Five to Ten

Five to ten years sounds like a long time. In actuality, it’s not as long as it seems.
You can accomplish a lot in five to ten years. Even one year. So let’s talk about the future, shall we?

But first allow me to jump back to the past…

Five years ago I was an amateur in every respect, begging for ones attention in a swimsuit on a hotel bed. I remember one industry man’s reaction, “whoever ignored that must be a real idiot.” Funny thing is that man is followed by both me and the ‘idiot’ in question. I don’t think he’s an idiot, not at all. I think I was the idiot. Nonetheless a talented one who showed promise, otherwise why would this guy bother to keep track of me for years?

Well I was dumb and 25 and acted how someone dumb and 25 might act: impulsive, conceited and of the belief that I deserved what I wanted. Now at 30 I know better. I’m glad they never showed up.

But now let’s talk about the future. Right now I’m in a very good spot. Admittedly at my paying dues stage, but in a good spot nonetheless. My writing career in addition to my day work in the industry is also in a really good spot. I am willing to say with a fair degree of confidence that while I may still be a nobody in the macro sense, in five to ten years, I will be a nobody worth knowing. I do believe I will become successful. Maybe not A-List, but I do believe I will one day produce or write- if not both.

I think that if they read this they know this too. Which is why maybe they were curious to look through that glass window in the local library, maybe they’re thinking of making a move but are unsure. If you’re local, why not come say Hi? I’d love to chat with you again.

If there’s one thing I think would be smart at this stage- it’s to take a page from Larry David and hit the reset button. Let’s put all the silly cat and mouse games aside and just go back to two people chatting about Led Zeppelin and rap battling using Fugees lyrics. Let’s just admit we’d be really good friends ☺️ Yea I think one is handsome, so what? I’m more than happy for anything platonic, even if I secretly wish I could be their young arm candy. And quite frankly I think I’d do that job well. But friends is what I’m asking for- I don’t want to creep them out. I’m dating anyways.

But I’m just throwing this out there, get in touch if you want. I think it’s silly that we’re not friends and there is no point to playing cat and mouse any more. You know I’m headed in the right direction so why put it off? Come say Hi or hit me up if you want to grab coffee or drinks. Heck, I’ll even buy.

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A Tale of Two Twitters

How abuse and the election of Donald Trump is killing what was once the worlds most open social platform.

———————-——

I first created a Twitter in 2007 after I learned about it in a college communications class. I don’t think I kept it for more than a few months. It quickly became dormant as I got bored following the same few big voices on the platform, and few of my own friends used the service. Flash forward to 2012. Twitter had grown enormously since its early days. It began to be taken more seriously by marketers and the general public. While I had a dormant account of my own for years, I decided to try something new: make a fan account for an upcoming film that deserves to be a MST3K subject.

I had no idea what I was doing. I had never tried to independently grow a base of followers for myself because I was not interesting. Instead I was this satirical character on a mission: get the attention of one of my favorite filmmakers. And I did. I began following fans of the film, those involved and any ancillary account even remotely attached to the production.

Within three months most of the filmmakers were following me. I used humor, satire and wit to create a small but dedicated following. Over that summer my creativity earned me the mentorship of the filmmaker I targeted. I even left a charcoal drawing for them with their assistant- a drawing he was glad to accept. He is the reason I am now writing. I never thought that I’d pursue this path but I live in LA, work in television and am pursuing a writers track because of his mentorship.

Yes through this once obscure platform I was able to explore my creativity in ways never imagined. Twitter became a creative outlet for me, allowing me to share everything from comics to writing samples. I was able to meet others in a similar position.

Eventually the film was released to poor reviews. As it quickly fell out of the public consciousness I needed to reinvent myself and so I did. As I began to consider that, a very popular account was born. It was not one created by me, but one who used a similar sense of humor. I got a message from that producer asking if I was behind the account. After all even the jokes were similar to ones I had posted on my own Twitter about the event which inspired this new viral account. “It could be great writing practice,” he said. I’m sure if I had created that account we’d have actually met for coffee. Yes if I had a blue check mark things would be different.

By 2014 that producer unfollowed me and locked his account, going inactive. He hasn’t tweeted since 2013. He had me listed at least through December 2017, but seems to be awol again.

In the interim I went from satire to more of myself as I slowly and eventually revealed myself through a series of account reforms. By 2014 I had found a new audience of filmmakers and activists. I challenged myself politically and evolved my opinion on many issues. My writing on this blog in those years grew to wide readership and folks wanted to read my creative writing as well. Again this place was an outlet and a way to showcase my voice and interact with other similar voices.

By 2016, that became less and less frequent. As the election dominated the headlines Twitter became what it is today: a never ending timeline of Trump v. Trumpism. Folks got check marks and therefore were able to better curate their timelines, including muting anyone they’ve never interacted with. Slowly the platform closed off those who disagreed, and the website began to take on the form of FaceBook’s newsfeed. It became increasingly difficult to grow new followers or to expand a platform without a verified account. Bots quickly turned the discourse poisonous and many wound up leaving the platform due to abuse.

Anonymous twitter also disappeared and those snarky accounts which spoke truth to power fell out of favor with the public. Twitter used to be filled with accounts that were not attached to a name but an idea or subject. Often these users would tweet stuff they might never have ordinarily said for fear of professional retaliation. Today it seems modern day twitter wouldn’t really get behind anonymity because it appears to lack authenticity. Sure some of these folks turned out not to be who they said they were (notably Mystery Exec – an account which took Hollywood’s philistinism to task). Ultimately today’s twitter is too cynical for these kinds of accounts and that’s largely because of abuse by bots and other bad actors.

Today we have a Tale of Two Twitters. Many who are verified have walled themselves off to non-verified Twitter. Due to the proliferation of abuse on the platform, most notably by Trump supporters and bots farmed in Russia, many have either left the service or selectively curated a timeline which limits interaction with those they do not follow back. While this is easier to do as a verified account, third party blocking apps and keyword mutes have aided in that effort for regular users as well. There is no question that this is due to abuse. In fact some of my favorite people left the platform due to said abuse.

Twitter lacks creativity today. Folks have walled themselves off into their ideological corners, curated lists and blocked outside engagement. No longer is it a place for intellect and rigorous debate. Gone are the days of satire accounts and mystery accounts which spoke truth to power. Absent are the folks who developed a voice on this platform. No more do we see people simply content to share content or artwork. Today it is an empty timeline of the same verified accounts retweeting generic hot takes from other verified accounts and slamming Trump or talking about what Trump said. It is a sewer for trolls and other bad actors who have dealt a death blow to the anonymity which once made Twitter such a fun and creative space.

The failure to police abuse on Twitter has been and will be its ultimate downfall. It’s not too late to save the platform. But it starts with accountability and currently no one in charge seems willing to take it upon themselves to address concerns or to return to what once made their platform great.

Homecoming

There’s a prevailing opinion about New York transplants in Los Angeles: that they’re arrogant. I’m not sure that I entirely disagree when it comes to those of us who are still new, but I don’t think that they mean to come across that way either– I certainly don’t. Many people who move to a big city never came from a big city themselves. Or at the very least, the city they knew wasn’t iconic the way New York or Los Angeles is. Even Los Angeles is not iconic the way New York is. Few cities in the world can rival the iconic nature of New York. While America is only a few centuries old, New York feels old world the way many European cities do. It is not replicable, at least not in a domestic sense. In fact, it is hard to replicate even internationally. If you were to poll people around the world and ask them what the the greatest city is, I’m sure the majority would answer New York. To come from such an iconic place leaves a mark on you as a person. It is indelible in a sense, and it will take more than a few decades to undo decades of an upbringing in such an environment.

It was extremely hard to come to the conclusion that New York was not for me. I have found great happiness in Los Angeles, but it has not come without a certain sense of guilt. To do what I love requires me to be in Los Angeles. To be with those I love would require me to be in New York. I have had to sacrifice, and it has never come with ease.

I suspect part of what makes New Yorkers come across as arrogant to others is their propensity to always harken back to the way things are in New York. To a lifelong New Yorker, New York does it best. There is a certain headstrong nature about New Yorkers and that can have the effect of rubbing people the wrong way; especially if they do things differently. When I returned home wearing a California state flag shirt I got more than a few side eyed glances in my local pub. After all most in this bar associated me as a lifelong, native New Yorker and now I found a place (a rival of NY in fact) that has made me equally if not more happy. I talked about Los Angeles’ superior quality of life, work-life balance and of their health conscious lifestyle and how happy I’ve become and how much I’ve grown as a person.

But this does not have to do with a location– it has to do with a persons willingness to change along with their location. You can move from where you are tomorrow, but you still take all your baggage (mental and literal) with you. I moved to LA not only for professional reasons, but personal as well. I was ready to become a new and improved person. Moving across country gave me the opportunity to challenge myself in multiple ways. It has forced me to become more independent, more realistic and open minded. Taking a risk with almost no safety net allowed me to develop the confidence I was so lacking in New York. I was no longer content to make excuses for myself or my behavior. Becoming more self aware, I have let go of certain things (and certain people) it has largely been for the better. I think it is completely safe to say I have changed more in the last eight months than I have in the last eight years.

****

As the plane made its final descent through the heavy cloud base, I stuck to my routine: playing Closer to Home by GrandFunk Railroad. As the skyline came into view, it felt both foreign and familiar all at once. Tears welled in my eyes because as soon as I landed a countdown would begin: a countdown to returning to my actual home, Los Angeles. For the first time in my life I was tourist in New York. As my father drove toward the bagel store at 5am, not many words were spoken. I merely took in this familiar yet completely foreign place; this place which had not changed at all but me as a person, I had made extraordinary changes. I knew then I had made the difficult but right choice to leave behind a small town on the border of the world’s greatest city to become the best version of myself.

Earlier today I returned home from a movie with my mother. As I made plans for the second half of my trip, it occurred to me that it never feels like enough time with those I will leave behind again in just over a week. I began to cry, and it was just so random but it wasn’t: I knew I couldn’t just call my mom up to see a movie whenever I wanted. I couldn’t just drive over after work for a hot meal. I wondered, silently, how many years my mom has left and out of those years how many more times would I see her? It was a horribly morbid thought, but one which is not entirely without reason either. It wracked me with guilt all over again. Then I reminded myself that I finally -after all these years- had both my parents support. That’s because I have become the best version of myself, I have found great happiness in spite of this long distance. It made me realize the next logical step would be that if I can’t bring my family with me to California I would have to make a family in California myself.

So as we approach 2018, the year which will mark my 30th birthday I have made it a mission to start that quest. I am happier than I have ever been and I hope to be able to share that happiness with someone else. It is only logical to have that be the next step and I am finally ready for it. I think this trip is more than a homecoming, it is the turning of a page in a pivotal chapter in my life. I am no longer a child, but finally an adult. An adult in every sense of that word, not just an age approximation, but an adult; someone who has fully matured into themselves (while also realizing the continuous need for self improvement). I can’t say for sure what will happen over the next decade of my life, but I do hope it is happy and with many more happy milestones. I hope especially that it includes a family– that I can give someone the opportunity that I was provided and love someone back the way I have been loved. It is time to finally pack all of these game systems away and look upon my childhood bedroom not with sadness because I left but with great happiness because of leaving it and becoming who I have become.

2017 will probably be remembered as one of the most formative years of my life. I look forward to what 2018 and beyond will bring and in the interim I will enjoy every last second I have while in the present; to live and be present, to not always look ahead but to appreciate every moment so that when I look back upon my life I don’t feel as if anything was rushed. Goodbye 2017. Goodbye New York. Goodbye twenties. Hello to all that is yet to come. 

 

 

Faces Places

At any given moment greater Los Angeles has a population of just over four million people. Four million people cohabiting in a 503 square mile area. In addition to those four million, at any given time there are an additional 118,000 tourists with an average of 42.5 million visitors annually. Roughly 400,000 commute into Los Angeles from neighboring counties each day for work. So given these numbers, it’s safe to say that at any given time there are roughly five million people in Los Angeles. So what are the odds you cross paths with someone you know?

In order to answer this one would need to assess a few things. First let’s say you run into this hypothetical someone on a local street. How often do you use this street, how often do they? What is the relationship of this street to the total amount of streets in LA? What is the interval of time you spend on this street, and how much time do they spend on this street if at all?

Your probability of being on any given street is 1/n with n being the total number of streets in LA. Assuming this person chooses to be on another street than you, this is represented as (n – 1)/n. Assuming this happens most of the time, this series of events goes on- such as (n – 1/n) * (n – 1/n) etc. Now let’s assess intervals, or time. We’ll use x to represent that. So we have (n – 1/n) * (n -1/n) x times. Our x is the number of streets in your given city that you or your person of interest visits for any period of time. So to provide a probability for this, we’d have to write it as:
1 – (n – 1/n)^x
Where n is number of streets in LA.
Where x is number of streets you or your person of interest visits at some point.

Our city is LA, so in our case our X street of choice might be La Cienega or San Vincente- major north/south routes in the center of the city. Perhaps Sunset or Santa Monica. Also, where does the person live relative to you? How often do they venture out? What purpose would any one person have to be on that road at any given time- let alone the same time.

This is what makes this an incomplete equation. Without knowing the interval it’s impossible to give any degree of probability. Were you to chance it, your odds would be much higher running into someone who spends more time on any given route- like a major road. Your odds of running into someone on a small random road are near nonexistent since you or the other person never spend any interval of time there.

But where you each spend some degree of time on any single given road at an exact point, there is some chance you will cross paths. That chance only increases the more time we spend in a given area.

So in Los Angeles, where the social circle is small and the same faces frequent the same places, the odds might just be a lot higher than you think… In fact, according to some highly presumptuous thinking utilizing the methods outline above I’ve concluded it may be as high as 10%. Of course, there’s also the 90% chance you never run into that person again.

 

You Are Not Anonymous

I wanted to address something in very specific terms– that’s the often ignored fact that WE ARE NOT ANONYMOUS ON THE INTERNET.

While on its face this seems like commonly accepted knowledge, perhaps many don’t know the specifics, so that’s what I plan to address with this post.

WHAT DO SITE MASTERS KNOW?

For starters, they know your IP address you use to access the website, or page on the website. Nobody can access a web address without an IP. While you can use a VPN to mask your actually Internet Service Provider, and thus your approximate location, you cannot hide entirely.

Every time you comment. Every click on a page. Every refresh. Every point of navigation. It will be stored in a server log of that website. Other free sites also can retain records of traffic using plug-ins also, and so the site admin may not even need to own their own server!

HOW CAN YOU TELL ITS A VPN, DO YOU KNOW WHERE I AM?!

An IP address can only provide an approximate location. It will show the enter/exit times, and on many if not most servers- where the traffic originated from. A site master cannot see your actual address. If you use a VPN, that location will be masked with wherever the VPN location is from.

As for how one can tell it’s a VPN, it’s quite simple. Enter the IP address into a WhoIs check. Often times the ISP name which comes up under the service will point to a cloud or hosting service. In other words, the provider exists to provide hosting solutions, including dedicated IPs. Another way you can check is simply entering an IP into an IP lookup service and check the enter/exit nodes. If the person doesn’t hook up their VPN correctly you can see the enter and exit coming from one country and exiting (showing the IP on your server) in another. This is how I know my mentor still reads my blog.

However, you still cannot pinpoint location using a VPN. Especially a dedicated VPN which functions differently from an onion router (multiple enter and exit nodes). Mr. Producer is also very technologically savvy. He knows I can tell this information, because he chooses to leave bread crumbs by using the same dedicated Linux-based IP located in Paris, France. Now you can think what you want about that- but he has been using the same dedicated IP service to access my site since it began (when we still spoke), with only slight variations – like service provider name changes. Also, the way his VPN behaves in its exit node produces a double-click effect on my server in a microseconds apart interval (obvious multi-node VPN behavior)

WOW THAT’S A LOT- WHAT ELSE DO YOU KNOW

I can track social foot prints. I know how you access this site. 99% of my traffic comes from Twitter because that is the only place it is shared publicly. Sometimes my subscribers will access right in their feed on WordPress. Even if you copy/paste a link into a separate browser, I can still tell where you came from: Twitter probably. Yep- even you Paris. If you share it on FB or Email/IM I can see that too. When you comment on my blog, you are required to either be registered or use an email which only I can see. I can see that email- as when someone from the same IP makes bogus GMail accounts under the same IP address to leave comments doubting why I would continue to use this platform to communicate with a regular reader of my site.

CONCLUSION

This is just a basic WordPress site! Other major sites have even more data on you, as they also use sophisticated cookies and track you through the internet (I do not have ability to do this nor would I want to bc I don’t sell data, but FaceBook, Google, Amazon and others do!). When you commit cyber crimes, or stalk people, spam comments or troll- you are leaving bread crumbs that are very easy to track. While your location may not be available in exact detail, when a crime is committed, law enforcement can subpoena your ISP to find your real address. So please operate with the understanding that even basic sites can provide a treasure trove of information about you- the end user.

They know where your ISP is from (rough location). They know how you entered the site. They can detect VPN traffic (although not where it originated- i.e I can’t tell whether Mr. Producer is actually in Paris). They know what browser you or your VPN is using. They know how long you were on the site for. They know how often you return. They can see what time you entered down to the microsecond (i.e if it’s 4am in LA, it’s safe to say one is in Paris). On WordPress they know the email you used to comment. They can see who has subscribed to their blog.

If you tick off a site master for any reason, they have the knowledge and the know-how to take appropriate action. So be a good internet citizen and always keep this in mind.

Convoitise

Convoitise- it means lust in French. Lust, as in a desire. Of course just because we desire something doesn’t mean we’d ever deliberately act upon it. Sometimes it is fun to flirt. Other times one must remain conscious in a hyper sensitive environment. La convoitise is part of being human; to feel attracted to someone else. Allow me to introduce another word, responsabilité. As you can see from this cognate it means responsibility. Responsibility always comes before lust.

Whether at work, on the streets or among friends- we the have the responsibility to act appropriately. That means not acting upon our desire, or making someone feel uncomfortable. Intention doesn’t matter where perception is the reality. This is especially true in a professional sense because boundaries are far more stark and the consequences much more significant.

Yes lust is human. La convoitise est être humaine. We cannot help who we are attracted to. We CAN help how we act upon it.

I admit to occasionally flirting. I mean it harmlessly because I know that the feeling is not mutual. I once posted a picture of myself, tanned in a bikini, in the best shape of my life. I was laid out on a bed, in a hotel. The caption may not have indicated much, but I’m sure the implication was clear. I was dumb and 25. I would never post something like that now. Even had they showed up, what would come of that? Nothing good. Nonetheless I did it, and have occasionally continued to blur that line between professional and ‘completely inappropriate.’

I can completely understand why one would be nervous to meet on the basis of that one-sided attraction. But what is important to note is that I understand that responsibility comes before lust. While I happen to think one is incredibly handsome, I value professionalism above all else. I would never do anything to jeopardize an opportunity to learn from a successful person that I admire above all else. Honestly I suppose the only reason I flirt is because I want to flatter. But it’s not flattery if the person is uncomfortable, and so I apologize if I ever made someone feel that way.

Interesting to note how social media also allows us to flirt in ways we never had available before. It’s easier to flirt when you don’t get the awkward reaction in front of you. It’s also kind of lazy. For one, I know the introvert and shy person in me would be afraid to speak to this person let alone flirt with them. I’d be mortified. In fact I’m kind of mortified just imagining their reaction. But to post passive jokes about silver foxes is so effortlessly easy. But just because something is easy doesn’t mean we should do it.

I’ve asked for coffee because it is a platonic form of meeting (as opposed to drinks or hotels). My desire is purely professional because we like the same genres and I think I have a lot to offer them, and in return would love to learn from someone I’ve long admired, and who himself learned from one of my favorite people in the business.

Mais la convoitise est être humaine. Et je suis très désolé si mes blagues à fait vous sentir inconfortable. Je les regrette sincèrement. Je souhaite vous et vos famille un joyeuse noel et bonne santé pour 2018.

Regrets

What if tomorrow you woke up, left your house and got into a horrible accident, becoming a paraplegic- or worse, died?

It’s a horrible thought, but a distinct possibility for any one of us in a given day. We all like to think we have time on our side. We operate under the assumption that what can’t be finished today can be completed tomorrow. We put off risk and things which make us uncomfortable, hoping to find that perfect moment when maybe things would ideally suit taking that risk, or talking to that person. We assume that we have time. If death is a destiny we all share then it must also be said that some will arrive at that destination sooner than others.

A life is best lived without regrets. If you were to wind up in some awful situation tomorrow, one would hope that you did your best to lead a full life up until then.

If a life is to be lived without regrets, then it must also apply to when we look back upon actions we never took. Maybe twenty, thirty- forty years from now you will lie old in your bed. You might think about some actions you never took. Maybe you didn’t apply to that job. Perhaps you never pursued the career you wanted. Or you never made the effort to meet with someone you may have at one point wanted to. Maybe you wish you could have hired or worked with someone who went on to become accomplished.

Point is, if you have those thoughts then it’s because you failed to try now. Apply to that job. Pursue that career. Talk to that person and meet with them. If your instincts suggest someone is talented, incubate it and ally with that talent. The only way to live life without regrets is to stop putting off to tomorrow what you can do today. Stop making excuses and stop looking for the perfect time to do so- there won’t ever be a perfect time. There will never be an ideal moment. Do not wait.

Learn to listen to what the universe is telling you. Appreciate and respect fate. Follow what is in your gut, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Pursue something- someone -no matter what others think or say. Follow through with what you know to be right, even if sometimes it’s scart because it might be wrong. Trust yourself. True yourself and you will live with as few regrets as possible.

I don’t want to live with regrets. Nobody wants to live with regrets. Stop making excuses and start acting today. Whether your fate is to die in bed, or to die by accident, hope that you let go of life with as few regrets as possible. Hope that you fulfill as much as you could have, and start today, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year: TODAY.

Expanded Universes Are Killing The Movies As We Know It

Very hyperbolic title, I know, but in a way it’s partially true. That’s because films that make up a larger cinematic universe often fail to exist as memorable movies on their own. These films are so concerned with setting up the next chapter that they fail to stand out as their own story. They merely exist as a sort of service. While fans are happy to keep turning out to see each chapter, it seems even they are just looking forward to the next one. I’d argue that this is very bad for storytelling as we know it.

Back in the halcyon days of the original Star Wars, The Godfather— films were written with each individual outing in mind. While Star Wars and The Godfather were both trilogies, they were written as such. The films understood that they needed to be grounded in a particular character’s journey to be convincing. Star Wars saw Luke go from farm boy to Jedi over its original trilogy. The Godfather saw the birth of the Corleone family. Godfather’s I & II are each masterpieces in their own right (we can debate the merit of III).

Today’s expanded universe films are not trying to be quality, or good films. They are an example of the power of modern marketing. If The Godfather were made today, someone in studio marketing with a convincing spreadsheet might fight to greenlight Fredo: Origins to appeal to fans of the original. People would probably show up too. But would it be a good film? Does a character like Fredo even need his own film? I would say No in both cases. That is the problem which plagues modern cinematic universe films. The characters are just not interesting because they are not set up to be. They are set up to participate in an All Star game of sorts in the inevitable cameo film that often serves as the centerpiece to these universes. In a way they are all supporting cast, like Fredo. Fredo is memorable because he is utilized just enough. He served his story well.

Do these modern films serve their story well? They are nearly all rote and formulaic, meant to sell tickets to the next installation. Can you even tell me what the first THOR film was about? How about IRON MAN 2? Who was the focus of THE FORCE AWAKENS? Maybe you remember MAN OF STEELE? Or AVENGERS I? In fact, I’m sure the diehard fans might be able to recount in detail all of this without googling but the average movie goer probably cannot. That’s a failure of story telling because these films are simply not memorable. Even among those fans, can you recount a bit of dialog or a moment which really stood out in any of these films? Did we need a prequel to A NEW HOPE in ROGUE ONE? So much of these films feel spectacularly redundant: huge set-pieces built around weak characters that serve as mere plot advancement.

That’s all these films are: plot advancement. A roll out of endless sequels, prequels and chapters into 2030 and beyond. Any decent writer will tell you that simply using a character as plot advancement does not make for good story telling. It is dull, and hard for us to really care about those we are supposed to root for. Why do I care about Fin or Rey in STAR WARS? What about them makes them good characters, that they are inherently good in a world full of Storm Troopers and villains? That’s not good enough. Perhaps due to the half a century of character development you might be able to argue more in terms of the super hero films, even then they are not given much to do apart from set up the next film. When Nolan did the BATMAN trilogy, it was focused and Batman simply existed in his own universe. He wasn’t setting up  a JUSTICE LEAGUE, or making DC cameos. It was its own trilogy, grounded and focused and for that reason it was good!

I don’t expect to get rid of the current model because it is insanely profitable. There’s nothing inherently wrong either in having a cinematic universe. but if we are to continue with the lazy way in which they are turned out, then I’m not certain I can support them. These films are given such a short deadline, with millions- heck billions at stake. They aren’t just tentpoles, they are the very foundation on which these studio systems lie. As such, there are too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to adding to the foundation. At some point the studios needs to just trust the chefs they hire to make a good individual product. The level of micromanagement is turning out bland films which do their jobs in terms of sales and quickly fade from the public conscious as the next trailer drops. This is bad for movies, it is bad for story telling and it is bad for the cinematic universes themselves. Demand better, and maybe next time that super hero story gets really bad reviews, vote with your wallet and stay home instead.

Caste

Formatting a thread over into a post. Late last night I noted that most beyond a certain age are unlikely to be single. Once you hit around 40, the chances are probably lowest in terms of availability. Then as you go beyond that it begins to fall off again due to divorce, eventually loss of partner. Between 35-55, chances are slim in terms of availability. So as I approach the next age group myself, I’ve started to worry and am now thinking of the clock.

This post is less about me and more so about some stuff which I’ve had a chance to read from a friend studying the issue of power dynamics and relationships. While I can’t go in depth to reveal the specifics of the study, one things is clear: people date those in the same socioeconomic strata as them. While there are exceptions to this rule it mostly holds up.

Rich people simply marry other rich people to entrench power. A lot of this boils down to the fact that rich people will often socialize in the same circles and work together. The same can be said of poor, middle class people who also date within their ranks- but not necessarily by choice!

On a subconscious level, humans as hunter/gatherers are simply looking to find the best partner to mate with. When updated to more modern times, royalty would find other royalty to marry in a strategic sense. Today, rich people want to make sure that they’re marrying an equal so as to further their legacy and financial prowess. We are a species which is very concerned with pack mentality. We stick to our tribe so it makes sense this would apply to dating as well.

Therefore the single most important factor and first on the list is status. That’s not limited to financial status either, it could be career or education status. A wealthy man still might consider a woman whose career ambitions and trajectory is impressive enough. For the most part, partners look for an intellectual and financial equal. They want to know their partner can pull their own weight. Sure while a wealthy person might have casual sex with an attractive member of the lower class, they’re not going to take the cashier home to their parents. So in this sense, a sort of caste still exists. That’s because humans want to find their biological and statistical equal for procreation.

Once status is established the next step is commonality. If you have a lot in common and share similar values, you will at the very least become friends. Then if there is also sexual or physical attraction it stands to reason you will become more. But the very first check mark is status. It always has been, back to the days of upstanding apes. The best hunter of the group wasn’t going to procreate with a weak female because he wants to make sure his son is a strong hunter like him.

The problem is that this is overly simplistic but we ALL perform this value check without realizing it. If you’re conscious of this you might even become aware when you’re doing it. How many times have you or a friend said, “he’s not good enough.” What they mean is he fails the first value check: status. It is the most important metric to all socioeconomic levels. A college educated woman is probably not going to pursue a drop out who doesn’t have a job, no matter  how attractive he is, no matter how much they have in common. It would just not be deemed acceptable.

Of course this has a way of entrenching power among the most wealthy. For if we all date, marry and procreate within our own caste, we have helped to create a system of inequity. We have preserved familial wealth and opportunity for those who have already chosen to stick with their ilk.

That’s why this post is called CASTE. We have not changed much since the feudal era. In fact when you look at class mobility in the US alone, if you are born to the top 10%, your chances of remaining on the top 10% are close to 90% odds! Same is true of those in the bottom 10%. A select few in the middle will be able to make it to the top 10, but nowhere near as many as those who started on third base. This has as much to do with political policy as it does with social politics. Such a change is not possible without fundamentally rewiring human behavior, which is an impossibility to say the least. I’ll leave off on this: make an effort to befriend someone of a lesser socioeconomic status than you. Doesn’t have to be far below but just enough to give chance to someone who may still check off all the other values boxes. If we all ventured out of our bubble more, the world might be a far more equitable place.

Wait! – Not Like That!

Perception is reality is smart advice to live by. Intentions don’t matter when you do or say something which is negatively perceived. This is especially true when your reputation or professional opportunity is on the line.

Increasingly mediums like Twitter and other text-based social platforms have given rise to numerous voices. In the same way you might ascribe the tone and voice of a character in a novel, you ascribe a tone/voice to a Tweeter or article or FaceBook post. Even if the author may not have intended for the message to be read the way you interpreted, the interpretation was still made. Lacking context, the message can often be misconstrued. Once that happens it is very hard to walk it back because the perception is already reality to the person on the receiving end.

Text based communication is an awful way to speak about certain things. For example, there are certain things you might not want to post in text because of the fact they can be misconstrued. Giving compliments are one such example. Talking about personal issues (like unrequited feelings) is another. What if someone reading that message thinks it’s about them even though it is not- even where you assured it was not #NotaSubtweet? Perception is reality, and by not thinking about how a message might have been interpreted will inevitably cost you reputation points.

((FWIW my own personal tweets about unrequited feelings were about a past partner back in New York who recently began a new relationship. But my first mentor doesn’t know that. All he knows is that I’ve considered him attractive, that I like that I have a lot in common with them and have even confessed to adoring them (in a platonic way). He has every reason to be suspect. I merely care about him, I ‘adore’ my friends too. But yes, I find him attractive but I don’t know him well enough to harbor feelings beyond caring about him in a platonic sense. I operate with the assumption that he is as good as married (even if not), and merely wish to have a professional relationship. I simply wish to be his friend))

BUT and this is critical– how can you aspire to have a professional relationship by admitting someone is attractive? Sure you might not be sending someone dildo messages like Matt Lauer or rubbing backs and asking folks to your hotel room. What we are learning in the wake of rampant sexual harassment claims is that the act itself is often nuanced and many times unintended as such. Just because you didn’t mean that compliment to make someone feel uncomfortable doesn’t undo the fact that you made someone feel uncomfortable. The only way to avoid being perceived incorrectly is to act professionally from the get-go and not mix the personal with professional. The only way to assure your desire for a friendship or professional relationship is to avoid anything which can be left to misinterpretation or discomfort. Even where the comments may be interpreted as flattering, it’s just not appropriate to say or admit certain things.

We all need to do a better job of pre-editing our thoughts. While text based communication- whether via phone or Tweet- might make it easier to just blast off our thoughts, it is not without consequence. Perception is reality, and if you care about your perception you will be more careful with what you say and where you say it and who you say it to.