aug 15

Being Gawked At

There are two clashing worldviews. There is my view, that a human being is in charge of his or her own life and, with sustained focus, can reach higher and higher achievement every week, gradually approaching (and maybe one day reaching!) a virtuous, peaceful, and happy life.

The other view is more of a victim mentality: that life happens to you, that infinite frustration and suffering are unavoidable, that the only reasonable way of coping with such an awful world is to attack whoever seems to actually enjoy life -- because surely they are dishonest or crazy and must be brought back down to Earth.

-Jakob Lodwick, Being Gawked At, and not that different from my interpretation.


(Foster does the Gawker response.)

posted by Rex at 3:00 PM on August 15, 2009

You know, Rex, that "pre-singularity" thing. I've been thinking lately that you (and Lodwick, and perhaps Waxy too) are sort of modern Benjamin Franklins. America in its most potent sense.

posted by Tal at 5:17 PM on August 15, 2009

"Help me understand: Existence

Can you help me understand how to be a human being in three sentences?


1. I used to expend a lot of creative energy (ex. 1) trying to defend these kind of people from what I thought was unjust and reflexive criticism of them but, you know, fuck that shit, I give up. I thought maybe that they were really valuable as like exaggerated metaphors for the paradoxes of contemporary humanity and existence or whatever and, you know, they probably are, but a lot of them also just seem to be gross and unpleasant in a lot of ways that turn me off, though of course as a "blogger" and "online person" I am in some sense one of them and so can't criticize them too much without seeing the same faults in myself.

2. The binary that Jakob (or "Jake," scusi, love that folksy rebrand!) proposes in his post above kind of reminds me of when Hipster Runoff did that big Animal Collective post and then Nick Silvester wrote his own big response on Riff Market. Near the end of his essay/rant/manifesto, he proposed a binary which basically said that either "YOU CAN DANCE" or you can "blow up the hospital," which I think was supposed to mean that in this world you can be either sincere and loving and support things/people or insincere and nihilistic and destroy things/people, although to tell you the truth I got kind of confused with his references to The Dark Knight and so maybe I've got that wrong. Anyway, what I remember thinking after reading the two posts is that all they did was make me more sure of the fact that simplistic binaries of this sort are mostly useless. I agreed with a lot of the sentiments that Nick Silvester expressed in his post and I think it's important to try to generally be as open and sincere as you possibly can (I had even written a somewhat similar and expansive post about "DANCING"), and yet at the same time I found the way Nick Sylvester expressed his sentiments to be pretty histrionic and ridiculous and rhetorically messy. Hipster Runoff sometimes feels so shallow and mean that it makes me sad and uncomfortable, but at the same time I think it's some of the very best medium-essentialist art that's being created on the Internet today and I think that Animal Collective post, however nihilistic it may be, is a lot more valuable and beautiful and complex than Nick Sylvester's response to it was. As both Julia Allison and our president were once fond of saying, though, life doesn't have to be a zero-sum game, it doesn't have to be an either-or proposition.

3. Dear commenter "Tal" -- Rex is interesting and funny and Jakob is whatever but they are not Benjamin Franklin, OMFG, are you serious?! Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod and bifocals and the Franklin stove and opened the country's first library and fire department and helped maintain the strong diplomatic ties with France that, you know, helped make the American Revolution possible (I looked all this up on Wikipedia!). Rex and Jakob invented Gossip Cop and Mediaite and, most notably, a site on which high definition music videos can sometimes be watched. These things are not equal to each other (no offense love U Rex).

(I think I finally got all this out of my system!)

posted by sabf at 10:25 AM on August 16, 2009

I remember learning this in Psychology 101. It was referred to as having either an internal or external locus of control -- an idea introduced by Rotter. Typically people who have an internal locus of control are more successful and happy.

posted by postmodem at 11:50 AM on August 16, 2009

"...we live in a future where each person chooses which media he or she consumes, and if you actually don't want to see/read/watch something, you simply see/read/watch something else."

I'm interested in the psychology of why the above doesn't happen more. We can just move on, but we don't. Through experience, I've gotten a lot better at just moving on, but still feel the need to chime in sometimes. Why bother? Change the channel. Jakob's diagnosis of the impulse sounds like one formed from a position of hurt, and it's not accurate for me. The answer is something related to this xkcd comic about someone being "wrong" on the internet. I'm interested in the impulse that says I have to correct someone, put someone in their place, snark something down. Why not just move on? Is it some kind of collective self-correction that is actually beneficial in shaping better behavior? A scarlet letter squad? Is it a control issue paired with egocentrism? Because it's this nagging feeling that wants to be assuaged like a neurotic compulsion. What do I get out of it? What do I feel I'll lose if I don't do it? I've figured out life is better if you just move on, but am still curious what's behind it in the first place. It would be interesting to know what are attempting and why.

posted by Eric at 7:27 PM on August 16, 2009

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