Search This Blog

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

The answer is an unequivocal "No."

Here's why I say that: history shows us that EVERY generation has problems with "kids these days."
"Many historians, psychologists, sociologists, and other scholars have documented this seemingly never-ending cycle of generational clashes and the juvenoia that typically accompanies it." -

These examples date back as far as records of social commentary exist. Sometimes quote make it to the present that are wrongfully attributed but, even then, there are quotes that are making it through generations to prove the core point: generational conflict is a stable force.

George Orwell phrased it succinctly: “Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”

Add to this your own anecdotal evidence of your parents and grandparents complaining about your peers AND your thoughts about the people younger than you and you can see a clear pattern.

This article is another "kids these days" article. It comes in the guise of a technophobic plea against the newest technology. It comes as the most modern conveyance of the ancient distrust of new technology. This dates back at least as far a Socrates, whose opinion on writing we only have because his student, Plato, wrote it down:
[Writing] will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.

Since that time every new invention has been the heraldic sign of the end of civilization in one form or another. The printing press, recorded music, the moving pictures, the radio, the telephone, the television, cable television, etc. All of these advancements have been decried by opponents in the adult generation during the time they were being introduced as a means to end society as they know it.

And they were partly right.

Because society as they knew it ended, to be replaced with a new society that embraced the technologies and used them to grow and expand. Where they were wrong was the WAY in which this happened. They believed it would undo civilization but, instead, it pushed it forward.

Move forward to today, and the article I am specifically addressing, and you find ubiquitous information and connectivity. That is what the real phobic concern is here but it is not the real issue at hand. The internet, social networking, and the mobile computational devices to access these nebulous constructs are not the root cause of the issue yet the article is insistent on blaming them.

Quotes such as:

"The results could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy."


"The more they’d used Facebook, the unhappier they felt, but feeling unhappy did not subsequently lead to more Facebook use."

clearly show the author's decision to blame the smartphones rather than examine the true cause which, in other quotes, she clearly acknowledges could exist:

"Of course, these analyses don’t unequivocally prove that screen time causes unhappiness; it’s possible that unhappy teens spend more time online. But recent research suggests that screen time, in particular social-media use, does indeed cause unhappiness."


" For all their power to link kids day and night, social media also exacerbate the age-old teen concern about being left out. Today’s teens may go to fewer parties and spend less time together in person, but when they do congregate, they document their hangouts relentlessly—on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook. Those not invited to come along are keenly aware of it."


" Shifts in the economy, and parenting, certainly play a role."

and, finally,

" Or some other factor could be causing both depression and sleep deprivation to rise."

So, what do these pieces mean?

The author is indicating that there is a correlative relationship between smartphones, social media, and the declining mental health of the current teenage generation. This is, absolutely, accurate. It also means that the author is acknowledging, but discarding, the idea that this correlation might NOT be causal. That, in fact, the afflicted youth might be driven to the correlated behaviors by other triggering factors.

I believe that the reality lies in the larger picture and not something so simple as "smartphones are killing our kids."

There are countless articles on the state of the economy and how Millenials are killing industry after industry as well as countless articles that proclaim that the Baby Boomers destroyed the future, leaving the youth of today with a barren wasteland to grow their own prosperity in. There are countless articles that highlight the declining power of the working classes' wages in the economy and the declining availability of jobs that can support someone working full-time. There are countless articles that indicate the shifts in policy that have allowed wealth to move into the upper echelon at an ever-accelerating rate (note: the more cash that gets sequestered there the less there is moving around the economy). There are countless articles that compare the historical parallels of pre-economy-driven-revolution scenarios to the current state of our economy.

There are also countless articles on parenting. The article that this is a response to highlights an important aspect of youth life but then, summarily, blames it on the smartphones: independence and non-electronic play. It highlights examples of teens going to the mall in a supervised fashion and outlines, in the words of the kids, that they must check in with their parents constantly. These things are not the fault of the phones: these are the structures of the parents. Children canNOT become autonomous adults if they are never given the opportunity to learn how. If they are constrained in their ability to socialize in person with their friends and in an unsupervised manner.

The problem starts with the parenting. When parents use the screens as placation devices and babysitters they are training the children to replace normal socialization with screen time. They are robbing the children of the ability to explore with their peers in a manner that has limited danger, but some potential for unpleasant consequences. They are, in effect, constraining their children's' world to what they can experience in the borders of the screen. This is not the fault of the screen: it's the methodology. "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" - the screens are a hammer and the world has become nails to the children because the parents have not even shown them that screwdrivers, saws, and everything else even exist.

Feeling left out is a normal part of youth but that, too, is exacerbated by the parenting and further exaggerated by the technology. When children are only allowed to have small gatherings they MUST leave people out. When children are not allowed to go then they MUST be left out. When parents refuse to allow children to spend time with other children without adults present then children get left out. Being left out is a lonely feeling and the social media experience, in which all of one's friends are documenting what they are doing without one, hurts. NOT being allowed to experience the world other than through the screen forces the children to ONLY go to the screen when they are lonely and bored, which makes them MORE lonely and bored. The solution here: adjust the parenting. Create in-person activities. Allow children to mingle in person in both structured and unstructured scenarios and settings. Let them be people.

Now stack, on top of that, the status of the world. When I was a school-aged child it was clear that university was the path to a prosperous future. There was no question about it. But the costs have risen nearly 1000% since that time and effective incomes have risen a mere single percentage point to keep pace. The Return on Investment (RoI) has come into question. University carries a lot of benefits other than the diploma but the justification for the expenditure is becoming less and less solid with each passing year. AND YET, at the same time, more and more jobs want a 4-year degree. Children have to mortgage their future for the CHANCE at a job that was, effectively, handed to my parents and grandparents' generations if they just showed up and worked hard. My grandparents bought their house in cash. My parents were able to pay off their mortgages and student loans. I will, likely, never get clear of my mortgage and student loans. The children today have it much worse and they know it.

The future is bleak: THAT is why kids are depressed. The present it authoritarian: that is why children cannot go anywhere. The present is lonely: that is why children reach out. The present is confinement: that is why the kids turn to screens.

This is not a problem with the screens: it's a problem with US. It's a problem with out culture and our society. It's a problem with our economy and what we are failing to teach our children. It's a problem where our society is now, after thousands of years of society, changing at a pace where we cannot keep up. This is not a problem with technology: it's a problem with our unwillingness to adapt to our surroundings as we change them on ourselves.

Don't blame the screens, unless you have the device turned off and are using it as a mirror: then it is fair to blame what you see.

Refence links:
About Generations -

About Tech -

Monday, August 28, 2017

Rising Tide

The malaise tide has risen; I am adrift upon its waves, bobbing slightly in the desolation of the emptiness channeled through isolation.
Lacking purpose I exist, but do not live my days.
The sparkling starscape of the television lessens the burden of nullspace while, simultaneously, increasing the weight of it upon my soul.
I endure not for me but for the evenings I can spend with another - without whom I would welcome the nothingness that lies beyond.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Under the Bed

You're in charge of assigning every child on Earth a monster under their bed.
One child, in particular, has caused every monster assigned to him/her to quit.
You decide to assign yourself.

The desk reverberates as the boss' voice explodes into the air.
"Kreblop! What is the meaning of this file?"
The folder is immense.
Flipping it open shows an astounding volume of work all for the same little girl.
Twenty-five reassignment requests: for a seven-year-old.
The pile is absurd.
The rule is that the 25th assignment for a child requires a managerial assignment to investigate so, number twenty-six had to be a Supervisor or above.
Glaring down at me are the nine glowing eyes of the boss. Floating there, suspended, at the end his invisible eyestalks.
"I don't know, sir. The rule is that the 25th request triggers elevation to my level. It looks like the one we received this morning is the 25th. I'll look into it today."
"Yes, you will. I want a Supervisor on this TONIGHT! This rule was instated 350 years ago when a 15-year-old reached TWENTY requests. This rule was never intended to ACTUALLY BE USED! Take care of it!" The eyes blinked out in sequence until they were gone.
I wait an unbearably long time. The clock says it was a whole minute, but an eternity passed within it.
I exhale. "Fuck. Who can I assign to go find out what this is all about?"
All nine eyes suddenly apparate in front of me "Kreblop! TONIGHT. I mean it." They then disappear again. Flipping through the folder I see that the first monster assigned lasted two years. Each successive one lasted a shorter and short period of time until the most recent was a mere week from the one before.
"Aw, fuck it. I haven't been in the field in a century. I'll go."
The transition through the shadow is harder and colder than I remember.
"Hello, new monster" the tiny little voice trickles down from above, the double-l slightly warped into a w sound. Despite the cute tone and inflection, there is an immediate air of sinister in the cut to the words. "I've been waiting for you" she clips as the head of a doll hits the floor in front of my face, it's eyeless face staring at me with empty sockets gored out of it where the painted-on eyes used to be. She giggles and her face appears, upside-down, staring directly at me in the dark of the under-bed "can you last longer than the last one?" She drags the moment of eye contact out uncomfortably long before retreating above the bed, singing "la la la la la la la. Monster under the bed is dead. Dead monster under the bed. La la la la la la la la. Good night. Dollie. Good night pony. Good night unicorn. Good night monster."
She goes to sleep. There is no fear to harvest here. It is in the darkness waiting for dawn to come that I investigate the room. The floor is unusual for a bedroom - it's not a carpet. It's not hardwood. It's linoleum and there is a drain in the corner. I try to open the door and see what lies beyond and I cannot, it is locked from the outside. Everything else in the room looks picture-perfect for a little girl's room.
As the second night arrives I slide, again, into the under-bed of Lisa's room. "Hello, new monster, you came back I see." She knew the instant I arrived that I was here. She knew, despite the silence of the transition. "Yes, monster, I know you're here. I always know. Monsters can't hide from ME" her face appears at the edge of the bed as she says "ME."  "I have a present for you" she proclaims as she retreats from the bed. "Here it is!" she squees as a red blob splorts onto the floor in front of me. She bounces across the bed to announce "here's the rest!" as there are several other moist impact noises. I turn around to see five additional red blobs and a giant, fluffy tail. She bounces across the bed again. "Here's the last part!" She says, excitedly, and she hurls the remainder of a squirrel belt at me.
"Gonna come back tomorrow? I'll have a NEW present for you." She bounces on the bed again and drifts off to sleep.
I slide into Lisa's room and am welcomed, again, by "hello, new monster!" from above. This time, though, it's followed by "Here's the new present for you! I got it from Bobby down the street!"
A cat, with a shoelace tightly tied around its neck, drops to the floor in front of my face.
Her face appears next to the cat. "It's a KITTY! Or, it WAS a kitty. I like it better this way. Don't you?" Her gaze shifts from the cat to me "I think I will like YOU better this way, too.... or, maybe, like my squirrel friend from yesterday." A steak knife drops from the bed top to clatter on the floor next to me. Her feet appear as she drops to the floor. She gets down on her knees and picks up the knife. "Let's see what's IN kitty friend now!" She squeals in delight as she opens the dead cat up and scatters the parts across the floor in front of me. I can do nothing but watch. When she's done she looks back at me "what's inside you, monster?"

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Perception and Being Wronged

A bit less than 13 months ago I ended a relationship. I killed it. I put it down.

It was the right thing to do. The relationship had been in a stable place of undeadness for nearly five years after a rapid courtship and more than four years of decline from the initial relationship energy into a stable, cohabitative friendship.

About the time that it crossed over into being undead my (now) ex approached me about making out relationship open. There is a lot more to the story than that simple statement and, maybe one day, I will write it all out, too (or, maybe, I have... I don't really go back and review my old posts). This post is not about all of that.

This post is about today.

Facebook is an interesting place. There are meshes and interconnecting networks of people who carry differing levels of loyalty to their connected contacts. Facebook is filled with secrets and it is filled with spies. Some of the spies do their espionage to generate drama just as some of the secrets are kept for the same reason... but, others... others do their spy work because they feel they are doing the right thing.

Today I was asked if the right my ex was selling was the engagement ring.

I, of course, new nothing about it as I unfollowed my ex years before we actually broke up (for reasons that are better-suited to the other post that may or may not exist). I popped over to her feed (as we are still Facebook friends) and did not see any post about it. Obviously, it was a secret being kept from me.

This secret did not bother me terribly much. My spy friend sent me a screen shot and I verified that it was the engagement ring to appease my spy friend's curiosity. This generated a mild annoyance.

What created the anger that I am currently experiencing was when a second friend inquired about the related post. The post where it was implied that I valued our relationship very little based on how little I spent on the ring initially. This lit a fury inside me for several reasons.

FIRST - I bought the ring for her despite our financial situation being very tight and difficult. Our situation was difficult because she had quit work and gone to school and I was supporting her during this process.

SECOND - I also supported her participating HEAVILY in the SCA. I supported her when she took stops all over the Kingdom that we live in (which included leaving the country) and I supported her when she travelled across the continent to events that were far away. I provided the financial support for her to do this.

THIRD - The ring I bought was aligned with her aesthetic choices. It was not price-gouged as an "engagement" ring because it was not all diamond. It was amethyst because that is what she wanted.

FOURTH - One of her spies gained word that I was planning a proposal and told her because, at that time, she was planning to LEAVE ME (I discovered this later). It ruined the proposal but, when we discussed what I had planned for the proposal later, she accepted the ring anyway (I still did not know she had been planning to LEAVE).

FIFTH - She NEVER wore the fucking thing anyway.

All of this enrages me but it pales in comparison to the main reason I ended the relationship. That reason is that, amidst all of her travels that I paid for, she didn't tell people I even existed. I am re-entering the SCA and I am meeting people she has interacted with for YEARS who have NO IDEA who I am. They don't seem to have any comprehension that my ex HAD SOMEONE AT HOME funding her activities; someone at home who was staying with HER dog so that she could go. Someone at home who was being discarded and abandoned so that she could galavant around the known world and have the fun she wanted.

I am angry not because of the ring. I am angry because the only time anyone heard of me was when she was complaining. I am angry because she was never truly grateful for what I gave her. I am angry because I was used without any sense of remorse.... but, more importantly, I am angry because she is unable to see and acknowledge ANY of it.

I'm angry and there is nothing I can do to fix it. Actions in the past are what they are. Actions in the past cannot be undone.

I'm angry and it's my right to be so.

I'm angry.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Right vs Left / Conservatism vs Liberalism

Earlier today this image appeared in my Facebook timeline:

The second half, the response, to this is the type of bullshit that allows right-wing extremism to think that are in the right.

The KKK was, in fact, started by people of the Democratic Party. This cannot be disputed and no one really wants to (ok, lots of people WANT to, but facts are facts).


The same people, like "Greg Curtner" above, refuse to acknowledge a VERY important fact: after The Civil War the platforms of the Republicans and the Democrats reversed polarity. Any Democrat from pre-Civil War was, by today's platform, a Republican, and vice-versa.

This means that the PEOPLE who brought us the KKK are more similar to TODAY'S Republicans than to today's Democrats.... regardless of the party names.

The blurry time between ~1900 and WWII generates a lot of confusion as to which platform was trying to accomplish what... but, it doesn't really matter. They were dealing with massive industrialization roll-outs, the "War to End All Wars" and then the Great Depression. There was plenty for everyone to be distracted by without the need for political party finger-pointing.

The New Deal is what cemented the rolls of the parties in the direction they are currently heading.

So, Republicans, OWN it. Your PLATFORM brought us the KKK even if the Democratic Party was the group running it at the time.

Now let's get into the concept of the weekend.
For starters - the earliest use of the word pre-dates Henry Ford. So the concept existed before him, thus IMMEDIATELY proving Mr. Curtner wrong.
BUT, if we're going to go with the idea of the weekend as we know it now and date it to Henry Ford's time - Mr. Curtner is STILL wrong. The concept started in New England textile mills in 1908 to allow Jewish workers Saturdays off for religious observance (that's right - thank the Jews that you get Saturdays off).

Now, if we're going to look at the 1908 era, and examine the labor movement from that time (from which things like the weekend, 40-hours work weeks, the ability to Unionize, etc come from) we get MANY examples where THE PEOPLE fought for the additional rights AGAINST capitalism.
The Coal Miner's Strike was about working conditions, time in the mines, time off, pay rates, and the ability to collectively bargain....
The machinists strike was similarly motivated..

Pretty much ANY strike... EVER... was based on the laborers demanding better treatment from those who owned the resources/job providing agents.

Randomly look up any of them. Wikipedia has tons of links on them, all of which have linked resources in their bibliography.
Google can point you toward other resources.

And guess who is fighting for those same things today? The Left.
Guess who is fighting AGAINST higher wages and shorter hours and greater benefits? The Right.

That's it. End of story. The political party names are completely worthless - it's the IDEOLOGY that matters. The LEFT is filled with people who want the elite oligarchies and aristocracies to NOT have all the power and for the people to be treated fairly. It's contiguous throughout all of recorded history.

If you want people to get paid fairly for their work - and fairly being defined as enough for a full-time job to live on: you're supporting a view that is "on the left." If you feel that ANY jobs are not worth paying people a living wage then you're "on the right." You're saying that those jobs need to be done but whomever does them doesn't deserve to be paid enough to live on.

If you feel that the rich have enough and shouldn't have it all - you're "on the left." If you feel that the rich deserve whatever they can take because they built the businesses then you're "on the right."

There are other traits that correlate to the sides of the spectrum.... and, of course, both sides have extremist idiots... but those are the core stances that HAVE ALWAYS BEEN.

End of story.

Now - for the claim on Henry Ford...

Henry Ford did, in fact, have a HUGE impact in raising the standard in this country.

He did it NOT by giving time off, but by giving high wages.

The legend has it that he increased the pay of his workers so that they could afford the very automobiles that they were making. If it were that simple them everyone who puts up this example should be fighting for EVERYONE to be paid enough to consume the goods/services they provide. For example: McDonald's workers should be paid enough to eat McDonald's for every meal (do the math - they're not).

When workers are paid enough to consume they do - this grows the economy. When workers are paid NOT enough to consume they starve and the economy does, too. If the legend of Henry Ford is true, and he is to be used as an example then EVERY Capitalist of today should be honoring that Legend by fighting FOR higher minimum wages.... Like.. DOUBLE. That's right, Henry Ford DOUBLED the average worker wage. What's that like?

Oh, right... that's like paying people in minimum wage jobs now $15/hour.

But, let's move onward to the real reason. The REAL reason was turnover. The grueling conditions of the plant, coupled with the pay, had men walking off the job to get other jobs that were easier for the same average wages. Since the job of manufacturing automobiles was training intensive and required a "ramp up" time for the workers to be productive enough to be profitable the high turnover rate was hurting the company.

The turnover rate was 728% at the average pay rate.

When they doubled the pay the turnover rate went WAY down and the production went up 32%

That's how Ford contributed... and why. It wasn't the goodness of his heart - it was because he was treating workers so poorly he was losing money....
And he put tyrannical and excessive authoritarian stipulations on anyone who received the higher wages; restricting their freedoms. That's NOT fighting for their rights and betterment.

So, in conclusion, check your history before you make claims that are WRONG.

Also - who gives a shit what history says about which party did what?
Look at what they are doing NOW to determine who is right:

Trying to rescind healthcare for 20M people.
Backing a tyrant in office who is subverting the very pillars our country was founded on at every turn.
Actively working to crush workers' rights and give tax breaks to the rich.
Actively working to suppress the rights of anyone who is different under the guise of it being a threat to their way of life.

Trying to boost the middle class by raising wages for the middle class and the poor.
Trying to make healthcare affordable for everyone.
Trying to ensure everyone has equal rights based on their skin color and gender and whose genitals they want to (or not to) touch.

As if to really highlight my points on current PLATFORM stances we have the Governor of Missouri, a Republican, working toward removing basic, common-sense protections for women. Should this new law pass it will be legal for employers to fire women for getting pregnant out of marriage, for using contraceptives, or for getting an abortion. Likewise, if this law goes into effect, it will be legal for landlords to evict women for any of these "offenses" as well.

That's right. The Republicans of Missouri are trying to make it legal for a woman who doesn't want to get pregnant, who is being responsible by taking the pill (or other contraceptives - OR is taking the pill for non-contraceptive medical reasons) to be made homeless and unemployed for the audacity of the decision... AND they are, literally, trying to make it legal to fire pregnant women and throw them out of the street JUST FOR BEING PREGNANT. THIS is the PLATFORM of the Conservative side of the spectrum.
This is the PLATFORM of the CURRENT Republican Party.

Current actions speak louder than history. If you take steps to reform yourself and be a better person people notice; likewise, if you take steps to abuse, offend, and demean others they will take notice.

Ku Klux Klan
*Wikipedia is no worse than any other encyclopedia. Yes, anyone can edit it - but the number of eyes, and the tracking done on it, keeps it pretty accurate. It cites primary sources and secondary sources constantly. MULTIPLE tests have been done of it that show it is a AT LEAST, if not MORE accurate than World Book and Encyclopedia Britannica.
So, Yes, I will use it as a basic resource.

Why Did the Democratic and Republican Parties Switch Platforms

Where Did the Five Day Workweek Come From

Timeline of Labor Issues and Events

The Machinists' Strike, 1900

The Story of Henry Ford's $5 a Day Wages: It's Not What You Think

Annual inspections of abortion clinics, pre-empting St. Louis ordinance part of House proposal

Spoiler alert:

Liberals always win in the end.... if they didn't there would be no progress.

Another spoiler alert:
When the conservatives take too much and upset the balance of rights and wealth too greatly it leads to violent revolt, pushing the pendulum too far in the other direction. History shows us this over and over again.... the reverse is never true.

When the pendulum goes too far it flips the polarity on what LOOKS like conservatism and liberalism....

Militantly enforced socialism is NOT liberalism - it is the few controlling everything at the expense of the many....
Militant communism is also not liberalism - it is the few controlling everything at the expense of the many.

Liberalism is the equitable distribution of resources and wealth so that the many have enough.... after that anyone can work their asses off to get more.

Conservatism leads to the few having all the power and all the wealth for their own luxury.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Shattered Life - part III

Meniere's disease is a terrible fate to apply to anyone.
It's not fully understood but what it can do to people is. People who suffer from it have intense, disabling bouts of vertigo. It can limit their life and, at times, prevent them from even being able to tolerate being conscious. It can also evaporate into nothing for long periods of time. Conjecture around Van Gogh's mental illness issues exists and some of the experts believe that Meniere's was at the root of his inability to cope with the world.

My lady had most of the symptoms of this dreadful disease. Long before I met her the intense bouts of disabling vertigo and dizziness trashed her career path and diverted her from achieving a big-name disk-jockey role and pushed her into the periphery. After the initial flare up her ability to function returned but with great levels of hesitation. The bouts of dizziness would come and go and the anxiety over when she might have one permeating her very being. She could not hold a regular job because the dizziness could come at any moment and destroy her ability to be at work through forcing her to the floor in a fit of disorientation.
This, of course, led her to pursue the necessary knowledge to steal the web development business from one of her previous boyfriends; she needed that job to survive.

During the course of our relationship this disease prevented us from doing many things. Some of them were things she had planned and a bout of dizziness destroyed her ability, or her confidence, to go out and have a good time. Sometimes I found myself wondering if this was a crutch for her to rely on if she really did not want to go to do something she did not want to do. Other times, though,  it was obvious that she couldn't partake. While she did a great deal of compensation for her concerns there were distinct times that she simply could not truly function. She could fake it and having a trustworthy person at her side made it seem that she was able to function but the reality was that she was a wreck on the inside. I respected this and I did my best to provide her with the support that she needed to make it through those times. This process changed, though, when it came to things I wanted to do; places I wanted to go; people I wanted to see. When it was something that I was planning it was almost certain that she would have a bout of the dizzies that would prevent it. On many occasions she proclaimed that I should go without her because it was important to me but I learned, early on, that this was a trap. If I took the offer to leave I was abandoning her and I would pay for it dearly later on. Thus, she was able to turn her disability into a leverage point to retain tight control over me for the entire time we were together. I did not dare go do the things I wished to do for fear of getting in trouble and I dared not speak up to outline my concerns because the situation could be twisted to make me look terrible for not supporting her when she needed it most. I was trapped and she knew it; and she used that to her advantage.
This was used to force me to miss a movie I wanted to see. This was used to make holiday arrangements difficult. This was used as leverage in planning the wedding. This was used in a great many ways to facilitate her getting what she wanted and preventing me from getting what she did not want me to have.
Even now I'm not sure she understood, on a conscious level, that she was playing this manipulation; but, rather, I suspect she was doing it at a slightly subconscious level. I believe that her subconscious would manifest the necessary symptoms that her conscious mind would use to force the situation.

Immediately preceding me in the chain of men that have moved through her life was a man named Todd.
Todd was not a good guy. Todd had boxes and boxes of horror novels and a personality that belonged in one (this was validated by sources other than my lady; although she was the first to outline it).
The two of them created a domestic dispute that resulting in police intervention and Todd being arrested (years later I discovered that she, too, had been arrested but she hid this from me).
The incident, and overall behavioral patterns led to a temporary restraining order being filed against Todd.
The process of temporary restraining orders is interesting. Anyone can file one against anyone at any time for absolutely no reason. The order is upheld until a court date is appointed to conduct a hearing on whether the order should be permanently enacted or dropped completely.
I met my lady in the intervening space between the issuance of the temporary order and the court date. She had told me about the situation and the court date so I knew it was approaching. I saw her anxiety grow as it approached.
I offered to take the day of the court date off on multiple occasions so I could be there for her and, each time, she declined and assured me that it was ok; she had it under control.
The date came closer and she got more and more anxious about the situation.
My memory informs me that the date itself fell on a Monday and the logical flow of the situation clearly makes that likely. I awoke on the day of the court hearing in her apartment, 3 hours from my office, to her asking me to stay. I called in to work and let them know I could not make it and I stayed. I stayed with her until it was time to go to the hearing at which point she told me to not go with her.

The short summary of the story is that I took a day off without notice to work, ended up being spoken to over it, to accompany her to a hearing which she, at the last minute, refused to let me attend.

In retrospect I believe that the hearing would have uncovered her arrest and her violent behavior of the evening in question and that is why she refused to let me go; for fear of losing me over it.

Every year I have a birthday. Another birthday that will quietly slipped into oblivion with minimal fuss and recognition from those whom I care most about. It passed almost the optimal way to my liking.
A bit more than a decade ago my birthday was not this.
HER birthday is supposed to be a big deal and she expects lavish gifts and social gatherings. HER birthday, which is in April, experienced this.
She refused to accept that, when I outlined my dislike of being the center of attention, that I meant it. I did not want to have a big deal of my birthday and, most especially, I did not want a surprise party.

As my birthday approached I could tell something was up. Things were just "off" in a way I could not specifically identify. I suspected that she was, against my wishes, arranging a surprise party for me. As far as I was concerned this was clearly confirmed when my brother phoned me to invite me to an afternoon showing of a movie that neither of us really cared about but which was the best option currently in theatres.
The night before she sat me down to confess. He confession started with an inquiry of "do you really mean it?" in reference to my dislike of being the center of attention and large birthday celebrations. I outlined that I did, in fact, mean it very much. She was surprised when I outlined that I knew exactly what she was planning and that there was no surprise. She offered to cancel it but I declined. At this point the party was for others and not for me.

As surprise parties go mine was not that bad. I did not feel too terribly uncomfortable.
But the principle matters. I had outlined for months that this is NOT what I liked and she did it anyway because it is what SHE liked.

Before we moved in together she had an apartment. It was a two bedroom apartment, one of whose bedrooms was turned into her home office. The home office had two desks.
Her previous boyfriend was a terrible, terrible person.... but that is another story. When they broke up many things were abandoned in her apartment, mostly books but some video games. Among them was Diablo II.
Diablo II is a point and click game. That is, pretty much, the ENTIRE game. There is a LOT of clicking.
One day when I was visiting she had to work. She wanted me in the room with her so she had me settle in to the other desk to play on my computer. I was playing Diablo II until she started screaming at me about the clicking.
I was moved to the living room where the clicking still bothered her.
I ended up watching a movie or reading - at this point I cannot recall.

In addition to the business she ran from home she was also an on-air DJ. I'm sure you've heard what is called a "bumper" on the air. Radio stations often get celebrities to record them when they have an interview and some stations also make them from listeners to help engage the audience and increase their station loyalty.
Her station had a bank of bumpers and she wanted me to record one. I made an attempt but it did not have enough excitement for her so I tried to show more excitement. After many attempts, none of which was good enough for her, she surrendered to the reality that creating a great "bumper" is not something I am good for.

And then put a barb on the end of her disappointment by highlighting how simple a task it is and how, if I really loved her, I would have been able to figure it out.

This, like everything else in the shattered life tale, should have been a red flag that was waiving bright and clear in front of my eyes.

The above anecdote of the "bumper" may, or may not, be the first chronological instance of the "prove you love me" game. But it was certainly not the last.

This is a game where no one wins and it is the signature of mental disorders that can be very dangerous. The proofs start small and escalate until the person burdened with the tasks encounters one they are unable to complete and then, the burdener, temporarily loses their grasp on their sanity because they feel unloved.

A typical progression will be something as simple as "if you love me you'll get me a glass of water" through an increasing set of steps until it is something like "if you love me you'll stop talking to everyone you've ever known because I am all you need." If ever you encounter someone who says "if you love me you'll do it" then you need to be VERY wary of them.

Oh, yes, there's more.....