4 Easy Solutions To Problems We All Complain About
At some point you'll reach a stage in your life where you'll take a look around and realize you're just sick of it all. The same arguments, the same politicians spouting the same bullshit, the same talentless fuck singing the same empty song at the same vapid awards show. If you're not there yet, I sincerely envy you (especially if you're 86 years old and never got there), and maybe it's best if you skip this article and come back if/when you're openly cursing at your computer monitor, knowing full well that the only person who can hear you screaming is your neighbor. Because he's duct taped in your bathtub, awaiting his ... "cleansing."
For the rest of us, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there are extremely easy solutions to some of our most bitched about problems, because we are in fact the cause of those problems. The bad news is that we still won't do anything about it. For instance ...
We Can Make Politicians Stop Assuming That We're All Fucking Sociopaths
Quick question: Do you know the difference between a liberal and a conservative? Wait, there's a catch. You can't say anything about religion or specific issues like abortion or gay marriage. Do you know the difference at their core? Don't feel ashamed if you don't -- most Americans don't. Here, let me help: At their most basic level, liberals believe that government is responsible for fixing social problems and ensuring equality for every citizen. They believe that "the role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need." Conservatives believe in personal responsibility for our successes and failures, with a limited, smaller government.
So knowing that, explain to me how one side decided for all of us that to be a part of their club, you have to be a gun-toting, gay-hating, Bible-thumping, corporate-loving redneck? And the other a pot-smoking, godless, welfare-abusing, "give us all free shit" dumbass? Because while I acknowledge that there are plenty of people in each of those groups, I don't personally know any of them. Have I just been lucky? Because if so, I need to change the title of this point to "Stop Being the Dumb Fucks That Politicians Are Catering To."
"Now get on in there and vote. I'll be in to check and make sure you're doin' it right."
How We Can Make It Happen:
Stop being the dumb fucks that politicians are catering to. Sorry, I know I'm just pissing into the wind with that advice, because the people who sincerely fit those stereotypes don't see themselves as the bad guys. The homophobic slurs and screaming protests conducted at funerals all sound perfectly legitimate in their heads, the same way that the voices are absolutely real to a schizophrenic. There is no changing the perception of people like that.
Which is fine, because they are not the majority -- they're a loud minority, and politicians cater to them specifically because they are loud (as a general rule, crazy people make more noise). So if you, reader, are somewhere in the reasonable middle, the solution seems pretty clear: Be louder about your reasonableness. Writing to members of Congress en masse is a pretty damn good way to get their attention. Letting them know in a simple email that we're tired of being told that to be on their team we have to adhere to a certain religion or feel a certain way about homosexuality or marriage or abortion. That we're tired of them pointing fingers at people in their own party and claiming that they're not Republican enough because they don't denounce gay marriage ... or that they aren't Democrat enough because they don't agree that all guns should be immediately banned. Or that you're not Independent enough because you don't have cartoonishly stupid facial features.
We let them know by the hundreds of thousands that if we aren't treated like logical, thinking human beings, we won't just stay home on voting day, we will do something much more dangerous: We'll show up. And we will vote. And we will make damn sure that our votes go to a name that doesn't cater to the rabid, screaming, insane extremes.
"You know, those protesters are probably right. He probably is in hell right now."
Why We Won't:
Because even a simple email takes work, and you will never be as motivated to write one as a guy who, for instance, thinks that abortion is the new Holocaust. You see yourself as a reasonable person, you don't want to make trouble. And it's so easy to stop yourself three sentences in and think, "Why the hell am I even bothering with this. They probably get ten thousand of these a day. I'm just another meaningless voice that's going to get lost in the pile. And no matter how much I expel, you just can't make an email smell like urine." The irony, of course, is that the more letters that get thrown onto that pile, the more they have to start paying attention, because each one of those people represents a vote that they're not going to get come next election.
Give us a button that says, "Knock it off, asshole," and we'll click it. Show us a petition that says, "Undouche your party," and we'll sign it. But make us spend ten minutes writing an email in our own voice? Go fuck yourself, I don't have time for that. I'd rather spend that time calling my cousin a socialist sheep for wanting universal health care.
"Enjoy swallowing my tax dollars. I hope you choke on them, you communist whore."
We Can Start a Music Revolution Right Now
Before you even think it, let's squash the idea that I'm the old man in a rocking chair, bitching about how "music was so much better when I was a kid." I'm not talking about simple taste in music -- I'm not that fucking shallow. I'm talking about the fact that music is scientifically proven to have gotten progressively more bland and homogenous since the 1970s. Or consider that the list of top-grossing concert tours is almost entirely populated by artists who haven't had a hit in decades. The simple reason is that new music isn't even worth leaving the house for. But people are still hungry for music that actually says things beyond "Here we are in this club -- watch me dance to this beat I didn't create." Let me put it another way ...
If 1980s music was the result of coked-out artists taking an angry shit, modern pop is the lingering fart smell that no air freshener can get rid of. Spraying more just makes it smell like someone shot potpourri out of their asshole. Grunge came around in the early/mid-1990s and lit a match, but since someone forgot to flush, the smell just came back again. We are currently in desperate need of someone to walk in with another book of matches and just set the entire fucking bathroom on fire.
And don't give me that bullshit about how Spanky Asstone and the 5 Knuckle Shuffles are redefining music. If they're not out in the limelight, they don't count for dick. A music revolution isn't something that goes on under the radar, three or four bands being innovative in front of a half-seated coffeehouse. If it's going to be the boot that stomps out the complete fucking embarrassment that is in today's top 40, it has to have universal acceptance.
Like these guys.
How We Can Make It Happen:
Not pirating the music you love is a good start. Because regardless of whether we justify or condemn theft, the people who are spending actual money on CDs and downloads are the ones with terrible taste. Tweens. Screaming little girls who put more value on the singer's outfit and hairstyle than the songs that come out of his stupid suckhole. And the more they buy, the more airplay that artist gets.
There are two solutions for this. 1) Start buying shit from your favorite bands to offset the crap that's on the radio right now. 2) Stop giving little kids money. If you're a parent, that makes sense. If you're not a parent, I don't want to know why you're giving kids money in the first place, but I'm going to guess that it's not legal and that you need serious help.
There is a third solution, but it takes some effort and a willingness to interact with people much younger than you. And that solution is to introduce them to new music that has some substance. If that doesn't work, just try to sneak some past them. For instance, I seriously played this at my wedding, and kids got up and danced to it, even when ... well, you'll see -- all I ask is that you give it one full minute:
Why We Won't:
This is their industry, not ours, so it's not an easy battle. When they get money, they have the luxury of spending it on whatever they want, and many of them choose Justin Bieber or Nicki Minaj or Three Arm Sally. When we get money, we have to spend it on rent or bills or heroin. We feel like we can't compete with that -- not when the rules are so stacked in their favor. Real life is far more important than our music, which means that while we may be able to afford the occasional CD or download a couple of singles here and there, we can no longer justify buying unknown music on a whim and hoping that it doesn't suck. Right, Spin Doctors?
No, adulthood dictates that we choose our battles more wisely than when we were kids, and this one is just too expensive.
Ahhhh ... finally, a reward worth fighting for.
We Can Make Commercials Stop Shoveling Bullshit
Imagine the most bullshit commercial any company has ever had the balls to air. No, wait, you don't have to imagine it, because it's this one from 5 Hour Energy:
Now imagine that they got so much backlash that they put out a followup commercial saying, "Hey, we just wanted to apologize for that verbal middle finger we gave you. The truth is that our energy drink -- and pretty much every energy drink on the entire planet -- is bad for you. There isn't a sane, credible doctor on Earth who would look you dead in the eyes and recommend our product without then laughing until he vomited blood. That's why we worded that boldfaced lie so specifically, in hopes that you were too stupid to pick up on it. Honestly? 5 Hour Energy gets you pretty amped. And yes, you do in fact get tired when the rush goes away. The truth is, if what you're looking for is a quick speed rush for a few hours, we've got you covered. If you're worried about your health, this ain't it. Because in no alternate dimension of existence is it healthy to drink these, and we're kind of assholes to have even considered that joke of a commercial."
How We Can Make It Happen:
Stop buying shit from companies that treat you like a fucking idiot. These people treat you like a moron because they're banking on the fact that you are. If you show them that you aren't, then by the very nature of their industry, they have to stop addressing you that way. Advertisements that decrease sales are scrapped so fast, you can hear the air collapse in on itself from the vacuum it leaves in its wake.
Look up at the hit counter of this article. Even if it's the biggest failure of any article I have ever written, imagine that many people writing a simple email to 5 Hour Energy (or any product from any company), telling them that they were so insulted by their commercial, it alone made them decide to not buy the product. That influx of feedback from offended customers would be a fucking PR nightmare.
"On behalf of 5 Hour Energy, you can eat my shit!"
Why We Won't:
It's easier to write a Facebook post saying, "Look at this dumbass commercial," than to write an email to the company, telling them that they insulted you out of a sale. It's easier to laugh at it than challenge it -- "Ha! How stupid do they think we are? Oh well, commercials will be commercials, I guess." And because of those reasons, those ads not only exist ... they thrive.
The marketing people hold up those tweets and status updates as a trophy. "Look how many people are talking about 5 Hour Energy! Hell, a columnist from Cracked even wrote a thing about it, and look how many people read it! We deserve a raise!" If our reaction to their bullshit is to just roll our eyes, they buy studio time to create more of the same.
"Your motivation is that you're lying in order to sell things. Aaaaand ... action."
We absolutely have a means of putting a stop to it, but we won't because it requires action. And most people hear that and think, "Eh, who cares? It's just a stupid commercial." Even though it was clearly designed as an attempt to blatantly trick people into thinking that doctors recommend adding it to their diet. Make no mistake, these commercials are still around because we let them stay around.
It's Time to Take Out the Internet Trash
If you're one of those people who mistakenly think that "free speech" means that you can say whatever you want whenever you want, you are who I'm talking about. Feel free to stop right here, because you won't allow yourself to consider what I'm about to say.
Racist, harassing, violent, abusive comments are so common on the 'Net, it's become an accepted part of the landscape. The dog turd that you step over on your way to the mailbox. We make jokes about them or quietly roll our eyes when we see some dumb fuck trying to get noticed by making rape comments on videos of teenage girls doing literally anything at all -- or dropping the N-bomb on pretty much any video that features a black person. On a more outspoken day, most of us will offer a sarcastic "Stay classy, Internet" before moving on and forgetting about them.
"I AM A METAPHOR!"
How We Can Make It Happen:
I'm going to use YouTube as an example because it's a site we're all pretty familiar with. Start by bookmarking this page. That's the form they use to report abusive commenters. Personally, I open it in a separate tab, because at one point you'll need to put in the user's ID and the URL of the video where they can find the comment, so it just makes it that much easier to copy and paste. From there, just follow the directions -- it's pretty simple.
I'm not just picking on YouTube, mind you. No matter where you find these glass-eyed cliches, the idea is the same: report them. Because the truth of the matter is that there are far, far more of us than there are of them. And if we finally put our foot down and say, "OK, that's enough. It's time for you to get the fuck out of our house," they cannot possibly fight the tsunami that we can unleash by simply reporting them en masse.
"I am also a metaphor! Splaaaaash!"
Why We Won't:
Let's use the same YouTube example. Did you notice that nowhere in those instructions was the phrase, "Click the 'report abuse' button"? That's because they -- and most other large sites that I've seen -- make it ridiculously hard to full-on report someone for bannable offenses. For instance, to even get to that page I asked you to bookmark, you have to know specifically what you're looking for. In this case, it's a link buried at the bottom of the page, under all the content and comments, where you normally find the site's copyright info and disclaimers:
Aaahhh, of course. It all looks so obvious in retrospect.
Oh, and it's called "Safety." Because when I need to report someone for racist comments or verbal harassment, the first thing I think is "I need to get to the safety page." They might as well have called it "The Pussy Lounge." On top of that, if I hadn't mentioned opening it in another tab or window, how many of you would have just started the form, assuming that the site would actually offer you some help? Since, you know, you were going the extra mile to keep their fucking site free of bigotry and hate speech? Because they don't actually ask you for the user ID or the video URL until you're about 3/4 of the way through it. Meaning that if you didn't remember exactly what video you just came from (so you could open another window and find it again), you'd have to page back through the form until you got back to the video, and then restart the process from scratch.
Maybe that's what they're going for? To force people into giving up? It certainly appears that way. And from a certain standpoint, I can see why. If you have that many users, making a form that difficult would curb the amount of people who would be prone to hitting the "report abuse" button every time someone even slightly pissed them off. Going through that much bullshit with their "safety" form means that you feel really, really strongly about reporting them.
Damn. Dude must have been one massive douche to make you scale our report page.
But even if given an easy, functional means of flagging an abusive user, in many cases our ego won't let us do it because our immediate reaction is to fight back. Even though we know for a fact that exchanging insults with someone who is looking for a flame war never fucking works. It really is a shame that we won't weed out these fucking pukes, though. I think it would be kind of awesome to see that army in action.