Archive for December, 2010

There’s a subtle, tyrannical, effort in modern society to make everything and everyone “Crisp and Clean”.  Some would say this is merely a symptom of humanity’s need to distance itself from it’s connection to the natural world.  A savage and uncontrollable world that bides it’s time bound under shackles of concrete, asphalt, and antibiotics.  Waiting for the perfect time to shrug us off into oblivion.

Does this smug, antiseptic, reality tunnel serve any purpose other than to trick us into thinking we’re ultimately in control here?  I think it does.  I think it’s the most efficient brainwashing tool humanity has ever seen.  I think if corporate America (or corporate anywhere, really) had to choose just one tactic to keep humanity enslaved to a lifestyle of mass consuming servitude, it would choose The Cult Of Crisp And Clean.

Many of us have seen direct evidence of this ever-growing cult in the changes that recently took place back on Myspace.  I personally have seen Sean Percival (director of Myspace marketing or something like that) use the term “Crisp And Clean” at least three times in addressing the forced changes that were implemented with the unveiling of New Myspace.  Many of the more complacent Myspacers have told us “Well if you don’t like it, then leave.  You don’t own Myspace, so deal with it!”  And so we did.  It’s a good thing we did, too.

A handy side effect of living within a society that’s obsessed with enforcing a crisp and clean lifestyle upon it’s populace is it makes citizens desperately crave any form of self expression or individuality.  This is a perfect way to keep your citizens actively consuming.  The more individuality you strip away, the more pre-approved and corporate packaged “individuality” you can sell to the masses.

Self expression is now primarily confined to consumerism.  We can’t express ourselves at work.  The customer must always be right and we must always adhere to the uniform standards of the workplace.  Oh and keep that top button buttoned or the world might come to an end.  It’s getting to where our children know almost nothing of self expression or individuality as more and more schools adopt uniform codes.

They say it’s to prevent gang violence, yet Walmart keeps cutting checks (donations if you will) to school board members for “development projects”.  Breaking the expressive souls of our little children.  Creating an empty place for them to yearn to fill.  A smart and sound investment for the largest retailer in America.

Why do you think performers like Lady Gaga are so popular?  Because they do things normal citizens only wish they could do.  The more celebrities act out and wear bizarre and revealing outfits, the more the public eats it up.  This is because these cultural icons represent something that is missing within the lives of everyday citizens.  After spending 8+ hours a day bored to tears and bound within some stuffy corporate uniform policy, folks want nothing more than to live vicariously through some celebrity that snorts cocaine in public or wears a crazy looking dress made out Day-Glo dildos.  And they’ll pay through the nose for the privilege.

I still marvel at how business execs could personally own every Lady Gaga CD, yet spend their professional days firing employees for disregarding corporate uniform standards.  I remember when I worked for a national chain of music stores I ran into this same type of thing.  One week they decided to forbid warehouse workers from wearing shorts solely for the purpose of making the store’s staff look more “crisp and clean”.  The next week they sent out a life sized cutout of Dimebag Darrell wearing ripped shorts and throwing up devil horns to be mandatorily displayed by the Washburn/Dean guitar section in all stores nationwide.

How is it that every place of business operates under the belief that everyone in the world is a tight-assed prude, yet at the end of the work day, our televisions operate under the belief that everyone wants to see tits, ass, sex, skin, and violence?  The cult of Crisp And Clean makes it’s living of off our repressed desires.  The sin isn’t worth buying if it isn’t packaged in luxurious gobs of taboo.

It’s amazing this culturally enforced duality doesn’t drive us totally insane.  Perhaps it has.  Who are we to say we’re not insane.  Look at all the crazy hoops we jump through on a daily basis out of some misplaced sense of conformist obligation.  If that ain’t crazy, I don’t know what is.

You’ve already agreed to wear their uniform.  You’ve already dressed your child in their uniform.  You probably went out and spent money you didn’t have in order to make that happen.  Now the customer is always right, no matter how mean and vindictive they become.  How many relationships have you seen get destroyed due to the demands of the Crisp And Clean Cult?  I was told once by a regional manager to keep my wife on a tight leash or she might end up costing me my job.  At that point, my wife had said less than ten words to him.  He didn’t know her, he just knew he didn’t want anyone’s spouse interfering with the will of the Crisp And Clean Cult.

I’ve seen people forced to take out loans to buy new automobiles because “their appearance reflected directly upon the company”.    I once knew a district manager that was so obsessed with Crisp And Clean, he bought a second house just so he could have a perfectly manicured Show House to host business meetings at.  His wife and children were trained to show up before the meetings and pretend everything was business as usual as if they actually lived there.  These are true stories, folks.

So here’s the big question:  How far will humans go in order to please the leaders of the Crisp And Clean Cult?

The answer lies within each and every one of us.

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Wanna Make Your Own Culture?

Posted: December 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

There’s a site that a whole lot of Myspacers have been fleeing to.  It’s called Friendburst.com.

I have to admit, at first glance I didn’t really expect much.  Friendburst’s splash page is a bit underwhelming in my opinion.  But then I’m obsessed with graphics, so I’m naturally biased in that direction.

I have to say, once I got signed up and started looking around Friendburst, I was pleasantly surprised.  What may have been lacking in graphics was made up for in content and navigability.  What’s even more impressive is all of it had been put together within a month or so by Kevin (the founder) and a skeleton crew of folks.

What’s even better is Kevin openly communicates with users and does his best to integrate their suggestions and ideas into the site.  Digging through the forums, I found several instances where suggestions where made by users only to be implemented a few hours or days later by Kevin and the team at Friendburst.  That’s pretty damned impressive.  You won’t find results like that on Myspace.

So yeah, that’s all fine and dandy, but what do they have to offer users?

To begin with, there’s blogs.  The blogs are set up with a WordPress interface which I was glad to see.  Kevin’s got it set up with a ton of plugins in the interface too.  Much more than I ever use on my personal WordPress setup.  So there’s much more customization to be had than New Myspace offers.  Many of the bloggers at Friendburst are direct transplants from Myspace, so it all has a familiar feel to it.  Although it seems that much of the bullshit drama didn’t translate over, which is a great relief.

Friendburst also has a decent Forum area, built in instant messaging, and even video chat.  There’s an area where users can submit recipes, which I think is really cool.  There’s also a game area where people can play Mahjong and stuff like that.  You can also post quizzes and polls for other users to toy around with.  And of course you can upload music, photos, and video.

The profile customization on Friendburst is very similar to the Myspace 2.0 setup.  Although it is possible to do some coding tweaks, from what I’ve read.  Users are also given the ability to customize their homepage view, which is something that got stolen away from users when New Myspace went into effect.

Do you remember the way Myspace utilized bulletins as the primary way of broadcasting announcements, links, and information?  Well, Friendburst has it.  This is cool because it allows for quick transfer of in depth info between friends without clogging up the stream or having to sacrifice words due to character count constrictions.

That’s right!  Friendburst isn’t in the business of dumbing down their users.  But shhhhhhh!  Don’t let the DHS or corporate America find out.  It’ll be our little intellectual secret.  😉

I spent several hours last night digging around the site and catching up with my fellow Myspace refugees.  By the time I logged off, I had a familiar feeling buzzing around in my chest.  I realized it was the same feeling I had back in the glory days of old Myspace.  That feeling of  comfort, community, and collective hope.  That’s a good feeling.

What’s really cool to me is the fact that Friendburst is just now getting started.  This means by being early users of the platform, everyone there has the ability to influence how it develops, both culturally and structurally.  Kevin is very receptive to constructive recommendations and is constantly improving the site to better fit the needs and comfort zones of the users.  Combine that with the fresh cultural blank slate of this new internet community and the possibilities could very well become endless.  Reality is what you make of it, and this is an opportunity to build a reality that the corporate overlords at Myspace won’t allow us to have.

So anyway, I strongly suggest that if you miss the old Myspace that you give Friendburst a try.  I think you’ll like it.  It’s not every day that we get an opportunity to help birth a new culture onto the internet.  It’s not every day that we have the blessing of an admin like Kevin who actually cares and listens to the user.

If you’re interested, come and check it out at www.friendburst.com

or check out my profile at www.friendburst.com/moosehammer/

When Sarah Palin’s Alaska premiered on TLC (The Learning Channel, how ironic is that?) and got 5 million viewers, I about shit myself.  A tiny part of me lost hope in humanity for about a week or so.  I should note this isn’t that unusual for me.  I tend to lose all hope in humanity at least once every couple months.

Well, I ran across a couple of things today that brought a flicker of hope back into my heart.  According to this, viewership for Palin’s show has declined by 40%.  Not only that, but the median age for her viewers is around 57 years old which is not a demographic that many cable channels strive to capture.

On the other hand, AMC’s The Walking Dead has set a new record with over 5.6 million viewers tuning in for it’s fifth episode.  That’s a 300,000 viewer increase in comparison to it’s debut episode.  It also holds firm grip on the 18-49 year old demographic (3.2 million viewers).  I don’t have cable, so I’ve only seen one episode of The Walking Dead (while I was getting treatments at the hospital).  From what I’ve seen it looks pretty cool.  I can’t wait for season one to get put on Netflix.

So anyway, my point is the world can’t be too screwed if a TV show about zombies spanks the ass off of Palin’s reality show.  Especially when it’s being watched by tomorrow’s leaders.  The kids might not be exactly marching in the streets, but at least they’re learning how to battle hordes of zombies.

Zombies are slow moving, brain dead, irritable, angry, operate within a herd mentality, probably don’t spell too well, and strive on attacking and feeding off of others.  The more Americans learn about battling zombies, the better!

 

republican_zombies

I told you so.

I fucking told you so!  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.  Told you so.

What’s the use in knowing what’s about to happen when no one will listen to you?  I don’t think this quite qualifies as a Cassandra complex but it’s the only thing I can relate to it.

Back in August, I knew what was happening to Myspace and I tried to tell people about the monumental shit sandwich that it would become by the end of the year.  Some listened.  Fewer agreed.  More blew it off as childish, indulgent, bitching.  A hand full of folks ridiculed anyone that spoke out.

Below is a repost of a few blog entries I made in August.  This is my “I told you so!” post.  This is dedicated to the few bloggers out there that tried to warn the ridiculing masses of the coming shitstorm known as New Myspace.

You’re All A Bunch Of Frogs!

Original post date August 10, 2010

I’m sure you’ve heard the old blurble about boiling a frog.  You put a frog in a pot of water and you slowly heat the water up to the boiling point.  The frog dies because the it doesn’t notice the slow increase in water temperature, so it never says “Fuck this shit!” and jumps out of the pot.

I don’t know if this really works, because I don’t do cruel shit to animals.  Besides I love frogs.

Well, for quite some time, our culture, our governments, our name brands, our pop stars, our employers, our peers, and our Myspace have all been turning up the heat on our individuality pots.

Sure, we’re told to be individuals and to express ourselves…through mass consumerism…through our choice of TV channels…through our willingness to suck down every last ounce of crap they sell to us.

But don’t you dare expect individuality for free!  Hell no!  Individuality, like freedom, is not yours for the taking.  It must be bought and worked for.  It must be begged away from the powers that be at the price of your bloody, overworked, fingers and your undying subservience to their big fucking machine.

Now Myspace wants you to quit having opinions that last longer than 140 characters.  Now Myspace want your profile (your personal expression of yourself) to match perfectly in with all the other conformist dittohead profiles over at Facebook.  Myspace doesn’t want you to have an intelligent conversation or the exchange of any ideas other than “LOL, I made a poopy” and “OMG, I just bought some new shoes, LOL!”

It’s been a slow process, but the heat has been rising for quite some time.

I’ve seen comments on blogs saying “Change is part of life.  I think we can learn to deal with these new changes. I don’t want to leave this place because everyone I like is here.  We should all just adapt to this.  Things will get better.  You’ll see.”

Yeah, you just keep fuckin’ that chicken and see where it gets you.  Enjoy those table scraps.  Enjoy those tiny crumbs of individuality that are allowed to you by the millionaire investors that sell adspace on this site.

Maybe when you’re profile looks like every other fucking profile on the internet, they’ll be nice and let you pick out a color or two.  Maybe they’ll let you keep your screen name for a year or so before you become “User # 102399843”.

Well, I’m here, with the irreverent and swaggering ghost of Jim Morrison to tell you “You’re all a bunch of fucking frogs!  Now what are you gonna do about it?!”

Are you gonna grovel like some conformist slave or are you gonna take charge of your own free will?  Are you gonna try to shut up all the other slaves so as to not upset the master?  Are you going to shred your personal Declaration Of Independence before it even gets a chance to be written?

It’s not just Myspace.  It’s our entire culture.  If you can’t rebel against the fascist actions of a social network, how the hell do you ever expect to fight for the freedom you’re supposed to have in real life?

Watch and learn folks.  This microcosm shows us more about people’s real personalities than we could have ever thought would be possible.

 

 

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Polishing A Turd

Original post date August 11, 2010

This is what your future looks like
http://www.myspace.com/upgrade-profile

Throughout all of the blog “glitches” and emails to Myspace corporate, we still haven’t seen any feedback concerning the upcoming forced profile change.

There’s a petition going around to try to keep us old-schoolers from being forced into this Facebook style format.
http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/keepmyspaceprofiles/

I don’t think Myspace corporate is going to change course on this though.  This is all part of the ongoing emulation of Facebook.  This is part of Myspace’s inability to come up with an original moneymaking, user drawing, idea.

For several years, Myspace has been given the reputation of being the backwoods, racist, ghetto of the internet.  Just ask any intarwebz hipster.  They’ll tell you exactly that.

I think Myspace is desperately trying to find a way to reinvent itself and shake off the ghetto stigma that’s been attached to it.  The problem is, this can’t be fixed through Facebook imitation.  This problem is embedded in the culture of Myspace.

This problem comes from simply deleting profiles of trolls, stalkers, and reoccurring assholes instead of banning their IP’s from the entire website.  This problem comes from allowing dipshits to keep coming back after they have terrorized a large crossection of Myspace’s most loyal users.

This comes from putting statistical membership numbers above user enjoyment as a means of showing your worth to future investors.
This comes from embracing the fundamentals of total cluelessness that cloud the heads of upper-management teams worldwide.  Don’t fix the problem, pad the numbers instead.  Don’t believe in yourself, play the system for one more fiscal quarter.  Don’t fix the leaking ship, secure your golden parachute first.

The Facebookinization of Myspace will not reinvigorate new user numbers.  It won’t put Myspace in the What’s Hot category.  No one likes a poser.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is I don’t see Myspace backing off of the forced profile change.  They’re trying to change the culture of Myspace through appearances.  In their minds, if all of Myspace looks like Facebook, then they’ll be able to get Facebooks users to come back to Myspace.

They’re doing what my father-in-law refers to as “Polishing A Turd”.  That’s where someone takes a totally crappy car that’s on it’s last legs, and details and waxes it until it shines brilliantly in order to sell it to some unsuspecting schmuck.

Your “Ghetto” profile is hampering the turd polishing process.  Enjoy it while you have it.

* Just a side not here:  Isn’t it funny how it took an act of congress to dig information out of Myspace about these “blog glitches” that have now been “fixed”, yet they somehow find the time to send out those “What’s new to Myspace” mass emails every time they get one step closer to Facebook?  Kinda shows you where their true priorities are.

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Battered Blogger Syndrome

Original post date August 11, 2010

FOUR PSYCHOLOGICAL STAGES OF
THE BATTERED WOMAN SYNDROME
DENIAL- The woman refuses to admit–even to herself–that she has been beaten or that there is a “problem” in her marriage. She may call each incident an “accident”. She offers excuses for her husband’s violence and each time firmly believes it will never happen again.

GUILT- She now acknowledges there is a problem, but considers herself responsible for it. She “deserves” to be beaten, she feels, because she has defects in her character and is not living up to her husband’s expectations.

ENLIGHTENMENT- The woman no longer assumes responsibility for her husband’s abusive treatment, recognizing that no one “deserves” to be beaten. She is still committed to her marriage, though, and stays with her husband, hoping they can work things out.

RESPONSIBILITY– Accepting the fact that her husband will not, or can not, stop his violent behavior, the battered woman decides she will no longer submit to it and starts a new life.

Something is missing from this table.  Something I call The Backlash.

The Backlash consists of:  The day after you pull an abusive husband off of his wife, she calls you up and blames you for trying to keep her from being beaten to a pulp.

AKA “Good riddance to the dissenters!”

How quickly we forget the reality of three days ago.  How quickly we tell ourselves it won’t happen again.

Yeah, I’m still bitching.  Ask anyone I’ve worked with in the past.  I do a lot of bitching before I burn a bridge.

For all you people who left Myspace.  For all you people who followed through on your grumblings.  You are now to blame for this.  Don’t ask me how, but you are.

And don’t you ever say anything bad about Myspace anymore.  He’s a good man.  He only gets “glitchy” when I deserve it!

* Stay tuned as I continue to irreverantly crash this ship into even more rocks.  I spent two years building this blogging warship.  I deserve to have some fun destroying it.  Let the drunken viking tirades roll!