Monday, April 29, 2013

The thing about Tinder...

Tinder: the GPS for love. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

In case you are not up to date on the newest, online dating craze, I present to you Tinder: the mobile app-only social network that targets young singles who are too lazy to use even OkCupid. How is that even possible, those few people who still are hanging onto traditional courtship might ask? Oh...it's possible. In an interview about Tinder, HuffPost Senior Tech Editor, Bianca Bosker, describes the app as "incredibly superficial, and that makes it incredibly fun." Who' da thunk it? Unsurprisingly, Tinder is actually a part of HotOrNot.com, and was first launched at a University of Southern California party.

Forget the E-Harmony questions that some mysterious web widget uses to determine your compatibility with strangers. Don't need it. An in-depth profile that tells all your likes, dislikes and personality traits? Don't need that either. Height? Nope. Weight? Nada. Religion? Who cares.

Seriously, you barely even need a profile for Tinder. Let me describe to you how easy signing up is: you download the app on your smart-phone (which you obviously have, because it's the 21st century), you create a "profile" that links to your Facebook and includes: several past profile pictures, a tagline, your interests that you've already listed on the FB, and your age. That's it. Two minutes later, you are all set to go on Tinder!

The funny thing about Tinder is that it feels like you're playing a game. When you login, the app will automatically track your current location and then find as many matches in the area for your judging pleasure. Their picture will show up, which you can swipe to the left if you don't find them attractive, or to the right if you do. If you want to find out more information (who needs more details other than a person's face and age?!) you can click on their profile to see more. Now the real magic comes when you swipe to the right for someone who has also right-swiped you. Then this screen pops up that says "It's a match!", and you can choose whether to message that person, or to keep on "playing." If you do indeed decide to message them, they have this separate text-message-cloned page where you two can chat. Within the first four hours that I joined Tinder, I had five matches. It's wickedly fast. And weirdly fun.

It's also pretty funny when you see someone that you have mutual friends with (could make for good conversation), though I haven't seen any more mutual acquaintances than one. I'm pretty positive that they don't give you people who you are already friends with on Facebook (for obvious reasons), so don't worry about that.

Anyhoo, once you get the hang of it, it's pretty addictive. I admit that I've gotten into the bad habit of going on it when I'm bored at night, or in the waiting room when I have nothing else to do. The trick is that once you right-swipe someone, Tinder will put you at the top of their pile so it doesn't turn out to be 10 years until they come across your profile next. So once you've been on there for a while, you'll know that each time you go on to the app, the first few people that you come across probably think that you are attractive. Hey confidence booster!

Now about a week into it, I've had about 10 matches and three people that I've actually talked to. Guess what? Kind of over it. Yes, it's incredibly easy and convenient. That person lives 30 miles away? No can do; that's too long of a commute and I don't have to waste time typing paragraph-long answers like I did on OkCupid. That's nice. But what I can't help but think is that Tinder is only enhancing the hook-up culture that us millennials have become addicted to. I met someone the other day who did what they playfully called "speed-swipe" rounds on Tinder. How the hell am I supposed to judge a person based on just their appearance? Sure, I can gauge who I'm attracted to and not attracted to, but once we are matched, what are we supposed to talk about? I don't have any content besides his pictures; there's no conversation to be had. As a writer and social media nerd, I find the information that this app provides for me to adequately creep on a guy especially lacking.

There was once a guy on OkCupid that fully admitted to Googling me, found my blog, read its most popular posts, and then proceeded to critique them in full detail. I was sufficiently creeped out and hated his guts in the end, but I have to admit: that is dedication. You most likely wouldn't even have enough material to find someone on Google through Tinder. In other words, I think there is a line with online dating that is too superficial, and I think Tinder has breached it.

On a completely unrelated note, look at this hilariously metaphorical lock-and-key dating event.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A pep talk for my vagina

Vertical foot pedals utilized during pap smears...doesn't look very pleasant, does it?

Hey there gal...how you doin'? While we're in the waiting room (probably for the next hour and half), I figured I would take this commercial break from watching Dr. Oz to talk to you for a bit. Listen, pap smears are horrible— that's not an opinion; it's a fact. Believe it or not, they are uncomfortable for both you and me.

I don't enjoy opening you up to some brawny woman in a lab coat and a Russian accent. I don't like propping my feet up on those vertical foot pedals and waiting for the long dreaded moment where she sticks that mystery metal poker in you any more than you do! Not to mention that god forsaken paper "dress." I don't care what country you're from, but that shit is not a dress. How do I know this? Number one: it's a two-piece. Number two: the bottom part is less of a skirt and more of a tablecloth for your lap. It's almost impossible to cover up even 50% of your body in that contraption. Yes, yes, I understand that the doctor needs to be able to do a breast exam and the pap, but can't they give me a robe instead? At least you can imagine we're at the spa where people get rubbed, not poked.

Anyways, the point is: I feel you. I know you've been anxious the last couple of weeks leading up to this day, and I don't blame you. I've always been nervous at this time of the year too. I know I haven't made it easier on you either— all that joking about getting a bikini wax after the procedure, and calling the pap "the exorcism of my vagina,"...I'm sorry—that was uncalled for. I guess it was just me trying to make fun of a situation that is less than pleasant. I know you suffer the brunt of the blow, but I get some of the pressure too.

What with the super invasive questions that the nurse likes to fire in rapid succession: "How many partners have you had in the last six months?", "Do you have anal sex?", "Do you do drugs?", "Have you ever been depressed?", "Do you have more than one partner that you've had sex at one time?", "What other questions can I ask so that I can judge you and your life choices?"

As if I needed another reason to remind myself I need to get laid...

On the bright side though— if everything looks like butterflies and roses in there, we don't have to do this again until two years later this time! We just have to get through this together— it'll be really fast and quick, I promise, like taking off a band-aid! You ready? Great, the nurse just called my name.

One can only hope that the gynecologist won't say, "Relax your vagina" this time. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

20 Things I Learned at the West Hollywood Women's Leadership Conference




In case you missed it, last Saturday was the West Hollywood Women's Leadership Conference. Some very prominent and influential women were there, including the West Hollywood Mayor, Abbe Land, and the ever so articulate and inspiring, Sandra Fluke.

Speakers led workshops and panels all throughout the West Hollywood Public Library which, by the way, has a spectacular photo exhibit of lesbian couples and their families throughout the downstairs and upstairs walls. Anyways, some of the workshops that I went to were "Dream, Set, and Achieve: Set Your Goals and Make it Happen!," ran by Sahar Andrade, and "Effective Communication: Saying What You Mean and Achieving the Career You Want," ran by Helane Wilbourne. Here are some of the most memorable and inspirational quotes/tips that I gathered throughout the day:

1. Ask yourself: "What would I attempt to do, if I couldn't fail?"And then do it...Sounds a little like Sheryl Sandberg, doesn't it?

2. Multitasking is overrated. This might come as a shocker, since most people like to list this as a skill in job applications, but here's the thing: if you multi-task, you are basically half-assing several different things. Wouldn't the more efficient and effective method be doing one thing at a time to the best of your ability?

3. Don't set yourself for failure— believe it and it will happen. For example, if I already go into an interview thinking that I won't get the position (which I am guilty of often), then I will act less confident, less convincing, and in result probably not get the position in the end. Why do that when you can go in positively thinking that you will, in fact, land the job?

4. Wake up thinking, "Today is going to be a great day." And it will be. Tell yourself your own future, and it will happen. Be Powerful, not pitiful.

5. Each one of us are the CEO of our own company— it's up to you what you are going to do with it. You are you're own boss. Would you be proud if your company and the way that you are running it?

6. Don't say "I will be..."; say "I am..." Change your use of words and it will change your way of thinking.

7. Eliminate the obstacles/limits and think around them instead. Believe that life is limitless, and throw yourself into something that you are passionate about.

8. If you have several difficult tasks to do, start with the most difficult. That way, you will have the rest of the day to do what you will, without the stress of completing that task. Avoid time wasters.

9. Think "what's in it for them?" instead of "what's in it for me?" Because we live in a life of "what's in it for me," you want to put yourself on the other side so that when you are going into a job, you can answer that question for them.

10. Make SMART goals— start with an action verb and be present, positive, and personal.

11. Ask a high price— don't ask for a quarter. The speaker told us a story of a man that was on the street asking for a quarter. A person came up to him and offered him a dollar, but the man refused, saying that he only wanted a quarter. The moral of the story is to aim for something higher— don't be that person who is just settling for the lower price.

12. It's not a women's issue, really. Our issue is everyone else's issue. It  in this instance being controversies portrayed as "women's issues," like sex trafficking, rape, sexual abuse and the gender gap. Patti Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence said this. She also said that men particularly are a part of the solution, and if anything it is a men's issue— not a women's issue.

13. It is okay to say "I need more time to process."This was from the "Effective Communication" panel. If you are in a business setting where someone is asking you a question that you are uncomfortable with, or do not know the answer, it is perfectly fine to say that you need more time to think about it, and that you will get back to them once you've had more time to process. This way, you will not be giving away any information that is either inaccurate, or not fully formed.

14. Try to connect in earnest is the key. When networking, Ms. Wilbourne says that even if you are trying to connect with someone that you are nervous about talking to, if you appear to be genuinely interested in what they have to say, then they will most likely respond favorably.

15. When you get a "yes" answer, dissect why you did. If someone agrees to mentor you, or offer you a position, or accepts your call, ask yourself why they did that. If you learn from your accomplishments (and failures) you will be able to know what works and what doesn't.

16. In order to sell yourself on the phone, think in terms of numbers. Say "This call will take five minutes; there are three things that I want to talk about with you."That way, even if it is a very busy person, they know exactly how long it will take, and that you aren't going to be ranting for a hour and a half.

17. Bring cheat sheets. Bring them to interviews, to speeches, to anything that you believe you need prepping for. Anyone who is anyone will have cheatsheets, so why can't you? That's Helane's philosophy.

18. Be the last person to have something to say. If there is a group meeting, don't let so-and-so take your idea. Be the person at the end that says, "I agree with _______ on this; I would like to expand on that..."

19. Ask how do you want me to follow up? Some very busy and important people may tell you to contact them, but most of the time you spend this time on their answering machine, or getting forwarded by their personal assistant, or secretary. Avoid this by clarifying how they want you to follow up. There's no shame in that game.

20. CLARITY IS POWER. The more certain you are of something, the more capable you will be to achieve it. Conquer your dreams!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Emoticons that should and shouldn't exist

Have you ever paid attention to the emoticons on the iPhone? Have you noticed that there are some emojis that you will never have any cause to use? Or some that you don't understand doesn't already exist? I have a bone to pick with Apple...actually a few. 

1. Why are there so many crying emojis? Seriously Apple, how often do you think a person cries or needs to express to others how hard they are crying. I don't need nine different levels of crying to send to someone through text— it's depressing.








What I would much rather have, however, are pissed off emojis instead. Do you know how often I get hangry or pissed off for no particular reason? Like every 30 minutes! Unfortunately, I don't have enough emoticons to express my grumpiness. What I will NEVER use are these creepy devil ones...








2. What the hell do these mean? 









and these...






























and this one...












3. Why is there only one Asian man that's wearing some weird and probably racist hat but no Asian woman? Why aren't there African American people? Or hispanic people besides the salsa dancer? Or anyone, really, besides an entire white family and their extended relatives? 

















4. Speaking of Asians, have you noticed the weird Asian sceneries and trinkets that you will definitely never use except maybe on Chinese New Year? That one with the moon constantly reminds me of the movie Mulan when that Asian hunk sings "Be a Man"— specifically the one lyric "...to the dark side of the moooooooooon!" Yes, I'm a dork. 
















5. Why are there so many buildings??? When would I ever tell someone that I'm going somewhere, but replace the name of the building with an emoticon of one? It doesn't make sense and isn't at all efficient. Besides, all 45 of the buildings basically look the same except for the churches, which I think are segregated by the normal one and pink one for people with bigger hearts. 










6. I personally think they need to trade the mythical creatures for more pictures of animals that actually exist, like dogs. Also— since when did dragons have antlers? Is that a new thing? 














8. I can't decide if this is the symbol for a submissive, or some sexual position...Maybe both. I'm pretty sure if I had to choose, this is the most risque emoji that is available. Which is another thing— there needs to be more sexy emoticons. Frat boys would use the shit out of some emoticons of pinups, or condoms, or sex toys— let's be serious.












9. I would never, EVER use these...
















Or these...





































Or these...
















10. I will however, use these almost every day...

It's code word for "shoot me." 








This is the closest to a pissed off emoticon, and it's a cat. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Online Dating is Exhausting

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

It's been about four months now that I've tried online dating. I've received approximately 200 messages and went on five dates, one of them being a second date with the same person. And I'm over it. I don't know what it is but the mere thought of communicating with someone through OkCupid message makes me ill. Frankly, I would rather take my chances finding someone at a hotel lounge or Trader Joe's. At least then I won't be bombarded with pink, blinking instant messages asking me "how are you?" or "how's your day going?" like I've known that person for years, instead of three seconds.

When I originally decided to try out online dating, I thought that it would give me the opportunity to meet someone outside my small Hollywood circle. Besides from being a good conversation starter, dating online would also force me out of my comfort zone and introduce me to different people that I wouldn't have had thought twice about before. Given, OkCupid did do this for me.

Turns out though, it didn't turn out to be a good thing. To be fair, I did spend an entire night hanging out with Shaun White because of OkCupid (it took me half of the night to finally figure out who he was), but after the elusiveness of that wore off, I realized I didn't have much in common with my actual date.

Here's what I don't like about online dating: I don't like skipping the initial meet-cute— the chance to reach for the same box of chocolate-covered almonds at the same time at the grocery store, or spark up conversation at a unlikely place, like a waiting room or bus stop. I don't like thinking that I would have to explain to people that we met online, rather than an actual, substantial location. I felt robbed of romance.

And I guess I could have handled getting over that after time, but I also hated that once I did go on a date with someone, everything felt too rushed. Half of me contributes this to the fact that OkCupid is mostly used as a hookup website, but everything about the entire process seemed to be on fast forward. Forget the gradual ritual of getting to know a new person— a complete stranger could now turn to your lover pretty much overnight. It was almost like going up to someone and saying, "Hi, my name is Lisa, what's your name? I think you're cute, so let's go out...Awesome, now that that's over, wanna spend every weekend together and in the meantime we can text sweet nothings to each other in the meantime? I know that we've only just met, but can I call you my boyfriend now? I'm sorry, but what's your name again?"

As someone who is a notorious commitment-phobe, this terrified me. I once had a guy who managed to introduce himself, get my number, schedule a date, and explain his expectations all within a day. It was too much. I know that it's online dating, but does that mean we have to sacrifice the natural chemistry? Finding out how a person works— their individual quirks, pet peeves, likes and dislikes is my favorite part of any relationship, and it most certainly doesn't happen after a few hours and a couple of drinks at a bar. Instead of getting to know someone and then developing feelings for them, I felt like it was reversed in online dating. It wasn't organic anymore, it was forced.

Not to mention that I feel like there is probably something inherently wrong with judging a person by a percentage that some Internet widget says determines how much of a match we are. If I am going to start dating someone that I didn't already know beforehand, I don't want to my first impression of him to be through a profile that is inevitably geared towards one-night stands and consistent hookups. I want it to be based on interpersonal communication, and the bare essentials— if he's physically attractive, not his photo, or whether he smells good, if he makes me laugh and laughs at my jokes in turn. I miss the days where I get butterflies in my stomach from an exchange of smiles or a cute comment. I can't get that kind of giddy feeling from some choppy compliment given to me and probably 30 other girls on the interwebs. It's not genuine or believable.

That said, I think it's about time to throw in the towel and just take my chances the old fashioned way— chance meetings. Who knows, maybe I'll get bored again and try speed dating, or some new app that sets me up on blind dates in the L.A. area. Besides, Minday Kaling didn't even start dating until senior year in college— she decided that her career in her 20's was more important, and I am inclined to agree. I'd much rather be a writer for a show like The Office by the time I'm 24 any day besides waiting around for the right man to message me on OkCupid— sorry not sorry!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In the News: Robin Thicke's rape song, Tennessee legislation, and my continued obsession with Sheryl Sandberg

Has anyone heard Robin Thicke's new rape song? 




Basically, the majority of the song (creepily named "Blurred Lines") has the R&B singer murmurring "I know you want it" over and over into a girl's ear. Call me a cynic, but that phrase does not exactly encompass the notion of consent in sexual activity.

Oh, and the music video! Not only does it feature three girls baring bare breasts throughout the entire song (along with nude-colored thongs), but it also obnoxiously interrupts the already disturbing scene to blare  #THICKE  in big, bold, red letters every 10 seconds. Is this some Big Brother brainwashing technique? Who told him that this was a good idea? Not to mention he an entire clip dedicated to balloon letters spelling out "Robin Thicke has a big dick." Nothing embodies class better than telling the entire web that you have a big schlong! Makes one wonder if he's overcompensating, or if his wife would agree with that statement? Seriously, this song is disgusting— though admittedly very catchy.

Turns out, the listeners aren't that impressed by the song either. Some Youtube comments include users saying, "99% boobs, 1% music," or "This porno has awful music." I decided to do everyone a favor and not attache the unrated version of the video above.


WTF Tennessee?

If you aren't already pissed off today, here's another reason to be: the state that's home to the Music City is now trying to pass a bill (SB 132) that will decrease Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits for parents whose children are not make satisfactory grades in school. In other words, Tennessee is trying to make the poor more down-trodden. Why punish a demographic that's already struggling? I just can't begin to understand it. Can you imagine going to your child in grade school and say that he/she has to do better in school from now on because the family's financial stability is dependent on it?

Sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) and Rep. Vance Dennis (R-Savannah), the bill is referred to as a "carrot and stick approach." Jezebel gives a few choice words about the ridiculousness of the bill:

It's actively making it more difficult for poor families to survive — and it's a double whammy for the children. For kids who are already struggling in school, they're now threatened with affecting their family's ability to survive.
My continued obsession with Sheryl Sandberg...

I can't stop. This woman is my bloody hero. Even after reading her book Lean In, I've now resorted to reading blogs from the organization's website, and watching YouTube videos of her speeches.  Below is a TEDtalk she did back in 2010 about why there are so few women leaders in the workplace. Watch and be wowed:


Monday, April 1, 2013

If I wasn't afraid, I would...

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook's COO and ultimate badass bitch), recently came out with a novel called Lean In that has made her the new role model for feminists everywhere. Described by her as a "feminist manifesto" of sorts, Lean In preaches the mantra that women can be successful in the workplace and at home if they utilize the right tools and mindset. She addresses some prevalent gender issues and controversies in the workplace, as well as disputes negative perceptions of women that the media has created.

All in all, the book is extremely inspiring and enlightening. What stuck out to me when I first began reading Lean In, is when Sandberg asks the reader—"What would you do if you weren't afraid?" and encouraged them to "Then go out and do it." It got me thinking— what am I afraid of? And if I acknowledged these fears and took more risks, how would it change my life?

I immediately started a list of things that I would do if fear wasn't getting in the way. Here are a few things that I came up with:

1. Go out and actively pursue employers in the entertainment industry in person. I think that doing so many online applications has convinced me that a PDF or Word document is the only way to impress an employer. It is actually preventing me from taking the initiative to go out to the actual office the old-fashioned way, and by doing so I could considerably distinguish myself from other candidates. Taking the extra step could very well be the difference in whether I get a job or not.

2. Demand to get paid more. Why settle for the first offer that an employer gives you? With enough research and preparation, I can negotiate a better paying job with more benefits in a professional but pleasant manner— even in an entry-level job. Laziness and compliance is only an excuse for not doing this.

3. Design a creative project and follow through with it. I constantly have so many ideas that come to my mind everyday that I have started many, but finished none. For once I want to dedicate all of my concentration and efforts on a project, like writing a pilot episode, or an op/ed, and do it right.

4. Volunteer somewhere, already. I've been telling myself and others that I want to volunteer at an organization forever now, but haven't actually made a commitment yet. In Wilmington, I was used to volunteering for the Rape Crisis Center, and being involved gave me the only kind of satisfaction that comes from helping others. I miss it, and now that I am in a city where I can make even more of a difference in, I should be more involved.

5. Get rid of my storage unit in North Carolina. Yes, I have kept and paid for a storage unit across the country for almost a year now and I no longer remember what I even have in there. I think the biggest reason why I've kept it is because I don't want to let go of the possibility that I might return to the East Coast. That 10x5 space is the only thing that I have rooted in North Carolina, and it is keeping me from calling L.A. my true home. I need to do something with the contents and finally let it go.