Written by a Friend: Social Responsibilities

If we desire to keep civilisation and society rolling, there are some certain responsibilities at social levels that we must tend to. Now, in all honesty, I dodge these as much as I can. There’s no telling how far I’ve gone to weasel out of a, say, wedding or ceremony. I absolutely abhor the notion of being dragged into a formal event (or informal, the dress code doesn’t make the situation less irksome) purely out of duty. Events I would honestly never attend were it not an obligation. At around 16 I realised I could just say “no” and simply not go. I was almost an adult, I could own this stretch of responsibility over my own actions and account for my decisions. Then again, I’ve always been one to do as I pleased in regards to most things and quite seldom compromised to anything.

If you want to be upheld as a responsible citizen with good social values and a great dedication to the community, you should do the absolute opposite of what I do. For, you see, it’s these little strange events that annoy at least 50% of those in attendance (on a good day) that keep the ball rolling. Catering to these social events and needs keeps civilisation glued. Being a savage like yours truly would sever social relations and norms as we know them and eventually we’d only spend time with people we truly appreciate. Which is indeed my modus operandi. I dodge people I dislike with no shame whatsoever. I believe it to be a brutally honest approach, but a sincere one that leaves no doubts on whether you like someone or not. However, if one is to adopt this tribal thought process, half of the work-force, for example, would get the chopping board, for the desire to tell someone like your boss to go fuck him or herself would be a commonplace occurrence. I’m also thinking of teachers, college professors, colleagues, etc. It is your duty to responsibly hold it in and not tell or show that professor you dislike in particular that you think he’s a knob jockey. I have the decency of not putting on a fake smile for those professors that irk me and be friendly in an honest manner to those that are indeed admirable and amicable. But to be socially responsible would be to put on that fake smile, to have a blanket good relationship with everyone as to benefit as much as you possibly can from these and, you’ve guessed it, have others benefit from you mutually. This sounds like terrible advice to give to someone who wants to lead a sincere path through life. Indeed it is, but sadly, a sincere path will lead you to possible unemployment and being surrounded by only those who can put up with you. Which I doubt is most people’s idea of a “good life”.

This means that it falls upon you to be socially responsible in this current system we have. If they invite you to a wedding, especially a family one, you put on your nicest dress and pretend to not want to behead the groom and bride for the entirety of the 12 hours of torture they put you through. If there’s an office party and you work with people you mostly dislike, go anyway. It’ll strengthen the general ties between the work-force, which is needed in every workplace. If your friends want to drag you along to some boring concert or party you really don’t feel like going to, go. They thought of you, remembered you for some reason, it means you carry enough value in their eyes to be worthy of a tag along. If your boss annoys you, display that you’re upset in a polite and discreet manner (think of a British conversation where “I see what you mean” actually means “No, you’re wrong you absolute twerp”) instead of lashing out. Of course the latter falls more under professional courtesy than social responsibility (which I don’t lack, quite surprisingly), but imagine a Venn Diagram if you will where there’s a common ground for both. Not telling your boss he or she is a fuckhead falls right on the center of that.

Personally, I’ve been blessed with friends who understand that my space is my own and that if I don’t want to tag for today’s adventure I’ll be there for the next one. Used to date a woman who also understood that until she didn’t anymore, so we split. I haven’t gone to a wedding in quite a few years, discounting the one my one friend I mentioned was a mentor dragged me to, it’s been more than a decade since I attended one. Haven’t been to a party that made me feel unease for more than 6 years (that I have memory of). I’ve come to realise you’ll learn more out of your comfort zone, but not every discomfort zone holds a lesson. I used to advise people to step outside their comfort into discomfort, that there’s wisdom in every unturned little rock and that you’ll come home with something new every time you venture out of your “safe space” (I really wish a generation of social “justice” morons didn’t ruin that expression). Well, a man grows, a man learns and I’ve certainly absorbed the lesson that you can learn more if you pick your battles than just rushing into the unknown. Experience for the sake of experience matters little, in all honesty. The fact that I can recite most dinosaurs’ names and scientific names is a novelty to be shared with people interested in the subject, but does it advance my career? Does it leave me with anything useful in my repertoire of tools and tricks? Can it be used for something other than dazzling someone impressionable with your memory skills? Not really. My friends think differently, they want to absorb as much of life as possible, good, bad, downright fucking horrendous and whether it’s useful or pragmatic to them is irrelevant. Illness has put me out of commission recently and it’s given me some time to think, so my dear friend asked me to speak of this subject. It was one of those “I didn’t really think of it until it was brought up” kind of subjects and upon my most recent thoughts on this matter, I can safely say that my tribal way of doing things is more vicious and honest than the one ingrained within the social norms of our daily lives, but far more prone to cause conflict and agitate what needn’t be agitated.

For me, I’ll make sure to dwell within the circles that make me feel like I can learn something that I find useful or interesting indeed rather than diving into uncharted areas (to you alone most likely, for you’ll find footsteps there as well) just for the sake of it. This involves a lot of what I mentioned above when it regards contact with others. Most people won’t react well to you turning them down twice, thrice or more times and will stop insisting. Most people will find honest advice and opinions to be vexing rather than helpful (for when asking for advice or opinions, quite a lot of the time people would rather hear something comforting rather than unpleasant). Most people attempt to keep the health of their social circles intact by forcing themselves out of their comfort zones for the sake of others. That is a system that appears to be working so far. If you’ve learned anything today it should be what Americans learned from Smokey the Bear: they were taught that “only you can prevent forest fires”, you were taught that “only you can keep civilisation glued together by taking one for the team as often as possible”.

Things may chance, I may assimilate and be a pillar of a community, but unless that community is one I truly enjoy being a part of, I doubt it.

Written by a Friend: Queen

Last I spoke of the “wanderlust” snowflakes. I’d like to approach a wider subject now, a blanket statement to cover most of these people who try hard to be something they’re not for whatever reason. Having a camera doesn’t make you a photographer. Playing guitar doesn’t make you a musician. Painting doesn’t make you a painter. Driving at 210km/h on a clear highway doesn’t make you into Schumacher. Doing your make up doesn’t make you a professional beautician. I assume the pattern I’m trying to draw here is quite obvious. Harsh as it may sound, your hobbies don’t define you (personally or professionally, at that) unless you’re getting paid. Having your counterfeit identity stuck around something you do, your sexuality, your astrological sign, etc, is trying hard.

I see a very wide general lack of concern for what matters today in lieu of a desperate pursuit for a public identity. 34 people died yesterday in Belgium, yet somehow instead of mobilizing themselves to fight this menace, the able bodied, capable youth decided to take it to the social media and pour all their “artistic” messages of “hope and peace” against people who have a laugh at these things. What happened in Paris, Brussels and the consequent aftermath and reaction from it is a clear sign of the twisted priorities of a self-indulgent generation trying harder than ever to selfishly define themselves in the public eye as morally righteous, evolved men and women who repudiate the barbarism at their doorstep. It’s more important to have a mask of solidarity towards the enemy than it is to take action against it. Whether the blame falls on us, our parents (who, mostly, had a rough time patching their way from their teens to adulthood and didn’t want the same fate for us) or a general nanny approach of the states that coddle us away from taking responsibility, understanding accountability and taking charge, it remains to be seen. What I see, is men fleeing from “strong” independent women pretending to be men themselves and women complaining about the lack of manly men and too many boys. As irony would have it so, both are mostly correct. There remain few traditional women and traditional men out there, these concepts have been traded for a post-modern thirst, nay, desperate need for a unique identity to showcase to others.

I’d advise people to be themselves, naturally, no matter how despicable or detestable you might be (for you already are if your false identity crafted for others is present). It’s far, far better to be natural, true, relaxed, having no worries regarding your personality, for it’ll be what it is and who is worth your time will accept it. Of course, there are exceptions, where someone is an insufferable prick and needs a re-evaluation and some introspection, but I speak of the ones who are NATURALLY that way, for the ones I’m ranting about are that way for the falseness they invoke around their character.

There are much larger things at play in the world stage right now. We are at the brink of many wars, people are waging barbaric attacks at the hearts of civilised countries, we have people who are professionally offended for a living, men who aren’t men, women who aren’t women, poverty in rich countries. Worry about something bigger than your identity. In the words of Freddy Mercury, “don’t try so hard”.

Written by a Friend:Marathon Speakers

 

The internet has given a platform to an excess of cretins with “Unique Snowflake Syndrome” who have become enamoured with this silly notion that every single one of them is a pure artist, an unheard talent in a sea of mediocrity and someone who’s desires and ambitions are far above the ones of common mortals such as you and I. This is a common occurrence from puberty well into more mature years that should’ve grown past the need of forced individuality and artificial growth. I would know, for I used to be the kind of person who was desperate for an identity (much like everyone else) and until I found it, I used my desires, tastes, dreams and ambitions as the pillars of my personality. But like many, the common sense told me not to advertise it for I might regret it. Thus me never having social media accounts, Tumblr pages, long running blogs (I did have one I ran shortly for two months where I put some of my thoughts and promptly dropped) and the such. Having experienced some personal, natural growth since then I can say it was a good decision to avoid exposing my embarrassing adolescence like many did and later regretted.

This semi-incoherent rambling about the state of the youth of today has a point, however. Amongst the most common annoyances are the ones of people who self-describe themselves as suffering from “Wanderlust”, these “free spirits” with love for travel and “discovering” new places. Pro-tip: everyone loves to travel. Most people, however, can’t afford it or are too busy working so they can do it once a year. There’s nothing special for the love to migrate from time to time and return home with a head full of memories and a filled camera. As someone who’s had the pleasure to travel (mostly out of necessity but duty didn’t stand in the way of me enjoying it), I can only shake my head at people pretending a basic, core trait of humanity is something to be used as an identity crutch. One could say I’m being too harsh, these people are growing up, give them a break, you used to be like that too, etc. Yes, and no. To those growing up, it’s mildly understandable (although you’d think they might’ve learned from the mistakes of the previous generation of people utterly fucking up and later shaking their heads in regret as they reminisce about cringe inducing activities they partook in), but this goes to the people past their 20s who are still doing it, who are still clawing to edify a “unique” personality, hopping from trends to trends in a desperate attempt to an individual that’s just that, individual.

My intention was to start this on a positive tone and explain my disdain for the aforementioned snowflakes. It would seem that I have done it the other way around, however, so that leaves me with the need to speak of the positive aspects of this whole bloody mess. Wanderlust is common. People these days have the opportunity billions have dreamt of for millennia, to cut through thousands of kilometres in a few hours or days and be somewhere else in a short period of time. So short, a bag of peanuts and a couple of Leslie Nielsen films are enough to get you through your voyage. Having travelled quite enough, even today I still have a thirst for it and desire to visit locations and friends far away from me. However, it’s not a personality trait to be advertised as if it made me a better or more complex person, it’s a basic desire that has allowed us to occupy all known land on this Earth. But I digress. In the next episode, we shall talk about more snowflakes, such as the Straight-Edge folks who pollute the air more than the smokers they complain so much about.

 

P.s: the irony of this entire piece isn’t lost to me.

Written by a Friend: Know When It’s Over

I come to you today from a very bad place in my life. Today, a three year old relationship that has been of vital importance to me, has ended. It might have ended 3 weeks ago, it might have ended 4 months ago, we were not fine and this last week was simply us hanging onto nothing for nothing. This is a girl who was worth the eyes in my skull for me, a girl I entrusted with bits of me I shared with no one before, a girl I can genuinely say I loved (although not in an adult/married way). A girl who gave everything a girl can give to a man and who got much in return. However, it was not enough. Love, affection, growing accustomed to one another, sharing everything with eachother, interwinding our lives together, our parents, our friends, our Professors, giving years from our lives to the other. None of it was enough. Because, as I previously said a million times, people are what they are. A relationship won’t change them if their nature dictates that they are who they are. If someone is rotten, a good 3 year long relationship won’t make them better just like a 3 year old bad relationship won’t change a genuinely good person into becoming rotten.

I never pretended to be what I was not to please anyone. If you like me, you stay, if not, you don’t. This to say I force no one to stay in my company nor do I force myself to someone else’s. This young woman matured in all the wrong ways, the way most women mature these days (and most men, if we are to be fair) and a serious relationship at this age was viewed as something negative. My education and my masculinity has lead me to get rid of the people who tolerate me and stick to the ones who celebrate me, as everyone should. Doubt has no place in a relationship and for such reasons, I left. I was never cheated on, I was never fooled, I was never toyed with. However, I was mislead into believing that someone was being genuine with me and different than the rest. As a young lad I would advise my friends who shared the same age as me. I would tell them not to get into serious relationships, 15 from 25 is no age to date seriously for people are too volatile and mutable to be serious about anything. I KNEW this when I was 15, that was 7 years ago. I knew the nature of my generation (for mine was the same) a long time ago and still I made the mistake of falling for this trap that left me with nothing but a lesson of something I already knew and a new one that says that even a partner you planned on sharing your life with could stab you in the back and gouge your eyes if it’s in their interest. Not to mention the lovesick grief that typically follows a bad break up. The price of being a traditional man in a modern world, is this.

From this bad place where I am right now, I wish to whisper words of wisdom bestowed onto me by the pain of experience. If you’re young, avoid this kind of seriousness when getting in a relationship with someone. I am, sadly, a traditional man. I’ve had many flings with women before and I decided to settle down at a young age like my forebears did before me. It backfired, for the object of my affection was a modern woman, not a traditional one. Do not fall for my mistake. If you’re young, no relationship is serious. If it grows in age, if it grows with you, if the person you are with grows next to you and you both reach a marrying age together, consider it a serious relationship and also consider more adult commitments. Until then, you’re in a Schrödinger social box. Some will have the same attitude as I would have had when reading this kind of advice, some will retreat into denial and say “No, my partner is different, our relationship is special, we’ll be different”. She / he isn’t, it’s not, it won’t. But these are good news. These are the news that allow you to take it as a jovial relationship rather than a serious one. Dedicate yourself to it without the seriousness, without the head aches, without the heart aches, without any aches. Dedicate yourself to living the good moments and being able to let go when the bad ones are tearing through you and your partner (if said times ever come). Simply dedicate yourself into a Cupid’s version of Carpe Diem. Love as young person and let go in the same manner. A relationship is only real and mature after it stood the test of time.

It’s also important to understand when to let go. This is not the time to cling onto nothing. It’s not the time to hang on anything. If there is any time in your life to simply do what I did countless times before and let go of something that’s not doing you any well, it’s now, when you’re young. Not when you’re tied down by a marriage with a family that relies on you, not when there are bigger things than you involved, not when you can’t turn your back on it. Do not let this entirely avoidable social pain I’m feeling now storm through your life and agitate your foundations when you can simply walk away at the first sign that there’s no turning back to the good times. Whether you’re a man or a woman, this advice goes to you if you’re young. You don’t have to think as an old man like I mistakenly did, act your own age and don’t be mislead. But most importantly, don’t mislead others. Others who might make the grave mistake of simply being hopeful in regards of an element belonging to a generation that tends to hedonism more than it does to traditional, decent human values.

I shall follow my father’s advice and market myself for my worth while I’m young. Live through my social youth as a young man, for I can be a geezer in my solitude. Do the same.

This is perhaps the most personal and intimate piece I have written since I started sending irregularly timed articles for my dear friend, but I find it necessary both as an anonymous exercise of unburdening myself from this bitter taste staining my day through writing and as a means of advising others not to fall for the same mistakes I did. Ahead await interesting times behind the difficult hills of recovery that I must march through. All of it begins with the first step, which is getting up.

 

To follow the different nature of this piece compared to the others I’ve written here so far, I leave you with a song which has been with me through several defeats that have hit me, just like they hit everybody else. It’s a cover done by the wonderful Jeff Buckley, a homage to a Smith’s song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Wsk0BNSaNE

Written by a Friend: Hard Work

The area I chose to study at Uni is far more challenging than I anticipated. I had the grades to join an Economy or some form of Engineering course, but my parents made it clear that it was my choice to make and recommended that said choice should be something that pleases me, for I would be stuck in it for at the very least half a decade. I love what I chose (something out of Humanities). I might have classes I dislike, I might have mornings in which the desire to stay in bed burns more fiercely than anything else, I might have moments of doubt (several, the latest being last week when I felt like packing my belongings and moving into the wild forgetting I ever enrolled into college), but at the end of the day I’ll sit on the bed and admit to myself that I made the right choice regarding college.

Despite being challenging in what regards its completion, it’s also challenging in rewarding its students with a working position afterwards. My choice being a career as a Professor at the same University that taught me what I know, at least for a few years. It’s an area where many venture into but very few excel and to secure a position in my desired job, excelling is a must. Excelling requires, you’ve guessed it, hard work.

As a boy and a young lad, I was coddled with the idea that I was very intelligent and bright and that with a little effort I could get as far in life as I desired. Everyone from teachers, to classmates to my relatives insisted on this ideal. My father didn’t. He bluntly said, several times, that I was “no genius”, otherwise I’d be in an advanced program and I’d would’ve had my life sorted out for me before even finishing high school. Seems cruel, but the truth is, he was the only one doing well by me at the time and he still does these days. He reminded me to be humble before boasting without a solid base about my own intelligence. The truth is, I’m average in terms of intelligence. Perhaps in the upper 51% of the population if we’re being fancy. Perhaps I’m being humble. The IQ tests I took at school position me in the 15%, but I have my doubts regarding them since I’ve seen no results, so far, that would confirm that I’m in the top 15% in terms of IQ. The reason for me hammering on this subject? I have to work just as hard as everybody else and much harder than my classmates if I want to meet my goals. Sure, I’ll slack sometimes, some days will see me waving at the potential productivity passing by, but I’ve accepted that I’ll get nowhere without effort. I have issues with discipline, ironically, since I preach it but hardly abide by it in my daily life, something which must be corrected, of course.

Labouring is a necessity to remain in society in a respectable manner, not mooching off the tax payer’s money with your laziness or decaying in the street because “man should work dude, we’re animals” or whatever hippie nonsense those self-entitled bums will spit out. Hard work is the fine line between “We’ll consider you for the job” and “You’re hired”. It’s the roots of your success and pivotal motive behind how far you will reach out in life. It’s the valley’s worth between a confident comfort in your own skin and fearing mirrors. It’s, undoubtedly, the single line which separated us from every other non-dominant species walking, swimming or soaring this Earth. Everything you know today, the chair you’re sitting on, the table you’re using to rest the coffee you’re drinking, the fabric touching your skin, the device you’re using to read this; everything is the product of someone’s hard labour. Who are you to slack on your bit and simply consume without producing?

Whether you’re aiming for greatness, sustenance or simply comfort, you’re demanded to do your part. Depending on your goal, your part should be just as difficult (or more) than anyone else’s and your mentality when facing said difficulty should be the one of a beast at the top of the food chain: failures might arise, but ultimately success is a guaranteed result in your struggle.

Next time you feel a little slothful and idle, do what I do. Slap yourself in the chest, breathe aggressively and assure yourself that sleep is for the weak. Or perhaps use more socially acceptable means such as a little pep talk inside your head. Whatever suits you as long as you don’t drift into laziness. You’ve got much to do and none of it will be solved by wishing it completed. I interpret hard work as my body builder friends interpret food: you want to get big, you must eat big.

Written by a Friend: Honesty

Today I want to talk about unrestrained honesty. I had a new class at Uni this year, one which encourages political debate through underhanded tactics and shady practices to win. Something which I’m familiar with, yet not tolerant of. We were asked to give our opinions about Nationalism and argue for or against it. Being someone who is not weak, of course I argued for it. Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only one. Several people spoke well of it. So what is the issue here, you might ask. My issue is not with the people who argued against it, yet with the people who argued for it.

I’ll extend an olive branch. The ones arguing in my favour were ambiguous. They never said anything concrete, something done purposefully. They were assertive without asserting anything really. They left a lot between the lines so whenever someone confronted them, they could back off. One said “Nationalism can be a fantastic ideology, if we look at examples such as…”, after which he proceeded to name some countries which have made it work. Another student rebutted by saying “Well, Germany wasn’t such a great example, was it now?” in a smug manner, something anyone’s used to dealing with when talking about Nationalism. Thinking my colleague would destroy this other guy in an argument, I let him speak. What did he do? He backed off. He backpedalled, heavily implying he didn’t mean what he said and that he was misunderstood. Something which annoyed me beyond measure. The teacher then asked me. Not one to brand words without weight, I spoke bluntly to her. I told her I find it a fantastic ideology, especially for our times. After being further questioned, I explained my POV. She went on a tirade about a “racist” author, perhaps implying the same about me, but I didn’t back off like my colleagues did. Nationalism has been something I’ve been discussing for a long time, it’s a subject I’m comfortable with, not to mention one I’m fond of. I was playing at home. The discussion when on for a while, only interrupted by the class’ end.

This little story is to exemplify the nature of my relationship with honesty. I was raised to be brutally honest. Something which is often mistaken for lack of etiquette or manners, which I can assure it’s not. I find it far more distasteful and disrespectful to engage with others in a dishonest manner, rather than speaking what you truly think even if it gets you in murky waters. True, my tongue got me in more troubles than anything else in my life, but like many socially regrettable deeds, I honestly don’t regret it. Some will argue that full honesty is something that could shatter civilization as we know it, that all are entitled to keeping secrets, etc. Something which I agree with, but which does not affect the honesty required from others. Honesty and privacy aren’t mutually exclusive. I have the right to my privacy, my secrets. However, when speaking of actions, opinions and stances, tossing all of it in a burlap sac of falseness for whatever reason, is low. So is being ambiguous to avoid confrontation, so is constantly changing skins to avoid characterization, so is building your palace in quicksand.

Stick to your guns if you rightfully own them (as in, if your take on the topic is adequately correct and you’re not being stubborn in stupidity), don’t get bullied by the fear of repression whichever side it might come from. Be truthful, for it’s an adult’s behaviour. There’s little a thing more despicable than someone who is dishonest, it falls in the realm of cowardice and deceit. Honesty is a core trait from the past, along with pride, honour and a sense of duty. Something of a relic these days, for everyone fears the power of words and what they might escalate to. So instead of conquering their fear, they’d rather not speak at all in a manner which is concise and clear. Why risk getting in trouble for an opinion when you can just play victim and pretend you never said such a thing, right?

I’ve read once that the key to drilling an idea is simple repetition, so once more, be honest. Make it a habit. Turn it into something that’s as much part of you as your decency and goodness.