Pedestals Are The Problem

pedestals are the problemWhen I was 14 years old there was nothing more exciting than running out to the mailbox to see if one of my monthly magazine subscriptions had arrived – Thrasher, Dirt Rider, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Transworld Skateboarding, Cabela’s, The Economist (not really). But my personal favorite was was Maxim. This was before the internet was as ubiquitous as it is now. Back then we relied on print to see pictures of pretty girls and read lists of what body sprays we should be using.  Maxim was smart because they knew what their audience (teenage boys) wanted. Each week they’d include foldout posters that you could put up in your room. To this day I remember having a full-sized Carmen Electra spread that I hung over my bed frame. Pretty cringey. But this is what teenage boys are supposed to do right?

Psychologically, this is damaging; Obsessing over women you’ll never have a shot at in real life is the secret sauce for these publications. It’s not only harmful for young boys but also girls. It creates unrealistic expectations of beauty and many people don’t realize the sheer amount of fuckery that goes into these photographs (makeup, airbrushing, lighting etc.)

Modern Centerfolds

You know the type: 5k+ followers, multiple selfies, filtered fashion shots that are followed by swooning fanboys who make comments like “wow, you are absolutely perfect”. Engaging with these girls on social networks is like consuming digital junk food –  no nutritional value. They’re action-packed with issues and in most cases incredibly insecure. Platforms like Instagram, FaceBook, and Snapchat have given these unremarkable people unique and never-before-seen opportunities to turn their above-average aesthetics into public personas that people absolutely eat up.

What you can expect:

  • Orbiters: Have fun dealing with the hordes of thirsty guys who worship these women. She will often keep them around for personal affirmation as well as a security blankets just in case things go south. These women lack the necessary qualities to be independent and are terrified of being alone. They will not leave you unless they have something else lined up. Be careful when she says “he’s just a friend”. If for some reason you do decide to give your commitment to one of them you need to shut down these extracurricular relationships from the jump or you’ll constantly be looking over your shoulder.
  • Parting With Your Money: Because they’re attractive and have the digital approval of hundreds of men they feel entitled to free shit – meals, drinks, gifts, concert tickets etc. In most cases it’s best to set boundaries in the beginning and keep things light. Let the other suckers spend their hard-earned money on them.
  • Dumb Conversations: These women aren’t sequencing the human genome. You’ll find yourself bored to death after spending one-on-one time with them. Because they’ve never really had to develop specific skills or an interesting personality you quickly realize that they’re good for only one thing. And that “thing” can be gotten in much easier ways.
  • Being Roped Into Their Bullshit: Because they’re attractive a lot of men tend to lose frame and dismiss their own principles all for the sake of being with a pretty girl. There’s no going back from this and once she’s figured out that you’ll do whatever she wants you’re toast. Respect > Love.

The irony is that while they put out a public persona of absolute confidence in the form of hot pictures and phony statuses they’re incredibly weak and needy people behind the scenes. They don’t truly love themselves and seek happiness and validation by running into the arms of whatever guy makes them feel “appreciated”. Many men will pull out all the stops to please these women and eventually get burned in the process. You could be a faithful, stable provider and cater to their every need and one day find yourself alone after they leave you for the waiter with a coke problem who gave them momentary tingles. They’ll pogostick from one guy to the next until they find themselves wondering why they’re still single at the age of 40.

“Where have all the good men gone?” is a  phrase frequently echoed by frustrated women when describing the modern dating scene. The tumbleweeds rolling across the desert of single, desirable males are due in large part to these negative experiences.

If you really want to get a good idea of she’s worth dating take a look at her LinkedIn profile. High-quality women are focused on their careers, not how many Instagram likes they can get. We’ve fetishized these seemingly larger-than-life internet celebrities and it’s disproportionality shifting our standards in regards to what we look for in potential mates.

Also, don’t sleep on the ugly duckling. Remember that nerdy girl in high school who in the back of your mind you always thought, “wow, she could be hot if she wore better clothes and put on a little makeup”? I’ve found that while they spent their formative years setting themselves up for success by getting good grades and working on personal goals they become extremely well-grounded in adulthood and figure out the personal appearance stuff as they enter their mid-late twenties. Those are the keepers.

Guys, if you simply want a vessel for child it may not matter what a woman’s personal goals and ambitions are. But if you have higher standards for potential life partners I’d advise you to steer clear of these women.

Hollywood

The general public is led to believe that actors and actresses are uber-talented thespians who’ve grinded their way to the top. We hang on every word they say when they talk about politics and global issues and then amplify their unqualified opinions by sharing their social media posts and giving them access to public forums like late-night T.V. shows and Good Morning America appearances. In reality, they’re mostly a bunch of theater nerds who’ve gotten to where they are because of nepotism and unscrupulous backdoor dealings. It’s rare to hear of rags-to-riches success stories in Hollywood because frankly, it doesn’t happen like that. It’s a cylindrical bullshit machine that perpetuates and rewards the same people, from the same families, with the same political beliefs and agendas.

Remember when the nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence were leaked a couple years ago? Hollywood and the collective public were outraged at the invasion of her privacy. I’m willing to bet though that J-La wouldn’t have minded doing a nude photoshoot for a Vanity Fair spread, especially if it was shot in a controlled environment and under the expertise of a celebrity photographer like Annie Lebovitz or Terry Richardson.

The uncomfortable truth is that Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities who’ve had their racy photos leaked are no more aesthetically pleasing than the cute waitress who brought you your steak at O’Charley’s last weekend. These photos are raw and unproduced. Celebrities are used to having complete control over their image and having the general public see them in this unfiltered light is their worst nightmare.

Also, if you’re a well-known figure who uses your celebrity profile for quick profit (getting paid $500k to appear in a credit card commercial, lending your name to a shoe line, charging for autographed memorabilia) you need to understand that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. “Celebrities deserve the same privacy that ordinary citizens enjoy“. Pffff. Gary the auto mechanic doesn’t have the leverage to demand $50k for lending his voice to a 30 second radio spot.  You’re playing on a different level and need to understand the unique consequences of living in (and taking advantage of) the public spotlight.

Harvey Levin and TMZ have done a bangup job at exposing these people for the normal human beings they really are. While some people see TMZ as pure trash I consider it to be the equivalent of watchdog journalism for the modern celebrity-obsessed culture, keeping people in check when they’re used to having their asses kissed in every other public arena. The psychology at work here is fascinating: You have a bunch of seemingly normal people (just like you and I!) in a room making fun of and ultimately humanizing these celebs that the American public holds in high regards. It’s voyeurism in its purest and most satisfying form.

For every big name star like Jonah Hill and Julia Roberts who actively avoid TMZ photogs there are 10 wannabes who’ll desperately go out of their way to be photographed by the paparazzi for free publicity. While those who’ve reached the upper-echelon of star status see it as a nuisance there are just as many who see it as a necessary tool to further their careers.

Big Bad Wolves

The Harvey Weinstein scandal has been a shocking revelation for a many people, who echo sentiments like:

How on earth could Hollywood let this man get away with overt sexual assault for over 30 years?! If this is such an “open secret” why didn’t someone do something to stop him?”

Look up pictures of Weinstein with other celebrities and you’ll see him rubbing elbows with “feminists” like Meryl Streep, Michelle Obama, famed civil rights lawyer Gloria Allrad, Hillary Clinton, and other powerful women who claim to be human rights activists. Celebrities who previously associated with this guy are on full spin mode as their publicists try to convince the American public that they were “shocked” and “saddened” to learn about the countless women this guy had sexually assaulted. Don’t buy any of it. Everyone in tinsel town was aware of this guy’s antics and they chose to keep it under wraps. But what was the grand incentive for these people to protect Weinstein?

Follow the money. The people who run the studios and fund the movies are the ones who ultimately decide who makes it and who doesn’t – not the director, not the casting agents, not awesome auditions. You could be the greatest unkown actor in the world and it doesn’t matter unless you “get in” with one of these powerful people. Acting in itself is a giant exercise in self-preservation. It’s in Hollywood’s best interest to have us believe that they got to where they are because of talent and hard work, not because they slept with a famous producer. It’s a terrible spot for these women to be in where coming out and publicly accusing these powerful figures simultaneously exposes the very system that dictated their own career paths.

Writers and Directors are the ones who should be walking the red carpet. Watch a daytime soap and try telling me there’s a of shortage of attractive, capable actors working in Hollywood. The ones who have vision and the ability to pour it into a screenplay are the real artists at work. Narrative is everything. It’s the reason we got hooked on modern classics like Breaking Bad and House of Cards and why we saw Dexter through to it’s watered down and lesser end.

Institutions

We’d be crazy to think this kind of back scratching is limited to the entertainment industry. Academia and corporate America are just as deeply rooted in these one-sided power dynamics where qualifications and talent aren’t always rewarded accordingly.

Take for instance that one professor you had in college who wasn’t necessarily that great of a teacher but was seen as a rockstar on campus because they’d managed to get their work published via books and/or academic journals. The mechanisms at work for securing a starring role in a movie are similar to that of becoming a published author – it takes a lot of politicking and personal connections.

The modern corporate environment also suffers from years of the business-as-usual mindset where length of experience and likability are favored over being the “best person for the job”. If you ever get to know upper management at a large company you’ll quickly realize that they’re not as remarkable as their job title suggests. You’re expectations of what a business leader should be are shattered when you peel back the curtain and take a look at the path they took to get there.

Politics

There’s no bigger dog and pony show than American politics. People were absolutely shocked that we elected a president who was caught on tape bestowing pickup advice that included “grabbing women by their pussies”. This, coupled with his speckled past of womanizing and making brash public statements made it hard to wrap our heads around someone like that running our country.  But let’s not forget the moral ambiguity that surrounded the Clinton presidency in the 90s – multiple accusations of sexual misconduct while he was Governor of Arkansas piled up and he was eventually found guilty of perjury after lying to congress about having an affair in the oval office with 23 year-old intern Monica Lewinsky. Could you imagine the absolute shitstorm that would ensue if Trump was caught in the same situation?

The point is that all major politicians are cut from the same cloth. Both Democrats and Republicans grew up in rich families, have extensive connections, and have been coddled since the day they first stepped foot on their private school campuses. Politics is just as scummy as Hollywood. We hold these people to higher ethical standards but the paradox is that politics in itself is a dirty business and no completely moral human being could survive the gauntlet that is the modern election process.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. We need to come to terms with the fact that these men in politics have testosterone just like any other normal guy and when you couple this with access and money it’s a vicious combination. In this context, we really shouldn’t be surprised when these sexual scandal stories break. This goes back hundreds of years and if you think our current politicians are morally bankrupt imagine the 24 hour news cycle covering leaders like Henry VIII, Alexander the Great, Aristotle, Franklin Roosevelt, or Thomas Jefferson. Go on the Google and dig a little – you’ll find that these men were guilty of much worse than sexual harassment. 

For the average citizen, politics is merely a distraction that should be thought of in the same vein as video games, television, and sporting events. With or without these politicians, the machine keeps churning and is dictated by external forces that no man or woman holding political office can influence with any immediate/meaningful effect. It’s theater. Those who run this country lurk in the shadows and manifest themselves in the form of bankers, lobbyists, and other individuals who you won’t see making guest appearances on the Stephen Colbert show.

If you’re losing hair over Donald Trump’s tweets or other knee-jerk political news you need to seriously get a grip and examine what you’re doing with your life. It’s self-destructive to occupy your mind with things that are beyond your control.

Athletes

People also seem to be shocked when prominent athletes are marred in scandal, whether it be domestic abuse or getting busted with drugs – we shake our heads and condemn them for not being the shining examples they’re supposed to be for our children.

I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids. – Charles Barkley

Because sports is so ingratiated into American culture we set these impossible standards for professional athletes to live up to when in reality these are the last people we should be modeling our lives after. They are the 1% of the 1% of the 1%.

Most of us have never spent time in a football or basketball locker room. The testosterone and ego required to rise in the ranks of professional athletics makes political and entertainment leaders look soft in comparison. We need to consider the context of what it takes to reach Michael Vick-like status and realize that those specific attributes do not apply in most real world situations.

People We Should be Pedestalizing

Engineers – Engineering is the cornerstone of everything we interact with on a daily basis: bridges, cars, indoor climate systems, eyeglasses, clothes, doors, lights, ovens, vacuums, computers, phones, and so on. We take for granted the plethora of modern conveniences that make living in the 21st century a cakewalk compared to what people had to go through a hundred years ago. Imagine traveling without a GPS enabled device or getting in touch with a sick relative through handwritten letters. Engineering is what’s allowed the last few generations of humans to “focus on themselves” and live comparatively selfish existences. The phrase “what a time to be alive” wouldn’t be a thing if it weren’t for the brilliant engineers who worked tirelessly to make all of this possible.

User Experience Designers – The definition of art is undoubtedly subjective. While some look at the Mona Lisa or Van Gogh’s Starry Night and see art, I open up the Uber app on my phone and see an elevated and more useful version of it. We spend so much time on our digital devices that we often ignore how much testing and thought went into making these online experiences as seamless as they are. User experience designers are tasked with not only making these apps look good but also functional to the point of where both an 8-year old child and 70-year old grandma can use them.

Trade Workers – Welders, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, machinists, painters, tool-and-die workers and other professions that don’t necessarily require a college degree but are extremely vital and overlooked by high school students trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives.

For the last three years, according to ManpowerGroup, the hardest segment of the workforce for employers to staff with skilled talent hasn’t been registered nurses or engineers or even web developers. It’s been the skilled trades – the welders, electricians, machinists, etc. that are so prevalent in manufacturing and construction. – Forbes

There’s something to be said for learning a specific skill and spending your life perfecting it. While being an electrician or plumber may not sound like the sexiest job on earth it’s one that is often taken for granted as they’re universally needed in every industry that requires a physical location to conduct business. The current talent crunch to fill these positions is indicative of the priorities and expectations we’ve set for ourself as a culture.

A staple of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign was “college should be free and universally accessible to everyone”. No, it shouldn’t. That kind of thinking is what’s led to the current lack of trade workers in this country. A college degree is seen as the ultimate prerequisite for success but in reality most 18-year old kids have no idea what they want to do with their lives. The price of getting a university degree is absurd and student loans have financially crippled an entire generation while lining the pockets of administrators, textbook publishers, and other cottage industries that benefit from the inflated costs of getting a formal education.

Medical Researchers – It takes a special kind of person to spend hours in a laboratory working to find cures for diseases that plague modern society and take the lives of close friends and family members. You won’t see them on the cover of People Magazine but these are the people to thank when you pick up your blood pressure medication, antibiotics, or other vital medicines that make your day-to-day existence possible.

Teachers and Coaches – It takes a village to raise a child. Besides your parents no one had a greater influence on your upbringing than teachers and coaches. In adulthood you realize just how much your daily interactions with these people growing up shaped you into the person you are today. Choosing to be a elementary/high school educator is truly one of the last noble professions left. They’re certainly not in it for the money.

There are many more to list but in the interest of brevity I’ll just say that we often overlook the people who have real meaningful effects on our daily lives. As we grow older we come to think of these professions as boring and/or below us, fashioning our lives after entertainment figures who in reality are vapid blood suckers who contribute nothing useful to modern society. We must be careful when giving these people “props” and instead view them through an objective lens, knowing that they’re not extraordinary people but rather the recipients of good timing and unrelenting self promotion, byproducts of our pop culture-obsessed media landscape.

Elevating What’s Worthwhile

It’s important to find inspiration in the right places. Stop comparing your life to others and realize that at the end of the day we’re all human beings floating around on a rock in an infinite void. Focus your energy on living a full and authentic life on our own terms. Misguided obsession is dangerous and once you have the ability to separate the real from the fake you’ll be closer to achieving true happiness.

 

 

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