The ‘Need’ to Hack Everything in Life

What is with the insane need these days to have to know everything in such detail? Whatever happened to leaving things to the imagination. Isn’t a bit of mystery and pretense a good thing? I just read an article on Fast Company about this new dating/messaging app called PVLL (pronounced ‘Pull’) and it has the power to:

“control, track, and analyze all text messages sent through the phone—essentially unleashing data science on our most casual communication medium. The app creates graphs that show which partner is initiating texts and who is taking longer to respond over a period of time. It also allows users to send entire text conversations to friends for their input, and recall or edit texts up to five seconds after they’ve been sent.”

I love data. I am not good at collecting and analysing data but I am fascinated by how a bunch of numbers can help you predict trends and outcomes, drawing correlations between two seemingly unrelated events. But I think this is taken it a little too far. Everything, even conversations with friends and potential partners, are being analyzed on such an intense level that I feel everything is being scripted and everything is a game. Where is the carefree-ness of having a conversation with a friend? It seems like society has made us very guarded and everything that comes out of our mouth should be screened and filtered because there is no room to be wrong. And there certainly is no room for rejection, as all things can be prevented. Our obsession in wanting to know and trying to control the outcome of everything is sucking the joy out of the pleasure of courting and the simplest things in life. Is no longer between the two people involved.

“If a girl is sending me mixed messages, I can share these 10 texts to a couple of my really good friends and say, ‘What do you guys think of this?’” [Steven Joseph] says. Another user, 30-year-old Daniel Lewis of Manhattan, just sees PVLL as one more tool in his dating arsenal. “It’s giving you information, and you can choose what you want to do with it,” he says.”

The article ends with the idea that once something has been hacked, in this case, the dating game, people will just have to move on. I guess the difference here is I don’t see dating as a game.

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“Sometimes short hair is the beer gut for ladies” 

Is this taking it a bit far? I don’t know. I am not sure any more. The above quote is from an article in Salon “Are short-haired women less attractive?” by Mary Elizabeth Williams. I have had awesome short hair for the past 3 years and I really loved it. I never thought I could pull off this look. It was pixie short. It wasn’t by choice, but I am glad what happened led me to chopping off my locks. I felt super confident with my short hair. The way I carried myself was different. I appeared stronger and because of the cool and bold image, it somewhat unleashed the bitchiness within me. It really is fascinating how your appearance can alter your attitude and your perception of yourself.

Though with this new look, it did come with some problems. I was (and still am) single and with this pixie cut, I was not deemed to be desirable by most men because I did not appear to be feminine or girly. The guy’s approach rated dropped significantly. And not just the guys, even the ladies talked to me less. I am not sure why short hair means unfriendly. I got split opinions from my friends where most, if not all the girls, said they loved my new short hair and that I looked really good in it. In their words, I was “rocking it”. Coupled up guys said I looked great with short hair as it brought out my features more and I should keep it short. Compliments that I have gotten from these two groups of people were things that were never mentioned when I had long hair: sophisticated, flattering, sexy, bold, refreshing, cool. Then came the single guy friends, who every single one of them said I should grow out my hair again. And soon.

I was torn. Me loving my short hair but it appears that I would never be able to get a boy friend, let alone score a proper date with this look. Why is it that we are all brought up to believe that girls with long hair are more desired by men? Feminine and sexy women are ‘supposed’ to have silky smooth long hair. Our culture seems to think that women who chop off their hair are either mentally unstable (remember the whole fuss about Britney and Miley not long ago), being a rebel and going against the norm and/or is a lesbian. I was asked by one of my friends if I have turned the ‘other way’. REALLY?

Why is it always almost negative reactions, that if a woman cuts her hair, it means that she is going through a bad experience and that she needs a ‘change’ to get her mind off of things and need a fresh start? Seriously, not all of us are trying to pull a Britney (okay, yes she was undergoing a tremendous amount of stress, I will give you that). Going short does not always (if ever) equal to crying out for help and attention. Look at Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway and Charliez Theron – they are all amazing and successful women who willingly cut their hair/shaved their heads for the love of what they do. When guys have long hair, suddenly the adjectives people use to describe women with short hair such as cool, rebel, rocker and so on all get a positive spin to them. Granted there are also some negative stereotypes such as drug addicts and wanderers associated with these long hair guys, but you would never say that the guy turned gay or is girlie.

You have an article here that tells the story of how this woman who works in fashion always wanted to have short hair and she finally got the pixie and she felt so liberated doing it. She loved it but the cut cost her her relationship. Her boy friend broke it off because he was less attracted to her. She seemed too boyish.

Then you have studies showing that short haired women are taken more seriously than those with long hair. Maybe is all about context. In a professional situation/environment, women with short hair are viewed as more competent, intelligent and professional – hair style is just a detail. Appearance as we all know can matter for first impressions and hair style is part of that impression. Nonetheless it is just part of the overall package. In the case of dating and our love lives, in this context, it is not very welcoming to women with short hair.

I hate to admit it, but I have decided to grow out my hair out.  As much as I loved my short hair, I can’t beat the stereotypes out there and at the end of the day, I guess no one can ever have it all.

What works for me

Human interactions fascinate me. From how we are being perceived when we first meet someone new to how we maintain the relationships, these are all very complex things that require time, care and thoughtfulness to develop into something deeper and more meaningful. Of course, you will not have a connection with everyone you meet. But I’d also urge you to not close the door on someone just because your made a quick judgement on that person. Maybe he had a bad day before meeting you and that was why he seemed unresponsive to your jokes. Our brain does funny things to us. Once we formed an impression on someone, it will always be the first thing we associate that person with – good or bad.

I have been putting a few things to test these past couple of months to see if I can cultivate better relationships with new and old friends, and even family members. These are also things that I feel are making me into a better person.

1. Listen. Truly listen to people. Don’t get distracted by thinking of what you want to say in response to that person because if you are doing that, you aren’t listening. People really do love to hear themselves talk. Also,our brain is trained to notice the subtlest of non-verbal cues so people will notice when your eyes wander or have a split second of micro-expression of a frown even if is not on a conscious level. So pay attention and be present.

2. Ask Why Questions. These are value questions that will give you insights on what the other person cares about which will let you bond on a deeper level. For example, asking someone “What would be a perfect day for you?” and in response he/she says: “A stroll in the farmers’ market and spending the day in the kitchen cooking.” Always follow up with the question “Why?”. You will get a meaningful look into what that person likes and values most.

3. Learn to say ‘No’. We are wired to believe the saying ‘No’ to people is considered to be rude, aloof and unfriendly. But saying ‘No’ to people isn’t the end of the world. Your time is valuable and how you choose to use it is entirely up to you. Stretching yourself thin is one of the worst thing that you could do to yourself. You become stressful, moody, you fail to deliver at times and even boring because you are just trying to get things done. People will understand if you give them good reasons why you said ‘No’ … and be polite about it. Tell them that you appreciate that they thought of you for the tasks and thank them for their understanding. This shows people that you know how to prioritize things in your life and you don’t over promise on things that you know you can’t deliver. It shows you know what your limits are and you are humble about it. People will respect you more.

4. Quiet time and solitude. This is one of the main thing for me, some peace and quiet. I need to retreat and recharge after interacting with people for a few days. I think is important that everyone takes time out  for themselves and just be. Is a time for you to reflect and do things that you love to do. With constant daily stimulation, those ‘me-times’ could really help you put things into perspective and make you appreciate the little things in life. Is ironic how our culture praises and values autonomy, personal freedom and individualism more than ever in this day and age yet people are terrified of being alone with themselves. Let me clarify, aloneness does not equate to loneliness.

5. Pause before you speak and make eye contact. So following point #1, after you have listened, all along, giving that person your full attention and maintain eye contact, pause for around 2 seconds before you give a response. This is something that I still struggle with. Why the pause? Because it indicates that you are absorbing the information that was just presented to you and that you are giving it the thought and consideration it deserves. It also conveys confidence because let’s face it, silence, even for a split second, can be quite uncomfortable. Is a skill that highly charismatic people have. Think Bill Clinton. (Got this from the book: The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane).

That’s it so far. I am sure I will be adding to this list on a regular basis.