COMMUNICATION IN THE TRUMP ERA

personal
"we have lost the privilege of being complicated"
 yup . this guy . President Donald Trump

yup . this guy . President Donald Trump

 

Nu·ance - (Noun) -  a subtle difference in or shade of meaning , or sound

 

As a generation and as humanity , I believe we have lost the privilege of being complicated* . Every person is a deeply layered and complex human being but we treat each other simply . We each have a complex life situation and story from which we view and experience through a lens that is completely unique . And further , we are given an amazing tool to express that complexity . Words . Words to write , to speak , to share the exactness of our own uniqueness . Words that in near infinite combination and context can express exactly what we want to share with the world and contribute to our combined humanity .  This privilege lost couldn’t be more prominent coming into President Donald Trump's Inauguration .
We had the privilege . Through centuries of human history , scholars , philosophers , writers , and other great minds have brought language to an unparalleled level . We have more access . We have more ways of sharing ideas that may separates us due to geography or ideas that may bind us together because of common human experience . But we lost that privilege .  We hadn’t lost it as much as we’ve sort of casted it aside . Like a chore we waited till the weekend to take care of . We skip a couple weekends and then soon we just never bother to get to it . We’re out of practice . 
 For your parents , a helpful way to get chores done in the house

For your parents , a helpful way to get chores done in the house

We use oversimplified generalizations and phrasing to talk about complex , nuanced and weighted subject matter . We read other people’s posts using oversimplified generalizations and phrasing to talk about complex, nuanced and weighted issues . And when we disagree with them , even though we’re probably not getting all the information , we attack them with more oversimplified generalities and phrasing . Then 3 comments down , no one understands anything anyone is explaining so the argument becomes name calling and internet bullying . A virtual puffing of the chest while typing on an ergonomic keyboard between checking Snapchat .

 Spittin' my fire with proper wrist placement and designed efficiency

Spittin' my fire with proper wrist placement and designed efficiency

This isn’t everyone . There are plenty of people that are trying to communicate with an exactitude of a threading needle . But most of that is being over shouted by the big bold banners of people yelling their words expressing emotion . Everyone should be able to yell out their feelings if they wish to do that but just know that yelling isn’t having a conversation . Yelling your feelings is self serving , it’s a release for the person doing the yelling , it’s not to explain or to communicate information for the other side to process and understand . And just like real life , internet yelling doesn’t result in conversation . Internet yelling matches only ever results to more yelling , name calling , and bigotry . The lowest of our humanity . 

Communication and gaining another point of view is the way to understand difference . You don’t have to agree but you empathize and relate and have a mutual raft to stand on in dealing with issues looking for common ground . That’s the way to resolution . The other way is war , it’s killing people , it’s yelling , and belittling and beating up the people who don’t agree with you so you don’t have to deal with them .

We’ve lost the privilege of being complicated because we’re not allowed it . People won’t stand for complicated . They don’t have time for it . They don’t have energy for it . Its too complicated . Life is hard enough already . Google and Facebook already designed the algorithm almost to a point where you don’t have to be confronted with an opposing view . But is that what we are now ? We’re only gonna hang out with people we agree with about everything ? 

I’m not innocent from this . I don’t always take the time to properly explain myself , or to seek more information before I get all hot and bothered . To ask for clarification or to seek first to understand . I might not be in the habit of writing and posting fire all over my Twitter , but I have sat in my chair and set fire to my laptop with my eyes . 

 DIE ANONYMOUSE INTERNET HANDLE DIE 

DIE ANONYMOUSE INTERNET HANDLE DIE 

I am trying and I’m asking anyone reading this to try it (if you’re not doing it already.) To ask people to explain themselves more and explain as best they can to exactly what the heart of the issue is before formulating a response . And when I do respond , to not attack their character , but only to address the exact issue at hand to the best of my knowledge . To let their information sink in a bit , to take a minute to see it from their eyes , and then share my own experience and knowledge . It should be an exchange , an exchange of information , and an exchange in humanity . 

 I realize that this only works if all parties are on the same page about this or else you're really just talking to a wall

I realize that this only works if all parties are on the same page about this or else you're really just talking to a wall

Donald Trump will officially become the 45th President of the United States tomorrow . Nothing is clear as to what that means or what is going to happen but there are definitely going to be a lot of heavy social issues to be addressed in the coming 4 years , and I believe the only way a large group of people can come together and properly address these issues is if we’re all respect each other enough to clearly communicate . 

I will be posting here as a way to promote communication and conversation . I will sometimes address issues directly or just write about communication in general . Please come back and contribute , leave comments or share these posts along with your own thoughts . All that I ask is that we treat the topics with the respect , nuance and the complexity that it deserves . Looking forward to hearing from you .

 Hello ? It's the 90's , the people want their long Xanga post and stupid jokes back 

Hello ? It's the 90's , the people want their long Xanga post and stupid jokes back 

*I first saw the “privilege of being complicated” phrase (which inspired this post) as a partial phrase used by Eddie Huang as a way to explain that marginalized people of America aren’t given that privilege . I used it in a different meaning but I’d thought I share the source of the inspiration for this post . You can find his article here . 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/14/opinion/sunday/hey-steve-harvey-who-says-i-might-not-steal-your-girl.html?_r=0  

STEVE HARVEY AND HIS ASIAN JOKES

| personal
"So what do we do"
steve harvey asian jokes

Steve Harvey recently made some jokes about asian men that blew up my particular social media feed . People felt angry , offended , outraged even , and took to the boards to express their fire . At first , even though I didn’t feel the fire , I did take to shaking my head . Shaking my head because it doesn’t surprise me . Shaking my head because the jokes and put downs sounds stingingly familiar . And lastly , shaking my head because the response , personally , also felt stale . 

 

***Feel free to take a quick look before continuing reading 

Steve Harvey might be racist against asian men . He might not be . We can’t know for sure . But we do know one thing thats certain . Steve Harvey is a comedian . and he plays to an audience . 

I’m not saying what he did was right or wrong . I’m also not saying that the backlash from the asian american community isn’t warranted . I think that voice is important . I’m just saying his number one job , is to say the thing that he knows will get the laugh . he may or may not believe in exactly the thing he said , but he knows that after he says those things people will laugh . He’s a long time professional at that . We know that for sure . 

I’ve personally been on set with him and seen him work a room . He is a pro . 

Were the jokes distasteful ? Ignorant ? Insensitive ? That probably depends on who you’re asking . We didn’t laugh , but there are plenty of people that did . So where is the real fight ?

The Asian American community has had to fight against many stigma’s and stereotypes in main stream media . I know this . I’m exactly the demographic he’s targeting in those jokes . It’s a lot like a wound that never heals , you get cut early in your childhood when you find out the stereotypes working against you , and before the wound could scab and heal , it would be cut again . I can tell you , these cuts happen to all asian men . I can also tell you , working in the entertainment industry , the knives are bigger and the blade is sharper , and you’re standing on the stage basically asking to get cut . 

 Do it , cut me 

Do it , cut me 

So Steve harvey’s jokes was basically another cut at the wound . A big prime time television cut . An industry/comedic icon cut . And that sort of knife cuts deep , maybe close to hitting an artery . So I understand the outrage , and I understand the lashing back . But although we cannot stand for injustice , I think it’s important to just get a little bit of perspective on it . He is a comedian , making jokes to try to get laughs , which many people did . 

So what do we do ? After the explosive Facebook rants and the Twitter bashing ? What happens ? I hope you take this fire , this anger , this energy you feel about this topic , and throw it into making work and living life . Making work and a life , that fight against the stereotypes . Forge your own metaphoric weapons to represent your culture and unique perspectives . Let them make jokes , because soon it won’t matter . 

I leave you with this video from Phil of Wong Fu . He speaks to the topic of white washing in media but touches to the point of making change elequently 

FAREWELL PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA | THE END OF AN ERA

 | personal
"He made me care and he made me proud"
president barack obama farewell

I’d be the first one to tell you that I don’t know everything about politics . I’m not familiar with all the issues , nor an expert of any issues or issue . Of political , sociological , environmental , cultural impact , I get it from the same sources most people do , the internet . I’m not on the streets , I’m not at the meetings ,  and the only rally’s I’ve gone to in the last decade has been an almost extinct retro hamburger joint in the suburbs of Anaheim . I'm not an expert .

 standing strong for America

standing strong for America

What I can write about expertly and authoritatively is my own experience of these last eight years . These last eight years with our 44th President and the impact that his presidency had on my life and why I will miss him dearly . 

 circa 2008

circa 2008

 circa 2008

circa 2008

From memories of child hood and first moving to America at the age of 8 , I have thus far lived through President George Bush Sr , two terms with President Bill Clinton , and two terms with President George W. Bush . Through all of those Presidents , I have been largely uninspired . Not from a lack education mind you . Through high school , I studied government . I was in AP Comparative Government , and was involved in  four years of Model United Nations , all of which educated me on 

many of the issues in the world ranging from aids and overpopulation to disarmament of WMD’s and Middle East conflicts which I kept up with through college on my own time . Information wasn’t my problem . It was hopelessness . I felt that , as many people of my generation at that time felt , there was such an overpower feeling of “what’s the point?” . The world seem to happen to us rather than because of us . Soon after college , I didn’t cared when the current President spoke

 or made speeches . When I did tune in and felt the need to at least stay informed , I was met with what ranged from uninspired to disdain . Soon enough , most of what I heard about the President and the state of the government were the punch lines from late night talk shows and satire from TV shows and the internet . No faith , no hope , no idea where things were going or reason to care why it was going there . The world was happening to me .

 "Staring determinedly into a blurry second term | Circa 2012 

"Staring determinedly into a blurry second term | Circa 2012 

There are many reasons for these feelings and I’m sure many papers have been written . I’m also sure that a lot of these problems stem from the individual . I could of fixed the issue myself and try to stay active in doing what many people have done in the past . But that’s the problem with feeling hopeless . I didn’t see a point in trying any of that . 

 Sassier side of our President | circa 2012

Sassier side of our President | circa 2012

 circa 2016

circa 2016

Here comes Barack Obama , the 44th president . the first black President with a message of hope , and message of “Yes , we can.” He’s the first president of the social media generation , elected largely by the social media generation . 67% precent of voting age American citizens are active on social media and 66% of those citizens engage in political activism on those networks . He won nearly 70 precent of the vote among Americans under the age of 25 . The highest percentage since the U.S. exit polling began in 1976 . Much like President Kennedy , he found the right avenue and the right time to deliver his message .  

Maybe it is because I’m in the right age group , but I was moved by him from almost the beginning . Through the many years that followed , he offered a brand of presidency that at the very least , made me want to tune in , wanted to be informed , wanted to be apart of . 

 

I didn't always agree with all of his moves in the White House . But in a country of 318.9 million citizens , 89,004 local governments , 50 state governments , 435 House Representatives , 100 senators , and lord knows how many government agencies , it is an impossible task to please everyone at the same time . The American government is set up as a complex system with many moving parts all pulling and pushing in many directions each with their own agenda and representing their own segment of the American public . Not a single government official, even as Commander and Chief , can shoulder all the issues and be responsible for every decision that comes to pass . Often times , a decision on one issue is rarely done singlehandedly , many people are involved in one decision and as shown by every conceivable television show or movie ever made about government work and the Presidency , the job is more attuned to playing a couple games of chess simultaneously than checkers . Every move has fall out , some public and some quite the contrary . I've held that scope for every President , not just President Obama . 

 I imagine that it looked a lot like this except instead of chess pieces , they're playing with human lives

I imagine that it looked a lot like this except instead of chess pieces , they're playing with human lives

The Commander and Chief does have a task that no other position requires and that is to act as a figure head and a public face for the American Government . He stands in front of the American public , in front of the international community , and speaks in representation of what America is and stands for . He’s there to offer inspiration to the disenfranchised , solicit eyes and ears to prominent issues plaguing the nation , and to be an unequivocal representation to the dignity and standards of America . 

And to that , President Barack Obama had in spades . 

He made me proud and he made me care

You can disagree with his politics , you can argue against his policies , and you can stifle laugher at his White House correspondents’ dinner speeches . His legacy is still to be decided but you can’t deny the fact that he engaged the public with a gravitas that we haven’t seen in quite sometime .  

I will be completely honest and state  that I haven’t done everything that I can to be more politically active . As I’ve said , “to get in the streets” and dive into the issues . But as someone , who 8 years ago , gave no shits about what was happening in the world around me , I will say that his time in the Oval Office , has made me open my eyes and offered me hope for a chance to not let the world just happen to me but that I can effectively take part in the process and be proud of it . To that , I can’t thank him enough

 circa 2016

circa 2016

To President Barack Obama ,

Thank you sir . Thank you for 8 years of incredible service . Thank you for bringing dignity to our country’s leadership through the hills and valleys of changing times . For the millions of people you have inspired to participate , seek knowledge , made to believe and to gain faith , we will never forget 

It was an honor to have lived in this time and bear witness

 In spite of people of different political power publicly declaring that they'll do anything and everything they can do stop him , he still managed to find a way to be great . If that isn't an all American story I don't know what is 

In spite of people of different political power publicly declaring that they'll do anything and everything they can do stop him , he still managed to find a way to be great . If that isn't an all American story I don't know what is 

*the photos used for this post are not my own .

ryan feng photography

 

 
 

HOW TO QUIT SMOKING

December 29, 2016 
 
 
 

 

 

 

It's been three years since my last cigarette . It was Dec 31st 2013 and I was standing on the rooftop of a club in Taiwan watching fire works fly off Taipei 101 . There's something poetic about quitting smoking in the New Year . Its sort of a nice bench mark to life , the way that chapters separates books or sleep separates days . 

As poetic as the line would be , I didn't make the decision to quit on Dec 31st 2013 . I decided to quit exactly 2 months and 2 week before that . I made a decision that night and also came up with the 10 week plan to quit smoking . 

Here's the plan 

  • wk 1 & 2 - cut to 2 cigs a day 
  • wk 3 & 4- cut to 1 cig a day 
  • wk 5 & 6 - cut to 1 cig every other day 
  • wk 6 & 8 - cut to 1 cig a week
  • wk 8 & 10 - cut to 1 cig until January 1st 

Here's the thing

  • THE PLAN DOESN'T MATTER 

I've tried quitting 1 time before and I had a plan . it lasted 3 weeks . And It wasn't as if the plan wasn't as good or I got better at making plans . The difference was that the REASON FOR THE DECISION was much much better .

The path to a smoke free life isn't quite as painful as dealing with some real life issues such as poverty , terminal disease , or even just addictions to harder drugs . BUT ! it is relentlessly irritating and annoying to the maximum extreme . You need an extremely good reason to quit . Not only does it have to be good , it has to be truthful . 

Here's the thing . To all those people that like to scold smokers , or fake cough around smokers , or spit out the facts describing the bad health effects of smoking : You are doing no one any favors . As a smoker , I know that some people don't like it and I know all of the PSAs about the health factors that come with smoking . I'm the one coughing at night making my nails yellow and making all my stuff smell like cigarettes. I KNOW . Most people know all that stuff before they light up their first cig , it's not going to make me quit because someone else reminded me of that information . 

ryan feng photography
ryan feng photography

There were plenty of times where I got weak and wanted a smoke , it happened 20 times a day . I can try to keep busy , stay away from smokers , chew gum , whatever . Won't help , it's too easy to smoke . Even when I finished the plan and had stopped smoking for a couple months , I still get weak . and want to smoke . After a year or two , on a Tuesday , in the afternoon , at taco bell , I got weak and wanted to smoke . 

The reason to quit smoking has to be so honest and so strong that it can withstand that kind of temptation . Cigarettes are everywhere . Depending on where you are , it's a quick walk or drive and 10 bucks away to smoking heaven . Usually theres a guy within a couple steps you can bum one from . If you're a hot guy or girl , cigarettes will just be offered to you when you're out . 

The reason to quit smoking also has to be deeply personal . It has to sit along side you in the darkness and hold you while you're tossing and turning trying to think about something else besides smoking . ANYTHING ELSE . Thats why no matter what people say to you , it's not going to be strong enough to get you through it . Or if the reason you pick isn't something that honestly grabs you in the depths of your soul , you won't last long term .  

This may be just me , the 10 week plan gave me a structure but having that reason was how I was able to get through it . The urge does ease off after time but the temptation doesn't ever go away . Or it hasn't for me at least . The addiction may have gotten weaker , or maybe I got stronger , but the fight is still happening quietly , discreetly in the back of my mind . 

ryan feng photography