Holier Than My Friend Count, Part 2

As promised, I posted at least one atheist quote per day throughout the month of April, and am now (finally) reporting back with the results of my little experiment.

Comments

Comments for all quotes totaled 121 – about half of which were on a single and somewhat inflammatory thread.  The remaining comments were dispersed throughout the month averaging about two comments per post.

Likes

The grand total of “likes” came to 126.  This includes likes of the actual quote only – not likes of any comments pertaining to the quotes.

Friend Count

Before: 682

After: 674

In order to keep the results as clean as possible, I did not accept or make any friend requests during the entire month of April. All six people who defriended me did it before the experiment was even half over. Honestly, I have no idea which friends defriended me during my experiment or even if it had anything to do with the atheist quotes.  I do find it interesting to note, however, that none of my pro-religion friends who engaged in conversation with me actually defriended me during the process. They spoke their minds about my quotes (some more vehemently than others) and are all still members of my social graph.

My Least Favorite Part

It’s super easy to find quotes online by and about atheists. Unfortunately, verifying that the quotes are actually valid and well-cited was a bit of a challenge. I could easily spend up to 20 or 30 minutes trying to verify a really good quote just to find out that the person to whom the quote was attributed was only hearsay.

My Favorite Part

Learning more about famous atheists was incredibly rewarding. I’m completely obsessed with Douglas Adams, yet I had no idea he was an atheist.  I also discovered that  Robert Heinlein is an atheist, though I probably shouldn’t have been surprised.  Ricky Gervais is an intelligent and well-spoken atheist.  I was aware that Mark Twain was an atheist, but this experiment inspired me to finally get around to reading Letters from Earth.

Closing Thoughts

It’s funny. I’ve spent years being mostly silent about my views on religion because I hate causing conflict or ruffling feathers. Historically, I’d do anything to keep someone from feeling uncomfortable or unaccepted because of religious beliefs – but this has only resulted in causing myself to feel uncomfortable and unaccepted. Those days are over.

Social etiquette dictates that religion and politics should only be discussed at very specific times – such as at church, on Fox “News”, and random, deep, intellectual, existential conversations with strangers in cafes. And on Facebook.  A big thanks to everyone who participated in, encouraged, or barely tolerated my experiment.

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Holier Than My Friend Count

I recently read this article on Mashable about women and their Facebook friends.  While I can only really relate to two or three of the categories of Facebook friends defined, I do believe an important one was left out: Holier-Than-Thou.  The Drama Queen and One-Upper are indeed annoying, but the type of Facebook friends I find most irritating are the ones who constantly post religious garble into my feed.*  Unfortunately, I actually genuinely like most of these people, and often they have interesting things to say – so I don’t want to de-friend them or filter out their updates.  I just patiently glance over their posts and carry on with my day.

Generally, I think I’m a fairly patient atheist.  I will gladly (and politely) listen to anything anyone remotely rational has to say about religion – and all I ask in return is that its not sold to me.  Not so shockingly, I’m not awarded the same respect or patience if I attempt talk to a religious person about my very comfortable lack of religion.  Somehow atheism makes religious people uncomfortable – yet they don’t seem to care that their verbose online religious exultations make others (religious or not) uncomfortable.

In the spirit of discomfort (and spring cleaning), I have decided that throughout the month of April, I will post at least one quote by an atheist – or about atheism – each day.  It is an experiment.  How will these quotes be received? Will people comment on them to spark interesting conversation or debate?  Will they “like” them? But mostly, I want to see how/if my friend count is affected by my joyful lack of faith.  Currently, my friend count is 682.  I’ll post again at the end of April with my new friend count and any interesting threads or stories that may come of this.  Let the blasphemy begin.

*For the record, my rant is not gender-specific.

Eulogy for My Yahoo! Email Account

I work in the tech industry, therefore, I must always have the coolest new gadget, the hottest smartphone, and use the trendiest web apps.  Yes?  Hmm…no.  There are many cases where I find myself clinging to older technology just because I’m reluctant to abandon something that works well enough for something slightly faster and shinier. However, in the case of my Yahoo! Mail account, my reasons for hanging on are purely sentimental.

I’ve had my yesiamgoddess@yahoo.com account for thirteen years. Inspiration for the handle came from girlish giggly moments shared with my best friend, Jordan, when we were fifteen.  The email address and screen name have since been happy reminders of my best friend, light-hearted innocence, and side-splitting laughter.  In the years since the account’s creation, I’ve dutifully established a less ridiculous Gmail account for professional or serious correspondence, but loyally forwarded all my mail to my Yahoo! account.  Brilliant. Or at least it was brilliant for several years.

Sadly, in recent months, the dependability of Yahoo! Mail has crumbled – one can only assume this a result of the recent massive layoffs.  My mail was slow and laggy. Oftentimes messages would fail to load; I’d have to refresh the entire app and navigate back to the message. Sometimes Yahoo! Mail would freeze entirely, forcing me to close the tab or sometimes *gasp* restart the browser. Essentially, Yahoo! Mail went back to the same performance quality it boasted in 1997.  Though I consider myself to be retro in many ways, this is not the kind of nostalgia I enjoy.

It was with a heavy heart that I made the decision to retire this trusty old account that had been with me through so much. I figured I’d just forward any messages sent to my Yahoo! account to Gmail and let it drift quietly into the sunset. WRONG!  Instead of explaining why this process wasn’t nearly as simple as it should have been, I’ll just paste my “vacation response email” below.

Greetings Sender,

I am no longer using Yahoo! Mail. I’d like to forward all my email from this account to my new email address, however, Yahoo! insists that I upgrade to Mail Plus in order to do this, which costs $20.

If you’re a friend or family member, please email me at <my new email address>.

If you’re a business or spammer, please disregard this message and my new email address, as I’m sure you’re already sending a bunch of crap to it.

Cheers!
Meg

The Return of the Angry Sonnet

During my years at UVA, I was incredibly lucky to study under Roy Wagner. Roy is, without doubt, one of the most brilliant anthropologists who ever muttered the word, “culture”. He’s also a phenomenal writer. I was luckier, still, that Roy took some interest in me as a writer, which resulted in a very pleasant friendship.

One afternoon, as a we were departing from Roy’s Mythodology course (Mythodology is not a misspelling), I posed to Roy that is impossible to write an angry sonnet because the rhyming couplet at the end effectively deflates any of the malice built up in the prior stanzas. He took my statement as a challenge and immediately began writing fantastically angry sonnets. We took turns writing angry sonnets for each other over the semester, and then Roy took it a step farther and composed a beautiful book of Mayan sonnets.

It has been several years since I’ve written an angry sonnet and about three years since I’ve spoken to Roy, but I find myself in a position where I’d like to start composing angry sonnets once more. There’s something very therapeutic about turning anger and aggression into creative hilarity.  So for the first time in years, I present to you an angry sonnet…

 

homo triumliterarum

Oh, you’re a vile, seething, covetous cunt,
And my compassion for you becomes dust,
For excuses to plunder what you want,
In your wretched eyes, makes thievery just.
While the accountable know they must work
For their merit – no gift from the sidelines –
With piteously outstretched arms, you lurk,
Righteously discontent in your confines.
Like others, I attempted to befriend
You, unaware of your fast resentment.
Friendship, charity – given to no end –
Instead, to my own profane detriment.
But though your offense caused me much grief,
I am recompensed: all know you’re a thief.

eDating Fun – Rejection, Phase II

My favorite rejection is the mutual kind: where two individuals meet and both can tell that there’s just no chemistry or common ground.  At the end of the date, there’s a slightly awkward hug and someone says, “It was really great meeting you, I’ll talk to you soon,” but both parties know there will be no further communication. That’s the easy kind – the peaceful kind. Unfortunately, it rarely works this way, and someone has to do the dirty work of letting the other person know there’s just no interest.

The easiest way for the uninterested party to go about doing this is to just ignore all calls, emails, and texts from the other person and passively hope he/she gets the not-so-subtle hint.  But let’s face it – as effortless as this route is, not only is it the more cowardly path, but the person being rejected oftentimes doesn’t understand.  So how do we gracefully reject someone?

The Rejection Text

In this world of technology, it seems like even the phone is an enemy when it comes to rejection.  Even if you choose not to answer the phone you can still receive rejection texts.  Sassy Pants received this text message after a first date she thought went incredibly well:

“I had a good time but felt more of a friendship type chemistry.”

This is not something a girl wants to hear after what she thought was a successful evening.  While this guy doesn’t get any points for tact, he definitely gets credit for being direct and straightforward.

Mugsy also shared a rejection text with me. She received this one after a first date where he chose to meet up with her in a sports bar to “watch the game”.  Contrary to assumptions about how it would go based on the venue, she actually enjoyed talking to him.  This was his text to her the following day:

“It was a fine time.  Thanks for the company.”

What exactly does that mean? Mugsy assumed it meant he wasn’t that interested and wrote him off, but it would have been a bit more courteous if he could have been more clear about it.

I also have received rejection texts.  My favorite came from a man I’d been seeing once or twice per week for a little longer than a month.  I enjoyed his company, and though I definitely did not consider our dating to be “serious”, I figured there would be no harm in inviting him to one of my dinner parties.  About two hours before the party started while I was out  grocery shopping, I received this text message from him:

“Help! I don’t know what to do. I really like you but I don’t feel like I can have a relationship with you right now. I thought I was ready to start dating, but I can’t stop thinking about my ex.  I don’t feel like I’m ready for a girlfriend.  I feel like if I show up at your house for your party I’ll be leading you on.”

In this scenario, I was less annoyed by the rejection and more irritated by the inconvenience of having to adjust things last minute for a party I’d been planning all week.  Really, couldn’t he have had an emotional breakdown one day earlier?  I was also rather alarmed by his use of words like “relationship” and “girlfriend”, when in my mind we were definitely just “dating”.

I do salute two of these men for having the balls to send a clear message about no longer being interested – so many take the easier path – but I am not impressed with text messages as a tool for rejection.  Cell phones go with you everywhere, essentially meaning you are NEVER safe from rejection.  I guarantee the person sending the message doesn’t think about where you are, what you’re doing, or if rejection is convenient at that particular moment.   I was in the supermarket when I received the above message.  What if I had been at work when I received it?  What if I had been really hurt and upset by his rejection and in a place where it could have negatively affected other aspects of my life?

The Rejection Email

My preference for rejection is email.  First of all, more thought tends to go into an email than a quick text message. Secondly, email (especially eHarmony email) is something you can check when you’re sitting down in the privacy and comfort of your own home. So what makes an adequate rejection email?  Sassy Pants, who we’ve already established is infinitely kinder than myself, gave me an example of a rejection email she sent:

“I really enjoy you and find it easy to connect with you but am increasingly doubtful that we are a good romantic match. You are a stellar human and I’m really impressed with all the things you’ve done and tried in your life. It was funny to me that you were concerned about sharing some of your adventures and I was just more and more impressed with you. I think though that there is probably someone out there for you that is a better match than me…someone who will share your passion for exercise and sweets!

Sigh. Not sure how to close this… It seems lame and almost unkind to say let’s be friends so I’m not going to do that. I do sincerely think you’re an amazing man and I wish you well.”

I think this is a phenomenal rejection email. Sassy Pants made sure he knew she thought very highly of him, respected him, and found him incredibly interesting, while making it clear that though she liked him, it wasn’t a good romantic match.  I don’t think I’ve been nearly so kind in my rejection emails.  Below is an example of one I sent to someone after we had an absolutely horrible date. I was certain he’d never reach out to me again, but when he emailed me for another date, this is how I responded:

“Thanks for driving all the way up to my neck of the woods. It was really great meeting you, but I don’t think a romantic relationship will be possible for us. Best of luck to you!”

Granted, this is not nearly as sweet and kind as the letter Sassy Pants sent, but it was a terrible date… Okay…I admit it. I probably could have been more tactful.

The best rejection email I ever received came from a guy I had been emailing with nearly every day for two weeks. We had a lot of chemistry while emailing and I was excited to meet him.  We met for coffee and had a lot to talk about – so much so that a quick cup of coffee turned into nearly three hours of caffeinated conversation.  I really liked him and wanted to see him again, so I sent him an email to make another date.  This is what I received back from him:

“I had a really great time chatting with you as well.  You are an extremely cool and interesting woman, as well as a great catch!  I find myself not feeling that a romantic relationship is in the cards for us, but if you are interested in staying in touch anyway, I would love to (if not, that’s OK too), because you rock. Let me know your thoughts, if any!”

This was so masterfully written that it *almost* took the sting out of being rejected by someone I really liked.  Somehow, he managed to make me feel good about myself while turning me down – talk about genius!  I responded with how impressed I was by his email and that I plan to use it as a template for future rejections.

The Wisdom?

I have met so many fun and fascinating people through edating, but so far none of them have been the right fit for me – or I haven’t been the right fit for them.  Rejection isn’t an easy thing – no one likes dishing it because no one likes receiving it – but in the world of edating (and dating, in general), it’s entirely unavoidable.  I’ve found that though being rejected is unpleasant, I’d much rather know, under no uncertain terms, he’s not interested.  Someone who takes the time to craft a thoughtful rejection maintains my respect.

I try to hold myself to the same standards, but I often think that doing the rejecting is more difficult than being rejected. Sometimes they respond with nothing – which is fine.  Sometimes they write back wishing me luck, as well – and that’s always nice. Sometimes they respond very rudely – and that only helps justify my decision.  The ones who make it painful are the men who take the rejection all too personally, are hurt by it, and want to talk through their feelings about it – and maybe even try to convince me to change my mind.  I have no idea how to explain to them that rejection is actually a kindness that allows both parties to go off in search of a better fit.

So, I pose these questions to you, dear reader.  How do you prefer to give/receive rejection? Do you have any examples of rejections you’d like to share? Again, feel free to comment under an alias or email anything you’d like me to post to meghan.s.shaw@gmail.com.

eDating Fun – Used Fish

For today’s eDating story, I’m temporarily abandoning my shoe analogy for the worn-in maritime “many fish in the sea” analogy.  It appears that though there may be many fish in the sea, there aren’t quite so many in the eHarmony dating pool.

Twice Hooked:

The inevitable day finally came when Sassy Pants and I were set up with the same fellow.  We made this discovery while she and I were enjoying a sunny rooftop lunch together, discussing work, friends, and of course, dating.  Sassy Pants mentioned that she had a date scheduled for the following evening and began describing the man she was going to meet.  After comparing notes, we determined without doubt that he was the same person I went out with a few times a couple months earlier.

My Encounter:

The fellow, who will quasi-affectionately be referred to as Mr. Collins (a not-so-subtle Pride and Prejudice allusion), seemed to be nice enough.  He was decent-looking, creative, articulate, and I enjoyed exchanging emails and IMs with him.  In theory, he should have been a great fit for me.  However, in practice, I just didn’t feel…anything.  Conversing with Mr. Collins in person bored me out of my mind.  I went out with him multiple times, hoping that perhaps chemistry would appear over time, but it just never did.  Finally, I had to tell Mr. Collins “thanks, but no thanks” and I wished him all the best. He, unfortunately, didn’t share my desire to call it a day and this led to some bitter exchanges.

The Dilemma:

Bitter exchanges alone would be no reason for Sassy Pants to not go out with Mr. Collins.  Hesitation only came when it dawned on us that I was in a photo she used on her profile and she even directly referred to me in her profile text.  What was this guy up to? Did he honestly just not notice? Was he playing some psychotic game?  A far kinder person than I, Sassy Pants decided to send him an email telling him what we discovered.  (I had been leaning more towards an elaborate and hysterical plot.)  It turned out that he completely overlooked Sassy Pants’ connection to me and it was just an honest coincidence.  The date was still on!

Her Encounter:

Sassy Pants found Mr. Collins to be far more interesting and engaging than I did, and liked him well enough to be open to another date.  As far as I’m aware, they’re still talking to each other and will go out again in the near future.

The Wisdom:

Dating and attraction are funny things.  Sassy Pants and I are similar in so many ways, which means we should be attracted to the same kind of man, but it just isn’t so – and that’s probably a good thing!  Mercifully, a situation that could have been painfully awkward was merely amusing.  We eDaters are all looking for something (even if we don’t know what that “something” is) and just because Mr. Collins couldn’t provide that something for me doesn’t mean he couldn’t provide it for someone else.

My new maritime analogy: One girl’s blow-fish is another girl’s salmon.

eDating Fun – Awkward First Phone Calls

In my opinion, the phone conversation is an archaic and annoying form of communication.  It still has its uses in the business world or when one wants to have an in-depth conversation with someone who lives far away, but if I want to talk to someone locally, I’d much rather meet that person for coffee and have a face-to-face conversation.  Unfortunately, in the world of eDating, the “first phone call” is an expected part of the progression before one gets to the actual date.  Among my friends who also eDate, there are a lot of good reasons to have the phone call:

  • You can get better sense of someone by the sound of his voice and how he talks.  This especially applies to people who need to love the sound of someone’s voice in order to be attracted.
  • You can learn more about a person faster via phone call than by exchanging a lot of emails.
  • Sometimes it’s a faster way of making plans to meet up than emails or text messages.
  • Multitasking is possible while on the phone.  You can enjoy the first awkward phone conversation during your long commute home from work.

These are all very valid reasons for the phone call, but no matter how good the reasons are for doing it, it doesn’t make the actual phone call any less awkward.  One of my eDating buddies, who’s blog alias will be Charlotte, said that one of the biggest let downs on the phone is when the person on the other end is bad at holding up his end of the conversation.  It’s laborious and exhausting if you have to do all the work – ask all the questions, create ways to make the phone conversation flow from one topic to another, provide information about yourself that he didn’t ask for just in the interest of keeping the conversation going, etc…

Mugsy (an alias for another friend who eDates) finds it irritating when he asks stupid questions he already knows the answer to. “I love it when the guys call and ask you what you are doing? What the fuck do you think I’m doing…? I’m talking to you! I think what they want to hear is, ‘I’m lying on the bed naked, rubbing my clit and dreaming of your hard pulsing cock inside me’. Why can’t it be ‘hi’?!”  I agree with Mugsy. The silly filler questions are really pointless. “So, how’s it going?”, “What are you up to?”, “What’s new?”.  These are all questions people ask when they don’t know what else to say.

Even though the first phone call can be a painful ordeal, through talking to Sassy Pants, Mugsy, and Charlotte, as well as a few other friends who are more experienced eDaters than me, I managed to compile some strategies to make that first call suck less:

  • Try to schedule the phone call so that you’re not cold-called and taken buy surprise at an inconvenient moment.
  • Do a little research before the call – review his profile, re-read any emails you exchanged – just so that you can remember more about him and be in a better mental state to have the first call.
  • Jot down a few questions you want to ask him so you have some back up if there are any awkward silences.
  • Have an exit strategy.  If the phone call becomes too painfully awkward or too long, have a graceful and polite way to get off the phone.  My favorite is, “Hey, so it was really great talking to you, but I’ve got to go walk my dog now.”  I like using that one because it’s generally true.

These strategies have definitely helped and improved my first phone call experiences, but I still would rather skip it and just meet him.  I’ve always felt I can learn so much more about a person when actually spending time in the same space with him. How attentive is he? What are his mannerisms like? Is he aware of other people around him? Does he make eye contact? Etc…

So, dear reader, what do you think?  Do you prefer to have a first phone call? Are there any strategies we could add to the list?  Please feel free to share any stories or tips in the comments!  (You can post anonymously, if you’d like, or email me at meghan.s.shaw@gmail.com with your comments and I’ll post them with an alias of your choosing.)