Saturday, February 28, 2009

Multiple Online Personalities: Am I the only one who does this?

I have my own website and my own e-mail address. However, a few months ago, I began exploring some adult-oriented interests of mine, interests that I have had for a long long time but never had the willingness to explore more fully for myself. Knowing the nature of the internet and the web and the ability for just about anybody to track you down anywhere, I decided it would be prudent of me to explore these adult interests under a pseudonym and a different e-mail address. So I created one and use it regularly for that purpose. One community I have joined online, I have a blog which I started with that pseudonym, and I regularly contribute to forums and chat on that community with the same pseudonym.

However, most people who know me online know me from my regular e-mail address. I've become rather like a celebrity over the last 11 years or so in my own corner of the internet with regard to my impact on certain elements of the field of cognitive science. (Check out my website which you can find in my profile if you want the gory details on that. Mine was the very first personal website on the topic of my specific disability. It turns out there are a lot more people who share my disability than I thought at the time I created my website.)

For my own personal reasons, I work very hard to keep these two identities seperate. Although I have shared my cognitive quirks with the adult community I've decided to take part in, and received some very helpful and useful feedback with regard to some of my specific concerns with regard to the nature of social interaction in such adult communities, I'm still rather reluctant to share too much information about myself in that kind of place.

So anyway, I wanted to ask you all: Do you have a double life, perhaps even a triple or quadruple life or more, in your interactions online? Do you feel more comfortable keeping certain aspects of your online life separate from certain other aspects, or do you simply clump everything together and let people find out as much as possible about you by learning about your singular-use online identity? Also, I wanted to ask this too: How much of your online identity is true to your off-line identity? Its been very rare that I have ever contradicted my offline identity with my online one. Regardless of where I go, I always write and speak from my heart. Am I unique in this, or do others tend to approach this online/offline social life stuff the same way I do?

This post was originally published on on Aug. 18, 2007 at 01:36am.

Physical Appearances: If we aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover, why do we do it anyway?

I'm not the most attractive looking guy. I suppose I could make some effort at trying to present myself in a more physically attractive manner to others, but in my personal philosophy, I really can't be bothered to do so. I feel like its a waste of my time to make myself look like something other than how I am or how I feel. I want people to see what I really look like, not what they want to see.

So why are people so obsessed with outward appearances? Everywhere you look, there are very savvy advertisers trying to convince us all that we should look a certain way, and that to look differently from that would make us less desirable. Among my favorite examples of this type of advertising is any which focuses around cosmetics (people will like you more if you slather the stuff on your face?) or hair (so, when all of your hair falls out, does that mean your going to die or something? Are you really less attractive simply because you have less hair?) These are the messages the advertisers want us to believe. Frankly, I just don't buy it.

To me, the most interesting things about a person have nothing to do with their appearance, unless there is something particularly striking about it, whether that be by choice (purple hair, anybody?) or by circumstances (Gorbachev's birth mark makes him very distinctive looking). Such physical attributes are usually not the kind that most people would find terrifically attractive, but I'm not attracted simply to the physique. True, that might draw me in a little, but I'm personally far more interested in a person's personality (how they think, how they talk, their personal values, their sense of humor, etc.) than their appearance. I'm even somewhat militant when others try to give me unwanted advice about how I might make myself look better in a physical sense. I'm just not interested in looking nice. I want people to be attracted to me in the same way I am attracted to them, not by their appearance, but by their intellect, their sense of humor, and other aspects of their personality. Is that too much to ask?

This post was originally published on on Aug. 17, 2007 at 12:34am.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Into the Depths of Darkness Go I

Into the depths of darkness go I.
You are always there to talk to,
though strangely, you never seem to answer when I call.
You simply wait for me to find you,
or maybe you wait to find me.
You always call me, and I always pick up.

Yes, I'm here again.
Why do you keep bothering me?
You know, you've done this to me since childhood,
always calling me and forcing me to answer your call.
All you say to me are negative things.
And I believed all of those things
even though other people have told me not to listen to you.

I feel like I should be your best friend
since I know you so well,
But I never wanted to know you,
never wanted you to follow me.
never wanted to be your friend,
even though I craved friendship from others.
And still, you held onto me with a tight grip,
one that I could not easily escape,
beckoning me to draw myself ever closer to you.

Leave me alone!
Why do you still call when I least expect it?
when I least want to talk to you?
when I least want to hear from you?"

I never get a reply.
You never answer me.
You just sit there and talk me into believing my worthlessness.
And I,
I just sit there, and listen,
and sometimes,
I cry.

You think I am your best friend, Depression,
but I hate you,
almost as much as I hate myself.


This post was originally published on on Oct. 18, 2007 at 12:20am.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Stomping of a Worker Bee: How I became a jaded depressed unemployed Cynic

I used to work for a national retailer as an hourly employee. I held that job for over six years. I also used to believe that being a hardworking employee with a sense of urgency about my job, a sense of humor which I brought to my job, and an overwhelming desire to satisfy the customer would make me an ideal employee for my employer. Then I discovered that I was simply living in an anthill, and the squishing of my psyche began with the first stomp on the anthill. Most people seem to feel the stomp a lot sooner than I did. I know because most of the non-supervisory and non-management hourly employees I worked with deliberately did whatever they possibly could to avoid doing any work, or at least to keep their quantity of work and urgency of performing it at an absolute minimum.

People who know me have often described me as a most excellent worker bee. Because of my own idiosyncrasies, I'm not a particularly good candidate for a management type position. (I'd worked in three separate stores for this company as I made some geographic moves of my own, and in one of these, I was consistently asked to apply for an open supervisory position. Several people tried to get me to apply for it, but I knew that I would not ultimately be a successful candidate for that job as there are certain aspects of a management-type job I simply can not do effectively. For example, it helps to know exactly who you are managing, and as a person with prosopagnosia, that is sort of impossible to do effectively.) Apparently though, I also wasn't worthy of being consistently rewarded for the excellent quality of work that I did perform. The compliments on my work performance and work ethic were piled upon me by some of my fellow employees, by my managers, and perhaps most importantly, by the customers I served. However, in the last three years I worked for this employer, on my annual reviews, I received paltry pay raises. The first of these was a seven cent per hour raise given to me on my annual review which was given nearly 3 months late. (I'm going to completely forget about the annual review I was never given the preceding year, though at least I did receive a corresponding pay raise.) The following year, as an exercise in futility, I received an annual review with a zero cent hourly raise. The year after that, I received a 10 cent hourly raise on my annual review. I guess that no hard work goes unpunished.

For those unfamiliar with the retail sector, and for those who are about to be startled by similar problems of their own, retailers cap the wages of all hourly employees. At the company I worked for, that cap was at $10.00 per hour, though it was subsequently raised to $10.10 per hour. I find it fascinating that upper level executives in the company who, I have observed, have made some rather poor merchandising decisions over the last few years by clearancing out certain seasonal merchandise roughly a week or two before its peek demand stage and then not having enough merchandise to actually meet demand, still managed to receive whopping bonuses in excess of more than 100 years worth of my combined pay.

I had written several letters about my situation to various internal communication points within the company. The message I was basically given was that nobody really cared how hard-working I was, and that nobody really cared about my particular idiosyncrasies which made it impossible for me personally to successfully perform a supervisory job. It was simply a matter of time before I gave up. Because there was obviously no value in my being a stellar employee to the company I worked for (despite their assurances to the contrary) because there was no additional reward for continuing to be a stellar worker bee, I became both mentally and physically squashed. Ultimately, I quit working for the company. Technically, they let me go. (Technically, they fired me.) But ultimately, I didn't want to work there anymore anyway. At the time, I had said to one of my co-workers that I would rather be at home puking than continuing to work for this company. He jokingly said to me, "That good, huh?"

I've had a difficult time finding work since then, nearly a year ago, but a large part of that has been because I have simply stopped trying to look for work. Part of the reason for that is severe depression. I no longer believe that doing my best at anything is truly going to be a rewarding experience for me (I expect to be taken advantage of), and certainly, I'm not going to be rewarded for it. I expect ultimately to get stomped on again a few years down the road. Maybe I'll be lucky and find an employer which not only talks about valuing its employees, but one which actually does value its employees. My prior employer was not like that. It talked a good game, but ultimately, they spat in my face. I was simply another expense on the expense sheet, not a valuable employee as all of their internal and external company propaganda would have made me believe. Frankly, I made myself a valuable employee to them until such time as I simply gave up trying anymore. My drop in on-the-job performance was huge. Although my supervisor on more than one occasion pointed out to me that my giving only 10% of my effort was more than some other people giving 100% of their effort, neither he, nor the store manager, nor the company itself could satisfy my need to be consistently rewarded for superior on-the-job performance. So I gave up trying. Eventually, I wrote my manager a note which basically gave the three following choices, the first two of which I knew were going to happen only when hell froze over:

  • I believe the quality of work I perform is worthy of a pay raise. I should be given one.
  • Alternatively, if there is an opportunity available within the store which I can be confident that I can successfully perform which has the potential of earning me more money, I would like to be given that opportunity.
  • Alternatively, I do not believe I can continue to work in good faith for this company. Please let me go.

If you've read this far, you know they chose the last option. I was not unhappy. I simply could not continue to work for a company which did not live up to its own internal and external propaganda of being a good company to work for with employees that they actually cared about. I was convinced that they did not care about their employees. I also became convinced that, because they did not care about their employees, they also didn't care about their customers, because loyal customers deserve to be served by hard-working enthusiastic cheerful employees. (There were very few of those in the store I was working in at the time.) I haven't shopped there since I was let go, and I don't intend to shop there ever again. It will, of course, be of no consequence to a multi-million dollar company whether I, as one person, shops there or not. I, however, can not shop at a company which I do believe contradicts every one of its guiding principles with the way it actually conducts its business.

I don't know where I'm going to work next. I can't imagine that I will want to work in retail again. This collection of problems seems pandemic across the entire industry with very few exceptions, and I'm somewhat skeptical even about those supposed exceptions. I had thought that the company I was working for was one of those exceptions, but of course, it was just another one of those "screw the hard-working employee" companies.

If you do know somebody looking for a hard-working energetic fun employee who is willing to pay a reasonable wage for the honor of having me serve them somewhere in the Boston, MA, USA area, please let me know.

This post was originally published on on Aug. 19, 2007 at 03:13pm

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Welcome to blogger! Uh, wait, shouldn't I be introducing myself? was fun while it lasted. I really enjoyed blogging there as it was a truly wonderful community of writers, but since it has gone away, I wanted a place to keep all of my writing, and I wanted to have ultimate control over it. I began writing my own blogging software, but as I've been having some technical difficulties with that, I thought it would be better, for now, just to get my writing back out there.

One reason I began my blog at was to showcase my writing ability because I have some hopes of making a career out of writing, and I can say I was very proud of most of the pieces I wrote there. Sometimes, I was disappointed at the number of views my writing received given how hard I worked at putting some of those pieces together. Sometimes, I was delighted with the responses I received, most of which were very well thought out.

My intent is to migrate most of that work over here, and let a new group of readers discover what I have written, and hopefully, I contribute something that is worthwhile for people to read and ponder and respond to. If you agree that I have written something worthwhile, whether you agree or disagree with what I have written, I'd love to have you comment on my blog. In fact, I would be honored if you chose to do so.

Some of the topics I have chosen to write about, and likely will occasionally continue to write about, are adult-oriented in nature. I will not post those writings and musings here on this blog. Instead, I will post them here to remain within blogger's Terms of Service.

I do not promise to write consistently, but I do promise to write whatever and whenever the writing muse strikes me. I hope you will enjoy reading what I put together. If you do, I'd love to hear from you.