very lukewarm, seemingly directionless episodes, I am beginning to wonder if the show can sustain itself for the remainder of the season, let alone two more?

I feel that Sons is running out of interesting characters.  The central cast members that remain are on limited time, and their arcs are coming full circle.

Even the secondary characters that could potentially be expanded upon just don’t stack up.  Philthy Phil doesn’t do it for me in the way that Half Sac did.  Half of the guys sitting at the table now have no examined history on the show, and seemingly little to offer.  They seem like background guys called upon to fill holes for the warriors on the front lines.  How long has the old sheriff been dying of cancer now?

Chibs and Munson are relevant to the storyline, but not as compelling.  The Scotsman experienced his heyday in season 3 when he achieved ultimate revenge in slicing Jimmy Fallon to pieces, and the fat guy has always seemed like a hokie wannabe heavy to me.

Sons lacks material and is stretching thin.  The series was initially only planned for four seasons and thus Sutter likely struggles to justify two or three more.    So in result what we have now is the looming last hurrah of the Old Guard of Clay, Gemma and Tig.  They are worn, weary and tired, but iconic and irreplaceable.

Tig Trager is one of the great enigmatic personalities of our time.  Everything about Kim Coates’ portrayal of this necrophiliac sociopathic hit man is fascinating.

But how much more can he get away with?  He murdered Opie’s wife in a botched assassination attempt in Season 1 yet somehow managed to stay alive, and his errant bullet that killed Pope’s daughter ignited an unwinnable conflict that got Opie killed.

I cherish and adore Tig, but I feel that he has to go in order to maintain the integrity of the show, lest our suspension of disbelief grow to the point where we tolerate absurdity.  Perceiving a walking dead man, and asking not if he will die, but rather when and how, robs me of some suspense.  Having said this, I do not doubt Sutter’s ability to surprise.  I, for one, would like to see Trager redeem himself with an act of nobility before he goes out in a blaze of glory.  I do not want to see a character so enigmatic expire with whimpering ignominy, as Jax implied that he might.

Katey Sagal is a phenomenal actress portraying a fascinating character in Gemma, but I tire of her Lady Macbeth/scheming grandmother/manipulative mother yarn.  I sorely hope that Sutter raises the stakes for her as well, perhaps striking her with a terminal illness or something comparable.  For the time being, this standstill that she is at with Tara is getting old.

Clay must go.  He should been killed off last season, but Kurt kept on to him to further Season 5, which was born of viewer demand.   Some have surmised that Clay is biding his time, plotting for a comeback, and I believe this.

Even if he does, though, I feel as if his character peaked last year, when he was at his dangerous, monstrous best and now Sutter is pushing for a second ejaculation on the same weakening erection.  Or maybe we are observing the refractory period as the giant phallus that he is comes roaring back to front and center?

Tara is a weak character, steely and dislikable; easily my least favorite.  She shared a scene two episodes ago with the mother of Able in which she was simply bested, and it made me think for a moment of what the series would be like were a more capable actress in her place.

Two episodes and some plot development later and I have resolved that Opie did not have to go.  He was the most popular character, the most sympathetic, likable and intriguing.  His death sent the show in a radically different direction, one that may have been justified had Sutter maintained the taut suspense and high stakes of the first four episodes, but he has let the show cool down.  At this rate his death has facilitated nothing.

In the immediate aftermath of Opie’s demise, when Jax calmly informed the prison guard of his intentions for him, I felt that I was observing a character transformation similar to Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone in The Godfather.  It was a powerful and chilling moment.

Instead, the past two episodes have shown cutsie things like Jax fistfighting with an Irishman, defending the honor of a prostitute, staging a sex scene with a transvestite call girl, and Tig growing erect while having a bite mark on his buttocks sowed up.  Sutter took an enormous risk in killing off the show’s most beloved character, and that risk appears to be backfiring.

Meanwhile, there has been nothing of Pope.  This is akin to letting the rattlesnake lie in the grass without hearing it rattle.  I want to hear that rattle, because I know he lurks.  The show must devote some time to preparation for a confrontation with him.  Pope may be insurmountable, but he is unavoidable.

I have tremendous faith in Jimmy Smits as an actor, and I believe that his character is in a prime position to spring to the center of the plotline.  At some point I believe that Nero and Pope will be squaring off for a culminating clash, but Nero’s character needs further development in order to make this battle titanic.

Ultimately I respect Sutter as a strategist, and I am supremely confident in his ability to propel the series forward with grit and energy.  I did not expect to be so heavily invested as I was in Laying Pipe, considering how disappointed I had been by the Season 4 Finale.  I recall vowing to discontinue watching Sons of Anarchy after the burning death of Tig’s daughter in episode 1.  I bemoaned at the time that the show had taken a turn for such needless violence as compensation for lack of plot.  Perhaps I am a petulant, fair-weather fan.  The show has been stretched for material for a while, no doubt, but Sutter has a way of making me care that few other show creators ever have, and thus I will continue tuning in every Tuesday night at 10PM Eastern Time.

America 2012: The Perils Of Inescapable Politics

Cyclical culture that we are, America hits the repeat button every two years and commences Election Season.  We satiate our carnal appetites as an historically gladiatorial, conflict-driven people through a political circus replete with pageantry, pomp, pretense, posturing and heavy, heavy rhetoric.

Two entire years amount not to an examination of merit and substance, but to little more than outright antagonism, vile character attacks, smear campaigns and the perpetration of sheer hatred and divisiveness.

As a semiconscious world observer with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and exposure, I often ponder ways in which I may satisfy my intellectual curiosities without enveloping myself in the negativity of news media.

Though I aspire for traditional news sources, objectivity seems to be a figment of the past.  I tire of the patronization and condescension by purported journalists pedaling an addictive cocktail of fear-drenched hyperbole, loony ideologies and archaic worldviews.

If it’s not the Presidential Election of 2012 featuring Mitt Romney and Barack Obama slinging feces at each other, it’s rape, murder, terrorism, financial fraud, divorce rates, and every apocalyptic scenario that can be packaged and sold.  According to the media, life sucks and the world is a horrible place.  Tune in for more details about how it’s getting worse.

The more I ‘tune in’ to what is (supposedly) going on around me, the more I feel like I’ve stepped into a bathtub of scalding water with a blow dryer in my hand.

And it’s not just the television and radio; it’s online, on every public domain.  Everything gets politicized.  We live in an Opinion Culture, and people are very in your face about their beliefs.  Watch a music video on youtube and invariably you will read some wretched political sentiment in the user remarks.  Check your facebook and the news feed is littered with political rants.  An online newspaper article about a raccoon attack becomes a forum for assailing political candidates.

Frankly, I have had it with this broken record.  At this point I am indifferent to who is elected president.  I just want the campaigning to stop, and I want the blowhards muted.  I am sick of media personalities.  I am done with pompous pontificators who do nothing good for this world while lubricating their own egos on 30 minute nationally televised masturbation segments, spewing asinine commentary and hateful, incendiary rhetoric.

The only way to truly combat these fools is to kill their ratings by not tuning in to their shows.  It is a very simple and very realizable solution.  The root of news media exists in marketing and advertising, and advertisers will not waste money investing in shows with low ratings.

One relative of mine in particular watches a news feed followed by a political segment every night before dinner.  By the time he sits down he is in such an agitated frenzy that he cannot partake in a normal conversation, and he eats at a hurried pace.  I’d really like to get back to a dynamic in which I can just enjoy him, minus the politics.

I would rather revel with other people in the joys of art, literature, cinema, and travel or even just muse about sports and the weather.  My fragile psyche can no longer handle this toxic filth.  More sports scores and less Bureau of Labor Statistics reports and inflation indexes for me.  I seek to proactively combat abject politicization and I feel that others should, too.  It has become a social imperative to restore some measure of dignity and civility and prove that the world isn’t such a horrible place to be.  Come November 4th, I intend to move forward.

In Defense of Scatology and Swearing

Prologue: The Passive Aggressive Man

The passive aggressive man is like one beset by constipation who is then seized by excessive flatulence.  He endeavors to contain his gases, and so in the process of restricting himself, clenches his anus and entraps the air in his bowels.  The air forces its way past the clogged feces and absorbs its horrid odors.  His resentments toward life grow yet he maintains his inability to communicate them, and as the pressure builds on his stomach, the air slowly releases from his sphincter.  Those forced to interact with him suffer through the putrid fart clouds of his constipated woes.  When he finally expresses himself in a fit of diuretic rage, he excretes in an explosive fashion, and people flee his bellicose buffoonery.

Scatology: I’ll Shit On You

Repression of any sort is not a healthy thing.  Our bodily functions exemplify the importance of flow—When we ejaculate, we achieve hormonal balance.  When we urinate, we feel relief.  A bowel movement is a sacred experience for many.  Farting releases pressure that burdens us physically.  Unclogging our ears restores a sense of equilibrium that allows us to better perceive the world around us.  We rid ourselves of toxins and restore our vitality.  The smooth flow of our bodies represents divine equilibrium through which we are partnered with the universe.

As an adolescent boy, I was an anal, conservative prude who read the New York Times and pondered economic policies and other existential matters with my grandmother rather than engaging my peers in normal activities.

The years progressed and my intellectual aptitude stagnated but my vocabulary grew larger, thus allowing me to project a cerebral might that belied how poorly exposed and provincial I was.

I slogged through my turbulent teenage years, socially isolated and sexually frustrated.  The more embittered that I grew toward life, the more immature I became.  My life experience was atomic.  My humor devolved to the point that I could laugh at fart jokes and fat people all day long.

But these two contrasting trajectories merged an inverse harmony in which, at my best, I could convey abstract concepts in a visceral manner by utilizing scatology.  I became a master of metaphors, and, being both obsessive-compulsive and verbose, an alliterative communicator.

One of the beauties of scatology is that it offers something so sensorially arresting and graspable.

Scatology translates the power of bodily experiences from the physical to verbal realm, appealing to our baser sense of reasoning and also satisfying our philosophical proclivities.  We clarify our intentions, objectives and outcomes through scatology.

Let us use last week’s presidential debate as an example of a recent relevant topic through which scatology may articulate an experience.   The 70 million viewers assessed in near unanimity the superior performance of Mitt Romney to the listless and feeble presentation by Barack Obama.  Many of us attested strongly to these sentiments.

However, when compressed by social expectation and journalistic objectivity, newspaper articles offer headlines that apply mundane descriptive words that fail to convey the importance of an issue:

Mitt Romney Defeats Barack Obama In Debate

Defeat is pretty nebulous in the context of a debate.

I contrast this typical headline with something more raw and fundamental:

‘Romney Penetrates Obama With 10 Inch Phallus In Debate’

A reference to a penis cuts to the chase.  A big penis emphasizes just how badly the debate went for Obama.   It is powerful and provocative.

When the normally meek Barack Obama exploited his political capital to push Obamacare in 2010, Bill Maher implored the president to ‘throat fuck’ the opposition.

Obama ‘Rams Big Black Cock Down Mitch McConnell’s Throat’ conveys an authority that ‘Obama Uses House Majority To Pass Health Care Initiative’ does not.  The metaphor appropriately depicts the intensity of the situation.

Yeah, I get it. I can resonate.  

The power of the scatological metaphor brings me to the role of swearing as a conversational elixir.

Appropriate application of curse words can really heighten and increase the effectiveness of otherwise plain language.  A swearword is like a spice added to a dish; it makes it tastier and more flavorful.

Too much swearing, though, is like dousing a recipe in salt: overwhelming and distasteful.  Therefore one who swears must exercise the same discretion and discernment that he or she displays when pairing traditional adjectives and nouns together.

There is something inherently naughty about cursing.  As human beings we hate the rules that we elect to abide by, and we feel a sense of boldness and empowerment when we choose to break them.

For those of us raised in austere environments tailored toward religiosity and conformity, swearing is cathartic in that we are freeing ourselves of those shackles.

It bothers me when people use fake curse words–the intention is there, and masking it reeks of insincerity.  It’s an essentially cowardly, passive aggressive thing to do.

Christian conformists who say ‘Gahhh’ or ‘Gosh’ instead of ‘God’ or ‘God Damn It’, ‘shoot’ instead of ‘shit’, ‘darn’ instead of ‘Damn It’, act as if the good Lord above smiles upon them because they stopped themselves just short of committing the horrible deed.

The religious texts decree, though, that sin dwells within a man’s heart; that thought is akin to action.  If you think you should swear, you have sworn already.  Now be an adult and follow through.  Make your statement.  Put yourself out there to be judged and exposed.

God Damn It is my favorite curse phrase because it is so defiant, so bad on so many levels.  Existentially, flipping the bird to your Maker is a pretty fucking risky thing to do.  When I say it I am screaming to Existence that I am angry; I am goading the universe into validating my rage.  And, it’s a bit of a fuck you to my Catholic School Days.  God Damn It was the phrase of choice for my family.

When I was a boy my uncles regaled in stories about my grandmother struggling to start the car on cold winter mornings, turning the ignition key and pumping the gas pedal furiously, gritting her teeth and uttering ‘God Damned Motherfucking Son of A God Damned Bitch’.  This anecdote epitomizes the fiery-tempered realism that defines my family.

If the anger is there and will not abate itself, it deserves a release.  What really is the purpose of constipating oneself mentally and emotionally, when we could just take a huge shit on life at that moment in time?  Some contend that swearing characterizes laziness and self-indulgence; an act of desperation perpetrated by the mentally weak and cognitively undisciplined.  This may be true for one who employs ‘fuck’ as a noun, verb, adjective and adverb.  But for many, a curse word is display of truthfulness and integrity.

Swearing’s detractors often espouse asceticism and self-denial.  But piety equates to high cortisol, and high cortisol contributes to strokes.  Scientific research demonstrates that holding onto anger is far more destructive than letting it out.  If this is true, then swearing is an essential function of the energy flow, much like the breathing mechanism.  We inhale air and exhale carbon dioxide.  We get it out.  We let it in.  So curse at life’s misfortunes and exalt in its glory.  Go with the flow.

Note: There is a big difference between swearing aloud at nobody in particular, and swearing at another person.  Swearing at another person is a surefire way to provoke a physical altercation.  As swearing is a verbal equivalent to a toxic release, directing poison at somebody else is a hostile, aggressive, confrontational thing to do and should rarely if ever be done with premeditation and forethought.

Online Dating

As our society inundates itself with more advanced technologies and our members grow busier and more prone to distraction from external stimuli, the prospect of meeting people diminishes and the demand grows for methods that allow people a smoother, more efficient way of engaging.  Online dating serves this purpose, and has moved its way into the mainstream.  The following essay is an examination of the perils and upsides of this social dimension based on my personal experiences.


My acupuncturist professed to me during our session yesterday that she had met her husband online.  She made an interesting point that online dating allows for people to engage those outside of their normal social circles.  It is very true that we can get boxed into our day-to-day groupings and stagnate socially as a result.

As creatures of perception in social environments, we walk around and our eyelids blink like camera shutters.  We size people up.  We know immediately with a glance whether or not we are physically attracted to a person. That’s what we do as mammals; it is an essential part of our biological function.  An online dating site simply provides a different platform for this to occur.

When engaging in the online selection process, however, we emphasize the most superficial characteristics, and because they are presented inanimately, we have no context within which to assess them.  There is a sense of permanence to a still image as opposed to a moving object.  This makes it all too easy to misjudge a person.  We make rapid-fire observations that become definite conclusions without anecdotal evidence to support our findings.

I believe that we have become the generation of ’50 Words Or Less’.  This ‘click and see’ phenomenon contributes to a fundamental inability and unwillingness to further investigate people for who and what they are, to learn them and to know them.  Interpersonal relationship skills erode as we perpetuate social amnesia through a systematic resistance to pursuits that require patience and dedication.

That we could possibly seek to understand a person to such an extent as to label them, through a short self-description or a few photographs, is limiting.  Getting to know somebody does not happen right away, and knowing that you like someone takes time.  As an online dater, the rapidity of these simulated interactions is altogether disheartening to me.  If a girl cannot get a good read on you immediately, or if there are any potential red flags raised, often through a matter of inductive reasoning and unchecked self-projection, the interaction is terminated.  On to the next profile. 

Have we really become people so compartmentalized that we can remove from each other any sense of relevance merely with the click of a button?  From my experience, yes we have.

One of the great aspects of dating, from my perspective, is the extemporaneity that it affords.  A first date entails a level of heightened risk and excitement that I find very rewarding.  These experiences sharpen my social skills: conversational, listening and attentiveness, being present.  As one who has explored acting, I find this to be a worthy pursuit.

However, when a first date is prefaced by weeks of messaging and texting, it kills the potential for spontaneity.  Realistically, the Five Ws constitute the basis for the first date, in which discussions address childhoods, personal interests, defining life experiences and so forth.  But when we’ve already talked about or at the very least alluded to these things without having even met, a utilitarian paradigm arises in which the environment is neutralized and the propulsion of conversation through permutations of questions and responses is removed.

Online dating hyper-intensifies the need for control and certainty that, as people, we are already naturally inclined toward.  There can be no ambiguities or mysteries, because we live in a time where serial killers, rapists, stalkers and other depraved persons have proliferated in a disconnected technology-driven world that allows for anonymity and the false empowerment inherent to it.  I do not fault women for their tepidity and hesitation in meeting a stranger, but the simple truth is that a lot of good guys suffer because of a rotten few.

During my most recent foray into the online dating world, I have observed that a certain process develops:

First, you message the girl.

She responds, and you go back and forth for a while.

If things go well, you exchange numbers, and, to allay her uncertainty as to your true identity, you send her a picture of yourself via cell phone.

(Calling without an explicit invitation is too aggressive, because it challenges her need for measured control.)

Then she gets bored.

Without real human energy to provide spark and renewed interest, a huge risk in these strictly controlled online interactions is that people grow bored of each other.  They feel like they have discovered, wrongly, everything that there is to know about the other person; that that they have established certainty that an attraction does or does not exist.  And then they move on to another profile more alluring.

Just as antagonistic trolls dwell in online discussion forums, girls are not compelled to show their suitors decency as they would in a physical setting, because they are not presented with the realities of human emotion.  It is much harder to be rude to someone in person than through a computer screen.  I feel that much of the technology today allows people to be lazy, selfish, rude and inconsiderate and online dating is no different.  Furthermore, such impersonal settings exacerbate the capriciousness and notorious indecisiveness that plague many women.  Unless she is naturally an adventurous person, a girl will likely psyche herself out with endless reasons for why not to meet a guy.

I frequently read postings in which the profiles stress the importance of status symbols nicely dressed as virtues, and they invariably lead to the same things: income, education and social standing.  Sometimes I feel like I should just submit a resume to a girl, much like I would send off a cover letter to an employment recruiter.

A lot of women appear to go online for an ego boost without any intention of meeting a man.  Hordes of pursuers write them on a daily basis, and they have their pick.  Like an employer in a harsh economy, they are in a position to be extremely particular.  This is an extension of the natural selection process, but is ultimately frustrating for a lot of guys.


During the pioneering days of online dating, urban legends abounded of people meeting each other in person only to find that one or both parties had severely distorted their physical profile.  The notion of a 200lb Amazon Woman masquerading behind a computer screen as a demure, petite Asian girl seemed very plausible.  Fortunately the severity of these exaggerations has been tempered somewhat, but they still exist.

As a general rule I anticipate a 1-2 point bounce based on image manipulation (If I am to operate on the 10 Point College Frat Guy Scale, which seems appropriate for online dating), but some girls are delusional and outright deceptive.

Many women exploit camera angles and positioning to lend a more refined look to their faces, to cover up their excess weight.  The classic telltale sign is a girl who only posts pictures of herself from the breasts upward while making distorted expressions.

A present social phenomenon seems to be what is colloquially known as the ‘Duck Face’, in which a girl puckers her lips, seemingly for the purpose of accentuating certain facial features or attractive qualities, like high cheekbones.  If a girl is overweight, she can suck in her face a little bit and look more distinguished.

Just the other week I met a girl whom I could tell was perhaps chubby, but seemed so in a post-adolescent, ample, medieval sort of way.

When I ventured to meet her in person I could not find her in front of the agreed location, so we exchanged text messages.  She told me that she was in line at the front of the bookstore making a return.  I seized this opportunity to sneak up to the line and get a preview of what awaited me.  I was horrified to see a manatee in a multicolored blouse.  She had grossly misrepresented herself.  She was fat.

The two minutes transaction allowed me to compose myself and ponder rationally the situation at hand.  Yes, she had in essence lied, but I am not the kind of person so cold as to merely inform a girl that I am not attracted to her.

I tried to suppress my distaste for her aesthetic, but we were walking around on a Saturday night in a suburban shopping mall, and multitudes of prowling soccer moms and mid 20s young professionals strutted about, rendering me incapable of the level of concentration that this predicament required.  Women offered me prolonged glances and I wondered to myself what the hell I was doing walking around town with this girl when I could theoretically be pursuing one of them.  I sincerely wanted to explore the possibility of perhaps an emotional or intellectual connection with this young lady, because I do fundamentally believe that a person should not be defined in their entirety by physical attributes.  An hour into the evening I concluded that this was not going anywhere on any level.

We were both getting hungry and dinnertime neared and I simply could not fathom the notion of taking her to a restaurant only to pay to watch her eat.  (She kept talking about how much she loved to eat.)

I texted my best friend and begged him to give me a call proclaiming that his car had broken down on the freeway.  I improvised an elaborate story depicting him purchasing a 2004 Hyundai Elantra on Craigslist that had proven to be a lemon and how he was having trouble with the timing belt, and, well, it had broken down, and, me being such a good friend, I was going to delay gratification and brave the traffic and free him.  I would like to think that I did a good job in presenting myself as a chivalrous knight and not a shallow young man.

Funnily, I’d been nervous to meet her.  Through texting she had proposed that we get dinner and that afterward we go back to her dorm to watch an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.  This had excited me, as an invitation to a dorm creates the setting for a physical evening.  While I was not anticipating sex, kissing is always nice.  Intimacy for me mandates an element of trust and certainty that takes time to develop and thus I will not go too far on a first-date.


My first go-round with online dating while living in Los Angeles was perplexing and frustrating and so I canceled my accounts.  During my sabbatical I commenced research on how to succeed in this realm, and ascertained a few things.

When posting a picture of myself, I don’t look straight into the camera.  Not looking into the camera creates a story that offers a mystery that inspires women to further inspect.

I stumbled upon this nugget of wisdom on a discussion forum during my hiatus and decided to put the theory into practice when I resurrected my account.  I had long been befuddled by the fact that I was an very attractive guy and I had nice pictures of myself smiling into the camera, and yet I rarely received replies to my messages.

Lo and behold I deployed this tactic and soon experienced a crazily high response rate.  Usually the girl asks me for additional photographs to confirm that I am both real and attractive as my picture suggests; as I am kissing a cat in my photo, only my jawline and side profile are revealed, not the mouth.  Thus, I look appealing, but one is not quite certain.  I have aroused the curiosity that compels girls to investigate me further.

Honestly I do not like proceeding with such calculation and I feel that it reeks of insincerity, but this petitioning women is like cold calling on prospective businesses for a sales job, canvassing door to door.  It is one of the great metaphors for life in 21st century America, the postmodern existence that we lead in which our common humanity is often forsaken to justify the whims of a technology-based, convenience-driven culture.

I experience rejection in the coldest, most indifferent fashion.  It is very upsetting to my sense of social harmony and equilibrium.  Lack of closure disturbs me like a restless spirit that haunts my slumber.  As people we need to tie up loose ends, to keep things in proper order.  This psychological mechanism is demonstrated on grand scales such as funerals, and all the way down to simple rejection notices from HR Departments during the job search.  Nobody likes to be left hanging.

When sending messages, I keep them cool, lighthearted and fun.  One or two lines, often poking fun at the girl (As they seem to feel obligated to defend themselves) will likely spur a dialogue.  Anything serious requires too much thought seems to kill the chances of a response.  If a girl receives dozens of messages every day, she does not have the time to craft a uniquely personalized reply while she is still very uncertain as to whether or not any chemistry exists.  This makes sense to me.  Similarly, a vague, nebulous ‘hello’ causes the girl to think too much, or creates a conversational dead-end.

I used to write thoughtful messages that demonstrated my interest in a girl and the fact that I had clearly read her profile, and I felt that I showed her respect by doing so.  But in doing this I rarely received any responses.  Did I come off as needy or desperate, too desirous of communication?  Did I want her too badly, and in seeming so, subjugate myself as a man?  I didn’t know, couldn’t tell, and never found out, but I did decide to entirely alter my approach.

For a time I employed the tactic of outright insulting women.  Nine times of out 10 they responded with a level of vitriol and acidity that made me feel regretful; in conducting this ‘experiment’, I likely contributed to their cold cynicism and perhaps even fostered their disgust with the entire male sex.  But in provoking a response I did prove that they at least read the messages, and that clearly I was doing something wrong in my more constructive proposals.  Nevertheless it saddened me to think that I got more responses by being mean than by being nice.  Consequently it is also within the realm of possibility that these girls who responded to me were the type to tailor personalized responses anyway, and that in writing something despicable I may have sabotaged an opportunity at making memorable connections.  One never knows online.

Sometimes I ask myself, how ever did people meet in the olden days?  Was interaction more spontaneous?  Did people trust each other more?  Could mutual attraction be aptly expressed without all of the facades?

I recognize the utility that online dating offers.  I feel that it presents a nice additional avenue for exploring possibilities, but that it is no replacement for real face-to-face contact.  And I believe that while there are potential benefits and opportunities from a foray into the online dating world, there looms the possibility for frustration that carries seeps into real daily life.  This is the conundrum for much of cyberspace.  Many people know and even readily acknowledge this and yet continue to operate largely from behind a computer screen.

My experiences have been mixed.  I have yet to find a girl whom I truly click with through online dating sites, though I have been on many dates.  I have explored avenues that were presented to me that satisfied me on a number of different levels–some physical interactions, some short-term relationships, and even a platonic friendship.  One unifying theme from all of the dates that I have had is that they expose me to different people and sharpen my social skills.

We live in a fast-paced world.  Truthfully I wish that people were easier to meet but I feel that we are so often busy, in a constant hurry, and too consumed by the immediacy of momentary existence to stop and acknowledge each other.  This is the Multitask Millennium and it really is difficult to stay focused on anyone or anything.

This process has made me more cognizant of how I project myself in public, and, in those seemingly rare opportunities when I meet people in more traditional settings, I am more appreciative of a girl so inclined to engage in an unplanned conversation.  As I work to create a life for myself, I will continue to incorporate online dating into my overall approach to socializing, but it is no replacement for an organic connection.