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  • But do you really care?

    I have many friends posting online about issues I *think* they care about. Net neutrality, police brutality, domestic violence, feminism. I give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s a great place to get conversation started, but what’s appalling to me is how the supposedly open-minded bully anyone that dares to disagree.

    Often it seems, that if someone disagrees with the statement or article, they are publicly shouted down by others, or more likely, a sea of likes for a clever retort intended to humiliate and annihilate, rather than have a civilized conversation. I know there are situations where a dissenter says something foul or disturbing. I am often there shaking my head with you, wondering how someone could have such a complete dearth of empathy.

    But you can be better than that. While getting defensive is a perfectly normal human reaction to values and beliefs being challenged, it’s often just serving the purpose of making YOU feel good about yourself. If all you care about is winning a conversation, it looks like you don’t really care at all. Great, maybe you made someone less likely to vocalize their opinion online, but it doesn’t change how they feel about anything. It looks like you are shrouding your self interests in social issues for a upstanding public image. That’s really negative of me to say, but I believe there’s some truth in that. 

    Here are some alternative options. I encourage you to share more if you have them.

    • Instead of attacking someone’s beliefs, seek to understand them. Restate what you think they are trying to say in your own words and ask them if that’s what they meant. This shows you are making an effort to listen to them and makes it far more likely that a productive discussion ensues. You may also find out there are many things you do agree upon.

    • Remember your intention. I think that most people mean well and would like the result of them speaking out be that things actually change. They just have an ineffective approach.

    • Don’t shame. It’s perhaps one of the worst ways to evoke change. If it was any good, we’d barely have any obesity or environmental problems. If your intention is to create positive change, ask whether there are more persuasive ways.

    • Ask yourself what others really care about. Not everyone is going to care about things for the same reasons you do. If someone just cares about making money, don’t pitch them about about being greener for Gaia. Are there economic reasons why they should care? Focus on what matters to them. There are often great reasons for any person (however different) to get behind a cause.

    • Avoid should-ing. Should is so preachy that it often has the opposite effect. Here’s an example. Instead of saying that all men should be feminists, one could explain how they define the word and why you might want to (there’s lots of reasons).

    • Take some action. If you really care, you’ll find a way, however small. It’s okay to not be able to rectify all the world’s problems, but you aren’t doing much behind the screen. 

    I’m a fan of having these conversations in person whenever possible. Maybe they are happening in your social circles (and just not mine), but I feel like we’re only having these debates online. My friends constantly posting never talk about these issues in my company. Maybe they just don’t want to be a buzzkill or get too serious in social settings, but really, it’s okay. I like to hear about anything good friends are passionate about. Face time is really important because you can pick up on so many cues through tone, eye contact and body language. In my experience people are less likely to go bats shit crazy and we communicate in a much more meaningful, lasting way. Wouldn’t you say it’s worth a shot? What we’re doing right now isn’t working very well.

  • Now I know how gentrification feels

    For some people it’s a favorite bar or restaurant closing down that irks them about gentrification. For me, it’s Hamburger Eyes being forced out of their space that made it personal. 

    Hamburger Eyes is one of my favorite things about San Francisco. If you’re not familiar with these dudes, they are analog street photographers and zine publishers who once rented out studios and darkroom space to other artists and photographers. Their gritty, humorous photography is something that I always thought mirrored San Francisco’s personality - well, at least up until the last few years. I get more excited about new zines from them than any computer or phone app could ever make me.

    Situated in graffiti-laced Lilac Alley, it may not look like much from the outside, but I always felt way more comfortable in their humble space of unfinished floors, music equipment and random alien paraphernalia than fancy, nice offices with all the kombucha and coconut water I can drink.

    I know that San Francisco has historically been a city in flux and always about making a fortune, but I hate to see neighborhood assets turned out this way. I don’t know who is taking over the space, but it pained me to see a suit park his Beamer inside the garage.

    Artists can and will prevail, even if they are evicted from the places they made special. I have no doubt Ray Potes and crew will continue to keep creating and find new opportunities to thrive. It’s just defeating to think this capitalist cycle is the way things are and have seemingly no control over it.

    You know, sometimes I feel like a modern day Robin Hood, albeit not as glorious and I’m not stealing from anyone. I take the money I earn from tech corporations and spend it supporting the people I believe any chance I can. Maybe that’s all one can do. It still sucks though.

  • Awful mantras

    There is no sense in diguising this as anything other than a rant. So today I'd like to rant about two mantras I despise. 

    The first is "work hard, play hard". Let me just put this out there right now - those words are the opiate of the American masses, created in all likelihood to fool the common man and woman into being complacent workers. While I'm not entirely sure of that, it is mainstream bullshit. Intelligent people do not practice it because it leads to burnout. Instead they work and play smart. They don't just blindly work hard. They don't play hard in situations that obviously aren't worth it. This isn't to say they never work/play hard, but they are selective about when they do.

    The second motto I cast off as ignorant is "I'll sleep when I'm dead." Defying science, it assumes rebelling against the sandman will lead to a more productive, fun and generally better life. I believe the truth to be closer to the opposite. While we may differ on exactly how much sleep is optimal, too little will make you error prone, anxious, more succeptible to illness and look like crap. I don't advocate strict regimens because life can offer spontaneous (often sexy) opportunities that should be treasured. But as humans we do almost everything better rested. Just take a look at this infographic of elite athletes and their sleeping habits. You too can sleep your way to the top, completely void of moral dilemma.

    I've been doing a lot of thinking about how you can come up with a contrarian opinion for just about anything and it will have some merit. I think it goes to show that there are few, if any absolute truths. You can only go with what works for you and move on.

    What mantras, sayings or mottos do you find foolish?

  • Doing things when no one else is

    I have to admit that I get off on doing things at times when few others are. Going for a run 10PM. Working late on Fridays. Writing in the wee hours of the morning. I’ve come up with this explanation that there’s less interference in the air late at night (so my body and brain functions better), but since I don’t have any science to prove that, I’ll just say it feels better to do things (when) you’re not supposed to.

    There’s an old Boston Marathon training motto by Tom Fleming that goes, “Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win.” That’s terrifying because it feels like whatever you do is never enough. At the same time, it’s motivating. The night is my secret time to improve my skills when everyone else is out of commission. People who get up really early in the morning probably feel the same way. It's funny how people aspire to be morning people, but never the other way around. Just be you (which is ironically, probably one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do).

    I’ve learned not to be bound by constraints on when most people feel like are the right times to do certain activities. Hit the weights late at night, drink coffee at midnight and have sex on your lunch break (but maybe not at work). Don’t apologize for who you are and when feels like the right time to do something, whether it’s something small or a major life decision. People will judge. But at least you aren’t wasting your energy trying to live up to such trivial social norms.