Pondering the nuances of the terms cultural appropriation and cultural assimilation

On the heels of viewing and participating in a discussion about dreadlocks, I am pondering the differences between cultural appropriation and cultural assimilation … there is a difference. 😊 According to Wikipedia, the terms refer to the same kind of activity but appropriation tends to have a negative connotation while assimilation tends to be a more neutral term.  Which is a little ironic … because The Borg.

So anyway, this post started out as a Facebook status update … and then it kind of ballooned out of control. In fact, after I finished typing the bleuraak of words that were in my head, I cut and paste the wall of text into my blog post editor and noted that the word count was up to 450 words. Whoa … right? I know. I didn’t even think I could still write blog posts like this, it’s been so long … but I digress.

So my pondering is because of my reaction to the aforementioned discussion about deadlocks. I would do it a disservice by trying to summarise the discussion, and I can’t really link to it here since it was in a private group, and I certainly can’t copy and paste the words either because that would just be unethical. Suffice to say that the discussion started on the basis of opinions and stereotyping associated with dreadlocks; but then it descended into a judgement rant about people because of how their locks looked. I thought it was ironic the the initial discussion topic was posed based on the judgement the original poster thought people with dreadlocks endure but that there was judgement about different people and their locks too. Basically, it sounded to me like “the world should never judge us dreadlocked persons, but some dreadlocked persons are just in it for the looks and that’s just bad”.

Now, the history of deadlocks has its roots in Africa. As a cultural expression, it “belongs” to Africans and those of African descent. Popularised by the late Bob Marley, it is now more closely associated with the Rastafarian faith. I should note here that the original poster found it useful to say something to the tune of “most Africans are doing it wrong”. If anyone is doing it “right”, I’d say it’s them. His whole rant was … startling. Now, I am not disparaging this young man at all. He was speaking most vehemently based on the information he had. There is a lot of misinformation out there on the internet and I can’t fault him for falling prey to some of it. In fact, I remain strangely unemotional about the whole exchange. But it did set me to thinking…

Should I be angry that someone from a culture other than my own is telling me about my culture in authoritative ways? I am not. I am … simply pondering a world in which this happens so regularly that we can’t even recognise it.

At what point is it ok to take on the practices, ideas, traditions of another culture and discuss it in terms that imply you claim it as your own?

We study Tai Chi in several different styles (Yang style, Chen stye, Dong style, etc.). I found the Dong style groups here on the West Coast recently and learned their style is fashioned off of Yang style Tai Chi. It’s not cultural appropriation for Master Dong to form his own school, but is it appropriation for us in the West to form our own schools under his tutelage and claim the schools as our own?

I don’t know where the line is. It never bothered me before – mostly because I see the world differently and I don’t much care that white people are locking their hair. I can lay claim to the dreadlocks culture because I was born and raised in the culture that fostered Rastafarianism. But it doesn’t make me angry that people who don’t look like me are taking it on as their own expression. I don’t know that I can explain why either … other than to say I have never felt oppressed by anyone and so I don’t feel the need to be seen and respected as part of a culture or people or society. Thus I cannot relate to the anger that appropriation causes. I don’t discount it… and in fact, it is that very anger that I am pondering today. At what point do we get angry?

I mean … maybe it should be ok to borrow something from someone else when it works for you. But is it ok to tell someone they’ve been doing it wrong for centuries and now that you are doing it, you can explain the right way to do it? Maybe that’s ok too – because the heavens know how much humanity has gotten stuff wrong over the centuries.

Maybe this “owning” of a culture is restrictive, selfish, short-sighted … archaic. Maybe in this new global world that we live, it is time to let go of that idea that “our culture” is ideally better when that includes everyone. A conglomeration. And speak of sub-cultures or pocket cultures instead. I can get behind that – sure!

But what of those cultures that have been marginalised as sub-standard and inferior for centuries? Do we tell them “Look – we effed up when we said you’re a sub-species. We know it now and we want to make amends. But let’s all share your bounty in the meantime. I mean … I said sorry, didn’t I?”

Sorry

Here’s the tricky thing about granting equality and recognition after centuries of side-lining and marginalisation: when the oppressor recognises their wrong-doing, acknowledges it, and apologises for it, they don’t get to dictate the point at which time can move again. It’s like when you apologise to your husband or wife for betraying them over and over and over and over again …  and they demand some time to think … and heal. Healing takes time and the one who was wounded has every right to say, “Ok. Thanks. Now step back and let me heal … and leave me alone while I do it – thanks.”

To get back to my original point, here’s how I think about appropriation: Sure go ahead and express yourself with whatever you choose, even if it is a form of expression that belongs to some other culture. Be my guest. Chances are, the reason why that thing is so well liked is because it’s pretty magnificent to begin with and its why it is still a part of whatever culture to this day.

Dreadlocks, for instance. We think it’s pretty fabulous and if you think so too, fantastic – we have something in common. But please be careful how you then take it upon yourself to tell us that we’re doing it wrong. We’ve (us and our ancestors) been doing it for centuries and I think that by now we’d have ironed out the kinks. Unless, of course, you’re trying to say that we aren’t capable of working out the kinks ourselves?

Heh … I guess I wasn’t as unemotional as I thought I was, eh?

The point is – borrow, borrow all you want. Just be sure to be respectful while you do it – m’k? And remember that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Think about it.

That relationship between emotion and strength …

I think we tend to forget or ignore how important emotion is.

Some of us are able give into emotion easily, but a lot of us work hard to quell our emotions; mostly because we think that emotions make us weak. The irony is that most of us have no difficulty giving in to our anger, but when it comes to grief and loss and the sadness that accompanies it, we just don’t.

Thankfully, there are people (sometimes, luckily, in leadership positions) who understand how important it is feel. I attended a memorial service recently in which the officiant displayed an astute understanding of emotion and its role in the grieving process. I was touched at how he led the gathering through the grief, cried with them, and then led them out again into the joy of remembrance.

He started his address with funny anecdotes about how he’d met the deceased and how she made him feel as a brand new addition to the community. He moved on into a couple other remembrances of her with her family and the impact it had on him. He introduced a tear-jerker of a song next, dedicated to the family. He made sure to tell us that, “It’s ok if you want to cry. I probably will and I think I’m just going to sit right here while it plays because if I stand up here I likely will lose it”. And he did leave the podium to sit in a chair nearby while the song played.

We listened to a sweet song of love and remembrance and loss and we all cried – every last one of us. Even the officiant. There was not a dry eye in the gathering. Even the officiant was red-faced and crying. I was stunned because this was clearly a man comfortable enough to cry amongst strangers. How many of us can lay claim to that? I know I can’t.

After the song was finished, he launched into a 10 minute long remembrance that had us all laughing and nodding and grinning away. The woman who had passed was beloved and there were far more merry moments than there were heartache and he made us realise and remember that in a very visceral way. It’s an experience that will stay with me for a long, long time.

This preacher understands grief. He understands loss. And he understands that together they involve both tears and laughter, and that both are important in the grieving process. He played to those two expressions of emotion beautifully with his speech; by the time he was done, we had cried and we had laughed with equal vigour. And we felt better for it.

That experience taught me something. I think we need to spend more time allowing ourselves to sit with emotion. If you’ve ever been overcome by emotion, if you’ve ever cried like your heart was breaking, then you know how much better you can feel when the grief has passed. Better, lighter, stronger. There is no doubt … we are stronger when we let ourselves feel.

How we use our words …

We use words to paint pictures in other people’s minds. That’s what language boils down to, doesn’t it? Painting a picture for someone else to “see”?

I remember something read in Alan Watt’s The Watercourse Way: “An often quoted Chinese proverb is that one picture is worth a thousand words, because it is so often much easier to show than to say”. He’s right. What’s more he goes on to present a very compelling case for doing away with romanised language and instituting, instead, some kind of ideographic mode of expression much like the Chinese Written Language (which, incidentally, is the name of the chapter that begins with those words). It’s a rather radical concept and one that I can see several people having issue with. But I like it. I like the idea of simplifying our expression because I think the complexity of our expression is at the root of many of our current problems.

In recent months, I have observed and heard about several cases among my friends and acquaintances that exemplify words as the root of misunderstandings and miscommunications. What one word means to me means something entirely different to someone else and we react and respond based on those internalised meanings. It’s chaos. They say that language is what sets us apart from the animals. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing anymore.

I am a student of communication. My whole life, now, is how we communicate with one another and what it means based on the nuances, contexts, and shadings we bring to the conversation. Whether it be “ethnicity” or “race” or “culture”. (What the hell is “culture” anyway? I’m a little confused now after coming across a news item this morning about the LA Clippers owner who indirectly associated racism with a particular culture.) Or whether it is gender (binary or otherwise), sexual orientation, or level of “kink” (and I put “kink” in quotes because what might be my kink may be your norm and expresses exactly what I am trying to say).

My thoughts this week have been muddled. Maybe mankind is never supposed to achieve harmony. How can we, when everything we are shrieks differences? Even our language – when it is the same – differs. When I say “supremacy”, I think KKK; when you say it, you mean “a system that places one group above another”. Academia, scholarship … conversation, diversity, research, reading …. those 6 terms mean 6 different things, but they all mean the same as well. They all mean “furthering our understanding”, but they all convey a wholly different nuance to that concept as well. Academia and scholarship imply intellectualism; conversation implies something you and I do; diversity implies who we are to each other; research means looking shit up; reading means entertainment. And when you explain what those 6 mean to you, your list looks different from mine. Not wrong, not right; just different. In the end, though, what it comes to mean is that we learned something new.

It’s so confusing. How does one distill a message so that it is received in the same way by everyone – in spite of our differences? This is what is taking up my head space today … actually, it takes up my head space everyday. Is it as impossible as I think it is? I think it is impossible because in order for us to all interpret something the same way, we have to all be the same. And we aren’t the same. Not one of us is like anybody else. Even if you and I have a lot in common, we have just as much (or more sometimes) that differs.

How then can we use our words to mean the same thing to everybody?

Or maybe the question should be: how do we make it ok that our words don’t mean the same thing to everybody?

Words

Last week, we lost “Bunny Rugs” – let’s talk about Third World a bit.

Last week, we Jamaicans lost a well-loved voice and reggae ambassador – Bunny Rugs.

Every time I hear his real name, I forget it again within minutes… even so, what other name you need other than ‘Bunny Rugs’? Besides, you should know who I talking about when I say it… if you don’t, it is unlikely you know him by his real name. William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clark was the lead singer for Third World; probably my favourite reggae band ever, assuming you were going to force me to choose a favourite.

I remember when I jumped onto the Third World wagon – it was during their “Committed” tour sometime in the early 1990s, and it was probably the first and only time I bought tickets to a music concert … ever. I don’t think I’ll ever do that again. ( I actually went to the concert alone too – imagine that!? )

(Note: my sincere apologies if you are having difficulties viewing the videos in this post; apparently YouTube is enforcing restrictions across regions and platforms now).

Now that I’ve listened to the song again, I think “Committed” might just be my favourite Third World song too.

For someone who claims to be one of their fans, I am realising that I know very little about them. Some personal recollections include the first time I heard the names “Cat” Coore and “Ibo” Cooper – those names are so unique that they’re hard to forget. Further, I remember “Cat” Coore because my father used to mumble stories about the Coore family when I was younger. I remember his father was in politics …  the Wikipedia page says his father was actually the Deputy Prime Minister under Michael Manley – so of course, it was in the midst of political drama in the 1970s.

I was never a big reggae music fan, as I mentioned last week. Partly because my father continually described it as “noise” and refused to tolerate it playing in his house. If it happened to come across the radio, he would change the station. If I even thought about playing it myself, I would get a stern lecture about what music is and how I should be “edifying myself with more uplifting sounds”. Yeah, yeah … I know. He sounds quite the stuffy elitist. And he actually kind of is … in a few different ways, but I digress.

Even though Dad despised anything reggae, he did manage to find a semblance of tolerance for Third World’s sound. Probably because it was mild, mellow, and easy to nod your head and tap your foot to. Their style is known as “roots reggae” and is described as a sub-genre of reggae which incorporates real life concerns (spirituality, poverty, etc.) into the music. More than that, the sound is less hardcore than the more popular dancehall style, with smooth and easy-going rhythms that incorporated more worldly sounds such as jazz and r&b into their music. Something some Jamaican artists were uncomfortable with and I’m willing to bet they got quite the earful about how much they were “sellouts” because they dared to reach out to the world with their music. If you are Jamaican, you know the criticisms Sean Paul got when he first hit the scene. In any case, maybe that is why I got around to liking them – at least I could listen to them at home if I wanted to in those days.

Third World has taken reggae to all corners of the world; even in doing this piece, I discovered they were here in the Pacific Northewest, where I am, as late as just last year.

Imagine that?! Wish I’d known – I might have bought my second set of concert tickets ever if I had. (No; probably not. Seattle crowds are still a little much for me.)

Their accomplishments include 10 Grammy award nominations, the 1986 Peace Medal from the U.N. among various other awards and accolades in the music industry worldwide. Their tagline has ever been “Reggae Ambassadors” and in true ambassadorial form, they have championed the cause of reggae the world over for 40 years or more. I guarantee you -any money spent on their music now is still money well spent. Their music is ageless and sounds as good to me today as it did 15+ years ago.

The Latest Third World lineup: Cat Coore, Richie Daley, Bunny Rugs, Norris Webb, and Tony Williams

The last Third World lineup: Cat Coore, Richie Daley, Bunny Rugs, Norris Webb, and Tony Williams

February is Reggae Month for me, not Black History Month.

I think I am going to forego the Black History Month thing this year.

I mean, it isn’t like there has been a year when I give it any extra thought at all. I have no way to relate to the notion of Black History Month. It’s not something I have ever had any investment in or any experience with.  I think the reason for that is that for me, and for many Jamaicans, the Black History Month celebrations tend to center around U.S. centric milestones, heroes, and accomplishments. In fact, I put in a search in Google just now for “black history month jamaica” and the article that was at the top of the search results was a piece our Carolyn Cooper wrote back in 2011 saying much the same thing:

So we’re celebrating Black History Month again. Like Valentine’s Day and Halloween, Black History Month is yet another commodity we’ve imported from the United States.

Tidbits like this one “Many of us still don’t know, for example, that Africans came to the Americas before Columbus” are not known to me. In school, I was taught that “Columbus discovered the new world”. Even then it felt odd to me that black people were standing up in a classroom full of mostly black students telling them that the Amerindians who were here before Columbus didn’t count as “discoverers” because the only people capable of “discovering” lands and countries were the Europeans. It felt so very wrong even then.  And now, my own historical knowledge is sadly lacking. I keenly feel the gap in my knowledge about my true ancestors and the history of my country; my region; my people. I have been starved of education. Is a good t’ing we nuh need knowledge to live – don’t?

I have nothing against the U.S. or their celebration of Black History Month. I have no comment or opinion about it. It’s just not something I think I have the right to have a comment or opinion about. So don’t get me wrong – I am not decrying the practice in any way.

No, my issue is simply that I have no frame of reference for the celebration as it is currently framed. I was born and raised in Jamaica. My frame of reference for black history is a far different ball game. Our heroes were heroes of the slave rebellion and the abolition movement back in the early 1800s. In the 1930s, a whole century after slavery was abolished in Jamaica, the United States was still struggling with inequality and prejudice on a level that I can only begin to imagine … this for several reasons outside the obvious. The most glaring reason is that I grew up in a time and a place where race was not an issue for us as much as class was (and still is, to a large extent). We aren’t struggling, in Jamaica, against racial bias; we are struggling with ‘colourism’ or ‘shadeism’ and ‘classism’ – a separate but somewhat related struggle.

In Jamaica, our heroes are Marcus Garvey, Nanny of the Maroons, Sam Sharpe and the like – the people who fought for an end to slavery in the 1800s, not people who fought against prejudice and racism in the 1950s. It is a whole different cultural dynamic let me tell you.

But I get it. I get it and I step back respectfully because just because it is not in my frame of reference doesn’t mean I cannot respect the idea and the ideal. Usually, I just nod and smile in silence. This year … instead of keeping quiet, though, I think I am going to do a little “going back to my roots” thing. The Jamaica Tourist Board is running a month-long promotion called Reggae Month. They have tons of activities and stuff lined up. I can’t participate physically, but I can get into the spirit of it. So I am going to do a weekly thing where I talk about reggae music stars who have made an impression on me and who I think deserve worldwide recognition for their contribution to reggae and to Jamaica’s legacy. I am not a huge music fan and I am certainly not a big reggae fan either. But I think I can call on a few names who have caught my ear over the years …

I’ve missed a Monday … so I’ll make it up maybe next week with two artists. Today is Bob’s birthday though. There isn’t much I can say about Bob that isn’t already out there. Well, except for the fact that he was born a few miles away from where my own mother was born. She is a bit older though, and they never met – so that fact is trivial at best.

Still, I will just leave this here:

An iconic Bob photo for you.

An iconic Bob photo for you.

It’s that time of the year again …

The hubster found one of those memes on Facebook this morning saying “It’s almost 2014. Time for that new year new me crap.” The image was of Robert Downey Jr looking like someone had pooped in his cereal. I kind of feel the same way.

I’ve written about New Year Resolutions on this blog before and I haven’t really stuck to that process either. For me a new year is just that … a new year. Like a new day. It’s an opportunity to live some more. Maybe this is how I live the Taoist life – just flowing through life and taking the opportunities as they come. Or maybe I am just making excuses for myself and my laziness. But the thing is that aside from a few issues, I am happy; content. I want for nothing in my life. There are a few things I’d like to have, some will come, others won’t – I am not too worried about it.

An old friend with whom I reconnected this last week told me she got to cross something off her bucket list this year. I paused for a few minutes to think about what might be on my own bucket list that I wanted to cross off. And … I realised that I really don’t have a bucket list. Strange? Yeah – I’d say so. There is nothing that I absolutely must do before I die. And it’s not that I “have it all” … far from it. There are a ton of things I wish I had; just as much as a ton of things I wish I could do. I guess I feel no urgency to pursue them and I … am not entirely sure why.

An acquaintance once told me that I lack ambition. At the time, it felt like a put-down. I think what he meant to do was inspire me. It doesn’t much matter what he meant or intended – I agree with him. I don’t. Or maybe my ambition is simply to strive for harmony and balance (as much as I can) in my own life and help others achieve the same in theirs. (Still a work in progress with me, incidentally – I ain’t perfect. :D)

The thing is that I wake up every single day with one key thought: today I must do only good. I must strive to touch someone else in some way meaningful and if not, I must do no harm. I don’t know how lofty or meagre that goal is, I just know that most days … I nail it.

It’s the last day in 2013. I’ve had tons of ups and downs this year – made friends, lost friends. Made realisations about myself and the world around me. I’ve learned new skills, re-learned one or two I had forgotten about, and made up my mind what hobbies to focus on and which ones to leave by the wayside (Because one can have too many interests. How to know when you do? When you don’t have time for them all. /nod)

What am I vowing for 2014? Much the same like 2013, please. If I get more, yay! It not, yay! I’m still good no matter which way the wind blows. If 2014 ends up being sucky, I’ll figure out a way to find my lessons in it anyway. If it ends up being better than ever, I’m sure I’ll be happy with that too.

 

Sensationalist, so-called “educational”, and chain-letter style emails

My mother just sent me an email that made me cringe. Although I understand why she forwarded it to me (we had only just had a discussion about switching to butter from margarine within the last few days), I wish she had done some homework before she’d mass-mailed that nonsense out to others.

But here’s the thing: I know how my mother works, I know how she thinks, and I know what she’s thinking more than half the time. We have a bond that goes beyond your normal mother-daughter bond. We are synced in ways that scare me a lot of times. If I have a particularly bad headache for no good reason, chances are it’s because my mother is having some kind of headache as well. We’ve proven this on so many occasions that I don’t have to second-guess anymore. I take it for granted.

Emails that come from our friends and trusted acquaintances, and even from some respected officials are in “black and white”. They are comparable to the “written word”. If it came from my church pastor, it’s got to be legit – right? Especially since this person is normally a intelligent person. And for most people, that’s enough for them.

The problem is that my parents, whether deliberately or inadvertently, taught me to question everything. And I do mean everything. I take absolutely nothing at face value unless my husband, father, or mother is telling me about it in a situation where long deliberation and research is unattainable or ill-advised. (And even then, sometimes, I have to go looking for information after the fact, just to quell the noise in my head.)

When you’ve been playing around online as I have for as long as I have (I think I might be just past my second decade), some things become familiar. Anything sparkly and colourful online is likely to be an advertisement or rubbish designed to look like gold.

And by the way: another thing my parents taught me: all that glitters is not gold.

So when an email comes to me designed in bright colours, with multiple images, and emphasis in places (like red, bolded fonts to make a statement stick out) I am immediately suspicious. Solid verifiable information online is usually boring black and white sans-serif text on a white background; couple that fact with my instinctive desire to question everything, and what you get is a snotty bitch who thinks she knows everything.

My response to Mom’s email: a reply-to-all (I considered replying just to her, but the probative value outweighed my feel-good instinct) which said “Not all entirely true and some of it misleading and sensationalist in nature.” with a link to the explanation on snopes.com.

Yes; bitch I am indeed. Though no malice was intended, nor did I want to sound arrogant and egotistical. I simply wanted to say “Thanks; appreciate the thought. Here’s me thinking about you in return: get your facts straight before you spread ‘em.”

And all that to say this: just because it makes its way into your inbox/snail-mailbox/front stoop from some trusted friend, family member, or official does not make it gospel. Question everything. Let everyone know you aren’t easily fleeced. Say “I don’t believe it”; then go read up and say “I should have believed you; you were right” or be able to say “I was right;  it isn’t to be believed.”

Know for sure; then make it known to others. Sounds like a good motto – no?

Gun control = extreme constitutional violation? Yeah – right.

DISCLAIMER: rampant political incorrectness and blatant tongue-pulling ahead. I am ranting. I am being ridiculous. I am sarcastically advocating for extremes that might be offensive. Proceed with caution!

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A powerful piece of writing …

Lee Child is my new favourite author. This is a stunning conclusion for me to make since my lifelong favourite has thus far been Stephen King. Child does not compare to King in any way, shape, or form other than to say they are two highly accomplished authors.

King is outstanding to me for several different reasons but the most significant reason is that he weaves humour and horror together in an almost indecipherable pattern that works in ways that are phenomenal. I will never ever forget laughing my head off while cowering in fear at Pennywise the clown as I read through It. As annoying as Richie’s “beep-beep” moments got, as tired and old as it got, I laughed every single time. Even in the midst of the most horrifying moments crafted in writing … ever.

Child, however, has managed within the space of a few paragraphs to surpass all of King’s awesomeness. In one scene, he has summed up the most difficult confrontations in history … ever.

His main character, Jack Reacher, finds himself at odds with a particular special forces unit and decides he needs to counteract their bullying in a very visible and unrepentant manner. He walks into their domain, and pushes through their non-verbal bullying gestures. A room filled with hostile and highly-trained men, all silent, all watching him, all moving to obstruct his passage through their domain. He pushes through it all to one end of a long room, turns around and pushes through back to the door. It’s about 10 paragraphs describing maybe 5 minutes of activity – something Child excels at in ways I can only hope to rise to in future. He describes every muscle movement, every breath, every thought in detail … and when he’s done you feel as if you’ve just experienced it yourself.

At the end of this narrative, Reacher’s companion (a black woman MP), says to him “Now you know.” Reacher asks “Know what?”

And her response is dead simple. She says:

“How the first black soldier felt. And the first woman.”

No judgement. No indictment. Just powerful observation.

What’s more potent is that in reading the book, one discovers that this sort of reaction to Reacher is as unfounded as it is against all people of colour, all women, all sexual orientations. There’s no reason to bully people because you think they may be guilty of something you classify as heinous … because more often than not when the facts come to light, you end up having to eat your words.

In short: you may feel wronged; hell you may even be wronged. It doesn’t give you the right to wrong me.

Product warnings are a waste of resources

You heard me. Product warnings are a waste of time, energy, ink, and effort.

It occurred to me as I changed the garbage bag in my trash bin just now that the bag itself has a large written warning on it: “Choking hazard”. The warning itself says something more, but I didn’t read it. Which is telling because I’m a big reader. I read everything. I read things that most people don’t even realise are there. I read the product labels for all my meds and I read the tampon leaflet almost every time I buy a new box. That I didn’t bother to read the warning on the garbage bag this time told me something.

And it got me thinking about the average person. How many of you really read product warnings anyway? How many of you can say that the reason why you know plastic bags are choking hazards is because your mother or father (or some other responsible adult) told you it was?

And further, what does it say about our collective intelligence that we have to put product warnings on plastic bags anyway? This is a debate I had with my friends in high school: if you have to tell someone how to use shampoo by placing detailed instructions on the bottle or how to eat peanuts, then what does that say about the people who are using the products?

Back then, as teenagers, we thought it was hilarious. Now I think it’s just plain sad.