How to Make a Movie in 2017

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First of all, I’m not a filmmaker. I have a very layman’s understanding of lighting and camera angles. But I do enjoy good movies. Mostly great ones. I’ve seen more “great” movies than the average person.

But I’m not advising on the greats. This is a general guideline to making movies in 2017. Most importantly, movies that sell. You want to reel in those box office dollars. So without any further ado, here are five things to keep in mind:

1. Find a franchise that already exists

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Nothing says sale like a long-awaited sequel. Especially to something that was done in the 80s or 90s. Nostalgia is your friend and commodity. People love things that already exist, so it’s best to contribute to something in that range. Or, you could resurrect an old franchise with a good-new-fashioned reboot. It’s always interesting to remake a story with the same elements, but a different cast. That way your movie serves as a reminder, rather than something random or completely out of the blue. That’s what you want to give your audience as a visionary: reminders. And plots that reinforce that: let’s find out how Voldemort went bad. Or what Han Solo was like growing up. What happened five seconds before the beginning of Star Wars? A two-hour backstory might clear that up.

 

2. Use Superheroes (with cameos)

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That’s a given. Supers sell. Especially reboots and sequels. Make sure you follow the carefully constructed algorithm of introducing a not-so-average Joe or Jane who has to balance power with personal responsibility. And a power-hungry villain who wants to punish humanity for its sins. Or convince the hero that the world “isn’t worth saving”. Since the trope has been successful countless times, it gives you a basic formula to work with. Make one and then plan another superhero story right after. Followed by a backstory to one of the sidekicks. Have them branch off and create a Netflix show. And then have all the characters reunite for another superhero movie.

 

3. Find A-List Actors

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Get them to play your superheroes and reboot characters. Or else have the A-List character serve as a wise mentor for the new, up-and-coming star. Batman teaches the League. Who better than Ben Affleck? Iron Man teaches Spiderman: Robert Downey Jr. Han Solo teaches Finn: Harrison Ford. Deckard (Ford) teaches ??? in Blade Runner 2049: throw Ryan Gosling in there. He’s pretty familiar. Familiarity, like nostalgia, breeds content. It’s better to pick someone we’ve seen a hundred times, rather than someone we’ve seen only two or three.

 

4. CGI Beautification

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Nothing looks better than video games. You want to give your movie an authentic video-game look to it. Spectacle speaks very loud. Much more than substance. So blow shit up. Blow big shit up. And when filming locations, use some of the most exotic green screen you can possibly find. You know what looks better than one spaceship blowing up: two blowing up simultaneously. Have it in 3D.

 

5. DON’T Take Risks

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This one’s incredibly important. Go by the Star Wars example: if you want your film to make money, take an incredibly safe approach to it. Do everything that “fans” love and appeal to a specific, well-tuned formula that doesn’t venture too far. Have the action right here and the humor right there. DO NOT do something that you wouldn’t see in every other modern success. Replication is crucial. With a franchise you’ve already got your source material, so you don’t have to go through the arduous process of trying to think of something kind of…er…different. Use things in your movie that look exactly like other things in other movies. Or else, in the case of reboots, point your audience back to what they loved about the original. Every five minutes. That way the familiarity sticks and your movie doesn’t risk becoming authentic. Risk is the enemy.

 

 

 

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Let’s Face It: Reality Television Has Given us the Worst of Humanity

The craze started around the early 2000s and has been going strong ever since: from idiot box to Oval Office. The gripping appeal of personal space is that it isn’t so personal anymore. Note: that statement could have been written ten years ago and still been relevant.

Through the camera lens we’ve encountered a wide array of characters. Most of them would fit better in a movie plot, rather than a show about everyday life. But people enjoy live drama, as much as they enjoy it on screen.

The list is endless: Jackass, The Real World, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, American Idol, Jersey Shore, Real Housewives of Whatever-city. And, of course, there’s the Apprentice. Why mention the Apprentice? Because one bombastic character stands out above all the rest as an example of Reality culture and its pervasiveness, or rather invasiveness into civilized society.

We’ve come to love watching horrible people make horrible mistakes on camera. Or else being horrible, unbearable assholes. It’s fun to see an old, white businessman berating someone, or two drunken women fighting in clubs. And it’s even better when we get to listen to an interview directly afterwards, replete with angry, four-letter words.

That kind of entertainment has entered the public sector. CNN might as well double for VH1 in 2006. You could intercut showings of the newest 16 and Pregnant with a Breaking News story from Anderson Cooper.

Who’s to blame: us. Ratings have always spiked for Reality shows. Not just the good ones, but the absolute worst. I often hear people talk about how horrible shows like Real Housewives are. Why watch them, then? I don’t. And I’m about as easily distracted by things as most people, probably more. Stupid people aren’t worth time. Or publicity. But they know you’ll watch them, the crazier they are.

Cue Donald Trump: a man who rides on the thrill of the crowd. But not in a Jerry Garcia kind of way. More like a hyper-masculine, jingoistic war cry. It’s an “us vs. them” mentality. And what do you see in the vast majority of reality shows: me versus her/him. Constant self-glorification, at the expense of others.

Trump’s cabinet drama is almost like a living room fiasco on Jersey Shore: shit hits the fan every five minutes. Only now it has global repercussions. Like trade deals. And diplomatic stability.

The public has always loved scandal. They’ve always loved watching scandal. That’s why Reality Culture is so prevalent in the rise of Trumpism: it publicizes scandalous people. It puts them front and center. And now, with Twitter, no one needs to watch VH1 to see the drama. It’s all online.

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How can you become famous now: by letting the world know everything. And not having a filter. That’s the raw, Reality-centered approach. Why Trump: because he tells it like “it is”. Or rather the way he feels it. Why the “Cash me outside” girl? Because entertainment demands shitty people with shitty behavior, no matter how old they are.

That’s the culture of politics now: entertainment. Whoever keeps attention keeps the voters. How can you keep attention: by using a Reality-approach: keep ranting to your supporters. Make every private grievance a matter of public knowledge. Turn debates into shouting matches. It helps if you have more people tweeting what you say than the next guy. And always thrive on the prospect that low morals make for higher-than-thou ratings. Every time.

How humdrum is it to watch a candidate who actually explains things and speaks with etiquette? That’s like watching a functional family on MTV: booooooorrring. It doesn’t arouse your synapses. Yours neurons remain depressively idle, while your brain twiddles its thumbs looking for the nearest public scandal.

Your ears are attuned to outrage: it appeals to some primordial beast inside you. It gets your blood boiling, fires those idle neurons, and removes any judgment of character. Any moral filters become retrograde, once you’ve come down from the “high” of the moment.

Reality Culture works by touching the “high”. Or rather extending it as long as possible. It draws on outrage by making it entertainment. So many popular shows are about morally “unpopular” people.

So, why is it any surprise that our president reflects that?

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American Social Evolution: From Guilt-tripping to Shaming

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Otherwise known as “The Revolution Will Be Digitized”. Imagine being caught in the act of something reproachable. What happens next: the nagging, the punishment, and a message not to repeat your behavior. You serve your dues to the parties affected, directly, as a matter of interpersonal conflict.

Now put that conflict on a Facebook profile with a couple thousand friends and a public message board. Who decides your character: everyone. Any would-be private matter of discourse becomes instantaneously a public spectacle.

Recently I read something interesting in a book: If Only I Could Believe by Wim Riektkerk. As a Christian guide, it discusses faith and doubt for a modern generation seeking to find the answers. One of the most interesting chapters talks about the difference between “guilt” and “shame” and how it relates to this issue. Specifically, it places the two under a cultural lens with its reference to anthropologist Ruth Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, which examines the major differences between Eastern and Western cultures.

Western cultures (being Europe and the US of A), according to Benedict, rely on a “guilt” culture” where the worst offense is to be “caught in the act” of something wrong. Basically no one wants to be seen with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar. If so, we are made to serve “justice” and atone for ourselves. The threat of atonement is, therefore, what keeps us in line with “the rules”.

Eastern cultures (being Arabian, Indian, and Chinese), on the other hand, operate on a “shame culture”. In a “shame culture” losing one’s honor or reputation is a worse fate to suffer. Humiliation takes the place of guilt; social expulsion the place of atonement. Western cultures have had their counterparts: think the Scarlet Letter. Hester Prynne is shunned, due to her adulterous affair with Arthur Dimmesdale (spoiler!). She has to wear a letter denouncing her in front of the entire town. And everyone keeps her at arm’s length, maybe further. She is denigrated mercilessly as the historical version of “that hoe over there”.

Nowadays it doesn’t take a town to proclaim one. It only takes a profile. By definition, “guilt” is more of an imperative than an exposure. It is making someone feel wrong for committing wrong, but also inducing them to do right. Shame, although similar, is more of making one’s actions public, as an example, in addition to making someone feel bad. It does not emphasize atonement but rather ridicule as a punishment. Cue the Game of Thrones bells, while Queen Cersei walks naked through a crowd of peasants.

One of the major concerns in Riektkerk’s book is that our civilization is changing from a predominately guilt-culture to a predominately shame-only culture. The fear of public failure outweighs all else: how many mental health organizations have you heard addressing this issue lately? This idea of self-comparison is especially present in today’s media. As a matter of fact, social media has taken your “street cred” (Riektkerk uses the term) and placed it on digital steroids.

Social media has pushed us to the ideal: what someone else has on their wall that we desperately need for ourselves. Or simply a way to elevate ourselves at the expense of others. Depression and anxiety have naturally set in: what else would you feel after scrolling through pictures and posts that show only the “best” elements of someone’s character? You become idolatrous, covetous, and determined to build yourself based on THEM.

And that’s only the mild part. Where the guilt factor plays in is where private wrongdoings become public issues. How many times have you seen someone take a screenshot of text messages and emails, or even a simple photo and then post it online? How many recordings, messages, hashtags, and links to someone’s profile have gone “viral”?

It seems like we’re on a race to exposure when it comes to judgment. In previous days, if you had a disagreement with someone you might confront them directly and say what your grievance was. Or, you might run around, telling everyone in your neighborhood. But you wouldn’t reach a thousand “likes” by the end of the day. You wouldn’t go “viral”, worldwide, with a personal altercation. But you could still go “public”.

Social media seems to have tipped the guilt-culture completely over to shame. Make no mistake, there has always been shaming in our culture. But now it seems very idiosyncratic: what one person wants to say for likes or validation. It doesn’t seem to aim at changing the behavior, but rather making someone your digital poster child for it.

Certain things need to be brought to attention, obviously. The problem occurs when this action isn’t balanced with penance, but judgment alone. If I were to go full pessimist, I would say that no one’s really seeking atonement: they’re seeking attention. But some people are less self-serving than others. Just not enough.

Meaning that, if you have a disagreement with your professor, boss, or co-worker, you’re more likely to publicize it. Why: because affirmation. You want your friends to agree with you. You want that particular person to feel isolated among their digital peers. Because you like the power to do that. And you like to “know” you have the power to do that.

We’ve all been guilty, myself included. More than anything, this post is an observation of how media has changed our behavior. As far as society goes, I would say that positivity relies on a balance between the chrysanthemum and the sword. Not a cancellation of one or the other. As life becomes “viral”, the balance can sometimes fade.

Too much “guilt-tripping” is far from good. But at least it seems more direct. Shaming, especially in the digital age, seeks validation instead of deterrence. It can have a deterring effect, yes. But that isn’t the primary reason for it.

Selfishness brings out the worst in both cultures. But I think I prefer guilt-tripping (not that I like it). Meaning that selfishness in direct confrontation is better than self-righteousness in public exposure. You can negotiate with someone who comes directly to you with a problem, in most cases. In others, you might have to go outside the box (legal cases). But it’s a little more aggravating when you have personal business becoming public spectacle. Celebrities do it (cough, cough KANYE); Trump OVERdoes it. People everywhere start public beefs over private disagreements. People ostracize over opinion circles, including and excluding.

Sounds like the wave of the future. Or rather, present discourse. The better parts of social media have taught us to network; the worst parts have trained us with a purely “reactive” discipline. Meaning outrage isn’t a grievance; it’s a magnet. (See dongles, manspreading, threatening women with nude leaks).

Guilt-tripping says “You know, you shouldn’t have done that”. Shaming says “Hey, look at what this asshole did”. It demands attention, rather than closure. It’s a digital blow horn that rallies the crowd to your side. YOUR side (emphasis on the “you”). Again, we’ve all probably done it before, and still do it today. What matters is the lack of social balance between yelling “fire!” and putting it out.

 

 

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Favorite Book Characters #4: Levin from Anna Karenina

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Every classic story (or at least most) have that one noble character who is always seeking, always searching: for love. For life. And for meaning.

In Anna Karenina, that noble, everyday character is Konstantin Levin. He starts out as the young, hopeless romantic pining for the affections of Princess Katerina Shcherbatsky. As a landowner, Levin is part of the Russian aristocracy, and much of the book focuses on his life in the countryside, compared with the rowdy hustle and bustle of urban Moscow.

Through much of the book Levin is striving to find answers. As a landowner, he starts out living a world apart from his peasants. After Kitty’s rejection of him, Levin naturally falls into sadness: it seems he has lost his sense of purpose. He has heaped almost all of his worldly hopes on the love of a woman. But now he realizes he much find his sense of meaning in something deeper.

So Levin goes to work, joining his peasants in manual labor as they tend the land. Instead of working above them, he works among them, as one of them. At the end of the day, he gains a newfound sense of purpose. It’s work, not love, that fulfills him. And by not becoming dependent on Kitty’s affection, he comes to earn it over time.

Levin, as he courts Kitty, begins to formulate new theories on agriculture. This he puts into writing, as a sort of manual. Russia, at the time, is going through a very transitional period, and Levin wants to be a part of that change. He is always observing the world around him, from an intellectual point of view, almost excessively at times.

His over-analysis of things comes to be his one defining weakness at one point in the story. One scene illustrates this: when he and Kitty, now married, go to take care of dying brother Nikolai, Levin is astonished at the compassion his wife shows towards him. Not that he isn’t capable of it himself. But Levin often struggles with developing natural human connections with the world around him.

Why? Because he is man of books: a man of intellect. Levin is constantly “searching” to find the answer, rather than embracing the ones that lie in front of him. This human connection is not something that can be studied, but rather experienced.

Another inner conflict comes out through Levin’s marriage to Kitty: his faith. Or rather, lack of. This is encompassed in the scene where he goes to confession, shortly before his wedding. He must take the sacrament if he wants to be married. Throughout his conversation with the priest he is very tentative, expressing doubts in God. He admits to the priest that his chief sin is “doubt,” which even the most faithful can struggle with at times.

This is what makes his journey so relatable: the humanity. It is such a human thing to be curious and to question things. Like Levin, it is so natural to look ahead and see death inescapable and, as a result of this foresight, to seek everything that makes life worth living. But the seeking can drive you in circles, creating more doubts than answers.

Levin is afraid of not knowing “the answer”. And what’s even more puzzling: everyone else around him seems to have found it. Even the peasants. How many of us are in the same conundrum today: struggling with a sense of purpose. Why is it that everyone seems to know the secret to life, besides us? In spite of how much we try to fulfill ourselves through work and play, something always seems missing.

Levin only finds his purpose by letting go. At the end of the book his quest for faith comes to a head. He realizes he must either accept it, once and for all, or reject it. He learns to accept by letting go of his ego. Intellect has misguided him, confining his soul to books and parchments. As a result, Levin has bound himself down with facts and theories.

True happiness in life does not simply come from knowledge. It comes from wisdom. Levin gains that wisdom one day, not while he is reading or studying, but simply laying in the grass, looking up at the sky. The sky is something beautiful in its simplicity: you do not have to strain your eyes to try and see beyond it. All you have to do is see.

Tolstoy illustrates faith so perfectly in this scene. When Levin comes to joy, we can’t help but feel joy with him. He has finally found truth and a sense of purpose. We have followed his conscious, metaphysical journey to self-discovery. And reached a happy conclusion.

So much of today’s philosophy revolves around looking “beyond” the picture: digging deep to uncover truths. Tolstoy shows, through the character of Levin, that the noblest ones are the most elemental.

When we squint our eyes to read between lines, we can miss the whole page. That’s the Levin Conundrum. And, like him, we can overcome it by releasing ourselves.

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I Despise Tinder (But Still Use It Anyways)

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While we’re on bad Millennial habits, let’s talk about the laziest one of them all: cellular dating hookup services. I myself have two: Bumble (which is actually somewhat better, but not really) and the shallow, surface-swiping Tind: with an “-er”. Where you can sit on your ass and scroll through profiles, instead of leaving the safety of your home. It’s very convenient, no doubt.

But God-forbid, you should find a hobby and try to meet people by going out to events/parties. As a person trying to become better socially, this is actually my goal. I swipe, yes, sometimes voraciously a few times a week, sometimes at least once or twice a month. But it all feels tiring, even after matches.

In any approach you’ve got to present yourself in a way that is “socially desirable”. Which is only right. Call it shaving, applying lotion to your ashy-assed skin, bathing, brushing. More importantly it means expressing yourself with a magical “c-word”: confidence. Now, try to put that on five pictures, and a 150-300 character bio. Condense the initial approach, with all its subtle nuances, laughs, and awkward pauses. More importantly, silence and replace them with a GIF from Friends.

What do you have: the most “convenient” way to meet and greet. Minus a few human touches. Actually, more of a personal algorithm. Yes, yes, no, no, yes, yes, and so on. And I use it simply because it’s “convenient”. Not because I like it. I tend to hate dating apps, for the simple reason that trying to improve social, interpersonal skills requires looking beyond them.

I’d rather there was a month in the year where we all took a Tinder fast. And, instead of swiping for matches, went to local “Singles” events. If you’re socially disinclined, oh, well-get over it…I’m a recovering “Introvert” too. I agree that the crowded bar scene is terrible, especially with loud, blaring music and flashing lights. That’s not the place to look either. But think of a nice venue with good food and good company. Throw in a few Tinder-disillusioned adults who are sick of swiping. You might not have “matches” but at least you’ll have interaction.

And by that, I mean “interaction”: in the purer, less digital sense of the world. I don’t mean to sound like an “old man”. I’m only 23. Which is why I want to enjoy life more while I’m young, in the best way possible: by spending time with others, be they friends, family, or relationships. Not swipes.

But, as we speak, my profile is still hypocritically active. It’s kind of just there. I may go on a random swipe binge in a few days. And then just lay it aside, until matches. But I’m not going to spend the rest of the time wondering why there aren’t alternatives. I’m going to be actively seeking alternatives. Better alternatives. Or at least working in them, for starters.

And, another thing: from the people I’ve spoken to (including myself), Tinder rarely leads to anything past one or two dates. I landed a nice date one time on Bumble and haven’t heard back since. My friend told me that that’s just the way it is: you’ve got to go into Tinder expecting to match, meet for a date, and then probably never see or hear from that person ever again. That can happen with or without Tinder: people passing in and out of life, especially dates. It just doesn’t feel as empty.

If I were going to put ALL my faith in online dating, I certainly wouldn’t choose Tinder. I would go on something more professional, like E-Harmony, where you actually look at someone based on interests/values, rather than just a profile photo. E-Harmony uses photos too, but I’m assuming the people there actually take time to read ABOUT the person.

I’m not saying Tinder users are lazy. I’m saying we’re unwilling to take more substantive efforts to mingle while single. We’re unmotivated to take chances socially. We’re more than likely shallow judges of character. We’re seekers of immediate satisfaction. Whatever takes the most time and effort repels us.

I’m saying we’re EXTREMELY lazy. Myself included. The most adventurous/confident I felt recently was when one time when I hopped in my car and drove out after the Cavs won the championship. It was a late summer night, in 2016. And Stephan Curry had just had his ass handed to him. Anyways, I rode down to Case Western, just because I wanted to be around other excited Clevelanders. Walking down the street I saw a very attractive woman cheering as one (of dozens) of cars went racing by, horns blaring with triumph. I don’t remember what the hell I said. All I know is I approached her and then we had drinks at the bar. And talked for close to two hours. I felt alive, at that moment. Even though that occasion didn’t lead to a serious relationship, it was a unique achievement for me.

That’s the kind of adventure I want to seek. One with balls (metaphorically speaking) rather than trepidation. Being good on Tinder doesn’t make you confident, or a master of relationships. It just means you’ve mastered the laziest way of forming them. You’ve mastered the cons of Millennialhood. The prize should be a trophy made out of pure 20-karat GIF. Instead of gold.

But then again, it’s really convenient. If you’re lazy enough, you may meet that “special someone” who’s just as lazy. For about three dinners.

Oh well.

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Social Media: The New Desensitizer

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What happens when you prick someone and they don’t bleed? You’ve got an open, gaping wound. One that stays that way. Doesn’t matter if you slash them with a knife or a sword.

That’s kind of how the exposure of violence works in social media. Along with everything else. The news cycle is like a Ford assembly line, churning out headlines and videos at an impossible speed, giving us the phenomenon we now know as digital media.

What’s the effect of all these racing words and images: information overload. There are two ways to deal with that: either stop to read every single relevant thing, notwithstanding Buzzfeed, or else filter by tuning out. Result: everything becomes the same.

Tragedy seems like the new trend: its constantly being thrown in our faces. And it’s much more up close and personal: on our phones and computer screens. A recent article I read labeled the viral trend of violence, specifically police violence against African Americans, as the new porn. When a summary execution occurs, our first instinct is to film it and put it online. Then, we share it about a million times.

But nothing seems to happen. Except for exposure, time and time again. Media also reflects the polarization of our climate, racially, religiously, and and politically. We see racist rants on Twitter, racist videos, and what’s our response: publicity. Endless publicity. The worst things in news have always gotten the most attention, but now that attention is amplified by a factor of five hundred. It’s on every wall, from Facebook to Twitter.

Why? Because, awareness. Taking the worst elements of humanity and making them entertainment will somehow fix them in the wrong run. But, guess what: nothing’s changed. The more you go online and say something horrible, the more publicity you get. Note, all the recent videos of Trump supporters screaming at immigrants. Why is this stuff being passed around like a Star Wars trailer. Why are black girls being beaten up and black boys being shot something that everyone can talk about at work like it’s Sunday Night Football?

Because people are becoming desensitized. What was once outrage is now “this just in”. Videos of terrorist bombings, mass shootings, and public, “live-stream” executions are pretty much just a “same shit, different day” story now. Because we’ve been constantly assaulted by them.

Once that happens, the violence is easier to disregard. It’s just tiresome, annoying, like a fly on a windshield. Pretty soon we swipe it away. Or else continue with the barrage by sharing and re-posting.

I’m personally at the point right now where I don’t even like scrolling through my Facebook wall or CNN app: any egregious behavior, especially by our president, is front and center. Sometimes I just want to switch it off. Mass shooting? Click away. Why, because we’re not going to do anything about it. Awareness is overrated when it’s propagated through a digital outlet that suffers form severe attention deficit disorder. No one’s going to stay on the issue for long: they’re just going to put in their five cents of comments and then move on to the next headline.

Awareness of a problem sadly almost means nothing nowadays. Everyone’s aware. And, as a result, the culture of filming and live-streaming despicable human behavior has increased, rather than decreased. I might as well say that, as a black person, I’ve become immune to the “n-word”, having seen Twitter rants and viral videos plastered all over my feed. I’m tired of binge-watching police shootings, so I just don’t anymore. Continuing to do so will either make me paranoid, or completely unfazed by the fact that I have a greater chance than the average person of being seen as “threatening” to law enforcement.

Everything loses its initial effect, after a while, once only “awareness” becomes the solution. It’s a sad fact, but a true one: people lose their capacity to care. How tragic is it to see an act of violence on social media? After the nineteenth or twentieth time, you just accept it as a fact of life. Ergo, “meh….that sucks…but same shit, different day”. The same goes for all these new videos surfacing of Trump supporters harassing immigrant families. Or of the man himself decrying someone over Twitter.

Shitty human behavior? What else is new. Where it should elicit change, it only elicits a yawn now. The result of bringing out the worst: the worst continues. People feel emboldened now to go on social media and make racist threats and carry out acts of violence. Why: because they have an audience. That audience is us. Whether we realize it or not, we’re boosting their ratings.

After the horrible live-streamed video surfaced of the Cleveland man getting shot on camera, I kept wondering “why is this online?” Why do people need to be watching and sharing this? Friends on my Facebook wall kept commenting on how terrible the video was. My question: why are you watching it, in the first place? Why are so many people filming fights and public assaults? If it’s that bad, stop re-posting it. Please. Some videos, like the police shootings of unarmed youth, helped to expose certain things that needed to come out. Even if they’ve now fallen into the same old “same shit, different day” cycle. But other things don’t need to be seen. A video of a mentally disabled boy being tortured doesn’t need to be shown to your friends, or a live-streamed execution. And I’m not just talking about the sick people who post it: I’m talking about the people who re-post it, and spread it all over the internet. It really is a lack of respect for someone’s dignity. And it’s no wonder that stuff like that makes us desensitized.

Making despicable things up close and personal can obviously “spread awareness” of what goes on in society. But too close and personal, day in and day out, stunts the effect. It turns a serious problem into an “inconvenient” distraction. And it gives publicity to the people who actually want to promote this stuff: terrorists, white supremacists, etc. When “awareness” doesn’t reach a solution, the problem becomes “normal”. It becomes a movie we’ve all seen too many times that just keeps rewinding and playing.

I’m not really horrified by anything that happens in the news now. I come to expect it. And I expect it to be everywhere on my Facebook wall, not in a way that’s telling me to fix a societal problem, but just begging me to watch it. And share. And there’s too much of it to keep track of, because once one bad thing happens, another takes its place. So, you more or less just sit back and wait for the chaos to slow down. While paying attention to something else.

 

 

 

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The Millennials: Why I Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Our Generation

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Facebook. Social media. College debt. Progressive values. Impatience. Ambition. Social Consciousness. Job-hopping. Tech-savvy. Diverse. Adaptable. Big dreams. Over-educated. Entitled. Health-oriented. Social retardation. Mental health issues.

These are words I would generally use to describe the pros and cons of my current generation. Our age bracket usually falls in between early 20s and mid 30s today. We’re the ones always bingeing Netflix. And posting on Facebook. And swiping Tinder. And trying to start small businesses. And trying to change the world, one online video share at a time. Or else venturing into some sort of post post-modern form of artistic/creative expression. A lot of us are stacking degrees. And debt. And traveling. And going vegan.

We’re also seen as socially inept: attached to our screens. And, politically, we’re pissed off. VERY pissed off. But hopeful about the future, somehow. I will say, though, a lot of us have terrible tastes in music. And it shows in what’s popular. But the music scene has started to improve recently (post 2010). And become more innovative.

We have most certainly inherited one of the worst cultural environments in American history. We entered an unpromising job market, college careers worth more their weight in loans than prestige, economic recession, overseas war, political turmoil, constant violence worldwide, and human relations governed purely by technology. We went from instant messaging and paging to cellular dialing, texting, Ipods, Myspace, Facebook, Tweeting, Instagraming, live-streaming, YouTubing, blogging, and Netflix and chill. Most of our entertainment is either the golden age of television, or the tiresome reboot, rehash age of cinema.

We might have gone to high school with a few emos that later evolved into “independent” hipsters with independent hipster beards, independent musical tastes, flannel clothes, skinny jeans and other fashion trends that would throw anyone’s “gaydar” into disarray.

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But that’s just one type. You might have gone to high school with several white boys who absolutely LOVE Snoop Dogg and other black music, then evolved into bro-ish college drunks who constantly pollute your Facebook wall with conservative political rants and “erudite” theories as to why Black Lives Matter is a hate group. Then they start wearing MAGA hats and voting for Trump.

I would break down my love/hate relationship with Generation Y based on two categories. One of the things that Millennials have often been complimented for, besides technical innovation, is their building, entrepreneurial spirit. These are the professionals, typically older Millennials in their late 20s and early 30s. Basically business casual, with a checked Men’s Wearhouse shirt (no tie), Dockers khaki pants, and maybe a fitted blazer. Again, just a generalization.

These are the start-up guys and girls: the ones who want to network and build. A lot probably left their old, status quo jobs for something more adventurous. Unlike the Silent Generation, they’re not going to sit down and work just for the sake of living. They want fulfillment, not standard routine, from 9-5. A lot of them are experts in digital media and networking. They want to build a brand. They want to self-manage, but do so in a way that fosters connections across a wide range of people. And they’re hopeful, witty, and have a somewhat off-brand sense of humor. They enjoy brunch and coffee. And hiking and traveling. And networking with all walks of life.

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These people are very practical, but also very creative at the same time. They have a business that smiles in a happy, quirky way. And they’re all about teamwork.

Now, let’s talk about the other kind. These are typically younger Millennials who, between the years of 2011 and Present Day, would fall into the 17-25 range. A lot are college students, or recently graduated. These are the entitled ones. These are the “online ones.”

The best way to describe them would be over-opinionated. They can’t have a conversation with someone they disagree with on the most minute issues without affirming moral superiority. They come in “far-rights” and “far lefts”. They are microcosmic examples of the same forces tearing our country apart socially and politically. Remember my mention of the white boy who used to “love” black culture in high school? Now he’s on Facebook complaining about “political correctness”. And, on the opposing side, you’ve got the equally self-righteous groups who want to prove their loyalty to social justice through long-winded posts, constant replies, and dramatic displays of public outrage. Both of these polarized groups want you to know EVERYTHING wrong with society. They have an overly romantic notion of the way the world should be and will often go into shouting matches over it.

Typically these are the people who spend their entire lives digging up dirt on others. Which isn’t such a bad thing when certain people need to be exposed. Like our president. But Broseph517, or DopeDivadynasty on Twitter isn’t exactly worth spending hours trying to expose to your friends, just so you can make a moral point. Shaming and shitting on others via social media has really gone to an extreme. People have the boldness to be assholes online when they don’t have to look you directly in the eyes. That’s a hallmark of our generation, in addition to some of the older ones.

Social media-driven relations have both helped and retarded our development as social beings. For the professional Millennial, it is a vessel for brand promotion. For the entitled Millennial (both “alt-right” and “PC”) , it is a vessel for self-promotion. It’s simply a place to lodge your private grievances. We’re all (myself included) guilty of that.

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Social media is a reflection of our currently divided society. Who are the biggest social media users? According to Pew, those in the 18-49 range. Which includes us, as well as parts of Gen X. But mostly us. If I were to describe the “entitled” Millennials in one phrase, it would be “too much, too soon”. Too much information dump. Too much arguing. Too much social impairment. Too much over-analyzing. And too much pontificating. Not enough cohesion. A lot (but of course not all) of the “professional” ones have either grown out of that phase, or else never had it to begin with. And not all of them are necessarily “older”. Some of the best, most professional ones are younger Millennials.

As a younger Millennial I have noticed this trend around me, and have struggled to overcome parts of it myself. I’ve fallen into the negative habits at times, admittedly. But now, and especially now, I see the value of the positive ones. Disillusionment is unfortunately very common among Millennials. But, so is creativity. It’s just good to have a fair mix of constructive cynicism (as weird as that sounds), and creative, professional insight. Rather than tipping the scales completely in one direction.

But we do suck at dating. That I’ll admit. Not just partly, but overall. Hookup culture affirms our horrible relationship skills. No, I don’t care if you had fun getting wasted and laying up with a bunch of Tinder-strangers: it sucks as a road-to-dating culture.

Whoops, there goes a social rant. I guess that’s me just being a total Millennial. Petty, petty, petty. But also creative.

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