Ripping Off My Students’ Art

This is just a collection of art from my students. I could try to write something fancy here, but what’s the point? My students are the ones doing the storytelling here. Kudos to them.

I apologize in advance for the poor angles on these photographs. I’ve never claimed to be a photographer. And I also felt strange taking pictures of my students’ art. I felt like I was doing something wrong – but was I?  I just tried to take the pictures quickly and then act like I had an itch in my butt or something.

Exhibit A: I asked my middle school students to create their own countries and draw flags to represent their nations. Most of them came up with generic stuff, but here are the highlights. These kids are going places.

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I would’ve went with a different color scheme.

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Handsome Land. People in our country like to plastic surgery, and use face bag, and have handsome faces.

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These kids are my favorites. No questions asked.

 

Exhibit B: These were all art projects from my middle school. I had nothing to do with these. I just walked down the hall and took pictures. So yeah – I ripped ’em off. Ain’t it a shame? But aren’t you glad now?

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Hindu Martha Stewart collecting mushrooms in a swamp or something. Featuring an -inny belly button. Smart choice.

 

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Classic but original. This kid understands culture. And the shadowing is nothing to scoff at. But the leaf on the iPhone apple logo actually points to the right, not the left. Lacks realism I suppose. Still decent.

 

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Not sure, but I’m picking up what this kid is putting down. Everyone is crazy in their own way.

 

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I could see myself gingerly sipping coffee in a quiet apartment on a Saturday morning, fighting a bad hangover, standing with legs crossed, trying to decode this one.

 

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DMT at your Uncle’s farm in early spring before your he starts making jokes about what you ate last night.

 

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This kid obviously has a lot of choices to make in life. But don’t we all? I like the truth on display here. We’re all just a bunch of really sad, self-doubting eggs.

 

Exhibit C: The students finished a lesson early one day, so I went around and told them to draw me. Yes, I’m that vain.

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I DO NOT have blue eyes.

 

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My nose is much larger than what she drew. A for effort. I still look handsome.

 

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Looks like I’m about to open a can of whupass.

 

Exhibit D: Random stuff that I thought was funny

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Felt bad when I had to erase this one before class at my high school. They even colored in the nipples.

 

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Comic strip about Saran-wrapping a toilet. The reaction at the end is really what sold me. Such a humanistic piece here. Totally feel for this guy.

 

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Korean students understand memes. I tried to find this kid in order to put in an offer, but then I remembered that Harambe can’t be bought and sold like that.

 

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I got to engrave some pottery with my middle school students. This was my attempt. Not gonna lie, I think it’s pretty dank.

 

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Everyone else drew flowers, but this student went a little more abstract I suppose… Quite dark and mysterious, but I like it. At the very least, it has a visual impact.

 

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The PE teacher made this one. I think it might be a character from the Simpsons. I dig the minimalist aesthetic.

 

 

This is pretty much it. Thanks for peering into the souls of my students.

What a journey we have taken together.

 

I’m sorry to end it here,

Squincy

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For the GOAT

I know it’s late October and you all may think I’m writing about the dogmeat Cubs. But no, this is wildly more important.

I’m talking about Jacob Goedert. He doesn’t really do the Internet, but I know this will find him somehow, in some cosmic sense or perhaps just by word of mouth.

Long story short: one night Goat and I sat out on a backporch for like six or seven hours straight. It was mid-August and a thunderhead was looming on the horizon. This drove a debate between us, whether or not we would get a good storm or not.

It was a long afternoon. At one point, we were both pretending that we were ship captains.

But then at some point he started spouting some sort of poetry in an attempt to scare off the thunderstorm. I took the liberty of titling it:

INTIMIDATION

You look at this,

You don’ wanna f’ck with that.

This motherf’cker’s holdin’ a sledgehammer,

You don’t f’ck with people holding sledgehammers

You got a f’ckin gun? Nobody gives a f’ck.

Lotta’ people got guns. Nobody has a sledge hammer.

Who the f’ck hits you with a sledge hammer?

And a morning cup of coffee?

Lightning storm? F’ck you lightning storm.

What the f’ck you got?

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“You look at this, you don’t wanna f’ck with that.”

After this you got mad at me for recording you, but I bet you’re happy now.

You are my hero. Keep being you. Keep holding that sledgehammer.

Happy Birthday GOAT

Squincy

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Enlightenment from a Cabinet

My apartment in Korea is brand new. Like, so new that I was the first person to use the toilet, which I am super proud of. In fact, my whole building is so new that I am still the only person living on the entire 19th floor. I can make a racket. I can walk down the hall naked, blasting deadmau5, while drinking a cup of coffee in the morning. I am the uncontested king of the 19th floor.

Except I am a poor and incapable king. I have no microwave. No table. No chairs. No toaster. No decorations. No vibes. No nothing.

However, my apartment did come with a working television, so I needed some place to put it other than on top of a cardboard box.

Long story short, I made the terrible decision to go to Office Depot and buy some piece of crap to rest my TV on. Mind you, this Office Depot was basically just a shed with some paper and pencils. I actually had to order my TV stand from a catalog, which should’ve been a very bad sign to me at the time, but the guy behind the counter was kind enough to help me out. The entire conversation took place from behind our smart devices via language translators, which was pretty scary, but it made me think, “Whoa, dude, the future is here.” It didn’t make me think, “Whoa dude, this is a bad move. I’m not even sure what I just ordered out of this Korean catalog.”

A week went by and then I got a package in the mail (getting the package from the security guard is a whole different story). I opened it up, fearing the worst, and alas, there were pieces of lacquered wood and plastic. But definitely not any directions.

I searched frantically for some sort of guide, but those kindred spirits at the Office Depot warehouse just didn’t send any instructions. I was fairly confused at my next move. Was I to build the thing and totally fuck it up? Or was I to call the Korean phone number and get some directions, but totally fuck that up too?

Or was I to live by my old and trusted saying? When in doubt, toss shit out.

I cooled down by going up to my rooftop to drink a German beer (stay tuned for the post about my rooftop). And when my head had cleared, I decided that I’d try to build the pre-fab cabinet, without instructions, like any self-respecting 21st-century bro.

I soon found myself half naked on my apartment floor, surrounded by screws and random pieces of lacquered wood. I was knee-deep in confusion and existential doubt. I was only eight pieces away from feeling like an award-winning architect, but I felt like a little boy trying to build a super-duper hard Lego set. And my dad wasn’t around to help, either. He was probably playing golf and slamming Coors light or something.

I almost called the US embassy.

But whatever –  I was lost in a cloud of mental doubt and struggling to understand fundamental engineering. What had previously been a minor hindrance to me snowballed into an existential crisis of sorts.

Was I physically capable of building this cabinet? If I did build it, would it even matter? What am I doing here? Do I even matter? Do cabinets even exist?

I began to remember all the crappy furniture that I had constructed in my life. More than a few desks in college, a dresser from Ikea, a computer table, chairs, lamps, coffee stands, tables, etc. I visualized all of these objects sitting atop a mountain of garbage. Building them had given me some sense of accomplishment, but I was just beginning to realize that they would eventually end up in a dump. The sheer inevitability of this fact was daunting to me. The futility of my actions was sinking in hard, and I seriously thought about throwing the cabinet out of the window right then and there.

Then I started to think about all the other types of things I had created in my life: stories, blogs, a 13-minute electrosymphonic masterpiece, friends, relationships, and even a piece of wall art. Some of the stuff I’ve created is crap, but some of it is kind of nice. Some of the things I’ve made will definitely end up in the garbage, but some of them – I hope – will outlast me.

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I made this to decorate my trash can.

In the final moments of my little crisis, I considered the world at large. I thought about the scope of time, and the inconceivable amount of things that humans have created: walls, finger nail clippers, castles, ships, books, drugs, ideologies, fancy cardboard packaging, nations, businesses, dirty looks, religions, cuisines, computers, lawn mowers, artificial colors, dubstep, Halloween, fertilizer, music, the Internet, chairs, potted plants, sculpture, light bulbs, espresso, agricultural techniques, chemistry, fibers, cinema, air conditioning, sports, toothpaste, knives, language, and dank memes.

I snapped out of my little reverie and realized that this half-built cabinet had just completely blown my mind. I wanted to cry and pee at the same time, again.

But instead I just built the cabinet thing and called it good.

Fuck this mystery piece of furniture for inspiring me to write this thing.

Moral of my story? I’m happiest when I’m creating things, not consuming them, and I feel like that’s true for most people. But honestly, I’m in no position to give advice, so just ignore everything that I’ve said and we’ll call it good from here.

Sorry – this really had nothing to do with Korea.

 

Now I gotta go build a chair,

Love ~~~ Squincy

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Seven Thousand Miles Ago

In the past few months, a lot of people have been asking me why I decided to come to Korea. I’ve given a lot of different answers in order to hide the fact that I don’t really have an answer. Sometimes I said it was because I wanted to travel. Sometimes I said it was because I wanted to try my hand at teaching. Sometimes I said it was because life would pass me by if I didn’t take the opportunity (my stereotypical yuppie answer). Sometimes I made up other reasons in order to make myself sound happy & accomplished or something like that. Sometimes I just tried to back away from the conversation.

Actually, I always tried to back away from the conversation – because – why does anyone make major life decisions? You might as well ask me why my eyes are green. I think these sort of things just happen, and you deal with the outcome. I was never entirely sure I wanted to come to Korea until I had invested a thousand dollars into a TEFL course and had interviewed with an organization that pretty much guaranteed me a job if I just got onto an airplane and closed my eyes. The rest came naturally after that, of course.

As I write this I’m in my 200 sq. ft. studio apartment, still kind of wondering what I’m doing here. I don’t even have a chair to sit on. I’m kneeling next to my foldout kitchen table with my comforter separating my knees from the vinyl floor. I’m 19 stories above ground, windows open, listening to high-speed trains whistle by on the track across the street. I’m also sipping on a random German beer from the 711 across the street. Because, duh, of course there’s a huge variety of German beer in Korea?

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Korea is all about farting on my rooftop

So how do I feel now that I’m here? Honestly, I can’t say, and you probably don’t care that much either way.

But for one thing, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut nearly 100% of the time. Whether I speak English or Korean, nobody can really understand me. To have no voice is incredibly difficult at times, but it’s also taught me a lot about myself and my surroundings. Instead of hearing a couple gossiping on the bus, I see the sun retreating over a misty, nameless mountain. Instead of seeing frowns and strange looks on the street, I hear the crosswalks chirping with their signature boom-bips, reminiscent of a Diplo beat on a slippery dance floor. Sometimes I have to stop myself from undulating across the street on my way to school in the morning.

It’s moments like these when I notice how happy I am to be here.

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Me and my spicy boys letting loose on the streets

For the most part, everything has been good, and even if it were truly bad, I wouldn’t really let you know. Because who likes people that just whine about moving to foreign lands?

So, on that topic, perhaps the most inspiring thing that’s happened to me so far was getting caught in a monsoon.

I was walking around downtown Gimcheon like a proper idiot, just straight rubber-neckin’ around every corner. I was gawking at the most elementary of things, like even the sewer caps are breathtaking here, I swear. All of a sudden I look up at the sky, and I notice it’s about to pour down rain. I’m a little hungry at this point so I decide I should probably park myself at a restaurant in order to eat/drink during this downpour.

I’m still rubber-necking around downtown, and it starts raining, so I casually duck into a doorway to what may or may not have been a church. I honestly have no idea if it was a real church, but there was a cross on the door, although the building looked semi-abandoned (so probably a church, actually).

But now it’s absolutely pouring down rain, and like the total bozo that I am, I have no umbrella, so naturally, I’m in a dark doorway during a rainstorm. I know for a fact that I was frightening people, because I’m a bearded foreigner posted up in this odd little crevice, beer-in-hand, kind of smiling and saying hello in a foreign language as people scurry to and fro, just trying to get the hell away from me.

However, after a while, the rain didn’t stop. I was like, “Oh, damn, this crevice isn’t as nice as it was when I originally came here.” Then I also notice a spider in the corner, like 8 inches from my face. This is also the point at which an elderly woman limped by, and naturally, I terrified her by trying to say hello – because I am a bearded foreigner drinking alcohol in a dark doorway during a rainstorm.

About 10 or 15 minutes later, this same woman crosses my path again. She sees me and I kind of smile, but I feel bad because I have already scared the bejeezus out of her like less than 10 minutes ago. She limps off in the other direction. I just stand there, because that’s basically all I can do at this point because I’m an idiot stuck in a rainstorm without an umbrella while drinking flat beer in a dim crevice. I assume she is alerting the authorities or gathering some sort of squad to come and beat the shit out of me. I then finish my beer and prepare for the worst.

A few minutes later, the same woman walks by and hands me a poncho. I quickly tell her ‘thank you’ and she laughs herself off into the rainstorm with her umbrella, as if she did not just purchase a poncho for a potential highway robber.

I stood in the dark little doorway for a few minutes and laughed at myself so hard that I almost peed, and then I almost cried. Next, I ran to the nearest restaurant, where nothing remarkable happened. I just ate a lot of Korean fried chicken and then went home.

All in all, I feel very welcome here.

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My school welcomed me with flowers, so I put them in a bottle of booze

It’s still odd for me to think that I’m here. This is no longer just a late-night promise at Alderman’s after a round of Irish Car bombs. As a self-admittedly lazy person that generally doesn’t set goals, bringing this reality to life is nothing short of astonishing to me.

Just goes to show, even if you’re a pile of crap, you might be able to accomplish your dreams!

 

Okay I’m done now.

This one is dedicated to Maddie Doran for believing in me and stuff.

Peace and love,

Squincy

 

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Cheers my okes

 

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Your Microwave is Stealing Your Friends

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Microwave ovens laugh hysterically when you burn your mouth on a bagel bite

Forget about the supposed damage that texting and social networking have done to your people skills. There is a culprit in our midst that’s much more common and accessible than Facebook or Twitter – and it’s out for blood.

A thought sprang into my head the other night when I came home at 3 or 4 in the morning and was microwaving some pizza (leftover from Mama’s Pizzeria in case you were wondering – I don’t fall for that bougie La Casa ‘za). I was all by myself and totally smashed while snarfing down this miserable little slice of combo pizza, and this is when I noticed how truly isolated I was in my kitchen.

The sun had started to creep up and my parent’s coffee machine had begun it’s rhythmic dripping. I had drooled hungrily at this little slice of heaven in my sweaty palms, but for some reason I could no longer enjoy it – a pang of loneliness pierced my heart and my stomach.

My mother’s cats were staring at me, I could hear the rustling of my family preparing for their steady 9-5’s, and the Irish Car Bombs from earlier were starting to fist-pump in my stomach. I knew I had to retreat, but I didn’t do so until I had shoved the combo pizza in my mouth as dutifully and beautifully as possible. In a daze of confusion, satiation, and new found solitude, I slumped into bed and began to think about my microwave as the cultural culprit that it truly is.

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If only Edward Hopper could have captured this moment.

I don’t think there’s anything that upsets me more than someone eating all by themselves. It’s the epitome of isolation and loneliness. In my opinion, it’s more emotionally draining than throwing a bucket of puppies into a river or shoving your friend into a bus. But that’s beside the point here.

People are supposed to eat together, and in huge groups with great quantities of food. If you’ve ever taken a history course or know anything about anything, you would probably know that primitive societies often ate in large groups with tons of munch. They made up all sorts of different excuses to throw giant dinner parties, just like when you made up all sorts of excuses in college to drink ubiquitous amounts of malt liquor with your friends.

But if you think about it historically, giant feasts were kind of the only option back then. When you had lots of dead animals or a bunch of fresh vegetation you had to eat it pretty quickly or it spoiled. When this is a reality, why not share your foodstuff with those around you? I think the general logic behind this was that everyone would usually return the favor.

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Gluttons abound in our age

But here we are in 2014, where eating has never been so selfish and single-minded. All of the evidence for this alarming trend can be found on Instagram, where selfish foodies reign supreme in their gluttonous orgy of self-servings and gourmet garbage. My reactions to these self-loving food snappers are usually the same: (a) Oh, that’s nice. I wonder who you paid to cook that, or (b) Oh, that’s nice. Thanks for inviting me to come break bread, you twerp.

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“Look at the food that I bought for myself. I just wanted for you to see it, but you can’t have any.”

But the thing is, nobody really gets together to eat anymore. We shove ourselves into corners, in front of microwaves, and over stoves. We cook using the same basic principles that were developed ages ago, but our methods of eating have changed dramatically. The food is always for you, not me. Microwaves have boxed in our food, and they have boxed us in as well. Their magic ability to heat foods with the press of a button is matched only by their power to turn us away from our neighbors.

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Microwaves cook your food with the leftover energy you have from not dining or socializing with your loved ones

The microwave oven arrived around the 1950’s, and goddamn did it revolutionize the world. Their utility is nearly unrivaled, and their ease of use is as addictive as it is charming. However, their damage to the social fabric of the world is totally unaccounted for, mainly in part because of pizza rolls and other easily-microwavable, mouth-burning, comfort foods.

There have been lots of technological innovations that have allowed us to eat in smaller, more confined quantities, but the microwave is the king of these beasts. In a world without refrigerators or microwave ovens, wouldn’t you be more inclined to invite your neighbors over for some food? I know there are alternative methods to preserve food, but wouldn’t it just be easier to let Bob and Linda from across the street come and eat some bean soup with you? Maybe they’ll invite you over for lasagna the next day…unless your bean soup sucks.

But, alas, the world has changed and I guess we can’t afford to share our food anymore. We may not have the time or the willingness, but I think everyone simply prefers to hit ‘reheat’.

Go ahead and kill your darlings. Your microwave is laughing because it doesn’t need friends. It knows you’ll come back again and again.

 

Potlucks may be our only chance,

Squincy

 

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Why I Hate Nebraska Football

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This takes the words right out of my mouth

Hate is a strong word but sometimes it’s a necessary word.

My entire life I’ve been berated, ostracized, and belittled for my venomous attitude towards my home state’s football team. While simply saying, “They suck,” is a pretty good argument in itself, I’m writing this to explain my reasons – some of them deeply personal – as to why I hate the Huskers as an individual that was born and raised in Nebraska.

To start, I can’t remember a time in my life when I cheered for the Cornhuskers. I actually get a large amount of satisfaction from seeing them lose. People accuse me of being a turncoat, but I should let you know that I’m guilty of an equally horrid offense: being a Notre Dame fan.

For everything I say against the Huskers there is an equal amount of hatred that could be directed right back at me for being an Irish fan, but in my opinion, both teams suck equally. I’m not writing this to convince anyone that one team is better than the other.

The logo sucks too

The logo sucks too

The short and simple answer to why I’ve never cheered for Nebraska is that my dad (who played point guard at Creighton FYI NBD) raised me to cheer for Notre Dame. At a young age, I knew nothing better than the Golden Domers and had no reason to cheer for any other team. My dad (the same guy who played point guard for Creighton as stated above) wasn’t from Nebraska, and he had never really given a shit about the Big Red. He, like myself, knew that Nebraska was one of the greatest football programs ever, but just because something is great doesn’t mean that you have to like it.

Yes, I agree it might be odd for me to grow up in Nebraska and never cheer for my “state’s team”, but if I grew up in Germany would you find it odd if I didn’t sympathize with the Nazis (yes, I am comparing the Cornhuskers to the Nazis right now)?

Simply put, I have no connection to the University of Nebraska other than it being located to the southwest of my hometown.

Other reasons for my burning hatred of Nebraska football come back to my childhood and that’s because kids are pretty mean little bastards. As a chubby, pre-pubescent Notre Dame fan I got a lot of flack. I was pushed & shoved and told time and time again that I was cheering for the wrong team. Judging by the hostile behavior of Nebraska fans at that point in my life, I was pretty convinced that I could never cheer for a team with such cruel fans.

I do admit that as I grew older Nebraska fans did treat me  a little better, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that I’ve been belittled my entire life for disliking a college athletic team.

Texas v Nebraska

The seed of hate within me was actually planted by Husker fans themselves, and the incessant bashing I took from young bug-eaters allowed deep roots to flourish in my psyche. From a young age I knew that rooting for the Huskers was simply never going to be an option for me. At this point in my life it’s simply out of spite that I turn my back on this football team.

With all this being said, one last reason why I hate this football team is that they control the entire state of Nebraska. Anywhere you go you’ll see some little piece of memorabilia from the 90’s proclaiming how great the ‘Skers used to be. Now we have an entire state that’s living in the distant past, feeding off nostalgic memories that some current Huskers fans weren’t even old enough to remember in the first place.

Times have changed and it sucks to suck, but you can’t live in the past.

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yay Nebraska!

I also don’t find it flattering that people outside of our state view us as a bunch of skull-toothed farmers with a religious devotion to a college football team. In fact, I think Husker football perpetuates a negative stereotype that makes us all look like dumb-fucks.

I wish it would stop, but it won’t because you’re all too far down the gopher hole to see the light. This squad of 20-year-old bros control the entire state, and that’s disheartening.

Needless to say, I’m still proud to be from Nebraska and it will always be my home. It’s the best state in America and I’m quite sure of that. Just don’t call me a turncoat because I don’t root for the same team as you.

Your coach doesn't even love you

Your coach doesn’t love you – don’t forget it

I know everyone hates me but so does your coach,

Squincy

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The Tyranny of the ‘Like’ Button

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Bret Easton Ellis (author of American Psycho, The Rules of Attraction, etc.) recently said some pretty awesome shit about our generation. His account is a depressing but brutally enlightening take on our silly existence, which he refers to as ‘generation wuss’.

Here’s a link to the article that fascinated me.

But here is exactly what Bret said that fascinated me:

“…It’s very difficult for them [generation wuss] to take criticism, and because of that a lot of the content produced is kind of shitty. And when someone is criticized for their content, they seem to collapse, or the person criticizing them is called a hater, a contrarian, a troll.”

Here is another quote from further along in the interview:

“But it all ties into Generation Wuss and its wussy influence on social media to a degree; if you have a snarky opinion about anything, you’re a douche. To me, that’s problematic. It limits discourse. If you just like everything, what are we going to talk about? How great everything is? How often I’ve pushed the Like button on my Facebook page? Is it BuzzFeed who said they’re not going to run any negative reviews any more? Really, guys? What’s going to happen to culture then? What’s going to happen to conversation? It’s going to die.”

Bret struck a chord with me, as he usually does, but I think he’s getting at something that needs to be examined much deeper.

Facebook has a vice grip on social media, and their ‘like’ button is creating a culture that harbors and perpetuates mediocrity. Hitting the ‘like’ button is second nature for some people, and this is a bit worrisome to me. It’s like getting a trophy just for showing up, and that’s fucking dumb.

I remember my teachers in grade school claiming that texting and instant messaging were going to destroy language – and they were kind of right. It dumbed everything down quite a bit, but the ‘like’ button is threatening to dismantle our ability to communicate without us even realizing it.

Every time we hit the ‘like’ button, we’re forgoing a chance to analyze and respond to someone’s thoughts. When we do this we’re throwing a kidney punch at the concept of human discourse, and that’s a bad fucking idea.

I think that we click the ‘like’ button because it’s easy and convenient. It’s a non-committal way to show that you kind-of cared about someone’s thoughts. However, there may be times when we don’t even know why we’re clicking the button, and that might be the most terrifying occurrence of them all.

Could you imagine all of the thoughts and opinions you would’ve had to share with friends over the years without the like button? It’s probably frightening to think about the effort you would’ve had to exert in the process, but you could probably be a lot better at expressing yourself if the ‘like’ button wasn’t there to do all the work for you.

Essentially, the ‘like’ button is just too easy. It undermines our ability to have an opinion, to discuss issues, and to communicate with one another in a meaningful way. A lot of people are calling for a ‘dislike’ button on Facebook, but the way I see it, that would only exacerbate the current problem. The tyranny of the ‘like’ button has simply gone too far.

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We need less buttons and more words,

Squincy

 

p.s. I’m still into the ‘poke’ button if any of you ladies were wondering…

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