Sunday, March 4, 2012

Social Media Society- How Networking Sites Has Affected Relationships (Pt. 1)

                The internet has changed the game of life. And we all know it. 

                Once the internet became popular, life as we know it became a tad bit “different”. Information that took weeks, days, or hours to hear now only takes minutes or seconds. Many scrambled around to be the first ones to actually have something to say about a situation. Others have increased their understanding (or lack thereof) through blogging, gossip, and gross misrepresentations of life through video outlets (World Star and Youtube aren’t always good for us). Still, it remains that the internet has chained our lives for better and for worse. 

                Depending on your position on whichever the pendulum may swing, social networks can be seen as either or. What may not be up to debate is the effect that social networks have had on relationships (as a whole). Which brings me to my next Chocolate Covered Lie: social networks have improved relationships. 

You Really Have All Those Friends?

                Let me make one thing clear: many of those people on sites like Facebook may be considered “friends”. In reality, they are not. James Randerson, science consultant for The Guardian (UK) notes this:

Previous research has suggested that a person's conventional friendship group consists of around 150 people, with five very close friends but larger numbers of people who we keep in touch with less regularly. This figure is so consistent that scientists have suggested it is determined by the cognitive constraints of keeping up with large numbers of people. Larger numbers just require too much brain effort to keep track of. [1]

So, in many cases, many people have a few friends and many acquaintances. Not to say that many of those people on Facebook are not good people you want around in your life.  Yet, it is quite hard to say that these people are your friends unless you have “met them face to face” [2]. In reality, social networking sites have blurred the line between true friendship and casual acquaintances. 

                Just because they are not your true friends does not make them insignificant. They are just weak ties [3]. Think about this honestly: if you don’t hang with these people or break bread with them at least on occasion, how much of a friendship do you have? If you notice that you don’t discuss much outside of Drake’s eyebrows or Lil Wayne’s jeggings nightmare with these people, can you truly say that they are friends when they “tend to be kind of specialized in what topics you talk about” [4]. Consequently, as long as we recognize our relationships as what they are, there will be no issues. 

                Then again, being humans, we always let things get to our heads. This issue leads to the next section. 

Social Arrogrance over the World Wide Web

                Besides the issue if having “so called friends” within your circle, there is another situation that occurs on social networking sites. This situation is just another example of profound madness. People make it as if it should be “regular” or “common”. Yet, it still remains to be something that is profoundly disturbing. In the end, this situation does nothing but make relationships apprehensive.
                The situation I am referring to is the “internet ego”. 

                Don’t know what I am referring to? Well, let me break it down for you and the rest of the world. 

                Some people bring out a “pseudo panache” when they are on social networks. You ever see the plethora of photos put on display for the sake of compliments? Have you paid attention to the silly self-esteem jockeying middle names that always occur on Facebook? Even better: how often have you, or anyone you know, become “defriended” or “blocked” because you voiced an opinion that was contrary to someone else’s beliefs? If you have noticed any of this, then you are aware of the “internet ego”. 

                People could just write off this phenomenon as a washed up opinion if there wasn’t research to go along with it. A study at Cornell concluded to the same thing, thanks to Jeffrey Hancock’s conclusion:

Unlike a mirror, which reminds us of who we really are and may have a negative effect on self-esteem if that image does not match with our ideal, Facebook can show a positive version of ourselves. We're not saying that it's a deceptive version of self, but it's a positive one [5]
People always use Facebook to make themselves look positive, even to the point of false advertisement. While Hancock sees it as a positive thing, many other see it as the ego boosting situation that it is. Regardless of opposing views, social networks have become a place where some of us work to make ourselves “feel better”. 

                Which is ridiculous. 

The Skinny

                Social networks are great tools for interpersonal communication. However, they have created situations of ego stroking and mistaken relationships. It becomes a problem when people feel the need to work hard to win others over or cut them off because they aren’t brown nosing them. Social networks have improved the communication and worldwide information processing. The ego tripping is just added foolery that isn’t needed. 

                Part 2 coming soon!!! ‘Nuff said and ‘Nuff respect!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shared Brain Syndrome- Chocolate Covered Lies #21

                Sometimes, men and women can never escape the unnecessary argument or discussion. 

                Let’s get into the short story: I was having a discussion about behaviors and actions about certain aspects of life (love, stress, and other situations). At some point, I came out and said “Personally, most males don’t get too riled up about things because, in general, we really don’t care”. As usual, the female population around me did not want to hear this. I’m not sure whether or not they liked my answer or not. I’m not truly sure if they truly believed it but didn’t want to admit it. At the end of the day, they did not truly want to take in what I said. 

             And that right there is part of the problem: too many women think that men think like them. This leads me to our next Chocolate Covered Lie: Women and men think alike

Shared Values? 

                Although I understand that men and women don’t think alike, there will be something compatible: the capacity of shared values. What I mean should be pretty clear: men and women usually deal with those that share the same values. No real research is needed for that one:
  • ·         Women that want to get married will usually try and deal with men that want to get married.
  • ·         Christian men are usually going to look for a Christian wife.
  • ·         If you are a male and hip hop is a part of your life, you might want to think of having rhyming kids with a rhyming wife. 

All jokes aside, what really needs to exist between friends, couples, and such are shared values. At the end of the day, all the contrasts have to meet up at Comparison Street. 

The Unshared Brain

                While men and women have the desire to share values, they may not share the same way of thinking; and that is the way it is and shall be. Molly Edwards, of Discovery Health, noted this:

Research indicates that men and women do in fact have different structures and wiring in the brain, and men and women may also use their brains differently. In some cases, this may explain some of the stereotypes that we may not like to acknowledge about the genders. For example, men do score better at tasks that involve orienting objects in space, while women do better at language tests. From there, it's but a quick jump to the conclusions that men are better at reading maps and women talk too much. [1]

Makes sense in the grand scheme of things: men and women think differently. From the research, we can gather that women tend to be more linguistically articulate while men are spatial experts [2]. It can be said that women can master words while men can manipulate objects. 

                Let us not get it confused: this is not some role defining science here. Don’t think that a man shouldn’t master language or women shouldn’t learn how to decorate their houses. However, it is a way to actually understand dispositions as to why both genders look at things differently. In fact, it should work to bring genders closer together. 

Boxes vs. Wiring

                Let’s be clear on how men handle things: we keep things in separate categories. Mark Gungor, known for his research on relationships explains “when a man discusses a particular subject, we go to that box, we pull that box out, we discuss what is inside THAT box, we put it away gently…to make sure not to touch any other boxes” [3]. So, men are usually going to be very distinct and direct with what they need to say. Women, however, have wiring. We all know that wiring is interconnected around everywhere, flowing into distant paths of light, energy, and whatever keeps yachts above water [4]. So, everything tends to be connected somehow and someway. In the end, men’s brains function like a Walmart stock room while women’s brains are like the internet. 

                What has to be understood is that this tends to cause miscommunication because a man and a woman will think about the situation differently. A woman may reprise all the issues that are associated with a problem and even go “too deep” or start “over analyzing” situations. That brain of hers, probably powered by Firefox or Google Chrome, is just rolling through all the infinite possibilities based off of a “keyword”. Meanwhile, the man is only dealing with his “box of goodies”. And whatever is labeled on that box is what he is dealing with. With that said, we all have to make sure that we are both “thinking on the same wavelength”. 

The Skinny

                Men and women need to realize that they have to be cognizant of how we don’t think alike. In the beginning, it may cause a lot of frustration and issues. However, clear communication and open ears can always help alleviate the situation. Even if she may be going into outer space, or he may be somewhere enclosed, doesn’t always mean give up. It means that there has to be better understanding. At the end of the day, many of us just want to be understood anyway. 

                Well, except for me of course. I just wanna relax and drink Arnold Palmers and not care about stuff. 

                ‘Nuff said and ‘Nuff respect!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mistaken Reality – How “Real” is Real? (Chocolate Covered Lies #20)

            People clamor to it on a daily basis. They will hold fireside chats to go over the events that occurred on it. They will even mitigate work productivity for the sake of discussion about it. Water cooler chatter? This will actually control the subject matter of those discussions. Entertainment Tonight is always abreast of the behind the scenes workings of them. If you checked a Twitter or Facebook, you will get real time updates about what is occurring while they are on. It seems as if, nowadays, there is nothing more compelling and more real than…

            the reality show.

            Yes, that is right. I just said “the reality show”. You know, the makeshift aberration of TV programming that is subdued by our everlasting desire to be voyeurs into others’ lives rather than navigators of our own? You know the one device that may have turned talentless botox laden bodies into stars without showing anything remotely close to talent? Don’t we all understand how we watch the one programming that has turned music channels into nosy stations of onlooker tendencies? If you identify with any of those questions, then you know exactly what I am talking about.

            Now it is time to get into the chocolate covered lie: there is nothing wrong with some good, engaging reality television.

            This may rattle some bones and jar some attitudes. I don’t care. I bring truth, not a bunch of manufactured yuletide greetings to make you feel good.

Why We Are Compelled

            There is concrete reasoning behind why we watch reality television. Ohio State University psychologist Steven Reiss has this to say:

Reiss's data showed that the largest significant motive for watching reality television was social status, which leads to the joy of self-importance. Only slightly less strong was the need for vengeance, which leads to vindication. "Some people may watch reality TV partially because they enjoy feeling superior to the people being portrayed," Reiss said. "People with a strong need for vengeance have the potential to enjoy watching people being humiliated." [1]
This piece of information is saying a lot. In actuality, there are 16 different “joys” that Reiss was referring to [2]. However, social status/self-importance and vengeance/humiliation were the prominent joys. Thus, it can be safe to say that people watch these shows to feel better about their selves and to downplay others.

            Good grief. And I thought we were going to escape schadenfreude. I guess not.

            Even more apparent, and shocking for some, is our everlasting enjoyment for “humilitainment” (humiliation + entertainment =…well, you figured it out). What happens is that their episodes of shadenfreude come across because people began to enjoy the humiliation and self-deprecation of others [3]. People will find that special joy in the crass actions of making others look dreadful. Waite even noted that this could be especially dangerous if we “expect it's OK to humiliate and to be humiliated by others, instead of thinking there's something wrong with this behavior” [4]. So, if you notice that there is a lot of cursing on The Real World, another fight on Love and Hip Hop, or some blunder on The Biggest Loser, don’t be alarmed: most of you want it that way.     

The Health Issue with Reality TV

            There have been some health related concerns when it comes to reality television.
            For one, there are certain aspects that tend to be the antithesis of how healthy relationships should be. During a 2002-2003 study by the Parents TV Council, there were 4.3 instances of sexual interaction per hour, a 169% increase from the previous year [5]. Judging how society has responded to this, that fact isn’t surprising. There has also been a 43% increase in the use of foul language, which tends to also be sexually related [6]. Just goes to show us: even in reality TV, sex sells.

            Sometimes, even the “healthier” reality shows send mixed messages. Shows like the “The Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Makeover” are great at showcasing the cosmetic side of losing weight, but they come short-handed at making people realize the health benefits that are associated [7]. People began to only see how losing weight and being healthy makes them “look good”, not “live good”. In addition, the messages that should be sent about weight loss and plastic surgery are lost to the good nature idea of “success” [8]. In the end, people care less how these people achieved results if they went from slob to heartthrob that found a job.


            Lastly, there is the issue with substance abuse. Many shows, like “The Real World”, show regular smoking and consumption of alcohol as the regular for people [9]. There are times when these same programs will show you the harms of such behaviors. However, the juxtaposition of positive and negative messages about these behaviors can eventually send mixed messages to the viewer [10]. It does make sense that all of that partying and drinking seen on Jersey Shore becomes a modus operandi for people of that age or younger.  

Conspired Consciousness

            An even bigger issue is that many of the shows are watched by kids and preteens. While some think that is okay, research has said otherwise:

Pediatrican Victor Strasburger, co-author of a leading book on adolescents and the media, noted in an interview for this paper that RTV poses a particular risk to 8- to 15-year-olds, who are seeking and absorbing guidance for their rapidly evolving sense of personal identity as well as their relationships with family, friends and the opposite sex. Moreover, because children and adolescents may be less likely than adults to see the contrived nature of reality shows, they are more likely to take the messages at face value. [11]

Now we have to understand that children don’t understand the nuances of the world like we do. They aren’t able to tell that Bruce Jenner is acting like an emasculated rag doll of a man because it practically boosts ratings. They also don’t understand that Flavor of Love is more talent showcase than a search of romance.

            Even bigger than this is whether or not these shows influence bad behavior. Certain shows can contribute to the “mean girl syndrome”, like the lavishly extravagant “My Sweet 16” or the over-the-top trollop trump “Mean Girls Club” [12]. Females see this type of life and behavior, thinking that this is how people are supposed to act and live. Even worse, these behaviors are carried off into school where bullying becomes rampant [13][14]. In the end, these reality shows can, and actually tend to, have a negative effect on how people behave.

The Skinny

            Reality TV may not be real, but their effects upon society are. People become more concerned with outer appearances and less concerned with the truth behind them. Also, there is an aberration of how substance abuse is viewed and handled. In addition, behavioral concerns are at an all-time high because of these shows.
            So the next time you see Somaya Reese spaz out with her Salvadorian accent, Chrissy Lampkin fighting Kimbella Vanderhee, exposing Kimbella’s lack of underwear, or Snooki sitting in a fridge/freezer to cool off her derrier, please know that all of this “entertainment” is having a lasting effect on society.

Where is The Cosby Show and A Different World when you need it? Oh, yeah. Those type of shows cost too much.

‘Nuff said and ‘Nuff Respect.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Walking and Talking Clichés: Living Accounts of Meaningless Sayings (CCL # 19)

People nowadays are heavily cliché in their thoughts and actions. There, I said it.

            Many of us spend too much time living by statements that are cornier than Chili Cheese Fritos. An obvious validation of our own insecurities, people will cling to them. It rarely matters if these statements have any true worth. Also, it tends not to matter that these statements lead to stagnation. In the end, they will do it because they are so used to it.

            With all of the above mentioned, it is time to transfer some time into exposing one of the good old fashioned chocolate covered lies that many cling to: the cliché statement that defines lives.

            There will be a couple of clichés covered to show the fallacies that fall behind them.

Vinegar and the Caught Flies

            Statement of cliché: “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”.

            This is one of those statements that act as a way to practice self-control.  The vast majority of social and personal problems seem on theoretical grounds to involve a substantial component of deficient self-control [1]. Meaning: if someone has issues going on, there is a great chance that self-control (or a lack of it) is an eminent issue. Also, people are happiest and healthiest when there’s an optimal fit between self and environment, and altering the self can substantially improve the ability to fit in [2]. So, self-control has its benefits; and this statement holds SOME merit.

            However, it isn’t a statement that can always be true enough to be a “rule of thumb”.

            The first problem is that behavior control isn’t always the wisest choice.  Although SOME self-control does help life to be more profitable, TOO MUCH self-control can be even worse than none at all:

The scientists have discovered that too much self-control is bad. They consider that one should have self-control, but if one tries to control every aspect of his life with much rigidity, he will only do more harm than good. The self-control wears us down, and the process of thinking about other’s self-control can be demanding as well. [3]

Think about all of these people that have “road rage”, “air-rage”, and even the “Columbine incident”. Many of these people hold so much back that things build up until they explode [4]. Instead of taking each situation and finding an outlet, they let things stack up like a game of Jenga. However, like every game of Jenga, the pieces eventually fall and make a mess.

            Another problem with “honey for flies” is that situations come off way too euphemistic. People will spend time “trying to be nice, when the reality is that they are pretty upset. It is one thing to work to be “professional” and “level headed” about a situation. Yet, one doesn’t want to sacrifice their message for the sake of mass appeal. In the end, euphemistic approaches can leave one not fully communicating their true feelings.

            Oh, and one last pointer: flies seem to be attracted to both honey and fecal matter. I know it’s not sane, but I’m just saying.

 Blinded by the Light….of Love?

            Statement of cliché: “Love is blind”.

            People from William “Billy Boy” Shakespeare to the hip hop/actress Eve has noted that “love is blind”. What this references is that people love “without seeing who they love”. Within the perfection that many of us “want”, when it comes to love that perfection “goes out the window”. True love is supposed to make us look at someone’s flaws and forget all about them. In turn, being “blinded by love” allow us to “see the true beauty in our love partners”.

            “Love is blind” is a heartwarming cliché. Only problem with it is that it is only partially true.

            The love part may be “blind”, but the selection process is not. People subconsciously select mates who come from common socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, geographies, education levels and upbringings [5]. So, from the selection section of relationship building, we are looking for “familiarity” and “preferences”. Gordon Gallup, an evolutionary psychologist at State University of New York at Albany, noted that “innate physical attraction is far from blind; instead, it engages all of our senses signaling if a person is a reproductive match” [6]. Constructively, the selection of a mate is rigorous and discerning.

            Even the “blindness” of love shouldn’t be seen as “blindness” more so than it should be seen as “illusionary constructs of the mind”. People fall in love with their idealized vision of their lovers, or with the idea of being in love, rather than with the actual reality of their lovers [7]. There will more than likely be a positive evaluation towards anything you are more inclined to. More than anything, though, is the importance of actually acknowledging a person’s more negative characteristics:

In light of the complexity typical of love and the fact that lovers are often unwilling to face reality, self-deception and mistakes are likely to occur. We can be wrong in identifying the beloved's attitude, since the person can easily fake or hide it. We can also be wrong in identifying our own loving attitude, one reason being that sexual desire can be confused with romantic love. This is especially true in the first stages of romantic love when sexuality plays a dominant role. According to the troubadour tradition, the love test used in order to prevent such confusion among lovers is to spend a night in his mistress' arms without any sexual consummation. [8]

Conclusively, Cupid would rather use rose colored shades than a blindfold when he shoots for love.

The Point of it All like a Anthony Hamilton Song

            Clichés are cool statements that only go so far. “Catching flies with honey rather than vinegar” and “love is blind” were just two of the many clichés that people have a tendency to follow. Those two clichés are heavily used and misused on a daily basis. Like many other clichés, the cliché itself has its clear limitations. In the end, we all live real life; and real life has a tendency to not revolve around beautiful Barnes and Noble book banter.

‘Nuff said and ‘Nuff respect!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Seeking the Infinitely Impossible: Imperfection within Seeking Perfection (CCL 18)

                Growing up, I always worked to make things happen the way “I felt” they should happen. I tried my hardest to make sure things “worked”. Whether it was at school, in relationships, or even at certain jobs, I wanted things to “roll smoothly”. I had the thoughts of the pretty wife, cool kids, and the nice house with plenty of zeroes in the bank account. Being summative, I wanted my life to be “perfect”. 

                Yet, rude awakenings and enlightenment happened to me in one fell swoop. 

                After having some issues with a situation, my brother had a quick talk with me. I thought he was going to come with some overly mundane commentary and advice. Yet, he shocked me. My oldest brother came with the most useful advice I could ever hear: he told me “You can’t control every aspect about life”. After that, a burden was lifted off of my shoulders. 

                After all this time spent trying to be “perfect” or live the “perfect life”, come to find out I don’t even control my life fully? I blame these damn motivational speakers for this folly of piss poor actualization. 

                I guess it is safe to say that people work to achieve a chocolate covered lie to no ends and bounds: people should seek perfection (either within oneself or within others)

The True Realization

                The perpetual problem with “perfection” is it does not exist under qualitative terms.  You can find perfection in numerical values and maybe a rubric. If I wanted to see if Cam Newton had a perfect throwing game, then all he has to do is make all of his passes. Steve Nash has had numerous games with a perfect free throw percentage. I have plenty of students that get a perfect score on their spelling tests. So, yes, perfection exists in the measurable, numerical sense. 

                Still, qualitative perfection is the product of perception and opinion. People will try to say that something is “perfect”. However, “perfection” to one person can be “subjugation” for another. People feel as if they are forced to believe something is “of the greatest standard” when they either don’t agree or don’t care for those standards to begin with. And what do you have? You have a lot of disagreement on what “perfection” is. 

                People, is it really worth it to even try and take on “perfection”? I’m just asking. 

Historical Context

                The idea of perfection can be taken from two particular respective beliefs systems: Grecian and Biblical perfection. 

                The Greeks idea of “perfection” was something that guided their society. The Greek belief system allowed for “teleos”. “Teleos” had concrete references: there was the “perfect physician”, the “perfect comedy” and even the “perfect society” [1]. It wasn’t a totally abstract mentality, however. Thus, many work to associate this “teleos” with “completeness” rather than pure “perfection”. Still, one can see the idealistic systematic beliefs of Grecian society in others’ approach to perfection. 

                Another idea that deals with perfection is perfection praised by the Bible. What needs to be noted is that many Christians believe that “the law of the Lord is perfect” [2]. From a Biblical standpoint, this would make sense. If the Lord is the son of the most perfect being to ever exist, then the Lord’s law is perfect [3]. This is the law handed to us from God. So, who can truly doubt the perfection within the law that God has prescribed for us?

                As informative that this is, it is also troubling. Through all of the beliefs and religious documentation, has there been an instance of human perfection? I await proof of its existence. Until then, I can truly say “I doubt it”. 

The Problem with Seeking Perfection

                To start, “perfection” and “human” is not even synonymous. Mel Schwartz, a psychotherapist and marriage counselor, noted that “humans, however, were never intended to be perfect. That's part of the definition of being human. Consider the expression ‘I'm just human’”[4]. From his explanation, humans should not even seek something that is not only elusive, but unattainable.  Plus, it's likely that not many people would tolerate being around a “perfect person”. They would only serve as a reminder of the constant shortcomings that they possess [5]. To be honest: who wants to be reminded that they “came up short” all the time? In short, the “perfect human” is as oxymoronic as “organized confusion” and “Jews for Jesus”. 

                The other problem with perfection is that it is a comparative term. Whenever one seeks perfection, there has to be the question “in comparison to what?” [6]. If one thing is perfect, then there has to be at least something else that isn’t perfect. Eventually, due to the achievement of perfection, there will be a static situation occurring [7]. What is the point of change/growth when whatever it is that exists is “perfect” the way it is? Comparatively, life with perfection can shorten and hinder evolution. 

The Difficulty Perfection Seeking Causes 

                A harmful quality with seeking perfection is this: at some point, people will begin to obsess over it. People will go to no ends to become “the perfect representation of a human being” to the point of unnecessary actions like $80,000 worth of plastic surgeries just to look like a Barbie figure [8]. It is sad to say that people will go to lengths to be “perfect”. Dr. Nancy Etcoff, psychologist at Harvard Medical School and author of Survival of the Prettiest, The Science of Beauty, noted the scientific term for some people’s obsession over perfection:

She likely suffers from a common condition now known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). BDD often strikes people in their teens.  It's a psychiatric problem where people are pre-occupied with an imagined or very slight defect. They can't stop thinking about it. They've checked the mirror all day. They spend hours thinking about it. They'll ask people, “How do I look?” And what happens is, everyone says, “Sure, I think about my looks.” But it becomes so preoccupying that it's torturous. It becomes an obsession. [9]

What really needs to be understood is that this is a real condition. This shows that seeking perfection can easily go too far. 

                Another harmful quality about seeking perfection is that it exudes “the boring”. People have yet to realize that it is the imperfections that make life worth living. It is the imperfections within us as humans that either makes us interesting or even entertaining. Imagine the world that we would live in if it was perfect. Life, as we know it, would suck. There would be no rainy days so sunny days would be meaningless. Struggle would mean nothing. Who would care about yin when there is no yang? People have not realized that being imperfect is one of the spices of life. 

The Skinny

                In the end, nobody is perfect. While many of us seek perfection, it really is not worth the trip to the store to obtain it. Instead, people should seek to constantly grow and/or improve. At least improvement/growth/evolution is a worthwhile goal. Why even care about not being perfect when reaching perfection would make you perfectly lame?
‘Nuff said and ‘Nuff respect!