Benjamin Franklin was not President.
I work in I.T. I know, such a nebulous term. Could be HelpDesk, could be Programmer. Could be several dozen different jobs in the field. Well, I’m not going to be specific because, fuck you.
Anyway. Let’s just say that I work in a “Customer Facing Role”, were I have to interact with the general populace of users. This means that I get regular phone calls or emails, and have to leave the safety of my desk bubble to go help people who have issues, and boy do they.
Today, I honest to God, had to show someone how a USB thumb drive works.
Yes, one of these…
I shit thee not. I had to show someone who works in an office setting on a regular basis, how to stick a USB flash drive into a computer and open a file. Don’t even ask about demonstrating the Powerpoint presenter or projector.
The person I demonstrated this to, was not a Kalahari Bushman who finds Coke bottles to be gifts from the gods. This person was a native born American who has lived through the digital revolution and has worked in an office setting for at least the past 30 years.
Seriously. That’s why we don’t have Moon Colonies.
Seriously, we were supposed to have this 13 years ago.
A lot of people say things like, ‘Oh, I’m just computer illiterate! Haha!’ No, you’re not illiterate. You’re retarded. Sorry to all who might be offended by the term retarded, but many people with developmental disabilities can figure out a thumb drive. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. These people without DD’s are retarded.
This is 2015, you guys know that right? Just in the past year alone, we have accomplished the following in science: Taken then deepest field photograph of the Universe ever, engineered plastic artificial cells that actually function, used gene therapy to prevent blindness, new ways to develop stem cells were created, prosthetic limbs can now provide a sense of touch to the brain, nanomotors have been invented that can operate inside a cell, a paper microscope costing fifty cents was made that can magnify up to 2000 times, biodegradable batteries were invented, synthetic chromosomes were created, the first “virtual universe” was created in a computer, a more efficient replacement for silicon has been created, a technique to allow teeth to repair themselves was created, a method of tripling the viability time of organs being transported has been created, a genetic link to autism was discovered, a potential genetic cure for HIV was discovered, a neuron simulating microchip was invented, a computer can now accurately detect human emotion with 87% accuracy, scientists can now artificially grow whole organs, flexible computer screens were invented, ant sized radios were invented.
And you can’t figure out a fucking thumb drive.
Now look. I know what you’re thinking, “Amanda, those are trained scientists who have dedicated their life’s work, to learning how to do this. That’s not a fair comparison.” Bullshit, it is totally fair. You see, while those guys may be the top of the field in computers, biology, chemistry, etc., they are capable of completing most tasks expected of a 21st Century citizen of the 1st World. That means, that while they may not know exactly how to construct an internal combustion engine, they at least know how to put gas in the fucking tank.
What does that have to do with technology like a usb flash drive? Simple, operating a computer on the most basic level is simply expected of you in the modern world unless you are Amish or a 95 year old WWII veteran with a brain injury.
If you work in any sort of office setting of any type in any capacity, you should how to do some of the most basic shit like plug in a flash drive.
This is “Western Living 101” stuff. IT’s not going to get any easier from here folks. We are on the verge of ubiquitous 3D printing, self-driving cars, the fusion of technology and biology, and if you can’t figure out how to change the resolution on your computer screen, you are royally fucked. If you want any job that doesn’t involve digging holes, cleaning sewage pipes or toilets, or picking vegetables, you’re going to have to know this stuff. Your IT person will eventually have to say something to your boss about how you are dangerously incompetent on the computer.
Sorry, this isn’t really a jokish post, and kind of ranty, but it’s the truth. Knowing how to use a computer is our “knowing how to build a fire.” And before you get snarky; yes, I know how to build a fire using just three sticks and my shoelace. You can learn too by watching just one episode of Bear Grylls. Though if you do watch, you should know that you really don’t have to drink your pee like that. I learned that by using a computer and the internet.
Apparently some of you are pretty pissed and upset that Mayor Bill DeBlasio has ordered that all non-emergency transports are to be off the streets after 11 P.M. This has resulted in articles such as this, being written. Apparently people are questioning the morality of making someone deliver take out in the middle of a blizzard.
Essentially they declare that New Yorkers cannot live without having their schwarma delivered after 11 P.M., and that apparently, popping open a can of Campbells soup is akin to asking them to whip up some Beef Wellington or else face starvation and cannibalism.
New Yorkers, let me go ahead and say this on behalf of everyone else in this country:
You are a bunch of bitches.
No, seriously, you are a collection of whiny, entitled, lazy fucks. Is it so hard to make a PBJ sandwich for a day or two? Oh my god, you might not have Pad Thai delivered at three in the morning. Seriously, do you fuckers even know how to cook and fend for yourselves? This is why the rest of America hates you.
No, it’s not because you are so hip and awesome. It’s not because of your Broadway, museums, your nightlife, history, and “never sleep” ways. It’s the fact you really are a bunch of bitches sometimes. New York City, and to be fair, Los Angeles are the assholes at the party that always talk about how awesome they are, and have a story to one up yours. However, you guys really are a bunch of bitches.
How can I make that claim? Easy.
No, I didn’t live in New Orleans, I lived sixty miles inland, but we went without power for two weeks. I cooked spaghetti noodles in an old pot over an open pit fire for those two weeks so I could eat. We stood in line for five hours at a time for warm bottled water. The sheriff in my town actually stole ice from the National Guard base. Don’t take that lightly, it was 91 degrees that day alone. Now imagine that also the local water supply was contaminated.
And you can’t deal with going without your pizza for a day or two?
Seriously Eat some crackers, drink some tap water. Quit being bitches.
I’m sure that Leelah Alcorn would be happy knowing she accomplished one thing with her final act. She got all trans people to agree that her end was tragic. Unfortunately, that seems to be the only thing that trans people; hell, any sort of marginalized group, can agree on. That tragedy is bad. I think that is the biggest reason I waited so long to write anything about it. I really hate the tragedy bandwagon. Hashtags, retweets, petitions, indignant op-eds, all come flooding out when these tragic things happen. I think my personal favorites are the teamsters that drive the indignation wagon. You know the one I’m talking about; the loud shouty ones who write article after article that are nothing but wailing and lamentations, even when nothing is happening. When it’s a slow week at the angst mill, they go out looking for that faux pas that someone makes out of simple ignorance to have a reason to break out the pitch forks. This is because if you leave those pitchforks and torches laying around they get rusty and tarnish.
I just…I can’t live like that. And I can’t stand the thought that this is the way that we portray minority peoples lives. That our lives suck. This whole, “It Gets Better,” line of crap we tossed around the last time something like this happened was empty hollow garbage; a catch phrase to make ourselves feel better. What a load of shit. Why should we say it gets better? It just is. Life is a whole series of shitty things that happen when other things aren’t happening. Life is not always shitty, nor is it A Very Special Christmas Episode all the time.
This is not to say to people to suck it up, to grow a pair, to get over it, “Life sucks, wear a cup,” though I’m sure more than a few of you already think this and are writing your own raging response, but hear me out for just a second before you post about it on Tumbler. Life sucks. It does. Shitty things happen to you. Feel free to complain, to cry, to moan. But after a while, you have to heal. You have to callous up a bit. Ask any doctor, cop, soldier, fireman, or other person who trades in the tragedies of life; “You have to toughen up a bit to survive.” That’s not to say you can’t cry, feel terrible, or complain, but if that becomes your entire worldview; that the world just sucks and you’re always going to suffer, and that others will suffer too, you’re not living a life worth living. What you have become, is a trafficker in misery. When we do this and spread that misery around, we propagate what’s called the “Mean World Syndrome.” Why do you think these people who work in dark professions become connoisseurs of black humor? I have yet to meet in my life a doctor, cop, soldier, who didn’t appreciate a good joke in the face of a bad situation. Okay, that’s not true, I’ve met a few, but those people were assholes and no one liked them.
That’s why I love to laugh at my own shitty misfortunes. It makes things sting a bit less. It seems the number of transgender writers who cash in on misery outnumber those of us who trade in humor, and that’s a damn terrible thing. If you look at a lot of other social movements in our history, some of the most celebrated people to come out of them, were people who got a laugh about the whole situation. Everything from the biting satire of A Modest Proposal, the subversiveness of Moms Mabley and Dick Gregory, the in your face nature of Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, women like Joan Rivers, Rosanne, and Carol Burnett, on and on and on. Humor in the face of adversity is strength and power. It’s a way of saying, “There’s still resistance in me.”
Uhg. This is heavy isn’t it?
Being miserable is easy. I can look around my apartment and find ten things to make me miserable about my life. Which is being conservative because I actually stopped counting at thirty five… man my life is shit. But look. When terrible things happen it’s easy to unify, to rage, to opine and give the kind of speeches that make an American flag and Battle Hymn of the Republic appear in the background. These speeches are best when presented by Jimmy Stewart in a Frank Capra film.
When good things happen, we tear each other apart instead. When one trans person achieves something, they’re leaving someone behind, and isn’t that a tragedy? Look, I’m glad Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera, and Janet Mock are wearing designer clothes on a red carpet in Hollywood. If I had their figure and fame I would be rocking out in some Jimmy Choo’s and Prada myself, but I’m not. Sure they’re propagating a stereotype, sure they’re reinforcing Hollywood standards of beauty. So fucking what? You act like that’s new and shocking. Welcome to what cisgender women have been dealing with for, well, eternity. What’s new and shocking is that we’re looking at these transwomen as sex symbols, celebrities and role models, and not as circus freaks to be paraded around on Jerry Springer type shows. I consider that two steps forward and one step back. I’ll take the positive and whip that horse until it’s dead, then worry about the bad stuff later. I’ll make some jokes about it, I’ll satirize it, but I won’t think it’s a damn tragedy.
I won’t read an article in a magazine, paper, or website, and start to rend my garments when a wrong pronoun is used in an other wise positive article. There is no reason to nail my identity to a cross when an unsurprisingly bigoted right-wing religious nut job says something that sounds like a quote from a Christian Eugenics manual. There are minor shitty things happening every day to people like me. I’m not going to cry crocodile tears and try to cash in some freelancer articles on the internet about it. I’m not going to look for the shitty things in life to focus on and get angry about them, or twist good things into bad for my own self-righteousness. I’m not going to make those who disagree with me into the liHitlerly worst people ever even though we share the same end goal, just different paths.
That’s easy to do.
Instead, I’m going to laugh about my misery, I’m going to mock things that are so transparently stupid, ignorant, and bigoted, and I’m going to forgive the ignorant but well meaning. Why? Because living any other way makes this world a shittier place to live in than it already is. Learning to laugh at it all, and not always see the world as a terrible place and people as enemies is hard. If we do nothing but make the world seem like a terrible place out there, then those who are just entering it won’t see it as a place where it can be better, a place of hope. We’re helping them want to leave it as fast as they can because you make it seem like it actually doesn’t get better.
I will never be a black lesbian. Just won’t; and damn it, I’ve tried. I just don’t look good in dreadlocks or white tank tops. Since I’m not a black lesbian I can never fully understand what it’s like to be one. Crazy how that works right? Now that doesn’t mean I’m not the ally of black lesbians. We still have enough of the LGBT thing to have some stuff in common…mostly amusement that every drag king ever seems to REALLY like hip hop music. Seriously, where’s the Michael Bublé impersonators at? Oh, and drag queens, that Beyoncé horse has been whipped into a fine glue paste, might I suggest maybe some Natalie Merchant or something?
Sorry, back on topic…
Yeah, I’m not a black lesbian, or a gay Latino man, I’m a white bisexual transwoman. But we are after the same thing, equality for all of us. Because of that, I’m their ally. We’re on the same team. You know like community and PLUR. Wait, did I really use PLUR? Holy crap, I haven’t said that since Electric Daisy Carnival 2002. You get my point though, right? I’m an ally to them. I’m an ally about racial issues, I’m an ally about the rights of the poor, an ally about reproductive rights. I’m an ally of a lot of things while at the same time having people be my allies about things. That’s the way it works.
Now, being an ally means that I’m not actually one of them, but I’m on their side. That means I’ll never perfectly know what it’s like to be one of them. Just like most of you will never know what it’s like to be a trans woman. Because of that, I know that quite frankly some of you who are my allies are going to say some absolutely stupid things to me. You see, because I’m not black, I’ll never know what the whole experience is like. I can read all the books, blogs, tweets, telegrams, semaphore flags, and smoke signals about the topic I want and I still won’t know. I can have forty thousand black friends and hang out with them all day long, nope, still won’t know. Now, because black culture and experience is changing all the time, I’m inevitably going to think or say something that is dated, out of touch, clueless, and well, let’s be honest, possibly offensive. There, I said it. Sometimes I can be offensive about race issues. It’s not like I’m a member of the KKK, I’m just a clueless idiot. Bold statement I know.
But that’s something we need to remember sometimes. We never know perfectly what it’s like to be the person who is not part of our little group. Straight people don’t know everything about being gay. Men don’t know everything about women. Cisgender (seriously, it’s not a slur, stop it) don’t know about transgender. Hell, there are even differences within these groups like Second Wave and Third Wave feminists for example. Things change over time as well, like remember when queer was an insult? Seriously kiddos. Back in the days of brick sized cell phones and hand crank car windows, queer was a dirty insult. Now we add it to the LGBT to get LGBTQ. That’s the opposite of what’s happened to the word tranny. Used to be a term of affection for many, but now days a lot of transpeople consider it a slur.
That’s why when someone calls me a tranny, but is saying it like, “Yeah, Amanda is a tranny who is a comedian,” I don’t flip out. They don’t mean it as a slur, they’re just out of touch. Now if they were saying, “Get that tranny freak! Let’s beat its ass!” I’m probably not going to have a polite conversation about proper pronoun usage and microaggressions with that fella; I’m going to be tasering the crap out of them. When someone is clueless about what is and is not offensive, or they’re trying to be nice and learn, or meant well but still screwed up, I don’t treat them like they’re committing a hate crime, I treat them like an ally who meant well. You see, ally doesn’t mean suck-up.
I know this, because even though I’m an ally of black people for example, I sometimes say or think something dated, stupid, or misinformed. I’m not an evil racist, I’m just an ignorant ass. I’ll gladly cop to that and apologize when I screw up when I’m told I’m being a one, too. Because of that, I know that people who are still on my side for being a member of the LGBT community, but say something dated, stereotypical, misinformed, and quite frankly stupid, I don’t toss them into the same category as Westboro Baptist Church.
Don’t always think the worst of people when they do something stupid. There’s a world of difference between the well intentioned idiot and the bigot, and we need to start remembering that. When we attack those people who are on our side, no matter what that side is, we begin to turn them into real enemies, and not friends who will stand next to us on the firing line when it matters most.
I usually end these with a joke, but I got nothing this time.
A version of this article origionally appeared in the January issue of The Gayly
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