Life Ordinary

Bitter/sweet

My “nostalgia analysis” post had an excellent comment – “I have noticed that nostalgia happens for certain things when you are satisfied with how things turned out. And then there is bitterness…” I am not really convinced by the first sentence, and think it’s a little more nuanced. Broadly yes, when everything turns out well, nostalgia is ‘easy’. But as I mentioned in the post, I think the mind also reconstructs and reconciles what it can. In a way, taking memories into dreams territory. A vision of near-perfectness. Probably a device used by evolution to help the organism cope, survive and thrive. Ok, that sounded cold. Moving on. It is the second sentence that really caught my attention.

..And then there is bitterness..” Bitterness. I can remember many brushes with that phenomenon. It has made me miss several years with people, though thankfully, sanity prevailed in most cases. I reached out, and time healed. It has happened in the recent past as well. The only difference these days is that I am not blind to it, and have tried to understand it, so I can try to minimise the damage it causes. But maybe I was missing something. More

Global Mood Swings!

Recently, at a meet-up of Twitter folks, a couple of people asked me whether I had retired from Twitter. They had a point. Sure, I still shared links, but not only were they few in number, I also mostly stayed away from conversation. My reasons were that I had seen people and their agenda on Twitter change  (from the first time I had encountered them on the platform) – the vanity numbers affecting the ego, the loss of humility, the perceived slights and the overall nature of conversations that are more to convince and score points, than to understand and gain perspectives. From discuss to diss and cuss, as bad wordplay would go. :)

Yes, there are some great folks around with whom I have conversations, funnily enough more over DM, phone, other networks and offline meetings! One could also prune the feed to maximise this, but one could also read a book!

I had alluded to this in a previous post – Binary Code – the increasing disappearance of nuance in our consumption. Obviously, this is also happening in creation. In less than a couple of decades, we have moved from being in bubbles formed from having only a few information sources to ones made from having too many. We aren’t used to having a microphone in the hand, and it’s showing. Making things binary in consumption and reasoning is a way of coping with unbridled creation. It’s also not being helped by search engine and social algorithms accentuating and reinforcing pre existing notions and showing us the kind of things we’d like. Sanitised for our unique taste buds. More

“Both sides”

A few months ago, when I wrote Hope Trope during what on hindsight seems like a particularly low phase of my mind’s wax and wane cycles, a relative wrote to me. She said the post almost made her cry, and as a person who has been reading my posts for a while, she felt that my tone was increasingly becoming personal and despondent. The first description was right, and I was conscious of it. The second I attributed to the struggle – when creating one’s own worldview and life that treads outside of the accepted standards, in things as diverse as work, progeny (or the lack of it) and faith. Teething troubles of a stoic outlook. (which I still strive for)

I now realise that maybe she saw something I couldn’t because despite the best efforts, it is very difficult to remain objective about one’s own feelings. I cannot remember when I began to spend an inordinate amount of time on introspection. From experience, it is a double edged sword, it’s great to be conscious of one’s actions and words, but horrible when one judges the self as ruthlessly as I do, especially if the past gets dredged up. The amazing Book of Life has an excellent read on the subject using the folk tale of Androcles & the Lion as an allegory. I think I made all the mistakes the article points out – a wrong diagnosis, numbing the pain, and to a certain extent, applying the wrong medicine.  More

Binary Code

Facebook is in the process of updating its Newsfeed algo again so that we see more posts from friends and family, and less from ‘Pages’. Great news, except that when every person is media, and there is a limit to the pruning one can do, the feed will still consist of biases, prejudices, hoaxes, paid endorsements without disclosure, and yes, cat videos, Lincoln’s quotes on self driving cars, click bait and baby pics. My point above is less about filter failure and more about the continuing explosion of content and its distribution to set the context.

But now let’s talk about filters. The sheer volume of content means that (in general) the reader will want quickly digestible information before he/she moves on to the highly entertaining video waiting in line. Absolutely connected to ‘the demise of the middle ground in the attention economy‘. The article talks about nuance in political debate getting lost, but I think its reach extends beyond that. As this fantastic Guardian article “How technology disrupted the truth” states, “..everyone has their own facts“. But why do this happen? More

Life menus

In last week’s post, I had referred to this excellent post – “How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds…” in the context of Google/Facebook/Amazon. As I had mentioned, I liked it because it had a direct connection with the can-want-need framework I (try to) use in my personal consumption. Specifically, his first point on the ‘menu’ and the illusion of choice. To quote from the post,

When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:

  • “what’s not on the menu?”
  • “why am I being given these options and not others?”
  • “do I know the menu provider’s goals?”
  • “is this menu empowering for my original need, or are the choices actually a distraction?” (e.g. an overwhelmingly array of toothpastes)

More

Making sense of nostalgia

#nostalgia-quotes-1

(via)

The other day, when discussing brand communication, we noted how nostalgia was such a broad platform that it would appeal to almost everyone.One moment you’re in the present, and sometimes, even without the slightest provocation, you’re off with a reconstruction of events that transpired. For instance, just a week before that, when I learnt that Kammatti Paadam was releasing, a lot of my excitement was because it was set in Kochi from the 1970’s onwards. Until 2003, that’s pretty much my life. Before and after I watched the movie, quite a few hours were spent recollecting my life in my hometown across a couple of decades.  More

Privilege & Currency

I read a remarkable set of tweets sometime back on the subject of privilege by @eveewing. She rightly pointed out that it is fairly easy to acknowledge privilege, but reparations are far more difficult. Writing about it, by that measure, is the easiest thing to do, but be that as it may….

I had written about privilege a while back, and used the framework from Breaking Smart – socio economic, cultural and cognitive kinds. The tweets I’d mentioned above are related mostly to the first kind – socio economic – and this is indeed the most visible around. But a recent experience made me think of it a little beyond that. More

Map making

Untitled

(via)

In “The Case Against Cosmic Justice” I’d brought up how (IMO) randomness was the key driver of the universe, and that pretty much every other concept (God, karma etc) was a narrative fallacy. I think that requires a little editing. To use a phrase from “Sapiens”, these other concepts aren’t really fallacies, they are inter-subjective realities. That means it they are belief systems that a lot of people share and agree to. e.g. money, nations. This is different from subjective reality – my personal reality as I experience it or choose to see it e.g. Salman Khan should be in jail for killing people, and objective reality – one which exists irrespective of anyone’s belief systems e.g. gravity. More

Identity Cleft

..and finally, I got myself to see the last episode of Mad Men. I’d been putting it off because the series was the kind I enjoyed so much that I never wanted it to end. The last few episodes were quite ‘meta’ in the sense that through Don Draper, the show’s protagonist, the show itself was searching for a befitting ending.

<spoiler> These episodes saw Don getting rid of his possessions, until all he had left was an envelope with some money (and a ring) and a cover with a change of clothes. He had lived the previous few years of his life as Don Draper – a name that wasn’t his. The idea of Don Draper though was all his, but somewhere in him, was also Dick Whitman, his original name. Every time he made the confession of taking another man’s name, you could sense his guilt, and relief. Maybe that was the freedom he was looking for, when we was getting rid of all the paraphernalia attached to Don Draper.  More

Hope Trope

An old man lives alone in a house. That’s how it has been for almost a decade and a half. With relatively lesser proof, I believe that I can stay alone for a long duration without feeling lonely. But I could be wrong, and a decade is a long time, especially when you think of it in terms of days. Many times, when I’m outside with friends or waiting for D to get home, I think about him and wonder, how does it feel to open the door of one’s home and not have someone waiting, knowing that this is something that will never change now? How does he cope?

Far away from him, a child is growing up. She is also far from what I’d call her homeland. Will she ever speak her mother tongue? Even if she does, will she be a cultural misfit in both the worlds she occupies? Circumstances haven’t been kind to her parents, hopefully things will look up sooner than later. But time waits for none, and one’s childhood leaves imprints that echoes through one’s life. The first section here is a testament to that. What does the future hold for her? More