What Skin Colour Customization of Emojis Taught Me About My Unexamined White Privilege

As white males go, I consider myself to be a relatively enlightened. If I weren’t such a stickler for grammar, I might even say that I’m woke. My Asperger’s likely makes me appear dispassionate and unsympathetic, but it’s really a two-edged sword in the best possible way: my condition also makes me aware of the irrationality of prejudice, while also helping me understand – at least as much as an otherwise very privileged middle-class white male can – what it’s like to be pushed aside as the other. (Here I am avoiding the extraordinarily loaded “d” word.) Or, to put a far more sinister spin on it, the terrible narcissism that arises from my condition and divides the world into me and all the not-mes also has the side effect of putting all of the not-mes on a roughly equal plane, regardless of their sex, race, and so on.

But in spite of all my aspirations of wokeness, I had a rude awokening a few months ago thanks to an update of WhatsApp that got auto-downloaded onto my clunky old smartphone. Amazingly, in spite of its cringeworthy name, this application has become a key part of both Facebook’s fearsome information monopoly and my chat-addicted life. Along with Facebook Messenger, it has become indispensable for me in staying in touch with my far-flung network of intercontinental friends. Between the two apps, most of my non-work communications apparently pass through the hungry maw of the Facebook monster – but hey, gotta help my autistic brother Zuck out, right? (more…)

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The Art of Getting Threatened With Having Your Ass Kicked

Well, I just had an interesting night – a night so interesting that it jolted me out of blogging semi-retirement. I write this at 1:50 AM, buzzed with the adrenaline of having been led out of a bar by the throat, courtesy of a man with a striking resemblance to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It’s not the first time I’ve been threatened with violence in a bar, and I’m starting to think I’ve developed a real talent for it.

Now, I should have known better than to attempt a night out in my hometown. Fresh back from Mexico City, where people just seem to get nicer the drunker they are, I was in for a rude awakening as I experienced Canadian passive-aggressiveness amplified by the poisonous effects of alcohol.

It started last night, when remote acquaintances lured me out for salsa dancing night at a local bar. I can’t dance for shit, but I was trying to force myself out of my bubble – Every visit home is a fresh rummaging through my closet full of skeletons, many of them bearing the musty odour of a painful adolesence spent trying to come to terms with Asperger’s Syndrome. Besides, with no local job or school, meeting people outside my family and my old gang doesn’t exactly come easily. And although I knew that the locals wouldn’t be as tolerant of my herky-jerky ersatz salsa as the saintly ladies of Mexico were, I still had enough positive associations (or delusions) that I figured I’d give it a shot.

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