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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A Ripple from Before

One of the greatest opportunities I have ever been afforded, was the very first step in my career. I was yet to graduate from Uni, with no experience in my field, voluntary or otherwise, and I had applied for a head office job as a customer service attendant.

What I thought I had was zero to none in chances of breaking through, not in the job I had applied for anyway. What I was given was a chance. A chance to be out of my depth and to learn quickly or sink. It was a job that should have been 2 or 3 years too senior for me. I felt like I had skipped the queue.

Recently, I found myself thinking about this. I mean, I regularly look back on my career, but I had never truly took the time to appreciate that it someone stuck their neck out, and rolled the dice. Somebody said I was worth the risk.

Which led me to this week, when I did something I should have done a long time ago. I thanked that person. You see, for a matter of circumstances, I only ever worked for that risk taker for a period of weeks. And then they weren’t there, not for the rest of my time with that company.

During my reflection, it occurred to me that often in life, we don’t get the chance to look back on someone else’s actions which have affected us so much, and get the chance to approach them so much later. So I felt obliged to say my piece and recognise the ripple they have had in my life.

It was somewhat cathartic. Almost laying to rest that part of my life, once and for all. Who knows whether I’ll have that chance ever again. But I hope that my message has just as strong an effect on them, as they did on me.

Guise.

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.

Happiness

William Penn, the great philosopher once wrote, “The secret to happiness is to count your blessings, while others are busy counting their troubles”. Wise words from a man so historically significant that he has an entire region in North America named after him (Pennsylvania, for those that missed the boat on that one).

It seems like a pretty simple formula to understand whether or not we are happy in our lives. Appreciate the good, pay little attention to the bad, and always be grateful for the people and things that make your life what it is.

But I think the greatest difficulty, is the fact that a ‘blessing’ can be quite subjective. We are all programmed in different ways, so much so that we fuel debate simply as a result of various perceptions. Some people come to expect things, others learn to expect nothing. If you expect your neighbour to take out the bins for you, you will be disappointed and bitter towards them when they don’t do it for you. If you don’t expect such behaviour, your life remains unaltered by your neighbours inaction.

So it begs the question, have we as a society, come to expect too much?

Social media and mobile internet has taught us to expect answers and information at our fingertips at any given second of the day. We then get upset, anxious and frustrated when reception is weak or the internet runs slow.

So what blessings can you count in your life?

The love of your family or cherished other half? Service with a smile from the shop attendant who just helped you try on twelve pairs of shoes to find the right one? Good health? A home? … Life?

We’re all guilty of falling victim to our own expectations. We lose our touch on reality and forget to smell the roses.

Whether or not each of us want to break this habit is another story. Expectations bring hope and excitement. We FEEL when we are disappointed. We are brought back to our reality. Perhaps humanity needs to feel the highs and lows that expectations bring?

At the end of the day, we are but creatures of habit. I suppose that is what William Penn thought also,           “Experience is a safe guide”

Do you want to be safe, or do you want to live a life where you are challenged?

 

 

Guise