Anyone trained on the mean streets of our dog-eat-dog economy is constantly on guard for the bait-and-switch, the fine print, and the “free credits” that aren’t really “free.” Thankfully, the calendar has been devoid of such shenanigans. When you buy something tied to a specific date, and especially when that something isn’t reliant on production supplies, you get it. Thus, the modern social contract reads something like,  “Yes, go aggressively make money. Even rip people off. We are okay with that. Just don’t start messing with time.”

xxxxxxxxx chose to disregard society’s very firm (time)line in the sand. Knowing full well when she would and would not be home (calendars are powerful, practical, and ubiquitous), xxxxxxxxx listed her property on Airbnb when it wasn’t actually available. She did this, this messing with time, as some maleficent marketing. No apologies. No “oops, I forgot to uncheck those weeks.” Just straight pushing me toward a “special offer” and requesting I come 14 days earlier, as if travelers are randomly picking the week they purchase and can seamlessly pivot. The audacity of such behavior is only possible from someone attempting to corrupt the underpinnings of our great modern society. It’s either we go back to sundials… or we excommunicate xxxxxxxxx

Sic ‘em. Woof, woof, woof!

will eventually lose because the coolest, smartest, and most emulatable kids of any generation rebel against overbearing falseness. It can take a long time for the overturning because most will do what they are told, but the coolest, smartest, and most emulatable ultimately set society’s course, and so what they believe becomes the “answer,” even if the majority still disagree.

Get Serious

Supreme anger and motivation are not normal reactions to Don’t Look Up. The anger, sure, Adam McKay hoped you would feel that. But motivation? Inspiration? Not on some grand political level, but on a personal level? Yet, here I am deeply motivated to change my own life.

My how we have become a deeply unserious people. We spend so much of our time listening to absolute buffoons talk about absolutely irrelevant stuff. We rapturously watch vapid people live their shallow lives. And then we complain about all of it … only to turn on The Bachelor as soon as the new season commences. Twenty-six seasons!!! How? Why? This is the anger. This is the don’t blame the media since they are only what they are because that is what we will buy. This is also the smugness, the looking down on all those people who stupidly consume trash TV and who consider themselves “informed” after “reading” takes from partisan hacks who are so clearly not thinking completely that a total novice could listen to them once, with no background information, and ask them obviously important questions that any serious person who seriously was after the truth would have investigated and yet when asked such questions, tada, the hollow mind tasked with nobly carrying the “news” to the population meekly says, “Let me get back to you on that.” And so when you are the person who not only knows the questions but the answers, you get to feel all smart. You’ll ask the heavens why people don’t just drop the hacks and come roam with the real minds, but you’ll not actually want them to join you, for then you’ll lose your aura of superiority. When everyone knows what you know, how will anyone know you are smart?

But that pretension isn’t the problem per se because it’s all quite accurate. The problem is that its accuracy lets you off the hook. While you might not be watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians, are you really 100% hardcore devoted to only SERIOUS things? Like, are sports all that different from reality TV? And isn’t all wandering on the Internet equally unproductive, not just scrolling through celebrity blogs? If you browse “smart” content without ever giving over your attention, who cares if it’s smart? Checked out and passing time is checked out and passing time. You might soothe yourself with rationalizations of how there’s the chance you’ll learn something important that the celebrity-blog-checker doesn’t have, but how often has that long-shot hit?

(more…)

One Thing at Once

Distraction, like addiction, comes in many forms. And just like addiction, the fundamental texture of distraction is wanting.

This, whatever this is, isn’t good enough for my complete attention, so give me something else and surely I’ll feel better. The greater the boredom, the greater the distraction temptation.

Increasingly, though, the temptation seems untethered to anything that can plausibly be called “boredom.” It’s more of a twitch to split my attention just ’cause, and to do so across tiny time horizons. This is not about having music on in the background for an extended study session; this is about craving to turn on the TV – to an absolutely irrelevant sporting event – while I walk to the kitchen to put dishes in the dishwasher. That chore is so minute, so quick, so easy: there can’t be true boredom in it. What it is, rather, is my mind increasingly rejecting doing one thing at once. I must listen to a podcast while changing clothes. I must open a second tab while the first one loads. I must read AND listen to music while I eat.

(more…)

Do you actually know it’s wrong, a lie, another bit of misinformation?

Or do you just hate the people associated with the thing?

Making sure the last question isn’t “yes” is an easy way to increase your attachment to what is real.

 

Having something to check

is a great way to avoid the emptiness of truly being in the moment. You say you want the moment, but you really don’t. You want to have something to look forward to. You want to have something to take your mind off the boredom inherent to the moment.

So go ahead and check the weather (even as you are one foot from stepping outside), or the scores (even as it’s still the first quarter and you checked, what, two minutes ago), or your texts (even as your dings are turned on and you haven’t heard any). Just do it. It feels so good. And that goodness never expires – you can just check again in the next moment because it’s always possible that something has changed.

Everything is political

because you made it so. Not politicians, not the media, not any other outside force: you. I walked into your home hoping to catch up about our actual lives and instead find myself defensively crouched as you try to score points against faraway people who have so very little effect on your day-to-day.
It’s undoubtedly true that players with certain financial interests want you to see everything as part of a political fight, but it’s just as true that you possess agency to reject this imposition. You can, of course, stop listening, though this is becoming increasingly difficult as the politics is everywhere message flexes from all corners – avoiding the news offers little reprieve. So the more potent defense is to meet the message squarely and reject it for its incompleteness.

Consider that politics is everywhere is another version of Jesus is everywhere. Now, perhaps you do fervently believe that one of those two concepts is true, that your job, your breakup, and your medical issues are all tied to something far larger than the thing itself. Overarching narratives may be at play, sure. But when everything is so quickly funneled into a grand narrative, the evaluation of the thing itself becomes stupidly shallow. Narratives work to broadly and simply explain patterns, not to actually explain what’s truly going on in a given situation since life never has, never will conform to narratives’ simplicities. And the more you capitulate to narrative-based thinking, the more you will think you have it all figured out when quite the opposite is true.

 

 

Hitting Bottom

The thing about hitting the bottom is that outsiders view it much differently than insiders. You are convinced your friend will finally change her ways because of a terrible episode last weekend. How could she not? This was so clearly the nadir. But your friend doesn’t see it that way because, of course, if she was seeing the world clearly she never would have been so close to a nadir in the first place. 

Still, your friend isn’t happy about last weekend, isn’t so confused to think apologies are unnecessary. This is the frustrating disconnect: both parties agree the weekend was bad, but only you think it obviously proves radical change is required. While you grant that your friend hasn’t been a model of responsibility and accountability for some time, you can’t help but think this episode would trigger such traits. And that’s the mistake: projecting your high-functioning self onto someone who is running different software is all but guaranteed to create that frustrating disconnect. 

Software upgrades are indeed always possible for your friend, but don’t count on them being downloaded per your expectation timeline – you truly can’t comprehend what it’s like to be operating from your friend’s base.

The best you can do is not care about what your friend is losing so long as it doesn’t directly affect you. How could she throw away her job, her boyfriend, her whatever? It’s beyond frustrating to witness for any halfway compassionate human, but it is frustration you must learn to dissipate. Step one: make sure you have honestly and kindly expressed your concerns. Step two: help where you can. Step three: stop caring. 

Step three sounds brutal and perhaps impossible. Achieving it begins by never initiating. Instead of calling to check, inviting to events you hope will help her psyche, or comforting when you feel she needs it, you act to help if, and only if, she requests it. There will be times when you feel like you should do more; you must remind yourself you did what you could – it’s on her now.

Lastly, don’t ignore your own selfishness. With a look of utter exasperation, you retell the entire episode to another friend painting yourself as some Mother Teresaesque altruist. You are not. While you truly may want to help, a notable part of you craves recognition for these efforts. And the fact that your friend isn’t singing a paean for your intervention is a contributing factor to your general irritation.

Oh, and one more thing. You may well be perversely enjoying your friend’s struggles because they make you feel better about your own life. Given this undercurrent, your I hope she gets better claims are outright false or deeply conflicted. And if you don’t actually want your alleged friends to be well, maybe you shouldn’t be so worried about others hitting bottoms, maybe you should instead focus on how to improve yourself.

That I actually do have a nice, long list of interests. That there may be more to discover, but only in the way that there is more to discover in a city you’ve resided in your entire life. Which is to say, harvesting is now preferable to searching. The shift to harvesting remains true regardless of the weather: it’s the understanding and commitment to this fruit as the best you will do that makes the fruit the best it can be.