Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Regular Genuineness

Below is my final paper for Sociological Theory.

I wrote about my job as a gas station and convenience store cashier in connection
to Arlie Russell Hochschild's theories of emotion work and emotion labor, found in
her book, The Managed Heart.

_____Carina Botterbusch
_____Sociology 450
_____Dr. Hayes
_____December 7, 2010
_____Regular Genuineness

_____Ever since September of 2008, when I was hired by Shipley Stores (Tom’s), I have identified myself as a gas station and convenience store cashier and worker. Shipley is a large energy company for Central Pennsylvania that also runs a chain of gas station and convenience stores (Tom’s), as well as a few Arby’s restaurants and Cigarette Cellar discount stores. I began working at Tom’s during my senior year of high school, during which I was taking a full load of courses at three local colleges. I worked an average of twenty hours a week during that year and a typical day looked like this: work at 5:30am until noon, home for lunch, class at one school from 1-1:50pm, babysitting from 2-5pm, home for dinner, class at another school from 6:30-9:30pm, and home to do homework before going to bed and having to work at 5:30am again the next day. During my first year away at Bridgewater College, I worked during all breaks. I also worked an average of 35 hours a week during this past summer. Because I work so much, my job has become a large part of who I am.
_____While stressful or annoying at times, I believe that I can honestly say that I love working at Tom’s. However, because my work duties include a variety of emotionally laborious tasks, according to Arlie Russell Hochschild (1983), I should feel more frustrated, estranged, and “mentally detached” (p. 17). While I have certainly felt frustration with my job and while I do recognize the emotional components of my job description, I disagree that this must entail some type of acting and consequently cause me to become estranged and mentally detached. I also disagree with Hochschild in other areas, such as her application of acting and various job characteristics, but I agree with a number of her theoretical concepts, such as company control and various job and individual characteristics. Furthermore, some of Hochschild’s concepts have spurred me to question how I feel about my job and analyze different areas of it in ways I never had before. For example, I never questioned the motives of my boss, whether in regards to her sincerity or her authenticity. Throughout all of these theoretical concepts, two overarching themes have come up time and time again: that of regular customers and that of a genuine alternative to acting.
_____Throughout her book, The Managed Heart, Arlie Russell Hochschild discusses different types of emotional labor and how interpersonal service jobs that require first-person interaction (whether a flight attendant, a bill collector, or a gas station cashier) commercialize feeling and lead to estrangement. In considering my experiences with my interpersonal service job of being a gas station and convenience store cashier, I disagree with Hochschild about her application of acting because my job differs from those she describes in a number of ways. Emotional labor is feeling or ignoring a certain emotion to make a required outward appearance (p. 7). Hochschild says that, as emotional labor continues, “‘loving the job’ becomes part of the job” (p. 6). However, I have always felt that I genuinely do love my job, even in spite of the occasional frustration or feeling of being overworked. Before reading Hochschild’s book, I never before questioned this belief. Hochschild discusses the different atmospheres and attitudes that different service workers create through emotional labor (p. 11), but I deeply believe that it is most important to be truly genuine. When I first started working at Tom’s, I was mostly quiet and shy. I did not act as if I were something I am not, but was still outgoing enough to be a good cashier. As I grew comfortable with my job, my slight shyness faded into being genuinely personable.
_____Hochschild makes the argument that, similar to labor workers, service workers must mentally detach themselves from their task in order to survive (p. 17). On occasion, I have done this in order to get through a bad day at work, but I have found that I am ultimately less satisfied when I prevent myself from focusing on my job. If I actively mentally detach myself from my work, I end up feeling phony, which Hochschild explains is a part of emotional labor when a service worker does not have the time or stamina to be genuine and he or she resorts to an insincere display (p. 21). I have experienced this feeling of insincerity, but for me, it occurs when I focus on the negatives of my job. I believe that being phony is prevented at my job because we truly have the freedom to be genuine. For example, after my coworker, Amber, experienced the death of a friend, she left me at the counter while she went to stock the cooler and had the freedom to release her grief through crying. Additionally, I feel that I am able to express my genuine feelings to a number of regular customers and, even though I may not be comfortable doing so with every customer that comes in, this handful of favorite customers provides me with enough freedom to be genuine that I am kept satisfied enough to be genuinely nice to the others.
_____According to Hochschild, true genuineness does not occur because emotional laborers must perform some kind of acting – whether surface, where the acting is felt as not genuine, or deep, where the acting is felt to be genuine (p. 48). Hochschild compares to Rousseau’s concept of the Noble Savage, who acts with natural feeling (p. 22). However, she goes on to say that “maintaining a difference between feeling and feigning over the long run leads to strain” (p. 90). She clearly understands the difference between acting and genuine feeling, but never seems to acknowledge the fact that true genuineness within emotional labor can prevent the estrangement that is caused by acting. As stated above, not every customer that comes in receives this genuine communication from me, but I have a true connection with enough regulars that a feeling of estrangement is prevented. For example, Richie moved into town at the beginning of this summer and we instantly forged a connection because I told him why I chose to attend school in Virginia and he genuinely understood because he grew up in Virginia. In terms of how often he comes to the store, he barely qualifies as a regular, but I feel that our friendship is genuine, even to the extent that he invited me to visit him as soon as I returned from school. This one real connection makes me genuinely happy enough to do emotional labor without being insincere.
_____Hochschild explains how flight attendants talk about feelings as created, governable, and controllable (p. 133), which I can only somewhat understand. If I am having a particularly bad day, such as earlier this summer after recently breaking up with my boyfriend, I can make myself feel happy in my job, but only through focusing on what I love about my job, not by lying to myself that I just love all aspects of my job. Richie is again an example of this because he represents my core value of camaraderie. By focusing on him and other regulars, as well as my coworker friendships, I can distract myself from a bad day by reminding myself that I genuinely do love my job, or at least the less tangible and positive interpersonal aspects of it. Similarly, Hochschild discusses how some service jobs (those that deal positively with customers, like representatives) ask employees to “believe in the company” (p. 143). With my job, while I am a public representative of the larger Shipley Energy Company, I have not felt particular pressure to explicitly support the company. However, I do believe in the values that I see within my work, such as camaraderie with regulars or compassion with my coworkers. This is what makes my job meaningful to me and not just simply a series of job requirements (p. 89).
_____There are many reasons why the emotional labor of my service job does not leave me estranged and almost all of them are because characteristics of my job directly oppose some of the characteristics Hochschild uses to describe emotional labor. Specifically, my job does not really reflect the hierarchy of secrets of most work environments (p. 53). I think this is because I have some seniority within the store and is exemplified by how my boss, Nikki, told me that Amber was transferring back to our store. She instructed me not to tell anyone else, which reflects the hierarchy, but exempts me from it because Nikki respects me as a committed employee. Similarly, Hochschild says the “customer is king,” which is true in most cases, but I feel more equal with many regulars (p. 86). I disagree most with Hochschild about is this: “Cashiers and salespeople…seldom get a chance to know any one customer very well for very long” (p. 150). Obviously, from the stories above, I do not feel that this is true for me. While I certainly do not know all customers equally well and I do not claim to know my favorite regulars very well at all, I know many well enough to feel a genuine connection with them. Richie and I share stories about Virginia and college. Another regular, Jimmy, and I exchange playful jokes and hugs. And the local cops who frequent the store and I share stories about life and love. Part of the reason this is possible is because Tom’s is situated in such a small town. Much like Bridgewater, it is easy to establish camaraderie within a small community.
_____Although I disagree with many of Hochschild’s conclusions, I also agree with her about aspects of company control and some job and individual characteristics. Hochschild highlights the importance of up-selling (p. 4) and how management determines the priority of different tasks (p. 121). Suggestive selling is definitely emphasized at my job, both through the G.U.E.S.T. service philosophy (Greet, Understand, Educate, Suggest, Thank) and the daily close-out sheets that require us to estimate to what percentage of customers we suggestive sold (Peters 2010). These tasks are assigned by company management, as early as the first day of orientation and training, but store management lightens the responsibility by making suggestive selling into a competitive game. I have also witnessed Hochschild’s concept of speed-up, where increased business increases the demand for efficiency and decreases the ability to be personal (pp. 122, 133). For example, during Thanksgiving break, I was working alone and the borough was lighting the Christmas trees in the town square, so there was a rush of customers buying hot drinks. I noticed that I was less personal to most customers, but there happened to be a regular, Jay, there at the same time. He smiled at me with empathy because he frequently witnesses customer rushes and this genuine connection forced me to slow down and again be personable with the rest of the customers. I have also seen how being impersonal makes many customers uncomfortable because, if I do not meet their eye contact, I can feel them being reluctant to leave without me acknowledging them. Being a member of such a small workforce and having a connection with a number of regulars makes my room more genuine than most emotional labor.
_____In general, I agree with Hochschild’s description of the emotional labor that should constitute service jobs. For instance, Hochschild explains that emotional jobs tend to have a high turnover rate (p. 146). This is definitely true even with a simple cashier job – over the past two years, a total of fourteen people have come and/or gone: three of them left, four were added, and seven were hired and fired (two of whom came and left while I was gone for a semester). Similarly, Hochschild argues that women are better at “nice” emotional work (p. 170), which is illustrated by the fact that only two of those fourteen were men (one fired and one still working). Also, I find myself empathizing with other cashiers who express “a robot quality” (p. 23), somewhat because I have felt the desire to do the same, but more because I believe I avoid it well and wish I could teach them how to do so as well.
_____I also have experienced the desire “to ‘depersonalize’ situations” (p. 132), especially with particularly irritable customers. One of my responsibilities is to make sure that customers paying with cash for gas do not drive off after I approve them on the register. One day, a customer appeared to be leaving, so I wrote her plate number down right before her boyfriend, who was already in the store, paid for his slushie and her gas. After he leaves, his girlfriend stomps in the store and demands the piece of paper, even though I can still recite her plate number to this day. I was starkly upset by this occurrence because I did not depersonalize it. While I believe that depersonalization is possible and sometimes necessary, I take pride in embracing such conflicts and being able to resolve them in a personable way.
_____Hochschild cites Goffman and says that we must not take the small as trivial (p. 10). This is evident at Tom’s when I donate a quarter or so to a customer who is a bit short on money. By breaking the norm of being self-involved, these customers become startlingly aware that the small is not trivial and express the most genuine gratitude I have ever seen, much like the sincerity Hochschild describes by certain expressions, words, and tones (p. 77). However, some customers do not even acknowledge me as a human, much less express sincere gratitude, which I think depends on how they see me; whether as a helper, worker, friend, or something less. Hochschild also explains how “gratitude lays the foundation for loyalty” (p. 101). Although she discusses this in terms of a new worker being taken into the family of the company, I believe it is more important in regards of the gratitude and loyalty of the customer. By selflessly giving someone a quarter, I foster genuine gratitude, which leads to a more loyal loyalty than any suggestive sell could ever hope to establish.
_____As stated previously, I also believe that my job allows a lot of freedom, even as a service job that requires emotional labor. This parallels Hochschild’s discussion of the “‘love ethic’ in a free market” because I felt a great deal of autonomy in searching for and finding a job (p. 72). Because of this, I feel more responsible to enjoy my job because it is my fault if I do not like it. While Hochschild would say that this is done through acting, I have been able to do so through establishing genuine camaraderie with regulars and coworkers. Furthermore, because the importance of feelings are based on the importance of a particular person (p. 172) and I matter very little to the non-regulars, I feel that I have additional freedom to hate my job if I really wanted to, since my feelings do not matter to the majority of customers. Similarly, my job is typically viewed as having very little prestige and, while it is a very public job, I feel that I am “free to hate” it if I wanted to because most people would understand hatred of such a lowly job (p. 189). I agree with Hochschild in these three areas of freedom, although I believe that they can also be applied to my emotionally laborious job because of its low status and low prestige.
_____Regardless of where I disagree or agree with Arlie Russell Hochschild, reading her book has prompted me to question what I believe and how I feel about my job, as well as why I believe those things and feel those ways. The Managed Heart ultimately culminates in a discussion of sincerity and authenticity in contrast to surface and deep acting. An example of surface acting would be appearing to be busy in front of a boss or supervisor, whereas deep acting would be internalizing a love of the job. Sincerity refers to simply refusing to act (p. 191), which I see as a kind of integrity, and authenticity refers to spontaneously knowing and feeling (p. 193), which I see as a kind of realness. I never before would have framed my job in terms of acting and I still do not want to do so because having integrity and being genuine have always been deeply important to me. After reading Hochschild, I thought critically about past work experiences and paid more attention when I worked a total of twenty-two hours over Thanksgiving break. Specifically, I began to question everyone’s motives, whether mine, my coworkers’, or my customers’.
_____What are my motives as a gas station and convenience store cashier? Certainly, it is a job that I need in order to make money, but if I went to work only for money I believe that I would be wholly dissatisfied, so I instead focus on selfless and intangible values like establishing camaraderie with regulars and building friendships, making eye contact with every customer and acknowledging them as human, or being selfless and giving a quarter to someone I will never see again. These are the things that keep me from being estranged, not mental detachment or acting, whether surface or deep. What are Nikki’s motives as a gas station and convenience store manager? Certainly, it is a job that she needs in order to make money, but she genuinely works at establishing real connections with her employees. I believe she is genuine and that this is evident through small things like occasionally texting and being friends on Facebook. It is also shown in larger things, such as her allowing me time to cry over my recently broken-up relationship and hug her before I started attending to my work duties. It is this, this freedom to be genuine, that I appreciate most about my job. What are the regulars’ motives as being parts of my life? I cannot answer why they have reached out to me and responded to my reaching out to them, but when compared to the customers with whom I have not connected, I have to believe that these connections are genuine. So where does this genuineness come from? And how is it different from Hochschild’s concepts of sincerity and authenticity?
_____Early in her book, Hochschild says that everyone “offers up feeling as a momentary contribution to the collective good” (p. 18). To me, this sounds very altruistic and selfless, something that could serve as the basis for genuine emotional service. However, throughout the rest of the book, Hochschild frames emotional labor as something done primarily for selfish reasons, whether for individual protection like depersonalization or for company success like suggestive selling and speed-up. Later in the book, she quotes C. Wright Mills: “‘Sincerity’ is detrimental to one’s job, until the rules of salesmanship and business become a ‘genuine’ aspect of oneself” (p. 35). To me, this sounds like it is only possible to be sincere in emotional labor – to be good at one’s job, in other words – if the values of that job are internalized, even if those values did not belong to the person to begin with. The fact that any type of acting deeply bothers me comes down to how greatly I abhor a lack of integrity. And so, because my core values include camaraderie, compassion, and connections, I apply integrity by also expressing these at my job. It is certainly exhausting at times, but the fact that these things are so important to me really does keep me satisfied. I am profoundly thankful for the freedom within my job to express these values, especially to my coworkers and the regulars. I believe they genuinely appreciate the fact that I am genuine, even at work, and this makes it possible for me to also be genuine to more negative customers and remain genuine on more negative days.

Hochschild, Arlie Russell. 1983. The Managed Heart. London, England: University
_____of California Press.
Peters, David Scott. 2010. “Restaurant Services: GUEST.” Restaurant Report, LLC.
_____Retrieved December 3, 2010


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Best Kind of Survey (Take Three)

Okay, so I’ve done this twice.

Take One

Take Two

I'm going to do it a little differently this time.

The premise...
Ten things I wish I could say to ten different people. (but don't say their name)

For each one, I’m going to see if I remember who it was about and, if I can, give an anonymous update about him or her. Huzzah, reflexivity.

Take One... (May 27, 2009)
10. I'm pretty certain I'm going to miss you more than you're going to miss me.
9. Thanks for showing me what is least important.
8. You used to be really cool. You always used to say you were unchanged, but
trust me, you've changed. If I see you this summer, it's going to be weird.
7. Did you feel it, too?
6. You have no idea. None. Your sister sees it more than you do. lol.
5. I know you want to pursue your dreams, so do it. And I will want to follow you.
4. WHY did you reject my friend request? I thought we were good? What's up?!
3. Your hypocritical, neo-con, holier-than-thou attitude is NOT okay. Okay?
2. Grow up, please.
1. I don't know what the problem is, but you need to work it out before the individuals
around you begin to be negatively affected by the underlying, secret conflict. Okay?

10. With how you don’t even talk to me ever, you definitely don’t miss me at all. I hope you do miss me and just won’t talk to me. That would be fitting.
9. (Uh, I have a guess…) Way to not text me back for three days. That’s completely okay. Just kidding. If and when you want to talk to me, go for it. I won’t hold my breath.
8. (Not sure who this was about, but I have a guess…) We don’t talk anymore.
7. I still want to know if you felt it, but I’ll never ask you. It’s no longer important.
6. I miss you and you are my favorite. It’d be awesome if we’d be able to share an apartment someday.
5. You still have your dreams, but you’re not pursuing them as far as I can tell. And lots of people are judging you for that, but I won’t. I promise. If you’re happy, oh well if you’ve lost your ambition.
4. (I don’t know who this is…)
3. (I also don’t know who this was about, but it still stands, always.)
2. (“…”)
1. I would say the exact same thing, only I can’t, because I’m no longer a neutral party. The whole thing is ridiculous and stupid and I don’t want to care, but I barely can do so, but I don’t and AUGH.

Take Two... (October 15, 2009)
10. Thanks for showing me that I am capable of getting over it with closure. ...and
thanks for making me more bitter and cynical about things... not.
9. I am so entirely at peace with it, but I kind of really tend to get jealous over you.
But maybe I just don't want you to lead anyone on. Yeah, let's go with that.
8. I do not like you anymore, at all, but I don't know how to convince you of this
without sounding like a cold-hearted meanie.
7. Thank you so much for establishing camaraderie with me. It means more than
you'll ever know and I'm sad that you'll be gone next year.
6. I thought we were going to try talking again... where are you?
5. It's kind of funny to think about how complete opposite our friendship has become
over the past four years or so. Even to the extent of non-existence. Um, not fun.
4. I miss you, but I don't think that really bothers you.
3. Hey, you guys, you need to get over this.
2. I like to watch you dance in front of me.
1. I saw that.

10. I asked you straight out, either yes or no or tell me to shut it. You never replied, so my heart takes that as an unspoken “Shut it” coupled with a very adamant “No.” The other day, I thought of something you said early-on that argues that you must be lying. Perhaps you’re just very confused. Oh well. Good luck with your girlfriend.
9. (I though I knew who this was, but then I read 8 and realized I was mistaken… I don’t know who this is about.)
8. I very much do not like you anymore. Again, I won’t hold my breath.
7. (This applies to two people…) I miss you SO much and I am SO glad we still keep in touch fairly well. So many things are not the same without you. I miss seeing you on a regular basis. Never lose touch, please; always remember me. I’ll remember you.
6. I’m really, really proud of you.
5. (Not sure who this is about, either. Apparently it’s no longer important…)
4. How many girls have you treated the same way you treated me?
3. HEY, YOU GUYS, YOU NEED TO GET OVER THIS. There is a young life at stake. I hope you breed resiliency.
2. We have so much to catch up on, but apparently, not enough for me to sacrifice a bit.
1. This year isn’t the same without you, but I’m glad you’re still around. You are an entertaining individual.

Well, that wasn’t nearly as fun as I expected it to be. It’s interesting to see what I do and do not remember. But not really. And I’m gonna waste some more time, so I’m going to do the entire thing again. It’s been a year. Might as well. If you’d like to compare this to the two previous times, see the link at the top of this post.

Take Three…
Ten things I wish I could say to ten different people. (but don't say their name)
10. Most everything I want to say to you, I’ve already said; except for one thing, but according to society, it is far too soon for such nonsense. Plus, if I really stop and think about it, I am scared. But when I think about you, I am so completely not scared that it doesn’t matter at those moments and you make it so very difficult for me to refrain from giving you my entire soul.
9. I feel like your heart knows what’s right, but your head won’t listen. I feel like you feel this, too, but haven’t admitted to it. At some point, you’ve got to let yourself admit it, you’ve got to accept it. I know you don’t want to give up the comfortable-ness, but the things you tell me don’t make it sound all that comfortable at all.
8. I wish we talked more frequently. I miss your light-heartedness and genuine concern in my life. Are you older than me? I think so, and that’s good, because you seem like it. You’re much more mature than a lot of people your age. I sincerely wish you the best of success in all your pursuits.
7. While I have wholeheartedly enjoyed this semester, I don’t know if I will be able to give you guys as much time next semester. But I know that’s a lie and I’ll probably end up seeing you guys just as much, if not more. Honestly, though, I hope to be able to empower you better in the future.
6. I am so sorry that so many people hate you. I can see why, but I’m sorry. I empathize so, so, so much because I feel that we are very similar. I’d really like to talk to you about this.
5. I am sorry I am going to be so passive-aggressive about this.
4. As thinking of who else to include on this, you came to mind. But, to be completely honest, I have nothing to say to you. But I miss your friends. And I wonder how it made you feel.
3. I think you’re cool, so let’s be friends. But I think you’re just a tiny bit awkward.
2. Can you tell me what a typical MSW program is like? Because I’ve had two social work class so far and both of the professors were awful. I know it’s too soon to judge, but it’s making me pretty apprehensive, nonetheless. Also, do you think I’m fit for it? How do you handle your failings while trying to help everyone else overcome their own failings?
1. It’s pretty scary to me that you may soon be permanently gone. Not permanently, but kind of.

Nine things about myself:
9. I will never lable myself as a musician or an artist because music and art become less fun when they become a job.
8. I’m beginning to believe that I know far less than how I present myself.
7. The cold doesn’t really bother me much, but wind does. And snow.
6. I’m pretty sure my ears don’t like earrings. Too bad.
5. I’ve been thinking about dyeing my hair, but I would feel like a hypocrite.
4. Most times, if I avoid or refrain from something particular, it’s because of its negative emotional and mental consequences.
3. My favorite topics include body language, social space, and multiple intelligences.
2. I like boys who wear belts with tucked-in shirts.
1. It’s rare that I wear makeup.

Eight ways to win my heart.
8. Share what’s important to me with me and allow me to do the same for you.
7. Take me to bead stores or the bead section of craft stores.
6. If our interests differ, appreciate. I’ll appreciate you in return.
5. (I keep wanting to say the same thing, but they all come down to…) Lift me up.
4. Let me drive.
3. Let me cry. Sometimes, it’s absolutely necessary.
2. Fall as fast as I do.
1. People-watch with me. Not even that, simply appreciate the concept. Almost all of these come down to having a sincere desire to appreciate or empathize. It’s much better than simply tagging along and forcing yourself to like what I like. I don’t want that. I want integrity. I want you to care enough about me to genuinely care about what I care about.

Seven things that cross my mind a lot.
7. California.
6. Grad school.
5. My to-do list(s).
4. Past experiences.
3. Professors.
2. All my ambitions I’ve left behind, if only for a moment.
1. Unhappiness.

Six things I do before I fall asleep.
6. Change clothes.
5. Check Facebook/email/etc.
4. Brush teeth.
3. LIE down.
2. Set alarm.
1. Build a wall of pillows.

Five people who mean a lot. (in no order whatsoever)
5. Boyfriend. :) Hehe.
4. Lots of music department people.
3. Lots of Sociology department people.
2. The Quad.
1. A few Psychology department people.

Four things you're wearing right now.
4. Pants with flannel pants underneath. Yup.
3. Sweater with wooden buttons.
2. Dad’s old coat.
1. About twenty contour hair clips.

Three songs that you listen to recently.
3. (Everything by…) Elbow
2. (Everything by…) Ratatat
1. (And anything else awesome that comes up on my “One Day Like This” by Elbow Pandora radio station. Including Nightmares on Wax and Little People.

Two things you want to do before you die.
2. Go to Greece (scheduled for July 15!).
1. Finish at least one book.

One confession.
1. I fear that I am less satisfied when I focus too much on the future.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

School Choice (Resources!) and Texting in Class/Intimidation

School Choice (Resources!)

There's a concept in Social Work that is all about resources: teaching people
about them and granting access to them. This is the role of Social Work that
involves networking clients with and referring clients to additional resources
and opportunities.
So, that's what I've been taught in my two Social Work classes thus far.

Today, we began discussing School Social Work. Prof. Good opened the topic by
asking what problems school social workers must handle. Bullying, family issues,
truancy, etc. Truancy. Prof. Good cited a case where a father would keep his son
from going to school because he needed him to function as a translator (they had
immigrated from an African country). The father did not understand the compulsory
school attendance of Virginia and simply cared about being able to communicate
with others through his son. The case ended up being taken to court where the judge
ruled that the father had to make sure his son complied with the compulsory school
attendance law of Virginia.

Alright, so, obeying the law and everything is all well and good, but in this
case, I do not believe that the school counselor, school social worker, school
administration workers, or court officials did their job to the fullest extents.


As far as I know, according to how Prof. Good relayed this story, no one ever
told the father that he had other options. Education, regardless of compulsory
attendance laws, is not a matter of go to school or die (rather, go to jail).
There are other options. Homeschooling, cyberschooling, out-of-school-schooling,
etc, etc.

Certainly, I am severely biased in favor of homeschooling, but I recognize that
no method of education is completely foolproof, ever. The effectiveness of an
education is determined by many, many different factors, although I feel that the
most important of these is that of parental involvement. But that is also a stance
to be debated.

Anyway... this is a pretty severe disconnect between the referral role of social
work and the strict adherence to compulsory attendance laws. There are other options
and other opportunities and other means and methods! Why did the school social
worker not suggest any of these? Sure, it may have taken more work in the long run
to make sure a "proper" education was occurring, but other referrals should have
been made, in order for the school social worker to have integrity within the roles
of social work.

So even though I am severely biased in favor of homeschooling, what I am MOST in
favor of is the freedom to choose any method of education. Maybe public school will
work the best for your family, maybe private, maybe Catholic or Christian, maybe
prep, maybe distance, maybe cyber... regardless, the most important thing is that
you are aware of all these various options, have access to a great deal of info
about them so that you can be well informed, and have the freedom to choose the
one you deem as the most appropriate for your situation and your child.

Texting in Class/Intimidation

So, news flash! I break rules, too. Yesterday, my Wellness class watched most of
a documentary called, "Kilowatt Ours." It was about alternative energy, so I was
fairly interested in the topic, since I had studied it for Envirothon. Even so, I
texted a friend a few times during class as we were watching the film.


During the course of the film, Prof. Campbell approached another student and asked
him for his phone since he had been texting as well. She took it from him and put
it on the front desk until the end of class.

But I didn't get away with it. After class was over and as everyone was leaving,
my name was discreetly called by Prof. Campbell so that she could confront me
privately and individually.

Now, this is not particularly a story about the importance not texting in class
and the consequences of failing to do so. (...failing to not text in class? Yay,
split infinitive!) What I find so fascinating is the difference in reprimand
methods. There was also another student who Prof. Campbell, as far as I know, did
not see texting.

Why did Prof. Campbell publicly take away the phone of the one student, while
waiting until the end of class to confront me one-on-one? Honestly, I have no
concrete, valid answer. The only thing I know is that I feel Prof. Campbell acted
somewhat intimidated as she talked to me after class.

I also know that this minor reprimand has reinforced my knowing that I am such an
over-achiever, even if I care only minimally about this class. Even this minor,
private reprimand has made me feel bad enough to fear that Prof. Campbell will now
grade my assignments in a more negative light because of it. Oh, heyyy, paranoia.

Oh, what lessons we have learned.

Things are fallin' down on me,
heavy things I could not see...

Also, I seem to be much less inclined to continue a political debate-discussion when
I am in a good mood.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Marx Missed Some Things (archived, finally)

Here's that infamous essay I keep referencing.

_____Marx Missed Some Things
_____Carina Botterbusch
_____Intro to Sociology
_____21642; W 6:30-9:35pm
_____September 16, 2008

_____Although the Communist Manifesto has influenced a lot of people, I found several flaws of logic in Marx’s thinking. He mistakenly thought that people are only motivated by greed, that the bourgeoisie would civilize primitive cultures, that any progress before his time was insignificant, and that revolutions must be violent. However, he wasn’t entirely wrong. He understood that any form of leadership cannot last forever and that strong, leading groups of people often sabotage themselves to the point of their own fall.
_____The first error of thinking I found was the claim that people had no other motivation or connection but greed and their own progress. “…No other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest…” (Marx, 1848, p. 2). Marx thought that there was no other possible reason that people would want to be involved with other people. He did not think of compassion or commonalities. If there were no compassion among people, we would not have the Red Cross or other similar groups. The Red Cross was founded in 1881 and the world certainly did not develop compassion in less than forty years. People are also united to one another by commonalities. While Marx focused on the negative separation by differences, that is only half of how it works. We can also be brought together by similarities.
_____Marx also thought that the industrial progress of the bourgeois state would influence and bring “…even the most barbarian nations into civilization” (Marx, 1848, p.3). While I agree that the progress of one country will effect or promote the progress of another, there will continue to be nations that do not want to be civilized, whatever you may consider ‘civilized’ to mean. Even today there are many cultures in Africa and South America that most people would call uncivilized. However, they are happy with the way they live and have not changed much, although some have been contacted by missionaries.
_____I feel like the entire Manifesto has an arrogant attitude about it, which is very clear when Marx says “…what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lab of social labour?” (Marx, 1848, p.4) Although I think he knew that previous cultures had contributed to the knowledge and technology of his era, he claims that the productive potential had not been touched. The Industrial Revolution was certainly an extremely large leap of progress, that does not make earlier progress any less significant.
_____When Marx predicts that war between classes will break out into “open revolution” and “violent overthrow,” he does not even consider the possibility of a revolution being peaceful (Marx, 1848, p.9). However, this is completely incorrect. A few months ago, I went to see the movie, The Singing Revolution, which tells the story about the country of Estonia and its non-violent revolt against Soviet occupation. The movie shows how the Estonians were brought together by their common interest in song in order to peacefully triumph over the Soviets (singingrevolution.com).
_____However, Marx understood how and why leading groups (whether they be political or otherwise) eventually fall and that they typically bring this demise upon themselves. In the next to last paragraph, Marx explains that the bourgeoisie would no longer be capable to be the ruling class. This is common throughout history as we can study countries that enjoyed a time of leadership, but eventually fell, typically because they became too greedy, mistreated their subjects, or became overpowered by the people they led. The Roman, British, and other Empires may have appeared to be indestructible, but man cannot handle such great power.
_____Marx also realized that empires often fall because of unintended self-sabotage. “The bourgeoisie itself… furnishes that proletariat with weapons for fighting…” (Marx, 1848, p. 7). “The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself. …it has also called into existence the men who are to yield those weapons” (Marx, 1848, p.5). This is a common theme throughout the Manifesto and Marx seemed to have a good understanding of the concept that empires typically fall because of something the empire itself produced. Even the last sentence of Part I shows this idea: “What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, is its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable” (Marx, 1848, p.9).
_____Although Marx showed a clear understanding of the concept that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely,’ the four logical flaws that I mentioned cannot be ignored. Even though some of Marx’s ideas were correct and true, he clearly missed a few things.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Durkheim, Complaining/Negativity, Feeling Old

Clearly, I have lots of things to say right now. I should go to bed relatively soon,
or even now, but I know I will not be able to. I need these things out of my head.

I need these things out of my head so badly that I almost couldn't bring myself to
finish my assigned reading for tomorrow morning. But I did it. And I love Durkheim.


Well, more accurately, I love Sociology; but I really love Durkheim. So many things
that he said resonate with all that I've been saying for at least a year.

My hands are cold.

The following quotes are from my Sociological Theory textbook, Sociological Theory
in the Classical Era: Text and Readings, by Laura Desfor Edles and Scott Appelrouth,
second edition.

"We are not, from birth predestined to some special position; but we do have tastes
and aptitudes which limit our choice. If no care is taken of them, if they are
ceaselessly disturbed by our daily occupations, we shall suffer and seek a way of
putting an end to our suffering." (p. 110)

Well, that sounds like something Johnny Bunko would say! The plan matters less than
personal satisfaction. This sounds like something I have said! Personal preferences
and core values must be recognized and acknowledged to attain such satisfaction!

"That we spend much time and energy searching for "identity" - 'I'm a punk!' 'I'm
Irish!' - reflects a lack of moral regulation." (p. 120)

When energy is not devoted to norms, some part of identity dies - the part that is
wrapped up in collective existence. Identity then begins to be searched for in other
venues... labeling one's self or in "novelties, unfamiliar pleasures, nameless
sensations" (p. 131).

"...One does not advance when one walks toward no goal, or - which is the same thing
- when his goal is infinity. Since the distance between us and it is always the
same, whatever road we take, we might as well have made the motions without progress
from the spot. Even our glances behind and our feeling of pride at the distance
covered can cause only deceptive satisfaction, since the remaining distance is not
proportionately reduced. To pursue a goal which is by definition unattainable is to
condemn oneself to a state of perpetual unhappiness. Of course, man may hope
contrary to all reasons, and hope has its pleasures even when unreasonable. It may
sustain him for a time; but it cannot survive the repeated disappointments of
experience indefinitely. What more can the future offer him than the past, since he
can never reach a tenable condition nor even approach the glimpsed ideal?" (pp. 126-127)

I really don't think I could've said it better, Mr. Durkheim. Progress may be made,
but it cannot be felt, without the presence of goals.

"He may seek to give beauty to his life; but his attempts in this direction may fail
without causing him to despair. For, loving what he has and not fixing his desire
solely on what he lacks, his wishes and hopes may fail of what he has happened to
aspire to, without his being wholly destitute. He has the essentials. The equilibrium
of his happiness is secure because it is defined, and a few mishaps cannot disconcert
him." (p. 128)

The equilibrium of his happiness is secure because it is defined...

"The less limited one feels, the more intolerable all limitation appears." (p. 130)

The more affluent one is, the greater the desire to be even more affluent. I want to
parallel this to my current annoyed state. I am annoyed with negativity and immaturity.
The less negative and immature one is, the more intolerable all negativity and
immaturity appears. The more intolerable all negativity and immaturity feels. Ugh.

"The wise man, knowing how to enjoy his achieved results without having to constantly
replace them with others, finds in them an attachment to life in the hour of difficulty.
But the man who has always pinned all his hopes on the future and lived with his eyes
fixed upon it, has nothing in the past as a comfort against the present's afflictions,
for the past nothing to him but a series of hastily experienced stages. What blinded
him to himself was his expectation always to find further on the happiness he had so
far missed. Now he is stopped in his tracks; from now on nothing remains behind or
ahead of him to fix his gaze upon. Weariness alone, moreover, is enough to bring
disillusionment, for he cannot in the end escape the futility of an endless pursuit."
(p. 131).

Durkheim recognized the importance of balance and moderation! While progress cannot
be felt in the absence of goals, an extreme focus upon goals causes a person to miss
that progress! By seeking happiness in the future, a person misses happiness in the
present. Ah, Durkheim!

"It is everlastingly repeated that it is man's nature to be eternally dissatisfied,
constantly in advance, without relief or rest, toward and indefinite goal." (p. 131)

Man is a fool is a rule? Always wanting what is not? ... The importance of having
DEFINED goals! Ah, Durkheim!

"Those who have only empty space above them are almost inevitably lost in it, if no
force restrains them." (p. 132)

The unhappiness of the affluent, with no place to go - no progress to feel. It all
rests in your own personal emphasis.

So, friends, what is YOUR emphasis? Affluence? Perhaps you should reconsider.

Core values, core values, core values.

I love Sociology. I love Durkheim. And, yes, I am aware that I am a nerd. What else
is there for me to be? I internalize this label.


Okay, so all that Durkheim quoting took a lot of energy, but I shall try to press on!

I am not sure whether this is due to there being more complaining and negativity or
my being more aware of it (for whatever reason), but either way, I am coming in contact
with more complaining and negativity than before. Maybe it's in my perception, my
perspective, but it feels like significantly more. It feels like a significant increase.

Regardless of whether there literally is more or not is unimportant. What we believe
to be real is real in its consequences.
Thomas Theorem. In that case, it is real.

Note: I really like this new Durkheim-inspired theory that I grow more sensitive to
complaining and negativity as I eradicate those traits from myself more and more
each day. As arrogant as that may sound, I like it.

Regardless of any cause, whether real or perceptual, I feel like a complete hypocrite.
The people around me are overly negative and complain too much about largely
insignificant things that they should be capable of rectifying. This negativity
is infectious and makes me want to complain. I feel like a complete hypocrite.

It is so completely non-sensical to complain about complaining. Complaining about
complaining will not help anything. So what, then? Call them out? Eh...

So what, then? Combat the negativity? Block our the complaining? Focus on the
positive? So what, then? How to focus on the positive when the negative is such a
dark and dismal cloud? There are a few positive people that are bright pockets in
this cloud of negativity. What's really interesting to not is that these emotionally
bright people have their own moments of negativity. So why, in my opinion, do they
continue to qualify as mostly positive people?

I fear this will not be concluded for sometime. I know I have more to say on this
topic, but no longer feel it.

Feeling Old.

In all honesty, I forget what this was all about. Oh dear, I must be feeling old.
Memory, come back! Thought, return!

I really enjoy being repetitive. I enjoy writing redundantly in an artistic fashion.

I made a note to write about feeling old next to the note to write about complaining
and negativity, so I think I meant to say that I feel old because I feel so bothered
by complaining and negativity.

Those young'ns always complaining about something! They're so negative! Don't they
see they have the whole world in front of them? They have the world in their hands!

Something like that.

Back to Durkheim... the quote that talks about how people miss present happiness by
focusing too much on happiness they expect to come in the future solidifies a recent
fear that I had not yet put into words. In my recent and current search among schools
to attend for my Master's, I have inadvertently placed more emphasis upon achieving
my Master's and have been placing more emphasis upon my eventual career goal. I've
been fearing that maybe, on some level, I've been missing out on some part of college
lately. Maybe I've been focusing too much on my studies because of the end goal and
have been missing the current achievements of present and tangible learning.

I mostly feel like this is a primarily unfounded fear.

I also fear that there may be a sliver of truth within it.

Don't believe that there's truth within it?

Well, I have twice as many more (haha) things to say, but I'm going to accept the
fact that I should currently be sleeping. I knew that I would not be able to sleep
sufficiently without writing at least the most important of these topics.

The topics that remain for another day are as follows:


Well, I can talk about Vitas. I really, really like Vitas. I had forgotten how much
I like Vitas. He's really quite incredible.

Wellness (chicken-egg)

That is all.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Seven. Proactivity and Something Else.

I know I have lots to say. So we'll see how concisely I can say it and if I can
remember everything to some extent. Clearly, according to the title, I've already
forgotten one thing. We'll see if it comes back.


The old theory was as follows: the one you get along with, the one you're attracted to,
the one you connect with, the one you want to follow, the one with whom you have
chemistry, the one you admire, and the one who reflects you.

Seven is a good number.

The seven intelligences: musical, logical-mathematical, kinesthetic, spatial,
linguistic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.

The new theory is this, and so far I'm up to six: physical, logical, mental, emotional,
spiritual, and social. Maybe number seven has something to do with communication?
...although I feel like that may fall under mental. Maybe.

Johnny Bunko has six principles. He should have seven. Personal Responsibility.

Anyway. Seven.


I think this makes the most sense so far. It's broader than the Seven Reasons and
more detailed than the dichotomy of the one who treats you right vs. the one with
whom you have commonalities. Balance and Moderation. Clearly, there is overlap, but
to me, it is sensible overlap.

These things can be framed and prioritized in many different ways. They are more
open to personal perspective. The Seven Reasons was all my philosophy and was not
generalizable. The dichotomy is too simple. To some, differences in some areas may
be more acceptable than to others.

Physical includes attraction and maybe chemistry and other areas of physical fit.

Logical is what makes sense. Logical encapsulates most (all?) of the other areas.

Mental is thinking style, etc. Some may prefer more similarities; others, differences.

Emotional is more like the wavelength on which a person functions. Maybe. I know this
is specifically important to me, but I'm not quite sure how to conceptualize it.

Spiritual refers to a lot of things, all comprising a worldview perspective.

Social is a lot like wavelength, only with others, rather than individually.

(Communication-al?). Not sure. I just needed a seventh one. This could probably
dissolve into the other areas.

I want to see how these seven align with the Seven Reasons, but not right now.


Honestly, I am so mentally drained that I can't even communicate this clearly.

Essentially, to me, anything other than passivity is more acceptable than passivity.

Passivity is stagnant and stagnancy does not induce growth.

You can't grow sitting still.

The best alternative to passivity is proactivity. Institutional Resources and the
prevention of problems.

The other alternative to passivity is reactivity. Residual Resources and solutions to

Basically, this ties into the seventh Bunko principle of personal responsibility.

If something is wrong, if you are dissatisfied with something? Change it. React to it.
I don't even care if it's not a good reaction, just do SOMETHING. Don't sit still.
If you can't change it? Work around it, reconsider if it's truly important. Find a way.

Sorry this is maybe completely incoherent. Not in a good writing mentality right now.

I've failed to remember the something else. It'll come up again, I'm sure.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Marx, Mostly

Hi, friends. I've been reading lots of Marx lately. Three hours worth over the course
of yesterday, to be exact. ...and more to read over the weekend. Yesterday, I read
excerpts from The German Ideology and The Economic and Political Philosophies of 1844.

I read a section of The Communist Manifesto for my Intro to Socio class at HACC and
will be reading a longer portion for Tuesday (for Sociological Theory). My assignment
for HACC was simply to write a critical reaction paper. This paper, "Marx Missed Some
Things," should be archived here.

As I was even more enveloped in the depth of Marx's theories over the course of the
week, I at first felt that I disagreed more with Marx more than I had before. Later, I
felt completely mentally exhausted after reading original texts for three hours and
trying to retain as much as possible and I remedied this by watching some "Arrested
Development." Finally, after discussing our assigned reading in class today and
tying it to some things we mentioned in Methods later in the day, I once again feel
that Marx really was onto something. He did, indeed, miss some things due to some
vast logical leaps he made, but the general conflict he was addressing resonates with
so much of what I've been saying for so long. Marx missed some things in regards to
the fact that he blamed such issues on Capitalism, rather than on individuals.

Blaming the system is much like writing in the passive voice (which, by the way, is
becoming less and less accepted in scholarly research articles...we're back to I
statements, that is).

Blaming the individuals, if done with care and balance and moderation, can actually
give said individuals a great deal of freedom and responsibility. Instead of telling
a person that a negative situation is his or her fault, blaming the individual should
be done so that it sounds more like, "You can fix this."
This is called something, some term I can never quite remember. Attribution theory?
Blaming external circumstances removes the blame from the individual and also removes
autonomy from that same individual.
Blaming internal circumstances places the blame on the individual and also gives an
amount of autonomy back to that individual.

(Perhaps, here we should remember and keep in mind the "Serenity Prayer")

Blaming the individual returns autonomy and a certain kind of freedom. And, in all
honesty, after reading Marx for three hours and discussing him for another one and
a half, on top of thinking about his theories before and after the discussion; it
sounds like that's really all Marx wanted.

He describes that, in the Communist system, all individuals would have the freedom
to fish in the morning, hunt in the afternoon, and be a critical critic in the
evening (paraphrased), all the while NOT being pigeon-holed into any of those (or
other) titles.
Freedom and mobility - what Marx really wanted.

However, he missed some things. He had the right premise, the right idea, but he
landed in the wrong spot.

Speaking of that, this is also why I disagree with Hegel's theory of the dialectic.
Hegel proposes that there is some idea, a thesis, that is in tension with the opposite
idea, an antithesis. Through this tension, society will arrive at a synthesis. This
synthesis becomes the new thesis, which is in tension with its antithesis. Again, a
new idea will arise through synthesis and this process will continue until society
discovers Truth.
But, see, this doesn't do it for me because, a person can have the right premise
and the right idea, and through whatever logical or personal error, miss the mark.
Truth does not arise from such a natural process as that of the dialectic.

Anyway. Marx had the right idea, the right premise, but he landed in the wrong spot.

The greatest logical flaw that was apparent at least twice throughout all the original
text I read was this... Marx argued that the ability to labor (creatively and freely)
is what makes us human. He goes on to say that becoming laborers is also what strips
us of our humanness. While the distinction can be made that we cease to be human when
our labor ceases to be creative and free, we become simply as part of a machine, and
we become a commodity; there's a pretty significant gap in Marx's logical argument.

This process of losing the human essence, the species being, and become a simple
mode of production, an animal laborens, is what Marx refers to as alienation.

Alienation occurs because the joy is taken out of work (labor).

Marx blames this on Capitalism.

I do not.

Alienation occurs when a person is reduced to having some job that is not fulfilling.

This occurs because that person is expecting having some job, any job, will be
completely fulfilling.

(Oh, I've been talking about expectations vs. reality a LOT lately, haven't I?)

And this, my friends, ties back into EVERYTHING I've been saying for, oh, about the
past YEAR about core values.

A stupid little job (factory work, assembly line, cashier, gas station attendant, and
so on) probably will not be completely fulfilling. (I do agree with Marx that it is
especially difficult for assembly line work to bring fulfillment in regards to simple
productivity because a factory worker is so alienated and removed from both product
and the production design). However, almost all jobs will at least be fulfilling to
the extent that the worker is being productive. I believe that being productive is
a very important part of being human. This is why so many people experience post-
retirement depression and why the cycle of depression is so very difficult to stop.

However! Even though a stupid little job will not be completely satisfying, that does
not mean that an individual must be completely alienated. I realize that Marx was
criticizing a very different time in history, but I wonder what would have been
different had Marx taken this more metaphysical(?) bent?...

I've been writing for too long now and I fear that, if I continue in this same
manner, my thesis-conclusion will be blurred and muddied. So, sorry that this is
going to be short and blunt, but...

Alienation due to a stupid little job occurs when meaning is not found in a place
other than that mostly insignificant job.

Alienation can be avoided.

Alienation occurs when all meaning is wrapped up in and expected to be provided by
something that simply cannot provide all meaning.

Alienation due to a job will only occur when an individual expects that job to
provide some meaning that it simply cannot give.

I'm sorry if it's simplistic, but I believe that it works.

If you decide that you're not happy -- change your mind.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Personal Responsibility

I know I just posted a day or so ago, but I have time and I'm going to keep writing
while I have time. It feels too soon to post again, but I have more things to say and
I'm going to keep writing if I have more things to say.

On a side note, PDP is annoying in regards to the fact that it is very difficult to
learn and practice something if one is already skilled in that particular area. It
seems illogical to say, but if it's a skill that, to you, feels like second nature, it
is terribly painful and difficult to go through the time-consuming steps of a curriculum
designed to teach that skill that, to you, feels like second nature. In other words, it's
really difficult to slow down and think through a process that comes so easily.


Personal Responsibility

According to Dan Pink and The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, there are six keys to success:
1. There is no plan
2. Think strengths, not weaknesses
3. It's not about you
4. Persistence trumps talent
5. Make excellent mistakes
6. Leave an imprint

To me, the seventh Bunko principle could be: Be personally responsible.

Many things are within your control. Thus, to some extent, you are responsible for
them. Even if it is an area where other people or institutions have some influence,
if you are involved in such an area, you should take every liberty to be involved
and be responsible for how that area influences you (and your happiness!).

I'm being vague because the only example I can give will be overly obvious.

Essentially, you cannot blame an institution when you clearly had the time and
necessary resources available to avoid the issue that occurred. You certainly had the
opportunity to check and double-check and double-check again to make certain the the
institution had done its part. If you had, you would have seen the mistake, been able
to correct it, and avoided this entire mess.

I am so tired of so much.

Upcoming topic: The Seven Intelligences

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Far Too Complicated

Social networking sites such as Facebook seem to be dissolving into something useful,
but altogether shallow. A Facebook user was once able to write a finite amount of prose
in regards to his or her likes and interests. Now, Facebook utilizes a different profile
design that forces users to limit themselves to the confines of "pages" that they can
"like." These strict and simple lists now compose the Likes and Interests Section,
where there was once a greater degree of personal expression.

When this profile change was made, Facebook automatically tried to strain and filter
my personal prose of expression into such a strict and simple list. This was not easy
for Facebook to do. When I realized this was about to happen, I copied my entire Likes
and Interests Section because, as a writer, I take everything I have created quite
seriously and consider it all to be a collection of linguistic works of art, whether
real writing, journal entries, blogs, school notes, or Facebook-related items.

These new Facebook confines are common across the vast sea of social networking sites
and I believe they are far too confining. They are far too confining and they will
end with negative consequences. Perhaps most likely latent (maybe!), but negative.

Anyway. I guess this mostly has to do with an idea that is common within areas of the
Social Sciences. I apologize that I do not recall the precise term for this, but I
had Gen Psych and Intro to Socio during the Fall semester of my Senior year. I feel
like that was a long time ago. Today, I shared my fear of not remembering the basics
of my concentrations with Dr. Hayes and she reassured me that it will not be a problem.
Anyway. There's a Social Science idea (due to my taking Gen Psych and Intro to Socio
at the same time, such ideas blend together and cross department lines) that suggests
people become what they are expected to be. I believe this is mostly Labeling Theory
and is a Sociological idea, but Psychologists probably have some similar idea.

Anyway. Social Networking profiles do not allow a person to express how deep he or
she truly is and, applying Labeling Theory, if a person is treated as shallow, simple,
and uncomplicated, that is what that person is likely to become.

As I began to realize this, I began to become disgusted with the idea of a strict and
simple list within my Likes and Interests section. In order to defend against this, I
deleted the entire section. My About Me section remains as in-depth as the word limit
will allow, but I added an opening sentence of: "I am much more complicated than this."
In all honesty, I would much rather boycott the whole philosophy of the social
networking system and delete my profile altogether, but I cannot emotional bring
myself to do so, due to my severe social interest in so many other people and desire
to be easily connected to their life events, even if those life events are watered
down by the limits of such a social networking site.

I have also been considering complexity in regards to my personality as I consider
the idea of a potential romantic relationship, so that I will be somewhat prepared
when such an opportunity presents itself. Lately, I have been feeling more and more
complex and I fear there may be no one to complement my kind of complexity or at
least understand it to the point of my satisfaction. I do realize that this sounds so
wholeheartedly arrogant, but necessity and preference is important to consider, as
long as one does not create an image of the ideal. Generally, considering personal
complexity has been quite disheartening. Perhaps I will conclude such a complementing
complexity is unlikely to exist; unlikely enough that it ceases to be a necessity.

I'm not going to go into this deeply at all, but what if the changes to social
networking sites in regards to the watering down and simplifying of profiles is NOT
latent and the negative consequences are actually completely intended? What if the
minds behind social networking sites want us to feel simple and shallow so that we
become as such?

That's all for now.

Upcoming Topic: Personal Responsibility/Independence (tied to Non-Complaining!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This is Not the End

The chorus of The Bravery's song, This is Not the End, goes like this:

Not even earth can hold us
Not even life controls us
Not even the ground can keep us down
The memories in my head
Are just as real the time we spent
You'll always be close to me, my friend
This is not the end

In my own way, according to my circumstances, I feel like I understand this more now.

It's a matter of specificity when it comes to communicating such an ending event.

This is not THE end.

This is THIS end.

I feel myself becoming increasingly concerned with such minute linguistic details
and wonder if it has the potential to eventually get me in trouble with other people.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Clearing out some stuff in order to perform an exorcism upon the Kimmel Gene, I've
been sorting my many notebooks and have come across some philosophical and/or poetic
pieces worthy of pride.

(Note: The Kimmel Gene is a family term, referring to the familiar tendency to hoard.)

The things you love aren't real at all.

I wish you could see the world through my eyes.

How can I trust you when I can't find the ground?

In other news, if I weren't such a tactile person, I would consider hiring a typist
to archive everything I've ever written in any of my many notebooks.

But that would be completely unsatisfying because of my kinesthetic learning style,
as well as my ever-increasing OCD tendencies, which would have to be largely ignored
since much of what I have written, I failed to notate with a date including the year.


In other news, I really am beginning to realize the style of writing I most prefer.
I like the rhythm that's created when I write a run-on sentence and read it too fast
in my head. There's a place past run-ons that sounds like mewithoutyou and, if I
don't reach it, at least Flobots.

This explains why I use too many words. Too many? No such thing!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Very Old Short Story (so far)

_____This short story is based upon a dream. According to the notebook where I began to write it, I did so on February 16. I began writing it before I had realized my composition dates required the year to be included. I began writing it back during the time I did not capitalize my sentences.
_____I had not finished writing it because I thought the general concept of the story was far too ridiculous to even take seriously. I am now determined to finish it and I hope the years that have passed have not eroded the memory beyond repair.

_____I apologize greatly for any blatant errors or examples of terrible writing syntax that are certainly evident in this piece. As far as I can tell, it was written February of 2004. This is only the roughest of drafts, copied straight from the notebook, so it will be edited before I continue with the plot. It greatly excites me when I see obvious similarities between this and more recent writing of mine. I know it's weird; just think how I must have felt after I dreamed this! Oh, and that blank space in the first section after "passionately"? That's actually how it was written in my notebook. Apparently I didn't know how to write about kissing. lol.


_____It was a beautiful day. Bright, sunny, and cheerful, she decided to go down to the beach. As she traveled along the shoreline, she noticed a man sitting under an umbrella and almost fully clothed. He certainly was out of place on the warm beach. Although she was extremely curious, she kept walking. As she went past, she had the feeling that he was staring right at her. She felt his eyes penetrating her body. She was young and very beautiful. She shuddered at the thought that he might be a stalker. She quickened her step and continued for a little while more when she decided to turn back. She had forgotten all about the man under the umbrella until he was within sight. She tried to force herself not to look at him, but he was so unusual. She kept her eyes locked on the lifeguard chair in front of her, but he was looking at her again. He seemed to be studying her, as if she was important to him, as if she was what he was looking for. She closed her eyes and hoped for her safety, but something was calling her to him. She glanced at him and his eyes met hers. She immediately looked away. She didn’t know what he wanted or what his problem was, but she had to find out. Against her better judgment, she steered herself toward him. She thought a trace of pleasure flashed across his face, but she convinced herself it was just an illusion. As she continued toward him, she attempted to gather her thoughts. But as she studied him, all sense and logic escaped her. He appeared older and looked as if life had treated him unfairly. She blinked away the wave of compassion that had struck her as she started to speak to him. He smiled, almost cynically, and all words stopped.
_____What’s wrong with me? He’s just some perverted hobo sitting on the beach. Why in the world did I approach him?... she thought. He looked as if he wanted to stand to greet her, but somehow she knew that he could not. She kneeled in the sand and brought herself to his level.
_____“You’re perfect.” He smiled. She felt herself blush as she was flattered, even though she should have been frightened. “You’re absolutely perfect.” He leaned forward. “I need someone to support me in everything I do. Someone young and beautiful and confident and smart and you’re perfect.” She was flattered. “I need someone to back me up. I need you. I need you to help me…” She was puzzled. “…with this.” He pulled up his pant leg, showing his twisted leg that had been mangled by some disease. She winced. “It’s fine. It doesn’t hurt me, but it makes life all the more difficult. I’m sure you know how hard life is to begin with.” She did. Somehow, he had seen through her sky-blue eyes to see her past, filled with pain.
_____“There’s only one way to fix this.” He pointed to his leg. “And I’ve found it. I know you’re trustworthy and now I need you to trust me. I need you to follow me and support me.” She nodded. He started to stand, but it looked like he wouldn’t make it. She stood and offered to help him. He refused. He slowly succeeded and he then looked deep into her eyes. She didn’t know what it was about him, but she felt herself falling in love. She did not care about his outer self or his looks or his age. There was something more important inside. As she finally composed herself to speak, she studied his light hazel eyes. She leaned close and confided, “I don’t know what’s happened, but I don’t care. I love you and I always will. I’ll follow you anywhere and I’ll do anything.” He put his hands on her waist and moved toward her. She grew tense for a moment, drew back, but then relaxed and let him advance as she started to long for his kiss. When his lips finally met hers, she passionately _________. He drew her to himself and she leaned on his embrace.

_____They pulled apart and he took her hand as he started to walk along the beach. They continued to the very end of all the swimming areas when he stopped. She looked at him questioningly as he turned toward the open ocean. She didn’t understand what he was doing so she turned to him, turned his head with her hand, and kissed him again, He smiled a smile that told her everything would be fine. She swallowed her nervousness as he stepped toward the water. He kept walking, even as the waves washed over his shoes. She let go of his hand when she realized he wasn’t going to stop. He turned his head and encouraged her to keep going as he continued. She watched as the man she loved walked out to sea. When she remembered her promise, she forced herself to follow him. He slowed and waited for her, as if he knew she was far too scared to keep walking alone. She was confused, yet she trusted him. She hurried to catch up as he waited patiently. When she was beside him, she took his hand and they both started walking. She began to speculate what his magnificent healing plan was. Was he planning to drown himself? Or was there something beyond her imagination that she didn’t understand? She dreadfully hoped that his solution did not involve death. When she forced herself to stop thinking about it and stop assuming things she didn’t know, she realized he had stopped. “We’re here,” he said, “Are you ready?” She began to ask for what, but before she could, he dove under the water. She didn’t know what was happening, she didn’t know what he was thinking, she didn’t know where he had gone, and she didn’t have any idea what she had gotten herself into. She shook her head, ashamed of ignoring her better judgment, as she closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and gracefully dove down. Expecting to run into the bottom, she opened her eyes. She thought the salt water would burn her eyes, but for some reason it didn’t. As she adjusted to the dim light under the water, she saw a bright blue glow straight in front of her in the distance. And a little ways ahead, she saw a figure swimming toward the glow. She knew she wouldn’t be able to catch up to him, so she instinctively shouted “Wait!” The blurry shape stopped moving and turned around. She recognized his friendly face and he started swimming toward her. Now that she wasn’t alone, she breathed a sigh of relief. She stopped suddenly as she realized she was able to breathe underwater and that she had been for some time.

_____She didn’t know what was happening to her and she started to hyperventilate. When he saw that she was struggling to accept what was changing, he rushed to her side at a speed that she knew was humanly impossible, especially with his disability. He told her that everything would be fine if she just trusted him and that they’d be fine if they just stayed together. She knew that, but she couldn’t force herself to believe what was happening. Seeing that she was still unsure, he drew her close in an embrace that settled her deepest fears and doubts. She took a few deep breaths and made herself think that it was always this way and that she just hadn’t accepted it. This way, she could swallow her unsureity [sic] and follow him through whatever approached her. He invited her to keep following him as he began to swim toward the blue glow. As he pulled away, she did not move. He turned back to her and asked if she was okay. She nodded, as she quickly began toward the same blue.
_____When they were closer to the blue light, she could see the faint outline of a complex city-like structure. She immediately thought that this man had found Atlantis and she laughed at the notion. The idea that they had both lost their minds. She began to think that that theory made the most sense. As she shook the silliness that had entered her mind far away from her, she realized that they had stopped right at the edge of the glowing blue abyss.
_____“Are you ready?” he questioned. Again, she wanted to ask for what, but she wisely answered with a simple yes. He assured her that they would all love her, just as much as he did. She frantically said, “They? Who are they?” He put his hands on her shoulders. “Don’t worry, they’re just like me.” Even though she was still confused, hoping to forget all that she didn’t know, she leaned forward and kissed him. “Everything will be fine; trust me.” And she did trust him, but she was still afraid. He took her hand and he stepped into the blue light. He seemed to instantly change, but she did not know into what. He was swept over by a wash of blue color, but there was something else different. She figured that the only way to find out was to follow him, so she closed her eyes and moved forward. She then realized that whatever changed him would change her as well, but she thought of that too late and when she opened her eyes the changes that she saw in him had to be the same as the changes she felt in herself. He asked if she was okay and his face was the last thing she saw before all went black.

_____Her head throbbed with the blank memory of what had happened. She tried to blink away the pain, but it just wouldn’t go away. She sat halfway up and saw a tall, blue figure that was unfamiliar. He spoke to another behind him saying, “She’s up. You better come here. She doesn’t look too good.” She laid back down and tried to convince herself it was all a dream, but memories of the beach and a blue haze and that familiar face that she loved told her otherwise and it was all too real.
_____A strong hand gently touched her shoulder as a beloved voice urged her to wake up. She slowly opened her eyes to see his face, which was the same, yet vastly different. He put his arm behind her back and lifted her up. “You’re okay, right?” She nodded. She was confused and dazed and very much out of it, but this was the choice she had made and, whatever exactly that entailed, she had to endure it.


Fireflies and Insincerity

The beautiful words I have crafted thus far. I'm going to work on the very old short
story I mentioned previously.


Fireflies and Insincerity 06-25-10

I'd like to leave a silent voicemail.
About the fireflies over the field
and in front of my windshield.
Then I would be as insincere as them and they as me and you.
As insincere as you and me and everything you want to be.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thinking Styles and Careers

I have a career/personality test that I need to complete. It seems extremely
extensive and I'm a little apprehensive... about beginning it and having to
finish it.

Apparently I am now a rapper.

I've been thinking about poetry a lot lately and how I would like to practice my
word-crafting skills. I'd like to be able to write a piece free from meter and
rhyme and, most importantly, storyline. I want to form beautiful sentences from
beautiful words to create beautiful concepts that don't particularly lead anywhere.
I simply want to capture a feeling. I have a feeling this piece is going to start
out about fireflies and insincerity.

I've also been thinking about the concept of careers. In general, I could easily say
that I completely disagree with the American view that one's life must be defined
by a certain career. But you know me and you know I don't like blanket statements...

(as a side note, I found a very old short story I once began and soon gave up on and
I have not stopped thinking about how much I want to finish it, even though the basic
plot has probably largely been lost...)

The basic problem I have with the American concept of career is that a career is a
far too tangible thing to be the center focus and definition of a person's entire
life. But that's the American Dream, isn't it? Pick a career, go to school, and live
that career. Forever.

Oh, hey, fear-of-commitment.

Instead, I believe the focal point and primary definition (master status!) of one's
life should be something more intangible. It seems to be that the less intangible,
the more readily attained, achieved, and maintained; perhaps because things less
tangible are more open to interpretation and broader definitions?

I do not deny that I have an ultimate career goal. (see previous post(s) about the
importance of goal-setting) This ultimate career goal of mine is youth counseling,
whether as a school guidance counselor or otherwise. There is available proof that
this is my ultimate career goal because it is written in the headers of my plan of
major and plans of minors. However, this tangible goal does not act as the defining
status of my life because it is motivated by less tangible core values. It is these
values that I allow to act as the primary definitions of my life.

Today, I was asked what I first think of when I think of "success." I'll admit, as
an individual who has been enculturated with the American belief system, my first
reaction was "money." While I admitted this to the surveyor, I first responded with
my real answer of what I want to think of when I think of "success":
Achieving a purpose or goal. Or even just working toward that goal. Making progress
and being motivated to being productive in some way.

I was then asked to clarify what success means to me personally:
Youth counseling. Establishing camaraderie. Acting with compassion. Etc. And having
a white baby grand piano at some time. :)

These are those core values that I allow to act as the primary definitions of my
life, among others:
sanctified and selfless compassion
balance and moderation

The bottom line is this (and I will try to be as concise as possible)...
If one's ultimate career goal is motivated by any such core value, that career goal
can and should be attained, achieved, and maintained at all times, even before that
specific training is completed or the title is received.

(that's really the main thing... it's not about the title...)

Even though my ultimate career goal is youth counseling, the core values that act
as motivators and can be achieved regardless of where I am, the training I have
completed, or the title(s) I have received.

So, after I concluded this, I was thinking about other examples of career goals and
how the core values that should motivate them could be achieved at all times during
one's life.

I only ran into a problem when I began thinking of more "technical" careers... the
more tangible titles... electricians, mechanics, doctors, chemists, etc.

While these careers certainly still have room to be motivated by core values (finding
solutions, fixing and preventing problems, discovering new things, etc), the core
values are somewhat restricted by the more tangible and technical nature of such
career goals.

[enter, the difference between science-thinkers and thought-thinkers]
There are two different kinds of people here at Bridgewater; two
very different kinds of thought processes, learning styles, and
general philosophies of life. There are the science-thinkers...
chem, bio, math, comp, etc. There are the thought-thinkers...
socio, psych, eng, rel, philos, educ, etc.
Bear in mind that there sometimes is some overlap, but...
These different kinds of thinkers consequently have extremely
different opinions about the Liberal Arts philosophy. The science-
thinkers tend to view Liberal Arts as an unnecessary and painful
burden. The thought-thinkers adore the Liberal Arts and view it
as inherently invaluable.
Certainly, there would still be a chance for a small percentage of
students to be unhappy (because I have met some science-thinkers that
are thought-thinking majors), but this is why the admissions process
would have to be stricter.
[excerpted from "Ideas and Aspirations" - April 11, 2010]

So, even though both science-thinkers and thought-thinkers theoretically could be
motivated by the same core values, the way the express and demonstrate those core
values through their ultimate career goals would be inherently different.

In regards to career and personality tests, I believe this may be the most important
starting point.

Are you a science-thinker (more tangible) or a thought-thinker (less tangible)?

Oh, hellooooooo, Thinking Styles Continuum.

If a science-thinker tries to fit into a thought-thinking-shaped hole, chances are
he or she will be quite unhappy.

If a thought-thinker tries to fit into a science-thinking-shaped hole, chances are
he or she will be quite unhappy.

All in all, even though I am obviously biased toward thought-thinking aspirations
and science-thinkers are likely to experience more difficulty in achieving happiness
because of the more tangible nature of the ultimate career goals they are most likely
going to be inclined towards, the world most definitely needs science-thinkers to
balance the thought-thinkers and ultimately find solutions, fix and prevent problems,
and discover new things.

The most important thing may be to know what kind of thinker you are so that you will
be aware of the specific challenges with which you will most likely be faced.

Upcoming topic: Career Changes and Starting Over

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Productive Town, Blue Teeth, Eyes, and Lies (and Limitations)

Productive Town will be discussed last because that is the topic that is likely to
take the longest to write. Productive Town is a more personal discussion, while Blue
Teeth and Lies pertain to societal issues and Limitations is about a popular belief.
Browse as you please.

Blue Teeth

More commonly known as blue tooth headsets, blue teeth present a very convenient
social excuse. At my job at a local gas station/convenience store, a number of
customers shop and pay while conducting business on their cell phones. I have since
grown accustomed to this display of rudeness because I realize that many of these
people are conducting legitimate business calls (although I doubt any of them are
too busy to wait for or pause that call for the short amount of time it takes to
make and pay for a cup of coffee). However, blue teeth present a different form of
rudeness because it is now somewhat hidden. A call no longer requires the person to
operate with one hand or awkwardly pinch his or her phone on between shoulder and
ear. The person now stands erect and free while still tied to a business call; now
feels not-rude because there is less physical notice of the said rudeness, even
though the actual act is not any less rude.

Eyes (The Contact Of)

Also at my job at a local gas station/convenience store, I have noticed that human
contact is largely illegitimate when eye contact is absent. This becomes evident when
ringing up a customer if eye contact is not established by me. As I take their money
and make their change, if I continue to not look at them, I can feel them looking at
me, waiting for contact to be established. See, kids? Eye contact is crucial! And,
sometimes, there are times when it makes sense to split an infinitive verb!


Also at my job at a local gas station/convenience store (haha), I have noticed that
society teaches us to lie. (At least this seems to be true for Central Pennsylvania
and is probably also true for the rest of America, at least.) This concept does not
require much explanation, other than a short example:
"Hi, how are you."
"Good, you?"
"Good." (or no response)
This societal lesson of lying is particularly evident when the person offers no
response. Clearly if he or she asked me and does not care enough to offer the same
lie of an answer, he or she could not have possibly care genuinely about the question
or my lie of an answer. We are primed to lie, become accustomed to it, and are likely
to experience less remorse when presented with a real opportunity to provide another.


[Saved as a draft text; copied here unedited]
Contrary to popular belief, there are very few limitations in this world. You can do
most anything you want, but it is essential that you want it. Risk? Be wisely safe,
but unafraid. Uncertainty? Learn from others, then your own experiences.
Perhaps limitations (glass ceiling, etc) are also fabricated by society. Society,
society... we blame it all on society? And remove the personal responsibility? No,
for what is society other than a complicated web of individuals, all with personal

Anyway, this provides a transition into the next and most important topic because
it is essential that you want it. Even if limitations are a figment of society's
imagination, if we believe them to be real, they are real in their consequences
(see: Thomas Theorem). Even if limitations largely do not exist, one must want to
overcome these imagined limitations in order to be motivated to do so...

Productive Town (and Productivity)

[Excerpts from journal entries on June 10, 2010; edited]
Textbook depression = "little to no interest in the things that have always given
you joy…” People experiencing depression, whether situational or prolonged, typically
reduce themselves to doing nothing else other than working and sleeping. I suppose
they lose interest in everything because activities feel like they would become
scapegoats. If they were to bury themselves in productivity, perhaps they would feel
this to be severe denial - that they are distracting themselves, rather than owning
up to how they feel. So instead, they do nothing so that they are fully aware of
their sadness and sleep so that, on the contrary, they feel nothing. They do nothing
so that they feel and sleep so that they do not feel (because they cannot handle the
depths of their sadness).

_____Supposedly, productivity is injured by sadness. But what if it is the other way
around? What if a lack of productivity creates sadness? Even worse, what if this
absence reveals sadness?
_____Generally, when I am sad, I do experience a loss of interest and a decrease in
productivity. This is to be expected, supposedly. But what if the opposite is true?
When I am sad, I cease to be productive because focusing on being productive would
distract me from my sadness and, in a sense, deny the real issue (unless, of course,
there is no real issue and the sadness is legitimately illogical). When I am sad, I
cease to be productive because I want to attack my feelings, rather than distracting
myself from them.
_____Generally, when people begin to cease being productive, they begin to feel sad.
This suggest that being productive is crucial to being human and, likewise,
surviving. Therefore, a lack of productivity causes sadness.

_____Productivity and satisfaction are inherently connected. Everything is
interrelated, entwined. The connection is visible in Erikson’s eight-stage theory
and I am sure it is obvious throughout the rest of psychology and sociology, as well
as the other social sciences. Trust, autonomy, initiative, industry, identity,
intimacy, generativity, integrity.
_____I’ve said that the foundation of “happiness” is to determine what one wants,
because clearly, what one wants cannot provide any satisfaction unless it is
understood as being wanted. However, it does not stop there because, after
determining what is wanted, it must be produced – achieved, attained, created, etc.
That’s the difference. It’s not just knowing what is wanted, but it is having an
active role in producing the goal.
_____Goal-Setting. It’s not appreciated at first and should be better-communicated
as being very important.
_____One must take an active role in producing his or her own happiness. Far too
many people expect “happiness” to simply fall on their heads or for them to simply
stumble upon it. Unfortunately, this is not how “happiness” works, however you may
define it. It is more than simply deciding what one wants; although I never
explained the second step because I expected it would follow naturally. I see now
that the first step makes more sense when followed by the second step. One must
decide what he or she wants and then take an active role in producing it, whether
this production is achievement, attainment, creation, discovery, or something else.
_____Perhaps what no one realizes is that this productivity may be more fulfilling
than the actual goal that is eventually produced. Maybe. There certainly are
negative effects of repeatedly or continuously failing to achieve a goal. But aside
from that, maybe the productivity really is more important. The feeling of getting
something done may be one of the most fulfilling of all feelings. Not getting
something done, but rather being productive and working toward a goal. This is why I
emphasize “goal-setting” as absolutely crucial to “happiness.” But the goal is
simply preliminary. The goal will give you nothing if you just let it sit there.
Nothing. No work, no reward?
_____(This is why it is crucial to know WHAT you want to do, so that your
productivity will satisfy you.)


In other news, as a post script (and crooked lines!), fame is completely unimportant
to me and celebrities almost always sicken me, as does the idea of celebrity-ness.
Please do not proselytize me with your excitement. I will be excited for you; for the
fact that you are excited for others, but I will not be excited about the concept,
the reason, for excitement. And, in still other news, I don't feel like explaining,
particularly when I do not fully understand it.