Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Philosophy

The Non-Adopters

I have a problem.

I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing. I mean, I’m friends with people from many generations, and it doesn’t strike me as a generational thing. Here it is:

Why doesn’t everyone use Google (or, God forbid, “The Google”)?

There seems to be a subset of humanity that actively refuses to embrace technology. And the thing that really gets me is that technology is supposed to make our lives easier. If it isn’t helping you, don’t use it.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyPerhaps this has something to do with our gadget-obsessed society. It’s enough to own the bright, shiny toy. You don’t need to know how to use it. As long as you have it, your position in society is assured. We’ve replaced technological knowledge for the appearance of technological knowledge. “I have a smartphone, but I don’t know how to use it.”

I was so excited when Apple announced the iPad, because it was like someone announcing a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Here was a handheld device (okay, maybe not palm size, but still reasonable) that had an almost guaranteed connection to the Internet. The Internet. The most complete compiling of human information so far. You want it? You can find it. Science fiction became science fact. Grab your towels.

Another thing about the iPad is that it has nearly limitless potential. Want to use it as a gaming device? Go for it. How about a medical aid for nurses and doctors? It can do that, too. I’ve been asked what an iPad does, which baffles me. You can use it as a musical instrument. You can use it to send text messages or talk on Skype. You can use it to create graphs and set up visual aids for meetings. You can use it to scan credit cards for your business. It can’t make you a cup of coffee, but it can tell you where to find some, and it get you one at Starbucks if you add money to the app.

The iPad, while a technological advancement, is also hailing back to the cave man. Here’s a stick. What does it do? It does whatever you can make it do.

Now, not everyone is ready for an iPad. I understand that. If it doesn’t somehow make life easier (again), you don’t need it.

I believe technology is the one of the foundations of human evolution. Before “I have a smartphone, and I don’t know how to use it” was “I have a rock, and I know how to use it.” Those must have been exciting times, when Caveman Jobs held an event with his turtleneck (made out of actual turtle?), and announced the rock. Maybe he was even responsible for the slingshot. Ridiculous scenario or not, human innovation cannot be denied as a major component of our development.

There’s this aspect of my personality that makes me undauntingly curious. If I want to know something, nothing will keep me from it. I will read the books, I will take the classes. If I had more time, I would study everything from Accounting to Yiddish Studies (yeah, it’s a thing) and everything in between. I understand on an intellectual level that not everyone shares this insatiable thirst for knowledge. Fortunately, I’m not related to any of those people. My parents, my siblings, my aunts, uncles, and more, all share my desire to learn.

The Internet is a portal into the garnering of information. (I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet; I’m just saying you can find factual pieces if you know where/how to look).

If I don’t know how to do something, my first instinct is to turn to Google.

Why doesn’t everyone do this?facepalm

You know another thing that’s great about Google? You can just type in your question, right into the box, and it gleans your meaning. How? They employ linguists who seem to have the ability to read minds. Their algorithms incorporate data from your history of searches. They look at the way other people have reacted who have performed similar searches. Google is trying to make your life easier. Embrace it.

I think these non-adopters are going to have a problem very shortly. Human technology is evolving alarmingly fast (not that you need to read any books on it). If you can’t keep up now, what happens when everyone is wearing Google Glass? What happens when we develop a way to store our thoughts instantaneously to the cloud?

Human evolution is so closely linked with our development of better tools, it’s possible the swift development of technology could lead to species directed evolution. Yes, our tools now could determine the future of the human race.

So, get on board. The spaceship is leaving without you.

P.S. I’m ready for my nanite injection, Mr. DeMille.


How to Achieve Your Dream

I have a dream. I don’t often talk about my dream publicly. I mean, my friends know. And my family knows. And I’m always striving, always working toward that goal. I think I have a sort of weird knock on wood mentality about my dream, like if I say it out loud, it won’t come true. It’s something that I have to keep on the inside, something that’s my own.How to acheive a dream

Before you think you know what it is, it’s not being a “writer.” Saying I want to be a writer is like saying I want to be biologically classified Homo sapien. I’ve had a problem with the word aspiring for a long time, especially as it pertains to writers. Are you writing? Yes. Are you actively pursuing a career as a writer? Yes. Than you’re a writer. If you label yourself as aspiring, my first assumption is that you’ve never actually finished writing anything that doesn’t begin with the words, “Dear Diary.”

In Hollywood, it’s weird. There’s a “who do you want to be” atmosphere that I finally reached the breaking point with.

So, here are some things I’ve learned about dreaming, straight from Hollywoodland.

1) Celebrate the victories

My dream is huge. It takes a lot of steps. Usually, when someone asks me what my dream is, I only tell them the current plateau I’m headed for. Like “head writer” or “created by.”

I have a problem taking compliments. When someone tells me they like something I’ve written, the dreamer in me reminds me that this isn’t the peak I’ve dreamed. This is a road sign to blow past. But, that’s not really the case. I’m working on celebrating these moments of compliment, because I know where they come from. Rather than answer with an I’m not there yet, I take them in stride and acknowledge and appreciate them.

2) Dreams are hard

When I told people I was moving to Los Angeles to pursue my dream, I got a lot of reactions. Most of them started with “You’re so brave.” I suppose that’s a compliment, but it struck me as odd. I didn’t think I was brave at all. I was simply doing that which was necessary to achieve what I wanted.

So, step two is to understand that some people find out that their dream is hard, and they stop going for it. There are other people that don’t acknowledge that part of their dream. There is no hard, there is only an obstacle that has to be surmounted. If you get stuck on the hard, you need to either reevaluate or quit.

3) Aspirations are misleading

So often, people want the simple answer. The question isn’t so much what as it is who. Who do you want to be?

I don’t have an answer for that. I want to be myself. I don’t want to compare myself to other people. So, Tina Fey? No. Tina Fey can be Tina Fey. I will not be better at being Tina Fey than Tina Fey is. Jane Espenson? Closer, but no. I would not make a very good Jane Espenson. (I love Jane Espenson and have the utmost respect for her.)

I understand why this is a question that people ask. It’s the same reason they have to take complex scientific theories on sci fi shows and distill them to clumsy analogies that are simple enough for a largely unscientific audience to understand.

Regardless, stop comparing me to other people. Our dreams might not be the same, and even if they were, everyone’s path is different.

4) Reputation is currency

I suppose this could be specific to my field, but I don’t think so. It’s a little bit karma, but mostly attitude. If you go out to meet people, get to know people, connect with people on a basic level, you will develop a reputation of being kind. I know myself enough that I am often considered aloof and disinterested. I’m not. I’m fully engaged, I just usually enter a receptive state.

Yes, I’m listening. But my face is apathetic. Understanding my aloofness, I have to remind my face to do things when I’m talking to people. Be aware of what you’re putting out there. People might talk about you. You don’t want them to say bad things.

That’s what I’ve learned so far. It’s a work in progress.


On Ruining Everything

A recent post about Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has my childhood spinning in its proverbial grave. And, before you start accusing me of hipster nostalgia, you’ve got nothing on me. I watched the cartoon, had the toys, devoured the movies, got the Christmas ornament. I even read Ninja Turtles books. Checked them out from the library. Left it outside in the rain. That put the fear of God in me.

Anyway, that point is Michael Bay is RUINING ninja turtles. Michelle Fox! What in the…how would the…but the…

Okay, I’m going to stop myself right there.

It’s sort of interesting when these types of things happen, my mind runs to cover the eyes of some imaginary child that I don’t have, nor even want at this point in my life. It’s weird, this completely unjustified righteous indignation. And, while I do think, “It’s not even the same story. You’re changing everything. Can’t you just make that movie and leave my beloved non-alien, un-Michelle Fox Turtles alone?”

Clearly not. And it’s not really my business to say so. You see, I make a stand by not giving Hollywood my money. (In most cases, it matters not.)

But, it brings me to a weird point that probably doesn’t need to be made.

You’re not really ruining it.

While attempting a Harry Potter movie marathon last weekend, I came to a stunning realization. Those movies are DEPRESSING as HELL. As I made my way through the first three years of Harry Potter on DVD, I forgot the good times that Harry had at Hogwarts. I forgot J.K. Rowling’s sly wit and subtle humor. So much of that didn’t come out in the films. I had to stop because I knew Harry’s journey just grew darker and darker.

Did the director’s of Harry Potter ruin it?

No. I had so many fond memories of reading the books. And, fond memories of gathering with my friends to go to the midnight releases. I wonder what someone who has just seen the movies must think.

Back to the point:

Ruining things.

In many ways, we don’t want pieces of our culture to die. We bow down to them and worship. It’s like the George Lucas tithe. Every ten years, we must give him more of our dollars and eat popcorn at his altar. This reluctance to try new things is killing the movie industry. (Let’s face it, it isn’t going anywhere soon.) Studios want to bet on the sure thing. And even if everyone is going out to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in order to hate it, YOU’RE STILL SEEING IT.

If we want to maintain our culture, we should preserve it in our minds. I remember sneaking Star Wars on the basement VHS player. I remember my shock that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. I remember those episodes of Batman: The Animated Series that introduced me to every villain and left me with a fondness for boxy Batmobiles.

At some point, we have to let go of this notion of ruining. The world is progressing. It’s not easy to build a fandom from scratch, but kids do it every year. Do I love The Nanny because of it’s timeless Broadway references or because it was a part of my youth? Mostly because of the Cici/Niles repartee. Perhaps I over-inflate the brilliance of things because I have a developmental attachment to them.

Either way, we must face the facts: Batman is growing up, the Ninja Turtles are growing up, The Nanny will not come back on the air.

Accusing people of ruining things holds us back from progress. Stop being such a Raphael.

(By the way, I can’t wait for Jurassic Park 3D)


That Color Doesn’t Look Good on Anyone

I recently threw myself a pity party. You know the one. The one where you feel like the whole world is against you; or maybe your mouth was faster than your brain; or maybe, for some reason, your being is divided between id, ego, and superego and they all hate each other at the moment.

Whatever the reason, I started the pity party. I know why. It’s that moment when your life decisions catch up with you. Not that you made any particularly bad decisions, or decisions that you regret. It was the sort of thing where you expected everything to go smoothly and forgot that the time between decision and success is LIFE HAPPENING.

And, I usually go with the flow. But, I’m a Philosophy major, a brain, one of those overly analytical introverts that are so depressing at parties (be they “pity or otherwise)…

The Universe has not subscribed to my time table.

It all started when I realized I lost touch with my voice. Wait, not my “voice,” my Voice. That mystical, magical buzzword that all writers use (it’s bullshit, but it isn’t {but it is [but it isn't.]}) I’ve been writing things for Not Me for awhile. Spec scripts, jokes, sketches; things that are me, but they aren’t (but they are {but they aren’t [but they are.]}) In the world of The Creative, there’s the whole thing about trying to get paid for your work, so you do things to increase your exposure that are not necessarily the thing that you would be doing in that parallel universe where the world is perfect. This world isn’t really available to anyone. Even people with contracts still get rejected by their editors, producers, executives, etc. I mean, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King are pretty much the only Creatives who get to say “My rules” to whomever.

Anyway, the thing that I want, more than fame, is to be able to present a project and say, “I can make this work.” And, maybe that’s what fame is? Maybe not. Whatever the case is, I don’t want to be a sellout, I want to be a silver lining. I want to be a Fixer. I want to be the person who can turn a Nothing into a Something.

Back to the Pity Party.Id, Ego, Superego

Quiet down, up there.

My Superego knew exactly who to invite to this party and made a move to protect itself. My Id, on the other hand, just wanted the immediate Pity gratification, which it sought without any consultation.

So, to those of you who were invited to the Pity Party out of Id, I apologize. I know that you love all of my parts and tried to help in the best way you could, but you were gratifying the Id, which really didn’t deserve it.

And, to those of you who were invited to the Pity Party by the Superego and showed up to throw the drink in its face, you were right. Thanks for coming.

Because, if I’m the one who wants to be able to say, “I can make this work,” sometimes the advice I need is “Make it work.”

It’s not a perfect system. My Id still begs for gratification. But, at least on some level, I’m starting to reject my self-imposed martyrdom.


I Put the “eck” in Rejected

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an overt post on writing and I just KNOW you’ve been dying for one (irony irony irony and scene). Regardless of how you feel about writers writing on writing about writing while writing, I can’t afford therapy, so I bought a domain name instead.

If you are a working writer, you’ve received a rejection letter. If you haven’t, then:

1. Screw you

OR:

2. You’re not really a working writer and you need to take a look at what you call your career.

Rejection is part of the process, and it’s something that want-to-be writers must deal with in order to progress. Sometimes, your writing sucks. Sometimes, the market is bad. Sometimes, nobody wants you. Okay. It happens. That’s life.

You pull up your big girl panties and get back to work.

This week, I got the rejection letter from my final requested manuscript. It was not a form rejection. It was kind and gentle, and I’ve developed a Twitter relationship with this agent and still enjoy talking with her, even if she didn’t want my stuff. This letter made me feel a great many emotions, but all these things were very loosely defined.

I’ve been waiting for this rejection for awhile. Now, let’s take a look at that. I’ve been waiting for this rejection. I wasn’t waiting for a “yes.” I’d been waiting for a “no.” When did that happen? When did I become so bitter and cynical that I’m expecting bad news over good?

But, regardless of expectation, every rejection letter brings up every other rejection and compresses them all into one big lump of ice right smack between the lungs. And that lump expands into a void of negativity. And the doubts rush in to fill the negative space.

I’m not talented. I can’t tell a story. I’m doing something wrong.

Your support structure tells you that’s wrong; you’re talented; you’ll get there. BUT THEY ARE LYING!!! (irony irony irony and scene)

The truth is, when you come to expect rejection, the old adage of doing the same thing and expecting a different result leads you to the crazy train.

Now, here’s the real point of this story.

The worst thing repeated rejection has done to me is trained me to not want things.

Wanting things is stupid and leads to pain, therefore the act of wanting is a gateway to pain and must be avoided at all costs.

I realized my numbness to desire when I suddenly wanted something. An opportunity presented itself and that cold lump was immediately incinerated in the burn of possibility. There was an all consuming rush, a caffeine high, an unfurling of imagination as a million different futures spread before me, none of them featuring a rejection. I had to tell someone. I had to tell everyone. I had to run home and write a blog post about it!Give It Colbert

So, there. The real travesty of rejection is not the “no.” It’s what it does to your head. It’s how it messes you up, pushes you down, leaves you on your belly so you forget what it’s like to sit, stand, walk, run.

But when something is worth wanting, maybe that’s the only thing that you need to get back on your feet.

 


Social Media for the Common Man – So, you’ve joined a social network

I was going to title this post “Don’t Be and Asshat”, but decided to be a little more upbeat with it. If you’re looking for something on not being an asshat on your social media platforms, especially if you’re a writer, I send you here. Chuck Wendig’s a little in your face, but he makes valid points and he makes them well.

So, you’ve joined a social network.http://www.yourcomputer.com/portals/0/images/QuestionKey.jpg

What do you put on there?

Well, here’s the good thing and the bad thing:

It’s really up to you.

Here are some things to get your posting started:

1. Find people who share your interests.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Social media is all about being social. You’re making connections and building relationships. You aren’t standing on a soapbox with a loudspeaker; you’re in the party working the crowd. First, you’re going to need to find some people who share your interests. And, don’t give me that crap about not knowing what your interests are. What are you looking for from people on Twitter? Book recommendations? Movie reviews? Humorous anecdotes about deep sea fishing?

There is someone out there broadcasting just that kind of information. Start following them, add them to your feed, read their blog.

2. Decide who you want to be.

This is a strange, philosophical order, but you need to pick your online persona. Not even I can be everything all the time. The most important thing is for you to be you. Being yourself in 140 characters in a daunting thought, but it’s not as hard as it sounds. It’s okay to hesitate over a post. It’s okay to hit the delete button. It’s okay to leave something in the draft box. You can take some time to decide which parts of your personality shine through on the web. Sarcasm…not always understood. Irony…not always apparent. Remember that on Twitter and your blog, most of what you post will be viewable by the public. If you’re comfortable hanging your crusty underwear out there, go for it.

Personally, I wouldn’t want too much of my life on the web, but I did post pictures of my room on my blog. I’m comfortable sharing that.

Streaming video of me sleeping? Not really me.

3. Find the line between engaging and stalking and DON’T CROSS IT.

There are celebrities on Twitter. But, guys, they’re on Twitter. They came to the party. They can’t have the expectation that people aren’t going to try to talk to them. And, if you’re interested in them or their work, I would encourage you to follow them. On the flip side, be aware that everyone wants to talk to them. Did you tweet an alarmingly clever reply to something Lady GaGa said? Don’t be offended if she doesn’t answer. People are responding all the time. On the other hand, you don’t want to be that creepy nutbag who replies, @LadyGaga LOL!!! after everything she posts. While that won’t necessarily get you negative attention, it certainly won’t stick out when you say something charming and witty and worthy of response.

Choose your responses and choose them wisely. You don’t know how someone will react to your (sorta)unsolicited attention. Don’t say, “@joshgroban I want to wear your face.”Something like, “@joshgroban I enjoy your music” is a little less creepy. For smaller-time celebrities, just be aware that the first time might surprise them. When someone you don’t know starts talking to you by referencing something you just said, it’s surprising, but we humans are getting more used to it.

4. When in doubt, Golden Rule it

Imagine you had the worst week in the world and you tweet, “Just had a really bad week.” What kind of response are you looking for?

You don’t have to be looking for a response. You can simply be mentioning your bad day because it helps you relax. But, suppose someone sees it and responds with “@your_name LOL!! I haz a bad week, 2!!1!!!” That probably doesn’t make you feel any better. That person is being an asshat. DON’T BE AN ASSHAT!

It’s not that hard. Put yourself in someone else’s position. That’s actually a primary evolutionary trait we’ve acquired to deal with the need to socialize. How would you want someone to respond? You can add a personal touch and begin to work up a rapport, but just be aware of your own feelings to help guide you in your responses. You won’t always be correct; different people have different thresholds. It’s about relationships. Those don’t always start off with a bang.

Social media can be really fun. Don’t let anything deter you from trying it out. If you aren’t having a good time, stop doing it. I won’t judge you for it.

Remember, finding your voice takes time. Connecting with people takes time. Social media isn’t magic.

I will bring you some more content creation tips in…three days? I promise three days.


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