Why It’s Still Terrible To Be A Hipster

Two thoughts:

  1. Starving Artist Trope — this trope is such bullshit. The idea that poverty/ hunger/ worry about bills is going to jump-start creativity is INSANE. It flies in the face of all common sense and everything we understand about psychology. I don’t understand how this idea was a) born and b) continues to thrive.
  2. How much is enough? — At the WPC-14, there was this one class where we were talking about wealth, poverty, and classism; and how to talk to children about these issues. One of the phrases that kept (appallingly) coming up in the session was, “How much is really enough? Really? I mean, poor people know how to do so much more with what they have — they really are richer in spirit.”

I wish I was making this shit up.

One lady actually said that children in Africa were happier, in a sense, than wealthy kids in America — because in rural African villages, she explained, they have emotional support from all the adults in the village. Someone is always there for them, no matter what.

Wealthy American kids, though, are often isolated — like Rapunzel in her tower. No real friends, and a parent who ignores them. It’s sad for wealthy white kids in their lonely tower of privilege.

Every time someone in the class said, “How much is enough, really? How can you measure wealth and love?” I would think, “$75,000. That’s how much is enough. Bills paid, groceries on the table, and a little left over to sock into savings. That’s how much is enough.”

* More recent studies apparently cite the magical number at somewhere between $50,000 – $75,000, depending on your local cost of living.

Thought Catalog

Even the poor have something very chic about them.” – Karl Lagerfeld, creative director for Chanel and Fendi, discussing India’s slum-dwelling, “elegant” women

After watching Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s kitschy film Amélie and taking in its bright colors and even brighter vision of Paris and love, it’s easy to want to drop everything and find a tiny apartment in Montmartre. There, you could ride around on a one-speed bicycle, work at a charming brasserie, and find love, perhaps even sport a cute lil’ bob like Miss Audrey Tautou (God bless her and that haircut).

Don’t we all pine for the simple life? The life of the baker or shoemaker or even the Parisian waitress like Amélie? After all, it seems so simple. When the rich, or even the middle class, imagine the lives of the working class or poor, they envision an existence that is uncomplicated, void of stress, pure, and moral.

This…

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Everlasting friends ignore you?

been said

Variations of this keep popping up on my feed. I think I responded to one in irritation a few months back, but this idiotic meme just won’t die. In case you can’t tell, I disagree. I think this is a cop-out, to justify the lack of work people put into relationships.

The movies show us romantic relationships and life-long friendships that overlook a serious lack of communication and pick up again without a hitch.

I haven’t seen you in months how ARE YOU?!?

They make it look like True Friendship is like True Love. It’s something that’s effortless and easy, and the only speedhumps are lack of trust and/or other people trying to interfere.

Let’s all be honest for a minute — Romeo and Juliet would not have lasted.

There are tropes a bit like this with family relationships, too: Family first, blood is thicker than water, friends will come and go but family will always be there.

SoA/ Hamlet — Jax/Hamlet is going to sacrifice the family he chose for the family he was born into (and that treats him like shit). Dumb choice, Jax/Hamlet. Don’t be stupid.

All of these rely on the same essential idea: A relationship, if it is truly valuable, does not require work. This is false. If a relationship is valuable, you work at it, and you have every right to expect they will work at it, too.

If you are friends with someone, you work at that friendship.

Maybe you help out with babysitting even though you’re not fond of kids, because they’ve been there for you and they helped you out, and that’s what friends do.

Babies, monkeys . . . same thing, right?

Maybe you set up coffee dates and you keep them because you know you have to make time for your friends — that if you don’t, life will get in the way and months will go by, and you won’t even know what’s up in their life. Maybe you don’t feel like leaving the house, but you promised your friend you’d meet up with her and you cancelled the last two times, so you go even though you don’t want to.

You do that because your friendship is important. You show common courtesies like responding to texts, phone calls, and IM messages, even if just to say, “Sorry I couldn’t chat, super busy. I’ll ping you later.”

See, that’s what “life is busy,” means. It means that, yeah, we all have other commitments — but it’s not like you could say to your SO or your boss or your family, “Life is just really busy right now, so I’m not going to talk to you for 6 months. That’s just how it gets sometimes.

So when you expect a friend to accept that you’re just “too busy” to even respond to texts or phone calls, or that you don’t have time for a goddamn coffee once a month, or to even try and schedule it, you’re basically saying, “Yeah, you don’t bring enough concrete value to my life for me to actually make time and work on this friendship. I mean, I care about you — but you’re not having sex with me/ paying me/ didn’t give birth to me . . . so I’m gonna let you slide for a bit. See you when it’s convenient to me.”

A “friend” is not someone who disappears for months and years and shows up every now and again to catch up. That’s a fond acquaintance, or someone you were once friends with in high school and occasionally keep up with. That’s not a friend in the sense of the word that this person is there for you and knows what’s going on in your life. A friend is there with you, slogging through the hard times because you’ve slogged through the hard times with them — and because the good times are awesome.

Pictured: Awesome.

And this is true not just of friendship, but of romantic relationships and family as well. You put in the work of building communication and being present and showing respect and lending a helping hand, and they do to. And if they don’t — if they expect you to shoulder the load and blame you when you stumble, well then. They’re not really a friend/ lover/ family member. They’re an asshole who’s taking advantage of you.

So don’t fall for this bullshit. Friends are there through thick and thin. They invest the time and effort in maintaining the friendship, and they do this because they care, because they are friendsThat’s what true friendship is.

Friendship is being there even when you’re not really sure how to be there.

Not this bullshit about oh, we haven’t talked for months/ years/ whatever and I don’t even know your kids name (let alone that you have kids) but we picked up the phone and had a conversation like it was yesterday so we must be bffs forever!

No.

*** Disclaimers ***

  • There’s nothing wrong with being acquaintances, btw. It’s okay for friendships to wax and wane. You can’t expect a close friendship to develop out of whole cloth overnight, so acquaintanceship is a necessary step in the process of becoming friends. In addition, many friendships will eventually peter off into a fond acquaintanceship based more on past memories than current interactions, and that is okay. It’s a natural, normal part of relationships, and that’s fine. We generally term these two types of people “friends” in our societal nomenclature, and perhaps it’s my definition of friendship that is amiss, but I define a “friend” as someone I can rely on for good times and bad, and who can rely on me.
  • Long-distance friendships obviously get a little more leeway — but the fact that a friendship is only as strong as the effort you invest remains true. If you aren’t making the time and effort to contact or return the contact attempts of a long-distance friend (or they aren’t making the time and effort to contact or return your contact attempts), well, then, there’s probably a reason for that. You’re more like fond acquaintances than close friends. Nothing wrong with that.

Karma doesn’t exist

Saw this on FB today:

Image

I’ve been thinking about the concept of Karma for a while now. I’ve always been tangentially aware of the Westernized notion of it, obviously, but in the past year or so, I’ve learned more about Eastern religions and (unrelated) a few relationships have ended. All this made me really take a step back and look at the idea of Karma in the context of my own life and the lives of those around me.  These are the conclusions I’ve come to:

  • First: The way we talk about Karma in Western society is infused with blindly ignorant cultural and religious approbations.
  • Second: I think when someone says Karma will take care of revenge, it highlights the lack of control they feel in their own life.
  • Third: Karma is not real.

~*~

First, Western notions of Karma tend to break down to this very simplistic idea of:

Oh, I perceive that person as treating me unfairly, therefore they are a bad person, therefore Karma will get them.

Ever hear the phrase, “The best revenge is living well?” This is a truth, but because it is true, it can seem to us that if we’re living well, then Karma dictates that whoever has wronged or hurt us must be unhappy or miserable. But that’s not it at all — Karma is not some sort of cosmic revenge on people we don’t like that will automatically occur because we feel offended or maligned.

According to Eastern Traditions, Karma is broadly and basically a moral law of objective cause and effect that spans past, present, and future. The long and short of this is that despite the Westernization of the idea, it’s not some sort of an immediate cosmic revenge for bad deeds or granting of a cosmic luck reward for good deeds. The Eastern School of thought views Karma as an immutable law, like Newton’s Third Law of Motion:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

It’s not a judgement from some omniscient being regarding the people you disagree with or whose choices hurt you. I mean, personally, I don’t even think Karma exists, but even if one does believe in the notion of Karma, the Western notion of it is completely wrong-headed. It’s an appropriation and misrepresentation of another culture’s religious traditions, twisted to fit the Judeo-Christian ideals of a just world and the modern mindset of, “me, me, me.”

~*~

Second, the idea that some cosmic force will get revenge on people you’re upset with is so . . . passive, and it denotes an utter lack of control or understanding of one’s own situation. It’s this cowardly way of avoiding introspection by off-loading all blame onto the other person.

The best revenge is living well.

This is true. This is absolutely true, and not because you’re hoping the person who hurt you will see you living your awesome life and feel miserable and jealous. No, it’s because if you are truly living well, then you’ve moved on from that toxic situation or relationship. Living well is living a happy life in spite of the negative relationships and experiences you’ve had, not to spite the people involved in those relationships and experiences.

You’ve learned your lessons. You’ve engaged in some serious self-examination and determined whether you feel your actions were justified or whether you were unnecessarily cruel and hurtful. You’ve made amends and tried to become a better person, to learn from your mistakes and stand by your values. You have made what changes in your life you can and have control over to prevent a similar situation from occurring.

As a side note, engaging in active acts of revenge to cause pain to someone you feel wronged you is not living well and moving on — it’s kind of the opposite of that. Allowing a negative or toxic relationship to become the focus of your life and lead you to engage in active acts of revenge is an unhealthy level of negativity to cultivate. All you’re doing is taking what should have been an opportunity to break off the relationship (whether friend, family, or romantic) and redirecting it into obsessive hatred.

In other words, living well is an active process which involves taking responsibility for one’s actions and taking control (as much as one can) of ones own life to ensure you can avoid similar toxic relationships in the future; while relying on concepts of Karma is a passive process that assumes no personal responsibility and no control over one’s life. Acts of active revenge are just refocusing the sense of hurt or betrayal into unhealthy obsession as a means of attempting to find control, but it’s still just ceding control of your emotion and reactions to the very person you have deemed not worthwhile.

To invoke the Western concept of Karma in order to make you feel better about personal disagreements is not living well. That’s not to say someone who is living well will not invoke concepts of Karma; it’s just to say that invoking the Westernized concept of Karma as a revenge concept is an inherently passive and self-justifying act which views any perceived failure or setback in the other person’s life as the universe settling the scales of their personal drama. Both the passive and active senses of revenge are incompatible with emotional and mental health or self-awareness. A person who invokes Karma is a person who is indicating that they lack of sense of control over their own situation.

~*~

Finally, Karma isn’t real. It doesn’t exist. There is no cosmic balancing of the scales. Bad people get away with shit all the time, and good people face unnecessary hardships and cruelties all the time. I don’t like it either, but there it is. It is a fact of life. As human beings, we like to try and project a pattern, a sense of fairness on the world. This is a fallacy. In an immediate and personal sense, what this means is that when someone upsets, hurts, shames, or rejects us, we tend to view any future instances of hurt, shame, or rejection they experience as “Karma” for their actions toward us. In the U.S., especially, we conflate the myth of meritocracy with the idea of Karma, while ignoring all the times that people succeed despite flouting the traditional systems of merit, or fail despite adhering to them.

If we are honest, I think we would all admit that notions of Karma as referenced in Western society and through social media memes are not about Eastern notions of moral cause and effect. No, the idea of Karma which spread like a virus over the Western hemisphere and is illustrated by the quote at the top of this blog is all about justifying personal behavior in our interpersonal relationships and casting a nebulous, cosmic notion as judge and jury. It is the distorted idea that a life without challenges is proof of righteousness, while those who experience hardship earned it through their bad actions.

Oddly, this Western idea of Karma does not seem to encourage self-examination. People rarely seem to view their own hardships and shortcomings as the result of Karmic justice or divine justice derived from their actions. Instead, hardships that occur in one’s personal life are “tests of faith,” or due to unfairness created by another’s actions, or just the way life is. I suspect this contributions to the phenomenon of presented perfection on social media — if your life looks perfect, than it must be perfect, and people will know that you are a good person whom the cosmos have blessed.

 ~*~