Dan Pape is a mysterious fellow. When we first met at the NEPA Creative Writers Group, I’ll be honest—I was intimidated. His writing was visceral and powerful in a way I could only dream of mine being. I know I need to share his works with you.
A fan of Ghostbusters, beer, and hanging out with friends, Dan has countless facets to him. Getting a start in middle school as a writer, he’s dabbled with many genres: lyrics, novels, short stories, and poems (his main squeeze for now). Having recently entered the blogosphere, too, it’s certain his time to shine past the bounds of this region is nigh.
Dan’s enigmatic appeal is not only in his writing but in talking with him. One thing that is not obscured is his emotion captured in his works through his words. His allusions run from classical to modern, and even if you’re not sure of their references, you still feel what he wants to get across. And he challenges you to want to find out more.
Dan started writing recently on The Game Chateau’s blog, Rolling the Dice. A different approach to blogging, the site takes topics that all contributors for that quarter write to. Dan’s contribution, “Rapture,” is bittersweet and magnificent. His first piece of magical realism ready for the masses (in the vein of some of his favorite writers including Marquez and Borges) pulls the reader into the narrator’s raw, heart-rending world. The seeming brief romance of two young women ended abruptly from intolerance punches deep—and leaves you willingly wounded. He talks about this piece humbly, as he does about most of his writing, saying that he was concerned about taking a chance on writing from a woman’s perspective, and from another sexual identity’s perspective as well, but that in the end he wanted to do the characters justice. He went on to add that he hoped his piece would, “[help] to put [a sensitive topic] out there by a voice you don’t expect it from,” and that hopefully his sincere treatment of the trauma involved in the story would help others see people who are “different” as not so different from the rest of us.
Dan doesn’t mind a bit of pain himself it would seem though. I had heard through mutual friends about his monstrous Master’s thesis pursuit of James Joyce. Having tried to read several of the author’s works (Finnegan’s Wake? Come on. That’s just jibberish…), I felt compelled to find out why Dan had chosen such a great, and complex author for his topic.
“I thought if I could pick it apart, maybe I can learn something about the craft [of writing]” he confesses. And what a pursuit it sounded like he was on. It involved a whole section of the library and special access to Joyce’s notes on his masterpiece Ulysses. Dan insists that the novel is “the most human thing I’ve ever read” and he appreciates its commentary on loss and the randomness of its topics just adds to its beauty.
The Joyce influence is clear in Pape’s works, whether it’s a story or his poetry. We discussed poetry as a genre while we were talking, too, and Dan had some spot-on insights. He feels it’s time for poetry to make a comeback—that it is a way for writers to attack all of the “poisonous stuff out there” though he admits that online rights are sketchy and unclear as to who owns what, and that that can be a downfall of fighting the powers that be with the written word. Still, he knows that if poetry can be taught well to younger generations—and not as some unreachable and opaque genre that no one can penetrate—that poems can push our culture forward and out of its seeming recent complacency.
“Anyone can try poetry and with practice [they] can get pretty good at it,” he goes on to say, and his hope is mine: that the intimacy and directness of poetry can get people to take notice.
Some Sage Advice
Not only poetry is accessible to all the would-be writers out there. Dan says writers should find a group to share their work with, and give feedback on others’ works in return. And then, he put it even more simply—in a list!
Read great writers.
Join groups to hone your craft.
Meet other writers.
Just get out there and do what you have to do, in other words. And like Dan Pape says, “You’ll find something about it that’s lifelong. Don’t be afraid.”
And for the record, he wore the black cap long before Jim Halpert from The Office did.
This poem was written by our columnist and creator, A. Dawn Pica.
What Will It Be This Time?
I run my fingertips
Along the grooves of the bricks at my knees—
I grit their teeth between buried secrets
And the cracks are like those of his fallacies.
They are rudimentary
Buried in the cemetery
Of our unspoken words
That still linger in drafts
Of text messages.
I put my back against the universe,
And choke back my tears
In a single shot.
“What will it be this time?” he asks again
As I watch the fake candle light
Flicker its brightest star,
Then die in effigy,
Leaking battery acid.
“I’m not a hopeless romantic
Anymore,” I say,
And he gives me the usual
Overstated with gold flaked parlay.
This glass swirls and spins a fairy tale
Of someone else’s fantasy,
Full of unfulfilled promises.
Today’s featured song is “Present Tense,” by Radiohead on their album, A Moon Shaped Pool.
Do you ever feel like your life is like a dream? I don’t mean like Cinderella or some fairy tale crap, but just the mundane of everyday life cut up into oddly pieced snippets then spliced back together like an artsy foreign film? You can’t quite figure out if you are awake or if every day is just a blur of actions and reactions, then something happens.
Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference—It is a numbness that takes over sometimes when we do the same routine over and over. Sometimes it can be when we see great things happen to other people and not us. Or worse yet, when bad things happen to us or people we care about.
It doesn’t have to be so bad, but lately I have been indulging in ennui. Maybe because I have been so busy with the everyday, I forget to dream about something interesting? Or maybe it’s because I’ve been sick with a cold this week, I don’t feel like doing anything.
Sometimes we need to slow down. Maybe we can bathe in the present tense? Soak our fingers until we are pruning with the day-to-day reality, which is our lives?
Let us not be too real. Let’s pretend for a bit.
If I look at my life, I see that I am underpaid immensely for my qualifications and education. Right now, I am a substitute teacher in the day and teach college courses at night. I don’t make a lot of money, but I am happier than I was with my “dream job,” which turned into a nightmare. The students I encounter when subbing were kids I knew from last year when I taught at their school. They tell me often that they wish I would be their teacher and can’t figure out why I wasn’t hired to teach at their school. After hearing it so many times, I started taking it more seriously, though I can’t fight the political machine and win every time. I can’t dwell on what isn’t.
A lot of us have been there.
My love life was on life support recently, and then I pulled the plug. I was seeing someone off and on, who is considerably younger than me. There are no harsh feelings—I would rather just be honest with myself and realize there is no hope of it going anywhere.
This may sound like I am depressed, but I am okay with everything. People may think happiness is a constant, an object, that you have no control over, like winning the lottery. You may be lucky or you are not and there is nothing you can do about it.
I beg to differ.
I have been reading lately, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” which is the novel that inspired the film, Blade Runner. I don’t want to give too much away, but in the novel, the main character, Rick Deckard is obsessed with obtaining a living animal (because animals have died due to the aftermath of a World War). Living animals are a status symbol to possess, because they are obviously so rare and cost exorbitant amounts of money. He thought if he bought a living animal, life would be so much better. It reminds me of the old adage, “money can’t buy happiness.”
The problem with this is not necessarily that money can’t buy you happiness, but happiness is not a tangible object or concept. We place demands on ourselves everyday: “If only I had that house or great job,” “If only I lived somewhere else,” or “If only I were married.” When we place these contingencies on ourselves, we make ourselves miserable—there will always be another contingency to replace the one that is resolved. If you place contingencies on yourself, practice reframing them into reasonable goals. If it sounds ridiculous, then it is not worth thinking about. These are reasons why I have to live in the present as to prevent myself from feeling sad or disappointment. If I start placing contingencies on myself, I will dwell in failure of a future that may never be.
There are ways to live in the present, but you have to be willing to try:
1. Leave the house and do something different.
You don’t have to go skydiving, another country, or a concert all of the time to be happy. The problem with indulging with social media is that we compare ourselves to others. We see their smiling faces with a bunch of their equally interesting friends doing amazing things, while we are sitting in our hypothetical (or real) Snuggies. We don’t have to be out living life the fullest every night or every weekend to be fulfilled, but maybe try something new. Travel to a nearby place you haven’t been. Do something nice for others and throw a little get together. Ask people to bring food and/or drinks if you can’t afford it. Break up your routine instead of feeling sorry for yourself after another night of Netflix and Ben and Jerry’s bingeing. Even if you are with your significant other, life gets boring when you are always locked into a bubble.
2. Find something to distract yourself.
Need to clean that closet in your house? Repair your leaking faucet? Get a paper done? Just do it already and get it over with. You will feel so much better knowing it is done and when something exciting comes your way, you will be able to join in the adventure, whether you have saved your money, time, or both. If you don’t feel like being productive or doing something you don’t want to do, write a song, read a book, paint something, or go on an adventure and take photos. If you can’t do those things at the moment or it’s more of a thought process that’s holding you back, change your mind.
In Cognitive Behavior Therapy, there are techniques which help you control your racing thoughts. If I continue to have anxiety producing thoughts, I will “thought replace,” which I will shift my attention to something else silly or something productive in order not to think negatively. Thankfully, I have an active imagination, so I will try to think of something funny or random (kind of like an inner improv). Additionally, I have been practicing meditation lately, which there is a method you can try, which is called “Noting.” Noting is not necessarily changing your thoughts, but “noting” that you have these negative thoughts and that’s okay. You can start noting when you have negative thoughts, what situations they occur, and so forth just as you would with “thought replacing.”
3. Make Small Goals for Yourself
Along the lines of distracting yourself, make small goals instead of larger ones. Break your goals into chunks. What do you want out of life? Is it manageable? Can you try to make it happen? I have wanted to be a novelist since I was eight years old, but sometimes if I think about writing a novel, the process sounds daunting and impossible. If I break it down into small parts, like thinking about what kind of characters I want to develop, or what generally I would like it to be about, it makes things easier to process. Certain goals take time, possibly years or a lifetime. It takes us a while to get a degree or start a family. We don’t just obtain what we want overnight, typically. If you want to break it down further, maybe something like you adulted this week by working a bunch of overtime, so you buy something nice for yourself. Whatever your goals, you can achieve them in small parts, which add up to a bigger picture.
4. Don’t make concrete plans for the future.
When I say this, I am not referring to putting money in a retirement fund or making any attainable plans for the future (e.g. getting married, having kids). What I am referring to is to not be so rigid in your plans. Life changes and so do our plans. Be prepared to make changes or to roll with them the best you can. Again, these can be typically the contingencies we create for ourselves: “If I do this, then I will be happy.” It doesn’t always work out that way. Most of the time, it doesn’t, but what you can do is dream. As Blondie says “dreaming is free.”
5. Lastly, Dream, Dream, Dream.
The fun thing about dreaming is that it doesn’t have to be taken seriously. When I was younger, I lived in a world much like Doug Funnie, which I would imagine exaggerated situations and write about them, good and bad. 99 percent of the time these fantasies never happened, but the reality of it though is that I never worried as a kid that “my dreams won’t be realized” or that they had to be. The point was just to let my mind float and sometimes use it to cope with stress. As adults, I think we sometimes forget it’s okay to not worry about actualizing everything we dream about. When I find the dream is not fulfilling or in some cases, becoming harmful, I dream of something else and deal with that negativity in my life, typically by expelling it. For example, I would catch myself daydreaming thinking things would work out in some way with the person mentioned above. In reality, it didn’t “have to” work out, but some part of me wanted it to. When I realized it never would, it wasn’t fun anymore to dream about it. And if something keeps coming back to you, like my dream of being a novelist, maybe it’s time to make that dream into a reality or change your dream.
I hope my advice has served you well in a pressing time of ennui. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy what life brings me on another unseasonably warm October, today.
We all go through phases as teenagers. Some of us go crazy over romance, some of us try desperately to follow the crowd, and some of us get really, REALLY into horses. But some of us shy away from the norm, lurk in the shadows, wear black eyeshadow, and feel like no one understands us. I’m talking about Emos, and you bet your studded, checkered belt that I was (and still a little bit am) one. Not only was My Chemical Romance my all-time favorite band, but year round I wore a huge Jack Skellington hoodie, ripped jeans with fishnets underneath, straightened the ever living hell out of my curly hair, and wore enough black eye liner that I’m pretty sure I kept Wet N Wild in business through the mid 2000’s.
Besides writing sad poetry about things that I didn’t really understand, and lamenting the fact that my mom wouldn’t let me dye my already dark hair black, there was a distinct creature that took up basically all of my attention and obsession: vampires. Yes, I was a Twilighter (because I hate the nickname “Twihard”) and was instrumental in spreading the book (that I lost all of my social life to) through my high school when the craze first started. I spent hours writing stories based off of the series, listening to the same songs Stephanie Meyers listened to when she wrote the books (Blue October’s Foiled is still a go to album for me), spent more of my time on message boards (yes, message boards) on the Twilight fansite, arguing with people over who should play what character when the movie was finally made, and spent the rest of my time watching fanmade Youtube videos of mashed together clips from different movies and drooling over fanart masterpieces that I still think about to this day. This was all before the movie came out and my room was legitimately covered in any poster of Robert Pattinson that I could covet, which still exist along with similar merchandise in a heavy rubber bin in my garage.
To put it simply, I was obsessed. While, I look back now and laugh at all the passion I had over a not-that-great book series, I also think of all the other books, movies, lore, and TV series that Twilight opened me up to and solidified my love for fanged, blood loving creatures.
When I was 18, I got my third tattoo, which is a set of lips with vampire fangs and the words “show me your teeth” written around them, placed (very visibly) on my chest. Not only was it a mark of a phase that was quickly coming to an end as I entered my first year of college, but it became a nostalgic reminder that to this day I still find vampires to be the most fascinating creatures ever, especially when it comes to the girls who fell in love with them (or didn’t), or the girls who became monstrous vampires themselves.
That is why I want to split this series up in parts. I’ve got a solid 10 years of myths and stories whirling around in my brain, and I can’t wait to release my inner 15- year-old, vamp loving self onto the masses. So if you want a Halloween that’s a little bloodier (and more woman friendly) than normal, please stay tuned for the rest of the “Bloodsucking B!#%&$” series, and remember that not all phases are truly over, especially when they’re meant to be immortal.
This article was written by one of the writers featured in our column, “The Writer’s Edge,” Alex Lotorto. In Alex’s article, he writes about the interview he had with our talented columnist for the “The Writer’s Edge,” Marcie Riebe. Alex writes:
Classical writers used inkwells to replenish their quills, but in our area, many writers turn to Marcie Riebe to refresh and refine their craft.
A local university professor, poet, caseworker, union maid, and actress, Riebe is a well of inspiration for Northeast Pennsylvanians making the most of our transitioning region. During the school year, Riebe is an adjunct writing professor at Wilkes University.
When asked to list the three most important lessons of her Academic Writing class this semester, Marcie replied, “First, writing is an ongoing process and it doesn’t stop. Second, some international students come from countries that don’t value writing as intellectual property. In some Arabic speaking countries, it can be an homage to a person to use their words. So, I emphasize the importance of research and sources. “For the third lesson, she paused then added, “The more you read, the better you can write.”
Riebe shares her talents of writing and critique at local writers groups. You can find her at Northeast Pennsylvania Creative Writers every other Wednesday night at the Taylor Community Library. Once a month on Saturday afternoons, catch her at The Game Chateau’s writers group in Wilkes-Barre.
“I love it at The Game Chateau. It’s an oasis of creativity in NEPA. They offer writing workshops, art, writers’ groups…you should check them out!” she said.
Her work can also be found on topic-focused blogs including Project Wednesday (a positivity blog), here at the Thirty-Third Wheel (local arts and culture), and The Game Chateau’s upcoming feature blog, Rolling the Dice.
As a young person, Riebe started writing as a hobby while working as a tutor in the writing center at Wilkes.
“I realized I was talented and tried to help other people,” she said.
Riebe pursued genres of writing including dramatic writing, short stories, screenwriting, poetry, and essays. Some of Riebe’s early works included a one act called Have that was published in the Wilkes Manuscript literary magazine.
When asked to describe the plot, Riebe blushed, as every writer does when asked about their early work.
“A guy and a girl who knew each other in high school were the ones that got away from each other. The play was set up as a confession of how they felt later, divulging feelings. Like a confession booth. It was never performed.”
Riebe said she enjoys writing poetry the most.
“I can get something out and see a result, something that feels finished, in a relatively short amount of time. It is gratification for me. Lately, I have been writing a lot about women as subjects and their experiences,” she explained.
About a year and a half ago, Riebe brought a friend along to see a show at the Scranton Cultural Center. While waiting on line for a while, Riebe observed her friend’s fragrance, which inspired her poem “No Scents.”
A woman at work
Wears the perfume
I avoid her.
If I smell it–
For the rest of the day.
I’ll only think of your
Roan, curly hair–
Flitting in a July breeze
Getting caught in your sunglasses
With the tortoiseshell pattern
That almost matches them–
And the hem of your
Evergreen, gauzy dress
Tipped up, a moment,
In the same balmy breeze
With the sun on your side
My eyes squint to keep it out
But they lose for longing to look
One morning in June, Riebe woke up to the grueling heat. Tangled in her sheets and sweaty, she remembered the biweekly prompt of her Northeast Pennsylvania Writers’ group, “sleep”. She went downstairs to her notebook and penned:
I wake long before I should have to see you
The heat alerts me with a start
Caught and tied in my damp nightshirt
Restrained in moist bedsheets
The pillow I hug wetter than me.
Riebe’s favorite poem in that little notebook makes her hungry. She smiled and said, “It’s about spaghetti that I had at my friend Bernie’s house.”
Crimson sauce disperses
Forming a fiery tomato nebula
A significant galaxy within
Of beef, egg, breadcrumbs
Sausage asteroids, slippery, in transit
Past meridians of a universal plate
Studded with white dwarfs of garlic
And distant yellow suns of onion
A black hole’s gravitational pull begins
Fork spinning slowly on an axis
Guided by a spoon, a fleeting meteor
Together sounding the serenade or remote
A Parmesan supernova in perigee
The vastness smells of
When asked to name writers that inspire her, Riebe rattled off, “Locally, my favorite poet is Daryl Sznyter because she reveals raw emotion that I feel a connection to.”
“Of all time, Tennyson inspires me the most. My favorite of his is ‘In Memorium’ because I associate it with my grandfather. I read it at his funeral,” she recalled. “In the poem, Tennyson had a special connection with his friend and I’d like to write a poem that can show my connection to someone like that someday.”
Riebe added, “Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky are melancholy like I am and realistic. I find things in their characters that I can relate to, at least in part.”
Riebe has spent the last eight years as a caseworker, working with the Spanish-speaking population in Northeast Pennsylvania.
“I was a sociology major at Wilkes as an undergrad. When I worked at the writing center I got interested in English as a second language (ESL) classes and veered off the sociology track. I couldn’t find a job doing that in public schools, so I went back to school for my secondary education degree. I was teaching Composition 101 at Wilkes and I ended up working at the International Student Services office while I was teaching.”
A family connection pointed her to her current career.
“My father in law worked in social services and while he knew that I loved my job at Wilkes, he knew that my husband and I just bought a house and he encouraged me to take the civil service exam. I didn’t hear anything for almost two years and then I got a call from human resources, took the Spanish test, and started my current job,” she continued.
Riebe quickly got involved with her union.
“I grew up in a family of teachers and unions were part of my upbringing. I started getting involved in our union, taking note of workplace issues and going to our chapter meetings. Then in 2015, I ran for union shop steward on a ticket with two other women for our union election and we won,” she said.
When asked about her role as a shop steward, Riebe explained, “I believe in equity for members, which means being treated fairly according to our contract. I try to help people see how the union works for them and how, if they are involved in it, they can feel ownership.”
A woman of many parts, Riebe participates in local community theatre as well.
“Early on, I did community theater and little kid plays at day camp. I didn’t get back to it until I was in high school at Danville Area.”
In May, Riebe performed in Diva Productions’ The Smell of the Kill (Molly) at the Olde Brick Theater in North Scranton.
“I like to do comedy because I competed in speech in high school in humorous interpretation,” she explained.
In the dark comedy, Riebe played one of three wives cleaning up after a dinner party and discussing their husbands’ abuse, stalking, and microaggressions. Their husbands are playing golf in the next room shouting expletives until they suddenly go missing. The wives discover the men have locked themselves in the host husband’s meat locker downstairs and wonder aloud, would the men rescue their wives from the freezer if the tables were turned?
Riebe analyzed, “From a feminist theory perspective, the play depicted women working as a team instead of working against each other. In the beginning of the play, every time one woman leaves, the other two are talking about her, but by the end, they come together to share how they would all like to kill their awful husbands.”
Riebe combined her passion for labor unions and theatre in her most recent performance in After the Shots Were Fired as Mrs. Stephen Philips, the wife of a coal miner shot dead by William Walker Scranton’s coal company militia during the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. The play, performed at the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum’s Labor Heritage Day and Pittston Riverfest, was written by local historians Margo Azzarelli, Marnie Azzarelli, and myself.
Riebe’s character bemoans her husband’s death, “I have no money for us this week and hardly any food left. Our debt to the company is high, and if I don’t start to pay it, they will take our home from us. I must send the children to work. I could lie about young Stephen’s age so maybe he could be a laborer. I could send the three oldest girls to the mills and the youngest boy to the breaker. I could take in miners that need boarding, or I could marry again. If that’s what I need to do to keep my family alive, I will do it for us. I will do it for Stephen.”
Riebe, originally from Danville, asserts that she is native to central Pennsylvania, not northeastern. I argued that Danville is within the WNEP viewing area and therefore, she is from Northeast Pennsylvania, but she was adamant. Either way, she’s firmly rooted herself here in NEPA with many contributions made and many still yet to come. We should all be proud to have her to replenish our pens.
For your listening pleasure, today’s song is “Never There,” by Cake from their album, Prolonging the Magic.
Fall is a time for leaf changing, freaky 90-degree weather for weeks at a time (it did not even get this consistently hot over the summer), pumpkin spiced everything, and my favorite holiday, Halloween. People say that Spring time is a time of romance, but I find roasting marshmallows over a bon-fire on a seasonably normal crisp Fall evening and drinking spiked cider at an impromptu costume party a means of sparking romance. Speaking of which, did I mention that Americans spent an all-time record of 8.4 billion dollars (thebalance.com) on Halloween decorations last year? It’s because Halloween is the best!
With the emergence Halloween comes the spooky stuff (I can’t wait until the Stranger Things, Season 2 Premiere), which includes scantily clad costumes, Charlie Brown’s “The Great Pumpkin,” B horror movies, witches (I’m not a basic witch), and most importantly, ghosts. Whether you believe in them or not, they are out there…ghosting your text messages (insert the voice of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, here)!
You can’t unread it: I said it. And this is probably one of the reasons why I am single.
Anyway, we all have encountered these ghosts or have turned into them ourselves (probably by being bitten by Pacman ghosts or our lack of giving a shit). I don’t know if you have been through this, but I would like to relay to you a situation for example. My friend was recently talking to a guy she would describe as someone who “doesn’t suck,” but then again, we have been wrong before. She and this guy (let’s call him Inky) talked every day through text for about a month. Inky and she bonded over numerous interests. There was an apparent attraction between them, but he never would make plans to see her. However, he constantly talked about how his life sucked and how he missed his ex-girlfriend who broke up with him four years ago. He talked about how his ex destroyed him, yet he was still hung up on her. He couldn’t or didn’t want to see anyone else, yet talked about how he liked my friend (this seems to be an issue with dating guys in their late 20’s). His ex contacted him eventually and they sort of got back together (a fling, whatever it was). And that was the end of that. He ghosted.
I did my research and want to share this pertinent information with you. There are all sorts of ghosts out there in any gender, and I want to teach you how to spot and avoid getting eaten by them. All of the ghosts share one thing in common: selfishness.
Ghosts come in different colors, too (to be exact, they are red, pink, aqua, and orange). Please see this highly scientific diagram below:
“Blinky” (the red ghost): Blinky may appear to be a slow-learner, but Blinky will eventually learn your moves and bite you right in the ass (perhaps literally if you are into that sort of thing). Blinky will slink back (literally or metaphysically through the internets) and watch your every move. Blinky will ask seemingly innocuous questions about your interests, yet never ask direct questions about yourself or make plans related to these interests. Blinky will also never talk about themselves. Blinky will play it cool, yet creepy. and clingy. Blinky will find out where you hang out and will just randomly appear there (“Oh! I was just in the neighborhood”) or like random photos on your Facebook from three years ago stuffed in some Mobile Uploads folder. Yet, try to pinpoint who Blinky is or where to find where they will be, and you will have no idea. One drunken night, Blinky might confess true feelings for you that are so outlandishly deep like a marriage proposal, but then try to discuss it the next day, and Blinky has packed their bags and moved on to another newbie victim, slasher style.
Advice: Stay away! Blinky may masquerade as being chill, but Blinkys are creeps. They will be passive-aggressive if you approach them about their stalking behavior. There is no helping them. If you feel like it, get what you can, but beware the consequences of a one-night stand. They may expect random repeated booty calls with some bizarre demands and non-profound declarations of love sprinkled in between.
Pinky: Pinky always seems to be confused about what direction Pinky is going in on a regular basis. Pinky is a dreamer and is super flighty. Pinky might have a new goal every week. You might see potential in Pinky’s upbeat personality and seeming sense of accomplishment, but Pinky is all about Pinky. Pinky does not return texts and then will at 3 a.m. the following Saturday. Pinky fronts as wanting a relationship, but Pinky just wants followers. Pinky may also front as a leader, but Pinky has no idea what the hell Pinky is doing. Pinky would rather be told what to do by Pinky’s crew and leave you in the dust unless you happen to pass in the same direction, then you are screwed. Pinky has not quite gained the sense of Object Permanence (babies when they realize their caregivers exist when they are out of babies’ sights). Pinky is a people pleaser, but does not care about pleasing you if you are a permanent fixture in their line of sight.
Advice: Enjoy the ride. Take what you can get, because it will probably disappear. Don’t act interested either unless you want something. Beat Pinky at their own game.
Inky: Inky is probably friends with Blinky, which Inky likes to manifest in dark alley ways and smoky bars. However, Inky is the seeming soft type who brings their journal to the bar and takes notes. Inky likes to people watch and talks about deep topics like poetry or philosophy. Inky typically is frozen in perpetual stasis of Freshman year of college and wears ill-fitted printed clothing, which may be considered hipster, but is just strange. Inky has a lot of insecurity issues and talks about their ex…a lot! Inky can’t be bothered with the mundane aspects of having “a relationship” and wants to talk about their problems all of the time. You may see this as “bonding,” when in reality, they just want an ego boost.
Advice: Don’t waste your time with Inky. It is going nowhere fast. Inky is a stray cat that only wants affection when it’s hungry. However, Inky isn’t that cute to begin with, so is it worth it to deal with Norman Bates?
Clyde: Lastly, Clyde can care less about anything and has the attention span of a squirrel. Clyde is here for a good time, not a long time. Clyde likes to hook-up with basically anything that slaps Clyde in the face. Clyde is too stupid to be self-loathing and has no sense of self-awareness. Clyde may seem like relationship material, but Clyde is just looking for the best opportunity at the moment. Clyde likes to party and may join you in your misadventures if you are bringing your hot friend along or buying rounds of drinks. Clyde is the group message texter. Clyde also traps you in their drama when they need your attention, but is nowhere to be found when you need them. Clyde is just a douchebag.
Advice: Similar to Pinky, take what you can. However, Clyde is not as charming and sophisticated as Pinky, so Clyde may get annoying, fast. Take what you can and run.
I hope this advice as provided you safe travel throughout your journey through mazes while you collect cherries, apples, and maybe if you are lucky enough, the key.
If you would like to listen to our playlist, you can find it here and on Spotify: thirtythirdwheel
It can be demoralizing and frustrating to comment on a post that you have an opinion on. Sometimes, you can even get people to misinterpret what you said, assume that you meant something that you did not mean, or because they disagree with what you said, they go on to attack, insult, and demonize you for everyone else to see. I know that this has caused me to take pause on many occasions and to decide not to post when I felt that public discourse was a great way to resolve a conflict between my friends on Facebook. Even researched facts can cause an emotional reaction that will make your well-meaning post turn into something ugly.
So, what do we do? Do we sit back and stay silent on things that we think are important? Do we privately message our friends and asked them politely if they would you mind if we disagreed with them? Or do we let loose, and risk becoming king social media pariah? I don’t know about you, but none of these options sound very appealing to me.
Something that tends to work in face to face conversation could be a healthy solution to these sticky situations: it is called active listening. Active listening is a way to begin in conversation was someone that allows them to teach you more about how they think and who they are. Active listening requires a few important steps in order to make it effective on social media.
1. Eliminate assumptions.
If you begin questions or comments with assumptions like “Do you just hate all animals?” you will immediately put the person you are asking about on the defense. When we are defensive, we are not ready to open up to someone. This will stop the active listening process before it even begins.
2. Charity is key.
My philosophy professor in my first year of college taught this principle to us when having a debate that I will never forget. It is infinitely useful in trying to really understand someone’s argument. Charity is when you assume that the person you are speaking with knows what they are talking about. You argue against the strongest position of their argument that you can. If you can exercise charity on social media, you will be listening for the most valuable position the person you are posting about has. This will allow you to wrestle with potentially difficult problems with your own world view. It will also give you a much better chance to change the mind of the person you are having a discussion with, as you will be able to speak to the most well-thought-out position they have.
3. Express interest in the person you are speaking with.
It is important to people to feel that you are interested in them. We respond well to people who see us as human beings who are intelligent and have something valuable to say. If the person you are commenting back and forth with is more similar to you are than you think is a good way to practice this principle. It will help build connections with the person that will allow you to gain credibility with them, which will be important if you plan to change their minds on any topics. Not just what they think about the current topic.
4. Ignore the hate.
This is probably one of the most obvious and difficult things to do on Twitter and Facebook. Often there will be people who agree with you who just want to spit venom at people who disagree with them. They clearly have not read this article. Stop. Breathe. Send them the link to this and wash your hands of their actions. There will be people who disagree with you. They will call you racist, a hippie, stupid, brainwashed, ignorant, hateful, and a host of other things. These are not arguments. Stick to the topic and asking questions, and these trolls will run out of fuel for their fires. You are not in control of others in the thread. But you are in control of how you react to irrelevant comments.
There are many other tips and tricks on how to stay healthy in the technological age we live in. I will be posting on them occasionally, and you can feel free to reach out to me with any other help you need on how to keep your friends in the age of social media etiquette. I hope you were actively listening!