A Return To Form

It’s been a while. After taking oneself away from the surrounding world, jumping back in can seem a little daunting. To me, this is great analogy for social media. It’s a torrent of opinions, and memes, and generally a whole slew of topics, and  strange entities. Once, all of those pieces were the objects that created “Nerd Culture” and now all of those parts have just become everyday culture.

As someone who grew up on forums, and around the internet in the old days, it’s such a strange site to see. Everyone, so it seems, is linking memes, going on news aggregates disguised as forums, and ranting about something on Facebook. Sometimes I’m not sure if what’s going on is how people actually feel, or if everything is clever manipulation of emotions in that particular moment. For example, a politician will say something wild to which everyone will react immediately.

Whereas many years ago, something crazy would happen, and you had time to process your feelings, or more importantly, your judgement couldn’t be so quickly documented. Even 9/11 was something that no student in school could fathom. Then on that day we all came home from school and watched it happen on television. One of the defining moments of a generation of people, and no one believe it happened until they saw it on television. At that time, the reactions were all over the place, and people were understandably upset. However, people also were slow to react.

Was the world better off before information went into hyper-speed, and moved from one part of the world to another in mere seconds? Can anyone honestly say whether it was? I don’t know, but often being present is less fun than not. With so many stories, and opinions, and reactions around, maybe ignorance truly is bliss.

 

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Divide And Label

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Labels are strange, yet absolutely necessary. It’s impossible to love writing and hate labels. What are words if not labels? What’s strange is that perhaps we as a society have grown a little too fond of attaching ourselves to labels.

From all the million genres of music, to politics, and beyond, we are fascinated by labels. And in addition we are fascinated in having labels that conflict with one another. Republican, Democrat, Feminist, Men’s Rights etc. Is all of it necessary?

Maybe, maybe not. Truthfully no matter how unique an individual is in thoughts, beliefs, and everything else that makes us human, there will be a handful of labels that define them. There’s nothing wrong with this concept. Where labels get hairy is when people conform themselves to fit an idea, rather than the idea already fitting them.

Anyone can pick any “ism” , or any philosophy out there and bash it. So there won’t be any discussion of one individual entity here. Rather than discussing a specific idea, what is of interest are the rules, and guidelines for every label,  and how the individuals in these groups enforce them. What comes to my  mind is the the short film, The Wave. What happens in The Wave, to my recollection, is that a classroom is divided into a class-system, and the top tier must enforce the crazy rules which the teacher creates. Of course, this creates divisiveness, chaos and a huge power struggle.

If you’re not Republican, or Democratic, or a Feminist, or a Hardcore Gamer, or a plethora of other things, that is an excuse for many people in the aforementioned groups to be condescending. In reality, if we were all to be completely honest with ourselves and one another, each of us would likely be a combination of contradictory viewpoints. All of us may be somewhat capitalistic, with some socialistic views. Or some of us may be a combination of Christian and Muslim viewpoints.

After writing the last few paragraphs, and thinking for a bit, it made me realize that the need to feel wanted may be a big part of grouping. And what also occurred to me, is that those of us whom are labeled with having extreme, or radical viewpoints are often the people who most desire the feeling of love.  There isn’t some obvious answer to our love of groups, and our urges to be desired. After all, those are just human necessities. Ironically, in a country that preaches individualism, we may have forgotten to believe in ourselves, and stand up for our own convictions rather than copy someone else’s. Would we be worse off for admitting that our core belief systems are patchworks, rather than unique standalone ideas?

Love And Marriage

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Go together like a horse and carriage. Just kidding. Cheesy references aside, it seems that the marriage times are upon me. There are about four weddings coming up within the next two years.

Relationships are strange. Especially since, for some reason, we went from allowing our biology to do the talking to following the rules put forth by religions. When you examine it, there aren’t a huge amount of differences between every major religion when it comes to marriage. Sure, Mormons often practice polygamy, and Buddhism is quite an outlier of a religion in most respects. As far as biology versus theology goes, most of us tend to break one common rule.

Fewer of us are saving ourselves for marriage. This is just a fact. Is this a good thing ,or a great thing? Okay, so clearly this blog is quite biased on pre-marital sex. Enough so that calling it pre-marital sex just seems weird.

What’s important here is that we feel some strange need to unify via religion, but often break the rules we are unifying under. What’s important about sex is that it’s, and always has been, an important part of intimacy. There isn’t any escaping that reality.

Is it appropriate, or even healthy for us to let a set of non-law-rules micro-manage our relationships? Especially a set of rules which every practitioner is guilty of bending at some point? You know it’s easy to answer these questions about religion, but this need to uphold some set of standards in our relationships is pervasive as hell. You could be atheist, or barely religious, but be a die-hard fan of a political party. Somehow, and to an extent, that political party’s outlook became embedded as your code.

Both parties, at least in the United States, speak frequently on moral, social , and cultural conduct.This is especially true when pundits, and talking heads speak about sex. Hell, if the radical on either side has anything in common, it’s their ability to freak out over a female’s nipple. Somehow most of the western world has adopted this prudish way of thinking, and sense of entitlement when telling people how to conduct themselves sexually.

On one hand, the real question is, how on earth did religion, and its set of rules on conduct embed itself into our conscience so deeply? Should we continue to allow this sort of thinking control our relationships, and sex drive? For a world where technology advances so quickly, culture sure feels directionless sometimes.

The Hunt For Meaning

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Based on every trip to a bookstore, and based on how popular spirituality is, it seems that many of us in the United Stated hunt for meaning. Growing up here, the endeavor to find meaning seems like a necessary rite of passage. Realistically, this is why numerous cults recruit their members at college campuses. So many young people are searching for something to believe, that college is perfectly fertile ground.

Relax, this isn’t about cults or anything. It’s more about our strange obesession with finding meaning. One has to wonder whether this exists as strongly elsewhere, as it does here in the United States, but it seems to me that it does. Every culture has a few prominent religions. In the United States however, there are mass quantities of  spirituality books, religious texts, and religions. Some people, it seems to me, are addicted to the hunt for meaning.

Maybe it’s a bit of irony as this blog can come across as a spiritual blog, but at some point the hunt for meaning has to stop, right? How can you try every belief that is out there and not stop eventually? Even if you couldn’t find one particular belief system, wouldn’t it be more productive at some point to create a collage? A bit of Buddhism, a touch of Christianity, maybe some Hindu.

Part of the problem with spirituality, is that it’s  often used to mask a hole in a person’s life. Maybe an ex-lover that you can’t quite get over. Maybe a career path that didn’t quite pan out. Who knows.

This isn’t to say that everyone should blindly pick a system and stick to it. Giving thought to one’s own beliefs are important. Just try not to end in a weird loop where you are switching out spiritualities like they’re worn out socks. We all have to live by some code after all. Maybe there won’t be much meaning to the code, but what’s important are the actions based off of the code.