Why Men and Women Can't be Friends

by talkbackty on Oct 31, 2011

This is my first post in what will become a fairly regular series beginning next week. The idea sprang when one of the people I went to college with wrote a blog about dating, and then another friend wrote their thoughts, and then another, and now me. We started this chain reaction of thought all circling around one concept. So over the next week or two we will solidify our plans to create a weekly blog on one topic- viewed from different perspectives. 

The originator was Izzy. The reply was from Allison. The idea came forth on Kandace's blog. Katelyn soon joined in. And now it is my turn.

Men and women can't be friends. Not shouldn't, or it's not a good idea. They can't. At the end of the day, sexual tension will always get in the way.

Fans of movies will realize that I'm just rehashing a point made much more eloquently in When Harry Met Sally.

The funny thing is that this is a perfect example of art reflecting life. Men and women can not be friends. I suppose our societal structures are partially to blame, maybe it is not as biological as I make it out to be. I fully admit that there is a possibility I'm wrong.

Except for all the men who are agreeing with me already.

The biggest problem comes with people's definition of the word friend. It's too casual at the moment. What you're thinking of is an acquaintance. Someone you know from social interactions or school or work. You know them, you are aware of their existence as another human being, you may even exchange pleasantries from time to time. 

That does not make them a friend. 

Friends are confidants. They are the people you are closest to and can share everything with. It's the guy you call to bail you of jail or the girl who leaves her sisters' wedding because you broke up with your boyfriend and can't stop crying. Friends are rare.

Most importantly, you are attracted to your friend. There personality is interesting to you. That's why you're able to play video games for 8 hours straight, or talk non-stop, or not-talk non-stop; and you still find them pleasing to be around. You like being around them because you are attracted to them.

You're attracted to them for reasons that are completely beyond physicality and biology. You are attracted to their soul, their essence, their actuality. You are attracted to who they are as a person.

When it comes to men and women, the first reason you are attracted to a member of the opposite sex is because they are a member of the opposite sex. The soul, their essence, their actuality? That is nice...but it is a secondary concern when you're presented with your biological nirvana only meters away. 

Now whether that dynamic is one-sided, or mutually felt is irrelevant. It doesn't matter that you don't like him, or you think she is ugly. In fact, you could both not like one another. If you're "friends" eventually it will all lead back to the same place. If you hang out with a person because you enjoy their company, because they interest you, because you enjoy them as a person...eventually, you'll start wondering why you aren't sleeping together/dating/married.

The line, "I want to marry my best friend" is misleading. It's more like, "The person I marry will become my best friend." You can't marry you're best friend. That would imply that sex was never a factor in your relationship...which is obviously false because you are getting married. It would imply that you already reached a point in your relationship when sex was not an issue. That you saw beyond it, that you saw the real person sitting across from you. And if you were able to accomplish that then my reaction is first, that you're lying to me or yourself, and second that you are the exception not the rule. 

The simple truth is that everyone you know who enjoys your company, who wants to spend time with you, who likes interacting with you; is interested in being more than "friends." And the even simpler answer to your next question of, "Why?" is, "Why wouldn't they be?" Why would a person who enjoys everything about you not want to spend as much time with you as possible? Why would they not want to experience, what most consider, to be the one thing that brings two people closer together than anything else?

I know this is disagreeable material, but if you are honest with yourself I think you can understand what I'm saying. I think you'll realize how often the issue comes up. How many times you've wanted something with someone and when those feeling weren't returned you played it cool so you could still be "friends." Be honest, if you're still friends it's because you are hoping that one day the other person will change their mind.

Occupy Wall Street: An Overview

by talkbackty on Oct 23, 2011

Occupy Wall Street is now a worldwide protest that started in New York City on September 17th, 2011. I've kept my opinions in reserve as I watched this all develop, but there are too many things going on that too many people are missing to remain quiet.

Below I've pulled some of the most watched videos about some of the events that have happened since Occupy Wall Street started. I'll give a description as an intro and give my opinion at the end while trying to remain as neutral as I can.

The first video is one of the first clips I saw. Protestors are netted off and a white shirt police officer (Tony Balogna) approaches them and pepper sprays the crowd, leaving two women on their knees screaming.

This particular video is slowed down and highlights key points. I like it better because you can see what is going on, in reality it all happens very quickly. The unedited video is available on youtube.

The second video is of a marine shouting down several police officers. It's long and repetitive yet if you stick around and watch the whole thing you'll notice that there are dozens of officers that look ready to approach the crowd and then do not.

The third video is of a group of people getting arrested at a local (New York) Citibank. They were attempting to close their bank accounts at Citibank. The bank locked them in the store until police arrived and everyone was arrested. About half way through the video you'll notice a woman outside is dragged back indoors and arrested.

*Okay, bias coming, but I want to put it out there before you watch the video. Notice the woman who is picked up and dragged inside is being lifted by a man in plain clothes. He is wearing a black sweatshirt with some white writing on it and a black hat. This is an undercover police officer. Numerous eyewitness accounts say that this man was the loudest protestor inside the bank, attempting to rile the crowd up, then-when everyone was arrested and taken to the police station- he laughed in their faces.

Personal Opinion

These videos are all shocking and have had me on edge for the last few weeks. My general feeling on Occupy Wall Street is that it's too incoherent to fully understand. Talk to one person and they want to audit the Federal Reserve. Talk to another and they want to end the stock market, or legalize prostitution, or it's just a great party.

There's no leadership or structure. It's a hodgepodge of random people, probably started by college-aged adults, but certainly no longer limited to that segment of the population.

At this point the movement, at least to me, seems to be a collection of people who feel as if something is wrong with the way this country operates. And I wholeheartedly agree.

The Federal Reserve was recently partially audited and it was revealed that $16 trillion (Yes, with a "t") had been given out to US banks, corporations, and foreign banks between 2007-2010. That's more than our debt, more than our GDP, more than any budget being debated by congress. And you didn't have the slightest idea it was happening. Nobody did. Too many people still don't know.

The Worst Part

Occupy Wall Street is being attacked by the wrong people. Cops are not the enemy, at least most of them are not. Most police officers are hardworking individuals trying to do their jobs. However, when a bank, JP Morgan, donates $4.6 million to the NYPD- some higher-ups in the PD may start giving directions a little one-sided. This isn't a mystery either. There was no Woodward and Bernstein who found some secret accountant with all the dirty details. During the Occupy Wall Street protests, JP Morgan publicly announced they were giving the NYPD $4.6 million dollars. The next day 700+ people were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge.

If this was Batman, Falcone just bought the Gotham Police. (Sorry, playing a lot of Arkham City lately).

The Best Part

Nothing like this has ever happened before. The internet makes it possible for any person to see a situation from multiple perspectives. So when the New York Times changes the front page article on the arrest of 700+ protestors, you can find out why.

A few google searches and youtube videos will lead you to an interesting couple of stories about how most protestors (including reporters on the ground) felt they were being lead by police officers onto the Brooklyn Bridge. Then the cops stopped, turned around, and arrested 700 people. The act is called kettling. You may better know it has herding or corralling.

Everyone can see the differences in people's stories. You can see where things are inconsistent and make up your own mind. There are thousands of videos that provide first-hand accounts as to what is actually happening.

I honestly don't know how I feel about everything. The main thing I feel is nervous. This is exactly how revolutions start. I'm not afraid- that would come much later and in a much worse situation. I'm on-edge though. I feel like something big could happen. Something monumental.

I don't know if I, or anyone, is ready for that.

We Are The Lovesick

by talkbackty on Oct 17, 2011

A friend showed this to me and it was too amazing not to share.

Jason Reeves: We Are The Lovesick

we are the lovesick. the fearless ones. the never giving up.
the hearts undone. sick with the desire to love. to live so far
beyond the boundaries given to us. we are the fence-hopping
fools who never stopped to read the signs. the ones that left
the world behind. like dreams we've drawn in neon light. just
moments in the sea of time. we are the lost ones wandering.
the soon to be smoldering. last to be found. the first to fall and
fail to fly then shatter on the ground. we are the rebels running
wild through a darkness that can swallow us. but we've set fire
to our souls. burning brilliant blinding gold. the flames that illuminate our lonely road. our futures holding fates untold. we are the ever-refusing to fold. to fade away or worse to lose. the few that bend and break apart the cages of our rules. born desperate for the promise of the mystery unknown. we are the lovesick. and just like the sun we will always rise. hope still shining in our eyes..  

A Hidden Truth About Teaching

by talkbackty on Oct 16, 2011

I've been flying high and optimistic on my last few posts in Zen and the Art of Teaching. You can see them here.

Here's a little dose of realism that nobody tells you while you're in college, that you don't understand when you're in high school, and maybe nobody is brave enough to talk about when you're an adult.

Eventually, you have to watch your kids fail. You have to watch them get hurt. You have to see them cry. You have to listen as they tell you horror stories about what happens to them outside of school. Eventually, you have to watch some of them die.

I believe every person handles these things a little differently, but I know for a fact no one is prepared for them. How can someone be prepared for a child you see all the time to tell you they're being assaulted at home?

There is no way to prepare. So instead we don't talk about it. No professor tells you in that intro education class that eventually you'll have to deal with horrible, terrible things happening to your students. To your kids.

I'm not a parent. I don't make any claim to know what a parent feels like when something bad happens to their child. But I can tell you that outside of their parents, I interact with these kids more than any other adult. In the cases where students despise what's happening to them at home, I interact with them more than their "parents."

And it hurts like hell when something bad happens to one of my kids.

I've already talked about the fact that I am in a protector/rescuer by nature. That's just my instinct. I want to help people in need. A past girlfriend of mine liked to refer to the scene from The Blind Side when Leann Tuhoy is talking about how high Michael Oher scored in protective instincts on an aptitude test. This is partly because if I'd ever taken a test like that I would have scored similarly to Oher, and partly because my past girlfriend was a fan of mediocre sports movies.

Nobody talks about these things though. Beyond the petty high school drama that gets joked about so often, there are real, serious issues going on in our schools. I see some people trying to do what they can to help those who have it the worst. At the end of the day though, there is simply not enough being done.

Why aren't we talking about these things?

How I Lost 80% of my Facebook Friends in 24 Hours.

by talkbackty on Oct 12, 2011

This week I did something rather crazy/bold/refreshing/fantastic. I asked all my Facebook friends to stop being friends with me. I know you've all thought about it from time to time. I did it. I'm going to see if I can use Facebook in a different fashion. Use it as a tool to have in depth and intelligent conversations about a range of topics. I still have to see if that will actually happen, but if you were wondering how to get most people to unfriend you on Facebook, here's how I did it.


Here it goes.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a quote that I found floating around the internet:

"Post your desires publicly. Whoever complains that you shouldn't want that, unfriend. Then ask for suggestions from the rest."

After that I did absolutely nothing. I was terrified. Fear got the best of me. "What if they don't like what you say?" "What about so and so?" "Aren't you being a little egotistical?" "Why do you think you are so important?" "Nobody else seems that upset, calm down wacko."

That's me, talking to myself. If you don't like that, please unfriend me. 

If you're not engaged and interactive with me on Facebook, please unfriend me. If it's been years since we last talked, please unfriend me. But most of all, there are about to be numerous status updates from me. If you disregard them and move on, please unfriend me. If you find what I say offensive to the point that it upsets you, please unfriend me. If, at the very least, you can't try and open you're mind to what I'm saying and inquire as to why I'm saying it, please unfriend me.

Facebook is a marvelous tool, but I'm not using it correctly. I'm too often concerned by what people are going to think. I'm too bogged down in pointless updates that do nothing to enhance my life. I'm tired of it all. 

I say this only with honesty and compassion. Never out of anger. I won't take it personally, I'm not offended, and I'll still think you are a good person. I hope that you will feel the same towards me.

I want to use Facebook as an intimate setting. A place where I can share my ideas and opinions, and hear yours in return. That is what I offer if you remain my friend. Someone who is actively engaging in the things you find important enough to share. Someone who is interested in what you have to say. Someone who will listen and talk about any topic you can imagine.

To put it another way; an actual friend.

If that's not something you're interested in, please unfriend me. 


Be Kind

by talkbackty on Oct 9, 2011

It is terribly scary to be alone
Whether literally or figuratively.
Being on the outside of a group is frightening.
So be kind to others.

Buy a round for everyone, share a story.
Be willing to open up.
Best advice I ever got or can ever give
Be Kind.

21st Century Teaching

by talkbackty on Oct 5, 2011

This is the second post in my Zen and the Art of Teaching series. Check out the first post here.

I'm going to do two things in this post. First, I will tell you exactly how I wish I could set up my classroom and interact with my students. Then I'll tell you why that is so difficult to achieve.

Currently, our schools work in a strange way. Kids are supposed to "learn" new material from a teacher at school. They are then sent home and given homework which is supposed to reinforce what they learned during the day. This is 100% the opposite of how I think things should work.

Here's what I would do. Instead of forcing kids to learn new material at school we should send them home with a podcast or assignment to research a new topic using the internet. Wikipedia pages should be used often. All new material should be learned away from school.

So you don't get kids looking like this.

Why? You ask. Two main reasons. First, this is exactly how the rest of us get information. If you want to learn something new isn't your first stop Google or Wikipedia? "Oh, I just heard about an anaconda. I have no idea what an anaconda is." When was the last time you followed that by saying, "I'll go to school to figure out what an anaconda is."

Schools aren't needed in that regard anymore. They are not the source of knowledge. The internet has more information on it than you could ever learn at school, regardless, of how long you spent there. The teachers in the world can not give you 1/1000th the information that the internet contains on any given topic.

So why do we treat young adults differently? Mainly because that's the way it's always been done. That was necessary. You did actually need a physical location to go to where someone could teach you things. But that's not the case anymore. Today, information exists and is available to our students at the touch of a button, literally.

Pictured: The actual button for information.
What do the kids do at school then?

Schools become the place where students reinforce the knowledge. Where they go to trained professionals who have extensively studied the subject area and know ingenuitive ways to help students incorporate it into their lives. Students go to school to make sense of the details, to add that layer of understanding that is necessary for true learning to take place. They go to school to ask questions instead of be told facts.

That would be the first phase of how I would teach in a perfect world. Reversing the manner in which we absorb and retain information. The second phase would involve interacting with students in every medium possible. I think Twitter could be one of the greatest tools for connecting individuals. As students are listening to a podcast or reading pages on Wikipedia they can @mention or hastag their classmates, teachers, even people from outside resources like National Geographic or Apple.

All this is possible with today's technology and yet, I often see a backlash to innovation in the classroom. Which brings me to...

The Challenges

I work at school that has a no electronics policy. Not a "no phones in class" or a "no ipods in the hall" policy. Any personal electronic is banned from anywhere on school.

Is this policy followed? Nope. It does not reflect the world we currently live in. It reflects a world some people are trying to hold on to. A world where students came to school and had no distractions and were perfect little angels. A world which never existed.

Voldermort held on to that world too.
Another problem is that the United States does not have the best internet connectivity in the world. Not even close. I'm not talking about the debatable practice of guaranteeing everyone internet access (to state my bias, I think we should guarantee it). I'm simply talking about the fact that even people who want and can afford internet in this country, can not access it. There are plenty of small towns in the U.S. that have no internet at all. My grand scheme of teaching falls apart quickly in a place where a majority of students can not use the internet.


Here's my two cents. It's idealistic and unrealistic, but I'm young and can still afford to be both. Besides, it's not like anyone in charge is pushing anything that great.

I want education to be treated like the military. I want companies to compete for lucrative contracts to provide the most cutting-edge equipment to our schools. I want the best of the best to be given to our students not once in awhile, but every single day. The most highly skilled people working should ALWAYS be the young because they've had years of hands on experience with the latest technology. This would insure that future innovations are continually being sought after by the people who, statistically speaking, will be around the longest. 

I realize how silly that may sound to some. I also know that there are people who read this and agree. I leave you with a quote from the TV show The West Wing that more articulately sums up my position:

      "Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don't need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense. That's my position. I just haven't figured out how to do it yet." -Sam Seaborn, The West Wing (S1E18)

Spirituality Through Technology

by talkbackty on Oct 1, 2011

On this week's podcast Rolando and I were discussing the changes Netflix is making as a company and when that morphed into talking about globalization and the positive/negative affects of technology, I kind of went off the deep end. This blog is to clarify my ramblings, and expand on a fun concept that my brain kicks around from time to time.

The gist of what I said:

“I think we are at the point in our society when there is the possibility that we could develop a way to connect our minds through the internet, or something like it. Not just you sign in to facebook and look at what I'm doing, but your mind is plugged into the internet, and my mind is plugged in and we literally are one. We know everything there is to know about each other. When/If that happens I think that is what religions are striving for. To become one with all humanity.”

I didn't come up with this idea in a vacuum (In fact, no idea comes from a vacuum, but that's a different blog post). This is based on Ray Kurzweil's thoughts on the future of technology and what he calls the singularity. The point when a man-made machine becomes better than the human who created it, mankind ceases to exist. He was on the cover of TIME a few months back and there is a great story there.

Technology is on an exponential growth curve. Each year it grows faster and faster because it is being created with the previous years' new technology. Think of it this way: Windows 8 OS isn't made on a computer running Windows XP, it's made on a computer with Windows 7. Windows 9 will be made using Windows 8. That's incredibly simplified, and not even entirely correct, but it's a good example for what I'm trying to say. Technology develops on an exponential curve because it uses the newest possible technology to create the next greatest thing.

Our Smartphones today are thousands of times more powerful than the first computer, and they fit in the palm of our hand. As technology keeps progressing exponentially, why would it be crazy to think that they could put our smartphones into our brains?

For me, that's where things get interesting. The line between who you are as an individual begins to fade away. All of a sudden you can literally sign on, see, feel and interact with the internet using your own mind. The same way you can, right now, imagine and visualize signing onto your computer and reading a blog; in a few years you'll be able to actually do that. All in your own mind.

Using that technology, we create the next tech. Which would be to completely remove any chip in our heads at all. We could, theoretically, copy all the information on our brains, everything that we are, and put it inside a computer.

Here comes the spirituality. Once you do this, and I do this, and a guy in India does this, and a girl in Russia... then we are connected. Not in a flimsy way that Facebook tries to tell you are connected to all 500 of your friends. It would be as if their minds were my mind. As if there was one collective mind of all our combined knowledge, emotions and thoughts.

To me, that is Nirvana. That is heaven. That is what it means to become one and achieve enlightenment. 

This idea- or goal if you must think of it that way- is talked about more often in Eastern religions than Western ones. But just because we don't talk about it doesn't mean it's not there.

Old Testament: Lev 19:18- Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

New Testament: Mark 12:31- And the second is namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

It doesn't say love your neighbor a lot. Or love your neighbor like you love your children, or your wife, or your best friend. It says love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Ask yourself who is the person you love the most.

My guess is it's the person that you know the best. That you've spent a lot of time with, because the more you know a person the more love you have for them.

Now to bring it all back. Imagine this world I'm talking about when minds can be shared. Not pieces of a mind, or the flashy outsides that we display publicly. Everything a person is. You would know them exactly as much as you know yourself.

If that happens, how could there be anything but an overwhelming amount of love for one another?

That's a good intro. I'll expand another day.

Thanks for reading.

One love.