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.




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.


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.


OMG! You’ve got OCD!

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Apparently, it’s the new black.

All the models in Milan are being sure not to step on any runway cracks.

The fashionistas are out in droves developing their own unique brands of obsessive.

For the first time in history, it’s cool to be out of the ordinary (sarcasm, for those that missed it…)

It might just be that I live in a microcosm, exponentially populated with a swarm of OCD sufferers. I use the term “suffer” very liberally. But before I’m tarred and feathered, I am quite fully aware of the serious nature of this disorder. I know that it consumes lives, and I empathise with anybody whose life is dominated by OCD.

But as society tends to do, people associate themselves with the first explanation they come across that possibly describes the way they feel. Sad and lonely? Well I guess five years ago that would have made you an Emo. You know how to do the running man dance? Oh that’s so 80’s, it’s called shuffling! In the same way, it feels like every second person you come across these days identifies themselves with the plight of the Obsessive Compulsive. Perhaps it’s the hypochondriac within us, but it is beyond coincidental.

It may just be me being pessimistic, but it almost feels unsavoury to be making a “mockery” of this disorder. Or am I looking at it the wrong way? Is it society’s means of raising awareness, so that synchronicity can align our subconscious what is really out there in the big world? Setting up pods for the epiphany of Baader-Meinhof proportions for some poor sap in about to realise he has a life altering condition.

Either way, trends come and go, and so the only way we’ll know how real these cases of OCD are, is to let time unfold all events. I’m pouring a Gin, getting comfy in a chair, and waiting it out. Gosh, I hope it’s not contagious!


For more on the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, have a crack at this article from 2006 on damninteresting.com

To Shave or Not to Shave

Laziness, style, superstition, religion or simply the fact that we can, whatever the reason, all men, at some point in life, are guilty of growing their beards out. Despite the itch, and comments from our disapproving mothers (there’s another reason for some), we sport our beards to work, uni, and inappropriately to, formal occasions. We wear them as our badge of manhood, instead of literally showing off our “manhood”, because that will land you in jail, with your name freshly pressed on the sex offenders list.

In the same boat as many young men have, and will continue to experience, is that in terms of facial hair growth, the term late bloomer sums me up perfectly. It was lonely at times being one of three students not being sent to the bathrooms at school to shave off their developing bum fluff.

Years on from school, I comfortably wear my “beard” for no reason other than the fact that I can.

But there’s more to this point, than the fact that “we are men, we grow beards!” This is the time of year when we wear our facial hair for a greater cause. Another year has passed, and Mo-vember is now only just around the corner. An opportunity to say more than words can, and by getting by your fellow man, particularly those unfortunately dealing with the stress, and illness associated with prostate cancer and male depression.  It may not seem to be much, but the Mo-vember cause continues to grow wider awareness, achieving international adoption and contribution from 2007 onwards.

Be a man in 2012, and whether you raise money, or you simply raise awareness, get on board and do your part to “change the face of men’s health”.



For more information visit www.movember.com