Monday, January 12, 2009

Two Thoughts at 4:20

Facebook has murdered the exclamation point. How many of those buggers do you think you need to slap onto the end of a sentence to make us understand that you REALLY mean what you are saying? Half the time it looks like a freaking bar code and I half expect to see a price at the end, i.e. “Josephine McSquiggly is having a super fun day!!!!iii!!!III!!!!!iiiI!, $19.95.” Sometimes there are several sentences on the wall post or status update that all end with an exclamation point. “Hey Tyler! Great to see you! You look so svelte!!! Are you working out?!!! Wicked beard! Facebook is so sweet!! Well, busy day! Gotta run!!! YAY!!!!” When I read that I picture that little squirrel from Over the Hedge that is so full of energy or caffeine that he can’t control himself. I see someone physically shaking and cutting himself, crying and laughing hysterically while he attempts to get his emotion onto the screen. Memo to Facebookers everywhere: There is no need to go postal with punctuation. Periods are fine. Commas are good. And a SINGLE exclamation point lets me know that your sentence means business.


I saw Gran Torino with a very good friend. It was likely one of the best 5 movies I’ve ever seen…lifetime, but that’s not really what I want to talk about. Nearly 1 minute before show time, a man and his wife quickly walk into the theater and sit down to watch the show. Incidentally this man is a public figure, an acquaintance of my friend, and holds a leadership position in their mutual LDS ward. Additionally this person is allegedly “preachy” and not terribly friendly. Big deal? No, not really. But the following day at the beginning of Sunday’s priesthood section, the guy stands up and says, “My wife and I went to a movie last night. We saw 'Marley and Me.' Pretty sad…the dog dies. But I’d recommend it.” Then sits down. Doubleyou-Tea-EFF.

To be fair I’ll list out the possibilities as I see them, followed with my own opinion:

1) Dude and wife go to Gran Torino. It’s not important whether they did or didn’t expect standard Clint Eastwood profanity and brilliance. At some point they walk out of the theater due to content and see Marley and Me instead.
2) Dude and wife go to Gran Torino. Even though we don’t notice it, they recognize my friend. They walk out of the picture at some point and see Marley and Me. Dude decides to make it known in church so my friend knows he didn’t sit through the entire picture and left on principle.
3) Dude and wife go to Gran Torino. They did or did not like it, but watched the whole thing. They never see my friend. Afterward, they decide to also see Marley and Me. Dude announces it in church because he genuinely enjoyed it and is recommending it.
4) Dude and wife go to Gran Torino, fully understanding what they were getting into. They never see my friend but possibly bump into other members of the flock. Or perhaps he makes a blanket statement in church because he doesn’t want anyone that may have seen him at Gateway to know he’d just seen a flawlessly awesome Eastwood movie replete with language and racial slurs.

My friend has his own opinion but also insists that I consider all possibilities. However, I heavily lean toward #4 due to the fact that Dude is “preachy”, unfriendly, and never ever talks about unchurchy things in church. The announcement was completely bizarre and totally out of his character. So why the lie? The encounter sparked a fascinating debate that I would like to touch on here and now.

Question: Why do people do the things they do in our local society/culture, and why do they feel they need to hide or lie about their behaviors or unpopular decisions? Does it come down to the individual’s choice, character, behavior, and history? Or is it a general societal pressure and guilt engrained by the culture itself?

Let’s take Dude as an example. He is married with a family. He is a public figure, easily recognizable by many people. He holds a leadership position in a religious organization that openly frowns on many activities and behaviors, including watching Gran Torino.

Assuming the worst for Dude, why does he feel that he needs to lie about going to the movie? Is it because as a public figure he feels that he needs to maintain a certain persona? Is it in his character to do one thing, and then hide it out of shame? Does the shame come from something particular within his self? Is dishonesty and sneakiness just part of his persona? Or was all of that learned and influenced by our strict, conservative, social system?

Let’s face it…there are many people in our Utah communities that are held to very specific and aggressive standards that, to the majority of the civilized world, are ridiculous and unreasonable. From very young ages we are taught to not do X X X X X and Y and Z and if any of those things are done then there is a very specific acknowledgment and penance process. The intent is to shape people to become obedient, worthy people full of principle and character. But once those people become adults, and start to make decisions as responsible grown-ups, shouldn’t the stigma surrounding choices and consequences change? Ultimately there is really only ONE person to answer to when all decisions are made and all is said and done. The judgments and opinions of others really don’t mean anything.

I don’t necessarily think those two options are mutually exclusive. But I can honestly say that I am so grateful to be comfortable in my skin and open with my decisions and actions. I am who I am. I do what I do and watch what I watch. I would have ZERO issue discussing Gran Torino with the bishop and I’d happily burn him my favorite Phish songs or pirated copy of Twilight. SHOULD I have watched the movie? Perhaps not. But it was an adult decision that I own and don’t hide from. I have no problem with folks telling me I shouldn’t have seen it…that’s their decision and their perspective and I highly respect it. I would hope for mutual acceptance and respect, but I don’t necessarily need it.

I can’t imagine living a life of lingering shame and constant secrecy.



Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't get the whole "doing something in public you wouldn't want to own up to later" thing either. It seems to me that it'd be stressful, not to mention that it has an uncomfortable failure mode. Which is one reason I cop to my most embarassing hobbies in church on a pre-emptive basis (like when one Elder two weeks ago ripped on "playing games like World of Warcraft" as inappropriate. No way I was going to let that one go without saying something).

Anonymous said...


Paul said...

I wonder who's is hiding behind the Anonymous comment option???? Come clean you evil *&%#*@$@!!!!!

Paul said...

Dude was probably just doing research so he knows what he's preaching against. Aren't we supposed to do that? 4:20 Dude!

Tyler said...

Awesome use of the now-dead exclamation point Anonymous poser and Paul. Wicked astute.

Dylan said...

Fantastic post! This stuff drives my crazy!!! Anyway, I share your enthusiasm for No Country so sounds like our tastes are similar. I will see Grand Torino...and not feel guilty.

De-Rail said...

WoW!!!!! Holy Tohopka!!!! I agree, no secrets makes life mo betta. ;)

I think the anonymous post was just Tyler. It represents the internal conflict he feels over Twilight.

Tyler said...

Bloody hell De-Rail, you just pwnt my face and it's not even 10:00 a.m. How do you feel now that you're standing over my bloodied and broken corpse?

Didn't even need to read the Twilight comment. That was just a courtesy smiley (;-D) to follow your epic heinous slaying.

Mandy said...

I think people who don't own up to their decisions are pansies. If you don't feel good about it, don't do it! If you do- go for it!

mitch monson said...

good stuff ty, really funny - bravo!