Suppressing our emotions = bad

So: this whole Liam Neeson thing that caused a major media shitstorm. It got me thinking about us and our society here in the West; about how our culture has developed to encourage the suppression of our true thoughts and feelings. After all, if you admit to an irrational thought-train that pulled into the station in response to a painful personal scenario (like Neeson did) then you are immediately torn into by social media and the militant SJW factions that have been waiting for the next major celebrity to slip up. It is my opinion that we should be able to discuss our darker thoughts openly providing that we haven’t actually acted upon them of course.

Now, I don’t want to go on about this Liam Neeson thing too much because the story is really only a springboard for this topic but I will quickly re-cap it for the three people that missed it the other week as some context is usually helpful. The short of it is that somebody close to Neeson was raped by a black man “years ago” (no actual specific date/year given) and the movie star admitted to walking the streets for a week, hoping that a black man would randomly start some trouble with him so that he could kill them.

“God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions. I’ll tell you a story. This is true.”

“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way but my immediate reaction was… I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.”

“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [uses air quotes with fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”

“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that. And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”

“It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it.”

I’m not going to dissect this too much though because the interview has already been analaysed to death. Also, I’m not here to look at the racial side of Neeson’s comments. What I WILL say is that he was crazy to expect he could admit this stuff and not invite a turbo-charged media storm. It’s – sadly – the age we live in and one seemingly innocent admission could sink a career.

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[image: CNN.com]
And this is the point of this post. There are many with a neutral stance on this story who are saying that Liam Neeson should have just not said anything. As I mentioned just above, I can see why this line of thinking comes about but all it encourages is a suppression of our thoughts, feelings and emotions. What Neeson admits to is some pretty heavy shit and while I could never support what he did, I can still understand to an extent. Clearly the crime affected him deeply and sometimes, these things give birth to wholly irrational thoughts and mental states that seem insane when looking back on them with the benefit of time’s passage. At the time however, the irrational nature of these emotions is very difficult to see if it’s you in the eye of the storm.

Unfortunately, our society has grown highly competent at playing Judge/Jury/Executioner and so if you are considering letting some shit out that has been weighing your mind down then it will take some huge balls to do so. After all, rather than take a balanced approach and attempt to disagree but also understand, it’s much more fashionable to loudly condemn a person for their perceived sins. It’s even easier to do this if the confessor in question wants to open up about anything relating to race or sex. Finally, if you are a celebrity or somebody of high profile, then expect the brain-dead social media sheep to jump on the bandwagon and bleet their rage. Not necessarily because they give a shit but because it makes them look fashionable to be commenting on a high profile news story and be seen to be appalled by something, anything. It’s easy to condemn from that safe spot behind your screen isn’t it? I guarantee that at least 90% of people wouldn’t even bother getting involved if social media was non-existent and doing something about something meant getting off their arses to join physical protest marches.

Hypocrisy rears its diseased head at this point because we are constantly being told that it’s “good to talk” and to be open but it seems that this only stands if the nature of your problems or innermost thoughts is acceptable by the standards of the mindless Twitter mobs, the easily offended and “Won’t somebody think of the children?!?” brigade. Anything remotely controversial or worrying means that you ARE a racist or that you ARE a sexual predator/rapist. As I touched on at the very start of this post, there is a clear divide between having bad thoughts and actually doing something about them. I am in no way excusing those who have followed through on them because it means that somebody else has been hurt or had their life destroyed as a result and the offender needs taking out of society and either punishing or rehabilitating.

But how many of these crimes could have been prevented if society was more open about discussing our more unpleasant thoughts? I ask because it’s basic knowledge that suppressing emotions or hiding certain things only makes them grow stronger over time, perhaps to the point where they warp minds and the owners lose control. We’ve all heard the one about the shy, innocent girl actually being the filthiest of the lot due to suppressed sexuality or having to “watch out for the quiet ones”.

I’m not saying that there is complete, consistent truth in those random examples but one thing I DO know is that nobody is black or white. We are all both. Yin and Yang. Light and Dark. Good and Bad. To try and completely suppress the unsavoury and socially unacceptable segments of our psyche and become modern day saints in the process is a foolish and impossible task. That’s why I believe it is important to talk if it will help ‘release’ some of the bad thoughts but we must be comfortable in opening up without being sent to the figurative gallows. We must also learn to understand and accept that we all have a darkness within and that acknowledging its existence and being comfortable with it could well be one of the best ways of controlling it.

I often like to return to this fantastic quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

“Where the light is brightest, the shadows are deepest”

At the end of the day, I can’t take the self-righteous whiter-than-white do-gooders seriously when they scream about people being wrong or the devil incarnate for simply having human thoughts. Irrational and unpleasant, yes but human all the same. We evolve over thousands and millions of years so to expect society to shed its primal, territorial instincts so quickly (in relative terms) with no margin for slip-ups is ludicrous. The fact that we are as civilised and morally conscious as we are NOW is a small miracle in itself and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

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Even this White Knight chess piece casts a shadow…[image: Tiptopprops.com]

The self-righteous and uber-SJWs amongst us try to be as white and morally superior as possible but the stronger their light becomes, the longer the shadows grow. It’s why those crusading for “good” causes have been known to employ suspect tactics in order to get what they want. On a more basic level, these people are no different or better than the average man or woman and will be harbouring the same dark thoughts or desires behind closed doors, even if only in small, harmless quantities. You can’t have Good without Bad due to the nature of a small thing called Balance. The best we can strive for is to be as Good as possible and keep the dark in check while acknowledging that it is there.

So next time somebody “does a Neeson” and comes out with something outrageous, stop and take a moment before reacting. I’m not telling you to agree with their admission or to let it slide without challenge or scrutiny but at least try to understand and ask yourself if you have been in their situation yourself. Can you actually relate? Are you qualified to judge their state of mind without the relevant experience? Most importantly, did the person in question actually act on their irrational thoughts?

What I’m saying is, don’t preach tolerance and freedom of speech if you aren’t prepared to tolerate other people’s thoughts or allow them to be honest.

Book Talk: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck (Mark Manson, 2016)

tsa-1I’m somebody who isn’t really that happy with their life and so – this admission out of the way – I’ve read a lot of self-help material and watched countless motivation and self-improvement videos on Youtube. Thing is, a good chunk of this stuff is, as it turns out, complete bullshit that doesn’t sink in at all. Even worse, a lot of it could be detrimental to our quests to improve. All of this advice that instructs you to be forcibly positive and happy 24/7 for example…it’s actually the opposite of what you should be doing.

Well, according to Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck that is. Avoiding the negativity in your life and plastering over it with forced affirmations and fake-it-until-you-make-it positivity is no good. Refusing to acknowledge problems means that you will never solve them and if you furiously focus on positives then all you are really doing is reinforcing the existence of the negatives. This is just a taste of the kind of insight this book offers.

In reality, Mark Manson’s advice is all stuff that we should already be aware of but we seem to have lost our way. Taking personal responsibility for everything in your life, the importance of being able to say “no” and how to decript the (potentially shitty) values that you are living by are just some of the over-arching themes that make up this book of real talk. It’s eye-opening stuff that seems so obvious and simple yet our consumer-driven culture obsessed with the ego, financial wealth and materialism has warped our sense of reality over time.

I’m not saying “buy this book and your life will be fixed” but all I CAN say is that this is the first self-improvement book that I burned through at a great pace then read again immediately. And you know what? I think I might even read it a third time. There are many lessons and pointers that you can take from the book and implement in your own life straight away but The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck has resonated with me so much that I feel like ramming it into my mind.

I’ve learned that I probably complain too much and that I also blame others and past events for my problems. I’ve learned that I need to take personal responsibility for 100% of my life. I’ve taken away new ways of thinking and looking at life.

As I said, all seemingly obvious stuff but until reading this book, I wasn’t fully aware of how much I was doing wrong in life. I’m not here to make such cliched statements as “It changed my life” but I do feel as if I have been given a kick up the arse and a bit of a jump-start. I cannot say the same for 99% of other books or videos that I have tried.

The book is very easy to read too as it comes across as more casual and direct-talking versus other alternatives which can sometimes be a bit too stuffy and loaded with psychology-speak. I would even go as far as to say that it is an enjoyable read in general regardless of whether or not you are looking to get anything out of the experience. If you are like me though and want to improve yourself and figure out where you might be going wrong then I would heartily recommend putting the other stuff on hold and giving The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck a shot.

Youtube Comments: An Embarassment to Humanity

Many things frequently convince me to part with my faith in mankind and the future of our race. The fact that we use centuries of accumulated intelligence and technology not for our benefit but to continue killing one another for the benefit of spiritual mystical beings for example. The periodic threats of nuclear war that threaten millions all because bullish world leaders insist on winning the latest edition of “How large is your penis?”. Or even the idea that maintaining the right to purchase military-grade firearms is of greater importance than innocent children being filled with bullets and thus denied a future, all because they did something as outrageous as show up for school.

All of these things (and countless others also qualifying as entire discussion points in their own right) rarely fail to make me think “we’re so fucked as a race, aren’t we?”. They all pale in comparison to the comments sections on Youtube videos however.

Seriously, I have come to the conclusion that if you wish to see the most hate-filled, racist, cold, emotionless, easily-triggered, tasteless keyboard warriors that the internet has to offer then this is the place to go. You can probably point me in the direction of some less mainstream, off-grid web hangouts where entities (let’s not grace them with the term ‘People’) of an even fouler nature lurk but there are two reasons that make Youtube’s warzone comments so notable as I see it:

  1. This is one of the most mainstream, easily visible and accessible internet destinations out there. The hate and bile is right there for all to see and while videos may be flagged as 18+, the comments certainly aren’t.
  2. Facebook, Twitter and other high-profile social networking services come under repeated media fire for breeding peer pressure, hate speech, extreme bullying and depression yet Youtube seems to escape the spotlight despite being just as influential and integral to its users’ lives.

It seems that any video in any genre simply cannot exist without a simple disagreement of opinion becoming an issue of the commenters’ racial identity or right to life. I have seen people told to “fuck off and die” for having a different taste of music for example and I’d consider that mild by the standards of Youtube’s trolls. Don’t forget that these entities have standards so low that you’d have to drill down deeper than the deepest layer of the sewage network to even stand a chance of finding them. When you did find these so-called standards, you’d likely feel cleaner by returning to the sewers and taking a swim in that glorious cocktail of piss, shit and used tampons.

I have screen-grabbed an example of such bizarre behaviour to dissect and this (like my “fuck off and die” recollection) is still extremely tame. This is taken from a video of Rocky II‘s training montage. I’ve edited out the names and profile pictures of those involved even though I’m unsure that some of them deserve their anonymity but what can I say; I have a bit of class I suppose.

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As you can see, it starts off fairly nondescript with somebody being a smartarse and disputing the original comment because they decided to take it as literally as possible and combine the worlds of real-life sports trainers and their fictional movie counterparts. Then the opinion is put forward that Duke (Apollo’s trainer) was in fact superior to Mickey – a fair enough opinion (even if it is presented as a fact). Then, enter the Pedant archtype who isn’t happy that people casually discussing a movie have committed the cardinal sin of confusing managers with trainers.

So far, so good, right? But then…

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I’d ask if this was really that necessary or how we made it from the manager/trainer discussion to suicide but I can’t seem to find a suitable collection of words so I’ll let this classic meme do the talking while I gather myself.

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[image: imgflip.com]
And so it continued…

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I would attempt to commentate on this conclusion to the discussion but I don’t think I need to. For the purposes of re-capping however: a Rocky II clip inspired a conflict of opinions on trainers and managers. Said conflict then evolved into a not-so-subtle suggestion that one of the involved parties should go and hang themselves (as you do for confusing trainers with managers, real life trainers with Rocky trainers or for being a Duke fan). Finally, a good ol’ race-fuelled argument.

As I said, this is a very tame example. So tame in fact that it barely registers. Many other furious debates succeed in racking up hundreds of replies and utterly vile on-screen words that sometimes defy belief. Some may argue that I should “grow up” or just accept that this is life in 2019 but I refuse to accept that. The fact is, you don’t hear people speak this way in the real world. They are keyboard warrior trolls on a power-trip, safe behind their monitors or smartphone displays. Let’s see them stand face-to-face with a grown man in the street and tell them to go hang themselves for holding the opinion that Megadeth is better than Iron Maiden. Most of us swear and rib our mates about their opinions but it’s done with humour and an understanding of the boundaries. We know who we can share black humour or crude jokes with for example.

In Youtube Land however, there is very real malice from a sizeable number of users who appear to think nothing of making a simple disagreement personal and bringing somebody else’s ethnicity into it for no reason at all. They see no problem with telling another commenter that they used their sister as a “cum dumpster” the night before last when in reality, they are probably a basement-dwelling professional troll with no real life interior knowledge of a woman’s underpants.

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It’s over-compensation and feeling powerful by putting others down magnified ten-fold (at a minimum). Trolls and keyboard warriors on Youtube (and most other social networks for that matter) come in two varieties: the first species is neaderthal in nature and not yet in possession of an imagination. Hard-hitting, punchy insults and childlike tantrums punctuated by words such as “fuck” and “cunt” are their only form of response to anybody who dares challenge their hard-man act. Ironically, it’s these types – who seem the most ghastly and repulsive at first – who probably have the most hope of transitioning to a regular human being. A slim hope mind, slimmer than the gap that the Millenium Falcon squeezes out of after attacking the Death Star II’s core in Return of the Jedi. It’s the second species of troll that you have to be more wary of.

Passive-aggressive prose and carefully constructed replies designed to poke and prod at another is their style. Rather than going in fists-swinging with their digital mouth vomiting out swears, these social rejects get their thrills by laying the bait and toying with the fish they manage to hook. Accomplished grammar, a calm persona and the ability to respond to anything are other hallmarks to look out for. These are the sorts of trolls who refuse to let their opponent claim the last say and achieve a trouser tent by retrieving facts and figures to discredit another viewpoint or working out how to push another’s buttons. You can imagine them sitting back with a wide, toad-like grin as they watch somebody else unravel and if all else fails, they have no qualms about signing off with an ice-cold, passionless put-down.

Read too much of this crap and you begin to wonder if these people have a life outside of the internet or how awful their own existence must be if they need to throw their self-respect beneath a dumpster and communicate with others in a such a revolting manner. More to the point of this topic’s title, it’s embarassing that this is a representation of us, the human race. What happened to agreeing to disagree and accepting that not everybody holds the same opinions as us? Somewhere along the line, it became essential to always be right (a mathematical impossibility in itself) and fling insults around like uncivilised apes slinging turds. Somebody disagree with your outlook? No problem; just tell them to jump off a bridge (while promising that you will be banging their mother as they plummet to their doom).

But then again, I’ve just written a big blog post about morons and wasted some of my life analysing their motives so what the fuck do I know.

Unrequited Attraction: A Necessary Suffering

Here on Unfiltered Opinion, I’m not shy about dropping F-bombs or broadcasting my blunt assessments of news events and life. As such, it may seem that I have a harsh or unforgiving nature but I’m here today to make a somewhat contradictory confession to lead us into the topic that I want to discuss today. That admission is that I am a bit of a sappy romantic when it comes to love. I can’t get enough of things like chivalry, legends of heroic knights saving the day for their lady and all that crap. This has led me into trouble on several occasions because I have found myself hopelessly giddy for certain girls/women in the past and gone in WAY too deep with my heart while neglecting my mind and reason.

Before I go any further however, I feel that it’s important to point out that I do also believe that none of this should be applied to real world romance. Yes, there are exceptions amongst the fairer sex that will be receptive to some good old-fashioned chivalry but on the whole, the White Knight persona is bad news and should be discarded immediately if a man wishes to push a woman’s biological buttons and rev her up. I’m not saying that you should be an arsehole instead or that you shouldn’t hold doors open or buy a girl flowers but there’s a fine line between being a gentleman and just being a mug.

As I said, I have been down the path of getting too swept away by an initial attraction and this post is about coming out on the other side and being better off for some emotional suffering and hard but entirely necessary life lessons. As I also said, I still love all of that romantic shit but my head is screwed on tightly these days and I don’t intend to be so gung-ho about the flowery stuff going forward.  This is me relating (loosely to smudge over any sensitive or personal information) my most recent folly and the important lessons that I learned.

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[Image: Pinterest]
This happened a few years back now. The lady in question was somebody I met through work and it was a completely unexpected encounter that knocked me for six. Have you ever bumped into somebody for the first time and thought “wow” then been unable to stop thinking about them? Well, that’s what happened here and it didn’t take me long to think “fuck it” and go for it. I got knocked back and was fine with that at first because I was just glad that I at least knew I’d chanced my arm but still, she wouldn’t leave my head and with having to see her frequently, the attraction refused to wane.

This went on for about a year with me in full-on fool mode, telling myself that I had no chance but not believing the truth that I was attempting to convince myself of. I couldn’t get her out of my head and I got into quite a bad place where I ultimately ended up wishing I’d never met her or that she’d just leave me alone. It was a bit of a mini episode that I look back on now and feel embarassed about in all honesty. I obviously wasn’t in full command of my rationale and I still kick myself for having let it happen after going through a couple of similar albeit less dramatic scenarios in the past when I was even younger. It was self-inflicted torture and a subconscious refusal to just accept the situation and let go.

I was angry that I’d allowed this to happen but looking back on it now, I can see how this lady got under my skin. I met her at the tail end of a year where I’d been fighting depression and had some pretty nasty thoughts about wanting to just give up and not carry on. I was tired and had had enough so my state of mind must have been quite fragile at this point and my emotional guard very low. I do remember feeling that I’d had more than enough shit and that I felt like I deserved to pursue something positive. Ironically it turned out to be a massive neg in the end but that stressful experience became a life lesson – I can see that now in hindsight.

For you see, we all want to be that person who doesn’t have to deal with remembering the one that got away and nobody wants to feel like they lost out but the truth is that most of us WILL encounter unrequited attraction or love at some point. Perhaps you are desperate for somebody who is already spoken for or maybe you think the world of somebody who simply doesn’t view you as anything more than friends. These things happen. They hurt and they suck giant balls but it’s a form of suffering that needs to be endured and come to terms with because important lessons rise from the ashes of these unfortunate situations.

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[Image: weheartit.com]
In my case, the biggest take-away was learning (as I should have done years ago to be fair) not to get too invested or set on somebody and simply be much calmer about it all. So far, my new attitude towards attraction has been working pretty well and when I’ve not managed to get anywhere with somebody I’ve taken a liking to (for whatever reason) then I’ve simply thought “well that was a bit shit wasn’t it?” and moved on. Yes, I DO want somebody but I’m not desperate to force a situation and escaping being single is no longer a do-or-die mission in my head. It’s not “giving up”; it’s about having greater self-respect for myself and not ignoring oppurtunities but also not allowing them to rapidly evolve into the be all and end all.

For the majority of people, this is all pretty self-explanatory or just common, subconscious “normal” behaviour anyway so you will be probably be reading this and thinking “what the fuck is this twunt banging on about?” but some of us are just wired differently or affected by our past experiences and relationships. In my case, I’ve had to learn to alter my attitude and philosophy after that particular emotional slog and while I feel that I might be “behind” in terms of society, I am glad of the emotional suffering because I learnt from it.

This brings me to the final thing I want to touch on in this post and that is about how it seems that millenials and younger people in general today appear to be determined to actively avoid this suffering and rejection. I don’t wish to tar all teenagers and those in their very early twenties with the same brush but I have seen a lot of avoidance and complete inability to cope with rejection on social media. Rather than seeing the eventual value in suffering and moving on, it seems more popular to congregate in Facebook and Twitter’s echo chambers and feed off of others’ negative emotions while contributing their own to the big mixing bowl of depression. The extreme posts I have seen such as people making suicidal statements because they were dumped or acting as if they are the only ones to ever be rejected in the history of humanity are something else. I also learned of “ghosting” and to be completely frank, that is such a heap of pathetic bullshit that should never have been given a name let alone existence as an actual concept.

It can’t be healthy for society in general if people are growing up with this entitled attitude and believing it is better for them to indulge in each other’s misery rather than growing as human beings. Perhaps it is hypocritical of myself to make these observations after taking (in my humble opinion) far too long to learn some of my own lessons but it’s another of those instances that makes me question the negative reprocussions of social media being so tightly intertwined with the lives of the younger generation.

New Year’s Resolutions are Bullshit

It’s been a while since I last posted but believe me when I say that I have a pre-planned list of topics jotted down that I intend to get around to over the coming weeks. Before I continue however, I want to say that I hope you all had a great Christmas. Unfortunately though, I’m here to lower the tone and drop a huge steaming turd on the head of the next annual ritual: New Year’s Resolutions.

They are complete bullshit for the simple reason that 95% of adopters (a figure I admittedly pulled from thin air rather than obtaining through painstaking research) have already set themselves up to fail at the same time they forged their resolutions. The simple reason for this is that they can’t be serious enough about changing if they can’t commit to making that change right there and then as opposed to waiting for January 1st to land.

It’s the same mindset as vowing to lay off alcohol after “just one more drink”, resolving to eat healthier (but only after one last, final blowout McDonalds) or promising to kick a porn addiction…but not until you’ve said farewell by watching one last compilation of hardcore deepthroat. Thing is, this “one for the road” mentality doesn’t speak of determination or true resolve. It is the sufferer still enslaved to their vice(s) and bound by invisible shackles to whatever the poison in question is. It is the the act of seeking a quick high by promising to change tomorrow and feeling good about yourself in the process while also getting one ‘last’ hit of the good bad stuff. For these people, it is always tomorrow…or the day after, or next week even. As long as it isn’t now. This is a lifestyle of never getting anything important or big done and constantly running/hiding from personal problems or demons. ‘Saving’ a problem to be the target of a New Year’s Resolution is simply an excuse; a way to avoid confronting it until the last possible moment. If you can’t face up to it now then where is the magical strength of the New Year gods going to suddenly come from on January 1st?

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[image from realbuzz.com]
The fact is, if you are actually serious about making a change and setting a resolution or two (or three) then you will stop right now and make that change. Waiting or delaying for whatever reason only proves that you aren’t mentally committed and that includes waiting around for that mysical date of 01/01.

It is important to remind ourselves that the concepts of time, dates and calendars are human creations designed by us as a species to complement Order and act as a form of measurement. This is all quite necessary BUT the flow of time is constant and so in reality there is absolutely no change between December 31st and January 1st other than some numbers that we attach to these days in order to understand where the fuck we currently are relative to the past and future. Strip all of this away and the daftness of waiting until January 1st 2019 to make a (potentially crucial) change in our lives is painfully stark. It is simply another day and to view it as special for any reason is pointless in reality. The act of making a New Year’s Resolution is purely symbolic and the problem with symbolism is that it doesn’t count for fuck all on an individual, personal level unless there is a genuinely impactful and powerful life-changing event behind it.

So no, I won’t be making any resolutions this year. Don’t get me wrong though: despite what I’ve just bashed out on the keyboard in this post in true preacher style, I have a HEAP of faults, flaws and life elements that I need to fix or improve. I eat too much crap, waste too much time on the internet, don’t put enough effort into my love life, watch too much porn, work an unstimulating job with non-ideal pay…the list could continue on into a thick notebook to be honest and it is the same for all of us. The point is that these are all things that I can constantly work on now and take personal responsibility for. Thinking that I will find sudden success by re-wording my problems into resolutions for 2019 is simply foolish.

New Year’s Resolutions also seem to take the form of cold turkey self-imposed bans on doing specific things and this too is a road to failure. After all, you crave what you aren’t allowed that much more and with nobody but yourself to be accountable to, a slip-up is inevitable. Problems have to be tackled one at a time and with an analytical approach that targets the roots, just like any good weed killer chemical.

I plan to discuss some of my own problems and how I am working on tackling them in upcoming posts. Maybe it will be useful for somebody else to read and I will no doubt learn much myself purely by putting my thoughts into words. One thing I AM clear on though is that New Year’s Resolutions are not the way to go about it.

Let’s NOT stay connected

Last week, a cataclysmic disaster of earth-shaking proportions struck the UK, resulting in mass panic and untold trauma for the citizens of this fair isle. No, I’m not talking about a natural disaster or a Godzilla attack but the partial service outage for customers of o2, one of our main mobile network providers. Some people struggled with basic calls and the ability to send messages but it was the data outage that triggered outrage and despair. Essentially, a worrying number of people were simply lost without access to the internet on their mobile phone…for what turned out to be a little over one day.

The only people I genuinely felt bad for were emergency services or care homes who relied on o2 in some way and had their communications severely disrupted. Everybody else though? Deal with it. I’ll admit that businesses losing trade was a bad thing (especially for the smaller businesses that perhaps can’t afford to take the hit) but in general, it was those who have decided to completely bin off landlines and go mobile-only that suffered the most. Becoming overly-reliant on mobile networks and technology in general occasionally proves to be a very bad thing. Technology that we ourselves have no control over has woven itself into much of our lives to the extent that we don’t even realise how reliant we have become on it and this – for me – is a massive mistake but that’s a separate discussion for another time.

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Of course, the stories of “tragedy” were all over the news with accompanying interviews of those we were supposed to feel bad for. It’s hard to take the BBC’s online news seriously however when they actually gave airtime to somebody who’s disruption amounted to missing out on placing ebay bids for a Christmas gift because he had no internet. Is this news? Is it even a real problem? My first thought was “why didn’t you just place a maximum bid on the item(s) beforehand?”. Then I wondered if this person was wanting to be online so that he could just keep bidding on something until he won, in which case I would say they had too much money and should have simply purchased said item from elsewhere without pissing about with bidding. Finally, I wondered why I was wasting any of my thoughtwaves even thinking about this pathetic excuse for a “problem”.

It’s ridiculous that a data outage and an inability to connect to the internet and the dreaded social media can reduce people to such frustration so quickly. You don’t HAVE to be constantly connected to the ‘net all the time, refreshing Facebook or flicking between favourite sites while on the move. How about having an actual conversation with a real person? How about looking out of the window on a bus rather than plonking your arse on a seat and instinctively whipping out your fancy iphone 986XR-S Pro Elite Widescreen handset and ignorant noise-cancelling Bose headphones? There’s lots happening all around us and so much detail to take in so look around once in a while and really LOOK at life and your world before it passes you by.

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I personally cannot stand people who can’t exist without fiddling with their phone every few seconds or sit at a table in a restaurant without having it next to their plate, easily accessible to check their notifications. Since when did other people’s “look at me!” ego chasing Facebook statuses and inane Twitter ramblings become so important to us that we’d allow them to disrupt or sit in on other activities?

The thing I detest the most is being contactable at all times. I work as a delivery driver and my phone seems to constantly be buzzing in my pocket with incoming calls from people back at base wanting to ask me questions or add to my workload. I’ll be driving between destinations and thinking that things are going pretty well around the mid-morning mark but then the calls begin and I have people informing me of problems that need sorting (usually other people’s fuck-ups), asking me how to do stuff or telling me about shit that isn’t even on that day’s schedule. This is the curse of being expected to be accessible by phone all day. Sometimes it gets to the point where I feel like dropping the window and launching my phone out into the next ditch. If only they didn’t cost so much to buy.

And you can’t answer a phone while you are driving. I don’t know about other parts of the world but here in the UK, it’s illegal and rightly so after the rise in car accidents and deaths associated with drivers being distracted by their phone call(s). Even so, you still see countless fuckwits speeding while on the phone or looking down at their notifications as soon as they come to a halt at a red light…just what is so fucking important? If these people were to crash and hurt/kill themselves as a result of their own stupidity and lack of prioritisation then I honestly wouldn’t give much of a shit but it’s the innocent victims in other vehicles or on the pavement that tend to pay the price.

So I refrain from answering or even looking at who is calling. I COULD keep pulling over and killing the engine to answer incoming calls but a) there isn’t always a suitable place and b) answering all of these calls just slows me down from doing the job that people are – ironically – calling me about. The inevitable result is a screen clogged with voicemails and missed call notifications or text messages that say “call me back asap”. To say it deflates me would be an understatement.

Then there are those people. “Those” are the people who keep persistently calling until you answer and when you DO answer, it’s usually something non-important that could have been relayed via a text message or voicemail. I even have some people who keep calling and leave literally a single second between every attempt. Just fuck off already! Don’t get me started on the people who know that you are most likely to be on the road but then whinge about you not answering the phone later on.

And yes, I am fully aware of the irony of complaining about staying connected or social media addiction on a blog which is a form of social media in itself. By my own admission, I am often an introverted sort of guy so I have to hold my hands up and say that there may also be a streak of bias running through this post but even so, I find it quite worrying and – in the case of people’s anguish at last week’s data outage – ridiculous how mobile phones and 24/7 internet access have become so integral to so many people’s lives. Just put it down and disconnect every once in while – it really won’t hurt.

Take Some Responsibility

Taking personal responsibility: it’s a normal act that appears to have become a black art; a taboo even. We live in a toxic blame culture where everything is always somebody else’s fault and some people believe it is acceptable to sue a coffee vendor because they weren’t warned that their beverage would be…y’know, hot. Insert a Captain Picard facepalm meme here if you feel like it because it certainly fits.

It’s about time that we – as a society – learnt to hold our hands up, admit when we fucked something up and take some responsibility. Take responsibility for the state of your life. Take responsibility for your feelings. Take responsibility for your errors. Take responsibility for that sprog you brought into the world after choosing to play a game of Hide The Penis.

At this point, some of you may be dying to ask, “but why should I take responsibility for shit that wasn’t my fault?”. Recently I have been reading Mark Manson’s excellent book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, and he makes some fantastic points about taking responsibility. What leapt out at me the most was learning to differentiate between “Responsibility” and “Fault” and realising that you must still take responsibility in some way even if a negative or unplanned event wasn’t your fault.

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Events beyond your control may have caused set-backs, pain or heartache in your life but you are still ultimately responsible for responding and processing the resulting feelings while pushing on with your life. Somebody may have wronged you in some way but even if was their fault, you are responsible for how you let it affect your life going forward and whether or not you decide to dwell on negativity and anger. For a more obvious example, it may be the fault of Durex that a rubber was faulty and you accidentally became a father but you better believe that you were responsible the moment you decided to explore the interior of your lady-friend’s knickers.

That last example concerns a pretty big life-changing event and I used it because it’s actually the smaller, seemingly less significant events that people have greater trouble accepting responsibility for. The problem is that blaming somebody/something else is simply the easy way out and it feels good to absolve ourselves of fault…for a short time at least. Blaming others is a quick and easy high but one of the keys to long-term life satisfaction is learning to take responsibility for feelings, situations and events even if somebody or something else was originally at fault. Remember: you must separate “Responsibility” and “Fault”.

And as much as I may be coming across as preachy as fuck here, I’ve been just as guilty as everybody else when it comes to hurling the blame around and running from responsibility. That’s why I have been taking the advice from Mark Manson’s book onboard and trying harder to take greater responsibility for my life. For example, if somebody pisses me off then I have been accepting that it’s my responsibility not to allow that person/event to keep me down and make me feel like shit for any longer than necessary.

It’s my responsibility to go out and find more money rather than moaning about not having enough to do activity X or afford product Y. It’s my responsibility to learn from mistakes and not repeat them. It’s my responsibility to stop eating junk food and chain-drinking energy drinks if I know I’m going to feel like death later on. If I want greater success with women and dating then it’s my responsibility to up my game. I can decide to NOT do any of these things but then I don’t have the right to moan about the consequences down the line. The only person I will be accountable to is myself and no matter what bravado and bullshit I decide to project, I will KNOW the real deal and that’s what counts.

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Sure, there have been external factors at work throughout my life thus far that have set me back or contributed to things not turning out the way I would have preferred (I could write a list of the damn things) but that’s where I need to separate the Fault from the responsibility to myself. Of course, there are also those times when a poor decision, mistake or collossal fuck-up HAS been my fault but the end result is the same regardless of whether the bad shit is internal or external in origin. It’s my life and I have to take responsibility.

It is difficult, I will grant that. We have been raised in a blame culture where protecting one’s ego and image trumps admitting to your shortcomings and taking responsibility for doing better next time or making amends where necessary. Switch on the TV and you will see politicians and people in authority blaming others for shit that has gone wrong. Look around you in your own life and you will see countless people jumping to blame others or announce their complete exemption from any responsibility-taking when some seriously smelly shit hits the turbo-charged fan. It’s no wonder that several generations have lost their way in this sense.

Bottom line: take fucking responsibility for your life and everything within.