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Daily Prompts Politics & Society Social Media Tech

The pointlessness of constant self-grading

We obsess with gauging the temperature of our present reputation. The numbers are public, ticking up and down like stock prices.

The internet is the grandest stage of them all, where we endeavor to present our best selves. We strive to prove our self-worth by using likes and followers to gauge our fame and pepper our egos.

A virtual reputation is never finished, stuck in progress, held captive by the screen’s anesthetic. There’s always one more person to attract and appease online. Social media is a vehicle for magnification, intending to reveal the real world. 

Yet, the perpetual chase of approval remains illusory. There is no need to install an elaborate series of checks and balances on fame’s usefulness.

Our mood, needless others’ temperament, is as fickle as the weather. Vigorous grading is neither suitable for the person nor the whole. 

If we measure ourselves by vanity, we’ll spend our lives running on the hedonic treadmill., prematurely ceding to external judgment. We close the world by opening our hearts and taking significant autonomy to remake ourselves into who we think we are. 

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Culture Tech

We make great trends

Some people enjoy the process of discovery. They want access to niche communities and discrete resources, trying to “get it” before everyone else.

These people are also the incubators of trends, filtering the good from the bad before deciding what goes mainstream. Naturally, the edgy curator loses interest as soon as something becomes a commercial sensation.

But the internet flips the trendsetters on their heads. The so-called cratediggers become an uber tribe of their own. Take a walk around Brooklyn, where hipsters run rampant.

The arrogance of taste consumes the hipster, ultimately conforming to a cohort that shares similar interests and looks the same. Uniqueness becomes standardization. 

Meanwhile, the closet researcher remains individuated in digging up abstract art for themselves and for their little circle. For them, popularity is rarely a barometer of what matters

The difference between standing out and fitting in lies at the center of who we are. We are all collectors and explorers of each other’s artifacts. We are also free to throw away, remix, redefine, or tweak that which sturs us.

As influential physicist Richard Feynman reminds us, “You are under no obligation to remain the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or even a day ago. You are here to create yourself, continuously.”

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Politics & Society Tech

Collisions of thought

It’s not about how much information we consume. One can suck all the information out of the Twitter firehouse and learn nothing. 

News makes our brain fat. 

After all, it was Aldous Huxley who forewarned that we’d drown in excess entertainment and not care about anything else. Writes Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death

“Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”

Neil Postman,Amusing Ourselves to Death

TV and social media silence thought — our opinions quickly become someone else’s. The attention merchants intend to monetize on such passivity through ads. Retweets are endorsements.

But we can still take a proactive stance on the balance of ideas thrown at us.

An ambient awareness keeps the excess noise at bay as we learn to listen and absorb the world’s texture. Our goal is to replace the enormous dent that screens instill in our thoughts with a perspective we call our own.

The more ideas collide with one another, independent or externalized, the tighter authenticity clicks into place. The thinker makes their own rules.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology Science Tech

Information is the sum of parts

The brain is just a collection of tangled wires with neuron connectivity levels. We call its output ‘information’ because we need some way of describing chemical synchronicity.

The computer works the same way.

On the inside, it’s a collection of chips and wires with various voltage levels. What we see on screen is what we label as information.

Information is the same name we give to brain chemicals and computer voltage to describe organized chaos. While negative beliefs and rusty chips impair memory, the function of the thinking mind or active motherboard set rules for action. 

Furthermore, the conflict and synchronization between man and the machine (i.e., science fiction) continue to be the mother of invention.  

Information is the sum of parts, and it allows us to go beyond the robot. 

Categories
Culture History Tech

2020: Living in the hyper-extended present

2020 feels like living in the hyper-extended present. The year never ends, yet it continually validates the future.

Immersed in the warp speed of home deliveries, zoom meetings, and cryptocurrencies, 2020 expedites technology and cultures.

The virus flattens the world, sucking the rich of hidden powers. The freest fail the quickest, bending toward succeeding last.

Arrogance and denial compel even the brightest to commit an epic historical miscalculation. A proud ignorance fails to conquer the world once again.

All one has to do tap into the inner censor and zoom out, acknowledging that the present doesn’t last forever.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Social Media Tech

Creativity as existence

We do nothing until it’s too late.

You’d think such calls for immediacy would drive us into action.

Passivity begs for a slap in the face.

The way to light life back up without a disaster first coming into your path is to avoid the contagion of disengagement.

Television and social media are low bandwidth activities that dull the brain into inanition.

Detach yourself from the comfort of the stream, the ludic loop. Get unstuck from the madness that is pure entertainment. 

The urge to create turns loafers into participants.

“Life is trying things to see if they work.”

Ray Bradbury

It takes energy and discipline to escape the lure of doing nothing. It also takes persistence to move forward towards your attractors. Continued effort and belief wins out in the marketplace of ideas. 

Instead of being an active consumer, decide to entertain yourself on the broad view of what you can do. 

Throughout all choices and chapters in life, doing the work makes life worth living — inward and outward, freedom all at once. 

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Tech

Bottled and unbranded

No one cares about your personal brand. It’s not your responsibility to dedicate thumbs to impression management.

The screen begs for cracks.

Authenticity thrives in abundance — people want to appear real (re flawed) as they are in life. That’s why filters are dead, and lenses are all the rage.

You exist to shock, stand out, to make people laugh and cry with the silliest and rank of faces. Every day is Halloween, drowning in masks dead and gone.

It’s hard enough to cultivate authenticity in a world that rewards conformity. Don’t dumb it down.

Refuse to be a punchline for sameness. We’re all weird. The unique shall inherit the earth.

Caption this to your next selfie: “Don’t take it all so seriously.”

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Tech

Warm among ice

A typical day invokes more pessimism than positivity.

Surrounded by a vortex of bad news reshapes our experience into a tiny nothingness. The elements of a meaningful future disappear into the mist.

But there’s been a revolution in consciousness. The sound of serenity and decency has regained their purchase on our imaginations.

“Do thou, too, remain warm among ice.”

Moby Dick

We all have subconscious influences. But curiosity always outruns the discipline of fools. No one goes into the arena thinking they’ll lose.

The emancipatory power of optimism and doing good creates a haven of durability. Don’t fall for darkness. Learn to work in graduations of failure.

Categories
Culture Tech

Nothing is random

Discoverability will forever be twisted in the maw of internet algorithms.

Nothing is ever truly random. We are data’s significant other with a bullseye on our back.

Facebook has been triangulating our data for years, matching our likes with the highest bidder. Designers, copy-writers, and marketers work together to create internet ads that strangle our attention into a click-hole.

So here we are, next up surrounded by the internet of things to feed the system of ads. We invite zero ambiguity — we tell the system what we want, and it reports back.

Look around — we’re well-trained click monkeys forever melting into a spiderweb of Times Square.

Categories
Science Tech

Dancing with the algorithms

We dance with the algorithms, yielding time-saving results. How else are we to discover all these gems in a sea of content? How are we to land on the right words in a swamp of choice?

From Spotify to Gmail’s suggestive text, we accept the computer’s recommendations to curate and speak for us. We allow the recipes to crunch down our tastes and our speaking patterns, essentially doing all the homework for us.

Playlists generate themselves; emails answers themselves. 

Yet, just as humans are poor decision-makers, the symphony of algorithms is also flawed. 

“An algorithm is an opinion embedded in math,” writes Cathy O’Neil in her book Weapons of Math Destruction (Amazon).

The computers and their code are often in over their heads, impractical, and sometimes stupid. Just ask Facebook — it takes a human to quell the dangerous idea virus that is fake news. 

The algorithm, written by humans, also requires human moderation. 

The ultimate balance of power is the intermixing of human neurons with the speed of computer nodes. Connecting humans to computers will supercharge decision-making in a fast-paced world. 

Thoughtless algorithms seem to know us better than ourselves, for now.