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“What is Philosophy?” Video Extras (Part 1)

Okay, you’re here. This is exciting. So first, I might be biased but I think you should go check out my “Philosophy” tab because… I want you to?

Additionally! I know sometimes people are like “you didn’t leave the visual aid/text bit up for long enough!” – for which I’m sorry, it’s hard to time stuff like that right and I’m working on it, BUT here’s all that stuff in one convenient spot, if you want to go back over it.

All of these diagrams were made using MindMeister, which is literally my favorite thing.

Alright. So. That’ll be the end of Part 1.

Click to read Part 2!

Is this blog JUST about social media now???

So, about the YouTube thing. The world now is obsessed with social media, and I get it, it’s disgusting. One of the biggest reasons I want to delete my channel is because it horrifies me that I can’t control what other people interpret about me the second they find their way deep enough into my social media rabbit hole.

I know that you can’t control how other people see you no matter what you do, but it’s just that… I get it. The temptation to assume that I’m just another name on the infinite list of attention-hungry millennials looking for someone – anyone – to tell them they’re special, to make them feel like their mostly mundane life is actually worth paying attention to.

And I know that any good therapist or friend would say that it shouldn’t matter what people think if you know that they’re wrong… and I do know that they’re wrong. I’m not that person. I’m shy. I can crave attention and validation and spotlight, I guess, sure, but mainly I’m just sweaty, uncomfortable in my own skin, and unwilling to waste time getting to know people if they aren’t looking for the truth. The whole truth. You know?

Working with kids has been interesting. It’s been reminding me that deep down, we all just want to be known. We all were once children who would spill our entire life stories to a stranger just to remind ourselves that we exist, that we HAD a life story at all, no matter how short. Because to us, that’s all there was, so every tiny part mattered. There was no sense of proportion, of our favorite color being less important than what we wanted to be when we grew up, or whatever. It all mattered and we wanted it all to be seen.

I think that’s all adults want too, but it gets so much more complicated because we get so much more complicated. I, for example, have all kinds of weird shit in my brain and in my life that you just can’t share in most contexts, but for whatever reason on the internet, that kind of thing is fair game. Because, why? Maybe because it feels private and public at the same time? Or because everyone online is just trying to one up each other in terms of being unique and special and interesting? Or maybe because deep down I pretty much believe that the vast majority of people just don’t care enough to do a deep dive into someone else’s timeline.

That’s another thing adults and children have in common: we’re all excruciatingly self-absorbed. But kids… I think kids haven’t yet begun to see other people as fundamentally predictable, so maybe they still find other people interesting in a way adults often don’t unless they want something out of you.

Anyway. I’ve been enjoying proving to myself that I’m not the person who makes YouTube videos because they want attention or fame or whatever by taking a break from all of that. And it’s nice to know that these days, if anyone wants to creep on my social media, they have to come here. That feels nice. Less shallow, or maybe more under my control because it’s harder to misinterpret something if you’re forced to really engage with it, like you have to if you’re reading a blog post.

But uh, yeah. It hardly seems fair, being raised in the age of social media. It feels like it was never a choice, and now it’s just all so… I don’t know.

One thing about kids that I appreciate, too, is… they’re real. And that much I know to be true about me, too. When I’m not sure of anything else about myself, I will never doubt that I am incapable of being anything other than me. Sometimes that can feel crippling, but I think it’s also maybe the best thing about me, and the reason other people who are the same way seem to respond to me, why kids seem to respond to me. When you’re real, when you’re honest, and you don’t talk down to people… sometimes magic can happen.

It’s just… maybe having power is something I’m so not accustomed to that… the magic seems more scary than inviting. It all comes with a price, right? I guess the price of mine is when you’re yourself all the time… you feel… everything. Every tiny moment of the day that other people don’t think twice about, to me those are all equally important. Maybe that’s why I have such a child-like vibe about me, that in so many ways I just refuse to grow up and start seeing things through a more proportioned lens. But to be honest, even though I know it makes me seem silly and naive to a lot of people, I still kind of hope that I never do.

Sometimes it’s smart to be dumb

Hi. So. This blog feels more like a diary which is awkward, but… we’ve gone over that a bunch of times already. I doubt anyone has read every post, anyway, so maybe it’s more like… a feeble attempt to get outside of my own head in a space that still feels safe, for the most part, although I know that realistically, there’s no such thing as a safe place on the internet.

Anyway. Skipping the intro part where I mention that it’s a weird thing to do to blog at all as a defense against imaginary critics…

So. Social media hiatus. I’ve actually succeeded, for a while, and haven’t even been tempted, really. But maybe on the off chance that anyone cares enough to read this, I’ll explain a little.

YouTube used to be my favorite thing in the whole world, in the days when it was really a small fraction of what it is today. As a viewer, I mean. But I feel like when I started making my own stuff, it was like I was stuck in the mindset that YouTube still was what it used to be when the vlogbrothers had like the biggest following on the platform. (Did they even? I don’t remember. They were up there, though.)

ANYWAY. It was like a community, then, it’s like it was a private school with one grade per class and then all of the sudden it was the entire school district.

So three things about me: I’m dumb, I’m idealistic, and I’m extremely stubborn. And I’m not sure which of those qualities was the one that made me insist on treating YouTube like the sandbox it once was instead of the clusterfuck of attention seeking it is now. But they all probably contributed, among other things like desperation and loneliness blah blah.

ANYWAY. So all that happened but all of the sudden I started to become aware that the beginning stages of a channel, I’m talking like working up to 100 and then 300 subs, which took longer, I think, for me, than it took to get from 300 to 1700. Which is normal, I think, but the point is that pre-300ish area was really… I don’t know, pure? For me? My process was? Maybe because it was so fresh and new and then all of the sudden I was putting so much pressure on myself that I couldn’t… so.

What I wanted to talk about before I started rambling was this: I’m the kind of person who reads sociology papers for fun. Who listens to audiobooks by MIT professors arguing that human life is a kind of simulation game while playing simulation games. Who knows the difference between the epistemology of Descartes and Wittgenstein and would enjoy an excuse to talk about it.

But I’m not smart. Which I don’t mean as a put-down, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I think intelligence is just such an unhelpful and often harmful concept altogether. It’s not that I’m not intelligent, that I don’t have skills, but I’m not… I’m the person who wades into the academic world and splashes around in it, not the one who sails out into the ocean and studies the coral reefs or whatever. I’m a dweeb, but I’m not a genius.

My point, I think, is just that that’s a tough place to be but I think also maybe an important place to allow yourself to remain in and play around in and feel comfortable in. Because the problem with smart people, in my opinion, is that they expect everyone to be as smart as they are, and that’s just not how life works. If you want to feel superior to others, fine. That’s a normal drive to have. But the definition of being superior to other people is that the majority of those other people will not meet your standards, so the expectation that they would or even should just doesn’t make sense. See what I’m saying?

Like if I wanted to be an extraordinary musician, and then succeeded, but became extremely impatient with anyone who didn’t have perfect pitch when they sang happy birthday at my birthday party, that would be stupid and unnecessary and rude, and I wouldn’t have many friends anymore, except other exceptionally skilled musicians. In the same way, I think that often a lot of exceptionally educated people alienate themselves from anyone except other exceptionally educated people by expecting everyone they talk to to have “perfect pitch” when it comes to the topics they’re well versed in.

Basically what I’m saying is that… so… the reason I’m taking time away from social media is that I’m exploring other options for my life and figuring out if I even want to keep my channel public at all, let alone keep doing it. Because YouTube… I still love it. And that pesky optimism and stubbornness won’t quite let me give up on the idea that it can still be used the way I originally wanted to use it. But.

I moved to Wyoming to live with my aunt and be a “paraeducator” at a local school. Which means I’m sort of a special education person who works with students one on one within a regular class. So maybe that’s why all this stuff has been on my mind, because… some kids take longer to grasp fractions than others. Some kids have ADHD or autism or brain damage or whatever. But that doesn’t mean they can’t improve and thrive, it just means they need a different approach.

So I guess my question is… why do we all feel like we have to exist in the same intellectual space? And do we really have any hope of communicating across demographics and educational barriers and so on if we refuse to acknowledge that all progress is progress, if we hold everyone to the same standard regardless of their circumstances?

Like me, for example. Should I feel like I can’t talk about heady subjects just because I’m not an expert, if they’re still something I think about and research and a language I try to be as fluent as possible in? Should we only be allowed to talk about things if we have phd’s or can make other people feel stupid in the process of explaining something?

How are we supposed to have any hope of bridging the gap between “high culture” and “low culture” if we refuse to even try to speak each other’s language? What if instead of forcing people to learn like we’re performing a root canal, we actually took a look at what the purpose of education is supposed to be? Is it really more important to teach someone how to add two fractions than it is to teach them how to be compassionate and kind and conscientious? Can we really not do both?

There’s a vague political point that’s supposed to be getting pushed here, but I’m not even sure what it is. I guess I’m just saying the left and the right both have an addiction to dick-measuring, just in different ways. And in general I’m realizing that maybe my ability to be stupid and smart at the same time is more of a strength than I thought it was. Maybe that’s something the world actually needs more of, yuno?

Anyway. If you’re reading this, wow. I am very sorry. But. I figure this is better than compulsively tweeting and watching for responses because here the views don’t mean anything, it’s just nice to have a place to rant about stuff. Even if it never gets read at all, it’s just. Maybe it makes me feel less alone anyway, just to get it out of my head.

There are feelings that are too big for words.

Pre-Script: I just want to note that I know a lot of my posts are like this, but this one in particular is more of a journal entry than a blog post, so I’m giving it to you… not really for any particular reason, other than I thought it might resonate. I’m not asking you to comfort me, or for solutions, I just… wanted to feel seen, I guess. Or thought that maybe sharing would help somebody else who feels the same way for whatever reason feel a little less alone. But as I always say, but often do, I’ll probably take it down in a week anyway.

There are feelings that are too big for words. Too big for any amount of tears or anger to put a dent in. There are wounds that are too deep to touch, to even get close to, with the scalpel of language.

But eventually, even those feelings, the way-to-big-to-fit-in-your-chest feelings, even they, given enough time, get old. If you carry a burden for long enough, no matter how big it is, at some point it just becomes your new normal. You don’t get a choice in the matter, it just happens. 

It’s a matter of survival, it’s just what humans do. We adapt because it’s the only way we can survive. So we make our circumstances normal, no matter what they are, no matter how strange they are, no matter how different they are from what we’ve known before, because the alternative is giving up, and giving up just isn’t in our DNA. If it was, there would be no humans. 

We are descended, all of us, from a long line of people who no matter how much shit life threw at them, no matter how deep their suffering was, they didn’t give up. You might call it a virtue, you might call it idiocy, or maybe just masochism, who knows. But whatever it is, it’s in us, all of us, woven into the fabric of who we are from the day we’re born. 

But that doesn’t make it hurt any less. It doesn’t numb the pain, it just transforms that pain into our new reality, like we’re boulders rolling down a hill and bits of us continue to get chipped away until there’s nothing left, and then our story ends. 

Image result for broken boulder

But sometimes you lose a piece so big that you can’t even really roll anymore, you just clumsily topple in a generally downward direction, and you can’t ignore it because you’re not rolling anymore, like the other rocks, and you’re moving unpredictably, now, colliding with and chipping away at the normal, well-rounded boulders, despite your best intentions. You become the boulder equivalent of a loose screw or something, and you can’t control it, but you keep rolling because maybe you hope that eventually you’ll be the right shape again and you’ll be smaller, yes, but at least you won’t be a safety hazard, anymore. And maybe you just miss what it felt like to roll downhill at a normal pace, in the right direction, without all the chaos and confusion. 

Maybe you just hope, even though you don’t really believe it’s possible, that maybe one day you’ll roll over some moss or something that fills in the parts you lost, so that you don’t have to lose any more pieces of yourself just to become something resembling a sphere, again. 

But more than anything you just wish you understood why this had to happen, and you hate yourself, you hate everything you’ve become because you feel that you didn’t get to choose, that something was stolen from you that you’ll never get back, and you just want to remember what it feels like to be whole. And you’re so fucking tired of making excuses for the boulders who ran into you, that they also had pieces missing, because their missing pieces weren’t your fault and you were just to fucking naiive to notice that they might want to try and take a chunk out of you to fill in their own missing pieces. 

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t feel like me, anymore. I haven’t for a long time. And I see now that I never will. 

So… who am I, then?

You become what you pretend to be…

I’ve been listening to a LOT of Lenny Bruce, lately… and I think what’s most consistently striking about him is… the lack of pretense? And I think that’s also what he skewers so relentlessly about human culture, the rampant and consistent use and abuse of pretending.

We pretend not to be sexual or have destructive impulses, we pretend not to think thoughts that are too strange to say aloud, we pretend to feel feelings we don’t really feel while pretending not to feel the ones that we do, and on top of it all, we pretend that we know exactly what we’re doing the entire time. It’s exhausting.

I see Lenny Bruce as someone who saw all of this and saw that he couldn’t live that way, so he just… opted out of it by creating a spectacle of himself, by honing his personality and experiences and perspective into something that really “cooked,” as he would say.

What’s scary, though, is how easy he makes it look to just exist as you are, while also being a kind of martyr, going through the worst case scenario of what can happen when you do decide to just let your mind be an open book instead of a well-rehearsed line from a play written by somebody else.

I guess those aren’t the only two options, but you can see what I’m trying to say, maybe.

The lesson of Lenny Bruce is that we don’t live in a society that actually values freedom of expression, but one that pretends to, one that tries to enlist all of us in its game of make-believe, where we all pretend to care about free speech and the pursuit of happiness, while most of the time really defining what that means fairly narrowly. We care about these things so long as they fall within acceptable parameters.

And no, in case you’re worried, I’m not about to morph into an alt-right “free speech advocate” – in fact they’re the worst pretenders of them all, I’d argue. They pretend to care about freedom of expression, but the freedom they’re referring to is their own freedom to prevent someone else’s, which is a blatant and shameful contradiction in terms. But because language has this tricky effect of diverting our attention from all of the salient information being conveyed, and focusing it rather on what the sentence chooses to shine the light on, well, you can get away with some pretty wild bullshit if you know how to light the scene how you want someone else to see it.

To value free expression, really value it, is to want people to be able to live how they want to, speak how they want to, without living their lives in fear. That means everyone – all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations…

I’m venturing into territory where I’ll just sound stupid, but the bottom line is: what we pretend to be matters. You might start by just trying to fit in or not make waves, but before long, if you’re not careful, what you pretend to be becomes real. But you have to really fight, I think, to truly think for yourself, especially in our society which is largely founded on coercion. Even today. Even now that they don’t arrest comedians for saying certain words. Those power structures are still at play in our world, I’m just curious how that conflict will play out. Is free expression really safe for everyone? Maybe what these “free speech” advocates are actually pissed about is that for once, they’re starting to get a taste of what it feels like to be silenced and shamed the way everyone who’s ever actually tried to push boundaries already was. What they want isn’t to be free to speak, but for the people who are actually free to stop talking.

I don’t know, food for thought. lil brain burp. duno.

Image result for you are who you pretend to be so be careful who you pretend to be

A confident turtle is a dead turtle?

So… I’ve been watching my old videos back. Actually, not that many just now, but I don’t have to actually watch them anymore, I feel like I’ve seen them all so many times already that just looking at the thumbnail refreshes my memory.

It’s sad for me, right now, to go back and… watch myself get older, I guess? I feel like when I started, I had no real concept of what I was doing, that I still don’t. Like if… if my life before starting a youtube channel was a pond, that by putting myself in the ocean I changed myself, somehow, and I’m never going to be able to get the person I was before back. That’s scary.

It’s scary for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I might’ve tossed myself carelessly into the ocean, but I’m still just a tadpole. And I’m scared of being eaten even in the smallest possible pond. And like, I guess in this metaphor it’s more like I’m in an aquarium, or something, and the people on the other side of the internet glass can’t actually touch me, but… they also can. Especially if you take this whole youtube thing to its logical conclusion, which I guess would be… trying to be a performer of some kind?

A lot of people have gone crazy trying to be famous – not just, like, in the pursuit of fame, although that also happens, but being hyper-visible in that way is a lot for one human brain to cope with, and a lot of people who become famous, whether or not they intended to, go crazy as a result.

And I think if one thing is apparent from my blog/videos/life in general, it’s that I’ve been crazy since day one. But I also never wanted this, I just felt… cornered. I was so alone before Brandon came into the picture, and then Gina, my ex-roommate who miraculously found me… I really don’t know if I can explain, or if you would believe, the depth of isolation I was facing at that time. Which is funny because I don’t even know if you can tell from my videos, I was kind of in denial about it myself.

It’s a hard thing to try and get my head around, let alone make it make sense to other people… but anyway, I was just… youtube was my only social outlet. And twitter. They were the only source of novelty in my life. So I didn’t think twice, I guess partly because I didn’t think it would go anywhere and partly because I spent most of high school watching other people on the internet act like it was normal to talk to thousands of strangers online.

But it really isn’t. And I’m not saying I’m not grateful for that outlet, by a long shot, because I would literally not be alive without it, I don’t think. I don’t know how I could be, because the bars of my mental prison were very, very real. And I’m still terrified of being… physically… of putting myself out there in a literal sense, and not just a metaphorical one. Because in my experience, that hasn’t ever gone well. Brandon and Gina actually happen to be two of the few people I’m not physically afraid to be around. I have this fight or flight thing and I just… I can’t really…

I don’t know how to explain that level of distrust, because it’s not to do with the person in front of me in the moment so much as it is the person, or people, who’ve hurt me in the past, and how completely – COMPLETELY – blindsided I was by their actions. I think in a few cases, they were also completely taken for a ride by their own actions. But that doesn’t change the fact that now I feel this profound sense of distrust, not because I think that people are inherently bad or anything but because in my mind, I can’t tell anymore whether someone is a threat to my physical safety or not. I just can’t.

So my solution is to just avoid real interactions with people unless I’m absolutely certain that I will be safe, but no one is ever actually certain that they’ll be safe anywhere, under any circumstances.

But for me, that isn’t something I can just ignore. The biggest fractures in my sense of security didn’t happen on the edge of a cliff or a foreign country or whatever, they happened in my friend’s back yard, in my own home. My trust wasn’t broken by people I knew I should be afraid of, but by the people I thought I had no reason to doubt. You see? And so now, everywhere and everyone are equally threatening. Which makes it easier, I guess, to stand on the edge of a cliff, so to speak, but it’s not for the right reason. It’s not so much that I’m brave to do stuff on YouTube, it’s that I’m so scared of everything all the time that by comparison, it doesn’t carry the same weight that it would for a normal person. Every risk, big or small, to me, I think… sort of just feels the same.

That’s a tricky paradox to play with, and it’s one that I think a lot of “performers” have wrestled with, but it’s really very unsettling to not be able to trust the calibration on your own ability to perceive and react to risk taking and danger. Does that make sense?

I also just get so tired of running the same rat mazes in my head over and over only to find that some dipshit scientist has made some minor tweak in the layout again. I’ve been over this same problem again and again from so many angles and with so many people and I’ve tried to explain why it seems so impossible to get over but I really just think that some wounds don’t heal, at least maybe they don’t in some people, and that it doesn’t matter whether my wounds were deeper than anyone else’s or whatever because the fact is that whatever chemical reaction they caused in me, I still can’t get over.

I’ve never wanted anyone to think that I think my suffering is more important or more justified than theirs, I just want. I want. I want someone to understand that the figurative monsters in my closet are as real to me as the air I breathe.

It doesn’t even matter if they’re in my head, is what I’m saying, the point isn’t that I’m afraid of each individual person I meet or try to befriend – it’s that I’m afraid of the fact that all of my deepest betrayals, all of the people who hurt me the most, were people I thought I could trust, who I’d trusted for years, in some cases, who I never would have guessed could hurt me the way that they did in a thousand years, but then it happened. And yes, with at least two of them, I should’ve seen it coming. But “should have” is a pretty shitty and loaded phrase, and the point isn’t… let’s see.

The point is, if I’m a turtle and I have to decide under uncertain conditions whether to poke my head out of my shell, it only takes a few sharks trying to bite your head off to make a gal think “you know what, I think I’m going to just live my life from inside the shell, from now on.”

I always did like the dark, and silence. Getting migraines, I guess, made me associate those things with an escape from pain. So I kind of dig my shell. I’ve made it pretty cozy for myself in here.

I guess all I’m saying is that being a turtle who tried to protect itself from the predators in a pond by diving face first into the ocean… is a pretty ludicrous predicament to find oneself in, even if from my point of view, it seemed completely rational, at the time. So now, when I watch my old videos, I see a turtle who was not yet aware that where she ended up was, in fact, the ocean, not just a different pond.

But I guess maybe the other thing I’ve been realizing is that nobody ever really escapes from the ocean, anyway.

We just convince ourselves that we can so we don’t have to think about the predators we can’t see, so we can not just poke our heads out, but keep them out for long enough to do the things that make life worth living, presumably. Eating. Talking to other turtles. Looking at other sea creatures. Whatever else turtles do…

I guess. I guess my question is that it seems to me that a confident turtle is a dead turtle. You know? Have I taken the metaphor too far? I’ve honestly always related to turtles, so it felt like the right way to vent my frustrations with my current… stupid… life… predicament…?

Also here’s a fun image from this website.

What can I do?

I’ve had this reminder on my wall for probably over a year, now, that says “just do what you can.” I try to write such reminders when I’m feeling positive and motivated so that when I inevitably slide back into feelings of powerlessness and pointlessness, I’ll at least still be surrounded by little notes from my past self reminding me to stop agonizing and self-flagellating*, and focus on what’s right in front of me.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard. And especially now with my whole youtube thing, I often feel really exposed and vulnerable and stupid, and… even though I KNOW deep down that my strength is precisely that I am so good at being vulnerable, that doesn’t always make it easy. My “courage to create”** only comes in moments. The rest of the time, I’m still scared, and even if I can see why the version of me that made or did the thing that was vulnerable, I don’t feel like I am that person. I just feel exposed.

I think that deep down we all feel like we’re not enough, no matter what. I think it’s just a part of life – you can become more comfortable with yourself, but life just is discomfort. Having a self means being self-conscious, and being self-conscious means never feeling like you are as good as you should be, or as good as the next guy. These days most of my self-consciousness is wrapped up in my creativity – not that I’m not as successful as I want to be on youtube, that part actually has stopped bothering me almost completely. But it bothers me that I’m not as informed or intelligent or well-spoken as so many people on the internet, and ever since Peter Coffin shared my video*** my anxiety has taken the form of comparing myself to youtubers who actually make a difference. Peter Coffin, Contrapoints, HBomberguy, PhilosophyTube, Mexie, Beau of the Fifth Column… just yesterday I found this channel called Renegade Cut that completely blows anything I could possibly do on youtube out of the water…

I guess what I’m saying is that it breaks my heart, a little, that I can’t be those guys. I’m not smart enough, hell, I don’t even know if I have enough conviction, I’m definitely not informed or well spoken enough to do the kind of stuff that they do (and nowhere CLOSE as far as editing goes, obviously). And I guess I feel so undeserving of what I perceive as this, like, incredibly kind and generous favor that Peter Coffin did for me by, like, associating himself at ALL with my channel, because I have no idea what kind of youtuber I am, or could be, or whatever, but I know for goddam certain that I will never be as skilled at it as he is, that I’ll never even come close to him either in terms of content or ideology because that just isn’t something I think that I CAN do.

Those people, though, I guess, are so good at what they do because they, too, are just doing what they can. It’s just that their capabilities are different from mine. As I said in my incredibly ill-advised “rap” –

Yeah I can act a little dumb, but I’ve got a lot of heart
& I learned a thing or two from my main man Sartre:
#1 is it’s important to be your real self,
#2 is you should never put your feelings on the shelf

I am good at very few things, but I know for certain that I am VERY good at being authentic, and at being vulnerable. And embarrassing myself.

What can be hard, what will probably always be hard for me to accept, is that I will never be good at being anyone else. I will never be the “serious youtuber.” I will never be able to present my ideas and opinions with the nuance and conviction as any of the people I mentioned above. Or lots of people.

But maybe that’s okay. Maybe youtube doesn’t need me to try and be Peter Coffin just to feel like I deserve the validation he gave me. Maybe I’m just the girl who humps teddy bears and cries and tweets too much, and occasionally makes videos that aren’t just dumb and silly. Maybe I’m just the girl who’s there to show other people that you don’t always have to know what you’re doing, but you do have to try, and you have to keep trying even when you feel completely empty and worthless and hopeless and lost, even when you hate yourself and you feel like giving up and changing your name and disappearing into the wilderness to wait for the world to burn…

The world needs about 50,000 more Peter Coffins. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t also need you, even if you haven’t yet figured out what for. There are things that you CAN do, even if they’re small things, or stupid things, or reckless things, or silly things. The older I get, the more I think that being a good person isn’t about what you actually do – not that the results aren’t important – but I think that being a good person is mostly about trying to be. We’re all broken, we’re all shitty, we all do things we regret, and have flaws, blind-spots, and so on… but if you try to judge yourself based on the fruits of your labor alone, odds are you’ll wind up feeling discouraged and wanting to give up altogether, the same way you would if you played all the way to the final level of a game before the computer crashed and undid all your progress. Honestly, that’s kind of where I’ve been at, lately.

But if you judge yourself by the effort you put into being a good person, or at least a better person, then it doesn’t matter what level you get to. Even if the game glitches out a thousand times and you have to live in this Sisyphean gaming nightmare**** – the computer can’t delete your effort. It can’t delete the journey you took, even if you have to repeat that journey a thousand times. Even if you take one step forward and two steps back, you still took that step forward.

That counts. It all counts. Even if all you can do is show up and play the game one more time, that counts. All that matters – all you can do, is what you can do. To expect more from yourself is just setting yourself up to be miserable.

* hilarious sidenote: definitely typed “flatulating” the first time. Really thankful that autocorrect had my back on that one……………
** a book I highly recommend despite the fact that (as with a shameful number of other books that I own) I have only read the first chapter
*** which was obviously an incredible ego-boost, as well, I’m not saying this is where my anxiety is coming from now, just the focal point it organizes itself around lately
**** OH MY GOD IS THIS A GAME ALREADY I HOPE IT IS*****
***** it is, but I’m not going to download it to be honest, because… now that I think about it, that sounds… depressing…

A link to my darkest video

Hi. I posted this and, um. People were really awesome about it, but I don’t want random strangers stumbling on it with no context, so… I think when that happens, I’ll TRY to just post the video in a blog post so that the people who really want to find it still can, because I’ve received a lot of DM’s and comments and stuff about this one and I feel like… I don’t know. I feel like I want it to exist. Although my uncle is signed up to my email list for this blog, so that’s awkward. Um. Sorry, Uncle Quacky Duck, I promise to call you soon and I’m sorry for being a terrible niece and also… recommend not watching this one… 🤣

Ooooh jokes. They’re fun. Humor. Levity. Okay well anyway I’m just going to send this link to anyone who asks about this video from now on so that I don’t have to have it public but also don’t have to have it completely private if it might, like, help other people with their own issues or trauma or whatever. Idk. I’ll probably make this post private again eventually. Anyhoooooooooo…

https://youtu.be/5UOxmxihmfw

Talking is Pointless

People love to talk. We never stop talking, really – our culture avoids silence the way other culture avoid disease, we try and make spaces for it – churches, libraries – but this is really just to quarantine it off from the rest of the world where we safeguard against it with Muzak and talk radio and news and ads and television, now with smartphones, we can’t go a moment in modern life without either talking or being talked to. But what’s the end result of all the yammering?

Well, we have a president whose inability to shut up is practically the reason he got elected. We have a news cycle that never stops, a “Hollywood elite” that profits endlessly on hot takes, and a million tweets every time even the slightest celebrity gossip gets public attention.

We are drowning in words, but we are completely starved for meaning. We have a surplus of people who are willing to share their opinions, and a shortage of people who have even the slightest idea how to listen to anyone else’s.

Foucault said that the implementation of sexual controls in society depends on us engaging in a kind of double think where the things that are “secret” and “taboo” actually take center stage in our lives – we talk about sex, Foucault says, constantly. How else would we know what we’re meant to be doing, or not doing? By making sex a secret, we make it much more interesting than it actually is, and so we never stop talking about it.

But what if our inability to stop talking about things – politics, sex, or even the weather – what if all that does is keep us stuck outside of ourselves for the majority of our lives? What great thinker ever wrote their master work at a cocktail party, or on Skype? We use each other as the means by which we form our life’s narrative, and we do so shamelessly because this is what we’re taught to do. But ultimately, my “identity” isn’t changed by the way I understand myself. I remain the person I am regardless of the story I have in my head about who that person is.

Everyone keeps talking because we’re all still looking for someone to make us feel heard. But what if the problem is that it really doesn’t matter whether other people understand us, but whether we understand ourselves? What if we only think that we want to be heard by someone else, but what we really want is just some fucking peace and quiet in which to listen to ourselves?

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just rambling as a person who needs a substantially larger amount of silence in my life than most. But I do… worry about that. I worry about my intentions when I speak, about holding people hostage, or… I don’t know, maybe these days I worry more that I sometimes just want to stop talking entirely, because I just don’t see the point in rehashing things that I can’t change. I’d rather turn off the fucking Muzak and make up a fairy tale, at least then you have a chance at saying something new.

Maybe I’m just cranky. But fuck it, no one reads this anyway. And it’s just more pointless talking into the void, in any case… I guess I’ve never been great at avoiding pragmatic contradictions.

Anyway. End of dumb, pointless blog post #782 or whatever.

So many eyeballs, so little time…?

I’ve been trying to figure myself out. I know, everyone is surprised. It’s all I ever do, I guess.

Social media forces us to see ourselves through many people’s eyes. I’ve made this connection before, but when Sartres said “hell is other people” he was speaking before social media even existed. Now, we all kind of live our lives both as an actor and an observer. We see ourselves as both a self and an object for public consumption.

It’s not surprising, then, that social media makes us feel both more and less real – it gives us a snapshot of who we are that’s independent of us, makes us tangible to ourselves in a way past generations never had, but it also removes us from ourselves, shifts our focus from our interior lives to our exterior ones, and strips us of the ability to see only with our own eyes.

But to see oneself the way others do is no easy task, and it’s almost always painful to face the reality that ultimately, other people do not see us the same way we see ourselves. They do not feel with us or see with us, they do not experience our existence as bringing the world into being, nor do they experience our death as the end of one. To them, we are just part of the backdrop of their lives experience, and no matter how central a role we are given, we remain dispensable, our roles in each other’s lives are infinitely more fragile than we like to pretend they are.

So I guess, uh… I’ve been trying to figure out how to see myself as an object for consumption. But that can be extremely painful, because… to see yourself the way others do is, well, hell. For one thing, there’s always a lot of uncertainty which on its own is enough to drive a person insane, but… we want… I want to believe that I can make people see me as more than a part of the background – not because I believe I’m terribly important, but because I’m clinging to the idea that I can somehow help other people to learn empathy and compassion by giving it to them myself (to the best of my ability). But you can’t force people to imagine what it’s like to live in your skin. You just can’t.

Ultimately, I am the only person who can affirm my own validity. And that sucks. A lot. I’ve learned how to see myself through other people’s eyes, but I still don’t know how to see myself through my own. Maybe that’s what I’ve been trying to avoid all along, I don’t know.

Does any of that… even make sense…?

Who am I living for?

[not sure if this was worth posting but… I thought I’d do the whole post/reread/change mind & make private cycle on it…]

Katy Perry is just one of many to ask the question, and for good reason – in many ways, it’s kind of the central question of human life. One could argue that all of ethics requires a way to argue for an answer that makes room to consider the lives of others to be somehow connected to one’s own – that the “who” includes more than just myself.

But on the other hand, if a person doesn’t live for their own sake as well, the result will be a life of pure suffering.

Every good story has this conflict – between the freedom of individuals, the recklessness of living a life of authenticity, the high of the total embrace of self, and the need to balance the needs of the individual with those of the group. 

So… how do we do it? Romeo & Juliet makes a case, one could argue, for the reproductive freedom of the younger generations, Freud catalogues the various ways that we repress our inner conflicts, and how they manifest themselves when they bubble up to the surface again. Jesus says love thy neighbor as you love yourself, Ayn Rand argues for a rebranded solipsism, so… who’s right? And who’s to know for certain? 

To bring it back to me, though, since that’s my only talent, um… I’m at this point where I’m trying to decide what my future looks like. And if I’m living for just myself, I’m not sure… if I would want to keep trying at all. But I’m not, I’m also living for my family and friends and my cat… which means I don’t have the option to give up on myself. So, then what? 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that at first, I did… youtube and blogging and all my bullshit, uh… when I started, it was for myself. That was all, it was the thing that kept me alive, kind of, just this little outlet that kept me motivated, that made me feel like I still existed, somehow, even when I did the best I could to hide from the world. 

But now, it’s scary. It’s not a fun little steam valve where I can say anything, there are consequences to the things I say, now, and if I were just living for my family, I would stop. If I was just living for myself, I’d probably start a channel where I myself am completely anonymous so that I could speak freely, again, even though I know there’s no escaping the consequences of the internet, really, in the end, probably… 

But I now also feel, I don’t know. I feel like I can’t just let all the work I’ve already done go to waste, I guess, maybe. Or maybe I’m just addicted to getting notifications from strangers. Or maybe I just feel like we’re all desperate to tell anyone who’s willing to listen our whole life story, our wants, our hopes, our fears, our everything… we all want to be seen. And maybe I got to a point where I was so terrified of being seen by anyone that I decided to make myself visible to everyone, because at least then I wouldn’t feel like I had made myself invisible. I could disappear from the world in the flesh, but remain as a social media hologram… or something…?

I still want to do that, to be honest. I still don’t know if I’m just not cut out for… being more than a brain in a vat. I think I’d rather be a hologram, whenever possible. And I know that maybe that isn’t healthy but I guess I just wonder, what’s healthy? It used to not be possible, if you wanted to be a shut-in and still connect with people, you had to write books or make art, you couldn’t just sit down at your computer and talk to someone halfway around the world. But now, you can. So… what’s healthier? Recklessly sharing your half-baked ideas with the internet, or cornering a stranger at a bar and giving them your entire life’s history while they politely eye the door? 

Anyway, I don’t know who I’m living for. I know that I’m too spoiled to compromise on a lot of things, that I would rather be dead than work for a cause I don’t believe in, and so on. But I also know that I’m insecure, and that I’m terrified of the possibility that there are no good options for me. That I’m just another dumb kid whose parents, with all the best of intentions, convinced them they were special, and that now I’m too childish to let go of that belief. 

But I’m also scared. And I know that no matter how hard I try, there will always be people who want to hurt me on the internet, that exposing myself online has always been as dangerous, in fact more dangerous, than real life, and that this story is probably not going to end well for me no matter which path I choose.

So then instead of ruminating, instead of acting, I freeze. Like if I can just sit still for long enough, the danger will pass, the fear will pass, the nausea will pass, but it won’t. So, what do I do? I really don’t know. I’m at sea without the slightest idea how to get to shore, and Lord knows I’ve always been prone to sea-sickness. It’s hard to keep believing I won’t die out here.