By the Way, Scumbags

This post is for the scumbags. Hello scumbags. I got a list from someone to pre-emptively block a lot of you, which is pretty cool. When I invited y’all to come out and get blocked, a number of you were already on it, so straight into the trash without having to push a button. Nice.

But those of you with affection for sock puppetry ended up with some socks in the trash and some just in moderation. I added those puppets to the filter as well, but I’m sure you’ll come up with more. My question: In all the puppetry, do you have a real name or regular nym? Do you try the real name first, then switch to socks when your comment doesn’t appear? Are you known by your real name anywhere other than facebook and work e-mail?

I don’t read the comments that go straight to my trash thoroughly, just skim for keywords that they are indeed deserving of their home in the waste. But I did notice a comment saying that wanting to like people is at odds with aggressive blocking. But you’re wrong! It’s entirely consistent.

I want to like people, and I cannot if I know that they are abusive and shitty. So if I managed to go five years without seeing one person being racist misogynist or otherwise trashy, my pathologically optimistic neurotypical brain just might be able to trick me into forgetting how much you creeps are worthy of hatred. I just might accidentally start to assume good will from you again. People are basically alright, right? Right? Haha, yep.

Perfect example: I had a link to Wilford Brimley talking about oatmeal in the bottom of one of my posts. When you follow the link to youtube, in the sidebar recs is a video of Brimley’s views on homosexuality. I didn’t click on that link, and guess what? I still kinda like Wilford Brimley!

Useful Faces

Most people conduct themselves differently in different company and situations. Social media can jumble our sense of discretion when we forget our audience, or accidentally post in the wrong place. On tumblr, the norm is for people to have a bunch of cute animals, yuks, positivity, and horrifying news from the movement, all in a messy stream. Who is that meant for? It’s not great.

When I first got into tumblr, it was with the intention of creating a feed where no one would encounter depressing or triggering content. I’m not hyper-scrupulous about tagging things that don’t bother me (like cute snakes and bees), so it isn’t the safest place on that platform for people with those problems, but it’s a good place to go for yuks and cute animals, sans all the hot news about how we’re doomed and people are fucking evil. A rare service. I also limit the images of people to extremely non-sexy ones* because hawtness invites thinking about bodies, a problem for many eating disorder sufferers.

That’s my primary tumblr, but in following others to get material, I kept getting stuff I couldn’t use on my dash, and had no outlet for the way it made me feel. So I started the Great American Satan tumblr (which mostly reblogs political stuff), a less sensible tumblr for barfing up all of the horrifying news about white race terrorists, and an artful repository for images of sexy people.

That’s my useful faces of the moment. This blog, its tumblr version, the easy going tumblr, the ragey anti-racist one, and the sexy people. There’s a few others that don’t lend themselves to snappy descriptions, and no doubt more to come eventually.

What are your faces online? What do you use them for?

*Just realized this sounds like I’m trying to post unsexy people. That’s not exactly it, it’s just generally posting people that are not being at all sexy. Generally. Boy. I rly can’t compose words today.

Don’t Say “White Guilt”

I don’t want to hear it. I’m annoyed to sometimes hear the phrase from progressive quarters. I wouldn’t be surprised if it originated in the African American civil rights movement, a way of talking about white people doing activist tourism, or some such. But most of the time when I hear it now? It’s from shameless racist cockstains. Whether you fit that description or not, don’t bring that phrase in my house.

I don’t feel guilt for the actions of racist whites. I feel shame. There’s a difference. Guilt would be if I felt personally responsible for slavery, lynching, etc. I don’t. I feel some guilt for the actual racist things I’ve done due to unconscious biases, but being neurotypical, my brain doesn’t even let me feel all that bad about it. I feel alright.

Shame though. I feel gross for sharing qualities with scumbags. I feel gross for having kinship with people like Trump and David Duke. I feel ashamed to be the same race as these people not because I think there’s something inherent in race that makes one good or evil, but because THEY make our shared race important in a disgusting way.

Likewise atheism and manhood. I’m ashamed to be the same apparent gender as Thunderf00t, Eron Gjoni, Daryush Valizadeh, and Ted Bundy – not because I think being a man makes one inherently evil, but because THEY have exercised the social power of their gender in evil ways. Because Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, TJ Kirk, Pat Condell, Penn Jillette, Bill Maher, and more have cited atheism and secularism in defense of shitty terrible positions.

People of privilege at this moment in history are in high reactionary mode, becoming more loud, terrible, fearful, and hateful than ever before. They’re making us look bad. If you don’t feel that, well, good for you, Jimmy. But you should be aware Trump reflects on you. Dawkins reflects on you. You cannot escape your brand, and it is being dragged through the shit right now in an epic way, by YOUR fellows.

You might not feel the shame like I do, but if you did, it might prepare you for the way the oppressed react to your presence. Might help you understand things like Schrodinger’s Rapist and Hands up, Don’t shoot. Whatever the case, don’t talk to me about white guilt.

A Reason for Joining Freethought Blogs

People are hungry for content, something to fill their minds with, engage, distract, allow them to feel outside of themselves in a good way. When they come to a blog network instead of a random singular blog, they will see other articles in the sidebar, and click on those. They need content! Need it.

So. Let’s say your blog doesn’t have a ton of up-front appeal by itself, but if people come around a while, get to know you, they really like what you’re offering. How do you get them to come back repeatedly so they can get past the initial unfamiliarity?

Show up in the sidebar on a blog network. People come here for what they know, for PZ or Iris or other authors they followed from other places. But they need more, and they’ll see your articles in the sidebar. They will get to know you. Your stuff will be seen. All you have to do is be productive and you can have an audience here.

The pay is sub-minimum wage, but you could monetize that in other ways. Parlay it into speaking gigs, sell merch, take donations for specific kinds of content, whatever. But you can do none of those things without an audience. A blogging platform gives you a guaranteed audience. I love it. I’m not taking full advantage of it at the moment, but it’s here for me when I’m ready.

That said, we aren’t a good cultural fit for lots of people. You don’t have to agree with everything everyone says. There are bloggers here I won’t read at all, or that I’ll just skip their comment sections. But the bare minimum: You have to be OK with unapologetic atheism. There are many of us who are in full-blooded opposition to islamophobia, but none of us will defend islam itself from fair criticism, none of us think any religion should be shielded from blasphemy. That puts us at odds with large swaths of the liberal community.

Meanwhile, none of us are going to tolerate misogyny, racism, queerphobia, etc., and that puts us at odds with unfortunately large swaths of the secular community. Look around, feel things out, do what seems right for you. But know that it’s a pretty cool deal. Think about it.

Difficulties of Being Good

I know the title of this article sounds like I’m about to go into some self-pitying biz about how “no good deed goes unpunished” and only the virtuous suffer and so on. I’ve been on that tip in the past, but it doesn’t seem right to me anymore. No, this article is about the disadvantages people have when it comes to being a good person, which is a way in which I might be rather fortunate.

First, what I mean by being good: Causing no harm to others, generally leaving people in an equal or better state than that in which you found them. Being a positive (or at least not negative) influence in society. This is not something everyone aspires to, but most would prefer to at least not be thought of as evil. Even that lower bar is a hard one for some of us to clear. What is it that makes it hard to be good?

A few mental illnesses can be a factor. Antisocial Personality Disorder and Narcissism can make it very hard to be good, especially for the undiagnosed and those lacking in self-awareness. But there are much more common difficulties found in the neurotypical. Four that I’ll talk about right now: bullying instinct, greed for wealth, greed for power, and social privilege. (There are probably better formal terms for the first three that I’m unaware of, but bear with me.)

Bullying instinct is expressed in a lot of different ways, but fundamentally it’s the drive to hurt the disadvantaged for pleasure. There are lots of ways to be disadvantaged. A new kid at school with no social capital or buffer of friends to protect them, a physically weak person against a strong one, a child or elderly or disabled person in the care of an able-bodied adult, a member of a traditionally oppressed class faced with the privileged, and so on. In cyber-bullying of the MRA/GG/etc. variety, the disadvantage is being a singular public personality against an anonymous horde in an as-yet lawless domain. The public faces of cyber-bullying (Gjoni, Yiannopoulos, that fake goth, Dawkins, etc.) would be relatively powerless if not for the hordes of flying monkeys that fill the sky whenever they say a name, and for the way society doesn’t believe respect or defend the types of people they usually target.

I’ve never understood why people want to hurt those who are vulnerable to them. I want to hurt people who cause harm to me or to others, but whether that’s good or bad (it ain’t great), it isn’t the same thing. I want to protect people who are being hurt. To hurt someone who can’t fight back? Why do that? What’s the appeal? But one doesn’t have to look far to see that it’s an extremely common instinct. So much so that you would be wrong to pathologize it, to say it’s a mental illness. If a personality trait affects 35% of your species, it isn’t a mental illness, it’s just part of the range of neurotypical behavior. (I pulled that number out of my rear, no idea what the numbers are actually like or if there’s even reasonable way for anyone to find out.)

This question has plagued me since I had the language to articulate it – Why bullies? My earliest memory is getting a bloody nose from a much larger child. It’s the genesis of this article. This everyday emotional sadism no doubt makes it very difficult to be a good person. Moving on though, greed for wealth and power.

Greed for wealth is another thing I’ve never understood. Desire for a spacious house, fun toys? A fast shiny car? Cool-looking clothes? I get all of that, I’ve felt it to some extent or another same as anyone. But the dollars themselves – why want those? And the status symbols – why want those? A fast shiny car could be forty years old, cared for and maintained. Why get a brand new Bentley every year? The only reason is status, and I do not fucking understand that. What feels good about that? Driving fast, looking at your nifty possessions with satisfaction, OK. Wanting possessions that do nothing for you except denote your willingness and ability to waste a fuckton of money? What is that?

And even if you are one of the rich that doesn’t splurge on those things, that does hold onto your paper, hustle it into offshore accounts, pay off politicians to never tax you. Why? What is that good for? It’s nothing. It’s utterly abstract. Even if you have that money in gold, the value of gold is subjective. It isn’t magic. If two men are in a golden prison with no food, food is more valuable to them. Papers, gold, bitcoins, who cares?

My dude suggested to me it’s a fear of class warfare – an understanding that the rightfully outraged will ultimately tear down your castles, leading to a feeling that you must build that castle into the sky just to feel safe. I don’t know, but desire for money and status symbols compels many people to do very bad things. Being good when you have those urges can’t come easily.

Greed for power over others. I’ve had a small measure of this before, and while taking advantage of the power you have for petty stuff I get (like choosing what movie your crew goes to), seeking additional power, holding desperately onto what power I have, this has never been appealing to me. Again, what does it mean? Why would you want to have control over others? Any praise that comes from those you control is automatically suspect as coerced. With power you can’t feel truly loved, only feared. Why would you want that? From high school clique control to shift managers in fast food up to high offices and dictators, the lust for power can make it more difficult to be good.

Lastly (on my list, if not in reality), we come to social privilege. While the other traits on the list are things I’m fortunately lacking, privilege is definitely not. I’ve been raised as a presumed boy, presumed man, in a society that favors boys and men so powerfully it’s god damn nightmarish. I’ve been white in a country that will fucking destroy you without a thought for being anything else (if you aren’t lucky). The worst thing about privilege for the privileged is that it makes us feel entitled over the oppressed and simultaneously blinds us to noticing that sense of entitlement. It’s a huge barrier to being good.

One can have every trait on this list and still be a good person, but to do so, you have to understand what you’re up against. You have to fight through it. If you manage to be good, even saintly with your favored people – family, friends, your race or social class – but are a menace to people outside of that group, then you’re a bad person. Take an honest look at yourself, get it together, try again.

Myself as an example: I don’t want to hurt people for fun, I don’t want money or status or power, I even have some genuinely positive intentions. But I’ve done bad things, mostly from being blind to my privilege over women. And even some years after I started to get educated about that privilege, I still fucked up, I did bad, because I’m so habituated to that privilege. Did I rape anyone? No, never been in a situation where that was even a question. But I definitely did some things that could be construed as sexual harassment of the verbal type, made a few women feel unsafe or alienated. And with regards to race, I’ve had some fuckups too.

I’ve been bad, I can certainly make mistakes in the future, but I don’t want to be bad, and I’ll do my best to keep that from happening. When I’m called out, I’ll cop to it, apologize, take the appropriate punishment. The kind of people who don’t want to acknowledge that privilege is real will read this and shake their heads, think of me as some self-flagellating fool who is putting myself through torture over invisible sins.

Guess what, dudes? Once you recognize your privilege (it’s as blindingly obvious and real as the sun if you are willing to look), recognize your harmful impulses, being good isn’t that hard. You might screw up, you might have to do some apologizing, might take some deserved licks. But 99.9% of the time? It’s pretty fucking easy, and it feels good to know I’m not hurting people, feels good to know that I can actually help people.

You can do it too. Pay your taxes. Don’t keep up with the Joneses. Don’t boss people around. Recognize your advantages and use them to offset the disadvantages others face. Tell your bros at the meeting to shut up for five minutes so the woman can talk. Realize you might not be seeing everyone as fully human, wake up, meet the humans all around you. You might be able to take the scare quotes off your “gay friend” and your “black friend,” might be able to occupy a friendzone with comfort and style.

It’s the right thing to do.

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Though Pepe’s meme is usually in the hands of hate criminals, in hateless incarnations, I can dig.  Here we see the sad Pepe in a very brief animation.

Two things:

I had this foolish schedule with only an eight hour gap between two eight hour shifts, and rather than monkey with buses to get ten minutes of sleep at home, thought I’d be clever and sleep in the break room.  I barely slept and ended up super sweaty and vile.  I felt so gross it killed me.  Plus just working that shift wrecked me even worse than the job usually does.

I’m in this state that is hardly a relief from the quasi-depression I’d gotten into from long underemployment.  I put myself through pain and stress all day for a reward that seems inadequate and a million years away.  My first paycheck is in about four days, it feels further away.  Feels like I’m hurting myself for nothing but self-loathing, a punishment for inadequately providing for my loved ones for years.  I do my customer service game face as much as possible, but it’s a thin mask on a zombied out pile of agonized cellz.  Seems to fool about 65% of people.

Thing two, being around humans means sexism, racism, misogyny, fatphobia, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia.  If you’re clued into that shit, you know why anyone would want a safe place from it all.  It is shot through so many of our conversations and ways of relating to each other.  Like, in any work environment, you’re going to have one or more guys whose interactions with women are all creepy as hell.  Maybe for whatever reason the ladies are sorta OK with it or front as such, but it doesn’t make it less grody to see a fiftyish dude smiling on young ladies over everyone else.

Then there’s like a third of all lady conversations that seem to come back to weight, with a lot of self-loathing and popular delusions and eating disorder talk.  Then there’s the really disgusting fuckers – the ones with minds so full of hate they need to be shitting on someone to feel right.  Some are macho men, some are ladied-out ladies, but they’re usually awash in cisheteronormativity, have to treat the existence of non-cishet people as a joke in and of itself, act like LGBTQIA people are repulsive, when it’s the brains on these creeps that are the most disgusting thing in the room.

And all this stuff is low-key and banal and common enough that I’ll look like the unreasonable terrible nogoodnik for reporting it.  What could that evil liberal PC police fucker’s problem be?  Does he just hate America?  Hate fun?  I dunno.  Maybe.  Our society as it now exists is fucking unacceptable.  Change it please.  We shouldn’t spend so much of our time hurting each other, regardless of whether or not we recognize that’s what we’re doing.

Oh, also, I saw a gaggle of young skinny white dudes with one wearing a trump hat backwards.  And I didn’t even stop to crush them into bone meal.  I’m really being spectacularly well behaved lately.  The man should throw me a fuckin’ bone already.

Right After the Grodiness

Right as I was still recovering from the norovirus, I got a brutal foot-crushing job in retail. Part time in name only, where they can schedule you for 35 hours while pressuring you to work more than 40 and still not give you full time benefits. I still haven’t received my first paycheck yet and I feel like a bloody piece of hamburger, ready to be consumed and flushed into eternal nothingness. Good times.

My schedule is also so weird and inconsistent that I have a random four week days off next week. Wonder what I could do with that time off, perhaps involving classified ads…? Anyhow, assuming I continue to suffer thru this BS without crumbling into ruin over the longer term, anybody have suggestions for footwear?