What do you think would happen if you changed the decade you are in now to the one you would like have lived in in your mind? So even though outside your head it is the twenty-first century, in your mind everyone is wearing fedoras and saying "Hey, what's the big idea," and "What's shakin' Jackson?" and "I have half a mind to put an end to this business once and for all."
My grandfather was a man of specific habits. Once he figured out what he liked in a particular category, he would try and do the same thing every day. Up at 4:30 am, Carnation Instant Breakfast, listen to the radio, etc.
If you have to pick just one item for breakfast from now on forever, what is it?
Sometimes, we feel like we can classify people and that we assume we know more of their life story at first glance than can possibly be true. For example, when we see someone standing in the street, our mind instantly tries to determine and correlate their type and their intent. In the back of our mind, we guess their motives, their needs, their possible threat level, etc. Then we make a decision on what to do. With that in mind:
Do you give money to buskers who are not good at the instruments they play?
Do you want a lobster to know your name? Would it matter when you ate them if you knew that they did? Keep in mind that they have almost no brain, so they would not be able to do much with the information.
Could you get a shotgun within 3 hours if you needed one because of a report of just one zombie? If so, would that be the weapon you would choose? Given three hours, would you try to get something else?
Kids are able to act without any reference to the consequences of their actions, although there is some debate over when they start to realize that what they do affects others and truly understand what that means. So:
Are little kids mean because they need to be or because they want to be?
Sometimes, we allow people their foibles or a little more latitude in their behavior or actions because of their physical appearance. Like when someone looks like they are nice, we assume they are, or if they look jolly we think they must be. So do you have different standards for different groups of people? For example:
would you let a voodoo priestess live on your downstairs bedroom if you had one if she was oddly attractive in a creepy way?
In every business, one needs to keep up appearances, and needs to figure out how to move forward or to keep one's place where they are. I am sure it is about the same with minor celebrities of any stripe, like local news weather people, or people who star in their own commercials for their small business.
What do you think the worst part about being only slightly famous would be?
There are certain features of any place where people live, from the cranky old man at the end of the block that takes your baseball if you hit it in his yard and says "SEE THIS, IT'S MINE NOW!," to the people who are so concerned about their lawn that they water it at night, to the kindly neighbors who bake cookies or pie to bring to the new arrivals. Your neighborhood may not have all of those people, and may have others that arequirky and recognizable in their own way. With that in mind:
Who lives in that scary house at the end of the block? You know, the one that you won't even go to for free hallowe'en candy and that you run past when you are walking around the block.
Imagine, if you will, the nicest person you know. Hopefully that person is niceness personified. Yet they are still a person, with all the foibles and other issues that people have. That means they have good and bad days, and they have people they like more or less.
With that in mind:
What is the meanest thing you ever saw a really nice person do?
Do you think vampires can taste the difference between blood types? Like there might be vampire snobs who only go for the more exclusive types, like Ab negative or someting? I am O- so might they think that my blood was the Bud Light of the blood selection? Not PBR, that would be O+
Why do we think that great literature or great movies have to be disturbing? That they have to make you think? Why can't we just think about something good, or be happy that we were well entertained? Do we think we don't deserve it?
I am convinced that most people are programmed to always either downplay their skills and abilites in a self deprecating way, or they overstate them in an arrogant way. Think about it, can you picture shuffling your feet and saying the equivalent of "aw shucks, t'warnt nothin'" when you get complimented? What about forcefully saying "yup, that was me," when someone expresses thanks for something that happened?
Do you think people with super powers would be like that? Like Aquaman says "nah, Wonder Woman really captured most of the zombies, all I did was the waterspout that washed them into the cages. You should give her the medal, not me." Or maybe the opposite, Robin says "Yeah, but what about me, if I hadn't knocked over the barrel of oil they wouldn't have been there for Batman to singlehandedly defeat and immobilize until the police got here. And I brought Starbucks for everyone. That counts, right?"
Most religions have some type of creation myth in which the deity creates people and the world they live on, and is pleased with the outcome. (Christians and Jews believe people are made in god's image, etc.) Most people also believe that they themselves are fairly nice, or are at least they try to be. So if our gods are nice, and we are nice, and our gods created us, then:
Why are people so likely to believe that other people are literally evil?
If you think about it, there are many things that society in general takes for granted that all of its members understand. I am not convinced that this is really possible, given that our memories and experiences and therefore our definitions of anything in our reality are vastly different from each other. With that in mind:
How do you know that you love the people you love? What if what you think is love is just benign neglect? Or smothering? Or lust? Or something creepy that I will leave to your imagination? Or is there just one type or a few types of love? Or is it not even something that you can define?
If you could pick any person to be stuck in an elevator with for three hours, who would that person be, and would it matter if there was a camera in the elevator so security could see what you were doing? What if it was totally dark in there?
If you knew that after you donated some of your clothes to a worthy cause, would it bother you if you knew that people were using them for dust rags, or wearing them without having had a shower for quite some time, or if they were going to wear them to a political rally supporting someone whose opinios you think are awful?
If you could donate a kidney to a person who had done incredibly awful things, like a dictator or a serial killer, in order to obtain a multi-million dollar donation to end child hunger, would you do it? What if you didn't have to do it yourself, but you could pick someone standing within 100 feet of you right now? Who would it be, if anyone? What if you couldn't tell them beforehand?
I am convinced that empathy is relative, and is also usually guesswork on most people's part. You can never truly know what other people are thinking or wanting, but you can observe them closely and decide what you are going to do based on what you think they are feeling at that time. Some of us are better than others at it. I would bet that those who are motivated to either please others or thwart the will of others are the best at it.
Can you think of times you have done things perhaps not even consciously that you figured out would be likely to be bad for someone else but have no effect on you? I guess basically it would only be to mess with them?
Later, does it feel like a waste of time to have done so? Why or why not?
There is a posit which can also fit into various explanations or worldviews, that it is the choices you make that lead you to where you are today. It makes sense, right? Turning left when you could go either way when walking down the street, and you avoid the safe falling out of the window that would have crushed you; giving your future spouse and parent of your children another chance after an awful first date; not taking the job that might have led to a future criminal indictment for insider trading; checking again that you had turned off the oven so you didn't burn down your house. These choices all affected your life and put you on another path to your present location.
If you accept this as true, why would you attempt to prevent your children from repeating your mistakes?
When you think about it, the concepts that keep society moving are pretty fragile. Take value for example. I can take a piece of paper, (nice paper, to be sure,) and print a 1 on each corner, and put a picture of a dead guy on it, and convince people that this is a one jablonky bill. Then if I can convince people to accept one jablonky for something, I have made that bill worth something. Then I make one with a different guy and a 5000 on each corner and now that we have established the value of one jablonky, it is a small leap to what a 5000 jablonky bill is worth. Or I can write on another, less nice paper that my bank gave me that I can give you 100 jablonkies from my bank account. But if you lose that paper, you have nothing. So you hustle over to your bank and deposit it and then they call the other bank, and say "Hey, I just got this note from one of your customers that says they are giving my customer 100 jablonkies, can you send that over? Thanks, buh-bye."
Building on the theme from the previous post, if you were a super hero, why would you decide to wear a skintight lycra bodysuit? Wouldn't that tend to make people take you less seriously? Basically, all of the same startes and lack of focus that wearing such a getup would get you in a gym would still apply here, i.e. bystanders losing focus on what you are saying as they ogled your body.
"You there, tell me where the nearest authorities are so I can take these criminals in." "What? Oh, sorry, I was overcome by your amazing breasts. Sorry, what was that?" And so forth.
I know the comic books are all "With GREAT POWER comes GREAT RESPONSIBILITY (Dah Dah DAH!!!!)," but most people I know are neither that well-endowed or muscly, and I would imagine them having the same thought processes now as they would after the mysterious green mist overtook them and changed them into Captain Whozenfutz or Dynalesbian or The Red Squirrel or whatever. But they would pretty much still be the same schmoes that they were before, getting all their news from The Daily Show, drinking too much and exhibiting poor judgement, being passive agressive to their friends and colleagues, etc. Basically just humans.
How would your ethics change if you had super powers? Would you still go to protests against war or would you take the same amount of knowledge you have now and take it upon yourself to "fix" things? What if you were wrong? What would you do?
If there are huge amounts of people, (many tens of millions,) who were not autistic before, but they will be considered somewhere on the autism spectrum now, who were they before? Were they just considered odd? Did they all work in IT with me? Is it a problem, now that the cat is out of the bag, or the diagnosis is out of the medical journal as it were? How about the fact that not only can we not really do much about it, but that the people have just gotten on with life?
As a percentage, how crazy are you? Figure 100% is drooly psychotic with totally altered reality, 50% is many things you believe are not widely held beliefs or verifiable in any way, 25% depends on who you ask, and 0% is mythical.
The dinosaurs were around for more than 200 million years. In comparison, humans have been around for but a tiny fraction of that time.
We have built cities, flown to the moon, created many different kinds of pudding, developed colorful vinyl siding choices, solved the problem of deciding which show to watch and which to TiVo, produced eleven Star Trek movies and counting, and many of us claim to have figured out way ahead of time that Bruce Willis' character in The Sixth Sense was dead by about a half an hour in to the movie.
In contrast, as far as we know, the dinosaurs basically walked around roaring at each other and having vicious tooth and claw battles until they were eaten. Although some have said that any evidence of a dinosaur society would be long gone, and that it is possible that somewhere along the line there were some that were smarter than others and they could have accomplished more and the evidence would be gone long long ago, there is no way to prove it one way o…
What do you think would make Fred Rogers angry enough to turn into the Hulk? (You wouldn't like my neighborhood when I'm angry.) And then what would he do about it? Would he tear out of his shoes, or take them off? Would he sing a song about transforming into the Hulk?
So imagine you are walking down a long corridor with an endless number of doors on either side. The hallway is a gentle inoffensive taupe color which is so innocuous that you wouldn't be able to describe it later. The doors are all unlabeled, and they have hotel style key readers and lever doorhandles. The lights are recessed bulbs in the ceiling that cast a neutral yellowish light. Additionally, each door has a light at the top of its recessed alcove. The floor is tiled in off white linoleum with a subtle pattern on it, and your feet make slight squeaking noises as you walk. This is the only sound you hear save for a faint background hum you understand to be the air conditioning system.
The corridor stretches unchanged into the distance as far as you can see. Every quarter mile or so, there is a weathered copy of USA Today laying on the ground in front of one of the doors. The dates on the papers are all different, but none of them is any more recent than March 11, 2006.
There are many kinds of character types in great literature and in life. Among these are the hard working but simple people; the experienced older hero who has skills and abilities and can be a mentor; the confident and wealthy business man, and the wife by his side; those who are creative and talented and famous; those who are intelligent and crafty; and those whose wholesome goodness can make them an integral part of the story in contrast to those with special differences.
With that in mind,
If they ran out of food on Gilligan's Island, who would be eaten first?
Why do we tell ourselves that every child can grow up to become President? That's a lot of children, and there is only one spot per four years. Many children will grow up to become insurance agents, and others will grow up to become firefighters. Are they to assume, deep down, that they have failed?
What is the least impressive thing that you will encourage your child to do with their life? Does that make you feel bad, and why should it? Don't we need people to work at Jamba Juice? Does it make you feel bad again that you are looking down on those people?
Most people have opinions about things, and generally feel strongly about them. Sometimes they agree with yours, and sometimes they don't. For example, if you ask ten people at random who they think is running things, how, and why, you will probably get wildly divergent answers from a tightly held conspiracy to an absolute anarchy that nobody understands. Maybe it is good, maybe it is not, maybe it is an illusion, maybe it is all just as it looks on the surface.
Personally, I have to think that since everybody views things slightly differently, their views and beliefs are also shaped by that, so one person's poison is another person's medicine; another person's social progress is the other guy's creeping fascism.
What do you feel so dismissive of that you would even cross personal boundaries of family and friends to let them know how you feel, even at risk of causing problems?
You know how you hear things like "they say that you should never leave your toothbrush out next to the toilet," or "well you know, they say everyone needs to eat seven servings of pure manteca per month to prevent scurvy," or "they recently discovered that the acai berry can change the results of late sixties municipal elections," and such?
Who are "they," and why should we believe them?
I mean if you ask ten people, three of whom are insane, three of which are liars, two people with really bad english skills, and two who are unable to talk about anything but the Red Sox all together in an elevator dispensing life wisdom, doesn't that count as a group you would call "they"?
As in "they said I should ask David Ortiz about how to use my car keys to cure the ebola virus by neutralizing the powers of the group that controls earthquakes by sign language."
Would it make a difference to you to find out it was true that it is all an elaborate plot cooked up just for your benefit, or would you want that to apply just to major sporting events and not to religion or government?
What if you owned a time machine and you could send back one of the following to deal with Hitler before he comes to power in Germany and why?
The Dalai LamaCherTom BrokawA polar bearThat crazy Koran burning pastor guy from Florida with the unfortunate mustacheWilliam ShatnerYour dentist You have ten minutes to tell them anything you think will prepare them for the trip and they can take their clothes and about $60.00 in funds. And they can bring a book and a sack lunch.
If you had saved all of the fingernails you have cut, torn, or bitten off since you were born, how big a pile would it make? If you could, just once, would you put them all back on to see how long your nails would get?
Similarly as in question #2, there are things that are assumed to be good.
Like unicorns, and politicians in our own party, and Gandhi.
Who says unicorns are not even now feasting on baby harp seals? And whoever is in charge of things doesn't have their own agenda ahead of ours? And that because he was a human being, Gandhi didn't cause somebody some where to say: "F'n Gandhi, I hate that guy. He still owes me money from that thing that time, and now he's all 'I have no attachment to earthly belongings' and junk. Dang."
Most people are envious of someone; be it for their appearance, their job, their wealth, the person they are married or otherwise with. There are likely people that are envious of anybody reading this question. Kind of like the turtle on the bottom of a stack of turtles may think the one on their back is having a wonderful time, while that turtle feels the same about the turtle above them. Potentially, the turtle on the top may be afraid of heights as well. Or they could be too stupid, oblivious, or angry to enjoy it when they get there. So the question is this:
Why are standard mayonnaise jars designed in such a way that when you are trying to get the last of the mayonnaise out, you have to reach in and try to get it in such a way that it gets on the back of your hand? I hate that.
And the bonus question is, what does it have to do with envious turtles because I assure you they are most inextricably linked at this moment.
People do have a thing for certain types of animals, mostly the furry, big-eyed, normal speed of movement types. Of course there are exceptions to both the people and the animals, some people love reptiles, and most rats are furry.
With that in mind, would it change your eating habits if animals tasted good in direct ratio to how cute they were? (Vegetarians need not answer, they already have.) Before you answer, imagine sitting at the table and being asked if you want another big juicy piece of fried kitten.
We all have different tolerances for waiting. I have stood in line for hours to be first to get into the first showing of a movie, and have waited in line for hours at theme parks for rides lasting less than a minute.
How long would you wait in line to get something that would be really great for a bunch of other people? What if all the people in the line had not showered in many days? What about if the people who got this wonderful thing had no idea where it came from? What if they knew it came from you but never said thanks?
Different accents mean different things to each of us. For example, I seem to think the news is more interesting if it is delivered in a british accent, especially if they are talking about "controversy," or "military," or "widespread looting."
Are there specific regional accents that you feel sound like that person is automatically lying?
Imagine you are having a dinner party, and it must go well because it somehow will determine your success or failure at your job.
Think about how on "Bewitched," Larry Tate would always bring prospective clients over to the Stephens' house for dinner and something would go haywire for the first 18 minutes and then get resolved in a magical way that usually ended with the client saying something like "those are amazing ideas, Stephens! I look forward to discussing them with you in the office on Monday!" as they shake hands and leave.
With that in mind, what would you do if the only thing available to prepare for the guests was rat, and you had about two hours before dinner to prepare. Your time starts...now!
Somewhere in the world there is someone who is the best at everything. Like the best pole vaulter is the guy who vaulted the highest. Also, there is someone who is the best at playing that scratch fish percussion instrument, as there must be. (My vote is this guy, but I could be wrong.) The point being, there is a hierarchy of skill in anything, from shrimp fishing to sculpting with chicken wishbones. (totally this woman, no question.)
With that in mind, as a percentage, how many people in the world are you better than when it comes to going to the bathroom and why?
Why does everyone assume that ghosts, robots, zombies, or aliens are always interested only in destroying us and all we hold dear?
If they were nice when not dead or undead, or if they were programmed by nice people or have an advanced civilization on their planet, why are they automatically going to be nasty to us when they get here/are turned on/rise from the grave?
So if you are going to describe something as normal, there is probably no way to define that except in comparison to the other things.
For example, to say you have a normal car, or house, or job, or aftershave collection means that yours is the baseline from which every other of that type differs. By declaring yours to be the normal one, you are saying that every other one is just a little off.
With that in mind, the question is: What if you specifically are the normal person? Is that a problem? Or do you hope so?