Offended much?

Here’s a topic I never thought I’d discuss again. This image seems to be making the rounds in certain places on social media.

Maybe what I’m about to say is an unpopular opinion, but I’m certain if you’re getting offended by someone else’s personal achievements, that’s entirely a “you” problem.

While it’s not something that’s ever crossed my mind, yes, I’d say I beat teen pregnancy too if I was asked as question where that an appropriate answer. Why not? I didn’t hate teen parents. In fact, I was friends with a teen mother in high school. Never looked down on her. But I certainly didn’t want her situation. Someone who says “I beat teen pregnancy” is saying it wouldn’t have been a good situation for them. Maybe it was a good situation for you. Great. But that’s not a situation that is good for everyone. Speaking for myself, I was heavily suicidal in my teens and I did think about having a child in high school for the sake of having someone who loved me. Bad reason to have a child. Very bad. Depression screws with your mind. Thankfully, logic beat out that idea and I made it out of my teens with no child in tow. That’s a personal achievement for me, not a slight against teenage parents.

Granted, “achievement” is not what I’ve really ever thought of it as, but I’m not unhappy to have not been a parent in my teens, so that’s the closest word to describe it in this context. The same applies to other aspects of life. I’ve never stepped foot in a bar or club, or had a drink of alcohol, but I don’t hate people who enjoy those activities. I just want nothing to do with them.

Two of my friends graduated university earlier this year with their bachelor’s degrees, one in biochemistry and the other in psychology. Meanwhile, I just started attending trade school four months ago after spending almost two years in retail and I am dying for it to be over. If my friends say “I’m glad I went to college right after high school” or “I’m not a college dropout”, I don’t take that as a slight against me because it is not about me. They are talking about themselves. My sister just went through a break-up after being with her boyfriend for two years. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost four years (though it has been a very bumpy road). If I say “I’m glad we never broke up” or “I’m glad we’ve been together all this time”, that’s entirely in reference to my boyfriend and myself, and zero to do with my sister because I am not talking about her.

Let’s also not forget parenthood isn’t always the best thing to happen to someone, and some people don’t realize that until after they become parents. There are absolutely parents who walk out on their children, do not properly care for them, let it be known the parents resent them, and at worst, outright kill them. And while I don’t doubt parenthood is fulfilling for many, I’ve heard even happy parents say the “kodak moments” are only 10% of parenthood (some say 5, some say 1). Take that for what you will.

Also, on the internet, where a single post can reach millions of people, what are really the chances the creator of the post is referring specifically to you?

MLM – Many Lying Manipulators

Some time ago, I discovered a section of Reddit called “Anti-MLM“. I’d heard of MLM before, but all I knew about it was the meaning of the acronym: multi-level marketing. I never understood what MLM was about or why they were considered shady.

I read the thread for fun and some laughs, but I learned quickly why MLM has the reputation it does. MLM is essentially interchangeable with “pyramid scheme”, but even the ones that (supposedly) aren’t pyramid schemes are no better. The basic concept is: you pay for a set of start-up supplies (beauty products, clothes, etc) and try to sell them while trying to persuade other people to sign up for the same company. A lot of MLM companies have “levels”, so the more you sell and more people you convince to join, the higher your level goes.

From reading that section (subreddit), it seems many of these companies target a specific group. They aim for people – especially women, it seems – who are unemployed, recently finished college, are stay-at-home parents, or are just struggling financially in general. While it’s undoubtedly immoral to prey on those who may be vulnerable, I’m more disgusted with the attitudes of the people who fall into these scams.

To an extent, I have some sympathy. I don’t have a child, but I do know what it’s like to struggle and scramble to keep your bills paid and stay afloat. However, many of the people who sign up for MLM companies are very patronizing and outright dishonest.

For starters, a common theme seems to be that a regular job is the “real scam”. When someone dares to question why they need to pay to sign up, the usual retort is that an ordinary job makes you pay to work there as well, via requiring you to buy a uniform. This is completely ignoring many jobs provide uniforms for free or have a loose dress code where there is no specific uniform. My job falls under the latter, and my uniform was $15 to $20, an amount I make in two hours of work. If you already happen to have clothes that fit the dress code before you start working, you don’t have to pay anything. Similarly, many consider college a scam as well. I do think the system of education (higher and lower) is long overdue for an overhaul, but that doesn’t mean college itself is terrible. There seems to be a common notion everyone with a regular job is miserably working from 9am to 5pm under a cold-hearted boss, or everyone who attends college is drowning in several thousands of dollars in debt while unemployed or underemployed.

What’s more egregious is many of the supposed benefits spouted about joining MLM companies often contradict. The biggest example of this is how they advertise you can “be your own boss” and claim they are “small business owners”. In the same breath, they scream the company they work for is not a pyramid scam. I don’t think anyone needs a business degree to figure out the obvious flaw there, but I’ll point it out anyway. You are not “your own boss” if you work for a company, let alone a business owner. People who work for MLM companies have bosses just like any person who works for genuine companies. Why would a business owner receive a paycheck from anyone? Payment from their clients for providing services, yes, but their clients aren’t their employees. Speaking of benefits, there’s usually no mention of the benefits a regular, full-time job provides like health insurance and paid time off. And of course, the people with regular jobs are the people they count on for their sales to begin with.

My favorite, however, is how they claim you can “make money from your phone anywhere, any time”. On the surface, that sounds great. However, many of the people who advertise this post about “earning money” from places like the pool, the beach, or just relaxing in bed. How are you relaxing if you’re working? When I clock out at work, I am done. I don’t have to think about work any more until the next shift. I don’t want to work while I’m on vacation or just having a nice day off. Chances are if I’m at the pool, I’m with my best friend or my boyfriend. I’d rather be in the water, swimming and having the time of my life with them, not posting ads from my phone while they have fun without me. Yet at the same time, there’s the claim that “you control your money”. In other words, you do have to work hard to profit from MLM. So, which is it? Easy money-making while having fun, or as much dedication as any other job? Also, if you have kids, how are you spending time with them while posting ads online most of the day? I suppose there’s nighttime when they’re sleeping, but doesn’t that kill the idea you do have to work hard at MLM?

However, something I happen to find infuriating is many of these consultants also advertise dangerous ideas. One I’ve seen a lot is ingesting essential oils, despite the bottles themselves having warnings that they aren’t to be ingested. I’ve also seen beauty products that notoriously caused damage instead of enhancing looks, but the consultants blamed the result on the buyers for “improper use”. That might be an excuse when it comes to a few people out of very many (and even then, you should still address those concerns), but not when it’s the majority. Apparently, there are some oils that can be ingested, but essential oils for scents aren’t those.

Perhaps the worst is that as a result of joining an MLM company, many of these people alienate their friends and family because they eventually do almost nothing except advertise. While that subreddit is often funny, it also has a lot of sad anecdotes from users who had to cut off friends or relatives because they never contacted them except to try to sell to them or persuade them to join. In worse scenarios, attempts were made to trick or bully them into buying or selling, and they were met with belligerence when they refused. A lot of the regular users of that section refer to MLM as a cult overall. I’m not sure how accurate that really is, but with how common certain elements are (regular jobs and all colleges are scams, assuming anyone who is in college or a regular job is miserable, treating all jobs as office types, willing to alienate their loved ones, refusal to admit some products are faulty, etc), it would indeed come off as a cult if it were more serious than advertising products you bought.

Something that also makes me cringe is a lot of these MLM consultants refer to themselves as “boss babes” or claim they are building an “empire”. I work at a job where we could wear rain boots and cat ears, and still be within the dress code because our bosses are light-hearted and not picky. Yet, unsurprisingly, no one does that because it looks too silly to be taken seriously in any work setting that’s not a daycare center. Five of my seven bosses (managers) are female and the moment “boss babe” came out of their mouths, I’d no longer take them seriously. That’s not to say we don’t have fun at work, but we do it off the clock and away from customers. The other annoying part of this is it calls attention to the “boss” being female. Why? Yes, I understand the need for women to be recognized in the working world, especially in certain fields that are still male by majority, but if feminism is supposed to mean men and women are equal, why is there a need to remind everyone you’re a woman? Isn’t the point that gender is irrelevant and shouldn’t be paid attention to? Personally, I don’t want someone to respect me because I’m a woman. Respect me because I work hard, or I’m kind, or I’m good at whatever I do. But not because I have two X chromosomes!

I do hope there’s someday a way to shut down MLM and pyramid scheme companies. I have personally never encountered a MLM recruiter, but if they are widespread enough to have the reputation they do, the best that can be done for now is warning people of these companies, especially those who fall under the categories these companies tend to aim for. While I lose sympathy the moment the consultants of these companies begin mimicking their tactics, I still do recognize they were likely pressured and had their vulnerable spots hit. I have bent to pressure and gotten farther in over my head than I realized before something finally forced me out. That may be just how most of the people who fall for the empty promises these companies spout have to get out of it. Hopefully, it’s before they have no one left.

Subconscious Rage

It’s amazing how long anger can last, whether or not you’re trying to hold it. In my case, I’m not, but it’s still there.

It’s been two years since the self-righteous liar who blamed me for a post I never wrote and never apologized. It’s been three years since several nasty run-ins with simmers who find anything less than extreme hype and overbearing love for absolutely everything of the series’ latest iteration unacceptable. It’s been four years since the obnoxious Pokemon fans who sent me hate messages because I cancelled my then pre-order for the games were being released at that time. And I can’t remember how long it’s been since I left the Sims forum and Sims reddit sub-section that showed blatant favoritism toward simmers with the “right” opinions versus simmers with the “wrong” ones (in particular with Reddit, I was banned after a user with the “right” views verbally attacked me and I eventually got fed up and lashed out; naturally, he got no consequence). Nor can I remember how long it’s been since I was banned from a Sims Facebook group that promised they were different, yet turned out to be the same as the plethora of Sims community with that style of administration. Maybe a year, maybe a bit less or more, but I really can’t remember.

Yet, I’m still angry at all of these people.

I’m not trying to be, I’m not purposefully holding a grudge, but when I think of any of these things, the above incidents are the first that come to my mind and all the anger resurfaces. Pokemon is unaffected because I’ve always been slow at completing the games (though I do not pre-order anymore; I’ve still yet to make sense of being angry at someone else’s way of spending their own money), but the others very much soured my outlook on the media and the fandom. I do not watch Winx Club, I no longer use the blog I made for the show, and I no longer speak to the friends I had in the fandom (one still follows me, but our contact is limited to occasional likes of each other’s posts). Any and all love I had for the Sims series as a whole has withered away and my “simblr”, despite I gave it an overhaul, remains unused while its Facebook page gets very light usage. I remember being excited I could finally follow a game from its beginning. I very much regret that excitement. And yes, I still buy the packs. Go figure.

I consider this akin to feeling embarrassed about things I did when I was young as five, too young to have the comprehension I do now. I’ve had all about “leaving the past behind”, but the problem is the past cannot be forgotten, short of inducing amnesia. There’s a saying about words: “Once said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.” That applies here. If I’m being honest, I haven’t forgiven these people. Moved past it and am not ranting anymore, yes, but I still consider these people to be awful humans who I couldn’t think or wish well of, even if I were the purest being alive. Maybe that is why this anger still rests in my subconscious and comes bubbling back to the surface when I consider rejoining these things. And yes, I am well that fandom is not needed to enjoy a certain media. Unfortunately, once you know the fandom, you forever connect it, subconsciously or otherwise, and that mental connection is not easily severed. Plus, having people, even faceless strangers, to share with is much like an addiction. It’s similar to how I feel about my relationship with my boyfriend. I was happy when I was single, but now that I know how wonderful a relationship can be and that I have him, I’d be hugely depressed if we broke up and I was single again. Years later, I might still feel the heartbreak because I can’t forget how much I enjoyed the time I had with him and loved him.

The curse of human memory and the price one pays for experiencing life, I suppose.

The Poison of Fandoms – Part 2

Because one reminder wasn’t enough.

Even when I try to avoid fandoms, it seems I’m not always successful.

Tonight, I was having a marathon of MLP’s second season while playing Pokemon Moon, and I was rather enjoying. While it was going on, I paused my game to post a small annoyance on Tumblr I had with one character. She’s not a bad character. Just not really to my tastes. One episode portrayed her really nicely and had me warm up to her, but a following one had me annoyed again. Keep in mind there was nothing hateful about it. Apparently, however, even minor annoyance is too much for this character’s fans. Later on, I received this message in, as well as these posts in reply to some I’d made days ago. Interestingly, this person brought up my love of another character, despite one has zero to do with the other. They also deleted one of the replies. Typical. (Edit: This message came as I was writing this post)

Note that I do not even hate this character (or, at least, I didn’t until now). I was annoyed at her portrayal is in one episode is all. One episode I watched out of twenty. The irony of a show about friendship having such an awful fandom will never escape me, but then again, that’s fandoms in general. Even if you say you do like some things of that character, it’s not enough. Any annoyance with her whatsoever is perceived by her fans as hate. Basically, if she’s not your favorite, you’re a hater.

For those curious, that episode that irritated me had to do with her trying to befriend someone who made it clear he wanted to be left alone and she was not getting the hint. The episode ended nicely, but I was irritated because she was incredibly pushy, doing things like going into his home and rummaging through his things without permission (and even damaging some!), and those actions are portrayed as okay because she wants to be his friend. That was my problem with the episode. If the message I received in my inbox is any indication of her fans’ mentality, it seems they believe invading someone’s home and possessions is “friendliness”, and respecting someone’s privacy and wishes to be left alone is a bad thing to teach children. No wonder people hate my generation. And here, my friends have never so much as touched something of mine without my permission. They must not be real friends.

Sarcasm aside, it’s a shame I’ve liked this show for a total of three months and this is my introduction to it. I have my boyfriend, thankfully, and I’m starting to understand why he did want to me enjoy this show. I have no doubt the bad reputation of “bronies” and the show itself comes from its fandom and had I tried to get into it without him, I probably would’ve been turned away very quickly by its fandom. And no, my run-in with these jerks did not taint my love of the show, but it did make me angry enough to cancel my mini-marathon earlier than intended. I’ll continue it another time. Perhaps.

The Poison of Fandoms

First off, I want to say thank you to all those who still visited my blog, in spite of zero posts last month. A life of work and sleep leaves you little time to juggle all of the other parts of your life.

My last post was about Twilight Sparkle of MLP. I’ve watched more of the show in bits, and though she is still my favorite of the main/mane cast for personality, my most favorite characters are the setting’s rulers. However, this post isn’t about that.

I’ve been a part of fandoms, starting with the Sims, for seven years. I found out later on it was a grave mistake. Every fandom I’ve joined, especially those with a large following, proved itself to be a cesspool of poison. Essentially, there were rules about what made you a “true fan”, certain opinions were not allowed, and admins of certain areas proved to be extremely biased. Knowing this, it was very much against my better judgement to join a Facebook group for MLP, but in my new love for the show and excitement for the movie, I did. Within two days, I resigned. I suppose that’s a record.

The reason I left is, apparently, a fictional movie about ponies is serious business. So serious, any posted spoilers about said movie warranted banning any member who did so, and the admins, unsurprisingly, refused to consider they could be acting unreasonably (then again, I suppose that’s to be expected from someone who considers being the admin of a Facebook group a job). Remember, we are talking about a film of animation. Not poverty, war, hunger, homelessness, crime, abuse, or any other truly serious issue. A film aimed at under-aged girls. I love cartoons, something I’ve made very evident over the years, but it is not that serious. And I say this having bought an MLP shirt from the kids section at my job because it could fit me.

While the bright side is I wasn’t alone in my opinion (other members of the group agreed and were probably shortly kicked out, and members of the Disney group I’m in agreed that was out of line as well), it saddens me how difficult it is to find a community of any fandom that is rational and tolerant. It seems the only exception to this rule are small communities, which truly is a shame. Having had my love of so many things murdered by their fandoms, one of which I ranted about for a good while, I certainly didn’t want my merely one-month-old love of MLP to fall to the same fate, especially not at the childishness of Facebook warriors in a group I was a part of for two days, and with the movie coming out so soon. I left before my love for the show could take a heavy hit. But I can’t say I’m not disappointed with how poorly things turned out. Perhaps it was deserved for allowing my excitement to cloud my better judgment against joining the group to begin with.

I realize it is the internet, and social media websites in particular are notorious for being wells of addictive, yet poisonous muck. As much as I dislike it, it makes me understand the stereotype of people in fandoms being anti-social recluses with little going on in their lives. It’s a painful thing to admit, possessing so many loves of so much light-hearted media myself, but the toxicity I’ve found across so many fandoms isn’t allowing me to deny or be confused about why the stereotype exists. After all, why would someone who is content and enjoying their life feel the need to be controlling over something so trivial? The internet permits a huge amount of imaginary power, and power is addicting.

Of course, in the end, fandoms aren’t needed to keep a love of something going. I still have every intention of seeing MLP’s film and I am still very much fawning over the show. While the show’s lessons are occasionally questionable, perhaps the admins of that group missed the second half of the title: friendship is magic. I’m sure Twilight Sparkle, the princess of friendship, would be disappointed.