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 Mañana, Iguana!

❤ Annee

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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

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

—Frank 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 😉 ).

 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 😉

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