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.

Apple’s Grapple

UNMAC_NELSON_WHERE EXCUSES GO TO DIECreation of Homeland Security not enough?

Office of Total Information Awareness left for the day?

Is the heart-shaped flower of police militarization wilting?

Did D.A.R.P.A. go dark?

Has the Patriot Act pooped out?

Nope. Nor have the corporations and power brokers of the surveillance state yet tapped out American taxpayers. 

In other words, the FBI does not need the Genius Bar. 

From Feds to street-corner cops and home security companies, law enforcement has more than enough control, technology, and boots-on-the-ground for continued counterterrorism success. And probably lots of fun civil liberties secrets, too.

The FBI has all the tools it needs and plenty more to keep American citizens safe. And when I say “safe,” I mean relatively safe, just as we’ve been since September, 2001. Stuff will happen; that’s just the trajectory of history, especially when we’ve been messing around with it as much as we have. But in trying to force Apple to write new software that will help them unlock an iPhone belonging to the perpetrator of the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, the Bureau is overstepping its constitutional bounds. Apple worries that, if they comply, anyone who can grab or mimic their software will have access to every confidence Americans hope to keep electronically secure. Read more

Mindfulness as Technology

Living in the moment - it doesn't have to be this way_Where Excuses Go to DieCourtesy of a Sunday op-ed, “Mindfulness as Technology” might stick with me for a least a week!

Ok, so I still like to read newspapers. There’s just something cathartic about being able to crumple up the stupidity I come across, and it takes a lot less time than entering a log-in to leave an angry comment. One is arguably empowering, the other simply self-aggrandizing. Besides, the Internet is great ‘n all, but compared to 130 years of industrial age headline-induced anger, the web is still preoccupied with its own genitalia.

For me, reading the paper is an exercise in delayed gratification. I first physically disassemble and reorder its parts from responsible to frivolous, from world affairs to the national scene, and from what’s happening around the state to local news. I save the culture, arts, and entertainment bits for last. It’s fairly meditative, so it fit to come across Teresa Jordan’s op-ed, “Seizing a Stetson does not make foil hats but it should_Where Excuses Go to Diemoment for mindfulness.” (Don’t ask me why titles are changed for online versions, but it might be a good thing you can’t crumple a laptop. Had I seen the online one first I would have skipped the piece).

Teresa Jordan is the author of The Year of Living Virtuously (Weekends Off), which is essentially about surviving distraction and obliviousness. Self-help books are lame – Where Excuses Go to Die once had a chapter called “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Chuy” that mocked the ones you find in prison – but these days so many are being written by people who hate ’em too that at least their titles reflect the removal of an important stick, if you get my drift. That makes it much easier to fight the urge to laugh at the sight of one. Plus I’m getting older, so my decades-long diet of nonfiction treachery, high weirdness, and absurdity is beginning to require balance. Read more