Learning How, Why and When to Tell Yourself to STFU

tell yourself to stfu

There is one thing that almost all of us share in common, that is, we are often our own worst enemies. We become swept up in the force of ourselves so much that we often forget to be the kind of people that we are each trying to be. We sabotage our own happiness in moments of petty frustration, discomfort and/or irritability. This is part of the burden of being human. But just because it is natural doesn’t mean we should give in to it or give up on ourselves. Free will awaits all those who wish to face their weaknesses and address them.

Since most of our outbursts are products of internal thoughts or processes, our inner dialogue makes the best cut-off point for inappropriate behaviors and reactions. When we observe our inner selves experiencing signs of tension, we can then ask ourselves what struck us the wrong way and why. And for every answer we receive from ourselves, we can then ask a further question. If you follow this process you will almost inevitably find that what is bothering you is not the thing you are reacting to, but something about yourself you cannot reconcile. And even when the disturbance can be pinpointed externally, we can still question the nature of our own volatile reactions or responses.

For example, the other day while I was working the cash register at the book store, I was becoming increasingly nervous to the point of overwhelming anxiety. At some point I recognized that it was because the doorway that was located near me was very busy. The open/close/open/close/open/close was irritating for reasons that didn’t make any sense to me. So I explored my inner thoughts and investigated. I finally asked a helpful question, “What does a door symbolize?” After mulling about a bit around my mental playground I came to the conclusion that doors represent our fears, desires and frailties. A door keeps bad things out, protects the good things inside and provides access to objects of desire. From there I concluded that I had issues with my own unfulfilled desires and the door represented other peoples fulfillment. My anxiety was borne of petty jealousy. And once I realized that, the heavy door traffic stopped bothering me altogether almost instantly.

At the same time, I was exposed to an area of my own psychology that needed tending to, my frustration with my inability to fulfill my own desires to travel and write instead of live in one place and work a regular job. That is not an easy obstacle to overcome, but if I remember that it is an internal trigger, I can prevent myself from creating new obstacles out of the unrecognized frustration. Recognizing the connective patterns of our own inner workings does not necessarily solve all of our problems, but it does give us tools to deal with them in more healthy and productive ways.

There is one internal dialogue which I use regularly to great effect. I call it the ‘STFU Joshua’ voice. The first step to curbing outbursts and negative reactions is to cut ourselves off so that we have time to seek reason and calm through introspection. So as often as I possibly can, whenever I feel myself about to become unnecessarily confrontational or react in ways that will provide lingering consequences or hard feelings in myself and others, I use my inner voice to tell myself to shut the fuck up. I literally speak those words aloud in my own head. I have never disobeyed that order. The trick lies in learning when to give it.

The ultimate goal is to be able to give it whenever negativity will cost more than it can benefit. I am not for compulsive positivity, and I think a human who reduced themselves to that would be a boring, stagnant being. Great things are born of passion, and passion bears the fruit of struggle and confrontation in its growth. Yet an excess of negativity becomes a burden and consumes its bearer from within. If your own passions do not result in productive ends or fulfillment, it is time to question it and address them. This is something each of us must discover for ourselves.

I have always lived by the advice I give others, ‘QUESTION EVERYTHING!’ There is no better or effective place to apply that axiom than to your own self. Only through self reflection and introspection can we root out the flaws we are able to address and push ourselves along the path of our own evolution. The key to knowing anything at all reliably begins with self-awareness and knowing your own self.

How To Be A Better Person In 5 Easy Steps

how to be a better person

“The neurotic is nailed to the cross of his fiction.” -Alfred Adler

When it comes to peace of mind each and every one of us are our own greatest obstacles. Our tendency towards reflexive thoughts and behaviors cause us to react to things without fully considering the validity or value of our reactions. As such we create unintended consequences for ourselves and others that prevent us from achieving the kinds of interactions we consciously desire. Through our life experiences we have forged a singular perspective that allows us to filter the limitless information around us so that we can respond to circumstances that threaten our well being quickly. Unfortunately that perspective is necessarily full of bias, suspicion and anxiety. It becomes all too easy to use this survival perspective in more trivial situations. Even in our minor day to day interactions we often slip into this safe/selfish mindset and think and act automatically without conscious input from our rational mind. By reacting to ourselves and others instinctually we create negative fictions which become self fulfilling prophecies. The key to kindness and contentment lies in a concentrated effort by the individual to continuously write their fictions self consciously with full awareness of our desires and neuroses.

My road to these lessons were paved in a lifetime of ham fisted attempts to forge happiness out of strength of personality. Alternately I also often just went with the flow when I knew full well that was not what I wished to be doing. These seemingly opposite responses both came from a failure to exercise my free will in a healthy, self-aware manner. As the imperviousness of youth faded I began to see the error of my ways but still required years to learn the specifics of the problematic ways in which I perceived and responded to my environment. Having built a basic understanding of this I have only in the past few years been able to begin recalibrating myself towards more favorable outcomes. It is a constant exercise in self conscious inspection of my perceptions before I choose a properly measured reaction. I have far from perfected these methods but my experience with them so far has helped make me a better person to myself and others and generated better outcomes for all. As rewarding as these improved outcomes are, the most delightful part of the whole learning process is the pride and confidence you gain knowing that you have a more self control and a greater ability to create happiness for those around you.

Lesson #1: Learn to Tell Yourself to Shut the Fuck Up

This is by far the most important lesson of them all. You must constantly be vigilant in monitoring yourself so as to become aware when you have become counterproductive or irrational. While it is obviously important to develop a filter between ones thoughts and ones mouth it is even more important to respond to your own internal dialogue. Your mind is a conglomeration of instinct and imagination that can work just as easily against you as it can for you. Most of our discontent is sown internally when we let our preferences, peeves and quirks speak above the voice of reason and understanding. Paranoia, jealousy, control, greed and many of the other negative human vices are the result of acting on those negative little dialogues in our heads. Not only is it important to recognize those voices and ignore them, but you must systematically disempower them by responding directly to them with a counter-dialogue.

Think of this as the cartoon cliche of the angel and devil who speak alternately into opposite ears. Whether you prefer to think of your conscious/rational voice as the angel and your subconscious/reactionary voice as the devil, or vice versa, matters not. You must develop a conscious, rational and self aware agency that can be used to measure and respond appropriately to the bias, automata and emotional hyperbole that is a natural (if not sometimes unwelcome) part of your human existence. Another way to think of this is as empowering your adult mind over the reflexes of our childish nature. None of us ever becomes an adult through some arbitrary boundary in space and time. Becoming a mature, wise and productive person requires the conscious effort to squash those arrested vestigial parts of our development that are prone to selfishness, paranoia and manipulation.

I most often find myself having to internalize, ‘Shut the fuck up, Josh’ when my expectations for others or for a situation are unreasonable. While it is still possible that my perception of a situation or the manner in which I would respond are more reasonable than what might occur without my input or attempt to control the situation, it may still very well be wrong on a personal, social or individual level. When the cost of being right outweighs the benefits then it becomes unreasonable not to be flexible, understanding and empathetic.

Paranoia is another way in which I must chide my negative inner voices. By thinking or acting on fears based on speculation to a degree that goes beyond caution and into the realm of delusion, we use our imaginations to create frustration, hostility and distrust and plant and nurture seeds of the undoing of our well being.

So when you find yourself caught in the inertia of negative or unproductive thinking tell yourself, specifically to ‘shut the fuck up, yournamehere’. You need the ‘fuck’ to let yourself know you are serious and by using your own name you disempower the delusion that the problem is external, when in fact you are the problem. I will often even add the reasons why I need to shut the fuck up and deliver some barbed one liners to myself. This is not an attempt to degrade or shame myself, but rather a conscious effort to address my folly with humor so that I can deal with it in a constructive manner that allows me to understand the error and laugh at myself. For every time that somebody else tells me to shut the fuck up or secretly wishes that I would (which I imagine is above average in my case), I have probably told myself to shut the fuck up a few dozen times. And the more I do it, the better I listen.

Lesson #2: The Undecided Are Internally Divided

While it may seem counterintuitive to suggest that it is important to make decisions without unnecessary haste after recommending that you weigh all considerations carefully before responding, it is an important factor in maintaining equilibrium internally and externally. It is clearly foolish to rush towards judgement or make uninformed decisions. By building an intuition based on rational understanding and emotional clarity, however, we begin to be able to afford ourselves the knowledge and trust necessary to make good decisions without intellectual wavering that cripples us from inaction. All too often we find our choices limited by our inability or timeliness in making a choice.

None of us can know the entire chain of events or consequences that will unfold from the decisions we make, big or small. There will undoubtedly always be unknown negative side effects and unconsidered bonuses arising from whatever path that we follow. The best way to mitigate the former in hopes of the latter is to set yourself upon a decisive course of action and dedicate yourself to that premise for as long as it can be shown to provide more favorable results than negative consequences. Once you have made a basic decision then the smaller decisions needed to execute your goals will become more apparent to you. And by careful experimentation you can eliminate other paths along the way that lead to dead ends. This will involve making crucial mistakes. These mistakes are essential to learn about yourself, others and the world around you.

At the same time you must remember that nothing is permanent. That you are always the agency of your own decisions and that at any time you can alter paths if it becomes necessary. In most regards you are the boundary to your own progress. Some will err in the inability to dedicate themselves to their decisions with the perseverance to make them work, while others will select a wrong path and find themselves unable to admit from and learn from their errors. This prevents them from abandoning a dead end or trudging through the impassable rather than to deal gracefully with their mistakes with dignity and humility, which ultimately obscures all that their experience may have taught them.

Yet whichever side you error towards you have forgotten that all things are transitory. Nothing is permanent. The humility, regret and shame of a bad decision is a far greater tool of progress than the narcissism of a stubborn ego. You will recover and evolve more quickly as you learn to recognize your own mistakes and faulty reasoning. Which leads us to the next lesson.

Lesson #3: Nobody Is Taking This As Seriously As You Are

Nothing is permanent. Your decisions may create tensions with those that you care about. Sometimes these external conflicts become necessary to resolve internal conflicts. Human relationships are infinitely complex and it is impossible to navigate them without encountering some rough seas. In some cases the damage between two individuals may be so great that reconciliation is not possible, but these cases are extremely rare considering the number of relationships we have with multiple individuals throughout our lifetime. It is often more likely that given some time for consideration and introspection as well as distance and healing, the problems between individuals will resolve themselves independently in those involved. Time does indeed heal most wounds. And what time cannot heal can be nurtured with renewed trust and faith when the time comes to make amends.

I have done some cruel, petty and selfish things in my life yet I have less than a handful of bridges burned in my wake. Those crossings always rebuilt themselves in time and only required I did my part to meet halfway with genuine apologies and forgiveness. We are more likely to forgive and be forgiven than not because our hurt and sorrow concerning others is proportionate to the joy and love they have brought us. That joy and love is always a path back to a healthy relationship, so we need not fear the consequences of decisions that build temporary divides between individuals. Your ability to be forgiven is in direct proportion to your ability to forgive.

We take ourselves very seriously. Because we are so aware of our own pettiness, clumsiness and distinguishing ineptitude in certain areas, we mistakenly think that others have us under equal consideration. The truth of the matter is that we are all so concerned with our own internal and external images that we are rarely distracted with the the image and behaviors of others. Our basic self centeredness keeps us so busy managing ourselves that we do not consider others as much as we come to believe they are considering us. The result is that usually nobody is as critical of us as we are of ourselves. Yet we persist in the paranoia that we are constantly being measured and judged by others. As unlikely as it may seem, this is probably for the best. By weighing how we think others perceive us we are inclined to create an image and act in ways that show basic empathy. This feedback loop of perceived image keeps us honest. What is important is that you remind yourself that nobody does, could or should take you as seriously as you take yourself. Otherwise you create delusory external pressures that prevent you from a rational and emotionally balanced outlook.

The final way in which we take ourselves to seriously seems to be a hangover from our childhood. This is the persistent underlying feeling that we will be ‘in trouble’ for our thoughts and actions. While many actions will indeed have negative consequences if they disobey basic social tenets, most of these impending feelings of doom are contrived out of irrational fear. You are an adult. Other adults have no power over you in which you have not given them the authority to exercise that power. (I am disregarding legal and professional repercussions as I am trying to address social interactions and power struggles between individuals.)

The feeling of dread is familiar to anyone who ever feels they have disappointed somebody that they respect or love. This is especially true within our families and closest friends. We fear upsetting the expectations or values of those that we care about. As a result we tend to over-exaggerate the consequences of doing so. The more we care about someone the more power they have over us and it is possible to mistake the power of love for the power of authority. As I said, this seems to me to be a psychological construct we carry from our childhood when love and authority were somewhat synonymous in our development. However, this is no longer the case. Those who love and respect you as an equal, which is the basis of any healthy relationship, also strive for your love and validation. Disappointment, hurt and confusion will always give way to acceptance. You will do yourselves and others the greatest favor in the long run be authentic and true to yourself, while being aware of the consequences that might entail and having the wisdom and courage to face them with understanding, empathy and humility.

The simplest way to maintain the awareness that nobody is taking you as seriously as you are taking yourself is often to stop taking yourself so seriously.

Lesson #4: Use Your Mind Intentionally

If idle hands are the devils tools, then idle minds are his blueprints. We are thinking creatures. It cannot be helped. Our need to interact and process is often greater than opportunities seem to allow us. When we are not consciously guiding our internal dialogues they tend towards the instinctual automatic thinking that often results in negative thoughts or anxiety. The comfort and safety afforded us by civilization has made it unnecessary to be concerned with hierarchies and survival strategies that the untended mind reverts to. Where our thoughts are not being led by our free will they will turn to petty insecurities, perceived mistreatment or imagined problems.

There is a simple solution to this. Since our minds also crave information and because we are innately curious beings we can use these to counteract mindless thinking. We have at our disposal a wealth of information unthinkable to humans of even the recent past. By engaging our minds in constant learning we not only prevent ourselves from harmful thinking but create knowledge and connections that we can use to understand and guide our perceptions and interactions. The more pieces of the puzzle you gather the greater the picture you will have to inform your worldview. The insatiable thirst for knowledge is a powerful tool when engaged consciously with a delightful voracity, while it can be a worthy obstacle when left to idle unengaged.

On the flip side it is also necessary to acquire the skill of meditative solitude so that you can synthesize the information and connections into understanding so that they can become part of a consciously constructed intuition which replaces your subconscious and unconscious instincts. Learning to enjoy silence and nothingness and becoming lost in a wealth of acquired knowledge to a degree that you can abstract it into your own language, symbols and archetypes will provide you with tools for healthy interaction and self evolution. Now you just need to learn how to use those tools.

Lesson #5: Creative Expression Is DIY Therapy

Once you are able to understand the workings of your mind and reduce parts of it to abstract symbols and archetypes you may then use them to simulate reality so that you can understand it in meaningful ways. By shuffling your deck of knowledge and laying the cards out in new random patterns you will increase your connectivity and create novel solutions for the hang ups of yourself and others.

Creative expression can take on many forms. The most powerful of these forms is language. Language helps to form the conceptual basis of our perception and worldview. From language we derive our values and goals and connect to others for both social reasons and to foster cooperation. The written word is an especially powerful tool because it allows us to view our own thoughts outside of our minds where we can be more critical of them and also more considerate. When our thoughts manifest only internally or in the form of speech we are not given the opportunity to craft or refine them to our liking. Most people have trouble expressing themselves clearly to others simply because they have not practiced on themselves first. Expression is key in understanding our own thoughts, fears and desires and being expressive in a creative way allows us the freedom to do so with no limitations or expectations.

Simple tasks like lists weighing pros and cons can help you understand a situation better. When you can expand the language of that situation into poetry, prose, lyrics, fictions or essays you expand your own understanding of it. And if you choose to share it you may invite others to add their perspective to your own to expand it even further by applying even more considerations. However most people may not be comfortable sharing their innermost thoughts and workings. If this is this case, this should not prevent you from the act of creative expression itself. The important part is doing it for yourself. If that means you keep secret journals or write stories and poems that nobody else will ever read, that is okay. The goal here is not a product; it is exploration, experimentation and examination of ones own innermost intellectual, emotional and individual constructs. And even though writing is the most powerful tool you may choose painting, pottery, dance, music or any other way of transcribing your personal symbols and archetypes into a process of self discovery. The only wrong way to do it is to not do it at all.

If you are not fully satisfied with this list-based foray into self improvement you may return it within thirty days for a full refund. Rules and restrictions may apply.

Dear Ladies: Things Women Should Know About Men


I’m a smart guy. Like really smart. So smart that I understood Donnie Darko the first time that I saw it. Although I did learn many things about The Smurfs I had never considered. Yet as smart as I could ever be I will never completely understand women because I am not also entirely insane. This is not to say that women are crazy. However, trying to understand them with a male perspective certainly is. So being the ultra super duper smart dude that I am I decided to try to understand myself and thus all of mandom. I also spent a lot of years single, not because I am too smart to date, but because I really needed the time to do this research uninterrupted. But now that I am in a happy relationship with a creative, funny, beautiful, intelligent woman who still hasn’t figured out how to pick the locks, I have decided to release my findings so that all of the other women can benefit from the knowledge.

The following list is comprised of the things that you ladies do that drive us fellas bonkers, no matter how innocent or innocuous they may seem. They are things that will inexplicably and irrationally crawl right up on a nerve and twerk it with spiked panties. However this list is based on an assumption that men are predominately introverted while women display mostly extroverted behavior. Since I am really smart you won’t have to point out that this is an obviously false assertion. The opposite can also be true and people can display either characteristic at different times. In this way the following can also be instructive for dealing with general differences between intro/extroverts. The only reason that I used this horrible stereotype is that in the comfort of our homes and private relationships, it is almost always entirely true. So speaking as a man, a home introvert and a really smart genius person, I recommend that you consider the following so at the very least you can critique it in the comments with your inferior mind receptacles.


Here is the thing, ladies. You ask too many questions. And even worse, the questions are usually unnecessary or manipulative. I do not think you are doing this to intentionally drive us insane, but our tastes in communication styles varies wildly. And you totally drive us insane. Here are a few different types of questions that we really wish you would never ask, but would totally accept a few if you could just try to cut back.

The Disguised Command

This question is used when you would like us to fulfill some household role or task. It is your attempt to politely remind us that we promised to clean up our mess in the basement from the failed home brewing phase that came to a head the first time diarrhea became a medical emergency in our lives. Or something like that. The question goes like this:

“Are you going to clean up that mess in the basement this weekend or are you converting it into a factory farm for sulfuric mold?”

First of all, you are not actually curious about our weekend plans with this question, you are trying to make them for us. There is really nothing wrong about reminding us of our obligations, but it is disingenuous to phrase it as a question rather than a statement.

Secondly, with that attitude and tone of voice I don’t think you would be very supportive if indeed the mass production of stank ass growth were my master plan all along, now would you?

Fishing Questions
When I say fishing questions I do not mean things like, “Can I borrow your rod?” (Only up to the second eyelet.) I mean questions in which you are fishing for specific answers. The entire ‘does this make me look fat?’ cliché is an obvious example. Yet there are other less obvious examples of this which we guys get all of the time. The problem with this kind of question is that you are seeking a specific answer so it is not really a question at all. You are manipulating us into validating you. Maybe you have some self esteem issues or just like to be told what you want to hear for fun. It doesn’t really matter. Instinctually we realize we are being used and nobody likes that feeling. Like almost everything else in this article, most guys don’t even know why they dislike it, they just do. Sort of like herbal tea.

Another kind of fishing question is the confirmation question. These would be questions that end in a phrase like, ‘Don’t you think so?’ You are not really curious about our opinion, you just have some inexplicable need to have other peoples opinions in sync with yours and so you try to manufacture this agreement with sneaky questions. Again, you are using questions to manipulate other people into validating you, and that never makes for a great long term relationship strategy. Sort of like secretly taking Viagra for the first few weeks of intercourse.

The Unnecessary Question
Years ago I used to work in head shops. Although you wouldn’t expect it, stoners ask a lot of stupid questions. No, really. The dumbest of them were generally questions in which the answers were self evident. The most recurrent of these was to ask the price of an item that was clearly marked. After awhile I brought some plastic spoons and would answer these types of questions by writing the answer on the spoon and handing it to the hazey eyed offender. When I got that ‘cat being told its horoscope’ look I would explain that I was only willing to spoon feed obvious answers in the most literal sense. Lucky for me, stoners are also pretty easy going and can take a joke, but you ladies aren’t always necessarily in the mood for that kind of sardonic cleverness.

Women often prefer to deal with problems by talking them out first while men generally work by jumping right into action. So when you ask us where something is we expect it is because you have already looked in the most obvious places. As I have found, this is not always the case. Or if you ask us if we need to get more cat food we wonder why you don’t just look for yourself as we would. No conversation needed. The unnecessary question takes many forms but is essentially a question that attempts to replace a task. If Google ever becomes a self aware, sentient being, men will know exactly how it feels.

So before you ask a man a question ask yourself if it is necessary, has an agenda or could be made into a statement rather than a question. Our ickiness about questions may seem irrational and unreasonable to you but it exists nonetheless and accounting for it could prevent that special fella from spouting off the mean-spirited, sarcastic answers he generally reserves for his guy friends.

Sudden Invasion

Like a lot of dudes, I find myself living in my head a lot. Sometimes I am using all of my smartiness to solve the essential problems of our existence while other times I am trying to figure out how to spell out the sound that farts make. (fyi- It is ‘skritch’ or ‘prap’ depending on the moisture content and force) Either way, when I am off in these fantastical worlds, it is not easy to get back. Nor do I necessarily want to leave them. Particularly if I am just about to solve world hunger or the spelling of the third, quiet fart. Just as I am about to get all of the p’s, t’s, f’s and h’s in place my special lady walks in and abruptly tells me that she thinks she might have Stockholm Syndrome. Suddenly I am trapped in between worlds and the perfect word for low volume pants combustion just dissipates into eternity. She stands there waiting for a response but I am not fully in her world again and I either did not hear or cannot comprehend what was just spoken to me. After she repeats herself I am even more frustrated that she interrupted my meditation to tell me something that I already know and will probably one day appear in court records. After an obfuscating response she goes back to whatever she was doing and I begin the long journey back into the recesses of my mind where every child can have enough food and every bodily function has a proper onomatopoeia.

Fortunately, there is a very easy solution for this. Never expect that a guy is ready to converse at the drop of a hat. It is possible that he has some mental calculations to finish performing or other internal work that disdains disruption. Rather than barging in the room with your flapper a’flappin’, calmly speak his name and when he makes eye contact with you, tell him you would like to talk to him when he has a chance. While it is still possible that he might find that conversation less time-worthy than his own abstractions he will at least not feel interrupted and thusly annoyed. And when you tell him that he is an idiot after he explains why a wet fart is a shorter word than a dry one, it will sting all that much less.


No new information here. Studies have shown that women experience more difficulty when challenged with an immediate decision of any weight of consequence. And I should know because I exhaustively performed this research myself under the most stringent experimental conditions. If you don’t believe me, believe my science. My science aside, there also exist social, historical and evolutionary reasons why this occurs and how it develops. Fortunately for women this prevents you from spending most of your twenties and parts of the rest of your lives with a strong capacity and confidence to make really bad decisions at the drop of a hat. Rare is the man who can do that. When you do make decisions you generally make better ones, so would you please exercise that?

You do not need to make all of our mutual decisions for us on your own. Or even half. But you should be capable of covering a pretty good spread of our shared interests and most of your own without our input. We trust you. If we didn’t we would never have allowed you into our bizarre little private lives where we wear our foibles like butterfly tattoos on the small of the back. From our end it would be much easier to just trust you with everything while we get drunk and attempt to play football with our friends in a spectacle later described as, ‘a homoerotic ballet of tragic proportions’. There is no doubt that our faith in you will not crumble should you choose the orange jello with the fruit cocktail over the green with marshmallows to take to your aunt Edna’s funeral potluck. Just use your intuition.

Just Listening

“I just want you to listen to me. I don’t want you to try to examine it or fix it. I don’t need you to get emotional on my behalf or respond in any way. Just listen.”

When I need to pound in a nail I use a hammer. If I need to tighten or loosen a screw I use a screw driver. Any time I need a tool I pick the specific tool which has, inherent in its creation, the ability to perform the task I require of it. Should you require a tool capable of listening with a sympathetic ear without any response whatsoever, and you pick a man, you really need to get to know your toolbox a little bit better. Men have adapted the trait of an irrational need to solve problems while women just want to express and understand them incessantly. Since we already have this information it would be wise to apply it. We do not like to disappoint you any more than you like to be disappointed by us. Call on us when you need assistance and on each other when you need an aural negativity absorption device. We are no more capable of fulfilling your need without experiencing severe anxiety about the restrictions than my fiance is of finding sharp objects or prying devices in our loving home.

Blah Blah Blah

I didn’t want to have to science again so soon, but I once read a magazine and I am pretty sure it said that women generally talk more than men. It also suggested that the content of speech of men and women varied quite a bit. While the hens were up in the house flappin’ their beaks about other hens, their chicks or the cocks, the cocks warbled their garblers about mostly abstract or technical content. The function of conversation is to share interesting data, and that requires that both parties are interested in the data. There is no judgment being made when we acknowledge that the genders tend to diverge towards different data sets extracted from common human experiences.

I am very fortunate that the hen trapped in my house likes to discuss philosophy, religion, politics, science and a great diversity of topics I find intriguing. We have a lot of common ground for discussion without having to develop an artificial pecking order. Nonetheless, we both also like to discuss topics which bore the other. It is sort of your job to listen to your significant other and let them vent even if you could absolutely care less what that fuckbucket at their job did today. But either side can only take so much. And you talk more. So instead of driving your man out of the house with small talk and gossip, let him sit in a socially underdeveloped, stunted lump of ape in your nest and ponder if there is only one sound for a stream of urine or a number of variations. Or maybe save the world with a complicated plan that includes toplessness and a barbecue grill, while you go to a pottery workshop with the gals and talk coop.

Quiet Time

We are ironically told that silence is golden and serenaded with songs that portray the connection of lovers to be beyond the need for words. The problem is that lovers are individuals with their own needs. While I have a need to internalize, my captive soulmate has a need to socialize. These needs cannot be met simultaneously and she gets really prude after I put her in time out for popping my little fantasy bubbles. Since I don’t want to have to induce ejaculation alone and she isn’t allowed to have any friends because of our romantic arrangement, we have to give and take a little. For my needs to be met she does not need to take any active role at all, but to meet hers I must forego mine and assist her.

To make this as painless as possible for both of us we have discussed our needs and I have shared with her all of the information in this article. A fact of love is that you will drive one another nuts some of the time. But if you know what it is that drives one another nuts you can address the most problematic parts of your co-existence and leave only minor annoyances entangled in all of that trust, respect and love.

I made a lot of mistakes in relationships in the past. But I have learned from them and have been lucky to find the one woman who I plan to spend the rest of my life loving, cherishing and annoying and being annoyed by on occasion. The grunt work of a relationship means discussing your petty tendencies and mutually addressing them. Nothing could be more rewarding, but it is also very hard work. Not as hard as kidnapping and trying to brainwash a pizza delivery girl to be your eternal soulmate, but I am up to both tasks, because if you remember- I am very smart.

Love In the Age of Social Networking


“Fifty years from now do you really want to tell your grandkids you fell in love using a Facebook app? No, you want to show them the heartfelt love letter you wrote her one night at 3 a.m. Followed by an Instagram of your junk. It’s the Sepia that makes it so romantic.” — Stephen Colbert

Although Stephen Colbert jokes, or at least that is what I am told he does, he echoes a sentiment that is still prevalent in our society. There is still a basic assumption that the internet is incapable of being a respectable and proper medium for romantic relationships. That connections generated between individuals through the world wide web are not as valid as relationships with their genesis rooted in more traditional terms devoid of modern technology. The common thread of criticism always seems to have as its fulcrum that technology adds a falseness to virtual courting. The assumption then is that human courtship has remained in a constant state of behaviors and expectations throughout time which modernism cannot address and that something has been lost.

The problem with this assumption is that human courtships have varied wildly over time and cultural boundaries. When we explore romantic relationships throughout time and place we can find no constants or absolutes. Even obvious things like ‘kindness’ do not seem so common when we consider the cruelties that have often accompanied courtship practices in individuals and societies. In fact, courtship itself is not even a constant part of human relationships and pair bonding, as we can clearly see from arranged marriages that still happen in many cultures today. As it turns out there is no common thread amongst humanity in which technology may disrupt. We remain as adaptive as ever to the constraints and advantages of our immediate environment in seeking out romantic relationships.

The next assumption that is often related to this erroneous line of reasoning is that the internet, social networking and virtual courtships are just a fad. The above quote by Colbert refers to the sepia tone quality of film associated with the middle of the twentieth century, a time also associated with modern ideas about ‘dating’ and yet preceding the sexual revolution. As if in fifty years we will return to a Leave It To Beaver like existence, having shed the false trappings of the twenty first century for a romantically simpler time in which most of its vocal proponents never even lived. Although it is quite likely that modern humanity is on a collision course with its own avarice and hubris, should we survive this critical mass of our humanity in the death knell of the industrial age and birth pangs of the age of information, the internet and its social structures are unlikely to be going anywhere. In fact they will likely advance into degrees of sophistication which make modern internet romance seem dreamy and pastoral to the critics of those future technological paradigms.

The sort of coupling that is now associated with social networking and internet dating may be closer to our traditional courting behaviors than those immediately preceding the internet. Until the early part of the twentieth century is was the custom for courtships to be held mostly remotely via letters, sketches, photographs, poems, autobiographies, etc.; all of the same behaviors associated with online romance. In the nineteenth century and prior a ‘date’ was a term associated with prostitution and those in a courtship only saw one another on rare, special occasions. When dating became popular in the Jazz Age it was associated with chaste associations with multiple partners in order to ‘play the field’. As a result of the sexual revolution and advances in birth control the chaste nature of these dates was no longer the norm. Today dating is strongly associated with ‘hooking up’ and is often not intended as a means towards building permanent bonds between individuals. This is not to say that modern dating is a negative or immoral practice, but only to illustrate that what critics of internet courtship think of as traditional behaviors are in fact very modern ones. The practice of meeting and courting an online partner through exhaustive communication bears far more resemblance to traditional western modes of romantic genesis.

The greatest contributing factor to the success of online dating is it’s ability to connect like-minded individuals in a growing human population that alienates people through specialization. While we have continued to grow our species at an alarming rate we have also set conditions for the specialization of the individual. This has been done in many ways. Economic paradigms insist on specialized educations and career fields that narrow an individuals knowledge and interest. At the same time the sheer amount of culture (art, music, literature, cuisine, lifestyle) available to us means that we have less in common. Globalization of culture has meant that culture itself has decentralized. No longer does geography determine our cultural identity so much as our free associations with a multitude of cultural icons. To put this idea simply, a hundred years ago a person was likely influenced almost entirely by local customs and culture, while the modern human has for their influence a plethora of customs and cultures perpetrated internationally by modern media. The human of today, at least in western society and its counterparts, largely chooses their own interests rather than having them foisted upon them by locality and necessity. When we consider the size of the human population we find that it is highly unlikely that we will meet complimentary companions merely by local searches. The internet provides a forum for highly specialized individuals to meet the most likely candidates for courtship.

At the same time, many of the social institutions in which the like-minded were likely to meet have also eroded. Community activities, church and even traditional workplaces are no longer as prevalent in our society as they once were. And it does not appear that these institutions will return to classical forms any time soon. In their place, modern courting began to root itself in the leisure industry. Bars, resorts and travel became the new grounds for courting rituals. This trend meant that human romance had adopted for its breeding ground the marketplace and became another form of western consumption. We had become burdened with the price of purchase as the cost of romance. Our social institutions gave way to economic ones as in many other areas of our life. Considering the ability of almost any western human to freely access internet, social media and dating sites we are seeing a trend in which love is being removed from the marketplace and being made freely accessible by these new social institutions.

Criticism of internet courtship is often validated by the superiority of traditional values. Yet as we have seen, online romance bears far closer resemblance to those traditions than does the meat market of the twentieth century. While there is little doubt that web-based love will continue to evolve in strange and unthinkable ways, this is the course that humanity has set itself down and criticism of it is as hostile and sterile as any other form of neo-conservatism. By embracing these new paradigms we can contribute to steering them towards more positive interactions and avoid the mess modernism made of traditional human values in the meaningless and promiscuous marketplace partnering. Meanwhile the liberals engaged in social satire, like Mr. Colbert, will continue to ironically lambaste internet courtships like the good little neo-con puppets they may or may not realize that they are. That is fine by me. Let them have their skepticism and anger and misery. I have love. And I have social networking to thank for that.