Gender Based Notebooks?

I’m an avid notebook user. I love all types of notebooks, though I’ll admit I’m partial to blank paper, and hardbacked, black books. I’ve used some of the most well-known and best books in the medium-price range. But I’ll still try most anything out. I have several notebooks that are bound flimsily, have paper that tears or bleeds through, and other problems. Most people don’t notice those, but they do notice when I have a pink notebook. People think that me, as a man, wouldn’t like to carry a pink or purple book. I’d say there are many problems that make notebooks unusable long before the color of the cover comes into consideration, even if pink isn’t my first choice.

Now this might be something that one simply has to take into consideration when buying notebooks. After all, most stationery stores that aren’t for office supplies and therefore have a very neutral atmosphere, are geared toward women. At least, that’s the way it seems. With their natural to pastel colors, slightly awkward layout, and all-female staff, they make me feel slightly nervous when walking in. It’s like I’m not the one that’s supposed to be there. Not that I’m really comfortable in most store scenarios, but at least I’m expected.

Why is that, though? Paper products, while not directly advertised toward women, are much more “feminine” in style, or neutral (if the choice must be made). Maybe that’s because the only manly notebook is black. I’d laugh at a gunmetal or camo pattern, though there are some less-pink/bright colors of notebooks that I’d like to buy. And that’s the thing, really, for me. I don’t mind many notebooks being more female-oriented, but what I don’t want is one that really sticks out. I don’t mind using a pink or lime notebook, but I’d rather one that was mahogany, or a pear green, or even a dull pink instead of a bright one.
All of the colors just look synthetic and stick out to me. And people notice them and think they’re strange. Did I pick up my girlfriend’s notebook? No, who would ever accidentally do that, who has a notebook that isn’t personal enough that it can be loaned out, even a school one? And people look at me funny for something that is considered “different” for me to do.

The color of the notebook in no way affects the writing experience to be contained within, but I still wish there were some more easily obtainable, subdued colors.

I guess, though, that’s more because I want to blend in, to hide in the crowd and not stick out. I don’t want people picking me out of a crowd because of my notebook’s color, and even less if they think negatively about it. I’ll still use them to try them out, but I always have old standbys for serious use.

That’s just me, I guess. Perhaps many people do want to stand out with the color of their notebooks, but having a notebook now almost seems to make you stand out enough.
My question, though, would be: are notebooks more female items in popular culture? Do manufacturers have a more female audience in mind when creating new products? I’m fine with there being many girl-oriented books, and even some manufacturers. I just wish there were more making plain type books, that are easier to… conceal, I guess. I want more notebooks in general, not more that are just geared toward me or any other specific group.

I can’t say for sure one way or the other, but I know very few men who use anything beyond a small pocket notebook, while many of the women I know have a stack of cheap “accessory” notebooks. My notebook collection certainly is an oddity to most people still, which I enjoy. And I also notice that online, more users for notebook-related forums or retailers are male. An interesting reversal, as online it is much easier to find plain brown and black books than in the wild.

If I were to have to answer my question right now it would be no, if we’re counting all sources here. But I could be right or wrong. This isn’t a formal study of who uses notebooks (now that’s an idea, someone get on that). I can’t give hard answers, but that’s why I use notebooks: to keep all of the thoughts and organize them later, not in any physical sense, but you probably get the idea. I’ll keep writing and thinking, from pink to black.

Cultural Snowballing Part 2 : How it Grew

(If you haven’t read the previous part, I suggest you do, though it isn’t necessary.)
One of the other problems that could be considered an effect of cultural snowballing is people’s tendency now to “tune out”. It seems like more people than ever are advocating “unplugging” from modern life, whatever that happens to mean to them in particular.

People’s attitudes have gotten worse toward people who use advertising (which seems absurd) and those who try to sell merchandise to support themselves. (strangely, people who just straight up beg for money on Kickstarter, Subbable, and Patreon seem to get much less of a negative reaction). This negatively affects entry into markets which require a lot more serious involvement. One of these is board gaming, which requires serious thought, space, setup, and a good amount of time devotion. I recently attempted a Kickstarter for a board game, and people (even though many people say they like the “little guy”) just aren’t willing to devote the money and the time to a game that was made by one person on a shoestring budget, because if it goes wrong, they’re out a lot, too. (That would’ve worked a few years ago maybe, and especially about a decade ago when platforms such as Kickstarter didn’t exist.) This isn’t helped by the fact that there is huge growth in the market (as there is in many markets: this is just one example) and more established companies are pushing out more and better new products, making entry much more difficult. People who could previously have played every new game every year are now faced with choices, and people generally don’t like more choices. But they do like some choices.

Remember when Myspace was really the only social network (of course there were others, but who’d really heard of them?) and then Facebook came along and everyone switched, and then for a moment it looked like new social networks were popping up and dying all over the place. It seemed like it would just be a cycle of never-ending account imports. But, by the time even Google+ rolled around, people were so tired of the choices no one even used it (people only use it now because of Youtube-based statistics jacking). People like choices, (Myspace and Facebook) but not too many choices (Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, etc.).

How in the world does that relate to cultural snowballing? Well, in essence it is cultural snowballing. And when confronted with a huge pile of board games or social networks, people do the same thing that they do with “‘The Maltese Falcon” and “The Searchers”: they forget about them. This makes things both easier and harder for the new. On the one hand, new things have a huge problem getting noticed over established giants that people already see, and people often don’t have the time to look at anything else. But on the other hand, if something new does get noticed, the world turns into a huge positive feedback loop as people forget about the old things and start noticing this crazy new thing.

Things just keep getting bigger and bigger. Even new things seem to come with the prerequisite of already being big before becoming super. If it’s already too much to take, where can it go from here? The first answer seems to come in the waves of culture that have become more the norm now. There are certain eras of culture that sometimes last a decade and sometimes a few weeks. These waves are surprisingly well illustrated by the recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. By my calculations, this challenge should have reached every human being in the United States in just under 18 days. Soon after that, everyone in the world would be doing it. But not everyone is. This particular challenge caught on, which so few things do. It ping-ponged around for just long enough to be picked up by some celebrities, who of course challenged other celebrities. Eventually the celebrities ran out of other celebrities to challenge, and since they had all done it everyone else was dying to do it. For several days I lived in fear that someone in the world would challenge me, not because I don’t want to support ALS, but because I don’t have the means to dump ice on my head nor the funds to donate to ALS research. Anyway, the math made my fate to look like a jerk on the internet inevitable, but strangely enough, no one challenged me. Things died down before ever getting to me. (this is except for several “community of thousands” challenges, which I think almost no one accepted.) This didn’t seem right, but it happened. People either got sick of it, just didn’t do it, or ran out of important people to challenge. And suddenly the unstoppable cultural juggernaut came slamming into a brick wall to be washed out and forgotten until people browse back through their Facebook feeds. (but ALS research did get MILLIONS of dollars from the thing, which is AMAZING!)

I am not qualified to provide answers for the mysteries of both how that got big and how it just stopped, but it is a speeded-up example of what I’m talking about. All of the things we’re expected to know in time run out of relevance (though this one didn’t,exactly-) and then we simply forget. The money dried up and the time people were willing to devote to it went down. Suddenly everyone’s lives are “normal” and something else big will come along. This has happened on a much larger and longer scale with other cultural things, like comic books, comic book movies, video games, vampires, zombies, etc. Now not each of those things pushed the others out, but they did push some other large cultural block out of the way to get where they are now. It just keeps happening.

Again, this might not be a problem. New people do need to get into the market (although the newspaper comics industry doesn’t want you to believe that). And the breaking of an old cultural snowball for a larger one seems a good way to do that. But, on the other hand, it could create a wide rift between people and success, and successful people and their fans.

Either way it looks like it’s here to stay and possibly speed up. So I’d just suggest you prepare for the avalanche.

Cultural Snowballing Part 1: The Mass of it All

Sometimes strange events make you remember things you learned, but hadn’t thought of in a while. We have so much to remember anyway, that my brain just dumps most of the information from my head RAM anywhere I go. For example, I recognized the same horror in me and my former history teacher when we talked about how her students didn’t know who John Wayne was, or the time with my cartooning instructor when he was talking about people not knowing Humphrey Bogart. Those conversations make me remember something that I’ve already thought of and forgotten, coincidentally enough.

It’s no secret now that we have a lot more to remember. People in the past could’ve been quite smart but taken modern IQ tests and come off as borderline dead (this is also due to the inherent problems with IQ tests, i.e. Everything). They simply didn’t know the specific information needed to complete the extremely subjective, incorrectly built tests. Now we have to know much more than would’ve been expected of them.

Imagine if the Greek Philosophers had to’ve learned 2,000 years of history and literature before they could start their studies and writings. In the time of Shakespeare, most people didn’t need to remember more than was needed to grow their food. Now Shakespeare’s works are expected to be known by all.

And this is amplified by the fact that we don’t just remember politicians and scientists, but artists, and actors. And now we have the tools to remember them long after their deaths. In the last hundred years I’d wager we’ve doubled our sum cultural knowledge per person if not more.

It isn’t hard to see how this could be a burden, and as I said previously we’ve also started to see how some people deal with that burden, which is by not having it. People are starting to forget about the early-to mid-Twentieth century. No one who served in the first World War is even alive, and the number alive who served in the second World War is withering down. It’s not too hard to see how their culture might disappear with them.

Still, their culture’s presence is felt a lot more relatively than it would’ve been several hundred years ago, when there were no movie stars and top singers to keep track of. Though it seems three-quarters of a century is about as far back as current culture can take. People probably know the name Franz Ferdinand as a band more than a man whose death 100 years ago started one of the largest conflicts in history.

But what happens when all of the ages of history that is “relevant” either takes up as much space in our brains as pop culture and we start forgetting it, or we forsake current culture and let history lessons fill all of our brain? Either way, sometime in the future, someone’s gonna decide that 5,000 year old Cæsar (just isn’t relevant anymore and give him the cultural axe. But who’d replace him in the vernacular as the man who crossed the Rubicon or beat the worst odds? His Dictatorship has already been forgotten as the modern age has posthumously awarded him the title of Emperor (a title claimed by none of the 12 Cæsars).

To a person like me who really loves his history, this is a problem. But it’s not to other people. Really it’s just me wondering how future people like me (or a future me) will keep up with all of the historical and cultural growth in the world. When South America and Africa (and China if the world goes right) are just as relevant culturally in North America due to the internet as Europe and North America are today, things will get quite a bit harder to follow.

I’m already the kind of person who sits behind the times (I know a lot about the modern stuff, I just can’t afford (to get) it), I love older stuff, and seeing what the past was like. Historical books are virtually all of what I read, despite my library being mainly composed of super-interesting fiction (that sounded sarcastic but it wasn’t).

I’m not sure if there’s really a solution here, and many might not even consider this cultural snowballing a problem. In a few decades, we’ll have computers in our brains that’ll keep track of all of that for us anyway (please kill me when that happens). Even if we don’t, the majority of people are quite fine with forgetting about the culture of the past as quickly as they forgot about the algebra they learned in school (seriously, I need a formula chart right now and I got all A’s).

The real problem is that the culture is still stuck in an older mindset (culture of knowledge 1.3 currently installed: downloading update: update failed). People expect to have a certain knowledge of certain things, especially and unfortunately when it involves something that person is particularly interested in. Everyone knows how to shop for groceries, but not everyone needs to know about the specifics of your hobby, as some people expect you to (that’s an important thing to remember, by the way). If you start getting into something, let’s say some TV show (cartoon, live action, anime?), many people will scoff at you for your lack of full knowledge of every single detail of the new show you’re watching. These people are many times the faces of such fan groups and it’s their job to turn away people from what they view as an already overcrowded group. They might not say this is their job, and other people likely won’t say that, either, but that’s essentially their job. Their mindset, though, is left over from when everyone knew just about everything they needed to know, and someone who didn’t know either didn’t survive (most likely) or had some sort of problem (it doesn’t take the wellest of brains to plow a field). And the higher and lower classes, each of which had a different set of knowledge, didn’t associate with each other.

This is changing a bit, nowadays. Once-small social groups (comic book fans, board gamers, etc.) are having quite a large influx of people. Many of the middle-of-the-road people in those groups are arguing for some sort of understanding that these new people don’t know things and should be shown around, not forced to get out. The older, and more hard-core, sections of these groups might still disagree, but they are rapidly being phased out by the middle-of-the-road guys, who will become the older group soon.

It’s nice to see attitudes change like that, with the understanding that there is so much going on in the world that maybe these people just weren’t exposed to this until now. Or maybe something different is causing the change. I can’t be really sure.

Regardless, views on lack of knowledge in certain subjects is changing, often for the better. But this cultural snowballing and world interconnectedness might be having some different effects on the way people look at and process information.