What would possess someone to spend irreplaceable hours of his finite life, typing into an electronic publishing system in the hopes of reaching a marginalized, nearly-eradicated, and isolated few?
The answer is that some of us desire — more than anything else — the restoration of sanity. Civilization is the scroll on which our great deeds are written, and when it is moribund, all of those are slated to be forgotten. All that we work to achieve will be lost.
And so, the isolated writer — long over pretensions of being any more than a camera, or that which reveals what is before us but denied — embarks on a path of trying to make sense of symbols and to peel away the layers of nonsense in which humans camouflage their actual task, also burying their inner hopes and desires.
This path leads us to an ancient understanding, which is that although the fundamental crisis of the West is bad leadership left in the hands of We The People instead of the most competent, the fundamental problem of humanity is evil, or selfish personal decisions which create negative side-effects.
That in turn leads us to the question of what evil is. Naturally this will be the first target for evil itself, because like any parasite, it will hope to conceal its negative deeds and hide in a cloud of confusion created by the equivalency of evil with normalcy, or worse, with good.
In the ancient sense, evil was a disruption of natural order and balance. The ancient Greeks believed that a hierarchy of humans existed as it did among the species of nature, and that to disrupt this — to become more powerful than one ought to be, for example — led to illusion, failure and punishment by the gods.
For the Nordics, evil was more simple: illusion. That which was not true appeared more true than truth, and so people followed it to their doom. In this view, evil is like an oasis in a desert: a tempting vision which turns out to be a trap.
The Christians followed with a simpler view. There was an order of God; those who transgressed against this were following evil, and failure to remove them created a situation in which evil triumphed. On the other hand, this view got translated into “Thou shalt not murder,” from the Ten Commandments.
All of these were straightforward. How were they corrupted?
The Greeks were corrupted when the order of nature was replaced with a human order, or democracy, in which the visions of others were accepted as “natural” and therefore part of nature. At this point, hierarchy dissolved and was replaced with the notion that interfering with any other person was bad.
The Nordics fell when theories and symbols were presented as being true in the same way reality was. This turned faces away from reality, and toward the world of logic as it exists in a laboratory or on a chalkboard, which is to say “true” but only if its assumptions were true, as they steadily were not.
Corruption visited Christianity when “Thou shalt not murder,” referring to unjust killing, was replaced with “Thou shalt not kill,” which made the erroneous assumption that all lives were equal and therefore all people were blameless in their choices. Killing those who merited it became bad, a form of pacifism.
If you ask me the meaning of a word, I say “To whom? And when?” because every definition we use is based on many other concepts, most of which are encoded in culture but only if people still live who understand them. Others are easily altered by changing the words we use to define words, or the concept of society itself.
Evil walks among us. It presents itself as pleasant, kind, generous and pleasurable. And yet the goal is always the same: to alter the definition of evil so that all acts are equal, which erases the notion of evil and allows evil to thrive among us.
Dear readers, I recognize that the internet of late has become a less favorable place for publishers and so many are turning to the type of sensationalism known as “clickbait.” Rest assured that we at Amerika Inc. would never stoop to such a level to draw in readers. Nevertheless, listen to this tip — which will also help you lose weight!
We know that throughout history no human civilizations have survived. Our rationalization hamster tells us that this is because civilization cannot survive, but looking at species which have thrived for three hundred million years, we then realize that the answer must be even simpler: every civilization makes the same mistake.
This mistake, a type of “cognitive pitfall” or common illusion to which humans are susceptible, leads to what is called Civilization Inertial Decay Disorder (el CIDD). This is manifested in excessive navel-gazing and self-pity, culminating in social movements to remove any accountability to reality, so that the mice may play while the cat is away.
Socialization itself — the act of interacting with others — transmits this disorder. The social group creates an echo chamber where untruths that are convenient for the human mind to grasp become accepted as ultimate truth and contrary information from reality is filtered out and ignored. The solution is to escape the echo chamber.
To save a human civilization, send people home. Cut their workdays by a third, and force everyone to get the same amount done in that time — they will not find it difficult, once the bellyaching and complaining ceases. Send kids home from school early, every day. Send people back into their own lives and souls, where they must find a reason to exist and love life that is independent of shiny material objects or social “kudos.”
People forced into such contemplation of life quickly either self-destruct or start to find a balance with eternity. They come to acknowledge their own relative unimportance, and with that, relax. They are no longer responsible for ideological purity, but only to live good lives according to the principles of their tribe. And so they relax and find hope.
Every day people are bathed in the propaganda of being busy. We send them into offices and schools where their time is taken up by activities of dubious realistic value, but of massive social value, because then everyone feels included and important (I&I). The hive buzzes happily at these events.
In reality, people need to feel the vast emptiness of time beyond the counting of years, and find a way to make themselves feel good about being alive independent from some social status, title or material reward. Normally, they are kept distracted by constant stimulus which keeps them focused on external tasks constantly; let us interrupt that, and return them to the internal dialogue, where they cannot react to stimulus but must create their own.
Western civilization has cracked itself out on constant activity that does not need to be done. It engages in this activity so that people do not need to face the void, or the failure of this civilization and the inherent emptiness of life. With recognizing the emptiness however, they are in a position to see purpose and God, and from that, to begin to like themselves again.
Our time is cruel but only in subtle ways. It removes from people the decisions they need to make in order to understand themselves, and through that, to know what of their world is self and what is reality. As a result, they wander in darkness and obscurity, never seeing the light hidden behind the facade of everything.
A man dies — one of those mundane deaths, like a car crash or unventilated generator — and finds himself in a long blue tunnel leading to what he can describe only as “black light,” or a glowing emptiness. He floats to its edge and then steps into it, finding himself in a comfortable space in which light emits from the material itself, so he cannot see walls or other features.
In the distance he sees someone approaching. It is an older man with a white-grey beard, wearing a luminous black robe. As the man comes closer, it becomes apparent he is heading for a chair and table which had not been noticed before, but seem to have always been there, as objects are in dreams. The man sits and takes out a book bound in human skin.
“Ah, yes, you have living a middling life, I see. Not good, not bad, but more on the side of good with a heavy dose of self-centeredness than anything else,” he says. “That is about average. You were of reasonable intelligence, so you and your ancestors did something right in previous incarnations. This means I can offer you a choice:”
- Door #1. Behind this door lies an easy existence. Your job is to raise butterflies. You will have a large greenhouse, and each day you must collect leaves with eggs on them and place them in incubation chambers. Then, when they hatch into caterpillars, you must feed them leaves that you grow. When each caterpillar forms a chrysalis, you must relocate it to the hatching chamber and wait for the metamorphosis to be complete, then release the butterfly after its wings dry. You will live in a 5,000 square foot luxury house. Your job will take about three hours a day. You will dine at a fine restaurant for two meals plus takeaway for lunch. But, the butterflies you release will fly upward out of the greenhouse and into infinite empty space where they will be destroyed. You will watch the results of your labor vanish into meaningless nothingness before your eyes, every day.
- Door #2. Welcome to a different lifestyle entirely. You will live in a small stone hut on a medium-sized island with rocky soil. Here, you will labor in clearing the soil and planting it with the only crop that grows on this island, cabbage. You will survive on cabbage and the meat of an occasional goat, if you can catch one of the wild ones that range the island. On this island are deer who love cabbage. They will not take it of their own accord, but whatever you bring to them, they will eat. You will not be able to eat them, either. But you will be able to observe them and the effects of your care upon them. It is a hard and grueling life however.
The man becomes aware of a sensation that through its contrast to what he had been experiencing, reveals the shift in sensations that has occurred after death. He has not felt alive, but upon this decision, he feels more like he did when he was alive: a kind of trepidation mixed with hope, a sensitivity like cold air across his skin coupled with the loveliest, most carefree night. And yet, this choice is hard. The answer is obvious, and yet it is not. He likes fine restaurants and large houses. The void, however, that is the thing. He thinks hard and gets nowhere.
As he gives up on the decision and on himself for being too useless to make the choice, a memory comes back to him. His first daughter, with her first doll, which some years later had become ripped. He had taken it into the little workshop he kept in his garage and re-stuffed it carefully, then mended the rents with rough twine he kept in the third desk drawer from the bottom on the right-hand side. Then he gave it back to her, not having told her what he was going to do, and observed to his surprise a look of ineffable joy on her face.
The man is watching him. “I see that your decision is made,” he says, closing the book. “So it must be. Good luck, and see you again soon.”
In an effort to uncover The Human Problem (or The Civilization Disease, as it is sometimes called), Outside In looks at a recent exploration of human linear thinking in defiance of obvious reality:
[H]umans are, by nature, envious, resentful and unable to comprehend, let alone appreciate, a sophisticated economic system that has evolved in spite of, not because of, our best efforts.
Humans possess a massive ability that overshadows all other knowledge because it is more easily accessible to our minds. This ability is our faculty to assess risk, and with it, our analysis of the degree of order to any scenario.
Disorder implies greater risk; order implies stability.
As a result, our minds tend to want to impose order on any situations we encounter, but this question depends on how well we know what order is. Our tendency is to like blocky structures in which all elements are equal because from a linear thinking perspective, this is orderly and permits assembly-line style processing.
Nature is several steps ahead of us however and prefers ecosystems, or organic, systems which are “self-arising” through a process of internal conflict, unequal roles, and a few principles which translate into radically different results in different highly particular situations.
Evolution allows these systems to “emerge” by starting with simple principles and developing in reaction to conflicts. This ensures that every granular detail is consistent with the comprehensive whole, and relates to the founding principles which govern the system.
Humans remain confined within the boundaries of their linear thought because to do otherwise is to relinquish the illusion of control by the ego, a necessary fiction perpetrated to enable our parallel-thinking brains to assume they are the product of a single will. However, humans have the ability of choice, both among internal impulses including thoughts, and between actions they can take, so can re-program themselves to think in a non-linear manner.
The most recent outrage of a dying civilization:
Mayte Lara Ibarra shot off the polarizing tweet last Friday after graduating from Crockett High School in Austin.
“Valedictorian, 4.5GPA, full tuition paid for at UT, 13 cords and medals, nice legs, oh and I’m undocumented,” she wrote.
The tweet included several graduation pictures and a few emojis: a medal, the Mexican flag, Hook ’em horns for the University of Texas, and a graduation cap.
Scott and his sister Sable had traveled about 225 yards off the boardwalk on Tuesday when he slipped and fell into the hot spring in the Norris Geyser Basin.
Scott recently graduated summa cum laude from Pacific University and was planning to begin a doctorate in psychology in the fall, according to Jackson Hole Daily.
We are awash in smart morons. These people can obey instructions, memorize facts and equations, and even apply basic logic. But for more complex questions, they are useless.
This shows the utter futility of formal education. Education doles out tasks in details, and sets the requirements for each, rewarding those who are more obedient and detail-oriented than those who possess the innate facility of analysis.
As such, our society is promoting talented fools to positions that require a single talent, which is analysis and leadership, and in the process are crushing us all under an avalanche of incompetence, stupidity and obliviousness.
Exterminate all rational thought.1
Wherever human society goes, it creates the seeds of its own destruction. I posit that this occurs as a result of the increasing formalization of organization, meaning that instead of leaving choices to humans alone on the basis of their judgment alone, rules and structures are written down and enforced in an effort to perfect a process and also make it easy for a person of average ability. This explains why every human civilization so far has failed at the height of its power.
Formal order, or that which involves rules and procedures instead of generalized goals with latitude for the individual to succeed or fail much as they do under Darwinian nature, creates dark organization through the following methods:
- Absolutism. Rights and other one-way measures of authority take the place of choosing to approve or disapprove of actions on the basis of their likelihood of achieving the goal. In this way, authority takes the place of reality, much as in civilization social pressures replace reality as well. Both of these are subsets of the general pattern of the human ego replacing reality, and demanding that others acknowledge its reality as a means of denying possibly unpleasant aspects of existence.
- Selection bias.
- People: formal organizations select people who seek power or wealth for their own sake. Since formal organizations replace reality-based methods of selecting success, those who fulfill the needs of the formalized process are rewarded. This is simpler than making things simply work, which attracts both the less able and drives away the more able who find it tedious.
- Facts: formal organizations create a process of rationalism, or searching for some answer that fulfills a predefined objective. This objective occurs independent of the whole, or on the level of detail, which filters out noticing of that which clashes with what is being done at a lower level, which means that people robotically apply procedure to detail, and that higher-ups never hear about the inadequacies of their models.
- Careerism. Formal organizations reward doing what those above demand in preference to achieving a complete task in its own right. As a result, those who succeed are not the competent but the socially-competent, and people are driven by fear of not meeting requirements, not failing in their task. The person who produces irrelevant or wrong results which fulfill the needs of the process will be rewarded over the one who notices that something is amiss in the mental model being used, or achieves the task without doing all of the steps that please higher-ups.
- Subsets. By the nature of formalization itself, wider questions are reduced to pre-defined narrower ones. This both enables the process to work through deconstruction, or dividing big questions into many smaller ones, and through use of average people, who can obey recipes and rules but not (perhaps) ascertain what is needed and critically assess it on their own. The result is that the lost data becomes a “conspiracy of details” which although small fractions at each part of the process add up to a much larger amount on the level of the whole.
If you wonder why civilization always fails, it is because it its own worst enemy: the process of civilizing, when not stopped before it becomes formalization for its own sake, produces robotic people who are masters of details and oblivious to reality and the whole question of each task.
This manifests most in the workplace and school, but also undermines the social process. Instead of the role of being a good friend, people seek others who flatter them and meet their personal needs for objects such as people to engage in social activities with. This reverses selection for the best people, and instead creates a need for obedient ones who do not care about the consequences of their actions.
As such, formalization is a removal of responsibility. Instead of being accountable for end results, people are assessed by the fulfillment of tasks designed artificially: doing their work on homework assignments, filling out the right paperwork, saying the right thing in a political speech or social engagement.
Formalization rewards lowercase-c conservatism, or conformity to process, past successes and the opinions of others. Someone who does a task in a different way is at risk even if he succeeds, but someone who follows the process will be rewarded even if she fails.
It has long been clear to me that human “best intentions” are the cause of the decline of complex societies. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, as they say, and our best intentions have us find a right way to do things, then write it down, and then to control others in order to force them to follow this one right way. From that comes a form of internal entropy, division and eventually, mediocrity and doom.
1 — William S. Burroughs, as cited in the movie Naked Lunch and derived from his early works.
In News of the Moron, another story — following up on the ill-mannered brat who jumped a fence to get beat up by a gorilla — of humans ignoring reality:
There are “No Swimming” signs at the lagoon, and no one else was in the water at the time of the attack besides the child, Demings said.
This body of water is not for recreational swimming, “likely for that very reason,” Demings said. “This is Florida and it’s not uncommon for alligators to be in bodies of water.”
What we are seeing here is the convergence of two things: first, as mob rule intensifies, people are shedding any notion of personal responsibility, which includes responsibility to reality; second, the nanny state has covered every square inch of North America with warning signs and so people are starting to disregard them. As Hunter S. Thompson opined, “In a closed society where everyone is guilty, the only crime is getting caught,” and in a society where rules, fines, cops, cameras, and other intrusive control are common, people are itching to violate those rules.
For years we have treated the flash flood of idiots in the West as a ha-ha funny joke. Now, we see the consequences: these idiots will demand that someone else eradicate nature because of their own lack of ability to perceive that there are threats around them. In any sane system, meaning one other than a democracy, we would allow Natural Selection Events (NSEs) to occur and welcome them as strengthening our tribe.
When an NSE happens near you, the first thing to do is to stop the great pity train. The hive winds itself up by weeping in groups because herds do everything in a group; people of the herd do not feel comfortable unless they are surrounded by other people at all times. When the weeping is done, the Angry Statements will begin. Then the politicians will get involved. Soon all alligators will be dead so that idiots feel safe.
You can interrupt the pity train by both denying your own participation, and telling people “this sort of thing just happens, that’s why there are warning signs.” Steamroller any idiot who is getting weepy and do your best to smash down all commemorative activities, vigils, colored lights on national capitals, Facebook photo-changing and so on. It is all just the herd getting good and emotional so it can coil and strike.
The Crowd will do its best to lie about the situation and to edit history so that the individual appears innocent. Do not let it happen; you cannot afford to waffle. Shout loudly and clearly “He was in the water!” because that crucial fact is exactly what the Crowdists will attempt to delete from memory. Everyone knows that if the kid was in the water, the parents are idiots and this was a natural selection event. But if we can get him out of the water in our minds, we can argue that the cruel gator snatched him from where he should have been “safe”; eventually the story will mutate into the idea that he was sitting in the living room playing on an iPad when the mean racist gator just swooped in and took him.
Darwin is our friend and natural selection is how we maintain strength. Generally, it is pretty hard to get an NSE invoked on you in this society. Those who manage to do it anyway are those we can doubly stand to lose. It is not state-sponsored eugenics or any other nonsense of that sort to say that we should not be protecting these people from the consequences of their actions. Or that we should celebrate their deaths as one less parasitic weakling among us.
Politicians love any program that requires more money, more hiring, more spending and more power. But welfare and related payments (entitlements) have been sold to us as a benevolent act. The reality is far more grim.
Consider this scenario: government dumps money on impoverished citizens. These have little judgment, so they run off and buy shiny new iPhones, which then pumps up Apple’s stock. Government can then point to Apple, say “see our economy is massive,” and take out more loans, with zero members of Government planning to be around at the moment when default becomes inevitable.
If we abolished welfare tomorrow, our consumer-level products economy would collapse, leading the Chinese to stop buying up our debt, which would mean that government would have to become accountable for its spending. That alone would be worth doing.
As many have noted, the cause of civilization decline is civilization. When there is a big pot of money, people get their fingers into it and in order to keep the parasitism going, they create rules and power structures that doom the society. This pattern repeats time and again, and it begins with wealth, which attracts parasites.
What is a parasite? Anything which takes resources but is not strictly necessary is a parasite. Not all lawyers are parasites; some serve a useful role, as do some bureaucrats, doctors, and other roles all the way down to manual laborer. But many do not serve any role other than to show up, perform a repetitive task, and demand money for it.
People who are not parasites give more than they take. People who do the minimum, or invent non-necessary stuff to do in order to justify themselves, are mere leeches. When enough of these accumulate, they take over society because they becoming a financial and political bloc.
When the epitaph for liberal democracy is written, people with note how normal people were entirely unacquainted with how vicious these parasites are. For them, it is do or die: they either keep the parasitism train running, which eventually kills the patient and parasite alike, or they are without sustenance because they are useless and generally neurotic people.
This is why Leftists behave as if any assertion of common sense is an attack on Leftists with intent to kill. The restoration of sanity will eliminate Leftists and other individualists, who put their needs above nature, God, society, sanity and realism. As we look on the Leftist killing fields of the French Revolution through the twentieth century, this viciousness reveals itself like a shape traced in smoke.
The web gave us the rise of the personal blog. At first, the blog was a place to post links of interest, but with the rise of search engines, this became less important, and instead bloggers competed for traffic on the basis of personality and pleasant visions of life… that may be very far from real.
But with this change, the blogger altered identity. He or she was no longer the chooser of links, or the finder of oddities, in which case the links were the product. No: the blogger was the product. People were tuning in to partake of the personality and the lifestyle which they admired.
This clinched the trap. Where previously bloggers had been susceptible to vanity, now they were what they were selling to the audience, and sometimes they bought their own product… as every drug dealer or arms merchant is cautioned not to do. Bloggers got no such warning.
In doing so, they pioneered the postmodern condition: when everything is a product, individuals are products too, selling themselves in exchange for jobs, status, popularity, fame and opportunities. We have made our society into a herd of attention whores through our insistence on selection by the masses of what is the “right” answer.
Look at what a creepy, proctological world we have made:
“The other bloggers in your community won’t share your content with their readers [if it’s not cheery],” she explains. “And if the [blogger] networks don’t share the content, then your own numbers suffer.”
…“I felt I could somehow control things as long as it looked good online,” says Denise
…“So there we all are, family time, grilling on Father’s Day with peach iced tea, but you can’t enjoy the moment you’re having with your kids, because you’re taking endless photos and it’s all stage-directed,” says Denise. “You’re worried about getting the company logo in the frame, and your kids smiling, and you’re taking shot after shot.”
In other words, bloggers — We The People — have become just as sold out as big media. But there is another catch: if your blog is a personal one, or one in which you sell yourself, you find yourself altering who you are to make the audience happy. Your personality, life and soul have become a means to an end of getting more attention.
Validation creates a validator. If we are all equal, that situation creates competition to be validated as more than equal. That transfers power from the individual, who ordinarily through self-esteem is alone responsible for his self-image, to the crowd which approves or disapproves. The validators become the tyrants, and bloggers alter themselves to be more pleasing, like concubines after a feast.
Another blogger expressed it this way — basically, needing attention makes you a slave and a whore to what other people think:
and you know what? even though i was fretting all along about my absence, i finally let go of all that self imposed stress and just enjoyed life. it’s been great to take a breather from the ol’ internet- my pal and yours, but let’s face it: sometimes the internet can feel sorta… eh at times, you know? pretty easy to get caught up in it all. all the tweeting, chatting, flickring, facebooking, stylehiving, myspacing, friendstering, tumblering, bloglining, etc. it’s a lot, isn’t it? sometimes so much that you forget to interact with the people right in front of your face. instead, you find yourself neeeeeding the updates. who’s doing what. did so-and-so post new pics? has so-and-so returned from their vacation? what is so-and-so making for dinner? what’s the latest celeb scandal? and what is so-and-so wearing today.
crazy, i know. but the time away provides an excellent reminder: you will be just fine if you didn’t check in with all that stuff as much as you think you need to because your own life is pretty good. and that it feels a lot better to live through your own experiences than through someone elses.
This echoes the meltdowns that other bloggers — in this case, the type of “look at my perfect life” blogger called a mommyblogger — have experienced. For example, Heather Armstrong (Dooce) had a very public meltdown in which she admitted to being in therapy, divorced her husband and fled her “perfect” life:
I find this so confusing because according to Dooce, the two of them have been going to therapy for years together. Dooce has praised her husband and openly loved him for years. I don’t get how this happened. Was she lying to us about how things really were?
I’ve noticed that many very successful and/or famous people do not stay with the partner they were with prior to that success and/or fame. But Dooce has been successful and famous for a long time now. The marriage had the outward appearance of surviving not only Heather’s mental illness, but also her career. Jon doesn’t seem like the kind of man who would begrudge Heather her success. He seems to really love and respect her.
Other bloggers have had similar meltdowns. Early blogger Justin Hall experienced a meltdown at the peak of his fame and as he was forced by post-college life to make himself into a product. Jorn Barger, the guy who invented the term “blog,” experienced an intense meltdown that left him homeless.
So what does this tell us? That the need for validation creates a need to manipulate image, and that soon the false image replaces reality…
Most women don’t necessarily do it for the money, Denise noticed, but rather for validation — the feeling of importance that comes from working with big, national brands like Bigelow Tea and Coca-Cola.
“They aren’t very honest about what’s going on in their lives,” she says. “I was certainly one of them.”
…“I’m not playing that game anymore. I’m moving on from writing posts about chicken and cupcakes. These days, if I’m at a park with my kids now, I’m there, at that park. I feel a real sense of community — not the false kind I tried to create online.”
The image must conform to what others want to purchase as a product. They do not care about reality. They want a pleasant reality in which to lose themselves and feel better about their lives. You, the blogger, are the product: a celebrity whose forum is not the movies in which you act, but your own personal drama and lifestyle which you sell like a used car to whichever warm bodies you can induce to click on your links.
The creepiness continues because with the idea of a “personal” connection comes the notion that people can share emotions, truths and viewpoints:
As a result of such heated controversy, Armstrong began connecting with others in the blogosphere, and her readership continued to grow. Since then, the relationship between her and her readers has been invaluable. They have helped her through extremely dark times in her life, particularly through her postpartum depression.
“I would give hints about how I was feeling, and people would respond,” Armstrong said. “Many of them reached out to me with their own story, saying, ‘Please take care of yourself.’ I really credit their support of me to the willingness of me to accept that something was wrong.”
In other words, this is the formation of a hive mind: a huge group grooving to the same emotion, moving through the same motions, and motivated by the same fears. This is a dangerous condition at best, and a horrifying abyss of human moral awareness and self-discipline at worst. When the herd validates you, you have no reason to change for some reason as piddly as adapting to reality.
FreckleWonder, the (freckled) blogger cited earlier, eventually retreated from blogging and left instead this statement about how profoundly being a self-centered celebrity had ruined her life:
If my math is correct, it’s been 99 days since my last post. I didn’t intend go dark but the thing is, the more the days went by, the easier it was to not blog and just live. The idea of sitting down to edit images and compose a post just seemed totally unfulfilling. I’d rather take the 1-2 hours and hang out with my kids, connect with my husband, enjoy the outdoors with my dogs. Cook, exercise, read a book. Lounge on the sofa in the sunshine and stare at the ceiling. Really, anything but comb the internet for ideas and images to write a blogpost.
The last thing I want to do is apologize for not sitting down to blog because I’ve been busy living and experiencing that wonderful thing called real life. I don’t like it when bloggers apologize for not meeting some number of posts because of x, y and z. The kids were sick! We’ve been SO BUSY. My internet was out! I promise to be back next week!
These things happen and it’s called life. Blogging ≠ Life.
My perspective has definitely shifted over the last couple years. You may have noticed, I rarely share images of my kids anymore (here or elsewhere) and don’t really blog about anything very personal. I decided about 2 years ago to reclaim the private moments in our lives, saving them (for the most part) just for us to experience instead of plastering them all over the www. It wasn’t anything I announced or talked about, and there wasn’t any single incident that pushed me towards making that decision. It’s just what felt right to me and to my husband and what felt best for our family. It’s almost like I woke up one day and hit my limit on sharing. Let’s face it, the internet isn’t what it used to be.
I do miss the good old days of blogging, long before every little slice of life was monetized in some way. Snacks, outfits, family trips. I’ve struggled with this for years. Some people handle this delicate balance really well – and I sincerely mean that. But I truly believe that in many cases, the money behind a post really changes the author’s voice. A blog post reads like an advertisement. From a reader perspective, things feel less genuine, less reader-blogger connected. Instead things feel at times competitive and incredibly superficial with product pushing, mile long gift guides riddled with affiliate links. Those posts are not fun to put together, I know from experience. They’re also not fun (for me) to read. I have ZERO interest in spending my few spare moments on something like that. I’m not singling out any one blog/blogger, but rather speaking to the overwhelming feeling I have that everywhere I turn, I’m being sold something.
I miss the days of having a real community. Of sharing for the sake of connecting. Of being genuinely inspired. Maybe I’m looking in all the wrong places. If you know of well written, honest, non-sponsored content, please share. Because nowadays a lot of folks are up on their writer-editor-tastemaker high horse and images are curated to the teeth and WHAT IS LIFE because I’m not so sure about all of this. I’d be the first one to admit that it’s easy to fall into that perfect image trap. You want to share something lovely, you want to share something nice. But at what point does lovely and nice turn into phony and absurd? (This a bit of an aside and I am going out on a limb but: I don’t consider myself a writer. I don’t want to offend the real writers of the world. However, it is important to me that I hit the submit button on a post that is not just visually beautiful but also well written (to the best of my ability) and free of any spelling and grammatical errors. I do spend more than a few minutes editing and revising because it matters. For example, this post currently has 34 revisions and I’ve spent more than two hours on it. I feel like it’s the least you can do (especially if you’re getting paid to do it).
Grammar Girl is your friend. Also, things like aThesaurus! The Idiom and Phrase finder! Put those in your bag of tricks. Just might be enough to sink a ship.
ANYHOW, I wonder why I even want to be a part of it any more. Is it more out of habit? A pull that I feel because it’s something I’ve done for so long that it feels weird to not be involved? It’s a total yes on this one. And it’s funny because sometimes I still wake up in the middle of the night and write blog posts in my head. The blog weighs on me like a ton of bricks. At 4 am they always seem really great and share-worthy. But it’s the middle of the night! And I should be sleeping! What the hell am I doing! And then morning comes and with it my ability to see things more clearly. I go about all my usual business, which as of late does not seem to have any space for this here blog.
It’s a square peg, round hole kind of situation.
I’m pulling the plug at the end of the month. It feels so silly to pay hosting fees, etc. for something I’m just not doing with any kind of regularity (or enthusiasm) anymore. If I can muster up the energy to figure out how to export over to a free platform, then maybe I’ll do that. Maybe the mood will strike – it’s been a LONG WINTER after all.
The last time I quit a blog, it was so emotional for me! I agonized over the decision and it felt like I was jumping off the edge of something because it had been a part of my life for so long. This time it’s a no brainer – it was fun until it wasn’t. I’m truly ready to move on to different things. I’m enrolled in spring classes and I’m so excited about it. This next year is going to be a really busy one as we focus on selling our house and beginning a new chapter for our family. New house, new hood, new schools, new work, all off the blog.
I have so much appreciation for all of you loyal readers and customers throughout the years. Your support, your kindness, your friendship. Thanks for reading and being a part of this thing for so long.
I will leave you with one last thing: I stumbled across a quote online last year sometime, probably on one of those silly Pinterest boards with all the quotes (I used to have one, no worries) and it read: DO ONE THING AND DO IT WELL. And that sucker smacked me sideways. I’ve been a proud multitasker for as long as I can remember, but the minute I decided to clear my plate and put my energy towards fewer things in a more effective way, the better I felt. And the better I was at those things. Win, win.
In the experiences of these bloggers, we see the modern parable: people made responsible to the Crowd through self-image, which in turn forces them to edit that image until it appeals to the Crowd, not just so they can get ahead but so they are not left behind. Every whitelist — list of good people — also contains an implicit blacklist — list of bad people — because if you are not on the whitelist, you are de facto on the blacklist.
This creates a horrific world where nothing is authentic, where everyone is a salesman, and where all “truths” are image designed to manipulate you, and nothing more. The experience of bloggers and their meltdowns is nothing less than what our society as a whole faces as its attention whoring falls flat and it must confront the emptiness of a life lived for image in denial of reality.
Let us journey back in time to high school, which was probably when you first noticed the different between surface and structure. Like many observations from childhood, what you noticed was true, but you did not understand the mechanism.
In your classes, you observed that some people could understand the depth of an issue and how its parts interrelated, and others stayed floating on the surface where they could reduce it to easily-comprehended parts existing in a one-dimensional flat hierarchy. For example, to some Moby-Dick was a story about a whale and algebra was a series of equation-forms; to others, the book looked into the human desire for power and algebra was a language for translating discrete quantities to relative ones.
As you ventured into adulthood, you saw this division occurs everywhere, even among smart people. One can always take life at face value, or look at it through the lens of how one communicates to others and justifies one’s own decision as good. Face value creates an understanding of something in purely human terms, with no relation to how it connects to anything other than humans.
Most people think in terms of face value because it is less threatening to them than looking into the depth of structure. In groups, people agree on face value because the goal of a group is that everyone must all get along, and since face value is easily perceived, a group can share that assessment without it being controversial, where looking into depth involves risk and is thus always controversial. This means that in human societies, it is always opposite day:
- Whatever makes most people feel good or they think is right or profound, is not, and is in fact a scapegoat or distraction from the real issues;
- Whatever makes most people feel uncomfortable or confused is a gateway to the real issues, and most people spend most of their time in flight from it.
On perpetual opposite day, whatever you are told is “clearly” true is in fact not true, and whatever people get together to insist in false contains some grain of truth. This does not mean that you can simply execute a “180 degree rule” on whatever is popular and do the opposite, but that what is popular is distraction, and the answer can be found by beginning with what is denied and looking into it for depth.
The problem with humans is that their thought process rewards what is comprehensible over what is ambiguous. Truth is ambiguous: it has depth, particularity, internal structure and invokes (many) principles of abstract logic as well as natural law (gravity, Darwinism, etc.). As a result, humans tend to think about what they are thinking, and choose what they can communicate that will make others happy, which is always a subset of actual truth.
As any good leader can tell you, the enemy of getting it right is getting it “right enough” for someone else to sign off on it. People prefer a subset of truth, or something quite short of the whole truth, because they view it as something they can implement, starting with explaining it to their friends, colleagues and neighbors. Thus begins the perennial process of dumbing-down that seems endemic to humanity.
Human thinking is based in self-consciousness, or the perpetual question of “how does this look to others?” with a sub-heading of “we must all get along.” This prioritizes the clearly communicable (infectious) ideas that are mostly wrong over the more ambiguous and thus risky and controversial ideas that are mostly right.
The only solution to opposite day is to embrace the controversy, mystery, ambiguity and difficulty and to find the people who excel at understanding reality and put them in charge. The best must oppress the rest, or the rest will oppress the best, and then in incompetence society will dwell and slowly fade away, like every human civilization in history has eventually done.
But the catch — the difficulty in bootstrapping this — is that this principle itself requires understanding, so is anti-social or at least not infectious. It cannot spread like a disease, but is more like a trophy: those who fight to the top of the heap of ideas applied in reality are able to see it. Usually at that point, they despair, because they realize that this idea will be unpopular.
Perhaps, then, our first target is popularity itself.