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Thursday, December 28, 2017

That Internet Hoax Will Bite You in the Butt

Photo by Flood G.
Truth has taken a beating over the last— well, since the beginning of time, really. No matter which side of the political/social/cultural aisle we stand on, we all believe that those on the other side are actively propagating and believing oceans-full of lies, lies, lies, while we and our side have the corner on truth.
It’s worth keeping in mind that one of hell’s most insidious and successful strategies toward the destruction of man is to seed stories and beliefs that are 90% true, but laced with just a touch of lie. It’s a slow and hard-to-detect poison then, that kills those who drink it like the proverbial frog in the saucepan.
What’s troubling me today, however, is the willful acceptance and dissemination of tales we know full well are not true. I’m talking about debunked urban legends and internet hoaxes.
Several times in the last few months I’ve called out false stories to friends and family. These hoaxes are often about threats to safety, like the untrue tale of would-be rapists luring compassionate women into their clutches via children who pretend to be lost. And in response to my refutation I’ve often been told some variation of, “Even if it isn’t true, it’s good to be aware of so you can protect yourself.”
Say what?!?
The only thing that’s “good to be aware of” about a lie is that it is a lie.
Here’s why:
We are unquestionably vulnerable to violence and malevolence from others. A lot of people want to steal from and harm us. We’re like houses that way: we need to control our doors and windows—i.e., our access points—to keep the good in and the bad out.
Lies that we believe are diversions. They’re the bad guy making noise in the bushes at the back of the house so we switch on those lights and turn all our attention to that entrance, leaving the front door unguarded for the real thief/rapist/murderer to break in unimpeded.
We only have so much time, so much attention, and so many resources to devote to our own protection. When we commit our and others’ time, attention, and resources to focusing on things that aren’t actually threats, we diminish the ability to protect ourselves against real threats.
In the example hoax above—rapists who use fake lost children to lure victims—it’s vital to understand that while such a scenario could possibly take place, such a strategy is much more complicated and difficult to employ than simply overpowering a woman who’s alone. Most garden-variety criminals are opportunists, not strategists. I don’t want my daughters scanning the parking lot for lost children who might be bait. I want them to avoid being alone in lonely parking lots in the first place, and I want them scanning for men who look like they’ve got nefarious intentions.
There is no good or productive outcome to a lie, except that by recognizing it as a lie we get better at discerning truth. So, in the immoral immortal words of Weird Al Yankovic, Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me.”

Monday, December 4, 2017

So You Got Angry

No big deal, right? Everyone loses their temper once in a while.
But what is anger, really?
Anger is a reaction to not getting something you want, and blaming someone else for it.
No one can make you angry and no one can make you yell, throw things, hit things, or otherwise behave with violence.
You don’t act angry because you care so much.
You don’t act angry because you’re right.
You don’t act angry because you can’t help it.
You act angry because you’re thinking about what you want that you’re not getting, and you have abandoned control over your behavior because of it.
Anger is hatred in action.
Anger makes the subject of your anger an idol, and the object of your anger an enemy.
The only justifiable anger is the righteous kind, which is a response to an evil that harms an innocent, and is meant to lead to action to stop that evil.
However, most of our expressed, daily anger is itself an evil that harms an innocent.
And most of our expressed, daily anger is unjustifiable.
Common sense makes it obvious that anger produces pain, damage, and more anger. Like breeds like. Always.
Do you have a problem with anger?
Would someone in your life—your spouse, your child, a coworker, a parent—say you do?
If either of those questions are answered, “Yes,” then you have a problem with anger.
I’ve had a problem with anger.
The world has a problem with anger.
Anger is a problem.
So, what are you going to do about yours?


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How to Catch a Woman

A friend of a friend on Facebook posted about his frustration with dating apps, and he wondered, “Where are all the nice ladies?” He went on to explain that all he wants is someone who’s a housewife type who will keep him company and watch sports with him.
On the one hand, I have to tip my hat to his honesty and bald-faced self-awareness.
However, I replied that I don’t know many women who want to be wanted for being good housewives.
In fact, let’s turn that around and see how it sounds from the other direction: “I just want a man who’s a doctor/musician/Marine who will bring me flowers and be my date at family weddings.”
There are women who want nothing more in life than to be wives and mothers. That’s as noble an aspiration as being a surgeon, violinist, or soldier. But those women don’t want to be pursued because they’ll do your laundry, cook your meals, and raise your kids, any more than a man wants to be valued for his job title or for the paycheck he brings in.
Everyone wants to be loved for who they are, not for how they’ll make you happier.
In this swipe-right/left society, we’re bombarded with messages about how to improve our own lives. Marketing is all about getting us to think about ourselves—even jewelry ads target men’s egos with the tag line “Make her fall in love with you all over again.” The sweeping majority of modern love songs focus exclusively on how the singer’s object of fascination makes him or her feel.
But what do you really want from a significant other? Isn’t it to be admired and appreciated for who you are? Don’t we want our beloveds to find us fascinating and interesting and irresistible? And to support us emotionally, socially, and psychologically when we need it?
That goes both ways, guys.
So, if you want a good woman (as opposed to a hookup—if that’s all you’re looking for then close this page now because you’re a shallow jerk and the pointers below will help you be a shallow jerk to even more women than you already have), here’s how to start being a desirable man:
1. Focus on who she is more than on what you want from her.
“Do you like monster truck rallies?” is a fair enough question, and it lets her know what you enjoy. But instead, how about starting with, “What do you like to do on the weekends?” The former question is more about you than it is her. The latter is open-ended, and shows an interest in who she is, rather than on what you want her to be.
2. Listen more than you talk.
Men—and sometimes women, too—have a tendency to fill every second with chatter about themselves. It’s not always bragging, but sometimes just a result of nerves, habit, or a lack of competence in the give-and-take of a real conversation. If you do this, stop it. Silences are not your enemy, and in fact can lead to unexpected topics, enjoyable nonverbals, and/or intriguing eye play. This two-minute tutorial on how to break into a man’s over-talking jag is meant for women, but reveals a lot about women’s frequent experiences with dating. It also offers one possible explanation why that woman you thought was so into you deleted your number from her phone after your first date:

3. Be real.
Full disclosure, not every woman wants a man to be honest about who he really is. But if you’re looking for a long-term, solid relationship, this is important. Be honest not only about your successes and selling points, but also about your failures and flaws. I started to fall for my husband not when he told me about what a hero he’d been at work that day, but the next day when he emailed me to say, “Everything that went great yesterday I blew today.” As he vented the ways he’d screwed up—which I never would’ve known about otherwise—I realized that here was a man I could trust to always be honest with me. That’s gold.
If I could leave my Facebook friend with just one piece of advice, it would be this: Ask yourself not how a woman could improve your life, but how you might improve hers. Most women today don’t need men to support them financially, nor do they need a man’s last name to lend them credibility as fully-arrived adults. What women really want is a partner who will add value to their own lives.
Egocentric boys looking for Mommy replacements need not apply.