Veterans Day

Today is the day we are told to honor the veterans of the American Armed Forces. Children get the day off from school (though they really don’t know why), some colleges (but not mine….) take the day off as well (for overcoming their weekend hangovers without missing class) and everyone posts on facebook about their “gratitude.”

Maybe I’m a little pessimistic about all of this, but why can’t we be gracious of our veterans (and those men and women still in the service), ALL THE TIME? Why do we need a special day to honor them and thank them for all they have done, are doing, or will do, for our nation? Veterans Day was initially conceptualized so that we could celebrate and remember the first world war and it’s end. It was called “Armistice Day,” and was designed to honor those who served in the WW1 (and to celebrate the peace achieved by the resolution), but after WW2, it was obvious we had to make some changes, as WW2 “required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history,” (US. Dpt of Veterans Affairs) creating A LOT of veterans who definitely deserved some gratitude. 

Today is a a day to remember Peace, and those individuals in our lives who have fought or served in our nations armed forces to that end. But ask any veteran if they experienced peace, or felt that they were creating a more peaceful world by fighting, killing, or hurting other people, and I guarantee that they will tell you a different interpretation. They may believe that they were working for the greater good, but there is no way peace was at the forefront of their minds when they were pulling the trigger aimed at another human being.

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Just keep that in mind when you are thinking about your loved ones who served. They fought for the safety you have today, they did it for YOUR future, but at the expense of their own. That’s what Veteran’s Day is about.  Appreciating the sacrifices made by those who served, appreciating what freedoms you have thanks to them, rather than who can write the nicest facebook post about how great your granddaddy was. Call him and tell him that you realize what he did for you, rather than exalt the actions he took as a soldier under orders. 

 

The name’s Meme. Internet Meme.

“noun: a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.” (Dictionary.com). 

We are transmitting ideas across the globe at rates nearly unheard of, and all because of the internet. Imagine if one meme existed as a real virus, spreading from person to person as quickly as “What Does the Fox Say?” Seriously, our planet would be long dead– about a billion times over. Some memes are saved for only the deepest parts of the internet, where the average web-surfer doesn’t even know to go, but others cross cultural boundaries with ease, playing on the Today Show, humoring young children and teens, while also flitting into the ears of grandparents. My grandma said to me the other day, out of the blue, looking up from a book she was reading, “What DOES a fox say?” 

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Even my grandma…really? This video was posted on September 3rd, and quickly went viral, now at 190,211,414 views. Looking at Gooogle Trends, we can see that interest in the subject of what noise a fox makes was pretty much non-existent till this song was released: 

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Good grief… 

Beauty is in the eye of….

THE MEDIA. 

 

You were definitely expecting some inspirational, wonderful, “be yourself” shenanigans, weren’t you? Sorry. All I’m saying is that the mainstream media, led by fashion magazines and skinny bitches with 8 pounds of makeup, dictates what you wear, how you wear it, and how people perceive your level of attractiveness. The most shameful part of that whole scheme though, is that those models, advertisements, and TV commercials have hordes of stylists, photoshop wizards, and actual wizards working hard to demolish any trace of reality. Take a look at these before and after photos. It’s a little bit disturbing. 

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I’m sorry, the fact that even this woman’s freckles are eradicated is just absurd. When women are being told on a daily basis that they should be absolutely flawless, with dewy cheeks and glamorous eyes for every moment of every day, but also that looking beautiful will get you raped, I just want to kick over every magazine stand ever. 

There’s also the gem of misogyny and racism baked into one tasteless cake called skin-lightening. Studies, and the media, suggest that lighter-skinned individuals are viewed as more attractive. Not only is it suggested that darker-skinned people should endeavor to lighten their skin, but magazines and adds will do it for you! Elle magazine was recently criticized for this picture of Gabourey Sidibe (Precious, 2009):

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Her skin tone, naturally quite dark and not at all unappealing, was lightened several shades for the cover on a series of young women who were “changing the world.” Yeah, but she can’t be presented the way she really looks. 

So overall, I guess I’m saying be yourself, but don’t be surprised when yourself happens to look like everyone else. Be positive in your own image, and if it happens to represent the fads of the day, oh well. It sucks, it’s often cutthroat and horrible, but until everyone is aware of the travesties, nothing is going to change. 

Sometimes I’m Just Baffled

The internet can be a wonderful place, there is no doubt in my mind about that. And yet, it is rife with the most ridiculous, obscene, arbitrary, thoughtless junk. Like these pictures. Seriously?

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With all the potential in the world, we create images and posts (admittedly like this one) with no meaning, no real significance, and we wonder why society is becoming more and more apathetic about the world, and the work ethic of people to decrease.

Motivation, inspiration, and thought provoking messages should be what fills our time on the web, but instead, we get pictures of unicorns raising hell, cats (guilty), and distractions. As a student of psychology, I have to wonder why this is? Do we simply find our fast-paced world to be too intense, and the internet has become a means of escape? Did it start out as something fascinating and useful, and descend into a trap of work-less junk? I know it has its uses. We can connect with people across the globe, discover new things every second, and find more information with a few key-strokes than we could ever learn in a whole day at the library, but I have to worry at the same time. This massive resource is being exploited, understated, and underutilized every day, to the effect that “13 percent of web searches were for erotic content.” That’s a lot of porn. And 15% is related to cats. good grief, that’s nearly 30 percent of the internet, wasted on our own enjoyment… innocent or otherwise.

I’d be interested to know how much overlap there is between those two… Cat Porn… Slightly disturbing, but potentially fascinating… It’s for a research project, I swear!

Meow, Meow Meow?

As a cat enthusiast, I love pictures of cats… and .gifs of cats… and videos about cats…. and fuzzy little baby kittens that I can nuzzle and snuggle and love for ever and ever.

Sorry about that.

But really, who doesn’t like cats? Or some sort of cat-equivalent (like a dog, I guess). And if you do like animals,  no doubt you have tried to talk to them, whether in your language or theirs. Which is why I love this picture.

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The ironic thing about it, however, is that the cat’s in this picture know an awful lot about humanity. The cat says, right in the second to last frame “Humans say dumb stuff all the time.” We offend each other, people we’ve never met, and apparently animals, all the time with the things we say. Innocuous comments that we don’t put any thought into, gibberish that seems harmless at the time, and jokes we find hilarious can potentially hurt others.

Today is “National Coming Out Day,” and in honor of that I would like to use this post to mention that using phrases like “that’s gay” can be exceptionally hurtful to someone who is trying to pluck up the courage to be themselves, despite the negativity they are faced with every day. Mind your words, even if they are meant in jest. People are always listening. And cats too. Animals need our love as much as people do.

Randomness

 

 

The fact that the English language has a word to describe actions without intentions says a lot about our culture, doesn’t it? Defining the word random involves several levels of complexity, but first and foremost is the knowledge that it was initially developed to define an “impetuous headlong rush.” And today, being a “random” person doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. It equates to being unique or individual, rather than unplanned and hurried. 

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This picture, which I happened to find simply by Google-ing the word “Random,” demonstrates just that idea; that being random isn’t a negative. I feel, however, that our obsessions with individuality and different-ness is driving people towards a more random and undignified way of approaching life. The “headlong” nature of random acts are perpetuated today with concepts like YOLO.

There are subheadings of countless websites simply titled “Random,” where everything without a specific definition or application fits. Why not just focus your information so that the topics you discuss all fit together? This blog may appear random at times, especially when I draw from obscure places or ideas, but I will never  post something without planning it out, finding sources, and explaining why I use it.  As a Psychology major, I am fascinated in the way ideas and cultures have developed as a result of language and changes in social climates. 

Looking at random from this perspective, we see that it has changed from a description of impetuousness, to arbitrary, and especially in reference to “random acts of violence” (or kindness, depending on your level of optimism). The spikes in Google Trends correlate with shootings, murders, and death, but also interestingly the most popular searches involve ways to apply randomness to your life (ie. in finding random numbers or names). This concept, that randomness is something we need to find, or understand in the case of violence, exemplifies human’s desire to find meaning in a chaotic world. 

A Little Humor Goes A Long Way

We all have heard about the US Government and it’s recent shut-down. There are angry posts on facebook, countless news articles, grumpy government workers (and Presidents…), but I think the best part of this shut down comes in the form of this delightful picture:

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I think I find it particularly hilarious because I have seen the IT Crowd, a British TV show (pictured on the bottom), but I think everyone can relate to the basic principle. Frustration with something you apparently have no control over and no obvious solution in sight (other than an all-out reset). In the case of the American Government, however, a “simple reset” means wages lost by government employees, a halt to all general functions of the system, the closing of museums like the Smithsonian, passport requests put on hold (the list goes on and on) — the stubbornness of one group of people wreaking havoc on our nation. 

Not all my posts will be so serious, or politically founded, but I just wanted to share this little gem, hoping to make light of this ridiculousness. 

TTFN