Suicide Is Rational

Recently, someone I greatly admire and probably even love, said to me that when people are suicidal their brain chemistry is basically off, which prevents them from realizing that things will get better. I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I didn’t say that I respectfully disagree. I’ve always thought suicide makes a lot of sense—maybe the most sense. I acknowledge brain chemistry is involved, and am obviously no expert on biology or medicine. But I also believe suicide isn’t necessarily a product of chemical imbalance. I think someone can rationally, and so completely understandably, conclude that suicide is the right option. 

Life is a terrible mess. It’s unbearably lonely. It feels like a cruel joke, an insurmountable task, all too often. Nobody prepares you for all the times you’ll want to claw your way out of your skin, only to be met with the intolerable reality that you’re trapped. Or for the sad truths that descend on you in moments of quiet and still manage to pull the rug out from under you, even though you should know better by now. You never quite figure out how to bounce back. The things that torment you elude your mastery, and you can’t forgive your profound shortcomings.

Sometimes, there are moments of peace. Like when you see fireflies for the first time and remember there is magic in the world. Or when someone with infinitely more reasons to despair chooses to forgive and see grace. Or when you hear a joke so funny you think it might just save your life. But it doesn’t. It usually falls short.

Of course, then, suicide is appealing. To act as though people who are suicidal just haven’t experienced enough to know the good life has to offer, or just haven’t tried hard enough, or just haven’t found the cure, is presumptuous. Some of the most brilliant, beautiful people have committed suicide. Probably because they were too smart to bear living under the delusion of contentedness. 

If you’re not miserable, I personally think you’re in denial. But I’m not inside your head. It isn’t my place to convince you how you feel, or how you should feel. Nor do I have any particular interest in doing so. The same goes for suicidal people.

I also think our societal aversion to suicide is fundamentally selfish. When someone kills themselves, how much of our pain is really for them, and how much is for our loss? We’re sad, but for ourselves—that we don’t get to see them, talk to them, breathe them in anymore. Which, too, is understandable. But they can’t stick around just to make us laugh. To act as if we’re disappointed on their behalves seems pretentious.

To me, the fact that we’re taught suicide is bad is a reflection of our inability to cope with being human. For some reason, we’ve decided that everyone must want to live. Maybe we’re scared if we admit that it’s ok to not want to be here, we’ll be accepting the utter meaninglessness of life. But the truth is, none of us decided to be here. So isn’t it kind of twisted that we insist on forcing people to live? Why are we (or some of us, at least) ok with assisted suicide when it comes to terminal physical illness, but not terminal mental illness, or terminal suffering of any kind?

I can’t say with certainty that if I walked past someone about to jump off a bridge, I wouldn’t intervene. But I also vehemently believe that everyone has the right to choose what to do, or not do, with their life. If we don’t have autonomy, what do we have? There are few things more dehumanizing than dictating how someone gets to live, or not live.

Maybe you think I’m wrong or crazy or sad or pitiful. Maybe I am. I’ll never know bliss and I might never know grace. But I’m not fearless enough to commit suicide, anyways. I think it may be the bravest thing anyone can do. The only braver thing might be living. But if living is unbearable, what courage is there in suffering?

As Featured on News Cult: Should Women Change Their Name When They Get Married? Let’s Discuss

I’ve always been fascinated by the topic of marriage-induced name changes. Especially as a feminist (not the self-professed kind who will vote for a war criminal just because she has a vagina, but an actual feminist). To me, taking your husband’s name seems a mere tenet of The Patriarchy. So it’s hard for me to justify. But maybe it’s not that simple. Let’s discuss.

To start, what are names for? Identification purposes, mainly. If we didn’t have names, people wouldn’t know how to address us, and communication might break down. Names categorize us—they indicate what family we belong to, oftentimes where we come from, our gender, etc. But more than just logistical purposes, I think names serve to construct the subjective parts of our identity. Like, when a mom and dad decide to name their girl “Cash,” it’s because they want her to be different from the average “Rachel.” They want her to live up to the name she’s given, and I guarantee you that as she grows up, her name will help shape her. There’s no female “Cash” walking around who isn’t tragically hip, effortlessly attractive, and mysteriously unattainable. Rachel, on the other hand, wears lots of predictably solid-colored cotton shirts, has no layers in her hair, and her favorite flower is a red rose (with some white baby’s breath thrown in if she’s feeling frisky).

Names mold our identity so much so that some of us even change the ones we were given. If people feel like their names don’t represent who they are—whether because they’re gendered (or, in my case, androgynous), have some negative societal connotation (“Dick”), or everyone who shares them seems to be a massive tool (like, why is literally every individual named “Emma” a complete narcissist?)—they’ll re-brand themselves. And while I’ve always found this to be a foreign concept, (although to be fair, if my parents had named me Mark Sinclair, I would’ve changed it to Vin Diesel, too—mainly because Mark Sinclair sounds like a stuffy accountant and I don’t think Vin Diesel can do math), I at least respect the autonomy of it.

But when someone changes their last name to their spouse’s, that seems like anything but autonomy. Why basically label yourself as belonging to someone else? And of course the burden to change the name befalls women—but even in the rare cases where the man takes it on (please see: Marco Saldana), I would still argue that it’s wack. Because it signifies possession. And last I checked, humano a humano ownership isn’t considered cool (anyone remember a little thing called slavery?). But seriously. Taking someone’s name is in essence taking on their identity as your own. Why is that necessary?

And back to the gendered nature of it, because it’s impossible to ignore—it’s not that name-changing is problematic just because it’s a way to mark territory, but it is even more so because it is expected of women and not men—and thus just one more way the patriarchy reigns. It signifies that a husband possesses his wife; that she concedes to his ownership by way of his identity. I realize this sounds like some crazy conspiracy theory shit, and that’s because it is! On its face, women changing their last names to match their husbands’ is precisely a methodology of imprisoning them in their gender roles—the docile, subservient, agreeable wives.

I call bullshit.  Why is this antiquated tradition continually practiced in our society? I, for one, won’t be changing my last name when I never get married. And I salute all who’ve kept theirs—way to be strong, independent women who don’t need no man’s name. It is principled stands like this, aimed at establishing equality, that define feminism. (That said, if you were born with the last name “Hitler,” “Bieber,” or “Seaman,”  then by all means, change that shit.)

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/should-women-change-their-name-when-they-get-married-lets-discuss/

When you’re not sure if you’re on a date

(are you ever?) and you get into a debate with the guy about the part of the Bible that says to sell your daughter into slavery

#I’msorry…whatistheretodebate?

And you see the way a little bit of his soul dies when he asks you if you’re pro-choice and you answer with a resounding “YES.” Followed up by “ABSOLUTELY.” And then “100%.”

And then he invites you to go to church with him

As Featured on News Cult: How to Deal with Internet Trolls

Internet trolls: people who have nothing better to do than make demeaning/stupid/rude comments online directed at you. They’re their own breed, whose life blood is the immediacy and anonymity of the Internet. These guys go deep into comment threads—apparently none of them have jobs, or life purposes. And, as with all hostile predators, they require special handling. So here’s how you deal with them.

Don’t spend much time on them

Decide whether you want to call them out or not, but do so quickly. They are not worth your time or energy, so don’t waste it on them. And even if you do decide to call them out, put a limit on how long you’re going to spend doing so. Because, remember, they are immune to reason—so even if you respond to them with the most bulletproof statement, they’ll keep spouting their nonsense, because they’re crazy. That said, if you do decide to engage with them…

Shut. them. down.

Pick apart their attack piece by piece, providing evidence that backs up every bit of your statement. Cite sources, diagram your argument, include footnotes and definitions (people love when you quote the dictionary at them)—make one sweeping retort, and let that be it. Even though they’ll keep spinning their wheels, one solid response is usually enough to make clear your position and that they are a steaming sack of shit. Then, walk away and watch the feathers fly…

Block them

Sometimes, they just need to be shut the fuck out. So if you’re dealing with a particularly pesky/psychotic troll, take away their agency. Block them on social media and disable or delete their comments. The benefit will be twofold: they can’t bother you, and they will implode because there’s nothing they hate more than having their platform pulled out from under them. #byeeeeeeeeee

Report them

If it gets real bad, like they’re threatening or stalking you, report them to the powers that be—the social media authorities, the police, FBI, CIA, DHS, ICE, Dateline NBC, Ryan’s Roses.. #it’salothardertotrollfromprison,bitch

Troll them back

If they can dish it, they better be ready to take it. Troll them hard—spam the heck outta them, correct their grammar, accuse them of being a slavery-denier, insult their mom, show up at their doorstep with an actual steaming sack of shit… The possibilities are endless. #theGoldenRule,motherfuckers #it’satrolleattrollworld

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/bye-hater-deal-internet-trolls/

As Featured on News Cult: How to Manage Social Media

Social media is a weapon. It can be used for good or evil (symbolically speaking—because I have no idea what “good” and “evil” really are, and frankly does anyone? If the current state of the world, or actually any state the world has ever been in ever, is any indication, then no). It’s a fucking minefield—hard to navigate. It seems like it’s mostly used by people to promote images of themselves and their lives that are idealistic. And everyone buys into it—it’s a race to seem the best. And the saddest part is that we all know this—we’re all in on the joke, and yet we ferociously play along, trying to be the prettiest, the most popular, the happiest, the most well-traveled. It’s actually kind of sad, not to mention futile and self-destructive, so I’m a firm believer in finding productive ways to use social media, or not use it at all.

I think one of the best uses for social media is activism. It really is an amazing tool we’ve been given that we could use for vapid purposes like showing off how bangable we look on our way out for a night on the town, or how big our engagement ring is because the size of the diamond must be proportional to how lovable we are, or how we went on this really like spiritual, life-changing journey to India and saw just so many poor brown people and lots of sweeping mountainscapes—or—we could use to it advocate for social, political, and environmental causes—things that actually matter. Not just to us, but to everyone.

On social media, we can share news, articles, petitions, activist efforts, etc., about what dire circumstances our planet is in, how our political systems are corrupt and social injustice plagues our communities, and how we can change those things—how we can improve them. We can spread these messages like wildfire, and use the viral aspects of social media to the world’s advantage. Get out there and start discussions, engage with people, mobilize, and get shit done. Don’t just use technology and the Internet to self-promote and subscribe to materialistic, media-driven obsessions. Use it to spread the word about politics, volunteer opportunities, sustainable living; to debate with people about why Hillary Clinton doesn’t deserve votes and Bernie Sanders does, and be told that you’re simply wrong, without any reasoning why, and then respond with a 500-word essay on all of the reasons, evidence, and facts to back up your stance, and then never hear back. Multiple times! The possibilities are endless.

Another way I think social media is advantageous is in creative pursuits. If you aspire to be your own boss, own a business, or create content, social media is a great way to promote and share that. Start a shop on Etsy and dedicate your social media accounts to building that business. If you want to be a photographer, writer, musician, or artist, etc., start your own website or blog so that you own your own content, and then use Facebook, Twitter, etc. to share it; (and a side note about photos—Instagram says it owns every photo you put on it, so consider copyrighting your photos on your own site and either not sharing them on Instagram or sharing “teasers” of them, like screen shots, partial shots, or watermarked shots).

There’s no better way to receive free marketing than social media. And eventually, you can even monetize your content via social media, by paying to promote your website on social media (and then hopefully making the money back and then some from the resulting traffic to your site), or selling ad space on your site after it’s gotten big enough through your promotion of it on social media, or working with other brands on social media to cross-promote each other.

Now, I won’t rule out the possibility of using social media to your advantage in slightly less admirable ways, too. I just don’t think it’s worth getting too wrapped up in the black hole of comparing yourself to others and putting on facades. But, should, say, your ex-boyfriend start posting pics of his new trophy girlfriend and professing his love to her in over-dramatic ways, or someone chooses to use the public forum to talk unnecessary shit on/around/about you, or decides to make the mistake of ghosting you, you are well within your rights to ruin their life, and use social media to do so. You can accomplish this by waging a campaign of #bomb selfies, posting a smart, tactful thesis that shoots down every aspect of their being without even mentioning their name (because we’re the motherfucking ghosts—smooth, sly, and you’ll never see us coming), or becoming super successful and everything they want to be but aren’t and posting nothing but positive things on your social media to convey this, leaving them to choke and drown in a pool of their own tears. #ournameisFeliciabitch #byeeeeeee

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/manage-social-media-like-pro/

As Featured on News Cult: How to Talk to Republicans

Republicans are… the worst. They range on a sliding scale from really bigoted and greedy to slightly less bigoted and greedy. Some of them want to be selective republicans (i.e., “I’m socially liberal but fiscally conservative“), but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a fucking Republican; (news flash: thinking gay marriage is all good does not negate your insistence that rich people should pay the same amount of taxes as someone living below the poverty line. BLOW ME.). Needless to say, interacting with them without becoming homicidally suicidal is basically impossible. So allow me to help you—here’s how to talk to republicans.

Try to find some common ground

And cling to that. Do not veer onto other topics of conversation—stick with only what you can agree on. I.e.:

•”So, I bet you like ice cream. Everybody likes ice cream, right?”…… “Oh, you think it’s a gateway drug? Okay.”

•”Aren’t cardinals just beautiful birds?”…… “You don’t like them because they’re red, the color of grubby Communist leeches? Great!”

•”It’s so hot out today!”….. “Climate change isn’t real?… Awesome.”

Be drunk

Inebriation will just help so much with the whole being in their presence thing. It’ll be easier to let the awful things they say slide off your shoulders if you’re two sheets to the wind. But make sure to stay happy drunk—the last thing we need is to enter the belligerent drunk zone, where all will go to hell at the first mention of “pro life.”

Imagine you’re talking to a small child

Turn up the baby voice, use only simple words, and speak very slowly. E.g.:

•”Hi there! That is a pretty shirt you have on.” [Pinch their cheeks]

•”Well aren’t you just a little bitty cutie wootie! Yes you are. Yes you are!”

•”I bet you have a lot of cool toys! Let me guess—some baby dolls, toy guns, and a miniature Audi R8?”

Challenge them

If politics come up, you cannot stand idly by while they spout absurd nonsense. It is your duty to speak out and protest. So challenge them on their stances. Like, if they say they don’t think healthcare should be socialized, ask them if they think it’s a human right and should be accessible to all people, or only those who cheat on their taxes and hide their money in offshore trust funds so they’re wealthy enough to afford its exorbitant costs. If they’re a proponent of U.S. military violence and intervention abroad, ask them on precisely what grounds, demanding they explain starting from the inception of whatever conflict/war they’re attempting to justify (so at least a century ago). If they say they’re against abortion, ask them why they think it’s their right to dictate what other women can do with their bodies, when they’re perfectly entitled to control their own shitty body and decide whether or not to litter the earth with their own terrible offspring. And because undoubtedly their claims will be baseless, come ready with a printed and bound book of written sources that provide evidence to back up your assertions. And a mic to drop.

Don’t

Sometimes it’s just too much, because you can’t stand what they’re saying and you can’t change their minds—so just don’t talk to them if you can avoid it. If you can’t avoid it (which like why couldn’t you unless you willingly surround yourself with repubs, which says a lot more about your character judgment and integrity than anything else—meaning it says that you’re the problem, because you can’t just ‘agree to disagree’ with the most important people in your life on the most important issues in your life/the world/everyone else’s lives DON’T BE SO SELFISH AND HYPOCRITICAL), then just always have an excuse ready to get out of the conversation. Whether it’s that you need to grab some water [and never come back], are deaf, just got a call that your neighbor’s cat is in the ER, or that there are lots of homeless people dying on the streets who need your help because contrary to some people’s beliefs, they’re not just lazy drug addicts mooching off the welfare system, just bow out. #SEEYA #wouldn’twannabeya #orhaveyouinelectedoffice

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/how-to-talk-to-republicans/