The writing, observations, and general solid ideas of John-Michael Bond
The last good and serious funk I found myself in started the last week of 2012 when I was unfollowed on Twitter by someone I respect. For the following month and a half it was all I could think about. Having beers with friends? Bring your self doubt along! Have a great set? Sure, but so-and-so probably hated it. The wife wearing a hot little number and promising lust? That can wait, I’m short a goddamn follower!
Of course the issue wasn’t Twitter. It was the feeling like I’d given someone I respect a reason to write me off, leaving us connected only via real life and Facebook. And guys, no one uses real life or Facebook anymore. Ask a friend who does social media. If you’re in your 20s you probably have nine of them.
Eventually I had to make a choice. A) I could keep being depressed about something I have no control over or B) I could realize I’ve been crying into my beer about a social network which in all likelihood wont matter in a couple of years. Don’t believe me? When Myspace relaunched everyone lost all of the friend’s they accumulated during their time on the site. Exactly zero people reading this were effected by that change. Perhaps I was giving weight to stupidity.
The human mind is a stupid dangerous place sometimes. Your mental health is basically a community, and depression is the guy who wants to fight because of you stepped on his shoes in the hall. At its best depression is something that drives you to fight harder for the life you think you deserve. I’ve been told that sort of depression exists. In my experience depression has never been so honorable as to have a purpose. I’m jealous of those people with neat, meaningful sadness. A lot of us are. And I think that’s why we give our petty depressions so much weight.
You want to believe the thing keeping you up at night is as bad as it seems. But your sadness over the girl who unfollowed you on Twitter or feeling out of shape isn’t on par with real problems like crippling debt or medical issues. Those are the folks with the pure, uncut, reasons to feel glum. It’s not to say we aren’t allowed to feel shitty unless we’re standing on a seemingly sinking ship, but maybe since we’re not in immediate danger we could take the time to have perspective.
When you find yourself in a funk ask yourself if you’re in danger or if you’re being bullied by your mind.
Danger is “holy shit, I’m going to be on the street if I don’t get that money by Tuesday!”
Mind bullying is “but why wont they follow me on Twitter!” Or “I’m not funny enough.” Or “I don’t have any friends.”
Look at your sadness through a lens of time. Ask yourself if the monkey on your back is surgically attached or if with effort and enough bananas you can shake it. When your mind takes a swing at you for stepping on its shoes ask yourself what you can do to fix the situation.
If you feel lonely go and join a book club, or talk to a stranger at a bar, or start going to church. You don’t even have to believe in God, it’ll be your little secret. If you’re struggling with art, welcome to art. Everyone struggles with art. The people who become great are the people who never stop struggling. The people who find friends are the ones who stop dwelling on the people who don’t like them, and seek out people who do.
Life is too short to be hung up on Twitter, a gut you can run off, or the human who doesn’t want to rub funny places with your funny places. I’m saying that as someone who has wasted a lot of time feeling sorry for myself for all of those reasons. The time we spend dwelling on our problems is time we spend not working on fixing them. That’s time we could be spending reading books, going on walks, creating art, finding a better job, making out or finding someone to who wants to make out.
Yes. Your depression is real. No. Your depression is not productive. Examine it and ask yourself if it’s really as serious as it seems.
Then go outside and have a walk.
I realized I have too many causes.
A few days ago, after my latest explanation of something I was boycotting, a friend joked that I have a lot of causes. I’d been asked I was excited about the upcoming Enders Game film and my answer was yes, but the author of the book was a homophobe so I probably wouldn’t be seeing it. Then I spoke for five more minutes about why he was wrong. Far too long for the simple question. My friend was right, and his words have haunted me like the dying breath of Uncle Ben to Spiderman.
I have too many causes, and for the wrong reasons. To a degree outrage is becoming just another meme, something we share on Facebook and ignore. But lately I’ve been unable to let it go and the shit’s spilling over into my day to day conversations. And since I never actually do anything to fight for these causes I’m basically just telling people I care about new ways the world is terrible. My name is John-Michael Bond, allow me to share the gospel of bitterness.
The truth is I’m incredibly excited to see the Enders Game film. It’s about out of control government turning children into space fighter pilots. If you don’t want to see it you’re wrong. I don’t care the Orson Scott Card is a homophobe in his private life because it doesn’t come up in his story, so I can let him keep being wrong and bitter. That doesn’t change how good the book he wrote in 1985 is, and I’m the asshole for shitting on something harmless my friend is excited about.
In the spirit of being more pleasant to be around I’m dropping the following feuds/beefs/cause célèbre/vendettas in the interest of being more pleasant to be around.
1. Authors/Creators like Orson Scott Card who have said dumb shit in interviews, but whose work is not reflective of their own dumb views: Every nerd I know loves H.P. Lovecraft and holy shit is he racist. To borrow a phrase from homophobic evangelicals, I need to learn to love the sinner and hate the sin. (I retain the right to be outraged if they start donating large sums of money to hate groups.)
2. George Lucas: Some people look back at their life and think of the time they wasted doing menial activities like sitting at the bar or watching TV. In my old age I’ll be haunted by all the time I spent arguing about Star Wars. Regardless of if Han shot first or not we’re still talking about a movie with lazier sword wielding space wizards.
Even the worst Star Wars film is made up of stunning spaceship dogfights, Mortal Kombat combos, and countless aliens. Yes, George Lucas has a weird way of thanking the people who made him a billionaire but I just can’t pretend to be angry about this anymore.
3. Guns Rights Activists: Lets compromise. You can buy any kind of bullet flinging device you want, and in return the whole country gets free healthcare. If we have a god given right to end life to the best of science’s abilities then we should have a low cost way to pick up the pieces afterwards. Free air freshener with every box of ammo or wound patch up.
4. Old People: Your grandparents Archie Bunker flushing the toilet on TV was the down fall of Western Civilization. Now they find themselves alive in 2013 with Katey Perry shooting fire out her nipples and with spy drones that can reign death from above. Also Aunt Dorris is able to marry her long time “friend” and your grandchildren don’t believe in God.
I get it olds. You’re living in scary times. My suggestion, vote for the legalization of marijuana and try bonding with your grandchildren one more time.
5. Chick-Fil-A: Western society is coming to the end of the era where marriage equality was just a dream. If you want to spend the last few years throwing money against an unstoppable tide so be it. Just don’t stop serving cherry coke.
At 28 I moved to a new city for the first time since I was 10. The initial few months were brutally lonely even with a beautiful wife by my side. No one teaches you how to make friends when you’re an adult, and your peers often willingly ignore signs of sadness. However have recently crushing my fears and social anxieties I would like to share some tips that helped me along the way to peace. These are experimental, however I believe there is a future here.
1. Infiltration: Go stand with a large group of people. Once you arrive it’s a numbers game. If you can hang out with the group for 20 minutes with no one asking why you’re there it’s sort of rude to ask you to leave. The larger the group is the better your chances this works. Listen to the conversation and wait until someone says the name of a person (lets call him Luke) who is on their way. Act like “Luke” invited you, arrived early, and introduce yourself to the group.
The timer is now running. Just be friendly, laugh, and answer questions to the best of your ability. When “Luke” arrives be shocked to discover it’s the wrong “Luke” and bow out of the night. Of course before you leave ask your favorite group member for their email or Facebook. You might be hitting the showers early tonight, but you’re on a one-way train to friend town*.
*Never let your new friends know about this. Society still has some ugly stigmas against “misrepresentation.”
2. Introduction: Once you’ve infiltrated a group answer questions not meant for you whenever possible. Use personal details to create an awkward environment that keeps them from asking you to leave.
New Friend One (we’ll learn their names later!) to New Friend 2: “How is your family dealing with the loss?”
You: “Well Mom has left about six years ago, but I think Dad’s finally getting back on his feet this fall.”
New Friend(s): (the quiet sound of acceptance)
3. Cake: It is simple math that in every single room you walk into at least one person is going to want cake. This technique will work for almost anyone, leaving out basically just those whose religions are against cake. Let them be martyrs.
This technique is perfect for any level of social awkwardness or baking ability. Don’t know how to make a cake? Get your bottom to a gosh darn baker (or grocer if you’re on a budget) and pick yourself up one. Hit up the Baskin Robbins before you post up at the tequila shack and tell me you don’t make new friends. The more outlandish you look the better response when you show up with cake. So let your freak flag fly “guy-still-wearing-his-Matrix-trench-coat-a-decade-later.” We’re stoked you picked something with Raspberries.
4. The Flirt: Obviously we mean flirt in a nonsexual way, that’s another column, but making friends still requires you to send out vibes; vibes that equal friendship. If you follow sports this is simple: find the nearest Applebee’s during a game and offer to buy a round for someone talkative.
If your interests are in the arts you’ve sometimes got to work harder to find the right moment. I suggest the old “bartender thought I ordered two beers, do you want this one?” and its budget minded cousin “do you know what band they’re playing?” What you say is less important than that you’re talking. Just don’t think too hard and let the small talk wash over you like angel kisses.
5. The Crime: Some of you simply wont know how to get the ball rolling. You can’t pretend to care about music, know jack all about sports, and perhaps can’t afford to buy or make a cake. And worst of all your social anxiety keeps you from wandering over to groups of strangers and simply standing there until it’s weird not to talk to you. In these extreme cases, and only in these extreme cases, you should consider “The Crime.”
In this technique you rough yourself up in an alley outside the bar or social gathering you want to become a regular at. How far you go with this is a personal choice, but remember, the worse it looks when you walk it off the cooler you are. Keep your eyes closed before breaking any bottles. Once you’ve got shambling swagger, stumble into the bar, and ask, “Is there a doctor in the house?” Your good humor and insistence that calling the cops would just harsh everyone’s mellow will open the doors for you*.
*Again can’t stress how important it is to keep this aspect of your friendship process secret. A beauty queen doesn’t comment on her Vaseline smile. We don’t tell our secrets either.
Like many of my fellow Americans, I am lazy. I’ve had to come to terms with this and how it affects my efforts to become more Green. Going Green is something I strive for. There’s the exotic splendor of being in the middle of a conversation and dropping a well timed “of course I recycle” or an anecdote about reducing your carbon footprint. It’s more about social popularity than saving the Earth. By the time the Cheetos bag I’m tossing out the car window kills the Earth I’ll have been long dead anyway. Given I don’t believe in the afterlife I’m not going to be haunted for eternity watching as my children fight for their lives against whatever nightmarish mutation will grow out of our polluted seas. Guilt about Earth’s eventual destruction is a nonstarter when you’re asking me to make some effort. ALF is on Hulu now. I’m a busy man.
Social opinion, on the other hand, drives my life. As long as the benefits are there, in this case getting to say I am Green, I will make minor changes to my life. Most people fight the green movement not because they hate the Earth, but because it’s one more thing they’ve got to do in the day. However if you ask those people to change something they’ve already made time for, you can find success. What I’m proposing is the greatest water conservation effort ever proposed at any point in the last three to four months.
The solution is simple. We should pee in sinks.
There will be hesitation towards this plan, but lets think about the big picture here. When you flush the toilet on average you’re flushing one gallon of water with each flush. This may not seem like much, but say you’re at home watching the game and having a few beers. Suddenly you’re wasting swimming pools of water when you find out Miller Time really happens in the can every fifteen minutes.
By allowing people to pee in the sink, and then wash it out with the faucet, we cut the amount of water used per urination to around 1 cup. Now that’s Green. And it’s not a major life change like sorting bottles, not burning trash, or turning lights off when you leave the room. There are things to be done in other rooms. We can’t be leaving early to make time for turning off lights.
When we begin this plan there will be causalities. Some drunk jerk is probably going to ruin a few bars of soap with poor aim. With time and practice will come a better era, and hopefully redesigned sinks that allow for the freedom of every man, woman, and child across the world to pee, and then wash it away with a more reasonable amount of water.
The obvious question I haven’t answered is why not just wait between flushes, the “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” gambit. The answer is simple. That’s disgusting. You have a pool of still human waste fermenting in your bowl because you want to save water. My idea saves water and spares the person who uses the bathroom after me from knowing how dehydrated I am. No one needs to know that information.
It’s not a perfect idea. Until we come up with a paper disposal proposal or a wider spread of Beda technology it’s mostly an idea for men. There’s also the problem of becoming comfortable with knowing a penis might have touched the lip of your sink. Most guys are gentlemen who would make sure to have a grip on themselves at all times, but you know there would still be a lot of scumbags who’d simply have to lay it down on the counter. Perhaps the good caused by the water saved would be counteracted by the increased amount of hand sanitizer used world wide.
People who care enough to make an effort should still do what they’re doing now. God knows the world needs you. But consider expanding the cause in a way that will help conserve water and get lazy, selfish people like myself in the game.
*The author of this piece does not pee in the sink out of respect to his wife who thinks it is a terrible idea. Please seek permission from your roommates/lovers/family before beginning to fight the good fight.*