Word Vomit Wednesday - Flagged

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

*At the time of posting this, I was and am still partially banned from sharing things on Facebook without any explanation from Facebook.*

Last week I was flagged on Facebook for “hate speech” much to my surprise and to the surprise of pretty much everyone I know. And, if I’m being honest here, I actually felt more inconvenienced than upset about it. I probably should have felt more upset about it because it’s indicative of an enormous and terrifying cultural trend: censoring critical thought and expression while protecting harassment, threats, and bigotry. I have no idea who reported me or what about me or something I posted (I only posted twice last week and I rarely engage with Facebook anymore except to post this blog and work for Female Frequency and maybe “like” some of my friend’s posts) was found to be problematic, which is part of the problem with reporting on social media platforms. No one has any idea what the fuck is going on and nothing is actually accomplished.

I talked to my friend (I’ll call her Viv for this piece) who co-founded and worked for an organization whose intention was to provide support for victims of online harassment. And what she found while working with Twitter and their global trust and safety departments was pretty abysmal. First of all, these are very small departments that employ very few people. Which makes discerning legitimate reportings and enforcing consequences for the hundreds of thousands of claims that come in weekly to be virtually impossible. And because these social media companies don’t want to shell out the money for more manpower on this issue we’re left at the whims of algorithms that end up doing more harm than good. By having bots that are programmed to find keywords and then trigger a ban based on those words removes any kind of discussion about First Amendment rights and protections.

Algorithms have no concept for context and nuance. You can’t define hate speech and symbols without also discussing context and you can’t pretend to care about the First Amendment if you can’t determine what speech is protected and what warrants consequences if there are no people having those discussions while working on cases. By setting up these algorithms you may be able pick up on that Neo-Nazi’s multiple profiles, but you’re probably also lumping people who educate about World War II in with the bigots as if they're in any way equitable. They’re obviously not even close. That's one way in which these social media platforms are doing a great disservice to it’s community members.

While Viv was working at her organization, she had the rare opportunity to personally and directly bring cases to global trust and safety which would expedite the process for her clients significantly. Even then, there were still many obstacles. No two social media platforms have a uniform way they deal with reports and they all require different types of “evidence” from the users filing complaints which users are either not aware of or have no idea how to obtain them. Not only that, but harassment is still just not taken seriously. According to Viv, even after personally bringing forward very serious cases involving death threats it still took 48 hours for any action.

The excuses for not doing more organizationally and even legislatively, is this bullshit idea that the Internet is too fast to even think about putting real protections for people around hate speech, threats of violence, threats to reputation, privacy and consent. Excuse me, but that’s just fucking lazy. So lazy and unwilling to do the work are these social media companies, that they opened up this country to major national security threats (hello, Russia Investigation). And it’s appalling that the people on the Internet who do cause harm and who express themselves with violence are only ever given a slap on the wrist. Why even have a reporting system if no one is going to be held accountable for their actions? Which brings me to my next point. Oftentimes reporting someone (as was in my case last week) is the harassment behavior.

Trolls employ reporting as a harassment tactic CONSTANTLY. My first personal experience with it was last week, but I have seen it happen over and over again to, in particular,  to BIPOC (black, indigenous people of color) activists and advocates (mostly women) that I follow on various social media platforms. And it is enraging every time that these people who are either educating, observing, asking, or sharing are policed at virtually every turn. THAT’S FUCKED UP AND REALLY NOT NECESSARY. But because there is no real discussion or real people discerning the difference between hate speech and a truth that may make someone feel some discomfort, reporting is abused and used violently toward marginalized people. Much in the same way all our other institutions are set up to uphold those same white supremacist and patriarchal standards.

If our society is going to progress in any way, we need to get this mess sorted out. Free speech does not mean one is free from consequences. If someone is being abused they should feel like they’re going to be heard when they reach out. When someone has been flagged, they need to be given specific reasons why something they did or said was deemed inappropriate and be held accountable appropriately, not just given a link to the site’s guidelines. And if someone uses the reporting system in a violent way they should not only be appropriately held accountable for that but also have it communicated to them why what they were reporting was not considered hate speech, etc. Fostering discussion and education through healthy communication practices is something we definitely need in these spaces. If these platforms continue to rely on these algorithms instead of having qualified humans facilitate we are never going to have the resources or professional support that we deserve in these spaces.

Katie Louchheim suggests that if an opinion makes you uncomfortable, go see a therapist before projecting your bullshit inappropriately on others.

Word Vomit Wednesday - AMERICA. Fuck... yeah?

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

 

Tonight I went to my parent’s house for dinner with some family friends, ate homemade pie, and watched some fireworks off in the distance while playing Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” Today is the 4th of July and in the good ol’ U.S. Of A, that means marking our independence as a country. It’s a holiday that I’ve never given much thought to, but just took as a day to hang out with people I love and eat a ton of food. The past couple years has had me, and many other people, starting to think a little more critically about the habits of our country and what it really means to be an American. To be completely honest, this seemingly benign holiday has become a difficult one to celebrate. In the words of one of my favorite people on Twitter, @OhNoSheTwitnt:

 “Celebrating Independence Day feels weird now. Like when Facebook sends you a birthday reminder for one of your friends who’s dead.”

Yup. Let’s just take a look at some of the bullshit we’ve been dealing with since June:

  • At least 8 white supremacists, including admitted pedophile and rapist Nathan Larson are running for federal and state office.

  • 45 called for Samantha Bee, a private citizen, to lose her job.

  • Scott Pruitt spent $1560 on twelve custom fountain pens.

  • The Pentagon reported that U.S. Military operations killed 499 civilians in 45’s first year in office.

  • The EU filed a WTO case in response to 45’s tariffs.

  • Manafort was sent to jail.

  • At least 2,300 children have been separated from their families at the border since the implementation of the DOJ’s “zero tolerance” policy.

  • Baby Concentration Camps

  • The 45 administration withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council.

  • 45 went from calling the people crossing the border “rapists” to comparing them to vermin “infesting” the country.

  • A white male terrorist with a history of misogyny and white supremacy murdered five journalists in Maryland.

  • Surprise! Stephen Miller is America’s Goebbels. *Fun Fact: He’s a Jew! Wow, a Jew who becomes a Nazi. What a neat party trick!

  • ICE is the new SS

  • Space Force

  • More than 600 members of Jeff Session’s church filed a formal complaint accusing him of “child abuse,” “immorality,” and “racial discrimination.” Hey Jeff, you may want to rethink your interpretations of the Bible when your entire Bible study class kicks you out. Just sayin’.

  • 45 rescinded an Obama-era rule meant to protect the Great Lakes and oceans bordering the U.S.

  • Melania is complicit. Duh.

  • Despite a signed executive order to keep migrant families together, there is no actual plan to reunite the nearly 2,300 already separated children with their families.

  • Reported abuse of the kids in the Baby Concentration Camps.

  • 45 plans to meet with U.S. President Putin next month.

  • The “Unite the Right” organizer received approval to hold a “white civil rights” rally on August 12th on the National Mall.

  • The White House plans to merge the Education and Labor Departments.

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out of a restaurant because of her continued ride-or-die chick status with 45.

  • Naturalized U.S. Citizens are beginning to be targeted and stripped of their citizenship.

  • Sean Spicer has a new talk show. I’m not going to beat around the bush that he’s been hiding in, but fuck whichever network decided to give him a platform.

  • Federal debt is expected to exceed the size of the economy within a decade.

  • The United Nations estimates 18.25 million Americans are living in “extreme poverty.”

  • The DOJ is drafting a plan to overhaul the U.S. Asylum policy.

  • Rep. Maxine Waters had to cancel multiple events due to a very serious death threat.

SCOTUS Special Programming:

  • Fake clinics are allowed to lie to and manipulate women bc free speech and who gives a fuck about women they’re not really people just baby incubators. Thanks SCOTUS!

  • It’s totally cool to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people if you have a religiously-sanctioned heterosexual agenda.

  • 45’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is being upheld in the form of the Muslim Ban 3.0.

  • Justice Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. After the announcement, it came out that Kennedy’s son, Justin, worked at Deutsche Bank for more than a decade and loaned Trump more than $1 billion.

     

    All of that was just ONE MONTH. I’m actually stunned with how we’ve been keeping up as much as we have. I have so many WVW’s that I started and then just wasn't sure if I should post because by the time a week or even a few days passed, whatever I had started writing about seemed almost irrelevant. On top of that, I’ve begun to emotional process the realization that whatever illusion of America I felt like I knew and was real has been completely shattered and I’ve been having a time coming to terms with and understanding what this country is and how it has always been and trying to reconcile how to function in a new, productive, and more informed way. It’s overwhelming as fuck, but our only choice right now is to remain hopeful and channel that hope into action and solutions that get us back on track to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. This Fourth of July is a clear reminder that we are still not free. We need to fight for our freedom every single day in whatever ways we can.

    Today is a complicated day. We’ll probably scorch our food on the grill to commemorate all the bridges we’ve burned to the ground, get drunk on ice-cold brewskis of freedom that do the double-duty of feeding our addiction to lies and illusions while numbing us from feeling the real weight of the dire situation we’re in or the discomfort of actually having to be accountable for the ways in which we’ve been complicit in getting here. We’ll bask in the glow of fireworks, like bombs over Baghdad and every other middle eastern culture we’ve had a hand in destroying while playing the “1812 Overture,” a composition celebrating Russia’s victory over the invasion of Napolean. A tradition that began when it was first played in a Quaker Oats commercial in 1965. Stealing someone else’s anthem via capitalism and claiming it as our own. There’s nothing more American than that.

     

     

    Katie Louchheim has decided to identify as “tired.” 

Word Vomit Wednesday - 1 is Not the Loneliest Number

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.






About three weeks ago my brother got married (woo!). This event also marked the 8th time I’ve been a bridesmaid. I am always honored when I’m asked to be a part of someone’s bridal party. It really means a lot to me to know how much our relationship matters to the soon-to-be-wed person that they would want me in that kind of a supportive and active role in a ceremony that has great significance for them. What it doesn’t mean though, is that I’m the 30-year-old spinster who can’t get my life together (ie: find a husband and “settle down”) who settles for being in a perpetual “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” scenario. This apparently confuses and concerns many people. Especially when I exhibit emotions at aforementioned weddings. I often become emotional at weddings and that’s usually because of two things: 1. Empathy and 2. Being present.

I am an extremely empathic person, sometimes disablingly so. I pick up other people’s vibes and feelings so often and often so unconsciously it can feel like I’m a human Dyson that hasn’t been turned off and has all this shit swirling around inside. Being an empath has made me a more compassionate person and critical thinker. It has also given me a lot of problems with really knowing myself when I so seamlessly internalize other’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs as they typically become so entangled with my own. Additionally, setting boundaries has been a major struggle for me. If I can’t figure out if my feelings are mine or not, how and where do I need to draw the line with myself and others? Fortunately, I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of work on that and that’s where being present comes in. Learning how to be present has been imperative to my emotional and psychological survival because it allows me the time and space to not only know that I have the ability to turn the empathy vacuum on or off, but to determine when, how much and with whom. When it comes to my experience as a bridesmaid I’ve been able to tap into those to things and allow the timbre of the occasion, the joy, and the heartfelt moments to affect me in a moving way. Also, if I see someone cry you can bet I will start tearing up.

Does all this make sense or are you still waiting for me to start sobbing about the sad state of ruin that is my love life? Hate to disappoint, but I’m really happy with where I’m at. Which is single. What really gets me, though, is people not hearing me when I say that and not believing me when I say that. Whether my expression of emotions is even registered for some people or not, they don’t believe me when I say I’m not interested in marriage. Frankly, it’s offensive. I understand that that may not be the other person’s intention, but impact matters more than intention. In fact, the only time intention is really worth consideration is when it is in alignment with impact. Otherwise, I highly suggest learning how to be accountable for your shit instead of putting it on the person you’re having a negative impact on. When people have pressed me about this topic and not taken themselves accountable, I’m left with so much emotional labor. I usually have to steer the conversation to some bullshit like, “maybe I just haven’t found the right person yet” just to get them off my fucking back because, for whatever reason, they can’t grasp the idea that marriage is not the end-all-be-all for some people.

When I was in second grade, I remember overhearing some of my classmates talking about their weddings and who they wanted to marry. All I remember thinking is, “What am I going to do with my life? How will I make an impact on the world?” There is nothing wrong with wanting to get married and have a family. There is nothing wrong with wanting to find your life’s purpose through work and career. There’s nothing wrong with being single and starting a family. There’s nothing wrong with being in a committed monogamous relationship and never getting married. The list goes on and on. There are so many valid and varied ways to live a fulfilling life… and yet. That first path I mentioned still seems to be deemed the only meaningful one. And that sucks. It sucks for someone like me who has really tried with this dating and romantic relationship thing and it all just feels wrong and like a nuisance. I have never not been miserable in a romantic relationship. It’s taken me a long time to realize that it’s not because there’s something wrong with me, though.

We’re conditioned to this very limiting hetero-normative narrative about what dating and romantic love and marriage is all supposed to be and mean to us. And none of it is particularly realistic and it hasn’t jived with me. So, why am I going to keep engaging in something that I know for a fact doesn’t make me feel good? Why would I spend so much time and energy on that when I can invest in myself and the things that make me feel joy? When I can put love and energy into relationships that already add so much to my life, like my friends, family, and mentors. Those relationships are just as valuable as romantic partnerships. We have to let go of the stereotypes and we have to stop jumping to conclusions about people when they’ve made deliberate life choices. We also really need to stop trying to be “right” about other people’s lives. Seriously, get a fucking hobby and let people be. And if you’re curious because you genuinely don’t understand, ASK THEM. If they agree to talk to you about it, something no one is required to do, LISTEN TO THEM. Don’t try to force your perspective on their experiences. You’re not gonna change their minds and it’s just rude. And if no one wants to talk to you about it, whether you’re rude or not nobody owes you anything, GOOGLE IT. People word vomit their life experiences on the internet all the time (hello and welcome to this very meta episode of WVW) and you’re likely to come across many stories of why people live the lives that they do. Newsflash: it’s not always an indication of being sad and lonely. People’s lives are interesting if you keep an open mind to them!

I could continue on and on about societal expectations on women (they’re fucked up and completely unrealistic so stop it) and talk about all the statistics of heterosexual-identifying people that state that single women are the happiest demographic just behind married men while single men and married women were reported as being most unhappy with married women being the unhappier demo. While this doesn’t represent every single person’s individual marriage, it does make it clear that marriage is an institution that generally only favors men. Because patriarchy. But, I’m not going to go into more of that because I’m not being paid to educate people and it's a great example of a topic you can practice your Google skills on. Try it out!

Anyway, I’m happy where I’m at in my life right now and I’m going to keep living my life based on my values and my intuition whether anybody else likes it or not.

Katie Louchheim hates vacuuming.

Word Vomit Wednesday - Simulacrum

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.




I’m sitting on my parent’s couch with a heating pad hugging my left shoulder blade because I apparently strained it while trying to see around the very tall woman seated in front of me at Centennial Hall. And while Finding Neverland was a very cute and harmless production, it was definitely not worth this misery and I think I’m feeling more sore about that than I am about the pain itself. Couchella 2018 is about as big of a bummer as every Coachella that doesn’t have Beyoncé performing. It’s also forcing me to literally sit and reflect on this past week in Tucson. This trip has neither been all fibro flare-ups nor without stress entirely, but what it has been is bizarre. I’m coming back to a place that I consciously ran away from partly because I didn’t feel like I could be myself there. Or even find out who that was. It was a place where I felt so trapped and afraid of and frustrated by everything. As the cosmic joke that life can be would have it, my healing journey indicated that it was time to go back and dig into the shit I thought I left behind. As I now know, no one ever leaves anything behind. Wherever you go, there you are and sometimes in order to move forward you need to take a few steps back.

Random Kanye West-style philosophical rambling aside, it is weird being back and knowing that I’m not just heading to New York for good at the end of the week. I’m here seeing my family, family friends, and even some friends I haven’t seen since high school and so much feels unnervingly unchanged. Except for me. Every day I have had a sense of anxiety and unease and it’s not about moving back for this sabbatical. It’s more this jarring out-of-body sensation of recognizing a schema, situation, or dynamic and just feeling slightly off within it. I’m taking that as a positive thing. Because while I am not totally at ease I’m also not totally off-kilter either. I feel more grounded in myself and less like I’m compromising my authenticity like I was when I left almost 11 years ago. It indicates growth and a realization that I have more power in situations. But, it’s also a very naked and vulnerable feeling. Feeling those feelings in these situations that recall seventeen years of previous experience in living here is incredibly confusing. Almost every day I’ve been texting friends telling them how anxious I am, how I can’t just sit still and relax, how I’m constantly looking over my shoulder when I’m out in public, how I’m having such trouble sleeping and I just don’t know why. You would think I was under Witness Protection or something.

No matter where I go I sense this essence of a Katie that no longer exists and it’s obstructing my view of the situation. Like the town is haunted by this emotionally wounded child that just doesn’t have the skills or knowledge to pass on. I don’t know if it’s just my memories coming into sharp focus and confusing the past for present reality, but every day there’s been a moment of haziness where the next thing to do, say, or go is either muddled or doesn’t exist at all. So, maybe that’s the job I’m supposed to do here. Picking up my life one place and putting in another is not the challenge. I’ve done that quite a few times already. And I don’t think exorcising or slaying the demons is what’s called for either because, as I am painfully aware of right now, that will probably just cause strain that cannot be helped by a few hours snuggled up with a heating pad. But maybe learning to face them and help them across the vale will help me actually move on too.

 

 

Katie Louchheim is looking into a career in supernatural diplomacy.

Word Vomit Wednesday - Conspiracy Against the United States

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

This week started off with a BANG (welcome to Scorpio season!). #IndictmentMonday did not disappoint those of us who have been waiting for some small dose of sanity and justice to peek it’s head through this dumpster fire of a year. Also, can we just let it sink in that it’s been almost exactly ONE YEAR since the election? This short period of time has felt like what I imagine living in a dimension where the Upside Down and all three seasons of Rick and Morty banged would be like. Potentially super entertaining to watch, in reality an absolute nightmare. And since none of us seem to have a portal gun to use to escape or Eleven’s powers to fight back, it’s been a little rough. It hasn’t been all bad, though. Having these turds in the White House has woken a lot of people up to how sick this country is and how it’s been sick from the beginning.

You can’t come to a land already inhabited by people, start murdering and raping them and then claim your intentions are for the pursuit of happiness. You can’t build a nation on the unpaid and often abused and raped backs of people you stole from another continent and claim to believe in freedom and justice for all. As a country, we have not dealt with the fact that our nation was founded in the near-genocide of a majority of our native people and cemented in the slavery of black people. If we cannot address our past, we will never heal. We won’t be able to create the solutions that will actually be helpful for all Americans and we will never be the land of the free and home of the brave. We will remain a place where people who are considered “other” will be continually fighting the limitations put on them and where too many white people will remain cowards. That’s the real conspiracy of the United States. The American Dream does not exist. We’ve grown up believing a complete lie.

I do have hope that things can be turned around. Because we’re not a particularly old country, I would say this could be seen as a huge growth spurt. We’re either going to come out of this an even bigger butthead or we will start learning how to walk our talk. In my own experience, I feel much more involved in our political landscape than I ever have before. I feel like I have so many more resources about how to understand how our institutions work and the best ways to contact our representatives to make our voices heard. Growing up it was instilled in me how important it was to do our civic duties. For the longest time for me, that only included voting and jury duty. I remember thinking that if I really got involved in the political landscape I wouldn’t be able to pursue other dreams that I wanted for my life.

Obviously, that was a very extreme conclusion I came to. It has become clearer that politics don’t need to take over, but do need to be some sort of an active presence in our lives. Just like anything we need to do for ourselves: vacuuming, running errands, and picking up the kids from school. Keeping in touch with our representatives to express our concerns somehow needs to be normalized as something we actively engage in because it just needs to be done. Not only that, but as I become a more active participant in my own life in many other ways, the happier I am and the less disappointed and apathetic if things don’t go my way.

The only way for this country to reach the potential of greatness that it has is if everyone becomes more active in some way. We put so much emphasis on vague words. What if, instead, we clarified what the word “freedom” actually means or the word “great”? If you talk to different people about what “freedom,” “great,” “liberty,” “American Dream,” etc., mean to them you’ll probably get a lot of different answers. There’s so much intellectual capital in this country that maybe if we just start to clarify what values these words and symbols actually represent, we could start working toward incorporating those values.

America doesn’t have to be great again. We’re already great and we’re awesome enough and strong enough to tackle these major demons of ours. What America needs is to grow up.

 

Katie Louchheim fails A LOT at #adulting which has made her smarter, more curious, assertive, and generally in a near-constant state of frustration.