Thursday, 7 October 2010

Our insufficient abilities

Feeling short on ideas, I decided to ask my friend for an inspiration of what I should write about. He merely replied, "I don't know, I'm bad at these things." Whether he meant coming up with ideas for others or things to write about, I do not know. However, his response made me think: Why is it we hear people say that they're not good at something so often?

One possibility is that they do not wish to take part in the matter at hand and come up with a quick explanation of their inadequacy relating to the matter, effectively making the other person dismiss him. I find myself unwilling to believe this, since it would effectively mean that the person is understating his abilities just to get away from something that is probably highly meaningless to him anyways. Perhaps if the person has a low self-esteem or doesn't really care what the other person thinks about him, presenting one's abilities in this way would be understandable. Still, that's only a minor part of people.

The second, most obvious reason would be that the person simply isn't good with whatever it is you asked him. But is that a reason to refrain from trying? Normally, no. While it is perfectly understandable for a person to work his way out of a situation where actual losses are possible by stating his limited ability as something could be permanently damaged, this is rarely the the case. Oftentimes the only loss anyone could suffer is the person's self-esteem as the response he'd give would not satisfy the questioner, and even in these cases any actual loss is highly questionable, as by escaping a matter by saying "I'm not that good with it." would just lead to the same loss. Is the false protection of one's self-esteem truly a reason enough not to take the chance of producing something that'd be useful? For me, it's a reason but not a good one.

This submissive way of performing tells to us that people are so instinctively afraid of failure that when presented with a low-gain situation where they think they can lose something, they refuse to take part it. One can easily see where this approach leads when applied to other decision-maked processes, and through that see the how it's inherently flawed. Next time you face a similar situation, think "What can I really lose by trying?" In most cases it's nothing, so go ahead and give what you can even though you may not think it's sufficient.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

To live a happy life

A man is a creature dictated by his emotions. The emotions often lead to other emotions, forming loops and sequences which lead to different things depending on the type of external stimuli received. The emotions experienced by the man often have an impact on the kind of stimuli he receives, though certain randomness persists. For example, a man that hates another can beat him up and experience regret later on, which in turn would lead to sadness. With this being the case, how does one live so that his emotions lead to more good emotions and actions?

There's two ways to go about the subject. First would be to learn absolute control over your feelings, forcing yourself not to act over what you feel like doing but rather what you know will make you feel good afterwards. The massive amount of self-control this requires should be apparent to just about anyone, but the reward of a primarily happy life could just be worth it. Of course, one could argue that the person would be constantly lying to himself and others by keeping on the illusion of him acting as wanted, when in reality he only seeks goodness, probably in form of personal satisfaction, to come out of all it. Another could respond by saying that once he'd get in the loop of happiness he wouldn't be lying to himself no more.

The second way would be to get yourself in the good mood and block all possible interference immeadiately afterwards. This way one could experience a forced loop where no outside interference was present to break the fragile structure built by the individual. The only problem would be the person's mind as the seclusion might cause emotions of loneliness or not feeling complete. This would require for him to head out to gain the good mood again, which he would then return to savor as long as it'd last. Would he, too, be lying to himself? Probably not, as he'd intend to be fully conscious of his procedure, for it'd be essential for it to work.

From this it can be concluded that when a person is feeling down, he should seek external stimuli to help break his emotional loop and set it on a new sequence which, in turn, could possibly lead to happiness. If it doesn't, he could just go find another way to shock himself out of the loop and see where that leads. If all still fails, which should be probabilistically impossible, at least the person gained a lot new experience. Nothing to lose here, really.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Changes in the environment

As you may have noted, this blog has undergone some changes. Most important of these changes would be the removal of the users' ability to comment, and I find it dramatic enough to warrant an explanation. See the thing is, I've done some extensive promoting of this site, and while I would not like to go to details, let's just say that the traffic has multiplied quite a few times - that means quite a few times more than is actually possible. This of course has brought in some problems in form of undesired attention aka spam. Even though I find the ability to leave comments to be both valuable and constructive when used correctly, these problems have forced me to simply disable it until I'm not targeted anymore.

Other, more positive changes, are the addition of labels to the posts which should help you better find the subjects you enjoy.

With this being said, I can only hope you are able to cope with these changes for the time being, for I see no better way.

Meaning of our existence

Yesterday, late at night, I had a discussion with a stranger about the meaning of life. It was an interesting one in the way it bore more fruit than I had expected, and made me think about what kind of a life would be a life without meaning. Eventually I arrived at the conclusion that no person can think their lives as meaningless as long as they wish to achieve something.

When a person presents himself the question "Does my life have a meaning?", he comes up with something to use as the comparison unit, using which he measures wether or not his life is meaningful. This all is highly paradoxal however, since the unit is what the person values and would like to have or achieve - Or in other words, at least a partial meaning of his life.

There is of course the possibility that a person doesn't know what to value and thereby finds himself incapable of defining his comparison unit. Now this would defy the above, but since a person like this wouldn't even ask himself wether or not his life is meaningful as he'd be in a state of not caring about matters such as that, this really presents no problem. And even in the event of outside intervention in form of someone asking him to think if his life has a meaning he would either dismiss the question as absurd or be shocked out of his state of having no values.

As I conviniently put it in the discussion I had, "If you can dream, your life has a meaning." So, can you dream?

Thursday, 30 September 2010

The evolving gearwheel

The world we live in is filled with technological marvels, a plenty of which we couldn't even conceptualize had we not witnessed them already. This world is a new world, having existed barely for a hundred years, during which the massive scientific development led us to leave behind our old lifestyle and proceed on to the era where the machine tells the man what to do. But this age isn't where the development ends by no means, we will keep on producing more marvels of science and see where they take us as a species. An educated guess would be that we're living in the last century where the man can still be described as an entirely biological being.

Attempting to guess precise things about what the future will bring us is futile and would eventually bring us the same ridicule as the estimates of how humans would, by the 21th. century, eat pills and drive flying cars. Therefore it is best to keep at vague guessing for through it we can tell the general direction of development relatively well. Some would go as far as to say this is all but stating the obvious, a statement which I'm partially inclined to agree with.

So, what can we expect to happen in the future? Machines. Mechanization has been a continuous trend in the history of man. The more we can have something else than a man do, the more time we have to indulge ourselves in whatever we please. The problem we still have to live with, however, is that the machines are incapable of doing everything we'd like them to do. But all this is slowly changing as the time goes by and the advances in machine automation and engineering allow for much greater independency. Life will get easier and the machines will get smarter. What could go wrong?

I'm sure everyone that has digested their Terminator-series can see dozens of different problems with the growing machine involvment in our lives, but personally I wouldn't worry about that. What I'd rather worry about is the affect the increased free time will have on our culture and psyche. Assuming we keep our consumeristic attitudes and keep on minmaxing our efficiency, we might come to a point where we develop an urge to constantly immerse ourselves in some kind of entertainment, just to keep the thought of boredom out of our minds. That's the flaw with us humans, we want to feel good. I fear the dystopian depicment of transhumanism where we've become but bodies linked to a great video feed while being pumped full of euphoric stimulants may be closer to the reality than we might think. I just can't see us getting over our craving for pleasure and entertainment, the things that will lead us to our death as thinking species.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Our lives in their hands

When is the last time you trusted someone with something that is truly important to you? Wether it is information or an object you value, I am sure you put a great deal of throught into the matter. Trusting someone with something important is like taking a part of your life, loaning it away, and hoping it returns in one piece. If it does, we oftentimes get something additional in return in form of an important insight or comforting words. If, however, your trust is misplaced, the consequences may be dire.

Trust is, in a way, a gamble. What's so special about it, however, is that the value of bets is not universal, but it alters between players. Take, for example, a teenage girl who is infatuated with some boy and decides to take a chance and tell him how she feels. Or in other words, trust him with personal information she holds in value. Now, depending on the boy's preposition towards the girl, he can view the girl's advances in low or high value and respond by giving back something he considers to be of an equal value. If the boy likes the girl, he could suggest a date, returning the girl's trust with his time and intimacy. On the other hand, if the boy despises the girl, and thereby holds the trust she placed on him in a lower value, he could ridicule her for her feelings or look for personal gain.

This is why people build their trust on anothers, instead of trusting them right away. Because people and their values and prepositions towards eachothers are different, at first it is better to trust others with things you don't hold in a great value and thereby don't fear losing so greatly. If the person responds with near-equal trust, you can feel more comfortable to trust him with something greater the next time. As this cycle continues, the level of trust will set in an equilibrium where both subjects feel they don't want to share more valued things with eachothers.

The system also has an interesting flaw in the existence of a possibility for a scenario where a person trusts another with something that he holds in a low value and the another in a high value. This will create a massive bias that has the potential to be extremely uncomfortable for the first person and extremely confusing for the another, and even prevent further interaction between these two persons, preventing the correction of their trust-levels.

On an unrelated note, if there is some matter that you would like to have me think about, feel free to suggest it in the comment section of this post. If I find it interesting, there's a good chance I'll write about it.

Friday, 24 September 2010

The way we perceive

Beauty is a peculiar thing. It is what we like to surround ourselves with, what we hope to be and what we think is good. Now bear in mind that I do not refer to beauty in the traditional sense, the examples of which would be pretty women, landscapes and constructions. Instead I consider beauty to be the collective value of astonishment, pleasure and enjoyment these things can provide us.

Think of a pretty woman. The one that is pleasing to the eye and appears nice when viewed from a distance. Now think of a beautiful woman. Is there a difference? For me, the difference between the two would be that while a pretty woman may be aestethically pleasing, her prettiness doesn't tell anything about what kind of a person she is. She might be cheap and stupid or just have a horrible personality. However, while a beautiful woman would be aestethically pleasing as well, her beauty wouldn't be limited to the exterior. She would be classy and sophisticated, while retaining a certain level of cuteness. One could probably list a whole lot of attributes for a beautiful person, but that would only be appropriate. Beauty is, after all, personal.

The human will to surround ourselves with things we consider beautiful is a notable driving factor in our daily lives. Problems arise when a multiple people begin to desire the same thing. You cannot duplicate beauty even though you may try, for it arises from so many small things and experiences which led you to it. Competition exists, always. Nowadays many a people acquire money for the sake of acquiring money and are despised for that, but since the whole point of money is to sustain an easy system of trade, you could say that money is beautiful for it allows you to acquire the things you desire, the things you perceive as beautiful. But then again, is striving for acquisition of beauty a morally acceptable goal or just an excuse to deprive others of the things they appreciate as beautiful?