Everything, and everyone you know will ditch, decay, or die.
My crown sat high on the chessboard. I was the king of the black. Around me laid the tools of my success. I played the wrong game.
The first two turns were a merciless assault of one close death after the other. The third and fourth brought to me a mass exodus. The past five turns have been a suffocating, dehumanizing necrosis. Piece by piece I have struggled to maintain some sense of sanity as I slowly descend into this grave. Talent squandered, care devoted to poor choices and poor people, attention constantly diverted toward the stars of systems light-years away. I can’t see around the mirror I’ve put up, and within it lies a hollow boy with little left to grin at, and nothing left to overcome.
Wallowing would be easier to do, if I weren’t too busy withering.
I: I sit a king on the mountain of dirt. My queen watches all and I drive the Lincoln Continental of our victory tour. It’s not to last. The pawns of the board are beginning to flare, and the knights have rallied a mutiny. They take their shot, and I’m left with less than a quarter of my previous squad. Stricken by defeat, the rooks fearfully swarm. They scramble to hide behind the king, forgetting the game and retaining nothing. They have no moves. No rules. No honor. The board turns white, and the last remnants of the black army hold tight to their corner. It’s not a friendly table, anymore.
II: The queen no longer values her kingdom. She removes her crown, and exits the game. The king desperately clings to the last of the pieces. The white army is no longer playing. The board has consumed them, and is now slowly sinking. The king sends pawns to return as queens, knowing it for the suicide mission it is. They return with the power, and none of the will. Their resentment of the king drives them away from his corner. The king attempts to alter the game; a last ditch effort to save what was left of the kingdom. The board just changes direction. The table stays the same.
III: You can change the game, and you can stop being black and white. You can’t remove the red you’ve earned, though. It’s permanently stuck to you, and will eventually be the last trace of you. Unlike black or white, you have to take red. It’s a color of passion, and worse. Red is proof you’ve made victims, and those who smell red come running. Red attracts hyenas, and those same hyenas who were once part of your pack eventually will devour you. I inform them all that I can lead us again. I tell them that I have the ability. I give them assurance, and feed their needs. I don’t supply their food, though. My fatal mistake came too late. When living amongst hyenas, only females can be their leader.
IV: This game is not chess. It’s a grapple with the others for carrion, and the king is now fighting to get across the board for scraps. We no longer see the board. We just see orders, demands, and requests. The game has long since become a bloodsport, and the last animals standing are wandering in circles. The king trips, and falls off the table. On his way down, he is met with visions of other games; these realms are filled with other pieces, cards, and boards that he had never imagined. He just wants to find a game where he fits; one that allows him to take off his crown, and find somewhere that his decisions, and the decisions of others can no longer harm him. He hits the floor.
V: As I regain my footing, I look back up at the table. Suspended miles above the ground, is the island of chaos. Black and white clash as the remaining bishops, pawns, and queens struggle for my crown. I pity them, and I begin the long walk away from the feet of the table. The towering appearance casts a long shadow, and the weight of the world above me begins to lift. It doesn’t lift far, though. The pieces peer over the side of the table, calling my name and urging me to return. Behind them stands a fiery glow. The table is burning, and the ashes are a snowfall on my head. I can’t save them. I can barely recognize them. My words fall on dying ears. The table splinters, and collapses on itself. I approach slowly, and as the dust settles I catch a glimpse of a shattered bottle, and the crushed contents of a cake. The labels hit me in the chest. Scrawled on the two notes are either instructions, or pleas of suicide I had dreamed of for years. They say:
Eat me, Drink me.
I was invited to
A beheading today.
I thought I was a butterfly
Next to your flame.
A rush of panic and
The lock has been raped.
This is only a game,
This is only a game…
Deep in the bowels of the Twitterverse, there lurks a creature of ridiculous nature.
This poor soul is known simply as “Sacerdotus”, and is a self-proclaimed future priest/Twitter user. For those of us who know him, Sac has made himself known by a multitude of tweets and propaganda designed to demonize atheists. He has also made numerous claims that he is inclined to a civilized debate, but any and all attempts to organize one have been in vain. Though various offers for debate still stand for this “prepared contender”, Sacerdotus’ popularity ironically stems from his ability to avoid all requests made by atheists who challenge him.
This, along with his usual list of pre-made logical fallacies has earned him quite the reputation as a dishonest debate partner. Let’s take a deeper look into why no one should ever take Sacerdotus seriously, shall we?
Every time someone brings up the topic of his faith, he takes painstaking efforts to claim that he, himself was an atheist once. Ironically, his conversion story is as dull as it is implausible. Throughout the tale, Sac shows how clever one must be when weaving a tale of inspirational change. Peppered generously between the lines of the tale are popular, stereotypical atheist lines that are used only by the most incompetent of godless ranters. He then explains what brought him to Catholicism, exposing his past for what it actually was.
I read up on them, got a catechism and read it, etc. I loved how the Catechism is set up with citations and explanations of why Catholics believe.
With a quote like the one above, it’s amusing that anyone could buy such a shamelessly invented story. We’re supposed to believe that while he couldn’t see an iota of logic from any other religion on the planet, the one that dresses up in the most absurd clothing and participates in some of the silliest rituals in existence is the ideology that brought him in contact with “god”. Just thinking about how many times he had to repeat that to himself for it to sound reasonable, makes my head hurt. Had he ended this idiocy here, his credibility might have been salvageable. Unfortunately, his determination to make others believe he was actually an atheist led him to construct a final part to his transformation, which is a magical adventure for the whole family.
However, I never stepped foot in a Catholic building. This came way after when this random lady approached me and called me “father.” I was dressed like an urban youth from NYC and she called me “father” and asked me to pray for her daughter. This just sent chills through my spine. I did not know what to say only that I wasn’t a “father” but nonetheless went to the Church nearby with her and we prayed – or she did because I did not know the words she was using. But I did do something mentally and basically said, “Ok mister sky inter-dimensional entity, this is your chance, stop hiding.”
I felt this peace like the peace a child feels when he/she is in his/her mother’s arms – nothing matters anymore, no worries, no stresses, just this never ending peace that fills you inside and you literally feel like you’re glowing. That’s when I realized that there is something about this God stuff that is for real. I was not “stimulated” by emotions, music or a social gathering as with the Evangelicals. I was with this lady in a dark empty Catholic building, no music, just the random car horns from traffic outside echoing. God made the move.
To add to to the “chills,” the lady stepped to the vestibule to get “holy water” and I went after her a few seconds later to ask her name and observe this act and she was not there. I stepped outside and no one was around. Either she ran like Flash or was transported to the Enterprise because she just vanished. I know she did not leave because I would’ve seen the sunlight enter as the front door opened, but no such thing happened. Those doors were the only exit and entrance.
Well, that just settles it. Only a true, skeptical atheist would come up with a story as rational as this one. I can’t imagine how unsettling it must’ve been for Sac to find out that the old lady was actually Batman. He also takes the time to explain to the reader that, “I would’ve seen the sunlight enter as the front door opened“. Checkmate, atheists. His powers of observation are not to be questioned, nor shall you analyze whether or not any of this garbage happened at all.
It is funny though, that for being a former atheist, Sacerdotus seemingly comes up dry when talking to other atheists. Common sense would dictate that if he was such a strong disbeliever, it would take a mind as great as his in order to convince other atheists why his religion is the right way. Tragically, he seems to be just as clueless as any other theist on Twitter. If Sacerdotus was an actual atheist at one point, he would be more than capable of showing compassion towards the perspective of other atheists, not to mention be able to empathize with the views we hold, as he would’ve shared them originally. Ironically, he has only ever argued like an indoctrinated creationist, and therefore I’d have to say the notion that he was ever an atheist is hereby debunked.
As for him pining away for an honest debate, I’ve yet to see any proof of that. He has a wonderful track record of tactical evasion when it comes to debate requests. An ever growing list of excuses grows by the day as to why he won’t go anywhere but his own webpage. Worst of all, is that he is in denial about it. He wants everything to go his way, to prevent any incidents that might be out of his control from occurring. When asked repeatedly to select any other site than his own for a debate, he has refused every offer; immediately followed by a request of his own to go to his website out of some misguided notion that it’s not fair to him to speak anywhere else. Even when asked objectively to debate somewhere neutral to both parties, he deflects the question and tries to assert without knowledge that it would be unfair, such as when asked by this person:
As you can see, he has clearly evaded the point of the question itself. Even without knowing WHAT forum the person was talking about, he has already dismissed it as not neutral. Only a person who is afraid to tread outside their comfort zone could possibly be this paranoid about the setting of a debate before even being offered a place.
Even when he does engage someone with a point, Sacerdotus is not known for his willingness to accept facts. He’s not even willing to incorporate other people’s opinions, for that matter. Unfailingly, the overwhelming majority of URLs and “evidence” he has to provide are simply links back to his blog. Why? Because he wants hits, and the only way to accomplish this is to drag people to his page, in the hopes that they’ll see something there that makes some sense, and return. He has sunk to this trick so often now, that ALL of his links return to his pages, where he recycles the same posts incessantly. This charade is meant to promote the idea that he has done his homework, and prevent him from stumbling over his own arguments. If he doesn’t have to repeat a lie, he assumes he’ll never get caught in one. Unfortunately, if you have a webpage designed to tell people why others are “afraid to debate you”, you’ve already exposed yourself as spineless:
What have we learned from this? Well, you should probably not call yourself an avid debater if you’re so quick to deny an invitation to every fuckin’ debate you’re offered, especially if you’re given the choice of going anywhere except your own website. Secondly, claiming you once represented the demographic of the people you are debating is not an effective tool for argument if you only know how to argue from the side you “converted” to. As an atheist, I am insulted and disgusted by the way Sacerdotus throws out one-liners and catchphrases designed to make himself seem well-articulated when discussing atheism. All he has ever proven is that he sounds like a resentful single on the ChristianMingle dating site. Exhausted, defeated, and grasping at straws, he has made every conscious effort to point the finger at everyone else for not wanting to play by his rules. Quite possibly most embarrassing, is his inability to provide any evidence that he hasn’t already touched. Even the least skillful opponents of atheism know that you should at least include some sort of third-party source of information to back up their claims. Sacerdotus refuses to do this. All of his links are his, and he will take you to his site to show you his claims, and back them up using links to his website to show more claims, that link to other pages of his information. Seeing a pattern? This doesn’t make him a scholar, or a researcher.
This makes him an overt narcissist.
I don’t owe any respect to this cretin. He is the worst type of person to argue with, but more importantly he is the person least likely to give you any sort of sliver of useful knowledge. When he is recruiting, he is obnoxious and loud. When he is debating, he is dishonest and evasive. When he is defensive, he is malicious and a hypocrite. If you don’t know Sacerdotus, you’re fortunate. For the rest of us, he is a constant reminder that all it takes to garner support for religion is volume, belligerence, and repetition.
Since Sacerdotus will undoubtedly never admit to any of this, and will oppose any idea that comes his direction by showing you another link to his website, I encourage people to link him here. Repeatedly, in fact. Maybe for once, looking at a single webpage all the time will grant him some clarity, rather than feed into his constant vacuum of egoism.
Today, I have come to share with all of you the secrets of something I have long since mastered. The art of trolling is an incredibly refined craft in which one must have patience, discipline, and the resolve to destroy any and all enemies. For years I have taken to various online games, chat services, social networking sites, and forum threads in order to do one thing:
correct any and all necessary errors that people have made, point out logical fallacies, and utterly disintegrate the value of an individual. I suppose that makes me a
fucking disgusting delightful person, but it’s wonderful fun. It’s also only fun if you target those who have already done it to others first. Those who have humiliated, abused, or thrown out personal attacks to others void themselves of the right to respect, and can be trolled at will. But, enough about “why”. I’m here today to clarify the “who” on this topic.
In any open forum, there can be only three types of trolls. While many traits of any one troll can fit well into more than one category, a few distinctive features regarding their persona, vocabulary, and methodology distinguish them from one another. We’ll begin with the most obvious:
“The Lennie”: The reason I’ve titled this troll category as such is simple. Every single trait they possess is derived from John Steinbeck’s famous character “Lennie Small”, of his literary classic Of Mice and Men. These trolls are known for their idiocy, and extreme strength through little effort. Without hardly knowing their abilities, they unleash the wrath of entire servers, and forum members alike. Within their arsenal lies a mixture of overtly nonsensical statements, ranging from oxymorons, easily-disprovable assertions, and anti-intellectual phrases designed merely to catch unsuspecting bystanders off-guard. Their blatantly unintelligent nature, while justly believable, is usually a facade crafted to trick those who are quick to snap at public imbeciles. The mockery at their expense is what they crave, and in order to maintain their grasp on the world’s attention they follow each stab at their uneducated demeanor with further one-liners, purposefully aimed at drawing the target further into their clutches. Throwing out fundamental typography lessons, as well as any form of etiquette that comes with informed debate, they strike; the results, a painful to dissect block of run-on sentences and fragments, carefully arranged to captivate their audience into a state of utter disbelief and amusement at this village idiot before them.
Some of their lines include such overused, and easy to detect catchphrases such as, but not limited to:
1) “Why do they call it an Xbox 360? Coz you turn 360 degrees and walk away”
2) “I h8 legend of zelda cuz zelda is a stupid boy name”
3) “(insert game here) sucks!!! COD is way better!!!!!!”
4) “you mad bro”
5) “nerd rage”
6) “get @ me”
While a “Lennie” undoubtedly seems like the quickest go-to archetype for your average troll, it couldn’t hurt to remember one thing:
Some people are just hilariously stupid.
Our second example is not only the most hated troll, they’re also the only one that I believe deserves the contempt they receive:
“The Derailer”: Appropriately titled after the device named for turning trains on their side in a wave of destruction, these trolls are all about the shock value of what they say. Anything, and everything can be used against their victims. Nothing is sacred, and all is fair so long as it achieves the desired effect: RAGE. They are well-known for their consistent use of profanity, and when the occasion calls for it, racist, sexist, and ageist remarks. While these may be an easily distinguishable aspect, one must also determine the level of insensitivity to their comments. A Derailer isn’t bound by the moral inhibitions that keep most people in PG-13 mode wherever they visit. They take any topic, regardless of how recent, or how tragic the occurrence was, and turn it into sadistic humor or a personal attack. This is commonly met with a reaction of absolutely inconsolable, incoherent malice, or bewilderment. The Derailer is incredibly effective, and usually the most difficult to contain troll because of their innate ability to turn an entire community into a riot. Certain remarks have been known to throw certain cliques, or groups into disarray; the reason being is that varying tolerance levels within groups cause a sort of schism to form between those who are entertained by the troll, and those who abhor them.
Many a time I’ve
instigated witnessed a conflict within a game, or on a YouTube comment section arise merely out of a single line that was both cruel, and oblivious to the fragile sensibilities of those who were watching. The result was a battleground, where well-articulated debaters turned on one another in a bloodbath of profanity-laden, racially-charged aggression formed effortlessly out of the insecurities of individuals who thought no one would ever tread where eagles dare. Their restraints lifted, these once-peaceful users viciously tore each other apart due to the clever, and devious manipulation of a Derailer. In a territory where anonymity is your most powerful ally, they prey on the hypersensitive, superstitious, and ignorant as they prove every day who should, and should not be socially involved on the internet.
Lastly, I have saved our final troll for the conclusion, as they don’t truly belong in this world. Their tactics, while some may believe to be inconsiderate, are also their greatest weapon:
“The Intellectual”: Unfortunately, this lovely group of bright human beings have made their way onto the list for one reason. No one likes a smart-ass. In the digital realm where whoever speaks the loudest wins, the person who wields the most cunning wit becomes a beacon. Ironically, that beacon is that of the gigantic red bulls-eye on their forehead, and these people are usually targeted as outsiders in the same way antibiotics hone in on a virus. The intellectual, in an effort to genuinely make a point, or correct the errors of others, is immediately ostracized by the community. Preemptively labeled as a villain, the intellectual is harassed before their stances are even heard, creating a frustrating wall between facts, and the argument they’re trying to improve. Countless times I’ve been on various social networking sites, games, or even amongst friends, when someone states something that others nod their head at, (usually out of a lack of concern) and a clever soul has stepped forth to provide contradicting evidence to their claim. This unfailingly triggers a defense mechanism in the first speaker, causing them to react with profound hostility towards the other person. They then begin to rant about being attacked, and why they believe the intellectual to be an aggressor. What they never seem to understand, is that this “troll” simply did not want their point to go unchallenged, especially if what they said could be proven to be false. Defeated, and desperate the first speaker lashes out repeatedly at the intellectual, attempting to discredit them through an assortment of fallacies and defamatory statements.
The intellectual, left with one of two options, must now choose how to end the debate;
they can either…
A) switch position to a Derailer, in which they condescend and ridicule the person in a ruthless fashion until they concede defeat by way of rage-quit, block/ignore, or public opinion swaying their direction,
or B) take the high-road by recognizing a lost cause, ending with a ‘final word’ statement and withdrawing from the forum, hoping the person will come to see the error(s) of their previous claim in time.
<There is also an option “C”, which would be fluidly carrying on the debate in a one-sided, Socratic fashion until the other party eventually turns neutral or gives into reason. This, however, is so rare I’ve only ever seen it accomplished by a handful of individuals, such as the notable user “Godless Spellchecker“, on Twitter. Most people don’t have the patience for this outcome>
With all of this new information, I sincerely hope you will be well-armed for your next encounter with a troll of the world wide web. They come in many shapes, and perform in various manners, so you should be wary of their tricks. However, if your better judgment tells you that you’re not dealing with a troll, but an intellectual, it’s probably best to make friends with them, for your sake.
It’s tough being the new guy.
Nobody likes seeming as if they’re inexperienced. Unfortunately, we all have to start somewhere, and my somewhere was at Cinemark. I loved working for Cinemark theaters, and in my time there I learned all sorts of wonderful things, saw all kinds of excellent movies, and met tons of great people. However, being a timid young person at their first job is certainly something that can strike fear into someone, and I was no exception. I had been working for less than a month, and the daily routines of manning the concession stand had finally started to become a deeply-rooted part of my everyday life. I knew how to take an order from someone, while multitasking at the counter behind me. I could start the popcorn, clean off the counter, organize candy, fill drinks, unjam the hotdog cooker, and fix the credit card receiver (as it consistently broke), all while taking a large order from a family of five. I was nervous when I started, but I learned to take things in stride and gain wisdom from my small mistakes to not make large ones.
As I stood leaning against the tangerine-colored counter, I stared at the console in boredom. I didn’t like this POS (Point of service, not piece of shit) machine, and its only semi-cooperative touch screen. As I fiddled with the buttons, racking up totals and wiping them off the screen, I lost myself momentarily. Often times a single person is left at the counter in between the rush of people who show up to see movies during a round of movie start-times and end credits, and this person is usually responsible for taking care of the majority of orders while other staff members go on break. This day, I was handling this responsibility, but staring through the glass doors on the opposite side of the room made me long to be outside. Something about staying in a quiet lobby will make anyone stir-crazy, and I decided it would be best to stay busy until the others got back. I turned around to the tiny refrigerator housing the Dasani water bottles, and began to pull them to the front. This is a common practice used by most businesses to present the illusion of organization, and abundance. Since movie theaters make the vast majority of their profits from concession stands, as opposed to the tickets themselves, it was important to keep the stand as pretty, and presentable as possible. As I closed the frosty door, I slid over to the gigantic popcorn popper to tip the kettle over. A mass of beautiful, golden popcorn poured out onto the pile, and I closed the heat-sealing doors to the sound of someone clearing their throat behind me.
“Hello sir,” I greeted in a friendly manner. “What can I do for ya?”
The man was an aged gentleman, most likely in his late 60’s. His face was shrouded beneath a thick, grey beard. He wore a lose fitting pair of khaki slacks, and a black polo shirt, complete with a matching black hat, denoting his status as a veteran of the Vietnam war. Having only the utmost respect for any veteran, I extended my hand to shake his.
“Thank you for your service, sir.”
He returned the gesture with a smile and a nod, and held out his drink cup with the lid removed.
“Would it be possible to get a refill on this drink?” he asked while holding it over the counter.
I knew I wasn’t supposed to. One of our company’s policies, was that we were allowed to give a single refill on popcorn if they purchased a large bag, but for drinks we weren’t. The managers urged that it was more for a sanitation reason than anything else, but I’m sure it was undoubtedly costly, as well. However, I was also urged by my managerial staff to go to extraordinary lengths to please customers, as it built loyalty from them, and made them more inclined to return to a theater where they understood their patronage was appreciated. This man was also a war veteran, and I felt that it was only right to offer the man a damn fountain drink refill, at the very least. Compelled to fulfill my duties as a responsible customer service representative, but torn between policy and principle; I went with my gut.
“Well, we’re not really supposed to give drink refills,” I apologetically stated to him. “However, I think it’ll be okay this time, sir.”
He grinned, and handed the empty cup to me. As I grasped it, I stopped halfway across and halted my hand before it got to the fountain tap.
“However,” I weakly said before placing the cup on the drain. “If it’s not too much trouble sir, I’d like to hear a story from the war. If you don’t want to, I understand, of course.”
The man looked solemnly at me, and then mustered a chuckle.
“I’m afraid my experience wasn’t too exciting, but I do have one story,” he responded while leaning against the glass case on the opposite side.
Shocked, and nearly unable to contain my excitement that he accepted my proposal, I dumped ice all over the concession floor. I quickly picked it up and trashed it, eagerly awaiting the man’s tale. He began:
“Well, the year was ehh…1968 or some time around then. Some friends and I were stuck on the offensive in this nasty lookin’ village in Nam’, and unfortunately we were fairly outnumbered at the time, and dropped on the ground by a chopper into this place with practically no reinforcements. Needless to say, things didn’t go so well. My buddies and I got taken hostage by the NVA, and they brought us to this even worse POW camp nearby that was stuck on the edge of this river. So, they bring me and one of my friends into this broken-down shack, and they sit us at this table. Then, they hand us a gun.”
My mind is racing at this point. I’m talking to a real, live veteran who has seen the horrors of war and has lived to tell about it. This dude is a hero, and he has no clue. My respect goes through the roof, as I finish topping off the man’s drink and I place it on the counter. Completely absorbed in the story, I stand with blank expression. He continued, a grim look of recounted stress as his visage.
“So, they pointed at the ugly revolver on this dirty table, and just started smackin’ me and my friend. They hit us again and again, until finally I picked up the pistol and placed it to my head. Knowing that they wouldn’t stop until I did it, and realizing I had a fair shot of winning, I pulled the trigger. I was so damn scared, but hearing the click of it told me I was still alive. They then handed it to my friend across the table, and hit him in the face twice. After putting it to his head, he couldn’t go through with it, and shot it upwards past his skull, which of course they weren’t happy about. Lucky for him though, because that one had the bullet in it, and it would’ve killed him. So, just to make sure he suffered for not playing, they dragged him outside and threw him in a cage in the water. You could hear his screams from outside!”
My hand moved to cover the appalled form my mouth took as it opened, instinctively. I was receiving way more than I bargained for. This man’s story was something tragic. It was horrible, and judging from the amount of detail he was putting into the story, I had just pulled up from the depths one of the most painful memories of his past. I wanted only for it to end, before he (or I, for that matter), had a nervous breakdown.
“On the way back in, this NVA guy drags my other friend in from outside and puts him at the table with me. They then start throwing their cash at the table… putting bets on us. Who was gonna live, and who was gonna die? That’s all we cared about, and we started to get desperate. That’s when I got the idea to start counting the soldiers in the room. So, there were four of them there, and probably only two bullets in the gun to make it interesting. I got their attention, and convinced them to let me put a third bullet in the pistol. Then, I had to play my other friend to get to the live rounds. I laughed off the first shot, knowing that there probably wasn’t a round in the chamber, that time. Clicked it, and nothin’. Then, I handed it to my friend and told him it’d all be okay. He did it, but not without gettin’ smacked a few times, and a lot of tears. It clicked again, so I knew it was time to make my move. I distracted them in the room by confusing them with hysterical laughing…”
Heat sprang into my face. My flushed appearance did nothing to hide the fact that tears were swelling in my eyes. I just knew he was about to tell me of the death of a comrade, or a serious injury. This entire scenario was a nightmare. I just couldn’t believe it happened to this guy, and he was willing to share it. Such intensity! Such drama! It was like the perfect climax to an action movie!! Almost… TOO perfect.
THEN I JUMPED FROM THE TABLE! SHOOTING ROUNDS INTO THE HEAD, AND THE CHEST OF THE TWO GUYS BESIDE ME! I COULD HEAR GUNSHOTS GOING OFF BEHIND ME AS-”
“HEY! WAIT A MINUTE!!” I cut him off as he began to perform the scene in front of me in the lobby. He stopped instantly, looking confused as I held my hands out to get his attention.
“Seriously?! The Deer Hunter?!” I asked in a loud, frustrated volume as he returned to the faded-orange counter.
He laughed and slid his drink to the edge, replacing the lid and straw on top, while beaming from ear to ear.
“Baaah- you never said it had to be a true story! Anyways, you seemed to be enjoying it,” he said in a matter-of-factly tone.
I was pissed. I felt betrayed, and wronged, and all sorts of embarrassed. In an exasperated tone, I decided to finish what I had started.
“Oh yeah? Then what really happened, huh?!”
I was glaring at him with full force now, but the man was not remorseful. He had gotten the best of a sixteen year old, and it was pretty comical.
“Meh, not much. Served my time, and went to some really god-awful places. Then I got home, and went to work. I had a family to take care of. Promised my kids during the war that if I made it home, I’d go and take them to every damn movie on the planet. So! Here I am,” He said cheerfully, while picking up his drink and turning to the corner. “You have a nice day, alright?” he exclaimed, while walking down the hallway towards his theater.
Defeated, and humiliated, I threw my face into my palms. As I stood at the terminal, clutching the machine in a death-grip, all I could think was:
Should’ve just stuck with “no free refills.”
In the realm of the Blogosphere, there are an immeasurable amount of ideas floating around. At one point in recent history, bloggers could actually be taken seriously, and respected. The opinions and informative news posted on the blogs of the past have decayed into various chains of social circles and exclusivity, where if you check one place you’ll find what appears to be a well-versed article regarding a certain topic. However, upon the inspection of another blog discussing the same tagline, you’ll find a slew of polar opposite “facts” that they claim they’ve taken the time to research. While I understand that many topics containing words such as ‘best’, ‘worst’, or ‘smartest’, are unfailingly opinion pieces, and therefore are completely subjective; this doesn’t mean that people are entitled to conjure their own series of facts.
When even pedigree information is cast to the winds, then there is no such thing as the successful passage of information. There should be no discrepancy in replicating and reviewing easily verifiable information. Ironically, despite how often I think this, there remains a million examples of how people manage to turn a simple Q&A into an Ontological debate. Everything from “can marijuana kill?”, to “how old is the Earth?”, is contested on the web, and in the Blogosphere it would seem this is no different. It isn’t that simple, though. This misinformation manages to not just wind up on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Tumblr, Blogspot, or even WordPress pages, but now a plethora of news media outlets have decided to take up the call of freelance bloggers in order to pump out more information, more frequently. This inadvertently has led to the establishment of many pages that are devoid of not just basic knowledge, but sponsored articles that neglect even the most fundamental rules of writing, and editing. Numerous times, I’ve found typographical errors, and grammatical massacres that make me question the credibility of the author, let alone the newsgroup they were hired by. Even on a more mainstream scale, in an effort to get the information out first, various news agencies (most notably Fox News) destroyed their front page headlines with the line “Usama Bin Landen Dead Fox News Confrims” [sic]. With such neglect for even the simplest forms of editorial discretion, the big name players are reduced to the integrity level of the common YouTube video commenter.
Nothing quite compares however, to the fact that blogging as a whole has been slowly corroding itself from the carelessness of its users. The result is a large cesspool of relatively pointless, and counter-productive diary entries, designed simply to facilitate the immediate boredom of the user by informing others of their daily routines and chores. This has inherently bred a swarm of social-media obsessed attention-leeches, whose entire day revolve around the necessity of divulging excessive amounts of bland detail regarding their lives, including some of the more vulgar, or inappropriate events. With Facebook alone as our source in the spotlight, you’re punished by the walls of your friends and extended family, as they prove that the hidden truth behind sites such as this one, is to propagate an existence through the mundanities of everyday life, and the seemingly obligatory acceptance of one’s social acquaintances. Though no real information passes through this site, it is a transitional hub for the exchange of humorous material, political advertising, event scheduling, and entertainment reviews. Featuring a ‘like’ function that has lost its meaning, the approval of others has turned merely into a Julius Caesar-esque voting system of what will and will not be tolerated. Tragically enough, more critical opinions, featuring large bodies of text and sources to corroborate receive little attention, as they tend to not only confuse, but make many individuals feel insecure about their own intellectual contributions to such discussions. This leads to the stagnation of new ideas, as an endless flood of people recycle the same loathing for debates that they always do, including the “STFU” standby retort, or a series of semi-conscious neutral statements asking why people can’t get along, and how they “just don’t understand how people could be so stupid.”
This exercise, as baffling as it is disappointing, is the world of misinformation that we live in. When any dolt on the net can transmit a series of falsified, dreadfully-worded paragraphs intended to convey to an audience how “fukin gay dat one movie iz”, then the tool is clearly not being used for what its intentions were. Granted, I understand that sounds a bit insensitive to the free speech rights of people, however it does no good to simply accept it for what it is. Some people, however cruel it sounds, are not suited for the task of providing other people with useful information. Their opinions, while still valid, are only comparative to those of an infant, and should be treated as such. Many of their remarks, as people have come to recognize, are not only obscene, but incredibly hostile as well.
I may not be a fan of many celebrities or athletes, but I still respect them as people. Multitudes of vicious people have joined the social-media haven Twitter for a chance at taking stabs at celebrities they don’t particularly care for. From over-the-top critiques, to personal attacks, all the way up to death threats, many famous individuals have been astounded to see the aggression and callousness of the flocks of people participating in micro-blogging. While I support their right to voice opinions, I don’t support their desire to turn all posts into moral atrocities of grammar-deficient toddlers. What they do is not productive, nor is it a form of expression. All they’ve done, is choose to contribute to discussions with an array of disconnected thoughts, all designed to bring malice into the subject so that people forget the issues, and coerce others into forming responses defensively. Once that event takes places, blogging is finished. What remains is a belligerent chat-room, with a roving topic that only makes a guest appearance amidst a storm of profanities and condescension.
If this is what blogging has been reduced to, then what good does it possibly do to post reliable information, in an effort to become the counterweight to such blind, senseless, record-keeping? How can we be seen as ANYTHING, but a text-based, title-bearing, fact-distorting, timing-consumed reality TV show, designed to vacuum in ‘hits’, rather than challenge readers to design new latitudes on their creative map?
My prospects have become less promising
I find it hard to believe in anything
Seems I lost my world and so I lost my faith
And I can’t go back to where I’ve been
A brand new day
It can’t get worse
Hear myself say
It can’t get worse
I have no lies or truth in what I say
There is no meaning
The words are numb and I am so afraid
There is no meaning
This is another chance or so I’m told
By those who can push themselves at any cost
They bless me with their fingers crossed
My youth is stolen, transformed and sold
Tonight is a special occasion for me.
On this day eight years ago, I was forever freed from the tyranny of religious rule. I finally accepted the notion that the world around me was not of some predetermined construct, designed primarily to facilitate the needs of Homo sapiens that were supposedly only spawned according to the tenets of ancient folklore less than a few millennia ago. While lacking in the department of drama and grandeur, my epiphany is no less spectacular than any other who has discovered the joys of being liberated from all deities.
I sit at my desk, surveying the corners that have been gradually worn away by the constant grinding and moving of them throughout their years of use in the classroom. My public school was nothing special, but it managed to retain a comforting sense of security within its walls. The silence of the corridors, provided a sea of tranquility unmatched by anywhere else. I had some personal favorite spots as well, that when the world became too treacherous, and the noise of everyday life began to claw at my nerves, I could slip away to; it was a pocket of warmth where isolation was my only friend. This afternoon, I had to catch up on some reading for my English class, and I did not plan on being disturbed. In retrospect, the violation of my private haven this day is not met with regret.
As I climbed up the stairs in the second largest band hall, the stale air in the stairway reminded me of the poor ventilation shared with this section of the building. Undoubtedly, air for kids who were incessantly blowing out their lungs for the sake of musical perfection was not considered a legitimate reason to drag the budget for the arts wing of the school. I made my way across the upper balcony, peering over the side slightly to put a face to the sounds of the piano gently playing below. Not surprisingly, I was met by the backside of the same over-achiever who had made it their goal to never move from that piano stool. Pecking away at the ivories had become this lady’s prime directive, and since she played quite well, I never complained about the soundtrack for my study-time.
My safe haven, contrary to its elegant titling was actually an inconveniently tiny, soundproof practice room that had been all but abandoned at the far end of the mezzanine. Its walls were stripped of coloring, and the majority of the room was controlled by a large collection of broken music stands and cases, all of which had gone unused since the late 90’s, judging from the rental tags. I dropped my backpack to the floor and unzipped the largest compartment, allowing me to pry my required reading from the bottom of the bag (why does it always end up there?). As I scraped the tattered book from the bottom to the top, I leaned back against the fairly comfortable plastic school-chair, allowing my legs to use a second chair as a resting place. Turning to the page I had left off with, I began to slowly catch up on the thought-chain within. The book, ironically was Freud’s “The Future of an Illusion“. While I can understand what an amusing foreword this is to the events about to unfold, I had never before remarked upon how such an opportunistically tragic moment this turned out to be.
Before I was able to fully process what was approaching, the sound of an obnoxiously loud Medusa could be heard echoing outside my doorway. The knob on the heavy iron door turned, and in barged the form of one of the most intolerable females on the planet. Behind her, followed a girl that I had recently been trailing behind as a hopeless romantic. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that she was a trivial pursuit, and had since abandoned her and her insane family. The problem at hand however, was that they were both now standing in my doorway, looking absolutely annoyed with me.
“OH MY GOD! THERE YOU ARE! I’VE BEEN FLIPPIN’ LOOKIN’ FER’ YOU!”
The cringe I immediately displayed must’ve been less discreet than I intended, because the look on her face turned quickly from irked, to irate. This girl, who I will name simply “Melissa”, was known for being melodramatic in every situation. Regardless of subject or setting, she was always set to throw a tantrum, shed tears, or feign injury. This commonly made it easier for her to manipulate others, and coerce them into feeling guilty for things they really shouldn’t. As she glared at me from the frame of the door, her voice turned into a shrill, babbling system of high-pitched complaints that she conveyed in a single string of poorly-phrased persuasion.
“DUDE YOU ACT LIKE YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW ME HALF THE TIME AND ACT LIKE A EFFIN’ A-HOLE WHEN I COME TA’ TALK TO YOU- DON’TCHA EVEN WANNA KNOW WHY I CAME UP HERE IT’S BECAUSE I KNOW YOU LIKE HAVE NO FRIENDS BESIDES US AND I KNOW THAT YOU NEED SOMEONE TO HANG OUT WITH WHICH IS WHY I WAS GONNA INVITE YOU TO OUR EFFIN’ CHURCH DANCE TONIGHT, BUT I GUESS YOU’RE LIKE TOO GOOD FER’ US! LET ALONE GETTIN’ SAVED BY GOD SO I GUESS YOU CAN JUST SIT UP HERE AND READ YER’ STUPID EFFIN’ BOOK!!!”
My mind was blown. Not only had she managed to completely destroy the volume level of the amps at the DevilDriver concert I had been to that year, but she had somehow managed to speak quite possibly the world’s longest run-on sentence. As I shifted my focus back down towards the page I was reading, I gave a small, snide response that evidently had been the equivalent of kicking her in her throat.
“You have to pull hard on it,” I replied to her confused expression. “…On the door handle, I mean.”
“Otherwise, you’ll hear horrible sounds coming all the way up the stairwell. Thanks,” I finished, satisfied with the look of disbelief plastered on her face.
All at once, it seemed as if Mount Vesuvius had erupted and her anguish could not be disguised any longer.
“ARE YOU FUCKIN’ KIDDING ME?! YOU’RE GONNA ACT LIKE A LITTLE KID WHEN I’M TRYING TO SAVE YOU?! YOU’RE SUCH AN UNGRATEFUL ASSHOLE JAKE AND GOD HAS A PLACE FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU! IF YOU CAN’T EVEN SHOW PEOPLE THE FUCKIN’ RESPECT THAT THEY DESERVE THEN I GOT NO TIME FOR YOU! SEE YA JERK OFF!”
Her outward rage was so sweet I could taste it, and her jagged finger now pointing directly at me gave me the impression that she was doing all within her control to not lunge at me. Not wishing to let this moment slip past me, I extended a hand to show her to pause a moment, and I continued my verbal abuse.
‘That’s fair, Melissa. I tell you what. Let’s just wait a second. If God feels that I’ve wronged him, then I’m sure he’ll take care to punish me posthaste. Why don’t you stick around for a sec, and you can take some pride that you’re doing his work,’ I said, while checking the time on my phone. ‘Here, you want this chair so you can wait?’ I asked with a smirk.
Her face said it all. I had crossed the line, and she was ready to let me have it. Unable to combat such hostile, anti-theistic words, she turned to her next best, easily programmable response to try and seem as if the infinite was going to suddenly halt time to deal with the tiniest intricacies of the universe.
“WOW JAKE. WELL WHAT CRAP DO YOU BELIEVE?” she spouted without consideration for her volume level, once again. Her impatience obvious, and my need to finish my reading evident, I decided to sink once more; this fight was quickly turning into a spiteful dispute, and I would end it like that.
“I believe your imaginary friend is roughly thirty-five seconds late for showing me the insurmountable power of his omnipotent authority. Should I not expect his arrival?” I answered with phony disappointment.
As she stared open-mouthed at me, all of her gimmicks faded. Her usual self-righteous safety net had given way, and being faced with someone insensitive to the needs of a malicious parasite of bad faith, her final move of desperation lay in her power to cry on command. With a look of apathetic defeat, she allowed a few misguided tears to swell in her eyes, and voiced her Christian opinion of me on her way out the door.
“You’re *sniff* a *sniff-sniff* fuckin’ asshole, Jake.”
She turned immediately, shoving past her friend to go back down the balcony towards the stairs. As the other girl gave me a look of grim displeasure, she took off after her in an effort to play the same consolation role she always had to. However, I wasn’t quite finished. In order to make sure I wouldn’t see her anytime soon, I decided it required a more close-to-home touch, in order to deliver the full effect of adding insult to injury.
“Melissa,” I called down the hall, right before she got to the top of the staircase. She turned around, her face flustered and bleeding eye-liner. As she scowled at me with a look of distinct repulse, a soft facade of apologetic remorse crossed my face. For just a moment, she truly believed I had come to feel guilt, and she stopped to await my imminent acknowledgment of it.
“Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal,” I quoted while cheerfully shutting the door.
The hysterical expression in her eyes, unparalleled to date, sent me into a fit of laughter as I retook my seat in the corner of the room. But moments later, I realized the gravity of the conversation I had just engaged in. At once, I understood my viewpoint. Though vaguely agnostic prior to this, it had become clear to me that I did not believe any longer. I could no longer tolerate the superstitious nonsense spread by the blindly-devout, and their constant need to feel as if their lives held more relevance in the grand scheme of the cosmos than they truly did. It was a vain exercise of arrogant narcissism; a ploy to convert more people to a larger cause designed to control the socioeconomic trends of the population, and it has worked its magic successfully. Just as irritating, are the creatures much like Melissa, who spend their days attempting to brainwash others with a set of tenets that they claim to believe, and spend the majority of their lives contradicting. The hypocrisy of its followers, almost as silly and destructive to the world as the principles they practice, as they work day in and out to ensure that the civil liberties of those who are different from them are constantly in question; all the time failing to realize how there is no place in a progressive society for religion, nor is there any sense to follow the rules of archaic cultures inscribed in ancient books from an era that believed in so many ideas that we now know to be completely false.
After that day, I would never come to see the reasoning behind why some people dedicate their lives to such blind faith ever again. From that point forth, I learned to stop trying to believe people when they claimed they had the answers, and that my questions would only find the truth I was seeking if I continued to look for myself, outside of the circle of beliefs that most people smile and nod at.
I then promptly returned to the pages of my book. Despite my newfound intellectual revelation, it would not save me from the wrath of my English teacher if she found out I had not studied; unlike God, she was a credible threat.
Good day, children.
Today, I’ve come to discuss a topic that makes me want to continuously ram my head into my keyboard. The state I live in, Texas, has recently been the forefront of a vain, trendy, movement to secede from the United States. Of course, they don’t want to go about this in a hostile approach. The groups dedicated to this purpose explicitly reassure their cult, (because that’s what they’re synonymous with) that if it comes to pass, it should be a “peaceful” step away from the Union.
First off, it comes pre-advertised that this “movement” is nothing but an angst-filled, fear-induced tantrum by right-wing supporters who were more than a little distraught over their loss during the recent election. It should also come as no surprise, that their “liberation” messages they continue to recycle in an effort to garner attention are unfailingly the same tactics that successfully destroyed their chances of victory.
Regardless of how many times I am forced to endure the same melodramatic pleas from conservatives, it never ceases to amaze me how quick they are to perpetuate this catchphrase of, “we want our country back”! This, of course implies the notion that their country went anywhere, except into the 21st century, which ironically they haven’t caught up to yet. I stress quite often the incompatibility of the GOP with the present day United States, and thanks to the flurry of “constitutionally-enlightened patriots”, I can now add another brick in the wall of this counterpoint. You have to be one bold “patriot” to want liberty for a country so much, that your Plan B happens to be “scrape together a platform for secession”. For the party that invented the line, “America: love it or leave it” to opt out for the second choice, you have to wonder how much they actually do care.
For those of you out there who are scrounging together some star-spangled argument as to why these people “don’t belong to a party, and simply want to live their lives with the tenets set down by the founding fathers of America, who wanted justice for all, freedom of religion, and a society built on hard work”, please don’t start. I’ve already seen this argument be melted down, recycled, turned into a new argument in a different generation, and used in the same fashion. What country did you lose? What freedoms have been stripped from you? How is the president waging a war on religion, and why do you think that anyone who disagrees with you on this principle is some sort of left-wing, liberal media elitist who wants to walk into your house, burn your bibles, force you to recite the Communist Manifesto, and kill off any members of your family wearing red, white, or blue? Do I have to point out how ridiculous this makes you look in the eyes of our nation, let alone any country with citizens capable of free-thought? You’ve lost no freedoms, you’ve invented a black (I say the word you wish to use, but are far too ashamed to) boogeyman of a president, who worships a Marxist society, wishes to divulge riches to the poor in Robin Hood fashion, and who you believe “hates” the very country that he is responsible for.
If there is anyone who hates America, it is you.
The Republican Party; a strict believer that this is the “greatest nation on Earth”, but who is ironically content with ditching it the minute something just doesn’t go the way they planned it. All of these states who have filed petitions for secession; what greater disservice could you possibly do to the people you claim to care about? You hate hand-outs, yet necessary, beneficial programs that a vast number of your state’s citizens use come directly from the government. Do you not think, when you’re out from under the protective umbrella of the “gov’ment”, that your elderly, disabled, or even your veterans will be without a significant chunk of necessary financial aid? What are you going to tell them? “Sorry, grandma. No more handouts for you. It’s time to earn your fair share”? I can’t think of a more cruel, and senseless disregard for human existence, than to snuff out their main sources of financial stability; nor can I even fathom why one would begin to justify their actions with such a tactless argument as “I’d rather my family be destitute and isolated, than be a citizen of a country where I can’t stand to look at the president”. There is no “big picture”, in that equation. No grand scheme that I’m missing, or should be catching onto.
We live in a hybrid society, (much like the rest of the world, I might add) that is a hodgepodge of political sampling. America is a democratic republic, with touches of socialism, while every political figurehead pines away daily for a little more fascism. You may not agree with the president, his administration, or even his political party. You may not like the choices of the American public, and you may be relatively disappointed with the outcome of the election. However, for you to forsake the point of the democratic system merely because you can’t stand to lose some ground for a few years, that’s a bridge too far. You don’t care for the constitution unless it directly feeds into your irrelevant lifestyle, which is worse than not reading it at all. Despite how often the GOP talks about how much they love our veterans, you’d think they were 3rd class citizens judging from the amount of them who re-enter society and are all but forgotten for their service. Those “lazy bums” who feed off of healthcare, and disability? Many of them are veterans who served honorably, and are 5000% entitled to whatever care they can receive. For you to claim that these people are searching for a hand-out, is an insult to the American way of life. You think secession is going to make things better for them? Texas, unlike many less fortunate states, would potentially be better off in this scenario than others. That doesn’t make it a good, or ethical idea though. What these secession petitions are creating is absolute division.
You believe the president has divided the nation? Try beating the division of splitting fifty states, into numerous regions. One would surmise that we’d learn from our mistakes, but evidently that’s asking too much. We’ve tried this, and it was called the civil war. Regardless of how peaceful you believe your secession to be, you can’t begin to think beyond your own choices. Not all people will take such a split into perspective, and their reactions will be varied in terms of hostility, and resentment. If prosperity is what you want, why the fuck would anyone want to retrace the steps of the early 1860’s? Was there any more sobering lesson that we learned from the Civil War, than the fact that a nation torn in two is left to stagnate? Are there not enough examples in recent history of places split in half, that are things we call “war-torn” currently?
Don’t bother me with that relic of a point that “We’re already divided”. No, we aren’t. We’re socially disgruntled, currently. We’re only divided if you continue a grudge match by making political sabotage, vain social issues, and pre-modern era thinking your platform. You have no room to state where power should lie, when your views of the American public are clothed in outward belligerence. I’m talking to you, Peter Morrison, a Texas GOP official who referred to Obama supporters as “maggots”. What a patriot you are, Mr. Morrison.
I’m a citizen of Texas. Regardless of how often I joke about this state, I love it. The people I care for are here, and we have a proud history of honor and integrity in the face of hardship. I may not always agree with the president, nor will I always care for his policies. I may despise the majority of the GOP, and if Governor Romney had won election I quite possibly would’ve been disappointed. But I refuse to turn my back on the country that allows me to speak my mind, just because something didn’t go my way. This country has proven time, and time again that we’re the safeguard of liberty, and the protectors of the weak. We’ve also proven that when we reject unity, we’re more capable of producing casualties and catastrophe, than overcoming differences to rise from ruin.
To all of you who believe secession is the answer:
You are not going to bring about significant change for the better.
You are not presenting a positive approach to fixing this nation, by abandoning it.
You are fighting a war from within, wielding corrosive ideals, and rusted tools.
There is no victory in tearing stars from our flag.
You are the problem, and you should be ashamed.
To quote Dark Tranquillity:
No revolution in what they must overthrow
In on a secret we all know
The need that is our enemy