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Life & Philosophy Psychology Tech

Nostalgia: what it meant before, after and now

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Nostalgia didn’t always have a positive tone. In fact, before the 20th century, the word was used in the pejorative sense.

Nostalgia in those days was a technical term used and discussed primarily by specialists. In the twentieth century, however, the word has become fully demedic­alized. It now means little more than a sentimental attachment to a lost or past era, a fuzzy feeling about a soft-focus earlier time, and is more often used of an advertising campaign, a film or a memory of childhood than with regard to any strong sense of its etymology, “pain about homecoming”.

Today, people use the word nostalgia to look back on happier times, perhaps a slower one.

Nostalgia seems now to mark out a particular type of attention. If you call something “nostalgic”, you are suggesting that it evokes a memory of a former pleasure, a bitter-sweet recognition of the passing of time, or a sense of a lost era. To be nostalgic oneself is to experience those (possibly quietly melancholic) pleasures. It would be odd, indeed insulting, to describe the return of a concentration camp victim to Auschwitz as nostalgic.

Fantasizing about a simpler, pre-Internet world is a nostalgic reaction to rapid digital change. We’re all stuck in the whirlwind of 24/7 breaking news on social media that makes everything feel so immediate we can’t prioritize the important. 

We can’t even appreciate the moment. The present is quickly consumed and forgotten. The next iteration of nostalgia may become synonymous with experience, a world that was devoid of distorted facts and where events meant something.

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Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology

Watching watchers

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Even when we’re not watching each other, we’re still paying attention. It’s called ambient awareness, and it happens in real life and on social media.

When two strangers sit together, they immediately make snap observations, not necessarily about the coffee stain on the other person’s shirt or one’s unkempt hair but on each other’s general appearance.

“Although people surreptitiously noticed all kinds of details about each other — clothing, personality, mood — we found that people were convinced that the other person wasn’t watching them much, if at all.”

We are loosely spying on each other because the brain is in constant judgment mode. Even when you think you’re not noticing, you’re noticing. We are all unintended watchers.

Read You’re Too Focused on What You’re Focused On

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Life & Philosophy Politics & Society Psychology Tech Video

Are You Lost In The World Like Me?

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.

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Apps Productivity & Work Psychology Social Media Tech

Don’t let social media use you

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Attention is a gift that the social networks want to steal from you. Here’s a simple trick to ward off their magnetism and catch yourself: put the social apps on the fourth home screen.

That’s right: make it harder to access Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest with just a couple taps. The design hurdle allows the mind to pause before engaging into a sinkhole of distraction and emotional envy.

Take back control of your time and don’t let social media use you. Direct its intention by redirecting your attention. Let the story be about your presence.

If you're an artist, photographer, writer, etc., I highly recommend creating your own blog and publishing something new every day (read my post on how to set up a FREE blog on Wordpress).

Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology

Loop dreams 💤

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Dreams are unconstrained remixes of reality. They manufacture light and float with fantasy, all lucid to the sleeper. Anxiety, happiness, emotions — it’s all tangible in a slumber.

We dream when we’re awake too — we just call it using the imagination. Yet, we restrain the material world to a predictable order. We crimp our creativity.

We make better movies when we dream to sleep. Being awake is a boring hallucination.

Read Dreaming Outside Our Heads

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Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology Social Media

The best of the best

IRL
Facebook makes you unhappier because it produces envy. We always want in our feeds what we don’t have in real life: a stable relationship, a high-paying job, a weekend vacation in the Caribbean, a beautiful house, a new car, the latest gadgets–the list goes on.

But social media is edited real life. We tend to over-post happiness and under-post negativity. Who’s going to share about their mental illness, a divorce, or a family death? That’s sad stuff, even if Facebook allows you to respond with a weepy face instead of a thumbs up.

We usually post things that we wish were, not as they are. Social media presents the best of the best, an online Truman Show that excludes the beautiful struggle in between. At the very least, social media is pseudo-news that often omits context.

“There’s always another story,” indeed.

Listen to Hidden Brain: Ep. 68: Schadenfacebook

If you're an artist, photographer, writer, etc., I highly recommend creating your own blog and publishing something new every day (read my post on how to set up a FREE blog on Wordpress).