Tag Archives: humanity

To my fellow nerds, I say, be better!

I am reaching out to a specific group with this post. I want to talk to the men and women of geekdom. If that is you, I ask that you please pay close attention to the following plea.

Ahem…

Geeks, dorks, countrynerds. Lend me your ears!

We have lost our way. We were supposed to be the nice people. The ones who accepted the bullied and the underdogs. We were supposed to be the ones who encouraged learning and tried to build confidence in each other. And if someone wanted to be part of our community, we didn’t chase them away.

What happened?

I’m seeing far too much nastiness in the geek community. Admittedly, this is a problem that is present all over society. I don’t know what the big answer is, but I can at least try to talk to those with whom I should have some common ground. So I am addressing you, my people. I speak to those of us who have at some point been punished for loving the things that we do. That is the common thread of those who have earned the geek and nerd tag. We got shunned or called names or physically attacked. In many cases, it was a combination of these things. But things have changed and it’s a little more mainstream. You can love sci-fi and fantasy, comic books and games, cosplay and computers and science and mythology and all kinds of stuff. It’s not 100 percent ridicule free, but it isn’t seen as that unusual either.

The problem is we’re attacking each other now. We’re being our own bullies. It needs to stop. We can all do better.

What happened to the whole idea of treating people like you want to be treated? It’s bad enough that so much of the larger world tends toward nastiness. We don’t need to get sucked up into that shit when it comes to geek culture. We don’t need nasty cliques in the cosplay community. We don’t need online trolls attacking women and kids from behind a gamertag. If someone posts some fantasy-themed artwork or a picture of themselves in a new costume we need to be supportive. Don’t rip apart their work. Don’t mock the artist’s technique or choice of subject. Don’t body shame the cosplayer or question their “nerd cred” on the character. If being kind is too difficult then try silence. You don’t like what you see? Fine. Move along. If you can’t be supportive, don’t be destructive. There is no need to harm anyone.

Is it because the old stereotypes blended? Are people angry because you have athletes that like comic books and nerds who watch sports now? Hey, I’m the classic sports-hating nerd and I’ve got no problem having friends who are football fans. We aren’t the authority on which person gets to like what fandom!

I think we can be better. I know we can! We are a small portion of humanity. If we can’t fix our own shit, how can we expect anything else to get better? So please. Try harder. Be kinder, smarter, more accepting. Be the nerdy, geeky champions I know we can be. Humanity needs us to be better. The multiverse needs us to be better. We need us to be better!

Blue Lantern

Sitting down to write this particular post has proven difficult for me. I think there is a possibility that I may anger some folks and lose a few readers after this, though I’d prefer if that isn’t the case. But I’ve also made a promise that I would do my best to be open on this platform. So let’s do this.

Lots of things have been happening in this country since the election. I think I echo the sentiment of many when I say the 2016 Presidential Election was a nightmare process. For many people, the nightmare is continuing. Donald Trump hasn’t even been president-elect for a month and things aren’t looking good. Hate crime is increasing (some fake instances, but mostly not) and that is wrong. Violence has occurred from some of his more fanatical supporters and detractors. The latter only seems to be helping orange narcissist. He has stated he hopes to be a president for all Americans, but this seems to be another lie from one of the country’s biggest cyber bullies. He’s looking at Washington insiders (the people he claimed to be against) for cabinet positions. He campaigned on a platform of fascism, racism, misogyny, and fear. Trump offered snake oil to people who are financially hurting and they bought it. Now he’s planning to put known white supremacist Stephen Bannon into a key power role. Another guy on his team has called the Japanese internment camps a precedent for how they should treat Muslims. Then you have the nightmare that is Mike Pence and his belief that gay people should be jailed for wanting to get married. The damn KKK is glad Trump won!

I now have a huge number of people in my life who are upset and terrified. I know barely any people who voted for Trump, with those that did claiming it was because of economics or a belief that Hillary Clinton is a criminal. They fact that this other stuff wasn’t a deal-breaker for them is disappointing. Most of the people in my life either voted Clinton or went the third-party route. The point is there are a lot of very scared people, wondering if they will be attacked for just being themselves. I’m scared, though not for myself. I’m a straight white guy. But I’m worried about my wife and daughters. I’m worried about the other women of my family and many of my friends. But worrying isn’t the only thing I’ve been doing. I’ve been thinking about the people who aren’t worried because the things the Trump campaign promised didn’t threaten them. I’m thinking about the people on both sides who are taking the attitude of just giving up and moving on. The election is over and we can’t do anything for the next four years.

I don’t agree with that. So I’ve decided I am embracing the Blue Lantern Corps. This will be a symbol and attitude for me going forth.

There are probably some of you who have no idea what I’m getting at. Permit me to get my geek on and briefly delve into comic books. If you need more detail, get thee to a search engine! The Blue Lanterns are from the DC multiverse and are allies of the more famous Green Lanterns. There are multiple Lanterns, most emerging just before or within the “Blackest Night” crossover story. Each gains power from a specific emotion tied to the color spectrum. Green Lanterns have willpower. Sinestro’s Yellow Lanterns have fear, and so forth. For Blue Lanterns, their power comes from hope.

Hope. One of the most powerful, yet easy to forget, forces in existence. I have forgotten about it myself. Being prone to depression, it’s any easy thing to do. Then one of my Twitter friends made mention of the Blue Lanterns in a tweet. It was a slap to the back of my head that I desperately needed. So I am going to embody that symbol as best I can. I need to be hope.

What exactly does this entail for me? It means doing what I can to show everyone who is scared that I’m still with them. It means I’m donating whatever money or time I realistically can. I’m signing the petitions against the hate-monger appointees. It means making the phone calls to senators and representatives. It means wearing the Safety Pin and doing my best to be an ally. We are quickly seeing that this is an administration that will not unify people. Those that think it will are choosing to remain ignorant. And in case I haven’t been clear, this doesn’t have anything to do with who didn’t win the election. I have yet to see a candidate who I didn’t have doubts about in any election I’ve voted in, and that includes the often deified Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump is the first person I’ve been absolutely adamant against. Frankly, I could have lived with most of the other options. But I am hoping that those who did vote for Trump are realizing it was a mistake. I’m hopeful that most of those people will not stand by and ignore the harassment or the hate crimes. I hope, like me, they plan to call it out and hold those embracing the white nationalist poison accountable for it. We are in for a very long four years. This is not the time to pretend we can do nothing or blame everyone who isn’t ourselves.

The first Blue Lantern is an alien called Saint Walker, who repeats the phrase “all will be well” as a mantra. If we do what we can to protect each other, all WILL be well. But the effort must be made.Doing nothing is only going to guarantee our problems will get worse.

It occurs to me that in the Lantern breakdown, orange is the color connected to avarice. Has Trump has actually been Agent Orange this whole time? Are the lines between fiction and reality blurring that much? Talk about scary!

Enough now. I’ve made my mind known. Time to focus. Stand against the hate. Speak against the fear. Be a safe space. People need you.

All will be well.

 

Sometimes it is people

Let me begin with an understatement. Things are a little screwy in our country right now. Actually, there a little screwy in the world as a whole right now.

I think I’m probably not alone when I say I’m torn up when it comes to interacting with my fellow humans. We are social creatures and even the most reclusive of us need some interaction, even if it’s through social media. But for much of the past year, I find that being interactive and informed is giving my mental health a constant kick to the crotch. Seriously, just sitting down to write this has taken a few days of personal pep talks.

With all due respect to those of you with religious convictions, I am not a person who has ever gotten much comfort from an almighty anything. If it helps you, that’s cool. I agree there are things in the world that are hard to explain. But I’m someone who needs to put his faith in other things. Sometimes science, sometimes karma, sometimes nature. Sometimes it’s just Occam’s razor.

Sometimes it is people.

This is the one I struggle with the most. People, as a whole, are really hard to put faith in. An individual person is a little easier, but it’s also riskier. It hurts more if the individual fails you than the group.

So why do it? Why put any faith at all in people? We are prone to being greedy. We are easily scared and tend to react negatively to fear. It seems we are increasingly unlikely to listen to each other. So why do I even try to bother with people at all?

Because every now and then, I’m reminded that people are potential. People are capable of just as much good as bad. People are change, which is a crazy thought in itself since we can be so resistant to changing anything. Yet we continue to change, for the better or the worse, and we’ll continue to do so. Things will become amazing. Things will become terrible. This is due to the choices we make as people. And in the big scheme of the multiverse none of it matters. How crazy is that? Space and time continue while so many of our societies have fallen apart. But people continue to be here. We continue to move and make noise and try to make ourselves have significance. We continue to put on pants. Why is there any significance to pants?!? People made it so! Holy fuck!

It’s hard to remember this, but people give me hope. Not all the time. We like to pay attention to bad things. Frankly, negative is usually louder. For someone like myself, it doesn’t take a lot to send me into a swan dive towards depression. But a few times a week, I get a little reminder. Maybe it’s something my family does. Maybe a stranger is just unexpectedly kind. Maybe it’s just a really good cup of coffee or an amazing song I haven’t heard in a while. All these things involve people making a moment happen. Sure, I need to get away from other people to recharge my energy. That doesn’t mean I want a Twilight Zone, last man on Earth scenario. I want people to exist in my world. Even if it means I have to deal with the scary ones.

So sometimes, I have to put my faith in people. I think it’s worth it.  If I’m wrong, I guess there is always good old-fashioned voodoo.

 

Bully

I like to think of myself as a very tolerant guy. With most things I’m pretty easy-going. I don’t make a habit of judging because I don’t know how to be perfect. I get frustrated, I screw up, I let my faults get the best of me sometimes. I try my best to be a little better each day. Sure there are things that people do I don’t like. Sometimes I get pissed off about it. But in the end, there are very few things that I truly hate and refuse to put up with.

I hate bullying. I am against the practice and it enrages me more than just about anything else.

Does this come from personal experience? You bet it goes. I’m one of those people who was a geek before it was socially acceptable. I’m also not a very big guy. So yeah, I was a target of more than one bully. I also look back on my life and realize something that I’m not proud of. I’m pretty sure there were a few times when acted like a bully myself. What? Someone can get bullied and then tries to do the same to someone else? What form of voodoo is this?

Do I still encounter this as an adult? Yes, I do. Not from the same people, of course. I’ve actually had the experience of being bullied by someone when we were young and then, when we were both older, being friends because people can actually grow and change. Sadly, this isn’t everyone. And to me, adults who bully other adults are just pathetic examples of humanity. It reinforces the idea that some people never move past who they were as children. And now the tactic doesn’t scare me. It just gets me mad. But it does make me wonder who made this particular bully. Was it a peer? A parent? Just poor decision-making?

This brings me to something that really upsets me, which is parents who are bullies. Do you honestly think you are raising a well-adjusted person? You think that’s making your child strong? Sorry, but you are just raising an asshole and probably another bully. And don’t think it won’t bite you in the ass when you’re old. The bully you’ve helped create isn’t going to have much empathy for an elderly parent. I know people who were raised this way. They now have part of their personality that is a bully. I give credit to the ones who have acknowledged this and try to be better. The ones who can’t or won’t, I simply have no use for them in my life. Trust me, I understand that kids are a pain. I’ve been one and I’m raising two. But I refuse to sink to the level of bullying to get my kids to act a certain way. I’ll put it like this. Do you bully your child? Is that your go-to parenting tactic? Then you SUCK as a parent. You’ve failed. Period. You will never convince me otherwise.

I am happy that there has started to be a social backlash to bully behavior. And people who throw around the whole “We’re making pussies out of America” argument need to stop yelling and use their eyes and brains for a minute. Look at the country and the world at large. Do you really think raising the Legion of Ass-hats worked out well? And I’m willing to acknowledge that this argument has a point. A world of weak minds and hearts won’t get us anywhere either. But bullying does not build character. At best, it builds stand-up comedians. At worst, you get people who will cause pain with anything they can. They will use their politics, their religion, their money, their sheer physical strength. Because they have determined that this is how you get your way. Basically, we are a world of toddlers throwing temper tantrums. You can have a middle ground, people. I’m not in favor of handing out participation trophies when you didn’t win the game, but you can still acknowledge a person’s effort and encourage them to do better. It’s fine to thank someone for doing their job, especially if it’s not an easy one. No one is asking you to shower them with pots of gold and cupcakes. How hard is it for us to learn that we should treat people how we want to be treated? Apparently, pretty fucking hard.

Do you want to know what makes me the most angry about bullying now? You can’t escape it anymore. I’m terrified of what this means for my kids. Technology has made it easier to be a bully and never have to see the pain on your target’s face. They never have to see how alone, how less than human, this person now feels. Every time I hear about a kid trying to kill themselves (or succeeding in doing so) and bullying was the reason, I feel sick. It’s so much easier to do terrible things and not be accountable for it. It’s so tempting to just become a bully yourself. I love my kids and I’m confident that I can accept pretty much any choice they could make in their lives. If I ever find out that they were a bully to someone, I will unleash science fiction levels of punishment on them! And if anyone bullies them? In the words of one of my favorite authors, there will be a reckoning.

I’ve rambled a bit, and I apologize for that. Like I said, this enrages me. What is this need to cause pain in order to make ourselves feel big? I’m not completely naive. I know that bullying will never completely go away. But no one will ever convince me that trying to be a good person is a weakness. This is what I want my kids to embrace. It may be hard to do, but people need to realize there is a difference between a firm hand and a fist.