Posts Tagged 'annoying'

Facebook: The Great Debate

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An awesome friend of mine recently posted to Facebook:

I have to see the world to understand it.

I replied:

And I have to understand the world in order to see it.

Who is right or wrong here? Many times, there will be a black and a white, a clear distinction between the truth and a falsehood. Other times, it may not be so neat and easy to distinguish correctness between ideas. Sometimes neither side is an appropriate view, and a middle-ground must be sought.

Here is another example. A friend of mine recently struggled with the following two ideas:

I pay for the game because I can’t stop playing it.

I can’t stop playing the game because I pay for it.

Turns out, when he quit paying the monthly fee to a game that he was addicted to, he quit playing easily. Having already paid for a month he made extra time to play the game because he didn’t want the money to go to waste. Removing the obligation, in this case, removed the addiction.

Sure, it won’t always work that way. Sometimes these two-way arguments have a clear right and wrong, like this one:

I poop because I eat.

I eat because I poop.

Sure, one could go into long philosophical arguments and biological and physiological explanations of how the second condition could also be true, but essentially this is a simple cause and effect situation. Trying to make the second one true only obscures the fact that poop is a byproduct of the body’s system of removing nutrients from the food. Pooping happens because of our need to eat, not the other way around.

Other times there is no clear right or wrong. Sometimes the right or wrong will lie in the eye of the beholder, other times it will vary by circumstance. Many times both sides will have some validity and it will be up to the individual to find their own balance between the two.

A battle has raged for years in my head around Facebook. There are two main camps in this war:

I have it because I need it. Keep the account.

I need it because I have it. Close the account.

There was, at one time, a third position that existed in my mind, one that proposed a middle-ground truce between the two, but that one is dying a slow and painful death. I’ll explain that one after I’ve explained the positions of the main arguments.

Before going too far into this, there is something you should know about me. Most people might casually define socializing as having and interacting with friends and acquaintances. Mostly, I agree. However, socializing is work for me. It is hard work. I feel that having close, reliable friends is of paramount importance, but unnecessary socializing is difficult and should be avoided at all costs. Good friends are both chosen and come to you on their own. I could write an entire supplementary article on good friends (and I might one day) but for now just know that I see Facebook friends as belonging to one of four categories:

  1. Family
  2. Good, Close Friends
  3. Acquaintances & Associates
  4. People I don’t really know or care much about

Now, here are both sides of the battle in my head over Facebook. I encourage you to join in the internal discussion with your comments below.

Argument One: I Have It Because I Need It

Every time I think the other argument might win, this one has pulled through and kept me from closing my account. Facebook has become ubiquitous and prominent in our society. Growing up I made phone calls to friends who were not physically near, or we exchanged letters in the mail. The Internet came along and made long-distance communication an integral part of our lives, and changed everything.

I have another good friend who recently dropped his text messaging plan. He downgraded his iPhone to one of the most basic models of cell phone available, and told AT&T to block all incoming text messages. He says he’s doing it to save $10 a month and because he was relying on it too much. Now, when I want to text him to ask him something simple, I have to call him. I might be interrupting something, I usually end up wasting more time than if I had just fired off a text, and we often wind up having a pleasant conversation that leaves me wondering if maybe it wasn’t so bad to drop texting after all. I mean, I make fun of him a lot for not having texting, but how much damage has he really done by dropping it? There are numerous pros and cons, and in the end this is clearly something that he sees as the right thing to do.

We’re not here to debate on whether texting is necessary or not though. Personally, my wife and I rely on texting far too heavily, as do most of my coworkers, family and friends. I’ll be keeping my texting plan. Even if it didn’t start out this way, I definitely have it because I need it.

It’s entirely possible that Facebook has graduated to the same status as texting. Without Facebook there are several people I know I would lose contact with, some of them being family members or really close friends. I could say we’ll exchange emails, subscribe to each other’s blogs, and text each other, but I know that won’t happen with a few of them. In a sense, if I wish to keep all of the social ties and connections that I currently have, I need Facebook. That’s the way the world is now.

Argument Two: I Need It Because I Have It

And this is the way it begins, right? Before something like Facebook exists, nobody needs it. Sure, some relationships weren’t happening before it existed, and one could argue that those relationships need Facebook (and they do), but how badly do I need Facebook?

Let’s face it, Facebook is just a giant online socializing arena. If I loved socializing, I would love Facebook. The fact is, I like having connections with people, but socializing is work. Sometimes, socializing is painful and annoying. Some people who I would absolutely love to spend time with face to face can be downright annoying on Facebook. Anyone else have that friend who never uses Facebook for anything but advertising for things that they are passionate about? I would remove that friend, but they are close to me and I want to keep my tie with them in Facebook because of that closeness. I would block them from the feed, but what if they have a bad day and post a non-advertising status message and I miss an opportunity to be there for them? So instead, because I love them, I endure their many posts about things that I should buy. Multiply this times the sixty friends I have on Facebook, and you can see how it starts to wear on me.

It’s not that all of my friends are marketers, but many of them try me in other ways. I love them all, but I don’t want to have any part in immature dramas or “he said, she said” communication melt-downs. What about that person that I go to church with and they post a nasty status update filled with cursing and nasty things about their neighbor? Does anyone else have that one friend who seems to post nothing but complaints all the time?

There are many alternatives to Facebook style social networking. I love typing emails and reading blogs. I only wish more of my friends would make the time and do the work to have a more traditional correspondence with me. If I close my Facebook account I will be cutting off many good social ties with people. Then again, before Facebook I wouldn’t have had those ties, and I would have been perfectly happy without them. So, do I really need to keep in touch with those people who wouldn’t keep in touch without Facebook?

Argument Three: The Best of Both Worlds?

Of course, both of the above arguments have quite a bit of truth to them, so finding a balance becomes necessary, right?

Categorizing each and every one of my friends by priority (see the priorities above, numbered 1-4) and deleting all who fell into the lowest priority brought my number of friends down below fifty. It felt good. Checking Facebook took less time, and it was nice not having to worry about those people I didn’t really care about.

However, now that I’ve lived and worked where I do for a little longer, I’ve begun to add acquaintances and associates from work, a category that I feel is important due to the fact that Facebook is often where people disseminate work-related information, and my friends list now numbers over 65. For someone like me, that is a lot. Still, not a single person in my friends list can be trimmed out. They are all in the top three priority categories.

This is where Argument Three fails. This is why the battle is primarily between the first two arguments. I am doing everything I can to ensure that I do not have excess in my friends list, and still it grows uncontrollably. If I get even more discriminate with who stays in my friends list, I know that it will be bad. Even if Facebook isn’t important to me, it has become such an integral part of our society that the act of removing a coworker from your friend list can be considered offensive. I do not wish to hurt relationships, I only wish to be relieved of the strain that Facebook puts on my life.

Final Thoughts

If I keep Facebook and simply endure its rough spots, just like everything else in life, then I am keeping a tool that is an important part of our modern society. If I delete my Facebook account like so many have done, then I am removing a heap of heartache and stress from my life and may find that I can live without it just fine. Either way, with either decision, regrets are sure to creep up from time to time, and I will likely revisit this argument at some point in the future.

For some people, one of the three arguments will be the correct answer. For other people, there may be no clear answer. For me, I feel that a decision needs to be made. While I seriously consider closing my Facebook account almost daily, I have talked myself out of it or neglected to make any changes due to apathy every time. On several occasions I have “reenacted” the third argument, harshly reevaluating each and every friend on my friends list, sometimes making a cut or two, other times walking away with a sigh of defeat having realized that, like my waistline, a few inches have been added and there is nothing I can do to shed them.

Don’t get me wrong. I sincerely love all of the friends and family that I have on Facebook, and I enjoy the interactions I have with them as well as my esteemed coworkers and acquaintances. However, not all of my interactions with Facebook are pleasant, and I often feel that I might be better off without Facebook.

While this decision is mine and mine alone, I do enjoy hearing what other people have to say about things. So, for fun, I have a little poll here that I would like you to vote on, and I encourage discussion in the comments.

On Electronic Chain-Letters

I’ve been sick, and I’ve felt like writing, but I didn’t know what to write. Funny thing about inspiration though, it can hit you at any time, and in any text box. I just happened to get the urge to write while responding to an email, and the result was something I wanted to share with everyone.


I'm not fat - I'm puffing my cheeks.

Hey there. I’m sick today, and I lack the will to do anything except sleep, sit at the computer or at the couch, and do almost nothing. I’ve been thinking for quite some time that I’d like to write an unnecessarily lengthy letter to someone in my immediate or extended family, and since you’re my father-in-law and we haven’t exchanged words in a while, you win the prize.

So, when you forwarded that “touching true story” I thought I’d take a look at it rather than AUA it (Archive Upon Arrival).

The fact of the matter is, that I don’t care for forwards. I’ve got one friend (that’s one person, in the whole of my 200+ email contacts) that has ever forwarded me anything I thought was interesting. Most of the forwards I receive are silly “touching stories” that really don’t mean much to me. I’ve had too much experience with fabricated and embellished stories on the Internet, I suppose.

Anyhow, a really good friend of mine introduced me to last year, and ever since then I have used it when faced with something on the Internet that seems outlandish. A quick query on revealed a most interesting article written specifically about the email you passed along today. Interestingly, this particular story actually has quite a few true elements in it (most of the stories I have seen circulated in email forwards are so exaggerated and embellished that they are rarely representative of any truth that may have served as their premise). However, several key facts were changed and exaggerated.

The story took place in the early eighties, the boy’s name was Frank, and the Make-a-Wish foundation actually granted this as a wish (along with a ride in a hot-air balloon, and a trip to Disneyland). The most touching part of the real story doesn’t even appear in the email, and to make it worse, the email is copied nearly word for word from one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. The night that the boy died, it was five firemen that climbed into his room, not sixteen.

Here’s the link to the true account (along with the version of the email that the author saw, which is slightly different still from the one you sent me):

So, yes. The story is touching, but I hate reading these stories in email forwards because they are almost all full of embellishment and twisted truths. I find it much more satisfying to scour the news for heartwarming articles that are presented as a collection of facts with the purpose of informing the reader. That way I’m getting completely true stories, which are better than the big, bold, colorful words (usually in the Comic Sans font) that have been changed or invented to elicit an “oh, how darling” response and usually wrap up with a self-righteous plea from the author to get me to say a prayer for some cause (usually, something I don’t care about).

In my view, the Internet is only good for six things, and half of them I don’t want any part of (pornography, gambling and robbery). The only three things I use it for are (presented in order of the value I place on them):

  1. Humor/Entertainment
  2. Communication (keeping in touch with close friends and family)
  3. Access to accounts and services (banking, on-demand-self-publishing services, etc.)

Even getting factual news on the Internet can be a challenge. My father runs the Internet arm of a newspaper corporation in Arizona, and this is a problem they deal with on a regular basis. Sure, there are news sources on the Internet that can be trusted, but they are drowned out by all the chatter and clutter from sources like the mysterious writer of that email you sent me (who, again, did little more than poorly copy another “touching” email, which was nearly a direct copy of a segment of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book).

So, I just use the Internet to look at fun stuff, like this article and clip from Robert Downey Jr.’s acceptance speech. Occasionally there is some interesting news at those trusted sites, like this article about a group of apes that had never had human contact before. Mostly, the Internet loves things that are silly and irreverent, like this historical look at a group of entertainers known throughout history as fartistes, among other names.
The main reason I love the Internet, though, is because of people like David Thorne. I really can’t explain all that well what it is that I love about his work, but I would encourage you to read this email exchange he had with his renters, and this exchange he had with a Blockbuster employee. He is extremely irreverent and at times a tad inappropriate. However, he is a comedic genius. After one of his earliest email exchanges went viral a coworker told David that he would never be able to do it again. David bet him his Christmas bonus that he could, and two weeks later he had another email exchange that went viral.

Essentially, what I love about David Thorne is that he embodies the idea that the Internet is not to be taken seriously. He is quoted as saying, “the Internet is a playground.” I agree, and that is why I don’t like coming across stories that are supposed to be “touching” on the Internet, unless they come directly from trusted news sources. If they don’t come from a trusted news site, then I’m a sucker for believing them until I’ve researched the facts myself.

As you can see, between David Thorne, funny/interesting stuff that comes to me in my feed reader, and finding funny videos like these ones, the Internet provides me with far more entertainment than I even have time for. It barely even leaves me time to read email, especially forwards. However, next time I get a forward from you that claims to tell a “true” story, I’ll check the facts on and tell you what they say. Sometimes the truth is better than the lies that circulate in chain-emails.

I hope you enjoy the links I’ve provided you with, and we all here love and appreciate the effort you make to maintain a presence in our life. Your daughter and grandchildren send their love, as do I.



Shhh – Keep this Quiet

Shhhh.  Don’t tell anyone about this post.  I can’t believe I’m even writing it.  Frankly, I expect more out of my self, but that is often the problem.  I expect too much out of myself.  Today, I’m letting something slip, I’m letting go.

I’m going to complain in public.

Sure, I complain to friends and family every once and a while, but I don’t want to be a labeled a “complainer” so I try to keep it to a minimum.  Right now though, it’s all I can think to do.  There is just so much to complain about.

Obviously I’m not oblivious to the things I have to be grateful for.  I’m just having a hard time seeing those things.  All I can think about is the stuff I’m annoyed at, the things I don’t want to do, and the people that are frustrating me.

For example, take this repair guy that came over to my house.  His name is an odd spelling of a name that I have associated with a famous female singer, so we’ll call him Jesika.  That’s not his name, thank goodness, but that’s what I feel like calling him.

The back story behind why we had a repair man over is long and if I were to bring it up I would begin ranting up a category five hurricane.  Let’s just say we have a short in our telephone wiring in the house and we called the maintenance company for our rental home to have them send someone qualified to take a look at the wiring.

Our past experience with this company tells us that most of the time they will send out some gross high school drop-out with a bucket of paint to literally cover our problems up.  “Leak in your piping?  Let me paint that over real fast and call it done.”  So this time I called and made it very clear that this was no paint bucket job.  Someone who actually finished high school was going to have to come out and run diagnostics (something other than listening for a dial tone) to figure out where the short is and fix it.  I insisted and made myself crystal clear.

They sent Jesika.  Jesica is six foot three (or so), looks and acts like his dog (who I haven’t met, but one can imagine) and behaves just like the three-year-old child he fathered but couldn’t support.

Maybe I’m being a little harsh.  Nah, you’ll see.

He knocked on the door, then stepped away to go inspect our telephone wire box (or whatever that thing is called).  I poked my head out the front door to look for him.

Of course, he’s very polite.  “Hello sir, I hear you’re having problems with the phone lines.  Did you call your phone company and make sure everything is hooked up right in the box?  It doesn’t look like they hooked you up yet out here in the box.”

“Uh, yeah…  We’ve been living here for a year and a half and the phones have been working fine the whole time.  We only started having problems this weekend.”  I tried to cock an eyebrow at him, but I’ve never been very good at it.

“Oh, wow.  Really?  This isn’t a new service?  Oh.  Wow.  OK.”  Defeated, Jesika’s head hung a little as he carried his bag of tools over to the front door.  He unzipped it and pulled out one of those dummy yellow handsets that are used to test the lines for service.  “Show me where your phone jacks are.”

“We’ve only got two…”

“Of course you do.  Show me.”  He wasn’t listening to me at all, so I kept talking.

“…and they’re both working fairly well – we can place outgoing calls just fine.  The problem is when other people call us.  No calls are coming in.  Sometimes it rings, sometimes it doesn’t.  I called the phone company and they ran some diagnostics that said we have a short in the wiring.”

While I talked we arrived at the first jack in the kitchen and he ripped our plug out to stick his tester thing in and check for a dial tone.  “Hum, yeah.  Sounds like it’s working just fine.”

“I think I already mentioned that we can place outgoing calls just fine from both jacks.”  Of course there’s a dial tone, moron.  I really wish I had finished that thought, we could have gotten the visit over a lot sooner.  “We can’t receive calls.”

So, Jesika dials his cell phone with our phone.  Yeah, that’s right.  He placed an outgoing call.  His cell phone rang.  I really wish I had reeled back in shock and exclaimed, Oh my gosh!  You fixed it!  It works, you’re a genius!  Of course, I didn’t.  What a shame.  Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.  Oh well.  “Well, that’s my phone ringing, it’s placing calls just fine.”

“Yeah, I told you we could place calls just fine.  We can’t receive any incoming calls.”

So he whips his cell phone back out and asks me what our number is.  As soon as I begin reciting it he finds it in his incoming call log (he knew how to use his cell phone?!?) and hits “Send.”

Every once and a while a call will come through.  It’s rare (most of the incoming calls are dropped) but it does happen on occasion.  Lucky for us, his call didn’t make it through.  I breathed a sigh of relief, and his brow furled.  “That’s odd, it rang twice then went to a strange busy signal of some kind.”

Wow, really?  You mean it didn’t work?  Good thing you’re here to fix it!  “Yeah, that’s what’s happening.  Sometimes that busy signal comes on, other times the call just gets dropped and the caller gets silence, and every once and a while it’ll ring on our end but still drop the call.”

Another side note:  The day before I came home for lunch after trying to reach my wife all day and went around the house trying to figure out what the problem was.  I pulled everything out of the phone jacks, I called the house several times, plugged individual items in, and just ran some basic troubleshooting steps to see if I could isolate the problem.  At the end of all the fiddling I was able to call the house.  The problem appeared to have resolved itself, but later it reappeared.  I don’t know if fiddling with stuff fixes it for a call or two, or if the problem is an on again off again thing, but somehow it worked for nearly an hour yesterday.

Today, though, it wasn’t me fiddling with stuff.  It was good ol’ Jesika.  I followed him past our front door and down our hall on the way to the second jack in the bedroom (after our major breakthrough at the first jack).  I was explaining to him that I already knew the problem wasn’t with our phones – we got good dial tones and outgoing calls on both jacks from both devices.  I reexplained that the phone company’s diagnostic revealed a short in the wiring, which is why I had requested that a specialist come out to check all of the wiring for shorts.

I think I even went as far as to tell him that listening for a dial tone on the other jack would be a waste of time, or something to that effect.  He turned around to face me in our narrow hall.  “Well if you’re saying that the wires need to be checked I’m not going to do that.  There’s no way I’m going to rip all the wires out of the walls to check them.”

“Well, I know the jack is working just fine.  The problem is in the wiring in the walls, not the jack.  You’re welcome to inspect the insides of the jack, because the short could be there (though I didn’t see one when I opened it up earlier in the day), but since it’s working fine for outgoing calls I think the wires need to be checked.”  Electricians can use special tools to locate problems along wires in the walls, don’t (or shouldn’t) phone repair people have similar tools?

Jesika became notably upset.  “You mean you don’t want me to check the jack?  You know what, you’re right.”  He pushed his way past me back in the direction of the door.  “I guess I’m not the right man for the job.  Let me get out of your house.”  He was storming off like my son does (my five-year-old son) after I punish him.  “You want the wires checked you need to get someone else in here to do that.”

“Whoa, wait.  I’m not asking you to leave.  You’re here, you’re the repair man, please look at the jack.”  I had to calm my voice as though I were trying to soothe an angry customer, which I learned to do working at the bank for so many years.  “I’m just telling you that there is a dial tone and that there is probably a short in my wiring.  I understand you have experience repairing phone wires, but if this problem isn’t in the jacks I need the wires inspected.  You must understand, I need my phones to work.  As of right now, our cell phones don’t work in the house because the cell phone service stinks here, and our phone stopped taking in calls this weekend so while I’m out I have absolutely no way to get my wife on the phone.  Surely you can understand my situation.”

Reluctantly, like an angry child agreeing to do the dishes – but only because if he doesn’t do them he won’t get dinner – Jesika turned back around and went into the bedroom.   The rest of the visit was littered with instances of me trying to be nice and Jesika trying not to show how angry he was.

In the end he left our bedroom with no conclusion about the jack.  He had unscrewed it to inspect it, but when putting it back together he was careful to leave it in worse shape than it was when he found it.  The screws were all loose, though I had left them all tight and secure when I opened it.

He asked for the customer service number for our phone service and went outside to make the call.  A few minutes later he was calling to me through the opened door to inform me that a solution had been found.  “Call forwarding has been activated.  You need to turn it off.”

“We don’t have call forwarding, it’s not part of our package.”  My wife had set it up, and we had gone with the most basic, inexpensive package available.  No call forwarding.

“Well you do now, and it’s turned on.  She says you have to dial star, star, seven, two to deactivate it.  You should hear a beep beep.”  So I grabbed the phone, dialed the code and heard a busy signal.

By this time I was frustrated and wanted Jesika gone.  I used my cell phone (since we were outside it worked) to dial my house phone.  Partially to my relief and mostly to my horror, it rang.  I picked up and the connection was made.

If you’ve ever accused a young child of something he swore he didn’t do, then had to admit that you were wrong later when you learned the truth, you know exactly what face was beaming at me when I looked up from the phone.  “It worked?”  His inquiry was rhetorical, at best.

“Yip, it worked.”

He gloated to the lady in the phone.  “I told him I’m the best repair guy around.  He didn’t believe me, but here he is thanking me for being the best guy they’ve got.”

He was, in his view, quite congenial after that.  He shook my hand hard and eagerly retrieved a customer satisfaction survey card from his truck for me to submit.  He wanted to wait around for me to fill it out right there so he could read my praise before giving it to his boss.  I knew in my heart though that I would be writing about his immaturity, sloppiness and gloating spree.  I told him I’d turn it in later.

He left in a very proud, chipper mood.  A couple of hours later I decided to test the phones.  I sent my mother a text asking her to call our house.  The phone rang.  I picked up and got nothing.  It rang again and I picked it up quicker.  This time she was there.  I asked her what happened the first time and she said she got a busy signal after it rang a couple of times.

Oooooh.  I wanted to throw something and smash it.  Deep down inside though, I was just glad Jesika wasn’t right.  I tested it again an hour ago, and it didn’t even ring.  I heard the ringing in my phone, but no ringing in the house.  I tried that magic code again (even tried dropping one of the “stars” since it only produced a busy signal) and nothing worked.

So now, tomorrow I have to figure out what I’m going to do.  The phone company will send someone out to fix it, but I’d rather not go through them until I have determined for certain that the problem is not in our walls.  If the phone company repair guy find the problem on their side of the fence (from the box out to their company) they will fix it for free.  If the problem is inside our house, they will charge me $55 for the first fifteen minutes of work, and $20 for every fifteen minute increment afterward.  If it takes them forty five minutes to find and fix the problem, I’ll end up spending nearly $100 to have something fixed that my maintenance people should have fixed.

This isn’t the only frustrating, annoying or difficult thing I face tomorrow.  In fact, if I had a “skip one day free” card, tomorrow might be the day to use it.

Oh, if you’d like to send me condolences or your pity, don’t bother trying to call.  I’m completely unreachable at home.  Wait until I leave my house tomorrow or just send me an e-mail.

Well, thanks for reading my rants.  Sorry I’m so boring lately.  It’s been rough.  I think I’m managing to get through everything with most of my mind and a little sanity.  We shall see.  We shall see.

All About Me

Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going?

Ah, the classic questions. It seems that everyone either has their own version of the answers or they openly acknowledge that they do not have the answers. If you put people into respective groups based on this assumption, there are those who know and those who do not.

I would generally consider myself to be in the group of those who know. I say this because if you ask me who you are, what you are doing and where you are going, I will have clear, true answers for you. As for me, the general truths I am familiar with (those I would share with you to answer those three questions) still apply so I am safe to say that I am one of those who knows.

But am I really? I know the answers to those questions, I understand them, I have personal convictions that run deeper than than a wishing well and testify to the truth of what I believe. I don’t have an issue with my beliefs. I have issues with me.

Here’s where it gets a little complicated. If you’re not willing to sit with me and explore some of the vastness that is my persona, my complex and my enigma, then I suggest you stop reading, leave a nice comment about what a silly person I am and go find something light to read (like The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank).

Where’s the problem?

Now that’s an interesting question. I would say that I am the problem, but in reality I know that either I created the problem or I was born with it, like one of those personal challenges we’re given to struggle with and try to overcome while on Earth (you know, like some people are blind, others only have one leg, and so forth).

Back to the question of where the problem is, I think it’s safely tucked away somewhere inside me. The most likely place inside me that you might find the problem is in my head. No, the problem is not in a sinus or a nostril, I’m pretty sure it’s in my brain, my mind, my head.

What is the problem?

Well, I stated it simply above saying that I have issues with myself. What are a few of those issues?

Would you like a bullet list, a numbered list or some stories to illustrate? First, I’ll just start listing a few off in paragraph form and see where that leads me.

I annoy people, and I especially annoy myself. I annoy myself the most when I am annoying someone else, and horribly so when I am annoying someone I care about. In fact, there is an inverse relationship between how much I care about a person and how normal I can be around that person. For example, people who I don’t really care about may never realize that I have issues. On the other hand, people I hold dear and close probably wonder occasionally if I might benefit from a little professional help.

The source of this problem eats at me. It eats at me because I haven’t been able to find it as of yet. Perhaps this frivolous inquiry and these superfluous thoughts on digital paper can help me in my quest to eradicate the issue. (How do you pronounce that word, by the way? SuPERfluous? Or SUperFLuous? I once preferred to pronounce suPERlative as SUperLAtive because I thought it sounded better. It does have the word “super” in it, so logic dictates that the prefix should not get swallowed up in the pronunciation of the whole word, but should retain its identity through clear pronunciation of each part as they were before being joined together. Whichever rule is followed, I think it would be nice if we could just follow the same rule for any word containing the prefix “super” and avoid any confusing pronunciations due to inconsistencies.)

(Oh, and I prefer to throw any idiotic irregularities in our language to the French. It’s a nasty language where words have twelve or more letters and only one or two syllables.)

Let’s take a look at my class environment, for example. At first I didn’t care about anyone there, and I was largely successful at remaining transparent and unnoticeable – not annoying. Now, though, I have made a friend in class (that’s right, only one) and I seem to be on her nerves about a third of the time (I was going to say half, but I don’t think I can take credit for all of that).

(Plus, she’s not actually annoyed at me half the time, most of that time I just think she is.)

What’s worse, is that other people in class seem to get annoyed at me too.

Please don’t think me to be a simpleton. Many people make that mistake. I am aware of far more possibilities for explaining these behaviors than I am willing to write out, and some of them you would probably never even consider. You know why? Because I do social things the same way computers play chess. Basically, I take a look at where I am (the whole situation), calculate every possible reason for why things might be that way, how they may have gotten there and where they could possibly go next; and I do a very robotic, detached and mathematical evaluation of the situation based on my data. It’s like I’m not even entirely human (but I’m not the only one).

An example of just one of my thoughts about the classroom situation (outlined above) follows:
Perhaps the situation is entirely a product of my own perception. I could be creating something out of nothing just because I am beginning to take emotional stock in the situation. (Details and variations of the same idea omitted for brevity’s sake.)

I share this one because that is the answer my logical mind has selected as the one I am most likely to hear (or any number of variations on it, which I also have automatically iterated in my mind) from someone trying to give advice and insight into the situation. Each possible interpretation of a situation has detailed information attached to it along with every variation or mutation, and all of that is thoroughly cross-referenced and cataloged with everything else I know and have observed in life. The relationships between bits of information in my brain form spontaneously and painstakingly and comprise an elaborate, multidimensional network.

Making sense of social, emotional or even logical events in my life requires a maddening amount of mental effort. I literally exhaust myself physically performing these calculations all of the time. I am a very skinny person, yet I eat more than (or at least on par with) the average guy my age. Doctors have told me I must have a high metabolism, but I tend to think my brain burns all of the calories I consume just to get through the day.

Because of the physical nature of my mental activity, I prefer routine and regularity to help keep a steady pace. Abnormalities and irregular events tend to disrupt me more drastically than I wish they would, especially when I am under any stress that may be preventing my mind from adapting to the change.

I do not like that I am a low energy, bland person either. Some people may perceive me as less than bland, but they are not around me as often as I am. I bore myself, sometimes even to tears. I get excited about things, but not the same way most people do. I get happy about things, but I do not show happiness in a way that allows others to see how happy I am. Granted, the way I show happiness about one thing may differ greatly from the way I show happiness for something else. That doesn’t mean that I am more or less happy about one thing than the other thing. It just means that I express my feelings differently for different things.

I complain about this because people I perceive to be “normal” (as in, people who share traits and tendencies with others around them in a manner that leads me to view their type as the majority and those whose traits and mannerisms differ greatly from the majority then fall into minority groups I call “abnormal”) tend to have predictable reactions for happiness regardless of what has made them feel happy. “Normal” people tend to show excitement, happiness, sadness, anger and other emotions in varying degrees, and they do so in proportion to the degree to which they are feeling the emotion. I just can’t seem to emulate this behavior. I can’t even crack a half descent smile for photographs, and my birthdays must be horrifying for potential gift givers because I just can’t seem to get my body and facial elements to work together to send the same message I deliver verbally – “Thank you, I really love your gift.”

I don’t like unanswered questions, unsolved problems or unfinished work; all of which I have an abundance of all of the time. I enjoy too many hobbies for any one of them to be enough. It’s like having a dozen or more favorite, I mean absolutely favorite, foods and trying to decide what to eat for just one absolutely perfect dinner. You couldn’t possibly finish every dish if you decide to include all twelve favorite dishes, but you can’t think of which ones could possibly be omitted from the perfect meal. Such is the nature of my hobbies and interests. There are too many to be satisfying.

There is plenty more I could mention, but you’ve gone far enough with the conclusions you are drawing about me. Yes, my over-active brain has been tracking every possible conclusion a person could draw from every thought, every word, every sentence, every idea I have shared here. While you will not come to every one of those possible conclusions, the numbers are not looking good. You might feel inclined to suggest that I edit some things out then, so as to reduce some of that effect.

Nah, I’ll leave it as it is. If you liked me before I find it unlikely that there is enough reason here to stop liking me now.

On to something more positive to wrap this up… for now. This is something I find very therapeutic so I will probably revisit this topic in the future.

Is there any hope in sight?

My brain is beginning to chatter at me like an uncontrollable, unintelligible man from India. If that little man doesn’t quiet down soon, I may have to discontinue my writing for the evening and leave this question unanswered.

Hope? Yes, I always believe in hope. I believe people can change and people can overcome. If the problems I face are my own creation, then I should be able to undo them. If I was born with these issues as challenges, then I should be able to rise to the occasion and overcome. If I am just messed up for no reason, then I can become stronger and better and make changes in my life to become more comfortable in the world.

No matter what happens, or what turns out to be the answer to any of the questions I have posed tonight, I really do have all of the answers I need… somewhere. It may be a matter of figuring it out, it may be a matter of sorting priorities and evaluating things, or it might just be a matter of time.


The thing is, I’m not really all that unhappy with the way things are, I’m just uncomfortable. That’s a feeling I have grown fairly comfortable with over the years, and even if I see absolutely no change over the course of my remaining years, I shall live, love and be happy.

Bleeping Beep

Anyone who has made a trip to the movie theater lately has seen the creative advertisements reminding moviegoers to silence their cell phones. Nobody questions the need for such ads, because we all get the point – it would be really annoying if some guy in front of you (or behind) had a cell phone ringing to the tone of the latest pop hit right at that crucial moment when everyone is leaning into the film.

As a result of such advertisements and signs in specific public places, cell phones do not cause quite the disturbance they are capable of. There is another disturbance [in the force], however, that is much older and far more annoying than the cell phone. I’ve heard many an excuse for these disturbances, and I am aware of potential uses for the perpetrator, but I am this close to coordinating a large-scale movement to have a particular feature of a certain, common, personal electronic device completely abolished.

Please, allow me to share a few ways that these horrid devices have ruined many a special moment for me.

Imagine the feeling: Everything was perfect. We had planned this moment for a long time. As a missionary for my church, I had worked and served and planned so that a new baptism could take place at our meeting house. We filled the baptismal font with perfectly warm water, scrubbing and rinsing it out beforehand so the tiles would shine. We vacuumed the room where the service would be held preceding the ordinance to be carried out. We set out the programs on a table just inside the entrance. We laid out the hymn books, one on each seat for the attendees. We had the white baptismal clothing cleaned the night before and had it hanging, waiting in the changing room. Everything was set up to perfection. The guests all arrived, the young man who was getting baptized, the bishop… Everyone was in their proper place five minutes early. We had a CD player singing beautiful, soft music in the background. What a knockout job of setting the mood for such a memorable day for the new member of our church.

Then, the program started, right on time (of course). A couple of speakers, a special musical performance by a family we had asked to participate, and finally the moment arrived for us to huddle around the baptismal font and carry out the special ordinance. A missionary descended into the water with the young man, who was beaming with glee. They stood in the water, said the pr– BEEP BEEP! What the… ?!? Who… ? How inconsiderate! Of course, the baptism continued without any other incidents, but that moment will be engraved in my mind forever.

One of my earliest memories with this rude, inconsiderate molestation takes me back to middle school and high school. Back then, the BEEP BEEP usually signaled the end of class and I was glad to have it… most of the time. Every once and a while, though, one or a few of them would sound in the middle of a special class, or a moment of silence in the morning.

Now, in my current job we pay a lot of respect to the flag and we hold special ceremonies from time to time. Every once and a while my old nemesis returns to steal the show and get those two BEEPs in as loudly and conspicuously as possible for such a small device.

If and when I have been able to identify the human possessing the bleeping beeping device, I have asked them why they keep that ridiculous hourly alarm on. Some respond with the most ignorant response possible, “I don’t know how to turn it off,” and others just shrug. To those who truly don’t know how to turn it off and were too lazy to consult the instructions or never received them, you know there are people around you that know how to do it. For every one person that doesn’t know how to turn it off, I’ll bet there are at least two who would be willing to try to figure it out for you (and it’d probably only take them a few seconds to actually turn it off).

Of course, these bleeping beeps are not confined to special moments or church events. Oh no, these things go off in movies too. Why in the world would someone silence their cell phone but not their watch? If I don’t want to hear your Brittany Spears cell phone ringer, why would I want to have that jarring BEEP BEEP go off at the climax of the film?

Please, out of respect, turn off your darned hourly timer. If you are one of the rare people who uses it to keep track of how much time has gone by at your job or something, get a separate watch and leave it at work or school. Don’t take it with you to special occasions, movies or anything else where you would be expected to silence your cell phone. It’s just logical, if you think about it, but it’s the considerate, humane thing to do as well.

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January 2021

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    "The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as the greatest virtues." - Rene Descartes
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