the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: morality

Online Life and the Golden Rule

Despite what some might say, there are no definitive rules for how to act online.  Every individual must find his way.   To guide my own personal morality, I simply use the Golden Rule, both offline and online: Do unto others…

I share too much of myself online.  Do I feel guilty about this?   No. Because I respect it when you share your life with me.  Do unto others…

I do not like the constant pimping or self-boasting that occurs on social media.  I cannot control what you do, but I try hard not to do it myself.  Do unto others….

I love when you debate, so I debate with you.

Since I am bored by too many empty, positive affirmations, you won’t see me forcing them on you.

I like it when you are empathetic, so I return the favor.

I view trolls as mean-spirited assholes, so why in the world would I become a troll?  Fair is fair.   The only truly honest trolls are the ones who enjoy getting trolled themselves. More power to them!

If I think, “Why doesn’t Susan stop writing about **** all the time on Facebook,” I ask myself, “How much do I write about **** on Facebook?”

This morning, on Instagram, a guy in Sweden was posting tons of photos. He was on a trip to a local goat farm with his wife and kids, and he must be having one helluva time, or really love goats.  He is a talented guy, and I respect his work.  But enough photos already. Leave some room for the others, buddy!

After thinking this, I paused and acknowledged that I do the same. I have a bad habit of using social media too much, posting ten Instagram photos in ten minutes, drowning out the voices of others.

This might not bother you at all. But if it annoys me when others do it, it is an essential part of my moral code to question myself.

When someone annoys the hell out of you, rather than going into attack mode, ask yourself, “Do I do the same?” Chances are you do.  And as any good therapist will tell you, you can only change your actions.

The name of the month Twitter chat group I moderate with Schmutzie and Laurie White has been changed from #Blog2012 to the more sexier #BlogNow. Our first post-BlogHer meeting will take place tomorrow, September 11 at 9PM EST. Discussion topic: Do you write for the love of writing itself, or is it a means to an end for you? Does the quality of blogging suffer if the love of writing isn’t there?


Moralistic Me

I’m more moralistic than you would expect. I’m easy-going and non-judgmental on a personal level, but when it comes to groups, I’m like an 19th Century hermetic crackpot who spends years writing a tract about the perfect society, and then gets pissed when no one follows the plan.

During my years blogging, I’ve been a crank at times about “the blogosphere,” as if it was a blueprint for an ideal virtual world where everyone is someone interesting and deserves to have a voice, bitching about cliques and BlogHer and blog networks and gender roles and branding and blog lists and blog widgets and self-promotion and monetization and advertising and integrity and authenticity and photographic manipulation and promotions and conferences and giveaways and even “blogging” itself — pretty much everything else that we all now do and believe on a regular basis without anyone giving any thought to it.

It’s not going to be easy for me, because my basic personality is as ingrained as King Arthur’s Sword in the Stone, but I’m going to try to focus more on my own writing and my own actions, and less on what YOU do. I will be a happier person because of this. When I think about you, I want to visualize you as goodhearted individuals, each trying to do his best for himself and his family, and not as a mob molding a Golden Calf out of melted Etsy jewelry and fornicating with camels, while I’m stuck on the cold mountain, my beard gray and dusty, waiting patiently for the Ten Commandments to be faxed from the main office, missing out on all the fun.

Community is a good thing, but it can also be the source of our unhappiness. I want to remember, that both online, and in real life, the individual relationship always come first, before any grand ideology about the community-at-large, no matter how idealistic the genesis. I need to do a lot of work on myself before I attempt to mold any of you into my image. Because even God did a pretty bad job with that one.

The Morality of the Lost Wallet

Let’s imagine I’m walking down the block and I find a wallet on the ground.  I open it up.  Inside, I see a driver’s license with an address.  The wallet also contains $5000 dollars. 

What am I going to do? 

I’m going to contact this person and return the wallet, with the money still inside.  I’m not even going to think about keeping the money for myself. 

I know this is the right thing to do.  But why?  Cause my mother taught me to do this?  What does she know?!  She used to serve me margarine with all that trans-fat rather than butter?

This is an example of the type of sh*t you think about when you go to therapy too much and you start becoming f*cked up.  

Here’s are my current thoughts on this important “wallet” matter.  If I was religious, I wouldn’t keep the money because I would be afraid of sinning.  God would see me taking the money, shaking his head in disappointment.  I might even get karma kicking me in the ass.

But I don’t believe in any of that.  If I took the money, NO ONE would know, NOTHING BAD WOULD HAPPEN TO ME, and I would have 5000 bucks to live it up in Paris for four days, drinking champagne with lanky French fashion models.

Of course, the reason I don’t take the money is that if I did, I would feel like a SCHMUCK. This feeling is not based on any scientific fact.  It is based on some religious system of morality, of right and wrong.  And a morality without any real consequences. 

You only live once.  You need to grab what you can in life.  So, who’s the bigger schmuck?  The guy who gives the money back and gets nothing in return?  Or the guy who keeps the money, goes to Paris, has a naked French model dance for him in his hotel room, writes a terrific blog post about his experience, and then wins a Pulitzer Prize for his novel “Paris on 5000 Dollars.”

Two years ago on Citizen of the Month:  Neilochka Sez:  Boycott the Fashion Industry

What Did You Have For Lunch?


“Your posts this week have been the WORST,” said my blog editor/separated wife, Sophia, speaking on the phone from New York. “And stop writing about blogging. It is SOOO boring!”

There were other words exchanged during this conversation, mostly about my fear of putting advertising on my blog, but I’m going to avoid retelling some of the more “colorful” expressions she used to describe my “artistic integrity.”

I agree with Sophia that my posts have been lousy this week. I blame it on that video where I’m dancing with the mop, which premiered on October 13th to critical acclaim.

You know how some authors write a masterpiece for their first novel, but their second one sucks? After that video, I figured that I could just lie back and take it easy, but I was wrong. Modern readers are fickle. One false move and they’re off to read the blog of the latest young hunk right off the bus with a Dell laptop under his arm.

Looking for inspiration, I was intrigued by this new book titled “No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog,” written by Maggie Mason, who also has a popular blog titled Mighty Girl. (via Fussy)

A reviewer on Amazon described the book like this:

“Mason is thrilled at the opportunities that blogs have given the average person for self-expression, but laments that too many blogs are obsessive navel-gazing exercises that hold little to no interest over time. She wrote No One Cares as a way to help you come up with creative and new ideas for blog material that can lead to unusual material and interesting insights to the life and world of the writer.”

The book sounded interesting, but I took strong exception to the title, No One Cares What You Had for Lunch, even if the author is being tongue-in-cheek.

Think about the gullible young blogger out there who might read this book and accept this notion as a blogging “rule.”

In my opinion, blogging about your lunch is EXACTLY what you should be doing. This was what Sophia was trying to tell me on the phone. Is there anything more human, more sexy, more filled with human drama… than lunch?

Remember those cool lunch-boxes in elementary school? Remember grandma’s tuna fish sandwich? Remember having a romantic picnic lunch with your beau? Isn’t it true that the minute you get to work at 9AM, you watch the clock for three hours, waiting for what…? LUNCH!

When I finish my blogging primer, I’m going to title it “Write About Your Lunch.”

Of course, by the time I get around to writing it, no one will be blogging anymore because the fad will be dead. I’m always behind the times. (but please remember to buy my new book coming out in January, “The Dummy’s Guide to Making Money with Enron Stock.”

Sophia — today’s post will be about MY LUNCH. I want to prove to others that eating your lunch can bring about as many philosophical insights as reading the greatest philosophers.

Here we go —

Around noon today, I had a hankering for a hamburger. I felt like I deserved a treat because my cholesterol levels had fallen dramatically recently, thanks to my pills. I jumped into my car and headed for In-N-Out Burgers, but half-way there, I felt a nagging guilt. I suddenly remembered that I had eaten two slices of pizza for lunch the day before. I already had my “unhealthy” treat for the week.

What should I do? Go with desire or reason? I thought about the ancient Greeks. In his theory of anamnesis, Plato preached mastery over the body through reason. Did I really need this hamburger?

Thomas Aquinas, the medieval theologian, once said of Gluttony: “Gluttony denotes, not any desire of eating and drinking, but an inordinate desire… leaving the order of reason, wherein the good of moral virtue consists?”

I decided to find a balance between the two extremes — hunger and hamburger, much as in Hermetic Philosophy.

The solution: A Gardenburger!

I once had a pretty good veggie burger at Burger King, so off I went to see the King.

At my local Burger King, I was greeted by a slightly frazzled teenage girl, who took my order for a veggie burger, a side salad, and a cup of coffee. The bill came to $3.50. I looked at the receipt, puzzled. The Gardenburger alone was supposed to be $3.50. The girl had clearly charged me $2.00 less than what she was supposed to!

I went into a silent panic, mixed with glee. I enjoyed saving the two bucks, but I felt guilty about my moral stance. After all, I was stealing! I knew she had made a mistake, but I was intentionally remaining silent. What would the Talmud say about this? I certainly know that Immanuel Kant, the 18th Century writer of “Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals,” would be shaking his head in shame.

Clearly it was my moral duty to speak up and say, “Young lady, I think you’ve made a mistake.” Think about it: What if I knew that her boss was going to dock her the two dollars that she lost — would I speak up then? What if she was fired? What if she quit school because of my action? What if, because of me, I knew she would eventually BECOME A PROSTITUTE?!

But, I wanted that two dollars. I kept my mouth shut. I pocketed the extra money, waited for my food, then headed for my table without ever saying a word.

There was no thunder. No lightening struck me down. As I sat down, holding my tray, I rationalized my action. I was a Robin Hood fighting an evil fast-food corporation. Even Michael Moore would be proud of me!

But I knew this was a lie. I knew I was never going to give any of my two dollars to charity. I was going to keep it. I was going to blow it on an ice cream cone on the way home, my cholesterol be damned.

And I was enjoying acting like a selfish criminal.

I was like motherf***ing Samuel L. Neilochka!

I ripped open the paper wrapper and took a determined bite of my sandwich. All I received was a mouth full of soggy lettuce and wet bread.

I looked down at my sandwich and opened up the bun. Inside was lettuce, a tomato slice and a piece of pickle. There was no Gardenburger! No meat! Nothing!

Soon, it became clear to me. At Burger King, if you ask for a “Veggieburger” rather than a “Gardenburger,” you get this ridiculous “veggie” sandwich with nothing on it except soggy lettuce, a sliver of tomato, and a tasteless pickle slice for $1.50!  There wasn’t any two dollar mistake. I was the idiot who made the mistake. I ordered a sandwich with NOTHING on it.

Have it Your Way! Right-O.

Do I even need to bring up the Eastern concept of karma?

So, what do you have for lunch?

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: A New Hobby

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