‘Orange is the New Black’ Attention Grabbing Head-Line

17 Jul

(Just a note: the following post contains spoilers pertaining to the first two seasons of Orange is the New Black)

This morning, my friend showed me an interesting article titled Orange is the New Black‘s Irresponsible Portrayal of Men. I quickly realized that the reason this article seemed familiar was because I had seen it online before-but in a very different context. I had seen excerpts from the first part of the article, arguing that there needs to be more male representation in the show, and the comments that followed were incredulous and indignant. After seeing just that much, I agreed with them. Once I read the entire article though, I see that the argument is a bit more nuanced than it was portrayed to be.

The author (Noah Berlatsky) opens by recognizing how his complaint could be construed; in a media world where women are portrayed less/worse than men, attacking an amazingly female inclusive show for not portraying men sounds laughably petty. He makes a good point of pointing out that his problem is not with the amount of men portrayed on the show, but how the few men on the show are portrayed. The example the author focuses on is the male prisoner from the beginning of season 2, and it is implied that because he is the only male prisoner focused on, he represents all male prisoner portrayal as “violent”, “abusive”, and “repulsive”. This is clear when the author writes,

“According to Orange Is the New Black, though, men in prison are “super-predators” while women in prison are, often, innocent victims, doomed by circumstances and their own painful but touching character flaws.”

However, I have to disagree with this point and the rather sweeping generalizations that follow. The male prisoner previously mentioned is first shown in a scene where a group of male prisoners board a plane; the first interaction between the female and male prisoners (after the women whistle and cat-call) is an amicable and sincere greeting between two friends who recognize each other. The only “deviant” and “dangerous” seeming man is the one who the main character, Piper, later speaks to. As the men sit on the plane, they overall seem rather tame, besides a few teases that could be interpreted as taunts thrown amongst each other (but there is a silent prisoner with a Nazi symbol tattooed on his forehead). These male prisoners are the only male prisoners ever seen/portrayed on the show. As the show does take place in a female prison, that is pretty reasonable. While I definitely agree that stereotypical portrayals of men are harmful, the author continuously uses the same male prisoner as an example of how all men on the show are treated. It feels a bit like grasping at straws.

The majority of the other men on the show are men in positions of authority; correctional officers and their supervisors (as well as various inmates significant others, like Larry, Piper’s ex-fiance). Agreed, these men are overall portrayed in a negative way, from slimy to power-abusing to homophobic. While I do think that these characters are included to show corruption in the legal system (including the female assistant warden, who swindles money from the prison), I can see how them mostly being male and portrayed in a harmful light can be problematic. The problem is moderately alleviated in the second season, where they become more nuanced and complex, but it can still be a general consensus that they are overall bad people. Piper’s counselor, Mr. Healey, was first shown as a generally well-meaning guy, even though he did favor Piper because of her education and up-bringing in contrast to his usual prisoners. However he is revealed to be extremely homophobic, rather controlling, and looks the other way when an inmate tries to murder Piper. The slimiest male guard, nick-named Pornstache, shows a bit of a softer side when he allegedly falls in love with a female inmate (when it’s actually closer to idealization) and willingly goes to jail for her, despite how in the first season he was smuggling drugs in exchange for sex. A response I’ve seen to this is when people say ‘now men knows what it feels like to have limited, often grossly exaggerated representations of themselves in television’. While this is true, I can only really see this as a temporary solution. In the case of men catcalling to women, it does not create equality when women start catcalling to men; it is merely prolonging the problem. There could be more varied portrayals of men in the show; however with the limited room to put more male characters in, I don’t really see how that can happen after you count the few good male characters like the guard Bennett and Piper’s brother.

The next main point Berlatsky brings up is how the women on the show, with the aid of their ‘melodramatic’ back-stories, are portrayed as victims of the system who deserve sympathy and recognition of their ‘innocence’. I can agree that with the way the show frames the stories of the main characters, the goal is certainly to get them in the viewer’s good graces. But I don’t think the intention of fleshing out the prisoners is to show that they are innocent, or that heart driven weaknesses led them to prison. I think it’s to show that while bad people can do bad things, good people can also do bad things. A point I continuously try to advocate is that no one is as bad or as good as they are made out to be; we generalize and polarize to neatly organize people into ‘good’ and ‘evil’. People are too multi-faceted to be divided in such a way, and there are really only varying degrees of good and bad, and everything in between. The show portrays prisoners who got locked away for a one-time mistake, it portrays prisoners who knowingly did bad things because of their circumstances, and it portrays rather awful, manipulative prisoners who are selfish and controlling. It is actually surprising to me how with a show full of diverse women, the article still manages to generalize ‘female’ portrayal into one category.

There are female inmates on the show who are capable of doing awful things, and who are not in prison because of ‘bad luck’ and “individual sadnesses”. The author even mentions Vee, the “sociopathic new villain”, but quickly dismisses her as an exception. However, the male prisoner he focused on before had a small sliver of screen-time compared to Vee, and there are actually quite a few similarities between the two characters, which the author didn’t recognize. The male prisoner was described as repulsive and deviant, whereas Vee adopted children to put into her drug business. When one of her adopted ‘sons’ betrays her, she sleeps with him and then has him murdered. I would describe that as repulsive and deviant. She is not the only example of how the female prisoners aren’t innocent, though. Morello is an inmate who constantly gushes about her wonderful fiance and the marriage she is planning for. In season 2, it is revealed that they went on only one date, and along with credit card fraud she also stalked him/fictionalized their entire relationship. By revealing the troubling backstory to an initial sweetheart, the message didn’t seem to say ‘you should excuse all her actions because we showed you what a sweetheart she is’. Even her friend in the show comforted her by acknowledging her problems and saying that she can still be loved despite them. It seems more like a message that all human beings have flaws, and do bad/wrong things, but that doesn’t mean that we are permanently undeserving of love. This is a show that focuses on the hearts and souls of human beings, and less on systematic injustices, like Berlatsky says. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.

The article, while it seems to be primarily about the television show, sandwiches a lot of commentary about violence against men and how it is ignored because women aren’t taken seriously as violent aggressors. This, I am behind 1000%. Abuse and violence are very serious things, and it is true that when women attack/hurt men, it is usually not taken as seriously as when it is the other way around.

However, the article originally posted by the author apparently received a lot of criticism, enough so that it warranted a follow-up article where the author brings in a second opinion, from author Adam Jones. This article barely comments on Orange is the New Black, and focuses on problems within the structure of female activists and male activists. It expands on the bigger issues touched on in the first article and brings them to the focus. But after reading this second article, it kind of felt to me that these were the main issues the author wanted to discuss in the first place. He stuck it in the middle of commentary about OITNB, and in doing so it felt to me that he used the show as a catalyst to point out important issues that aren’t exactly related to the show at all. It is absolutely true that in society, women aren’t seen as being capable of violence to the same degree as men. I’m glad that the author addresses stereotypes like that. But I’m not really sure how these important issues tie completely in with the show, since we often see women physically fighting each other and plotting violent deeds.

I’m not afraid to admit that I am a big fan of OITNB. But I have a feeling that someone could read this post and immediately dismiss it as ‘a feminist fangirl who blindly defends OITNB because of gender-related favoritism’. I would never claim that OITNB is a perfect show, because it’s not; like any piece of media, it has flaws and will never satisfy every viewer for every issue. But in this particular circumstance, I feel that it was receiving unjust criticism based on issues beyond it, because it had the gall to focus on women first and foremost. This post isn’t an in-depth commentary on the stereotypes and discriminations faced by both genders on an international and historical basis. I’ve been meaning to write about the show lately, and this is just a summation of my thoughts on a flawed show that is doing a pretty good job of portraying the human condition, while adding in commentary on the legal system. I applaud Berlatsky for addressing issues that others tend to shy away from, but I urge him to recognize more concise ways to address the issues instead of wrapping them in trendy packages that attract viewers.

What We Always Tell Them (The Perception of Manhood)

30 May

Sometimes I feel like I live with a tiger in my house.

I’ll wake up on days when both of my parents are home at the same time, and before I even go downstairs I can sense that the atmosphere is different. Sometimes shouting can be heard, sometimes stony silence. When I go downstairs, my dad will usually be planted in his usual spot on the sofa, staring at the television. My mom will be bustling around the kitchen, sometimes angrily muttering to herself. One wrong move, and he could be provoked. I never know if this will be the day the house is tense for days instead of hours again, if this will be the day they both scream at the top of their lungs again, if this will be the day he raises his hand again. Sometimes it’s once a week where I have to tip-toe around, listen carefully while in my bedroom, sit in the kitchen to make sure nothing serious happens.

But a man is not a tiger. Men are men; nothing more, nothing less. So what does it say about society when men are able to act like this, and have certain types of control over others, with little to no repercussions?

In Indian culture, it’s the norm that the man is more dominant in the house. Hindus will sometimes tout that “husband is God”. But this type of male-centered mindset is persistent across the globe, whether it’s to the same degree or much less extreme. Certain ideologies are instilled into men right from the start; boys learn that it is okay for them to play rough. They learn that they should be able to get what they want, and that a real man is confident and assertive. As the age old saying goes, boys will be boys.

This is a double-edged sword for them as well; boys are told that they can’t be emotional, and that they must be strong*. When you tell your son that boys don’t cry, he is forced to find other outlets for his emotions. Maybe he’ll see a violent television show, or learn from other boys at school, and just maybe he’ll learn to take his emotions out in aggression rather than tears. I have a genuine question for you: why do you think that 70 of the last 71 majors shootings were done by men? I’m curious. Why do you think that is?

On a side note, when I use the word ‘you’ in this post, it is not a direct attack towards anyone. This is a societal effect that bleeds through into all of us. The only way to combat it is through awareness and positive direction.

We are telling our boys the wrong things. They grow up thinking that they are entitled to certain things, whether it is success, happiness, or the hot girl at the end of the movie. They think they have to force certain emotions, the ‘weak’ ones, down into the depths of themselves, but that is where they could erupt in the worst ways possible.

We as a society have a tendency to label people who do awful things as monsters; we villainize them so we won’t have to acknowledge that they are human, and relate-able to us in some small way. We do this with rapists, murderers, terrorists, and more. We use words like ‘monster’ to relinquish any responsibility we had towards making someone the way they became. Rapists are not just creepy thugs who corner innocents in alleyways. They can also be boys in college dorms, brought up in nice neighborhoods by nice families. We need to start recognizing that people, perfectly sensible people that we know and love, can do bad things. That is the only way we will be able to start conversation with our boys and girls over what is right and what is wrong; when we realize that any child could become a so called ‘monster’ if we are not careful.

There is no white and black. There is so little, in fact, that sometimes I feel as though I am drowning in a sea of gray. Good people do bad things. Bad people do good things. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. If you have any young children in your life, cast away preconceived gender roles. Don’t let them fall prey to any stigmas, and always listen to what they’re feeling. Please, before you tell your boys to be men, think about what you want that to mean first.

*For the purpose of this blog post, I generalized boy’s/men’s individualized experiences based on overall societal constructs. Obviously many boys will not be taught things like “don’t be emotional”, but enough are that it needs to mentioned and discussed.

Movie Review: Bachelorette

20 Jan

I’m not gonna lie; I’ve been very unproductive with my time lately. School has started but the workload hasn’t kicked off yet, and with my new-found obsession with Adam Scott, I thought, ‘you know what I’m going to do? I’m gonna watch every movie Adam Scott’s been in that’s available on Netflix’. So far I’ve gotten through two, and in order to give me the slightest, false sense of productivity, I’ve decided to write a completely random compilation of my thoughts. Note that I’m in no way an experienced reviewer or have the slightest idea of what I’m talking about.

Via wikipedia.org

The first movie I watched is called Bachelorette, and it has quite an all-star cast backing it up. That doesn’t mean, however, that a film will instantly be fantastic. To give it a straight up, numerical rating, I would say the film is 3/5 stars (and that could even be a bit generous). The movie is set up as a fast-paced adventure; a crazy stupid thing leads to a million other crazy things to keep the plot going quickly, and ideally there’d be enough characterization pieced in that by the end everything has been fleshed out and amazingly delivered.

A brief synopsis is that Becky (Rebel Wilson) is getting married, and her three high school friends are a bit jealous that their ‘fat friend’ is getting married before them. After a small attempt at a Bachelorette party in a hotel room goes awry, the three friends Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Katie (Isla Fisher), and Gena (Lizzy Caplan) get high and accidentally rip the bride’s wedding dress. They then spend their night trying to repair it while occasionally interacting with the men at the groom’s Bachelor’s Party. The movie ends with a relatively saved wedding and new-found, or rekindled, romances for each of the girls.

The plot certainly does keep it going, and a lot of crazy things happen one after another, but that isn’t enough to make the movie fantastic. In the beginning we see the three women not reacting very warmly to Becky getting married soon, and it paints the picture that she in the odd one out in the group of ‘popular girls’, as they were all friends in high school. By the end, there is no development on this; we only ever see a friendship between Regan, the perceived head-b* in charge, and Becky. Becky barely even interacts with her other two so-called friends.

The romances that develop are sweet, but again there isn’t enough characterization to make me feel like they were anything other than rushed. The only one that felt a bit more developed was with Katie, the ‘ditz’ of the group, who doesn’t know how to pursue men in non-sexual ways. The guy who has a crush on her refuses to sleep with her while she was high/drunk, because he wants it to mean something. By the end, she agrees to try a relationship in a genuine manner, and they really do seem sweet together.

The romance between Gena and her ex-high school sweetheart (Adam Scott) is a tad messier. Gena got an abortion when she was younger (he was the father), and they ceased contact because he didn’t go with her to the clinic when she needed him. The big dramatic turning point was just that he admitted he was ‘too sad’ to go with her, and then in a fit of passion they have sex. Then at the wedding he admits that he loves her and wants to be with her, and that is their ‘big happy ending’. I’m sure they had much to discuss off screen about real issues and lingering hurt, but the problem with focusing on too many storylines is that you can’t properly focus on all of them. I’m not saying you have to hand things to your viewers, but that’s also not an excuse to under-develop your character’s stories.

The last romance, with Regan, is the most implied and subtle of the three. She has one relatively deep conversation with a guy who is a complete douchebag for the entire movie, and at the end there is a slight possibility that they will date. The guy (James Marsden’s character) is too much of a jerk for one deep thought to redeem his character, and there was definitely not enough time spent on their relationship for me to really care if they eventually get together.

The girls themselves are reasonably fleshed out, but more as archetypes than three-dimensional people. You’ve got a strong leader, a sarcastic rebel, a ditzy party girl, and a bullied, nice ‘fat girl’. They do each come out of their boxes a little, but again, it wasn’t enough for me. I realize I’ve been focusing more on the characters then the overall story, but I think the characters can make or break a movie.

Don’t get me wrong; Bachelorette is funny at times, but also offensive at times, and slightly over-the-top at times. I do think that the actors and actresses do a great job, but the way the story is framed and written is what detracts from that. Overall, I’d say it’s enjoyable if you don’t want to look too hard into it, as long as you promise to not try and take any life-lessons from it. Or if you want to stare at Adam Scott’s face for the, I’d say, 20 minutes he’s on screen. That’s always a good enough reason.

 

Also I realize that this movie is several years old, but as I said this review is kind of selfish in that it’s just a way for me to process my thoughts rather than attract views. But speaking of views, I hit 30,000 views several months ago and kept forgetting to mention it! I can’t thank my followers and even random passerby’s enough, it really is incredible that people have been reading these random thoughts I’ve been peddling out for nearly three, crazy years now. All my love; thank you thank you thank you.

Why is Slut-Shaming a Bad Thing?

2 Jan

“Oh my god, what is she wearing?”

A classmate of mine once muttered something along those lines in the middle of my math classroom. A student had just walked in to talk to our teacher and she was wearing very short shorts (for lack of a better term) that showed off quite a majority of her legs.

People in the midst of social activism often jump to immediately calling out behavior like that as slut-shaming, and it’s painted as such a negative concept from the very get-go that I feel we’ve forgotten to take the time to explain the core problem with slut-shaming. It’s easy for people against activism to ask, what’s wrong with old-fashioned modesty, and why is it so horrible to tell young women to cover up? They argue that girls should be taught to show less skin, because there are more important things than looking like a slut. Instead of just labeling those people as ‘horrible human beings’, yelling a lot of things at them and moving on, I want to take the time to deconstruct the concept bit by bit. This is because we’re still caught right in the middle of both ideas; one end is completely against slut-shaming, and the other end is half-bigoted, and half just plain confused about the concept. I want to distinguish people who are confused from people who are just exceptionally rude and small-minded; ignorance does not mean deserving of hate and anger.

I’m going to focus on the clothing aspect of slut-shaming, rather than the negative labeling of women who have a lot of sex. I may make another post later, because of how horrendous a lot of the comments here were, but that’ll be a later date. The concept of slut-shaming someone for what they are wearing ties closely into ideas of someone being conceited, vain, or too obsessed with their appearance. In my opinion, the reason judging someone for their clothing is bad is because it is a slippery slope filled with too many personal constructs, clashing ideas of what is morally okay, and a very thin line between ‘right’ and ‘not right’ that can never be universally defined.

Take my classmate, for example. She was judging someone for wearing shorts that were ‘too revealing’. But if you asked others, they might have considered her shirt to be too revealing; in fact, a lot of the shirts she wore showed a lot of cleavage. So some may ask, why is she allowed to show cleavage and for it to be okay, but for that other girl to be ‘skanky’ to be wearing shorts like that?

Here’s a hypothetical example: a boy scoffing at a girl for wearing ‘too much make-up’. He mentally labels her as vain, absorbed in her appearance, and attention seeking. But let’s take a look at the boy. He happens to be wearing dark, skin-fitted jeans. His hair is artfully styled up, and you know that those shoes weren’t cheap. He obviously put some effort into his appearance, and how he wanted to portray himself to the world. Is he vain or shallow? And what point do we say being concerned with your appearance is being too concerned?

The problem with judging people for their appearance is there is no clear line to define someone, or label them as something. My standard is different from your standard. Everyone will always have different standards. So then how can we run around saying some standards are better than others? How is anyone to judge?

When people blow-up their own opinions and make them approved by a large group of people, especially through media, it’s saying that their standard is correct and all others are wrong. How can we live in a world where every single person has different standards for what it’s okay to look like, but some people just yell louder than others?

You may think my skirt is too short. I could think that you put way too much time into putting tattoos on your body. So maybe we should all shut up and stop imposing personal beliefs as universally accepted moral standards.

“Hard Out Here” Song Review

25 Nov

If you haven’t heard of it yet, Lily Allen’s new song “Hard Out Here” has been garnering a lot of interest as a female-empowerment song as well as a direct call-out to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”. There are some direct shout-outs to his song/video as well as lines about sexism in general. The song has relatively low controversy, but it’s the music video that some are finding problematic. Upon writing this post, I realized that it would be too long to address everything, so I divided it into two. This first post is about the song, and the next one will be about the music video.

Via YouTube

Via YouTube

The lyrics of the song have a lot going on in them, so I’m going to deconstruct from start to finish. Just one line in, Allen uses the b word, which she continues to use for a majority of the song. Some people could complain of how using a misogynistic slur only sets feminism back, but I think this is more about a power play than anything else. If women want to use the b word and use it as empowering rather than derogatory, more power to them. I don’t really think it helps when women negatively call other women that word to bring each other down, but if you change the context of the word to turn it against people who try to use it negatively, it creates a different impact. It’s kind of how the show Queer As Folk revolved around gay characters who would constantly say f-g to each other and other gay characters. I think it’s okay to use words satirically to show that you won’t allow others to attack you with them.

The next couple of lines could be seen as problematic in a round-about sort of way. Allen states that she won’t be found in the kitchen, and that she doesn’t need to “shake her a-s” because she has a brain. This could be interpreted as shaming women who choose to be a housewife/cook through free will, not through societal standards, as well as slut shaming for women such as strippers who dance for men. The message of feminism is doing whatever you want to do, man or woman, because equality should allow everyone that freedom to choose. I don’t like the connotation of these lines, but she does say “Don’t need to shake my a** for you cause I’ve got a brain”. I’m glad she used ‘need’ rather than ‘want’, implying that people should do that because they want to, not because they feel that they have to. She also follows with “If I told you ’bout my sex life, you’d call me a slut”, so I don’t think it was her intention to imply slut-shaming with the previous line (that would be kind of backwards, wouldn’t it?).

The rest of the lines are all general observations on how society regards women, and they’re all perfectly reasonable and delivered with wonderful amounts of sarcasm and sass. She addresses double standards, beauty standards, and misconceptions of how inequality has disappeared (side-note, it hasn’t). She then has a line about someone tearing a butt in two, which is a direct hint towards a line referring to the same thing in “Blurred Lines”. Whether you think “Blurred Lines” is a good song or not, there is no way you can argue that ‘tearing a butt in two’ is not problematic; sex acts that are supposed to be pleasurable for both parties should not be referred to with violent connotations; even if it were in a BDSM or S&M context, the line is still cringe-worthy and creepy overall.

Regarding the song itself, I think it fits in with the general pop paradigm of today. On a purely musical level, there’s nothing too special or amazing about it, but it is catchy, fun, and has a rather mellow yet upbeat melody throughout. With the positive, no bs taking lyrics added in, it’s definitely an empowering song that I don’t mind getting stuck in my head once a day.

LGGT Glee?

13 Nov

Glee can be silly at times, it can be stupid at times, and it can be wrong at times-but even knowing that, I am sometimes still shocked by some of the things the characters say on that show, and get away with. Obviously characters are dynamic and not perfect, so it’s not a reflection of the writers when they say offensive things; but when the characters are not portrayed in a negative light because of what they said, or no one points out what was wrong with it, it comes across as an okay thing to state.

Glee has always been known to have a pretty harsh view towards bisexuality; an openly gay student (Kurt) stated that it was merely a transitional phase for gay students too afraid to come out fully, and was never corrected. Brittany, the first and only bi character on the show, was never fleshed out fully and her sexuality was more of a plot device than character development. But I was beyond appalled by the second episode of this newest season, 5, and more than that, I was appalled by the lack of response to it I saw in the general community.

In the episode, several comments were thrown around about bisexuality when Santana mentioned her past girlfriend, Brittany. This included her love interest stating how she thinks Santana could use a “100%…goddess”; so are bisexuals incapable of being in same-sex relationships because they are not ‘100%’ gay? Not a minute later, Santana states how nervous the new girl makes her, because she’s only ever been with bisexuals or girls looking for a fun experiment; note how bisexuals are compared to people exploring their sexuality or even just looking for a fun fling. It’s heavily implied that being with a lesbian will be the real deal, a stronger type of relationship, than one that could ever be possible with a bisexual.

Via zazzle.com

For those of you who know of Tumblr, you know how fans enjoy practically tearing the show apart whenever they find something dis-satisfactory or offensive (a gross generalization, I know). So I was surprised when all the negative stigmas Glee was portraying towards bisexuality were not even mentioned; I saw not a single post addressing this issue.

I thought the offensive bisexual stuff was over with long ago, but I was disappointed with how none of the things the characters stated were ever contradicted or addressed. Glee just has an overall offensive and superior view towards bisexuals, and I’m really disgruntled by how few people have commented on this.

Floating

25 Oct

To be honest, the first thought that came in my mind when I decided to write this was “Ugh. Like clock-work, here comes my biyearly angst ridden blog post.” And still here I sit, at 1:30 a.m. in my dorm room, typing. And since I have yet to write a proper college post, I owe it to my (..3?) faithful readers to update as well as share (cough, complain about) aspects of my life now.

I’m doing well at college. Sure, my grades are a bit rocky right now, but at least I can connect it to my study ethic that still hasn’t quite developed. I want to read more and I’ve watched way more How I Met Your Mother than I’d care to admit in the past few weeks, but I haven’t hit rock bottom or anything. My classes aren’t awful, the food is decent, my dorm room has never felt more homey, and my social groups are diverse and interesting. Even the showers aren’t so horrifying anymore.

My problem, which is the root of this blog post, has more to do with my social woes. Before coming to college, I never really considered myself as shy. I knew that I wasn’t the best at making conversation, but I spent so much time being talkative around familiar people that I convinced myself that I was only a bit quiet until one gets to know me. But now that I’m surrounded by so many new people, I’m realizing more than ever that yes, I am the epitome of shy. Shy doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t know how to speak in front of others, or that they are terrified of others; this was the social norm I had been using to define the word to avoid its application to myself. But the truth is, shy simply means someone who is quite quiet unless spoken directly to, intimidated by larger groups and one to hold their tongue often in front of new people.

I’ve met a lot of people here at school. I’ve made a lot of friends, too. But the problem is that I don’t feel as though I’ve really connected with them. I’m starting to fear that by lacking the ability to hold proper, one-on-one conversations with people has given me a shallow relationship with everyone I’ve befriended so far. This may seem backwards, but because of my social ineptness, I’m more comfortable with a group of 3-6 than with only one other person. With a larger group (of people I know, of course), the tone is always light and joking. It’s always fun and there are more people to fill silent gaps. This definitely means that it takes much longer for everyone in the group to become close to one another, but that’s how I made all of my high school best friends-over a very long amount of time. When I have to be alone with another person, it makes it so much more difficult.

Watching other people develop close relationships so quickly, to tell the truth, has been extremely hard. Social groups have already gotten very connected, and social media makes it so much worse when every facet of new, deeper connections are shown off every day. I’m not a very open, vulnerable person (the thought that a new friend could be reading this right now makes me want to crawl into a hole). I can’t ‘share life stories’ or discover inner secrets a couple weeks into knowing someone; I expose myself a piece at a time, potentially over years. It’s not like I have some huge secrets to reveal or anything, but the idea of seeming weak or needy or even whiny to someone I don’t know that well yet is horrifying. I don’t like to attract attention to myself in general, because I could be judged or embarrassed or ostracized forever (this contributes to the initial shyness thing).

I like having a few, close friends, as opposed to a large group of distant friends. But in a community where it feels like (at least on the surface) every one else is making large groups of close friends, I don’t quite know how to handle that. I hate going to things, even dinners, that I wasn’t invited to. I hate hearing stories about places I wasn’t at, seeing pictures of people I didn’t hang out with, and even conversations I wasn’t made a part of. Intrinsically I feel like I should be trying harder, changing something about how I interact with others, but I also don’t want to try too hard. I don’t want to change my personality in order to achieve something. I guess now I have to find the line between going out of my comfort zone, and not compromising my true self.

Well, this was quite a long and venting rant post. I’m pretty sure a lot of random things got thrown in and it’s chaotic, and a little (a lot) embarrassing if it were to get in the wrong hands. But now I’m curious if anyone else has been in this kind of social standstill. Let me know if you also have trouble connecting with others on a deeper level, and feel free to let me know how you’re doing in general!

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