When junior high goes on forever... and it leads to war.

We're working with a publicist now, did you know that?  Yes... it's only been a few weeks and we're all still finding our legs.  She throws out ideas and some of them "take" and others fall by the wayside.  It was one such idea that led me down a path I would never have traveled, the path about which I will write today.

Our publicist asked if we would be interested in using our music in conjunction with a social media site that is big in the U.K. with millions of users.  They are starting a U.S. launch soon. I went to this social media website to check it out.  I had to create a profile in order to browse, so I did the easiest thing by using my FB profile to create an account. Little did I know this was a one way downward tunnel...

Before I knew it, after only one click saying I have read and agreed to the terms of service [lie], I was suddenly being "matched" with single men within my age range.  No other criteria.  The men I was being presented with seemed to be fans of tattoos, trucker hats, and taking lots of selfies in their tank tops.  Being married, I had no interest in browsing the available inked up men and  I simply tried to suss out the site, wondering if it's just a hook up site or if there could possibly be any other purpose for this.  I'll just say that if there IS another purpose, it's not self evident within any reasonable amount of searching.  I left the site and thought I could be done with it.

Nay nay...

The next thing I knew, I was getting FB notifications that certain gentlemen were sending me private messages.  I went back to the site and tried to shut down my account. I got distracted by the fact that 5 photos of me had been automatically imported from my FB profile, and people had apparently been rating them.  Looking past the feeling of privacy violation and grossness, I clicked to see what my "rating" was but I couldn't get that info without rating 3 other people they said.   So... [and I'm not proud of this] I decided to just rate a few photos to get the goods.  I started seeing pics of dudes... average dudes apparently just trying to find what they perceive as "love" or "something" and I felt sorry for them.  They were rated 4s and 5s and I thought "how terrible that people are subjected to this!"  I started giving them all 8s and 9s no matter what they looked like because dangit, the world needs more kindness.  [I know... it's a weird way to show it.]  Even after rating several photos, I was still unable to see how people had rated my photos [those filthy liars...]  So I gave up and returned to my original purpose in going there.

I went through the security settings and got to the part that would allow you to delete your account entirely.  I clicked on it, thinking that was that, but no... you've got to type in your password.  I type in what I think might be right based on my FB profile, and it doesn't recognize it. I created my account with FB, but it won't let me delete it with FB. After many attempts it becomes clear that they're just not interested in letting me delete my account. So I try to make myself as "invisible" as I can while not paying anything for a premium account.  I go away and think that maybe if I don't look at it, it will whither up and die from neglect.

Nay nay...

I then start getting FB notifications that people were sending me requests.  So I clicked on a notification and saw this...

Well alright!  Other than trucks full of migrant workers driving past and honking at me while I do yard work, I don't get much of this kind of feedback so... I'll take it. Not that it matters.  But then I see this...

Ah... NOW I get it...  The OTHER 88 people out of 204 [43%] did NOT think I was hot and my average rating is a 5.7.  Yeah... that's more like the life I know...  Hey, I've got good math skills, anybody factoring THAT in when they rate me?  HAHAHA... [sigh...]

But then, what do you know, they say I've won an award!  

Uh... so I'm "one of the hottest people of the week" at 5.7?  Among whom?  People in line at the DMV? The mug shots down at the county jail? Lord of the Rings characters that are not elves?  Yeah... I call baloney.

And then as if that whole 5.7 thing wasn't enough of a kick in the lady lumps, I see this...

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Some things never change...

But as I go through all of this, I am struck by the horrible dynamic at play here.  It's as if they've taken the worst part of junior high and high school and carried it over into the rest of your life until you either get married or lose your internet connection or die.  And I truly feel sorry for the people who give this type of website and rating system one iota of their brain space or self esteem.  And I know there are likely a lot of them out there! I mean I know how I feel when everyone else seems to get more instagram likes than I do and I'm supposed to be a grown up! 

I've been married since before social media existed.  That being said, I can't even count how many times I've breathed a sigh of relief that I didn't have to deal with all of the  C-R-A-P single people must now deal with when entering in and out of dating relationships, all while being subjected to the temptations and pitfalls that social media and smart phones have introduced into the dating game.  So, I just want to publicly apologize to the single people.

I am so sorry.

But this is actually about more than just taking a blow to your self esteem and a misplaced sense of value.  The real crux of the issue here is something that became clear to me when I read a book called Anatomy of Peace. It's an excellent book, and it caused a paradigm shift in how I view relationships.  In this book, I finally grasped the magnitude of the problem created when we "objectify" people.  Because if you are objectifying a person, then fundamentally you are at war with them.  You cannot be at peace with someone and objectify them because deep down you know that objectifying them is wrong, and so you need to mentally justify why this person is not worth empathy or respect, even though you may not even realize you're doing that.  When you objectify a person, you are at war with them in your heart.

People are at war and they don't even know it.

So it is in this climate, of people who are objectifying one another and fundamentally being at war in their hearts, that this "hook up" culture exists.  And if your hearts are fundamentally at war, then it's highly unlikely that a healthy fulfilling relationship will EVER be the result of this type of beginning.  And worse yet, these types of sites actually reinforce the HABIT of objectifying so that it's entirely possible that many people are so used to it, and it's so normal to them, they have no concept of what it's like to NOT objectify others.  How many people like this can society absorb without becoming completely unbearable? At best it's exhausting, at worse it's dehumanizing.

How can people grow in wisdom and character when they are so focused on what rating their selfies are getting?  How can we as a culture invest in meaningful and important things that will bless our own future and that of the next generation when we are being subjected to the constant "rating" and objectification of complete strangers?  I don't see how we can.  The two mentalities seem diametrically opposed.

I want to encourage the singles to not subject themselves to stupid rating systems and hook up sites.  It does absolutely nothing good for anyone. It's not only worthless, it's damaging to us as a society and to the people involved as human beings.  It's toxic.

So I say... buck the system!  Don't engage!  Don't even give it the tiniest part of you.


Instead, check out this blog post about 24 Human Character Strengths and Core Virtues.