What's That?


What's That?

I want to share something that I’ve only begun to understand about myself. This is important to me. I will not undermine it with the usual meta-criticisms of the idea of emoting publicly or pepper it with the usual blog bells and whistles (GIFs, tweet screen caps, etc.). I am going to be sincere, which is almost a subversive act in the age of irony and avatars. It won't be "funny," (let's be honest, isn't being funny kind of hack at this point?), but I will try my best to make it interesting and worth your time. Either way, I am happy to share this with you.

Social disconnect is a feeling with which I’m extremely familiar. I’ve felt it most of my life. I’ve grown accustomed to it. Learned to internalize it as normal. As a kid, I was extremely sensitive and caring. I was short. People made fun of me, I was “bullied,” called “faggot” (by a kid who ended up being gay), and the girls I liked never “liked me back."

On the flip side, I was extremely smart. Always in advanced programs at school, high level math classes, special art classes, etc. My test scores were always very high. All authority figures (parents, teachers) reinforced this idea that I was “gifted." I felt, too, that I had a lot to offer, although in a more fundamentally human sense of offering something beautiful rather than simply vocational aptitude. But I felt a canyon-sized gap between myself and actualizing that potential.

That feeling, that disconnect - from myself and from others, the world, etc. - continues up until the present. It is only now that I’m starting to realize and accept (not just intellectually, but emotionally) the primary factor in this feeling separateness: my hearing.

I have a relatively profound hearing loss. It's weird. It's not significant enough to be completely deaf, but it's also not mild enough to be easily dealt with. I’m fairly open about it. I’ve written about it, talked about it, and speak about it with anyone who wants to hear about it. However, I don’t think anyone truly understands the extent of what this has done to me. I am only beginning to understand it myself.

My hearing loss is something that has pervaded every single aspect of my life. Every minute, every thought, every interaction has been significantly influenced. It’s so difficult for people to understand because it’s not their reality. Even people who know about my situation do not (can not) fully understand.

As I mentioned in my earlier post about it, I didn’t start wearing hearing aids until I was 21. So, for the first 21 years of my life, I went au natural which, in this case, doesn’t don the same badge of bravery. It’s social suicide.

I couldn’t hear shit! Hahahahaha. I actually laugh at myself now. I would say I heard maybe 30% of what was being said, I could infer another 30% or so based on body language, how people responded, or by reading lips. The other 40% or so was a complete mystery. TV, movies, people far away, people with their backs to me, people with a menu in front of their face, people in a dark room, people late at night when they whisper, teachers facing the chalkboard, students more than one seat away from me. Often I would literally have no idea what was being said.

This has a multitude of effects, but the primary one is one of self-protection. When something like this would happen, I would instinctively regress into my own mind. (You can always hear your thoughts.) This was not deliberate. There was no “plan” about what to think about. However, I would just… think. About anything. Everything. I wonder what happens when you die. Oh god I’m going to die. I really like Becky. She’s pretty. I wonder what we would do together if we were in love. I’d probably tell her she is the reason I am able to live. Is that shitty? Should that line be better? More real? More beautiful? What makes something beautiful? Is there an objective standard of beauty or is it some relative perception we have as humans? I think a lot of things we assume are absolute are actually subjective and arbitrary. Maybe I don’t really like her, I just think I like her because she looks a certain way. But what does— this is interrupted by four people screaming, “DREW!” and an entire group of people staring directly at me. “We called your name like five times.” I didn’t hear it. “Oh, uh, yeah. Sorry, I was… hehe. What’s up?” ANXIETY. STRESS. LEAVE ME ALONE. I was twelve.

This is how life was for me. For two decades. Yes, there were moments I was not completely lost. At home sometimes. With friends in well-lit, small spaces where we were able to speak loudly enough. But even in those environments, there would be significant periods of time - if we watched a movie, if we were in a car - where I would be lost and then revert back to my only reliable friend: my brain.

Unfortunately for me, my brain was very “good” at computing academics. I always got “good grades” so there was never a reason to suspect anything was wrong. But this was only because, for example, I could do a practice math exam and instantly understand everything. I didn’t need to hear the teacher. Just look at examples, apply concepts, and take the test. Tests were easy. I almost wish they weren’t. People might have forced me to do change something. But as long as you are checking all the boxes society wants you to check, nobody thinks anything is wrong. This is a huge societal mistake.

The issue spawned a sort of vicious cycle. My inability to feel confident and comfortable in social situations (which sent me into spirals of internal reflection and analysis) made those situations insanely anxious and stressful, to the point where it was just easier to avoid them altogether, which further exacerbated the social solitude. There was, however, a certain comfort that came with being alone. While, yes, I was not connected to any other person, I was at least relaxed. Free to explore the world through my own mind without the added pressure of hearing other people and having to focus so hard on what everyone was saying and if you missed what one person said, having to focus three times as hard on what the next person said so you could then infer what the first person originally said, hoping that the conversation would never get to you before you were able to figure out what the hell people were saying. I was much happier (albeit not at all happy) playing video games, playing baseball (the most solitary of all team sports), watching TV (too loud), or reading.

I’m starting to realize now this arrangement re-wired me in a very thorough manner. This disconnected relationship with the outside world bred a sort of learned narcissism (bordering on autism) in me. It’s hard for me to think outside of what’s going on in my own mind. That doesn’t mean I don’t care. I care deeply for others. To an overwhelming degree. I want so badly to connect with people, but I never learned how. This is a large reason of what draws me to stand-up. It is a way to connect with others and to be understood without having to actually interact with them in a conventional manner. This is also why I hate hecklers. I am never at a loss for things to say. I am just constantly self conscious about my inability to hear what people are saying that when someone shouts something out and I can tell everyone else in the room heard it and I’m on stage, everyone looking at me waiting for me to reply, I want to die. Evaporate. But I can’t. So even for that, I’ve learned tricks. If, for example, what the heckler said got a laugh from the crowd, I can say something like, “You wanna come up here and do five minutes?” This gets a laugh even though I have no idea what was originally said. If I could, I would have someone tour with me who sits in the front row and repeats to me anything that was said from the back.

I wear hearing aids now (and have since 2007) but I still struggle. More importantly, I still have the same instincts and difficulties. So, there are times when I feel like I am missing what is being said and the regressive instinct kicks in. Ah, I don’t know what they’re saying, so let’s think about something weird and esoteric and totally unrelatable to further my submersion into my own solipsism! (I am much more self-aware and pretentious than I was when I was twelve.) It’s a struggle. I am getting better. But I still have so many social issues, most of which are caused - directly or indirectly - by this issue.

This is part of the reason I “rub people the wrong way.” I know this about myself. I know what I’m bringing to the table. It is not intentional. It’s also the reason I’m able to think about things from an unconventional viewpoint. I am equal parts grateful and angry about it.

I know it would help if people knew this about me, but I’ve found it so difficult to bring up. Not because I’m ashamed or uncomfortable talking about it, it just seems “out of place” in a superficial discussion. Also, my hearing aids are invisible, so it’s not like I hold an old-timey trumpet thing up to my ear when people talk. (Although that would have been better than what I chose to do, which was nothing.) People would never assume anything about my hearing. I’ve gotten good at “faking it.” I’ll end conversations abruptly, which probably comes off as curt or rude, but it’s really just me hitting the eject button on an extremely stressful situation. Either way, people probably process this as “what an asshole” as opposed to “what a very unfortunate social handicap."

Some of my closer friends who know the situation have been kind enough to point out specific things I do that get interpreted a certain way even though I don’t mean it that way. For example, I can appear to be dismissive. Someone might say something, I’ll ask, “what did you say?” They might repeat it and I’ll go, “Oh, okay.” Then go back to what I was doing. This could be interpreted as me not valuing what you said enough to continue. Chances are, I was just lost and wanted to hear what was being said.

I don’t like bars, parties, or any type of social interaction where there isn’t a focused, dedicated communication pattern. Those of you who know me will notice that even in these situations, I’ll find a way to engage in a (probably too intense) one-on-one with someone. This is in no way a condemnation of bars or parties, I just don’t feel comfortable in them. Again, I often avoid them, but that re-exacerbates the issue, as avoiding these things furthers the sense of isolation. So I’m left with no good option (like the election!): should I stay or should I go? (That song is about a guy with hearing loss trying to decide if he should go to a Comedy Central party.)

I am also extremely sensitive to exclusion. I have been biologically excluded for so long, and it was so painful, being excluded now triggers something volatile inside me. I have a lot of accrued anger and frustration. If I don’t get booked for something, or asked to be a part of something I know I could be good for, or rejected in some way by a girl, the sense of helplessness and feeling misunderstood hit the roof. It's like I’m being waterboarded with feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. I often lash out or express anger in an unhealthy way. I owe a lot of people apologies. This is something I’m aware of and working on. I am trying my best not to add any more additional difficulties which alienate me even further. But it’s helpful for me (and for people I know) to understand where that comes from.

As I get older, I find myself agreeing more and more with those who believed in me before I did. I know I have something beautiful to offer and all I want is to be able to share it. (Perhaps this is why I connected so strongly with this unlikely song.) I want to connect with this world and the people that are slowly destroying it. (Sorry, not all cynicism is irrational!) I’m aware that I am accountable for my behavior and I am doing everything I can to not let myself, my past, or my present circumstances get in the way of actualization. The process of growing and changing, communicating, learning and creating is so beautiful. It’s overwhelming to me when anyone is prevented from living happily. (Perhaps for another post, but actually so many of my “cynical” or “contrarian" social/political views are borne out of this feeling of extreme empathy.) I have just begun to fully understand who I am as a person and what my makeup and true potential is. I want to be a positive force in the world. Even if we accept nihilism, that still gives us a choice as to what we do while we are here. I want people to feel good. I want to inspire and to be inspired. I want to help people. But it's like the oxygen masks on the plane: you have to put yours on first before you can help others with theirs. As I said in my earlier post, I am grateful for the opportunity to be alive. We get to experience what happens next. I am doing everything I can to make it beautiful.


A Hypocrite's Guide to the Internet


A Hypocrite's Guide to the Internet


It’s been quite a year so far! Unfortunately, 2015 looks nothing like what we were promised in the famed Zemekis classic, Back to the Future II. The only thing that movie got right is that sad families eat Pizza Hut. No, we don't have have hover-boards. But we do have some Internet outrage that is shamelessly exaggerated in hopes of being seen as some kind of altruist.

People are "irate" at a number of things. I've had numerous quests for the perfect amateur porn clips interrupted by inane rants and ravings about various “hot topics” that, surprisingly, everyone has managed to fumble. I’m a comedian (a fact proven elsewhere, I assure you), so most of my social circle is the self-proclaimed “progressive” sociopolitical group, which is the easiest to ridicule as they aren’t bound by any coherent moral framework like religion or a strong family. The irony, of course, being that this group spends most of its time pointing out hypocrisies on the "other side." (Basically all The Daily Show is at this point.)

Either way, rather than stew in my closet-of-a-bedroom and google how much it would cost to build a DIY gas chamber, I figured it would be more helpful if I pointed out a few hypocrisies inherent in the more common (code word for “wrong”) thought patterns out there. I hope we can all learn something from this. (Probably that you should unfollow me.)

Let's get to it!


The Confederate Flag

Why You’re Mad:

It’s a flag that represents slavery. Despite people's arguments that it's "about heritage," it's really about slavery and racism at its roots. It’s enough that we still have to endure the resonant socioeconomic effects of deeply embedded racism, so why would any sane person want to fly the symbol of such bigotry above their home/building/NASCAR poster? God bless the people brave enough to take a stance against such a horrific symbol.

Why You’re a Hypocrite:

The American Flag. Duh. This one would be obvious were you not forced through the 12-year rolling pin of public education wherein American aims or actions are deemed inherently virtuous; any opposition (present or past) is simply referred to as “enemy.” The American Flag represents a country that, for almost 100 years, totally accepted black slavery. It also represents the country which helped eradicate an entire native population, stole their land, then sent them packing with a consolation prize of alcoholism and slot machines.

After WWII, the American flag has stood for near-totalitarian hegemony in the Middle East and Central/South America, flagrant dismissal of U.N. resolutions, Security Council decisions, and the like. The American Flag represents a society of people who “elect” leaders who carry out malevolent war crimes, killed millions with sanctions, financially and diplomatically supported the killing of millions more and continues to crush dissent at will, all under the guise of good intentions. In addition, the federal government has been running intense covert spy programs on its own citizens throughout the 20th and 21st century, ballooning with COINTELPRO in the 50s-70s (including targeted political assassination of citizens), and leading all the way up to the current NSA debacle. You know, freedom.

Returning to the topic of slavery, let's not forget how the U.S. still continues to support and benefit from slavery (or near slave-like conditions) in its overseas manufacturing exploits. The shirt I just nonchalantly threw into the hamper is most definitely the byproduct of our willful blind eye. The United States is clever. It realized that the population will not tolerate certain things unless those things are not right in front of them. So slavery had to go somewhere we couldn't see it. Same with war. (And garbage, for that matter.) We are a nation constantly at war, constantly the aggressor, but so long as it happens "far away" to "weird looking people," it's all part of something called "international affairs." It's geopolitics. It's macroeconomics. It's not our problem anymore. The complexity of the situation diffuses responsibility. These are the values and behaviors represented by the stars and stripes. If you take down a Confederate flag, you’re a hero; but don't you dare fuck with the American flag.

The idea of racism being unique to the South (Confederate states) is absurd, a point already well illustrated and shouldn't need repeating. Racism takes different forms and it certainly is alive and well in the northern "liberal" states and cities. Chicago is about as segregated as the security line at El-Al.

To take a more fundamental view, the idea of nationalism is inherently racist. Any “flag,” representing a tribe is by default exclusive and will lead to favorable opinions about members of one’s own tribe and less favorable opinions about the rest. That way of thinking leads to a paradigm in which certain lives are valued while others are ignored. (More on this later.)

In short, the American flag is a symbol of genocide, hegemony, racism, jingoism, and inequality. Good thing we don't stand up and face it while touching our hearts at every sporting event.


Cecil the Lion

Why You’re Mad:

I have to admit I don’t fully get this one. I guess there was some weird backdoor channel that Walter Palmer (the dentist) went through in order to bypass certain laws ostensibly preventing the murder of the lion. He paid money so that he could kill this lion and did so in relatively gruesome fashion. Lions are truly beautiful creatures (just look at the picture!) and to destroy one so frivolously seems needlessly cruel and vicious.

Why You’re a Hypocrite:

If you’re mad about this lion, wait until you find out what your food is made of! It shocks me that you can’t figure this one out on your own. It never occurs to you the blatant hypocrisy in devouring the carcasses of literally billions of slaughtered, enslaved animals? Yet when one fucking lion is killed...

Is murdering animals abhorrent? Of course! But we brag about it all the time and nobody cares.

The ugly nature of how we eat is why we employ some premium cognitive dissonance in order to inhale the newest Umami Burger. If we actually had to watch how the food was made every time we ate it, a lot of us wouldn’t be able to. But publicly weeping at the death of one while callously ignoring the deaths of millions of others is what gets you on this list. I think we use cases like Cecil – I mean, we know his name for fuck's sake! – in an attempt to reconcile the pent-up guilt we feel over our continuous contribution to essentially a wildlife and animal holocaust. (Vegans exempt.) It's similar to how we give to charity to buy ourselves out of the guilt we feel over child labor, famine, poverty, etc.


Louisiana Movie Theater Shooting

Why You’re Mad:

Two people were killed, and several were injured, by a crazed idiot who stood for nothing except hate and maybe some anti-women sentiment, depending on which publication trying to exploit the event you read. It’s tragic. Those people are dead forever. Their families will never be the same. It’s truly unspeakable and the gravest of losses, something nobody would ever wish on another person. We need to inspect our gun laws because guns are clearly the root of these shootings.

Why You’re a Hypocrite:

Why is it only when the victims are American that this outrage ensues? Or, even worse, when they're white? Don’t you find it convenient that every time a shooting like this happens, the media jumps on it and then a huge gun control discussion breaks out? Your emotions are being politicized and you giddily embrace it. There are no gun control debates when 50 (black) people are killed on the South/West side of Chicago. Why not? Because the villain there is not a crazed lunatic; it’s socioeconomics. (Not nearly as entertaining or as simple. Try to imagine the abstract concept of Socioeconomic Disparity as a Bond villain. Could never happen. They need it to be something simple, digestible and completely in line with establishment ideology, like a gay Julian Assange, for example.)

Political exploitation aside, let’s go overseas. Are you aware of how many people are killed by the United States all the time? I’m not talking about “terrorists” (more on this in a second), but civilians. Regular folk. The same week of the Louisiana shooting, the U.S. was supporting a Saudi-led Arab coalition to bomb the fuck out of Yemen, killing thousands of civilians. (The bombing took a 5 day break so that humanitarian aid could reach what’s left of the city. It required about $1.6 billion in aid and funding was around $200 million, or 12.5% of what was needed.) I already wrote a thing about this same phenomenon when, the week of the Boston Marathon Bombing, 150 Iraqis were killed in suicide attacks, clearly a direct byproduct of our decade long invasion which destroyed the entire country and murdered nearly a million of its citizens. (Not to mention the million killed, many of them children, the previous 10 years by U.N./U.S. sanctions.) Did any of your hearts go out to them? Do they even enter your mind?

The list goes on and on. Not only do we not even think about the people we murder, but have the hubris to honor the murderers.

If you have a moral principle – namely, the opposition to the slaughter of innocent people – you have to extend the principle everywhere or else it’s worthless. To prioritize American (white) lives over all else is completely racist. To turn around and then lecture people about racism (see: Confederate Flag above) is an opus of hypocrisy.

This is not to say, however, that all tragedies are overshadowed by much larger tragedies existing elsewhere. Notice I'm not talking about Tsunamis or famine – things over which we have no control. I'm mentioning cases toward which "we" (our country) contribute, cases which we could actually influence if they ever entered the realm of public discourse.


Chattanooga Military Shooting

Why You’re Mad:

Some Muslim terrorist (thug, coward, etc.) shot four of our armed servicemen. Four heroes, according to every news outlet in America. This goes to show the irrational viciousness of the enemy with which we are constantly facing.

Why You’re a Hypocrite:

First is the nomenclature that passes as objective. The label of “terrorist” is one that is wholly problematic and should be considered offensive. Labeling this person a terrorist merely serves establishment agenda in their current international crusade of dominating the Middle East (and the globe) which has far more drastically violent consequences than, say, using the word "faggot" or "cunt" or "bossy." The inextricable link between Islam and terror that has been forged in our discourse as well as the propagation and proliferation of this looming, ominous, ambiguous threat is a huge victory for propaganda.

What makes this especially interesting is that these were members of the armed forces that were killed. So, if this is terrorism, what isn’t? How are nations/people supposed to fight back against U.S. violence if they can’t even go after the military itself? Remember, the U.S. invades, blockades, sanctions, and surrounds nations with military bases at will. Imagine what the reaction would be if any country (Iran, for example) did what we did to Iraq. Would we call them liberators? (Certainly they could rationalize their invasion with some kind of humanitarian pretext.) Or would we call them terrorists? Or an "axis of evil"? This is all playing out like a book that Orwell phoned in.

The way "our" people are humanized, and the “terrorist” demonized is classic media sleight of hand. Imagine how we’d feel if every person killed in a drone strike had their girlfriend’s text messages on the front page, or their families interviewed for cover stories in magazines. The newspaper would be thicker than a Game of Thrones book. This is indicative of a deeply engrained nationalism. (A nationalism that is symbolized by the American flag. Remember from before?) Look at the way we memorialize 9/11. The victims, the statues, the slogans. If we showed the same respect to every victim of our own viciousness, how would we possibly be able to carry on?

The ultimate irony, of course, is that "progressives" love to phrase social movements in terms of power structures. (Patriarchy, etc.) Using that same paradigm, the "Muslim world" is the oppressed subset of the global population while America is the privileged "straight white male" of the world. So, resisting U.S. violence with counter-violence (called "terrorism" in our media) is the ultimate rebellion against established power and, according to their own principles, should be lauded. In modern history, there is no greater example of "punching up" than 9/11.


Caitlyn Jenner

Why You’re Mad:

She’s a hero and she faces an unfair public reception from bigoted and intolerant people. The ultimate masculine role model and multi-medalled olympian risked it all in order to be who she truly is inside. What should be the ultimate feel-good story is being interrupted by people's unwillingness to grow and mature? This just demonstrates the challenge that all transgendered people face and speaks volumes about where we are at as a society and how much further we have to go.

Why You’re a Hypocrite:

CHELSEA MANNING! Not that the two have to be "at odds" with one another, but while you’re all tripping over yourselves to applaud Caitlyn Jenner for her bravery, you trampled over Chelsea Manning like she was a fallen Wal-Mart cretin on Black Friday. Chelsea is infinitely more courageous than Caitlyn will ever have to be, and for that she gets rewarded with near anonymity, three decades in maximum-security prison, and a lifetime of snarky condescension. (From the “left”; obviously the “right” straight up hates her. I mean, she's a transgender person who has been officially convicted of espionage. It's a Sean Hannity wet dream.)

What more does she have to do for you people?! She decrypted top secret video footage of a U.S. helicopter blowing the fuck out of some civilians as well as various other incriminating footage from our aught-wars and sent them to be shown to the citizens in whose name the violence was being carried out. For this, she was charged with espionage and sentenced to 35 years inside a military prison, where she currently rots. And on top of all of that, she came out as transgender, completely transitioned, while living in a fucking prison cell. Put her on the cover of Vanity Fair! Good god, what more do you want? She’s like a Megazord of Snowden and Jenner and the only recognition she gets is a paltry retweet or fav on her new (very limited) Twitter account. #TeamChelsea.


Donald Trump

Why You’re Mad:

Well, mostly because you are a partisan buffoon who buys into the sham of two-party politics as if it’s substantial. But, the out-of-context soundbites on Trump do reek of racism and ignorance and all that fun stuff out of which Jon Stewart loves to make a career. Trump stands for everything that is wrong with politics. He’s not academic, he’s intolerant, and he’s an out-of-touch billionaire, part of the wretched 1%. He’s a TV personality, not a real politician, and his supporters ought to be ashamed of themselves for being so gullible.

Why You’re a Hypocrite:

“Hope and Change.” Remember that? Remember when you simple-minded chimps fell for possibly the most transparent and vacuous slogan in the history of marketing? Not to mention that the entirety of politics is a public relations charade. The debates take place at about a 6th-grade reading level (compared to a 12th-grade level during the Lincoln-Douglas debates) and a pre-natal critical thinking level. Thanks primarily to television and now the Internet, the whole process is essentially a reality show which showcases personality and pandering rather than actual knowledge or reason. One minute to tackle complex geopolitical questions is begging for empty platitudes and slogans, as we see from every single candidate. Not a single politician has ever consistently and accurately cited the historical record and to single out Trump for his ignorance is excessively petulant. Look at what happens at the debates when someone actually does acknowledge a tiny sliver of reality:


Politics is about pandering to the majority. None of these people probably believe 99% of the shit they say (even if they do, it's irrelevant), but they know what will get them approval, votes, and attention. It’s all a game and Trump is playing it one way. Good for him. Obama’s game was to endear himself to the LGBT community (eventually), weed smokers, the traditional democratic “values” of higher taxes on rich, some Frankenstein of universal health care, and whatever other platitudes to which democrats are eternally slaves. Trump is appealing to a different group of constituents. Who cares? You can’t single out one politician over the others. Anyone with major traction in any of these races is going to be sociopathic and deceitful at best, ignorant and bigoted at worst. Take your pick, but don’t play the game of "our guy vs. their guy." Don't buy into this idea that America is a democracy. (It's not.) The whole thing is a joke, so we deserve to get jokes as candidates. To his credit, Trump is actually hilarious. He's like the über wealthy's Vermin Supreme. If you are into the idea of having a president at all, you're kind of a loser.


Other People’s Hypocrisies

Why You’re Mad:

People are being hypocritical. Can’t they see how the objects of their anger are calculated to obfuscate a more fundamental issue? How can they get so worked up about these things when there are such obviously more massive examples of the same principle sitting under their nose and for which they (their country/society) bear primary responsibility? It’s cultural narcissism and Orwellian double think at its most obvious!

Why You’re a Hypocrite:

What the fuck are you doing that’s so much better, you self-involved asshole? Ooh, you wrote a really long, moderately informed blog post pointing out why your social circle isn’t logically infallible. Woooooooooow. We’re so impressed. It takes such courage! You’re just exploiting the current zeitgeist for personal gain the same way everyone else is. You just think your view is more “advanced” which is even more pretentious and annoying. You even used pop culture GIFs to make your point, you hack. That’s, like, de facto blog-hysteria culture and now you’re a part of the thing you hate. Congratulations. There is no escape and you’re just another unnecessary voice screaming in an abyss of avatars. You're part of the problem. Was it worth whatever tiny amount of anxiety it temporarily relieved? Anxiety that so clearly stems from your inability to reconcile past personal events and future ambitions with current emotional weaknesses. So rather than accept responsibility for your own state of mind, you vomit a lengthy and entirely superfluous contribution to the social media hell-bath in exchange for mild relief and a few Facebook like dopamine drips. You're the worst.

You called other people narcissists. Is there anything more self-involved than proclaiming to have the ultimate perspective on a series of popular topics? Calling yourself out isn't going to make people think you're not a strident asshole. It just further establishes you as the solipsistic nightmare that you are. I know you think that by pointing at your own inherent hypocrisy, you think you’re doing some kind of meta-transcendence wherein you actually are above the modality of these discussions, but you’re just self-referential which is trite. Also, you had to look up “modality” to make sure you were using it right, you fraud.


Final Words

We made it!

Hopefully we can get back to doing exactly what we were doing before, only now when you see my avatar pop up on social media, you’ll think, “Oh that’s the guy with the hypocrisy blog thing. Yeah, fuck him.”

Long live atomization and alienation in the digital age.


Are We Always Conscious of our Motivations?


Are We Always Conscious of our Motivations?

Frequently in discussions, the idea of motivation is brought up. What drives behavior? What is the cause of people’s actions? What makes people behave the way they do? Many people stubbornly like to truncate this notion to the idea of belief – that is, they claim people’s actions are a direct result of their conscious beliefs – but belief is only one fraction of motivation. The entire sphere of motivation contains endless subsets of forces, dynamics, emotional states, unconscious and subconscious activity, and various psychological underpinnings, all of which have an influence on the resulting action(s). The idea of “belief” only covers the conscious motivations, which only tells one tiny part of the story.

We know that various socioeconomic factors will have an impact on constituent populations. That is, the presence of certain forces demonstrably have an impact on the behavior of the people living within them. Everyone acknowledges this. People tend, however, to skip the next step and therefore miss the (seemingly) obvious conclusion: if external socioeconomic (political, etc.) forces alter and affect the behavior of the people living inside the scope of these forces, then that means those forces must, on some level, affect the psychological state of those people.

This transformation is not always conscious. In fact, it rarely is. Societal forces act on people in ways that they are not always aware of. We know this. This is what clinical psychology helps the individual parse through. (I have many issues with clinical psychology in that it tends to alleviate pressure and allows people to “fit in,” but that’s a separate gripe for a separate post.) This fact is what advertising and public relations and political campaigning relies upon: that human behavior can be influenced by communicating with the unconscious mind. This means that people can behave in ways due to subconscious or unconscious motivators while simultaneously “believing” that their true motivation is the one of which they are aware (conscious).

...if external socioeconomic (political, etc.) forces alter and affect the behavior of the people living inside the scope of these forces, then that means those forces must, on some level, affect the psychological state of those people.

This concept is readily obvious when we are talking about our own personal lives. How many people are motivated sexually or intimately by various forces toward which they are completely ignorant? How many people get married “for the wrong reasons”? At the time, certainly each person would tell you they are marrying for “love" and “trust" and whatever other things they think are motivating them. But in situations where it is retroactively realized that wasn’t the case, honest people will eventually start to explore and understand some of the more fundamental and more “truthful” motivations behind their relationship. (Insecurity, lack of identity, replication of paternal dynamics, etc.) To sit there and say, “Well he/she said this is why they did it, so that’s why they did it!” is utter lunacy and leads to some pretty dangerous consequences of thought.

The notion of motivation is on heavy rotation in our current discourse. When someone tries to draw the causal link between, say, Islam and ISIS, they’ll usually quote the members of ISIS as incontrovertible proof that Islam is what is truly motivating them. But this neglects so many important factors that it’s absurdly petulant to stop thinking at that point. Who is ISIS? Where do they come from? Who is funding them? Who is propping them up? What environment did those people grow up in? These are all pertinent factors that will affect a group of people’s ability or willingness to become or join ISIS. These factors all play a part in the subconscious motivation of the people even though many of them truly think their primary motivator is the tenets of Islam. The fact that many of them have grown up around or heavily participated in brutal war their entire lives – some of which have seen their friends and family blown to bits (by U.S. tanks), for example – will have a significant impact on the range of behaviors in which they are willing to participate. It’s possible that their “religion” is merely the unifying ideology that gives context to their rage and action.

Another example: gangs in the United States. It is easy to see that what causes street gangs and street gang violence is poverty, disenfranchisement, lack of education, etc. But how many gang members would tell you these are the conscious motivators for what they do? Some might be able to recognize that and contextualize the situation. But most will probably talk about "territory” or "brotherhood” or “money.” Clearly the environments in which gang members grow up change their psychological state and therefore alter their databank of motivations. From normalizing death at an early age or being surrounded by violence and corruption or having little to lose, these factors help motivate people to do things that would, from another set of socio-economic – socio-psychological – circumstances (ours, for example), seem totally insane.

The same is true about the 9/11 hijackers. In the U.S., we swallow whole the propaganda surrounding 9/11. We act as if we were peacefully minding our own business and then, out of nowhere, some religious lunatics decided to cause death and destruction. People then claim, “They did it because of their beliefs! Listen to what they said!” Well, okay. If we were actually interested in learning why 9/11 occurred, we could listen to the mastermind himself, Osama Bin Laden. In November 2002 he wrote a Letter to America in which he outlined a very detailed explanation of why he (they) attacked the U.S. (us). The primary reason is because “you [the U.S.] attacked us and continue to attack us [Muslims].” He then lists various ways in which (he believes) this is the case: Israeli occupation in Palestine, U.N. sanctions against Iraq, extortion of oil, among many others. The controversial nature of these statements notwithstanding, at the very least we have to acknowledge that living on the butt-end of those factors and the subsequent interpretation and internalization of those factors could motivate an individual in a way that supersedes “religion.” Sure, some religious pretext can be used to galvanize and cohere certain ideas and emotions, but it’s reckless to assume that without religion, this very real resentment would be pacified internally in some way.

This is not, as some will inevitably accuse, an excuse or, worse, a condoning of these acts of violence. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Rather it is a demand to avoid oversimplifying things to such a childish degree and instead inspect the true “root” of violence so that we may better find a solution to stopping it. It does absolutely no good to point a finger at Islam whenever people carry out violence “in the name of Islam.” The effects of doing so are demonstrably disastrous. Continual bombing of populations to “root out” terror is what is causing and continuing terror in the first place. (The number one factor in the existence of suicide bombing, for example, is foreign occupation, not religion.) Not just by galvanizing “anti-American” support but also by imposing war-torn conditions on populations which then serve as motivating factors in the “radicalization” of populations.


Conscious motivations toward violence are very often non-religious in the traditional sense. (Although the fervor driving them can aptly be described as religious.) Look at the United States. The United States over the past 5 or 6 decades has been by far the most violent, aggressive country in the world. What drives our “state-capitalist extremists” (military) to violence? A lot of things. First of all, we have a complex system of propaganda indoctrinating every citizen with jingoistic views of geopolitics and history. This starts in the schools and is corroborated by media outlets, Hollywood, and the like. We are the good guys who stand for freedom, democracy, and sanity; “they” are insane lunatics who pose a threat to our values. This is a constant throughout our society and most of the West. From 9/11 (“they hate our freedom”) to Charlie Hebdo (“they attacked our freedom of speech”), various mouthpieces spew propaganda into our minds which change our fundamental motivations. (For example, the week after the Charlie Hebdo attack, after an avalanche of anti-Muslim rhetoric and discussion, the movie “American Sniper”, in which Bradley Cooper kills hundreds of Muslims, earned $90 million, breaking the Winter opening weekend record.) These “patriotic beliefs” are just as religious as Christianity or Islam as they are based on emotion and insulation rather than empirical data and reality.

What motivates a U.S. soldier to storm Iraq or Afghanistan? Or fly a drone into Pakistan? These people are motivated by irrational beliefs of “democracy” or “freedom” (two things that don’t actually exist in America) as well as the fraudulent notion of an “enemy.” This paradigm is not only implanted and installed by outside forces (media, schools, parents, society, etc.) but it is reaffirmed and lauded nearly unanimously by all agents of authority in our society. To go against this narrative is considered taboo. Dangerous. Uncouth. Anti-American. Unpatriotic. Many other words that they invented to discredit the truth. The unwillingness of many of us to inspect our own institutions with the scrutiny and critical eye with which we apply so easily and callously to “foreign” societies, populations, religions, and nations is the textbook definition of petulant hypocrisy.

It’s a cozy bed-time tale to tell ourselves that we’re the good guys fighting the bad guys. This is almost never truly the case. The 9/11 attacks did NOT pose a “threat to our freedom.” That’s an unjustifiably insane belief. Ironically, the government and media reaction to those attacks did pose a substantial threat the very freedom they claim to be protecting. From the Patriot Act to increased security measures to the increased violence overseas which help create “anti-American sentiment," these are actual infringements of our civil liberties, spearheaded by our friendly local, mom and pop federal government. However, many U.S. citizens happily complied with these new “security measures.” Three quarters of the population initially approved of the invasion of Iraq. If you asked U.S. citizens what their motivation was to submit to or approve these policies (if they knew about them at all), they’d tell you it is to “fight terror” or “defend freedom” or “kill the bad guys." However, in truth it was yet another example of a frightened, ignorant population capitulating to very calculated fear-mongering from institutional powers.

Funny how we’re not always completely aware of what drives us.


Bill Cosby and Institutional Violence

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Bill Cosby and Institutional Violence

Bill Cosby has been accused of rape by multiple women for decades and only now has the public learned about it.

Bill Cosby has been accused of rape by multiple women for decades and only now has the public learned about it.

This entire Bill Cosby fiasco is something I chimed in on a few weeks ago on Facebook. I wanted to expand a bit on my thoughts and make a more sweeping point.

For anyone who hasn’t heard, Bill Cosby has been accused of rape by over a dozen different women over the past few decades. These allegations have been re-brought to light due to a video of Hannibal Buress talking about it on stage in Philadelphia. The video went viral and the rape allegations are now being taken seriously.

What is interesting about this is if you listen to Hannibal speak about the material, he talks about how he wasn’t saying anything shocking. The information is (and was) out there. Not only is this verifiable with a quick Google search, but I can attest that in the comedy world this was relatively common knowledge. A lot of people in the comedy world probably assumed everyone just knew this information and that’s possibly why people haven’t talked about it. Why not?

My best guess is that people are afraid. Nobody wants to risk their career over something like that. Cosby is a living legend, a force in the industry. More importantly than that, he has made millions of dollars, off of which many many people have gotten rich (agents, managers, show runners, actors, EPs, etc.) so there are massive forces working to protect him (their investment). Sure, you could come out and take a stance, but the people who have vested interests in Cosby’s success (and reputation) will surely (and predictably) try and shut you down. They might accuse you of lying, blackball you from certain projects and employ various methods of marginalization or outright elimination. Deviant behavior is bad PR, especially if it’s true. So it makes sense that the forces profiting from a particular person or entity will do everything they can to maintain that position. In Cosby's case, the only reason he's so vulnerable is because he's not as relevant as he once was. That said, it will be interesting to see how his "team" responds behind the scenes.

These forces are the mechanisms of modern authority in institutions. This isn’t just true about our little comedy world. This is even more true and even more consequential in other, much larger industries. It goes all the way up from Hollywood to the NFL to corporate America to the U.S. Government. This is how our institutions function and how they suppress dissent in order to perpetuate their own power.

We can look at countless examples. This explains why Paterno and the Penn State administration were so adamant about keeping Sandusky a secret. They knew. They all knew. But it was bad for business. It demonstrated institutional failure with disastrous, horrific consequences, namely child molestation. Then, of course, it went public, it was pinned on a few people (rather than the institution itself), those people suffered tarnished reputations and were expelled and then, after some time, it was business as usual.

The same is true in the NFL. I promise you everyone in the NFL knows about all the scandals that come out way before they go public. It’s probably common knowledge. Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and most certainly much more, and much worse. (Ben Roethlisberger, for example.) The NFL protects rape and violence all the time because the institution (league in bed with sponsors) is protecting its own interests (power).

These are not isolated incidents as they are made to seem once they go public. No, these are embedded institutional failures. That is, namely, the priority of money and power over human behavior. The true criminal is the very institutions that coerce people to adopt those malevolent priorities in order to survive within them. And that is what we ought to be fighting against. Not the individual incidents of deviance, but the very institutions that protect them.

For brevity’s sake, I’ve limited the examples to the more popular ones, but there are countless others. (The Catholic Church, which is so tired a subject it barely needs mentioning.) Go into Hollywood and you’ll find the same thing. Probably worse. All sorts of prostitution rings and sex slavery, sexual coercion, things that are tantamount to rape, are extremely prevalent and relatively “known” commodities in that community. Ditto with Wall Street. But nobody says anything because the institution is what puts food on their tables and yachts in their marinas. So everyone has a reason to protect the institution and themselves. Remember, the people in power are the ones carrying out these vicious, horrific things. Are you really brave enough to go to war with that type of monster? The few who have have suffered terrifying consequences. All part of the plan.

Fred Hampton, leader of the Black Panther Party, was murdered by the FBI and Chicago Police on December 4, 1969.

Fred Hampton, leader of the Black Panther Party, was murdered by the FBI and Chicago Police on December 4, 1969.

The worst cases of this are governments and institutions with the ability to carry out true violence. You can go up and down this country’s history and find countless examples of this very thing. In the vein of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner killings and the subsequent Grand Jury decision to not indict either of the officers responsible, take a look at how the government has worked over the years to control, mitigate, and outright eliminate the black rights movements. Go back to the 60s when the FBI launched a ridiculous campaign to destroy the Black Panther Party (as well as many other dissident activist groups), ultimately crescendoing in the blatant murder of Fred Hampton. This is violent corruption that everyone within the institutions at fault knew about, full well. The FBI knew and the Chicago police knew. Nobody says anything because saying something is tantamount to warring with the powerful institution itself. In fact, the FBI agent who told Hoover that the Panthers were mostly concerned with their Free Breakfast Program was told that he was making a huge career mistake by not telling the FBI Director that the Panthers were “violent radicals.” Hampton’s tragic story is proof that institutional power will often stop at nothing to vanquish its opposition.

We can look at this indefinitely. The military, mercenary armies, genocide by sanctions, CIA inciting violent revolts in other countries to serve U.S. interests, U.S. support for oppressive regimes, etc. Some of this is controlled through propaganda (convincing the people within the institutions that this is actually good); some of it is controlled through outright fear and intimidation. “Say something and suffer the consequences.”

This is terrifying stuff, but I think we need to be aware of how these things function. They will allow us to see the bigger picture in many of these microcosmic examples that pop up all too frequently.

To bring it back, the entertainment industry, as well as Cosby’s wealth and fame, protected him for decades from justice. I suppose it's a good thing that people are realizing the truth about him now (better, that is, than never learning it) but it would be a massive failure on our end if we assumed that he was a lone wolf, a bad apple in a sea of otherwise altruistic forces. Most people are, deep down, good and well-intentioned. I believe this. However, our own ignorance and fear can evoke within us some pretty nefarious behavior. This includes simply being silent or allowing an institution to continue to subjugate and injure various people.

From the entertainment and sports industries, to the business world, to the government and beyond, the constant is the overwhelming power of institutions to prioritize maintaining that power over anything else. And, at a certain point, we are just as guilty for refusing to recognize our complicity in abetting that rather than what we should be doing, which is throwing stones.

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Facebook Recap


Facebook Recap

I've posted a few things on Facebook lately that are pseudo blog entries. So, I am just reposting them here.

December 11, 2014 (11:04 AM)

There is no “United States.” The problem is when people criticize the U.S., nationalistic citizens automatically get defensive because they embed their own personal identity in this (fraudulent) notion of “country." This is an issue because the actual policies of the U.S. have nothing to do with the constituent populous. The decisions that the “U.S.” makes are determined by an extremely exclusive concert of wealthy people’s interests, ranging from domestic policy to foreign policy all the way to covert, extrajudicial operations that qualify as neither. Those are the actions that define the “U.S.” The people have nearly no influence over these decisions so nationalism becomes an inherently phony connection. People who “love their country” do so in vain: the country doesn’t love them back. The “country” doesn’t care about anyone except those select few interests. “Love for country” becomes a unilateral, unrequited love which highlights the deep yearning we all have to feel a communal sense of belonging. It’s superficial. The “country” is lettered with silly tokens like a flag or certain buzzwords like “freedom” and “democracy.” These are all totally vacuous ploys to suck you dry. That’s why it’s even more tragic to see millions of well-intentioned individuals pour a very genuine energy into an entity that barely notices they exist. Due to the spiritually barren nature of our society, we are unable to satisfy that need organically, so we require shallow logos and concepts to bridge the gap. This “allegiance" clouds our perception. It makes us defensive about the behaviors of these oligarchical sociopaths that run this place, because we are desperately in love with the fraudulently unifying “icons” of those behaviors. Once this dangerous, vapid, petulant nationalist/jingoist connection is broken, we will all be able to inspect the behaviors of our “country” with a lot more honesty and objectivity and take the next step to rectifying the huge problem areas. Until then, we’ll continue to be the sad emo girl writing love poems in our journal about the hot guy in class who doesn’t even know our name.

December 9, 2014 (1:00 PM)

The Senate “Torture Report” was released today. As usual, mainstream garbage posing as a supposedly irrefutable example of dissent. “Doesn’t this undermine power? It makes the CIA look bad!” Ugh. This is an old tactic. We are looking at 10+ years of violent, aggressive, genocidal foreign policy in this “War on Terrorism" -- supported nearly across the board by both parties -- but now the conversation is changed to “torture.” “Should we have tortured? Are we torturing too much? Is torturing helpful to our war aims?” Never mind that the actual war aims themselves are wholly illegal and morally reprehensible. The conversation is changed from honestly inspecting the brutal reality of our foreign policy to a well-packaged “hot button issue” of this partisan attack that can be debated endlessly on news channels and turned into a movie or whatever puerile garbage the public consumes. This is not news. It’s olds. Just like Watergate: it’s power attacking power, which is NOT dissent. But nobody in this fucking country has a memory longer than a season of Breaking Bad so they can just keep telling us the same bed-time story over and over like we’re a nation of easily-pacified alzheimer’s patients.

December 8, 2014 (7:20 PM)

There is a movie coming out on Christmas where two American journalists are hired by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un. Could you imagine if there was a Pakistani movie about trying to murder Barack Obama? Or an Iraqi movie about killing George Bush? Would anyone be okay with this? The fucking ego and hypocrisy in this country is insane.

December 5, 2014 (12:53 PM)

Fred Hampton was a gifted, intelligent leader of the Black Panthers. He was murdered in his (drug-induced) sleep by the FBI (COINTELPRO) and Chicago Police during a raid on his house at 4:00 AM on December 4, 1969, part of a huge government operation to sabotage the BPP (and many other dissident groups). This is but one of many instances of power vanquishing black lives and, more importantly, snuffing out their ability to organize politically. So, this Brown/Garner shit might be new to white people, but it's an old story for black people. In fact, this is the BEST it's ever been. Scary stuff.

November 25, 2014 (4:49 AM)

Okay, so imagine it's hundreds of thousands of Michael Browns and Wilson is not only not indicted; he's the president.

Now does 9/11 make sense?

November 21, 2014 (11:21 AM)

Perfect example of how broken our system is. Celebrities can be easily taken down if we find out they did something fucked up. That is, out of the realm of what they are expected to do. But if we look at other people -- politicians, bankers, arms manufacturers, corporate heads -- their behavior is FAR more violent than Bill Cosby's (or Ray Rice's, or Adrian Peterson's, or Woody Allen's, etc.) but they avoid scrutiny because what they are doing is 100% in line with what has become normalized. These people are responsible for genocide, state terrorism, impoverishing and starving millions, thwarting national independence, domestic wealth inequality, vanquishing the public's voice, promoting the commoditization of the individual and therefore the eradication of humanity from within, and more. What happens if a comedian speaks out against this type of evil? Bill Hicks basically did to the establishment what Hannibal did to Cosby, so why didn't it have a similar effect? Much easier to take a stand on pudding rape (an obvious evil); much harder to take a stand on something complex and embedded. Unfortunately, this isn't a topical issue; it's in our blood.


I'm Not Ignoring You, I'm Just Suffering From a Socially Crippling Physical Ailment!

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I'm Not Ignoring You, I'm Just Suffering From a Socially Crippling Physical Ailment!

If you know me well or if you listen to my podcast or if you are familiar with my stand-up material, you might know that I have a hearing loss. I have talked about this before in various places but rarely have I been completely thorough in explaining myself. I felt a sudden compulsion (writers call it “inspiration”) to delve into detail about the specifics of this hearing loss as well as the impact it has had on my life thus far as well as its ongoing effects.

I say “hearing loss.” I should just be honest: I’m deaf. I’m a deaf man. A man who is deaf. DDDDDEEEEAAAAAAAFFFF! Not totally. The profoundly deaf would consider me part of the "hearing" community rather than their own. (I'm a hearing refugee!) I feel like I have a tendency to couch the verbiage in an effort of emotional self-preservation. I spent a good portion of my life in complete denial about this fact. I mean, I “knew” I had a severe hearing impairment, but I wouldn’t let myself truly KNOW it, if that makes sense. It was the intellectual “knowing," not the spiritual-emotional KNOWING.

Some (semi-brief) personal history:

I’m sure I’m going to butcher some of the chronology here, but when I was in pre-school — maybe it was kindergarten? — we did a classroom hearing test. This is standard procedure and a lot of you probably barely remember these things and if you do, you most likely remember it is an annoying formality. Not me! The nurse sat me in that chair and said, “Okay. I’m going to put these headphones on and you’re going to hear some beeps. If you hear a beep in your left ear, raise your left arm; if you hear a beep in your right ear, raise your right arm. Sound good?” Let me tell you guys. I did not hear ANYTHING that lady said. So we skipped the test and I was wooshed to the ear doctor.

He gave me a proper hearing test. The thing is, I am a great test taker. The ACTs, SATs, SAT IIs, finals, mid terms all gave me no anxiety whatsoever. The only test that makes me nervous is a hearing test. I hate it. I hate sucking at something. I hate waiting for the beep and not hearing it, then convincing myself that the light ringing in my ears is the beep so I optimistically raise my hand only to be told I have raised my hand at nothing and to “be sure you hear a beep before you raise your hand.” They charted my audiogram (graph of a person’s hearing ability with the frequency as the x-axis and decibel level on the y-axis). I have what is called a “cookie bite loss,” which looks like this:

By the way, odd choice on the nomenclature to call it “cookie bite loss.” Why bring pastries into it? Might as well have something like this:

Or this:

Either way, what "cookie bite" means is, basically, all my ranges are bad, but my middle frequencies are especially bad, which is where human speech takes place. The other thing with me is that while my volume is very low, my clarity is also very poor. So even if the volume is high enough (loud music, for example), I am often unable to make out what is actually being said. Make sense? Is this exhausting? I know. I’m sorry.

Anyway, the doctor recommended I wear hearing aids immediately but I was a real diva in my younger years. I was, as I’ve later discovered, in complete denial. I didn’t want to acknowledge this problem so if I never fixed it then that meant there was nothing to fix.

I had a brief stint with hearing aids when I was 11, at the insistence of my family and ear doctor. I wore what are called Completely In the Canal hearing aids (CICs). They look like this:

cic-2 copy.png

They were the smallest, most cosmetically apt devices on the market at the time. They ran about $4,000 a pair. (Hearing aids, except in rare circumstances, are almost never covered by insurance, by the way. This is mostly because most hearing loss is degenerative meaning most hearing patients are very old and unable to produce for society so, politically, nobody gives a shit but this is a different post for a different day!) Those models last around 4-5 years and require daily cleaning, weekly battery changes, and they must be removed if you shower, sleep, exercise, swim, or do anything else that puts pressure or moisture on the device.

I was in fifth grade and my teacher, by way of “classroom bucks” (which could be converted into extra credit or whatever) would bribe me into wearing my hearing aids. It worked, for a week or two. Then this girl Lauren asked me in the middle of class, “What’s in your ears??” Well, folks, that was all she wrote! My pube-less, virgin, already socially awkward, tiny boy self had heard (I did hear her!) all he needed to hear. I ripped those things out of my head like they were leeches sucking the blood of my ability to fit in.

I didn’t try wearing hearing aids again until I was 21.

Let’s rewind for a second. I want to paint a broader picture. Being unable to hear is a completely and totally isolating experience. I remember when my friends would watch movies, I would not be able to hear them so I would literally sit and stare at a very confusing screen and furthermore, to hide my defect, I would merely echo their responses. If they laughed, I let out a chuckle. If they acted surprised, I feigned an intense eyebrow raise. And so on. It was a nightmare. This is 20 years. TWENTY YEARS I did this shit.

The worst was in class when they did that “reading aloud” bullshit. The teacher would sadistically pick a chapter in the textbook to read and would have kids (AT RANDOM!!!! WHY????) read a paragraph. (Or two or three. YOU NEVER KNEW HOW MANY EACH PERSON READ! IT WAS A WHIMSICAL FORM OF EMOTIONAL TORTURE!!) So some kid, let’s say David, in the back would read, then after some unknown number of paragraphs, the teacher would say, “Okay, good. Now how about Jeremy?” Then Jeremy would read. Now for most kids, this was probably super boring. Not for me! It was hell. I was riveted, but only because I was surfing on the hell-waters of the River Styx. “Oh god she’s going to call my name! I have no idea where we are! AHHHH!” So what I would do is try my best to follow the rhythm of the other students’ speech patterns (since I was usually unable to make out what they were actually saying) and try to pair that with a sentence in the text book. So if a student said “a-bah-bah-ba-BAH-ba” I could find a sentence in the book that would potentially sound like that and be fairly confident that’s where we were in the reading. Insanity, I know.

It gets crazier.

So often people would ask me questions. I would know not because I heard them, but because I saw the normal bustle of the conversation stop and everyone turned to look at me. UH OH! Show time! WHAT’S MY LINE?! I usually had no idea. So, I’d use a similar strategy to the reading one. I would deduce based again on the rhythm of the conversation and the last sentence (which was the question, AKA my cue) the kind of response I needed to give. I would shy away from specifics and just give very broad, sweeping answers. Was it a yes or no question? Then a simple “yeah” will suffice. You might be asking yourself, “Why not just ask them to repeat it?” BECAUSE, YOU DOLT! YOU ONLY GET SO MANY “WHAT”S IN A DAY BEFORE THEY ALL TURN INTO POO MONSTERS AND STOP BEING YOUR FRIENDS. If I said “What?” or “Come again?” or “What’s that?” too many times, then it would trigger an alarm in their heads that something was WRONG with me. “What are you, deaf?!” YES, YOU FUCKWIT! THAT WOULD ONLY MAKE PERFECT SENSE, WOULDN’T IT! But everyone was so young and unable to process the nuance of humanity. So, we clumsily trudge along in our black and white paradigms (cool vs. retarded) of adolescence.

An exercise: put yourself in that position. It’s nearly impossible to truly understand but try. Imagine you are unable to hear almost everything that is said. For 20 years. And you know this. So you lack the confidence that almost everyone else takes for granted to even approach a verbal dialogue. How would you communicate? How would you socialize? How would you flirt?? SPOILER ALERT: You wouldn’t. You would shut down externally and stay in constant communication with the only person on earth you were guaranteed to hear: yourself.

And that was the biggest effect. I regressed into the sanctuary of my own thoughts. (Many people who know me are right now going, OH NOW I GET IT!) When my friends would watch movies and I would do that flickering-screen-stare-fake-out move, I would be lost in thought, contemplating whatever. When I was in the back seat of a car and the front seat people were showing off their ability to hear like bare-chested braggarts (read: having a conversation), I would take the hot air balloon express ride into my own head. During class if the teacher turned his/her back. During bus rides. Walking down the street. I basically spent 20 years of my life listening to my own one-person podcast. I got to some pretty wild places. When you have 20 years to think, you get to the outskirts of your own consciousness. It’s half cosmic beauty, half total solitary hell.

Let’s go back. When I was 21 (near the end of my college experiment), I decided enough was enough. I called my mom and told her I wanted to get hearing aids again. She reminded me that when I was twelve, they dropped $4K on a pair that I wore a total of 10 times. I acknowledged the immature mistake and vowed this time would be different. It was, to an extent. I got refitted for a new pair of CICs. I would wear them to class and whenever a situation “called for” them. It was partially effective. I ended up dropping out of school (a positive step nearly everyone in college should take), moving back home and I started dating my first girlfriend. (At 21. But that only makes too much sense now, right?)

In March of 2008, I moved to Chicago to pursue stand-up full time. I was wearing the hearing aids to perform because it is literally impossible to do without being able to hear the crowd’s response. Not just hecklers, but stand-up is a very fine-tuned volley between performer and audience, even if they are not disruptive. Their laughter is their communication and you need to be in sync with that.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how thankful I am that stand-up comedy exists as it has proven to be a near-ideal outlet for me. I can take all of that stored up thinking and project powerful bursts of it into crowds. Stand-up is basically thinking aloud, only this time everyone can jump in your head with you!

In October of 2008, everything changed. My ear doctor told me about a brand new hearing aid called Lyric, made by Insound (later bought by Phonak). Lyrics were a “24/7” hearing aid that required no battery changes or cleaning. You get them put in and they stay in for 2-3 months (or however long the battery lasts) then you come back to the ear doctor and have them replaced. You can shower with them, sleep with them, work out with them. The only thing you can’t do is swim or otherwise submerge your head. Oh, and they are completely invisible. They fit like this:

My audiogram was barely within range of the power of the devices but they needed to see if they would fit my canal as they were not custom, but came in a few sizes (Small, Medium, Large, etc.). I tried them and they were able to fit my canal. They came in a year subscription meaning you can get as many replacements as necessary within that year. The subscription cost around $1,800 per ear, per year, so $3,600 per year. (Again, not a dime covered by insurance.)

I have been wearing these ever since. It’s been almost 6 years and honestly it revolutionized my life. Full disclosure: they are not perfect. I still do not have anywhere close to normal hearing. I could probably stand to use a more powerful hearing aid, but the benefits of these — not having to take them out ever, not having to think about them really except for a few times a year — outweighed the negatives — not being able to swim, still not hearing at a “normal” level, and one of them can die at random in which case you have to go to the doctor and have it replaced. This is a problem because sometimes you have to wait a few days, which renders you out of commission in the meantime. (This actually happened to me this week which is what prompted this article.)

I still can’t hear 100% of movies so I watch them with subtitles and rarely go to the theaters. I have a hard time with hecklers because they are usually dark and far away so I can’t read their lips (another "trick" I picked up by accident over the years) or body language. I would say I hear now at around 70% of what you do. Which is a marked improvement. It has allowed me to be infinitely more social which has allowed a lot of my emotions to transcend their adaptive barriers.

I am still wired to default at “closed off.” In addition to not being able to hear well (still), I am extremely inwardly focused. A lot of times people think I’m ignoring them or being an asshole; I’m not. I either can’t hear you or I’m millions of miles away from you in terms of my thought-dot on the consciousness map. Also, small talk makes me uncomfortable. See, when you spend so much time stretching the limits of your own internal monologue, you get to some crazy places. Small talk with myself ended when I was two. I remember thinking to myself, “So what’s new in diapers?” and then whistled awkwardly while my consciousness and I just kind of stared at each other. Since then it’s been full-throttle, broodingly intense exploration, often propelled by depressive mood swings. So the shift back to folksy small talk is a jarring one for me. …and then maybe if you just accept death as part of the process, it isn’t anything to fear because I’ve already been dead and that was fine and being dead is the absence of feeling so I’m sitting here afraid of a not-thing which is so absurd and—Ah! What?? Oh, uh, yeah, um, that show is hilarious! Good seeing you, buddy!—it’s something that everyone goes through so it can’t be THAT terrible… In addition, I am so worried that I’m going to mishear someone in a small talk exchange that it gives me anxiety so I just blurt out weird fragments of my now-shattered train of thought. I don’t abide by the usual ebb-and-flow of stranger exchange and it’s just a mess for me so I often try to avoid it by maintaining that inward focus.

So much of my life has been defined by cynicism and a prickly personality. (That’s being generous.) Obviously no component of our emotional makeup has one root, but this hearing thing is definitely a big one. So much regression into myself has given me a very specific perspective on life. Some of which is beautiful and others are things that have to be overcome. The isolation has injected an extremely exploratory mind with a high dose of detachment and narcissistic influence. The results have been difficult as I seem to have an extremely intense need for affection, love, and intimacy — a very bright sensitivity — yet a lot of instincts which are antithetical to actualizing those needs. Bridging that gap, maintaining the strong qualities of this situation while weeding out and working through the hypocrisies and emotional pitfalls, this is my battle. Waging it is the remnant burden from this saga.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I am in the position to be able to overcome these. That I have the opportunity to grow. To change. To be better. To be in flux. To explore possibilities. It’s only in death that the possibilities are reduced to zero; so long as you’re alive, they're endless.

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Healthy Living


Healthy Living

A friend and I were discussing, well, a lot of things. Among them was the notion of the inseparability of an unconventional lifestyle and “insanity,” the idea that in order to be creative, one must live in a disruptive, often destructive, unorthodox manner. I think this is a popular belief, where we can get so wrapped up in the process of avoiding our insecurities and anxieties (the things that make us afraid) that we obsessively choose to identify with the resulting destructive behaviors of that so-called “insanity.” This is probably true even for non-creative types. I would imagine addicts justify their addiction this way. I know I have certainly justified purely compulsive, destructive behavior this way. “I know I shouldn’t do this, but hey, I’m crazy! I’ll give in because this is the same thing that makes me great!”

It’s not true. At least I don’t think it is. If I can quote myself without you thinking I’m literally the grossest person ever, I told my friend something I learned relatively recently, which is, “Healthy living trumps all.”

I have spent so much time in my own personal dungeon of misanthropic angst and I used to call it home. It felt comfortable. It felt right. I knew where shit was down there. I was somebody down there, the king of the lair, tilted black crown and all. But I was miserable there. It was comforting but it wasn’t satisfying. It was exciting (at times) but it wasn’t beautiful. It was dark and I played ping-pong with the shadows and demons from my past and present. I danced in the fire of my own emotional self-destruction. I celebrated my spiritual demise. I truly hated myself.

Ever since I moved to New York, I’ve been sort of forced to reexamine myself. Moving to a new city is always tough, but New York strips you bare. It smashes your ego and crushes your spirit and all you’re left with is yourself. The towering buildings and speeding subway cars are totally apathetic toward your success or failure. “You think you have something NEW to add that hasn’t already been thought of? Look around, asshole. There are people everywhere. You’re nothing! I’m a huge building!” The past 7 months have been an intense process of reflection and, later, of growth.

Last month, a friend of mine died. He was 24. I went to the wake and funeral. I still haven’t totally processed it. However, I learned a lot. (It makes me feel guilty to admit that.) The biggest take away from it was just how fleeting life is. I know it’s cliche or whatever but sometimes there is a difference between knowing something and understanding it. (Knowing is in the brain goo; understanding is in the heart/soul goo.) The experience of seeing death happen when it wasn’t supposed to transferred the idea of “life is fleeting” from the knowing to the understanding. I got it. It clicked.

Moving, being in such close proximity to death, as well as various other events and experience, acted in concert to prompt a very specific, very intense inspection of myself, inside and out. I realized that I was clinging so desperately to pain and negativity because it was all I knew. The Hostility Hut was comfortable because I had been there before. I was a regular. Everyone knew my name and my order there. “Hey, it’s Drew! Have a seat, pal. The usual? A large plate of ‘Everyone is a Fucking Moron Sent Here to Ruin My Life’ with a side of ‘Love is a Hoax Invented to Mock Me’ salad? You got it!” It was a defense. I kept the world at bay because I had been so hurt by it in the past. I didn’t trust anything or anyone. I was alone and I was desperate to make it someone else’s fault. "Love is something that I’m OWED by these fucking imbeciles! Why won’t they love me?! THEY OWE ME MY OWN SALVATION!!!"

This is no way to live. Life ends. Who the fuck am I? What the fuck is my pain worth? My anger? My resentment? You lie dead at the end and all of those things will vanish as well. All of my built up rage will die with me and lose its impotent, amorphous contour in a puff of meaningless smoke. They are all worthless. Dead weight on my boat. "Throw them overboard!”

That simple (yet very difficult) switch has been a transformative revelation: I am alive, which means I have possibilities. Death is the end of all such possibilities; life is the infiniteness of hope.

The process of growing, learning, engaging, being present in the moment, being more creative, using your natural resources (body, brain, heart, thoughts) to become your future self is fucking ridiculous. It’s the best. I can literally do whatever I want! I’m alive! Holy shit!!!! Yeah. It’s that simple. Alan Ball was right. I have fingers and arms that can play piano or write this stupid blog entry or hug another person! How insane. I can strip myself of my own ego and become a selfless piece of the human race, creating unconditional love and acceptance abound! I can use my thoughts and my voice to share ideas with others and my (admittedly terrible) ears to listen (the best I can) to other people’s ideas and concerns. I can eat mushrooms with my friends on a beach and experience a new perspective in which I say things like, “Clouds always have one foot out the door. They can’t commit like trees can.” I can be a part of this absurd thing we call life. Or existence. Or the universe.

What follows is an intense level of gratitude for existing at all and a burning desire to fill your life with beauty. This is the drive for healthy living. It supersedes everything else. This idea that we must spend our time (not so) secretly hating ourselves so that we may produce more creatively is flawed. If your creativity hinges upon your life being miserable, it is not worth it. I believe more of us have that choice than we like to think. I believe you can have both. I believe you can be even more creative by becoming more in touch with yourself in a positive way than you can by merely obsessing about and swimming in the pools of your own brooding darkness. It takes a much more creative and outward approach to grow than it does to obsess and rearrange your internal sordidness.


In my case, specifically, the next step of this was interesting: I realized that while a lot of my hostility was borne out of my own insecurity, the anger wasn’t necessarily wrong. I’ve started to reconcile that anger with more proper guidance. Once you step outside yourself, you can see that while hostility might not be the answer, there is a lot to be angry about. I think my emotional immaturity often conflated the two and it came out as one whiny burst of entitled bitching. But, time has afforded me the ability to uncross those wires:

What, Drew? What is there to be angry about? I thought we were so over that??


Here is what makes me angry:



Fuck the Constitution. Burn it. Everyone has ONE RIGHT and ONE RIGHT only: the right to live healthily.

It’s the most important. Society is currently designed to get the most out of its citizens. WRONG. It must be (re)designed to give the most to its citizens. (This includes all life, not just human life. It is a global society.) It needs to serve our deep yearning to live healthy lives, not our artificial desire to be satisfied consumers. This is on every level: physical, emotional, spiritual, and possibly others we haven’t even discovered yet. People should not have to eat processed foods, mass produced mana that merely sustains them so they can survive until tomorrow where they’re awoken by their blaring alarm clock, only to hit the snooze button and pray for nuclear holocaust which never comes so they beer-bong a gallon of coffee to “get them through the morning” at a job where they essentially sell their lives typing numbers into computers so they can afford the terrible foods which keep them alive so they can keep coming into the job they hate year after year, only to eventually get cancer from the nonsense they’ve been shoving into their digestive tracts. People should not be forced to pay taxes to a corrupt central institution that spies on, harasses, and otherwise prohibits its citizens while ruthlessly murdering citizens of foreign countries with impunity. People should not be socially coerced into adopting, learning, mastering, and obsessing over competitive technologies that eventually take over their lives to the point where we become a society of Internet-addicted, smartphone mongers, “freely” walking head-down into traffic. People should not be brainwashed consumers or “voters,” impotently throwing what few dollars they have toward propagating a system that acts against their own interests, clinging to the desperate belief that this is somehow going to yield positive social growth. People should not be so devoid of meaning, so emotionally empty, so desperate to escape their own lives that they spend all their “free” time flailing about these technologies, frantically searching for the next Netflix documentary or NBC sitcom or sporting event or political pundit program or Asian creampie video to watch.


Do not mistake my perspective on “American life” for cynicism. It is only because I am comparing our social norms to the hypothetical norms of a healthy society. A society where people are engaged not detached, self-aware not in denial, readily selfless toward their community not selfishly hoarding capital out of fear of poverty/collapse/other people. So when I see an obstacle to living well, an instrument of opposition to living well, a pillar of propaganda turning people against their own interests for the sake of production, I get angry. Angry because I know the succulent treasure of which we are being deprived. I have seen it! In bursts. It is possible. I have seen the synergetic possibilities of human selflessness. I believe we all have. To oppose those possibilities, or to stand in their way, is tantamount to spiritual genocide. It’s a valid anger. The anger is so much stronger too because I know now that it’s not emerging from the depths of my own wretched self-loathing; no, it comes from an authentic internal volcano that erupts recurring bellows: “THIS IS WRONG, GOD DAMN IT.” I’m fighting on the side of healthy living. That is the one and only “right side of history.”

Cultures and individuals are not that different. Our society is full of hostility, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, insecurity, anxiety, and fear.

As a society, we must reexamine ourselves, break ourselves down and be willing to confront our demons and our collective insecurities. We can't let fear control us and allow our power to be diverted into the hands of a sociopathic ethos. We must completely gut ourselves in the effort of being remade. It will be painfulWe will learn things about ourselves we wish we did not know. But ultimately, these will be beneficial. We can then face our fundamental issues with confidence rather than cower from them in fear. Are we creating a safe place for NEW HUMANS (children)? Do we infuse them with a healthy life or deprive them of their potential at every turn? Do we show love to ourselves? What is the cost of our material gains? Does a healthy society pillage its land base and its xeno-species neighbors or does it strike a balance of love and reciprocity? We live in a hostile society with cement, glass, and commerce running through its veins. What is the source of this hostility? What are we so afraid of?

Remember, the collective fear of our civilization will die with us. What good was the Roman arrogance in the end? What of the ostentatiousness of the Greeks? Or the Chinese? Or the decadence of the Europeans?

We must rid ourselves of the ghosts that haunt us, the aggregate worry that we aren't good enough, collectively and individually. We are. We have the power of humanity inside of us, here and now, free to use any time we want. We can endure the requisite pain and remodeling. All it costs is being true to ourselves and each other. The rewards are heaven on earth: all of us, together, engaged in healthy living. What could possibly be more important? 


Behind Your Face


Behind Your Face

The answer is not in front of your face. It is behind it. Look within! You have all the answers inside of you. Our human capabilities are so magnificent it breaks my heart to see people afraid to tap into them. I get it. It's a confounding web of existential gunk. But that's where you exist. Inside of that web. Around it. Of it. About it. Within it. You ARE that web. It is you. The world wants to tell you to ignore that. "Pay it no heed, friend! Focus your efforts on buildings and elevators and sunglasses and banks! Production is the way to enlightenment!" screams the rotten whore-corpse of commerce. We all have a very common desire to find ourselves. We have an energy that drives that search. The energy is frantically rerouted to things that are of no importance. "Vote for THIS politician! He/She is the light!" "Buy THIS car! It will help you find the truth!" "You will die if you don't wear this visor and type these numbers! Save yourself!" No. All wrong. You need none of these things. You need to let go of these things. Let go of your worries and clear out all but yourself. Which you have, and have had all along. It's there. Everything you want. Right behind your stupid face. In front of your face, we are all waiting for you to join us.


I Lost A Friend


I Lost A Friend

When Joe called to tell me that Dan Ronan died, I didn’t believe it. Not that I couldn’t believe it, of course I could. I had all but foreseen it. But it’s one thing to believe something and then be confronted with accepting it as having happened. What a ridiculous moment in time. Perhaps this is premature as I’m sure I haven’t fully processed the reality we’ve all been forced to face, but I felt compelled to write this. To write something. It’s probably going to be sloppy but perhaps it should be. I lost a friend. I am crying as I write this.

If I’m being honest with myself, I lost him months ago. Back in December, when I looked into his eyes, I realized he was already gone. Something had taken hold of him so completely and it did not let go. It grabbed his soul by the hair and everyone around him was forced to watch him thrash and struggle against the demon that would inevitably swallow him whole. I saw this in his eyes. I knew then it was a matter of when, not if. I resigned myself to that and walked away to spare myself the turmoil. To spare mySELF! How selfish! Who am I to place my own sense of well being above a loved-one’s fight to LIVE?!

I’m sure as time goes on I’ll feel guilty about that day. I’m sure I’ll have my Oskar Schindler moment. “I could have done more!” But the cold truth is I am not a magician. I couldn’t fix this. I tried my best to do everything I could to help and to prevent this. I held interventions, I talked with his family, I talked with his friends, I talked with him for hours and hours and hours. We cried in each other’s arms in the wake of some of the damage. But those were all human efforts against what proved to be a superhuman force. We were all relegated to sideline duty as Dan sparred with himself.

I don’t care for the word “addict.” Dan had such a drive, mostly powered by compulsiveness. If only that energy could be funneled toward something productive - comedy, producing a show, being a friend - all would be well! But our humanity kicks in. Stress and insecurity try and knock us off the high wire as we try and keep our balance. Some people are able to walk easier than others. Dan’s walk was a burdened one. It wasn’t something I would wish on anyone. He was plagued by his own mind and spent his entire life trying to regain and maintain his balance. When the turbulent internal forces became too great, he would often succumb. He gave in because it was borderline insane to keep fighting. Just give in! It’s so easy and would feel sooooo nice! And I’m sure it did feel nice. At first. It’s hard for anyone outside of his pentagram to make a compelling argument not to give in. Everything we say, all of our cozy rationale, our entire web of “logic" is devoid of the intimate knowledge of what it is to be incessantly harped on by a tireless succubus that lives in your heart and feeds on your emotions like a spiritual tapeworm. It’s ugly, ugly, ugly. I should know. I looked into its eyes. They were right where my friend’s used to be.

Forgive the morbid language. I would be remiss to neglect the goofiness that Dan loved and embraced. The same motor that drove his troubles also powered his talent. A yin and yang, if you will. He was indefatigable in his pursuit of comedy. Not just as a job, but as a way of life. He was the first one to crack a joke at his own intervention. He is author of some of the greatest “Man on the Street” moments (a segment of The Lincoln Lodge where an anchor would go out to the street and conduct impromptu interviews with passersby). He was a huge part of The Late Live Show. (Check out one of Joe’s favorite sketches.) He was invaluable to the production of Comedians You Should Know. Almost every booker he came into contact with took an interest in him and wanted to help him by giving him spots.

I remember taking him to LaCrosse, Wisconsin for a god-awful one-nighter. The headliner closed with 15 minutes of Simpsons and Family Guy impressions and the whole drive back, after staring out the window in utter disbelief for an hour, we laughed at how ridiculous this whole comedy thing is. He was always fun to have in the car or on the show. He sincerely wanted to be a good person. He wanted to be a good friend. He wanted to make everyone’s lives better, whether it was by making them laugh or just by being with them.

These are facts, untainted by any nostalgic glasses with rose-colored lenses.

Even so, fuck the facts. The facts are brutal. I acknowledge them, but I choose to remember Dan as the person he wanted to be. He was a good friend, he was a talented comedian, he was a caring human; it’s just that his self-actualization was cruelly interrupted by the hands of fate. And so we press on against that same tide as best we can. Together.

I honestly believe Dan is in a better place now. I don’t mean that in any spiritual or metaphysical sense. I am not speaking about an after-life. I mean that the total absence of consciousness in Dan’s case is almost preferable to being bombarded with daily waves of violent compulsion. He battled as well as he could. He had some really beautiful and special people on his side who I have been lucky enough to know and we will all lament this loss.

Dan’s fight is over. He is finally at peace. The heart-breaking tragedy is that he never got to live that way.






There is obviously plenty of talk on the media’s influence on our self-esteem, self-image, worldview, and on and on depending on how far down you scroll on your Facebook news feed. And I suppose it’s a relatively healthy discussion, if you can filter out the hysteria without letting it ruin your day. But the discussion is relatively by-the-numbers: media place an unfair standard on women that hyper-sexualizes them, demeans them, puts them in a secondary role, objectifies them, etc. It does the same to men, but in ways that are applicable to the sex appeal they have to women: values being money, “success,” stability, charm, humor, dick size, etc. It creates unreasonable standards for both of us precisely because it is the diametric projection of our collective insecurities. We are paying to watch people be not-flawed.

As a heterosexual man, how I relate to women is obviously affected by the distortion. Certainly I objectify women more because of the images I’ve absorbed -- be it magazine covers, TV shows, public discourse, or porn, etc. It’s possible my preference for white-skinned women is a result of media exposure. It’s possible that even my ardent clinging to heterosexuality is media-based. All of these things are present, most definitely. But I feel that perhaps a separate, more potent influence takes root, one that is often overlooked, ignored, or outright unseen.

I’ve been in those movie-like situations where you meet a new girl and there is a spontaneity between you that is so fleeting it’s as tragic as it is intoxicating. Where all you can do is lay entangled in bed, contorting your bodies based on the synaptic symphony conducted by your arrogant genitalia. There are moments like that in life that give hope to the idea that humans are capable of perfection. However, no matter how beautiful the girl is, how defenselessly attracted to her I am, no matter how “perfect” the moment or how poetic our whispers or how intimate our stares, this moment can never live up to the fantasy captured in movies because I’m NOT WATCHING IT. Rather, I’m very much IN IT. It’s ME in the bed. Those are MY feelings at stake and MY walls that could fall down and MY inner-child that is vulnerable. It’s MY fear. The discomfort and nervousness is MINE. The knowledge that true connection will require a complete disrobing of MY personality, the removal of MY mask, the baring of MY soul, it’s MY burden. It presents as much likelihood of nirvana as it does utter torment and those are possible outcomes for MY life. The safeguard of voyeurism has dissipated and left me totally naked.

And I can’t help but wonder if that’s not the more fundamental damaging effect that visual media have on our consciousness: it’s not so much that it puts unrealistic expectations on the other to be perfect; rather it puts unrealistic expectations on ourselves to be impenetrable.