Sunday, August 15, 2010

Individualism

I was inspired to write this post after watching Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life. I didn't know anything about Ayn Rand and her philosophy before except for a funny xkcd strip (check also the tooltip/yellow box over the strip). Some of the ideas expressed certainly reminded my own situation where I struggled being myself and being focused in the things that I love while living in a world where people insist that you should resemble them.

I would like to shortly discuss two ideas from the hundreds of random thoughts that occurred during watching this film. Ayn Rand looked so confident, so strong (maybe cold) with her beliefs and the way she drove her life. Very few people manage to follow a different part, keep up with the struggle and win. One of my computer heroes was John Carmack of ID software. In one of his interviews he was telling his story about how he had the dream to become a game programmer while his mother strongly fought against this. I purely identified with his situation the first time I read this, since I also wanted furiously at the time to become a great programmer which got me into bad conflict with my parents and also in bad mood when everyone told me I should be "normal" just like the rest.

But the main point here is this. I was weak. I wasn't Ayn Rand. I wasn't John Carmack. I wasn't everyone who I admire for 1) Following their own path with confidence and determination, 2) Don't stop at any cost, 3) Cut the self-pity and focus on the job. Number one alone doesn't cut it. I lacked two and three. But I accept that maybe this is who I am. I just wanted to point this difference on me and also reflect a bit on the idea that maybe only a very small minority of individuals who have chosen to follow the hard risky path finds bliss in that. We just never hear much from the majority.

So, what happens to the rest? I want to focus again on two specific scenarios. One gets stuck inbetween and revolves around the dilemma, should one continue following this gloomy path or should he quit and compromise with common life? This was my kind of dilemma. I wasn't strong enough to keep it going no matter the cost and not hard working enough to truly focus on it. I felt desperate. Oppression and no support from the outside world, lack of self-esteem, made me gradually weaker.

Now, the other scenario is something that I see very frequently. Something that makes me angry. And though it makes me curious why I haven't followed this path (yet?), why I keep staying in the middle, being stubborn to quit no matter if I am feeling like having lost the battle for a long and only making a fool of myself. Like being the last in the battleground of insisting being myself while seeing all these people changing radically opinions. Some of these people were geeks like me and sometimes with the same passion. They even found my old rants about following this focus strongly no matter if I had no life supporting their own beliefs. And then after years, they came back with beliefs that are 180 degrees opposite to what they expressed in the past. Reciting the common ideas about real life that I grew to hate.

Let's say that I respect the fact that someone decided to change his own beliefs to something very radically different, that everyone has the right to leave the old sack and become a different man. What bothers me is how frequently it happens to most people with geeky pasts. Most of the people quit their passion and convert to social standards. Some of them even despise their past activities and few of them preach. That's another part. I believe that most people who fanatically preach about how we need to get a life are geeks in disguise. They used to be like us. I have seen regular people, cool and social, not from our kind who can talk and listen to you and accept for who you are. Then I see people with a bitterness who try to put it on you. No person who would be confident and happy and complete as a person with his life would come and bother with your different lifestyle. I don't have proof about these lines but I truly believe them.

And so I decided to finish this with a final passage concerning these strange changes. And the fact that geeks are afraid. Most individuals who decided to follow a path that is quite radical to the common notion of what a "normal" life should be, don't seem to have the guts to keep up with the social struggle for a very long time. Some of them change radically, some just quit, others start preaching and most also compromise with common beliefs or excuses about their passion. One or two examples about the compromise/excuse part..

First example, some computer geek in a magazine, when internet cafe appeared in Greece (in my place it's like big halls where the youth meets today, similar to arcade rooms), he wrote that we geeks can be considered social now because they meet at these places and socialize while playing games (it was not written as a joke). Second example, I should be reading an nfo file from a famous PC demogroup where they also said somewhere: "Most of our group members have a normal life. They go to gym, have girlfriends, listen to music, blah, blah..". I don't say it's bad to mix these activities with real life, I don't say one should either be one or the other. All I want to say is why the fuck do you have to justify for your life style in such a sense that it shares similar elements with normality? Why are you compelled to excuse or need to show that your hobby is not interfering with your real life? It's like saying that you are a weirdo, but not from those weirdos that give bad fame to our kind..

Third example, my own ruminations. My endless self-monologues in this blog or even when walking alone to explain myself. Sometimes I wonder why should I ever do that? This was some kind of a way trying to excuse my geeky life style, that MAYBE this... BUT it has that positive, it's not so BAD, blah blah. Who will be my judge? I couldn't even explain it to myself. I was writing these endless essays because I had a very hard time to believe them myself..

I guess it's hard, almost a taboo to say for example that you are some very weird person with no interest in common life and that is perfectly fine. Is it really tough to say sincerely that you are who you are and that's just it?

And So I have decided. From now on I will try to express who I really am in the most simple way possible and without excuses. I might have lost many battles but at least I can keep doing whatever I love to do and be happy with that. And be proud of that!

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