Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Language Bombs and Toxic Friends

In a break from electoral politics, I'd like to talk about something that’s really been getting under my skin lately: the expression “toxic friends,” an expression that has very specific implications, and how it’s slowly being rendered meaningless every time someone writes a think piece about it. I’ve heard that expression used to mean everything from a friend who is abusive to a friend that gives sincere (non-dangerous) advice you don’t agree with to people who have legitimate emotional or psychiatric concerns and aren't doing anything worse than complaining a lot. I hate to break it to you, but sometimes people with mental illness or who are just going through a hard time need and deserve a friend they can vent to, and if you're not willing to do that, then that's the problem. And maybe you don't feel equipped to handle it, but that doesn't make them toxic. As for the other two, I’ve had my own experiences with abusive friends, and I’ll admit that maybe I’m a little sensitive about people lumping in semi-clueless, but well-meaning people with people who’ve psychologically tortured you. So that's my bias here: I have a deeply personal opposition to comparing conflicts that exist in most friendships to actual harmful behavior. I'm pretty sure I'm not sorry.

And I'm not saying that non-toxic conflicts that should never result in a parting of ways. That's fairly normal, as well. Friendships end sometimes. So no, this isn’t a screed against removing people from your life that cause you pain, or even people you just don’t like anymore; this is a language problem. Toxic friends are not just people who aren’t always considerate; those are called assholes. And it’s your choice whether or not to keep those assholes in your life. Some assholes are actually pretty good friends; some aren’t. But they’re not inherently toxic. Toxic friends aren't people who are whiny or annoying or people you just don't like anymore. Toxic friends are people who either actively or passively harm you, sometimes physically and, more often, emotionally, without any interest in stopping. When I say toxic friends are people who drag you down, I don’t mean “they make me feel bad sometimes.” I mean they are actually disrupting your life and your well-being, either physically or emotionally.

Why does this matter? For a couple reasons. I’m a big believer in the idea that language does matter, because words have meanings. And though I will defend colloquial language at times, because it’s the way most of us communicate, there are cases where watering down language is extremely detrimental. This is one of those cases. Why? Because while, yes, you absolutely have the right to cut people out of your life if you feel it necessary, I’m tired of this expression being used to blame others every time people get bored of their problems. I’m tired of people with clinical depression being blamed for friendships ending because one “just can’t deal with ‘negative people’.” I’m tired of people measuring friendship in terms of cost-benefit analysis and then pretending that the relationship meant something when it clearly didn't. I’m tired of people manipulating terminology to play the victim and then making themselves into the hero of the story.

Not every friendship that ends does so as the result of a bad seed. Sometimes, friendships just don’t last. And it sucks. Absolutely it sucks. If you want to end a friendship and need support, that’s understandable. But stop using terminology that doesn’t apply to your situation just because you want people to applaud you while demonizing someone else.

And for the love of God, can the people please stop telling people with mental illnesses that they’re “negative people?!” Go fuck yourself with your language bomb. Seriously, the expression “negative people” probably had a legitimate meaning once, but I frequently hear it used to refer to people who have mental illness or are currently in a bad situation. And that’s hardly the antidote.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

AQM: The Vote Off

I reference a blog that's not currently up. I'm not sure what happened there; it was just brought to my attention. I will see what I can do to fix the problem. For now, however, I think Lucy and I discuss everything in the blog pretty well here.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Perhaps a Better Example

Alternative Title: You're Making it Worse

I’ve compared mental illness to various other physical ailments before; my blog using the flu as an example seems to still get a fair amount of hits. I had intended that blog to be satire, but like a lot of things trying to be satire, I think it mostly leaned towards sarcastic anger instead of humor. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly put into words how much I truly loathe the argument that a claimed over-diagnosis equates to something being imaginary, or somehow less serious. My point with comparing it to the flu is that you can technically argue that the flu is over-diagnosed, partially because it shares symptoms with other ailments. I can think of a couple illnesses that are often initially diagnosed as the flu, from generally easy-to-cure but still dangerous ones like Lyme disease to illnesses as severe as early stages of some cancers. Some people get flu-like symptoms with severe sunburn. I don’t know if that analogy helps, though, because what a lot of people don’t seem to understand about the over-diagnosis of mental illnesses is that a decent amount of those patients also discover that they suffer from something else. This isn’t terribly surprising. Like physical illnesses, a lot of mental illnesses share a decent number of symptoms.

So instead, let’s talk about penicillin. I am allergic to penicillin, a commonplace but also commonly misdiagnosed allergy. Only about 20% of people believe they have a penicillin allergy actually do. Why is this? Some people experience negative symptoms the first time they take penicillin, and those symptoms are not that unlike the initial symptoms of the allergic reaction. This being said, I will tell you right now that I am confident in my diagnosis, and I have no intention of taking ever penicillin again. And here’s the kicker: I’m not going to tell you why.

So my question for you is this: knowing what I just told you (which is all true, by the way- feel free to look it up), without me explaining to you how I am so certain that my penicillin allergy is legit, do you intend to insist that I take it next time I get bronchitis or pneumonia? Do you, dear reader, who are most likely not my doctor, believe that because about 80% of people who believe themselves to have a penicillin allergy most likely do not, it’s worth telling someone who insists that she does that she should take the risk of taking it? And yes, I am using the example of not taking a medication to prove a point about taking another. Half of that’s to make a point about respecting patients, but I’ll admit that I also just enjoy a good mindfuck. Because for most of you, I’m going to give you enough credit to assume that the answer is no. Our culture has accepted the medical fact that penicillin allergies are potentially fatal, and this same culture has failed to accept that fact when it comes to mental illness.

Instead, they're glossed over as personal failings. Suicide is portrayed of a sign of selfishness and cowardice. Self-harm (cutting, burning, etc.) is portrayed as an attempt to get attention that shouldn’t be dignified. Self-medication is portrayed as being immoral. And if someone commits suicide or dies from a drug overdose, and evidence is shown that this person may have struggled with mental illness, the first thing people say is “well, why didn’t this person get help when they obviously needed it?” That’s nauseating, coming from a society that continuously tells people that they shouldn't and they don't. Stop blaming the victim; it’s not more important to feel good about yourself than it is to prevent fatalities. I honestly don’t know what’s worse; that or the people who argue that psychiatric medication actually creates suicide because of a warning on a commercial. Ow. The stupid. It hurts. Yes, suicidal thoughts (or increased ones) can result from anti-depressants in some circumstances, but that’s: A. Not the majority (about 10%, according to Medical Daily); B. Probably a result of the brain reacting to its chemistry changing, which is kinda a big deal and C. Not something the doctor will keep you on if it lasts longer than a nine days. No one says there aren’t risks; but let’s not pretend they are something they aren’t.

The thing is that I do recognize that there’s nuance in this conversation, but I don’t see it come up as often as it needs to. I am quite aware of the statistics regarding the amount of prescription medications Americans are on, and quite aware that this portion of the population loves to use that as a reason to compare prescribed medication to self-medication. I am also aware that this even further cheapens the argument that addicts whose addiction is the result of self-medication are repugnant because they should’ve just gone to the therapist you don’t want them to go to. Because that’s the thing: everyone wants to pretend that this conversation is exclusively about corruption within the pharmaceutical industry, and I’ve spent the last decade of my life pointing out that if that is truly the concern, then you need to argue your point more clearly. Because when you say “people with depression and anxiety are medicating emotions,” it sounds an awful lot like you don’t know what depression and anxiety are. But we’ve gone over that one, so let’s move on.

My point is that you're doing it wrong. So many people ignore a lot of elements in this conversation, and the following are a sample:

A. Overdiagnosis
Did you know that the concerns of "overdiagnosis" refer pretty exclusively to the white community, and amongst people of color, particularly the black community, depression and anxiety are most likely underdiagnosed? So if I see you throw that argument at a person of color, please recognize that I am gonna call you out. Also, if you're white, don't be that guy that tries to tell black people how to live their lives. That's all I'm gonna say- just don't be that guy.

B. Alternatives
Did you know that many people, including me, do try alternatives to medicine first? Seriously, I wonder why you think I wake up in the morning and want to take medication that gives me dry mouth and sometimes stomachaches, some of which isn’t cheap. There are few things I’ve experienced that’s quite as awkward as having to explain to your employer that you’ll bring in a doctor’s note for extra bathroom breaks, because of the amount of water you drink (this almost never does results in them budging, so if you’ve worked with me, you’ve probably seen my potty dance). Of course I tried other things before deciding I wanted to fork over money for the rest of my life. Some people do find that meditating, for instance, helps tremendously with anxiety disorders. Meditating is actually a very healthy thing. But it’s also quite common for people (again, like me) with anxiety disorders to be unable to meditate. I tried it for years, amongst basically everything else you think is the "better" alternative to medication- except maybe Scientology. No thanks; I feel that joining a dangerous cult may be slightly more detrimental to my health than taking medicine. Anyway, I think meditation is the favorite suggestion, maybe because it's spelled so similar to medication? I don't know. Y’all probably think saying it makes you sound “profound.” But it's not a bad idea, if it works, but meditation directly contradicts the way a lot of our brains work. I am amongst a large number of people who physically cannot meditate. Does this number reflect the number of people who are currently taking medication? I don’t personally know. But in regards to my own experience with it, you might as well be telling me to take vitamins and give my life over to Xenu, because it’ll be just as helpful.

C. Pot
Medicinal marijuana is an important thing that we need to fight for, but stop acting like it’s a miracle drug. For one thing, it's not particularly helpful advice until it's rescheduled, because even in a lot of states where it's legal to prescribe, you still need to pass a drug test to be employed. And spoiler alert: it's going to be a long time before it's rescheduled. Mental illness doesn't wait for laws to change. And if that does finally happen? It is an important option to have available, much like other medications are. In regards to mental illness, the positive effects don’t last very long (comparatively), and of course, there are plenty of people who do indeed experience negative side effects, mostly short-lived psychiatric ones. Short-lived or not, that may not actually be a good idea for every single person with psychiatric concerns, wouldn’t you think? Every study I have seen says it has a relatively polarizing effect on anxiety specifically- it helps some tremendously and it makes things worse for others. Therefore, assuming that everyone can treat anxiety by smoking more weed is not an improvement on the view you claim you're opposing; a claim that doctors don’t actually make.

D. Therapy
To those of you who support therapy but not psychiatric medication, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve done it! Yeah, I hate to break it to you, but sometimes the “root” of the problem is an imbalance in brain chemistry. I had my first panic attack at five. And while they became more regular later in life, that wasn’t even close to the last panic attack I had as a young child. This is somewhat uncommon; mental illness tends to manifest towards the teen years and the twenties, but it’s not unheard of. Yeah, if you take “undiagnosed mental illness” out of the timeline of events in my early childhood, you’re not gonna find much to write home about, and neither did the three therapists I saw. Not that I haven't been through shit- like most people, some of the problems I've had over the course of my life were mundane and some of them were serious- but while I’ll buy that some of that may have exacerbated the problem, the problem predated it. Sorry. The clinical depression did come at the more normal time in my life, so have a bone and go chew it somewhere else.

Look, I don’t disagree with the argument that anti-depressants should be seen as a last resort. My problem is that people keep saying that without believing it. Whenever I see people cite the randomly generated percentage of people they think should be on medication, the number is always laughably low. Like, you wouldn't be able to cover the combined number of people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia with the numbers I'm seeing thrown out, let alone the number of people with depression and anxiety who experience panic attacks, which is a medical emergency, that are unable to use alternative approaches to treat them. So if you want to call medication a last resort, then you need to actually recognize that for a lot of us, it was a last resort, and then you need to fucking respect that. And most of you are unwilling to.

So allow me to make this very, very clear: This isn’t about me taking issue with people analyzing a social concern about prescription medication; this is about the fact that you’re doing it wrong. But that, my friends, is a solvable problem. It is fully possible to express concern about the rise of prescription medication usage without becoming an adversary to those of us who need it. You can start by recognizing the fact that Clinical Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are legitimate mental illnesses that don’t need to be your go-to examples of everything wrong with medicine, because that nonsense isn’t exactly helping matters. Clinical Depression, under various names, has been recognized since before modern psychology, as has Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The rise in diagnoses, which has gone in cycles, is a separate matter from calling them “emotions” and saying “I get sad sometimes, too!” Again, I’ve already discussed that in previous blogs, so I’ll just add that you’re making a fool out of yourself and move on.

Don't tell me that you're not saying it isn't real, either, because very often, you are. It had once gotten to a point where I didn’t feel comfortable telling people I have depression and anxiety because I don’t know if they’re going to go into a lecture that all evidence indicates doesn’t apply to me. And often enough, my concerns had been proven correct. Honestly, I am still uncomfortable with it, but I feel it to be necessary. Because it shouldn’t have to be this way. You can’t play doctor with people who aren’t your patients, and were you even qualified to give me medical advice, you’d fucking know that. The number of strangers I’ve seen both online and off try to tell me and others not to take medication and even go off already-prescribed medication is fucking dangerous. And it’s lovely to point to statistics and say “this is concerning,” but when you resort to playing doctor with random strangers, hell, even people you know in real life, you’re risking people’s lives, just like you would be if you insisted I took penicillin.

But it’s not just about people being reckless. One of the reasons I speak on my concern with the way we talk about psychiatric medication is because it has actually directly impacted my life: I’ve had difficulty getting my medication, even when I had insurance, and the people who normally would be helping me fight for my access to medical care are often the same people who dismiss my need for it. I can’t keep shouting into the void. I need your assistance, and if you don’t pull your heads out of your asses, things aren’t going to improve.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Green Day, Preaching to the Choir (?) and Politics in 2004

So I saw someone argue that bands who express their political views in their music are basically preaching to the choir. I always thought that accusation in general was a half-truth.Yes, that element exists, but lot of people, especially young people, do hear points of view they’ve never heard before via music. That was my experience with Black 47.

That’s not really what I’m here to talk about today, however. Instead, let’s talk about the bands they listed as examples, which were Green Day, particularly American Idiot, and Rage Against the Machine, presumably their entire discography. I hear those two examples a lot, which is odd to me because Rage isn't even still together, and I remember a fair amount of their fan-base being pretty politically diverse (rap-rock was really, really popular during their heyday). Meanwhile, the Green Day argument is, at best, possibly true, and only now.

You don't have to like them, and I can understand why they turn people off. That said, I’ve loved them for over two decades. They were one of my favorite bands for much of my childhood and most of my teen years. They are extremely nostalgic for me. So yeah, I’m very familiar with their discography, particularly their first seven major albums, which spans from 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours and American Idiot. Yeah, I was “that person,” although in my defense, they also put out a lot of albums. I still am “that person” to some extent, although I don’t follow them as closely as I once did. But in regards to that particular part of their career, the leap to making entire albums that were politically charged was bigger than some remember. While they were never shy about their politics in their music, their politics were pretty easy to ignore until Warning came out. Before then, they had basically been seen as a joke band for ten years. “Do you have the time to listen to me whine?” and all that. They had two consecutive albums called Kerplunk (great album) and Dookie (the one with all the nineties hits), for Christ’s sake. Very few people cite "Welcome to Paradise" as their favorite Green Day song, and few people even remembered the song "She."

Most people ignore Warning, which was really their first attempt at a primarily political album, in this conversation. This would be because most people ignored Warning as a whole. When people talk about Green Day's music, Warning is seldom remembered or even really discussed. It was only moderately successful and only moderately good. The “just another album” feeling was overwhelming. The biggest hit was “Minority,” which was catchy, but not all that exciting for an anthem song that includes the line “down with the moral majority!” But that was only part of the reason; the "we don't go to Green Day for this" sentiment was practically a fan slogan with this album came out. I'm pretty certain "get your opinions out of your system for one song and get back to being silly and fun like always" would've been a bumper sticker if it fit. So at that point in their career, it was hard to say they were preaching to anyone; people were only passively listening.

The album after was a compilation album, so I don't know if anyone really knew what to expect next. I can tell you it wasn't American Idiot. I don't think anyone really expected that kind of album to come out from that band. There was certainly more to this album than Warning, let alone their previously better remembered albums. Warning, for all it's attempts to be "grown-up Green Day," still maintained a pretty light feel to it. American Idiot took itself a lot more seriously than any of their previous albums. It was a blunt album with a blunt title. There were no “Blood, Sex and Booze” breaks to make you snicker (“BDSM is funny” wasn’t an unheard of theme in their 90s music). American Idiot had the occasional snark, but that was mostly relegated to a line or two here and there. The closest to a break were confessional songs like “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” and even that song has a politically charged music video. It was gutsy at the time. This band with an established fanbase that made it clear that they were hardly coming for their left-wing shenanigans (no pun intended) put out an entire album opposing the Iraq war and the US government in a way that now seems simple and even tame, but at the time, it was pretty surprising.

While the Bush administration was controversial, the fact is that we didn’t protest much in 2004; we were more likely to make a snarky comment about a pronunciation of the word "nuclear" that is incredibly common in American dialect. Yeah, we were really fighting the real problems with our fearless leader, weren't we? Protest didn’t really bloom until years later, with the rise of Occupy and other groups. And at that point, unless you were a comedian, you didn’t really include views in your art. Even rap, arguably the most politically-charged musical genre of my lifetime, was a lot less political at this point in time. Interviews? Yeah. Maybe a comment here and there at a concert. One song was acceptable, two was pushing it. It just wasn’t a thing. There were a lot of love songs and a lot of confessional songs. Even the Dixie Chicks controversy was based on a comment made during a show, not a song. They were basically forced to include politics in their music; before that, the most political they got was covering a joke song about killing an abusive husband.

So saying Green Day was preaching to the choir implies that there was a choir to preach to. The anti-Bush choir existed, but those who were willing to do more than vote for Kerry were few and far between. Now, I’m not trying to oversell this album: I like American Idiot, but it was never my favorite Green Day album. I wax nostalgic far more over Kerplunk. I also don’t claim it was incredibly groundbreaking; there wasn’t an influx of “power to the people” albums from other bands as a result. But it did take guts to release, it did get people talking and debating about the issues raised, and pretending otherwise is extremely unfair.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Because I Had To

Okay, I’ve seen this written about in a few blogs and this pretty much went viral. Typically, I wouldn’t do a blog about this kind of thing, but some things are just need to be mocked until people get it through their thick skulls that it’s ridiculous and not good advice. Which brings us here today. Here is the original article in its full glory:

How To Talk to a Woman Wearing Headphones (added bonus: you get to see Dan's defense, which includes the hilariously asinine excuse of "here's a celebrity who agrees with me!" Well done, Dan *pats head*)

Imma take this one piece by piece. Quotes from the article are highlighted in orange with my commentary below:

These days, many women walk around playing with a smartphone or tablet device and are often wearing headphones and listening to music at the same time.

Errr, yes. That’s called living in the 21st century. Hell, the headphones thing started in what, the seventies? I remember my first Walkman… Yeah, iPods are better.

Yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to them.

Well, you can talk to just about anyone, but usually when people are doing something that requires their ears and\or brains to be engaged, it’s not the appropriate time to hit on them. A lot of bloggers have pointed out that headphones are also a sign of “leave me alone” in most circumstances. Add “reading a book” to that list.

 As a rule, honestly, I don’t really recommend flirting with strangers unless you’re in a place specifically designated for such communication, eg. a singles bar, a dance, a speed dating event. It’s embarrassing and in a lot of cases, extremely intimidating. But yes, if someone engaged in an activity that clearly communicates “don’t want to talk,” it’s generally considered rude to talk to them unless it’s an actual necessity.

Of course, not all women are open to being approached because not all women are single and looking.

Indeed, the only women who don’t want to talk to you are taken. Otherwise, we’re all getting ready to throw our mouths right on your dick. That’s sarcasm, by the way. I’m not sure if the readers of these kind of articles will get that.

However, if a woman wearing headphones is single and hoping to meet a boyfriend (or even a new lover), she will usually be happy to take off her headphones to give you an opportunity to create a spark with her.

Anyone else waiting for him to say “this is a single woman in her natural habitat?” This entire article is based on the idea that single and looking women are A. attracted to men and B. waiting at all moments for a guy to come up to her and let her know that he's interested. If you’re over fifteen, you’re gonna meet a lot of people of all genders who are single and looking because they have they have decided that being selective is actually a logical thing and not the cause of all evil in the universe. And I can’t speak for all women, but the type of person who interrupts random strangers who have made it clear they’d like to be left alone is not usually on the “yes” list.

Her taking off her headphones doesn’t always mean that she is super interested and wants you to ask for her number or anything serious like that.

Imagine that!

Sometimes, it’s simply a cause of her being open to what you’ve got to say and to then see where it goes.

But more likely, it’s because you’re going out of her way to bother her and she wants to see what the fuck you want.

What to Do to Get Her Attention

This oughta be invigorating.

1. Stand in front of her (with 1 to 1.5 meters between you).

Yes, block her exit. That’s a good way to start a totally non-intimidating conversation. Again, sarcasm. Okay, I know 1 to 1.5 meters gives you about three to five feet of space, but you’re still standing directly in front of someone who is likely either trying to walk or sitting on a bus (and buses aren’t usually big enough to give you that kind of standing room anyway, so you're probably closer to a foot away). That’s intimidating. I don’t know what to tell you.

2. Have a confident, easy-going smile.

I’m a little surprised he didn’t recommend slicked back hair and finger guns…

3. If she hasn’t already looked up at you, simply get her attention with a wave of your hand. Wave your hand in her direct line of vision so she can see it.

Oh my fucking Christ. I gotta be honest, at this point in the article I started wondering if we were all getting duped by The Onion again. What other publication would post pick-up advice that involves a playground gesture specifically meant to annoy people? No, this is a real thing. People. All people, regardless of gender. Don’t do that. Do not that, instead.

4. When she looks at you, smile, point to her headphones and confidently ask, “Can you take off your headphones for a minute?” as you pretend to be taking headphones off your head, so she fully understands what you mean.

I’m aware that this blog can be boiled down to “Jessica’s being condescending,” but I can honestly say I’ve never attempted to use condescension in the art of seduction. Odd strategy. Don't recommend it.

If she doesn’t understand that you want her to briefly take off her headphones, simply gesture that you want to talk to her by pointing back and forth from you to her and say, “I want to talk to you for a minute.”

She understands you fine. She is indicating that she is annoyed by you.

In most cases, you won’t have to go to that extreme, but some girls are shy and will be hesitant about taking their headphones off initially. If she doesn’t want to take off her headphones, it’s probably a good sign that she doesn’t want to talk to you, so just respect that and leave the interaction.

Yeah, you don’t get to do that. You don’t get to say “don’t worry, she’s just shy," tell your reader to nag her multiple times, and then try to brush off criticism with the tacked on “but if she doesn’t want to talk to you, respect that.” That’s called contradicting yourself to avoid criticism, and we’ve all caught that.

5. If she takes off her headphones to talk to you, do what we call “Acknowledging the Awkwardness” by quickly mentioning something about the potential awkwardness of the moment (see the conversation example below), to demonstrate you understand that approaching a woman in this way isn’t the most common of experiences for either party.

For example, in a shopping mall or shopping street:

You: [Smile in a friendly, confident manner] Hey – I know it’s not normal for people to talk to someone with headphones in, but I was walking along and saw you and thought – wow, she’s hot, I have to come over and say hi. I’m Dan, what’s your name?

Woman: Jessica.

You: [Add in some humor to get her smiling and create a spark between you] Cool…nice to meet you Jessica. I don’t normally talk to girls with headphones, but your big green headphones were just calling out to me.

Woman: [Possibly smiling or laughing].

You: [If you’re in a shopping mall or city street, let her know that you have something else to do besides talk to her, so she understands that you’re not going to stand there talking to her for 30 minutes] Anyway, I’m just out doing a bit of shopping at the moment. How about you?

This fake conversation is an insult to Jessicas everywhere. Here’s how it should actually go:

 You: [Smile in a friendly, confident manner] Hey – I know it’s not normal for people to talk to someone with headphones in, but I was walking along and saw you and thought – wow, she’s hot, I have to come over and say hi. I’m Dan, what’s your name?

Jessica: They call me Mellow Yellow and you’re not acting confident; you’re acting creepy. [moves to a crowded area]

If it’s clear that she’s interested in talking to you, keep the conversation going and if she’s not busy at that moment, sit down with her and have a chat for a while before getting her phone number and parting ways.

Nice of Danny to forget to give his audience ways to tell if she’s actually interested in talking to you and not just unable to move to a crowded area.

Common Mistakes That Guys Make When Approaching Women Who Are Wearing Headphones

1. Approaching in a nervous manner

If you’re nervous, that’s probably your brain giving you good advice.

If you want the interaction to go smoothly and not feel awkward for either of you, make sure that you approach and talk to her in a relaxed, confident manner.

Most women are attracted to the strength in men (e.g. confidence, masculinity) and turned off by the weakness (e.g. nervousness, anxiety), so if you are nervous or anxious, she probably won’t be interested in talking to you.

Ah yes, the “this is a woman in her natural habitat” narration is back. Now, I’m sure a lot of women do like confident men and I’m the strange weirdo who thinks a little shyness is actually human and shit, but word of advice, if you’re reading this kind of thing with any level of earnestness, you’re probably faking confidence. And that’s really fucking noticeable. I’m serious.

 Also, equating “strength” and “masculinity” has been seen as at best, an eye-roller and at worst, dangerous since the seventies. Catch up.

For example: If a guy asks a girl to take off her headphones and the first words out of his mouth are, “Hi, ummm… I was, ummm… wondering, ummm… sorry to interrupt…how, ummm… are you?” you can guess what will happen next.

Headphones back in and she’ll likely turn up the volume to block him out.

Gee, yes, women hate it when you apologize for jumping in front of them and then have the nerve to use interjections. Why, just yesterday I was saying to my significant other “you know why I love you so, my dear? Because you don’t say ‘um.'" [/sarcasm] Ugh. To recap: The writer doesn't respect women, doesn't respect men and ignores the rest of the spectrum. Seriously, is misanthropy the only qualification for writing this kind of drivel?

2. Giving up too easily


Headphones are a great barrier between a person and the rest of the world.

Again, that would be intentional.

Some women wear headphones because they don’t want guys or anyone else to speak to them, so if you try to talk to a woman and she clearly shows that she’s not interested in talking to you, just respect that and walk away.

Not some; most.

However, sometimes a woman will be interested in talking to a guy, but she won’t immediately pull out her headphones and show interest. Why?

Some women like to test to see how confident a guy is by ignoring his attempts to converse with her and then seeing what he does next.

So, we’re going with the “women who directly show disinterest in you are secretly mad scientists testing men” line of reasoning? What happened to “if she’s not interested, walk away?” Oh wait, you were full of shit when you said you believed that. Got it.

Does he become nervous and awkward? Does he walk away in shame, or does he remain calm and continue talking to her in a confident, easy-going manner?

No, seriously, where does this “women hate guys who express the mildest discomfort in an admittedly weird situation” line of reasoning come from? Men, seriously, it’s okay to fucking feel awkward at times. Sometimes that awkwardness is an indicator that you should stop doing what you’re doing. Like now!

If a guy gives up at the first sign of resistance, a woman like her will lose interest because he lacks the type of confidence that she looks for in a guy.

Okay, this would be the one line I cannot snark at: seriously, after another person resists, if you don’t leave them alone, you are now harassing them. Go away. Now.

So, if you are going to talk to a woman with headphones, just keep in mind that some women will immediately take off their headphones to chat to you, some will make it obvious that they don’t want to be bothered and others might want to talk to you, but first want to see if you will remain confident if she doesn’t immediately begin talking to you.

You literally just told your audience to ignore resistance because women are tricky. Don’t qualify that shit; hit the delete button.

3. Not leading the conversation 

Now that you’ve interrupted a woman and ignored her boundaries, Dan would like you to know that you alone should be in control of the conversation. Why? Because he’s a douchebag.

If a shy guy stands in front a woman and is lost for words, she’s most likely going to just put her headphones back in or say, “Nice to meet you. Bye” as she walks away to get away from him.

Again with the shyness thing. She’s not annoyed with you because you’re shy; she’s annoyed with you because you’re rude and creepy.

You have approached her, so you can’t expect her to be the one making all the conversation. You’ve got to lead the way.

Okay, let’s say everything’s going fine and the person you are talking to expresses interest in conversing with you. Maintaining strict control over the direction the conversation is going in a casual setting isn’t “confidence;” it’s fucking rude. You’re indicating that it doesn’t actually matter what the other person has to say and wants to talk about, and this attitude bleeds into other aspects of life in relationships. Stop encouraging controlling behavior in your readers.

Leading a conversation with a woman is not about bossing her around, being arrogant or being too assertive as you talk to her.


Instead, you simply need to remain confident and keep the conversation going in a relaxed, easy going manner.

This behavior is neither relaxed nor easy-going.

4. Sticking to polite or reserved conversation

If a guy gets a woman to take off her headphones to talk to him and then only engages her in a polite, reserved conversation, she’s probably not going to be very enthusiastic about talking to him for long.

Yeah, you’re not on a date. It’s okay to stick to small talk, at least until you find a genuinely common interest. Or, you know, you could let her get back to her music… just sayin’.

So, make sure that you have the confidence to talk to her and be real. Just let your natural personality and sense of humor come through as you talk to her in a confident, easy going manner, rather than trying to be too polite or reserved.

How do you propose your readers show their “natural personality” when you’ve provided choreography for the entire interaction?

5. Not including any flirting

Flirting is the most discreet way for a man and a woman to communicate sexual interest in each other, without actually having to say, “Hey, I’m interested in you in a sexual way.”

It’s hardly discreet when you’ve already started the conversation with “you’re the hottest bitch in this place.”

If a guy doesn’t include any flirting after getting a woman to take off her headphones to talk to him, she will most likely begin to wonder why he is talking to her if he isn’t interested in her in that way.

As you can see, Dan's insight into the female brain is the result of hours of research on a completely unrelated topic.

She might then say, “Nice talking to you. Bye”, put her headphones back in and zone him out.

That was what she was trying to do to begin with.

So, if your intention is to get the woman’s phone number so you can possibly take her on a date, make sure that you attempt to flirt with her and see if she flirts back. If she flirts back, it usually means that she is interested and is open to getting to know you further.

Well, I’ll give you that you’re waiting for her to flirt back, but you do realize that lots of people prefer to be speaking to\flirting with a person for a while before handing out personal information, right? It’s called the “I may or may not be interested, but I’d like to make sure you’re not a serial killer before I give you information you can use to find out where I live” approach. It’s a good approach.

Approaching Women

This, on the other hand, is a bad approach.

As you may have noticed, women usually don’t go around actively approaching men in public places or even in bars or clubs. Women know that is the man’s role to be confident enough to walk over and talk to a woman he finds attractive, so they have a chance to meet. If he doesn’t do that, a woman will rarely walk over and talk to him first.

Fuck you; this isn’t the Regency era. Hence the headphones and the moving pictures.

So, don’t ever think that you’re doing a bad thing by approaching and talking to a woman in a confident, easy going way.

Not even when she’s telling you to get the fuck away from her but you're still not sure she isn't playing hard-to-get? Dan, you suck at giving advice in a way that doesn’t make you sound like a predator.

Most single women are open to being approached by a confident guy, so that they can have a chance to meet a potential new lover or boyfriend.

*Re-reads that line* Yes, he really just wrote that. Remember that “delete” button I told you about?

The key to talking to a woman who is wearing headphones (or who has her face buried into her smartphone and checking Facebook) is to be confident, relaxed and easy going as you talk to her.

Repeating a statement does not make said statement correct.

Of course, not all women who wear headphones are open to being approached or hoping to be approached. 

By not all, he means most are not.

However, you can only find that out by starting a conversation and seeing what happens. Who knows, she might just be your perfect girl, so go ahead and talk to her.

And respect her if she doesn’t want to talk to you but she might secretly be testing you so continue the conversation and don’t bully her but control her and don’t be an asshole but be a douchebag.

This would be why I don't think you can mock this article enough.

Monday, August 29, 2016

"Expert" Opinions on the Flu

"But the flu is so over-diagnosed! I mean, we all sneeze from time to time. It's just part of the human condition!"

"But the flu is so over-diagnosed! Which means it's imaginary in all cases!"

"But the flu is so over-diagnosed! I'm basing this opinion on a popular phrase I hear and have no idea if it's true!"

"But the flu is so over-diagnosed! I'm basing this opinion on a popular phrase I hear and have no idea what it means!"

"Look, I'm sorry you have the flu, but that's only because your attitude stinks."

"Look, I'm sorry you have the flu, but it happens to all of us. Get over it."

"Look, I'm sorry you have the flu, but the flu is a human emotion that we all deal with."

"Well, of course you think you have the flu! Your [insert important individual in the person's life who died and who you probably shouldn't bring up right now here] died when you were little! You're just upset about that."

"Well, of course you think you have the flu! All intelligent people get a little flu-ey every now and then!"

"Oh, come on. Everyone says they have the flu. That's how doctors make their money."

"Oh, come on. Everyone says they have the flu. You're not sick; you're a hipster."

"Oh, come on. Everyone says they have the flu. You were fine last time we spoke, back in '92."

"I read an article once about the flu, and it said that people who take NyQuil have the same chances of feeling better as people who take placebos. I don't know when it was written or if the study included all flu medications or if it was even peer-reviewed, but I feel like that proves that the flu is all in your mind, so just stop puking."

"I read an article once about the flu, and while I don't know if you are on medication for it, I'm going to give my opinion on anti-flu medication every time I can."

"I read an article once about the flu. Well, I skimmed, really. Well, I read the headline, anyway. And that makes me more qualified to diagnose you than the multiple specialists you spoke to."

All sounds kinda ignorant, eh?

Pizza and Foxholes

I’ve been thinking about the phrase “there’s no Atheists in foxholes” lately. Besides the obvious “we hate Atheists” sentiment, there’s an inherent misunderstanding that phrase implies about atheism.

The phrase attempts to make the claim that all people go to God in a time of need, and therefore, Atheism is a luxury of the blessed (by or not by God), as opposed to a legitimate viewpoint. When life hands you lemons, you’re hardwired to ask God to make lemonade for you. So many questions begging, like “why do you assume this to be the case?” and “even if this is true, is this information even useful as a compelling argument in favor of as specific deity's existence and if so, why?” But a lot of those have been discussed. There are plenty of people who are atheists before, during and after they go through hard times, and no, it’s not compelling proof of anything, but it was never meant to prove God; it was meant to attack Atheists. But those things, in my mind, are only part of the problem with that expression. My biggest problem with it is that it clearly misunderstands what it means to be an Atheist on a very, very basic level.

Because one doesn’t really have to subscribe to a specific ideology to be an Atheist, there is no universally accepted view of whether-or-not having moments of thinking there may be a God makes you less of an Atheist, whatever the circumstance. From my experience, however, most Atheists don’t expect you to have unshakable lack-of-faith to identify the word. Are there people like that who exist? Yes, in every demographic. But the idea that Atheism has such specific connotations shows a misunderstanding of the difference between the approach of someone with a conservative religious outlook, who is likely to see the questioning of one’s beliefs as a moment of weakness, and an Atheist, who is just as likely to see it as normal as they are to see it as weakness.

The phrase also ignores a very, very obvious distinction between desire and belief. I have certainly been in situations where I wanted God to be real, but did not think He was, and I feel like this leans more towards the mentality that a lot of praying foxhole Atheists would have. Wanting to believe is not the same as believing.

Plenty of people convert during hard times, but that’s not an inherent flaw in disbelief. People have become Atheists during hard times, too. Hell, I’m more likely to buy pizza when I’m depressed, too. Does that mean there are no diets in foxholes? Because you’re essentially saying the same thing.