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What DO I expect?

nanojath (265940) writes | more than 11 years ago

User Journal 2

It always comes as a surprise that anyone reads any of this... and more of a surprise when it elicits response. And that makes me feel like I should say something more on the subject, and then things get complicated. It's easy enough to complain... so much easier than coming up with anything truly constructive. Which was my point in the first place, and I don't feel any closer to a solution.

It always comes as a surprise that anyone reads any of this... and more of a surprise when it elicits response. And that makes me feel like I should say something more on the subject, and then things get complicated. It's easy enough to complain... so much easier than coming up with anything truly constructive. Which was my point in the first place, and I don't feel any closer to a solution.

The thing is, I'm much like anyone else, or so I suppose. I have a whole lot of beliefs and opinions, and yet I also have the whole history of my personal behavior, and I certainly can't claim an uninterrupted history of practicing what I preach. And consequently, when I preach, I'm open to criticism... and even if the critics don't know me, within myself I'm cognizant of all of the ways in which I do not measure up to the ideals I am expounding. This makes me defensive, and my inclination is to go into attack mode. Fend off the barbarians, preserve myself from cognitive dissonance. But better is required of me. We can all ride our private hobby-horses until the cows come home, and at the end of the day, nothing is accomplished, nobody learns a single thing, and all you have is another few thousand pages of the magic monkey typing project, and it sure ain't Hamlet.

I wrote my most recent journal save this one ("Why the hell do I bother") in a state of frustration. The root of the frustration is that it seems to be so easy to identify problems and to attract affirmation for the identification of these problems and yet so difficult to actively promote actual solutions for these problems. Case in point: go to Slashdot, read and article about yet another questionable application of the DMCA. In the comments somebody asks, why do things suck so much? And I respond: basically saying, money and power, the way things run. And the comment is modded up to 5 insightful, and I get a little shot of pride, ooh, look how smart I am with the affirmation of my peers. And then I think, SFW? What difference does it make? I moderate from time to time, surf over the surface and say, oh, yeah, that's well stated, that's true, or that's stupid, that doesn't add anything to the discussion. And click and click and click and hopefully nobody is getting too much of their personal affirmation from any of this because the process is pretty random. It involves no particular effort on my part and therefore its significance, in the big picture view of things, is pretty suspect. If you're looking to change the world, kid, this is probably not the forum you need to be exerting yourself in.

One person said, well, we just have it too good to exert ourselves to fix things, to make things better, to approach some ideal. It's a compelling viewpoint, but a depressing one, the idea that we denizens of the industrialized world are basically stalled somewhere on the third or fourth step up Maslow's hierarchy, our sustenance needs supplied (judging by the fat around my gut, oversupplied), free to dawdle endlessly around the search for love and esteem. Build up my Slashdot Karma, look, I'm insightful. Look, I'm interesting. It says something about terrorism, perhaps: among the needs that Maslow identified, the one that is most open to attack is safety, or anyway the perception of safety. And it also makes me think of the world of advertising, how so much of it is fueled by, at its root, personal attack, implicit or explicit... you're fat, your skin isn't clear, you've got lumpy cellulite, your wife can't understand you on your rotten cell phone. The other men in the gym will ridicule you for your wimpy mini-van, better get yourself an SUV. Maybe collectively we are choosing to stall ourselves, experiencing attacks on our esteem, on the possibility of being loved, to avoid the terra incognita of self-actualization. And thus the world does not change. Maybe I need to pull the beam out of my eye before I help my brother get the speck out of his own.

Some people did not like what I had to say. Probably the most insightful response from my point of view was the individual who said, "the response you received was completely appropriate to the effort you put into your posts." Touché, Dohdamit, you're certainly on to something there.

But I find most interesting the response of an anonymous visitor...

Your journal entry puts a negative light on the average state of the avaerage role that average poeple play? If your so far above average, then recognise that we are not, and leave us alone. Don't try to motivate us to change our world. We have proven that we don't want to. We are so appithetic that nothing your going to say makes a difference.


Because we are who we are, and when you try to say that you don't like the way we are, doen't mean that we are not going to continue being what we are. It only serves to make us think less of ourselves.... And you have no right to do that.


So it's your journal, you can type what you want, but don't try to pass the "I just want to give up" crap onto us. We don't care. We don't need you... So yeah give up, and then shut up.

You may have a point there, mister or miss anonym, but I put this to you: why bother to respond at all? I don't expect anyone to care, honestly, and I certainly don't think that anybody on Slashdot "needs" me. But it is something, to actually go into a person's journal and read what they have to say and go so far as to type a fairly lengthy response, and given the dismissive nature of that response, it piques my curiosity. It only serves to make us think less of ourselves.... And you have no right to do that. Perhaps part of my goal, some of the time, is to make people think less of themselves. Certainly I've outright attacked specific individuals in my worse moments. When this has been my intention, I can only say that I am manifestly part of the problem. But the reality is that nobody can make a person feel less of themselves unless they are an active participant in the exchange. Could it be, dear Anonym, that I struck a nerve after all? That you too feel the pressure, the longing, the desire to be able to act in some more effective way in this world, to right some of the wrongs that are so manifestly present all around us? If so, I do not apologize. Do I have a "right" to say what I say? As much of a right as anyone to say anything, I guess. If I call others out while refusing to shoulder my rightful chunk of the blame, there will always be people like DohDamit to take me rightly to task. But I think you do care, and in the end your apparent anger at me is not because I'm trying to make you think less of yourself, but because I remind you that you care. So maybe there is a point, after all. I don't have the answers. I understand the world is complicated. But I'm not going to stop pointing out the questions, and I'm not going to stop feeling, and expressing, that the answers are serious.

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Start Small (1)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 11 years ago | (#5778618)

The root of the frustration is that it seems to be so easy to identify problems and to attract affirmation for the identification of these problems and yet so difficult to actively promote actual solutions for these problems.
Yes, yes! Perhaps some of the frustration is that there are sooo many problems and only so much time/energy one can expend on each.

Dr. Martin Luthor King, Jr. ran into that same problem; he attacked one thing - repealing segregation in the South - very well, but got lost and bogged down when he tried to spread himself too thin (attacking the Vietnam war, marching for worker's rights, etc.).

Re:Start Small (1)

nanojath (265940) | more than 11 years ago | (#5780368)

Yeah... ever feel that sting of envy for the person who can just lose themselves in the belief that that one thing... legalizing dope or open source code or fighting the menace of gun control... matters ABSOLUTELY? Short of conversion to the zealot state about n, which I don't think is consistent with my personality, I guess the secret is to find that thing that a) I at least care about and believe needs to be addressed, b) have some actual talent and ability to contribute to, and c) shows potential for positive change...


Voltaire said there was a certain inevitable futility in indecision, and that seems to apply here. I fall prey to the paralysis of, there's so much to do I just can't do anything.

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