on judging others

before we begin, i want to draw a distinction between being judgmental and being discriminating.  i don’t know if they are necessarily two TOTALLY SEPARATE THINGS, but:

  • being discriminating is not a bad thing; it is important to be able to discriminate between good things and bad things, things we enjoy and things we do not, etc. (“this wine/lamp/ice cream flavor/mattress is good, that one is bad”; “i get along with him and not him”) 
  • being judgmental (at least the way i use it in the entry) generally involves the following: (“you are a bad person”)
    • disapproval
    • you are comparing yourself to something else, and you are better
    • generally you can only be judgmental on choices/autonomy and not on inherent characteristics


(facebook ipo’ed this month!  pretty exciting! will try not to be jealous of the mounds of cash that every software engineer has in the bay area)

METRIC – LIKING %/LIKABLE % (L/L)

liking %: of a general population, what % you would like
likable %: of a general population, what % like you

(“like” is defined very loosely)

angeles i think would be 75/85.  i might go with 55/65 on myself.  especially lately, a lot of the gay networking has been about me trying to increase both of those stats.

METRIC – DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC (DC)

do you ever find yourself trying to describe a person to a friend, and you go, “oh, s/he’s the [X] one.” X is your defining characteristic (DC).  not what makes you unique or what makes you interesting or any insightful personality analysis, but just what you immediately associate with that person.  most blatantly identifiable factor.

usually it’s an adjective (gay and black tend to be two DCs that i think are pretty common), or it can be a story (“the one who [X]”).  is it weird/bad that black/gay are common DC’s? 

anyway, it’s a fun game to describe those tier 2-3 friends with their DC. 

ON CLIQUES

everyone knows that it has been my dream to get into a gay clique.  reasons include: (in addition to finding a fun group of people)

  1. critical mass of friends where a subset is always down to hang out/go out/etc
  2. most efficient way to make friends (maintaining relationships with friends who all don’t know/want to spend time with each other is exhausting)
  3. most efficient way to gay network

i get regularly chided about my desires to join a clique, that they are pretentiously exclusive, that they’re catty and very high school and very dramatic, that it’s a very misguided effort.  patrick has this theory (hopefully i’m not butchering it) that gay guys were powerless as kids and now gay guys like to use that power and use it to tear down other (gay) people, and that arguably gay cliques are the worst representations of this.  yay, gay people! 

chris the ex used to tell me “JAMES, WHY DO YOU CARE SO MUCH ABOUT THEM LIKING YOU!?!?” there’s some degree of that too: why am i courting a clique so aggressively that doesn’t particularly like me?

(to be clear, i’m largely over the idea of a gay clique now) (also, to be clearer, the gay clique that i was “rushing” is over me and i have been blacklisted for… reasons that i wouldn’t say deserve blacklisting, which either belies a) how tightknit their group is, or b) the general immaturity/dramatic thrust of the group.  but, yes, i did get a “…fine to say hello, but would probably be best if you didn’t hang around us for too long…” comment.  yay)

(side note re: cliques; i do think that it’s very difficult to break into any clique on coolness alone.  by definition, they’re all already super friend-rich, and unless you have something else to offer (ROMANTIC INTEREST), it may be tough to get in.  IMO.)

(side note #2 re: cliques and james; i was hanging out with a friend.  the clique walked in, and i started interacting with them, and i go back to my friend, and he goes, “WHAT WAS THAT?!?!?!” and proceeds to talk about how i am a totally different/way less enjoyable/way lamer person when hanging out with the clique.  i mean, generally, when being around people i don’t know very well, i translate my nervous/awkward energy into brainless enthusiasm.  i know, i know.  well now i’m just awkwardly self-conscious about it, awesome.)

Why you would even waste time with that group that adores [X] is silly, ESP based on that conversation.

THE 4 PRONGED APPROACH TO DATING

50 places to meet people when you’re over the bar scene

i haven’t really written anything about the “gaywakenening”, but one of the things i like to reference is the 4-pronged approach to dating after i broke up with chris.  it was a very aggressive, consulting-esque approach to solving this problem, which was basically using every possible medium to find a boyfriend, that is, the 4 prongs:

  1. friends of friends (requires gay networking)
  2. activities (gay climbing, gay running, etc)
  3. bar/party scene (castro, circuit parties, etc)
  4. electronically (okcupid/online, grindr/jack’d/mobile)

i caught up with AJ one day, and he said that he thought similarly, that it was like sales, and there are several different ways/pipes of generating “leads”.  anyway, work all the angles aggressively. 

ARE CIRCUIT PARTIES/GAY RAVES SO BAD FOR MEETING PEOPLE

friend:  generally, i know what i go to a circuit party for, and it ain’t to look for dateable people…

lately, i’ve been doing this thing where i try to trap people to say something along the lines of “people at circuit parties are the dregs of humanity”.  and they generally say something like the above, and then i call them out on it and say that they’re being a pretentious jerk, and they generally recant with a “WELL!  that’s not what i meant, james!  it’s just hard to meet dateable people in general!” which, fine, alright.  (or, they can defend their stance that circuit parties have the dregs of humanity, which is not a terribly difficult POV to defend)

i love taking defensible contrarian viewpoints, so: why i think that circuit parties are good places to meet people: (my current crusade)

  1. people are more friendly and forward at circuit parties.  yes, that people are generally abusing some substance or another helps, but in general, way easier to meet friends of friends at circuit parties, way easier to dance with strangers at circuit parties, way easier to approach strangers at circuit parties. 
  2. mutual attraction is quickly communicated.  if you want to know whether or not someone at a circuit party is physically attracted to you, you can generally figure this answer in under 15 seconds.  fast, efficient, painless. ONLINE DATING, ugh.  fine, photos, but the between writing countless messages, countless rejection, coming up with online banter, and finally meeting up in person for the first time, and then walking in and realizing that you’re not attracted to them?  the worst.  FRIENDS OF FRIENDS, does he actually like me, or is he just hanging out with me because of the mutual friend?  what did he say about me?  
  3. compatible, “quality” people are hard to find, regardless of where you go.  even if i grant your “only the dregs of human beings go to circuit parties” argument, a) there is still enough variance to find someone of high quality at any event, and b) i could make equally compelling arguments about why you would not be better off with the online dating/castro community either as those populations have their own endemic problems. 

in general, there is no easy, surefire, perfect way of meeting people.  and yes, i totally understand and somewhat agree with the flaws of trying to meet people at circuit parties (WHICH I WILL GET INTO), but to believe that circuit parties are uniquely or significantly more flawed than other meeting-people methods (except for friends of friends and maybe activity partners) seems to be a bit harsh.

QUALITY OF PEOPLE

i sort of buried the lede, but this is actually probably the part of the entry that i’ve been thinking about A LOT lately in my life and bringing up with other people.  it sort of all started with this:

i do [think circuit parties] are gross.  bunch of high as a kite guys who go to too many circuit parties.  people are friendly because they’re high.  it is ghetto, drug infested thing you should never be proud of.  i do not think those are your people or you fit in. james, they are lame.

Circuit parties are gay excess, products of low self-esteem and tied to promiscuity and drug abuse, setting up  models of the good gay vs the bad queer.  The good gay settles in a respectable career and a monogamous relationship.  Bad queer works to get high and fucks in backrooms and bathhouses.  

circuit parties are excuses for reality, reality of friends, of community, of the ability to have a good time without drugs. it is an escape, it is filled with people needing this, all kinds, good, bad, fat, ugly.  they all come together, and with their inhibitions gone, and their real feelings out the door, ugly and hot, meet, not only civil, but they’ll even screw each other, it is an escape for all kinds of people. it is addictive.  but it is an excuse for the ability to have a good time without drugs. the few who don’t do drugs, are riding high on the mad use by everyone else in the room, they’re the users of a different sort.

this idea that people can freely do whatever they want is really convenient, it is an ideal that individual freedom supersedes responsibility.  people live for the gay circuit, they plan their vacations around it, their shopping, work schedule, it becomes the great gay temple.

i don’t mind decadence, but circuit parties are fleeting and destructive, they eat up mass amounts of personal energy and social resources, and accomplish little. one great roman orgy.

so… that’s a pretty good burn.  i remember reading that and feeling really shitty about myself.  compelling, probably somewhat true.  in my mind, the “dregs” argument is:

  1. drug abusers/will end up in a ditch/not good people 
  2. vanity/spends time at the gym instead of listening to NPR
  3. short term/”ecstasy” (hah) focused, not inclined to want something long lasting
  4. idiots who just want to party
  5. doesn’t take sex/monogamy seriously, hookup culture, again, not inclined to want something long lasting

while i get the argument, the central question in my mind is: who are we to decide what in life is worth doing and what is not worth doing?  who are we to say that we are a “better person” than another person?  who are we to deem that another life is “not worth living”?  they are doing what makes them happy; isn’t that all that matters?  (ignoring feeding the hungry, etc., which is a whole separate issue.  or is it.)

i have been thinking about these questions a lot, and i can’t come up with an answer.  like, fine, maybe i’m smarter than most, but it’s not like i know WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT.  anyway, this is currently my train of thought whenever i find myself being judgmental; that they’re happy, and that i should be happy that they’re happy, even if they do things that i find [insert a variety of negative adjectives].

responses i have heard to “who are you to be able to say that the lives of circuit party goers are meaningless” are:

  1. “i’m not judging, it’s just not for me, but i am glad they are happy and they are obviously free to do whatever they want that makes them happy.”
  2. “i am equally critical of everyone who lives a life of excessive leisure; i would say the same thing about people who move into the suburbs; those who don’t use their full potential to help humanity.”

for the record, i am never cease to be amazed by the quality of people at circuit parties that i meet.  really solid, nice, smart people who are looking for serious relationships.  (to be clear, i’ve met some (very) not-great people as well)

coincidentally, person who wrote diatribe above (where he is fine putting down people who go to circuit parties) also got extremely sanctimonious when i tried to argue for why it’s okay to describe yourself/others as “straight-acting”.  and i understand that “going to gay raves” is not the same as “being flamboyant”, but in my mind, they both are generally “PEOPLE NEED TO CONFORM TO SOCIAL NORMS BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE JUDGING US” arguments, and it’s weird for him to push “EVERYONE NEEDS TO CONFORM” on one issue so viciously, and “EVERYONE SHOULD DO WHAT THEY FEEL LIKE” on another issue so seriously.  ugh.  can’t win.

person1:  are you bi? label-less?
person2:  nah i’m gay
person1:  ah gotcha. when the upgrade?
person2:  eh while back
   but i dont advertise it
   in fact i think i could use it to my advantage
   in this day in age its cool to be a “normal-acting” gay guy
person1:  yup.  we’re harder to find
person2:  cuz you’re like, naturally edgier i think
  you’re multifaceted
person1:  so in dating world, we come at premium

side note: so as i’ve mentioned on the blog, i’m torn on the “CAN WE USE THE PHRASE ‘straight-acting’”, but believe that it is probably fine.  but one of the main assumptions that that argument requires is that the phrase “straight-acting” confers no bias, that it doesn’t reinforce unhealthy power norms, that it doesn’t stigmatize flamboyant people upon each usage.  but i guess it does. 

(full disclosure: met the guy who was easily the best person i’ve dated in 2012 at a circuit party.  booyah.)

IT IS EXHAUSTING TRYING TO BE THE BEST

i think that with being judgmental comes: 1) a certain degree of pride, and 2) a certain degree of insecurity to maintain that feeling, which can sometimes lead to 3) an excessive amount of inconsistent/irrational rationalizing.  all of which i find not terribly attractive. 

friend: (on how he couldn’t find a date to a wedding)
   ughh how the mighty have fallen….
   ughhh, ughh, ughh!
   too much pressure!
   i used to be power couple material!

TO BE CLEAR, he was drunk and exaggerating for the purposes of playing that role. 

but yeah.  definitely reminds me of when i was on “that track” in college, and how it made me make decisions that i probably shouldn’t have made, and how i am now resigned to a life of mediocrity and middleclass-dom and whatever-james-wants-dom and dgaf-what-others-think-dom, and it is quite liberating.

IS IT EVER A GOOD THING TO BE PRETENTIOUS?  IS IT ALWAYS BAD?

daniel: cheap alcohol is the best alcohol

it has been well documented that i love cheesecake factory.  for my 25th birthday, wendy/angeles/mark got me a cheesecake factory gift certificate.  i really, really appreciated the fact that patrick was so down to eat at cheesecake for our first date. 

some people are really pretentious about cheesecake factory, and it rubs me the wrong way.  like “if someone asked me to go on a date to cheesecake factory, i would break up with them on the spot.” and while i understand that the food can be a bit caloriffic, the prices are honestly reasonable for an absurd amount of food (aka “james-sized portions), the food is freaking delicious, and since when did being part of a restaurant chain make it a bad restaurant!?!? 

daniel: you think i’m pretentious?!  i just asked you out on a mcdonalds date!!

FOR THE RECORD, I RECOGNIZE THAT I AM ALSO JUDGMENTAL

not to say that i’m the bastion of non-judgmentalness.  i mean, there are definitely times when i have similar criticisms of the circuit party crowd, or judge people who don’t lead their lives with enough intention, or they’re just super boring/complacent, or people who are too stubborn/not self-aware to understand what’s going on, or people who are immature, or etc etc etc etc.  “what a sad/pathetic/unhappy life,” i think.  but i cannot emphasize how that’s just incredibly wrong and pretentious.  anyway, this year, especially, i think i’ve done a much better job of reeling in those emotions and just appreciating the uniqueness of everyone’s life pursuit/goals and how i want to support them if it it’s what they want (as long as they aren’t harming others/themselves, etc). 

ISN’T THIS JUST AN ENTRY OF ME JUDGING PEOPLE WHO ARE JUDGMENTAL?!?!?!  ugh, disaster.  can i at least get points for 1) being meta, and 2) being self-aware to recognize it?

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