The Problem with Being Unrealistic

Human beings reach for the stars. It’s in our nature to be unsatisfied with what we have and constantly strive for something better. The drive to succeed and accomplish great things is what has propelled us from living in cold, dark caves to the fantastic level of technology that we enjoy today. There is nothing inherently wrong with being unrealistic because most of the things we have today wouldn’t be possible if someone at some point hadn’t decided to follow their dreams in the face of overwhelming evidence that it wouldn’t work out.

This is the double-edged sword when it comes to being realistic. Almost all of the time it is in our best interests to weigh what is feasible against what is vaguely possible. Some ideas are just reasonable enough to be within the realm of actually happening, but are so remote that you are virtually guaranteed to be wasting your time and energy on it. Yet if you don’t try then it becomes literally guaranteed. It makes it quite difficult to reach out when you know that you’re very likely to fail at something that could change your life for the better if you succeed or completely ruin it if you fail.

Hope is what causes us to reach out for things that should be beyond our grasp, but hope flies in the face of reality in most cases. There are billions of individual people on the planet, each with their own dreams for the future, and only a very small percentage are able to reach far beyond their means to accomplish something truly great. Most of us forget about that when we start imagining what things might be like if we go after something we want. How many others tried and failed? We don’t like to think about the sheer number of people who are stuck where they are simply because the odds weren’t in their favor.

Of course, how many of them never bothered to try because it seemed so difficult? How much of that number of unsuccessful people is due to the hopelessness that comes from knowing that something is nearly impossible? We are not incentivized to ignore the numbers, our innate desire to play it safe preventing us from going out on a limb for that choice piece of fruit. Better to live with the slightly under ripe fruit than to dangle precariously reaching for the perfectly sweet treat.

Like most things in our life, the question of being unreasonable can’t be answered for you. As an individual with your own thoughts and desires, it is only you who can determine where you draw the line between what is realistic and what is beyond your reach. You are the one who will have to put the effort into whatever it is you’re trying to do, hopefully with the support of others, but ultimately the outcome rests heavily on your shoulders. And then even if you do everything right, you can still fail. That is the risk.

For most people, this thought process will seem far outside anything they have to worry about, focused solely on their job or their family or whatever mundane thing it is that most of us put our effort into. However, we can be unreasonable in a great many things, even the mundane. Perhaps we want a house that is beyond our means, putting ourselves into more debt than we can afford to get it. Our marriage might not be what we wished it were, and we seek attention from another who seems to be offering what we want. The job that provides what we need might be unsatisfying and we walk away in the hope that we can find something more suitable.

All of these things can be viewed as unreasonable if we are not in the proper position to do anything about it. It all comes down to learning to be satisfied with what you have while holding on to the hope that things can still get better. It is a tightrope of mental focus that allows us to reach some level of satisfaction in our lives, not throwing away what we have in pursuit of something else, but still continuing down the path of improvement even if it never happens. Hope is a good thing; expectations are not.

What do you think about unreasonable expectations? Do you have things in your life that you want to change that seem impossible? Are you sabotaging yourself in pursuit of those things, or have you learned to accept where you are? Can you hold out hope for the future while still being content with where you are right now? It seems like a huge contradiction, but if we want to keep moving forward without flying too close to the sun, we have to learn to find that feeling of acceptance and patience, waiting for a future that may never come.

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Inequity is Correct…For Now

It’s a word that just about everyone hates these days, like every other word that has become politically charged through the actions of one group who has decided something is bad. Some people hate what the word represents, railing against a system they see as unfair and exclusionary. Others hate it because it assaults what they have, a threat to their livelihoods from groups of people who can’t seem to get things together. Whichever side you land on, it’s unlikely that the word inequity doesn’t affect you in one way or another.

Many times it’s difficult to come up with a clear and logical answer to the problems our societies face. There are so many moral and ethical dilemmas that come with trying to answer questions that apply to large groups of people, especially in world power nations with hundreds of millions of people. For most things, it is impossible to define one clear rule that everyone should follow, and even some of the rules that we see as universal aren’t agreed upon by some. There are always outliers, and they are the ones who end up being forced to either conform or live as outcasts.

When it comes to the concept of inequity, however, it becomes very difficult to argue the idea as something that is either moral or ethical. It sounds great when you just say it out loud, the assumption that everyone should have a basic quality of life and no one should have more than anyone else. The reality, though, is that equity is one of the absolute worst forms of human oppression that one can imagine. It flies in the the face of the laws of nature and completely disregards what makes us human beings in the first place.

Inequity exists as part of the natural world. Some animals are born with advantages that allow them to hunt more food or find more mates or secure a better home. This lack of perfect balance weeds out those who can’t find a way to survive, pooling resources for those more fit and capable while leaving the weak to starve or succumb to the elements. Nature cares little for our ideals of equity, and it is only because we have advanced to the point that we can ignore it that the idea has any kind of meaning at all.

We obviously can’t live by the same rules as animals because our society is built on the strength that comes from community. Human beings are the epitome of natural inequity, blessed with an intelligence and physical form that allows us to create technologies and cultures that place us far outside the typical realms of most of the animal kingdom. By our very nature, we exude inequity on a daily basis as we drive around in our cars and live in our huge houses and fly around in our airplanes.

Still, comparing human inequity to animal inequity doesn’t really resonate, regardless of how logical it is. We will always place far more importance on our own lives than that of any animal. It doesn’t matter how much evidence we see that inequity is the default in the natural world because we don’t really live in that world anymore. The argument can and has been made over and over it is in our nature to be selfish and place our own survival ahead of others, but that doesn’t satisfy our emotional need for justice, so the argument ends up falling on deaf ears.

One argument that can’t be reasonably argued against is the law of supply and demand. It is an immutable part of our everyday lives, determining the value of resources and who has access to them. In a world where everything is finite, not everyone is going to get everything they want. Either some people are going to realize their dreams while others struggle to get by, or no one ends up getting where they want to be and the hope for the future is crushed.

From what I’ve experienced in life so far, it seems like people need hope far more than comfort. It is the drive to realize the dream of “making it” that propels the human race forward. A sense of progressing toward something more is what causes us to yearn to create something new, even if it is perverted by our own greed more often than not. Without the hope that we can rise to new heights, how can we find the drive to do more than just sit around in the status quo? How much farther can our species go if we force ourselves to be content with what we have?

This is the dilemma of the human species. It is a fantasy to believe that in our current situation we can somehow find a way to provide equality of outcome for everyone. People simply want far more than what life can be extracted from the currently available pool of resources. Large portions of society might be content with simply having their needs met, but history has shown us that some will not and they will acquire what they want through force if there is no other way. We can’t escape the laws of nature, not yet.

So what do we do with this information? Are we doomed to forever live in a world where some people live far beyond the means of others? Not forever, but for a while yet. Until we come up with a way to provide everyone everything they desire, there will always be inequity. When we have perfect robots who roam our planet and the solar system harvesting resources and providing everything we need with no requirement for human labor, that will be the time when inequity can be abolished. Until then, the correct path forward is focusing on the word “equality”, because in a world of finite resources, equality of opportunity is the only truly fair way.

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Too Much Content

I think most people would agree that the internet is probably the single greatest advancement that human beings have made in the history of our existence. At no prior point in our past have we had the level of connectivity not just between those people in our immediate sphere, but with people from all around the world. Nearly unlimited information is at our fingertips in a nearly instantaneous fashion, and as technology and ideas continue to progress it only becomes easier and easier to find what you’re looking for.

This amazing ability to transfer information in a nearly effortless way is both the blessing and curse of internet content. Whereas it required a nearly impossible number of factors to come together to get something distributed even just a few decades ago, the modern internet has allowed anyone with a voice and the ability to use a computer or smartphone to start posting things online for other people to see. In a way, we have gone from having not nearly enough content at our disposal to having a tidal wave of information that washes over us on a daily basis.

The problem with this is that much of this content isn’t the fresh, clean waves of a clear ocean lagoon, but a deluge of sewage that buries us in filth. The internet as a whole focuses on quantity over quality, and the result of this is that virtually all of the content we become exposed to has had little or no review by a human person with the ability to compare what society really wants to what is being distributed. In the past, things like books or television shows or other published works had to get through a human filter who typically understood what would do well and what would not. Now it’s just a computer algorithm.

All of these things combine to create a new type of barrier to entry to getting noticed in the public space, and in many ways it can be harder to get noticed today than it ever was in the past. Before internet algorithms, nearly all content went through relatively few channels in the form of talent scouts or publishing companies or whatever other organizations sought out quality content to sell to the public. An artist typically knew where to go to get noticed, and success came down to being good enough and a little bit of luck.

Today, this just isn’t the case. Because of the vast amount of mediocre content creators that swamp the internet with uninteresting content, there is simply too much out there for human beings to sift through. It is the reason that algorithms have been developed in the first place. As a result, it isn’t enough for people who have some kind of talent to simply be good enough and show their talent to the people who decide. We have to become marketing experts in our own right to have any chance of getting noticed.

Of course, sometimes people just get lucky out of the blue for no particular reason other than they posted something that “went viral”. This is incredibly frustrating for people who plug away every day trying to get through the massive wall that is the internet search algorithm, only to watch someone post something that required little or no effort and just happened to hit the right nerve out of blind luck. This obviously happened in the past, but the gatekeepers typically recognized talentless individuals and rarely propped up these “one hit wonders” with any amount of seriousness.

It’s difficult to say whether the old way was better, or if the current way of doing things makes more sense. The creative part of me despises having to capitulate to the conformity required to make my content easily “searchable”. I prefer for the things I write or create to simply be what I want them to be, not what works for the algorithm. As I stated in a previous post, the reason we have such a sea of sameness is exactly because you can’t really get noticed if you don’t format your posts in a way that makes sense to the programming. Balanced with the abysmal quality of content we have today, I personally feel it was better when there were real human gatekeepers.

Regardless, we obviously won’t be going back to the way things used to be. Anyone who wants to enter this space will have to learn and adapt and figure out how to break through the barrier to entry that is the almighty algorithm, either by conforming to the system or figuring out a way around it. My hope is that I can find a way to do the latter, preserving the way I write so that my readers can see the authentic me rather than the veneer that results from shaping content to the algorithm. Until more people start to value this and take an active role in supporting that idea, we will continue to be stuck with the sewer brigade.

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How Do You Find Work You Love?

Clearly, there can be no standard answer for the title of this article. If anyone had actually figured out a short and simple way of finding and getting into a career that you love, everyone would be doing it. The unfortunate reality of life is that most of us will be forced to labor under tasks that aren’t fit for the kind of person that we are, scraping a living by soullessly performing work that has no meaning to us and provides no enrichment to who we are as people. There simply isn’t enough to go around to allow everyone to do whatever it is they dream of doing.

As sad as this fact is, it is the hope that perhaps we might be the one to get lucky and find the work we love doing that keeps us going every day. If we laid down and accepted the spiritual slavery that comes with slaving away for someone else’s dream, not many of us would choose to keep on living. It is our drive to see our dreams come true that keeps us getting up every day and going to work. The spiritual sustenance that comes from hope staves off the despair that would end us otherwise.

So how do we get to the point where we find something we love doing? The simple answer is to just keep on trying different things until you find something you like. Most of us are afraid of what is new, and I am certainly amongst the foremost in the category. It is exceedingly difficult for me to put myself out there and expose myself to potential embarrassment or failure. Failure isn’t something that sits well with me, and many of the ideas I’ve had for different things I might do were stopped before they ever got started because I didn’t believe I would succeed at them.

Unfortunately, it is quite rare for anyone to simply have their dream fall into their lap. It is only through getting out there and trying things that we experience something that meshes well with our talents and interests. Just like searching for a job requires effort, finding our calling requires significant amounts of work beyond simply paying the bills. It requires putting ourselves in uncomfortable places, exposing our vulnerabilities to the world in the hope that we can find something that enhances our lives through meaningful accomplishment.

Much of this comes down to being willing to learn new things. Many times we think we already know what we want, but most of the time this is just a lie we tell ourselves so we don’t have to get ourselves into potentially uncomfortable situations. It is for this reason that some people succeed where others fail, because they are willing and excited to go experience new things and figure out what it is that makes them feel fulfilled. You can’t find this kind of thing if you aren’t willing to go out and experience them.

As an introvert, I struggle with this every day, and most of the time I fail. I tend to prefer sitting around at home, not really getting anything meaningful done and just passing my time uselessly. My brain knows this is a waste, but the part of me that hates going out and dealing with the world almost always wins against the part of me that yearns for something more. I can tell myself that my current situation prevents me from doing the kinds of things I wish I could do, but the reality is that I am simply my own worst enemy.

Perhaps one day I will find the strength to get over my own issues and strike out to find that thing that will finally fulfill me. For now, though, this blog is the only thing I can muster at that provides me with any sense of doing something meaningful. While I can’t be a shining example to others, I can at least provide the perspectives of what I’ve learned over the years so that my readers might find some bit of value and add it to their own lives. As the cliché goes, those who can’t do teach.

Regardless, information that helps others is always worth sharing, and even if I can’t be the one that people look to as a model for their own lives, I can at least share what I think might be the truth. If it helps even one person, then it’s worth the time and effort. As much is I struggle with the idea, it is almost always when we are doing something that includes other people that we find meaning in what we do. Though we might prefer our safe little caves, it is only out in the open under the life giving sun that we find that feeling that makes us crave living.

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Fighting with Yourself

I think most people struggle with living with who they are. We are brought up to believe that we should be good people, striving to help others and participate in society in the way that everyone else seems to. For some people, this comes quite easily and they are able to set aside their selfish tendencies, at least to the level where they can cope with others in a meaningful way. People like me, however, will always struggle with the balance of needing to be with others while also having a fervent desire to be apart from the inevitable chaos that results from including other people in your life.

It is this paradox that has plagued my life from the first days I struck out on my own. No matter where I’ve gone or what I’ve experienced, I will never get away from the burning desire to quiet the noise around me and find peace. Perhaps it’s because my own inner monologue never seems to stop, and I find myself forever looking for ways to distract myself from it. Video games have always been a go to for that kind of thing, focusing my attention on a singular objective and avoiding the chaos that rages in my own mind.

The unfortunate part that the people most important to me always seem to suffer as a result of these flaws in who I am. No matter how much I might care for the people I love, there is an almost unshakable desire to maintain control of my environment, to push back the chaos that results when you add variables like other people to the equation. It is they who end up suffering as I continue to try to shape them to how I want them to be, my prideful impatience with the ways of others stomping on their spirit until they stop caring anymore and leave.

No prophecy is more powerful than the one you create for yourself, and my inability to get control over my need for control simply accentuates how much of an illusion control is in the first place. I might find a way to get some level of peace, perhaps for a short while or even for several years, but in the end life will always find a way to intrude on my sanctuary and throw things back into chaos. There is no escaping it, and throwing away all of the good things in life trying to hold onto this fake sense of control makes absolutely no sense.

Understanding and doing are two different things, however, as many times it’s easy to understand what you should be doing and far more difficult to convince yourself to do it. There is a reason why evil is so prevalent in the world: it’s just easier to do it that way. Our nature is to find the path of least resistance, and without some strong motivation to do otherwise we will almost always default to that instinctive way of doing things. It is one of the reasons we take so long to change; the effort involved many times just isn’t worth the effort.

This leaves me in a quandary. On the one hand I have the knowledge that keeping to myself isn’t a workable long term solution, but on the other I have the unquenchable desire to avoid the chaos that comes with leaving my safe little sanctuary. Many people would tell me to lean on others, but I’ve rarely had good experiences with that, which makes it all the harder to convince myself to change anything. Like most paradoxes, there is no clear solution. It’s a risk, just like everything else in our chaotic little lives.

For someone like me, all I can really do is hope for some true understanding from those people most important to me while I do my best to find whatever middle ground I can. Some will understand and others will not, but I suppose the people who really care will always find a way to set aside the bad parts of me to see what I have to offer. Those who can’t likely didn’t really care in the first place. That doesn’t absolve me of a need to change, but most things are a two way street: I need to change, but others need to understand me as well.

It is a delicate balance, I suppose, trying to set aside a terrible impulse while understanding you can’t live with totally abandoning it. There will always be a strong desire for the peace that comes from solitude, but human beings aren’t designed to be on their own and I can’t stay in that space forever. I want the things that come from having loved ones in my life, and that means stepping out from the sanctuary as often as I can manage it to maintain those relationships. Though I might wish I could have it both ways, it just doesn’t work like that. You have to occasionally leave the cave to find your sustenance.

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Leading with Compassion

We have seen a drastic shift in the way our culture perceives what is right and proper in how we deal with the people around us. Much of this has to do with how far we’ve strayed from having to struggle against the world simply to exist, the conveniences of life allowing us to wallow in the luxury that is our modern life. It is easy to understand that when there is no goal or objective that we collectively share, we end up splintering into factions because at our core we just need a good fight.

However, it isn’t necessarily a given that human beings must exist in a constant state of conflict. In the end, our compulsion to fight is driven by our primal need to acquire. The particular things we desire aren’t standardized, aside from basic needs like food and shelter, and this makes it difficult to insist that wherever humans happen to be there will be a fight. Despite our biology, we have the capacity to channel that energy into something more positive and bring our society to places that lesser species can never hope to achieve.

It is unfortunate that we live in a time where our leadership has withered away to the point that moral fortitude is no longer relevant. American society used to be based first and foremost on the Judeo-Christian values that have been the best way of creating communities that most people see as being good. While we definitely do not want to have any religion in control of our politics, it is important to realize and accept that much of what made America a great place to be was heavily influenced by what the Christian faith has to offer.

The reality of today is that we just don’t see much of that anymore in the people we put in control of our government. As things have moved more and more back toward a caste system of the powerful versus the people, we see pandering and platitudes rather than people who truly believe in serving others. The philosophy of our republican form of government was designed around putting the needs of the people they represent over our own view of how we think the world should be. Putting others before ourselves is compassion at its very finest, especially when it forces us to give up something we treasure.

I imagine most of us struggle with the idea of those in power today being willing to make a significant sacrifice upon the altar of America. Perhaps a few would be able to put forth a few symbolic gestures, but how many would be truly willing to just sit down and humbly accept the will of the people? No matter how much we wish they would simply do their duty as we think they should, the sad truth is that power corrupts and even the best of us will succumb to it. Most of us can’t seem to avoid the daily vices that bog down our lives; how can we expect people with access to the ability to rule over our lives to give up that control without a fight?

We desperately need this. We need people in charge who don’t want to be there, who are thrust reluctantly into positions of power and abhor the idea of exerting their ideology upon others. People who don’t believe they know better than everyone else and are willing to truly listen to what the people who voted them into office desire. In short, we need people who are compassionate and empathetic enough to believe that they are no better than the people they represent, humble and contrite in their service to those who put them in their hallowed place of power.

Our biggest duty is to our fellow man, be that in the form of family or community or nation. No person can make life work on their own, and everything we do affects someone. Too often we view the world as a vacuum of our own ideas and ambitions, oblivious to the suffering we cause to others as we insist that things be our way. Choosing compassion over arrogance is the best way to propel us forward as a nation, as it has for most of our history.

America didn’t grow to be the amazing country it is today through selfish ambition, though there was plenty of that. It was the carefully cultivated image of the premier good nation of the world that we projected over many decades that brought us the power we have today. If we can return to that place where we put what is right over what convenient, what is good over what is profitable, and what is best for the “little guy” over what puts a few more yachts in our possession, perhaps we can truly make America great again.

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Spend a Little Now to Save a Lot Later

Few people are content with spending money on things that don’t add value to our lives. We would much rather buy something fun or exciting, or maybe we live paycheck to paycheck and it’s hard to just put food on the table. Whatever the reason might be, we tend to want to procrastinate spending money on some very important things because it doesn’t seem like we can afford it right now or we have other priorities. There are times, however, when this approach ends up costing us more money in the long run.

One example of this is vehicle maintenance. No one likes having to fork over north of a hundred bucks on getting something as basic as an oil change because it’s a significant sum for most people that doesn’t really do anything that directly makes us feel like that money went to something meaningful. It’s just a regular expense that comes with owning a car, and we resent that we have to pay it. The problem is that when we don’t, we run the risk of something even more expensive becoming a problem as a result of our lax attitude toward keeping up with regular maintenance.

An important person in my life is going through this right now. She tends to procrastinate on taking care of her car, and in all likelihood that is the cause of the current situation in which she finds herself. The details don’t really matter, except to note that the issue likely would have been identified during the most recent service, had she taken the vehicle to get it done. One look at the battery would have indicated a fairly serious problem. If the hood never gets opened, it’s hard to notice any issues.

At any rate, the car broke down and had to be towed home at a cost of more than $150, and then she’ll have to pay a mechanic to diagnose the problem and get it fixed, and there is no telling how much that might be. And then, of course, it will need an oil change on top of all of that anyway, which always had to be paid anyway. It’s quite shocking just how quickly the charges can start stacking up when you’re dealing with something as complicated as a vehicle.

I can’t really chastise her about it, though, because I’m not much better. My car has been having transmission issues for quite a while now, and I haven’t taken it in to get it looked at. The suspension for my car is also really old and probably needs replaced, and it likely needs an alignment. All of these things are relatively small expenses that, had I taken care of them when they were single issues, would have been relatively affordable. My lame excuse has been that I can’t really afford to have my car at the dealership for several days, but we all know that’s not really a justifiable reason. I just don’t want to spend the money.

At the bare minimum, I do always remember to be sure and do my regular maintenance, partly to keep the car running at an acceptable level, but also partly because I know the people performing the service will be looking for things that are out of place because they hope to charge me for a repair. I can sort of justify not replacing my suspension for upwards of a thousand bucks because that’s a fairly major expense that I’d have to save up for. The same holds true with the transmission problem, because anything related to that is going to also be up there in the thousand dollar range. It’s pretty thin, I know, but it’s also the truth.

So the lesson here is exactly what’s in the title: spending a little money right now can save you a lot of money later on. This is true in many situations, not just vehicle maintenance. The recent car trouble is simply the catalyst for the topic, and there are many situations where this idea applies. Hiring a lawyer can save you from expensive fines, or paying a dentist to clean your teeth every six months might save you from thousands of dollars in dental work, or perhaps replacing that one part on your computer might save you from having to buy a completely new system because you didn’t let it set it all on fire. Whatever the situation, most of the time sacrificing a little bit now will save you a lot of trouble later.

What do you think about spending money on the little things? Would you rather just deal with problems as they come up, or do you try to stay on top of things? How much is too much when it comes to taking care of the regular expenses in your life? We tend to ignore many things that should be high up on our priority list, mostly because we convince ourselves they aren’t really that important. It isn’t until things go wrong that we’re forced to realize that is a mistake. It might be a good idea to reevaluate your own list to be sure you’re not putting yourself in a position to have something truly bad happen to you.

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Living With Algorithms

The internet has become pretty boring, if I’m being perfectly honest. Like most things that have been around for a while, you get to the point where if you’ve seen one thing, you’ve seen them all. Part of this is our natural tendency to become desensitized to things over time, but there is another aspect to how it all works that makes this phenomenon even worse. No matter how creative you might be, this thing makes it incredibly difficult to do anything innovative or new because the odds are if you aren’t adhering to it you won’t get noticed anyway. Of course, I’m talking about the almighty search algorithm.

There have always been gateways to content, so the internet isn’t really anything new in this regard. For most of history it was simply that getting anything published was nearly impossible because the technology for mass distribution wasn’t there. When we finally did learn how to spread information on a mass scale, it was up to the people who were able to print documents to decide what was worth putting to paper. In the last century, it was producers and book publishers who decided which ideas the public had access to. If your quality was good, your chances of success were fairly high because it was the work that determined your ability to get recognized.

This just isn’t the case anymore. With the ability for anyone to put anything out into the void that is the internet, there is just too much content out there for any one idea to rise up out of the murk solely on the merit of what it is. It is directly because of this that search algorithms were born, so that we simple humans can sift through nearly infinite information to find exactly what we’re looking for. As the programming has become more streamlined and intelligent, we don’t even really have to actively search for things anymore; the system does it for us.

While this is a blessing in many ways, it does have some unintended consequences that may not be worth the convenience. If you know anything about publishing content on the web, you are aware of the concept of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is a set of principles that website developers follow to increase the chances of their content being recognized and displayed by the various algorithms being used by the major search engine providers. These rules govern how websites are ranked and judged, completely devoid of anything except the crunching of numbers.

This makes sense from a technical standpoint. With so much content out there, we definitely need a way of going through it all in a way that is much faster than what any human could ever do. Some sort of system is required to make it all work. The problem is that this is ruinous from a creativity standpoint because it forces those who do things like writing or making videos to conform to a single set of variables to get the best chance of their product reaching the intended audience. While it is certainly true that vast amounts of content will result in a certain amount repetition, it is this unavoidable conformity to the rules of the algorithm that causes the majority of so many videos feeling like the same old thing over and over.

As someone who doesn’t know enough about programming to even begin to tackle this problem, all I can do is complain about it with no solution. That’s not my favorite way of doing things; I was always taught to bring up a problem along with a proposed solution. The problem is that if people much smarter than I am can’t figure out a better way, what can I really add that would be meaningful? I’m sure there is a solution out there to the problem, but it likely won’t be figured out by those of us on the content side.

What makes all of this sad is that creators are at their best when they can simply focus on making good content rather than having to pigeon-hole their ideas into a single format. Quality will always suffer when it is forced into the assembly line process, and the algorithm has certainly converted what was once a free place to share ideas into a meat grinder of content. If you want to have any chance of getting noticed, you had better check all the boxes. It’s creativity by checklist, and how can we avoid boredom with that?

Like many things, technology has given us great things that has changed our lives, but sometimes the thing we come up with end up hurting us more in the end. While it’s great to have access to unlimited amounts of information, perhaps we should consider the idea that it’s all just an illusion. A lake might spread across the horizon, but if it’s only two feet deep then it isn’t much fun to swim in. Perhaps one day we’ll be able to have our cake and eat it too, being able to focus solely on content creation that is uniquely us while still getting the benefits of advanced search techniques, but until then we will simply have to live with the same old boring internet.

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You Can’t Save People From Themselves

This article also available as a blog at: https://anchor.fm/gunthrek/embed/episodes/You-Cant-Save-People-From-Themselves-e16n5ig

We often believe that we have control over our lives. The world has become much smaller and we have developed the ability to manipulate our environment, shape the events of the world and even begin our spread beyond it, out into the inky blackness of outer space. We have risen to heights our ancestors could never have imagined, and it is natural for us to think that as we move further into the future with new technologies and advanced ideas about society that we can exert our power to control our own existence. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The problem we run into with such thoughts is that we forget the one thing that has brought us to this point in time in the first place: human nature. How many times have people tried to implement some form of social control only to have it blow up in their face because the people simply couldn’t live with it? No matter how oppressive you become or how much of an iron fist you try to use, at some point people get tired of being forced to live their lives in a way that opposes their nature and violent rebellion inevitably follows. It’s simply human nature.

As smart as we like to think we are, we never seem to learn from the mistakes of the past. Here we are again in the twenty-first century, a significant portion of our population ready to bend their knee to submit to people who claim they know what’s best for us, all the while forgetting how this tired old scheme played out before. One would think with the incredible access to knowledge that we have today that we would see the patterns of the past and stop repeating them, but again that thought completely disregards human nature. We are creatures of habit, and we can’t avoid making old mistakes all over again.

Where does it come from, this inability to gain wisdom from our failures in the past? Arrogance, mostly. Human beings are supremely confident in our own superiority, never questioning the idea that no matter how much everyone else might be lacking, we are somehow better. You can see it anytime you get frustrated with someone over something “stupid” they did to you. Maybe it’s driving down the freeway and they’re just moving to slowly and you can’t understand why; or the cashier couldn’t figure out how to process your return; perhaps your boss tells you to do something in a way you think is inefficient and you can’t figure out why they can’t see it. Whatever the reason, arrogance is the source.

Just about every social problem in our world today comes down to arrogance; the pride in believing that our way is so good that everyone should be doing it like we do. This is why we treat people the way we do, because we can’t understand why they don’t just “get it”. We see them as stupid, sub-human. There is no understanding or analyzation or room for anything outside the specific way we want it to be. It’s the “my way or the highway” view of the world, and you better well comply or else.

What we always fail to understand is that you simply can’t save people from themselves. In our arrogance we will always believe that we know what should be done, no matter how much evidence you try to present. This is why governments of compulsion will always fail, not because they can’t have great ideas, but because there will always be people who disagree and will refuse to live under the thumbs of others. It doesn’t matter that your intentions are good; the simple fact that you want to take away their self-determination is enough to back them into a corner and instigate a fight to the death. The simple truth is that human beings don’t want to be saved; they want to live their own lives.

This is the folly of ideas like communism or socialism, or even any form of global government: the idea that we can all unite under one set of ideals. It simply can’t work that way. There are too many of us with vastly different ideas about what life is supposed to be like. With billions of individual people all wanting different things, how can anyone seriously think they can corral everyone under one banner?

Arrogance, mostly. It all comes back down to that. It is the arrogance of a few against the arrogance of many. We don’t care about your way any more than you care about ours. The only possible result from such grand designs is the collapse of everything you strived to build, not because the idea isn’t good but because human beings won’t suffer being caged forever. They might submit to your will for a while, but eventually the yearning for freedom will overcome the “need” for safety, and the system comes crashing down. It is inevitable.

So what do you do with this knowledge? Nothing, really. We are too arrogant to learn from the past, always believing we’ll be the ones to do it right. No matter how many times we set down the philosophy of individual liberty, some people just won’t get it. It isn’t in our nature to just let people be. We have to meddle, always believing that we know better. The only thing you can do in the face of such blind ambition is to prepare yourself for a fight, standing up for your own arrogant way of viewing the world.

In the end, it always comes down to pride.

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Practice What You Preach, Especially If You’re a Public Figure

This is a pretty simple topic that doesn’t really require much extensive explanation, but I wanted to take some time to go over the dangers of hypocrisy, especially if you put yourself out into the world as a paragon of any given ideology. One of the worst things a person can do is to preach one thing in public and then go into their own private lives and do exactly the opposite. The fastest way to destroy your credibility is through hypocritical action, and it’s nearly impossible to regain any level of trust through this form of dishonesty.

Obviously, there is a difference between hypocrisy and agreement with an idea. For example, there are many virtues I extol here on this blog that I don’t necessarily practice in my own life. It’s perfectly fine to make a statement that things should be a certain way and accept that you’re too flawed to live up to it. No one is perfect, even though we strive to be. Where you start to run into trouble is when you start claiming that you’re an expert or authority on a particular subject, and it turns out you you live your life quite differently than you claim to.

The most public example of this right now, which is the impetus for writing this article, is the recent “beef” between the content creators of the YouTube channels Aba and Preach and the Fresh and Fit Podcast. The short version is that the members of Fresh and Fit went on a rant about a certain activity that they urge their followers not to participate in, and it came to light that they participate in it themselves. Aba and Preach called them out on it and a huge argument erupted online that resulted in threats of physical violence and other such nonsense.

The focus here isn’t really on the drama, but on the fact that a huge level of hypocrisy was on display by the Fresh and Fit team with regard to presenting a lifestyle they don’t necessarily live out in real life. The real danger of putting yourself out in the public space is being revealed as a hypocrite, and it is incredibly important to take great care to avoid any level of perception that you aren’t who you say you are. A private person might get away with a certain amount of hypocritical action, but a public figure is actively going out of their way to present a certain image. If you’re going to do this, you better well practice what you preach.

I’m sure the Fresh and Fit team will somehow survive this particular incident, because too many people today don’t place enough value on honor and integrity for it to really matter to them, but the right decision to make would be to put anything they say in the proper context; in other words, they have no credibility in that space anymore, so why listen to them? While I found their videos entertaining and found several kernels of truth in what they said, it’s difficult to maintain respect for liars.

If you choose to put yourself out into public for view by others, these are the kinds of risks you are taking on. The kinds of things you can get away with as a private citizen don’t fly when you’re on display for all to see, and you are inevitably held to a higher standard than the average Joe on the street. It’s not fair, but it’s just the way it is. If you can’t live up to what you’re preaching to others, it might be a good idea to not place yourself in a position to be judged on those values.

At the very least, don’t make it seem like you’re the master of it when you aren’t.

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