Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ultra Vivid Dream

I walk towards a tall (around 30 story) office building, with an exact one next to it. They stand in a park-like area, alone. I am somewhat dressed up. Taking elevators and stairs all the way to the top floor I come into a large, well-lit, window encased circle where the elevators and stairs are basically a central column to the room. It's decadent, old men dressed in nice clothes are milling about. I walk towards and open a door but unexpectedly interrupt a meeting of more old men at a dark wood conference table. They look up at me as I apologize and quickly shut the door. Embarrassed I walk around to the other side of this floor and go towards an open office. It is the only office on this floor and as I walk in I am greeted by another old man who welcomes me. Our conversation seems congenial and insignificant, and very short. I leave, but with some measure of anxiety.
Fast forward and I am in the same office building but barricaded in a lower floor room. The floor's layout is the same. Wrapping around the central column elevators and stairs. Our men are fighting their way to the top where we plan to assassinate the old men in nice clothes upstairs. As fighting breaks out up and around the hallway ahead, I go back to our operations room on this floor to discuss the situation. Someone breaks through, looking for the leaders. As they near our room we hide, but not for long. I realize that my opportunity is now, especially as our forces are being pushed back, obviously defeated. I take the stairway and hide as others come down. Up on the top floor there is a party just ending. Stragglers are drinking the last of the alcohol and mill about. All of them old and well-dressed. I feel very out of place in my operative clothes. The same office door is open and I find my way to it, quickly, but not running. The old man is there and in a short conversation explains our situation. My forces have all been captured or eliminated, I have the opportunity now to destroy the man before me, but whatever it is he stands at the head of, will go on. It is more than just him.
Broken, defeated, I am left with my freedom to leave. Except, there is an understanding that I will be sought after, either killed, or imprisoned.
Chaos in the settlements. Everyone from our town has been rounded up and imprisoned, or killed. I don't know where any of them are. I am struggling with the possibility that my whole family has been executed for my mistakes. No one is home, except the few newcomers who are taking our homes. In grief, the only option it seems is to take my own life, before they do. It's a cold day, with snow on the ground, where my family's home was. So I go inside and put on many pairs of socks. Through tears flowing I find more warm clothes to wear as the plan becomes more clear. With no gun, I will take my car into the mountains and, after numbing myself in the snow, cut my wrists and die. I go outside only to find that more of the old man's men are here. One is a large and burly man who, with no apparent worries, talks calmly to me, unaware of what I planned. That is, I hope he was unaware. He talks of the success they enjoyed, of my own success in coming as far as I did. Referring to my skills, he then proposes another option to me. An opportunity to work and train in the organization of the old man. He tells me we should celebrate and suggests we do so separately. I agree and then go to find alcohol for myself. In a pantry among one of the houses I find a collection of liquor and take with me two large, but previously opened, bottles of clear liquor.
The old man is at one of the houses (which takes the appearance and layout of my parent's home in Alaska). After drinking some, and planning to take my life in the downstairs bathroom, this man comes down asking after me. I go out and stand next to him as he stairs out of a downstairs window. He explains to me the situation of his organization, what they are trying to accomplish, and what I can contribute to his goal. He speaks of various people they meet, skilled people. They serve their purpose for a time and eventually their one-track skill set proves them unreliable for long-term service. Referring to me, he then describes people with a rounded ability that act as leaders in his organization. I am shown a recent mission where two leaders stand behind a woman, seemingly crazed by her power, taunts the fallen adversary of a rebel force. She is then killed by the opposing man, who is then overwhelmed by the organization forces. Standing behind these forces I recognize the large and burly man that I had met earlier.
Even though I am somewhat buzzed, I understand the situation I am in.
Fast-forward. I am walking with Zach through what seems to be a warehouse, like Costco. As we walk and talk I describe the hopelessness I feel about having lost my family and nearly everyone that I knew. He seems annoyed, saying that he is still here, and his friend Tyrone is still here (emphasizing the fact with a jab of a finger in my chest).
Fast-forward. Later that day I am back in the large building where the old man has an office at the top floor. On an upper floor I am acquainted with a few other operatives, younger than me. It appears that they don't share my conflict with the situation of the organization. I feel like an outsider. I ask them about their lives and where they are from. Their home towns sound nothing like that I am used to. As we prepare to go to bed I am invited to talk with the old man. He asks about what I expect to happen, I tell him it seems like it will be hard. He refers to my university education, and the hard work I put into that. Then, slower and more deliberately, he explains that I do not know what hard work is, yet.
I go to bed.
The next morning I go to the common area (surrounded by windows to the outside) and a lady is teaching this girl about air operations that involve jumping out of planes. I join the conversation and learn what I can. The burly man comes and informs me that I need to go with another operative to a train that currently houses a target. We go, I am nervous. After finding our way into the carriage where the target is, we break in and find a young father, Asian descent, holding a young girl. The carriage is of poor quality, but something the rebels would apparently think as high-class. My companion and I remark on how this man deserves better. He is noticeably scared while the little girl is confused. I console her and reassure her safety.
In the office building I am talking with the old man again. I ask him about the situation and what has happened. There is a gap in my knowledge of what happened between where I was and where I am now.
The earth was on its way to chaos and a breaking down of society. His company, Selving, anticipating this collapse, engineered a massive 'ark' in space that would carry the best of society away and return when the earth was ready. This massive sphere would have its own gravity and various peoples would inhabit the interior levels in different climates that reflect the variety of earth. Rebellions come and go and we must keep the order. I ask about the situation on earth and he says that it has no doubt already fallen to chaos.
I have up to this point found that my depression and desire to take my own life had reigned as the primary driver of my days. After this revelation about where I am and what is happening, I found motivation in the thought of bringing down this centralization of power and abuse therein. Wanting to hide my intentions I decided it would be the intensity and dedication to my training that would assure them of my loyalty. One day I would bring it down from the inside.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Relationships, Religion, and Radicals

The significant conversations we are not having right now about whether or not we trust refugees coming into our country has consistently flashed across my Facebook and Imgur; another of my favorite time wasting activities. I'm assuming it's the same on Twitter, Tumblr, and maybe a few Myspace accounts. Regardless of where we see it, the same words and same arguments are being thrown back and forth. For the States, liberal  loony left is being anti-american screaming to open all of our borders, the righteous right believes all Muslims, especially those escaping war as refugees, are coming secretly as terrorists. I'll acknowledge everyone else whose voices echo quietly beside the constant reposts and sharing of extreme examples on either side. These quieter voices, I fear, are not being heard. But I'm not writing now in hope that you are going to listen to them. No. I am writing because my knowledge is better than your ignorance (Isaac Asimov).

Where are these terrorists coming from? The Middle East. Specifically? Radical Islam. But so many different people over there are considered radical! What about Saudi Arabia and their Wahhabi Islam? It's definitely not mainstream and so much does not jive with our Western ideals. It's definitely not mainstream Islam. Well the radicals are there in Syria, in Iraq, they're being funded and supported by this person and that group.
Our next big question is how did they happen? Why are they still here? Why are people following them?! If we want to believe that humans are humans are humans (I suggest you follow Humans of New York, Humans of Bombay, Humans of Tehran, Humans of....etc), then we want to believe that (or blatantly and stubbornly choose not to believe) these Syrians and Iraqi people are rational. That's likely the only belief that has kept the EU and many other countries open to refugees.
So who are these crazy people that stand behind Daesh and their absolutely batshit crazy ideas?!?! None of us ever want to meet a single one of them, unless that encounter found a nice gun in our hands and nothing in theirs.
I will say that these followers, the battle fodder, the ones being sent out to die, are people in need, or at least they were.
When we are alone, at the end of our rope, depressed, angry at life, enraged at God or Allah or whatever decided our place in life, we want something. That something is meaning. We want to feel important, that we are worth it, and that someone likes us, EVEN loves us.
Now consider Syria and Iraq, the Middle East. Power struggles, dictators, being tossed around by European imperialism during WW2 and after, having world powers play nuclear chess in their backyards. How many orphans have there been? How many family members lost? Jobs lost? Education lost? Hope.......lost?
These hopeless people, human beings, are left with nothing. An amount of nothing that few of us on Facebook right now will ever know or comprehend. It's not just a lack of home or clothes. It's a lack of future, no vision and no expectation that anything good will come.
Then comes a crusade. The warriors of their disenchanted religion come with promises of valor and glory. Sacrificing all will give you happiness after you find escape from this hell called life. Attractive and definitely appealing to the men, whose tribal (NOT religious) culture prizes manhood and pride above nearly everything.
For the men who lost brothers, sons, friends, companions, this community promised them connection and brotherhood. Promises of restored glory are not unfamiliar, think of Nazi Germany.
I'm close to losing you at this point, just as I'm starting to lose my insomniatic drive.
What I hoped to communicate is that these human problems will forever be more complex than we will ever understand with just one or two short videos or readings.
We are all human beings, and the strongest form of communication any one of us will ever know is the communication of love, of attachment, of closeness, of love.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Is Tinder Worth It?

It’s a Match!
How many matches have I gotten so far? Wait, did I forget to message him back? I’ll be flirty and make up for it. So that’s a date for lunch, and a dinner date. Wow! I won’t have to buy myself food for awhile at this rate.
My very first Tinder date shocked me when I asked her how many dates she’d been on in the last month since she downloaded it. “I think it’s been around 30”. You think?! And this as we’re at the movies waiting for a current release to start, after I bought her a medium-priced dinner.
I find it extremely difficult for me to peer through my narrow lens of cynicism and experience to see the good in Tinder, yet here we go.
Appalling as this estimation was, it embodies the obvious benefit for women. Women swipe much less than men, leading me to believe it’s because of how many matches they have and can’t keep up. This girl was by no means a bombshell, and neither was she unattractive. She was mildly attractive at best, something the right angle can significantly mask on a profile picture. Yet her success could encourage any woman to get the app and start swiping today.
If your biggest concern is not getting asked out and not having options, sign up for Tinder. The stats favor you!
While you will have to use your instincts to weed out the ones you’ll never tell Mom about meeting, it can be fun and worthwhile. That is if your fun and worthwhile consists of spontaneous escapades and free food. Wait, that does sound pretty good. Can I get a sex change? Sorry, spaced for a moment to laugh at funny cat memes after losing myself down a rabbit hole of wondering where misogyny really is. Speaking of which, here’s a raccoon holding a kitten
Where were we? Oh right! Instant gratification.
If you aren’t in the game for something serious and are “looking for an adventure”, you should definitely check out the Tinder game. One woman made her success in actually turning it into a game with her friends! She is actually in the news for having stepped down from her infamous game of who could get the most food out of this app. If you don’t believe me yet, you won’t have to look farther than this account of a high rolling woman in the bay area of California.
She gives a fairly comprehensive insight into the benefits of Tinder in a fast-paced culture where efficiency cuts through the excess and gets you to right where you want. It’s just like if you were in a bar or club and notice someone hot, except now you get to choose from the comfort of your home without the trouble of putting on makeup and doing your hair.
But really. Let’s get down to it.
Self-esteem, body image, respect for women. These are all big issues today and sometimes we just need a boost to get us past the initial leap into confidence. Tinder is a great way to get matches and start that fire.
If you still don’t feel comfortable and think it will let a lot of people down if you aren’t actually there to date, just know that you’re in the majority. The Pew Research Center found that one dating sites, only a third of people actually go on dates with people they chat or match with. What are the other two-thirds doing? And just keep in mind that as of the end of last year, Tinder’s wikipedia page states that around 50 million people are using the app every month, with an average of 12 million matches per day. You are by no means in a minority if Tinder serves as a fun way to see who likes you and see who else is out there.

As new social media comes and goes, we need to adapt and learn how we can use it best for our own lives. If you find yourself struggling with self-esteem and wondering if anyone will ever like you, Tinder should put that thought to rest. Pick up your phone, search your app store for Tinder (try just typing in T and it will show up, likely as the top result). Spend a week on Tinder and see how much more attractive you will begin to feel.

Tinder On the Fire

Swiper No Swiping
“When I was a kid, it felt like they made something new everyday. Some gadget or idea. Like everyday was Christmas. But 6, billion people. Just try to imagine that. And every last one of them trying to have it all.”
Born September of 2012 in sunny California to a group of enterprising young men, this dating app made for the smartphone has lived up to its namesake in spreading like a wildfire across not only this nation but to many other countries.
What part of our humanity provided the spark for this blaze? We want to connect with each other. But not just that, we want to have the admiration of our peers. We want to know that we are liked, “I only wanted the gratification of knowing that I was wanted, that someone else found me attractive”.
Hot-or-Not was the predecessor and required some extra effort to sign in and create a profile. Tinder is only minutes from downloading to liking and being liked. It’s easy and semi-anonymous. Using connections from Facebook, without actually posting to your wall, Tinder will show you seemingly endless potential matches living nearby. Real people with real pictures showing off? For the horny 14 year old that’s just a simple Facebook account away from passing the must-be-18-or-older limit. Just be sure next time you swipe that they really are as old as their profile says.
But what if you actually want to meet and find real connections and maybe even a relationship? Some friends will tell you of their knowing someone whose boyfriend or girlfriend was found on Tinder. Or some may even have stories of getting married to someone they met on Tinder. There’s no questioning you can find that golden one by knocking on a thousand doors. It happens. But how many stories of duds and sometimes terrifyingly creepy dates are being passed around? Unless it’s worth a few laughs then those will never see the light of day.
What happens in the mean time?
It’s abused for free food, such as one woman who created a whole game out of it.  “The latest data shows that women are pickier than men. They swipe left (say no) three times more often than men do (46 per cent of the time versus 14)” so women are treated to what seems like an endless buffet and men are left to feel like meat. And how many actually end up on dates with people they match up with on dating sites generally? According to the Pew Research Center, only about a third.  And if you want more proof as to why Tinder isn’t actually about dating, read this (let’s judge each other! Except in the comfort of our own home), and this (a 36 hour stint on Tinder according to a woman).
Sometimes humor is said to always have some basis in truth. The next two are links to videos, with their respective titles.
Why this happened isn’t necessarily as significant as the fact that it has and is still.
What does this mean for young Latter-day Saints?
The short run? Fantastic, with low expectations and a time cap.
The long run? Bad news bears.
Where Tinder is concerned, the cover is what matters. One need not look farther than Utah county to see that high achievement culture when pitted against itself breeds stereotypes of pretty faces hiding knives behind their backs. Not a pretty sight. There is no need to perpetuate or feed Tinder into a culture already ablaze with judgmentalism. Now, it’s obvious that making snap judgements about people and situations is not leaving our evolutionary makeup anytime soon, it keeps us safe and warns us to potential dangers. How else will you know if that shirtless, faceless ab machine really wants to discuss your life aspirations? Many of us are already quick to assume and create or enforce stereotypes, instead of the long and difficult process of considering each person can be different. Once a player always a player, right?
As for the men who start with a genuine desire to mix and mingle with the beautiful ladies of Tinder, they get tossed in the meat Grindr and this is what we get in the long run. Insecurities and itching doubts of self-worth. Is it any wonder so many men have reduced their expectations to using it for hooking up, a quick fix for their carnal appetite?
So women swipe less than men. This could be a result of men having decided, “This is only good for one-night stands”. Lowered standards means any mildly attractive woman will do, and the only way to find success is cast the line often, or swipe more often. With matches piling up for women, it can seem as though popularity has suddenly burst through the doors and carried you away on a wave of overwhelming “likes”. It’s infectious. It’s Tinder on the already existing fire of egocentrism. You must be quite the looker, why else would so many men want you?
As a Latter-day Saint, how does that sound? Doesn’t it jive with your ideas of self-worth being based in the fact that we are all children of God? It mixes about as well as fire and ice.
How you use the app will ultimately determine your opinion of it. My bet is that if you’re a man, you’ll come to find disappointment and discouragement while deciding it may only be useful for hooking up. If you’re a woman, you’ll be left with an inflated ego and more men chasing your skirt then you can shake a stick at.
While you’re at it, throw that stick.