Month: January 2014

The one and only thing people need to stop doing on Facebook. Hint: I’m not talking about selfies.

I have a challenge for you.

Go ask Google if there is anything that people should stop posting on social media sites. Just type in “things people need to stop posting on facebook,” or something to that effect.

Google does not come up short. In fact, the results are pretty overwhelming. You might not know it, but you’re probably breaking many unwritten rules of social media.

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According to this list we’re not supposed to post:

– pregnancy updates

-milestones our children make

-medical conditions we or our children are experiencing

Pretty much anything about parenting is not kosher. In fact, if you’re a parent, you should probably just leave facebook altogether, according to this guy.

This one rules out:

-lengthy complaints about life

-complaining about your boss

-“selfies”

-the frequent use of ellipses for some reason…

This one prohibits:

-emotions, specifically loving emotions directed at a significant other.

-Also, no reposting.

This lengthy manifesto rules out:

– cross-posting from twitter

-liking your own posts

-pushing the “like” button too often

And…this one lays out 24 types of pictures that people (actually, just women specifically, for some reason) aren’t allowed to post on facebook anymore. It’s an extensive list.

Now, I’ve read through all of these. Some are interesting, many point out some facebook activities that are silly, useless, selfish, etc…

And yet, after reading through these lists, I can’t help but think that there is only one thing that people really need to stop doing on social media sites.

People need to stop policing facebook like a kindergarten hall monitor.

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No one liked the hall monitor in kindergarten, and no one likes the bitter, 25 year-old version of him prowling around facebook searching for offenders to rules that don’t exist.

Now I’m not saying you can’t hypothesize about the self-centered motivations that underlie most selfies, and braggy statuses. I’m not saying you have to love and appreciate everything that everyone posts. I’m not saying that everyone ought to post the things that they do.

I am saying that you should stop legislating from behind your computer screen, and telling people what they are allowed to post.

Also, I understand the irony of telling people not to tell people not to post things.

And yet, I stand by it.

Here’s why:

1. These rules you invented don’t actually exist.

Guess what? There are no rules against “selfies,” or emotions, or potty-training on facebook. In fact, there are very few rules on facebook. Pretty much just no nudity, or racism as far as I know—so if you see any of that, feel free to report it.

The fact of the matter is that you are not the supreme judge of all that is and is not acceptable on facebook. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be in the first place, but if you do, just know that you are not.

You may say that angry political rants and bathroom selfies are unbearable, and I might agree with you. And yet, I’m not going to tell someone they are unacceptable, because it’s not up to me.

Additionally, it might behoove you to consider that what you find annoying, others may find interesting, or charming. The fact that you don’t particularly enjoy certain posts does not render them un-enjoyable. And even if they really are unbearable, you and everyone who feels that way have options…

2. Just because someone posts something doesn’t mean you have to look at it.

There is a very simple solution to the woes of having annoying facebook friends.

Do you find your classmate’s pouty-lipped selfies annoying? Block them.

Do your hall mate’s political posts drive you crazy? De-friend him.

Don’t like looking at pictures of food? Hide them, block the person who keeps posting them, or, dare I say it, ignore them.

In addition to the fact that, well, you don’t actually have to look at, or read anything that anyone posts online, Facebook is rife with ways to ensure that your e-universe is as exclusive, and closed-off as you desire. Go check out facebook’s many filtering options. You will endure “vaguebooking”, and “humble bragging” no more.

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 3. These things you prohibit are actually the best parts of facebook.

I’m gonna be honest, all the over-sharing, passive aggressiveness, and showing off that so many people seem to abhor are my favorite parts of the social media universe. In fact, other than being an easy way of keeping in touch with my family and friends without having to pick up the phone, these hilarious manifestations of human interaction are the only reason I still go on facebook.

Seeing a “friend’s” passive aggressive status that is very obviously directed at another “friend” is probably one of my favorite parts of the day. That kind of immaturity is at once kind of sad, and hilarious. And facebook lets you watch the whole thing play out. So, instead of playing the internet’s volunteer hall monitor, become a childish observer like the rest of us, and quietly judge all that beautiful social nonsense.Image

Or block it. Your choice.

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Why Ron Swanson Is Not Actually A Libertarian

Ron Swanson, a character from NBC’s Parks And Recreation, has recently attracted quite the body of supporters. Most people know him for his stone-faced indifference to government work, his love for silence and meat, and his self-proclaimed libertarian views. But despite what Ron says, or how angrily he says it, he is not actually a libertarian (or at least not a very good one).

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Don’t get me wrong, everybody. I love me some Parks and Recreation, and I love me some Ron Swanson. His personality is respectable, his principles are trusty, and his advice is sage. Case in point:

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^He gets it^

Image^I couldn’t have said it better myself, Ron^

But many of his so-called libertarian values are, well, not really libertarian.

Now, I understand that Ron’s character is meant to be a satirical portrayal of the gruff, unfeeling libertarian. But Ron has accrued quite the following for his famous Ron Swanson values, a following that doesn’t seem to realize that being a “Swanson” does not actually make you a libertarian. I have wasted many a conversation attempting to defend some libertarian perspective, only to discover that my interlocutor’s understanding of “the libertarian perspective” is wholly comprised of the satirical remarks of a fictional character on NBC.

Let me explain:

First of all, there are many things that Ron Swanson says that are perfectly consistent with libertarian philosophy.

His opposition to Leslie’s “thinly veiled government bailout” is right on the money. 

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His assessment of personal liberty and how beautiful it is.

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Unfortunately, however, he misses the target in other areas.

So, for the sake of anyone who incorrectly recognizes Swansonism as Libertarianism, let me attempt to delineate the separation between the two.

1. Libertarians are not necessarily anti-government.

Although some strains of libertarianism oppose a central government authority entirely, being libertarian does not make one anti-government—in fact, most libertarians aren’t anti-government. They may oppose particular forms of government, or a particular government’s execution of government, but they do not oppose government in theory. On the contrary, most libertarians believe that government has a very important, though very limited, role. In fact, it is argued that the very hallmarks of libertarianism (respect for individual liberty, the non-aggression principle, etc…) which necessitate a limited government, also necessitate the government’s existence.

Swanson’s stance on government, his charming goal of bringing “all [government] crumbling to the ground,” and his belief that the “entire government should be privatized” make him more of a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist. Anarcho-capitalism is indeed an extreme strain of libertarianism, so this fact alone does not eliminate Ron from libertarianism. I simply think it worth pointing out that being libertarian does not necessarily make you anti-government.

 2. Even anti-government libertarians believe that governments perform important tasks—they just think that those tasks would be better performed in the private market.

It is one thing to say that the government performs no important, or necessary tasks. It is another to say that the government is not the best man for the job. Even Rothbard conceded the need for law enforcement, and courts. He simply wanted the private market to provide those very important things.

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^Unfortunately, the government is in control of a lot of important tasks^

So when Ron states “that all government is a waste of taxpayer money,” as an anarcho-capitalist libertarian, he should be saying that “all government is wasteful of taxpayer money.” A lot of the things the government does are useful and important—the government is just bad at doing them.

3. Libertarians do not support government-granted monopolies.

I kinda feel like I shouldn’t have to explain this one, but whatever. In season 2, episode 15, the Department of Parks and Recreation decides to “privatize” concession stands in all Pawnee parks by allowing the local candy company, Sweetums, to take over the park concession stands. Ron’s response is that he “couldn’t be happier,” and goes on to tout the privatization of the entire government saying,

“I think the entire government should be privatized. Chuck E. Cheese could run the parks. Everything operated by tokens. Drop in a token, go on the swing set. Drop in another token, take a walk. Drop in a token, look at a duck.“

As any libertarian worth his salt knows, granting one company the right to sell food on public land does not “privatize” anything, it merely creates a government-granted monopoly. A libertarian would entirely oppose the idea that the government pick and choose businesses to protect from the competition of the free market. In the words of Ron himself, “that sounds like the government meddling in private enterprise.”

Anyway, there is much more that could be written on the differences between Swansonism, and Libertarianism. The important thing is not to equate Swansons and libertarians. By all means, let Ron Swanson be your guiding light. Continue to laud him as the purveyor of all things true. Just know that when he says he is a libertarian, he is wrong.

Why Calling Women “Too Sensitive” Makes Absolutely No Sense

Of all the criticism that women endure, the critique I hear most often is that women are “too sensitive.”

Ironically, this phrase, “too sensitive,” makes no sense.

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^Vivian Leigh knows what I’m talking about.^

Now I am not trying to prove or disprove the claim that women are more sensitive than men. I am arguing that, if we are more sensitive, it’s a good thing.

Indulge me, if you will, in a brief exploration of “sensitivity”.

1. Sensitivity makes you more in touch with reality, not less.

Consider the word in any other context. Consider that we are talking about a scale, or a Doppler radar, or a thermometer. Now the purpose of a thermometer is to sense fluctuations in the temperature around it. Let’s say one thermometer can sense one degree fluctuations in the temperature. That’s a pretty good thermometer. But wait; there is another more sensitive thermometer that can register fluctuations down to a tenth of a degree. The second thermometer’s sensitivity does not render it incapable of use, but, in fact, a better thermometer.

Let us apply this reasoning to humanity.

Just as a more sensitive thermometer picks up on more fluctuations in the temperature than a less sensitive one, so a “more sensitive” person picks up on more of the subtleties of his environment than his less sensitive peers. Thus, a very sensitive person is highly aware of his surroundings. To be more aware of one’s surroundings makes one more in touch with reality. This means that more sensitive people are more in touch with reality, not less.

So when people spout off about women being “too sensitive,” they are really saying that women are too aware of reality. What they are really saying is that a certain modicum of oblivion and ignorance makes for a more reasonable person. Such cannot possibly be the case. The more sensitive you are, the more information you have with which to reason. Sensitive people may draw unreasonable conclusions, but their sensitivity is not to blame, their inability to reason is.

2. Emotions make sense.

Typically, discussions about sensitivity go hand in hand with discussions about emotion, as they should. Just as certain sensations accompany a nose’s interaction with a particular smell, or a mouth with a particular taste, so certain sensations accompany one’s interactions with particular experiences.

Emotions are the sensations of the soul, and they accompany our interactions with the world, people, reality. The more sensitive, the more aware, the more in touch you are with reality, the more emotions (sensations) you will have.

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Now we’ve all met people who appear to be crying for no reason, people who are experiencing an emotion that we don’t understand. It is from this particular situation that, I suspect, the “too sensitive” diagnosis arose. There are two possibilities, and in neither of them does the “too sensitive” diagnosis make sense:

 Possibility #1: The sensitive person is picking up on something you can’t sense.

Usually when people confront an emotion in someone else that they cannot understand, they jump to the conclusion that the emotional person is delusional (which may be the case). It is possible, however, that the emotional person is simply more sensitive than you, and therefore picking up on more than you, sensing subtleties in the situation that your limited awareness cannot register.

 Consider a chef with a highly sensitive palette. You may accompany him to the same restaurant, eat the same food, drink the same wine, and yet, have an entirely different experience than him. You may have wholeheartedly enjoyed every bite, while he leaves unsatisfied, and disappointed.

Now you might conclude that he is delusional, or has impossible standards. It is likely, however, that because of the sensitivity of his palette, he picked up on a subtle but telling staleness in a particular ingredient, or a disharmony in a combination of flavors that you can’t even taste. In this case, the chef’s palette is not “too sensitive,” just more sensitive than yours. And it is precisely the sensitivity of his palette that, along with making him a better chef, makes truly great food enjoyable for him to a degree that less sensitive eaters cannot experience.

 So before you conclude that because you can’t sense it, it doesn’t exist, consider your own limitations.

Possibility #2: The emotional person is not actually very sensitive.

Continuing with chef metaphor, no one objects to a chef picking up on too many flavors in a particular dish, but one should certainly object to a chef picking up on flavors that aren’t actually present in the dish. Likewise, no one should object to a person picking up on too much of reality. But one should certainly object to a person sensing something that isn’t actually real. “Sensing” things that do not exist does not make you “too sensitive,” it makes you delusional.

Sensitivity, then, is not the cause of the person’s senseless reaction, but the solution. This person is by definition insensitive, unaware of his true surroundings. He should seek to become more sensitive, more aware of reality, not less.

 So, if you are going to criticize women, don’t criticize them for being “too sensitive,” as there is no such thing. Either you are simply less aware than them, or they are not only insensitive, but delusional. Either way, being “too sensitive” is not the problem. And if you are criticized for being “too sensitive,” take it as a compliment, because your heightened awareness only makes you more in touch with reality. You’re just a little more aware than the average bear. Use it to your advantage.