02 October 2010

The boundless and mysterious capacity for self-delusion

I smell a lie!
Bloodhound I met at a cafe

Do you listen to This American Life? You really should. It's the best thing on earth. No, I'm not exaggerating. Look how great technology is - you can listen to it right here. 

I was listening to this week's show, "Frenemies" and one of the stories, the one about the long-lost friend who had a problem with her daughter, triggered me to remember my days as a girl reporter.

I used to think that people knew what they were saying.

I used to believe them.

After being a reporter for a while, I knew why we catch politicians in stupid lies like when Hilary Clinton said "They were shooting at us when we landed in Sarajevo."

People don't even know when they are lying much of the time. This includes me.

Stories, bits of facts, embellishments, photos, other people's words - they all swirl around in our brains to make a fertile ground for new stories to sprout. Stories that SEEM to be absolutely real but may have little to no basis in fact.

And then there's the stuff we want to believe about ourselves. We want to think we are better people than we are, so we say we are better people than we are, never mind the truth. 

Let me give you two recent examples:

  • I met someone I know at the beach who was walking her off-leash dog. We started talking about dogs, as dog owners are wont to do, and I bemoaned the intractability and viciousness of the fleas this year. She said "Well, you know what I do? I keep my dog off the beach, which helps a lot!" Mind you, her dog was walking on the beach less than 20 feet from her.
  • I was having Italian dinner with a friend and he asked me about why I was a  vegetarian. We chatted for a while and then he said "Well, I really don't eat red meat at all anymore." While he was reaching for a slice of steaming pepperoni and sausage pizza. 

Sometimes I open my mouth and hear these sorts of things coming out. "Oh, I take vitamins every single day without fail." "I make all my dog's food." "I never talk on the phone when I'm driving anymore." 

The first one is patently untrue, though I think about taking vitamins all the time. The second is true when I have a lot of time on my hands. And the third is mostly true but there are exceptions. Still? None of them are really truly true like you might expect them to be, since you heard them come out of my mouth.

What about you? Do you have lies that you tell out of habit? Oh, do tell!
Sorry about the way these past few posts have looked. I am fighting with the new Blogger post editor.

Boundless capacity for self-delusion

01 October 2010

Rise of the Poo-Flinging Monkeys

Internet trolls come in all shapes and sizes, but lately a super special kind of troll has popped up - the do-nothing troll.

This special member of internet society not only disapproves of what someone has done, but they disapprove that they have even done it.

My dear @grace134 on twitter got this comment the other day where the person told her she was "sad" for having to "exploit herself" on the internet.

Then Catherine of Her Bad Mother got one about her trip to Africa that is a real doozy:
Ack. Could any of this be a bigger cliche? Look, I don’t want to cast aspersions on anyone’s personal experiences, I guess. I guess. But… come on. Every bit of this, and especially all the uber-cliched photos that come with it, I knew to recognize as one big cliche by the time I was four or five years old. No one is going to change the world or even their world with these kinds of stories. Just the opposite: the suffering-but-smiling black kids who smile in pictures with the “OMG-I’ll-never-be-the-same-again” white people who come visit them are a staple of our culture at this point. If they weren’t suffering-and-smiling like that, we wouldn’t get to take a nice vacation from our indulgent-but-frustrated lives once in a while to stand next to them and get to feel so simultaneously humbled and self-satisfied...

It goes on. And on.

I used to just shake my head and chuckle at these kinds of things, but now I'm mad. I'm really angry at the contention that it is better to do nothing than something. Or that if you try something, earnestly and with enthusiasm and love in your heart, it's ok for others to come spit on your parade just because they can.

It makes me want to go beat on these brats with a baseball bat.

The only reason I can see for these kind of comments - and I should know - is that these people have so little going on in their lives that all they are left with is their keyboards and a pile of steaming poo that they are too lazy to clean up, so they fling it at other people.

From now on, I refuse to call them "trolls" anymore. I'm calling them
"Poo-Flinging Monkeys."

I like the sound of that.

Photo by Ben and Laura Kreeger from Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

29 September 2010

Thank you

I finally went back to the post about my dad dying and read all your comments. Thank you, thank you. You are the best kind of people and the best readers anyone could hope for. Hugs.

And now some "Hallelujah"
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