Where was that again?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Love You...

Three simple words, strung together, intended to convey an array of feelings and emotions. Recently, I read an article byline that proclaimed them to be number one on some current list of the biggest lies told in relationships. It amused me enough to stick in my brain, not because I think it’s wrong, but rather, because I think it’s been one of the most abused phrases for many, many years.  We all think we know what it means, you probably have some image or thought of what love involves… chances are, you’re wrong. Maybe not terribly, but the sad truth is that the concept of love, and what it should be, what it should involve, has been so distorted over the centuries that you’d have trouble getting a group of people to agree with each other on the subject. 

Well… that’s almost true. There is one detail that everyone, yes everyone, can agree on…  We all crave it to the core of our very being. 

What is the real definition? I don’t have a complete answer to that. I know that it’s possible to love more than one person, and I know that there are multiple types of love. I also know that love isn’t a “one size fits all” situation, but not because there aren’t common threads between the different types, rather due to the distortion of what we consider love to be today. What do I know about it? Let’s see:

  • Love is not stringing a person along, that’s selfishness. 
  •   Love is not abusive. It does not harm out of anger, or a desire to control another person. 
  • Love is not turning your back on someone because they do something you dislike.
  • Love is not being disloyal in your relationships, be it romantic, family, or friendship. 
  •  Love is not a word meant for the “flavor of the week”.
  • Love is not perfect. 
  •  Love is not a toy, game, or myth.
I could go on, but I need to also mention: 
  • Love is meant to be like a sweet embrace, comforting and peaceful. 
  •  Love is sustaining in its own right. Not in the physical sense, rather in the emotional sense. 
  •  Love is respect, loyalty, supportiveness, appreciation, and honesty. 
  •  Love is unselfish, and often means some sacrifice. 
  •  Love is for friends. 
  •  Love is for family. 
  •  Love is for your romantic partner.
  •  Love is rewarding.
  •  Love is real.
With what most of us understand love to be, it’s not surprising that we crave it so badly. What’s sad is that the “love is not” list is more descriptive of today’s society than the “love is” list. It’s really not all that surprising that people jump in and out of relationships the way they do, when you take things into consideration. 

When I sit back and watch people on SL, whether it’s in game, or more commonly now, on FaceBook, jump in and out of relationships, I notice one common thread. The phrase “I love you”, with whatever additional text they throw in there, seemingly within minutes of them announcing they’re together. Not the worst things in the world, until you see the same person or people announce they’re with someone new, and plastering that same phrase all over each other’s wall posts and in pick tabs. It’s simply not realistic, not with everything that love should really be. 

I’d be willing to accept this “love at first sight” style concept, if it didn’t seem like they were riding the word as if it were a pogo stick, bouncing in and out of relationships within days of each other.  That’s not love, it’s a giant banner over your head that says “I want so badly to know what it feels like to truly be loved, and truly love someone else, that I’m willing to look like a whore who can’t make their mind up while I try to find it.” (there’s burn cream on the table to the left, help yourself *smiles*) 

You want to know what love really feels like? Well, it doesn’t feel like a pogo stick. Pretty much everyone, regardless of the type of love, will have to go through the same process of getting to know someone and putting time and effort into the relationship before real love will begin.

A new mother spends time developing the relationship with her child, during pregnancy, before she truly loves it. A father will go through part of the same process, but a lot of the relationship building happens after birth. Siblings get to know one another, as well as extended family, and build the bond after the birth, as well. The sense of obligation, protection, etc. isn’t love; it’s the barebones nature of many species.

Think about your closest friends, it took time to develop the friendship into what it is today, work and effort. Fights happen, but they make things stronger. Respect must exist in friendship, as with any relationship, and trust is also of extreme importance. Love doesn’t happen overnight here either, it develops from common interests and bonding, from proving one’s self to be a “good friend”, and then, through the bonding process, love develops. This kind of love can range from simple to something that strongly resembles the familial love mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Those warm and fuzzy feelings you have about your new romantic relationship, that’s the euphoria that comes with having someone show interest in you, not because they’re obligated to, but because they want to. Those feelings are the stepping stones to the real relationship. It’s important to note that those feelings are not love. They’re lust, wonderment, amazement, excitement, and probably a few other things… but they’re not love. Enjoy the ride, but don’t let yourself get caught up in the moment to the extent that confusion sets in. Watch things grow, tend to the new bud, and if it doesn’t start to wither away, you might get to watch it bloom into what you’ve been chasing, love.

Take this blog post however you want, comment below if you choose to… but if you made it this far, you may as well take a few minutes to process what you read. Love exists, it’s such an exquisite thing that all humans crave it, yet it’s so often treated no better than a jacket, tossed wherever it lands, and picked back up when we need warmth. Start appreciating it for the gift that it is, and it might open a whole new world out there for you. Just a thought.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Internet Gangstas... they're gonna email a cap right in yo ass!

Back in 1996 I was introduced to the social side of the internet, via chat rooms on the formerly popular AOL internet program. Boy what a world that opened up… I read some things I’d never heard in my 16 years of life, and a few things that I hadn’t heard since elementary school. I also learned about a whole new set of “people classifications” so to speak. The one that grabs the most notice in the virtual world is the Internet Gangsta. Why, you ask? Well, it depends on which side you want to look at it from.

How do you identify an internet gangsta from the rest of the group? Simply really… they’re the ones with typically short fuses who are known to toss threats around like candy. Anything from telling someone they’re going to kick their ass, to the more extreme threats of taking the issue to real life. Things are often extreme with them more than they’re relaxed, and minor infractions are seen as major offenses when deemed to be against them. They usually have a small group of people who encourage the behavior, and also make attempts to emulate the same tactics. By now, if you’ve spent any time in social settings on the internet, you’re probably able to get a picture of what type of person I’m talking about… if no picture comes to mind, you may need to grab a mirror.

So back to answering the original question of Why?  Well, if you’re one of those who support the behavior, you’re going to say, Why not? You don’t see anything wrong with it; you think that it’s fun as well as funny. You probably go to sleep at night thinking about who your next target is. It’s a side thought, even when there are other things going on. It helps your world go ‘round.

The ones who are targeted often feel compelled to respond back to the verbal or written assault, as they feel like they have to defend themselves. They don’t like the internet gangstas, wouldn’t dream of acting out as if they were one, but often end up looking just as bad in the end. Not of their own fault so much, as it’s natural to want to defend one’s self and one’s honor.  Rather, because they were unable to, at some point, decide the venture was pointless and just walk away from it. It’s hard to fault the ‘victim’ in the situation, so they often get a pass… unless a pattern develops, at which time a friend or two of the ‘victim’ might step in and offer some sound advice.

Now we move onto the other primary group, who we’ll call the bystanders. The bystanders are the average social network user. They’re the ones who sit back and survey the interactions between internet gangstas and their victims. They’re the people who shake their heads at the ‘gangstas’ and try to advise the ‘victims’. Rarely do they become victims themselves, because they see the ‘gangstas’ for what they really are.

What are they? Well, I guess that’s what this blog entry is boiling down to… They’re bullies, only more pitiful. What else can you call someone who is so miserable with their real lives that they have nothing better to do than sit behind a computer and spew useless threats of physical harm which they’ll never carry out beyond their dreams. They talk about their attitudes, how dangerous they are, what method they’ll use to cause physical harm. It could be anything from a simple punch/knockout scenario, to the more extreme homicidal threat. In my opinion, the bigger the threat they suggest themselves to be, the bigger the chance they’re deflecting their level of misery with themselves and their lives. A less common, but just as legitimate explanation for the behavior would be that they were bullied when they were growing up, and they’re expressing their anger over that online, where they feel the chance of repercussions are essentially nonexistent. Other explanations do exist, but are even less common than the one I just briefly mentioned, but they all come back to the same thing in the end.

So what might be the proper way to deal with these ‘gangstas’? Not reacting to them is usually the best start. Make use of the mute button, if you feel like you’re going to have trouble not reacting. Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that it can be fun to instigate one of these types to react, as they’re typically much too easy to get response from, it’s not always worth it. The best policy is to ignore the dramatics and go on about your business, and leave them sitting there with their little clique and their misery. 

Got thoughts or opinions to add? Go for it, make use of the comment box below, just don’t be abusive.

Until the next time…