Pics or it didn’t happen: Our obsession with permanence

Pics or it didn’t happen: Our obsession with permanence

Something happens. Something memorable, or kinda cool, or not really that interesting at all, but we take thirteen pics of it anyway. We have to take pictures; record it, show the world, share, for posterity’s sake. That we were there. That we are here, now. This is really nothing new. And this is nothing we would put on the shoulders of the Millenials (Gen Y) and Pivotals (Gen Z) who have had the luxury of social media basically since day one (and therefore the normality, and subsequent pressures, of performing online). It’s just the latest form/different version of the photo books mom/grandmom pull out every time you start dating someone new. It’s just the logical next step for a species that started in the dirt, moved on to cave paintings, invented the camera in 1888, and now has a tool to share who they are with the entire world in the blink of an eye. This is just progress. But why is it something so rooted into our DNA, or just our sense of identity? Why do we feel the need to capture everything and look at it over and over again? And for other people to do the same? Why, ultimately, do we feel like something isn’t really real, something didn’t really happen, something isn’t worth remembering, unless we have the physical photo of it to look back on and share with others? Memories There are countless studies (here’s one, for example: False memories in highly superior autobiographical memory individuals) that will tell you that many (most) of our organic memories are junk, and can be created from...
For the record, Antifa =/= Nazis

For the record, Antifa =/= Nazis

Antifa has been a much talked about group lately. The discussion started in earnest when they clashed with white supremacists, Nazis, and Confederate sympathizers in Charlottesville a few weeks back during the “Unite the Right” rally. President Trump struggled with the comparison, saying that both sides were at fault. Both sides were wrong. Both sides were morally reprehensible. Equally so. But after the recent violence in Berkeley, even Daily Show host Trevor Noah came out against Antifa’s more aggressive tendencies when battling Fascism (Antifa = Anti + Fascist). In general jargon, Antifa became associated with the left, and Nazis became (well they were always sorta) associated with the right. But that shouldn’t be the discussion. Nazism/Fascism is something that history has already thrown in the trash regardless of what the America political spectrum looks like today. It was defeated, both as a mantra and as political movement. Condemned as something awful and never to be repeated. And rightfully so. This goes without saying. Is Antifa a slightly more menacing and erratic, and perhaps less well-dressed, version of Indiana Jones? He punched Nazis too. Because they were Nazis. We’ve discussed the power of ideology (Don’t Kill Hitler), and we won’t say/we aren’t here to say that the approach that Antifa and other groups have taken to combat the recent rise in visible Nazism is pure, cut and dry simply the “right” course, or the course of action that will solve the problem in the long term. It’s not, and it won’t. As Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin said after the recent clashes on the streets of his city, “Fighting hate with hate does not...
A quantifiable attraction

A quantifiable attraction

The physical feeling that comes from attraction: it’s indescribable; so powerful it can’t have an official name or definition. You’re in love, and say you can’t live without the feeling. Then say what exactly it is you can’t live without. The smile. The sense of humor? Or just the feeling when they’re near, so powerful and yet, again, so hard to describe; near impossible to put into words. A quantifiable attraction to some can’t be thought of as anything else but magic. Like Charles Bukowski in Factotum, “I kiss her. She answers with her tongue. Women are magic.” The feeling you get when there are no words to describe the way you’re feeling, called alexithymia. It comes from Greek; means an inability to find words for emotions. But if they can’t be spoken, perhaps they can be written instead. I sit and daydream of pretty girls in pretty dresses, stuck surrounded by people who use pictures of their dogs for their social media profiles. All I’ve had to eat today are stale chocolate chips I found in the drawer in the library at the Burg. All I’ve had to drink is water that tasted like cement and iron. But that isn’t the reason for this feeling deep in my stomach. I lean my head on my fist because I’m bored and if I don’t it might fall chin to chest and into sleep. My eyes are tired, my eyelids are heavy. The warm air and constant drone of the TV up front like a lullaby begging me to stop fighting. Turn daydreams into real dreams. Turn off the sun and stay in...
My mom is still stronger than cancer, even though it killed her

My mom is still stronger than cancer, even though it killed her

Cancer is an uninvited guest, a dark shadow on a sunny day, a trick, a pointedly mean joke without punchline or retribution. It inspires sympathetic head-shakes and hugs from those who might understand or think they do. Everyone, it seems, knows someone who has battled cancer. Or at least knows someone who knows someone who has battled cancer (win or lose). Or someone that is currently in the fight. And what is left behind.   Of life and death  The room is a warm and steady 72 degrees. It doesn’t change much. In the hallway, the bustle of doctors and nurses in scrubs and white coats. We are at Regions Hospital in downtown St. Paul. The plants are plastic: living things are harmful. But there is still life here, watching my mother dance around the room in a hospital gown to music I play for her. The windows can’t be opened but sunlight is streaming through the pane with warmth as real as the summer outside. But things are different inside than outside. Inside, cut off from the melange of cars and people that cris-cross through downtown streets. From their lives and stories. This was 2004, a decade before the Light Rail first passed in front of the hospital. She would have been excited about that. It’s hard to write a story like this without coming across as sob (or looking for sympathy). As I write this, my neighbor’s dog is chasing a rabbit from the yard, barking, soon to be covered in dirt and mud, blissfully unaware of the emotional trials of humans. The dog does not offer sympathy, only support;...
I am everything that is wrong

I am everything that is wrong

I am everything that is wrong with my generation. I am Millenial that would rather sit in bed all day with a laptop than go to work and make money. I watch porn when I have deadlines. I get dressed only if I’m going to be in contact with other people. I want to do better, but I don’t. I look for the easy way out. I go to the bar with my friends and laugh and drink all night when I have to get up for work in the morning. I spend my days being lazy and my nights doing whatever I want. I know my grandfather is judging me (or I would if I believed in heaven, which I don’t). I am wrong because I know I could be someone great if I wanted to get out of my warm bed on winter mornings. I know I should be someone great, if only I could be convinced that would make me happier than I am here under the covers. I know that I should (could?) be someone great, but when the most important things in my life are my pizza, my computer, and my cat it’s hard to stay motivated. I might die alone. Or I might find a girl that believes all of these things the same as me and we’ll stay in bed together watching Netflix and debating whether or not peanuts are a better snack then popcorn, and then realizing that if we just get Crunch ‘n Munch we can have both. I like to stay in bed and read. Right now I’m reading Yasunari Kawabata’s...
Trolling is too mainstream | Taking back the internet

Trolling is too mainstream | Taking back the internet

A trolling era People seem to think they’re sparking some sort of revolution by trolling; people who adhere to Milo Yiannoupolouos’ idea that trolls are the “only people that tell the the truth these days,” or  believe that trolling is an art. But you’ve got Time Magazine complaining how trolls are ruining the internet. And there’s even a book out on the subject: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. It’s just another tactic to try and exhibit power on the internet. Everyone is doing it now. And very poorly, usually. And, more importantly, as a result the average person is now less willing or able to be trolled. It’s lame. You’re a lame duck if you do it. Like the kid who thinks it’s still cool to pull on girls’ pigtails. Outdated. You and every other twelve year old can try and rile people up online. Lulz. But anyone with half a brain; anyone who knows two things about where the world is headed no longer falls for childish trickery. But that’s not the whole story. And it certainly doesn’t stop there.   So, what now? So where do the 4chan, 8chan, Breitbart trolls go when their caves have been raided? Where can they find darkness after being brought out into the light? To be fair, trolls are often nonpartisan. Like “Thor83” played by Patton Oswalt (amen.) trolling party invites in this Portlandia sketch.   But of course, when it’s not messing with people’s lives, it’s not really worth writing about or reporting on. So, especially on the sites just mentioned, the loudest and most obvious trolls, like Milo, have...