Quick Memes, Part 2

Last August I wrote a post called “Quick Memes“, in which I discussed a few memes that didn’t merit an entire post.  It was a smashing success moderate success thing I did, so I’ve decided to do it again!  Here is another round of memes that are irritating, but not irritating enough to spend at least 500 words ranting about.

Pepper Bumps

This Internet myth has been debunked numerous times; nevertheless, I see this meme being passed around incautiously.  I figured I would add my voice to the dissenting mix.  All peppers – including the bell variety – belong to the Nightshade family, Solanaceae, a family that includes tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants.  One characteristic of all nightshades is that they produce perfect flowers.  A perfect flower has both female parts (pistils) and male parts (stamens); in other words, it is hermaphroditic.  Consequently, the fruits that arise from those flowers are neither male nor female.

Some plants do have distinct male and female flowers – sometimes on the same plant, sometimes on different plants.  It is possible for some plants to produce gendered fruits, but peppers do not.  The number of lobes on a pepper, its taste, and its seed content are due to environmental and genetic factors, but not to gender.

Verbal and Physical Abuse

A couple of things: there’s a distinct difference between cursing and verbal abuse.  If you drop an F-bomb after stubbing your toe, I doubt very many people would consider it abusive.  Also, you can be verbally abusive to somebody without ever uttering a single swear word.

The best advice is not to be abusive at all – verbally or physically.  If you’re not beating somebody up, good for you.  It still doesn’t excuse your verbal abuse.

Conspiracy Theorist

Do you believe that they’e discovered a simple, cheap cure for cancer and/or AIDS, but Big Pharma is suppressing it so they can continue to make billions by pushing pills?  Do you think the Moon landings were faked on a sound stage so the United States could beat the Soviet Union in the space race?  Do you think that President John F. Kennedy was actually assassinated by the CIA, the FBI, Vice President Johnson, or anybody other than Lee Harvey Oswald?  Do you think the government is spraying poisonous chemicals as chemtrails for the purpose of population control?  Do you think that vaccines cause autism?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are probably a conspiracy theorist.  In that case, the rest of this section is going to make you angry.  Sorry.

The problem with conspiracy theorists is that their starting position – their baseline for evaluating the world – is cynical distrust of authority.  From there, they evaluate everything they see with a severe confirmation bias.  The only evidence they accept is that which can be contorted into supporting their viewpoint; they reject as “bullshit” anything that disproves their ideas.  They fancy themselves experts because they have read the slanted testimony of other conspiracy theorists, but what happens when somebody – perhaps a real expert – weighs in with contradictory evidence?  Conspiracy theorists view these experts as being bought and paid for by the Forces of Darkness.

The mindset of many conspiracy theorists disallows contradictory viewpoints, which is a shame.  I’ve had a few discussions with conspiracy theorists, and I know that asking a conspiracy theorist to consider alternate viewpoints is like asking a river to flow up a steep incline.  Evidence is entirely useless; conspiracy theorists seem to be enamored with the idea that all evidence can be faked; yet they fail to apply that logic to the “evidence” that seemingly supports their own conclusions.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not some naive Pollyanna who thinks that the world is hunky-dory and everything the government says is true.  I like to think that before I put an authority figure or organization on blast for hideous crimes against humanity, I have honestly evaluated the evidence in my corner.

If you believe that conspiracy theories are pretty convincing, ask yourself why.  Then ask yourself if the evidence could be wrong.  Ask yourself if there’s any way your theories could be disproved.  If there isn’t, then your ideas do not fit the scientific definition of the word theory.  If you cannot be reasoned out of an idea…did you really use reason to get into it?

Also…I’m pretty sure the “chains” on the person’s wrists in this image are made of paper loops.

Lover or Lesbian

Here’s another nugget of wisdom from Justin “Master Chim” Garcia, that visionary who taught us how to avoid police brutality (while neglecting to admonish the police not to use brutality).  This time around, Master Chim deploys his world-famous sensitivity to determine whether you are a real man or a lesbian.  According to Master Chim, the Casanova of our age, real men shouldn’t do all that romantic girly stuff that women seem to like, such as spending time with them, or being helpful around the house, or, you know, thinking about them.  A real man, Master Chim might say, is neglectful to his female companion.  He goes out with his buddies when he wants to, regardless of her plans or wishes, and he never lifts a finger to help around the house.  Shared responsibility is for wusses, he might continue.  If you go all out to make your woman feel special, then you might as well be a woman yourself, right?

Now I’m not saying you have to do all the things on this list; that’s between you and your lady friend (and besides, flowers can get expensive!)  I’m just saying that if you do these things, you shouldn’t be cowed by men like Master Chim.  Justin “Master Chim” Garcia is not the authority on manliness that he purports to be.  Each man (and woman) must decide what is appropriate for him (or her) to do.  The last thing this world needs is more men trying to emulate Master Chim’s example.

ISIS Green Screen

I…really don’t know what to do with this.  What exactly is the meme saying – that ISIS doesn’t exist?  That ISIS has never executed prisoners on a beach?  That ISIS doesn’t execute prisoners at all?  If the meme’s author believes that ISIS fakes its executions in front of a green screen, why use this image as “evidence”?  There are no active executions being depicted, and the image doesn’t strike me as one that is clearly fake.

So yeah, there’s something vaguely conspiracy-theoristy about this meme, but it doesn’t do a good job of indicating what it’s real message is.  In failing to make its point clear, the meme fails at the only function a meme has: to express an opinion or idea in a pithy, easily digestible manner.  If I have to guess what claim the meme is making, then not only is the meme Stupid and Bad…but Pointless as well.

WhatIsAGoodWoman

Who the hell thinks that a good woman doesn’t get angry?  Does anybody make that claim about men?  Seriously, this meme reeks of Stupidity.  Here’s another meme expressing the worn-out idea that a woman must be emotionally tough at all times, and she shouldn’t let anything upset her.  Seriously, I don’t know anybody, good or otherwise, who doesn’t get angry from time to time.

Dress vs Building

This meme gets one thing right: people should be very concerned about the alleged off-the-books “black sites” used by the Chicago Police Department to interrogate suspects without due process or public record.  Very concerned.

But that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t talk about anything else.  As one of my Facebook friends pointed out, memes like this assume that people cannot walk and chew gum at the same time.  That stupid dress may have caught the public’s attention, seemingly drowning out any other discussions, but it will fade from memory soon enough.  In the meantime, if you want to draw attention to a troubling news story, there are ways to do it without painting your friends as out-of-touch shallow idiots.

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I Foresee A Short-Lived Relationship

Controlling Jerk

There’s a scene in the 2000 movie X-Men in which Logan/Wolverine is pitching some serious woo at Jean Grey but is interrupted by Scott/Cyclops, who is Jean Grey’s love interest. Wolverine asks Cyclops “You going to tell me to stay away from your girl?” Cyclops replies “If I had to do that, she wouldn’t be my girl.” After a few more lines of dialogue, Cyclops says “Oh, and Logan…stay away from my girl.”

Sure it’s a comic book movie about super-powered mutants, but there’s a moment of truth in those few lines. I think it’s natural to be a little bit protective of a significant other, even jealous when a romantic rival vies for her attentions. From a biological perspective, a monogamous relationship represents a significant investment of energy and resources – not to mention an active commitment to eschew other mating opportunities. The last thing you want is for some jerk to make a move on your woman.

We humans like to believe that we have – forgive me for using this term improperly – evolved past the behavior of other animals. We count ourselves as civilized. We are able to think and reason and discuss the nature of our relationships in a way that no other animals can do. Rather than viewing our mates as simply a means by which to propagate our genes, we can think of them as friends, confidants, and partners. We can trust them.

Or at least, we should be able to trust them. The creator of this meme obviously has issues trusting his girlfriend, which says a lot more about him than it says about his girlfriend. The sentiment expressed in this meme is almost a human rights violation. I expect to see UN helicopters and blue-helmeted peacekeepers swarming around this guy’s house any day now.

If you cannot trust the person you’re with, then you need to deal with that. If your mistrust is well-founded – say, because your current girlfriend has cheated on you or stolen from you – then it may be time to move on. If you don’t trust anybody, then perhaps some therapy would help. In any case, you cannot block all of your girlfriend’s contacts. Your girlfriend has rights too, whether you like it or not. Learn to live with those rights or leave the poor girl alone.

My Best Advice Is To Be A Jerk

Be a Jerk

Is this a slight revision of the advice that if you love something, you should set it free? The tone of the meme is subtly different from that adage: it encourages you to actively dispose of people who, for whatever reason, like you.

Who in the world thinks this is good advice? Okay, the first sentence is pretty sound – you really shouldn’t force anybody to love you – but after that it falls apart. Are there really people who subject potential lovers to severe emotional stress just to see who passes the test? Relationships shouldn’t have boot camps! And what happens when you discover that the person you’ve been tormenting really does love you? Great! Now you have to face the fact that you’ve been a complete jerk to the real deal.

I think this meme could be saved with a little revision. It should read like this:

“Don’t force them to love you. But if they do love you, don’t be an ass. Enjoy the fact that somebody loves you despite your warped opinions on relationships.”

I should write greeting cards.