Archive for November, 2010

November 22, 2010

Digital Depression, Electronic Insanity, Mental Environmentalism

This is the awesomest article I’ve ever read: http://www.realitysandwich.com/interwebs_mental_environmentalism

my favorite term: “digital depression” — wow, we all have this.

this is one of my favorite sentences from the article:

“The persona itself has become a kind of hyperlinked body, connecting to whatever the latest crap we lapped during our last surf, or we drop into the bits in our personal meme hall of fame when there happens to be an uncomfortable silence.”

Uncomfortable Silence.

Wow. If only people could admit to having that.

*copy and pasted below for your laziness.
————

Are your heartfelt attempts at being genuine, authentic and intimate with other human beings, or even your self, being dashed by addicts having conversations with invisible people?  Finding it hard to read 4 or 5 pages, let alone a whole novel, unless it’s something from the Young Adults genre?  Well, since the 1997 AOL sign-up boom, which was followed quickly by the emergence of social networking websites, massive file sharing, and high quality streaming video, a dialog has been brewing from all participants, “Is the Internet playing with our brains?”  Recent studies and publications seem to be tilting the meter from “likely” to an emphatic, screaming, undeniable “YES!”

At the forefront of this discussion is Nicholas Carr’s recent book, The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our Brains.  Carr points out that any advancement of technology, but especially those of communication, have a naturally occurring rewiring effect on thought and behavior.  Marshall MchLuhan, Neal Postman, and other popular media-technology analysts anticipated this mass effect many years ago,  though few could’ve anticipated the computer would go from being the size of a few school buses to fitting in the corner of our pockets so quickly.  The Internet and the psychosocial dysfunctions that accompany it seem to have crept up on us all like a psych-brain virus with a decade long incubation cycle.   Or, an incremental assault on thinking and being.

We can now step into computer or gamer addiction support groups the same way a drug addict does.  “Digital Depression” was identified some time ago by Dr. Peter Honey who noted, “the profusion of communications technology (mobiles, email, blueberries, wireless PDAs and laptops) are contributing to a rise in employee stress levels, currently affecting 64% of the working population,” and that was back in 2003.  Since then, the landscape has been numbingly dotted by WI-FI, Android, Internet televisions, and the advertising/social networking behemoth Facebook, which, if ranked as a country, would be listed as the world’s third largest nation (also sporting a 14 billion dollar price tag).  It’s hard not to feel like an insect in an expanding electronic colony.

Our very personalities, what defines us as who we are (socially speaking), seem to be degenerating into a miniature Internet, with no time allotted for reflection on just what it is we actually are — what “holds” this experience of being together.  The persona itself has become a kind of hyperlinked body, connecting to whatever the latest crap we lapped during our last surf, or we drop into the bits in our personal meme hall of fame when there happens to be an uncomfortable silence.

A study from the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, “24 Hours: Unplugged,” asked 200 students on the campus to give up all media for a full day and blog on private Web sites about their experience. Student reaction showed addiction-like withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, misery, and being jittery, the authors wrote.  It’s no surprise that conversation is also falling into an abyss of flippant snark, data regurgitation, and monocultural babble (enter Quagmire’s “Giggidys” here) alongside the clockwork like dialog dongs of “Umm,” “Huh?” and “What happ’n?”  So too our relationship to the self as well as the outside world is becoming a desperate realm of agitated ghosts.  This is well illustrated in the deeply unsettling documentary “We Live in Public” which stands as a modern textbook account of the depth of psychological unease and violence that can befall individuals when they become the center-point of their own 24-hour CCTVed, digital utopia.  Even Charles Manson pointed out how grotesquely juvenile the consciousness of a culture is that requires movies to see the obviousness of our shared plight — “Avatar” anybody?

We now gobble food and relationships as carnivorously as we gobble data — without stopping to actually taste, savor, enjoy, and digest.  We move on to the next brief satisfaction.  The public declaration of one’s “availability” speaks something nasty about who and what we assume relationships are: “…soft, strong, and disposable,” as Madeline Kahn said in “Clue.”  It’s getting to the point where one may wonder if Oscar Wilde would have enough toner to finish printing the satire our digital selves are worthy of.

In this swelling info-orgy more people from all walks of life are finding it necessary to disconnect.  Bill McKibben noted that, “In the case of the so-called information society, it may be the largest psychological experiment in history.”  Arianna Huffington and Ellen Kunes, have drawn attention to this problem with the “Unplug and Recharge Challenge.”  They write,  “We’re addicted to our personal digital assistants…Thankfully, we’re both on the road to recovery.”  Carr points out on his blog Rough Type, “James Sturm, the cartoonist who has taken a four-month sabbatical from the Internet, continues to write (and draw) about his experience as one of The Disconnected.”  Outside of Sturm’s welcomed soldiering, another answer may lie in Maggie Jackson’s “Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age,” which closes with a chapter of her at a meditation retreat in Colorado, through which she attempts to reclaim her attention.  It seems that alongside the Internet and the kind of world culture that monetarism allows for — differential advantage, Gulf Oil spill, political ego-worship, porn-driven advertising, slavery and suffering — we are coming into a few realizations, and the need for real active change on a personally subjective and a socio-global level is needed now more than ever.  This is coming as we begin to realize that our minds are not only being diabolically shaped through language, media, social manipulation, technology, and catastrophe, but also that we haven’t even “met” our own mind.  As the band Salon of Refuse puts it, we’re far too busy with our “Faces to the screens.”

The summer edition of Kalle Lasn’s Adbusters, “The Whole Brain Catalog,” calls for a historic new movement, dubbed, “Mental Environmentalism.”  The need for this new movement springs from a disturbing prediction from the United Nations: “Mental disease will be bigger than heart disease by 2020.”  Lasn’s article “Ecology of Mind: The Birth of a Movement,” outlines “an introduction to some of the mental pollutants, information viruses and psychic shocks we have to deal with daily.”  This invigorating article ends with a call to subjective arms.  “As more people trace their anxieties, mood disorders and depression back to the toxins in our mental world, the first murmurs of insurrection can be heard…we are witnessing the birth pangs of the quintessential uprising of the 21st century…What begins here today will be known as the environmental movement of the mind.”

NASA physicist Thomas Campbell’s  “My Big TOE: A Trilogy Unifying Physics, Metaphysics, and Philosophy” is a worthy handbook for this “Mental Environmentalism” movement, as it not only derives quantum mechanics and general relativity, but also opens the reader to the universe that is experiencing this universe.  Campbell’s 900-page mind-expanding slap-in-the-face offers one a kind of map of consciousness and subjectivity — how to easily unload one’s accrued mental baggage and move deeper into one’s own individual awareness to discover, as he calls it “Big Truth.”  MBT also outlines the logical, scientific measures an individual needs to take to become a powerful, mobile vehicle in the deep oceans of consciousness rather than a helpless life raft baking to death on the surface.

Ways to break the digital compulsion besides the obvious (God forbid) turning off the toys?

– Limit (or better yet cut off) caffeine and sugar intake.  Yes, it’s heresy but we’re metabolically attempting to recreate 3G with this incessant chemical suckling.  It’s thoroughly destroying our attention.  This means folks will have to read tiny labels.

– Attempt meditation formally, informally (naturally), or through binaural beat audio technology — which will no doubt become a hugely popular new drugless form of achieving deep relaxation and profoundly wondrous altered states of consciousness once the kids pick it up.  Maybe try that ancient Buddhist practice of sky gazing.

– Take heed from “Fight Club.”  Listen rather than sitting there, pre-loading your turn to speak, like a butt sitting at the thin end of a needle’s prick.

– Look deeply into someone’s eyes for an evening rather than a screen.

– Talk to a stranger for no real reason — save for maybe the fact that they are also another living corner of reality, walking along the very same mystery that you are.

– Date a new person you didn’t meet online.

– Live without going onto Google for a while — it blows the mystery and ends the personal, subjective investigation.  It’s the difference between looking at a field guide to North American insects and digging in your own backyard to find out for yourself.

– For you readers, try Adyashanti, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Thomas Campbell; all these authors’ works are dedicated to un-programming the mind.

Internet addiction, digital lifestyles, living inside screens, cultural programming, entertainment distractions, and the constant flow of data maybe returning us to the deeply relevant suggestion mentioned half a century ago, “Wouldn’t you love somebody to love” (other than yourself)?  Mental Environmentalists, start looking inwardly and outwardly, and don’t give up.  The answer is already there, smiling.

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November 21, 2010

Coolest Fucking Animal Ever

Reminds me of me. Being able to blend into any environment.

November 16, 2010

Phases of Maturity

Step 1: Prisoner & Freedom
The majority of Asian kids seem to be “prisoners” of sorts until “released” to college. The consequences of traditional Asian parenting: perfectly shaped kids trapped in a cocoon — and when the child finally emerges through metamorphosis in college, tests his or her newly found boundaries… the rebellion is much worse than if the parents were around. Because, now, there are no boundaries. Luckily, for me, I had all the freedom I could have wanted growing up. Didn’t receive the traditional Asian parenting… however, all people experience this at some point — if you’re 30 and you still live at home, I can’t say that you have reached step 1 yet.

Step 2: Getting your heart broken
I don’t need to explain this, but you don’t become a man unless you get your heart stomped on, maybe even twice or three times. Any more than that would be overkill. But I would have a hard time respecting someone who’s never had their heart torn out, stomped on, eaten, digested, shitted out, put into a plastic bag, recycled, well, you get the point. Okay I guess I can still respect you – but it would be hard for me to trust you with my life or business if I don’t know how tough you are mentally, and if I don’t know how you deal with traumatic situations.

Step 3: Going Broke Financially
Poker players understand this all too well… and even men like Donald Trump have filed for bankruptcy more than a couple times. Nonetheless, it creates a mental fortitude that was lacking before, and additionally it adds a little bit to the “I don’t give a fuck” attitude.

Step 4: Having Friends & Business Go Wrong
It’s like trying to mix oil and water. We’ve all tried. We’ve all sworn it will work. And some of us prove that when you stir that shit up, it does look like it’s mixing. But when all the dust settles, the two are just better in their own containers.

Step 5: Death of a close person
It speeds up your awareness of everything — makes you rock solid focused on what you want in life… no more complaining about the banality of life. It almost causes you (or me at least) to become less empathetic towards the plight of your fellow man/woman — ceasing to care about the more trivial problems that exist.

Step 6: Achieving Big Goals
Graduating from college, landing that awesome job, making partner at the firm, starting a company, selling a company, retiring… whatever financial, career, or other big goals you have — once goals are set, and met — it gives you confidence that you can achieve whatever you want.

 

most people will go through all 6 steps in their life // it’s been a fun roller coaster ride having the majority of these things happen within a short time period // but that’s the only way I could have had it // I mean, when I watch Lost, I must wait until the season is over and then CRAM the whole season into a 24 hour-Lost-Marathon // if tough events in life are to happen, I guess better to get them over with sooner than later… well, I’m not proposing that it’s great to just start having people break your heart and die and take your money at the same time you’re achieving your goals and just escaping the grasp of mommy and daddy — but I guess I’m just trying to look on the bright side of things…

where the hell do I come up with this shit? I know. not really sure. I just start typing.

ttyl.

November 13, 2010

FML

2006
father got sick
dropped last 2 classes at USC
ditched law school aspirations (everyone always asked me why I didn’t go to lawschool — it’s really bc my dad got sick and our family ran out of money),
started working in real estate
about this time market was crashing and market saturated by brokers already
went about 11 months without an income
father died before I closed my first deal
closed my first deal
girlfriend of 3 years broke up with me and moved to Hawaii
then it was 2007
became depressed and buried myself in work this year, maybe went out once or twice
did enough deals to survive this year
alienated a lot of friends, became a hermit
2008 real estate got really bad
have 2 dogs and couldn’t even buy food for myself
was putting on suit and tie daily but couldn’t afford a hair cut
started cutting my own hair *cry
had on-again off-again relationship with Hawaii ex-gf
2009 realized that the only saving grace of my career was money
admitted i hated what i was doing admitted i was only going bc I was stubborn and didn’t want to give up
really wanted to be with my gf in Hawaii, combined w/ general job dissatisfaction, so I started a new company
end of 2009 partner leaves (on good terms though) to pursue other opportunities (he was my best friend so I felt hurt he was leaving me, business aside, felt abandoned)
2010 company starts taking off so I quit my commercial broker day job to focus 100%
girlfriend and I break up in May, for good this time (6 yr total)
I lose my passion for new company, mid-life crisis begins at age 27
seriously, father died at 53 yrs and I’ve achieved goals which I now don’t care about, love of my life gone
I buy motorcycle, find surfing, strippers, poker all over again, madden, call of duty, hanging out with college people for some reason
life is worth living again
not working too much, being irresponsible with money and company
employees, who are all friends (I only hire friends), see me going into a bad place and pull a mutiny on me
they give me a 24 hr ultimatum to assign 95% of company to them and full control bc of my insane state of mind…I say no.
to their defense, they really thought they were doing the right thing, and I can’t blame them… too much… 😉
95% of my company is gone the next day, along with all clients.Website gets deleted, no emails, nothing.
my income goes from ‘kind being able to support my lifestyle’ to ‘zero’ within 30 days.
sell my car to pay October bills
car was super sentimental to me and the last thing I thought i would sell bc my father bet me that I couldn’t make a 4.0 GPA my freshman year at USC, I did and he bought it for me and he told me he never really thought I would do it! He thought I would try, get an A minus maybe, and he would get the best of that deal!
can’t afford to keep the condo rent going
moved into office
sleeping on floor with yellow sleeping bag (begging for sympathy I know)
selling motorcycle to pay November bills
cell phone I’ve had for 10 years gets shutoff bc I can’t pay the bill, and frankly, I don’t care anymore!
on plentyoffish.com trying to find a girl that doesn’t mind paying for our dates
considers becoming a comedian
all in all, life for me is better than it has ever been; I feel smarter than I ever have; more in control than ever before; more attractive than I’ve ever been; and all the hardships have given me a 50Cent like bullet-proof vest to tackle the world with.
not sure why i’m sharing this with another soul as i’ve been very kept to myself my entire life but it’s proof to myself that I really don’t give a fuck anymore. I may have been embarrassed before, but it’s actually quite funny if you think about it. Well, not since it’s happening to me right now, but I’m thinking about next year, “hey Weldon, remember when I was sleeping in a sleeping bag on my office floor?”

ttyl.

 

p.s. the thing that hurts me the most is that I only ever had good intentions too — the whole point wasn’t to make me rich (okay that was always the point assholes, right?). I’ve always had trouble keeping close friends — mostly because the relationships we have are superficial and fleeting, and sometimes I’m the only one honest enough to acknowledge that. I was more concerned with surrounding myself with friends and people I trusted than actually running a business, and it ends up biting me in the ass. I guess the next time around it will be all business. I only cared for you guys and only wanted the best for all of us, I really can’t believe you did this to me.

November 9, 2010

me

http://keirsey.com/4temps/inventor.asp

Architects need not be thought of as only interested in drawing blueprints for buildings or roads or bridges. They are the master designers of all kinds of theoretical systems, including school curricula, corporate strategies, and new technologies. For Architects, the world exists primarily to be analyzed, understood, explained – and re-designed. External reality in itself is unimportant, little more than raw material to be organized into structural models. What is important for Architects is that they grasp fundamental principles and natural laws, and that their designs are elegant, that is, efficient and coherent.

Architects are rare – maybe one percent of the population – and show the greatest precision in thought and speech of all the types. They tend to see distinctions and inconsistencies instantaneously, and can detect contradictions no matter when or where they were made. It is difficult for an Architect to listen to nonsense, even in a casual conversation, without pointing out the speaker’s error. And in any serious discussion or debate Architects are devastating, their skill in framing arguments giving them an enormous advantage. Architects regard all discussions as a search for understanding, and believe their function is to eliminate inconsistencies, which can make communication with them an uncomfortable experience for many.

Communication tip for INTP employee with an Idealist boss Ruthless pragmatists about ideas, and insatiably curious, Architects are driven to find the most efficient means to their ends, and they will learn in any manner and degree they can. They will listen to amateurs if their ideas are useful, and will ignore the experts if theirs are not. Authority derived from office, credential, or celebrity does not impress them. Architects are interested only in what make sense, and thus only statements that are consistent and coherent carry any weight with them.

Architects often seem difficult to know. They are inclined to be shy except with close friends, and their reserve is difficult to penetrate. Able to concentrate better than any other type, they prefer to work quietly at their computers or drafting tables, and often alone. Architects also become obsessed with analysis, and this can seem to shut others out. Once caught up in a thought process, Architects close off and persevere until they comprehend the issue in all its complexity. Architects prize intelligence, and with their grand desire to grasp the structure of the universe, they can seem arrogant and may show impatience with others who have less ability, or who are less driven.

November 7, 2010

fucking genius

Sam Zell Says High-Quality Commercial Real Estate Will Fill at Lower Rents

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-04/sam-zell-says-high-quality-commercial-real-estate-will-fill-at-lower-rents.html

if you need a billionaire to tell you this, probably a better idea that you get out of the real estate business. I can’t believe this article made it on Bloomberg. Let me paraphrase it for you:

“I made a lot of money. This means what I say is true. If you lower your rents, your building will fill up. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen before. People would much rather buy a building that’s fully leased than one that is 100% vacant. Buildings that actually produce income are more valuable that buildings that don’t produce income. There was this thing called a recession that occurred right around 2008  — since I sold all my shit in 2007, that means I’m a badass. Oh, by the way, I reinvested some of my profits into this media company that went belly up because a 69-year-old man has no business trying to invent the next Twitter.”

I say go play some golf and hang out with your grand kids old man — you’ve made your money, now go lay down.

Peace.

p.s. I am being sarcastic.