Sunday, January 27, 2013

Robot Addendum

Also, when I think robot, I think silver awkward slow-moving well-meaning clangy clingy robot; hello, child of the 70s, I see crappy sci-fi television images of suits I don't want polyestering me.

I guess what those who love the idea of loving robots are doing is using robots that look like humans, which I find even creepier since in that case, they would smell like band aids and have peach fuzz--all over their bodies.

I bet a Madonna robot styled circa: Dress You Up (In My Love) would really sell, at least to gay men. For parties. With karaoke.

Does Being With a Robot Make You Feel Better?

It just gets scarier.

So, I've been reading Shelly Turkle's Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, which maps the progression we're currently undergoing from, say, real life to the online personas that tend to freak me out, being a constriction and dampening down of reality in my view. And I am a big proponent of reality, even if it displeases,

Turkle shares my reservations about prioritizing distance and technology over, say, getting together with friends in physical space--I just did that again today, what a relic!--and in particular, she was not so thrilled with David Levy's Love and Sex With Robots, the premise being...well, you can probably gather it from that title. The stated premise, as quoted from this how (please?) not to guide:

"Love with robots will be as normal as love with other humans."

The sad thing is how many people she talks to who seem not only unhorrified by this thesis, but actually enthused about converting to such a planet. I mean, people are, like, so annoying, the way you have to, like, talk to them and actually respect, like, differences that even though I'm also a people, I'm ready for something with labor-saving attachments. For a loose paraphrase.

I've had a few friends talk to me about the game known as Second Life, also discussed in this book, as if it were, you know, real, at which point I said something to the effect of, "You're mad about someone you've never met but are married to on the internets cheating on you with another avatar and are actually admitting this out loud?" thus closing the conversation.

I know. That sounds judgmental. Because it is. And I feel fine about being a bit judgy on this topic, especially after reading whole passages about one avatar husband--well, he's an avatar who's also married to one, on the internet--but he's also married in real life--who went so far as to say the latter is what has kept his real-life family together, seeing as how Second Life is where he feels more at home, with "Jade," who may or may not even be a woman and who he will never meet and doesn't want to, except for through the screen, the screeeeeeeeeen.

Wow, that sounds just like this internet dating people in NYC seem to swear by, with the notable exception (thank you lord) of men from Brooklyn (from Brooklyn).

Now I know what I've been doing wrong all this time?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I'm Goin' Back to 2003, to 2003, to 2003...

Don't Talk About It

I find it odd how the more ways Americans find to communicate, the less about themselves they choose to reveal, unless of course we count bragging (I don't). This reserve is certainly understandable in terms of personal data or security, but that's not what I'm addressing here. I'm talking about our new cult of no personality.

How many times have you heard people say they make it a point not to express strong opinions on the internets, particularly women, who then blanket themselves in babies and pets, unlike those opinionated, uppity bitches (cough)? I like babies and pets. That doesn't mean they're all I like. And why does this need to be expressed all the time, anyway? Is it some real-women-do litmus test we must all be sure to pass at every moment? What about the babies and pets who may or may not care to serve as social shields, if they were given a choice? Socialization's a bitch foisted upon us as children but spineless is a choice in adulthood, and it's a depressing one to witness time and time again, the self-Stepfording half a century past the 1950s, my least favorite decade and alas our continued model for gender norms. Separation. Approved topics. No controversy. Nothing that could potentially offend anyone, an impossible standard. Driving this seems to be the way we monitor one another for unapproved remarks or behaviors, which is most visible in how we treat celebrities: like they're super humans who don't, and can't, screw up, even badly, without being discarded. I'm not talking about car-crashing on the part of paparrazi-stalked starlets or wife beating on the part of sitcom stars, both of which are heinous. I'm talking about things like Cornel West not being "allowed" to criticize Obama--from the left, how refreshing for us leftists--and also be happy to meet the president and shake his hand without being pilloried as a hypocrite, as if contradictory ideas cannot exist within one human, let alone be enacted. You can't be romantic and not like weddings, I've been told. You can't talk about the hardships misogyny brings without being a man hater is another implication I've been backhanded with, in the form of various stalkers at this blog and elsewhere who hate out of all proportion to the mere reality of a person who is not them posting an opinion or experience they do not share. It's the drive-thru model; people can just be ordered up to reflect back what we think. Or else! They're from Kenya. They're immoral. The racial, social or philosophical group they are part of is rendered void or insert negative adjective. It smacks of a people who have never learned to cope with disagreement, these expectations of sameness, of non-offense. And that's a tad hysterical, no?

Part of this pearl clutching seems to spring from these weird, rigid boxes we like to sort both ourselves and others into, as well as the way we're always looking for explanations for things that are not necessarily problems, such as how someone could have a private medical procedure another person does not like, why he or she is really still not married, why she or he really got divorced, etc. We don't seem to be minding the right business, like why we're more interested in the minority of cases of welfare fraud as opposed to why our tax dollars are being used to kill people overseas, or even something as simple as what we find enjoyable about other people, beyond how their lives mirror and thus validate our own. I don't have to advise anyone to read the comments sections of most sites as an illustration of the vitriol dished out beyond the gaze of its recipients. It's a known, accepted reality--because spineless in the sense of letting abusive anonymous typers type whatever they want, regardless of its often total lack of relevance to the topic at hand, feels safer to many site administrators than the apparent spine required to hit delete on that shit. And I personally feel that's exactly backwards. Which is not to say we should all confront everything all the time, because what fun would that be?, but burying our head in the sand and letting the bullies have it clearly isn't working. See: Wall Street.

On a day-to-day level, I don't like what our reticence, our reluctance, including my own, to engage the real, the flawed, does to conversation. I don't like feeling crazy for discussing the above topics in an honest manner or worrying that I'll be judged for doing so, as I have been numerous times. And so I do understand this reticence, this reluctance. But what does suppressing really accomplish when what's being suppressed is not the vitriol but everything else--the weird, the unpopular, the uncommon, the dreaded controversial?

It erases.

And yet it's also the case that I sit here worrying about people finding this blog in a way I didn't used to when this blog was both more popular and more the norm in terms of people still talking in long, messy paragraphs, putting themselves out there. I sit here worrying that I've offended people for talking about behaviors I find forced and problematic, that they think I'm talking about them in particular, something we seem to do a lot: take the words and make them first and foremost about us. If we agree, smileys! If we don't, well, we're clearly being criticized by this person and who does she think she is? Well, I was once a nomad who was found in New Orleans, the only place I've ever wanted to stay forever until it became unsafe and unrealistic to do so, so now I feel like it's back to that, meaning who I am is not static. Before we all started ah communicating so much, I thought the latter reality was seen as a given for all non-robots. But now we must be tidy.

Good luck? I know I'm too ________ to fit that role reboot. And so I worry. I worry about prospective editorial clients finding this blog and deciding _______ or dudes I date informing me of their opinions not to share them, but to let me know my feelings on, for one example, the TSA are unpatriotic. So, though I strive to remain open, "I found your blog" is a statement that has come at times to be more of a negative than a positive for what follows and as someone who writes well beyond blogging, this is a poison pill, this desire for me not to express--i.e., embarrass (thanks)--myself that has been communicated in a variety of ways, including through silence.

But is saying nothing really a lifepath to be proud of?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Old School/Back in Nola


Back from the fire
I sit and slip
into idle imagination
losing any concentration
to my pursuit
of your ambivalent perfection.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Things Many People Have, Enjoy, Use That I Do Not

Phones said to be smart


Flat screen television

Christmas spirit

Video chat


Any trait described as adorkable


Tablets, neither stone nor digital

Relationship status updates

Fake eyelashes

Golf umbrellas

Friends whose advice I ignore

Hen-cow get-ups

A desire to be famous, or on television

Devices that blast loud music or shows on public transportation

A xylophone
(And I'm a little sad about that one)

A belief that I better settle down soon, or else

Ipod cases

(I still think you mean appetizers and am then disappointed)

An urge to flaunt my insides on the internets, i.e., my uterus
Maybe I'll show you my guts, though. Or use them to construct a xylophone, whichever.

Zip code stasis

Shock over the real impacts of both infrastructure failure and global warming

A sense of entitlement regarding my belief that I should never have to experience the latter real impacts, they're for those other people

Non-freakishly sensitive skin, heart