Monday, March 28, 2011

Vent Column: Texting. K.

With the exception of just a few, if you walk upright on two legs and have a pulse, you're texting these days. Some of us do it more than others, but we can pretty much agree that the majority of the First-World population is texting each other. Some of us do it at work, some of us do it in school, some of us do it on the freeway going 90MPH and cutting off old ladies (it wasn't me!). Regardless if you're a stickler for good grammar and spelling or you like to abbreviate every word so that your sentences look like this: IDTYWKWIASH (I don't think you will know what I am saying here), there's the one text we're all both guilty of, and hate receiving. K.

That's it, just "K" or sometimes elaborated to "Ok" - Hey, if you really wanna be fancy, you can even add punctuation.

Some people still pay for each text they get; usually the crowd that doesn't do much texting and can't justify spending the extra money on an unlimited plan (again, not me). Even if you don't pay for each text, the odds that you really want to go and read a message as useless as this are pretty slim. Let's think about it: Texting is great because it eliminates the need to call someone (especially if you really just don't want to deal with that person) and go through all the expected niceties "Hi. How are you? How are things? I'm good. How's your mom? Your dad? Sister? Gerbil? Grandmother? Play any good lottery numbers lately?" before getting down to the actual topic you are calling about. It's about making things simpler and quicker. So when someone asks me a basic question -- one to which I will answer and not expect a reply to unless it's to argue, clarify, elaborate on, or otherwise carry on a meaningful dialogue about -- I don't need nor want you to write back to my reply with "K."

What's the fucking point? Unless there's some ridiculous hold up in the microwave signals, I'm confident that you got my message; there's no reason to make my phone ring or vibrate, distract me from whatever else I'm doing, and have me open up my message to read a single fucking letter. I don't need you to acknowledge my message, I probably don't care that much about if you even got it anyway, and if I wanted to be sure to continue the conversation, I would have reciprocated some form of a question or new topic at the end of my message to you.

Person A: "Hey, are you going straight home from work?"
Me: "No, I'm stopping to pick up a nipple waxing kit from the drug store. Want me to pick one up for you as well?
Person A: "K" <-- Acceptable, because I asked a question, to which they gave a positive response.

Person A: "Hey, are you going straight home from work?"
Me: "No, I'm stopping to get my nipples waxed and my balls polished"
Person A: "K"  <-- NOT NECESSARY!

What if I really was driving and texted you at a light that was about to turn green? Now you've got me swerving and bee-bopping all over the place so I can check your message, thinking it's probably something important. Or what if I was at work and my boss walks in and then I have to explain the whole nipple waxing situation to him? Thanks a lot!

Stop! Wasting! My! Time!


-Rob Acocella

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vent Column: The Sheen of Tiger Blood

Whew, it feels good to be back. The silence from this column was not a case of not having material; in fact, it's been quite the contrary. I've been so angry about so many things, and so focused on sorting them out, that I haven't had the time to write. It's been months since I've written anything on a regular schedule and if things keep up it may be the same kind of wait yet again before my next installment. However, there have been a few things recently that just had to be written about. Being busy is sometimes no excuse and I feel the need to get some things off my chest and blow up a little... or a lot.

I'd like to talk about an asshole we're all very familiar with at this point, Charlie Sheen. I have to preface this by saying I stayed purposely ignorant to what's been going on for some time now. I'd seen the headlines, I'd overheard people talking about him, and I'd seen the Twitter and Facebook trends regarding Mr. Sheen explode over the last few weeks. I couldn't understand what could be so important about this guy that it would prompt such a media onslaught. I finally started to look into things... well, actually, what I should say is, I finally couldn't avoid it any longer. The only way to keep this mess completely off my radar would probably be cryogenic sleep. I'm not a fan of the cold, so that option was out for me.

I was watching TV one night and right after the show I was watching ended they aired some kind of "Charlie Sheen's Greatest Moments" kind of thing, which was featured exaggerated computer animations of his ridiculous behavior from over the years. The only thing I could think of is how if he were just a regular citizen and not some B-rate celebrity, he'd have been committed years ago. Then I caught bits of his most infamous TV interview, the one that prompted the whole "Winning, duh" and tiger blood bullshit.

This guy became a sensation because he was an asshole and attention whore. At this point he's got a huge following on Twitter and keeps up the antics on a regular basis. I'm convinced that none of it is for real anymore. I think he got more fame from that stupid interview than he did from any of his recent TV or movie work and decided to milk it for everything it's worth.

The worst part of it is that people keep putting heaps of praise on the guy because he's so "entertaining." I know the human animal has a sick sense of what is entertaining, and I'm sure I've got my own guilty pleasures that people would think I'm a little "off" for, so I can't really fault too many people for thinking that it at least provides a few good laughs. My biggest gripe is how many people are now looking up to the guy as if he's some kind of role model. Drug addicts are obviously going to be the biggest of his supporters, because hey, why not, right? But even average kids and young adults are looking up to this guy as if he's actually worth paying attention to. I know a few people that are practically worshipping the guy and it's pretty sad to see people's standards drop so drastically.

Here's where my barbs are aimed: The Media. The same media, that every time some school gets shot up, or some kid commits suicide, or you hear of some young kid waste his life and overdosed, are out in full force talking about "How could this happen" and "What a shame, nobody knows why they do this." You people are the fucking problem! The mainstream media does absolutely nothing to make examples out of people like this before the situation gets bad. They do nothing to protect people, young or old, from the pitfalls of such a life. They glamorize the concept of being a bumbling moron and push that idea onto anyone who will listen. They push these people, these events, into your face. They stick it on every channel, every radio station, every website, and people run with it. It becomes a pop culture phenomenon and before you know it any sense of common decency is wiped out because people think that behaving like a total asshole is perfectly acceptable.

It's gotten to the point where Charlie Sheen isn't even a human being anymore, he's an idea, a concept, a character, or caricature of himself. He's not a person, he's a brand. even more of a product than he originally was (come on, all celebs are simply products of whoever is paying them at the moment). The man himself doesn't have a care in the world about self-respect or decency. Hell, he is going to make more money being fired from his ridiculous TV show than he would have made if he kept his mouth shut and kept acting for the duration of his contract. So now the product Charlie Sheen is everywhere. Friends of mine created "Tiger Blood" cupcakes because of all the media hype around the guy. They didn't think it would take off beyond the first day and now it's a regular item at their bakery. I harbor no ill feelings towards them; they're just doing their thing, running a business, and following trends to market their products. I do have a problem, again, with the media. Since debuting the "Tiger Blood" cupcakes, they've gotten national and international press attention, they have been talked about on the web, on the radio, and even on TV. Yet, I feel it's for the wrong reasons. They run one of the only local vegan bake shops in NJ. Their business is built around compassion to animals and the environment, but nobody talks about that, they're just obsessed with the fact that Charlie Sheen is on a cupcake. They have been in business for years now, selling incredible vegan cupcakes, with amazing flavors, and they have had their share of press for it, but they've blown up recently. I only wish that the news media would focus as much on the fact that these cupcakes are simultaneously delicious and humane. Once the Sheen thing dies down, which it will, as any trend does, will they still get as many visitors? Will their business still be booming? Or, will their business go back to the handful of regular customers and friends, as well as the regular established rate of walk-ins and new regular customers? I genuinely hope that they continue to do well, as they've been relatively unsung heroes of the vegan lifestyle in my little suburban area for 4 years now.

When I was a kid I often listened to the older generation talk about how we're all going to be screwed because of the media and what it feeds to us on a daily basis. I feel lucky to have been raised with a decent head on my shoulders. My temper, well, that's another story, but generally I don't subscribe to this kind of mass-mainstream-media culture.

In closing, I'd like to send a BIG FUCK YOU to the mainstream media, be it in this country or abroad, that continues to perpetuate ridiculous behavior, and then wonder why the youth of today become so screwed up. It's mostly your fault. If you didn't cram it down their throats constantly, they might not grow up to be fuck ups, just like the people on the evening news.

One up-side to the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan? Sheen's screen time on most news outlets has dropped drastically, although I'm sure he's still a part of the news tickers that run along the bottom of the screen. Charlie Sheen, a massive earthquake, and a devastating tsunami... now that's what I call a perfect storm. It's a trifecta of "Run for your life!"