Small Talk

Something that I’m definitely not good at is small talk. It makes me uncomfortable, feel stupid, and offers a hollow feeling in pretending to connect with someone. It’s safe to say, I do not like small talk.

There is, however, a form of conversation that I enjoy even less than that, and that is gossip. As soon as my brain registers that we the conversation has transitioned to gossip, I’m checked out. My consciousness goes to a subconscious place, hiding itself from the incoming discord of rumour, innuendo, unsubstantiated assumptions, and biased conceptions of past experiences.

Quite simply, I’m aware of the benefits of this primal form of human collaboration. A primordial connection to others through the discussion of a third party and their habits and idiosyncrasies. I understand that everyone of us use it to build relationships, and that it is a safe ground away from the taboo topics of small talk, but I am curious where my instinctual aversion of the topic has developed.

And I wonder, knowing that this form of communication and social bonding is important to us, why do we spend so much more time on this, than we do on the discussion of ideas, thoughts, opinions and innovations. Why are we happy to accept that the dealings of the Kardashians can make the nightly news, reaching a mass audience in an instant, but in order to hear the discussion of real world people’s ideologies and challenges, we have to resort to the niche corners of Reddit and the rest of the internet.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that we have this ability to connect and share with other individuals in the same mindset as myself, but for how long. With the looming threat towards net neutrality in the United States, do not be fooled to think that won’t affect the rest of the globe.

So the question I leave you with today is, what have you done this week to discuss something bigger? What information have you absorbed from sources other than your mainstream news organisations, Facebook feeds, and radio advertisements.

If we hope for a population of individuals, thinking for themselves, challenging the decisions of our leaders constructively, and pressuring the major news articles to raise the quality of reporting and removal of bias, then that starts with each of us.

Guise.

The Myths of Equality 

I implore you to accept that equality is not equivalent to equity. 

Equality is simply a possible element of, and not an appropriate measure of, fairness. 

You don’t measure the success of a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree. What’s fair for the chimp, is not fair for the fish. Is it fair to say that Men fight topless in combat sports, so Women must also? 

So what’s our fascination with equality. Is it just easier to fight for an equal standard than to justify and highlight the measure of fairness. I mean,  it’s easier to say that person A has this right, so person B should equally have this right, than it is to express where the imbalance of fairness lay. 

Or maybe it’s easier to make the discussion about equality, as opposed to defining our specific gripes. 

Either way, we are encouraging unhealthy social, and also internal, dialogues of comparison and injustice. Life is not equal, it does not exist in a fair and email realm. We often have one of the other.  But as people, if we are to find positive results for. As many as possible, we need to be willing to acknowledge that equality and equity are not one in the same. 

If we acknowledge this, we can control the emotional charge of many of these discussions and aim to be subjective. But I guess the key is, not asking for everything in this world. 

As a disclaimer, DO NOT assume this to be in commentary of any current or future social discussions about equality and fairness. Rather, this is commentary about how we go about discussing them. 

This Sunday thought is one which I hope to continue to explore in the future. Keep posted for more. 

Guise. 

Socially Expectable 

People piss us off, weird us out, make us see similarities to ourselves and make us question why they could possibly be the way they are. 

The problem is, though, that we overgratify the value of our own opinion from others. By using terms like “socially acceptable” we express a self indulgent connotation that it is okay for someone else to dress that way, or behave in that manner. In reality though, whether we accept or reject someone’s sense of acceptable dress means shit. We are not a qualifier in their. Whether we should be a qualifier though, is a question of morals And cultural norms, one that I’m not currently prepared to approach. 

And so it is a matter of our social expectations which we are truly capable of passing commentary on. We expect to see people dress either how we dress, how celebrities and other public figures dress, or how the greater populace dress. Perhaps that is the most disappointing part of this thought. 

We have teenagers wearing shorts that are shorter than short, yet this now appears to be the cultural norm. So when we see someone dishevelled, in a comical outfit, looking like they have just emerged from a three months hibernation in front of a computer screen on a diet of domino’s and Fanta, we are confronted with something that is different, something that we did not expect to see. But how different we would feel of that was the norm, if that was how the majority of the population groomed themselves. 

With that, I leave you with this week’s thought. Don’t let our expectations guide our connections, don’t let acceptance be self-inflated, and most importantly, don’t let me tell you what to do. 

Guise. 

False

This life, it gives and takes,

Indiscriminately, 

And often we as people follow suit.


We fight and claw,

For what we want, 

And pray the heavens in our favour, 

Cursing that they may not favour others. 


We are sick, in our consumption, 

And our resolute defiance,

Of odds and ends,

But are so in natural selection. 


No matter our intentions, 

Our objective is a selfish one,

For glory, wealth, or recognition, 

There is no purity of any actions. 


“But we have a pure heart”, or,

“that wasn’t out intent”. 

We tell ourselves these lies, and feed our righteousness. 

But if these were so true, 

And we were pure and generous,

Why then do we give and take,

Just so indiscriminately

New Year, Same Me

By some grace of might and magic, did anyone really believe that a change in some arbitrary number, based on a potentially inaccurate calendar was going to make any different to the shit we hate about ourselves. 

“New Year, New Me” they laud as they drink the same beer they did a week ago, smoke the same cigarettes and eat the same food. They stop looking for jobs and convince themselves that 2017 would be a completely different formula, one which is flawless, radical, and instantaneous. What is our obsession with making decisions in schedule with practically meaningless occasions? 

I mean, I sit here, post- new years resolution to contribute to this blog on a now weekly basis, and yet on the 3rd January 2017, I still haven’t even posted my first which was due two days ago. Same old procrastinating Guise. 

There is a complacency, and an inadequacy, in believing that a “New Year” will effortlessly transform our lives. We must take change by the horns and commit all we can to it, and not rely on the cosmos to enact our intentions. 

But there is some mettle to this measure. A mindset of commitment may very well be the catalyst for change in that persons life. So then, what’s holding you back from being the 2017 version of you, complacency or commitment, procrastination or poor decision making. 

Don’t wait for the new year to be over before the new you shows up. 

Happy New Year, and I’ll be back next week. 

Guise. 

Rhythm and Blues

Wake Up. Don’t hit that snooze button again. You have a train to catch, or traffic to beat, or ferry to ride. It’s time for work.

Nobody ever told me just quite how it would change. Growing up, you are warned and whinged to about the hassles and stresses of working life. “Enjoy your school days”, or “make the most of uni, they were the best times”, that’s all we were ever told. The details were omitted of the difficulties of adulthood. We assume the details and believe that it all comes down to the stresses of paying bills, and raising a family. I don’t know about you, but I was never warned about the expectations, and THAT is what has been the biggest adjustment to adulthood.

I’m no stranger to responsibility, rather than shirk it off, my personality drives me at it and I thrive on it. Expectations are different however. Expectations from your manager which far exceed either your skill set, formal training, or time capacity. Expectations from your family to be there for them, to not snap at them, keep your patience, and to be the person that they have loved as you grow up. Expectations from your friends to always be the same, smiling, and ever-happy guy they have grown up alongside. Expectations from your partner to be a caring, nurturing lover, a keen listener, and a rock firm support during their tough times. Expectations from society that we will uphold the morale good, not drink to excess, work hard in our career, turn away from drugs, avoid violence, and so on. These expectations are all valid, and it fills us with a great satisfaction when we meet those expectations, but it leaves very little for one to focus on, develop, and grow one’s self, without some of those expectations falling away to way side, leaving us with broken or strained friendships, unfulfilled career potential, a rocky relationship, or a reputation as that family member that nobody can stand to be around.

Nobody warned us of the pressure; nobody warned us of the monotony of working life, and the anxiety that comes with it. Considering the improvement for worker’s rights that we have seen in the last twenty years, it’s fair to assume that this is the best it has ever been. I don’t want to know what it was like for our parents, grandparents, and so on. Ignorance helps me sleep.

So what’s this all about, exactly? Why scrap together 650 words of whingeing about life? Is it about the pressure of a career, the monotony that working life brings, the conflicting expectations drawing and pulling us in multiple directions, or a personal vent at the state of NSW infrastructure? I suppose it’s all of the above. It’s not to say that you or I can’t handle it all, or that we are destined to failure or an asylum. It’s simply that it sneaks up on us. When our career, family, relationship, friendship, health and hobbies come at us demanding the same scarce time that we have to spare, we cannot prepare for this moment. No matter how many warnings our relatives, mentors, and acquaintances offer to us, nobody is ready at that point. We are still young, possibly immature, but ultimately overwhelmed by the spike, in expectations.

Happiness is the key. Either find something you love to do, work for someone amazing or an employer who openly shows how much they care about you, just find something, because I’ve found in recent months, is that happiness makes the darkest days feel bright (don’t you dare say a word about that cliché).

When you find that happiness, make sure you show your appreciation to the person or people who supported you when you found it tough to wake up. When you were pressing that snooze button three too many times a morning, they were your happiness when you needed it most. She is my happiness, and the reason I fought through some of my toughest times. Thank you.

 

Guise

OMG! You’ve got OCD!

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Apparently, it’s the new black.

All the models in Milan are being sure not to step on any runway cracks.

The fashionistas are out in droves developing their own unique brands of obsessive.

For the first time in history, it’s cool to be out of the ordinary (sarcasm, for those that missed it…)

It might just be that I live in a microcosm, exponentially populated with a swarm of OCD sufferers. I use the term “suffer” very liberally. But before I’m tarred and feathered, I am quite fully aware of the serious nature of this disorder. I know that it consumes lives, and I empathise with anybody whose life is dominated by OCD.

But as society tends to do, people associate themselves with the first explanation they come across that possibly describes the way they feel. Sad and lonely? Well I guess five years ago that would have made you an Emo. You know how to do the running man dance? Oh that’s so 80’s, it’s called shuffling! In the same way, it feels like every second person you come across these days identifies themselves with the plight of the Obsessive Compulsive. Perhaps it’s the hypochondriac within us, but it is beyond coincidental.

It may just be me being pessimistic, but it almost feels unsavoury to be making a “mockery” of this disorder. Or am I looking at it the wrong way? Is it society’s means of raising awareness, so that synchronicity can align our subconscious what is really out there in the big world? Setting up pods for the epiphany of Baader-Meinhof proportions for some poor sap in about to realise he has a life altering condition.

Either way, trends come and go, and so the only way we’ll know how real these cases of OCD are, is to let time unfold all events. I’m pouring a Gin, getting comfy in a chair, and waiting it out. Gosh, I hope it’s not contagious!

Guise

For more on the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, have a crack at this article from 2006 on damninteresting.com
http://www.damninteresting.com/the-baader-meinhof-phenomenon/