More like a cellularge phone.

It’s getting late and I still have no idea what I’m doing tonight, which means the answer is probably going to be “nothing”. Expect this entry to be perfunctory to the MAXXXX.

I got my new phone today. I expected it’d be the same size as my faithful Moto G LTE, then discovered to my dismay that it’s a gargantuan 5″. To be honest, I thought the last one was 4.5″, so I really only bamboozled myself. I like a smaller phone. It means my tiny digits can cover it, thumb and all, without effort. There may be light at the end of the tunnel. Knowing full well how absurd and unwieldy this beast of a phone is, Motorola created a function that enables you to shrink the useable screen space. It’s weird and without having used it much, I’ve got no idea whether or not it’ll be handy. Basically the screen shrinks down and gets a big black border around it. You can use the shrunken screen as you would a full sized screen but if you want to get the truly nonsensical amount of screen back, you can just tap the black space and it’ll expand. Holding out hope here.

There were a couple of other cool features I appreciated and we’ll see in practice how useful they really are. If they’re Poopsville, USA I’ll disable them. To turn on the flashlight you can do this little karate chop gesture twice and it’ll flick on. If you press the power button twice it goes into camera mode, irrespective of whether or not it was switched on beforehand. Apparently there’s some capacity to twist the phone twice when you’re in camera mode and it’ll alternate between front/back camera, but I haven’t gotten it working. Best of all, you can turn the phone face down and it’ll disable all notifications and/or interruptions. That almost justifies the price in and of itself.

Then again, I haven’t used the phone a hell of a lot. Before I could even get into it, I needed to do some cosmetic surgery on my SIM card. My old phone used Micro SIM, the new one used Nano SIM. I was resigned to go out and buy a new SIM before I looked it up, pondering if there were any ways to save myself the emotional fatigue of the process. Turns out the difference between the two is… size. That’s it. A Nano SIM is the same information, but in a smaller casing. The chip size is identical. According to a quick Google search, I could actually literally cut my Micro SIM down to a Nano. It was remarkably easy, incompetent as I am. I printed off the template, lined it all up, used a pen to follow the lines and Cut It Out. Of course it didn’t fit first time around and of course I nearly had a conniption fit as I imagined a future where I’d irrevocably wrecked both my SIM and my phone permanently with one fell swoop. But then I pulled it out with fucking pliers and used the nail file on my clippers to sand it down to size. Like A Glove.

I turned it on and there was a whirr of activity. It asked me if I wanted to download my old profile/apps from Google and I clicked yes. It started downloading all of the apps I’d installed on my past phone. Handy. Freedom Mobile sent me a message telling me that there’d be forthcoming notifications that would enable the correct settings for internet and MMS. Sweet. A Motorola update appeared in Spanish (I’m not sure why. I bought the phone from Motorola’s Amazon page. Everything else is in English) and I figured sure, why not? It downloaded, installed and reset the phone. I started working on customising features when I got a notification for another Motorola update in Spanish. I sighed and clicked yes. It downloaded, installed and reset the phone. I thought I was getting somewhere on making the phone useable when I got ANOTHER notification for yet another Motorola update in Spanish¿ SI ALREADY! After it installed I waited. I watched. I took a deep breath. I reached my hand towards it, ready to snatch it away at a moment’s notice. It was finally at peace.

It’s so much work setting up a new phone. You’ve gotta disable all the bloatware, tailor notifications settings to your tastes. Then there’s the matter of how it looks, what kind of apps you want easily available. Each time you get a new phone, phone technology has advanced so much that all your favourite apps are outdated and/or riddled with ads. Then Facebook tries to send you push notifications for fucking everything. I’d also forgotten that I’d been using an older, cleaner version of the app. Each new update ads so many unnecessary features. Le sigh. The price of progress seems too much sometimes.

In any case, I have a phone again. Mum, Dad, we can Skype now.

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I want my next job to be naming IKEA produkts.

In my Friday night Twitch viewing, I’ve found a stream that sounds like it’s gonna be a blast commencing in 15 minutes. So it looks like I need to blitz through this writing and miss only the first 15 minutes.

Let’s get frenetic.

A friend and I went for Korean today at my favourite haunt. As always, I got the gamjatang. As always, zero regrets. An interesting thing happened while we were there. See, I’ve been mainlining Kpop in an attempt to get ready for a Kpop dance party next Friday. I’ve found that since I can’t understand the lyrics, it’s upbeat music that helps me be pretty productive. You also know that something must be pretty goddamn catchy if it’s stuck in your head while being in a language you don’t speak. It’s so slickly produced and takes its musical cues from all different matter of world pop. I think that by this point, I might just be a genuine fan. Usually when I go there to eat I’ll be on my own. I’ll eat my meal and watch Magic draft videos, peaking periodically at the Kpop videos. This time I had my headphones off, since I was with a friend. I noticed that I recognised a notable number of songs. I’d be like wait, is Hellevator on right now? Or is this A.C.E? I think I’ve reached a turning point in my appreciation of the genre. I regaled him with my love of their music videos. The saturated colours, the elaborate sets and dynamic camera work. The complex choreography and almost eerily attractive people. The weird commodification of Western tropes and English sentences. I’ve started to understand that I have a very sincere love of Kpop and this party next week may quite well blow my mind out the back of my head.

Six months ago, I’m not sure that would’ve been a sentence I’d have thought myself capable of writing.

In other news, my girlfriend and I visited IKEA and managed to spend under 20 dollars. Excluding food. I’m not gonna say what amount of our consumption was frozen yoghurt, suffice to say that we bought more cones than the number of us who went. The two of us, that is. IKEA on a Friday night was a good time. It wasn’t super busy and was actually a better date night than we could’ve imagined. We got to play house in all manner of environments. The lighting was perfect, with a pleasant atmosphere. We may not have been entirely sober, which only made it more of a madcap adventure. We lost our way more than once and felt like we were playing in a big maze. They had this novel style of cart which was just a soft canvas style bag with wheels and straps. You could hang it over your shoulder or drag it behind you. I wasn’t paying attention and every so often it’d careen off at an odd angle and gently hit someone else in the legs (was it sentient and trying to bolas them?). Thing is, it was soft enough that it’s not like they could be anything more than mildly miffed. We had fun. Then mid-trip we got to hang out and eat delicious meatballs with a side of soup and lingonberry juice. What could be better?

The excursion really brought home how particular I am about the tactile sensations of my kitchen/tableware. We looked at stacks of bowls trying to decipher what the right combination of depth, material, angles and weight was. We tried holding various forks and spoons, but to no avail. Maybe their tines weren’t long enough or bowls deep enough. They just didn’t feel right. I got full on KonMari and wasn’t feeling it. These items weren’t bringing me joy. So we escaped with a soap dispenser that looks kind of like a garbage bin, a milk frother and… something I can’t remember right now. Hence the sub $20 total purchase. Also food. We spent considerably more on food than we did on home products. Had we been sober, maybe that wouldn’t have been the case. I was eyeing up some balloon lights something fierce for our spare room. Because it’d be kind of neat to have that kind of whimsy a mere light switch away.

We’re adults, right?

So maybe that was a little tongue in cheek.

After all of yesterday’s kvetching over cellphones, I bit the bullet and bought one online. I realised that between all the minutiae that was bothering me (4G capable, RAM, battery capacity, quick charge) the one issue that meant the most was that the phone fit in my hand. I remembered how much I enjoyed my 3rd edition Moto G, so I ordered a Moto G5 (since the G5s wasn’t available in Canada). It was simple, a low rent phone that cost about $250 altogether. It will solve all of my needs and be diminutive while accomplishing them. In the end, I just needed to pull my thumb out of my arse and make a decision.

Buoyed by my Take No Prisoners, dynamic decision making, I bought new shoes. Same deal. I was complaining to my girlfriend about how laborious the shoe buying process was. I have real foot problems that make it a pretty important decision. I get the wrong shoe and try to jog? Shoot pains through my knees. I like jogging, so I need to get it right. Thing is, I think I’ve spent long enough dithering about making the right choice that I haven’t made any. As a result, my last pair have gone to shit and it’s starting to affect their effectiveness. The last jog I went on took more out of me than it had any right to. My knees and toes (surprisingly neither head nor shoulders though) are a bit messy at the moment. I think in no small part this is my shoes’ fault. Or rather, my fault for not replacing my shoes.

The reason this has been difficult is because several years back I chanced into my perfect Cinderella slippers. The Saucony Grid Excursion TR8 GTX (aren’t they pretty?). Unfortunately they’ve been discontinued. I know this, because I’ve tried time and time again to order more pairs. I managed to restock once from a store in Calgary. They’re out of stock now too. I’ve looked on French and Russian sites. No dice. I looked on Ebay. Still nothing. I’m sure there are some sneakerheads who’d know how to track them down. They’re my own personal contraband. I got some Grid Excursion TR11s and they were shite. Poorly made and not the same sweet fit as the TR8 GTXs. In a vain toss of the dice I ordered some TR11 GTXs in the hopes that those extra three initials will make all the difference. I’m prepared for disappointment, but more importantly I’m at least prepared to have adequate footwear. Scar would be proud, and what’s more important to a lion than pride?

I’m loving this new Decisive Action Leon, even if my anxious internal dialogue is screaming out in eternal pain. When dread gets that dense, it’s basically just wallpaper for your brain. Why? Because of SO MANY THINGS. Basically, my brain is afraid that if things are anything less than perfect, everything will go to shit.

Maybe I’ll order the phone and the battery won’t be quite as good as I hope. If the battery isn’t quite as good as I want, then it’ll start to affect my day to day. I’ll have to charge more often, carry portable chargers with me everywhere I go. What if my phone dies and I’m stuck out on a remote road and a local farmer comes to help, but he’s actually a human vivisectionist who dabbles in torture porn to offset the high costs of his excessive remote tracts of land? Then I just have to suffer relentlessly because I failed to pick a phone with a decent battery and wasted all that time watching cube draft videos when I could’ve just listened to a podcast or something?

Or I’ll get these shoes and they won’t fit quite right but the thought of going through the effort to return them, then make more decisions about the correct pair will be too much emotional labour so instead I’ll just wear and tolerate the shoes. Then they’ll fuck up my joints and I’ll have to spend a ton of time going to physio. It’ll affect the frequency of my workouts, I’ll be incapable of staying active and I’ll bloat like a balloon. My self-confidence will flounder, it’ll affect my relationship with my girlfriend and she’ll leave, then I’ll just be a sad blimp with ill-fitting shoes and a drained battery.

Or, y’know, things could be one iota less than perfect and I adapt. Then they become part of the day to day and I don’t even notice much. Turns out we’re all more resilient than we give ourselves credit for.

Stop tone policing me.

I had it all planned out. I was so keen to talk about my new friend-dating project “I Have My Dates”, because I went on my first one. Then I got distracted by impassioned thoughts on gun control protests. Then I had a super busy workday and blabbed on about that. It’s been an active week. No complaints.

So instead of circling back and talking about how wonderful my friend date was (and it really was. I’m so excited to find more ways to date my friends. I’ve got a double-date coming up this Sunday evening), I’m gonna delve into something incidental that happened while on my friend date: I dropped my phone.

It’s dead. 100% fucked. The screen cracked, but in a manner that left basically the entire screen unresponsive (except the area where the number “4” shows up, oddly enough). It’s a total write off and I need a new phone. Buying a phone is weird, specifically because I’m very adamant about the type of phone I’m looking for. I don’t want a top of the line phone, because I don’t use my phone for anything that requires advanced specs. I use Facebook, Reddit, Google Maps. Occasionally I’ll email or write into the notepad while on holiday (so I can keep bringing y’all this fine content, naturally). Maybe once a week I’ll eat gamjatang at a Koreatown restaurant and watch Magic the Gathering cube draft videos while periodically peeking over my phone at the screen displaying an endless reel of Kpop videos with oversaturated colour palettes and curiously adventurous camerawork.

None of this takes a lot of processing power. If my old Moto G wasn’t stuck on a constant restart loop (and honestly, I think the phone is actually in perfect working order. There are supposed to be ways to boot into a recovery screen, I’m just incompetent enough that I can’t make them happen), it would still be able to do all of those at a level that was adequate for my needs. It’s weird when I say this to people, because they clearly have a different relationship with their phones than I do. They’ll recommend all these high quality models, $700+ phones, y’know? Some of them get oddly adamant that I upgrade, buy a new phone. Like my decision for deliberate low-tech infuriates them. It’s this strange application of their own values over mine. I’m not shitty or defensive about it, it just strikes me as peculiar. If I can get all of my cellphone needs serviced by a $300 phone, why would I pay twice that?

What it all boils down to, is that I don’t really care about phones very much. I was basically made to get a cellphone back in the early 2000s and adamantly didn’t want one. I liked just saying I was gonna be somewhere, then being there. I didn’t want to carry something else in my pockets. The thought that anyone could get a hold of me at any time was far from comforting. Sometimes it was nice to be left alone. The convenience factor didn’t add enough to my life in order to justify what felt like a psychic weight. Not on your sole, but on your soul, etc etc etc. Something about the quality of merci? This metaphor is getting strained.

Blessedly, many things about me have changed since I was 16. I’ve discovered that my distaste for phones hasn’t. For the past three days, I’ve been considerably less stressed. I practically only need my phone for commutes. I never got a signal at work, so that didn’t matter. Plus when I’m at work/home I’m plugged into my computer at most every moment. Don’t take any of this like I’m technologically avoidant, I like technology plenty. I’m just not convinced phones are a technology that do a lot for me. It’s nice to be present so much of the time. Nothing shits me more than when I’m spending time in the company of friends and they’re constantly on their phones. Look, if you want so badly to be somewhere else, go there. It’s fine, I take no offence. I notice that when I have a phone, my attention gets flighty. If I’ve got more than 30 seconds I have to fill, I’ll turn on Facebook or Reddit. But why? Why would I need to fill that teensy amount of time instead of just taking things slower?

Unfortunately the rational part of my brain knows that not having a phone would create more emotional labour for the people in my life. They’d have to work hard to track me down and I don’t want to put that burden on them. Oddly enough, me disentangling from the web would make their lives harder and that’s a shitty thing to do to loved ones. Plus any vacation is made immensely easier with the aid of Google Maps and notepad.

So I guess I need to figure out how to buy phones in Canada. Or how to reboot my Moto G…

I would hope it involves tuna for lunch. Some things never get old.

Today at work I…

Normally this is a statement that leads right to the middle of nowhere. I arrive at my desk. I make coffee. I small talk with co-workers for longer than is reasonable and leave at the end of the day entirely unfulfilled. It’s my job, it pays the rent and feeling dissatisfied is better than destitute in my mind. At the same time, it taxes me. Have you ever felt like your day to day takes more than it gives? Like you’re running on a wheel going nowhere, just getting tired?

Well today at work I…

Knew that I had a lot to do and less time than normal. Still didn’t stop the morning coffee and small talk. I was doing some voicing for a smaller market. They needed a golf announcer voice. Naturally I went to youtube for some research and stumbled upon this little gem. I was voicing with one of the production engineers that really digs in and gets to the heart of it. We’ll do tons of takes, trying alternate reads, going for specific styles and unintuitive angles. It’s considerably more fun than my desk job and helps to make said desk job more bearable.

With less time, I loaded up a Kpop playlist (and to be honest, I think I’m deeply, sincerely in love with Kpop now) and got down to business. I churned through a stack of work in an hour, before deciding that I could probably still fit my day’s  tasks in if I went off to engage in a company supplied pilates class. So I vanished for an hour to do pilates.

You know what? It was a fucking hard class and that was awesome in itself. The instructor has done a fantastic job of ramping up the learning curve over the past month or two. She’s funny, plays great music and structures the class with easier exercises that lead into those that’re more difficult. It’s been so much of a boon for the company to have shelled out for an instructor to come in and take these classes once per week. A nice way of redirecting energy in a physical manner that brings us into the afternoon all refreshed.

Having gotten my sweat on, I had about an hour before my next engagement. So I got some lunch and once again did my job (you know, that thing they pay me to come in for?). For that hour. Then it was off for two hours to one of our optional, company supplied lectures.

I’d been on the waiting list and just got my acceptance this morning. Today’s lecture was on storytelling. Out of no vocational necessity, but pure interest, I figured I could learn a thing or two regardless. The instructor was great, and the course brought to mind a lot that I’d never considered. He had a manner of putting into words things that were maybe subconsciously known, but I hadn’t tacitly heard.

Here’s the thing. I feel like humans are natural storytellers. It’s innate to our upbringing. We’re told parables and fairy tales to teach us lessons. The entertainment we so eagerly consume is all based on fundamental rules that’ve evolved over generations. We so rarely put into words what makes a compelling story, but we know it. If the tale doesn’t hit those points, we switch off. Just like that.

Something the instructor raised really stuck with me. It was about audiences. He said that people don’t care about the how, they care about the why. That intrinsically what they care about is what’s in it for them. So to tell a truly effective story, you need to consider what the audience stands to gain from hearing your story. Don’t tell a story just because you want to, but shape it into a tale that benefits those who hear it. Can they learn something? Will it make them laugh? Excited? Emotionally invested? Will it endear them to you and the struggles of the central characters?

When you’re telling a story, don’t just list the facts, plot and outcome, invite the audience inside your story. You’re not giving them empty words, you’re creating a narrative perspective and it’s your goal as a storyteller to bring their view in line with yours. Help them see the world of your mythology as you do. Cause them to invest in the characters, conflict and stakes. Understand the type of story you’re telling and its structure. Is it a rags to riches tale? A quest? A triumph over insurmountable odds? A story of tragedy or rebirth? If you know where you’re going, you’re better able to guide an audience there.

It was all kinds of gratifying to hear this stuff, to participate in discussion and feel like I’d given something back. To feel involved and cared for, to learn little tips of how to expand my knowledge in an area I care deeply about.

After that kind of day, I’m wondering what tomorrow at work could hold.

Are you?

By this point, it’s do or die.

An admission. I’m not in a balanced headspace right now. I’ve been watching clips from the March for Our Lives and it’s been affecting me. My skin is hot, I have constant shivers and I’m alternating between states of incredible fury and heartbreak. I’m in a very emotional state and I feel like psychological dissociation is a very real threat right now. So I’m going to write in the hopes that it will tether me. Because I’m not sure what else to do. Frankly, the fact that I’m utterly powerless to do a thing is probably the hardest pill to swallow.

I can’t do shit. I’m an unimportant spec of New Zealand Canadian who has never lived in a country where it was legal to carry firearms. Guns terrify me. Back home our police weren’t even allowed to wield guns. There was serious ethical friction when the idea of equipping the cops with tasers was raised. So everything I’m saying is of a mentality that’s the furthest possible from accepting open carry. I now live in Canada. Open carry is not legal here. The country also has a significantly lower volume of gun violence than America does. I don’t know a single country that doesn’t. I’m saying this not to gloat, but to point out that my words, my emotions, my capacity as a voting member of the public are in every single manner totally useless to do a thing about the horrific state of the United States. I feel worthless and it’s radiating out from a point of frustration into a total body experience. I can’t do a thing. I need to accept the things I cannot change and focus on what’s within my power.

America, you’re fucked and there’s nothing I can do to help.

I’ve been looking at the groundswell of activism in American youth. It’s both warming and breaking my heart simultaneously. It’s so far beyond incredible that the English language doesn’t yet have a word strong enough for it. This burgeoning generation has inherited a systematic nightmare they should never have had to face and will spend their lives trying to disentangle from it. Those who are lucky enough to still have their lives. Do you want to think about that for a second? The number of children – and these are fucking kids- who face the “privilege” of being able to wake up in the morning? Those who have seen classmates buried. Who will spend the rest of their lives permanently altered by injuries both physical and psychological. Who will have to unpack the unearthly weight of their fortunes for the rest of their goddamn existence.

Despite this colossal opposition, they’re staunchly fighting for their lives with an unbelievable vigour. We don’t deserve them and I can’t wait for older generations to bite the fucking dust so they can inherit the earth. These kids, who’ve been teased about their safe spaces and language policing, are braver than we’ve ever given them credit for. They’re creating the world we’ve told them they deserve and they’re doing everything within their power. Because utopia has been taken from them by the selfish, complacent, short sighted generations that came before them. Fucking myopic nationalist simpletons who think their desire to keep their toys is more important than these kids’ right to keep their lives. Politicians caving to gun lobbyists, favouring the money slipping into their back pockets over the safety of the country they have been charged to preserve and lift.

The thing that breaks my heart, is that it’s all going to amount to nothing. No change will come of this. The rallies, hashtags, impassioned speeches, truth spoken to power. The callouts and cries for reform, the lives lost and sacrifices made? I sincerely fear that there’s no way it will even nudge policy. I would love nothing in this world more than to be proven wrong. If anything concrete was going to happen, it would’ve happened when a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children between the ages of six and seven. Nothing did. Crickets. The lives of kids who probably still listed their ages in half years were ended. Congress gave them thoughts and prayers.

For years you’ve been told that together, your voices can move mountains and make the earth quake. You’ve been told that you live in a democratic society that works for the good of its people. Lies, all lies. You’re all fucked because these politicians consider their income to be more important than your rights. Sorry, you lost. Good luck next time. Your loss, fears, hopes and dreams aren’t enough. None of this will end until the politicians responsible for protecting their broken system know what it feels like on a personal level.

But why would you want to move mountains? Moving a mountain would be a colossal waste of energy. It’s far more efficient to drill underneath, to undermine. Pure force pales in effectiveness to subterfuge and I can’t imagine a generation better suited to using everything at their disposal to manifest their dreams to reality. You’re compassionate, intelligent, resourceful and mobilised. Use that. Don’t try to shame congress into action.

MAKE THEM AFRAID OF YOU.

Reach out to sympathetic legal professionals and discover what the absolute limits of your rights are. Then do everything within your legal rights to make these politicians terrified. Use your resourcefulness to figure out every single politician taking bribes from the NRA, then ruin their lives. Be merciless. Send them physical letters every single day demanding change. Send these letters to their office, their homes. Group together, each of you sending mass individual letters. Send emails too. Post comments. Look for every public outreach channel they have. Dominate them with your voices. Twitter. Facebook. Linkedin. Instagram. Call their offices demanding change. Endlessly. Go to their homes and peacefully protest. When they’re out in public, be there. Be everywhere. When they’re out there looking for a nice PR opportunity? Be there. When they go out for dinner? Be there. At the supermarket? Be there. At their family picnics? Be there. At their kids sports events. Be there. Make your voices be heard. Don’t take no for an answer. Make your presence so insurmountable that they can’t do their jobs. What if they start putting out restraining orders? AMAZING. Get others to join in and force them to bring out more restraining orders. Tie them up in the legal system. Take their time. Force them to funnel their money back into the system or shell out for hiring private security guards. Make it impossible for them to live their lives. Make them terrified to leave their houses. You outnumber them exponentially, you’re quicker to react, you’re smarter and better. Make their existence a nightmare. Every single one of them. Let them see just how effective their thoughts and prayers are against a motivated, politically mobilised generation who are better, smarter and more multitudinous than they are. You’re inspiring the rest of the world with your actions and conviction day by day. They forfeited their right to happiness when they chose comfort over doing the right thing. Let them feel even a percentage of the unbelievable misery they’ve brought into this world. Beat them at their own game by changing the rules.

You are powerful beyond belief, but they only way you can win is if they know what loss feels like.

Show them.

During #oscarssowhite was McConaughey reading nominations like “All white, all white, all white.”?

I went to a party last night. Crazy, I know. I don’t know if me having friends is a massive revelation, but if so I’m glad I still have the capacity to surprise you. That’s important in our kind of relationship, to keep things fresh, y’know?

Aw, I love you too.

So I was at this party. A blanket/pillow fort party being thrown by one of my exes. Like so many of my past partners, she was always wonderful and she didn’t stop being as such because we were no longer seeing one another. She’s poly and something I recognised is just how much I’ve enjoyed spending time with her anchor partner after her and I dated. I always thought he was a really cool bloke while we were together, but post-relationship it’s like some kind of vague unspoken tension was lifted. Whenever he’s at a party, it’s awesome being able to hang out. He and I are very different people, in that we look at the world in a wholly different fashion. He’s this very practical and logical person, while also being very creative. I obviously have zero practical skills, I’m just a borderline manic abstract creative person. So it’s cool chatting with the guy and sorta grokking the world with our combined perspectives.

I have this bit perma-locked and loaded in my holster. Every once in a while when the topic of having trouble recognising someone comes up, I’ll reply with “yeah, but all white people look the same”. Growing up in a small country, ethnically diverse as Auckland can be, there was still a lot of that mainstream wallpaper racism. People casually throwing out a “all Asian people look the same” or whatever. It’s always been a mentality I’ve had a visceral reaction to. I grew up in a house with Japanese au pair girls. My best friend’s family always did the same. It was a way to introduce another culture into the house and effectively expand the family by proxy. One of my best friends was Malaysian. By the time I reached high school a lot of South Koreans began immigrating to New Zealand, so I had a bunch of South Korean friends. The notion of collectively grouping all of these people into a homogeneous lump and bypassing their interesting cultural nuances always made me angry. It was not only ignorant and offensive, but intellectually lazy. So this “all white people look the same” bit is on some small level a humorous way of getting back at that idea.

I said my bit last night and people laughed. My ex’s anchor partner laughed and was also like “let’s talk about this, because it’s interesting”. It’s a nice conversational jumping off point, so I was in. We looked at the general idea of this western Pan-Asiatic view and broke down where we thought it came from. It went a little something like this:

While the behaviour is no doubt annoying and regressive, it also frustratingly makes sense. Learning more about a culture, like anything else, takes time. In any activity (and yes it’s more than strangely dispassionate to call recognising cultural differences an “activity”, but I think it helps to be abstract in order to understand this phenomena), say being a hobbyist botanist or something, there are innumerable subtleties to learn. I’m ignorant as shit when it comes to fauna. I might look at a flower and be like “that’s a flower”, whereas a hobbyist botanist could be all “it is, but it’s actually a daisy. That’s its stamen, this is how it photosynthesises, it’s from this genus, etc etc” (in this scenario, they actually said “etc” out loud twice. Botanists are weeeeeird people).

We respond to stimuli based upon our knowledge. It’s very understandable that some middle class white person from small town New Zealand may have super limited experience having met people of colour. They haven’t spent a ton of time with people from diverse cultures and as such, their knowledge points are really limited. So they see a South Korean and Japanese person standing side by side and they’re not able to pick out the subtle differences. They’re all “well they both a) look different than me, b) look more alike one another than they look like me c) have some similar features like eye or hair colour. Therefore they’re the same”.

The more time you spend entrenched in a culture, the more you can discern between these things. Say you went to Okinawa to teach English in one of those JET style programs. Maybe you’ll notice differences in facial structure, noses, ear sizes or whatever. Perhaps you’ll hear them speak and be like “oh shit, totally different dialects”. Or you’ll see them consume some cultural product whether food, entertainment or branding, and go “well it’s more likely they’re Korean than Japanese” or something. The more knowledge points you acquire about anything, the greater appreciation for markers of difference you’ll have (also why did that sound like Yoda talking?). You have a way more complex basis for comparison, so the idea of looking at a Thai and Chinese person without seeing these markers seems absurd.

Did I whitesplain that well enough? I’m sure I didn’t make it through that diatribe without a number of ignorant cultural assumptions either. We’re all constantly learning. I definitely am. Part of that process is fucking up and making mistakes. I’m happy to own any mistake I make, because it’s an opportunity to be better. I can’t imagine any more worthwhile goal than constantly getting better.

Maybe eventually I’ll learn to tell white people apart too.