Six Things People Should Be Shot For Saying

I’m all for freedom of speech. People should be allowed to say whatever is on their mind and they should express themselves however they deem fit. I do however, have an issue with certain terms or statements that people use a little too often, which in all honesty they should be shot for. I’m not even kidding. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least five people that I know who talk primarily for the purpose of making sounds. Whether or not what they say makes sense is strictly a secondary objective.

Out of all the asinine things people say, I managed to narrow my list down to six things that really grind my gears. Had I listed out any more, I’m fairly sure I’d have been on everyone else’s list of people to shoot. And here we go.

1. No Offense, But…

Right here, we have a statement that starts off on such a horrible note that no matter what you say after that, there is no escape. Let me just put it out there. If you’re thinking about saying something which incites you to begin your sentence with, “No offense, but..” you should have the sense to know that a sword will be drawn at some point or another. The literal translation here is that you’re about to say something offensive to someone, but hey, since you asked them not take offense to it, it’s all cool right? If you’re one of the people who find it incredibly irritating when someone says this, your instant reaction should be, “Bro, don’t die but…” and then pull out a gun and shoot them in the head.

No offense but every time you open your mouth I just wish a meteor would strike the planet and annihilate us all so that I wouldn’t have to listen to the absolute nonsense that comes out of your stupid mouth attached to that ugly face of yours.

He did say no offense, so I guess he doesn’t mean to offend you. Totally valid man. He’s a cool guy, let’s buy him a burger. And then murder him.

2. Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness

We’re all aware of this. You can’t just walk into a supermarket, throw $200 on the counter and demand four buckets of happy. That’s not how happiness, or rather how any emotion works. Therefore, to everyone out there who feels that it is their duty that has been bestowed upon them by God himself to remind everyone that they can’t buy happiness, you will most definitely be welcomed to your afterlife by Satan. And you know what? Even he won’t talk to you. The other day I was having coffee with a friend and we were having a conversation about how much one could potentially earn being a psychiatrist. During the course of the conversation at a certain point, he of course, put his coffee down, raised an eyebrow and with a smug expression said to me, “Well you know what they say, money can’t buy happiness.”

First of all, who are these people. I want to meet them. I want to point out how ambiguous the term “money” here is. How much money? $400 or $400,000,000? Because one of those figures is perfectly capable of buying happiness. And I want to ask them another very serious question. Have they ever seen someone in depression come out of a private jet? The common response usually is, “Oh rich people have troubles too”. Yes, they have troubles, I agree. However, their troubles are usually to the tune of not being able to take their Mercedes to work because the Lamborghini and the Aston Martin are in the way and they don’t want to bother with moving cars around.

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The System Is Broken

In our race to succeed and excel, we often forget what is truly important. In the chase for glory and glamour, the value of simple and elementary pleasures are forgotten. They say that you realize the true value of something only when it is lost. They say that our most valuable possession is not our house, not our car and not our most expensive gadget, but it is life itself. Unfortunately, the value of life is realized only when we are confronted by death itself.

On January 11, 2013 a life was lost. While many other lives were lost on the same day as well, I’m going to highlight just one today. One life that wasn’t truly lost, but was taken. The end of free content on the internet sends shivers down many a spine. For all our intelligence, power and connectivity, the most that we could do as individuals when faced with this possibility a few months ago was to share meaningless photographs across social networks and sign baseless petitions on websites that would amount to and achieve absolutely nothing. For many, the end of free content on the internet and censorship was a myth. It was incomprehensible that websites like Wikipedia would no longer exist and that we would have to pay to seek out information online. For many, these events went unnoticed and eventually, were deemed inconsequential.

Not for Aaron Swartz. At the age of 14, he achieved more than what many of us will achieve in our entire lifetime. At that tender age, he co-authored RSS, a family of web feed formats that are used today by the likes of Google to accumulate information from various websites on the internet and present it to you in a simple package or stream, like on their news page. While still in school, Swartz created an online encyclopedia that allowed people to add and edit information in it, long before Jimmy Wales came up with Wikipedia. Swartz was instrumental in the fight against SOPA last year and believed in the concept of free information for everyone.

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz – The “Free Information” Activist

The world isn’t kind to activists. It doesn’t matter whether they’re in the streets or behind a computer screen. They’re either neglected by those very people for whom they seek justice and a better world, or they are shunned and thrown behind bars by those that they oppose. JSTOR, a digital library that stores issues of academic papers, scientific journals and books, claimed that Aaron Swartz had hacked into their network, downloaded close to five million files with the intent of freely distributing them on the internet. Swartz wanted information to be free, and JSTOR was a trove of scientific information that was very useful for students worldwide. He was looking to make research material and scientific information easier for everyone to access, for free.

On reclaiming the articles from Aaron Swartz, JSTOR decided not to press charges. However, in July 2011 U.S Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz charged Swartz with computer fraud in addition to a number of other charges that racked up a total of 35 years of jailtime in addition to a million dollars in fines. In spite of JSTOR not pressing charges, the U.S Attorney decided to go ahead with the trial. If found guility, Aaron Swartz would spend pretty much his entire life in jail. And all of this not for crimes against humanity or for terrorism, but for trying to release academic information for free online.

Aaron Swartz faced decades in prison, simply for attempting to make the internet better. At the age of 26, on January 11 2013, Aaron Swartz took his own life.

They say that suicide is an act of cowardice, but in the case of Aaron Swartz, it is most definitely not so. The human brain is wired to fight for survival, it is our basic instinct to live. Many of us cannot even fathom the hopelessness that Swartz must have felt after being told about the potential sentence he faced. A 26 year old faced with 35 years in prison, for a “crime” as trivial as this is more than just ridiculous, and to be the one to carry out that sentence after striving your entire life for something as essential as the freedom of information and then being sentenced to life in prison for it, is daunting to say the very least.

The system is broken. It’s depressing how murderers, rapists and terrorists get away without facing any jail-time due to minor technicalities. Yet, in the eyes of the legal system, individuals like Aaron Swartz are Public Enemy #1.

The death of Aaron Swartz was not suicide, and it is not murder. It is something much greater. The death of Aaron Swartz is our failure as a species.

Rest in Peace Aaron, God knows you deserve it.

Our Firm Need to Resolve

It’s a common trait in all of mankind to make absolutely ridiculous promises. Most of the time we make promises to others, but each new year gives us the opportunity to make a couple to ourselves. New Year’s Resolutions are, at best, a to-do list for the first week of January. There is a not a single person on the planet who has ever made a New Year’s resolution and actually gone through with it, apart from maybe Adolf Hitler in 1939. And everyone knows how that worked out. The problem with resolutions is simple, we make too many of them and they’re too grand. They’re often impossible feats that we hope to accomplish through sheer willpower and motivation, something that the dawn of the new year makes momentarily seem possible but in the long run turn out to be beyond the bounds of possibility itself.

I’ve never been keen on resolutions, and I’ve never made any. Primarily because I feel that if you’re truly looking to change yourself, you won’t wait for the turn of the calendar year, a transition from one month to another to do so. It’ll happen automatically through an internal sense of a need for betterment if you truly feel it’s something worth changing. If we’re going to stick to making resolutions, here’s how it should work. For everyone to truly better themselves, they shouldn’t make resolutions, they should ask their friends to make resolutions for them. That would make things a whole lot more interesting and would probably cause a couple of public cat fights as well, something we really don’t get enough of. It’ll also give everyone a true sense of what they should be changing about themselves, rather than what change they perceive will be better for them. If you want to find out the truth about a person, that person should be last one you ask.

Calvin & Hobbes always get it right.

I’ve been told I’m a cynical person by nature. That I don’t believe there’s an inherent good in people. From the tone of this article so far, that should probably be something you think about me as well. I’ll accept that. I’m cynical, I see the worst in people and I believe that Man is the most ruthless of all species. We’re the only species on the planet truly capable of faking an emotion to get a situation to swing our way and we’re the only ones on the planet who can be shamelessly deceptive and take pride in doing so. We feed off lies and manipulation and pretty much everyone in the higher echleons of society or of an organization is a master manipulator and prizes his core values of savagery and remorselessness. It’s a desolate outlook to have of the world, but it’s mine through experience and deduction and I’ll take it.

I’ve been discouraging everyone I know from making resolutions and scoffing at every Facebook status that talks about the new year being better and bringing with it a sudden magical shift in their lives that sees them prosper in every avenue of life. I found it absurd, foolish and downright inane that a change in the calendar year, a mere progression from one month to another was the very foundation of all these wishes and dreams. It dampened my faith that people would learn to be more objective about life and accept that it’s a continuum. Troubles carry over from one year to the other, no one gets a clean slate moving from one year to the next.

It is Man’s concept of time that allows us to take in life one year at a time.

And then, there were the fireworks. A tradition, if you will, followed world over on the eve of the New Year. A spectacular display of light, sound and colour in the sky for everyone to see, for everyone to look up at and for a few moments, get lost in. To break away from reality. To escape the continuum. It was then that it suddenly hit me. While everyone’s eyes were trained on the fireworks, I scanned the sea of faces around me and saw in them not absurd wishes, not unreasonable dreams, not magical desires for a year to escalate them to the top of the world, but just plain and simple hope.

The simple hope of having a slightly less stressful time ahead, the slight desire that this year isn’t too hard on them and doesn’t take too much out of them. It is Man’s concept of time that allows us to take in life one year at a time. Birthdays, major festivals, anniversaries, they’re all celebrated once in a year. One point, in each year, for us to celebrate something that means so much to us. One point in a year to celebrate our birth and the gift of life and one point in the year to celebrate the bond we share with loved ones. Life’s hard on everyone. Everyone’s facing lies, manipulation and trouble each day of their lives. People get battered, bruised, but they get up and face another day. And at the turn of the year, they say a silent prayer in their heart that the next year brings with it a few less bruises.

Escape the continuum. Take it in a year at a time. I hope this year is abundant with moments that make you smile, fill you with pride and give you a sense of accomplishment.

Happy New Year.