Social Media: meh! (A Short Diatribe For Short-Term Memory)

Facebook!  Twitter!  My wife says I should get a Facebook account.  Why?  So she can “friend” me?  She already made the ultimate sacrifice, what is my being on Facebook going to do for her?  And Twitter?  I don’t need to see more examples of laziness in spelling and grammar in 140 characters or less.  Besides, I can’t work up enough energy to care to be that narcissistic or chatty.  I also don’t care how sites – including WordPress – and television shows try to push the whole Facebook and Twitter thing down my throat.  Can anybody write a sentence without jamming “@” or “#” before a name or subjective noun?  Geez!

Need some friends?  Go outside and get some.  Because you can get a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, a million friends on Facebook and very few of them are really your friends.  They are just names (and probably made up) and will drop you as easily as they added you.  The ones who are your friends probably were already your friends!

I have two WordPress accounts, two YouTube accounts, a Newsvine account*, a LinkedIn account,  and two deviantART accounts – none of which I maintain with any measure of diligence.  Add the fact that I have my own website and I dropped my former MySpace account, and you may be able to see that Facebook and Twitter have no value whatsoever in my little slice of the universe.

So why do I put this here?  Because here I can actually write whatever I want to say in a proper form, just like an essay, just like a newspaper article and it’s there for all the world to see – or not.  If I give anyone pause to consider a topic, great!  If someone actually wants to read me, even better – and thanks!  But my thoughts would be here regardless; no affirmations, no “friending” necessary.  And I am not so self-absorbed that I think anything I write here could actually change someone’s mind – I think the internet is a lousy way to do that.  But I can do whatever I want without the added burden of Facebook or Twitter.

Besides, it’s more fun for me to patrol the internet and find things on my own.

*Dropped since the writing of this article.  I don’t miss it one bit.

Reality TV Confessions: I’m Starting To Like Gordon Ramsay

Those of us who flip around the television dial or, as I do, scan through Netflix, have probably had the chance to see him.  He’s the angry, foul-mouthed chef who seems to delight in belittling wide-eyed, petrified victims also costumed as chefs.  He’s Gordon Ramsay.  His television shows are naturally about cooking but they also tend to be one long FCC-approved beep – and he seems to have a fixation about Hell: Hell’s Kitchen, Hotel Hell.  At first blush, I thought he was yet another in a long line of pompous asses who take their abilities to heat things up in a skillet far too seriously to the point where they are allowed to project their contempt on others with impunity for money.

But I think I’m really starting to like him…and I feel like a lesser person for it.

Why did I ever start watching him?  I was curious what he was really all about and if the verbal torture and apoplectic attitude bore any merit whatsoever. After all, somebody at Fox had to be convinced that he was worth putting on television, not that their standards are all that high.  So I tuned in to Hell’s Kitchen this season to see why somebody would get this venomous in the kitchen.  I know I wouldn’t want to know this kind of abusive behavior was going on in a restaurant where my food was being prepared.  After watching a few episodes, I can begin to sympathize.

Reality television is hardly “reality” and it’s often difficult to separate what has been scripted – or, at least, pitched –  from what is the narcissistic bravado of someone who has to have the “personality” to make it on a television program.  What I have seen thus far on Hell’s Kitchen is that the contestants are ridiculous and hardly worthy of the head chef position in the Las Vegas restaurant that is the reward.  There are too many mistakes made that call into question how much of it is genuine and how much is contrived.  But Ramsay continues to entertain as the belligerent taskmaster overseeing a cadre of culinary clowns.

As is the case with many popular American television shows, they got their start elsewhere.  I found a show on Netflix called Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and it was a British show and served undoubtably as the template for Hotel Hell.  Ramsay comes in and in an explicative-ridden week, he helps turn a foundering restaurant into something that has a chance to survive.  What he usually uncovers is that the people running the business have no clue how to do it properly.  It is, I’m sorry to confess, an engaging, uncensored romp through the landscape of tough-love.  The most shocking thing to me is why rather well-mannered people would allow the foul-mouthed abuse that pours from Ramsay’s mouth with barely a complaint.

Ramsay’s shows are irresistible and I don’t know if it’s the voyeurism of ineptitude or the schadenfreude that bothers me more.  It’s not particularly surprising, as it becomes all too apparent, Ramsay’s favorite word in his Gatling gun of uncensored vileness.  But why spoil the mystery?  I’ll let you watch and find out the secret word and win the prize.

Hand-bras Are Bullshit!

We’ve seen them in magazines or online, whether the subject matter is fashion or something more voyeuristic: the topless female model with her hands strategically placed over her breasts, called the hand-bra.  I don’t care about partial or total nudity – I’m a professional artist, I’m way past caring about any societal conventions on that subject – what I get tired of is the faux chic of deliberate deceit.  The lure of topless or nude photos is common bait for the male peruser of the internet, but when the actual photos are women in awkward poses to cover up their “naughty bits,” I have to cry foul.  There is nothing daring about a model posing topless or nude, a means of non-verbal rebelliousness in the face of cultural prudery, then covering up those parts of the anatomy that are the cause of the rebellion!

Now I’m sure some photographer or designer out there is going to remark that the point of many of these photo shoots is not the models, but the clothes they are wearing and the exposing of the breasts is an unnecessary distraction.  Well, if that’s the case, then put something on them that works with the clothes in question.  But that’s not really it and they know it.  The problem is there’s always somebody out there who’s going to get their nose out of joint about nudity and these media outlets and fashion houses want to avoid the legal hassles.  So they have their models pose so as to not upset the easily offended or out of some kind of whorish empowerment double standard: I’ll advertise that I’m not wearing any clothes, but you haven’t earned the right to see anything.  Overall, it just looks like women who are either afraid of consequences or cock-teasers trying to be “artistic.”  Regardless, a woman employing the hand-bra while not wearing a shirt is not “topless” in any but the most technical aspect of the word, so don’t advertise it as such.  If you have to employ the “topless, but really not” look, get better and more natural poses so that you are hiding the bits without looking like you are hiding them.  You’re supposed to be professionals; figure it out.

The really ridiculous aspect of all this is whenever I come across some woman on Model Mayhem, with obvious “enhancements,” who does lingerie and bikini modeling and has listed that she will not do nudes.  I have to shake my head.  I have less respect for the plastic surgery than anything she will do as a model, but I guess she feels she has a scrap of dignity she must preserve.  It’s this kind of mental malaise that has led to the hand-bra: the chastity belt for visual cowards.

The Chik-Fil-A-ing of America

This has nothing to do with the recent events surrounding Chik-Fil-A about gay rights or the rights of a private citizen to exercise his free speech.  This has to do with the way the company operates and how that type of business model is seeping into the way America thinks.

Chik-Fil-A is one of these so-called “Christian” businesses.  Like another business I know, Hobby Lobby, Chik-Fil-A makes a very public point of not opening on Sundays.  Great, but like those other “Christian” businesses that put the fish symbol in their advertising, I am in no way impressed.

So, with that as a backdrop, I once had lunch with my former boss, Dave, who I have written about before, and a colleague of his from Bob Jones University.  Dave’s son used to work at Chik-Fil-A and was a diligent worker.  They chatted about that for a while and then Dave’s friend commented about how Chik-Fil-A wasn’t open on Sunday and “that’s a good thing.”  There is something about that statement that rubs me the wrong way.

I wonder if Dave’s friend would think it’s such a “good thing” if everybody operated under the “closed on Sunday” philosophy of Chik-Fil-A and others.  I mean these people are not the stay-at-home-and-observe-the Sabbath-types.  They go to church but they will do other things afterwards.  They go to restaurants.  They go to movies.  They go to amusement parks.  They go to grocery stores, gas stations, the local mall.  They watch pro football, for crying out loud!  They travel for their businesses.  What if the airlines decided they weren’t going to run on Sunday?  What if all these businesses decided that Sunday was the Day of Rest?  It would suck, that’s what.

So here we have a business that makes a big deal about an empty gesture and they and others think it is somehow a commendable action.  It’s not, but it points out to me their lack of seeing the bigger picture: that we can’t operate the Chik-Fil-A way as a nation.  It’s this hypocritical myopia that’s turning the fixing of this country into a clash with dysfunctional ideologues.  You can’t go along thinking that you can enjoy certain benefits (not working on Sunday) while at the same time expecting others to be at your beck and call whenever their services are demanded.  It’s this type of thinking that infects the tax issues and social issues and it has to change.  We cannot survive as a nation if we are divided along the lines of empty gestures and postures all in the name of “no compromise.”  We need leaders who break the paralysis of political gamesmanship, not engender it.