All the things on my mind lately (a semi-condensed list)
Any one of these thoughts could be the subject of a carefully written blog post, but my thoughts around all of them are difficult to congeal enough to fit into this list. When social media asks “what’s on your mind?” I don’t think they intend for us to answer truthfully. The actual things on my mind lately would not be easily commodified. Increasingly, I’m not comfortable giving them my personal life as a medium through which to sell Russian propaganda and pay-to-win freemium games. Back to the blog we go, perhaps this time for good. Here’s some of what I think about lately in the quiet moments between the periods of work.
- The internet (social media) divides us specifically as it brings us together generally. People have been never more informed on what those around them are thinking or believing, and having access to this information has ruined us. Meanwhile, companies like Facebook have taken the human instinct to be connected and piggy-backed upon this with a horrifying tool of mass information gathering that allows bad faith entities to further drive wedges between us. When the internet was little more than a glorified home shopping network combined with a digital Encyclopedia Britannica, it was intellectually useful, and socially neutral. I would see us go back to that internet. I am seriously considering personally returning to that internet.
- Even though I worry about item #1, I struggle to put my beliefs into action. Ideally, I would rather read a book than read another Facebook diatribe or another fifteen plus thread of tweets, but I find myself reading these things in great volumes over books constantly. Am I addicted to screens? The information? Something else? Does it matter if I’m addicted when everyone else seems to be? How can I break this cycle and return to deeper thinking and meaning? I sometimes feel as if I have trapped myself in an intellectual tide pool, and it’s safe here, but I am slowly starving myself of a meaning only found in the depths.
- Shallow thoughts are my constant companion. I find myself formulating opinions not on the basis of my own thoughts but on the basis of what my political or social tribe seems to formulate, and I have found myself becoming swept up in a tidal wave of public opinion, carried forward with beliefs that don’t quite sit right. I find myself wanting more time for contemplation. I feel compelled by the pace of internet life to decide how I feel before I even feel anything. I would challenge anyone who held opinions other than mine for going along with their tribe — why don’t I consider the source of my own conclusions and opinions more often?
- The modern internet, I fear, was a mistake, and though it provides everything in my life from friendships to my way of living, I wonder if it is at the cost of deeper meaning and satisfaction in life. I worry that my superficial connections online prevent me from forming more meaningful ones on a local level.
- My community is pretty white, however, as is my family. Is my interest in helping my own communities and families a sign that I’m racist? I worry that my desire to bring those in my family and my local communities back into something like the Democratic party means I’m secretly a white supremacist. I worry that my concern for why my male peers no longer read, why so many of them seem so angry, means I’m sexist in a way I don’t see clearly. How deeply can we lie to ourselves without having any hint of the truth? I worry often that deep inside, I’m all those things I do not like. Do I dislike them because I think they are morally wrong, or do I dislike them because I dislike myself? What should I do about any of this?
- I worry at a secret notion. It says that the best action I could take for the advancement of marginalized writers is to never write another thing again. To step aside. The world is screaming that it has had enough of the opinions and thoughts of cis-hetero white men. I want to do the right thing, but I am not sure if it is the right thing if it means giving up on my own dreams. Part of me says, don’t give up. Continue to chase your dream and don’t listen, as part of the world will always want you to be give up no matter who or what you are. Another part wonders if it my intent is to continue writing means I am in fact the monster I fear.
- I watch my son grow up and I wonder if we are all born so inherently in touch with joy and happiness, or if that is something special to him? Do our lives rob us of that connection, or do we not all get it to start? How much was I like him when I was his age? What is the nature and what is the nurture in the happiness of a child? And how do I protect his innocent happiness for as long possible? Does anything matter more than that?
- Is an apocalypse or a famine the only way I will ever find to lose weight? How much longer can this husk of a shell put up with the damage I deal to it through inattention?
- Am I giving my business the attention it needs? Should I be working harder, making even more money when possible? How do I know when is enough?
- Having read over this list, I wonder, am I depressed right now? Or do I need a nap and a vacation? There’s at least one question I know how to answer with some certainty.
I guess most of what I am thinking about is, what does it mean to be a good person? How can I be a good person, or at least a better one? What is meaningful and important to me in my life, and how do I accomplish that? Perhaps a month of low-density work and travel will help me get my head around these thoughts and questions and figure out a way to become more comfortable with them. Here’s hoping, as I’ll be headed to a small town in France for a month this summer.