Facebook: Beyond God and Elvis

Sometimes it’s best to just jump ship rather than partake in the rearrangement of deck chairs on a sinking vessel.  Such is the case with society’s use of Facebook and social media in general.  Not to be that guy, but it is all bullshit.  Social media are a wonderful tool full of possibilities whose progress has been stifled by the failures of society.

In short Facebook’s three most common uses are: to self congratulate, to strike down unpopular opinions with a vigor that one would not attempt in a face to face situation, and to wish each other happy birthday.

In a perfect world the top three uses of social media would be to: share knowledge, stay up on current events, and educate ourselves without filter. This will never happen of course.

Let’s begin this discourse by examining what I believe to be Facebook’s current usage norms, beginning with self-congratulation.

We all know them, the self congratulator, the world’s most poorly yet acurately named semi-superhero.  The person who only uses social media to earn praise for their everyday accomplishments.  The look at how many cans of food I collected to give to a food bank person.  The I foster dogs couple.  Of course these are all good things.  These are things that good people do.  However when the self congratulator takes these tasks upon themself their motives come in question.  Did you do this because you want to help people or because you wanted everyone else to know that you help people? They are two very different things.

It’s a situation very similar to religion: Do you go to church because you believe your faith in god makes you a better person or do you go to church as an excuse to act like you are better than other people?

The people who do the most good for the world do so with a level of anonymity.  They are kind to homeless people.  They find hand me downs for kids in need.  They check in on elderly neighbors.  Most of all they never mention it to anyone.  They do it because they want to see the world get better, not because they want the world to see them doing it.

Add Facebook to the self congratulator archetype and you end up with the results of our modern society.  You end up with doing good needs for bad reasons.  In adding Facebook to the equation you hand over your personal privacy in exchange for praise.  This is the society we have allowed to be created for us and we have accepted its main goal of subjugation.  Yes, I will hand over my privacy in order to show people how great I am is right on par with handing over your privacy in the name of national security.

godandelvisNow i’ll pause and answer the question that those who have chosen to read this far are asking themselves,  “So what?  Does this guy think he is perfect?”  Of course not, I know this.  Probably better than anyone.  A list of my faults would need its own server.  I mess up, way too much.  Maybe airing my grievances with society is one of those faults, but I got some time today and I am willing to deal with the repercussions from my actions.

Speaking of, let’s talk about usage number two, striking down unpopular opinions.

LISTEN:  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion the equal amount that others are entitled to criticize another’s opinion.  No one is ever right or wrong.  It’s the grey area we call life.  The internet allows a thin veil of anonymity that makes us feel we can say and do as we please without repercussion, which we could if we didn’t surrender our privacy.  However we did and now we are an oversensitive and undereducated society who fall for the group think that is pervasive in common thought.

If you have something to poor to say about Obama, and I truly hope you do, you may trick yourself into thinking that it is popular opinion because your Facebook feed agrees.  However you curated that feed and probably filled it with those who agree with you.  Not because you intended to but because it is only natural.  Also as an American citizen you have the right to criticize those in power, at least for a few more months.

However, if you blindly attack anyone who disagrees with you and do not accept the backlash that can follow you are the problem with society.  You are not a victim.  You chose to state your opinion in a public forum and modern society says that it is OK to shout you down.  It’s not.  It is not OK at all.  Almost every problem dividing us as a nation stems from an inability to communicate and think rationally.  If you have a irrational opinion you should not expect to receive rational criticism in return.

We have been programmed to hate each other.  Television, Internet, religion.  These are tools to divide and conquer and they are very necessary, because if people began to get along and come together we could change the world and that will never be allowed to happen.  Of course we have reached the pinnacle of the human journey and in many ways we almost have to ask ourselves is any of this worth saving?  Are you willing to fight for any of this?  Can any good come from humanity now that it is so dumbed down and intolerant?

Don’t answer that.

In fact,

Don’t think.

If the guy from Duck Dynasty says something negative about homosexuality and you choose to attack A&E for stifling his free speech aren’t you just thanking the network for the bullshit you are being fed?  Here is some poop, it hates homosexuals.  Well if this poop hates homosexuals and my minister says god hates homosexuals than I guess we should thank god for this poop.

If your view of that specific situation is anything but anger that anyone would care what the guy from a reality TV show says or anger that society is so backwards that it accepts such programming on the Arts and Entertainment channel we aren’t seeing eye to eye.

Art, creativity and education are the only tools one is left with to achieve upward mobility.  Yet we don’t demand it and therefore we get stuck where we are.  Afraid to look at your own house from the other side of the street, because it may open your mind to how others see you.

It’s sad and pathetic and expected.  It’s the human condition.  It’s not accepting the fact that you are temporary.

We are temporary.  It’s hard to deal with.  That’s why we create myths like an ever-present eye in the sky who will shake your hand when you die and invite you to sit at his desk on a cloud and review your paperwork to be accepted to the kingdom of heaven. It’s illogical, yet effective.

When we stop believing in the all-knowing eye due to the fact that we have opened our minds we begin to be free, which is a danger to the status quo and when the status quo gets interrupted we create a new eye in the sky to take its place.

It is equally possible that the NSA is spying on all of us and knows are every movement and thought as it is the NSA works harder than anyone to make you believe they can do so in an attempt to modify your behavior.  The very concept that you are being watched alters your actions and often times that in itself is enough to curtail undesirable behavior.

That is where we are as a society.  We stopped fearing god so a new one was created for us and we don’t see the failures of our past mistakes.

For those who only use Facebook to wish each other Happy birthday you may be saying this guy is a kook.  This guy doesn’t know his dick from his elbow.  This guy has a warped perspective.

That’s cool.  That’s just like your opinion, man.

Wishing Happy Birthday because you saw it was someone’s birthday in the corner of your Facebook feed is accepted behavior, but it’s not real friendship.  It’s not human interaction. After all that’s what this is all about.  It’s the entire point. SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL HUMAN INTERACTION.  CLICKING A BUTTON THAT SAYS YOU’RE FRIENDS WITH SOMEONE ON A SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM IS NOT REAL FRIENDSHIP.

It’s the acceptance of the human condition as-is.  It the acceptance that you feel unable to change the course of events.  It’s the rejection of existentialism and the acceptance of a pre-determined existence.  Both concepts are artificial and illogical.  Science fails to account for miracles so it is flawed, just as religion fails to account for science so it is flawed.  They are equally flawed, neither is wrong or right.  Just like you and me.  We are equal.  We are both flawed.  We have pros and cons that even out.  That is why society uses tools like Facebook and television to divide us.  Because if we found away to work together and use each others strengths to make up for each others weaknesses we wouldn’t need institutions we are programmed to deem necessary.  We would in fact be free.  Which is something that none of us will ever live to see.

This is my last Facebook post.  Not because I am taking an honorable stand against the decay of morals in society, but because I am unwilling to accept the changing view of social norms.  Which in fact may make me the more flawed individual.

The Long Haired Aging Man at the Robert Plant Show in Prospect Park had the Greatest Time of All.

At one point I had the ultimate experience.  I could just see it all and was like woah.”

That is what he said.

He said it to two other old guys who walked up to him hoping to see what he was seeing.

Through a small break in the fencing at the end of the line of the portajohns that made up the back perimeter of the Prospect Park Bandshell the long-haired man stared into his binoculars and watched Robert Plant.  He was the happiest man in the Park.

I noticed him halfway through the concert.  We too were on the outside looking in, enjoying the show for free.  However we were under a tree with pastel party cups filled with Rolling Rock and an array of fine meats and cheeses.  We were accompanied by a Beagle puppy.

Not my man.

He had an old Led Zeppelin T-shirt on, well-worn from years of following his childhood heroes, and a long mane of gray, white and formerly brown hair.  I would guess he had seen Led Zeppelin many times before.  He had experience.  He brought nothing with him  that would weigh him down.  He was armed with only binoculars.  There is a chance he got onto public transportation with them around his neck both before and after the show.

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I think I saw the point of the evening that he referred to as the “ultimate.”  It may have been right after I first noticed him.  He had made connection, he found his sweet spot.  I saw him adjusting the focus on his trusty binoculars.  I saw him bend his knees and find the perfect position.

Than he froze.

He was transfixed.  For that moment his dream of being front row for a Led Zeppelin show was a reality.  It was right there before his eyes.  It was as close as he would ever get. While at first I had worried about the man wondering if he was staring into a crack in the portajohns I soon realized he was not a pervert, he was a Led Zeppelin fan, and he was enjoying the night more than everyone else in the park that night could ever understand.

WPP Roundup 7/10 – 7/12

Here are links to the stories I had published by We Party Patriots between Wednesday July 10th and Friday July 12th.

Wednesday July 10th

 

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Massachusetts Becomes 6th State to Introduce Healthy Workplace Bill to Deal With Bullying Bosses – In hopes of protecting workers from abusive bosses, Massachusetts recently became the sixth state to introduce a Healthy Workplace Bill.  Sponsored by House Rep. Ellen Story and Sen. Katherine Clark, HB 1766 had its public hearing before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development late last month.

Pair of Dutch Pension Managers Yank Funds from Walmart Because of Questionable Labor Practices – Dutch pension managers PGGM and Mn Services have pulled their investments in Walmart due to the McRetailer’s anti-union positions and questionable labor practices.  The pension funds join Netherlands’ largest pension fund, ABP, which divested from Walmart last year citing their inability to follow the United Nations’ Global Compact concerning labor rights.

Anti-Davis Bacon Bill, HR 448, Debunked by Economist in Committee Hearing – A bill labeled HR 448, currently before the House Education and the Workforce Committee, aims to systematically lower wages in the construction industry by changing the method by which prevailing wages are calculated.

Friday July 12th

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Local Stations, Viewers are Big Losers in TV’s Political Ad Money Grab – Last year at an entertainment law conference, Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS Corporation, said “Super-PAC’s may be bad for America, but they’re very good for CBS.” After the 2012 Presidential election during which Romney and Obama spent a combined $7 billion, CBS saw their profits soar by $180 million.  The winners and losers of the modern political media complex are beginning to emerge.

PLA for Meriden, CT School Construction Hangs in the Balance – The path to a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for renovations at Platt and Maloney high schools in Meriden, Connecticut has not been a clear one. At last check, non-union contractors were abstaining from bidding on the project to undermine the PLA which Meriden’s mayor had cast the deciding vote in favor of. The anti-PLA pressure eventually took its toll, though, and a special meeting of the city council this month resulted in the PLA being rescinded due to higher-than-expected bids.

 

Anti-Worker Lobby Hurls PLA Falsehoods in Op-Ed, Boston Herald Edits Out Facts From Union Rep Rebuttal – An early July op-ed in the Boston Herald by Greg Beeman, President of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Massachusetts sought to distort the truth about Project Labor Agreements (PLAs).  The piece, titled, “Gov’s union-only project deals co$t”, comes right out of the ABC handbook of how to portray unions in a poor light by misinforming.  Aside from the Ke$ha-like spelling of the word “cost” — which must have been added to the playbook at a recent meeting — Mr. Beeman’s relies on the same old ABC line: refer to PLA’s as “union only” although they are not; say PLAs ‘exponentially’ drive up costs even though they don’t; and paint the agreements as a crony capitalism when, in fact, they seek to bolster communities.

 

“Is Weezer’s Pinkerton the Best Emo Album of All Time?” Two Years Later

Two years ago today I published an article titled “Is Weezer’s Pinkerton the Best Emo Album of All TIme?” in the early weeks of trying to create a website called the Secret Party Room.  The website wasn’t successful, the article was.  In those two years everything has changed yet one constant has been that people contact me about the article wanting to talk about how Pinkerton made them feel.  It’s weird.

It’s been found residing in the deepest darkest crevices of the internet.  It’s been posted on Weezer message boards which has brought about international inquiries.  The whole reason I unlocked SPR (which is actually this site right now) is because I was getting so many requests to read the article.

Two years have passed and it hasn’t gone away and because of that I would consider it the most successful thing i’ve written.  Other pieces have been read by many more people, but no one reacted to them, especially in the prolonged manner as they did to the Weezer piece.

Part of that seems to be because of the nostalgia that comes with Weezer from a generation who has seen music go to shit or at least some type of fecal matter that doesn’t interest them.  If you liked Weezer in 1998 what do you like now?  Why do you like it?  Do you like anything?

For me the article is drenched in nostalgia for a time in which I had just moved to New York and wanted to become a writer.  Since then it has happened and it isn’t really the glorious trade I believed it to be when blessed with the good fortune of ignorance towards the situation.  It’s still pretty great though.  If your still reading I’ve already accomplished something.  In an age of instant gratification and attention spans measured in nanoseconds I’ve coerced you to read  five paragraphs.  The average news article read by the average reader would end right here.

pinkertonOh you’re still here? Well than, lets talk about Weezer.  After rereading the original article I still believe that Pinkerton is the greatest Emo album of all time.  For the exact same reasons.  However I realize that the main point I was trying to make two years ago was buried in the deepest levels of subtext. Weezer disappointed many of their fans and for a large percent of that demographic it was the first time they had to break up with a band.  It was too much and we were too young.  Sellouts had to be rejected.  Little did we know what was on the horizon.  The end of the music industry as it had been for decades came about because of the Internet and music lovers ability to download music illegally much easier than buying it traditionally.

In the age of mp3 players and Winamp it was much easier to get an album P2P than it was to find it at the lone record store left in your town and pay $15 for a clunky product that you needed to take various steps to put in a format that allowed you to listen at your convenience.  The music industry moved slower than technology, hung over from their decade of cocaine excess and long nights partying with Lit predicting that their success had no expiration.  Wrong.  Only rap music got it right and they did that by realizing kids buy their music and that you had to find a way to get it directly to them.

There were no rock and roll mix tapes or compilations.  The entire Internet was a compilation and more choices meant more bands which meant more crap which meant a mediocre final product.

This is what I wanted to touch on in 2011 and perhaps I just wasn’t ready.  Pinkerton was my great young love and The Green Album was the breakup that inevitably followed.  Part of me has never gotten over the Green album and how much I didn’t like it.  How foolish I felt for loving Pinkerton so much and how I had to admit that maybe I had over hyped the whole thing.  It was the Kelly Bray of albums.  It was that first love that was so perfect that upon competition you had to think maybe it wasn’t perfect at all, and maybe you don’t know what perfect is, and maybe nothing will ever be perfect.

However just like that first love as an adult you realize you weren’t wrong at all for giving your heart to a band that moved you andJordan-Catalano-My-So-called-Life-adnks101-niks95-24747769-500-351 maybe how you felt at the time was dead on.  It’s all about the moment and in that moment Weezer’s Pinkerton was the best shit I had ever heard.  It is still really good, but perhaps because of the nostalgia surrounding it.  Perhaps because when I hear it I can picture myself sitting in my parent’s basement listening to it on headphones not knowing that life wasn’t going to stay that simple and joyous forever.

Breaking up with a band is perhaps worse than breaking up with a girl when you are young because young love doesn’t know the temporary nature of itself.  Young lovers know love through the lens of Romeo and Juliet and My So Called Life,  young music fans aren’t aware that bands sell out.  Or more specifically they beleive it won’t happen to them and their band.  Like the neighbor on local news who after the teenage girl next door is busted selling Oxycontin to her gym teacher says “I would never believe this could happen here!”  It happens everywhere and it happens with every band and it happens with every relationship.  True love is eternal, but general love has an expiration date.

Weezer was different.  Weezer wasn’t very dark, but they were,  just in a completely different way.  While Soundgarden was singing “Alive in the superunknown. First it steals your mind And then it steals your soul”  Weezer was singing “I want a girl who laughs for no one else, When I’m away she puts her makeup on the shelf.” (Soundgarden superunknown and Weezer’s Blue album came out months apart)  Both are different shades of dark.  Soundgarden is a very literal blackness, their words are what they mean.  Chris Cornell literally wants you to know that the superunknown will steal your mind before it steals your soul.  Both will be stolen in that order and that is it there is no explanation why.  However with Weezer there is a lingering question of “Why do you want the girl you like to pretend she doesn’t exist unless you are in her presence?”  “Why do you have an inability to trust women when they are out of sight?”In 1998 Soundgarden was passing their expiration date, yet who would have thought Weezer wouldn’t stay fresh forever?

Pinkerton exists in a sea of why.  “Why is this so dark, you just made a really successful album?”  Pinkerton is an album that perfectly describes the college experience and rightfully so as Cuomo wrote it while attending Harvard.  College for the modern white male is a time of exploration, dissatisfaction, acceptance, comfort, and then rejection, in that order.  So is Pinkerton.  Now in 2013 at the age of 30 I can view Cuomo’s career as a success, simply because he made those first two albums.  Even if I think everything he made after was poo, now I know it doesn’t matter because those first two albums where just so impressive.  Artists don’t do that anymore, at least not with me, they don’t captivate people, they don’t make people think I want to sound like this guy when I play.  Maybe they do, but I am one who learns from heartache and The green album is a perfect example of musical heartache.

Pinkerton was the last moment of me being a music fan and the Green album was the beginning of me liking music.  I was never going to put as much heart into a band again, I couldn’t handle the let down, just as no one sits by the land line at the age of 30 hoping their girlfriend will call.  It took me until the age of 30 to see why Pinkerton meant so much to me.  Here I am with a back that feels like it is made of particle board and runny dog shit, a knee that pops when I stand up, and grey hairs popping up at an alarming rate, but I really can’t complain.  I did a few things so far in my life and that is impressive because some people never accomplish a thing.  Some musicians never write a song that anyone wants to hear.  Some musicians never get to even play a show.

 Weezer made two great albums and we should all be thankful.  They made a multitude of crap and everyone should let them be. Like young love it wasn’t going to last forever and they were getting older themselves.

So here I am two years later and I am still making my case for Pinkerton being the greatest emo album of all time, only this time I’m doing so to fight for the young man who wanted to be a writer who had something to say.  He doesn’t really come out very much anymore, he’s tired after a long series of long days work, but when he does he is ready to go fight for what is audibly right.  Even if he has never gotten over that first time a band let him down in a way only girls had before.

PRISM Views: Why Defending Snowden Goes Beyond Party Lines

Originally published by The Contributor on July 9th, 2013

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A recent piece by Louis Nayman — “In Defense of PRISM” for In These Times — has brought about a wide array of criticism from the left who see the labor organizer’s argument as falling too closely in line with the Obama administration’s. Surveillance, privacy and whistle blowers are hot topics that transcend party lines. It may be one of the few things the far right and left agree on, although they view it from a different lens. Among the many debatable quotes from the Nayman piece is this piece of fiction:

As people who believe in government, we cannot simply assume that officials are abusing their lawfully granted responsibility and authority to defend our people from violence and harm.

This argument can, of course, be debunked by anyone with even a moderate understanding of history.  The government has a track record of lying, why should we assume they just stopped?

One of the most poignant responses to Mr. Nayman’s piece came from Marcy Wheeler, who published “In These Times We Can’t Blindly Trust the Government to Respect Freedom of Association” on the blog Empty Wheel. In debunking Mr. Nayman’s arguments, Wheeler makes many good ones of her own.

Among the best are her response to Nayman’s argument that, “We should do all we can to assure proper oversight any time a surveillance program of any size and scope is launched.” To which Wheeler responds:

[A] big part of the problem with these programs is that the government has either not implemented or refused such oversight. Some holes in the oversight of the program are:

  • NSA has not said whether queries of the metadata dragnet database are electronically recorded; both SWIFT and a similar phone metadata program queries have been either sometimes or always oral, making them impossible to audit
  • The FISC does not itself audit this metadata access and — given Dianne Feinstein’s uncertainty about what queries consist of — it appears neither do the Intelligence Committees; Adam Schiff recommended this practice but Keith Alexander was resistant
  • The government opposed mandated Inspector General reviews of the Section 215 use in the last PATRIOT Act renewal; while DOJ’s Inspector General is, on his predecessor’s own initiative, reviewing its use, he’s only now reviewing the program as it existed four years ago
  • DOJ and CIA’s Inspectors General have limited ability to review what FBI and CIA do with the unminimized data they get form NSA’s Section 702 collection (though DOJ’s IG does have the authority to review what the NSA does)
  • The government refuses to count (and doesn’t appear to document) what happens with the U.S. person information “incidentally” collected under Section 702 that is subsequently searched or read

Read More…

WPP Roundup 7/9

Here are links to the stories I wrote published by We Party Patriots on Tuesday July 9th, 2013.

 

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MI Supreme Court Refuses Gov. Snyder’s Request for Reinforcement of Potentially Unconstitutional “Right-to-Work” Law – …On January 28th, Gov. Rick Snyder countered by asking the state’s Supreme Court for an advisory opinion on the newly passed law. But the court ruled unanimously not to hear his request and thus allowed the lawsuits to continue into the lower courts. “We are not persuaded that granting the request would be an appropriate exercise of the Court’s discretion,” the decision read.

Unions Pour Cash, Solidarity Into LiUNA! Local 563 Strike Fund to Keep Picket Against Cretex Alive – n late June we wrote about members of the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA!) Local 563 striking in Minnesota against their employer, Cretex, because the company is trying to scrap their pensions. Health benefits were set to run out on June 30th, but union solidarity had the cure for that: a strike fund to help the 40 construction craft laborers affected.

BMW Faces Discrimination Lawsuit in SC Stemming from Job Reapplication Drug Test Process – BMW is facing a lawsuit from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that one of its facilities in “Right-to-Work” South Carolina adopted a criminal background check policy that disproportionately affected African-American workers.

 

My temporary workers article is now number 9 on politics subreddit!

Check it out, upvote, comment.  The story i wrote last week (picked up by The Contributor) is now #9 in the politics subreddit!  go to http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/ and check it out. not into reddit? you can check it out at The Contributor or We Party Patriots!

 

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Not bad for a Slippery Rock grad.

 

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