I just noticed a new little icon on the corner of my Google Plus input field. It looks like a map pin. A hover tells me that my ‘browser does not support adding my location’. This does not bother me at all- in fact, it gratifies me. I am apparently one of the rare people who not only disdains location-based applications, but actively -even proactively -avoids them.
I don’t want people to know where I am, unless we’re specifically meeting. I will never socially ‘check in’ anywhere, and I am not interested in who might be nearby running the same app. I am not cruising, grinding, dating, lonely, curious, or otherwise interested in meeting strangers. Plus, there’s that creepy stalker vibe- who the heck would be interested in my whereabouts? I am not sure I would want to meet such a person unarmed. Instead, I will mind my own business, and- polite, normal interaction excepted- I expect you to mind yours, as well. I expect that this sounds almost heretical, coming from a self-professed geek. But let’s drill down a bit, shall we?
These location based social applications are products of an extraverted world full of social butterflies who live in high-population urban areas, particularly San Francisco. A perusal of the people who do the most shouting about these apps all tend to come from- you guessed it! San Francisco. I do not live in San Francisco, or on either coast. And while the vast majority of my peers carry either an iPhone or an Android phone of one sort or another, I never hear about these things being used. I have a large, diverse, very social user-base. They ask me about everything. About this, though- something that might be useful to some of them- not a word. Perhaps they prefer the old-school way of hob-nobbing.
Let’s switch gears for a moment, and consider the minority- geeky introverts. While we enjoy going out and socializing almost as much as anyone else, we have different goals when we do. Our energy and tolerance for the social stuff is limited, and we dread getting trapped by overbearing, noisy people. Quiet, sensitive introverted folks would probably prefer an app that warns us that there is a garrolous, long-winded man with a bone-crushing hand-shake directly ahead, or a perfume-drenched touchy-feely-huggy woman waiting to ambush us with 2,390,837 photos of her grandbabies, and gives us the route to avoid them. We could program our app to warn us about the proximity of gossips, time hoggers, religious fanatics, stumping politicians, MLM salespeople, large jumpy dogs, and narcissistic droners.
And let’s not stop with annoying, energy sapping people. I’d love an app that warns of noise levels too loud for normal conversation in restaurants or bars, or advises you that the place you are contemplating for supper is ‘family friendly’ with the accompanying noise hazards. I’d love to see an ‘annoying music’ warning for certain stores (*cough*Kohls*cough*) who play overweening alt-emo garbage at volumes that leave me wishing I’d brought my Zune. A really indespensible app would warn me that the parking lot at my local grocery store is chock-full of cars, as well as there being no carts available, thus warning me away from the harrowing experience of shopping in a crowd. Such an app would map out all the dogs in a neighborhood, so if you are house-hunting, you could find a place that you can go into your yard without being assaulted by barking neighbor-dogs.
Yeah, I know- total foolish fantasy. But being the minority in sensory, social and sonic sensitivities makes me keenly aware of the utter lack of truly considerate applications. Perhaps a fellow introverted geek who knows how to gin up such things could create an app for the rest of us. It could be called ‘Skoshi-Sosh”.
[warning: I am going to use terms that some who are sensitive might not approve.]
Three years ago, I was fat. Maybe not quite as fat as some, but I was shopping exclusively in the womens’ department. I was a ‘plus size’, and at my max, I was a size 20W. I was in denial about my size- and maybe someday someone will note that there is a reverse version of body dysmorphia- the fat person who believes they look normal. Hey, I still had curves- how could I be fat? I had friends and acquaintances who made me look svelte! I wasn’t going to be one of those headless stock photos that show up on every article about obesity. I could still sit on normal furniture, too, even wooden chairs with splayed legs, which are deadly dangerous for anyone over 250 pounds.
But I was deluding myself. I had sleep apnea. I had wheat-face and wheat-belly. I had no neck. I had migraines and those stacked love-handles on my sides. Normal-sized jackets made me feel like a stuffed sausage. My shoes were wide width. While I eschewed sodas and most junk food, I wasn’t averse to going to restaurants, or getting Chinese takeaway or going through drive throughs with no difficulties. I was also invisible to most men, as fat women tend to be. I did not mind this. But I was still fat. (more…)
It might be kind of hard to believe, but I did not see a television until after my third birthday. This was because we lived in places where there was no broadcast signal, or, when there was one, it only broadcast during the day.
I was a military brat. And we lived in places where things like 24-hour electricity, or clean water coming out of the tap were iffy at best. Batteries, candles and jerry-cans were normal. And that run-down sound that you sometimes hear in modern music? I heard that more often in real life than I care to admit. Records and tapes would not just stop, they’d slow down into silence, either faster or slower depending on if it was a brownout or a blackout. We always laughed- but we were kids.
I was nearly 10 before I saw a color television. It was a thing of wonder. We were glued to it. My grandmother would shoo the lot of us outside, but that TV was like a magnet, sucking us back in like moths to a flame.
I sincerely believe that not seeing television as a small child helped to shape me into the person I am today. True, I’m missing some of that cultural ‘glue’ that some say makes me “American”, but I like to think that what I got in its place made me more a global citizen.
First, go read this. I’ll wait.
I never bought the “American Dream”. Maybe it was because I was a military kid, then a military member, and an outlier to boot. But I did watch the proliferation of big houses, big wages, and big cars as I clawed and scratched my way out of poverty. Then, I watched the same big cars, wages, and houses begin to vanish even as I scrimped, saved, and ignored all the ‘play now, pay later’ come-ons. All my scrimping, saving and delayed gratification finally payed off
I’ve made do with less for so long that it’s an un-breakable habit now. I chose a more modest home over the tons of empty McMansions begging for an occupant. I live within my means, but still find joy in small things- like having money left over after all the bills are paid.
Eternal growth is a myth that needs to die- and soon. If it does not, this country will collapse- if it hasn’t already. Human lives have stages: childhood, experimentation, acquisition, and maintenance. Or, they should have if the person isn’t poisoned by the cultural imperatives imposed upon them to Buy More Stuff. I Bought More Stuff until I realized that more was not better, and that I really did not need most of the things that were carefully crafted to be attractive to me. I learned how to ‘read’ stores, and peek behind the curtain at the sharply applied psychoanalysis that made things difficult to resist. Watching things like “The Persuaders” or reading “Adbusters” made me see the corporate world in a whole new way. I learned to tell when I was being marketed to, and how to resist it.
As a result, I actually found myself divesting many things. I only purchase something new after a lot of homework, and careful shopping. If I can get it on sale or second-hand, that’s a triumph. I do not have to -own- things- I can borrow, or rent them. I don’t need more things- I am happier with less.
Depression led me to a bout of hoarding, which I addressed when I finally bought my home. I divested myself of many, many things. And I am still paring down. While I’ll never be able to put all my worldly things into the trunk of my car, I will have emptied my life of the weight of things I no longer need or want. I have found my center in doing so, and with it, quiet contentment.
Perhaps this should be the way of more people. Learning to be happy with the things they have, learning how to maintain an even keel, not constantly climbing and grasping at goals that are no longer there. There is nothing wrong with maintaining an even keel, living within one’s means, or making do. In fact, I’ve discovered that there are benefits to doing these things- like lower blood pressure, easier sleep, and a calmer demeanor. More is not better. You still have to pay for it.
This principle can be upscaled. In fact, if anything truly must grow during the remainder of this decade, it’s the idea that constant, unlimited economic growth is an untenable myth. And if we don’t reign ourselves in, we will collapse from the hollow economy we’re already creating. Even the richest among us have limits.
There are signs here and there that people are seeing the light and heeding the advice of the ‘canary’ economists. Urban in-fill and re-purposing of abandoned big-box stores is one example. Pop-up seasonal shops are another. The sudden spike in prices for used cars. The ‘locovore’ movement. The beginnings of appreciation for small batch, hand-crafted goods and services, and not just by the wealthy. But it’s like turning a battleship around- it’ll take time for it to truly catch on.
And, for once, I am on the leading edge of things, rather than a bystander watching the herd thundering by. This is a good thing.