Assumptive Familiarity

If you have to have a social media presence (and let’s admit that most of us have one out of necessity), know that there are people out there who actually think they *know* you because they follow you on one or more platforms. You post about the weather, tweet a couple of bad puns, throw in a picture of your kids, and before you know it, you’re getting DMs from 10 guys named Johnny[bunchofnumbers] who have pictures of sunsets as their avatars and only retweet Sports Things®️. The Johnnys tell you that you’re beautiful and that they can’t wait to meet you when you’re out at your favorite bar, specifically [name of place you went to one time].

[mild panic ensues]

You freak out because you immediately assume that you’ve put too much “out there” online, so you block the Johnny[bunchofnumbers] Offender(s) of the Day, you take your account private, and you delete anything remotely identifiable from your account.

[days pass]

It dawns on you for the hundredth time that none of your Awesome Content can be shared outside of the little circle you’ve created since you went private, so you cautiously take your account public again. Another Johnny (or seven) appears. Rinse and repeat forever.

Nope, there’s no *solution* for this, is there?

Propagandopolitics

If you have to talk about politics, check your emotions at the door. Remember when discussions of politics centered around philosophy and actual policy? Now it’s a shouting match to see who can derp de derp the loudest. You’re not changing anyone’s opinion by yelling; you’re just making them dig their heels deeper and making their stance more polar. Funny how that works. And by “funny”, I mean “curious”.

Our country’s purposeful (and seemingly prideful) march away from academia has left people without the fundamental tenets of civic education which would serve to foster intelligent political debate.

Whereas in days past, we could dismiss the raving nutjob on the corner who shouted clear falsehoods, we have now, via social media, given a platform to each and every emotionally-charged lunatic to spew whatever vitriol or unwarranted praise they feel like putting out into the world. Others latch into these snippets and adopt them into their paradigms to strange (and sometimes harmful) ends.

In the last 20 years or so, I feel like this country has lost its passion for learning. Intelligence, and dare I say, wisdom is no longer valued as it was previously. People aren’t having deep, thoughtful conversations because they lack the broad base of knowledge (and the deep pockets of expertise) that served to educate, enrich, and inspire those around them.

Socioeconomic status is no longer the dividing line between the parties, and the most strongly-held political “beliefs” appear to be held by those with the poorest education and/or the least amount of passion for learning. It shouldn’t be surprising to realize that an openness to new ideas naturally leads a person to a more moderate stance on most issues.

An alarming byproduct of this exodus from academia is the mistrust the poorly-educated populace has in experts. There’s often a belief that an expert has an agenda outside of their stated purpose, and people are actually dismissing expertise as propaganda. And propaganda is being conflated with science and evidence-based conclusions. So now, we’ve got grandma retweeting hate-filled soundbites because a propaganda website said that Candidate X is coming for her social security. How did we get here?

CubeAtHome®️

If you have to work from home during the pandemic, you might as well have all the discomforts of the office surround you! Here’s my pitch…

Stuck working at home for the foreseeable future? Miss the feel of the office? Selfies lacking that classic fluorescent glare? Try CubeAtHome®️! We bring all the discomforts of the office straight to your house! Cubicle walls, unflattering lighting, freezing cold temps, and an uncomfortable chair await you!

For one low, low price, we’ll set up your home office so you can feel like that commute from your bedroom to your dining-room-slash-work-from-home-space is thirty minutes instead of thirty steps!

For an additional $29.95 a week, welcome BroccoliSusan®️ into your home! She’ll defiantly march right into your kitchen at 10:30 every morning and stick broccoli and/or fish into your microwave, and then return at 2:00 to burn some microwave popcorn!

For a limited time, add HackingTom®️ to your setup! This small speaker attaches to your Roomba and plays the sound of a dude coughing. Pump up the volume to 11 and enjoy having all your calls interrupted by *that effing guy* hacking up a storm.

If you order in the next seven minutes, we’ll include an Office Bathroom Scent Enhancer so you can always have that “twelve people shat in here within the last hour” feeling ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.

CubeAtHome®️. For when you need to be in an office to feel like you’ve accomplished something during the day.

Just Plane Annoying

If you have to fly somewhere, you’re going to come across some real characters in the airport. You’ll want to throatpunch most of these folks, but I highly recommend not doing so because the TSA kinda frowns on that.

Self-Important in the Line Guy – he makes everyone uncomfortable by making multiple, yelling calls while in line

Triple Ultra Platinum Rewards Lady – she’s standing on the sapphire mat a full hour before anyone else is at the gate… and she’s wearing her “good diamonds” for the trip

Super Coffee Flannel Guy – this ain’t his first flight, and he wants you to know it. He can’t travel without the weird, exotic roast that he discovered while on a flight to Whogivesafuckville. Also, he hasn’t showered in a while

Too Cool For Announcements Guy – he probably showers with those fucking oversized headphones on

Mega Snack Lady – she quickly scarfs down a burger she got in the airport, then starts sorting through the carry-on that apparently serves the sole purpose of maintaining her fatness

Travel Namedropper Bitch – this insufferable human will talk nonstop about her travel destinations (“…and to cap off an excursion, my preference is to end in a place like Malta”); pronounces only random, individual words in a British accent; and says things like, “Oh!! Haha! Typical Germans, you know?” (She literally just said that. Ugh.) And she has a cat (but I’m pretty sure she actually has seven). And she’s drinking a hot coffee beverage through a straw

Overdressed for the Flight Lady – not to be confused with Ultra Triple Platinum Rewards Lady above, this bitch thinks that flying is an EXPERIENCE, and she wore fur because she read an article about meeting people while traveling

Most Likely to Yell Something Racist While on the Plane Guy – well, he’s white, he’s clean-shaven, he’s wearing a hat, and he may or may not have a tattoo on his calf. If more than one guy fits this description, it’ll be the guy with the hillbilly-est accent

Coughing Up a Lung Like She’s Going to Die Lady – she hasn’t had a cigarette in seven minutes, and it’s KILLING her. As if her gravelly voice, wrinkled and overtanned skin, and yellowed hair weren’t enough, this bitch had a few drinks back in Newark, and EVERYTHING is funny (cacklehackhack hackcackle cacklehack cackle)

Drunk-Ass Mofo Bro Guy – he’s wearing a t-shirt and a hat (worn backwards) emblazoned with the logo of his favorite sports team. He drank a lot and may actually be the Most Likely to Yell Something Racist While on the Plane Guy

Anyway, welcome aboard and enjoy your flight!

OMG HMD Mom GTG LMFAO

If you have to abbreviate words and phrases when texting and/or emailing, here’s a Mother’s Day idea–specifically for you insufferable idiots who type “HBD” instead of “happy birthday”…

Text your mom just the letters “HMD” today. Then you’ll spend the rest of the day explaining to her what that means, why she’s not worth typing out the words, why you couldn’t be bothered to spend two extra seconds typing “Happy Mother’s Day”, and that your sole concern was to make sure she got your sentiment in an efficient way.

And [much, much] later, when you finally arise from the hell you’ve created for yourself, consider for a moment that sending “HBD” sends the same message, and if you feel that you waste SO MUCH TIME typing out birthday greetings, allow me to offer that you can create a keyboard shortcut both on your mobile phone and in Microsoft Office. Make “HBD” autocorrect to “Happiest of happy birthdays, my dear friend. May blessings shower you today and always.”

Or you could be a normal human and just type out words that are ostensibly customized for the recipient.

She Bangs

If you have to get a haircut, do not get bangs. If you already have bangs, do not have them trimmed. The amount of time between bang-cutting and regret in most US women varies between five minutes and two days. Please see process below:

  1. Bang-cutting ideation
  2. Bang-cutting plan
  3. Actual bang cutting
  4. Very short period of satisfaction
  5. Regret
  6. Anger
  7. Blaming self or others
  8. Googling “how to grow out bangs” and/or “bang extensions”
  9. Consumption of excessive amounts of red wine
  10. Bargaining
  11. Acceptance
  12. Just kidding about the acceptance thing
  13. Asking friends “Am I still pretty?”
  14. Crying
  15. See #9
  16. Confusion
  17. Posting of one Instagram photo showing the cut
  18. Deletion of photo
  19. Rage directed at all women without bangs
  20. General malaise
  21. Diagnosis of hair dysmorphic disorder
  22. Hair spray and barrettes
  23. Long recovery period
  24. Cycle starts over at #3

You somehow fool yourself into thinking that forehead fringe will solve all of your problems, but the host of issues it brings will be a plague on you, your friends, and your family. Just say no.

Hot Flashes vs. Sports Shouting

If you have to work in an office, you’re going to have to interact with other people at some point during your day, and your first interaction will probably be way earlier than you’d like it to be. Despite keeping earphones in your ears until 9 AM and staring at the floor when you go to grab your coffee in the break room, horrible morning people will invariably break the wall of solitude you’ve attempted to maintain.

You’ll be subjected to one of the following scenarios:

  • Women talking – Here’s what you need to know. Conversations involving more than two women always start with a complaint about something: men, kids, the weather, the temperature of the office, any manner of physical ailments (feminine or unisex, real or perceived), or potential injustices in the world. When one woman gloms onto an idea, the rest of the group piles on, and it turns into a rally cry about overcrowding in the shared kitchen refrigerator or some stupid thing like that.
  • Men talking – The average man knows a total of seven things about sports. He will try to interject at least two of these nuggets into every man-conversation he has. Therefore, any attempt to follow men’s sports conversation is an exercise in futility because they all talk over each other, and they’re usually not even discussing the same sport. They’ll just keep getting louder and louder.
  • Men and women talking – This doesn’t actually happen. A woman will say something about waiting in line to pour herself some coffee, and a man will mumble something about free throw percentages, then another woman will ask what he’s talking about, and then a man will say something about the World Series, and a woman will say something about how NFL players beat women, and then somebody from HR will walk by, and everyone will go silent.

So good luck. Avoid other humans when possible, but when you can’t, get coffee in the HR break room.

LOOOOVE on the Internet

If you have to post schmoopy things online about (or to) your significant other, stop. There’s a 100% chance that none of us want to see it.

Single people don’t appreciate you rubbing their noses in it, and people in relationships REALLY don’t like your perceived oneupsmanship. We get it, Amanda. You love John. You LOOOOOOVE John. We know. We KNOOOOOOW.*

And you people with family photos as profile pictures? Ugh. It’s bad enough that you posted ALL 37 LOVELY SHOTS of you, your adoring husband, your sweet children, and your squishy wittle puppy, but now we have to be reminded of how beautiful you all look together in a posed studio shot EVERY SINGLE TIME you post something? Barf.

Why do I hate this so much? …Honestly? I hate to admit it, but it’s because that will never be my life. I’ve come to accept that no one will ever post lovey-dovey things about me online, that I’ll never be in a significant other’s profile picture, and that I will never be on the receiving end of any sort of public declaration of love via social media. No one will ever do the modern-day equivalent of shouting my name from a mountaintop. I get it! BUT JENNY WILL JUST KEEP ON POSTING THAT SHE AND MATT ARE LIKE TOTES HAPPY OMG 4EVAR LOVE BARF BARF LITERAL VOMIT.

*and also I’m kind of looking forward to what’s going to happen when Amanda finds out that John has been boning Stacey

Back to Moms Night

If you have to go to Back to School Night, be prepared to be sized up, looked up and down, scrutinized, and otherwise compared to all the other people there. And by “other people,” I mean moms. There are some serious mom-comparisons (or momparisons, if you will) that will be happening. And I’m the one who will be doing it. And I’m not sorry.

As all the parents filed into the cafeteria (cafetorium? there’s, like, a stage in here), I realized that each and every mom fit cleanly into one or two or three pretty distinct categories:

  • Yoga moms – ugh. We see you, lady whose husband makes all the money while you sit around drinking champagne the entire day and then go off to screw the pool boy. Side note: she has never done yoga, but the yoga pants she wears everywhere cost $500. *eye roll*
  • Career moms – because not everyone can just wear yoga pants all day, you freaks. And not everyone has a husband who makes enough to support himself, let alone a family.
  • Young moms – like, omg, is that the kid’s sister?
  • Old moms – and I mean like GRANDMA-old moms. Grandma moms make everyone uncomfortable. Including themselves. They always look uncomfortable. Probably because they’re old. And they probably just broke a hip trying to sit on the tiny elementary school chairs.
  • Moms who are trying to recapture their youth – nice pink hair, Sandra. Really.
  • Moms who’ve had work done – and I don’t just mean Botox®. We’re talking poison in the face, plastic in the lips, silicone in the chest, tummies tucked, and probably some other gross stuff I super-duper don’t want to think about.
  • Tired moms – did you literally just roll out of bed? Those are some great, uh, leggings you’re wearing with that faded Disney sweatshirt.
  • Moms who’ve given up – some of them are just really tired (see above), probably, but they aren’t trying to even look like they care.
  • Moms whose career is momming (a.k.a. SUPERMOMS) – and they’re serious about it. Not just homeschool moms. These ladies are the ones who invite you to a Mary Kay LuLa Pampered Jewelry Candle Sex Toy party, all in the name of losing money they don’t have on products that everyone already has. Because momming. They mom, like, hella hard. And they spam the hell out of their own Facebook pages in an effort to get you to buy Pyramid Scheme™ brand makeup that is made from, like, ground unicorn horns or something.
  • Single moms who are trying way too hard to find a man – um, Debbie, you’re making everyone uncomfortable. I mean, really uncomfortable. Like, stop. SERIOUSLY DEBBIE STOP HITTING ON THE PRINCIPAL HOLY SHIT

In conclusion, if you find yourself at one of these things, and you see the lady in the dress who is squinting at everyone and laughing uncontrollably… that’s me, trying to maintain my sanity by sorting you into some tidy little buckets.

All the -isms

If you have to have an opinion about something, be cognizant of the fact that your thoughts and your perspective are not shared by everyone.

I’ve figured out the -isms:  racism, sexism, ageism, etc. Ready for this? It has to do with heuristics, bias, education, and mental flexibility. In fact, I would like to posit that avoidance of the discomforts of cognitive dissonance is why some Christians can justify hate and intolerance.

When a person grows up in a black-and-white world (and by this, I mean an environment in which there is only right and wrong–there is no gray area), he or she (or they or them–it’s 2017) consciously and subconsciously “sorts” things, ideas, and stimuli into either the “good” bucket or the “bad” bucket.

Let’s go deeper. Growing up in this type of environment means that good/bad (and right/wrong and heaven/hell) decisions are made on a very regular basis. As a child develops, he or she begins to automate many of these “sorting” decisions. In the absence of excellent (or even somewhat decent) education, these heuristics become engrained.

Follow this chain of logic:  crimes are bad things –> committing crimes is bad –> people who commit crimes are bad –> [turns on tv] that guy who committed a crime is bad –> people who look like that guy are bad –> black people are bad.

Even in the face of empirical evidence that what they believe is “right” is so very, very wrong, they will insist that they are correct in their belief, as their “beliefs” have become immutable facts in their minds.

When one blindly supports a political party and then, therefore, a particular politician, simply because that party’s ideals broadly correspond to their religious upbringing, any questionable act or outright travesty of justice calls into question the trajectory of their entire lives, and therefore, the deity they worship.

Because it is fundamentally uncomfortable to question one’s own ingrained beliefs, the least psychologically stressful option is to continue to defend one’s original right/wrong bucket.

Consider these quotes:

  • “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” -Aristotle
  • “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” -Robert Frost

Why talk about this now? At no time in my life have I found this to be more relevant. It hurts me to see people praise or decry a particular governmental action (or a general political leaning) without a rational reason to do so. I also can’t stand to see a person claim a particular Bible verse to defend or denounce someone or something–and completely ignore not only the context of the passage, but the totality of the contents of the Good Book.

Simply consider another perspective, as I have here. I recognize that many haven’t been afforded the educational opportunities I’ve had in my life, and I recognize that my life experiences have demanded that I be receptive to (and respectful of) opinions diametrically opposed to my own. Recognize that objective truth and subjective truth are one and the same for the vast majority of the populace.

Can we all be so open-minded? No, but we can try. We can explore cultures other than our own. We can talk to people with whom we wouldn’t normally converse. We can push our boundaries and expand our comfort zones. We can listen. We can read [something other than mainstream media]. We can question. We can learn. We can try.