We All Suffer From Bloatware. Emotional, Intellectual, and Spiritual Bloatware.
Bloatware: Software comes to be known as bloatware when it becomes so unwieldy that its functionality is drowned out by its useless features.
During the Kavanaugh hearings I wrote about how this cretin’s comments and performance brought up my own experiences with rapes some 44 years ago. I also wrote about the very good men who showed up during that vomit fest, including my partner, and a great many more who were universally offended by the man’s lies.
One Medium writer named Dave came after me about my POV, effectively claiming that I was using my multiple rapes years ago to claim victimhood. I did my best to respond with courtesy and respect. Well, that is until his third email, which featured a final paragraph that was so loaded with fifty-dollar words that they intentionally obfuscated his meaning. Clearly meant to put me in my place. Here: decipher THAT.
God, I love the word obfuscate. Makes me sound so erudite.
God I love the word erudite. Makes me sound….
Like I’m full of intellectual bloatware.
I actually used the word zeitgeist- in proper context- for the first time in my 65 years. Right here on Medium. The only time I ever heard anyone use the term it was usually some professor discussing a movie, usually in a way that obfuscated the real message of the film I(HAH I did it again), using twenty dollar words in a desperate attempt to sound…..erudite.
Look, I love language as much as the next writer. Those who really appreciate our words, and their proper use. But we are now dealing with a reading level that is far below the eighth grader level that I was told to write for when I first became a journalist, in the 1970s.
Simple language, simple concepts. There’s a time and place to use big words. If we wish to be understood, the more clarity, the better. If we’re only wielding fancy words to make us sound superior,(as in, go look it up, stupid) then it’s….
Sometimes we are so full of our own shit that we can’t function. Kinda like PCs whose otherwise decent potential is undermined by all the crap the makers force it to carry.
We’re all like that in one way or another. We’re all carriers of useless features.
For example I teach networking skills. Every year at the end of October I do a program for minority PhDs as part of their training. One year I got a critique from a young man who demanded to know….
“But I want to know how does a PHD network?”
The answer is, of course, like any other human being on the planet. With respect, courtesy and regard. If you feel the need to whack someone over the head with your credentials the moment you meet, that speaks far more to your insecurity than your sincerity.
Emotional bloatware tends to populate our lives with stories, excuses and reasons why we can’t have a real life. It’s down right useful. In fact, some of our more entertaining arguments arise from bloatware:
My dad was an alcoholic.
Oh yeah? Well MY dad did time in Attica.
OH YEAH? Well my mother was a crack-addled prostitute.
OH YEAH???? Well MY mother……
My bloatware’s bigger’n your bloatware. So there.
There are plenty of online dating sites full of folks carrying so much bloatware about the opposite sex -or the same sex- that they can’t possibly carry on any kind of conversation without including a far-ranging statement: All women are _____. All men are ______.
In a perfect world, we find someone whose bloatware dovetails ours. Mirrors ours.
Makes for pretty full sedan on a first date. My bloatware encounters your bloatware. Let’s cuddle.
In 2000 I was living in the small southwestern Colorado town of Durango. A buddy set me up with a handsome fireman (kindly note- most small Western towns are wickedly short on singles, in this case, a single man of dating age. The most available male in my mountain neighborhood was an elk).
We went out (the fireman, not the elk). He drank, I had a soda. We got into a lively discussion about adventure stuff. I do adventure stuff. Am ex-military. I’ve got a long list of things I love to do from flying to scuba diving to African safaris to well, you name it. My buddy told me he was an ex-Marine, had a pilot’s license, was a scuba diver. A sky diver. We shared epic stories into the wee hours. Laughed our butts off.
After a weekend of almost sex but constant companionship, my buddy Dave and I became forever friends. Then roommates. A year later, when Dave was doing time for his fourth (and last, thank God) DUI, his folks- whom I had adopted as my own- and I were talking in their living room.
I mentioned Dave’s military service. Dad promptly looked away. Caught that.
“Dad?” I poked at him. “Was Dave a Marine?”
Long silence. He cleared his throat. “Um, no.” His brother was. In fact, by the end of that conversation, turns out that nothing that Dave had told me about his pilot’s license, scuba diving, skydiving had been true.
Six months later I nailed Dave in my living room. He had assumed that my stories were lies (bloatware) and so he made all this stuff up to blow my own hot air back at me. It had worked for years to get him laid.
Then after we became roommates, he found my logbooks: the skydiving, the flying, the scuba diving. The photos.
“Holy crap,” he said. “You were for real.”
Well no shit, Sherlock.
Bloatware. Dave and I laugh hard about this now. To his credit, Dave dumped the booze, became a very competent fireman, and a superb leader. He doesn’t have to make up stories now. He’s a bona fide hero, a life saver. No more need for bloatware there.
How often do you or I present bloatware rather than blatant honesty to someone we just met? How many of us bolster our confidence with false claims to modesty or pad our resumes with mildly (or majorly) exaggerated claims to competencies we don’t possess?
Um, a lot, it seems.
Lots of folks call this baggage, but that implies that you can put it down and walk away. This stuff sticks to us like velcro dingleberries.
Bloatware isn’t so easy to dump. It’s part of who we are. The greater the insecurity, the bigger the bloatware.
Religious bloatware causes wars. We kill in the name whatever invisible man (or whatever) in the sky who tells us to do that, while admonishing us not to kill. To see that in action, pick up any newspaper, turn on any news station. Somewhere in the world religious extremism- including right here at home- is busy at work justifying bloodshed in the name of an all-forgiving and loving God. Who, after all loves all of us equally. Except of course for those who don’t happen to believe in your invisible man in the sky. Except, of course, those who don’t share your skin color. Language. Culture.
Hey, makes perfect sense to me. I’ve always thought that the Holy Bible was the perfect accessory to accompany a nuclear bomb.
We get into useless, mindless arguments over who is right, whose facts are fake. Intellectual bloatware. As though any of that actually matters, as the world is changing so fast around us that by the time any of us has proven our climate change point, for example, our seaside condos are going to be flooded well past the first floor.
Argue all you want, folks, but bring your life jackets.
Parents load their programming into their babies. Install their hot buttons. It’s their job. Oh, you doubt this? Ever notice just how fast your mother can get under your skin at the holiday table by pointing out your expanding muffin top just as you reach for the gravy boat? Noting your receding hairline “just like your father’s” as you lean over to hug your niece?
She installed that button.
You could be the best parent on earth and there will still be something you did, said or asked about that sets your kid off forty years later.
You could be seventy-five, visiting your sweet, ancient 98-year old mother.
SHE CAN STILL PISS YOU OFF.
We’re all carriers…of useless features.
Colorado is home to what is arguably the most successful chapter of the National Speaker’s Association, which is a lively community of folks who get paid to do what terrifies most folks: speak in front of large audiences. For years, our chapter has been known to provide the national organization with its president. It’s considered a high honor. Not without good reason.
A few years back I’d dropped out of the NSA because I noticed a rather distressing trend to reward financial accomplishment as opposed to on-stage and content skills. That goes against what I think is important- our craft, and our commitment to the client.
But hey, what do I know? Clearly.
One of our Colorado locals had been picked as president yet again. I hadn’t seen her in ages. She was well-known for her generosity and kindness. In many ways this was absolutely justified.
I called to congratulate her. Silence. Then this arch, angry response which indicated how surprised she was that I hadn’t known long ago about her ascendancy into NSA immortality. Where have YOU been that you didn’t know about the Almighty ME????
Somehow this extraordinarily kind and generous person had become so inflated with her self-importance to the point that she offended a great many of her supporters. I quit NSA altogether.
Look, I’m as infected as anyone else. I carry my own set of insecurities and doubts which threaten to grab onto the slightest puffery to make me feel less invisible. This prize. That achievement. This accolade. That letter of endorsement. Those happy sheets at the end of a corporate training that threaten to fool me into thinking that I am ALL THAT.
I am achingly average in most ways just like the rest of us.
What helps- and this doesn’t work for everyone- is that I’ve populated my inner world with friends wielding sharp implements.
They’re well-trained. Soon as they get the impression that I’m full of it they give me a good hard poke.
That’ll pop my bullshit balloon in a hurry.
God I love them for that.
Works both ways. When my buds get up themselves in one way or another it’s my turn to pop the bullshit balloon. Always with love. Always with respect. And always and forever with laughter.
I can’t speak for anyone else here but for my dime, bloatware has an excellent purpose. Just as in our (especially Windows) computers, the invasive pop-up ads and drivel on the Internet, we have a chance to learn:
- How to do a go-around. Some stuff is with us forever, like a beauty mark. Learning to manage our pretension propensities is like playing Whack-a-Mole (Okay Okay I just dated myself). What a teacher in humility.
- Learn how to spot, and be patient with, other’s entrenched bloatware. I see mine, I see yours. Hey we’re all in this together.
- Learn to laugh. There’s no escaping bloatware. However there are endless opportunities to learn to have fun with it. When you use your bloatware as a badminton shuttlecock, that starts to look like mastery.
Holiday season is upon us. Family bloatware will float to the top of the punchbowl. Mom WILL mention your expanding waistline, your lack of a spouse, HER shortage of grandkids. Dad WILL mention his unending disappointment that you never became a doctor, that you dropped out of law school to become an actor, that your wife isn’t good enough for you.
How will you play with yours?