Behind that Mask

Before I pick up the actual subject of the post, I’d like to apologize (again) how I’ve been absent from the blogging scene. I’ve been having multiple health problems, physical and psychological: stress, depression and homesickness (problems I’ve been dealing with for a while), lethargy and recurring headaches. I got to the point where I couldn’t sing or go to class days on end. I was on antibiotics for a while and I started taking antidepressants, which I’ll have to take for at least 3 months because I’ve just been in a really bad condition. For 3 semesters now, I’ve been struggling with emotional issues and I wasn’t able to get off-campus help till now because of insurance and financial limits. I’m doing better now, except the medication makes me take longer to ejaculate – and it doesn’t help with how little time my roommate spends outside the room. Anyway …

Here’s the thing about social change: you need individual and combined efforts to make it happen. Regular readers of my blog and close personal friends of mine know that I barely have any affinity to this school and have given up on the many institutional aspects of college life. I am not participating officially in any student organizations these days. Anyway, I have taken up blogging as a means of making my own individual effort because collaboration never seems to have worked out well during my time here for reasons I’m not going to mention. Although I’m fed up with a lot of shit that goes on at this school, I feel the need to comment on some things that have been going on lately – things on the internet. Because even though I’ve withdrawn myself from a lot of social circles, I’m still on the internet, I’m still on social networks and the amount of ignorance and hate is too damn high!

I believe it has become a trend for colleges and universities to have Facebook pages for memes, compliments, pickup lines, secrets, etc. Most of these are done anonymously. The admin’s anonymous and person who posts things is anonymous. Anonymity is a very important factor in daily interpersonal discourse and it can be a very useful tool in making public statements. But what’s been going on is there is a dire abuse of anonymity. Ok, I still have this policy to not reveal the names of any person or place but my own, but you’re gonna see names of people and places and the ugliness of them through external links.

First, there is the meme page. I love memes. They’re fun and when they’re associated with a certain community – in this case, our specific college culture – it can comment on a lot of issues in a comedic way. We poke fun at the faculty, the staff, the policies, the services and ourselves. But once we got to a point where students started to make fun of each other on a personal level. The meme page isn’t so anonymous, by the way, because it allows people to post on its wall/timeline while only the admin is anonymous. (Or are they?) A much-respected figure who graduated last year (a senior 2011-2012) stepped up to say that the jokes are turning into personal attacks. Nobody responded to her post but they stopped. Now we’re back to making fun of the campus culture in general. But you know, the comedic provocation of the memes should go further. There was once a discussion about how 8 classes in 2012-2013 is costing higher than 9 classes in 2011-2012 and such conversations should happen more often. It’s the same education we’re getting taught by the same faculty, only one less class and higher cost. Why? There is currently going on the renovation of the main student gathering building on campus and the renovation of the president’s house. Do we really need those? I was charged $90 for room damages at the end of my freshman year and I’m sure everybody was charged for room damages. At the beginning of this sophomore year, I settled into my new room and it was sketchy as fuck. Paint’s peeling off the walls. The floor tiles are chipped. The ceiling is dented. And some hooks and hangers were broken in the closets. Why the fuck do you keep charging us students and our parents if you ain’t gonna fix the damages? Well, I’m getting side-tracked.

The serious problem is this conversations page on Tumblr. Everybody goes anonymous there. It started out as a page where people confess their crushes and look for hookups, which was benign and sometimes funny, cute and sad (because it’s all these love-deprived, sex-deprived college kids making confessions about their feelings). Then it got vile because, very naturally, people started objectifying each other. They mention names, they make up stories, they use degrading names and so on. None of this is ok. And we cannot call anybody out and say, “You don’t use this language with people EVER!” because their identity is protected.

You can look through the Tumblr yourself and you’ll see what issues are at stake. There is slut shamming, rape jokes, fag-calling and blatant hate speech against Greek groups. None of this helps with the community-building on the campus which is very cliquish and divided already. Slut-shamming and rape jokes are among the most sexist acts anyone can do, second only to rape (sexual assault/violence) itself. Come on, guys! We’ve gone through the days of sexual liberation. Anybody can fuck anybody as long as they’re two (or maybe even more) mutually consenting adults, regardless of race or gender even. And please, what can be even remotely funny about somebody having sex with somebody else without consent? Nobody likes it when someone takes their property without permission, right? Now imagine that property or the taking/act being sex, genitals, body – which can be deeply spiritual/sacred or at least personal. How can you make jokes about such a horrid inhumane act as rape? Come to your senses! People are too immersed in misogynistic culture and refuse to educate themselves about sexual assault and acknowledge that it actually happens. STAHP!

Fag-calling … I don’t think people realize the connotations of the word “faggot“. It’s the N-word for gay people. You should never use it to address gay people, in the same way you wouldn’t call a black person (of Afro-Caribbean ancestry) a “nigger“. Well, you shouldn’t call a woman a “slut” or a “whore” either. But the N-word and fag have been historically associated with the persecution of African Americans and homosexual people respectively. When you use those words against us (gays and blacks), you’re basically saying that we’re a lower life form, undeserving of human decency and that we can/should be eradicated from society because there is no need for us. You may genuinely feel this way – whether you’re racist or homophobic – but one thing you can’t argue is that we’re human, too, and that your arguments would never hold water. And “faggot” has come to a point when it cannot be reclaimed by the gays the way the black community is reclaiming “nigger” and the feminist community “slut“. So, STAHP! Also, on another note: I recently learnt that the term “ghetto” is racist toward the Jews, because the word means the neighbourhoods Jewish folks are confined to in European cities during World War II. I’m trying to take that word out of my vocabulary. It’s racist toward the black population in America also.

from Tumblr

Interesting things like this happen from time to time also: Somebody started questioning himself after a same-gender sexual encounter. I posted a response suggesting to keep exploring and to use protection – coz sex is fun.

I myself have a problem with Greek life, especially on this tiny-ass campus (because the last thing we need here is more divide among the students). I had once been very vocal about it but I’ve toned down, because Greek life is a way of belonging and people need a sense of it to be healthy and happy and they should be able to do whatever to feel that. The rumours are: one frat kills kittens for pledging; another fucks sheep; all the brothers in another one are all rape-y dudes; and every girl on one sorority is a slut. Ok, these weird pledging rituals may have happened at some point in history but I don’t think they’re going on anymore – at least, I refuse to believe. There’s no evidence and I don’t think the school would allow such shit to happen, not twice – well, except for girls being sluts, coz that’s ok. If you’re bitter because you didn’t get bids from the group you wanted to pledge, this is not a good way to vent out your frustration. So also, STAHP!

Just so you know, I also post on that Tumblr. I’ve found nobody to hook up with though sadly enough. Anyway, how that Tumblr works is the complete opposite of how my blog works. I mention my name and my personal information to the fullest extent possible and try to cover up other people’s names or places, because I’d have to go ask for people’s consent to use their names and shit. Ain’t nobody got time for that! What happens on this Tumblr is you retain your personal information and you can go all out on other people. That is vile. Just because your identity is protected doesn’t mean you can’t go around bashing everybody, NO! Have some decency, people. I’m sick of all your shit!

Also there’s the compliments page on Facebook. People message the admin a compliment for a person and the admin posts it as anonymous. This was founded as a reaction to the Tumblr page, but I still find a problem with this. If you appreciate someone and want to mention it, it’s best that you go up to them and say it in their face – because they are worth it. And if that’s not enough – if you want everyone to know also – post a public status on Facebook. You don’t need to be anonymous about it. Somebody wrote a compliment for me and I appreciate how they’ve acknowledged the significance of my work and my presence on campus but I’d rather have it said to me in person or in public by an actual person.

compliment for Han Zaw

So this is the compliment I got. I’m pretty sure I have interacted with this person on a personal level but I’m not gonna try and guess further.

So, people, think about what you say or do when you are remaining anonymous. It can be very powerful. Don’t abuse it. One excellent example is the hacktivist group Anonymous, yes! They have a very good reason to remain anonymous. They have a very righteous agenda, they’re very vocal and they do it splendidly. And anonymity is a very prudent choice and an effective tool coz they can be easily persecuted should their identities be revealed. Next time you act/say something in anonymity, think how you’re affecting others. Are you hiding yourself because you want to hurt others? Or are you hiding yourself because you need the security after saying something truthful that needs to be said?

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One thought on “Behind that Mask

  1. One thing: I forgot to include the role of censorship, because the admins to these sites where people post anonymously have the power to censor stuff. I’ve tried to sign some stuff on the Tumblr but the admin took my name out, which makes sense in that they can’t identify if it was really me. The compliments page decided not to post 2 of my submissions. So should the admins censor the shit that people post? NO! Because the spectators deserve to know how messed up the heads of these anonymous posters can be.

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