Echo Chamber

Posted in My Writing, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2014 by dakofman

Today we can choose how we receive our information.

We can choose who we follow on twitter. We can choose what news stations we watch. And we get to choose where and when we consume that information; on the go with smart phones or tablets, at home front of the TV, through conversations we have. We get to choose and we always choose what we like. We have power.

We watch the news we like. We visit the sites we like. Follow the people we like. It’s a good system except for one huge problem.

Only seeing what you like is not a good thing. It leads to the death of critical thinking. You lose perspective when you are surrounded by like-minded people telling you what you want to hear. When all you hear is “you’re right about the world.” you don’t grow. You’re trapped in an echo chamber.

I know people who watch only one news station. These are the only people that they trust they deliver their news. All the others are liars. And this news station leans the same way as them on all the major issues. Liberals watch MSNBC. Conservatives watch Fox News. Everything is blue and red. Liberal or Conservative. Republican or Democrat. People are with them, or against them.

again

If somehow a different opinion sneaks its way into our lives, we have the power to snuff it out.

Ignore. Block. Ban. Downvote and mark for removal.

Scroll down on any news story to the comments section. Against the grain opinions are hidden and marked for deletion by the community. Most of these opinions aren’t even offensive. They’re different and unconventional. But because they do not fit in with the hive-mind of the reader-base for those sites, they are removed.

What happened to discussion? What happened to trying to learn more about how other people see the world? What has happened to critical thinking?

It’s as if people figure out their view on a topic, then search for ways to reinforce it. Never challenging their first reaction to a news story. They search for facts that support the narrative that they already have in their head. Things that don’t support that narrative are ignored or said to be fabricated by the enemy.

Critics, skeptics, and cynics are pushed out of the community. Said to be insane or brainwashed by the enemy’s media. Then they are labeled with the name of the enemy. Bleeding Heart. Homophobe. Heretic. Racist. Sinner. Misogynist. Tree Hugger.

Would it be so bad if we didn’t only read what we liked? If we didn’t only listen to the news stations that we liked? Maybe turn on the TV, not watch the same news correspondents? Switch it up? No news station is completely objective, in fact I’d say most aren’t even close. It’s television. They have ratings to consider.

Maybe we should starting following people we despise. Read articles that are offensive to us and our beliefs. Try not to see issues in blue and red. It’d be great if people could try, make that effort.

So that our first reaction to a contrary opinion isn’t “This person is completely wrong and I am right!” and instead becomes “Why does this person believe this? Why do they see the world differently than I do?”

Asking questions rather than remaining in ignorance.

Master of Your Fate

Posted in My Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2014 by dakofman

This girl went missing at my college. It was about a month or so before graduation. I didn’t know her. She was in my class, but I hadn’t ever met her. Her name didn’t ring any bells. It wasn’t until I saw her picture in an online news article that I could place her face.

I had seen her around campus, one of those people I’d blast past on my way back to my dorm. So the story went that she up and disappeared on her family. What triggered it? Who knows. A few days go by after that initial news break. People are out looking for her. She was last seen bordering a train headed to New York City. Her cell phone, wallet and ID were found by the George Washington Bridge.

People went out into New York City to canvass for this girl. The family received phone calls of her being seen around that city. I remember reading an update where a cop mentioned having a good lead about where she was.

But it turned out that this girl took her own life. Her body washed up on shore. Her family released that awful news

Why.

They said she was a model student, incredibly high GPA.

Why.

She was involved in clubs and was even captain of the tennis team.

Why.

She was accepted to Rutgers Law School and was going to live with her sister.

Why. Why did she do it?

A few months ago, I go into my full-time job. Office work. The less said about it the better.
My supervisor brings me into a room with everyone else working the late shift. She says she has some unfortunate new. One of our coworkers is dead and he took his own life. I don’t recognize the man’s name at first. The room goes quiet and numb after she dropped that bombshell. She asks me if I knew him. I said I don’t know. She told me I had to have seen him around.

Then she starts to describe him. He always wore a jacket even if it was like 80 degrees outside. Always in a hurry. Easy to talk to. And I know immediately who she’s talking about. My bathroom buddy.

He and I got usage of the upstairs bathrooms banned. We weren’t supposed to use them in the first place, but it wasn’t a real rule. So I put it to the test. The down stairs bathrooms smelled like someone died while using them and often had piss all over the toilet paper. So I would sneak upstairs to the better toilets. I’d bump into him on way up the stairs all the time. He knew how much better they were too.

Oh my gosh he’s dead.

I saw him the day before. I used to small talk with him in the hallway.

Why.

He seemed happy, not different from all the other people I saw around there.

Why.

Everyone really liked him and considered him part of the family.

Why. Why did he do that?

With the recent death of Robin Williams, a lot of people are asking themselves “why”. Why would a person who brought them such joy leave the world in such a dark way?

Is there a single discernible reason? A trigger that set them off? Could it have been prevented? Is it our fault for missing the signs? Were there signs?

Even if we had those people back to tell us why, could they properly articulate their pain? Put their troubles into words? Do they even have words that can describe what they went through? Could we understand what it means to feel so trapped that death is a more viable option than tomorrow? Or to hate yourself so much you’d rather not be around any more?

We call suicide the cowardly way out. They weren’t strong enough to hold on to their lives. I believe that to be ignorant. Could we hold on if we were in their shoes? Just snap out of it like people often advise. We can talk a big game about holding on. But if life is depression, emotional pain, mental suffering, self-inflicted torture, is it even worth holding on to? To see the sunrise again on next worst day of your life? We can all easily say yes, but those who are gone would disagree.

Who’s right?

Can’t answer that question. I just can’t.

What is a person entitled to?

Posted in My Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2014 by dakofman

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quill

What rights should a person have? What does a government have to provide for its citizens?

Here in America, we have a Constitution. It’s changed radically since it was first put into effect back in 1789. As times changed, our rights also changed. Women needed to be able to vote. Slavery was determined to be not so great after all. Alcohol was prohibited, then brought back. The constitution hasn’t been amended in twenty two years. So today what are we owed?

If it was up to you to come up with a new amendment, what would you fight to make its way in?

George Carlin had a great bit about rights. I don’t know if I agree with everything that he said, but he brought up a good point about food and shelter not being rights under our constitution.

We all know that shelter, food, water are life necessities. Should a right to food, shelter, and water be added in? Can we feed and house every American? I’d say yes, but we wouldn’t be able to do it for free. Or are food, water, and shelter to be earned, not given out?

Should love be a right?

We can all agree that loving and to be loved is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It makes us human. What is a life with no parents to learn from, no friends to play around, and no partner(s) to love? But is a person entitled to love? Seems wrong to say that. A government can’t guarantee love for everyone. How would we go about doing that? Arranged marriages? Too messy.

Should free healthcare be a right? Should the ability to marry anyone you want be a right? Should a college education be a right? Should job employment be a right? Should living out of poverty be a right? Should contraception be a right?

If it were up to me, I’d want access to the internet to be a right.

You can get in an argument with a person halfway across the world. There’s so much knowledge on here. All of mankind’s modern works are available at the click of a button. I believe the internet has really leveled the playing field for people. You can throw out a creative work and build a niche audience. It’s easier to find people to get a long with or see into worlds you wouldn’t normally have a chance to.

But then that’s just me.

What exactly is Feminism today anyway?

Posted in MISC with tags , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2014 by dakofman

First wave feminism I understand. Second wave feminism I understand. Once we get into the modern era of feminism, I get very confused.

What exactly does the modern feminist stand for? Can’t figure it out. I’ve read feminist blogs and they only served to confuse me more. Contradictory ideals. Comments on the blogs from women also claiming to be feminists saying the blogger had no idea what they are talking about. Still can’t figure it out.

There’s such radically different ideologies under the feminism banner. I’ve watched interviews with sex workers and pornstars. They say sex is freedom of expression. They are in control of their bodies and sexuality. They love their work, it’s a lot of fun. They consider themselves feminists. But then you’ll have other women who say that porn industry encourages objectification and violence towards women. They can’t both be feminists, can they? So who is right? Who is the true feminist?

There’s sex positive feminists. There’s anti porn feminists. There’s feminists against abortion. There’s feminists who don’t believe in the rape culture. Feminists who do. There’s feminist feminism critics. Are they all feminists? Who do I support? Which one is the best one to support? Is there an objective way to pick?

We have this word “feminism” that means completely opposite things at the same time. It’s like if we decided to call all the colors of the rainbow, “red”. Hard to figure out what exactly red is.

If someone tells me that they are a feminist, I don’t know much about what they stand for. Gender equality on some form. Should I know exactly what . It would help gender issues if it were more clear. What’s the next milestone that we want women to reach that they haven’t yet? What do women today want out of society that their gender prevents them from having? It’s easier to figure out what to do to help.

Came across this passage in my search for more knowledge and clarification.


“Within the movement itself, there are various media outlets, different angles and belief systems. Even within specific websites such as Everyday Feminism, individual feminists can have different viewpoints on the same feminist issues.

Sometimes it’s just hard to get massive amounts of people to agree exactly what the best means to achieving that goal is.

-Kelsey Lueptow

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/01/feminism-now/

So it’s a part of feminism now to have multiple view points on the same issue and discuss them. Okay. So then feminism is more individualistic rather than a group advocating certain rights. But does that not lead to problems? How can you enact change if everyone has different idea of what they want?

Perhaps someone can help dispel my confusion with a comment. Explain how they see feminism today and what it stands for. If they would be so kind.

So for next time, I hope to finish the post that I wanted to publish last week.

Sitting on a Powderkeg, the Isla Vista Story.

Posted in My Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2014 by dakofman

Racism. Misogyny. Poor Parenting. Virginity. Mental Illness. Gun Control. Poor Policing.

When the story first broke, which of these did you point your finger at? You’d have a base to stand on if you selected any one. How easy would it be to push an agenda based on your pre-existing bias? You could as so many already have, make blog posts decrying your selected villain and continue your demonization of them. But you shouldn’t. Because you should be smarter than that.

There is more to this situation than one word or one issue.

When I read the story that a young man stabbed and murdered half a dozen people, two things struck out to me. His age and his father’s position. He had access to more money yet was completely miserable. He was the same age as I was. 22. I’ve spent the last couple days following the news of this story through Twitter and news outlets. I even reading a few snippets from the manifesto created by shooter.

On the one hand, talking about him gives him what he wants. He wanted status and to be noticed.

But still, we should learn from this event and see what went wrong. So we can put out fires before they happen. If they can be put out. I’ll be running through a list of factors that I did not see mentioned all that much.

STATUS OBSESSION

The shooter wanted to be noticed. He wanted to walk into a room and have women fawning over him. He would wear different clothes and hope that a woman would approach him rather than make any active effort. It was the act of being wanted that he most sought. To be that alpha male

MALE VIRGIN SHAMING

There is a stigma against being sexually inexperienced as a man. The older the man becomes, the worse stigma is. Virgins are the last remaining group that it is politically correct to make fun of.

Some are perfectly content and at peace with their status. There are men who are like everyone else. No personality disorders. It just didn’t happen for them.

And then there are the bitter women haters. They blame women for their anguish. But even of these women haters, there’s not a call to slaughter, flay, and kill all women. No seeking of retribution unlike the Isla Vista shooter. He took it personally that he was a virgin.

As stated earlier, this shooter was obsessed with his status and he was a member of an undesirable group.

LOCATION

He was surrounded by the rich. Southern California isn’t exactly known for being the most humble and accepting of faults. From what I’ve gathered, his college was very much a party college. And he was not invited to parties. This elitist area certainly had a factor in forming his ego issues.

RACIAL ELITISM

Our shooter held a deep hatred for his own race and nearly all minorities. He believed blonde women to be the most desirable of women. He thought his status as a half Asian made him better than regular Asians. Yet he would see regular Asians with blonde women. How could this be? Yet another crime that the world had to pay for.

MEGALOMANIA

It’s impossible to determine truth from fiction in his manifesto or the video he posted. I skimmed through it quickly after a person tweeted a paragraph of it. What I could understand what he was in love with himself.

“I am perfect. Everyone should love me.” When that ideal was shattered, he turned to violence.

There was one section that stuck out to me in particular. He had entered the lottery, hoping to win. Everyone enters the lottery for that chance to . We accept out loss. He was so certain that he would win the lottery. As sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, he was going to win the lottery. And when he did not win, it was an injustice done to him by society.

Let me repeat this.

He thought not winning the lottery was an injustice done to him by society.

CYBER-BULLYING/BODY IMAGE

A few news articles pointed out that he was a known poster on a body building forum. He declared himself beautiful and sought validation online. Bragging about his facial features and his BMW. This made him a perfect target for cyber-bullies. Some of the comments tossed his way were playful barbs but he took it to heart. Responding with vitriol to even the slightest of disses. His ego was especially damaged when people mocked him for his height and dick size.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Fascinating how though a number of his victims were men, this entire incident sparked a debate on how women live in fear of men. Just something I wanted to note.

I have no clue as to what men’s rights activism has to do with this incident nor why it was ever brought up into the discussion. I suppose it is the perfect boogieman to point your finger at if you already hated them, but nothing more.

I can’t help but wonder if the manifesto is a satire. It’s text book narcissism. From the little I read of it, it comes off as a comic book villain’s origin. If I read it online somewhere without knowing the context, I would have thought it was a joke.

I fear that introverted loners will become even further ostracized because of this incident. They will be seen as ticking time bombs.

Sex would not have solved any of his issues despite his fixation on it. He would have moved the goal post to another object out of his reach. What he needed were societal skills and an ability to cope with rejection. This begs the question. Is our mental health system equipped to help people like the shooter? Do they deserve help? Or was he a mad man who needed to be locked away and kept from others?

I cannot get the words of one of the victim’s fathers out of my head. Seven sons and daughters gone forever due to one boy’s mangled ego. Even more injured. I do not know what more to say about that.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

All of his early problems were solved by throwing a tantrum like a child until someone fixed it for him. Women were the one thing his tantrums could not bring him. He cried for hours after a girl ignored him when he said “hi” to her. And he wanted them to worship him. Women chose “inferior” partners. So he lashed against society. To call him a misogynist misses the whole picture. He was going to murder his own brother for losing his virginity before him. He was a misanthrope to an extreme degree. Seeing people enjoying life enraged him.

His ultimate desire was to destroy love.

Next week, I had hoped to finish a post about my continued fascination and confusion with modern feminism. #YesAllWomen gave me some much needed insight into the plights of the modern woman in Western Society. But I will be delaying this to write a post closer to my heart.

Until next week.

Equality

Posted in My Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2014 by dakofman

“All men are created equal.”

Has a greater lie ever been told? If this isn’t the top one, it certainly makes the top ten list. Boy do they ever drill this one into your head. To jostle with this concept jostles the entire foundation of your morals and principles.

Not all men are created equal. Roll with me on this. I’ll show you.

Think right now. Two babies are being born. Both created through the same process. One is born the child of two musical artists, and the other born within a community of starving people. One will have cameras shoved in its face for its life. News sites everywhere will explode when information on the baby’s ridiculous name comes out. People at their jobs will joke around and make sarcastic remarks. The child will grow up not having to earn its living, nor work a job. Despite already having millions, people will toss money at the child to do its own albums when they are of age. There may be a movie made as a vehicle to turn this child into an ever bigger star. The world is thrown at this child’s feet. Their death is as huge news as their birth. People will mourn all over the country for the loss.

And the other will starve to death after two or three days because it was unfortunately born in the wrong place. Not a soul will even remember this baby ever existed.

The same process made them, but can you say they had equal lives? No, but maybe you say that’s not fair to equality. There is a huge discrepancy between a starving child and a famous baby. So here’s another.

Think up two babies again. Both white men. On the outside, they are similar. Both have brown hair, brown eyes. They live in the same town. They grew up together on the same block and went to the same public schools. Hell they might even like the same football team. But one of them has a mental illness. Why? Who knows. Maybe his mother stood too close to the microwave while pregnant. He struggles with it, going through therapy throughout his adolescence and taking daily medication. He has his bad days and his even worse days. He wakes up and doesn’t know how he’ll feel. He could be up, down, angry, sad, energetic, full of love, or suicidal. As he gets older, it worsens. He can’t maintain a serious relationship nor a job. He’s in and out of state help programs. His family loves him, but they don’t know what else to do. It’s a strain on all of them to help him cope well into his old age. The other with a sound mind moves forward. He has his own struggles as we all do, but he knows what he’ll be when he wakes up.

Same race, same town, same schooling, but very different lives, Are they equal? If so how? What does equal even mean? Trying to define the word is good way to give yourself a migraine especially when it comes to people. With mathematics and numbers, it’s fairly simple.

2=2 or 2+2=4

But once you add in people, it’s all messy. Look at this.

Image

Can you say that the two genders are equal? Your gut feeling says yes of course. But think of it logically. A woman can carry a new person in them for nine months.  We have different reproductive organs and internal make-ups. So then when we want to say the genders are equal, what are we talking about? On what scale do we consider people equal?

Not by weight. Not by height. Not by any sort of physical appearance. Not by wealth. Not by intelligence. Not by where you live or where you’ve been. Not by who your parents are or who you know.

Is it our potential? Our capacity to reason? These are the two that come closest in my humble opinion. We believe all people have potential and have a capacity to reason. So they should be treated the same. Although people say this, rarely are people treated equally.

Do you treat a homeless man asking for money the same as you would your father if he asked? No. They have the same want, similar biology, maybe even the same age. But for one, you keep moving on your way, trying hard not to make eye contact and for the other, you reach for your wallet. Because of your judgement.

When I think of equality, I think of any activist group, advocating for more rights for an oppressed minority. They all have the same mantra, we deserve this because humans are equal. Where did they get this idea from? I hope it wasn’t from the Declaration of Independence, written by a group of men who owned slaves. Slaves who according to these men were three-fifths people, the very antithesis of equal. Historically equality amongst all humanity hasn’t ever happened. Unless you go way back to before we could read and write. Those years that historians won’t ever be able to piece together. Maybe you could try and say before our brain developed into what it is today, we could have been equal. Were we equal as cavemen? Could we even grasp the concept then?

But to get back to those groups, I have a question.  Will these groups ever find the day that their work is done? When they can walk away knowing that equality has been achieved. Can it be achieved? Do we want to know the answer to that question?

If it can, then how? How can true equality be reached? Where all men and women regardless of who they are, what they look like, who they love or who they hate, have the same opportunities and are treated the same across the board?

That day can’t come. We are all different. We can’t be equal.

There’s this line in A Time to Kill that sums up this conundrum.

“When you look at me, you don’t see a man, you see a black man. “

We will never be another person to each other. Colorblindness is unachievable.  We see the differences and we judge. Even if we couldn’t see, we would judge based on our other senses. We categorize and adjust our responses accordingly. We want to put similar things together and separate them from the different. We are wired that way. Judgement is lodged into our brain.

Just like our illogical notion of equality. Funny how they can sit right next to each other in our brains and we somehow function.

The human mind. A peculiar thing.

Still this is no excuse to discriminate against others and treat them differently. We should reach towards that ideal. Even if we can’t ever be truly equal, we can be as close as humanly possible.

My American Dream

Posted in My Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2014 by dakofman

(Written in April 2009)

This year I will graduate high school and head on to college. I have a variety of options set in front of me. I could be a doctor or join the military. Many people do not plan this out and simply remain stagnant in their lives. They are the same as the day they graduated from high school.

They have no ambitions. I see them all the time. They simply glide through life. They accomplish nothing and let their dreams go to waste. I will not become one of these people. My American dream is a simple and attainable one if I work at it. I want to be a successful attorney.

My short term goal is to obtain my Juris Doctorate and become a criminal justice attorney. An attorney is a person who ensures that justice is carried. It’s not who you arrested, but how. If an arrest is not made properly, then the system is corrupt. Justice must be fair and just. I know that attending Criminology classes at my college will change my perception of right and wrong for the better.

I plan to get my bachelor’s degree as quickly as possible. The bachelor’s degree is my primary objective for the next 4 years. If I fail to get my bachelor’s degree, my American dream cannot come true. The fruits of my labor will be twice as sweet when I gain my Juris Doctorate a few years later.

I used to dream of being married and having kids, but now I realize that to be something I cannot control. If it was a part of my American dream, I would not have a successful marriage. I would not view my wife as a person, but more as a trophy I gained along the way.

Marriage is not something a person should plan to happen when they are younger. You can never plan for love. Love is a construct which no one truly understands no matter how much they want. I’d like to have a wife and kids, but it is not my primary intention.

The American dream has taken many shapes and forms since its conception. It’s a shame that majority of Contemporary Americans don’t believe that it is attainable anymore. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is still alive today in America even with the recent economic downturn. I won’t let something like that interfere with goals and objectives.

People who are so easily put off their dreams never really wanted to obtain them. They allow their dreams to remain in their imagination.

I plan on turning mine in a reality. If a black man can be president, then anything is possible.

Never Give Up.

tragedy and pain

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