“Forgetting makes us happy’ proclaimed Nietzsche. But it is in the pursuit of something better that we fail to realize the good we already have.
Look no further than at today’s barbarism. History is a gif loop; it dares to be repeated as we grow frustrated with the kindness of our cultured past.
The future thrives on the protection of ideals and ideas, even if they defy the laws of nature. Humans are inherently coercive and imperfect. But books exist to keep us honest. They remind us of the valor of doing the right thing.
Is it worth defying history and throwing in the towel to start all over again? ‘Destroy and rebuild it;’ it is the stain of bad tendencies that linger.
The doer wants acknowledgement for their work. They want people to scream their hosannas. But criticism is democratic.
Not everyone likes Radiohead’s last album. Every Trump tweet draws liberal contestants. Where you fall in the Messi versus Ronaldo or Jordan versus Lebron debate could be a preference based on your birth date. Opines literary critic and poet Adam Kirsch:
“Everyone brings his or her own values and standards to the work of judging. This means that it is also, essentially, democratic. No canon of taste or critical authority can compel people to like what they don’t like.”
As an artist, athlete, CEO, US president, some criticism is better than none at all. My newest book Train of Thought has zero reviews. I’d rather have one star and a bad review just to confirm that someone had a look.
Criticism is integral to an informed democracy. Even the maker is a critic. Their rebuttals are neither valid nor invalid but mere reason. Conversely, the reviewer is also a professional; even a stream of invective is a manifestation of analysis and interpretation.
Perhaps it is the inner-critic that is the most annoying of all. It’s the one that wants both artist and analyst to say and do nothing but remain in a state of paralysis.
What’s most important therefore is the opinion itself. Consent is an illusion reserved for lemmings. Now feel free to criticize this post in the comments below.
“Likability is markedly different from status — an ultimately less satisfying form of popularity that reflects visibility, influence, power, and prestige. Status can be quantified by social media followers; likability cannot.”
Trump has thirty million Twitter followers, a majority of which follow him to see what the lightning rod of criticism says next. Both the attention and scorn make him miserable. If you’re looking for happiness in the credibility of numbers, social media may be the wrong game to play.
Happiness is tied to likeability, not our number of followers. If we want to extend our lives, it pays to be both well-known and well-liked. Hint: try to be nice to people, share upfront, and don’t be surprised if they remember your name.
The software and hardware companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook want us to trust them. The theory is that our information is better kept stored with them in a private cloud rather than with the government. Outside America, however, the NSA can collect our information without a search warrant.
The internet companies are not only American-based, their manifest destiny makes them look like hegemonic colonizers.
“This is a dilemma of the feudal internet. We seek protection from these companies because they can offer us security,” says Maciej Cegłowski. “But their business model is to make us more vulnerable, by getting us to surrender more of the details of our lives to their servers, and to put more faith in the algorithms they train on our observed behavior.”
We are all citizens of tech companies, trading privacy for free communication. But the users are the ads and coders are the kings; the latter which convert our interests and attention into ad revenue.
Technology platforms appear to be doing more harm than the good. Most recently, they’ve facilitated fake news and ushered in FOMO-hitting mental health issues.
The internet is as indispensable as water but it’s also a perceivable threat when the few that run the show are creating new problems while hesitating to solve them.
We reach for the phone to find ourselves. We’d rather outsource our frustration and boredom to a widget than deal with our anxieties directly.
The mobile phone makes it easier to cope (read: ignore) the world going on around us. It’s easy: we just don’t pay attention; plus, we can crush dissent with our own filters. But echo chambers confirm prejudice.
There’s chaos in the cosmos, disorder in peace. If we can’t tolerate ambiguity, then we’ll succumb to the fickleness of weather patterns.
Perhaps the lost are found, the only ones looking up.
‘America first’ breeds an architecture of fear. It compels other nations to cling onto their own nationalist tendencies in pursuit of their own primacy.
The internet flattened world only temporarily before mobile phones made people screen-obsessed and non-interactive, further pigeonholing them into online groups that merely reconfirmed their biased beliefs.
As conformity increased in the long tail, broader differences compounded. Today’s mob has repopularized coercion out of short term gains. What comes naturally puts a dent into the artificiality of freedom.
If America gives up doing the good work, others will fall like dominoes. Bad design is easy to replicate.
If you know what you’re looking for, you’re most likely to find it. But persistence can become the problem. In falling short of your endeavor, you cheat or start fabricating stories to compensate for your underperformance.
It’s a basic practice to admit your mistakes. People who invest in their own lies gradually wither away. If denied, truth becomes unbearable.
Deflecting attention is a short-term gain. On the other hand, acceptance propels the need to contribute.