The Design Sucks

We cannot escape the experience of being human. Everybody feels the full spectrum of emotions and lives within the confines of their physical makeups. And that freaking blows sometimes, doesn’t it? I hate that everything gets old. I hate that we always want what we don’t have. I hate that we always compare ourselves to other people. I hate that we have to fight so hard not to be lazy. I hate that we usually crave things that are bad for us. I don’t understand why life has to be designed like this. I don’t care how much you enjoy that new song. If you play it too much, it becomes familiar and tired. I don’t care how much you love that new piece of art. After a while you don’t even notice it hanging on your wall. I don’t care how cheery and optimistic you are, when Monday morning rolls around, it’s hard to get out of bed. We always need new stuff. That new pair of shoes gets old. That new car gets old. That new haircut grows out. Your clean house gets dirty. That new exciting relationship cools off. Speaking of relationships, perfect example of what I’m talking about. What is the majority of advice for older married couples? It’s usually something about trying as hard as you can to keep it interesting; consciously putting in a ton of effort to spice things up. Why? Because it’ll get boring as hell and you’ll take each other for granted. Why? Because that’s fucking human nature! And why is that human nature? I have no idea! And it is. Anyone who argues otherwise is full of shit.

I hate that everything regulatory usually trends in a negative direction. Has a new boss ever come into the workplace and the place gotten more laid back? Yeah right. Everything gets stricter. Have mundane work procedures ever gotten more lax? Nope. You used to just turn it in. Then you had to sign it and turn it in. Then you had to certify it, sign it and turn it in. Then you had to verify it, certify it, sign it and turn it in. Now you have to notarize it, verify it, certify it, sign it and turn it in. You get the idea. Things never get more laid back or relaxed. They always get more strict and uptight. That’s why old nostalgic stories exist. Back in the 50s we did this. Back in the 60s we did that. Now we’re monitored 24/7 and expected to act like robots. Everything will kill you. Everything is bad for you. Were you driving 56 in a 55?! That’s dangerous! News flash: nobody gets out of life alive. But I digress.

My dad had a poignant quote: “Why is happiness so hard to find and keep when negativity lingers on without effort?” To me, this basically sums up the design of life. Fake, overly positive types would disagree, but I disagree with them. Think about it. Everybody has to work on being positive. All motivational and inspirational self-help material deals with changing your attitude, looking at the bright side, and maintaining positivity. But why is this advice needed? It’s needed because the default setting is negativity. Just turn on a TV –murder, rape, fraud, war, racism. Does anybody have to work on being negative? Hell no! That comes naturally. It’s so much easier to be negative. Wait. I can see those head-in-the-clouds types rolling their eyes. “Life is beautiful. Life is wonderful. Happiness is a choice.” I see a lot of versions of that last sentence displayed in various quotes. Happiness is a choice. Okay, if this were true—merely a choice—why is there so much suffering and negativity in the world? Why are there so many suicides? If it was that easy, just choose to be happy, why are so many people depressed and dejected? If they could choose to be happy just like they could choose to eat a hamburger instead of some tacos for dinner, why would they ever be sad? It doesn’t make sense. That statement is bullshit. It makes about as much sense as telling an alcoholic to just stop drinking, or telling a fat person to just stop eating as much. It doesn’t work like that. And if the argument is that it’s difficult and requires a lot of effort to choose to be happy, what does that say? It says that the natural state is to be drawn into negativity. That’s my freakin’ point! Why is it designed like that? Why is positivity something that requires effort, work, and focus, while negativity is something that we are pulled into, something we easily fall into? Why does everything get old? Why are we preprogrammed to get jaded by awesome and unique experiences if we are fortunate enough to do them regularly? I have no answers about the design of it. To combat the design, go ahead and flip to the usual clichés: be happy for what you have, try to be positive, etc. Nonetheless, these clichés reinforce my point that the design sucks, or they wouldn’t exist in the first place, and it would be easy. Side note: if you can’t relate to falling into bouts of negativity, I already don’t like you and I think you’re fake—and I bet annoying.

So, has your time for lunch at work ever increased? Have you ever had a 30-minute lunch break increased to one hour? I’d bet money that if your allotted lunch time ever changes, it’s going to go from one hour to 30 minutes. Life.

Philosophy, Rants

Apples to Apples

Two standard pieces of advice we often hear: don’t compare yourself to other people and be thankful for what you have. Pretty universally accepted I think. However, in the way these two maxims are commonly explained, I see contradiction. We’re told not to compare ourselves to other people because it makes us feel inadequate, inferior, and depressed. Doing so plays into the “grass is always greener” fallacy. It’s easy to take the projection of how good somebody has it—always discarding or ignoring anything negative of course—and comparing it to the perceived shortcomings in our own lives. And not only are we told not to compare, we’re often told comparing is fruitless. The reasoning is generally that there are too many unknown variables at play and that each one of us has our own paths. It’s essentially comparing apples to oranges. Sure, that other person may look like they have it all—wealth, beauty, success—but you don’t know how truly happy she is or what her insecurities are or what internal demons she struggles with. We each have our own unique lives that shape along different arches, comparing is bad!

The flip side of that—in order to feel happy and content—is to be happy for what you have. But how is being happy for what you have often explained? I can pull a few lines from my mom as examples. “Be happy for what you have, Daniel, there are a lot of people who have it worse.” “Be happy you have a job, some people are unemployed.” “Be happy you have food to eat, some people are starving.” Sound familiar? We’ve all heard it explained that way. But what’s the action at the core of those statements? COMPARING. This person or that person is worse off than you, so you’re doing well. The problem with using comparing as a way to make yourself feel better is that it legitimizes comparing! You can’t say comparing only works in one direction. That’s the equivalent of saying A equals B, but that B doesn’t equal A. Wrong. If you have B, then you have A too. In other words, if you’re saying that comparing yourself to people less fortunate is a legitimate way to make yourself feel better, well, then comparing yourself to people more fortunate is a legitimate way to present your shortcomings. In even more other words, if you can say “It could be worse!” Guess what? You can just as legitimately say “It could be better!”

What comparing yourself to people less fortunate in order to be happy does is acknowledge that a measurable hierarchy of success and happiness exists. This undermines the reasoning that people’s lives are not comparable because of all of the unknowns and different paths. It basically says that regardless of the variables, there are people flat out doing better than other people. If some successful guy John can say, “well, it could be worse, I could be poor guy Steve.” Could poor guy Steve not say, “well, it could be better, I could be successful John”? Yes, it’s equivalent logic. It doesn’t work in one direction. If someone says her life is not as good because she’s single and all of her friends are in loving relationships, that’s legitimate. You can attempt to console her with hollow platitudes, but it’s the truth. If someone thinks he isn’t as successful as his friends because he makes less money and has an unrewarding job, that’s legitimate. If someone thinks she’s fatter than her group of friends and believes her life would be better if she were skinnier, that’s legitimate. Again, you can console these people with illogical advice not to compare, but it doesn’t matter. It’s like trying to tell a 5’2” man that he’s not short. No, he is short. It’s a fact.

The truest saying about life is that “Life is not fair.” Some people are doing better than other people. Period. And that’s ok. It’s life. What annoys me are the people who try to run in and yell “time out! Nobody is doing better than anybody! We’re just different! Everybody gets brown ribbons!” That’s wrong. It’s not how life works. In real life, yes, some people are doing better than you, and some people are doing worse. Do compare yourself to people you perceive to be doing worse in order to be happy for what you have. But the people you perceive as doing better than you probably are. If it’s something you can work for and achieve, go for it. Put in the work and try to get where that person is. If not, accept what you will not have. It doesn’t mean you can’t be happy. But be realistic and don’t use fake consolation. It could be worse and it could be better.

Philosophy, Rants

Political Jadedness

I used to be submerged in politics. I could recall every minute detail of the day’s activity on The Hill. It was legitimately exciting to me, like sports to my friends. I felt like I could walk right on at CNN and have an informed opinion about anything the President was involved in. Now, I feel like I’ve recently been following politics so little that I can barely comment on it. This is not happenstance.

Let me get this straight: the President is going to potentially get sued or impeached?  Wow! What happened? Surely some war crimes, money laundering, extortion, bribery, or treason took place, right?  No.  He delayed the implementation of the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act.  Sounds serious, how many years in prison is that? Oh, it’s just executive overreach.  Isn’t that why we have checks and balances in our government?  What actual crime took place? Oh, nothing.  Ok, makes total sense.

All of this nonsense could possibly be summed up as political theater.  But the larger point to me is that I don’t even care anymore.  I really don’t.  It’s so dumb, amateurish, and sad that I don’t want to devote anymore time into deciphering the underlying political strategies.  I’ve basically checked out.  I might join the ranks of people like my sister who don’t own a TV, live in the wilderness when they can, and wouldn’t know if World War III started.  I can almost sympathize with people who think politics is stupid and doesn’t really matter.  The Obama presidency has been such a joke.  The opposition in Washington hates him personally and blocks everything he tries to do.  They don’t understand that elections have consequences.  News flash: when your side loses, things are going to happen that you don’t like.  Maybe racism outweighs common sense.  Remember the birth certificate thing?  I wonder what motivated that? What could it have possibly been?  Now I’m far from a person who blames everything on racism, but if you can’t acknowledge that racism still plays even the slightest role in some people’s motivations, I think you are completely ignorant of reality and your opinion has no value to me.

Obama really seemed like a transformative figure.  I bought the “Hope and Change” message, as did a lot of my peers, and much of America.  Obama just seemed to possess something different: nuance, reflection, understanding, smarts, empathy.  What has transpired in his presidency is more of the same—but worse.  America is more polarized than ever.  Politics is as ugly as it’s ever been.  Talk of suing and impeaching a president over non-crimes?  It’s too much!  I became jaded.  I withdrew.  My heart is cold.  All of this doesn’t even get a rise out me anymore.  I simply shrug my shoulders.  If pressed to display an emotion, it’s most likely to be one of amusement, laughter.  If a presidential candidate riding a title wave like Obama merely sprinkles onto shore by the end of his term, what hope does that leave for the next “transformative” candidate.  Not much.  It’s sad.  I can’t see myself getting hyped for another candidate because I already know what will happen.  The forces of cynicism and hatred will tear him or her down.  Maybe I’ll snap out of this by 2016.  Maybe I’ll experience a lost decade.  Who knows?  But right now, fuck politics.

Politics, Rants


I’ve noticed that I only feel creative when I’m pissed off or depressed. This creates an unusual tension. I love to write, vent, connect dots, and make observations. I’m a social observer. The problem is, when I’m content, my mind is blank. I feel like I don’t have anything to say. I don’t see anything. From a creative perspective, this almost translates into a secret desire to want to be depressed or down. And that is not good. I’m not sure what the solution is. I have no desire to write corny articles about positive thinking or loving life. That shit is boring. I’d rather not write at all. But if I had to choose, of course I would side with being content and not writing much over being sad and having plenty to write about. If you’re able to connect dots, I just stated that I’ve been relatively content recently, which is a positive thing—I guess.

My Life

Fantasy Football Is Life

A statement out of a girlfriend or wife’s worst nightmare might go something like this: Fantasy football is life! I imagine that’d be near the pinnacle of cringe worthiness. And I agree. But that statement used as a literary device called a metaphor is 100% correct. I’m not sure about your life, but my life has not been perfect. I don’t live with regrets, as that’s an unproductive way to live, but of course there are some decisions that may have worked out better if I’d have chosen ‘A’ instead of ‘B.’

Enter fantasy football.  I recently finished 7th out of 12 teams in one of my leagues —only 6 go to the playoffs. After 13 weeks played and thousands of points scored, I was few points short. A few points! It’s difficult to swallow. The inevitable woulda-coulda-shouldas begin. You remember all of those tough decisions you had to make between two players that didn’t work out. You might even get as specific as dammit, if I would have played Andre Brown instead of Steven Jackson in week 10, I’d be in the playoffs (true story by the way). But guess what? It doesn’t work like that, and it does you no good. And that’s exactly how life works.

Living in real time, you can only make decisions based on the information you have available to you. You can only try your best to weigh the pros and cons, the plusses and minuses, the likeliest outcomes. Once you do that, you make a choice and ride past the point of no return. You have no idea what will happen. That running back you decided to play might break his leg on the first play. That girl you married might end up as an ex-wife. But you didn’t know that! And you couldn’t have known that. My preachy point is that—and I should practice this myself (do as I say, not as I do)—when you honestly made the absolute best choice you could have possibly made with the information you had available to you, you have to accept it, and stand by it—even if it appears asinine in hindsight. No excuses, no woulda-coulda-shouldas, no contrasts to prove you’re the unluckiest person in the world: I did the best that I could do, and that’s what happened—period. I think that’s the only way to truly have a clear mind.

And look at it the other way. What if that decision worked out better than you could have imagined? What if that running back I decided to play had three touchdowns? What if the person you married you still found yourself happily married to 20 years down the road? It’s obvious. There would be nothing but self-congratulations, patting on the back, certainty of the decision made. But really, the decision process was the same. It’s almost as if the outcome is irrelevant. If you were content with your decision making process, and did as good as you could, that’s all that matters. The outcome may be as predictable as forecasting the weather on a particular day three months from now. Getting it wrong doesn’t make it a dumb decision, even though it might feel like it when you’re standing in freezing rain when you predicted 80 and sunny. So, let it be, let it burn, whatever you want to prescribe to it, it could have just as easily gone the other way. All you can do is move forward and make the best decision you can in the future.


Because We Already Know the Answer

I’m not sure what it says about my personality, or my place in life, but I’m a sucker for self-help articles.  No article about improving your life or dealing with a problem goes unclicked by me: loneliness, depression, difficult breakup, anxiety, boredom—I’m there.  I guess I feel like people are the most honest and real when they’re in a difficult place.  I like empathizing and sympathizing with people, and much of it I can relate to, or could at some point in my life.  But after the plethora of stuff I’ve read, I’ve noticed a common theme.  There is always a big build up and then a letdown.  What I mean is this: the problem is always so wholly and accurately described.  Self-help material starts with identifying your problem.  It does a great job of this.  It lays out all the symptoms and issues and negative side effects.  It gets you saying, holy crap, that’s me!  Sometimes they’ll bring in letters from other people with the same problems.  The letters will describe your life to a tee.  Oh my God! That’s exactly me! That’s exactly what I go through!  It gets you excited.  It makes you think that if the author so precisely knows your struggles, she must have an amazing solution.  Wrong.

The solution is the letdown.  After building you up, making it seem like the author of the article must’ve been following you around daily with a notepad, the solution is generic, thin, and obvious.  There are two directions I can go for why I think this is.  One is that there are no answers.  And as tempting of a choice as this is for a cynic like me, I don’t believe that.  I believe the problem is, we already know the answers.  Humans have been around for quite a long time.  The mess that is our social relationships, along with every negative emotion imaginable, has been documented and written about since Jesus Christ was thousands of years from being thought of.  There’s nothing new under the sun.  These problems that uniquely impact us are simply universal struggles, clichés of the broader human experience.  We approach self-help material with the question, “What should I do?”  We’re looking for an ‘aha’ moment, where we hear the perfect thing, and learn the perfect strategy.  It doesn’t exist.  There are no secrets to life.  There are no magic tricks.  Instead of asking “What should I do?”  The question should be, “Can I do it?”  You know what the solutions are.  The hard part is to actually do them.

We all know what articles and books will say about the aforementioned problems.  Lonely? Seek out social groups and participate in hobbies; don’t sit on the couch.  Depressed? If seriously, seek help.  If simply down, help someone less fortunate; talk about your problems to confidants; do things that make you happy; be happy for what you have; understand it will pass.  Difficult breakup? Stay busy; pick up a new hobby; don’t shy away from grieving; treat yourself; understand that time helps; know there’s more fish in the sea.  Anxious?  Pinpoint what’s wrong; make a list of small things to cross off; change your thought patterns when your mind wanders; understand that worrying has never solved anything, but action has.  This stuff is all pretty basic, and it probably works.  That’s the point.  It’s not what to do, but if you can do it.  Will you really start a new hobby?  Will you really seek professional help?  Will you really volunteer to help people less fortunate?  Will you really quit your job or divorce your partner if they’re making you unhappy? Will you really change your destructive behavior? Therein lies the hard work that is life.


Why I Love Twitter

Not all social media applications are created equal.  I don’t particularly like social media.  I can, however, easily say I love Twitter.  For people unfamiliar, it’s easy to roll their eyes and scoff at it as just another social media outlet.  I’m here to correct that sentiment.  Twitter is not the same thing as Facebook.  I heard an interesting comparison of the two: Facebook is a complex tool for simple people; Twitter is a simple tool for complex people.  I agree.  Facebook has turned into a narcissistic outlet for people to attempt to paint a perfect picture of their lives and seek some sorely lacking attention, one-upping each other in the process.  It’s devolved into pictures of food, pets, and kids.  I swear 10% of the people on Facebook make 90% of the posts.  The whole thing comes off as so fake and phony to me.  I don’t know how many “best hubby in the world” posts I’ve seen only to learn about their divorce a month later.  Twitter, on the other hand, you can make into whatever you want.

First of all, Twitter is how people communicate right now.  Watch any news source covering politics, culture, sports, or anything really, and what you’ll see are tweets.  Twitter is almost the standard way to directly quote prominent people in a field.  Athletes, politicians, celebrities, scientists, business and religious leaders all use Twitter as a way of directly commenting on current events or sharing news of their own.  Controversial and provocative tweets by powerful people are automatically news.  If Kobe Bryant tweets during a game, that’s what they talk about during the half-time show.  If Bill Clinton tweets about Obama, that’s a segment on a political show that night.  When Adrian Peterson’s 2-year-old son recently died, his celebrity friends took to Twitter to send out their condolences.  Similarly, Twitter has been a valuable tool for social movements in foreign countries.  It’s been instrumental in exposing the atrocities committed by dictators and provided a tool for fostering mobilization when other resources were down.

You can’t really act too cool for Twitter if you have any interests at all.  Because guess what? Everything is on Twitter.  You seriously can make it what you want to make it.  Yes, there is the trashy stuff.  You can load your follows with Kim Kardashian, Lindsey Lohan, Justin Beiber, and Charlie Sheen if you want.  But think of anything you’re into.  Really think about everything you like.  There are Twitter accounts for it.  If you’re into Architecture, there are professional architectural associations and trade publications on Twitter, and many prominent architects have twitter accounts.  It’s like that for every field.  All of the major magazines, trade journals, and organizations will have accounts, along with the prominent individuals in the field.  Basket weaving, chess, mountain climbing, fashion, traveling, craft beer, kayaking, circus performing, magic tricking, I don’t care.  It’s on twitter.

Twitter is an excellent news source as well.  You could follow four accounts and not miss one thing happening anywhere from your block to the entire world.  For instance, in Denver I could follow a couple local accounts, my neighborhood organization and an alternative paper like Westword for news and activities around my house. Then I could follow a regional account like the Denver Post or 9 News for metro area updates.  Then I could go with a CNN or BBC News for world events.  Viola.  Ain’t nothing escaping your radar on any level.  And nothing breaks news faster than Twitter.  News organizations tweet breaking news long before it makes it to a website or onto TV.  The links to articles I cherish as well.  If you follow your favorite websites and bogs, they tweet links to their material.  You don’t have to actively seek out what you’re into; it comes to you.

Following the eclectic range of things that I do, I noticed something unusual.  There aren’t too many trends that are extremely popular among both nerds and “cool” people.  Twitter is just that.  It’s huge with political nerds.  Politics has an enormous presence on Twitter.  Journalists, politicians, and political pundits have highly active accounts and talk to each other and post articles all day long on the application.  It’s their medium of communication.  What’s unusual is that I can say the same thing for hip hop.  The “coolest,” too-cool-for-everything rappers live on Twitter.  Every major and up-and-coming artist has a twitter account.  They tweet constantly.  They rap about Twitter.  The hottest rappers have millions of followers.  How many other things can you think of that are uber popular among political nerds and rappers?  I can’t think of any.  I didn’t even mention sports.  You can follow almost any professional athlete individually, their teams, the professional association, and all the talking heads with their analysis and organizations.  Twitter can be used for ultimate fandom.

So, my whole point is, don’t roll your eyes at me when I talk about Twitter.  Don’t be an ignoramus.  I’m not on there just following Kanye West and tweeting dumb, random things.  I use it for a lot more than that.  I’ll summarize my Twitter use.  I’m a news and political junkie.  I get my news from Twitter.  I follow many news outlets.  I follow all my local politicians directly.  I seriously follow my mayor, governor, city council representative, state senator and representative, U.S. house representative and both U.S. senators.  I follow everyone I vote for.  I also follow numerous other politicians around the country and boat loads of political pundits on the right, left, and center.  I follow all of my favorite music artists to get direct information on upcoming tours and music releases.  I follow many athletes, sports teams, and sports writers to be an informed fan.  I follow the Pope and the Dali Lama for inspirational perspectives.  I work in real estate.  I follow my professional organization, leading real estate and urban planning writers, and city building organizations.  I follow visual accounts like Classic Pictures and Earth Pictures.  I’m into running.  I follow running magazines that provide information on workouts, injury prevention, and track meet results.  I follow my running clubs. I follow my favorite celebrities and personalities.  I’m into airplanes.  I follow aerospace news and the Denver International Airport.  I like space.  I follow a few astrophysicists and space organizations.  I banter back and forth with friends on Twitter.  I follow a local bookstore for information about book signings and speakers.  I follow the State Department for travelling updates.  I follow the Denver Police Department for information about traffic accidents and crime reports.  I follow inspirational speakers who tweet out good life advice.  I follow comedians who test material through tweets and get a good laugh.  I follow philosophers who tweet thought provoking statements.  I follow music and movie critics who give their opinions on what’s worth checking out.  And finally, Twitter has provided me a tool to vent, make random observations, and write pithy statements in 140 characters or less.  And it’s devoid of the “trying too hard” feeling of Facebook.  I’m not doing it for attention.  I don’t have any followers.  I don’t care.  That’s not my point on there.

Overall, Twitter has allowed me to become a more informed person and provided me with a tool for better following my interests.  No, my life would not be altered if Twitter disappeared.  But the way it is, in its current format, I love it.


Don’t Knock the Hustle

I’m always amazed at the level of disrespect that certain people receive.  I think we all dish it.  How sexy and awesome is the sportscaster Mike Tirico or the political talk show host Chris Matthews?  You might be hard pressed to find admirers.  These guys are basically invisible.  A political talk show host is more likely to be called idiotic, stupid, and ill-informed, with a spite that is nasty and real.  Sports announcers are more likely to be called corny, lame, and encouraged to shut up by the viewing public.  Yet, whether you like it or not, when you look at the numbers, these are some of the most successful people in the world.

We all praise movie stars, musicians, and professional athletes.  Their success is transparent.  They all “made it” we say.  They made it to the big leagues.  This goes without saying.  But I will posit this: Mike Tirico and Chris Matthews, in their respective fields, are more successful than the majority of movie stars, musicians, and athletes.  That sounds crazy but it’s true.  Mike Tirico, among other things, announces Monday Night Football games.  If you look up the complete list of Monday Night Football commentators since its inception in 1970, you can fit it on one page—one page!  How many players have been in the NFL or NBA since 1970? Thousands and thousands.  Statistically, it is much harder to become a Monday Night Football broadcaster than it is an NFL player.  It was unlikelier for Mike Tirico to achieve his position than it was for Terrell Owens to achieve his.  Yet we look at Mike Tirico or any other sportscaster like it’s just some dude on the mic.

Similarly, Chris Mathews, often called an old rambling idiot, hosts a political talk show called HardballHardball has been on the air since 1997.  That’s 16 years!  Say what you want about the man.  Think what you want to about his politics or talking-head style, but the man is extremely successful.  Can you even think of another person who’s had their own political talk show for 16 years and counting?  He’s basically the Lebron James or Tom Brady of political talk show hosting.  But the level of disrespect he receives is absurd.  Anytime an event from his show is highlighted on a political blog, the comments about him would lead you to think he’s the stupidest blabbering ignoramus the world has ever known—vile, hateful stuff.  But if he’s such this complete and absolute moron, how has he had a TV show for 16 years?  Networks are a business just like any other.  They’re about ratings and making money.  If a show has been on for 16 years, something must be going right, right?

I’ll even extend an olive branch to someone I cannot stand: Rush Limbaugh.  He is hands down the Michael Jordan of radio, period.  Say what you want to about his incendiary, race-baiting, overblown style, the guy owns radio.  I can call him a complete idiot and see him as the ultimate tool, but is he? The way he markets and positions himself as the voice of the frustrated old white male, at odds with the main stream media, is genius.  He’s one of the most successful people in the world in his respective field.

So I ask people to keep things in perspective.  Give some respect to people who are in positions that are tremendously hard to achieve, whether or not you like them personally or agree with what they say.  They are more successful than you.  And I think something else people are ignorant about is how hard seemingly “easy” positions are.  I bet the majority of these trash talkers would perform absolutely terribly on their own TV or radio talk show.  I bet they couldn’t keep up with play-by-play sports calling with humor and professionalism, yet they won’t hesitate to trash the Michael Jordans of these fields.  Success is success.  Respect it.


Tinder: An Unexpected Realization

I’m 30 years old and single.  This is my doing.  I’ve had plenty of opportunities for girlfriends in the past couple of years.  I’ve traditionally been against relationships altogether, but as I’ve softened to the idea, I’ve discovered that I’m extremely picky and am quick to develop an exit strategy as soon as I sense a girl wants to be exclusive.  There’s some background.

I joined this new dating app called Tinder.  Simple format: each profile has an age, tagline, and five pictures.  You basically scroll through and either like or don’t like the person. It’s just shy of being 100% based solely on looks.  The app is linked to your Facebook account, so it does list mutual friends and interests, but again, it’s what’s in the pictures.  The twist is that you only know if someone likes you if he or she likes you back, and vice versa.  It’s pretty anonymous in that sense.

I was confident when I started this thing.  I got the tip from a coworker.  A “hot or not” app?! Shit, let me mop this thing up!

More background…

“Let me mop this thing up” comes from years of experience.  Let’s get this straight.  I’m not some self-delusional lame-o who sees something different in the mirror than what everybody else sees.  Looks are not something I worry about.  This will sound cocky, but it’s truth.  Please forgive me.  I know I’m a good looking guy at this point.  I’ve probably gotten that I’m “hot,” “handsome,” “attractive,” “beautiful,” “fine,” “good-looking,” “easy on the eyes,” “sexy,” “cute,” and “pretty” over 1,000 times in the past 15 years— from 1,000 different people, literally.  I’m not cocky about it.  I don’t really care.  It hasn’t gotten me anywhere.  I don’t make much money and I’m single, and I pride myself on other things.  And at 30 years old, I know that looks fade and don’t mean shit in the big picture.  I’m honestly just relaying what I’ve experienced.  These compliments have come from everywhere.  Girls my age telling me I’m hot; my little sister notifying me that her friends think I’m cute; old ladies telling me I’m handsome; guys telling me that I must get all the girls; gay guys telling me it’d be on if I swung that way.  I get it from store clerks, servers, classmates, coworkers, friend’s parents, random people—black, white, brown.  I think you get the point.

The reason I set up the aforementioned over-the-top, overblown level of narcissism, conceit and self-aggrandizement is for the contrast that follows.  After being on Tinder for well over a month… I’ve gotten two matches—two matches!! What the hell?!  How could that be?

Now, before we go any further, a few variables need to be discussed.  A number of things can contribute to why someone might not get many matches on Tinder.  A few big ones I see are bad pictures, a stupid or immature tagline, not “liking” anyone yourself, or the reality that matches themselves are rare.  The problem is that I cover these bases.  My pictures are pretty normal.  I have mostly smiling face shots, one running picture, and one group-of-friends picture—nothing crazy.  My tagline ranges from “Hi” to “It’s Hammer Time”—again, nothing crazy (or at least nothing “disqualifying”).  I’d estimate that I’ve liked over 50 girls on there (and possibly more)—not the issue.  And as far as matches themselves being rare, I know they aren’t.  I’ve read Tinder experimentation articles where getting matches was never mentioned as a problem (maybe after the match happens, but that’s a different issue).  And a few guys I know (who are far from Brad Pitt look-alikes) have gotten a bunch of matches, so again, what’s gives?

This boils down to one thing: race.  It is the only thing that makes sense.  Now listen, I’m not pulling some kind of Reverend Al Sharpton yelling racism! card—far from it.  I’m simply making an observation about reality.  I’m not mad, vindictive, or blaming anyone.  I’m commenting about human nature.

This is my take: Even though interracial relationships are now totally acceptable, and it’s common for white girls to find black guys attractive, most white girls still prefer white guys.  That statement could get slapped with the obvious duh! tag, but I think there’s nuance there that matters.  It’s not as simple as saying “some white girls like black guys and some don’t.”  That is obvious. But I think this Tinder experiment allows that to be taken a little further.  Tinder allows the dichotomy to come front and center.  That dichotomy being: why would a girl think a guy is hot but immediately pass on him as a potential partner?  Unless there’s some kind of technological cognitive dissonance going on, I’m not sure how someone can be attractive in real life but not online (especially if he is often called photogenic). So I think it’s safe to assume that I should be an attractive guy online too.

My thoughts are that when random people, out and about in society, call someone attractive, it’s noncommittal.  It’s almost more of an impersonal compliment. “You’re a very handsome guy.” “Hey, thanks, appreciate that.” That’s it.  There’s no follow up necessary.  What Tinder (or dating sites in general) does is encourage a follow up.  The ultimate goal of these sites is to find a partner (or at least with using Tinder as a “hot or not” app, you still have incentive to like people to know if they like you back).  As a girl looks at my profile, there’s a good chance she thinks I’m attractive.  But that’s not enough.  The follow up is: if I “like” him, we might match.  If we match, he’ll talk to me.  Fast forward: can I see this guy as my boyfriend?  “Umm… I kind of saw myself with a white guy.”  I guarantee that’s what’s happening.  It’s the only thing that can explain why I feel like a damn model walking around in real life but get zero action on Tinder.  I forgot to mention that probably 98% of the girls I’ve seen on Tinder are white.

But the reason I’m not mad about this realization is that I know it’s simply human nature.  Turn the tables.  How many white guys think Beyonce is hot?  I bet more do than don’t.  But how many white guys can see themselves with a black girl?  I rarely see it.  The same phenomenon is at play.  I guarantee most white guys who call Beyonce beautiful would not choose her over Kate Upton.  Just like most white girls that call Lenny Kravitz hot would not choose him over Brad Pitt or Ryan Gosling.  That’s just how it is.

Through Tinder I have a better understanding of how this works.  Before I joined the app, I thought race was completely irrelevant in dating, especially in Denver in 2013.  It didn’t even occur to me that maybe some white girls were off limits to me as girlfriends or wives based on my skin color.   This isn’t to say that all of the girls who thought I was attractive, but passed, wouldn’t talk to a black guy.  It’s not necessarily that deep.  Bumping into people in real life, and getting to know someone through more natural situations, leads to all kinds of relationships people couldn’t have predicted.  But in a quiet, anonymous arena, true biases and preferences surface.

Update: Since lowering my standards to basically liking every single girl in the months following this article, I’ve received over 40 matches.  I think the logic of this article still applies, however.

My Life, Philosophy


People can be really cool, unique, or weird on the surface.  There’s the emo-gothic guy with the six-inch platform shoes on, trench coat, and gobs of eyeliner.  There’s the bling-bling black guy with $200 Jordan’s on, 26-inch rims, and hard looking entourage of seven.  There’s the artsy-hipster with a half-shaved head, tattoo sleeves, and brakeless fixie.  There’s the diehard nature lover with no TV, a bike worth more than her car, and year-round Chaco tan.  There’s the all-American dude with the Lacoste polo on, Range Rover, and Barbie-looking trophy wife.  These archetypes are nearly infinite.  Some of them go together like oil and water.  Some of them are hard to relate to, depending on where you’re coming from.  But somebody is actually living like every kind of person there is.  Each representation is the expression of a choices made to portray such an outward appearance.  Nothing happens on accident.

But my point here isn’t to explore why people make the choices they do.  I don’t think it’s even possible to speculate why some people want to represent themselves as clean cut and pretty, while others prefer grungy and disheveled.  My point, however, is that people are people.  Beneath all of the panache, the ornamentations, the pretenses, and the facades, people are mostly the same.  Lines that seem very thick are actually hair thin.

Being that I’m half-white, half-black, and dabble in activities that are stereotypically popular to both sides, I’ve had a chance to interact with many different kinds of people.  I’m always amazed by how “normal” eccentric or unconventional people are.  Some are weird.  Some are intimidating.  But real, personal conversation leaves the outward appearance irrelevant—it melts away the mystery.  At the end of the day, people are motivated by the same basic things: they want to be loved; they want to be accepted; they want to be respected; and they want to do things they derive pleasure from.  That’s about it.  The desire to achieve those things takes on different forms.  But those desires are more important than the forms they take.  I see it like different colors of a car.  Some people prefer the car to be white.  Some people prefer the car to be red. But the actual car is the same.

A good example is to look at what people’s reasons are for what they like to do.  Very few people I’ve encountered have deep, detailed philosophical answers.  Hands down the most common answer is: I like it.  Why do you get so many tattoos? I like them.  Why do you run 50 miles-per-week? I like it.  Why did you spend $100,000 on a car? I like it.  Why do you bench 450 pounds and want to increase weight? I like it.  Why do you climb 14ers every weekend? I like it.  I’ve talked to crazy looking people with tattoos on their faces, foot-high mohawks, and African-sized gauges in their ears, who don’t even have a real reason behind the eccentricity besides saying that they like it.  That’s about it.

What is crazy, though, is how deep the judgment runs in regard to something so shallow.  Don’t mix an inner-city “thug” with a cowboy.  Don’t mix a dirty hipster with an Abercrombie & Fitch doppelganger.  They’re almost natural enemies, right? But again, I guarantee you that they’re all motivated by those basic aforementioned desires.  We’re all just people trying to survive and get by.  The means by which we express ourselves is simply the manifestation of what we like—nothing more.