Friday, February 22, 2008

The Volunteer Conspiracy

Recently at a restaurant I overheard a group of people talking about their ages. They were all about 18 years old. That's when it hit me that I am a full 15 years older than them. When I was 18, they were 3. That means that when I got my driver's license, they were still wetting their beds. When I was at university, they couldn't even spell university. It was a revelation because on some level I still identify with them, sort of. In my mind I am still 18.

Would I want to be 18 again and go through all of the stuff that 18 year olds go through? Hell, yeah! 18 year olds have the most fun. Most of them live at home with their parents (for some this is bad, for me it was bliss); most are studying; and socializing responsibilities come before all else. What more could you want out of life?

Ah, but I am wrong - fulfillment doesn't come out of "living it up", at least not in 2006. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, "In 2006, 5,227,000 people aged 18 years and more had undertaken some form of voluntary work in the previous 12 months" That's quite a nice number of fulfilled people.

Hang on, what are we saying here? Help others so that you can feel good about yourself? So is it about them or is it about you? Here are some extracts from the official blog of the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA):

"On a purely selfish level, volunteering makes you feel good about yourself"
"From a professional standpoint, volunteering is a great way to add to your portfolio"
"There is no greater way to expand or add to your skill set than by volunteering"
On networking: "The more people you know, the more opportunities there are out there for you"

I was expecting the last paragraph to say something like: "Despite all of the benefits to you, volunteer work is about giving to others and helping the less fortunate in your community". However, no such luck. It seems that volunteering is about you!

Wait a moment. Let's not be rash. That's only one source, right? How about this survey conducted by "Imagine Canada" ( in 1997 which produced the following results:

Three-quarters of volunteers (76%) reported gaining interpersonal skills such as understanding people better, motivating others, and dealing with difficult situations.

Two-thirds of volunteers (66%) said they developed communication skills in public speaking, writing, conducting meetings, and public relations.

Sixty-four percent reported an increase in their knowledge about such issues as health, women, politics, criminal justice, or the environment.

More than half of unemployed volunteers (54%) believed that volunteering would increase their chances of finding a job.

I could go on, but that's enough. I proved my point. Volunteers are single-mindedly hell-bent on squeezing the most out of the less fortunate. Let's face it, the underprivileged are being used as stepping stones for some self-important volunteer's career prospects. Soup kitchens are evil dens of self-centeredness, thinly veiled in a facade of "helping" people - yeah, volunteers helping themselves, that is.

My research has conclusively proven that "volunteers" are out there, everywhere, masquerading as a positive force, when they are actually a devilish cult. So next time someone does something "nice" for you, think twice. They may offer you soup, but they are really in it for themselves. Trust me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Getting Domestic

Here I am, getting into the whole "keeping house" thing while my wife is away. Enjoy.

Also available on Google Video here:

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Modern Dwarf

Imagine if your entire life you were someone else’s curiosity, a pet, a zoo animal, an object over which people “ooh” and “ahh”. I can’t imagine that it would be a pleasant experience. Think midget, circa 1600 CE.

Now imagine that your entire life you were someone else’s curiosity, as before, but this time you are paid millions to be gawked at. The more people who point their fingers, the more prestige, fame and fortune come your way. You are invited to meet the President of the United States, your wedding to a fellow little person is front-page news and your name lives on in history. Think Tom Thumb, late 19th Century.

The modern dwarf can thank people like Tom Thumb. The modern dwarf can now exploit his diminutive stature by acting in diverse roles such as Snow White or Star Wars. Alternatively, he can carry a copy of the equal opportunity act and sue the large-size pants off anyone who can even spell the word “discrimination”.

The modern dwarf has career opportunities open to him that are far more diverse and interesting than those of regular sized people. They can be teachers, computer programmers or circus performers. They can be accountants, doctors or human cannonballs. They can be actuaries, bus drivers or garden gnomes. The possibilities are endless.

The modern dwarf can be the star of professional sports that you and I cannot, such as Dwarf Tossing, which has an international professional league. All you need is a helmet, a landing mat, a dwarf and a six-foot drunk. Place a few bets, hold the little guy by his shorts (pun), swing him back and forth and then throw that dwarf in the general direction of the mat. It’s a team sport.

Make no mistake, the modern dwarf has it good. Oh, and they are also great at small talk…was that a little unfair? Perhaps a tiny bit.

(This blog is in response to a challenge to write about 'The Modern Dwarf').