Up for Discussion

For many of us, the art of discussion, of debate and disagreement, exists no more. Done away with by the ongoing discourse of being offensive to somebody’s ears. In an age where we’ve made these efforts to protect disadvantaged members of society, we have in turn created a pseudo-culture where offense brings with it a full stop on your conversation.

In this bubble wrapped society, even the most insignificant choices of words are enough to be brandish offensive. Your image is now of someone who is out to negatively impact everyone else.

What we’ve done is warped an effort which was intently good, and created a weapon in the disarming of conversations we now choose to be a part of. So much of the conversation rests now on symantics, and we often overlook the content.

The reason this problem is so important to us, is because in a world where we are never sure which news sources are on the straight, whether we are being lied to, or even with suspicions that the masses are being mind numbed for suppression, discussion and disagreement are our way to activate the truth finding parts of our brain. It is the sharing or discussion of ideas in order to learn, to grow, and to change.

Instead, we’re now too busy being offended to have a discussion, to willingly closing our minds off for fear of being wrong. As a collective, we must stop our fixation on winning the argument, and open ourself up to what somebody else is actually saying.

Who knows, maybe I’m just rambling for the sake of rambling, maybe I’ve proven a home truth. Prove to me otherwise.

Guise.

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Connected

For someone who can often openly describe himself as happily anti-social, it makes for the perfect foil when I find myself the loudest in the room, or leading a training session, or even craving social interaction.

At the same time, I tire of social settings as quickly as I adjust to them, when I thrust myself (or am thrust) into them.

For a long time, I felt bad wanting to be the first to leave, or wanting to leave “just when the parties getting started”, or wanting to eat my lunch alone, in a solitary crevice of the office. But it’s a recent area of change for me, the comfort in doing me. The comfort in knowing myself better than I ever have, and the strength to do what makes me happy and comfortable. Not in any sort of selfish way, by all means, if the occasion calls for it, I’ll suck it up, throw myself back into the midst of it all, and do what’s best in the situation.

So I guess the point of this musing is small and simple, and that is that it’s okay to not be what everybody wants you to be all of the time, but there is definitely value in allowing yourself to be in unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or just irregular situations. Sometimes it’s where we have the most fun. But we can do it with balance, knowing our limits, and being flexible.

Guise.

Small Talk

Something that I’m definitely not good at is small talk. It makes me uncomfortable, feel stupid, and offers a hollow feeling in pretending to connect with someone. It’s safe to say, I do not like small talk.

There is, however, a form of conversation that I enjoy even less than that, and that is gossip. As soon as my brain registers that we the conversation has transitioned to gossip, I’m checked out. My consciousness goes to a subconscious place, hiding itself from the incoming discord of rumour, innuendo, unsubstantiated assumptions, and biased conceptions of past experiences.

Quite simply, I’m aware of the benefits of this primal form of human collaboration. A primordial connection to others through the discussion of a third party and their habits and idiosyncrasies. I understand that everyone of us use it to build relationships, and that it is a safe ground away from the taboo topics of small talk, but I am curious where my instinctual aversion of the topic has developed.

And I wonder, knowing that this form of communication and social bonding is important to us, why do we spend so much more time on this, than we do on the discussion of ideas, thoughts, opinions and innovations. Why are we happy to accept that the dealings of the Kardashians can make the nightly news, reaching a mass audience in an instant, but in order to hear the discussion of real world people’s ideologies and challenges, we have to resort to the niche corners of Reddit and the rest of the internet.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that we have this ability to connect and share with other individuals in the same mindset as myself, but for how long. With the looming threat towards net neutrality in the United States, do not be fooled to think that won’t affect the rest of the globe.

So the question I leave you with today is, what have you done this week to discuss something bigger? What information have you absorbed from sources other than your mainstream news organisations, Facebook feeds, and radio advertisements.

If we hope for a population of individuals, thinking for themselves, challenging the decisions of our leaders constructively, and pressuring the major news articles to raise the quality of reporting and removal of bias, then that starts with each of us.

Guise.

A Moment Defined (Vol.1)

This time last year, I had just rejected an extension to my employment contract after two long years at the same company. It was a decision I didn’t make lightly. Although the work was frustrating and change seemed impossible there, it was a comfortable job with great benefits (not so much the remuneration).

When I came into the job, it was off the back of feeling like a failure leaving the job before. Caveat to this, I must mention that when I look back now, three years on, I no longer believe myself to have failed, rather I achieved as much as I could despite the barriers outside of my control.

So feeling like a failure, for the second time in two jobs, I started in a role I was barely qualified for. Responsible for more than I’d ever been responsible for before, unsure of my knowledge and capability, I was at a point doubting that I was ever capable of succeeding in my field. But over the space of 2 years, I had the leader that I needed. One who was willing to be strong at the right times, and trusted me to make mistakes and learn from them. 24 months of being empowered proved to be everything I needed. And so I reached a point where I could learn no more from that leader. We had reached the max of what could be achieved in that dynamic.

With that in tow, I turned down the extension. I left that employer with nowhere to go, but not empty-handed. I entered a difficult labour market with 2 years more experience and all the confidence that I could hold. I was employable, at the very least. But I wasn’t just looking for employment. i wanted somewhere that I could make a difference, somewhere that I could feel the culture just through the recruitment process, which had the right pieces of the puzzle in the right places.

But two months without a job and multiple interviews each week without finding that place hits that confidence like a sack of sh…eets.

Thankfully I found the place I was looking for shortly after that two month mark, and almost a year on, I’m still very happy and optimistic. But this is a short story of defining moments, and whilst there have been a number of defining moments in my life, today is appreciates this one.

Back yourself. Sometimes in life we need to jump into the dark and trust our instincts (based on fact). At times, hindsight will help us to regret these decisions, but even with that, we know we made the decision for the right reason.

Guise.

Socially Expectable 

People piss us off, weird us out, make us see similarities to ourselves and make us question why they could possibly be the way they are. 

The problem is, though, that we overgratify the value of our own opinion from others. By using terms like “socially acceptable” we express a self indulgent connotation that it is okay for someone else to dress that way, or behave in that manner. In reality though, whether we accept or reject someone’s sense of acceptable dress means shit. We are not a qualifier in their. Whether we should be a qualifier though, is a question of morals And cultural norms, one that I’m not currently prepared to approach. 

And so it is a matter of our social expectations which we are truly capable of passing commentary on. We expect to see people dress either how we dress, how celebrities and other public figures dress, or how the greater populace dress. Perhaps that is the most disappointing part of this thought. 

We have teenagers wearing shorts that are shorter than short, yet this now appears to be the cultural norm. So when we see someone dishevelled, in a comical outfit, looking like they have just emerged from a three months hibernation in front of a computer screen on a diet of domino’s and Fanta, we are confronted with something that is different, something that we did not expect to see. But how different we would feel of that was the norm, if that was how the majority of the population groomed themselves. 

With that, I leave you with this week’s thought. Don’t let our expectations guide our connections, don’t let acceptance be self-inflated, and most importantly, don’t let me tell you what to do. 

Guise.