People Want You To Gossip And Judge Others

Disclaimer: While I do make a strong effort to keep my material family friendly, as the name implies, this post serves as social commentary, citing issues which are not particularly family friendly or G-rated.

It’s funny how no one wants to be judged or to be gossiped about, but in good conscience we are able to read “news” stories and watch reality TV shows that ultimately entice us to judge and gossip about the people involved.

In case no one has yet pointed it out to you yet, allow me to be the first: We as Americans live in the midst of a vibrant culture war.

Polarizing ideas are constantly being reinforced that A) liberals are all socialist idiots whose gay marriage is turning America into the perfect place for God’s fiery judgment; meanwhile B) conservatives are all close-minded, homophobic, racist holy rolling bigots.

It’s an ongoing debate between CNN versus Fox News that we allow to live out all around us. To me, it’s become a parody of itself, like both country and rap music have become.

But what about those of us who are in the middle if these two unforgiving extremes? Well, I believe we are the outsiders of our culture.

Because if you’re not taking the bait to either be offended, or to judge others for their lifestyle, you begin realizing there’s really not that much real “news” going on.

For example, check out yesterday’s “Trending Topics” that were featured yesterday on Facebook:

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Target: Ohio Mother Says ‘Girls’ Building Sets’ Sign in Store’s Toy Aisle Shows Gender Bias

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Miley Cyrus: Singer Discusses Coming Out as Bisexual to Her Mother as a Teen in Paper Interview

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The X-Files: Fox Releases Image From Set of Revival of Sci-Fi Series

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Glassdoor: Jobs Site Names Highest-Rated CEOs in 3rd Annual Employees’ Choice Awards

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Joyce Carol Oates: Author Appears to Condemn Photo From ‘Jurassic Park’ Showing Dead Dinosaur

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Bob Costas: Sports Broadcaster Calls Caitlyn Jenner’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award ‘Exploitation Play’

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Robert Gibbs: Former White House Press Secretary Appointed as McDonald’s Executive Vice President

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Holly Madison: Hugh Hefner’s Former Girlfriend Details Life at the Playboy Mansion in New Book

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Librarian of Congress: James Billington Announces Retirement After Nearly 3 Decades in Position

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#WWDC15: Apple Announces Product Updates at Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco

It’s very clear that in the midst of a few non-sexual headlines, we are being prompted and provoked to make a judgment call on what constitutes as gender bias, as well as to either support or be shocked by Miley Cyrus’s sexuality, then an accept an invitation to either agree or disagree with Bob Costas’ comments on Bruce Jenner’s gender reveal, and then to finish it off with learning some juicy details about life in a house that celebrates pornography.

If nothing else, you can at least judge the author who condemns the “dead dinosaur” photo, right?

Yes, that’s supposed to be “the news.”

That’s not the news.

People want you to gossip and judge others. It’s abundantly evident in the headlines, TV shows, and reality shows in our culture. And we do; that’s how they make money off us.

The Kardashians wouldn’t be famous if we ourselves didn’t keep them famous.

Imagine how many people tune in each week for The Bachelorette/Bachelor; a show that is presented to us under the guise of romantic people trying to find love and marriage, via a polygamy style game show in which the bachelorette/bachelor and the final few contestants have the option of staying overnight in a “fantasy suite” to sexually “try out” each of the people before they marry them.

In other words, by supporting that show, we are contributing to the fact that the bachelor or bachelorette is being pressured to have sex with 3 people they only recently met. We laugh it off as silly, which it is. It’s also people’s actual real lives involving real decisions with actual consequences.

I say it’s impossible to watch shows like this without judging other people for their actions and lifestyles.

Ultimately, it seems virtually impossible to avoid all forms of gossip. But if I can be more aware of it in media, I can make a deliberate effort to step out.

And I can only hope what I just said doesn’t sound like I’m being judgmental of others.

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Manspeak, Volume 11: Responsibility

People tend to accept that there is a difference between what is normal in the movies and what is normal in reality, and for the most part we know not to confuse the two. In the world of Hollywood, a 39 year-old playboy bachelor who is “too free-spirited” to get married simply lives for himself in his classic arcade-filled apartment. And he is cool. He is Owen Wilson. Adam Sandler. Vince Vaughn. But in reality, this guy is not cool at all. He’s a guy who needs to grow up.

Because here in reality, we equate responsibility with manhood.

There is of course a false, glamorized idea that a man is defined by his freedom; a lifestyle where he needs to answer to no one. In this unspoken concept the ultimate goal in a man’s life is to win the lottery and never have to change diapers.

But this man is not the kind we truly respect. Instead, we admire a man who while he is still young, gives up his freedom to be become responsible to another human being in marriage. And then of course, within the next few years he is expected to become a father. And an involved father, at that. Responsibility is what helps a man to be normal and have a purpose.

A funny and true proverb I heard a lot in college was this: “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” On the same token, men without real responsibilities are rarely respected. So much of life is showing up and participating. And in order to do that, a man must actively become involved in other people’s lives. The closer I get to age 30, the further away I am from being able to relate to what it’s like to be a child, and therefore the more aware I am that I once was an annoying kid.

I think back to all the hours my dad patiently listened to me tell him all the Ninja Turtle trivia I knew. And the way he made sure I had the coolest project in science and social studies class each time. And since he knew I didn’t like sports, he became the leader of a Cub Scouts group to inspire me to be involved in an extracurricular activity I actually enjoyed- being an adventurous boy with my friends. I couldn’t have really known it back then, but his sincere involvement in my life has everything to do with who I have become as an adult.

It’s amazing how much one man’s involvement makes or breaks his child’s life. I was blessed and still am. I still need my dad. I still learn from him.

And now I’m not all that far from being in the position he was in the early 1980’s. I will become the man looking into the googly eyes of a helpless baby, both of us completely clueless. But that’s the way God planned it. No instruction booklet on how to be a parent. Instead, it all comes down to the humility of a man who makes a conscience effort to be responsible.

“My dad’s been dead for more than 20 years. I still want him to be proud of me.” –Dave Matthews, taken from the linear notes from his solo Some Devil album

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Manspeak Table of Contents:

Volume 1: Humor http://wp.me/pxqBU-1i
Volume 2: Heroism http://wp.me/pxqBU-1m
Volume 3: Filtration http://wp.me/pxqBU-1p
Volume 4: Stance http://wp.me/pxqBU-1s
Volume 5: Movement http://wp.me/pxqBU-1v
Volume 6: Law http://wp.me/pxqBU-3h
Volume 7: Bromance http://wp.me/pxqBU-3W
Volume 8: Relaxation http://wp.me/pxqBU-6a
Volume 9: Appearance http://wp.me/pxqBU-6f
Volume 10: Exploration http://wp.me/pxqBU-6O
Volume 11: Responsibility http://wp.me/pxqBU-8v

Manspeak, Volume 9: Appearance

I thought it was just me. But it’s not. After talking to several of my guy friends (and after seeing He’s Just Not That into You with my wife, which chick flick or not, was a good movie,) I realized it wasn’t just me that had a token pair of Bachelor Pants. Every guy in his singlehood has an awful pair of pants that he’s kept for several years, unaware he is committing a crime. They are typically baggy, have cargo pockets, and are outdated.

The thing with Bachelor Pants is that a man is unaware of how horrible these pants are. In fact, men promote each other’s bad fashion tastes by mimicking what their friends wear. A guy doesn’t want to think about what to wear, so the tendency is to go with what’s comfortable and familiar, by default.

The girlfriend will remain silent about the offensive pants during the dating period, all the while she is plotting a plan to eliminate them from her boyfriend’s wardrobe. Traditionally, she will wait until one month after he proposes until he hears the out-of-nowhere newsflash, “You know you’re not bringing those pants into our house once we’re married…”

My contraband was a pair of brown pants I got in 2006 from a Banana Republic outlet. To fit the stereotype, there were quite baggy and had cargo pockets. Those were my Bachelor Pants. My defense was always, “But I got them from Banana Republic- they can’t be that bad…” They earned the name Potato Sack Pants.

So I made them disappear. By that I mean I hid them in a big bin full of winter coats in the storage closet. After being married now for almost 15 months, I decided to nonchalantly bring my Bachelor Pants out of the archives. To my surprise, I wore them around the house for the last two weekends and my wife didn’t say a word about them. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore: “I’m wearing the Potato Sack Pants. Didn’t you notice how awful they are?”

Regarding Bachelor Pants, the main issue is that a man can no long wear them in public after marriage. It’s a bad representation of his wife’s tastes if she allows him out of the house in them. However, Bachelor Pants are permissible inside the home, as they are the equivalent to the women’s sweatpants. Bachelor Pants = women’s gray sweatpants. Okay, it’s a deal.

Every girl’s crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man, but left on his own, a man typically makes the wrong decisions when it comes to fashion. And if he actually does know a lot about it, he may find himself in the questionable “is he or isn’t he?” territory like the professional hired dancers on Dancing with the Stars. So what is a guy to do? Listen to a woman.

When I think of a well dressed man, I think of Frank Sinatra and James Dean, with their stylish, never-out-of-style clothing and classic, never-out-of-place hairstyles. I allow myself to believe they took care of themselves. But I’m sure they had women dressing and styling them the whole time.

Believing that haircuts are annoying and expensive, I ended up in an Owen Wilson situation with my hair for the last several months. Then it all just hit me two weeks ago: This is annoying, I need a haircut. My wife’s eyes lit up when I said that out loud, responding, “You should get it buzzed.” I thought about it for two solid minutes in silence, then replied, “Okay, let’s go.”

What’s interesting is that during my recent Italian mobster days with the long hair, several different guy friends literally said this to me out of the blue: “You got cool hair.” But during that time, all females in my life said, “It’s time for a haircut… What does Jill say about it?” Now that my hair is 1/8th of an inch all over my head, universally every female has praised my decision, while most of my guy friends say, “Oh… you got rid of it…” I hear the hint of disappointment in their voices.

Men have a Survival Mode setting. Without the help of a woman, a man’s appearance shows this Survival Mode mindset: “I took a shower, I shaved, I’m dressed, I brushed my teeth, time to go.” He may be wearing pleated black pants with brown shoes and a wrinkled shirt with the right side of the collar folded up funny on one side and his tie may be a little too short… but he is dressed, and that is all that matters to him. He is convinced he looks good.

Bottom line: If it’s mainly fellow dudes that are approving of my sense of style, I am listening to the wrong gender. Because other men enabled and encouraged my ways, it made me confident in my own ability to look presentable and good. But women are the ones born with the sense of good fashion. I have to accept the fact that there is no shame in depending on a woman for this.

I wear the pants in the relationship… but she tells me which ones to wear.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

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My appearance with and without the help of a woman.