Tuesday, February 6

Lowcarb's Social World & Other Social Politics

It's always interesting to me, the social and cultural relationships between people. I think if I'd finished college, instead of leaving for a second job so I could eat and not live in a box on the sidewalk (back in my southern coastal California economy of the time), I might have switched from Justice to Sociology as a major. Sociology is cool. It's like mass psychology without having to hear the whining. :-)

I hang out in the lowcarber.org forum much of the time when I have time to talk to others. I've made some groovy friends there, and met a lot of interesting people.

It's kind of hilarious how different it is when you get a bunch of people who are mostly-women together to talk, vs. the average forum with an even mix or even a larger dose of men. Women for the most part are not nearly as rude. And when they decide to be jerks, they will often do it in private messaging in a real catty kind of way, rather than openly. (Curiously I find that the women who violate that rule and are more open like men, also have personalities more straightforward and 'masculine' as our culture deems it; as do I.) On the other hand, they also tend to be more hypersensitive, so even "casually honest" talk often seems 'too brutal' to them.

It's much like in the business world. I've been in management since I was very young, and I've usually preferred to work with men when it came to the emotional level. If I made a man angry, I could later go over to him and tell him I was sorry and it was over. End of story. They move on. But make a woman angry, she'll take it the bleepin' grave with her. I used to run warehouses (shipping/receiving/distribution), and then later ran offices, and ye gods the personalities are different. I eventually came to appreciate office environments more, but to begin with I thought I was going to break out in hives at the amount of catty held-grudge neurosis every all-female office I was in seemed to pulse with. The USA's educational system is going the same direction -- becoming so female dominated (as well as so intensely liberal in politics) that I'm surprised we don't already have politically correct mind control in place for six year olds. Oh wait. I forgot Ritalin. Never mind, we do.

Back to lowcarb. Men on the forums seem to focus on food and exercise; women seem to focus more on "the emotional" and personal components of the equation. Obviously this is a HUGE stereotype and not at all accurate applied with a broad brush --- many women are far tougher than the men -- but I've been around forums for nearly 15 years now so as a 'generality' I know it applies to all topics, and it's just that when it comes to lowcarb forums, the generality holds and is sometimes even more evident (when measuring by 'overall' not by individual).

When the majority of moderators for a given forum are all women, then you've definitely got the Kinder, Gentler thing going like it's the First Commandment. One of my favorite lowcarbers was banned from the forum. Recently another fave of mine was suspended. I like them because unlike the touchy-feely kinder-gentler sorts, they are plainspoken. That doesn't mean insanely rude, it just means that they are more concerned about honesty than whether anyone in the local universe may choose to take offense at what they say. You might say they are a bit tougher in personality. They are more equipped for the internet at large, which does not assume everybody is an emotionally fragile pansy. Personally, I like that. But that's just me.

People willing to cry with me are great once in awhile; when I need it desperately; in my personal journal. I would never knock the sympathy and compassion that I have seen shown nearly everybody, by a little of everybody, at various times. Food is fundamental to our survival instincts, and so "issues" weave themselves into it from the time we are born.

But there is a time and a place for all things.

Conversing with people normally does sometimes include telling them that prior to making a massive life and health change by going on the Atkins plan, they need to read the Atkins book. If they cannot bother to read a single book about what may be the most important thing in their life (and important to staying alive), they are not worth bothering with. Maybe other people feel it is their duty to save other people from their own disinterest or personal problems. I don't.

If I respect a person as of decent mind, character and will, then I can sympathize with their issues. If I think they're an idiot, or a jerk, or a whiner who won't try, then I have no sympathy at all. That doesn't mean I would tell them "Get lost, punk!" but it does mean I might tell them, "Quit asking other people to do the work for you. Read the book. If you can't count your carbs, we can't count them for you."

But in a kinder, gentler environment, this would be considered direct confrontation, insensitive, and unkind. I've been aware of the restraints of this particular forum since before I joined, so I have always tried to be very restrained there, so the moderators would have no reason to gripe at me.

I think sometimes a good slap upside the head with SNAP OUT OF IT! is what people really need. I thank God for the people who've had the courage to give ME that over the course of my life -- including in low carb.


I'm going to deviate a bit here and compare this with another topic of interest to me, because it's really the same kind of psychology. I'm about 15 different nationalities. Growing up, my parents told me I was Native (Indian; Cherokee) and they never mentioned anything else. So weirdly, even though I grew up a white girl with no bias against me, I *felt* like I was a minority. I cried over cowboy movies. I considered the 'white men' apart from me. It wasn't until I was seventeen that I got a clue.

I was sitting at lunch one day when this guy walked past me that made my mouth fall open. He was black, but not negro-black, a different tone. (That color-coding is silly anyway. Half the whites and mexicans I know are darker than half the blacks I know.) He didn't seem like an East Indian to me either. He seemed obviously Native American, but I had never seen anybody like him. He had hair to his hips. I thought he was the most fascinating human I'd ever seen. He went off and sat alone under a tree and I asked to sit with him, and we talked for the week he was in my school. He had actually grown up on a reservation. I can't recall the tribe now, but I think he was full blood Apache or something like that. Anyway, so the first day I met him, after school I was brushing my hair in the bathroom mirror when I suddenly thought: you know, for an indian, you look pretty damn white!!

I had never even wondered what "else" I might be. I was stunned that this had never occurred to me. My father looks more native than most natives with far more of the blood, so I guess I just considered it a given. I went to older family members and said, "What races are we? Where do our people come from?" and the list I got was ridiculous and eventually totalled 14. Then when I came here to Oklahoma, an aunt gave me another she was sure was in the family. Mostly one of every Western Euro and a couple Eastern Euro options. Dominantly black-Irish, English, German, French, Polish, some Cherokee, and then a little of it seemed like everything else.

Most races that are not black or asian have a sector of their population, whether they are generally a dark or a fair race, that is a sort of medium, 'dark brown hair' middle ground. Given appropriate hairstyle and makeup, I could probably blend into half the races on earth without comment. I remember once seeing, from a distance in the grocery store, a picture of a woman on the front of a magazine (I think TIME perhaps), who reminded me strongly of me, even though she didn't look like me. I saw the magazine, always at some distance, several times while shopping, and I kept looking at it thinking, "Why does she remind me so much of me?" I just couldn't place the odd feeling it gave me. When I got to the cash register, close enough to read the text, I saw that the woman wasn't real. She was a computer generated morph-composite of about a dozen or more people.

In some weird way, that makes sense I guess.

Anyway, I give this growing up feeling like a minority, and my many nationalities, as background so talking about race hopefully won't make everybody start assuming I'm some kind of racist for daring.

I have several people in my family who are all or half black, and I've been involved off and on with that culture, such as for a couple years when I was an unofficial but very dedicated "big sister" to a young girl in a very poor neighborhood near my father's house (actually she was black, puerto rican, white, and something else I forget). I think this has kind of expanded my interest in so-called minority issues.

Because I'm so interested in sociology, the "social issues" side of politics is very compelling to me. The issues of women and that of minorities, both move me. A lot. Usually to frustration.


Now on the subject of women, it seems like it comes in three main gradients.

One gradient is the why-me club. They are a victim of every male that ever so much as walked past them. They had relationships with men who were sleazy philanderers and/or who beat them. They are definitely on the feminine side, but chances are any male crazy enough to have a relationship with them is going to find themselves in a role they don't envy. (These women are the ones who will send 'Glamor Shots' to everybody at the drop of a hat. Heh. And marry 5 times.)

They will invariably decide (or counsel others) that "any man not good enough to be a husband is not good enough to be a father". Unfortunately they decide this AFTER having a child. I am a huge supporter of the "Father's Rights" movement, having seen more gross abuses of the system, of children, and of parenting, by women than men by far in my life. And as a mother who has basically given years of my life to trying to do everything possible to keeping my child and her father as close as possible, despite that we ended our relationship in 1997 for good cause, despite that he's never paid a dime of child support, despite that in fact I've supported him any time he lived with us (as a roommate) and even bought presents for her 'in his name', I guess I have little sympathy for people who won't put their children first. They should be first. Any woman who can't focus like that isn't mature enough to be having children. Damn don't we wish there was some kind of human requirements to pass before childbirth.

If the man really IS physically abusive, a drug addict, whatever, sure, then it is right to protect the child from that. I am not talking about that. I'm talking here about the basic conflicts that break up relationships, not massive personality disorders that make them a genuine danger to the child.

The Why-Me gradient of female behavior drives me absolutely nuts. It reminds me of a bunch of people who never got past the age of 12, who still think the world owes them something, who still expect other people to take care of them, and who still blame all their problems on someone else.

The opposite gradient is the Men-Suck club. This contigent basically stole the movement of feminism outright, which is why now the very term is almost an epithet, a genuine tragedy not only for the original movement but for the courageous women who pioneered it. These are the sort of folks who will find a reason, any reason, to bash men. Not because they feel victimized (although they will go to great lengths to use this as a hammer for why no matter what a man does, he is abusive), because usually they are so busy victimizing everybody else that no man in his right mind would go near them anyway.

A ridiculous percentage of these women are lesbians -- and I might add that I once fell in love with a woman, and have several lesbian friends, so I have no issue at all with this on its own -- but it gets a little hard to believe that sexuality is 'born into' people when the people choosing women for sex, so often hate men. I mean I see no logical reason why if you like women better than men for having a relationship with, that this should breed a rabid hatred of all things male as a side-effect. I like men, but that doesn't make me hate women.

I might add that I believe the same women 'stealing feminism' have to some degree 'stole lesbianism' in the same way. Plenty of lesbians are just as sweet and feminine and sane as anybody else of course. These particular loud, obnoxious, man-hating, self-appointed 'leaders' of what they call feminism (and one guy called 'Feminazis', which I happen to think is appropriate in a few cases) are probably just as unfairly damaging to the overall vision of lesbians as they are to the overall vision of women.

Anyway, this particular club is so hyped on trying to BE men, that they pretty much invalidate or ignore the vast majority of actual women in the country -- which is why the NOW membership is pathetic, and the votes more pathetic still; they don't represent a county of people let alone over half a nation of people. Women who choose to be housewives, stay at home moms, nuns, etc. somehow "don't count." You are supposed to put career first, or write books about how men suck, in order to count in their world. When they occasionally pretend to care otherwise, it is driven by fund-raising.

The middle gradient is the sanity club. Unfortunately, this one has been completely drowned out politically by the men-suck stomper club, and completely drowned out socially by the why-me whiner club. The number of women who like being women, who do not hate men, and who are not stuck in a pre-teen level of whiner maturity, seems to be a silent majority.

(I realize that separating any group of humans into three very broad categories (more like two niche categories and one normal/broad one), is itself a form of stereotyping, but one can't talk about anything "in general" without doing so.)

You can tell what 'club' someone belongs to by their communications about anything. Even about lowcarb. When people get offended by what others say and -- here's the kicker -- even after apology, even after mitigating attempts, are STILL whining about it, telling-the-teacher tattling about it, they are definitely from the whiner club.

For reasons beyond me, lowcarb that I've seen so far seems to have more in the whiner club and less in the stomper club than many online gatherings that are dominantly women.

The result, of course, is that any woman in the sanity club, who is simply honest, is eventually going to
(a) be ostracized by the stomper club for really being a wimpy wierdo (examples: believes in god; doesn't believe in un-marital sex; actually likes men; wants to be beautiful yes even by men's standards; chooses to stay home with the kids rather than work; the list goes on), or
(b) be ostracized by the whiner club for really being an insensitive jerk (examples: pointed out that someone is whining about the same thing repeatedly while doing nothing to fix it; openly said that looking for rationalizations for why it's ok to blow or have-blown the lowcarb plan is just making excuses; rather than pitying someone, suggested they get off their butt and do something; etc.).

So if you're in the sanity club and you wonder why there are so many stompers, and especially whiners, and the number of sanity-club members seems to be going down for the day, you might consider that you are in a forum where the management is so over-considerate of the whiner club that any person not in that club -- of either gender -- is almost guaranteed to run foul of the local rules eventually.


Another social issue that I think applies, is a dynamic found in the racial area.

Historically, the cultures of people who have done the best in any situation, no matter what it was, have been those who expected a lot of themselves and their children, and who were willing to work hard for what they got. From the scot and irish who greatly settled the midwest, to the asians who over the last 30 years have demonstrated a hard working road to middle class, it has always been the people who expect to work, are willing to work hard, and who have the self-respect of people who believe in themselves, that have gotten somewhere, no matter what the conditions happened to be.

Along with the stompers who stole feminism, we have the second generation of self-appointed black leaders who have equally stolen the mantle of minority. They are the racial equivalent of the why-me club. Loud, insistent, and more interested in "helping everybody see themselves as a victim" than in helping anybody respect themselves, work hard, and see themselves as the successful human being they were born to be.

Bill Cosby was one of my heroes growing up. No surprise that he is a self-starter who believes in self-respect and self-responsibility -- which of course, makes him terribly politically incorrect in the world of the whiners who currently run racial politics. Give me Bill and many other people with outlooks similar to his who truly are 'leaders' in the black community -- strong, intelligent, talented people who believe in themselves and their people and want to see the best for them -- but not nearly as loud, alas.

The extremes always make the most noise. I remember eons ago, there was a petition suggesting that a person should not get a 12th grade high school diploma if they could not even read at a 5th grade level. (And mind you, our fifth grade level of today is pitiful compared to a century ago.) This was killed by the NAACP, which had a total hissy fit about it, because, as they admitted openly, this would prevent a whole lot of blacks from getting diplomas.

The fact that it makes all diplomas worthless if there are no standards was not relevent to them. The fact that having a diploma, and a whole country of people knowing that so many blacks might have one and not be able to read even, makes a terrible prejudice situation for blacks that is very unfair to all those who can, did not phase them.

I see it as a more extreme version of the harm that "shifting grades on tests to help blacks do better" has had in colleges. What a nightmare. So now if someone who is black is intelligent, hard working, and gets a degree, in the job interview process they face automatic bias from everybody who knows that there is a good chance that getting into college, as well as their grades in college from a heavily liberal staff, were probably bolstered unnaturally to "make up for how pathetic everyone assumes they are". Gee, that's equality. So glad desegregation gave blacks a chance to be equal, eh?

So how does a black who is an equal to anybody else demonstrate it? They can't. They get a high school diploma, they get a college degree, and they still face an entire country of people who have good reason to think it was half-faked to 'help' them because they aren't as good as everybody else. What a lousy situation for them. If I was black, or any other race facing that kind of thing, I would be really pissed off about it. I read books written by blacks, and blogs, and they are.

From my perspective, the real tragedy of that diploma situation was what could have been done. If the focus on demanding money from the state could have been placed on "ensuring graduation," that could literally have opened the door to the black community to getting a lot more funding than it had to start with for education, and obviously the REAL goal, to getting a lot more genuine or effective education, which could lead to an improvement culture-wide related to self-respect, economic viability, lower crime rate, etc. But no, of course not -- instead, the whiner-club, instead of seeing an opportunity for what could improve the most people, only saw the need to "protect the pathetic" is what it amounts to.

When there is a focus on expecting the best, on demanding results, you see terrific outcomes, no matter what the question is. When there is a focus on expecting the worst, on protecting anybody from feeling bad about lousy results, you see the nightmare that the inner cities have become.

As a human being, I feel I have as much right to complain on behalf of blacks as I do on behalf of seals being clubbed, at the least. As an American, I feel I have as much right to complain on behalf of a huge portion of our population being geared to the ghetto instead of to something happy and useful not only for themselves but for the larger society as a whole. And as someone who has nearly every minority you can imagine in my family (my family is like a walking United Colors of Bennetton ad), I consider them as much "my people" as I do anybody else.

In the lowcarb world, you see this same kind of psychology going on.

You get the people who believe in themselves and are focused on goals and expect success. If they talk to other people, they will talk to them from that state of mind. They will tell them not to make excuses. They will suggest things to improve their situation. And if the person comes back again complaining, without having tried the suggestions, or without seeming to make an effort, they are going to tell them like it is.

And you get the people who don't believe in anybody, and are focused on making sure nobody's feelings are hurt, because they expect, either consciously or subconsciously, that most people are going to fail. They will help them feel better about having completely screwed up. They will help them find rationalizations for why it's ok to screw up on holidays, birthdays, special occasions, office parties, etc. etc. They will repeatedly allow "addict-behavior" to create a drama-queen environment. And they will fanatically defend the right of people to "not have their feelings hurt" by anybody actually expecting something of them.

If I had two classrooms of children, and I was an evil machiavellian social experimenter, I could prove this point. You just tell one classroom of children regularly, "It's so unfair. Everybody is mean to you. Nobody really gives you a chance. Your people are just beaten down." And watch that entire class of children be failures, be miserable, have behavior problems. I could go to the other class and tell all the children, "You rock! Man, there are a bunch of boneheads who are stupid enough to underestimate you, but we're just gonna kick their ass! We'll show them. Here's the plan." And watch that entire class of children be successful, have self confidence and determination, and be willing to work hard for what they want.


"Experience is not about what happens to you. It is about what you do with it." That's a saying I read when I was young, and I still believe it. I've had a lot of stuff happen in my life that was truly victimizing. I had a highly physically abusive stepmother for years. Then I had a horribly emotionally, psychologically abuse stepmother for years. I've read stories of prisoners subjected to torture in Russia and thought, "Bah! Wimps." Ha! But that's the reality. I've been raped, although it was date-rape, which I consider slightly less-horrifying than having someone break into your house or jump out from behind a car in a dark parking lot or something. I had to leave college to work when my economy wanted $900/mo for a studio apartment, required car and insurance, and I could no longer do college and 1 job simultaneously and have enough money to survive. I married a man who is a good man, except he's passive aggressive, unable to have a relationship with me, and I've been a single mom even while married, and a sole income provider even while married, and am now getting divorced.

But I am not a victim. My own saying is, "Victimization is not what happens to you. It is a state of mind." I am not in that state of mind, and never have been.

I have been good at everything I have put my mind to doing in my life, because thanks be to God, for whatever reason, I believe in myself. I believe that "you get what you focus on." I believe that if I work my ass off consistently toward something, there is no way it canNOT happen. Eventually.

So it's only a matter of my willingness to make the effort, and my willingness to stay the course. Success is a master of destiny under those conditions. It has to happen eventually.

It does my heart good to see people with a positive, can-do attitude. I like reading blogs of people who are intelligent and interesting and who are focused on what is possible and always striving toward doing things better-still. These are the people who will be successful.

In Learning Theory, in NLP, if you want to succeed at something, you model people who are good at it. If you want to be successful, you model people who are. The interesting thing is that no matter what the subject is -- from sports, to sales, to music, to business, to technology -- the people who are highly successful tend to have most of the same core qualities in common.

They educate themselves.
They intelligently plan what they are doing.
They constantly evaluate results and make adjustments as needed.
They believe in working hard.
They don't believe in making excuses.
They expect to succeed. Eventually.

Lowcarb is no different than anything else in the world. These principles should be a given not only for anybody who wants to succeed, but for anybody who cares about helping others succeed as well.

These principles tend to breed the kind of personality that is definitely NOT a whiner. The kind of personality that, if present on a lowcarb forum, is going to be no-bones-about it. Not 'openly rude' -- that's a different story I do not support -- but plain. No-nonsense. And free to state their opinions, even if the opinion is sometimes, "That's just whining."

Of course, if you hang out where those personalities are gradually excluded from the social pool for not being "kinder, gentler" enough, you won't see much of them. And when you do see them, it won't be for long.


That is my rant for the day.


K von M said...

so many things i could say, but they're best summed up with three words...

you rock, girlfriend.

Tracy said...

One of my pet peeves is when "whiners" are overly catered to...even though they are usually in the minority. Seems like it only takes one or two voices to bring about widespread negative change, and one or two MILLION to bring about widespread positive change. Yet another pet peeve is people who hold others responsible for their precious feelings. Argh.

See you around! ;) And I agree - you rock, girlfriend.

Calianna said...

Your posts *always* give me so much to think about, on so many levels!

I think I know some who are both whiners and stompers - when the whining stops working to extract sympathy, they start with the stomping. Then when their victim gets fed up with the stomping, they go back to the whining, in a never ending circle.