Social network or social media?

The Lesson: This first insight is in truly learning that social media is much more of a mindless habit — and a very strongly ingrained one — than a pleasurable or fulfilling activity. We do it out of compulsion rather than intention.

~ Brett McKay, from https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/4-lessons-from-a-4-week-social-media-fast/

Back when we invented all this online bru-ha-ha, they were called “social networks.” I think we should still be using the word network rather than media, because then it would remain clear: A healthy community necessarily has a network of people, but a network of people is not sufficient to create a healthy community.

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Don’t believe the hype

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/d-b-t-h-dont-believe-the-hype/

I’ve read far too many stories put out by “prestige” news organizations that merely amount to: “This prominent person tweeted this. These random people responded with these tweets. This person made a meme out of it.” This is literally the entire content of the article. It is paragraphs of text devoid of meaning and significance. Just hype masquerading as journalism. But consume enough of it and it can shape your world view, where you feel like something is happening, but nothing actually is.

~ Brett McKay

A large part of my personal change has been driven by my changing what information I consume. There are very few things, people, or places which are able to “insert” information in front of me. The vast majority of information sources—and I’m using information here in the broadest sense—are all set up so that I access them. I access them the way I get water from the sink tap. I go to it. I act to begin the flow. I choose how much and at what rate it flows.

There’s no longer any hype coming out of my sink taps.

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The same old thing

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/getting-over-the-horror-of-the-same-old-thing/

Now just as we pick out and exaggerate the pleasure of eating to produce gluttony, so we pick out this natural pleasantness of change and twist it into a demand for absolute novelty. This demand is entirely our workmanship. If we neglect our duty, men will be not only contented but transported by the mixed novelty and familiarity of snowdrops this January, sunrise this morning, plum pudding this Christmas. Children, until we have taught them better, will be perfectly happy with a seasonal round of games in which conkers succeed hopscotch as regularly as autumn follows summer. Only by our incessant efforts is the demand for infinite, or unrhythmical, change kept up.”

~ Screwtape

C. S. Lewis wrote the Screwtape Letters from the point of view of a senior-level demon named Screwtape providing instructions to his direct-reports (ie, demons doing actual work) on how to be great demons. The quote above is a wonderful glimpse into just how visionary Screwtape really is.

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Sources of Existential Angst

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/sources-of-existential-angst/

Consequently, we are surrounded by a jarring cacophony of comments, feedback, and opinions — little of which has been vetted, researched, or thoughtfully considered prior to being released. Instead it is the product of emotional responses and knee-jerk reactions. It is the product of our id, rather than our ego.

~ Brett McKay

Once I realized the full breadth of what was being created, I went through a long phase of revulsion which validated his analysis.

It was important that I went to that depth of derision to understand the nature of our current, Western society. In the end, I came out the other side with a renewed appreciation for technology, society, and people. The old, great stuff is still out there, more readily-avilable than ever, and new, great stuff is still being produced. (See, for example, this.) I now appreciate the new, good stuff even more because I see the full breadth of what is being done, created and shared.

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Relationships that DON’T scale

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-to-build-unscaleable-relationships/

These people are, effectively, hiding behind a wall. They are passing up more difficult work for the easy work — sharing or “liking” photos, retweeting, commenting on someone’s wall. These are activities which can serve a purpose, but they are poor substitutes for the real thing. It’s like saying Splenda is the same thing as sugar, tofu is the same thing as real meat, or Red Lobster is a good place for…a red lobster. It’s not the same thing. Not even close.

~ Brett McKay

There is a fine line between using social media (and other technology conveniences) to increase the number of people I can keep up with. Dunbar’s Number is often pegged at about 100 or a bit more. I definitely agree that there’s a trade off between how many people I can maintain relationships with and the quality of each relationship. I find the hardest part is when a relationship gets asymetric — when the other person isn’t able to commit as much time — eventually it’s time for me to stop putting in the effort; Eventually it’s time for me to stop trying, and instead to let another person settle into the social space in my universe.

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Adulting

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/the-winston-churchill-school-of-adulthood-is-now-in-session/

One of the most unfortunate tendencies of an adolescent culture is the impulse to fit everything into black and white narratives. Narratives themselves aren’t the issue; in fact, psychologists say that being able to view your life as a story is a key component to mental health and happiness. And as we’ll come to see, being able to imagine yourself as an actor in that story – a kind of hero’s journey – is one of the most important ways of achieving an awesome adulthood. No, it’s not narratives per se that are problematic, but ones that are overly simplistic and one-dimensional.

~ Brett McKay

The entire piece is good, and it goes in a certain direction: It’s attempting to provide guidance and direction to young men as they transition (or try to transition… or try to NOT transition…) from childhood to adulthood.

The take-away for me was a meta-lesson that applies from the adult point of view: I should not judge young men-to-be by my adult standards. Adolescents who are trying to create their story– trying to navigate their journey– are going to do things and act certain ways. That’s not a problem, nor is anything wrong. It’s part of a natural and normal story arc. The question and judgement from me should be, can I help? Can I be of guidance? Can I at least be an example, either through my level of adulting, or through my overt efforts at reaching higher levels of adulting?

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Men without chests

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/men-without-chests/

If one believes in objective order and value, then the failure to feel the proper sentiment in the face of a particular stimulus cannot be justified on the basis of mere personal preference, casually categorized under the rubric of “to each their own”; rather, it must be frankly countenanced as a deficiency in one’s human make-up. As Lewis confesses, “I myself do not enjoy the society of small children: because I speak from within the Tao I recognize this as a defect in myself — just as a man may have to recognize that he is tone deaf or colour blind.”

~ Brett McKay

…from C.S. Lewis‘s, 1934 The Abolition of Man.

The more I read, the more I find I want to explore and continue learning.

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Growing up is hard

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/10/27/growing-up/

When people say they don’t want to embrace adulthood, what they really mean is that they don’t want to be a grownup themselves, but they want to live in a world where everyone else is. They want competent, effective politicians to represent them; they want their journalists and doctors to be smart and level-headed with a comforting mantle of gravitas; they want their children’s teachers to be dedicated and on-the-ball; they want customer service to be friendly and efficient; they want police officers to be honest and fair. They want the world to be stable, predictable…so they can afford to be erratic and irresponsible. They want to be kids, but live in an adult world, where grownups are at the ready to take care of their every need.

~ Brett McKay

This was an enjoyable read that brought up a lot of good points. The basic question being explored is why is growing up harder “these days”? Brett spends a lot of time talking about what is different “these days” in society, in culture, in the human experience. It was a breath of fresh air from the more common “kids these days…” sort of screed.

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Dead end roads

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/05/30/the-dead-end-roads-to-manhood/

Masculinity-as-cultural-construct is one of those beliefs that sounds good in the abstract, perhaps. But I think most folks, men and women alike, feel deep in their gut that it isn’t so, isn’t desirable, and isn’t working. As someone who has examined the research and history of masculinity, I find the idea of it being wholly a cultural construct utterly untenable. It is a conclusion one can reach only by willfully ignoring large swaths of the data and the human experience.

~ Brett McKay

Masculinity is not — not “entirely”, nor even “mostly” — a social construct. I believe one is free to attempt to take on whatever role one wishes. (I see that as one of the big benefits of our current level of human progress.) But if you attempt the role of a “Man”, you do not get to simply make up what you think a Man should be.

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Once more, louder, for those in the back

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/05/12/what-good-shall-i-do-this-day/

Society has any number of pressing needs that are crying out to be tackled. But there’s a need that everyone can start addressing immediately — no experience or Kickstarter campaign required: regularly showing more human kindness.

~ Brett McKay

Many years ago, my mother bought me a little metal rectangular paper weight which says, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” The type is laid in lines, and the, “no matter how small” is teeny-tiny so each time I read it, I have to look closely.

It also helps me remember to look a little more closely throughout my day.

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