Angry Conversation With a Stranger On A Train

It’s October of last year in the evening. I’ve made it to the train station just in time, half-walking and half-jogging.   My mood is somewhat relieved and I’m looking forward to listening to some music in the bliss of the ride home.

Hopping on the train at the Lake Forest stop, I grabbed a seat on the upper deck, put the other two down near me, and proceeded to lay down on them as a kind of makeshift bed.

Laying down, I glance up at my phone as I browsed through reddit and the newest stories of the perpetual outraged, headphones playing loud angry music in my ear.  Yes, I find Senses Fail to be quite relaxing.

Sounds.

Voiced sounds.

It looks like the guy across is talking to me.  His lips are moving.

Is he?

Yes, he is.

I take out my headphones and he wants to know if I’m okay,  as I was coughing while laying down.  He mentions that, “I’ve seen people die on this train.”

His tone of voice and his non-verbals are seeped in “hidden” distaste for me.  I ignore it, brush it off, and assure him I’m fine as I go back to Reddit.

15 minutes later I notice he is saying something again.

I take out my headphones to hear him.

By the way his mouth is moving and the look on his face, he doesn’t look happy.  This time he seemed VERY agitated about the way I was sitting. Apparently he thought I might be taking pictures of him with my phone, which I wasn’t.  I thought this odd considering how I was sitting and the direction I was facing.

He is now quite upset by the way I was laying down.

Again, he tells me that I am being rude.  How? My semi-open dangling legs were exposing my crotch to the Indian girl sitting several seats down and that was apparently very rude.

It was then that I realized I had been targeted.

He wasn’t going to let this go.  He was looking for a verbal confrontation and his cross-hairs had landed directly on me.

I sat up, took the initiative, and attempted to deflect and diffuse the verbal attacks.  I am a communications major after all.  Finally, perhaps I can see how well some of theories apply to real-world situations.

He’s in a half-rage mode; a strawman here and an angry passive-aggressive accusation there.  The anger and frustration in his voice is starting to build.   Conclusions and assumptions about me are landing left and right.

I’m taken back for a second. I was startled – almost confused.

What is this tumblr?  Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration.  

Picture courtsey of http://baptistnews.com/
Picture courtsey of http://baptistnews.com/

Apparently I was some punk ass-kid/student from Chicago coming down here to get off at Libertyville station stop and I didn’t give a fuck about the other people on the train.  Perhaps it’s my “hipster look” that planted the seeds of wrath.  I prefer to think of it instead as well-groomed and well-dressed for my stature. 

I pointed out to him that NO ONE has ever objected to the way I’ve laid down before.

In fact,  it had NEVER happened before.  He was the first damn one.  I’m starting get irritated now with him and how this has all started.

He insists its a matter of being respectful. My inner philosopher ignites and I assume that he will have a post-modern framework for his concept on “respect” and as to what constitutes as my previous “rude” behavior.   I begin my philosophical adventure.

I proceeded to question him on how he knew what was “Respectful.”  He appeals to the way he was raised.  Interesting.   Apparently us young punks know nothing about respect – I secretly agree with him.

Further in the conversation reveals that he is basing his view of the concept on experience, tradition, and essentially his parents.   This actually creates in me some respect for him and it causes me to pause in my planned verbal retaliation.

I started trying to think to myself about why he was giving me such a hard time. It was a serious, “Dude, wtf?” moment of thought.   Should I stand up for myself and not put up with this crap?  Perhaps I wasn’t giving him a reason to respect me.

We were now at a point where  I suspected that other people were going to become involved as his tone of voice kept getting louder.

Great.

I wasn’t in the mood for this to escalate and as much as I enjoy uncomfortable situations, this was lacking the humorous and adventurous side  to it.  Also, I was hoping the conductors weren’t going to get involved, though I was certain they’d side with me.

No, I was going to fight my own battles.  That’s what a man does – when he can.

It was here the conversation turned.

I pointed out to him I lived in Fox Lake, I also told him about how I thought his age had nothing to do with whether I respected his opinions or not.  Living in Fox Lake meant that I wasn’t some spoiled rich yuppie from Libertyville who thinks that the world is my trash dump.

I ask a few questions meant to flush out what was bugging him – what had caused the initial simmer of suppressed rage inside him.  I knew there was more here than meant the eye.  No one flies off the handle over something so small…

Conversations like these – maybe not as heated at first as this one was – are something I live for.  They break up the routine of my day. I made the most out of this one and I’m glad I did, because I learned something. 

This fellow’s name was Jim.

I plied Jim for more about himself and he told me his back-story.   He’s a 53 year old micro-biologist who works his ass off to put his two of his three daughters through college. His marriage leaves much to be desired and “support” isn’t something he’s experienced in a while. He’s struggling financially, but fishing with his buddies at least gives him some reprieve.   Put blankly, he feels unfulfilled, confused, and somewhat jaded through life – a state of almost mental and emotional exhaustion.

Even though, my situation isn’t even close to his, I felt a kind of kinship for Jim – as man to man.   It’s no accident that I feel as I’ve met people just like him before with similar frustrations with life.

I feel a sense of sympathy for him.

During the rest of the ride and our conversation, he would apologize several times to me. Throughout the conversations, he would continue this regarding the initial assumptions he had made about me, but I told him not to worry about it.

“The past is the past,” I told him.   For the most part, that is a motto I live by.

Jim you see is a classic example of a guy going on through life who needs a chance to vent every once in a while, but doesn’t.  I don’t know if he’s ever really been given the chance, but I suspect he’s had this bottled up in him for a while.

It was the small action of the way I laid that set him off.  I had experienced my own WW1 spark in interpersonal conflict.

Jim is a good guy, but he’s been through a lot more than I would have thought.  . He tells me stories about how he’s been attacked and beat up in Fox Lake outside of bars.  Drinking sometimes has a steeper price than a hangover.

He was starting to see crime, drug deals around the Fox Lake train station and even right outside the Thortons nearby.  The realization of the scuminess of my town and that of humanity was getting to him. He emphasized that no one cared about what had happened to him or what was happening around.

That was what got me. No one cared about what he had seen, heard, and experienced so he never bothered to vent about it.    No support, he just kept it tightly wrapped and wound up.

What happened to Jim – just one action- that magnifies to a great extent the rest of what he has been feeling and seeing can happen to myself.

I literally told him when we got off the train, “There’s only so much a man can handle before he explodes.”  I’ll never forget the look on his face. It was one of gratitude and of shock in that he realized I understood him – despite our difference in age and situations.

                                    In every story and conversation there is a lesson.

 

All men out there need a time and a chance to vent.   This isn’t toxic masculinity; it’s the necessary expression of rage and anger that we are forced to keep a lid on.

This of course doesn’t change the fact that most men keep this rage, frustration, depression, and anger pent up.   Some have found ways to manage – the gym, 1st person shooters, sports, ect, but is it enough?  I suppose  these methods won’t get your a way that won’t get you arrested, hated, and in constant fights with your wife, but there must be more.

We all need friends – real friends – as an outlet and as support to  get things off your chest that no one else will understand or be able to hear.   Your wife, girlfriend, or effeminate therapist wont’ be able to console you in the same way that other men will.  These male friends can provide you with the wisdom that is gained from the experience of life, as well as the understanding of the vast challenges that men face in today’s culture.

They won’t BS you, but they will hear you out, and offer the necessary – if rough – advice that others won’t.  Reddit might be one way to do this, but face-to-face with close male friends is the best.  This isn’t homosexual, it’s simply men getting close with another and bonding over the challenges and quest that is life.

Get it all off your chest.

We all have pent up rage that builds. It’s a matter of fact of life. The people who explode are some how seen as terrible, immature, ect but the reality of life is that this is just a natural part of humanity.

Let it go.

Don’t be afraid to tell your friends what’s really on your mind.  Be yourself and I’m not saying that in a BS “feel good” cultural way.  Find and make close male friends who are willing to help you out and offer you solid wise advice.

Before we parted ways at the station, Jim told me he was glad the conversation happened.

I was too.

It was a raw unfiltered and genuine conversation that should happen between men more often.

 

Rejecting Guilt By Association

Regardless of what mortals you follow, adore, admire, and pay homage you will at some point disagree with them.  Whether it’s most of the time or almost never, no one will ever hold exactly all the viewpoints that you have come to cherish.

A tweet from Milo Yiannapolous prompted the above line of thought in which he voices disagreement with libertarians on the NSA spying incident – color my libertarian tendencies irked.

https://twitter.com/Nero/status/591284596190347264

Obviously, he is mistaken, as his his later tweet about Snowden being a traitor and not a hero.   I’m also above reproach in my conclusion. 

Today, the internet echo-chamber or “communities” as we call them is often bereft of any actual substance in discussion when it comes to disagreement over just about anything.  Dissenters are labeled “concern trolls” or just “trolls” in general.   In fact the word, “troll” has lost it’s meaning because of the abuse of the term.

Throw in “safe-spaces” and this takes on a whole new layer of people who immediately dismiss anything that comes from an opposing side.   If you make the mistake of identifying with a label that is considered “bad” or triggering, everything you say is immediately dismissed – regardless of the validity of what you say.

We need to start judging statements, comments, and opinions based on what they actually are –  the merit and validity of them – instead of who said them.    Whether they come from a radical liberal feminist or a neo-con warhawk, it shouldn’t matter; we need to reject guilt by association.

Encountering the “Other Side”

Take for example Cindy Brandt’s site/blog which I recently came across and her post, “You Don’t Need To Tell Me You Don’t Agree.”   She actually makes alot of good points, despite certain… social justice affiliations.

Well, I don’t agree.   Okay, I couldn’t resist.  Take a look at this specific observation:

“Which one of us agrees on everything with any other single person? No one! Certainly, many of us share similar passions and congregate according to common interests, it’s only human to interact with those who you resonate easily with. But if you dig deeper, or you spend enough time together, it isn’t long before one discovers there are indeed some, if not many points of disagreements with those we are in relationship with.”

As she points out, no one will  ever agree on everything, but with today’s identity politics and culture its often either all or nothing.  If someone doesn’t share enough “similar” passions, interests, and convictions,  chances are that most people won’t give anything they say the time of day.   This is more likely if they know about your “opinions” and affiliations before they evaluate what you’ve actually said.

“If we are honest with ourselves, adding the phrase is a form of social insurance. We want to protect ourselves from the risk of being associated with certain things this person represents. “

It certainly is a form of social insurance, but why?

People seem conditioned to pre-judge and make assumptions based on labels and what they “represent”, so what choice is there but to adjust? Unfortunately, this is the reality of where we are at.  It rather sucks that these qualifiers are needed, but can anyone point to topics of conversation where they aren’t?

The risk of being associated with someone who is deemed a racist, bigot, homophobe, ect or any other culturally deemed demagogues can be cause for your employment to be revoked. Consider Razib Khan who was initially hired by the New York Times, but then let go because of his “association” with right-wing publications who were deemed to be mired in racism.    So much for diversity of opinion right?

Whoever was working here must have spilled this paint...
Whoever was working here must have spilled this paint…

Shockingly, the fact that he isn’t even white was enough to save him from the wrath of social justice warriors who usually excuse certain people from terrible actions, deeds, and statements based purely on their genetics.  Another mighty journalism giant bows before Gawker and SJWs.    Apparently, all you need to do is label someone a racist enough to make them suffer the effects of today’s modern heresy.

For instance, Cindy describes herself as “social justice-y” on the side bar of her site.  GASP!

Someone, pull the alarm.   Danger is near.

  My spidey sense is tingling.

Now a large amount of people will probably dismiss anything she has to say because of the affiliation with social justice.  Don’t make that mistake; don’t fall prey to guilt by association.  I  may fall to this ever constant trap subconsciously, but then force myself to read what is actually state.  Some exceptions are made for Tumblr…

I strongly disagree with almost everything  modern day social justice folks advocate – what normal sane person wouldn’t – but I won’t necessarily dismiss something because of who is advocating it.

“We can dialogue with people as people, other human beings with different personalities, life experiences, and ideas. We can celebrate common ground without erecting walls or drawing boundary lines. We can connect without disclaimers, embracing the whole of our conversation partner along with her ideas. Let’s base our conversations with one another from a place of shared humanity instead of basing it on fear by association. “

Is this really possible? Can we connect without disclaimers? I don’t think we can.

Tales From The Online Crypt

I recently encountered and “argued” with some conservatives on TheRightScoop about the subject of police abuse.   Obviously, they deny this is a real problem.  In order to even get them to look at anything I have to say, I had to utter the following disclaimer, “I’m not a democrat…”

This is of course true, but if I didn’t point this out, said conservatives would assume I’m some sort of liberal because I disagree with one of their viewpoints.

Behold, the current state of online discourse.

If you disagree with someone on an issue you are immediately considered to be a follower of the opposing “side”.   If you disagree with some of the trash on the Huffington Post, you are a right-wing bigot, ect, ect, ect.   If you take issue with something on Breitbart you are left-wing marxist, socialist, ect, ect, ect.    Qualifiers are absolutely necessary.

“The power of association, of tribes, of communities, is so strong that we take extra measures to ensure boundaries are clearly marked, compelling us to insert disclaimers even in casual conversation. We are so fearful of being grouped with the “wrong” crowd as perceived by the person we are speaking with.

I do not think this is a healthy way to dialogue. I think it is a sign of disrespect to curate someone’s ideas, extracting it from their whole selves with all of their complexities and personhood.”

She is right; it’s not a healthy way to dialogue.   Yes, we must consider the context of a person – if that makes sense –  which is necessary to fully understand their ideas and why they have them. However, in today’s charged, “guilt by association” culture, you absolutely have to introduce qualifiers into the conversation or anything you say will be dismissed based on you supposedly are.

The need for safe spaces...
The need for safe spaces…

One popular “Debate” tactic is Godwin’s law.   To sum that up, it means that you equate a certain argument, idea, or even person to Hitler.  This of course invalidates anything they have to say.  Or does it?

Just because Hitler said something, doesn’t qualify it as being incorrect – such as his radical environmentalism, state control of “healthcare”, ect.   In fact, I’m sure almost everyone today holds some positions that Hitler advocated on economics, state control and power, and the environment.

Color me shocked.

This time-held tactic is “guilt by association/wrong by association” and is employed by disingenuous teenagers, tumblrites, and many adults who want to shout down others based on who they are, rather then what they’ve said on extremely important blogs and websites where their comments clearly make a difference.

 

Don’t be one of “those” people.

People who engage in daily displays on their Facebook feeds in guilt by association tactics usually have something in common;  they are angry, upset, and jaded.

Their life is a never ending stream of  un-fulfilled selfies, self-loathing, and vicious attacks on anyone who looks like they wallowed in depression for weeks upon end.   All of these bitter people online have one goal in mind; if they can’t be happy – neither can you.

Go outside of your bubble and live.

It’s been said that you can’t argue with certain people, and that is true. Argument however shouldn’t be the goal of every interaction.  You don’t need to “win”.    All you need to do is engage, discuss, and see if any new seeds are planted in either your mind or your “opponent.”   In order to any of that, you must reject guilt by association.

Perhaps, you may just develop a relationship with someone where you don’t need qualifiers, but you must take the initiative to do just that.

I encourage all to go out and have face-to-face conversations with people you know you disagree with. You will be surprised at what happens when both of you or others involved have a conversation that isn’t based on “convincing” anyone of a particular point, but is focused on the exchange of ideas and worldviews.

This is how you grow and become a more rounded individual.

 It is one of the first steps in today’s vicious culture in becoming a renaissance man.

Reject guilt by association.

#RaceTogether And Have Your Reputation Destroyed

Prepare Your Smartphones For War

#RaceTogether is a minefield filled with short-tempered caffeine deprived customers who consider the concept of patience to be hate-speech rather then a virtue.   Then throw in some barbed wired and machine gun nests known as the smart-phone.

Every one has a smart phone these days that can record any conversation – a blessing and a curse.   It’s a foregone conclusion that any actual honest dialogue can take place between groups of extremely racially sensitive people.   Your words are a tweet away from being broadcast to the dark corners of tumblr dwelling other-kins and SJWs who haven’t forget that people with dissenting opinions are actual humans.   Davis Aurini makes a good point about this:

That is just the obvious hindrance.  The actual primary problem is that people view this entire idea as less of a conversation and more of a, “I’m mad at your kind of people for these reasons,” lecture.   Actual dialogue on a subject so controversial can’t take place in any public setting as you could lose your job.

In fact, it doesn’t actually matter if you are what society considers to be a “racist” or any one of the “ists” these days.   Once accused in the public eye – or rather the social media feed – you are guilty until proven innocent which means you are forever guilty on a basic Google search.

Caffeine Deprived Intruders Are On Their Way.
Caffeine Deprived Intruders Are On Their Way.

The Poor Baristas…

Let’s think about the Baristas for just a second.  Not only does #RaceTogether fulfill that old joke about SJWs at liberal arts colleges becoming Baristas, it adds a particular new explosive compound for angry uptight customers to get free beverages and add further misery to the idea of “customer service.”

Perhaps Schultz has been preparing his guinea pigs for these kinds of experiments all along and actually intends to scare off some of his already well-off liberal white types who spend 3k+ on Starbucks a year.  After all, how many flak barrages intended to induce white self-loathing can these types endure?

Schultz’s idea will create friendly fire situations and the casualties will be his own fellow ideologues.   Think about it, how many of the intended targets – backwater redneck conservative stereotypes – actually frequent Starbucks who aren’t actively boycotting it?  That was a rhetorical question.

Despite the backlash and drubbing coming from various sides of the spectrum , some of the mainstream media consider this a great idea. Time Magazine actually proclaimed #RaceTogether as a “brilliant” and “bold move” rather then a kamikaze mission in which allies will have their eco friendly cars sunk.   No, this doesn’t make me happy, it makes me sad.

What about the dialogue?

An honest conversation about race will only occur (1) between friends & family with liquor involved and the smartphones put away and (2) when people stop seeing every last damn thing through a racial lens – namely SJWs and many on the left who base their entire identity off race rather then the actual person.

Remember, vast generalizations and labels of people based on their race, ethnicity, and gender are perfectly acceptable as long as it’s the right people.    Being judged based on who you are is just too tiresome and isn’t convenient for being a part of the continual victim club.

The Chicago Meetup with Mike Cernovich And What I Learned.

About a week and a half ago, I had the privilege of interacting with Mike Cernovich  from Danger & Play in person at a meetup he held in Chicago.  I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the train all the way down to the City – specifically Union Station and then hike my way to the Godfrey Hotel where the meetup was at. (Note I’m at the Fox Lake station which is the start of the line so I literally have to ride all the way to end of the line.)

I had never heard of the place before which was about a 30 minute walk from Union Station. The Godfrey Hotel was draped in the aesthetics of modern decor.  It felt rather more comfortable then fancy.  (I should have taken some pictures besides the two I did of Mike and co.) Needless to it had the flavor and semblance of a restaurant/bar, but I still felt like I was on a rooftop loft – perfect atmosphere.

Seriously, look at this place. I feel poor.

There wasn’t necessarily any organized agenda besides getting us to meet other like minded people and network.  Those of us there talked amongst ourselves as well as with Mike about every different topic under the sun. If you weren’t there, you really missed out. That as well as good food and the amount of Sangria that kept pouring forth onto our table.

Something that can’t be stressed enough is how down to earth Mike was.  People – SJWs in particular – might not realize how humble he actually is.   When I was chatting with him there was something he said that really sticks with me about how to deal with past mistakes made online,

“You’re right.  See what I write in the future.”

Hopefully my memory serves me correct for that quote, but that was in regards to having made statements, tweets, ect in the past that we wish we hadn’t.   When this happens the responsible thing to do is to own that history and demonstrate by what you write in the present and future who you are and what you stand for. People are afraid to admit past mistake, and with the internet nowadays I can understand why.  As Mike would say, “Own Your Name.”

2014-11-29 18.01.05
However, the mistakes are there. You can’t really bury them. You must simply admit them and move on. This has nothing to do with apologizing to SJWs – merely that if there are mistakes in your past – you simply acknowledge them and move on.  Alas, you do not back down.

I think this is something Mike realized through #GamerGate.  He is not technically a gamer and has criticized them to some extent before, but he realized the importance of what #GamerGate is to that is  has become the most recent struggle in the culture  wars.

Mike has realized that people are afraid to speak up. To show their disagreement and insist that they as gamers are not dead.  Some of those in Gamergate might not be willing to risk speaking out, but Mike is that champion who is willing to do such themselves and can stand up to the SJW onslaught and twitter mobs.

I must admit, sometimes I lack motivation like a gazelle lacks the ability to escape a lion. It sucks. However, I can’t make excuses as it doesn’t actually solve anything – no matter how valid the excuses may be, the situation has not changed.  Something I’ve realized; surround yourself with motivated and passionate people and you will start to become motivated yourself.   Iron sharpens Iron.

The Desired Life: Working Without Air Conditioning – How did they do it?

Everyone loves the summer.  The suns out, your windows are down with music blasting to scare the old folks next to you, and most of the girls sharing the sidewalks around you are wearing garments that leave little to the imagination.  – Insert Quagmire, “Giggity.”  Despite all this, I’m already over Summer and wishing for Fall and Winter.  Sure, cold weather sucks, but at least you can put clothes on to keep warm. In the summer you can take all your clothes off and still be sweating profusely with no respite.

Then your air conditioning fails, its 91 degrees out, and the humidity index is over 70%. In the words of Cartman, “This is bullcrap.”  Well you are lucky that you may be able to find another place of local respite filled with sweaty people seeking refuge in their local Mcdonalds. For you yuppies or wannabe yuppies, Starbucks seems to be a preferable location.  I’m still such a coffee fanatic that I’m still drinking it hot while working in this humid hell.

I, however, don’t have the option of enjoying consistent air conditioning. AC for the last week has become a luxury for the chosen of which I am not apart of.  Pity me, as this unforgiving weather is a perpetrator of discrimination of which no one wants to be a target. 

There will always be unwilling targets though of which I am one. Apparently unstained and untouched wooden decks have been calling my name, or at least everyone else thinks so.  I’ve now learned that experience has it’s drawbacks. Concerning the paint crew I work on, I have the most experience with the exception of my direct boss. So if they want the job done well, the honor and pleasure of outdoor staining in this weather falls to yours truly. While my job at Trinity kicks the ass of any retail job any day, at least my fellow retail slaves had air conditioning.

After just a few minutes of applying the stain, I’m soaked in sweat. In fact, I’m pouring sweat from orifices I didn’t think were capable of shedding sweat.  On that note, I say this with a sweaty body – come get me ladies. 

At least this is somewhat offset by my current co-worker with who I’m enjoying conversations of every subject ranging from church history, philosophy, and sociology to food, South Park, and Asian cultural differences. It may surprise you, but talking with another person makes your time working pass so much faster than does music.

What may surprise some of you is how people managed in the glorious past with out air conditioning. While I consider this to be inconceivable, a fellow employee told me that he didn’t have the precious AC until he was out of highschool.  Another employee who grew up on a farm told me that you, “just got used to it” when you were younger and that he actually got chilly and cold when in an air conditioned environment with outdoor temperatures being over 90.   My boss has mentioned that growing up he also never had AC and was perfectly used to the hot weather in notorious Humboldt Park.

Perhaps I need to find a historical series that deals with not how the seniors built all the “cool stuff” and the buildings we see around us, but how they dealt with everyday outdoor living in their rural environments.