Friday, June 19, 2015

Identity Theft, Labels, and Pity

1. Dreamed we planned to go on a trip to Australia. We're leaving in a week. We have no plans for the trip ending, and I think about how I won't want it to end. 

We're taking these classes, though, and I start to have regrets that we'll miss the rest of the class. I start to wonder if we should postpone the trip for a few weeks.

2. Dreamed about being in Melbourne. Along with friends, we are planning and shopping for some holiday or event. We've gotten a lot of food, but there's talk of going to Costco. I remember how crowded it was last time we went. I worry it's going to be even worse now because of the holiday coming up.

I also dreamed: We're in Australia. Tim has been very busy working. We're in the car with some Australian friends. One of them suggests that Tim work for a bank. Then we stop at a bank. My friend wants me to come in with her to meet some man she knows. I am happy with this, because I like meeting Australian people. But then when she gets out of the car, I don't come with her. Because I suddenly feel horribly lethargic. 

3. Started watching an episode of Neighbours.

4. Stressed by the lost money/identify thief storyline.  It's one of those scary things I avoid thinking about.

What happened on the show is Paige (Olympia Valance) had been flirting online with a guy in Queensland. He sent her some song lyrics which she downloaded. He used that to get into her laptop, and he stole $800,000.

It got me thinking about things.

Would I download something from an online friend?

Well, I won't now. Lesson learned.

I don't think people send me downloads.

I get links sometimes. Maybe I should be weary of those too. It's probably fine from people I know well, but I should be cautious with new online friends.

5. Wondered if someone sends me a download or suspicious link, should I say something like I don't download things. Or should I just fake it. Thanks for the file!

One of my sisters did that to me recently. I sent her a link to one of my blog posts, because it related to a conversation we were having. She wrote back something general and pleasant. Something like, I enjoyed reading your blog.  Though she didn't comment on anything I wrote; didn't use it to expand on the conversation. Later I was looking at Statcounter and didn't see any indication that she had been on my blog.

Why would she lie? Why does she have such an aversion to my blog?

I think it's very strange.

6. Found this Anthony Dillon quote interesting. I suspect I am not the only one who in the past, has learnt how to tug the emotional strings of others in order to get them to feel guilty, and then experience the nice feelings knowing I had the power to induce guilt.

I can relate to working to make someone feel guilty. But I don't think I get nice feelings. I think it starts with angry and hurt feelings. I go for the guilt. Then if I'm successful, I feel sad, sympathetic, and often regretful.

On the other hand, if my attempts to induce guilt are not successful, I feel even more anger towards the person.

7. Felt that I probably disagree with Dillon's editorial. It's about political correctness.

Or maybe I do agree.  I don't know.

His argument is that people are being too PC about the term Aborigine. He doesn't think people should be penalized or criticized for using it. He says, Firstly, one can only find the word offensive if they have been taught that it is offensive. A word (which has no life or will of its own) does not suddenly become offensive, however, people can suddenly choose to find it offensive if they wish.

The thing is words CAN be offensive. They can have a lot of weight. They have power. Sticks and stones can break your bones. But words can make you want to jump off a tall building.

On the other hand, I do think there needs to be an explainable reason for why a word is offensive.

Dillon claims he's not been given one.

8. Started to read Crikey article about words used to describe the first human inhabitants of Australia.

9. Surprised to read that Indigenous is not a well-liked word by many.  I actually thought it was the most politically correct. I'm not a big fan. It's hard for me to spell. I'm better at spelling Aboriginal.

Also, indigenous means something or someone is native to a place. I think maybe the term can be applied to Koalas and Kangaroos, but not to any humans.

Well, perhaps the Yeti would qualify.

10. Read that Aborigine is seen as outdated, but recently people have been using it again.

11. Concluded that it's complicated. Different people prefer different labels. Some labels are offensive to almost everyone. Other labels are okay to some, but not to others. And if you use a label with the wrong person, you better hope they're forgiving and understanding.

12. Thought maybe the term senior would be good. If your ancestors have been in Australia for thousands of years, you're a Senior Aussie. If your ancestors have been in Australia for 100-227 years, you're a Junior Aussie. If you're ancestors arrived between 10-99 years ago, you're a Sophomore Aussie. If you're ancestors arrived between 2-9 years ago, you're a Freshman Aussie.

If you're family has been in Australia for less than two years; you're in the orientation stage.

To make things less confusing, people would be labeled based on the ancestor that's been in Australia the longest. So if your mom is a Senior Aussie and your dad is a Freshman, you'd be considered a Senior Aussie.

13. Wondered if people could be considered Freshman Aussie if they haven't gotten citizenship.

I'm going to say no. I think you have to be a citizen; or you need to be going down the citizenship path. Once you start working on becoming a citizen, you're in the orientation stage.

If someone lives in Australia but is not a citizen; I'd say they're long-time visitors.

14. Realized my labeling plan would likely fail, because people would get it confused with age-related labels.

15. Started watching an episode of The Secret Life of Us.

16. Wondered why we have the same Mother's Day as Australia but not the same Father's Day.

17. Saw that this episode of The Secret Life of Us too was directed by Claudia Karvan. So it's not like she left the show. It's more like she stopped acting on the show. I wonder why.

18. Liked the storyline between Gabrielle (Sibylla Budd) and Tidy (Dan Spielman). They're roommates. They started becoming attracted to each other. That led to sex. And it was bad sex. So now they're trying to go back to being friends. Gabrielle comes up with rules to follow so the attraction stuff is prevented.

It's fun and cute.

I wonder if they'll end up getting together; and whether or not the sex will improve.

19. Learned that Frank (Rhys Muldoon) has a wife and child. So it seems unlikely he's going to get together with Kelly (Deborah Mailman). Unless they do some kind of adultery storyline. I doubt they will, though, since it was already done with Gabrielle.

20. Recognized guest star on the show. She plays Libby, a friend of Chloe (Nina Liu).

I looked on IMDb. It's Natalie Saleeba who plays Abi on House Husbands! Rhys Muldoon plays her husband on that show. It would be cute if they had a scene together on The Secret Life of Us, but I doubt that's going to happen.

21. Thought Chloe's other friend looked familar as well. I'm going to see if I know her from something.

The actress is named Dana Miltons. I don't think I've seen any of her work.

She played grown-up Charlotte on season eight of McLeod's Daughters. That's a fun piece of trivia. I have't seen it yet, though.

22. Learned Frank doesn't have a child, after all. Or at least the child in the scene isn't his child. His wife is part of a big brother/big sister program.

23. Loved conversation between Frank and Kelly about why we make attempts to reach out and help people.  When Kelly learns about the big sister program, she announces that she wants to do the same. Frank isn't impressed. He says the reason his wife does it is because they can't have children. He accuses Kelly of doing it only to make herself feel good.

He asks the question of whether we do charitable things because we want to help someone or because we want to feel good about ourselves. Unfortunately, for me, it's usually the latter. And what's worse, it's actually more about avoiding feeling bad about myself.  If I see someone on the street and give them money, I'm not imagining how they feel. I'm not feeling empathy. I'm thinking I should do this, because otherwise I'm not a good enough person.

When I was young, I did charity work for Cystic Fibrosis. I was obsessed. My little heart truly cared.  I had genuine compassion.

Although I also did feel good about myself—felt like I was this awesome charity girl.

I'm not saying I'm now a cold-hearted bitch who lacks empathy. I do nice things sometimes because my heart goes out to someone. But it's usually stuff like listening and/or comforting someone. When it comes to being generous and charitable, it's usually more out of obligation.

24. Wondered if charity needs to be done for the right reasons. If Kelly becomes a big sister because she wants to feel good about herself, does that mean she won't be a good big sister to a needy child?

I'm not sure. The only problem I can see is if the child is not wanting to feel like she's a charity case. Having to accept money from a generous person is hard enough. I think it's worse to receive charity when it's in the form of companionship.

I think it would be preferable to be little sister to a woman who can't have children of her own, because then it might be more likely that the woman is doing it to relieve some of her own loneliness. It's more of a two way street thing.

25. Thought about how I'm bothered by the idea of charitable acts of companionship. I made someone angry on GoodReads by being a devil's advocate about a photo they posted.  The photo was of a high school sports player...probably popular. He was sitting next to a classmate with Down Syndrome. The idea of the photo was that this high school player was so wonderful and generous. It was so nice of him to sit next to someone with Down Syndrome.

The whole thing rubbed me the wrong way. I imagined how I'd feel if someone received kudos simply because they were kind enough to sit next to me. What would that say about me? It's insulting.

26. Decided if we're ever spending time with someone and we feel like we're doing a good deed; and/or we feel the other person is lucky to be with us; then this is probably NOT a good thing. I think if this happens, we need to do some thinking and soul-searching.

That being said...I think there are situations where we spend time with someone, and we know they're enjoying it more than we are.  It can't always be helped. Maybe I'd prefer these visits to be classified as politeness and/or obligation rather than good deeds.

I'm trying to think of an example....

How about visiting your 90-year-old angry and racist uncle at the old age home; the one with very bad breath.  I wouldn't expect you to feel lucky spending time with him. But I'd also feel it's a bit arrogant to imagine he's blessed to be spending time with you.

27. Concluded that the best get-togethers are ones in which both parties feel blessed and lucky to be with each other.

Getting back to the show. If Kelly likes children and wants to spend time with a child; then it would be great for her to be a big sister. If Kelly simply wants to help someone less fortunate than herself; it's probably not as great for her to be a big sister.

28. Thought about Claudia Karvan directing this episode. It's so weird. It's like Alex is still in the apartment building; except now she's invisible.  She's a ghost. A ghost who controls things.

29. Did some more soul-searching about empathy.  I think I have two types. One is where I automatically feel it. The other is where I can eventually feel it, but I have to put effort into it. I have to think and put myself into the other person's shoes.

For me, I have automatic empathy when it comes to someone feeling shame, being ostracized from the group, being excluded, rejected, receiving an unfair amount of blame, and giving into an indulgence when they don't want to. Although I guess that could be classified as shame. When I'm witness to these things, I usually automatically feel pain.

For other stuff, I usually have to think about it. For example, there was the recent incident where a baby got punched by a stranger. I saw that story and thought of it as bizarre and interesting. In order to have actual empathy, I had to push myself to remember when Jack was a baby. I imagined how I'd feel if some stranger came up and punched him. Only then could I imagine the anger and helplessness the parents must have felt.

If I read about a shooting, it goes to my brain and not my heart. I have to stop and imagine how it would feel to be in the midst of the shooting, or to get a phone call saying that someone I love is dead.

30. Wondered about something that happened to Kelly on this episode of The Secret Life of Us. She's asked by a teenager at the tram stop for some money. She gives the teen some money, but feels guilty that she didn't give her enough. Does Kelly feel bad because she feels empathy for someone not having the full amount of money that they need? Or does she feel bad because she sees herself as not being charitable enough?

Whatever the answer, I think Kelly is a better person than me. Because what would most be on my mind is whether I'd been conned or not.

31. Realized my obsession for today is empathy. I want to do more soul-searching about the whole thing. I want to pay attention to when I feel automatic empathy and when I don't.

So...I'm thinking about the episode of Neighbours that I watched.  I didn't feel much empathy for the the Turner family and their loss of $800,000. I did feel some fear and worry, but about myself.  My heart wasn't going out to them or or real life people who have been through the same thing. So I don't think that really counts as empathy.

I did feel empathy for Paige when she was being blamed for the problem and for the shame she felt for causing such a huge loss.

32. Disturbed...Very unsettled.  I can't get my mind around something.

Lately I've been reading my posts from 2011. I sound like a very charitable and empathetic person. I was so passionate back then—about weather disasters and all that.  But I don't know. Have I changed in the last four years?  Have I become desensitized and cold-hearted? Or was I the same back then, and was trying to fool myself...and others.

I really don't know.  I prefer that it be the first thing. I guess I'd rather be a person who's become more cold-hearted than a person who's fake and failed to see the truth about themselves.

33. Decided either one is actually okay. If I've become desensitized and cold-hearted, that's all right. Because I can push myself to open up my heart. I can push myself to put myself in someone else's shoes.

If I was putting up a false face in 2011, that's not so bad either. Well, I'd be ashamed to know that's what I was doing. But that was then and this is now. I can stand tall in the fact that I'm more honest with myself now.

34. Decided to trust 2011 Dina. I think I've always been a pretty honest person. I lie to protect people's feelings. Yeah. I'll admit that.  But I don't think I've ever been the type to pretend that I'm something I'm not.

So I'm going to conclude I was much more compassion and empathetic in 2011. And now I'm less so. Unfortunately. My heart used to be big, open, and warm. Now I'm only a step or two behind Scrooge or the Grinch.

It would probably help me a lot if I was visited by three ghosts.

45. Did some pool work while being plagued by all these thoughts and questions.

I started to wonder about the difference between empathy, sympathy, and pity.

I came up with something using Haley and her cancer on Coronation Street.

Empathy:  I can imagine how you are are feeling about being diagnosed with terminal cancer. I'm so sad and scared for you. It makes me feel sick inside.

Sympathy: I can't begin to understand how you are feeling. I can't relate. But I can understand that this must be difficult for you.

Pity: I don't like you or respect you; but I feel bad that you have cancer.

In a way, I feel pity and empathy are closer cousins.  I picture empathy and pity being more about a gut feeling, while sympathy is more cognitive. But I think I'm probably defining things wrong.

46. Looked up definitions in online dictionary.

Sympathy: the feeling that you care about and are sorry about someone else's trouble, grief, misfortune, etc.

Empathy: the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else's feelings

Pity: a strong feeling of sadness or sympathy for someone or something.

Those are so different from the way I've defined them.

I think I often mistake my feelings of pity for empathy.

47. Wondered why pity gets such a bad rap. Why is it bad to have strong feelings of sympathy?

48. Figured maybe pity is okay as long as it's accompanied by love and respect.  If someone loves Kelly and feels very sad that she was attacked by the houseguest, that's nice and tolerable pity. If someone doesn't much like Kelly and the only thing they feel towards her is strong sympathy, than this would be intolerable pity.

49. Felt that empathy is the most revered of the three; but I think all are important. They all have the power to compel people to perform acts of kindness...maybe even the intolerable type of pity. Though if someone knows they're getting this bad type of pity, it might be a blow to their self-esteem. It might overshadow any acts of kindness delivered.

50. Looked up the definition of compassion. a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.

And it can be either pity, empathy, or sympathy that brings about this feeling.

51. Wondered what's a better thing in this world—compassion without action or action without compassion?

Kelly feels compassion for the teen, at the tram stop, needing money. She wants to help, but doesn't give enough for the teen to buy what she needs. Let's say another person comes along. He feels nothing for the teen. He doesn't give a crap. But he wants to impress the friend that's with them. So he gives the teen the full amount of money that she needs.

Which situation is better?

I remember reading this type of stuff, long ago, in one of Harold Kushner's books. It was all new to me, and it made my head spin.

It still does.

52. Worried that this post is already too long. I want to watch another episode of The Secret Life of Us, but I fear it will cause even more excessive blog post growth.

I will try to watch it without commenting. Or at least I'll try to keep my comments to a minimum.

53. Happy to see that Kelly and her adorable little sister are having a nice time together. I think they are BOTH blessed to have each other. It's a mutually beneficial relationship.

54. Plagued by my teen at the tram stop question. Will it ever end?!

I'm thinking the better situation depends on what the teen needs more—kindness and understanding or monetary assistance.

There have been times where I've opened up about my problems with someone. I wanted kindness and understanding, but instead I received practical assistance. I showed obligatory gratitude, but I wasn't really feeling it. I mostly just feel hurt, annoyed, and disappointed.

Well, that was probably because I doubted the practical assistance would help me much, and it seemed to me that the person was simply doing it out of their own need to feel useful.

55. Imagined being in a situation where I was forced to ask a stranger for money. I wouldn't want them to just throw money at me. I'd want them to listen to me; comfort me, and believe in me.  But if my need for the money was dire, I'd probably be willing to sacrifice the kindness for the money.

56. Decided empathy can sometimes give you less pity and compassion than sympathy.

Evan (Samuel Johnson) catches a fish. He's very proud of himself. Christian (Michael Dorman) is angry at Evan, and gets revenge by taking the fish from the cooler and throwing it into the river.

I felt pity for Christian, because I know how angry and desperate he must feel. Then I imagine his feelings of shame and regret.

Evan is the one that has lost something, but I don't feel anything for him. I think it's because I've lost work that I'm proud of. I survived the pain, so it's hard for me to pity someone else in the same situation.

Does that make any amount of sense?

I'm kind of doubting it.

57. Decided I might have it wrong. Maybe it's really a matter of me having more pity for the perpetrator than the victim.  I feel that the victim's pain will be pacified with compassion and attention. The perpetrator's feelings of shame will be met with alienation, anger, rejection, etc.

Or maybe that won't be the case with Christian. Maybe his friends will be sympathetic towards his anger and shame.  And who knows...they could end up failing to be compassionate with Christian. Maybe they'll say something like Get over it. Or roll with the punches. THEN I will feel pity for Evan.

58. Wondered about times where I did an act of kindness for a person when I felt they didn't deserve it. Because they didn't do the same for me in the past.

Is my act one of compassion? Or is it more about not wanting to sink to their level?

I think maybe it's a little bit of both.

Hey, I figure if a person can't provide me with help and kindness; at least they're providing me with a feeling of superiority.

58. Wondered if it's better to reread the Australian books I loved. Or should I reread the Australian books I wanted to love, but didn't?

59. Felt distress over the fact that my Jaclyn Moriarty novel, The Spell Book of Listen Taylor is no longer on my bookshelf?  Where the hell did it go?  I hope I didn't  give it away.

Or maybe it's downstairs.

60. Disappointed. I didn't find the book.

This is making me want to give up on reading altogether.