friday five 3.3.17

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1. a linguistic anthropologist explains why, um, "filler words" are ok to use

I've always thought filler words received an excessive amount of hate. "Like" probably isn't the best example, but qualifiers are a necessary part of colloquial speech. They're how we avoid sounding awkward or robotic and "communicate subtle nuances of emotional stance." While you probably shouldn't use filler words in speeches or presentations, I think it's more important that you cultivate credibility than worry about filling up every little second of silence (for example, late night comedy show hosts tend to overuse "um," but are rarely criticized for being incompetent or less intelligent because of it). The problem is when you use filler words but don't offer anything intelligent or thoughtful to say following them.

2. donald trump's obsession with applause

Admittedly, I am going to hate on everything our president does because he is a fundamentally awful person and fundamentally awful people don't deserve credit for the small, scripted acts of decency they display to pander for public approval (sorry, Mr. President—I was raised to believe that actions speak louder than words). But this article actually does have valid and objective points about why we should not soften our stance toward him simply because he managed to assume a disguise of humanity for an instant. For me personally, this one small act of penance, however presidential or however kind or however well-intentioned, does not cancel out the hateful, ignorant, and authoritarian actions of his entire administration. But for you, it should matter that he will say literally anything for validation, true or not.

3. on ash wednesday, ashes to go—with a little extra sparkle for lgbtq christians

Just a wonderfully human demonstration of acceptance in an often rigid theology. But I like that, apart from the message it sends to LGBTQ individuals, the glitter is meant to be "a symbol of the gritty, glittery, scandalous hope that exists within all of us." Beautiful.

4. the myth and magic of california style

I love this, only because as a born-and-raised Californian lucky enough to call San Francisco, San Diego, and Santa Barbara "home," I am enamored with the idea of California, not necessarily as a place, but as an ideal, as a feeling. And I don't disagree with the assertion that the "myth" of California is overly romantic, whitewashed, commercialized and/or gentrified. But I think everyone has a California, whether it is manifested in sun-bronzed beaches and cerulean waves or the landscape of an entirely different state; more a state of mind than a physical location. The California aesthetic is unique and beautiful and vibrant, and I love that it's interwoven with the rich, diverse history of the Golden State. California will always be my first love, and the best place in the world to me. It's home.

5. this 75-year harvard study found the 1 secret to leading a fulfilling life

This is one of the things my mom has instilled in me, and something I live my life by. I have never believed in maintaining relationships for the sake of having a lot of relationships, which is a hard value to reconcile with the instant gratification of likes, follows, compliments, etc. that constitute a lot of relationships today. But I wholeheartedly subscribe to the idea that it is not the quantity of your relationships that matters, but the quality. And "quality" can easily be misconstrued as frequency of communication, mutual dependency, or "easy" relationships, but here it really refers to depth.

I had a brief exchange with a friend about the depth of relationships, and he essentially believed that any relationship can be deepened with time. But I don't think that's true, necessarily. I think for some people, there's a natural depth to the relationship, a kind of similar frequency that comes from an inherent compatibility. And I do think you have to make a conscious effort to be vulnerable and open up to people (what comm majors call varying degrees of "self-disclosure") in order to cultivate that kind of relationship, but I think it starts with understanding them on a fundamental level, with having a mutual trust of and respect for each other.