Could Accountability on Social Media Begin with Fart Humor?

“Each of us is becoming more confident about our own world
just as it drifts farther from the worlds of others.”
The Technology of Kindness, by Jamil Zaki

If we don’t have shared truths we can’t co-exist, we can’t protect ourselves, and we can’t set healthy examples for – anyone. That’s my take-away from a truly empowering article for Scientific American by Jamil Zaki, author of The War for Kindness.

The Stanford professor of psychology observes that merely leaving a phone turned off between two people will result in their trusting each other less. Sounds right to me, given how many times I’ve wondered if the conversation I’m having with someone is worth maintaining, since they’ve apparently abandoned our exchange for the “tiny, addictive affirmations” of a text/Twitter/Facebook alert. And I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve resented a passenger in my car for burying their face in their phone rather than joining me in making fun of other drivers. P.S. it’s not attention I crave, but the value of someone’s presence. Communal silence or even lazy, mutual daydreaming is just as much of a life-affirming treasure as mockery.

And while we’re on the subject, here’s another such “treasure”: farts. Now before you judge, stay with me a minute.

Shared truth. Common ground.
(Do NOT You Tube “Fart Humor” )

I’ve found that one of the easiest strategies for overcoming how separate we are from each other these days is to quickly find even a sliver of common ground. I contend that fart humor fits that bill. I mean, come on! If ever there was a platform we could agree on across every ethnicity, nation-state, class, and rank, it’s that farts are funny.

My work here is done (you’re welcome), but I do encourage you to read Zaki’s full article for yourself. It’s a terrific piece, and not nearly as disruptive as ripping one in the car.

Crass Incarceration

Eligibility for a second chance begins with being taken seriously.

• adjective: lacking in discrimination and sensibility, blundering, asinine

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?__Where Excuses Go to DieOkay, here it is: the mentally ill in California prisons are far more likely to be subjected to harsher treatment and longer sentencing than other inmates. That’s a criminal lack of discrimination and sensibility. Of all the inmates who occupy facilities up and down the state, roughly 30% are mentally ill, making the California Department of Corrections a de facto mental health treatment provider. Now there’s your blundering and asinine.

According to the Stanford Law School’s Three Strikes Project, “The average sentence imposed on defendants suffering from mental illness is longer than the average sentence imposed on defendants who do not have mental health diagnosis but who committed the same crime.”

Shane Bauer of Mother Jones claims there are ten times more mentally ill people behind bars than in state hospitals, and many of those inmates have severe illnesses like schizophrenia. Furthermore, solitary confinement can make it harder or even impossible for the untreated mentally ill to re-enter society. Amy Fettig, senior staff counsel for the ACLU National Prison Project says “it’s a risk that can’t be condoned. They come out such ruined human beings. It has essentially harmed them in such a substantial way they can’t ever return to the community or society.”

The Coldest Iron_Where Excuses Go to DieThe passage of California’s Prop 47 was important to me personally because of the smiley Nicaraguan we called “Hey,” to whom my book, Where Excuses Go to Die, is dedicated. Hey’s chapter is one I read a lot at book signings and other events, because even without shocking statistics it powerfully demonstrates how narrowly the public has been trained to recognize what prison and prisoners look like. Where Excuses Go to Die exists to defy that recognition. Read more