Better Than I Left It

How often do I make a conscious effort to leave a place better than I left it? What does that even mean? When I was little, Mom would always tell us to leave a room cleaner than we found it, whether it be in our own home, or especially someone else’s. What if we were to go beyond tidying up? Perhaps with a sincere expression of gratitude or some random act of kindness. Whether we like it or not, our actions have an effect on those around us, so why not try to spread good vibes.

Silver Lining

On my plane ride home from Roanoke, I couldn’t help but admire how beautiful the clouds were. From far away, they can look like they have super defined edges; you can tell where clouds stop and sky begins. On our descent though, as we made our way into the amorphous fluff, I couldn’t identify any single moment as being the moment that we crossed over from the clear sky to the obscure innards of the cloud. The closer you get to the clouds the less defined that border becomes. As it it with most things. From 35,000 feet, everything seems simple and clear-cut, but the closer we get the more we realize the world is not organized into straight lines, or any lines at all, and we’re all just floating around in a giant bowl of metaphorical chowder that has no bowl.

King Clout

This is why Twitter sucks. Everyone wants to have a viral take or a career-ending “clapback” often with little to no meaningful dialogue. It seems obvious that Twitter is not a place one should go in search of genuine conversation, and yet my timeline is 80% people trying to out-woke each other. What would it look like if people tried to actually understand each other instead of instantly get offended or constantly looking for a comeback that will get them 10k likes and more followers.

Twitter is an echo-chamber. You are flooded with ideas and feedback from people with similar mindsets/ perspectives as you. Validation does not equal truth. Just because a bunch of people agree with you, doesn’t mean you are right. I say we make Twitter a funny-and-cute-only zone, and leave politics and amateur activism out of it, because honestly I haven’t seen a single thread that made me think, “Huh, we as a species really made some good progress here.”

Virtue of Science

Logic is important. Method is important. Facts are important. But those aren’t what make science, science. Science is about imagination, it’s about conjecture, and it’s about story. Empiricists try to distill science into pure protocol, but that sucks the soul out of the process. Obviously, procedure and attention to detail are necessary, but don’t eliminate room to dream. What if? Can we try this? Did it work? Why not? What if instead? All of this is dependent on our ability to imagine something beyond our current understanding of the world. Don’t shy away from crazy ideas. Don’t write off your fantasies as impossibilities.

This is Critical

There was a Twitter thread I came across today in which the OP posted two pictures of a friend of his holding hands with his significant other while walking on the beach. The first picture was littered with strangers filling the shoreline, and the second was OP’s edited version where he Photoshopped out all of the strange beachgoers. I am by no means a graphic design/ Photoshop expert, but I did take a class in high school, and if I nothing else, I remember the common transgressions. There’s a special brush (I don’t remember what it’s called) but you use it to “paint” over an area, using a different part of the same image. Using this brush you can easily paint over and hide unwanted or out-of-place parts of an image almost seamlessly. BUT if you’re not careful, you can create a very obvious repeating pattern in the edited version. And OP did just that, and if an amateur like me noticed it you can bet more savvy members of the Twitterverse did as well. However, he seemed quite proud of his work, as he has a right to be.

The comments pretty much all positive. But going a little ways down, one guy zoomed-in and circled some of the more “sloppy” parts. His comment wasn’t mean, he just said to be careful. And oh boy, were people upset at this dude.

Why though? He wasn’t being particularly mean or snarky, he was just giving some feedback (albeit unsolicited). Ok, I kinda get the who offended-on-another’s-behalf thing; people are empathizing. It can suck to hear criticism, even if it is delivered with good intentions, especially on something you are proud of and worked hard on. But feedback is the basis of improvement. And the thing is OP was very gracious about the feedback. He acknowledged his room for improvement and even thanked the “nitpicker” (not that it was necessarily necessary).

On the internet it can be easy to fall into the, pardon my language, “circle-jerk.” Someone does something cute or sweet, you say cute and sweet things. And I swear to God if you say anything else you are a fucking asshole shit.

I understand that sometimes, things should be left alone, and there’s a time and place for everything. And, sure maybe we should, all just keep out mouth shut, and let people be happy. But if nobody says something, how will they know? To me that’s what’s awesome about the internet. It allows people to connect and interact. How we connect and how we interact is completely up to us. Why not make it productive?

I also feel like this means I gotta put my money where my mouth is, so consider this an open invitation to, if you feel so inspired, criticize me. Personally, professionally, academically, philosophically, whatever. My inbox is open. Right now in my head I’m thinking there’s a lot to fix, but if I don’t get any feedback I’m just going to assume that I’m perfect in everyway.

Seriously though…

Many of the biggest problems around the world are hard to solve because we (referring to most people living in “developed” countries) aren’t confront with the consequences of daily life. Climate change/ environmental protection is a big example of that. We use and consume recklessly because our actions don’t have a big effect on us in the present, so convenience is king. Even if we recognize the potential outcomes down the line, we have no sense of urgency. For other’s that’s not the case. Here’s a video of the impact of single-plastics in a small community:

Perhaps this is an extreme example, but also these are people, and they have a river of plastic flowing through their community. So while I, and many people I know, are fortunate not to live with the consequence of our irresponsible choices (yet), many people around the world have no choice to no only bare the consequence of the actions of their own community, but of ours as well.

So let’s all try to be a bit more VSCO-girl-like and reduce, or stop our use of single use plastics.

 

 

https://www.hydratelike.org/

Scars

We all have physical insecurities: things about our appearance that we don’t particularly like. No matter how much family, friends, or random strangers assure and affirm us that the basis of our insecurities are unnoticeable, the insecurities often persist. Part of it may be because those affirmations are contrary to what society and culture tells us (directly or indirectly). Another part may be due to perceived bias; regardless of their true motive we believe that those affirming us are doing so out of some social obligation.

It can be hard to talk about these insecurities because to do so would be to draw attention to them. Plus, there’s the added fear of judgement; there’s fear that people will think you’re shallow or that you’re making a big deal out of nothing. But the things is people don’t choose to feel insecure.

One of my big insecurities is my skin. My acne was kinda bad in high school and I was super sensitive to it then. There were days when I didn’t want to leave the house at all because I didn’t want people to see my face. Now my face is clear for the most part, but I still have scars. Everytime I see myself in the mirror that insecurity is right up in my face, literally. I’ve gotten better about not being so fixated on it. And it’s not like people shove it in my face or make obvious comments about it. The things is, it’s the “bad” comments that always will stick out more, no matter how skewed the ratio is towards the “good.” I don’t want to feel this way and I know it’s a stupid/ insignificant thing to worry about, but I can’t control how I feel.

I believe in my heart that we are so much more than our appearances. Though at the same time our culture and a portion of our biology is obsessed with it, so we can’t just ignore it. So what do we do? Self-acceptance is the best and clearest way to go, but at the same time I think forcing ourselves into self-acceptance can be unhealthy. If you can find a way to embrace the insecurity and make it a point of strength, that’s great. But denying or invalidating your own feelings is not a healthy way to go. Some things can’t be helped and feelings aren’t easily changed.

It’s interesting, though perhaps extremely obvious, that I am most focused on my insecurities when I’m looking in a mirror, completely focused on myself. It’s times when I get out of my own head; when I’m with good friends or when I’m doing something I love, that I hardly think about it at all. It’s not that I’m actively trying forget my insecurities, but in a sense it’s a subconscious reminder that I’m more than my insecurities, and the people around me and the things I have accomplished are a testament to that.

And if all else fails, remember that everyone is insecure about something, and they are probably more focused on their own than they are of yours.