Being writerly me: Ten for Today

October 10, 2016
 
This week I am the writer. Most weeks I’m more the teacher than the writer, and a bit of a dabbler in word pretties on the side. And every day I’m the mom.
 
But this week, I am working like a writer: writing, procrastinating, struggling, and mostly feeling insecure. I’ve been badgered by contract bosses breathing down my neck. “Is there a draft yet?” “Take your time (I gave you a week and it’s about 3 days in), but let me know when you have a draft.” And then, “How about now? Now? What about now?” Fuck, I’m trying to work!
 
So yesterday I sent my draft–twice. Once by message on the writing platform and once by invitation to Google docs. Nothing. Hurry up and wait.
 
But it didn’t take long before I got not one but five requests to view the doc. How big is this organization? I guess I never ask the important questions when I interview. They ask me if I can write, and I say I can. End of story.
 
What you want me to write, I can write it. For two days, I have been writing about robots and other godsends in upcoming AI applications. Health care will continue to automate for decades, delegating jobs to bots–therapy chat bots, vitals chat bots, and take two aspirins and call me in the morning chat bots. Amazing.
 
And then there’s IBM’s super duper Watson, kicking ass on Jeopardy when he’s not diagnosing disease and prescribing medicine. Watson will find the cure for cancer. Makes the post human age moniker I go by more real each passing year.
 
Today was rah rah cheerleading day for how wonderful corporations want their worker bees to beam good health and cheer–and not just for monetary reasons. That one was a hard sell–especially adding a little soft wit and snarkiness to make it less dull.
 
Tomorrow I’m the editor.

 
pixabay: dog writer

Ten Minute Tech

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It’s new–all of it: this iPad, the keyboard and my unruffled attitude toward crap out of my control. I’ve spent far too long getting angry. I still dive in too deeply. My rage takes over in the car as if there is no driver–the brain–to put the brakes on, say, “Wait a minute here before you let the profanity spew and boiling temperature rise up and befoul the air.” So when I dropped my device, cracked its screen to smithereens, even broke the keyboard attached in one fell swoop, I became aware that the immediate response differed from the usual alarm, outrage and certain anger that trail out on the path to no one’s advantage.

No doubt I regretted the loss, felt the twinges of its absence. After all, I spend much of my writing life and relaxation on this little wonder of technology. Without it, I would have to re-arrange my life not just a little. Instead of writing wherever I find most comfortable–on my bed propped up with downy pillows, in a new-found coffee shop on the fly, on a browsing bench in a book store–the loss would require my having to sit at my desk at the pc. Not that I don’t already do that. I just like convenience, portability and options.

The iPad mini, most often tucked in my purse, afforded me a notebook to tap out my thoughts as they occurred. Only a writer finds necessity in something so expensive for that purpose. The truth is, however, I hardly write longhand any more. Typing allows my mind to race and my fingers to fly. Though the pen and paper still have their place (nothing like the texture of various writing instruments in hand gliding over paper), I depend on a keyboard for the lion’s share of my writing.

I had to. I buckled up, hunkered down, sucked it up and coughed up the bucks to buy a new Apple IPad Mini 32 gb and Logitech Bluetooth keyboard. What’s not new, decidedly, is my word choice. This ten minute ditty crawls with clichés. Situational irony–sort of. Writing in the new with the way too old and tired (ought to be retired).

Thanatos’ grip

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While I watch the apple un-peel, fix
Itself, I linger in null space,

Avoided aftermath, just between
Speculation and the deed is done.

I’m re-tired, now dogs barking in
The night’s just one more sign, like

Leaky bladders and bland food, apples
The exception. Pings, dings and

Pop-ups neither move nor inspire me to
Seek, dread or despair any longer.

Words dare me to, but fail to enamor, not
Like sleep, food or crapping does in

Human reduction to thin necessity, like
Light, an illusory mass beating us down

Pressing us in struggle, your God against
Mine, Eros ahead falling to Thanatos’ grip.

Technology Ticks

  
Technology ticks like hiccups gone mad
torment a novice’s grip on poetry’s feast
when mind’s immersion in patterned plaid
yeans unleashed growls of a gnarly beast
 
Screaming primal tones blasted in bleeps
a machine shunts me into mental mayhem
one along shattered nerves a fault creeps
and cracks open wide calm’s cool diadem.
 
Clicking across railway ties’ smooth sound
the wood of imagination settles a twitching
and rust scented bark draws images round
deep strung in a tapestry’d poem’s stitching.

 
photo credit:  mediadpublicbroadcasting.com

Helping Men be Men Despite Technology

  

credit: http://www.djfood.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Men-Machines.jpg

…men usually have what they term “single-cue arousability”. Give a man the image of a pair of attractive breasts or a curvy backside and they are half-way to happiness, where women need multiple cues: they are aroused by men who are “attractive and nice to children and self-confident….

I have been wanting to read this text when I first came across the title and recognized the author for his previous studies. However, scanning a few reviews of a new book, Man (Dis)Connected: How Technology Has Sabotaged What it Means to be Male, and What Can be Done, by psychologist, Philip Zimbardo, who “argues that technology, online porn, gaming and sedentary jobs are causing terrible damage to the male psyche,” I cannot help but once again bemoan the insidious perpetuation of stereotypes that net individuals into the indoctrinating tidal wave of culturally predetermined roles.

While I am well aware that psychologists observe human behavior and make prognostications, the collateral effects of Zimbardo’s conclusions in his latest book, although an admirable contribution to the conversation of gender roles amidst social climate change, is to reinforce sedimented stereotypes. 

Zimbardo, known for his famously criticized Stanford Prison Experiments, asserts in his book that men are biologically susceptible to falter in a world that promotes less physical work, more sedentary entertainment and less in-person interaction due to technology. Male reliance on online gaming, dating, and pornography in addition to less physically demanding office work has socially retarded men and made them not only obese but ineffective as social beings. He also blames the shift in roles due to feminism as well as other social “ills” or challenges for men as The Telegraph’s Chris Moss summarizes.

It’s when you combine absent fathers, staying at home into early adulthood, video gaming, overreliance on internet porn, obesity (with its associated decline in testosterone and increase in oestrogen) and lack of physical activity, educational failure, joblessness and lack of opportunities for interaction – plus a women’s movement that continues to empower that gender and thrust positive female role models into economic and political arenas – that you have the makings of a screwed-up masculinity with all the wider social consequences that implies.

While I can appreciate Zimbardo’s work, my sensibilities are a bit ruffled at the suggestion that empowering women disempowers men and thereby ominously causes “social consequences” implied by that disempowerment. But why do the implications necessarily bode ill?  Intelligent, resilient men, of which there are plenty, certainly realize the freedom from sole breadwinner responsibility results not only in less pressure to perform and be their careers, but also more opportunity to develop other neglected skills and traits long scorned by social necessity due to inherited cultural predispositions. 

Just like the current shifted economy squeezes out old patterns of work formulas like the corporate career that ends in a gold watch retirement and forces individual innovation and creativity for survival, so too the breakdown in traditional role models can lead and has led to opportunities for growth emotionally and psychologically through the loss that naturally occurs in evolution. All transitions are an equation of cost and benefits, the pre and aftermath of change.

But the reiteration of steretypical male expectations to be physical and in control, and the remorse suggested in the loss of that attribute and power position, all bundled in a cause and effect legitimacy (we all trust cause and effect, right?), ominously confirms both the stereotypes and the doomsayers who look for feminism to blame for harming men. Pointing the finger at feminism, even as a co-contributor, couched in scientific clout–the psychologist–serves to confirm the current suspicions piled on feminism by some factions as harmful, a disturbance of a centuries old patriarchal order. For some, the byproduct fear and hatred results in injury to women. 

The country does not need any more binaries, dichotomies and polarization. Blaming feminism even under the guise of scientific observation does not help men. Bringing men the positive about change that has inevitably occurred and will continue to occur–technology and empowered women–benefits men. 

I am hopeful that when I read his text, Dr. Zimbardo will conclude his observations with helpful insights on how to help men adjust.