Existence by Absence: A Reaponse to Avtomat Khan’s Guest Post

“Authenticity” and the idea of living an “authentic life” have become buzzwords, and like most buzzwords, the fundamental question becomes: what does it mean?

What makes a life “authentic” or “real”? It’s a question that seems to vex professional thinkers and the rest of us a like. 

Personally, I always thought of the concept as a combination of doing what you believe is best for you with a rootedness in timeless values. But the first part is what I’ve found the trickiest to define:

  • Is “doing what you want” inherently selfish?
  • If so, how can you mitigate this?
  • What’s the balance between “authenticity” and “obligation”?
  • Isn’t it strange that the idea of  “authenticity” itself is often packaged and sold as a commodity?
  • “Authentic” to whom?

And then I got thinking about how we can sometimes define things by their absence or negation. Let me explain:

As stated in my introduction to guest posts, I’d like to offer my take on what Avtomat Khan of The Hidden Dominion covered in his guest post, “Staying Authentic in Trying Times.” In it is a passage and a diagram I really like:

Consider this: If you place a high value on what others think of you, it will manipulate your personality and conclusions, either to find approval or avoid disapproval.

How can someone claim to be genuine if their values are so easily distorted based on who’s listening? It masks your true self. And in turn, it promotes the idea that we should “hide” who we actually are, in favor of whatever the latest bandwagon is.

That’s a good diagram, right? 

So more on negation: Sometimes we get a feeling that things are not right, a sense that how we are living is misaligned with who we are. It’s difficult to articulate this, but you know it when it’s not there.  Continue reading “Existence by Absence: A Reaponse to Avtomat Khan’s Guest Post”

Guest Post: Staying Authentic in Trying Times by Avtomat Khan of Hidden Dominion

We’re at an interesting crossroads in society. For those of us who has been around or studied politics for a long time, it doesn’t really seem like it used too. The political polarization of society has shifted.

Sure, there has always been some violence, and much debate–but now it seems like it has coming to a boiling point. A “point of no return” where discourse has taken a backseat to “you’re on my side, or you’re out.” Where someone’s feelings matter more than fact.

The culture has shifted. Instead of focusing on merit and the important issues of liberty, the focus is on virtue signaling and power.

Where if you don’t get on the bandwagon, it takes off without you.

Many people in some industries such as Hollywood or Silicon Valley have to agree with whatever their superiors or colleagues are supporting. If they don’t, they’ll be out of work. More and more industries are starting to turn this way. Some companies will even fire employees strictly for posting non-PC comments on the Internet.

Not only this, but now many people are losing friends over political or moral viewpoints? What has happened to us that just disagreeing has become such a terrible event?

I like to think of this part of our current history as the “Modern Regressive Era” or “The Trying Times.”

There are a lot of reasons this has come to fruition. And based on my opinion, a large chunk of that responsibility comes from people giving up and feeling hopeless about being able to change anything.

It’s easy to feel hopeless. It doesn’t require any work. All it requires is for you to forsake all of your values.

But these trying times aren’t here for you to give up and lose all hope. They are here to test your resolve, and most notably, your courage.

But don’t get me wrong. We’ve all been there. It’s hard to cope with an uneasy future, and that feeling that nothing you do could help.

It’s difficult feeling like you don’t have control.

But the fact is: You DO.

Society may seem and act like a machine. But it’s not. It’s a human invention. And like all of our inventions, it’s malleable. It’s based on us; we make up the machine.

And the only way to edit it, is to edit ourselves. The best way to do this, is through the virtues of authenticity and courage. Continue reading “Guest Post: Staying Authentic in Trying Times by Avtomat Khan of Hidden Dominion”

Write From the Heart

I hate lists. 

I hate bullet points. 

I hate how-to guides. 

This is not entirely accurate. I do enjoy reading them, but I sure hate writing them. 

Lots of great, high-quality bloggers wrote these things. I read them and enjoy them and learn from them. 

But I don’t like writing them, even though I’ve tried from time to time. 

It’s a pretty American thing, isn’t it? Lists and bullet points? “Here’s how you do it, bang bang bang.” No pretensions, no bullshit, no flowery language. Get to the point. 

But here’s the thing: I’m a bullshitter. I’m a dissembler. I like flowery language. 

I’m a storyteller, and a story-reader. I like stories. I like writing narratives.

Successful blogs, though, tend to have bullet points, lists, and “actionable items.”

These are great. 

But they’re not my style. 

I always feel disingenuous when I write like this. 

It’s funny, then: Why blog? What am I trying to do? Continue reading “Write From the Heart”

Trolling for Amateurs and How to Make the Internet Work for You

Troll Face

I had an Internet revelation recently: I am no good at trolling.

“Trolling,” according to one definition, is “mak[ing] a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.” A lot of times this involves memes, those delightful pictures with funny captions on them, usually relating to pop culture, politics, or simple buffoonery designed to make you laugh.

No One Hides From Me meme

But you’re Internet-savvy, so you already knew this.

Trolling and memes are fun. They crack me up sometimes. And the best part is that they’ve infiltrated our normally stuffy and over-serious politics. Some see this as a symptom of societal decline. I beg to differ. I see it as using psychological operations to attack your opponent’s credibility using the tools available to us in this digital age.

Internet trolling is about:

  1. Throwing rhetorical bombs in order to get a reaction (reaction = attention).
  2. Using the power of images to back up your words.
  3. Appealing to emotion rather than reason or logic.
  4. Good old-fashioned hell-raising.

You know, standard ideological warfare tactics that have existed since the dawn of time.

But trolling is not for everyone. I thought I’d try my hand at it just to get a few laughs, draw some attention to my writing, and in general join in the fun. So I tried to create some memes.

They did not work.

For a brief, stupid moment I felt kind of left out of the “in” crowd. But then I had another revelation: Trolling isn’t me, so who cares?

The Internet is a wonderful thing. You can make it work for you, no matter who you are. You don’t have to troll or create memes to get some use out of this gigantic world-wide free-for-all. Continue reading “Trolling for Amateurs and How to Make the Internet Work for You”