Noticer of Nasty

I’m the first to say something smells and the last to shut up about it. It’s a talent I suppose. Oftentimes it annoys those in my presence though. They don’t seem to notice until I bring it up. They’re happy to go about their business not noticing nasty things, go figure.

From smells to improper procedures to inefficiencies to logical inconsistencies to possible pitfalls, I spot them. The world as I perceive it, is a stinky, flawed, mismanaged, and dangerous place. So it’s odd to witness people having the opposite perspective on life, “Don’t they see how horrible everything is?!”

It’s like we live in two different words. But I’ve also witnessed people sharing my perspective, and I think, “What a miserably pessimistic person”. To view from the outside, it’s such an unrealistically grim outlook — and how unpleasant it must be to see the world so wickedly.

I can’t not notice these things, they’re glaring. I’ve realized though, that just because something’s noticed, doesn’t mean I have to dwell on it. If I perceive something as broken or unpleasant, I don’t have to keep thinking about it, I can attempt to change my focus.

While I assume such powers of perception are a useful talent when properly applied, they can cause one to see life as frustratingly flawed and futile. So thoughts must be monitored and refocused, and an attitude of acceptance must be maintained.

Life is not nasty, particular thoughts are. And these thoughts, inspired by a penchant for the repugnant, need only be pruned. If they infest moods, bringing anxiety or discomfort, then they prove themselves unworthy of attention.

There to Here

An excerpt from the fictional tales of
The Gentleman from Massachusetts.

On the question of immigration, I lack justification to deny any who simply seek a place to live. At birth, we appear within this preexisting world, a place seemingly lent to us without cost or obligation, living amongst others with whom we must share. The planet is no more mine than anyones. Who am I to say who goes where — even my ancestors didn’t remain in their places of birth.

Having witnessed immigrants assimilating seamlessly, a host is better off welcoming and accepting newcomers rather than shunning and segregating. One method instills gratitude, the other resentment. When fought, things get messy for all involved. Ultimately we can’t control migration patterns of people, so it’s not something we can alter if we wanted to.

Often the issue is exploited by ruthless politicians attempting to attract followers through fear. While it’s true that a culture can dilute and change when overwhelmed with newcomers, a static culture can become stale and festering, or even change with each generation. Outcomes being beyond our control, acceptance of changing trends tends to be the more satisfying strategy.

Cutthroat competition is an undignified way for a society to behave. We all end up dead at the end, should we rip and claw our way to the finish? If generosity leads to our demise, so be it, as there is no more honorable way to go. Should we spend our efforts vainly protecting what we’ve only borrowed, or should we with open arms and open hearts simply say, “Welcome, friends”.

Infinite Something

Instead of static nothingness, there’s vibrant somethingness. Why does anything exist, why not have nothingness?

Because there is something, nothingness is a state that could never have happened, as something cannot arise from nothing. This means there has always been something and nothingness was never an option. And because there is something, there can never be nothingness, as something can only transform, not cease to exist.

Observations of Reddit 01

Being on Reddit for over seven years, I’ve made some observations. Early on, Reddit was technology oriented — for instance, one of the primary sub-reddits was r/programming. And this tech focus is what drew me to the site after my previous hangout, slashdot, was waning.

As time went on, more people discovered Reddit and it started to develop a less tech-oriented culture. I visited the site to read the relevant news of the day and its associated discussions, not fraternize. But the new folks had other ideas, particular people started getting popular, and the new culture seemed dorky instead of techie, there was too much talk of narwals and bacon.

Then the refugees of Digg arrived. Digg was the biggest site of its kind on the Internet, it was populist not tech, but it imploded. There is no question that such an influx of newcomers changed the culture of Reddit. Out went technology and in came the era of “Advice Animals”.

I didn’t hate the change because I didn’t appreciate the previous culture that had been developing — the influx brought in a lot of new blood. I suppose it’s like being in a small town where certain customs develop — and if you don’t like it, you’re stuck unless you move to the big city. Although in Reddit’s case, the city moved to them (in the form of Digg users).

When an organization starts getting too insular, when it’s too full of in-jokes, and when an immovable hierarchy develops, then it runs the risk of getting stale. Reddit went from stale to vibrant. Of course the noise increased, but like in any big city you can apply your filters and get something meaningful from it.

Sci-fi Salvation

Perhaps after our time on Earth, we graduate to a more advanced civilization. Perhaps this realm is only a proving ground for what comes next. Perhaps we must earn our place through years of practice, and by developing a certain level of understanding.

Ignorance is a destructive force, one that any advanced civilization would attempt to mitigate. What better way to teach, than within a simulated society — a virtual world in which mistakes don’t matter, a world that leads each pupil along an educative narrative.

If true, then there is an afterlife, a heaven of sorts, a place filled with faultless beings. It means we are struggling here, in order to better ourselves for what’s to come. Perhaps those that learn their lessons leave sooner, whereas those lost to life linger within it.

Ancient texts always describe a place of perfection beyond our own. While wrapped in old language and archaic metaphors, we often dismiss the descriptions. Yet as a civilization, and as individuals, we have always sensed there is more to this, that something lies beyond.

Emotive Revival

An excerpt from the fictional tales of
The Gentleman from Massachusetts.

Make no mistake, the problem with society is not our substandard government, the problem lies with us, the people. A society made up of bad attitudes will always produce a festering bureaucracy. As we are, expecting a decent government is comically illogical, it’s like cooking with garbage and expecting a palatable dish, of course bad ingredients make for a bad outcome.

Even if we elect a saint-on-earth, an opposition would fight the policies tooth and nail, then spend the post years ripping apart any good that was done. As we are, the election process is useless. We can’t battle our way to consensus — if we’re fighting, we’ve already lost — a win can only lead to resentment.

This is not to say that hope is lost, no, it’s to say our efforts need to be focused elsewhere. Politics as it is, is a game in which we can only lose, it’s sport, a mere distraction. To bring about the goodness we seek, we must teach and inspire — we must encourage a great awakening of the masses.

And how has any major movement manifested, but through the stirring of emotion. When people understand and relate to the struggles of others, they react appropriately each and every time. It is understanding that lacks, not the capacity for compassion and generosity.

The villain in this instance is ignorance. Whenever people realize others are just like them, they get along. Whenever people realize their interconnected nature, they cooperate. Whenever people realize that others just like them are in need, they give.

This is the labor of the new millennium: the dismantling of our division. When we see everyone as we see ourselves, the rest takes care of itself. We must endeavor to end our ignorant divisiveness, this is our duty to those that follow and the legacy we must leave.

Solid Foundation

Ignorant ideas are those promoting fear, division, and selfishness. As a society therefore, it is our duty to fight fear, deny division, and supplant selfishness with selflessness. It is crucial for us to recognize when those in positions of power, including those in media, attempt to encourage such splintering ideas.

But more importantly, if we are to be happy, if we are to find satisfaction in the world, if we are to be of any value to others, we must dismantle our own internal divisiveness. Any uncivil system that is demolished will simply rebuild itself out of the same constituents that created it.

Breaking apart an existing power structure while lacking better building materials cannot bring about improvement. This is why change starts from within. If we let fear shape our lives, if we denigrate others, if we seek privilege, then we know we have the system we deserve.

We cannot build from the top down, we must start at the foundation. And within a society, the attitudes and ideas of the people are its foundation. People are mere forms waiting to be filled, and our strength is determined by the concepts we accept and those we reject.