Somebody That I Used to Know…

I believe that as much as art informs culture, culture informs art. It’s rare to see this emerge in the traditionally vapid world of pop music, but there is a current over-played song that strikes me as unintentionally illuminating a troubling aspect of our society.

I believe that the song “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra illustrates a fundamental disrespect that has run rampant in our society. [Disclaimer: I realize that the writing of a song, especially a duet is a complex process. For the sake of this analysis I will name the characters by the artist who voiced them. I realize this likely does not directly reflect either of their lives and I hope you realize that too.]

In the first verse Gotye describes the “good times” of a now expired relationship:

Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it’s an ache I still remember

Already Gotye describes not only that he’s being dishonest with himself; he’s telling himself it’s a good match, and trying to ignore a lonely feeling when around his partner. Perhaps even more alarming he says “but that was love” implying that either the feelings or the dishonesty are part of love.

In the second verse Gotye develops the theme that he was unhappy in the relationship:

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad it was over

The amount of suffering described so far makes me concerned that Gotye is, in some way, perpetuating his victim-hood. If he was unhappy, why didn’t he address it in a straight forth manner? The way it’s worded makes him appear to be in a passive victim-like status.

In the bridge we find the turn of the tale:

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

Here it appears the up-to-now passive character is lashing out at his past lover: she “cut him off” and “stooped so low,” treated him “like a stranger.” It’s only natural to lash out at someone who’s hurt you, however the transgressions he describes seem only reasonable: “make out like it never happened,” “treat me like a stranger,” “have your friends collect your records and then change your number.” These seem like perfectly reasonable post-break-up attempts to be gentle to one’s own psychological healing. After breaking up with someone I’m likely to treat someone as a stranger if I’m not ready to interact with them again yet. I might also ask friends to get my stuff from the ex’s house so I don’t have to put myself through that. And if it was a particularly bad relationship, it’s totally within my right to change my phone number. Gotye, why are you whining about all this?

And this is when the ex-girlfriend’s response comes in:

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I’d done
But I don’t wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know

This new perspective sheds light on the fact that Kimbra feels screwed over, coerced into believing it was her fault, and lied to [I’m extrapolating from tone and context that “you said that you could let it go” is a direct response to the prior portion of the song, combined with a pre-song statement on the part of Gotye.] The tone of this portion of the song sounds assertive and is in contrast to Gotye’s tone. This is the end of new lyrical content in the song.

Overall I see this story telling the tale of boy who is not only confused, but perceives himself to be helpless in his current position. The woman, on the other hand, has taken a stand, taken care of herself and is trying to move forward while still annoyed at her ex’s position on break-up.

Gotye’s character in all this is the part that deeply troubles me. As he and his ex describe it, it appears he has deeply betrayed/pissed off his ex. His response seems to be to whine and complain, and do so to her. This isn’t constructive for him and it shows a basic lack of respect for his ex. When faced with an ex who changed her phone number to avoid him, the more constructive choice would be to ask yourself “what was my part in causing such a strong reaction?” and use it as an opportunity for self-reflection and growth. Also, if she changed her number, she doesn’t want to talk to him, so why has he engaged her in the dialogue that is this song? The description of her actions in the song make a case that she is establishing a very clear boundary. By engaging her in this dialogue, he’s disrespecting this boundary.

So, the lesson to be learned here: Whining is bad. Self-reflection is good. Learn to identify boundaries and respect them.


Hi, I’m Maggie Karshner…

Hi, I’m Maggie Karshner and I’m a behind-the-scenes people lover and strategy-focused thinker.

Being a behind-the-scenes people lover has two facets: I love amplifying my ability to get things done by working with other people, and I love people being excited by getting what they need/want, and I either supported the person who delivered the product/service or I showed them the path. (i.e. direct sales, being a service provider and HR don’t do it for me. I hypothesize this would make me a good fit for a Program Manager type role, maybe? …maybe someday? …if someday, how do I get there?!?!?)

As a strategy-focused thinker, with any task I think “how can this be done better? more efficiently? is this even the right thing to be doing in this circumstance?” This crosses with my people-loving side and provides me with an intuitive sense for what people need to hear and how best to say it. That suits me really well in marketing positions and entrepreneurial settings; I believe this natural talent could expand into a broader business setting given enough knowledge of the game and the playing field.

On top of this I value honesty and transparency; I do not do well in contexts where politics and posturing get you ahead.

I wrote this message because I’m trying to figure out where people like me are and where I fit in the world. (More specifically, that part of the world that keeps food on the table.) Wanna help me find out? Contact me!

I am a busy person, and I need to accept this.

My last boss used to say “want something done, give it to a busy person.” I guess a part of me just figured I was only busy because I spent 8hrs per day at work. One glance at my schedule will tell you how much that assumption was wrong. Obviously my time has not been filled lately with writing blog posts, but that does not mean I’ve been sedentary in the least.

On the fun and silly end of things, I’ve been an extra (with a line!) in an independent film while also coordinating the dancing-extras, and I’ve posed for a picture that will become a quilt by the infamous Luke Haynes. I can’t wait to see how it comes out.

Of course I’ve kept up with my volunteer work in the blues dance community. I’ve been hosting at least twice a month at two different venues. Keeping the idiosyncrasies of each venue straight is becoming tricky.

I’ve been working with a couple friends to help them with their businesses. One is a dance instructor who just acquired a master-lease on a space, and the other is a newly minted yoga instructor (website still in the works.) So much of this work is the weekly progress report, which ensures work gets done as much as it helps illustrate how much has been accomplished. I also bring focus, organization, goal-setting, marketing and business prowess. And plenty of cheer-leading! I’m finding it very fun and rewarding. Maybe someday I could make this job pay the bills; until then I’m getting dance lessons and yoga classes out of the deal and that’s awesome!

This past weekend I participated in the SocEnt Weekend, which was modeled after start-up weekend. Unlike start-up weekend, this event involved significantly fewer programmers, so less proto-typing was done and more business planning, market research and conceptualizing the proto-type. I learned a ton. Top of the list are “good people management skills are invaluable” and “going back to where you started is not a bad thing.” My brain was so fried after the 50hr weekend, I slept for 12 solid hours. I’m chewing on some of the key things I learned here and it’s likely there will be subsequent posts about it. So look forward to that! 🙂

oh wow, wordpress

I just got a bright little alert cheerfully telling me I’d made my fourth post, yay!! And it informed me I’ll get another “award” when I’ve reached my next “goal” which is a whopping total of five posts.

Since the next goal is one post away from the first, I just couldn’t help myself. …I’ve apparently been well conditioned by my FitBit,which is really the only appropriate use of this stupid four-square pioneered award-goal system. ah, well, what ever make the internet go round, right?

Happy Holidays!

I’m posting from exotic Portland, Oregon, where I’ve been visiting my family. Last week I found a bicycle on craigslist. For those of you who don’t predate this blog: my original bike fell off the bike rack on the back of a car at highway speeds in the middle of the night and could not be recovered. I am SO happy to have a bike again. My dad dedicated his christmas gift to the bike and outfitted it/me with the brightest lights in the store and two sets of Axle Releases (or is it Releasi?) which will allow me quick-release convenience without switching my hubs/wheels.

My holidays have been packed with catching up with people, job applications, updates to this site, and squeezing in a little Plants-vs-Zombies every now and again. It’s now way past the time everyone else has gone to sleep, so I should be joining them in dream-land! nighty-night!

My birthday!

Today I co-opted my friend’s bi-weekly craft night and invited a whole bunch of my friends over to craft with me.
I brought pumpkin ice cream which I had made a head of time; it was my first time making a custard for ice cream. (It came out very creamy!) I brought my ice cream machine and fixings and made cookie dough ice cream: home made cookie dough chunks in a country-style vanilla ice cream. They were both quite a hit and there was enough to go around!
Beyond the ice cream making I didn’t really seem to do much crafting. I helped about 4 different friends on cut-up shirt projects; most will be continued on a future craft night. My friend Lucas made me a custom birthday video in less than 2hrs! You’ll have to go to my facebook page for a link to that. I will, however, shamelessly plug Lucas and his awesomeness: he runs a program that teaches kids how to stop-motion animate.
I also went to my piano lesson. I’m still working on At Last, and The Mexican Hat Dance. I hope to soon be moving on to an Adele song and Tarantella.

Hello world!

I think I’ll be using this blog feature on this page to log what I’m doing with my unemployment. Hopefully it’ll help keep my spirits up since I’ll have tangible evidence of my productivity.