Are people seriously checking in on Facebook from hospitals?

If Facebook has done anything, it’s satiated two of the most common traits that human beings desire  — attention and sympathy.

During any second of the day, we have the ability to garner attention for ourselves now that Facebook exists. It doesn’t matter what we have to say, either. Just by posting anything, anything at all, the Facebook status will show up on hundreds of people’s News Feeds, and be read by a good number of those people.

And just like how It’s impossible to infallibly prove that every good deed is completely selfless, it’s equally as difficult to prove that every single Facebook status, check-in or comment isn’t for attention.

Humans are programmed to relish attention, and to feed off sympathy. So if they experience something that actually warrants both of those things, then, in this day and age, you damn well know they are going to flaunt it.

A very disturbing trend that I have noticed recently that applies to this is people who “check in” on Facebook from hospitals.

Of course, by checking in from any location, the purpose is to let people know not only where you are, but to post some type of witty comment that tells others that what you are doing is probably better than what they are doing.

But a hospital check-in does exactly the opposite. Anything that necessitates a hospital visit to begin with is obviously unfortunate, so there’s nothing to brag about there. But, everybody and their mother knows that if you tell somebody you are in the hospital, they are going to react in a sympathetic way.

When is the last time somebody told you that they spent the night in a hospital, and your response was, “Oh, okay. So what do you want to do this weekend?” And if that was your response, it probably means you are a sociopath, and that you will likely murder another person before your life is over.

The automatic responses to hearing about somebody’s hospital stay are pretty typical:

“What happened?!”

“Are you okay??”

“Feel better!!”

All of them are nurturing and comforting responses, and as Oedipus tells us, are exactly what we’ve craved ever since we were babies.

Facebook gives people the opportunity to not only inform people en masse about a hospital visit, but to actually let people know while it is happening.

My favorite is when people do it ambiguously. They check-in from the hospital, and they’ll say something like, “Well, this sucks…” with a sad face included. Obviously, that’s the most attention-seeking way to go about it. By not saying what the matter is, you’re letting people think the worst, and only heightening any concern they may have for you.

But I just think that this is a heinous, deplorable, bottom-feeding tactic. First of all, if you’re in the hospital, there are plenty of things that should be on your to-do list before picking up your phone and checking in. Things like texting your close friends to inform them everything is okay, or talking to nurses and doctors to learn more about your prognosis, or just, you know, spending time with your visiting family.

And it’s even worse when the reason they’re in the hospital is for a routine thing, like to have their tonsils removed. Meanwhile, people in that very hospital with debilitating illnesses don’t even have the strength to pick up their phone and log onto Facebook.

It’s not terribly different from people who post a photo of their car minutes after they’ve just been in an accident. At the end of the day, it’s all manifesting out of the same two human desires — attention … and sympathy.

But they’re not getting it from me. No siree

Unless they die shortly after they check in. Then I’ll feel pretty bad. Especially after I just said all of this.

There’s something about Macklemore

Being a rapper and, at the same time, trying to be an influential and inspiring figure in today’s world is an extremely difficult task. To figure out why, all you need to do is take one look at guys like Kanye West or Lil’ Wayne. You can vouch for their artistic talents all you like (more so with Kanye), but to say that these guys are legitimate role models for young people is laughable.

And yet, since they are such big names in the rap industry, it creates a stigma that trickles down to others in the genre. Even someone like Eminem, who is looked upon pretty favorably by the masses, endured a very troubled and highly publicized youth.

Although his movie, 8 Mile — a dramatization of his early life — was fairly successful (and even earned him an Oscar), it officially cemented the stereotype that all rappers hail from poor, urban communities with broken homes, are high-school dropouts, have a rap sheet of arrests and a 3-year-old daughter that they can’t afford to take care of.

Most celebrities enter public consciousness with clean slates, and it’s their prerogative if they wish to stain their reputation by doing something stupid. With rappers, it’s the opposite. By simply being in that line of work, they are instantly categorized, and pegged as being a “thug” or “uneducated.” It’s not right, but it’s the way it is. And guys like Lil’ Wayne are to blame for that.

Enter Ben Haggerty, also known as Macklemore.

Arguably the most famous white rapper to enter the game since Marshall Mathers himself, Macklemore burst onto the scene almost exactly one year ago, when his song “Thrift Shop” played pretty much everywhere.

It’s a catchy jam, no doubt. But as the first line of the song is, “Now I walk into the club like, ‘What up? I got a big cock!'”, it did very little to give us an endearing impression of Macklemore, the person. That, on top of his slicked back hair and penchant for wife-beaters, he never really had a chance.

I’ll admit myself that — at first — while I did think he was a talented guy, that he struck me as a loser. I’m just being honest.

But then I heard this song, and my viewpoint of him pretty much did a complete 180.

“Same Love” is a song that promotes the legalization of same-sex marriages. The cover artwork for the single shows a photograph of Macklemore’s uncle, John Haggerty, and his partner Sean. Reportedly, the song stemmed from Macklemore’s frustration with homophobia that exists in today’s hip hop.

Now you can say whatever you want about the song; that it’s a money-grab, that’s he’s trying too hard, and obviously I can’t attest to what his exact motivations are, but the main point here is that Macklemore is using his platform for the good.

People don’t realize just how influential popular musicians are. By saying one thing, or writing one Tweet, they reach millions of ears. People who devote their lives to advocate for a cause will never have the opportunity to speak to as many people as someone like Macklemore does every single time he steps onto a stage.

And I think that is what’s important. Rather than bragging about the size of his junk, he also took the time to preach something that should be obvious to everyone — marriage equality. Whether he truly has a Martin Luther King-like fervor for this issue or not is irrelevant. This track is more than enough advocacy that could be asked for from someone of his stature.

So that is what won him my respect.

But what won him my respect for a lifetime … was this.

Macklemore performed the song last week at the Osheaga Music Festival in Montreal, and invited Tegan and Sara onstage to sing the chorus. Tegan and Sara are sisters, popular indie rock singers, and openly gay.

The result? An absolute chilling and poignant performance. It’s hard to not respect a guy after he does something like that.

Although that could change if he continues to opine on the magnitude of his girth.

It’s interesting to me that people are so secretive about their salaries

Their tends to be certain personal information that people prefer to keep confidential. For example, many people choose not to disclose their weight in most situations. At least I know that is the case with most females.

Age is another thing that people like to keep under wraps, particularly as they become older. I figure it’s mainly because those figures can lead people to forming an instant generalization about you. By simply hearing a number, they create an opinion. And obviously, that’s not right. So it’s slightly understandable why people might want to withhold those personal details.

Another one of those personal details? Salary.

By stating how much money that you earn yearly, you are opening Pandora’s box. Not just one judgment, but several judgments will be made about you upon divulging your income. For one, people will make the distinction as to whether you are “rich,” “well off,” “average” or “poor.”

Next, they will question your line of work. If you’re underpaid, they’ll wonder why you haven’t sought another job and/or field.

Last, others will compare their own situation to yours. If they make more money, it’ll confirm in their mind that they are doing better than you are in life.

So that’s why people like to keep their salaries a secret. And I get that. It’s universally known that you don’t ask somebody what they make. When it comes to money, it’s a touchy issue.

But the thing that I find most interesting is how we don’t even tell our own friends how much money we make. Especially because most conversations we have with friends revolve around money. Typically when you are with your buddies, you are doing activities that involve spending money. Also, people will update their friends about their living situations, and if they plan to move into their own apartment or whatnot. Generally, those conversations all circle around individual salaries, and yet, they are rarely mentioned.

Again, I understand why, but I still think it’s very interesting.

I don’t blame people for this, but I blame the social stigmas that have been created. We should not be judging people for how much money they make. For one thing, there are many fields in which people don’t start getting compensated until much later in life. Take doctors, for instance. While in med school, they’re not making shit. It’s not until they are in their 30s when the dough starts rolling in.

And that’s the case for many professions. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that everyone is set to earn a big payday, but my point is that there are a lot of factors that go into what somebody is earning at any given time, and that’s why it is unfair to form judgments.

There are some careers where salaries are common knowledge. Professional sports in one of them. The minute an athlete signs a contract, it is on Twitter before the ink even dries. Granted they make millions of dollars, but, if they can be so open about it, why can’t everyone be as forthright?

First of all, if you are earning a salary to begin with, it means you have a stable job, and that alone is something to be proud of. So there’s no reason to be ashamed about your salary, considering that you are lucky enough to have one.

Money makes the world go round. I know that. But when you’re summing up a person’s entire existence, salary is just one of many factors. Heck, whenever somebody asks another person about their rent, they always have to preface the question with, “If you don’t mind me asking…”

And in the same vein, we always rip the price tags off of gifts before we deliver them. It’s common practice, but in the grand scheme of things, it shouldn’t be important.

I often say that Facebook has created a huge rift in our society.

Money did that long before Facebook ever did.

Our real life, Facebook and texting personalities

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday when something she said resonated with me. Not necessarily because of what she said, but the significance of the words she used.

We were discussing Facebook, and she actually made the distinction to refer to her Facebook profile as her “Facebook name.” As soon as she said it, I obviously knew exactly what she meant, but it stuck with me. Never before had I heard somebody actually say those two words together, but yet it dawned on me at that moment that we live in an age where people need to separate their real life identity and their Facebook identity, and by virtue of that, must refer to them separately.

Why this happens is not what I’m questioning. The friend is a teacher, and therefore, it makes perfect sense why she’d prefer to keep her profile untraceable to potential students and colleagues. Normally, people will do this by using their middle name instead of their last name. Middle names are not usually disclosed unless people tell you what there’s is. Or if you’re an asshole like Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

Now I know this doesn’t necessarily mean that all teachers — or any one who changes their Facebook name — have incriminating photos or material they wish to hide, but it stands to reason that when you work in a public institution, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

That being said, it still made me think about the different ways we have now to present ourselves. From the dawn of time until about eight years ago, we had one way and one way only — our behavior. How we interacted with others in public was the only way to give others an impression of yourself. The only other way would be through hearsay. Because I imagine that even in the stone age, there were still pansies who talked about others behind their back. They just did it in grunt form.

So there’s the old-fashioned “public portrayal,” and then there’s the Facebook portrayal. The one thing that surprised me the most about Facebook’s emergence is how differently people acted in these two separate contexts. Someone who always came across as level-headed and lively may act woebegone and melancholy on Facebook.

In essence, it’s a split-personality. Not in the sense as a mental disorder, but, by definition, it’s still presenting two different personality types.

But then I thought about it some more and I realized that there is a third way in which people portray themselves to others — texting. I honestly think that this method is the purest of them all.

In public, people filter themselves in an effort to appear presentable to others.

On Facebook, because of the safety net of being behind a computer screen — and because of the anonymity of posting statuses directed towards nobody in particular — some people say stuff that they’d never be bold enough to say otherwise.

But with texting, you’re only talking to your friends, and you don’t just give a shit. You’re likely not even thinking about what you say and just speaking naturally. Therefore, it’s the most pure.

After this analysis, it’s fair to ask — what is the middle ground? Where is the real person in all of this?

Well here’s what I’ve concluded: you should strive so that there doesn’t need to be a middle ground. And what do I mean by that? I mean that people should aim to act as consistently as possible in all three mediums.

I’m not saying that we have to all be saintly. Just be consistent. If you’re a douchebag, then be a douchebag in all three ways. If you’re a racist, then by golly, be offensive through phone, computer and to people’s face! That way, at least I’ll know who you are.

This has actually become one of my goals in life. I want people to know who I am, and what I am all about, regardless of where and how they converse with me. And that can only be accomplished by displaying consistency, and acting the same in all contexts.

And I’m not saying it’s easy. Sometimes we feel compelled to lament on Facebook. It happens. And sometimes we just don’t feel like having a text conversation and will ignore somebody.

But, that being said, I think it’s still a pretty noble goal to strive for. Because if there’s anything in life that we should want to be, it’s authentic. Even if you don’t grow to be as successful as you wished or be, or as popular as you wanted, at least the people you did associate with can say that they knew exactly who you were.

It’s like the title track on The Who’s 1978 album, “Who Are You?”, sung by Pete Townsend. I don’t know any other lyrics to the song besides that, and I’m sure that’s not the message the band was trying to get across at all, but let’s just roll with that.

The irony here, of course, is that I actually have a fourth platform in which to express myself, and that is this blog. And if you compare my real life self to my blog self, well I’m more bipolar than Amanda Bynes.

*Googles Amanda Bynes*

Okay, let’s not go that far.

I reentered the same dream

There are few worse experiences in life than waking up right in the middle of an awesome dream.

I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but think about it. Throughout our lives, people encourage us to “dream big,” or to “dream the impossible.” Well, we do that. In our dreams. I’m not going to date Kate Upton in real life. In my dreams, I might.

And the best part is that when we are dreaming it, it feels real to us. I know that sounds obvious, but it needs to be reinforced. While we are fast asleep in our beds, and deeply immersed in what I like to call “Dream World,” our dream selves have absolutely no concept of reality. It’s the world we are currently in, so why would we question it?

While dreaming, if we suddenly find ourselves dating a supermodel, we don’t take a step back and say, “Wait a minute — a supermodel would never date me. This can’t be real.” In the dream, it’s happening, so of course it’s real. We don’t know any different.

And that’s why when we wake up, and the real world dawns upon us, it’s extremely deflating. Tack on the realization that we probably have to leave bed and go to work in a very short while, and it’s basically just a perfect storm of horror. In a matter of moments, you just went from holding hands with Kate Upton to waking up in your parents’ house five minutes before your alarm goes off.

Tell me that’s not incredibly depressing. And on that note, am I only person who never gets past first base in my dreams? I really hope my ineptitude is not an individual problem. I face enough of that in reality as it is.

But anyway, this entire diatribe of how shitty it is to wake up from an awesome dream only adds to the awesomeness of the next part of this story.

A few days ago, I was having a dream that I was at a party that a friend of mine was throwing. And this wasn’t just some normal-Friday-night-nine-people-show-up-in-a-cramped-apartment-with-an-uneven-guy-to-girl ratio-type party.

This was an outdoor, middle of the summer, backyard party of the year-type shindig. Beautiful weather, flowing beer, and everyone was there. And I mean everyone. Like every single friend I’ve ever had in my life was at this party, chilling and having a good time, and they were all happy to see me.

Basically, it was the party from Can’t Hardly Wait, except better.

All I remember was sitting there, seeing everybody I know, and enjoying life. I had no care in the world but to live in the moment, at that party.

And then I woke up.

Now, in the seconds after waking up, I knew I was upset about something. I was nostalgic about a place I had just left, but couldn’t recall why. Then I remembered the party. And the realization that it was never real dawned upon me, and there was nothing but darkness. And I mean that in a metaphorical sense, and not because it was the middle of the night.

But as it was still dark out, I took some solace in knowing I had plenty of time left to sleep before work, and so I fell back into a slumber.

And guess what happened?

I was back at the party. Nothing was different. The friends were still there, the beer was back in my hand, and it was literally like I just took a five-minute leave to go the bathroom. But instead of going to the bathroom, I returned to consciousness and back. This was some Michael J. Fox Back to the Future type shit. But I didn’t question it. I was back where I belonged.

Honestly, whatever happened after that I really don’t remember. Maybe I woke up again. Maybe my dream evolved into something else. It doesn’t matter — just the fact that I did the impossible and reentered my awesome dream was enough to make me extremely happy.

I think the best part was that I consciously remembered waking up and being sad that the dream was over. I imagine it’s not that uncommon to wake up momentarily in a half dreaming-half awake state, only to return to the dream you were just having. But there’s no consciousness there. There’s no alert train of thought.

So for me to wake up, and actively acknowledge that the dream was just a dream, and still go back into it — I feel like there was some type of glitch in the Matrix or something.

Maybe I wasn’t asleep, and perhaps I slipped into an alternate dimension, where a separate version of myself was currently attending an all-night rager?

Whatever happened, it was sensational.

As depressingly awful as it is to wake up from an awesome dream, it’s even more magnificent to return to an awesome dream.

I can vouch for it.

Well, I’m never complaining about anything again.

Often times we witness people’s personal stories of adversity and overcoming obstacles, and hearing their tales of triumph usually put things in perspective in our own lives. All over the world, there are people with devastating disabilities who still manage to accomplish great things. And when we learn about them, it makes our trivial problems and annoyances seem foolish.

Well, at least for like five minutes, it does. Let’s face it. Most people see an inspirational video and think, “Wow, that really makes me look at life differently. I’m going to stop complaining about little things from now on.” But five minutes later, they forget. Five more minutes later, they’re back to complaining about a friend who talked behind their back that one time. Give it five more minutes and they’re crying in a corner scribbling “FML” on the wall.

It takes a lot more than one motivational story for us to stop thinking selfishly, and to alter our lifestyle, regardless of how inspirational it was.

In the end, we all go back to thinking about our own lives, problems and personal situations. And very quickly.

Well, let me give you a story about a disadvantaged individual that might put things into perspective for a little longer than five minutes.

His name is Wesley Warren Jr., he’s 49 years old, and he suffers from scrotal elephantiasis. It’s exactly as bad is it sounds. No, actually, it’s worse — much worse.

Elephantiasis involves the thickening of skin and tissue, causing certain body parts to swell to extravagant sizes. It’s an unfortunate disease to have anywhere, but Mr. Warren has it in a place that is worse than any other. His scrotum.

It’s still worse than you think. It’s not like his ballsack is just a little bigger — or that it’s even the size of a soccer ball or basketball. Instead, it’s the size of a small rhinoceros.

To be precise — it weights 132 pounds.

Think about that. That means his scrotum weights more than most females. It means it weighs more than most people can bench press. It weighs so much, and is so grotesque, that the guy actually needs to purchase a large-hooded sweatshirt to act as a sleeve to hide it. In other words, he actually requires a giant sack to cover his sack.

His condition is so unique that it caught the attention of a British film crew, who filmed and documented his struggles with the condition and made it into a movie, titled The Man with the 10-Stone Testicles.

Fortunately for Warren, a Californian surgeon performed a procedure on him, free of charge. So his testicles no longer resemble a beached manatee.

Looking to profit on the strangeness of this situation, TLC will also be airing a special about Warren’s struggles. Their name is a little more matter-of-fact — The Man with the 132 lb. Sctorum.

This is truly something that is really impossible to believe. You think you’ve heard everything, but then you go ahead and learn about this. What scares me the most is that this is something that actually developed overnight — literally. Wesley Warren had lived 44 years of his live bearing a normal sized scrotum, and said his troubles began in late 2008 after “accidentally striking” his testicles while he was sleeping. After experiencing intense pain, he woke up the next day with significant swelling. It only got worse.

Furthermore, doctors concluded that it is indeed possible that the condition was brought upon by trauma.

Essentially, what this means is it could happen to anyone. If that isn’t enough justification to start walking around everywhere with a jockstrap, I don’t know what is. And if I ever do take a significant strike to that region for whatever reason,, I’m going straight to the emergency room. I’m not taking any chances.

Again, nothing has given me more perspective in life than this story. Regardless of what happens to me in the future, I will think of Wesley Warren’s scrotum, and it will give me a renewed sense of vigor.

Because even with his humiliating and debilitating ailment, he still had the testicular fortitude to live his life to the fullest, and even had the cojones to show himself in public.

That really takes a lot of balls.

Goodnight.

I guess August is the month where people forget how time works

For the first time in recorded history, today marked the beginning of a new month. Since the Big Bang and the inception of our universe, never before has the calendar turned over, giving us a full ledger of days for us to start afresh.

Oh wait, you’re saying what? This happens? A dozen times? Per year?

Woah. Sure didn’t feel that way today based on most people’s reactions on Facebook.

Twelve times per year we experience the end of one month and the start of another. Thanks to the invention of the calendar, we are actually foretold in advance exactly how this works. Some months are shorter than others. Some actually have their amount of days change every four years. Yes, I know it’s confusing.

Most people seem to be pretty knowledgeable on the subject. When April 30 becomes May 1, I hardly hear any criticisms or concerns. Same with May into June, June into July, etc.

But when August 1 comes around, something weird happens. It’s like some chemical gas unleashes in the air and people forget the concept of time. I say this because I can’t even count how often I saw people posting their confusion on Facebook that it is already August.

“It’s August already?” read one status.

“Where did the summer go?” said another.

Part of me wanted to chime in with an explanation about how we fulfilled all of the days in July, and thus, August is the month that follows. But I thought it was better left alone.

Obviously I’m not an idiot. I know that these hypothetical questions are more of a commentary on how the summer is more than halfway over, which is the real thing that people are flabbergasted about. And not the fact they have to write the number “8” instead of “7” when they fill out the date on a sheet of paper.

This should not come as a surprise, however. I think the problem is that people just greatly underestimate how time works. In the grand scheme of things, time moves very slow. People live to be 70,80, 90, sometimes 100 years. That is a long-ass time.

But in the context of one month, time moves fast. Days and weeks pass in the blink of an eye. When I was about 16 or 17, and it became August and September, I used to always think, “Man, this year is flying by!”

And then I realized, “Wait, maybe time isn’t flying by. Maybe this is just normal.” If you find yourself amazed by the rapid succession of time every year, then, maybe a conclusion can be drawn — time moves quickly.

I typically try to avoid commenting on some of the stupidity I see on Facebook, but when I notice the same thing happen four or five times, I can’t help but lend my two cents. And something tells me that others may have had a similar experience, so perhaps a few of you can relate to my frustration.

Or maybe some of you had absolutely zero idea that today was August until you read this post. And in that case, I applaud you for being so blissfully ignorant. I wish I shared your apathy.

Okay, so to touch on a bit of current events — because I am also here to educate and inform — I must say, is there anyone in the world whose life is going to be analyzed under a bigger microscope than George Zimmerman? I swear this guy can be put in the Witness Protection Program and he’d still make headlines every single day.

I mentioned last week how he was publicized for allegedly saving a family from an overturned truck, but that was on the same day as the birth of the Royal Baby (later named George), so no one cared. This time, he’s in the news for a much different reason.

On Sunday, the 29-year-old was pulled over for speeding in Texas. Now that’s not really a big deal. It happens. I got a speeding ticket a few months ago, and I’m a saint.

But the hubbub here is that Zimmerman was carrying a gun with him at the time. *Cue dramatic music*

That isn’t really a big deal, either. In the south, a gun in a car is as common as an air freshener, but, something tells me that all of the Trayvon Martin enthusiasts will not be too pleased to hear that Zimmerman is free-riding throughout the south with a loaded gun.

Oh well, it’s a new month. Not just for George, but for everyone else, and therefore, a time for us all to cleanse and start anew. A rebirth, so to speak.

Or, we could just keep doing what we’ve been doing all summer, and then on September 1, voice our amazement at how fast time flew.

Can’t wait.