littlewonder2

Little wonder we stumble in life.


Leave a comment

Things I Learned About Toxic Discourse

When you go online to “join the conversation,” you might find yourself a little lost how to begin. Some conversations online are constructive, but some aren’t. There are plenty of conversations that involve a toxic rhetoric.

There are a range of such conversations out there, so it’s no surprise that there are also conversations on that very topic online. Here’s what I’ve learned from these conversations so far.

toxic1toxic2toxic3toxic4toxic5toxic6toxic7toxic8toxic9toxic10toxic11toxic12toxic13toxic14toxic15toxic16toxic17toxic18toxic19

This conversation tells you the basics of how to converse and what healthy and non-healthy conversations alike look like. Not only that, but it gives you a history of why we converse the way we do.

But look. As relevant as all this is, and it is, it also centres on American-style discourse, because of course Americans are the majority on the internet and because they are very influential globally. It’s a mindset that I myself have never felt as strongly, so I’ve always assumed that other non-Americans also don’t have as extreme a mindset as those Americans who share the Bush mentality.

Given this, I think it’s worth looking at how American media specifically is run.

toxic95toxic96toxic97toxic98toxic99toxic100toxic101toxic102toxic103toxic104toxic105toxic106toxic107toxic108

Well, I would say non-Americans are harder to control because our media is far less jingoistic than America’s is. We don’t have exactly the same poisonous media, but we are still somewhat focused inwards; a lot of our big news stories, even if they happen overseas, is always focused on our nation’s citizens.

But, America does seem to be a special case, since their media does seem to be narrower and more extreme. I believe that a lot of their toxic discourse comes from keeping themselves in their own bubble and shunning those that exist outside it. Americans specifically, after all, seem to be the loudest voices when it comes to arguing over specific topics.

toxic20toxic21toxic22toxic23toxic24toxic25toxic26toxic27toxic28toxic29toxic30toxic31toxic32toxic33toxic34

I know it isn’t just Americans that are the problem. It’s just that Americans specifically are more in the public eye than other Westerners, making their brand of discourse the more visible one. Because it carries more influence, both online and globally, their discourse becomes the voice of other Westerners, since we share much of the same culture, and thus prejudices, as Americans.

Take, for example, this conversation regarding gender roles in Western culture, as opposed to outside cultures.

toxic43toxic44toxic45toxic46toxic47toxic48toxic49toxic50toxic51toxic52

And then there are those who take it as their mission to spread such toxic discourse, and test out those that would oppose them in order to find their weaknesses.

toxic126toxic130toxic131toxic127toxic128toxic129

There are specific techniques they use, too.

toxic85toxic86toxic87toxic88toxic89toxic90toxic91toxic92toxic93toxic94

There’s also a thing called ‘gaslighting,’ which is referenced quite a lot. A simple example:

toxic132

However, I do have an example that talks about it at a bit more length. By examining media, the following example talks about gaslighting, as well as other concepts such as the “female gaze”. The purpose of adding this example is to compare a toxic relationship to a healthy one.

The purpose of these examples is seeing how to deal with toxic discourse when it arises, not only online but in real life.

toxic53toxic54toxic55toxic56toxic57toxic58toxic59toxic60toxic61toxic62toxic63toxic64toxic65toxic66toxic67toxic68toxic69toxic70

Conversely, this next example shows a toxic discourse between female fans of Sherlock and its show runners, as well as providing a counterpoint to the above example’s female gaze, namely the much more common male gaze. It also demonstrates the toxic relationship between women and men in real life.

toxic71toxic72toxic73toxic74toxic75toxic76toxic77toxic78toxic79toxic80toxic81toxic82toxic83toxic84

Slight addendum to this, regarding male and female fans:

toxic133toxic134toxic135toxic136toxic137

You don’t have to go online to see all these cases; this is simply the setting many of us use to share our stories or spread our ideas. These ideas may be toxic, or like in these examples, they could spread awareness of these terrible discourses and how to circumvent them. That was my intention here.

I’ll leave you with one last example, which shows how you could react to toxic discourse with grace.

toxic109toxic110toxic111toxic112toxic113toxic114toxic115toxic116toxic117toxic118toxic119toxic120toxic121toxic122toxic123toxic124toxic125toxic126

Advertisements


1 Comment

The Words I Can’t Say

#1493 – Asexual Awareness Week. Today I’ve been reading up on my old favourites on wordpress, ithinkincomics and onlyfragments, when I found this.

My first impressions, the first thing I wanted to say is this:

Oh honey, you’re not ugly and unacceptable. You’re beautiful. There’s no reason to feel ashamed of yourself. And I know no words I can say, or write, will make up for that feeling if you really feel it in your chest…

I’m not asexual, or anything like that. But I feel you. Or I think I do. There was perhaps a point when I felt like that, when everyone seemed interested in that and I didn’t. I was only a teenager then, but now I know that wasn’t true. I was just repressing my interests, and I didn’t even know I was doing it. I did it for years, and when I finally woke up to myself… I felt a bit like that too.

But I don’t anymore. Even if I never say it aloud, how I feel, what I want, I am far more at ease than I was when it started. I’m at ease with myself, even if I’m not with other people to the extent that I tell no one these things. But I do feel them. I’m far more the adult now, who knows herself. At 25, you’d think I would be.

So I hope anyone who reads this who is unsure knows it can get better, whatever your personal struggles are.


Leave a comment

Brisbane and Back

I stayed up late last night, so it was with a rude awakening that I was greeted this morning when mum called me to get up and get ready to go. Go where? I called out, asking, but got no reply. So grumpily, I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Some time later, I was woken up again. This time I was rather more awake, so I was actually able to get up out of bed. Mum was saying we had to leave soon, but I was still confused, so I asked again. I woke myself more readily when she said something that amounted to today being Christmas shopping day, but it wasn’t. Still, I brought my bag with my wallet, just in case.

I had to rush to get ready, so it was lucky I already wore my clothes to sleep. I just had to put on my shoes and socks, and I grabbed my sunnies, and put on my iPod. Mum told me to eat breakfast, but it was already 18 minutes past ten, when we were supposed to leave, so I grabbed two muesli bars. Luckily they were well enough to last me until lunch.

First place we went was down to Brisbane to meet my sister. I accidentally caught sight of my Christmas present (a TARDIS cookie jar!) and mum and I had leftover smoothie. The three of us then left and looked at a place at North Lakes (we’re looking to move somewhere cheaper). It was the first place that was big enough for our stuff, and it was a nice area, although there were a few strange features of the house. For example, the garage converted into a hair salon, or the wraparound sun room, which had also been converted from the backyard. Still, it was a nice enough place, in a convenient location both for my Uni and mum’s for next year. And it’ll be closer to sis, when we do move.

After that, we went to the shops for lunch. We ate at an Asian food place, since essentially everything else was fast food or Subway (and its been ages since we went there). I had a taster dish, and mum and sis both had Tokyo Beef, though it was too much for both of them. Mine was just big enough, though I didn’t finish the pork bun completely (it got stuck to the paper).

Then we had to go pick dad up. He’s been staying in Brisbane for a Sea Org Detox thing. Apparently, one day of the week he’s still eating fast food. No matter what, dad never does seem to be able to resist. It’s like it’s his nature: indulgent. There was quite a bit of complaining from mum that this errand ruined the day, but there was no one else to pick him up, as brother-in-law lost his license recently.

We dropped both sis and dad off at sis’ place and I went with mum to have dinner at her Italian friend’s house. We had delicious meatballs and mash potatoes. The mash was so tasty, full of curious flavours. Mum also brought ice cream made of protein, which was actually quite good, although I was the only one who ate all of mine. Mum said it was fine if you had to eat it on a diet, but it wasn’t great.

In the end, I felt I was waiting too long waiting for her friend to do something for her, so I looked on the bookshelf. He had a few cookbooks, what looked like the Italian version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus and… Mein Kampf, the Hitler propaganda book. I was quite surprised at that and got rather fixated on it. For one thing, what was he doing with the Nazi book? For another, was it in German? Could it really be possible he somehow knew German?

I started to think of reasons why he might have it. I wondered if he was merely curious, from a historical point of view, why the Nazis thought the way they did. That was the top reason I came up with. Why else would you have it, unless you were a Neo-Nazi? He’s far too nice and accepting to be that, but it still seemed strange, and mind-blowing that he would have it. I didn’t even think the book would be available if you wanted it. It’s a pretty terrible thing, being from such an evil movement.

I was too afraid to look inside. Too afraid even to mention to mum I saw it. So I’m saying it here.

Anyhow, we left, and stopped off at a gas station before going home. I got an orange juice and an issue of Empire, that nerd magazine. I’m gonna go read it once I’m finished here.

So finally, we got home. That was a relief. Still rather hot though, even at night.


Leave a comment

Uni: Week 2

Okay, so I didn’t exactly post for the first week. Brief overview: I went to lectures, and Japanese tutes (tutorials). I spent the week obsessively reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin, so I could have it done by this week (btw mission accomplished). The lecture theatre for Victorians to Moderns is weird; the seats are attached to the table, and swing out, and we get actual desks instead of a little slab.

Now that’s out of the way…

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned, but my other classes are Wonder Worlds (an English Lit class) and Novel Ideas. I didn’t have the book for that, so I basically had to look up the short stories from it online. I found 2/3, at least. My favourite of the two was A Stone Woman. I really like the way AS Byatt constructs the stone woman; I feel I could use the same kind of techniques in fleshing out my vampires’ legends.

So basically, my Novel Idea lecture was talking about each story — two of which I hadn’t yet read — and then I went home and found A Stone Woman, and finished it just in time to make it to the Novel Ideas tute. My tutor is called Melanie, and we had to go around the room stating our name, program, and preferred genre to write.

That wasn’t nearly as bad as my Wonder Worlds or Victorians to Moderns tutes though, which are incidentally taught by the same tutor; an American called Ginna. She asked for name, program and weird fact about yourself. In Wonder Worlds, I skipped over that last one. In Victorians to Moderns, I was a bit more nervous, stumbling and pausing over my introduction and answers. I forgot if I was supposed to say my name. Luckily, I was wearing my Deathly Hallows necklace at the time, so that gave me more freedom to talk about my weird fact:

“It’s from Harry Potter. It’s the symbol of the Deathly Hallows.”

“Have you read all the books?” asked Ginna.

“Yes.”

“Have you read them again?”

“I… come back to them sometimes.” By which I meant, I only use them as references for writing fan fiction. Or going back to passages I particularly like.

“You come back to them sometimes… How about the movies? Have you seen them?”

“Yes, I’ve seen all the books and all the movies. I like wizard rock. Yeah, and… all that.”

Nobody asked me what wizard rock was. Probably, none of them noticed the out-of-the-ordinary reference. But to be fair, while the class was going on, I spotted out of the window a girl in a TARDIS hoodie climbing a flight of stairs, so maybe nerd is commonplace at Uni.

The only time since then I stumbled on my words was when we were calling out modern social issues. I made a string of vaguely-connected sounds, before blowing a raspberry and collapsing on the desk to compose myself before trying again. “Genital mutilation,” I said. According to an opinionated atheist in the class, there are areas where the women perpetuate it, believing they wouldn’t be who they are without it.

Before the lecture for this very class, I also had a little adventure. I was sitting by myself, practising my kanji in my Japanese journal, when this girl comes along asking if she can sit. Even now, I’m not sure her name. “Sure,” I said. But I wasn’t sure whereabouts she wanted to sit, so suddenly I was afraid she meant to sit by me, and I needed to move over.

“It’s okay, I’m not one of those bitches who makes you leave. You were there first,” she assured me, and settled on the table-shaped bench, taking her shoes off and making herself at home.

We talked for a bit, when she asked about my Japanese. After I finished, I started reading Slaughterhouse Five for Novel Ideas. For a while, I settled in, laying down myself. “We’re paying too much not to,” the girl agreed.

But then, my classmate from last week came around, and I came to sit up again to read. He’s a big burly guy, with wavy long hair for a guy. Last week, he’d just started Uncle Tom’s Cabin when I was already on Chapter 8. This week, he confessed he wasn’t finished. I bragged that I was.

Slowly, mystery girl figured out the connection. “You’re in Creative Writing,” she deduced. “Oh, yeah, cause you just said it.”

From the conversations between the three of us, I learned that she was studying Social Work (which she insisted was boring, but that all three of us were creative students and thus “the cool kids”. I concurred), she was 22, her father was something of a writer, and her favourite comedians were Key and Peele. She showed us, the ignorant two, a skit they did. It was actually pretty funny; I was laughing. She was also horrified to find out neither of us does snap chat. I thought of mentioning my sister did it, but decided not to.

Mystery girl is actually the reason I wore my Deathly Hallows necklace to tute next day; she had a Deathly Hallows tattoo on her neck, and I never mentioned my matching necklace, so I wanted to at least show someone. Paul, (that was the other student’s name), did notice. Apparently we’re in the same tute class, and he’s every bit as sociable as mystery girl. Although he surely doesn’t have tatts and piercings like she does.

Eventually, she left with her own classmates, off to Building C where her lecture (at the same time as ours) was. It was only then that Paul realised neither of us caught her name. I’d been thinking of asking her before. Just another thing I held back.


Leave a comment

This site is not dead

#1434. To be honest, I forgot about this blog for a while. I’ve just spent this past half-year at Uni, daily writing my series, and writing fan fiction at my other site (no, you can’t read it).

To be honest, I’ve been thinking of coming back here for ages, but I didn’t know what to write. Even if I don’t write fiction here, I can always try to write about my life. For example, I could catch you up on what I’ve done at Uni.

I just recently got my results back – two passes and two distinctions for my intro classes. In about a couple of weeks, I’ll be back at Uni, but not before Open Day hosts Quidditch, music, a chai tea tent, and free food. I’ll be going to that, by the way.

So okay, just so you know, I’m going to commit myself now to write at least one post about Uni a week in the new semester, and one flash fiction.

In case you were interested, last semester I studied: Communication and Thought (a very basic course that all students have to take), Communication Theory and Practise, Introduction to Creative Writing, and Japanese A.

My two distinctions were in Intro to CW and Japanese. Next year, I need to try harder, though. There’s a GO program that I need better grades than a pass to get into (I’d be going to Japan).


Leave a comment

You’re All Different: A look at fiction and society

Recently I was thinking about a documentary I once saw. It was about Merlin, that wizard of myth originally created by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Towards the end of that documentary, it talked about JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. It said that the two famous authors used to meet in a pub and talk about Merlin; and that characters in both their writings had a character based on him, the one Aslan, and the other Sauron.

I have since wondered whether the documentary got it wrong, and they were really talking about God. I know at least one of them was a Christian man, and by assumption, so is the other. But that thought didn’t sit well with me, so for a while, I pretended it really was Merlin.

I realise, though, that the reason Merlin sits better with me is because I know he isn’t real, and I’m also assuming other people do too. After all, I watched the documentary; I know he isn’t real. But the fact is, other people won’t have seen it. If those people suddenly started saying that Merlin really was the one who created Stonehenge — Geoffrey’s most famous tale, and one he invented to give Merlin some credibility — it would piss me off. Because I know full well (from another documentary) that Stonehenge was actually created in the late Stone Age by early man.

Another popular story about Stonehenge was that aliens helped. That one pisses me off even more; what does it say about how man sees himself? Do we think we’re capable of nothing? Stonehenge was a great human achievement, and far from the last. And we did it all by ourselves.

But I digress: what I’m really trying to say is that I don’t think people believe in Merlin, but they do still believe in God. And that worries me, because stories have power, especially stories people think are true but aren’t. I write stories myself, but I would never try to pass them off as the truth. And yet, at the very least, the writers of the bible have done just that, in order to persuade — manipulate — people to act and think a certain way. They use fear of hell at the very least to inform this.

What pisses me off about God is that it gives people an excuse not to think for themselves. Like those stories of Merlin or aliens, it gives people something to alleviate either responsibility or pressure, and makes them complacent. Perhaps they want to relax, and maybe that’s understandable, but it pushes down our potential, it takes away from us what we could do, it takes away from us self-belief and puts it into something else, so we become little more than sheep or cattle, following a grand master. And I’m not okay with that.

I’ll admit once I thought I was worthless, when I was a kid I even imagined a God and thus believed it. And then when I was a teenager, I continued to struggle. But the point is, I wasn’t worthless. And the fact that we have to make up ridiculous stories just to cope with ourselves or our lives is insulting to me.

Monty Python’s The Life of Brian put it best:

Brian: You’re all individuals!

Crowd: Yes, we are all individuals.

Brian: You’re all different!

Crowd: Yes, we are all different.

Crowd Member 1: I’m not.

Crowd Member 2: Ssh!

Brian: You’ve got to work it out for yourselves! Otherwise–

Brian’s mother ushers him from the window.

Crowd: Ooh, that wasn’t a minute.

Brian’s Mother: Oh, yes it was!

Crowd: Oh, no it wasn’t!

Brian’s Mother: Now, stop that! And go away!


Leave a comment

Preparing for Uni: Japanese

I have been watching the University website for updates on what to read and how to prepare for my classes. At the moment, I’ve been particularly looking at Japanese. The University has a Facebook page for students of Japan and Japanese, and sometimes people post links to cultural things.

Here’s one.

These are particularly interesting. The last one particular grabbed me, because it’s a phrase I’ve heard before on Facebook, if in a different context: Hate Speech.

In this case, it’s a buzzword that started when anti-Korean protests in a Korean section of Tokyo happened sometime last year. Either way, it’s a particularly important phrase for a number of things, and as I’ve seen on Facebook, important to know the difference between it and Free Speech.

Here’s another one.

Here’s another Facebook link I found. I already do some of these, but there is probably a wider range of music I could listen to, and making notes on things is something I didn’t think of.

There are also tips for those living in Japan. These are things I would probably have thought of anyway, as I often eavesdrop on people when I’m bored anyway, and the same goes for reading signs. In fact, once when I still lived in the Sydney suburbs, when I used to catch the train into Parramatta, there were a few Japanese people who lived even closer to the bus stop, who came out and started to talk in Japanese. They even took the same bus!

The problem was, the only word I actually caught was ”かぞく” (kazoku), which means family. But I knew it was definitely Japanese, because one of the girls had a luggage tag that said so.

Another time on the bus, I met a girl who was studying Japanese too, because she had the same textbook as me.