Saturday, December 15, 2012

Paranormal Fiction

Well, I've reopened this blog and yet I didn't post something new. Like half of my other blogs anyway. Some say, I shouldn't have so many blogs, or split my interests in several of them. Well, I will stick with it now, maybe in the future I am more into paranormal stuff than computers or psychology and have more to say here. And I will inaugurate the reopening of this blog with a new small post.

They have asked me why I am so much into paranormal and UFOs. Some wonder why I don't read sci-fi instead? Reading the next conspiracy theory is a waste but reading sci-fi isn't they say. I disagree.

I discover that I am not much into reading as many sci-fi or fantasy books as my geeky image would require. I might have some favorites but I am not much into it or I don't have much time to read everything. But the books that have hooked me most are books based on reality. I could read a scientific or philosophical book (but I still don't read enough, I couldn't easily name some favorites) or books on the paranormal or conspiracy theories. The later is like a mix of sci-fi/fantasy with clues (even if made up) that those things could exist. This is what hooks me so much! It's not so addictive when I read a book I know it's fiction. I am not impressed by the energy source of the Enterprise or the magic powers of Gandalf or whatever when I know it's made up and you can make up everything. Sometimes I prefer to see sci-fi or fantasy in a movie and still I want something more thoughtful and that's why I really like Star Trek the next generation compared to Star Wars which looks like a fairy tale to me. Star Trek is about the philosophical thoughts and not the futuristic.

But going back to the subject, the paranormal has lost it's credibility. If you are into it you might be a lunatic. Or, if you want to present yourself as a very smart person, you have to get away from it. That is the stereotype. But for me, the best way to see it now is like reading the most extraordinary fiction, one that tries to mangle reality with fantasy. Don't take things for granted but imagine how amazing it would be if some of these things have really happened. In fact, the more I get into it, the more I practice my critical thinking. That sounds like a paradox. But this is just me, I don't belong to the believers or the skeptics, so I can be more careful without trying to belong in either side. The more I approach it, the more I try to stretch my skepticism too. Because the most extraordinary things could possibly stay, when every other alternative is eliminated (to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes). Observing all different positions, eliminating what cannot be presumed, really staying with what one could really assume with a very high probability. I like this. It really stretches my brain. In the meanwhile I learn by my mistakes, I start observing how believers or skeptics work, how conspiracy theorists manipulate data and present you things in such a way that it's highly believable yet when you hear the story from the debunker's side you immediately feel the same way about non-existence.

Needless to say, one way why the paranormal world is a world mangling reality with myth, why I keep this view of  looking at the mysteries as fiction that pass as reality, hooking you more, this is the world of the entertainer and his audience. This is the same as a magician performing tricks seemingly impossible but then we are educated that they are just tricks and that person has not sold his soul to the devil or something. But in the world of conspiracies and paranormal we don't think like this. Yet observe, investigate and you will see that the stories are told in such a way and with only some pieces of the data presented as to construct that really persuasive fictional reality. Maybe not all of the people who spread the stories are hoaxers, maybe some really believe in these stuff, in such a way that they omit data and keep those that fit their story best, unwillingly. I imagine a big matrix of neomythologies in the modern world, urban legends, conspiracies, stories from mouth to mouth and also from networks of people to other organized networks, where some of the people might want to gain money yet most other perpetuate the mystery because they want to believe. It's like we have all created a mystery to entertain ourselves. A collective world that intermixes paranormality and the everyday life.

I was saying sometimes that I hate seeing myself just reading more of these stuff. I mean,. what I need to do is explore, let the books away and actually travel to those places where several UFOs have been seen, stare for 4 hours at the night sky (it's very relaxing actually), visit a supposedly haunted house, talk to people, join an exploration group, try strange experiments, really get into these stuff. Though, the fiction could still go on even when visiting the places, one could still imagine things because of wishful thinking, but I believe it would be interesting with myself, because I am such a doubt machine. And no, doubt machine is not one who is already certain that all these stories are bullshit and denies them at first sight. It's neither a debunker nor a believer. I like my stretchy skepticism while keeping the faith. Those opposite forces each correcting the other. Anyway, what would that be, if I went out and explored, not just read about these stuff in books but investigate them? Maybe I would find nothing. Or I would think I've noticed something and then my imagination would create a live fiction. Live fiction, like live action RPGs :)

So, I am still into it. Learning. Thinking about it. Stretching my mental powers. Living through it. Even if just with books. This is much better for me than any classy sci-fi book where you know the protagonist lives and wins. Where is the suspense in this?

Paranormality can really be thought as entertainment. Not many have made this assumption. I don't remember if or when I have heard this one from another person. We are the audience and conspiracy theorists, authors, paranormal journalist, UFOlogists, investigating groups, organizations, whether honest or not, they are the entertainers. Humanity creates it's own reality. Urban legends, modern myths, extraordinary stories, we crave for them and others like to tell stories and inspire (or make some extra bucks :).

p.s. Few days before that freaking day where everyone jokes about or waits for something extraordinary to happen. I don't believe something will happen (except if you believe that the collective consciousness of the world could somehow affect reality... well it's already affecting us anyway when we talk about it) but sometimes I joke that billions of people who expected their lives to change will be so disappointed the next day that they will go berserk and bring chaos and destruction. A self-fulfilling prophecy indeed ;)

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Introversion and special interests

For about an hour and a half I was writing tons of thoughts in my private iDoneThis personal calendar. I would like to write a summary of some of these thoughts as brief as possible and that could prove hard.

I got my inspiration from an incident today. I was out with some of my geeky friends and a girl who was into our geeky world sometimes but usually gets bored with our discussions. You could think if you have met us for the very first time that we are extremely talkative and that she is the introvert. But thinking about her, in several other occasions she is always the one who stars conversation with the next random person she just met and she seems to be more interested about meeting and talking to people than talk excessively about special interests. She is actually quite the extrovert with the more proper definition of the term if you think about it.

It also happens that we don't look introvert because we are a small group of geeky people with very similar interests and we know each other and know that we can freely talk about these subjects. If I was in a party with lot's of people and my friends where there and we didn't know each other, maybe I would not get the opportunity to talk to them about my special interests if I decided to hide these because most probably nobody would be interested to listen to these things at the party place. And those people too, would avoid to talk about these and maybe prefer to do small talk, because everyone is expected to respond and connect more easily with everyday matters and little stuff. Then we would possibly look introverted. Introverted in an extroverted world, but what if suddenly the party is occupied mostly by geeks that know each other well and only very few people who don't know why the heck they visited this party in the first place? Then we would actually be extroverts among very few introverts.

So, if our niche interests are not easily found in the majority of people in society and that makes it hard for us to connect with new people, would it ever be possible for that to change in our favor? I think not, because the thing that connects people is the most common denominator and that is casual talk about everyday life, things you see in TV and everyone is familiar with and that stuff. It's not technicalities, it's not the detail, not a hobby for fewer, more intelligent or weird people. And this even works in a vicious circle. If more people connect through common subjects, more people who are interested in connecting with an even higher number of people would continue spreading these subjects and more people would become familiarized with what everyone talks about and the cycle will go on. It reminds me of how common opinions are spreading, memes gaining weight endlessly.

So, the question is, why don't we also learn to start talking about common everyday things so that we connect this way to more people? And this is where the answer lies, one important dichotomy of different cognitive styles. When we start conversations we do it for the sake of transferring our ideas, discussing our special interests with someone else who understands and shares the same passion. Most people talk just for the sake of talking, in order to connect to even more people, without being specially interested in the details of what they are talking about. We don't particularly like talking about things just to talk about anything.

So if our obsession with ideas and interests that fascinate us doesn't help us connect with many people, while common everyday subjects helps more people to get together, it's bound that at the end 90% of social situations would be filled with more of the casual discussions and that would gradually form a social "reality" where most people's image would be the norm and niche interests would be stereotypically connected to introversion and abnormality. It works like a magnet where the majority attracts the most common denominator of frequently discussed subjects and also like a self evolving organism where it ends up to create the image of what came to be considered social or not.

This is one basic cognitive dichotomy I find very important about different temperaments. It's a quite different way we prefer to think and interact with people, whether we are truly interested about ideas or just want to connect with more people. Besides that, I am still feeling like being quite close but not exactly touching the whole connection of it with introversion either the stereotypical one or as it's defined by Susan and other psychologists. I mean, I am still trying to connect the whole puzzle here but the whole feeling of a certain answer slips away from me. In a world where more supposedly extroverted people make more casual conversations, this social mode doesn't exactly favor us and so we don't usually take part in the process and look like introverts in the eyes of most people. In terms of the later definition, there is this vague reference to losing energy while socializing and gaining while being alone and lost in our thoughts or hobbies. It's vague because I don't feel exactly like loosing/gaining some sort of physical energy in any way. But maybe it's just a context for being "energized", being passionate when revolving around our personal thoughts and special interests alone or with few friends sharing similar passions but being bored (not "energized" or demotivated) at the same time in most social situations where connections matter and you can't have a more thorough or interesting discussion.

Either way, we always fall as introverts in a majority that favors the extrovert style of socialization because that attracts most people and thus perpetuates the situation in a vicious circle. Now the strange thing is, Susan in her book Quiet suggests that according to statistics at least 1/3 (to maybe half!) of the population consists of introverts and what explains that we never see them is the fact that most have learned to play the role of the extrovert person because it's considered better to look like one. I would be quite surprised actually if something like 90% of that 1/3 would all really be the thinker person, passionate about ideas and special interests and dispassionate about forming too many people connections, yet they all hide under this pressure. Although I do believe that we live in a prison that we have created for ourselves, that we can be such schizophrenics, that the true revolution would be if each one of us would try to be a little bit more of his true self and less of the expected social image. But one third? I hope so really. Imagine the size of the prison we have build for ourselves if this is true though. The hypocrisy! A whole society, a whole world, living in self denial.

I have my doubts for this one and yet my hopes that it's true. Time will tell. And I hope for a revolution in the way we perceive the whole human condition concerning this issue. Time will tell.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Introversion - Extraversion

I became quite happy when I've recently discovered Susan Cain's talk on the power of introversion and later found about her book and her mission to change the way we see introverts. I have still a long road to go in order to finish reading the book but am already overwhelmed or inspired by her emotional charisma in her public appearance and her wish to make a difference. She could be my muse.

Because of that incentive, I started thinking about the differences and definitions of introversion and extraversion again. I remember years ago when I had taken the Myers-Briggs test and it always flags me as an INFP no matter if I try it again after months or years. It's not that I don't like the result, I am just checking whether something is changing in my personality as I evolve (Did I gradually became more extroverted? Or maybe more of a thinker than feeler?). It still shows me as an INFP (I would update with the information that some other tests I took today showed a bit of INTP finally, I will come back to my thoughts about this soon).

Yet I was a little confused with some definitions about introversion/extroversion and how people perceive them. The primary definition that confused me is this: Extroverts tend to gain energy from big social events while introverts energy is drained at the same situations. Introverts prefer solitude in order to recharge their lost energy. This is being discussed in many forums and I think I have heard Susan describe it like this too.

And that makes me wonder because while I recognize myself truly as an introvert (and I will explain below why), I don't really remember that part on myself of actually loosing energy during big social events. All I do in a party or bar is sitting there silently, lost in my world of thoughts and hardly ever trying to do small talk or something. If someone turns into my position and starts chatting with me then I can gladly response if it is a question I can easily respond to or something interesting to talk. But at worse I can end up being bored, lost in my world, filtering the blabber and shamely wonder why everyone looks so alive while I am so off.

Wait. So alive, so energized! I think that the term of "energy" in the older Jungian definition of introversion/extroversion doesn't refer to a physical energy (like getting tired) but what Jung calls a "psychic" energy (still a confusing term, people who are into paranormal could start the wishful thinking right now about things I can't even know if they do exist) meaning the fuel that motivates you, the spurr that keeps you alive, what makes you ecstatic. It still might not be clear the way I am describing it, but I've already written about it and my introvert preference here. It's all about what I find engaging in life that fits the introvert style and how I don't enjoy the casual socialization which is more of the extrovert style (as an exception I can enjoy being together with few close friends, with whom I discuss personal matters or special interests as I explain in the old article, and this is something possible with most introverts as I read).

I think the term energized or prefer to spend energy to either social outgoing activities or inner thoughts and creative solitude activities was used in the past as an indicator of what is your driving force, during which activities you are most alive or continue spending time without feeling tired. It doesn't necessary mean that an introvert would necessary get tired in the social activities, rather than he would spent endless hours with his solitude activities without feeling tired because he finds it engaging, while the social activity would just be boring and feel like a waste of time/energy.

Though, there are some accounts of people who for example actually feel energy drained after an hour of being around lot's of people talking to each other non stop. Some say it's a mental kind of stress but there are other accounts of also physical stress caused by the hypersensitivity to stimuli like light or sounds which are usually are more abundant in a bar or party full of chatter and music. Yes, there are such people who have to bear with another layer of struggle during socialization, yet I don't think the attribute of introversion should be attributed to only the persons who really suffer (not just get bored) during social situations. Or how would you call a person who really enjoys to spend a lot of time with excessive social activities, yet he suffers from sensory overloading making these activities a total energy drain? Would his love for socialization overcome the energy drain so that he would keep doing it regardless the wearyness or not?.

The way I understand it is not whether physical stimuli allow you or not to take part in social situations (even though this could play a role too) but which preference keeps your brain alive and running. Though, I would say even professionals tend to have different theories, for example in the wikipedia article, Eysenck's theory finds some brain chemistry correlations that differs between introverts and extroverts in the sense that the second are seeking for a way to highten their arousal level (with ongoing social stimulation) while the introverts tend to avoid social situations in an effort to keep such arousal at a minimum level. So, this definition still doesn't entirely describe me. I am neither aroused nor tired by social situations, yet my mind is aroused by inner thoughts or deep discussions with close friends. I sometimes find myself talking to myself about stuff that matters, interesting ideas, dreams about creative hobbies, so intensively that I would say I spend a lot of energy yet I keep going tirelessly. Social: minimal arousal or tiredenss, Mental: high arousal. In casual talking I tend to just listen or fuse away, till someone start a subject that is interesting, leading me to suddenly start talking endlessly with great passion, till I understand I look weird (from zero activity to uberactivity).

I would describe myself as a primarily introvert who is also shy (shy does not equal introversion necessarily I hear), if the definition of shyness is similar to social anxiety, like actually worrying about other people think if you are not participating or something. I mean, I have this preference for being engaged in ideas and meaningful discussions while I am just indifferent to casual talk while I have easily negative emotions about how I don't fit in social situations when everybody around me seems active while I am not. I think that's how I would describe. Personally my emotional sensitivity is my worst enemy in the whole introvert/extrovert affair because I always felt bad about other people being social and me not fitting in, I was always feeling bad about normality and making excuses, and still couldn't just accept that I am different and that's not bad. I think this is obvious in most of my writings in this blog.

And this is why I like Susan's mission. It is because her vision makes me think more positively about myself, it makes me accept who I am regardless if I fit in the one or the other box, the most important is not what the definition of introverted or extroverted is, but the fact that one person took strong action to educate us about a view that doesn't favor one group over another, and it's not only educating society but all introverts who blatantly hold the view that there must be something wrong with them, even if it didn't make sense. That's how hard it is for some of us, spending all that energy trying to pass as extroverts or alternatively find the best excuses for not being like the rest if there was something wrong in the first place. I look back to all my struggle, my angst ridden texts, my arguments with my family or other people about all these stuff and wonder one thing: "How different could things be for me if I've read this book or watched this inspiring talk (and few similar recent books and articles as I discover) 10 or 20 years ago. Years not wasted in self pity and loss of self-esteem..

I feel lucky about the new generations that have better access to these ideas and possibly won't struggle as much as I did. I am sharing a similar vision with Susan, really hoping that not only will our societies start understanding introverts but more people will learn to accept some of the differences of people no matter how weird or away from the norm. I think the idea of being "normal" or not fitting, our obsession with defining how one should or not should be is getting more and more ridiculous the more I think about it. Another thing that helps is the internet. I think the new generation is very lucky for having this tool. I just need to search for every weird habit or flaw on me I worried about in the past to discover that lot's of people have these or other weird habits, many of them hide it or have different opinions about them, so in a sense every single one of us has some of the most weird characteristics, yet we don't usually share them with others and pass on the day like everyone of is "normal" or something. You wouldn't even easily know that other people feel similarly to you without the internet. We tend to disclose more while online and less in most casual social situations.

I have said it before, the best revolution one can do in this aspect, abolishing this faulty idea of normality, is to patiently learn accepting him/herself and maybe hide one fact less over time. The world could be easily consisting of 99% of weirdos, each one of them hiding it from the other in order for all to seem "normal". We could get a little more weird by time, a little more our true selves and so change our own flawed perception and escape the prison we actually build for ourselves! It sounds insane but I do strongly believe it.

p.s. So long I had my first aha moment in Susan's book in that part where I read that the preference for extroversion is a cultural thing and it wasn't prevalent during older times. I always had this faulty idea that extroverts is the ideal even in ancient times and different cultures, since those are the dominating types. But it's not! As I read, once before the 20s in America, the self-help books praised character over personality. There are even countries and cultures which prefer the more reserved type. This reminds me of a documentary (century of the self) I had once watched describing how Freud and his daughter brought up the ideas in our culture that in my view evolved into this "being deviant, need to be fixed" model that haunts our minds.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Random Stuff 2

Long time since I've last written in this blog. I don't  know what to write anymore. Or, I do have some ideas but then I never start. I think about this blog sometimes and what I've written in the past. Maybe I was too open. But I don't think I will be erasing anything. The fact is when I write a new post it's all about things I've revisited, like how normality sucks, how socialization is a fiasco, and stuff you have probably being bored to hear again. I would still write such stuff though, although I would like to see things from a new perspective. I don't want to look like a grumpy old man making the same old rants. But I do believe on most things I have explained in the past, it's just that things are like they are, ok society is like this, most people are like that and I differ, normality is a lie, but what to do next? I have things in mind but then again I have things in my personal life to fix too, so I forget about the normality cool aid for a while..



So, the things in my mind during this period is my struggle to find a job, my struggle with interviews that lead to nowhere and my search whether I am making a mistake since I see people around me who know their stuff less getting jobs after few tries and me struggling for more than a year. I had some interesting thoughts about it lately that I would like to write down. Basically it's my lack of self-esteem that maybe makes me look not confident enough during the interviews (and most of them are over the phone which complicates things further). It's an important fact. Of course it's easy to say and hard to look confident in an interview. 

One would also wonder, so why is it more important for a job to look confident than knowing your stuff? Someone would say that if you are more confident then it means that you are more social, so you will not create problems to the employees. I think that's bullshit because as a person I may be shy but I am not arrogant. Asocial does not mean antisocial. I have friends who will look both knowing their stuff and overconfident about that in a job interview, yet they would argue with the very first chance that their method of work is the only right one in the world. I know they would get much more easily jobs than me but they could be a pain in the ass in a job.

You know what I think? I am not alone. Most of the participants in an interview wouldn't be far away than my case. Only in few interviews I am less talkative that I should and more recently I am just average in confidence. Not shy and struggling with talk, not overconfident, just the average guy. Like most of the people who took the interview. So, when the interviewer has seen 20 persons and 18 of them are average, the two overconfident guys will win. As an interviewer you can't make your mind when nobody stands out from the crowd. What about my portfolio though? Very few people code for hobby. Doesn't seem to matter. Maybe other people put stuff on their CVs (their university final project, some work they done) and it seems as important as mine even if they might not code for hobby. At the end, everyone can manage to fill a CV with any stuff one can find so that it makes it harder for anyone who knows their stuff to stand out from the crowd. And what is left? Seeming overconfident. And another thing someone told me and I had in mind recently too, do not look needy. Do not look like you definitely have to get the job. The mentality should be "I don't need you! I don't need this job desperately. I have just passed by to see what you are working on and if it interests me. I couldn't care less whether I take the job!". Maybe not tell them, but feel like this, live this role. Kinda hard, but kinda better for my nerves too if it also makes me stop thinking about failing with the interview.

That's it. Interviews are a fiasco. You just have to make them believe that you know your stuff no matter what. They need a good reason to select you out of the crowd, you just have to look unique.



What else? There are lot's of stuff I want to write in my other blogs. I have a long time to update Plasma fun and there things I can write about new games I am currently playing, demos and stuff, things I could be writing but I was bored to but remember every time I play these games. Computer Hermit is fine and I write opinions some times but there is more I would like to write. And then I did something else, I resurrected Almost Skeptic, that old blog about paranormal and UFOs. I had some posts in here which I've transferred again. Why I did that? I don't know, maybe because I am more interested to write about these stuff again (although I haven't done this yet) and there are already too many posts in here, and this blog is dead right now and the thematology is different. There are a lot of things happening in my life right now and I don't know when I'll start with a post. But I am pleased already with the 5-7 posts I have in there from the past, not as long and incomprehensible as the ones in here..

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fixing people

The big mistake many people do, is that they are so certain that they know all the answers that they want now to use this knowledge in order to fix other people. They have already answered to most questions regarding themselves and what is life's purpose that they feel it's time to just apply the same knowledge to people who seem to be incomplete to their eyes. Of course what they have learned about themselves and life applies similarly to everyone in their view.

That sounds strange to me because as a person I don't even feel like I have answered everything about myself. While I have finally build a more concrete personality and learned to stick by the things I feel certain or almost certain about myself and my purpose and not worry much about the things still missing, I still don't feel like I am in the position to "fix" others. Even with the persons who seem to be very similar to myself and I feel a sympathy about their worries and fears that are similar to mine, I am not sure whether I could somehow help them at this particular moment even if I had the confidence to do so.

And yet it doesn't end there. Shouldn't I consider the question whether that person actually needs "fixing"? And if it so then what is the strategy towards this goal? Is the problem just a logical one? Should I press the other persons into it because I know it's the right thing? And finally, who am I to think I can "fix" anyone as if I am the only perfectly correct person and everyone else is dysfunctional?

These are the questions most people "fixers" never seem to do. Some people come to me and say that they were just like me (I doubt it considering the kind of minds I encounter) and they want to "help" me, by reminding my how wrong and how miserable I am. There was one guy who really had evolved this talent to notice people's small reactions, like myself shaking nervously my foot. "This was a sign of being nervous" he said (really? :P) and as a wise man who can observe people he advised me to stop doing it because I will improve my self image to others. I don't say it's a bad thought (for example in a job interview) but that guy seemed to have an absolute view on this, like I was some kind of freak that had to be "fixed" and the only right way is to be perfectly still. Much later I discovered in random conversations that a lot of other people confessed that they have this habit of shaking nervously their foot. And there is nothing seriously wrong about it of course. Some of these "fixers" are similar to the absurd phenomenon of the smoking quitter. Certain people who have quit smoking might later start preaching about how bad smoking is to other smoker friends. Did the smoking quitters already forgot how hard the addiction was for them and that the solution to the problem can't really be the simple logic that smoking is bad? Why can't nobody tell me what magic did they suddenly do to change eating habits in order to loose weight, even obese people similar to me who felt how impossible it was before? We have the logic but miss the emotional spark that could change lifes.

And yet another kind of fixers are the angry people who arrogantly thing that the world around them is stupid and they are the smartest people in the world. And then these people don't just try to "fix" other people but also the world. The world is wrong, they are right.

I remember some of these people (the most characteristic examples I have been thinking while writing this post come from random people I met during my greek army duty, I am just saying this so that my close friends don't think I could have any of you in my mind, if you ever feared of this anyway). They were actually smart and educated people. They were interesting. They thought in logic but omitted one or two important things. People are different. People with the same problem might still need a different approach.

And one more thing. Are we perceiving the right thing here? Do people actually need "fixing"?

I think this is a trend from psychotherapy. I need to rewatch The Century of the Self. Not that I have anything against psychotherapy or psychology and similar disciplines. It's just that according to that documentary and also according to people's misconceptions, these disciplines try to cure (fix) people who are not normal. And most fixers, even those who don't believe in psychology, go along with this trend. In reality a good psychologist doesn't try to fix a person but to help him in cooperation. One should try to understand the other person, understand why he or she goes through bad times and how that goes bad with the rest of the world, and discuss whether things could be evolved in a way that goes well enough with the individual and the society. And if it's not very possible, that's just fine, as long as the sufferer has gained a better view of where the problem lies and what are the disadvantages in this world. It's his/her own responsibility from now to choose which path to follow.

I wish I could summarize this view in a more concrete and simple to understand way. The keyword for me is approach. Do not bash the individual with what has to be done. People who are sensitive might get more saddened and dive further into negativity (thank you for "helping" :P). People who are more brute will just tell you to fuck off and then you have lost them. Attempt to listen to the individual and understand, try to imagine how they are living with their problems. Remember that the pain or anxiety they feel about things might be quite more or less strong than your own feelings. Even if we set aside the brain differences, just a different upbringing could make things more complicated and your simple logical steps might not work here.

At the end of all, don't be too obsessed about "fixing". The person might be just fine and your view about him or her might be skewed. You can approach and try to understand for bit, but then it's time to move along. Changes come slowly, you are not going to "fix" someone in one instance. And take the credit? Come on! It's the person who has slowly evolved after so many obstacles and sorrows that has succeeded into this. That's why it takes so long and that's why you can't just "fix" but only approach and maybe pass a part of your wisdom that might be naive or if it's not it takes time and it could just be an inspiration to the whole process. I think that another reason we perceive "fixing" wrongly, is every movie where at some tipping point a person reveals a deep wisdom (usually cliche stuff :) to another person, whose life suddenly changes from that particular moment. Ugh! As if all that was needed was a magic phrase! As if people could change that easily. Not taking in account the whole evolving process that should take in order for a person to change his habits or character. (and one could actually argue that he observed a sudden change in one of his friends or relatives, it is only external in my opinion and I believe there has to be a long hidden history of internal evolving process that lead to these results)

It would be a good food for thought how to extrapolate this 'approach, understand and spark evolution' method (instead of instantly fixing) for the world. All I see around me is people bitching. Bitching about the world, about the economy, the politicians, the other people who are all wrong except the people who are bitching (that goes recursive, lol :P). I think I like the Zen way (It might be a misunderstanding of what Zen means though, just my own feeling of it) and I believe if more people tried to get hold on this then the world could easily be a better place. Don't jump instantly into fighting. Pause for a while. Be patient. Understand the world, understand the people, instead of just blaming everyone without second thought. Clear your mind and start again.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Who am I? Who are people? What is this world?

Times come again when I try to understand who I am. What do/can I know about myself? (and how come people claim that they know what's wrong with me when I can't even be sure?)

Sometimes I try to understand people instead. I am really interested about truly understanding people. Maybe I think that by understanding them I might understand more about me. I'do say that I am anxious about something or too emotional about something or that I procrastinate or anything on myself that I'd wish it was different. And they do say that they also had this thing and followed that solution to fight the problem (solution that don't always work the same way with myself). They say they were in my path. But then I am here. And they have evolved. How do they know that their anxiety and emotions are of the same scale as mine? How can I know the severity of their emotions compared to mine? Everyone says "yes we know what fear, anxiety, sadness, lack of motivation, etc. is, you can get over it as I did" but how can you know without walking on my shoes?

And then I meet people, regular folks that do not seem to show understanding about other people's inner worlds. Not only don't they seem to talk about these things but some of their talk is like having lack of this understanding that people think and feel different. "If I think and feel like this, then everyone feels and thinks like this.". It kinda reminds me of what in psychology is called lack of Theory of Mind.

And then there comes the other crazy thing, I see this so much everywhere around me that makes me feel so alone or special. Nobody seems to go much further than his own understanding. I am constantly thinking about these things, constantly doubting, trying to understand myself, people and the world in it's entirety and objectively I conclude that I can know very very few things. (I want to stretch though with a counter argument that maybe I am mistaken here, maybe sometimes people are so overwhelmed by their own concerns that they actually project their own personal understanding on your own life. And maybe sometimes people are spontaneous when saying things and it doesn't really mean that they can't understand this simple thing, that our minds work different)

And all this connects with the autistic spectrum disorder and the great paradox. Who is the true autistic afterall?

Let me explain you. In my desperate attempt to finally find who I am, why am I going through such an emotional turbulence, why the worries, the searching, the past struggles, I discovered the autistic and aspie people on blogs and communities. Haven't I heard about autism before? Of course I did, but just what you see in TV. We all think of an autistic person as Dustin Hoffman in Rainman. Yet, I discovered several people writing in a forum or blog and discussing about these facts and themselves, with such articulate and understanding of their condition that you wouldn't think they fit in the image we have about Rainman's (Where is the retarded writing? Those people in the blogs look clever, so they can't be. Also, an autistic does not understand that he is autistic (as in a crazy person does not understand that he is a crazy :P). To not misunderstand, these are not my words, but just what a person who is not informed would possibly think). And there are even respected scientists, programmers, artists, etc for whom some have speculated that they are autistic. While they are regular successful people you would never think that of. Of course some people have tried to distinguish themselves from the term autistic by occupying another the term aspie from Asperger's Syndrome. In a sense it has to do with higher functioning people sharing some characteristics of classic rainman style autism. Yet there is also the autistic spectrum syndrome which encapsulates the many different levels of autism. And there is a whole community out of people who talk about these things in quite articulate way and how different they feel from the rest of the world, though you won't see many severly autistics there.

To move further and hopefully reach my point, this is how I gradually got introduced to the whole autism subject. I have once heard one of my friends talking about an article he just read, which in a sense says that a lot of autistic or aspies might be more frequent inside our computer programming geeky communities. At a time much later I flirted with the idea that maybe some of the characteristics that make me miserable could be connected with autistic traits (better: signs). First of all there is this struggle I always had and still have with social situations. And then there is the obsessive focus into special interests, for me computer programming. And then my own excessive need to analyze and understand everything, which lacks in most people who prefer to socialize and exchange common ideas (even if not necessary true) just for the sake of connecting.

For a long period I played with this idea, yet I wasn't shouting this much. Because I wasn't sure and because it sounds to the layman like saying "Hey, I am retarded" while one would also say "How you dare claiming that yourself, when there are real low functioning autistic struggling with life like you will never understand!". So it was, the uncertainty, the media image and the fear of seeming disgraceful to severely autistic people. So, even if I wrote some posts here in my blog and maybe somewhere else in the past, I decided later to just study the whole matter to see where I connect but not identify myself with it outside anymore.

Recently I tried to identify the very very few things that I can be highly sure about myself. And they are very very few concerning that I always seem to doubt even about myself. Things that certainly define me:


  • High emotional sensitivity. I am so affected by this, too much anxiety, doubt, worrying, my mind racing with overwhelming emotions that seems to be more severe than in the average person.
  • A racing mind. I am so much overanalyzing things. I want to understand and explain everything. I am still in doubt about things that could not be what they seem. Even when I understand that thinking too much creates havoc along my high emotional sensitivity, I just can't stop the flow.

I could speak of more, like my special focus on things rather than people (which is really a focus into the so many interesting things existing on the universe rather than being content with just hanging around with people) but those could be explained as aftereffects of the two factors. I think now that I am simply highly emotional and highly analytical at the same time and this is the shortest accurate description of myself ever.


These two factors could explain why the various social/mental traits (better: signs) without the advent of autistic spectrum disorder. That's why better: signs, because I came to the hypothesis that maybe some of my struggles might arise from those certain traits, where only few of them are also found in autism. Seemingly autistic signs explained differently:



  • Social awkwardness/seclusion. It didn't took much for me to understand that I am actually feeling too overwhelmed in social situations. That's because of my high emotional sensitivity and racing thoughts like: "Did I say something wrong? Am I making eye contact? Did he/she left because I was boring? Should I approach that person? What do I say? How do I respond to friendly picking?". Though, I should not forget that there is a second catch here, more things that I feel about the whole socialization fad. Not only is it overwhelming to me but it also feels boring most of the time. People like to do casual talk just as means to connect, not to discover the secrets of the universe or something. What reason do I have to do this when I don't enjoy it eitherwise. Sometimes I just want to be alone and delve into my special interests.
  • Focus into special interests.  My emotion along with my analytical mind makes me hooked all the time with various subjects and hobbies that I find extremely interesting. I am too passionate about my special interests that I start the monologue in a party till I start the thoughts from above "Am I boring? Did he left because he couldn't stand my talking? What to do next? Ahhh..". But I cannot understand at the same time how most people don't seem to really be hooked by some really interesting matters in this world that I would love to even listen to discussions for matters and their only interest is to casually connect. One would argue that people also talk about science or computers sometimes, but I'd add only as means for socialization, for example jumping in the discussion to science things that are quite popular on TV  (like the Curiosity landing or the LHC for example) and then the discussion derails while I find it an interesting subject to delve into.
And there I come into the autism paradox. Social awkardness, yes. Special interests, yes. High emotional sensitivity? No! One characteristic usually attributed to autism is lack of emotion. The other one that goes along is Theory of Mind. But I am so hooked with trying to understand other people, with the sole idea that every person lives in his own unique world and I shouldn't judge everyone by my own personal metrics, that I can definitely say I have past the stage of not realizing that people don't think just like me.

And here is the paradox. I sometimes identified myself with autism, even though I realized that regular people, even those which you wouldn't think they are autistics, lack in that sense the Theory of Mind. Preaching about normality is the strongest sign of lack of theory of mind. That's strange! People usually identify autistics and aspies as not normal persons while those who follow our common image of normal life (and/or preaching about it) we would think they are neurotypicals. Well, some of them might be, but not those who worship the normal like it's a law. Who would do that? One who doesn't understand that people think and feel different, one who lacks a theory of mind.

And yet, in the most blogs belonging to so called autistic people, you will read so insightful posts that show definite understanding of that universal rule, that each one of us thinks and feels different, that you can't define other people's needs just by your own personal narrow view. Also, what do most of these bloggers think about the common stereotype that says autistic people lack of emotion? "That's not right! Many of the autistic persons just can't show emotion because they are so overwhelmed by it. Autistics are the most sensitive persons out there!"

What do I think of this? At least I have an interesting sample of the autistics who specifically write in blogs. They do understand emotion and they are actually too overwhelmed by emotions. I have found myself very frequently being sympathetic with them and identifying with some of their thoughts, because I think they combine both the analytical thought and the high emotional sensitivity to write how they feel about things and how they can explain. They have also come to several conclusions that you think regular people should understand, like how different each one of us is and how really even inside the autistic spectrum each individual is unique. Autism is really another label and as you can have autistics who struggling with physical stimulus or overwhelmed by emotions, being fast or slow talkers, having a theory of mind or lacking it, being into creative hobbies or just counting numbers, being severly autistics or high functioning, wanting to be normal or preferring to be themselves, having more of these traits or less, they all belong to the same spectrum and each one of them understands the world different. This is something that many insightful writers of these blogs understand and this brings me to another argument.

In statistics, the sample you are taking matters a lot. You can't just be asking a hundred of only wealthy or only poor people about their education if you want to make a conclusion about the education of Americans. A more random sampling of arbitrary wealth, culture or other variables is required. The kind of autistics who claim to understand emotions and definitely show a deep understanding of their own situation and a theory of mind are those who happen to want to write constantly about these matters in a blog. Furthermore, maybe I've selectively chosen to follow the specific blogs of those thinkers that are quite close to my own way of thinking, trying to understand themselves and the world in it's wholeness, rather than in a narrow view, reaching similar conclusions like my own. To make things more interesting, the kind of autistic people who are blogging on the internet are those who represent one positive view of what autistic people are and think like.

Of course, they themselves insist that this is not the only kind of autism and each autistic person is unique and I applause this view too. I just want to stretch that it happens that a specific kind of autistics are interested in analyzing their thoughts onto the matter in a blog, constituting only of a narrow statistic sample when one wants to understand how autistics think in general just by studying the blog community. In few words we don't have the whole image, even though I like this specific kind in the internet because they are closer to my highly emotional/analytical self. (One more interesting, irrelevant and maybe wrong fact (or personal observation) is that a lot of these kind of thinkers happen to be mostly females (maybe the boys prefer to focus on their special interests and not talk too much about it?). But maybe I am just narrowing down my blog reading sample more :))

Where are the other kinds of autistics? One kind, either not knowing or believing that they are autistics (it's a label after all), they prefer to focus into special interests, aka science, computers, art or anything weird. And the social awkwardness is not necessary. Maybe some are actually extroverted. Or antisocial. Many kinds.

And the last kind I want to talk about. (I want to stretch that all these three kinds are not in medical terms of traits but of understanding of their situation and attitudes in life). The normality preachers! Yes, I said it. Some of those people who made your life sad might be autistics themselves. At least in that sense of being too literate, not understanding you are different, lacking the so called theory of mind (why not theory of different minds btw?). Supposedly they are trying to live life by strict rules, because everyone has to be slightly normal in their view and so they try to act too in perfection. They nag you about every little detail, how you look others in the eyes, how you walk, how you do small talk, how to have a strict plan about everything. There is another label for humans called neurotypicals who are supposed to be the opposite of autistics, doing fairly good with social situations and stimulus and stuff because it all comes natural to them. If the normality preachers nag you about these details, is it possible that they didn't come natural to them and after they enforced them into their life, they started preaching their new style to everyone who also lack these? Are they autistics in disguise?

Maybe some of the autistics (or people who happen to suffer from some social and other traits, to avoid the label) have infiltrated our society, some of them are just doing science or art without even thinking it and not going into other people's business, while others out of the chronic struggle to convert themselves into the social image of what a normal person is, have become preachers of normality taking the place of older people (autistic? neurotypical?) who enforced the normality pressure on them. It's like the person who stopped smoking and now his new task for the world is to preach to everyone in the world how bad smoking is (as if they don't know this already and as if he didn't know how hard it is and that logic alone is not enough to get through this :P). It's like that thing I hear from friends (but can't confirm) of secretive gay people (with a complex) who hate gays. Preaching against the thing that you secretly are.

And it's not just the autistics in disguise as I like to call them. It's society as a whole. Society enforced the whole normality fad. Even the dominating casual socialization I am so bored of is an enforcer of normality as it is of common beliefs. The most popular memes persist because those are more likely to be also believed by the rest of the people around you and so you connect this way. This is a vicious cycle because the most common beliefs even if not always correct, will be preserved and spread further because it's only advantageous for the individual who is socially interested to connect to speak these ones which he knows will be met with familiarity and more acceptance. And which things are more familiar than being and thinking like the rest?

In that sense, society is too senseless, lacking understanding of individuality and just clinking to the same old song. It wouldn't be so bad if people would say some good reasons to a weird person why one of his/her attitudes is a problem to the community, but most of the times it's just a robotic talk that one should do this or that because it's not normal even if it doesn't seem to always harm people. There are "normal" (absurd for me) activities that are widely accepted and even applauded by people but are quite more harmful (for example smoking) than just wishing to be alone and spent time on your special interests..

In conclusion, I can't understand anymore who is really the "autistic" and who is not in society. I am lost here :(

p.s. I am quite interested discovering people with this kind of thinking. I am quite pleased to find some and I feel like they are rare. Combining overwhelming emotions and analytical thinking. Wishing to find answers about the human matters that are important, beside computers and science and other geeky interests. There is another kind of "label" in psychology, the High Sensitive Person which is more close to a part of my condition and those autistic bloggers, though the definition of HSPs does not require the additional analytical thinking, yet that's what puts us into this hybrid state with seemingly autistic traits yet overwhelming emotional world. Which is I think, the mind of a philosopher.

p.p.s. Just a side note. This combination of overwhelming emotions and mind racing makes quite a great sense when thinking about my Pure-O OCD struggle (not the Jack Nickolson type, but something more unseen :P). The only psychiatric label that I wasn't afraid to endorse on myself (even if I avoid discussing it openly today) because I've lived through this and kept a detailed view about it's mind tricking mechanisms even years before I understand that exactly this thing is called like this. I won't doubt about this.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Thoughts from my calendar - My personal reality vs the social reality

I like writing more lightly. Especially when the result proves to be ok. I had a bunch of thoughts in my mind and decided to populate my private calendar at iDoneThis with small fragments. It turned out I could do this sometimes and then copy some thoughts on this blog, when they are consisted in the order they were written. It's also nicer because usually I write much more confusing texts yet now I wrote in small fragments as I usually do in my calendar. It could provide more blog posts and maybe more nicely or freely written yet without being too confusing or tiring (my usual mistakes). So, let's fire this up!


So many things to write about and two days omitted. Well, just thoughts. I don't remember about yesterday.

Thoughts mainly. Thoughts about what I really want from life and the falsehood of what they make you think about. Who? The society. Your environment. But they are not doing it deliberately, it's just a natural cycle of the social copy meme machine. The social above all. Spreading popular ideas because they make you belong, avoiding ideas that are taboo to endorse. Reality doesn't matter. What matters is the social.

Problem is, I am not into this social thing. Well no. I am, we all are since we live with other people, but there is a great discrepancy with who I am. Yet, my human instincts somehow work, my emotions are alive, so I am muddled by the noise. The noise of the social reality. In opposition to the reality of who I am.

One might thing, people's main goals are: growing up, being educated, getting a job, being married, having children. I don't think of that. All I think is: I want to explore and create. Explore ideas, explore reality, explore science, create ideas, create things that could change the world, do the best I can with the potential I have. The meaning of my existence is not just to have a family.

Someone may say that I could regret it. That I cannot escape from human nature and at the end what I want is what all people want. But human nature is also my brain being fascinated by things that don't touch most other people. Why go against my nature? Why torture myself by denying who I am, twitching between the social reality and my self reality?

Most people do this same mistake. They declare that the meaning of your existence, what you should strive for living, is their own view on the meaning of their existence even if it contradicts with others view on the same issue. If I feel as I do and I am as I do then everyone should be just like me, that's what they say.

My objective is to realize and believe more who I am, ignore the common ideas plugged into my mind about social life, and lastly spread this idea that you can be whoever you truly wish to be if you ignore the social noise and slowly clean your mind from the preconceived ideas that got into you since the beginning of your life.

I wouldn't like to mean that my life or your life or another life is the only truth. There are different scenarios playing for each different person out there. For example, the social world might already be the real world of some. Or it could possibly not be, yet you prefer to compromise and play their game because there are things to gain. Yet your personality, the way your brain functions, your unique fascination with another reality, or anything else might render you slightly incompatible with several aspects of the social copy meme machine, so there is no good reason anymore to bother yourself with thoughts about not fitting like I did, instead you should embrace who you are and even keep a strong stance and show it with honesty. This is the best thing you could do to yourself.

Maybe if a lot of us get out of our cave and show the true reality of we we are then we could realize that people that are fairly different than the norm are much more than previously thought. Maybe the world could get the message. Honestly and fairly.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hobbies

I recalled the times when I felt like I didn't have enough hobbies like the rest of the people and I became sad about it. Because there was this whole patronizing from people trying to tell me that I should have more hobbies, interests and stuff. I'd say today though, that if it was natural for you to have hobbies then we wouldn't discuss it now and you wouldn't try to acquire some hobbies to defend yourself against the people's saying.

The reality is that most people don't have any real hobbies. I know I have discussed this in an old blog post, maybe in one of my other blogs. Another fact is that because I am too honest, it would be to hard for me in the past to fill a list of several hobby just to show that I am interesting. And then I saw other people's profiles with 4-5 or more hobbies. But where they any real hobbies? I could also fill a list with "going out", "listening to music", "watching movies" but those are things that everyone does.

Another thing I understood today is the reason why I was told "Oh, you should have more hobbies! You are boring." They asked me about hobbies and I must have said computers or programming in the very past. They didn't like this (and it also sounded like a geeky boring hobby). So they said that thing above that I am boring. But say I didn't have a list of several hobbies and I answered myself simply with one single hobby (one that I don't have but it's popular) "Playing guitar". I assure you the response wouldn't be the same even if the person found it uninteresting. Because it's a single hobby but it's not considered a boring hobby. If you told them this then they would disagree, like "Oh,. of course if you played all day guitar it wouldn't be good. Everything with balance." but this is bullshit I assure you because I know how people think, guitar is cool, a comment like "you are a boring uninteresting person because you play guitar" is not feeling correct. But it applies in computers.

So, one person says "I am playing the guitar" and then "Watching movies, going out, etc" as fillers, to say I am not interesting in one thing only and the single thing is considered cool.

The reality is that most people don't have any unique hobbies as I said. If they found you uninteresting then they are boring really. And it's true. I meet people and we have nothing in common but there is nothing extraordinary on their activities or even themselves from my own point of view. But I never complained about that. So, people think they have the right to say you are uninteresting because you don't have common hobbies but even one extraordinary. But these people have only common hobbies, the ones we all do in a lesser or greater degree, but nothing standing out really.

And to end up with this post, something I did before writing these thoughts, I wrote in a notepad as fast as I could think, the things that I like to do and the things that I do that most people do but are not real hobbies. Also, some of the things I would like to do and could be potential hobbies in the future.

1 - !* coding
2 - !* demoscene
3 - !* hiking
4 - !* reading books (non-fiction, science, UFOlogy, philosophy)
5 - !* blogging
6 - !* playing games (retro and modern)
7 - !* ping pong

8 - #* astronomy (would love to get into)
9 - #* painting (crafts in general?)
10 - #* playing pool
11 - #* writting
12 - #* playing music on the keyboard

* going to cafeteria
* going to the bar
* going outside
* watching movies
* watching tv
* walking
* going to the gym
* listening to music
* reading magazines
* lan gaming
* eating good food
* internet surfing

So, the !* list is my major things I do. Coding and demoscene have parallel lives. Hiking is a word I heard about what I do sometimes, not walking ordinary walks but from one part of the city to the other (my worse is covering about 20km from midday to the ight, measured with google earth). I like to walk alone and discover new strange places I have never been before. Once I did this frequently with my bicycle when I was in Germany as Erasmus student (forgot to add cycling in the list but anyway).

Reading books. Everybody reads books. You just have to mention your really special interests. For me it would be UFOlogy (from magazines too, now I am reading books I should have read years before, from John Keel, Jacques Valee and few others) and then I prefer non-fiction books (with scientific or philosophical matters, when I say philosophical I don't mean something hard to grasp, but analyzing ideas about society, life, etc. I read many articles about these at times). Blogging, it really shows :). Playing games (everybody does today, but I am almost like a hardcore gamer in some genres and I enjoy both retro and modern games, interested in the history, tech and gameplay mechanics behind them, so I think I am more seriously hooked into this than the average person even if not proud about it :). Ping Pong, even if I don't play frequently, I think it's my favorite sport.

Even for some of the above things I would be reluctant to add them as a hobby because I haven't spent serious time with them to say they speak about my personality. For example I haven't really read much about science or philosophy but if you ask me about UFOlogy I can tell you everything. Then, I haven't played so frequently ping pong, so if it was programming then it would be like saying I am sucked into programming, I really love it and the only thing I've coded is a hello world and some do while loop in basic. That would be uninteresting to someone hooked in programming. This is how I am with ping pong, maybe only a little better. But it's a bit above the average bar of things everyone does. Some things on the list are also things I love to do even if I haven't done much.

And then #* for the things that I'd love to do (maybe I've done once in the past and forgotten) and could be potential hobbies. My favorite is astronomy, I love the stars and the science behind it, I can't stop staring at the stars, I'd really wish to buy a telescope and start watching the skies. Maybe going to some astroparty too oneday.

A music hobby? Not guitar. Too trendy. I didn't like the chords. I prefer something with a keyboard. I used to play the piano in the past, we had a piano, we were taught in a school, my brother who is more interested in music still plays sometimes, while I stopped. Sometimes when I get an electronic keyboard in my hands I remember playing music from games like Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands or even Doom. But it's rare and I have forgotten and it's a hobby I could have fired up again. Maybe writting my own music? Hmm..

Painting or anything with crafts. I like to build stuff. Probably hobby in the future. Writting, I just like writting even if my texts could be horrible or too long and boring. Goes with blogging. Playing pool. We started playing with some friends in local pool bar. I like it but less than ping pong and I don't think I will be improved much in the future because I don't want to spent professional time with it, but it's the second sport I like.

And the * hobbies are things I am doing but anyone is doing anyways and they are not real hobbies, just fillers. So I dismiss them and they are only there just for the laughs. Though, to add and not be misunderstood, one friend says "I don't care if the hobby is watching movies. It only becomes interesting when the person is really hooked to watching movies, like he is a movie freak or something having watched every movie, knows all the actors and stuff.". So if you are really into "going to the gym" for example because you are a real fitness freak, then it's more interesting to me that this defines who you are than if you put this thing on the list just because you are going to the gym in the same way everyone does it because it's considered good and common activity. But most of the times the single asterisk activities occur to most hobby lists and most of the times they are insignificant and the person really doesn't have any hobbies.

Also, to tell you the truth, I won't personally dislike you having no hobbies. You don't need to have hobbies just to prove that you have hobbies and you are not a boring person. You surely have things that you like to do and one true hobby counts, even if it was uninteresting to me. I just disliked the fact that I have more hobbies and real interests than other people, yet because being too conservative to add them to my list, I was considered boring by those people whose only hobby seems to be patronizing.

Friday, March 16, 2012

This is the battlefield

Long time, no post ..so I make one here. (and it evolved: Long time, no post was title but I changed it with the more important idea I focus)

Things are still interesting in my life. Many thoughts I'd like to write about.

I incorporated some good software in my life. One is a life tracker tool for my Android phone, called Success Log. It was the easiest life tracker tool on my phone I could find so far (because when you are a natural procrastinator, it's doubtful you would even spend some time learning the software that is supposed to help you with your procrastination problem, what a vicious circle :P). It's not much like a procrastination tool for me rather than a storing tool for tasks I have completed, so that I can check the statistics in the future (it really has some statistics of the most active days, hours, etc with good graphical representation and it's still a very very minimalistic and straightforward tool). It will be interesting to see the stats after too much and I even track leisure things like a gaming session or book reading session I had. Sometimes I forget logging things but I log them the next day and it doesn't matter if I forget something. Gives you also a bit of the feeling you have accomplished more than you think.

Another interesting site with extreme simplicity and mainly build with the purpose of reminding you what you have accomplished is iDoneThis. I really really love this calendar site where even if you are lazy, it reminds you every day with email to log your activities for this day. You can either do this by replying to the email directly (so you don't even have to go to the site) or from the calendar in the site and you can also edit or delete past or future entries. I have started using it and something more interesting happened. It's not just a tool to fight procrastination or making you feel better about your accomplishments. It's mainly a tool to store my thoughts or things that fascinated me on the day, activities, a trip I've done, some notes to take care of in the future,... well yes it's basically ye olde good personal calendar. But it works and I love it! I am storing thoughts or notices or memories I will want to go back and recover. No statistics in this one but I might take a look at my past entries and get a clue about some things. For example, I grade how I felt physically and emotionally every past day. Could be interesting in the future. And it works as the people of this site intended to, it reminds me that every day is more interesting and active than I originally thought.

It all started with my look at fitocracy (about which I learned from an xkcd comic :) and some articles I read about gamification. It is the process of adding rewards and rpg elements to your daily activities so that you may motivate yourself to do the things you don't want to do (or the ones you want(?) to do but you keep procrastinating about). Well, gamification feels like the carrot on a stick process anyway, my real concern is if we could ever find (or finally accept!) the reason behind our procrastination. Do you want to do the fucking thing? If you would already then you wouldn't succumb to trickery in order to persuade yourself doing the damn thing. It should be that simple. But because sometimes it's hard to do the things you even want to do and yet you inexplicably can't, the question for a meaning, the trickery games, the whole sorrow and all that persists. Anyway, gamification is something that many of us might have in a sense tried even before ever the term was born (motivating us to work on reaching the goal by giving us a present if we do), I almost did little silly games like rolling the D&D 1d20 dices, trying to detach from myself and just do what the dice orders me to do (no, not something extraordinary or senseless, just tasks assigned to numbers).

These things are interesting and I would look more into them even if one might disagree and I understand and support their reasoning. And I ended up with life trackers and other stuff which might be silly for some (because if you want to do the damn thing you will do it, yes I know). I don't say it's the solution, I say it's just interesting to me. And anyway as things evolved, iDoneThis became a personal calendar of my thoughts and experiences of the day, from tasks I completed, things that astonished me, to personal thoughts of that day and dreams that made an impression on me. I love it!

p.s. And as a final paragraph I should mention another important change (hopefully) in my personality. I am sticking with more strength into the attempt to build a stronger conduit to my more confident, more strong self. Most of the times this self is absent and I sense weakness, excuses (talking too much puts you in the excuse mode yes, understandable for sensitive people like me but (hey, another excuse!)) and this is a waste of energy I learned (well I didn't have to, it was obvious but I like to think about it like this because it reminds me of the harm). Again, a series of thoughts, occurrences, a bruteforce decision for changes that just happens one day without seemingly particular reasons, made me think tough on this.

One part of it happened also during the hardest time while working on my incoming CPC demo. Everything flowed well and I was happy and then I went through difficult times the last days before the deadline and felt in sorrow. Then I rose up and said "Didn't you want to do a good demo after a long time? Now eat this! Accept that it takes effort and stop arguing about it. This is the demomaking. This is hard work for a vain glory. But it feels well at the end no matter if you now ask yourself "Why am I doing this?". If you want results you have to struggle. This is your battlefield! Embrace the sucking." and then I replied in a more sympathetic tone "You are free to choose. You have done this before. You can quit if you find this too much. Or you can continue working on demos but have in mind and accept it that the work is supposed to be hard and time consuming and disappointing at times and this is normal. Be sure though that your efforts will be rewarded at least. And even if you feel they didn't at some occasions, this is the battlefield, a place where sometimes things fail without a reason and you get nothing. Embrace this notion, live with it and minimize sorrow."

I had this idea in my mind and started believing in it and tried to think how it would apply in other things that matter, like job hunting/interviews, the world we face, my fears, my feeling of lack of self-esteem, the things I have to bear with everyday and everyone has to fight more or less. There could be a bar which says for example sorrow: 70% / courage: 30% (or substitute courage with actual work, effort, etc). This would be my case. My effort would be to reduce sorrow and advance the other part. Be more balanced with that. This is what I understood should be my focus and while it can be just a theoritical idea that is hard to apply in reality especially for people similar to me, something happened this days and instead of letting this idea die, I stick to it. And I was determined to remember it. Because tomorrow your old mental habits might work at max again and you will forget anything about courage, self-esteem or that more powerful self you wanted to be. It sucks and that's how things work with some of us but hey, don't feed on that, don't feed on the sorrow, don't get suck in the self-pitty again, this is the most important battlefield and I call it a meta-battlefield now and it encapsulates the smaller battlefields in life. This is my current theory and I will remember it.

I decided through some other spontaneous decision to find a way to open more frequent conduits to my stronger self (I like this word, like communication channels to some other parallel dimension, and hey there is this great alien FPS game for Wii with this name :). I have something with mirrors. I can't look for the hell of it myself in the mirror. Of course, when I have to wash my teeth, make my hair and all that stuff, I will look. But I do avoid it when it's possible. I made an initiation with myself today while talking confidently to myself on the mirror (I tried it in the past too and then forgot it, but now it feels stronger. It's classic in movies too when someone prepares for a talk :). To talk to myself to the mirror confidently looking into my eyes and reminding me, the important is reminding me, that this is my more confident, more powerful self and I should be more in contact with him and listen to him. Does it sound scary? Or is it a mindfuck? I'll do it when I walk to the elevator in my place. I always keep the head down because somehow I can't look myself to the mirror. And elevator mirrors can be scary, brrr.. (but that's not the point :).

Small baby steps. Another thought is that I could add more tasks of little at first things I am afraid to do and avoid if possible. I could unlock my more confident self then. You would say, common sense, common wisdom. Everybody told you. You would start patronizing "There, I told you! You should just chase situations instead of avoiding it!". (Made me angry because it's like they didn't understand my condition, how much harder it must be for me. But that's in the excuse domain even if fair enough). But the thing is, some of these "common wisdoms" we are told, we have heard them or decided about them tens of times but they never take off in practice. It's easy to say you should quit smoking or start a diet but if it was just a logical decision there would be no such problem to talk about. Another big question is, what is the thing, what is the occurrence that suddenly make some people to succeed making the big change.

This is an important question. I have heard several people telling me "I was a heavy smoker, but after 10 years I woke up oneday and took the decision ONCE. And that was it!" but they can never explain you what suddenly worked when it didn't the other 50 attempts before. This is the mystery! If these people could tell you what is the holy grail of changing then we wouldn't be here. We wouldn't need fitocracy, we wouldn't need gamification, motivational tricks, self-help gurus, life philosophies, addictions to replace other addictions to help this society achieve their goals and dreams with high success or less effort. What is the answer? Why everyone who suddenly solves some of this problems for himself doesn't have the real answer on how to make this change a reality, how to persuade yourself to make the big step with no return to the old condition, and the only thing they end up doing is playing a moronic patronizing role, nagging other people who are in a similar condition that they should stop doing this like they forgot how it was when they had the problem.

Answer me that. I dare you. And no the solution is not "Just do it!". What I am asking for is what was the factor for some people who suddenly did a big change in their lives and they don't tell us afterwards, something that some of us can not even imagine doing even after the 50st time of deciding to take responsibility for ourselves again. Maybe it's all about the realization in the sense of The Battlefield I mentioned above, that there might not be an answer to this, that life itself is the battlefield where things are naturally hard and we should just embrace the suckery of how hard some things are for each one of us and decide whether to move on onto some things or forget them, but without sorrow, just with a sense of responsibility that this is the battlefield, it's meaned to be harsh and wrongful and this is us focusing on the dirty war. It's sounding hard but this is all I have come so far. You just have to pray that those rare events where something inside you suddenly make you change without a reason might become a reality and one that stays with you from now on and you never come back to your old habits.

This is the battlefield. This is all I can think now about the things we want to do but we can't do, the things we find too hard in every aspect of life, the fears we suffer from and makes us wasting energy, the answers we never get from people who have supposedly moved on and changed, the whole acceptance of suckery and a stronger mental stance one should possibly keep in order to move on. This is life.

Monday, January 16, 2012

OptiCat

YAB YAB.

New blog.

Gotta post from phone wifi to this. Quite fun and easy with swype.
Thus smaller messages and photos if you don't like my big texts.

It's going nicely.
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