ImaginaSean

Sean Berry's Thoughts on The Human Mind, Behavior, Movies, Video Games, Television, Technology, Internet, Culture, and Everything Else In Between

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ArgueRants #22: The End

Posted by sean berry on March 9, 2012 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (1)

The end is near…you know, the Mayans said this, Nostradamus said that, and a bunch of scientists have their own theories as well. I believe that it's possible but I'm not so sure on the near part and if you really think about it, the world ends for someone every single day. People really seem to want to believe that it is all going to come to some fiery end for us and we as a culture will be judged for our sins or our essence will simply be erased from the planet. Of course this is very possible and like the dinosaurs we could be yet another species rendered extinct by some cosmic eventuality. If we as people think our lives are busy, then we must realize that the universe has much more going on than we do and our time here is barely a moment within the total time the universe has existed. How humbling eh? Well, so what if it is going to end? What are people really going to do different? Rush the churches and pray for salvation? Rob the pharmacy for every drug to make the reckoning a pure bliss? Line beach chairs up and chill with their best friends and family while a planet destroying comet hones in on them from the sky?

 

How possible will it be for everyone to do what they want or what they feel they want to do? I wonder how as a people we will react to something we’ve never experienced before and who will believe it and furthermore, who will choose to react to it? Some cultures may take the news well, believing man to be a parasite upon this earth, some religions will see it as an act of cleansing, and some people will say that it’s all just a big hoax. The end might be the end to all things, but the end won’t be the same thing to all things, just as we will be more than an anomaly, more than a chance happening of particles and energy, we will be a bit of magic among the fury of chaos and creation like a serpent twirling in a whirlpool of plasma. There’s many ways it can happen, but if all the result is the same then the story in the middle will just be a variable. I can envision how the certainty of utter demise could drive individuals to embrace their true self without fear of consequence and I think for others it would provide an opportunity to show the love they never expressed and give thanks to that which they already possessed.

 

The reality of it is whether one person dies or we all do, the world is always ending and worlds always end period. Shit happens. We should never focus on the end because we will lose sight of what’s in front of us and if the present takes precedence over eventual demise than our time will never be wasted. Let us go how we were and please don’t loot and riot to high hell, well maybe loot, but don’t be violent because no one should be killed before everyone is going to die anyway. Case in point: if you have a grudge against someone, looks like it’s time to bury the hatchet and find a better use for your limited time. So here’s to the end: the only time in history every person alive will be as one as they go as one. But honestly, who cares about the end anyway, we all have real problems to deal with...

ArgueRants #21: Bitching is the New Black

Posted by sean berry on January 19, 2012 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (2)

There is one thing that has really caught my attention lately and that is the general lack of manners and respect people show one another. I have noticed that a lot of people in my town really like to bitch and complain about their lives and their jobs. I realize there are few people that genuinely love what they do, but if one more cashier tells me that she is tired from working another double I think I might scream. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind small talk: tell me about the weather, your son’s baseball game or maybe even if you have tried some of the products I am buying, but please—please—don’t tell me how shitty your life is! It’s kind of insulting to hear people complain about work when I know so many people that would be happy just to have a job, let alone one where they had to work a lot of hours.

 

Some people act as if working is a huge inconvenience to them and just being there is a test of their patience. I’m not being ignorant to how hard some people have it, but I think it’s rude that you decide to share with me personal information when we are not close friends and we are in a place of business. I find it very unprofessional as well when people try to gain my emotional support when I just want to buy a damn sandwich. Call me old school but I’m the type of person who is selective about whom I go airing my dirty laundry to and honestly there is a very logical reason for this type of discretion.

 

I have been to quite a few stores whereby the cashier or clerk has failed to make eye contact with me or in some more extreme cases even say a word to me. To me, it just makes one’s day so much harder when you go out of your way to be rude to someone. Trust me; I’ve walked that road before as I was a server for years and during a time when my patience and temperament were anything but admirable. I have also had employees in certain stores bad mouth other customers in front of me and in the back of my mind I am thinking: you don’t even know if I know that person and here you are talking some serious crap about them.

 

I was at the library today using the internet and an old woman gets on the computer next to me and within a few minutes she barked out loud, “I remember a time when libraries use to be quiet!” The irony of this situation is simply delicious as she is complaining about the noise yet she is the one speaking out loud. I told her simply, “things have changed…”

 

To this she replied darkly, “not for the better though” and if the elders of my generation lack any patience or tact than that certainly makes me scared for what the younger generations are going to be like and what do we have in store as a society in general?

 

I can’t sit here and act like I haven’t had my times whereby my fuse was shorter than it should be, but I generally try to be understanding of others and I realize that not everything happens right when we want it. The old woman who complained about the noise in the library went on to talk about how slow her computer was and instead of seeking help to find out the source of the slow connection, she chose to remark over and over again how long it was taking. Inside my head logic was telling me, hey lady, if you stopped the bitching and sought an answer to your question, perhaps your day would go a little better instead of you harping that the free internet you get to use is not quite up to par with your liking. If that is the worse problem someone encounters in a day, I’d say your day is going pretty freaking well.

 

I see people being cut off in traffic by other people who flip them off and others laying on the horn the second the light turns green, which doesn’t even give the guy at the front of the line a chance to hit the gas. A lot of our technology might be fast, but people these days still have no major upgrades in how fast they can accomplish their normal everyday tasks. It is like so many of us are just in our own world and completely blind to everyone else that inhabits the same planet. This doesn’t mean there isn’t the occasional samaritan who lets the person go who’s been waiting to turn for ten minutes onto the street and the woman with a 100 grocery items letting the guy with one go ahead of her.

 

Now I don’t think you can out hate a hater and when I encounter people that generally see the world as full of conflict, I try to adopt an attitude of carefree acceptance. Sure it sucks when a line takes forever but what usually sucks more is hearing the many sighs of people frustrated or constant repetitive remarks declaring how a person’s time is being wasted and that they won’t be shopping at that same store again. Sometimes I believe people like to bitch because they feel it’s somehow this common link between different people ala the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Mistakes happen, people are not perfect, and it’s only a matter of time before we are all a victim of circumstance, so why as individuals do we feel the need to create an atmosphere of negativity and unhappiness?

 

If it angers you to have to wait for a seat at a restaurant, remind yourself of the fact that you get to eat there and that if it is busy, it’s probably because it’s popular and a bunch of other people had the same idea as you. Negativity can grow exponentially and when we give into it, we strengthen the beast. This is not to say that there aren’t genuine reasons for complaining about something and if someone is doing something wrong, there is certainly nothing wrong with letting someone know. I guess the lesson here is to exercise some discretion when it comes to what battles we choose to fight mentally and we must also weigh the effectiveness of our complaints and who we choose to voice them to, as bitching to the guy behind you that the line is slow is not likely to help your situation. The simple fact is that the world just can’t run correctly for everyone at the same time and the sooner we realize this, the sooner the wait will be over for whatever it is that is causing us to be impatient. Also, we must see that the things we criticize others for have been things we’ve been criticized for in the past ourselves.

 

You can lead by example in this world and handle yourself with grace or you can choose to be bothered by everything and look at every moment in your life as a soap box speech for self pity. No one is really any better than anyone else and the cashier at McDonalds deserves your respect just as much as the president of your local bank. We all play our part and how smooth this machine of society runs with all the different cogs it has contained within. So in closing, if you only have a few minutes to share something with someone, make it something worthwhile or meaningful, not some spiel that you are exhausted from having to work or that you are tired of dealing with stupid customers. I don’t want to hear about your problems and let your issues be like that of a blog: if people want to know about them, they’ll investigate further, otherwise, they are free to click around as they like!

ArgueRants #20: Living Well with Less Money

Posted by sean berry on January 19, 2012 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (3)

I’m no financial guru as my bank account could well tell you, but because of such I’ve had to adopt some lifestyle changes that have helped me manage to live on what income I can attain. I figured if I can help myself save money than I can probably help someone else out as well. So without further delay, here is some advice that I have for any person looking to save some money as well as produce it. When I decided it was time to really start saving my nickels and dimes I found I had to really step back and look at where I was spending money. When your funds are limited, you are forced to let certain “luxuries” go but you still want to find a way to still maintain your formal lifestyle without retaining your former penchant for getting into debt.

 

The first bill I decided to do away with was cable and though initially when I went to do this they gave me the options of just having bare bones cable for a reduced price, but I said no and just had it removed completely and haven’t looked back since. Now I simply read more, play more games, or just find something productive to do. I do have to admit that if I did not have high speed internet access though this move would have been very painful, but the internet is a great source of entertainment as well as revenue so it was paramount that I kept it. Most people that own cable will tell you there is rarely much on and most of the channels available are veritable trash. You can also factor in the fact that most TV stations have their own websites and offer free viewings of their premium shows online, so you have to ask yourself: is watching your favorite show on your couch instead of your computer really worth a $150 a month?

 

As a younger man, the idea of thrift stores were insulting and automatically conjured up images of being down on my luck financially and having no other clothing options but that which people have donated. The reality of it though is that you can find some really good clothes at thrift stores and walk out with multiple outfits for the cost that you would pay for a single piece of clothing. My girlfriend showed me just how great a source this can be for the fashionable yet monetarily down trodden shopper. I’m not saying that every thrift store is going to have great clothes and keep in mind you will have to look through a lot of stuff to find what you are looking for, but generally speaking, with people having all kinds of different body types and sizes, the perfect fit is not always easy to find no matter where you shop. This can also double as a source of income as some of these stores buy clothes that you may not just fit any more or in my case, something you got for Christmas that is…nice, but let’s just say it doesn’t quite fit you!

 

If you take note of the seasons, you will realize that after every major holiday there will be loads of stuff to buy at majorly discounted prices. You can either stock up for next year’s holiday or just eat Christmas themed candies throughout the summer if need be, whatever works for you but when you understand that stores have to clear their inventory space to make way for new stuff, you can jump on those discounts and walk away with twice the goods. Got a sweet tooth? Buy your candy after Halloween. Want a nice jacket? Wait until winter is over and then check the clearance sales. Need some nice swimwear? Hit the surf shops in the winter and note how the bathing suit that was $60 before is now only $20. Also, sign up to most major stores for offers on clearance sales and going out of business sales, which can be a gold mine for great savings.

 

Another gold mine out there is the internet and if you know how to network and can utilize your free time effectively than you can earn yourself some extra cash with little physical effort. Advertising and blogging go hand in hand as companies will pay you when someone clicks on their ads after reading your own material. There are many free blogging sites that have easy to set up ads that can generate you a decent income if you can manage to get regular visitors to your site. Often times the ads that appear on your pages have something to do with what you are writing about and thus can be helpful to the people viewing them. There are also paid surveys you can take online and Craig’s list and Ebay are always around if you need to sell any peculiar items.

 

Junk itself is another source of income as there are many recycling places that will pay you for scrap metal and wire. There are also companies that will buy your old electronics so you don’t have to throw them away which would only produce more waste and earn you zero dollars. You may have to gather a decent amount of some of these items to get any real pay out but in the end I think most of us have an ample amount of time to burn and few people would argue over extra money in their pocket. If you need a temporary loan, there is always the pawn shop, not to mention you can find your own deals there on something which might normally be far too much new.

 

It really pays to shop around and the price of something can vary in dollars between places less than a mile apart. Case in point: I have a major sweet tooth and tend to hit the convenience store a lot for candy, but if I go to Wal-mart I could spend about half as much and get twice the candy, though sometimes it’s this very reason that I do spend more on it as it’s a type of monetary control over a biological urge. If I do buy fast food I really try to stick to the dollar menu and for normal food I indulge in a lot in pasta and lean proteins as they are easy to cook, cheap, and filling. Keep in mind every Sunday paper has a bulk of coupons to save you money and every grocery store has it’s fair share of buy one get one free sales that combined with some freezer bags can have your plate filled for weeks to come.

 

I realize that a lot of these ideas are nothing new, but what I think is important here is the mindset behind saving money. We pay a lot for convenience and the people that sell to us are very much aware of our tendencies, both negative and positive. I also have to say that just because something is considered name brand and sometimes expensive, doesn’t mean that you are simply paying for the name. There are some pricey shoes out there that seem high in comparison to the cheap ones you can find, but what good is a cheap pair of shoes if you have to buy new ones every 3 months instead of every two years? Recognizing what items are worth investing in and which items don’t require a name brand all plays into the frugal budget. We all need to realize that spending money is a responsibility and many people have gotten into a lot of trouble biting off more than they can chew. Only you can decide what something is truly worth and only you can really decide how much you spend and save…

ArgueRants #19: Texting

Posted by sean berry on January 7, 2012 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Do you remember the days when you would call someone, leave a message on their answering machine and then wait an undisclosed amount of time for a call back? Believe it or not there was a day when people didn’t always have their phone on them and sometimes I think back on those days with nostalgic longing. Around the time that cell phones started gaining headway, instant messaging was also getting bigger and it was only a matter of time before the two merged into one via texting. The written word is certainly far from its end, though the paper medium itself is slowly being phased out.

We are social creatures and with the advancement of technology also comes the advancement in how we talk to one another. With satellites beaming our conversations back and forth to one another, we are becoming increasingly linked in an almost hive mind-esque fashion. How will instant communication change us as a whole though and is instant always better?

As with any issue, it seems that the benefits of cell phones and texting rely heavily on the user. People in today’s world are privy to a host of new technologies that can meet all kinds of individual needs and for some texting is a great way to communicate because it’s fast, to the point, and non-invasive. Many people prefer to text bad news or to ask uncomfortable questions because doing it face to face is just too awkward. There is also the group of people who just don’t like to talk that much on the phone, so it’s certainly a convenience if someone needs to get a message across to type it out then send it off. With a new advancement in technology there comes a loss and though the words we send can go to the recipient with one meaning, they can be received and interpreted completely different.

My step father use to always say to me, “it’s not what you say but how you say it” and it really is true. A word’s true interpretation is not the word’s definition itself but in and of the context and tone in which it was delivered. The word asshole can be said with affection and it can be spoken with hate. Now if you call someone an asshole during a playful conversation, the tone is evident and so is the look upon your face when you say it, which tells the listener that you mean the term in jest. If you type a similar sentiment in a text and send it, the person may not necessarily take it as such and these misinterpretations can be commonplace in the texting realm. Let’s face it: every day conversation between peers and loved ones is anything but elegant and complete as we speak in fragments, tell inside jokes, put inflections on certain words and juxtapose emotions and meaning.

I realize that I am using the term instant to describe texting but as we have all found out at one time or another, sometimes when we send something, it doesn’t mean it has actually gone through to the other person right away. I have sent my girlfriend many texts only to find hours later that she has not received any of them, which has caused arguments because I’m wondering why she isn’t answering me when she hasn't in fact received a question or comment to answer. So because the technology offers us something, we can often take it literally and because of such some unspoken laws about inter-texting dynamics have come about. It is easier for people to understand someone doesn't have the time to call you back, but with a text (though it is informal) a fast reply is far more expected as it takes so little time to answer and doesn’t require an individual’s full attention.

Our way of life may perhaps be making us more impatient people as it seems a lot of the technologies in play serve to speed up life or certain aspects of it. Why bake all day when you can go through the drive thru? Why wait in line for a bank teller when you can hit the ATM? Why look through a pile of books when you can Google search the info you want? If there is something that you don’t like to do, chances are someone out there is looking for a way to make it easier for you to fill their own pockets. Why reach out and touch someone when you can send them a short message instantly? The very lines and thoughts that bind us together are becoming digitized and how soon will it be that the bulk of what we say to one another is just raw digital data being sent back and forth?

Being an avid texter and a writer, I love the advantage of being able to think out what I say before I actually say it, which doesn’t seem to happen a lot in a normal conversation. I do find it interesting how we are so liable to being misunderstood and how sometimes a simple phrase spoken seems somehow hard to understand when it is written out. I am seeing video chatting more and more and I know that will certainly trump texting in the far off future, but I think for now people enjoy the comfort we have from behind a tiny screen. Each of us is peering through our little portals of communication keeping an eye on our kingdoms and our ears ever ready to detect the tell tale sign of a text tone. On an end note: if you hate texting, prepare to be increasingly annoyed as people get better phones and discover the advantages of it, though keep in mind something else will take its place slowly and there will be new elements to adapt to once again.

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ArgueRants #18: Christmas: The Most Expensive Ass Time of the Year

Posted by sean berry on December 27, 2011 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Now that the snow has settled and the gifts have been unwrapped, we are all high on holiday joy. The gift of giving is an expensive high and many of us will be paying well into next year for the holiday cheer we felt yesterday. The Pope decreed Christmas “Glitter” and there’s few among us who wouldn’t agree that this holiday has become increasingly commercialized. The world is changing and how we express things to one another has changed too. We are a capitalist society and therefore on some level a lot of us stand to profit by over spending.

Unfortunately, many will have put themselves into debt already thanks to credit cards or simply foregoing paying certain bills to make sure little Johnny had his fire truck this year. Life is about sacrifice and whether it’s the shirt off your back or no shirts for the next three months, people are very much willing to go without so someone can get something. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t one of those people as I have a stack of bills eyeing me suspiciously as I type this blog. If they could talk, they might say, “I like what you got for your girlfriend, but what about me? The water bill? You don’t like my water or something?! Not good enough for you to pay for??” I will pay you shortly, I think to myself, but I know I should have paid you earlier.

It seems we are a slave to our bad habits and as companies learn more about us they begin to find ways to exploit our inherent weaknesses. We all want those happy times on television where everyone opens the gifts they have been longing for and what a thrill it is to stack your shopping cart full of shit you wouldn’t normally even contemplate during the rest of the year. I think if Christmas is going to be so much about giving, then we ought to split it into two holidays: Christmas I and Christmas II. Not twice the gifts, no my greedy readers, but one holiday split into two so we don’t go broke trying to afford one. We need more stores with layaway options or banks with useful saving programs which would invest a certain percentage of a person’s deposits into a savings fund.

Since we are no longer hunter/gatherers we have become consumer/spenders and since the world around us molds to this vision and trend, we have to make a choice to go with the flow or find a way to fight the tide. Many people shop in advance or put money away but for the most part, people are pretty frivolous with their cash and thanks to December 25th, many debt collectors will continue to have a job for the rest of the years to come. It is sort of depressing to think like that but with so many people in the same mess it begs one to wonder is this mess our ultimate destruction or will we find a way to profit off it as a whole? People don’t want to see the rich get richer, but really, when the rich get richer, a lot of people tend to make more money.

In my town in particular, the only money to be made is in some kind of service industry. In the old days, people use to take care of their own shit, we didn’t have the level of ultra-specialization that exists nowadays, but nowadays if you don’t do something that someone else wants to do, you have to offer a service that no one else does. The internet is killing a lot of businesses because it negates the need for as many employees and eliminates in some cases people having to even leave their house. I wonder if jobs are like matter in the universe, in the sense that they cannot be destroyed only transformed, so for every machine that takes the place of a cashier, another technician is required to work on it. I’m no fool though; I can see the hard times getting harder for many and I myself feel the crunch.

Christmas is indeed a wonderful holiday but at its core it creates a pressure on many people to do things outside their means. Some will argue that we should have more self control and it wouldn’t be an issue, but I think there also needs to be some culpability on the part of creditors who often times grant credit to people who don’t have the finances to be responsible in their use. A box of chocolates from someone means much the same as a videogame, any gift from another to me shows they were thinking of me and with a world of over 6 billion people, it’s nice to be recognized as someone special among the crowd. So go broke, go simple, go frugal or go hum bug, but the holidays are to be celebrated or shunned at our discretion.

ArgueRants #17: The Love in your Life

Posted by sean berry on September 9, 2011 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (3)

We all get lonely and for many of us, the need to find a person to fill in that gap is a never ending pursuit. When we finally meet someone special and begin to grow close to them, a completely new sense of interdependence is created and thus feeds us joy even at the mere thought of the other person. There really is nothing quite like being in love with someone else and because the feeling is so strong, we are often times willing to do just about anything to keep receiving it. As people, we are prone to habit with the knack for almost instant adaptation if the motivation is right.

 

I am dating a girl now that has inspired me to make a lot of positive changes in my life and I too have done all in my power to improve her life and well being. For me, having that special someone in your life gives you another reason to fight the good fight, another reason to awake with a smile, another reason to be who you are despite the forces that try to consolidate and manipulate your essence. We love the people we love because they love us for who we are and we love them for the same reason. We love in spite of our flaws, short falls, and failures, in fact, it’s sometimes these very things that add to the very flavor of a personal union.

 

The core of it all is attraction and not simply that tingly sensation one gets from looking into the face of another, but the feeling of loyalty that is created and the pleasure that comes from simply being with another person. Watching a bad movie with my girl makes it better, sharing in something together is divine, and without a doubt, idle conversation is ever expansive and never boring. When I’m with her, there seems to be little that bothers me, like being doped up and numb without the lack of mental clarity and acute liver damage. She is indeed the greatest addiction I’ve ever had and it’s one habit I damn sure don’t want to give up.

 

Our significant other teaches us a lot about ourselves because as it is, we are not so transparent to others that they know all our idiosyncrasies, problems, and dreams. People are complex, full of unopened doors and our given rations are in constant flux. We build on our experiences and try to move forward as often as possible, the relationship itself ages like fine wine as the inherent bond between two people creates a sense of understanding which is impossible to get anywhere else. No one will ever know you like the person you love and it’s very healthy to be able to take the mask off you may wear to others.

 

Love is powerful and it’s no wonder people go to extremes for it and to maintain it. Love is like an equalizer to the soul, whereby when one person is down, the other boosts them and vice versa. It is an emotional yin and yang and a variable mathematic equation of dynamic exchange between two people. What would the world be like if we didn’t love one another? It would be savage, unfulfilling, and devoid of ultimate pleasure. We are wired to care and to be there for others, but we are also unique in the sense that we can’t be wired to everyone equally. There are some people who fit us perfectly like a glove and I am happy to say I have that kind of person in my life and I would fight to the death for her, boost her when she needs it, and see the world not as mine and hers, but ours, together. The Beatles were right, “all you need is love, love…love is all you need.”

ArgueRants #16: Status Symbols

Posted by sean berry on June 18, 2011 at 11:14 PM Comments comments (0)

Unless you live alone in a hole somewhere in limbo, you live in a social world and in it are many people who will judge you and size you up all throughout your life. It would be easy to say that there are two types of people when it comes to the social world: one who cares what others think and one who does not, but people are rarely one extreme or the other since there are so many circumstances which would logically govern we make alternate choices as to do so would more than likely be the most successful approach. Most people generally are pretty open to what others think about them and react accordingly and those consumed with status are hyper aware of what people will think of them.

 

A status symbol is basically and most often a very expensively priced and high quality item that is associated with people of distinction, social presence, and wealth. To the owner of a status symbol comes the expectation that said item will complete a look and seal their image. With all due respect to some status symbols though, the price is not always ridiculous and there is a reason why a lot of people prefer certain brands. When you buy a superior product that functions near without flaw, looks nice, and lasts a long time or perhaps was even constructed by hand, you can justify paying more for it but there are some of these status symbols that are just absurd in that you are paying solely for the name and not the ingenuity of its construction, the cost of its materials—just the fucking name.

 

I really have pondered what exactly is the payoff of acquiring a plethora of various accepted status symbols such as a Rolex watch, Versace suits, and a Lamborghini? I can’t think it’s a guaranteed method of getting laid because if you’re lame, doesn’t matter what package you come in, a gal is just liable to move on, even if she is a gold digger. Is it the social respect? What does that equate to anyway? More people nodding approvingly at you when you walk by in certain clubs and restaurants, having certain socialites refer to you favorably to some know-it-alls who don’t really know shit and don’t matter in the scheme of things any more than what someone would allow them to mean? I’m more inclined to think it’s one’s friends, that innate competition that manifests between people you see on a regular basis and go out together and see. You may have each other’s backs but someone always wants to have the better status.

 

So for some this is easily accomplished by getting the “goods” and selling the image, though buying the image would be more apt. Since most of us have the freedom to spend our money how we see fit, there should be no issues but the pursuit of status can sometimes come at the expense of others if it is taken to an extreme. I’m sure you know of people with gorgeous customized cars that live in destitute apartments and homes; some even forego that luxury for t heir status symbols. I could almost see the justification of such a sacrifice in living quality if it were somehow granting me a more fruitful opportunity in the future but that doesn’t appear to be the case. I do have to admit though that status is not a very important thing to me or at least in my eyes it cannot be bought.

 

The people that do buy these lavish things see the world completely different and that new watch or suit is like another piece of armor to wear in this battle of image. I understand the need to create an image and I think we are all somewhat conscious of it as it’s a fair statement to say that the bulk of us don’t go out of our way to look like shit, we tend to want people to like what they see, but everything I see outside of personal hygiene can often be completely irrelevant. I don’t mind paying extra for something if the quality is good as far as clothing goes and electronics but to pay top dollar just because somebody had the balls to overcharge the shit out of his product and people were stupid enough to pay for it and thus it just became accepted, no thanks, and if Louis Vuitton hand bags can go for $800+ I would hope each one would come with money already inside.

 

I don’t want to make this topic one of pure negativity as the idea of status is not completely useless and much can be said about you about what you choose to wear and the products you buy. They might not always appeal to all the numbers but for the lovers of status come in both sexes so you are liable to be noticed by someone else in that realm as well. Mentally we all live in a world of fantasy whereby we lay our specific colored filters over the world and then when we decide what it is we like and want to do, we look for others who often times see the same thing and if your game is status then you have your own set of rules than if you lived by, let’s say, your reputation. In the end, who’s to tell anyone else how to live: if it’s your dream to live in a Porsche then by all means, but I think we all sometimes make mistakes by failing to consider a host of variables that just never appeared below the bright glow of something novel, status worthy, or maybe just cool at the time.

ArgueRants #15: The Fine Line Between Pleasure & Pain

Posted by sean berry on June 16, 2011 at 6:07 AM Comments comments (0)

This piece is not directed at or written for masochists, but it is more or less to explore the dividing lines of pleasure and pain for relatively normal individuals using some of my own experiences though I can’t claim to be completely normal as I am can easily inflict harm upon myself or take whatever pain comes at me, if the situation calls for it. I also don’t consider myself the type that would mutilate myself or impair a bodily function just for shits and giggles. Pleasure and pain are like warm and boiling, cool and freezing, and deep and bottomless, the latter being the former revved up much higher and though our nerves tell us many things about our bodies, it’s our minds in the end that determine how exactly those sensations are perceived. The mindset behind any pain is nearly as determinate as the injury itself, as we have the uncanny ability to redirect our focus and react untraditionally to an age old affliction. I myself am prone to fits of laughter if I happen to sustain a particularly painful injury, but from a purely logical standpoint, it’s simply a protective mechanism and the brain chemistry produced in laughter is certainly beneficial to any one experiencing pain.

 

We have to understand that pain tells us that something might be off or working incorrectly and at that point as individuals we can assess whatever threat it may happen to be and it may not turn out to be negative at all and that sensation can be transformed into something pleasure inducing. The line of pleasure and pain is one in constant flux, so an individual can test this boundary and push themselves farther in terms of stimulation as the sense of what feels “normal” is in reality much far off the persons original tolerance. This happens naturally over time as many women can probably say that the smacks they got on the ass as a kid were probably not half as hard as the ones they get now but I’m sure they thought they were much more painful than pleasurable as a child. So we can see quite clearly that time itself hardens us to certain stimulus but also makes us more sensitive to others, as a young kid rarely experiences the aches in his bones or the hard impact of the ground when he jumps from high up but daddy can rarely say the same and mommy as well.

 

How does the pain we endure define us and how does society itself push us to deal with pleasure and pain? I think for many pain can be a defining factor as it is usually the result of some trauma or medical affliction that brings one face to face with their own mortality and you begin to realize that living well takes a lot of effort and focus as the demand any constant pain can bring is nearly unbearable. We adapt though and we find ways to deal with things by adopting a different attitude and this strengthens us by adding another layer of perception to counter the one just telling you that you are hurting. Now the world we live in does not want you to hurt and with more ergonomical furniture and a multitude of sedentary activities, it would seem that most businesses don’t really want you doing much of anything at all save for going out to buy their product and even that isn’t necessary any more with the ever increasing presence of online merchandising. A lot of the products that are sold to people are for convenience and to make things more comfortable and the only people that want you to visibly suffer and make no denials about it are the fitness gurus pushing people to engage in intense physical workout sessions and gut-wrenching routines.

 

I’m sure your mind is dirty like mine and when you think about pain and pleasure you will undoubtedly think about sex. For me, that’s a huge example of how mindset can completely negate and often times transmute sensory information. If anyone were to run their nails down my back so hard that they would leave visible welts and tears I would probably turn around and elbow them in the head before they could finish, but when this happens during a sexual encounter, it may sting a little but it only serves to stir an already boiling kettle. Some girls like their hair pulled and to be spanked but try doing that in a normal social setting and watch how quickly you are slapped and accosted by that girls burly Guido friends. There are also people who are into much more intense interactions and though this is the internet I don’t feel the need to elaborate on S & M.

 

It’s a dog eat dog world and just how you take a bite may determine your very place in the food chain. We can all judge for ourselves all the things we feel and decide what to endure and what to flee. Add it to the million other things that set us apart as individuals but for the most part, we all tend to like what other people like and hate what other people hate, while accepting that there will always be those on either end of the spectrum and some completely off the charts or books for that matter. If there is a point to suffering we can’t forgo it and if we hurt ourselves needlessly, we must also figure out for how long we’ll do that because in the end, we all pay the price for the lives we live and though some may be taken suddenly, the lot of us will reap the sum of our years in often times inglorious terms.

ArgueRants #13: Advertising

Posted by sean berry on June 11, 2011 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

On your shoes, your shirt, your coffee maker, your TV, your car, your computer and everything else you own is a label of some sort or quite possibly a logo. On television, people are pushing everything from toilet paper to luxury cars to bubble gum and at movies before the main attraction, you are being peddled products much the same way. On your way home from the theater you will pass a billboard of some sort selling you something else and damn if you think to yourself, you just can’t get away from advertising! It’s true as advertising makes ads themselves nearly omnipresent, but some people will have you believe that this constant flood of information telling you what to buy and do is a real problem and though much of the products that are advertised such as fast food and alcohol are not healthy per se, it is a natural function of the brain to filter out the undesirable and focus on what’s important.

 

When I was in college, I was a big “anti-corporation” and “anti-advertising” advocate and in retrospect I was really talking out my ass but my heart was in the right place. I saw the far reaching grasp of corporations and their commercials and sat rigid in my belief that these things were killing the mindset of the general population, but really it’s just people looking to make money and getting their name out there. We have to realize that once we reach a certain age, we cannot simply accept that we are slaves to certain tendencies or infallibly gullible to the sales pitch of any big name company with enough money to shell out for a creatively enticing commercial. I accept that eight minutes of my 30 minute show is dedicated to commercials, but if it weren’t for them, there would be no money for the shows in the first place so it’s a necessary evil. Advertising also help to keep down the cost of many magazines and comic books and there are a ton of company sponsored sporting events from a motley crew of companies from American Express to Bud Light.

 

So what if advertising is everywhere, most of us are trying to make money and one man’s profit is often another man’s gain. We should realize the advantage in being able to have fun at the expense of a company who just wants us to know who they are and what they sell. Is it evil? No. Do corporations sometimes get away with unfair tax breaks all the while many hard working individuals pay far too much in taxes? Yes. Blame it on the government, blame it on somebody, and boycott the product if you will, but at the very least, enjoy whatever fringe benefits they may offer if they apply or are appropriate.

 

At any rate, at least there seems to be a fair amount of creativity invested in a lot of the advertising that we see nowadays, everything from viral videos to hilarious commercials, the intellectual property of some company’s advertising seems to almost out value the physical property itself. They sugar coat the sales pitch, put the ad in the burger they put in your face and hope that in the back of your mind, you store it sub consciously and then miraculously are compelled to buy their product. The Super Bowl is a time when the advertising big boys premiere their new commercials in what has become a tradition for many, not all of them are great, but sometimes you’ll see a commercial on TV that is genuinely funny and I can appreciate a good laugh whether or not it’s done with the intent to sell me something. Is not every joke a comedian says not to sell their own talent?

 

There are some things you can ignore and they will go away and much goes the same for the companies that invest money for ads. If we are quickly able to forget them or block them out then they might find themselves with less and less sales and eventually will cease to exist, but then again, you can have a company that doesn’t advertise at all and do perfectly fine so it’s really not an applicable factor to every business. I personally own a business and don’t pay to advertise, I just count on word of mouth and the people I do work for will tell their friends I did a good job and when they need help, they’ll call me. We all have wants and desires and we ALL want them fulfilled, so people make it their business to ask around when they need something done and if as a company you are smart enough to have already anticipated someone’s problem, then you can show them a solution or service and they’ll show you their money.

 

Nowadays, with the advent of DVR’s, commercials are not even much of an issue when watching TV since you can fast forward through most of them and I usually read something during commercials any way because I could less about what new flavor Stride gum has come out with and what pisses me off even more is a commercial for a restaurant that isn’t even in my state. I think as adults we have learned to ignore just about anything we want to, as parents, we should not let the TV raise our kids but I admit to having watched a lot of television in my lifetime and I don’t consider myself uneducated nor out of shape. Well the presence of ads seems never ending, we all do play our part in determining the success of most any given company, in the end, what works will stay around and what doesn’t will wind up failing, business is much like nature in that it’s the survival of the fittest.

ArgueRants #12: Boredom

Posted by sean berry on June 11, 2011 at 4:58 PM Comments comments (0)

We’ve all been in some situation whereby we had absolutely nothing to do and the feeling of boredom can be the mental equivalent of a gunshot in the stomach. Now while for some of us, these moments are few and far between, I have noticed that there are many people who seem to be chronically bored all the time. If you took the time to look closely at any one’s life, you would realize that any of the activities that each of us participates in can be considered boring by someone else. You may have even experienced the phenomenon of being bored doing something that you normally like to do and it’s this occurrence that causes me to raise an eyebrow to someone who tells me that they are constantly bored. Is it really that t here is nothing for someone to do or that they are simply incapable of being stimulated on certain levels?

 

Modern times make for modern entertainment and the trend seems to be growing towards more and more exposure to entertainment from all types of mediums. As the world expands and as every new individual takes it upon themselves to create entertainment for others, how is it affecting the world at large and more importantly, the entertainment in it? I often think of how popular the Simpsons use to be and nowadays the show seems pale in comparison to other cartoons of the same genre and inevitably it was people growing bored with The Simpsons that caused their rivals to come into creation. Supply and demand exists in consumable products just as it does with entertainment itself. The mind constantly yearns to be satisfied and if we’re bored, we’re in dire need of stimulation, which varies dramatically from individual to individual.

 

So how do most people cope with that dreadful feeling of having time and having no idea what the hell to do with it? Boredom is often times ended simply with action, as much of boredom’s origin comes from a simple lack of movement, mainly physical but it can exist mentally as well, when we find ourselves repeating a mental process over and over again. Some people eat when they’re bored, some people play games, some people talk, some people draw, and some people go on the computer, but what do people do when they’re bored? They look for stuff to do and in that eventuality exists a great opportunity for business because money can always find you some sort of activity to do, if you are the type that lacks imagination or resources.

 

On a personal note, I rarely find myself “bored” or without something to do. When it comes to entertainment I’m a pretty flexible guy enjoying simple mundane television to watching a fire or reading a book, throw in some pool, video games, and fairly regular sex and my mind has a buffet of potential activities from which to eat. When I get down though or am really worn out from stress, much of what I normally love to do seems wholly and utterly boring. I think people forget how important one’s imagination is in living a healthy life, because it’s our entire view that shapes how every stimulus is received by our mind/body. When we wallow in boredom, we are essentially too tired to create or seek our entertainment, so it may be less about activities and more about neurotransmitters.

 

Boredom is just one of those things that everyone will experience from time to time but like with anything, if it becomes a constant dilemma, there could be many factors creating it and not just a lack of any particularly fun activity. I find by lacking focus, it’s hard to appreciate or enjoy any kind of music or what someone has to say because when you hear pieces of things as opposed to the sequential stream at which they were meant to be heard, you thereby diminish the potential enjoyment of that activity. Life is anything but a constant party and we all learn quite quickly that the good times are often dwarfed by the bad, so a happy disposition can take quite a bit of effort and maintenance. Just by simply eating better, one could stand to enjoy life more, which seems almost sort of absurd but let’s face it, health nuts do not represent a majority among the general population. So take a cue from the crazy man who talks to people who aren’t there: when you see the world is yours to create, you will find a lot more things to do…