maybe I'm wrong

Mental prompts. Every weekday.

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Job Titles
Who are you? What do you do?

I'm a teacher. I'm a software engineer. I'm a founder. I'm a marketer. I'm a janitor. I'm a comedian.

It's how we introduce ourselves in many parts of the world. I am someone who does a very specific job. The subtext is that our identities are wrapped in the functions we perform, and (more importantly) what the world expects from those functions. Nobody says I'm a parent or I'm a birdwatcher (at least not at first).

We run into problems when our functions get questioned. Sometimes they're questioned by society (are you a writer if you haven't sold a book? are you a founder if your company is failing?), or by others (I think teaching should be done like this, and you do it like that).

It gets us worked up, even if we don't think we care about the function, because it's seen as an insight of our external perception. What will people think of me? Am I a fraud? Do I have value?

Of course you do have value, even if you're terrible at your job. Maybe next time we meet someone, we should be asking other questions. Maybe we should rethink what labels we need to define each other.
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Pain of Privilege
For most of human history, privilege, by it's very definition, allowed you to place yourself in a tower, far above uncomfortable truths. Recently, however, as the internet proliferates our culture, this structure begins to crumble.

Injustice in any form now has the world's stage. Maybe it's our culture, maybe it's the ad networks, or maybe it's human tendency - but we can't look away.

The result is that some are faced with realities that they never knew existed. Realities, which in any other past they would have easily avoided. Realities that continue to remind us that the world is imperfect, and we aren't doing enough to fix it.

On one hand, there are real problems everywhere. On the other hand, an individual's cognitive net has limits.

Maybe it's not possible to stay informed without internalizing the trauma-inducing headlines that pervade the morning news and the social feeds. Maybe it's better that we share a collective suffering.

Maybe avoiding excess, in all of it's forms, means putting restraints to the cross section of the things that negatively impact us and the things we have an impact on. Maybe we can't solve the world's problems, but we can use them as fuel to make our points of contact with the world a better place.
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Fake plastic trees
Plants are messy. You have to keep feeding them, they get sick, they die.

Plastic foliage has none of these problems. They stay perfect, and will remain so for hundreds of years after humans are gone.

Maybe we put them up as placeholders - things which we hope nobody pays too much attention to. We want the advantage of the imagery, without the effort that goes into it.

The problem is that when people do pay attention, it has the opposite effect.
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Berry Brains
When earlier humans roamed the earth we got pretty good at pattern detection as it relates to berries. We'd quickly learn which ones would provide a quick snack, and which ones would not.

Despite being in a much safer environment, modern humans treat brands in much the same way. As we get older, we grab the familiar logo over the strange new offerings.

Our berry brains are still in full-effect, protecting us from the dangers in a world that is filled with excessive choice. But maybe when we recognize what's going on, we are given an entirely new kind of choice.
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Resistance
Residence begins before we ever sit down in front of the blank page. Before we ever write a line of code or pull out the paints. It creeps into our lives and pervades our thoughts, filling them with doubts. It convinces you to how likely you are to fail. It hints at what others will say. It reminds you that you're not good enough, anyway.

Maybe if we follow the physical steps of beginning, we temporarily disown it. Maybe the act of doing is the very thing it(we) fear most. Maybe our brains were wired for the deprecation we perpetuate.

Maybe we're allowed to resist it.


This post inspired by the War of Art.
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Steady Beaches
There's a reason warm coastal reasons are a hotbed for retirees. If you ask them why they live there a lot of them will say 'the weather is fantastic.'

And if you suggest a move to Minnesota they'll gasp and say 'the weather is awful -  those winters are terrible.'

Of course, after the winter is over is when the magic happens. The places with the harshest winters and rains are often the most lush, brilliant, and beautiful. Or we can continue to ride the electric cart around a subdivision designed and built by humans for beige aesthetic consistency.

Maybe we need to expose ourselves to the winters in order to see the springs.
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Streams
The radio was the first form of entertainment that was a stream of endless content (designed to sell ads). The TV soon followed.

Prior to these inventions you had to take action to continue to consume content (the record player being a good example).

The internet enabled a new form of endless content, enabling many more places where you can endlessly consume (and be endlessly sold to).

Maybe novels are the last form of classical entertainment that requires action. For one, you need to keep turning the page, and keep picking up the book. For two, you are paying for the thing itself, without it being subsidized by companies trying to sell you something.
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Shadow Life
Where do we draw the line between the real and the digital? Is my time spent in a virtual world any less valuable than that of a real one?

To dismiss it entirely as "not real" seems crass. After all, every stone, every sword, every pixel and audio clip was painstakingly crafted by a human. In many ways, these spaces - these works of digital art - are a reflection of the world we would design if we had the agency.

It's no mistake that much of these designs focus on the interaction with other humans. How much communication and expression should be allowed to keep things feeling safe? How much distance is appropriate or necessary - how can I easily opt out of unwanted experiences? Of course, this is a luxury not afforded to us in the real world.

Where real life is burdened with unpredictability, virtual spaces are burdened with anonymity. Maybe the problematic behaviors we attribute with anonymity are a response to a world which gives us guaranteed control. Maybe in these places we can safety test the boundaries of what connection, friendship, love, hate, and greed look like in a world where we can back out at any moment.
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My dog doesn't try to change the world
When his water bowl is empty, he stops drinking and moves on. When it fills up again, he's delighted that such a thing would happen.

What would his mind be like if he thought he had agency over his water bowl?

Maybe it would inspire him to come up with creative solutions to fill the bowl up - or maybe it would simply cause him to suffer, constantly obsessing over all the things he could or should be doing to change his predicament.

The thing is, no matter how many ideas go through his head about how to fill up his bowl, he doesn't know how to operate the faucet.
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Super Powers
We all have super powers. None of us chose them, but they're there.

They're the kind of things that life zooms in on and forcefully extracts from you. Sometimes they can seem to be born out of exploration and love, but upon further examination they are bred from pain and discomfort.

Maybe we should look them in the eye.

Maybe we should accept ourselves for who we are today and what we've been given, regardless of the circumstances.
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