Lavish Linguistics

Language is a fascinating thing. From the way that different people all over the world have different ways to say the same things, some with drawls, some with clicking and some with endless abbreviations. For awhile now, I’ve become increasingly aware of languages that are not recognized as such.

For a more popular and noticeable example, you may see how best friends or family members seem to be able to communicate without speaking, and sometimes without even being near one another. As someone who is fascinated by human behavior, this is something that I try to pick up on when I’m around other people. There are the obvious things, where parents make eye contact when their kid isn’t looking as if to say “this is such a bad idea” or “do something about them!” Then there are more subtle things, like when you are at a social gathering and someone leans across another person, who has their arms folded and leans away in response. It’s a definite bubble burst.

There’s the communication with words that always seems to say something different. The infamous, “I’m fine” coming from most girls seems to be a sure sign of trouble. “What do you want to eat?” is always followed by “I don’t know” as an obligatory response because being too decisive comes across as selfishness.

One part of communication that seems to be increasing and developing its own rules in our modern culture is that of pictures as communication. Not photos, but rather emojis and gifs. When I am texting, I can replace punctuation at the end of my sentences with emojis and it will still be understood and read as separate sentences. I can send a wordless gif to show how I feel or what I think. These methods allow for text which previously was thought to be lacking tone, to be indicated by images or lack thereof. For example, if I am upset with someone, my text messages to them will grow shorter and contain no emojis. My messages with my best friends, are super long and have lots of emojis and are sent at a much more rapid rate.

All of these are still pretty popular and well understood ways to communicate. I happen to have a few ways to communicate that not many people understand. A very uncommon language of my own, if you will.

“Language may refer to the cognitive ability to learn and use systems of complex communication, or to describe the set of rules that makes up these systems…” -Wikipedia *insert eye roll here at baby boomers and comment about how ya’ll relied solely on encyclopedias and wikipedia isn’t that terrible of a source for some information*

My first additional “language” that I am pretty well versed in is dance. Now there are tons of quotes and people that say ‘dance is universal blah blah blah’ and to a certain extent, they are correct. But more specifically, ballroom dance is my language. To most people, I have to explain ballroom to them in a way that they know, referencing pop culture and movies that make me cringe. No, what I dance is¬†not like Dancing with the Stars. I prefer watching Blackpool and WDSF. This response is followed by “oh” or “what” and I have to stop myself from getting frustrated because there was a time when I didn’t speak this language either. This is why when someone new in a dancer’s life says that they like to dance ballroom, the dancer usually responds with “Oh? What do you dance?” The response gives the dancer all the information they need to know if this person¬†actually¬†speaks their language. If they say something like “I love to dance the waltz!,” they probably don’t know a whole lot. But if they respond with “International, mostly standard,” then they know at least some of what’s up. The language continues quite extensively with vocabulary like “shoe brush” and “Swarovski” and “backing center” being terms that mean nothing to the general population.

Ballroom is a multi part language with facets of dialect in different areas not limited to speaking with words. There’s technical language, where when the coach seems to pull a hair from the top of his head, we know to stand up straighter. Where a nose pointed towards the ceiling is not (always) a sign of a petty person thinking they are better than you. Where the flick of a finger or pretending to reel someone in with a fishing rod at social dancing is not rude, but often flattering.

Then there’s the dancing itself. I have struggled many times to explain to new or non dancers how I know which way to turn my head based on how my lead’s ribs move. How do I explain that the slight movement of a single finger on my back can tell me where to move and my feet what to do? Or how despite dance being a connective communication between me and my partner, that them turning their head while we dance standard will throw me off balance; we have to rely on feel only. A push or a pull tells me to step back or forwards. A rotating wrist can mean styling or a move. My hands can be soft or have more energy based on the dance style, my partner and the song all at once. In what way do you communicate that latin dresses are shorter not to increase the provocative nature of dancing, but simply because that’s what the dance calls for? Can you imagine cha cha in a full ball gown?

There don’t have to be words in dance. I can dance with someone I’ve never met, without ever learning their name or speaking with them, and yet still communicate. Blindfolded, I could recognize a friend by their lead (honest side note that I may just recognize them by their smell because I tend to associate smells with nouns).

I could go on forever about the ways I communicate in dance. One of the more necessary parts of dance communication that is necessary to understand though also happens to be my next language; music.

I don’t play any instruments although I have in the past and I don’t really like singing. So how/why music? I have an ear for music that I lack most explanation for. Throughout the last few years, I’ve made dozens of playlists on Spotify. They’ve become a way for me to communicate, and songs are something that I wish I could use to speak my words. I was explaining this to a friend awhile ago, how I would love to be able to send someone a song and have them understand exactly what I am thinking and feeling through that song. This is not based only on the lyrics, but by the exact sound and everything about that particular sound. The only way I’ve found to be able to explain my ability to do this, is with a parallel to Remy on Ratatouille. This is exactly how I feel and experience my music and playlists. It’s truly a feeling that I have an inadequate feeling to explain.

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This is often a struggle for me as a popular get-to-know-you question seems to be “What kind of music do you like?” I always seem to kind of choke when it comes to answering this question. I don’t know how to explain that genres are restricting categories that stigmatize their listeners and cause people to make assumptions about me? Usually, I provide a cop out answer consisting of “lots, not country, favorite band=Parachute.” That usually shuts the conversation down after a minute which I am grateful for since I don’t know how to explain my experience with music.

Needless to say, my playlists are not categorized by the specific genres or moods that they fall into, but more by¬†sound. This began with a playlist of a few songs that¬†just went together. I had no other way to explain. I had lots of different people in my life listen to the songs in an effort to recognize what it was that made them fit like puzzle pieces. The songs were not the same in length, key, gender of singer, time signature, or even topic. I just did not understand, but somehow, they still went together. This became somewhat of a hobby, to find other songs that fit together with or without reason and thus an endless creative streak of playlists were born. (Not exaggerating, I made a new one yesterday). I have a folder of dance playlists, which consist of relevant songs for each dance, but I’ve had dance friends even argue my choices on some of these, claiming that they aren’t right for that style of dance. There are so many different songs that can be used for different dances whether they fit the common mood of that dance or not. To combat these arguments, I’ve picked through those playlists with a fine-tooth comb to make sure that the tempo and time signature works for the dance whether the song relays the suggested mood or not, because all of them, for me, fit.

I have a list of “Complete” playlists that will never truly be complete and then a list of “In Progress” playlists waiting for me to discover more songs that connect. Some of them are more general and some more specific, but either way once someone actually sits down and listens all the way through, they can find some understanding of the message I try to convey with these playlists. For example, I have a playlist with songs currently all by females that is super powerful. Several of the songs talk about love or relationships and other’s about independence but to me, as a whole they all convey the message that forms the Playlist title: Feminism doesn’t mean hating men. There’s another Playlist, The Dreams that leave you Shaken, that through music is the exact way that I feel when I have a dream that isn’t a nightmare, but isn’t exactly a good dream either. It’s the dreams that I keep coming back to in my mind the day after, trying to understand what was happening. There’s a Playlist of songs that are not all West Coast Swing songs, but perfectly describe how I feel when I dance West Coast.

On any given day, if asked, I can provide¬† at least one song to describe me and where my mind is that day. Some of those songs repeat a lot. Some show up once and then never again. I’m not consciously aware of the song everyday but I always know when I find it. Sometimes it’s more than one. It’s a song that if I share it then maybe with effort it can be understood. So far, most everyone doesn’t seem to. This language dialect of music seems to be one that only I speak. It makes regular communication more difficult for me, because I’d prefer to speak this way.

And I certainly try to. Within my array of playlists, there is a folder containing 20+ playlists made for people. I could probably make one for everyone I know, but some of them would only have a song or two so I stick to the people I know best. I’m sure most of these go unused, but still, it’s my way to explain that person. If I were going to show who someone close to me was and what they mean to me, the best place to go would be my playlists. It’s often different styles of music than that person usually listens to which loops back to their lack of understanding and my lack of explanation as to why that song fits or even¬†belongs¬†to them.

What’s my song today, you ask? “Don’t Blame it on Me” by Something in the Night. I can’t tell you why. I don’t have the words. But today, in this moment, that’s the song that my soul clicks with. How do you know who I am through my music? You don’t. My music language is one that exists within my soul and I try very hard to share it with others, but there are no words for it in the way that there are for dance. Dance can be learned. I haven’t yet learned how to teach my language of music in a way that people truly understand so for now, I leave “Hide and Seek” by Amber Run, and I return to my playlists.

Sing a tune, little baboon!

‚̧ Annee

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Capricious Compliments

Them: You’re so pretty.

Me: I know.

I don’t handle compliments in the same way that everyone else seems to. This development has been something acquired over the last few years as I’ve come to realize the lack of truly sincere compliments in our society. Part of this started with a book called, “I Am Not a Serial Killer.” The main character in this book had some issues to say the least, but I learned something from that book that has been incredibly useful to me and become a tool in my life used basically every day. First though, I have to explain why this is even applicable for me.

I’m not so fond of society and the human population. I find most of them dull and their actions questionable. I study sociology because I try to understand why people in groups do what they do. It’s something I truly don’t understand and thus their interactions become fascinating. In addition to this, I’m frequently finding myself annoyed by other humans and the stupidity that laces their comments and actions. Anyways, in this book, the main character, in order to stop his intrusive thoughts, forces himself to find good things about people and compliment them on those things sincerely. At very least, he might tell someone he likes their shoelaces or socks¬†but generally, he tries to go deeper than that and say something about who they really are as a person.

After reading this book, I experimentally adopted this technique and it stuck. To this day, whenever I find myself disliking someone, I find something that I like about them and tell them. The trick is actually telling the person because it holds you accountable for acting in kindness towards them and the people recognize that. Sometimes I explain this action to people and then they think that every compliment I give is simply because I don’t like that person which is not always the case. This is simply my extra effort to always find something good in people and it really works.

In addition to this method of changing my thinking, I changed another way that I handle compliments. I began to notice a large quantity of situations in which people were complimented and the person argued the compliment, making it lose it’s meaning. The giver of the compliment has to either agree with the receiver, or defend their comment with more than they probably ever intended to do. There’s a few reasons that this seems to happen. 1) The receiver is fishing for more than just a few words. (This is stupid and shallow; don’t do it). 2) The receiver truly disagrees (accept the compliment anyways, then you can choose to ignore or internalize it). 3) The receiver doesn’t want to accept the compliment as a compliment (This usually happens with debatable things. I’ve been told a lot that I would make such a great Mom. Which okay…What is that supposed to imply?) OR 4) The receiver doesn’t want to accept that compliment from that giver (usually a compliment regarding something specific that the giver is lacking knowledge in or has too much knowledge about).

Another frequent pattern of compliments seems to be saying thank you and then returning a compliment of their own. An example might be someone tells you that they like your shirt and you respond by saying thank you, and then that you like theirs as well. The ONLY situation in which I allow myself to give a return compliment as such is if I was already thinking the comment before they spoke. If it’s something that pops up after, I remain quiet and just thank them for their comment. I will not minimize a compliment given to me by feeling obligated to give one in return.

This being said, the pattern of thank you’s and your welcome’s after compliments is also sometimes over done. I don’t want to constantly be saying “thank you” after every comment and in the same way as a return compliment, “you’re welcome” seems to almost minimize the compliment given. Thanks is reserved for quick passing compliments from strangers or people that I look up to and of which I value their opinions. However, those compliments from those I look up to usually come in a more formal way, where rather than “I like your shirt” they say something meaningful about my actions, behavior or personality. These compliments are something deeper and something I earn, not a material possession.

Sometimes I’m not even thankful for the compliment. Like I mentioned earlier, many have told me that I would be a great Mom. I don’t know what they are trying to imply, so I’m not grateful for that comment. I usually respond with an “Oh” in those situations because I’ve already discarded the thought. If I do return to it later, it’s simply to decipher what the heck their comment meant. There’s other situations as well were I’m not grateful for the compliment and my thanks depends on who the giver of the comment is.

After acknowledging these patterns of compliments, I started responding in a new way. At first, this was only with compliments given through messages, but it later branched out and now is how I respond to most. Instead of arguing or saying thank you, I just say “I know” or “I agree.” Sometimes I don’t agree, but I will respond this way anyways because in my own way, it is a way of saying “thank you” for noticing something that I made/found/did/have/love/etc. The responses I get from this are baffling sometimes. People have literally stopped talking to me because I agreed with a compliment they gave me.¬†Most of the time, people just laugh because they know that that’s just how I am. Sometimes they think I’m arguing and tell me it’s true, to which I agree again. People don’t know how to respond because they expect one of the actions aforementioned. I catch them off guard by responding in such an abnormal way that sets me far apart from the crowd.

All of this might seem selfish and conceited and rude, but to me it makes sense. Even with my words, I refuse to be what others expect if I disagree with it. For me, this way is the kind way. This is the way that I recognize the good that others see in me without trying to diminish their thoughts.

Switching gears for a moment to a random last thought, complements are interesting things in contrast to compliments. It’s the only situation I can think of where somewhat opposite and often contrasting things come together aesthetically and it¬†works.¬† It’s the contrast of all of the things that creates the unity. This really should be more focused on in our world. If we could learn to complement, rather than compliment each other, things might change. We would be working to play off of each other, to become stronger as one rather than solely noticing the achievements of others. To complement instead of compliment would require observation of each other’s behaviors and reactions rather than just words.

Hasta Ma√Īana, Iguana!

‚̧ Annee

Mr. Fox is in the Building

“Mr. Fox is in the building…” It’s a code one of my previous schools used for lockdowns. Looking back, it wasn’t the most discrete code, but all of the students knew what it meant. We had a real lockdown at one of my schools and I don’t really remember it being scary. There had been a situation blocks away with someone in a hotel. They’d kept us afterschool though, and I remember parents everyone, showing up and wondering where the heck their kids were.

It’s really different to be a staff member during lockdowns now, rather than a student. I’m the one making sure the door is locked and the blinds closed. I’m the last one to the designated spot.

A week ago today was the Parkland shooting in Florida. It was the biggest school shooting since Sandy Hook. Since then, the media has predictably and figuratively exploded. Everyone is talking about it. There’s at least one conversation about it each day at work, and more at home. Since yesterday alone, there have been 2 districts within 100 miles that have reported threats. At least 1 additional district had a lockdown today that was reportedly not a drill. Police presence on campuses has increased. More doors have been locked. Name tags are required of staff. Students are watching their words and asking what they should do if they see a threat on social media. Class debates on gun control are a daily staple. Classes are never left unsupervised. And some students are certainly being handled as fragile. Less conversations happen around them and everyone is more wary.

Blame is thrown every which way. Of course, with my background in Sociology and having taken criminology, terrorism, and specifically studied school shootings, a lot of staff and students come to ask me questions. “What’s different with this one?” “Do they know the motive?” “Where?” “How old was the shooter?” Having kept up on the news articles and other reports, I’m usually able to give answers to a lot of these questions, particularly what’s different. I’ve spent the time analyzing statistics on the topic. I’ve ran the tests myself to look for significance and understand what the¬†common shooter,¬†and the shooting¬†“looks like.”

What I struggle with is the speculation and redundancy of “solutions” and blame. I wish I had a word analysis of frequent use in articles, media, speech and news following instances such as this. If we did, I think a lot of the common words (besides the obvious shooting, shooter, school, etc.) would include: Gun control, violence, video games, motive, here, my kid(s), they should be in trouble too, why didn’t they…, what if, why, liberals, conservatives, republicans, Columbine and (insert whomever is currently President or FBI director here).

A lot of times, I keep my mouth shut tight while these conversations go on. I know that if I get involved, I will get frustrated and have difficulty explaining in simple Facebook-layman’s terms the statistics and other things I have studied. I also like to take the time for the event to cool down so that I can formulate my thoughts, hence the reason this post hasn’t come out sooner, even with a previous shooting. Additionally, I always find it incredibly useful for controversial situations to focus on supporting the argument opposite my opinion. This allows me to see the strengths and weaknesses of both sides and gain understanding of where everyone else is coming from. Altogether, I feel I’m able to come up with some decent arguments for either side that I like to use to counter conversations with. Let it be known that each of the articles I will cite in this post will be scholarly peer-reviewed articles with actual studies unless otherwise stated.

For the argument of “video games cause/bring/encourage violence” (one of my favorites to counter) I’d like to bring to the table the article,¬†Video Games and Youth Violence: A Prospective Analysis in Adolescents by Christopher J. Ferguson (2011) which findings conclude that both violent video games and television are insignificant in comparison with crime (not just shootings, but¬†all violent crime among teens).¬†The sample size for this article was 300 youth. Not enough for you? Here’s another:¬†Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in Eastern and Western countries: A meta-analytic review.¬†by Craig A. Anderson (et. al). This study additionally found very limited correlation. The samples that did have a correspondence were few and far between. There was no differentiation between males and females, which I would say is another big part of this argument, that males are more subject to video games to lead to violence than females. This study says differently. There are countless other articles studying the same thing with different samples and different focuses that have resulted in very similar findings. So tell me again how video games and/or television is the cause of violence? And why is your personal experience better than a study of hundreds of randomly selected teens? Oh, I didn’t realize it was you yourself that feels more violent when you play video games…carry on then….

For the argument of “it’s this idiot generation that spends their time eating tide pods. It was different in¬†my day.” With this idea, I’m not going to go out and say that kids are smart, however I am going to say that you probably weren’t much smarter in your day. One thing I will agree is different: stress and the way mental health is handled. I’m not going to focus on that a ton right now, but I personally believe that stress levels have changed. Students, particularly teens have an immense amount of school work and pressure placed upon them. It’s often said that Generation Z (current elementary-high school students) are the ribbon generation, where everyone gets something for their participation. That had to come to be somehow, and who is it that is giving those ribbons? Who is pushing their children to win and putting that pressure on? Blue participant ribbons aren’t enough for many people, and we push student to do more. They are drowning in life and in school work and in the mere controversy on every topic surrounding them every day. This is not to say that this all hasn’t existed previously, however it is amplified by ever present social media and communication. With this argument, I hear a lot of “kids brought guns to school when I was a kid and no one did anything then.” My article to help with this point is not a scholarly approved, however I believe the purpose will be served the same with a mere Wikipedia article, focusing in on the dates of school shootings. The first one listed is in the year 1764. Take a moment to think about that. The United States was founded in 1776. Over a decade earlier IN WHAT BECAME THE UNITED STATES, there was a school shooting. 10 people died (more than just guns were used). Jumping ahead past several instances, into 1900-1910 there are 17 schools shootings. In a single decade. This continues on. There are 479 reported shootings listed on this page. There¬†were¬†shootings when you were in school, no matter your age. You may not have heard of them, but during this time, news was very local or very world based. It was not until the 1980’s into the 1990’s where broadcasting became more available and constant. 1980 was the year of the first 24 hour news broadcast and at that point, it was boring. This is why media began spinning stories. They were bored. Their viewers were bored. They wanted money. Now we have constant news from hundreds of sources. You are certain to know within hours, if not minutes of an event’s happening. This has it’s pros and cons, but again, that’s another post.

Moving onto our beloved topic of gun control. It is really difficult to take something away from people that already have it, particularly when that something is a given freedom. But let’s play with that idea. Take away guns. What happens next? Suddenly there is no way to hurt people? I always like to tie this idea into motive. Motive is never a clear idea because there are so many factors that influence everything we do. However one thing is common, and that is that events like this take place to create chaos, pain and confusion. Attacks work because they do that. The media, again, helps in this by spinning stories and spouting off even more things. If you take away guns, violence and attacks do not go away. In an article by James Alan Fox and Monica J. DeLateur in 2013 titled Mass Shootings in America, analysis found that enforcing more gun control would have limited results in prevention of mass murder. There have been a number of situations, including terrorism situations in recent years where guns were not needed to create chaos. Other weapons like knives, can create this same chaos. Sure, there aren’t as many deaths, but this still induces fear. Another common one is driving vehicles into things. For this reason, most government buildings have really large flower pots outside them, and it’s not for decoration. Those are blockades to protect. This problem will not go away with guns being taken away. If this situation were to play out and cause guns to become illegal, the underground sales would initially skyrocket and likely level off later on. In addition to that, grandparent laws would prevent current gun owners from losing their guns. That’s the same thing that keeps people in prison even if a law is altered in a way that would have made their crime legal or less of a punishment. So then we decide not to take away guns. Then what happens? Nothing really changes….unless, there is another solution. But what is it?

This brings me to motive, my least favorite question to be asked when incidents occur. Every single time though, someone inquires, “Do they know/have the motive?” No is the answer. It’s always the answer. Even if there was a note from the attacker, deliberately laying out the motive, there will still be questions. You are asking to know the cause of the effect when it is much more complicated. Why do you do anything that you do? It’s a complicated collaboration of influences from a variety of sources, values, beliefs, peers, learned and observed behavior, and so, so much more. No one and nothing is without influence, both conscious and subconscious. You may not even know what is motivating you to do whatever it is you do. This is where I like to turn my attention away from the media and away from the attacker. I like to look at those in the community/area/school. A student may commit an act of violence like this, but why, did the other kids in their class¬†not¬†act in the same way. Sometimes in order to best understand why a behavior happens in some, you have to look at why it¬†doesn’t happen in others. What is causing these other kids to not act out violently? Is it their beliefs? Their friends? Love? Family? Goals?¬†What is it?¬†I don’t think that there is a clear answer to this question either. There is no one answer and as far as I know, it hasn’t been studied in depth (likely due to sensitivity around students within the premise of what the study would include). What is it that motivates people to act in accordance with the boundaries of comfortable society and maybe more importantly, should they?

I don’t have all the answers; I don’t even have most of them. I can’t say what the solution is to stop things like this. Perhaps there’s an underlying problem/theme altogether that we are missing; something that is broken and has to be fixed. I can say that I don’t think situations like this will decrease. With each one, it triggers another set of discussions and situations. Sometimes the tipping point for one person is for another to act. I don’t enjoy watching all of this unfold in the world, but it¬†is our reality and we have to learn to either accept or change that.

Be sweet, parakeet.

‚̧ Annee

Lost Looking

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Annee ‚̧

Love Will Find You There

Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
This I tell you brother
You can’t have one without the other

‚ÄĒFrank Sinatra

I’m currently taking a class entitled “Sociology of the Family.” We’re mere days into this class and already there has been so much good information. One of my favorite things about school is the classes and things that make you¬†think. I’m not talking about “Give your opinion on blah blah blah” or “What was the author trying to say…” No. But what I do enjoy is the classes with readings that I actually want to read and I end up marking the margins of the book with thoughts and questions.

This class is doing all of that for me. We are reading a book called, “Marriage Go Round” and it’s so interesting. Along with this, we have articles to read for class each day. For class on Tuesday we had to read this article¬†which was so informative to me. It enlightened me to ideas I had never considered or realized that these were even real things. Marriage without love? Who-da-thunk-it?

As I learned in class, the idea of love before marriage and falling into love has only existed for about 200 years. Before that, the feelings of “love” were something associated with adultery and a socially disapproved of relationship. Arranged marriages were popular, but even if a marriage wasn’t arranged, it was simply a union based on the benefits that would come. A man had no reason to marry unless he inherited land or something so that he could start a family to help him care for the land. Marriage simply made sense for society. In fact, if a marriage was not approved of, it could be annulled simply for that reason. One thing my professor pointed out between differences of relationships today and in the past is that it used to be that marriage, sex, and childbearing were a package deal. Today though, those things are very separated. In fact, you can separate all three of them. (If you didn’t know this, go have a talk with your Mommy or Doctor ūüėČ ).

 Immediately after learning all this, my mind started going back through history and trying to understand and it surprisingly made a lot of sense.

Take the classic example of Romeo and Juliet. They were in love. It was disapproved of because A) it was not an arranged or approved of marriage and B) they were “in love” but “love” didn’t exist like it does today. So many people romanticize Romeo and Juliet, but for what purpose? They were going against societal norms and we find it romantic. Kind of odd if you ask me.

Now let’s talk about fairy tales. If you’re up to date with the modern world or have read the original tales, you probably know that most stories don’t have the happy endings we generally associate with them (Thanks Disney). A lot of the princess-y stories center around this idea of true love. Many of them meet and “fall in love” after hours or days and sometimes it’s even “love at first sight.” When most of these stories were written, love was still the taboo thing that I talked about earlier. Perhaps that’s why these stories fit in so well to our modern day is because of our acceptance of things such as “love at first sight” and “soul mates.”

¬†Another example could be the book, “The Giving Tree.” I’d like you to think of this book as a mix between the old view of love and the new. The book begins with the old kind of love. The boy and the tree love each other and do things for each other which makes them love each other. Later on, the boy’s view changes though and he begins to have the new view. In this view, individualism is a large part. He takes from the tree without giving back. The boy is happy throughout these parts, but the tree is not. In the end of the book, he reverts to the old views and their love is true because they are focused on that idea of self sacrifice again to make the other happy.

Basically the old idea of love is that marriage and such came first for the benefit of everyone and then you grew to love that person. However, that love was not necessarily the romantic type of love. Nowadays, we fall in love first, and¬†then get into a relationship. The author of the article mentioned earlier talked about this. Her point was basically that if we view marriage as a business type deal, then a union has been made that allows for the benefit of both parties. However, if we have to “fall in love” to get married, then without any other foundation, we can “fall out of love” and therefore destroy the marriage. “George Bernard Shaw once described marriage as an institution that brings two people together under the influence of the most violent, delusive, and transient of passions, and requires them to swear they’ll remain in that abnormal, exhausting condition until death do them part.”

(Update: I’ve also realized that this whole idea of no falling in love before marriage completely eradicates the modern view on same-sex marriage and transgender and all of that. If marriage is just a business contract for the benefit of both parties and attraction plays no part in that, then same-sex marriage and attraction is irrelevant).

All of this thinking this week has caused love and marriage to separate in my mind. Why the heck do they have to be involved? Do I want love or do I want marriage? Isn’t it better to attain marriage and then gain love rather than risk loosing love AND marriage?

Of course, it’s absurd for me to say I don’t want love, especially when this new view is the only one I’ve ever had until this week. But now I’m beginning to realize that this romantic love really isn’t what I want at all. Of course I want the feeling of excitement when my potential mate walks in the room. Of course I want him to hold my hand and dance with me in the rain. But I don’t need this romantic love view that we could lose for that. All I need is a best friend who I care about. Love should be about that self sacrifice and benefiting of each other. It should be a companionship with which you navigate life rather than the fireworks that go off when you kiss but eventually fade away.

All of this had been on my mind this week, and then in class today I asked a few questions which sparked a discussion. It ultimately ended with us questioning whether love was even real or not. We talked about Lee’s different styles of love and how he came up with different words to explain different kinds of “love.” Another thing mentioned in the last class was the idea of how our increasing technology and such causes people to continuously ask “Is there someone better out there for me?” There’s so many dating apps and such which widen the dating pool on such a grand scale. In the past, there was the people you met in real life and that was it. I would guess that this question is what causes people to cheat and/or break up. It causes unhappiness.

My patriarchal blessing when talking about my future husband mentions something about a “choice.” Because of this, over years I’ve come to realize how much of “love” is a choice. I am a firm believer that I do not have a soul mate. I can make a marriage work with any man who loves God so long as we are willing to work together and¬†choose to love each other.

Within the church, there has been some talk of this in recent years. I know that church leaders have said that soul mates are not “real.” In addition to this, Elder Hales gave a wonderful talk.¬†This information from the church is great, but I’ve also realized that I need to dig deeper. We’ve learned in class about the history of marriage, but what about marriage within the church? What about polygamy? What is God’s “stance on love” and does he think we should get married and then fall in love or fall in love and then get married? What is “right”?

What do you think? Am I right about all of this? Or do you completely disagree?

I’m constantly surrounded by couples and “I love you’s” and I’m pretty sure that 95% of my songs on spotify have some mention of love. Valentine’s day is in a few weeks so it’s only going to be getting worse. I’m curious though and I want to know more. I’ll get to the bottom of this and maybe find myself a man along the way ūüėČ

a voice inside is telling you,
you’ve never gone too far,
whispering the promise of a prayer,
love will find you there.

Blow a kiss, Goldfish!

‚̧ Annee

If it Makes You Uncomfortable…

If this post makes you uncomfortable, literally in your own skin, and makes you think a little harder about the world around you, I will have succeeded in purpose. You guessed it, it’s time for Sociology again. The other day in class I was shown a video a faced with a question that I had never before considered: Does White Privilege exist?

I want you to take a moment to think about this, and if you find yourself question what White Privilege actually is and itching to Google it, hold off for a minute. You’re not alone in that lack of knowledge and I’m going to help you understand better what it is.

While you’re thinking about that, pause for a few minutes and take one of these quizzes for me. You don’t have to share your results although I would be curious to hear what they were, rather I ask you to keep your results in mind as you read the rest of this post.

After my class the other day and being faced with this question, I was curious about what others had to say, so I turned to Facebook.  I asked a few questions:

1. Does white privilege exist and if it does, why does it exist?
2. How has white privilege affected you?
3. Does reverse racism exist and is it the same thing as white privilege?

With the responses I got, a few things were obviously apparent:

  • People don’t know what White Privilege really means
  • They also don’t know what Reverse Racism means
  • People are very adamant about their beliefs
  • Most of their beliefs on this topics are based on a few experiences and not educational experiences on the actual subjects (to be expected)
  • I was surprised by the people that responded

That all being said, I got a large variety of answers all of which were really interesting for me to read and I want to discuss some of them but first, some definitions.

White privilege has many different definitions as it is a socially constructed concept, but in my own words, “White Privilege is the tendency for Whites to be treated with unearned benefits due to their skin color (whether consciously or subconsciously) by the majority of society.” Please take note now that my own interpretation and definition may not be the same as yours. Also, this is a MACRO idea. This means that this idea applies to society and institutions on a large scale, not individuals personally. That means that you may say, “Well I don’t treat people differently based on their skin color!” And while that may or may not be true, it doesn’t matter because this idea doesn’t apply to you. Rather it applies to large groups, such as an organization, city, state, etc.

That all being said, also take notice that White Privilege is not how you treat others, but rather how whites are treated and “privileged” in society. Here’s some examples of how that could happen. While going through this list, I ask you, no matter your skin color to see how many of those things actually apply in your opinion and tally them up and then tell me. I’ll tell you how many I can apply to my own life: 48/50. I can also tell you that when I first read over this list, I was really surprised by a lot of things on there. My thought was, “People really have to worry about this? I thought everyone had this benefit.” But because that list was even written, I know that someone of a different skin color than mine has felt the opposite of every single thing on that list. That right there is evidence to me of the existence of White Privilege.

So now take a moment to look over that list one more time. This time think about someone of a different skin color than you. How would they agree/disagree with those statements? Does it surprise you? Every time I look through that list I find another thing I’m surprised by. No one should have to¬†go shopping alone with fear that they will be followed or harassed. I don’t face that, I’ve never have and I likely never will. But someone does and it’s because of their skin color. I have a privilege that they don’t.¬†That¬†is White Privilege. Now before you get all upset, I’m not condoning this or bragging on my skin color, I’m just trying to help you understand what White Privilege is.

White Privilege is the stories that plague the media these days about whites committing crimes and getting let off easy. It’s this. And this. This. This. And this. And this. It’s why I can wear any one of these and people will tell me it’s cool. It’s why people think this movie is funny. Open your eyes.¬†Look here.¬†Or here.

Go ahead and tell me it’s not real, I will listen but you better have some good arguments to make your case.

That being said, some of the arguments against it are interesting to me (borrowing from things I’ve heard and from responses to my Facebook post).

  1. It’s a made up term: Yes, thanks for noticing, it definitely is. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value or isn’t real. Race is a socially constructed concept as well and you don’t argue very often that that isn’t real (a post for another day). Nearly everything in our society is socially constructed. Why does money have value? Because we say it does. What the heck is a selfie? You can answer this, because the term was made up and became popular.
  2. It doesn’t exist because I’m white and I’ve never been given anything just for that: See the list I linked to above. Maybe you have and you just haven’t realized it. Also remember again that this is a Macro idea and doesn’t necessarily apply to you alone.
  3. No, because sometimes I’m favored in society and sometimes people with different colored skin than mine are more favored than I am:¬†While this may be true, remember again that this is not a Micro idea and doesn’t apply to just you. There are more factors, including class, gender, age, sexual orientation and religiosity but based on our social stratification, we can attribute much of privilege to skin color.
  4. Everyone has equal opportunity:¬†Tell that to the family living on the corner, see how they like your comment, and surely don’t give them anything to help them out because they of course have the same opportunities you do.
  5. What about whites having less opportunities because of minorities taking them? (I.e. Jobs, Scholarships): Look up the statistics and then come back to me with this same argument. I dare you.

So basically in my opinion, White Privilege is very real and apparent in our society. Racism is very real and apparent. The facts are sad. I’ve nearly cried writing this post while looking at a few things and I’m still not finished. We still have more to talk about. Ready?

Reverse Racism, I’ve realized, is a very misunderstood topic and term. My definition of Reverse Racism would be something along the lines of, “A form of racism that occurs as a response to or result of past or ongoing occurrences against group A, where group B was the group originally wronged.” That being said, I’m just going to tell you now that I think this is real too. It happens back and forth and it’s similar to White Privilege in that that may be one of the responses or causes of White Privilege.

This term is also socially constructed and you could argue that it’s simply racism. I would argue back that it is only a¬†form¬†of racism. I’m going to be blunt and point out simply that racism and arguments between people of different skin colors seem to always be “whites” against “insert skin color, ethnicity or ‘race’ here.” Am I wrong? Maybe in some instances but in my experience and education it’s always been just that. Sometimes it’s even whites against whites, but still.

For example, Reverse Racism is what I would call it when Whites complain about scholarships that are directed towards and exclusively for people of a specific “race.” These whites feel as though they are being discriminated against. Racism generally occurs from a majority population to a minority population. Reverse Racism is the opposite, when a minority is discriminate against the majority. Doesn’t happen? Look here.

I’m not going to point of the disputes of Reverse Racism because the responses I got basically consist of disputing the term‚ÄĒwhich¬†is¬†a concept whether you like it or not‚ÄĒor misunderstanding the topic. If you do have an argument though, I will happily discuss.

Anyways moving on, to sum up here’s a few more interesting thoughts and things to think about:

  • On the conversation of “Black Lives Matter” vs. “All Lives Matter,” Why do people say “All Lives Matter?” Ex. Is it just a way to distract/detract from the meaning of Black Lives Matter and put them “back to where they belong in social stratification”?
  • How would you say the Social Stratification in our country is organized? I.e. Who has the power in society?
  • Are the Young or the Old more empowered in society and why do you think this?
  • Is one group or section of society more ignorant to these concepts (everything discussed) and why do you think this? Statistics to show for it?
  • What should be done about inequality?

Thank you for reading and I hope this was enlightening. Comments are more than welcome and I’d love to hear more opinions (So go poll your friends and come back with more data for me ūüėČ )

So long, King Kong!

‚̧ Annee

Don’t Panic

I’ve become increasingly aware of a couple symptoms of our society that exist in every person I come across. I certainly have these symptoms, although mine seem to be a bit more dormant with my “don’t care” attitude‚ÄĒbut this post isn’t about that.The point is, some people have these symptoms more than others and more often than not, one of the two symptoms prevails. As far as I can find, no one else has really connected these two symptoms to say that they are opposites of each other as I believe them to be but perhaps that’s because a person can have both. What the heck am I talking about, right?

The first is Optimistic Bias. This is a term coined for the idea of “that could never happen to me.” It’s the idea that although you hear about these bad things happening elsewhere, you honestly believe that it will never happen to you. These could be simple things, like not getting a part in a play when you’ve been acting your whole life or more extreme things like cancer or car accidents. I’m sure you can think of something that shows you have optimistic bias. What are you sure will never happen to you? For me, it’s getting salmonella. I once again, have that don’t care attitude and thus eat raw cookie dough and stuff, thinking that it will never happen to me because it hasn’t yet to me or anyone I know.

The second is Moral Panic. This is the idea that everyone is afraid of something because the media has hyped it up. I see this on a much smaller scale, simply looking at each person within the whole that has those fears. These fears may be due to a real threat but more often than not it’s simply something that has gotten out of hand and will never touch us. This is things like Ebola and Shark attacks. It¬†could¬†legitimately happen and we hear about it happening but the odds of it happening to us are VERY small yet we have fear that can’t quite be discarded.

It’s really interesting to me as an aspiring sociologist to sit back and watch one or both of these symptoms overcome the people in my life. A lot of times, their lives are run by these. Either they believe that nothing uniquely awful will happen to them or they live in fear of something that will likely never happen, happening. How do we balance these two things? I have no idea.

I see moral panic‚ÄĒand feel it in myself‚ÄĒoften after something big happens. An event like a mass shooting or bombing, an onset of natural disasters, anything like that usually sets off moral panic. The media starts unleashing story after story of the awful things happening and suddenly everyone’s afraid. I think this moral panic sometimes makes it harder for events caused by man to reoccur in another location because everyone is so afraid that security and awareness is amped up. However the mix of optimistic bias in the situation makes it easier for those things to happen. For example, say a mass shooting occurs in a small city in a state across the country from you. Something unique sets this shooting apart from others and it’s the first you’ve heard about in awhile. Moral panic tells you to be more aware in public or to avoid similar situations at all. You watch the news consistently and give extra warnings of safety to your loved ones. You remember too, to tell them more often that you love them. Optimistic Bias tells you that your situation is too different from the one where the shooting occurred. You live in a small town where nothing ever happens and the crime rate is low. Nothing like that will ever happen to you, until one day it does. Moral panic then sets in to the rest of the population and the cycle starts over.

Authority figures seem to try to ensue moral panic, often even believing it themselves to gain support. A candidate who wants you to vote for them may tell you that a threat exists when it doesn’t really and then how they will fix it to make you fear the threat and desire of someone to fix it. They give you a problem and a solution all in one. Optimistic Bias on the other hand seems to be something we ensue naturally in ourselves. This is why when something bad¬†does¬†happen to us, it’s often such a shock we can hardly believe it. Media doesn’t play into this as much, except for in movies. A likable character is created and we adore them; then something awful happens to them even though they didn’t believe it would. We watch this Optimistic Bias take place right in front of us, yet we are significantly blind to it.

At the risk of being Optimistically Biased, here’s some of the thing people in my life and that the media shows moral panic about: school shootings (probably top), abduction/kidnapping, rape, drugs, car accidents, plane crashes, eaten by sharks, burglary/theft, natural disasters, ¬†and so many more. Basically every bad thing that could happen has¬†some¬†connotation of moral panic with it. Have a friend with different colored skin? I’d bet you the things they have moral panic about are different than yours. Remember the kid that was eaten by the alligator? How many parents do you think had moral panic about it? And yet I’ll be there were some who had optimistic bias and let their kids risk getting hurt anyways. If I were to make a list of the things that people were Optimistically Biased about, it would probably be the same list, with Death (in general) at the top of it.

I wish I knew what a happy balance between these things would look like. Is it possible to have one? What would that look like? Or does the cycle just continue endlessly? Are these things good for our society to have?

I don’t know those answers. I do know that these symptoms plague everyone in our society (much thanks to the media) and that we should at least be aware of them. Sometimes it’s good to be afraid and alert and not ignorant to what could happen. But it’s not good to be so paralyzed be fear about something that you don’t let your children do anything. So do we panic or not? Of course, it’ll never happen to us right?

Chow Chow, Brown Cow!

‚̧ Annee