Monday, June 25, 2012

Interrogation Dating

I am reading "In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin" by Erik Larson. It is the story of the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, and his family, in 1933-34 Berlin. The daughter, Martha Dodd, gets lots of page time. She is way into the social scene, and a bit of a hussy, who turns into a spy! But I digress … At one point she is courted by a Russian diplomat and during their first date the conversation devolves into interrogation-style questions, and this is seen as uncommon and unexpected for a first date.

I thought, “HA! That is exactly what first dates are in today’s world. They are interrogations!” And I immediately marked the page.

Not just first dates, but really, internet dating is nothing but an interrogation. Some would say first dates/internet dating is an audition, which means you are selling yourself. True. But that is not the point. The real purpose of first/internet dates is to figure out who the other person really is. The assumption is the other person is hiding behind a mask of manipulated photos or appearance, and packaged information; a lure for reeling in a fish, from the sea, so to speak.

How sad and boring our culture has become.

We no longer just get to know someone, instead we constantly evaluate others, judging their attributes against our scorecard. Big money! Big money! No whammies!! That is, anyone we might consider in our dating pool.

On a work-related trip I recently spent several hours in a car with others, both men and women, and for various reasons none of us are in the other’s dating pool, not the least of which because some are no longer swimming! We engaged in a lively, dynamic conversation that naturally flowed across different topics. This is how it should always be, even in dating situations. Actually, dating situations should be ignored until you get to know someone first!

That’s right. I said it. We should court. Our immediate-gratification drive-through home-delivery superficial culture has turned dating into an interrogation. We are simply window shopping, and window dressing. Pretty soon you will be able to tag parts of singles profiles on Pinterest. Gimmie a little of this and a little of that; put my dream person together Frankenstein style.

In our high-tech world with its myriad of connections via so called “social” networks we are not very social, and disconnected from ourselves and others.

Living the dream is the same as living the lie. Get out there and be who you are without regards to the packaging, and if you say the packaging is who you are then you have swallowed the rancid bait of our marketing drenched culture; hook, line, and sinker.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Alone Time

Humans are social animals, but let’s face it, most people suck. You can, of course, choose to tolerate or simply ignore those things you do not like about people. Just about everyone does this. Or, at least, we accept them because in return we are getting something we want. In fact, tolerating and ignoring is what allows humans to be social animals. Right up until we snap and become other things that humans are: selfish, cruel, and violent animals. Actually, we are selfish and cruel without snapping, we just hide them well.

The point is, what’s the point? Is it really necessary to settle? Must you choose to get along with others? Can you not seek out those with whom you naturally get along? They are out there, you know. There are people whose company you can enjoy without working so hard at it. The question is, what do you do in the meantime?

Most choose to settle in the meantime. While they are holding out for something better they choose to tolerate and ignore, especially when getting something they want. The problem here is that settling can make you less available for finding and recognizing naturally compatible companions. Settling in the meantime easily translates into settling for life. This is really the big choice. Do you risk being alone in hopes of establishing a more rewarding relationships? Or do get what you need from whomever is at hand?

If you make the tough choice to hold out this means you are alone in the meantime. How to be alone.

Let’s frame this according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Honestly, what else are we to do with knowledge gleaned from PSYCH 101? Here are the details, and interestingly many of the items listed do not require another person in your life! 

·         Physiological: breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion

By definition physiological needs are achieved alone; no companionship required. Sex might seem the exception, but in this case sex is expressed as the need for physical release, as opposed to intimacy (which is under Love/Belonging). All you need for physiological sex is your own helping hand. Food and water might be more easily procured with the aid of others, but certainly not required. Homeostasis and breathing you do on your own; unless someone is smothering you, which usually happens when you settle! Bodily excretion is something most prefer to do in private, but if this is your fetish, well then, it would fall in Love/Belonging under sexual intimacy. ;-)

·         Safety: security of body, employment, resources, morality, family, health, property

Safety (and health) in numbers, they say, so it might be safe to not be alone. However, nothing is more safe (and no communicable diseases) then being completely alone! You could apply the same argument to employment, but if you are alone then you still need some personal interaction and you would get that from work acquaintances. Of course, being self-employed means you are more alone. Resources? Whatever. Prospect alone. We don’t need no stinking badges! Morality is only meaningful with regards to other people. If you are alone, then what use is morality? You already have a family (mom, dad, etc), do you really need more?

·         Love/belonging: friendship, family, sexual intimacy.

You could go the 100% hermit route and never interact with another living soul, but we are talking about those loners who still contribute to society. Sure you can have friends, but they should be work acquaintances and service staff (bartenders, waiters, etc). Even the most skilled loners will sometimes go out to dinner (alone, of course) just for the personal interaction with other humans. Family again? You mean I have to actually get along with my family? Sex in this category is for emotional and intellectual satisfaction. This can be a tough one for loners, but if while achieving physical satisfaction via self-service you were to imagine situations in which you achieved emotional and intellectual satisfaction, then you are certainly a highly skilled loner!

·         Esteem: self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others.

Esteem is simply about setting goals and achieving those goals. You can get that through work and personal habits. That is it. Throwing in “others,” which I would describe as acknowledgement by others, actually makes you dependent on others; a key failing in those who cannot be alone. Since people are always trying to tear you down it is best not to care what others think. That is the source of true confidence!

·         Self-actualization: morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts.

Self-actualization is to look inside yourself and be the best person possible. Why would you want others in your life gumming up the works? They would want you to be the best possible person for them, not for yourself. Screw them!