Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

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Buddhism, Economics, Racism and More: Podcast Roundup #4

So…many…podcasts…like an avalanche of talk radio falling into my brain. From Buddhism to economics, the environment to racism and more, this playlist covered a large swath of topics, mostly because I was on the road so long. One of the things that most makes me want to take on a long drive is the chance to hear a long, uninterrupted chain of my favorite podcasts. The drive to my mom’s house is 8 ½ hours long, perfect with a bonus: time with my mom!

I can hear you now, “Michelle! Dude! Take a plane!”

No. End of line.

Here’s the strange thing: when I’m listening to music, I fall asleep, but when I’m listening to talk, I’m fine. The only downside is that when driving alone I have no one to pause the show and discuss my outrage or agreement with. I mean, I will yell out, “Are you kidding?!” to myself in the car. And you may often see me laugh hysterically or jot down something that I want to bring up here later, but it’s just not the same alone. I do have SOME in person social needs.

The drive there and back totaled about 16 hours of listening. I don’t stop much but for gas and bathroom breaks. I nibble snacks all the way there because it helps me focus. And it is too hot this time of year to stop and stretch my legs.

There were so many good ones this time, that I think I’ll do the one idea from each thing like I did last time. But I’ll add books and other podcasts I gleaned from each episode as well.

On with the list! Enjoy!

Secular Buddhism Episode 10: True Selflessness

Love can be multiplied. Resources, not so much.

EconTalk – Claudia Hauer on War, Education, and Strategic Humanism

In a democracy or a republic, the government is doing things in my name. That’s why I must make my dissent known.

Book: Strategic Humanism: Lessons on Leadership from the Ancient Greeks by Claudia Hauer

Also added Homer’s Illiad and The Odyssey (Fagles translation) to my re-read list

Freakanomics Radio – 470: The Pros and Cons of America’s (Extreme) Individualism

My Thought: Will the slowdown of individuals caused by the shutdown persist and change our economy in the long run? We all spent a year not going on vacations, not buying new things, and not going out to dinner. We experienced working and schooling from home and some of us enjoyed it. Will be keep these new habits or go back to our old ways as soon as possible.

Akimbo – Seth Godin – Fueling the Engines of Division

There are natural constraints in this world. We can’t have it all.

Rationally Speaking – What’s Wrong With Tech Companies Banning People? (Julian Sanchez)

Free speech is a lot like heroin. It should be legal, yes, but we don’t have to promote its use with commercials and incentives. Learn how to use it wisely and safely.

Podcast: Cato Institute

People I (Mostly) Admire – Sendhil Mullainathan Thinks Messing Around is the Best Use of Your Time

Life is long and it’s not a race. Never stop playing with ideas to learn. And my favorite: life doesn’t give you score, you don’t know how well you’re doing by a rubric, or why you’re doing badly.

Book: Evolutionary Game Theory, Natural Selection, and Darwinian Dynamics by Thomas L. Vincent. This book looks a tad pricey for just exploring the concepts. I’ll be looking for some video about it or maybe a couple good articles.

The Jordan B Peterson Podcast – S4E27 – The Education of a Journalist – Rex Murphy

Admittedly, I skipped this one after about twenty minutes. I was getting sleepy and needed something more upbeat. But I did get this gem before I left: reading the greats raises your standards. I agree.

Conversations with Coleman – S2 Ep. 18 – The Myth of Climate Apocalypse with Michael Shellenberger

Tech fixes are less popular than moral fixes. Why is it that we are far more excited about pointing fingers and making other people live “right,” than just using technology so that we can all live the way we want to?

Book: Apocalypse Never – Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All by Michael Shellenberger

Philosophy Bites – Steven Nadler on Spinoza on Free Speech

A person is freer in a society than alone. Sounds crazy but it’s true. The story of a Desert Island Economy explains. And “homo” in Latin never meant “male.” These are the things I find interesting.

Other notes from the drive up: I saw a hay bale tractor picking up bales from a field and stack them. I wish I could have stopped and watched it go. The trees change dramatically along 395 north of Mammoth.

A thought about social media: I keep showing up for a formal dinner party and finding a drunken costume party. I’m not interested in that kind of party, so I leave. And everyone’s response is, “But it’s so fun! You should be here!”

On to the second half…the road home!

Secular Buddhism – 11 Parable of the Raft

I won’t paraphrase the parable. Go read it. You’ll love it. But something else I loved from this episode, “It may not be wrong, but it may be unwise.”

EconTalk – Michael Easter on the Comfort Crisis

Socializing is a little dangerous and that’s a good thing. Always have a notebook.

Book: The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort To Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self by Michael Easter

Conversations with Coleman – S2 Ep. 10 – Rethinking Identity with Desi-Rae

I don’t “identify” as anything. I may be female, but that’s descriptive, not an identity. Where you’re from is not an accomplishment. There are no absolute claims about the nature of reality.

Podcast: Just Thinking Outloud

The Minimalists Podcast – 297 Minimalism Rules

The words we use make us cling to ideas associated with those words. Be conscious of word use. I want a community of open minded people, not like minded people.

Conversations with Coleman – S2 Ep. 17 – Straight Talk on Racism with Wilfred Reilly

Negative noise in the media vs the reality of the world around us. The reality is complicated, not a 30-second spot or catchy headline.

Book: Taboo – Ten Facts You Can’t Talk About by Wilfred Reilly

Rationally Speaking – Deaths of Despair / Effective Altruism with Angus Deaton

Deaths of Despair = suicides and accidental overdose. I didn’t get much from this conversation. I swear they were using the same words but with different meanings. They never came to an understanding of each other.

Secular Buddhism – 13 The Path of Liberation

A thought is harmless unless you believe it.

Wow. That’s a lot of listening. I was messing around with my Castbox app and found my “stats” page. It says that on the road home, I listened for 412 minutes. It won’t let me go back in time though, only shows the current week. That’s annoying. But it does say something crazy at the top. Since I’ve had the app, I’ve listened to 311 hours and 24 minutes. That’s a lot of drive time, my friends.

Why do I do these podcast posts? In the hopes that maybe you’ll find one you want to listen to. I might gain a fellow listener! And (have to be real, right?) to remind myself what I heard.

Check out Travel Anxiety Ended: Podcast Roundup #3 for more links.

Social MEDIA Distancing, Let’s Try It

Screw social distancing. How about some social media distancing?

Ha! I came up with that gem right off the top of my head. How do you like it? It pretty much sums up what I’ve been thinking about this morning and what I’d like to explore some in an upcoming post.

The way we were asked to slow down the covid virus was to put some space between each other. Maybe it helped, maybe it didn’t. But I feel like social media has another virus that is spreading like wildfire and seems to be far more destructive than covid. What can I do? Take a step back, do some social media distancing, and slow the spread.

I’ve taken breaks. I’ve deleted accounts. And I’ve come back many times. It feels like an addiction of sorts, one that sneaks up on you and plies you to try again. “This time things will be different.” An abusive relationship.

Why? That’s what I’m working on. The excuses seem lame when I write them out. When I try to explain, I feel like people are quietly scoffing.

Can I blog without FB and IG connection? I believe so, yes. It may be slower but steadier and more secure in the long run. Seth Godin does it.

One thing I was thinking this morning is, “How can I share the cool articles, podcasts, books, videos, and websites that I find?” I do it here to some degree and I love that, but what about those little things like, “This article was interesting!” things? I don’t think those need a whole post. Any ideas?

I have been thinking about restarting the weekly newsletter idea that I posted about in Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed. Learning to build a better newsletter subscriber list would be a good thing to do.

There’s just so much to think about.

I’ve done this dance before, many times. The last time I really posted about it back in March 2020, over a year ago in Should I Stay or Go? The Verdict. The trouble is that I’m still not sure what the right thing to do.

Social status, trade, and trust, oh my!

Social status, trade, and trust are the first three things I’m riffing on from The Rational Optimist. Humans are so very fascinating.

social status, trade, and trust

There’s just so much to talk about in this book! It’s riveting and not a slog to read at all. It’s fun and light and changes your perspective. I am happy that I decided to re-read it.

At first, I thought, “I’ll summarize each chapter so everyone can get the info in here!” Nah, that’s boring. Then I thought maybe I’d just take a line or two from each chapter. Too many posts. A line or two from two chapters? Still too much. Screw it. How about a line that made me say, “Yeah, dammit!” That sounds doable.

Here’s something to chew on.

“Why, asks Geoffrey Miller, ‘would the world’s most intelligent primate buy a Hummer H1 Alpha sport-utility vehicle’, which seats four, gets ten miles to the gallon, takes 13.5 seconds to reach 60mph, and sells for $139,771? Because, he answers, human beings evolved to strive to signal social status and sexual worth.”

This book was written in 2010, so the signals have changed dramatically, in some circles, but there are still signals and there always will be. One generation, subculture, and such, won’t understand another’s and call them crazy, selfish, obnoxious, and/or old school evil. Humans are so strange.

“Trade is often unequal, but still benefits both sides.”

I always find it odd that someone outside an exchange believes they can tell whether the exchange is beneficial. If it weren’t, they wouldn’t have completed the exchange. Are you saying one side is too feeble minded? They can’t understand their own wants and needs and need to be taken care of by their betters?

If I come to you with something that is easy for me to get or make and say, “I’ll give you four of these if you give me two of those awesome things that I can’t make for myself.” You’re laughing inside thinking, “What a goof! These things are everywhere or are easy to make.” I’m thinking the same about you. We both walk away thinking we won.

The same goes for labor. My son, when he was young, was asked by a neighbor to come clean his yard each week and do a few chores. He’d give him $50 each week to do this. My son jumped at the opportunity. As a parent, I realized that he’d be working there all day, probably nearly ten hours in the heat. That’s $5 an hour, not worth it to me. But to a twelve-year-old? That’s some serious cash. I didn’t interfere. He’s free to exchange his time and labor for whatever he thinks is fair.

A few weeks into the job, he realized how much time he was spending there and asked for a raise. The neighbor thought his work was worth the money and started giving him $100 a week. He knows the value of his own time and effort and was willing to exchange it for that price.

Should someone step in and stop this exchange? Apparently, most of us say yes.

About a year later, my son found other things that were worth more to him than that $100 a week. And when he turned 16, he found “legal” (insert eyeroll) work that paid him more. That job lasted until he decided he had enough, his time was worth more, so he went in search of someone that felt the same way.

If he hadn’t found anyone that believed his work was worth more, he would have had to change his work, build new skills, or lower his expectations. Forcing someone by law (violence) to exchange at a pre-fixed rate is wrong and creates more problems.

Ok, enough of that. Moving on.

“Famously, no other species of ape can encounter strangers without trying to kill them, and the instinct still lurks in the human breast.”

Ha ha! No shit, right? Humans do this really weird thing called trust. We invented it. All other animals only build trust within a family. Trust is what lets us trade things with other people. And when we don’t trust, that’s when things start to get ugly.

I think we’re in a pretty low state of trust at the moment and the government, with the help of our media, is taking advantage of that. THOSE people are out to get you. THEY get more. THEY want to hurt you. And it’s coming from both Democrats and Republicans in the US. Why? I’m not sure, but I bet I has something to do with staying in control since that’s the only commodity a government has.

In my town this past year, I’ve seen more and more “Go Back to LA” stickers and they make me sick. I’ve been told that it is in response to the wave of people from the city moving out into rural areas and “taking over.” How dare they? This is OUR turf. They don’t belong here. The crazy part is that I’m hearing it directly from people who also moved out here to escape city life a bit, like me.

I live near a National Park and a Marine base. Everyone here is from out of town. The area relies on it and wouldn’t exist if not for those attractions. This “Go Back to LA” slogan is only another wall between me and my neighbors, and the tourists that come here to visit and vacation. And what about those few souls that feel drawn to this place and come here to build a life for themselves? How do they feel when they see those? I’ve talked to a few. They’re afraid of their neighbors.

If trust is that low in a neighborhood, between friends, at businesses, and online, can you imagine what it is up the chain? How about banks, investors, and government officials; those people that keep this giant machine we’ve created going, the ones with the money and guns and the law to back them? This is how trade slows. This is how people starve. This is how wars start and are supported. This is how people die.

How can we help? I think it starts with turning off the news and maybe even dropping social media for a while. It’s a lot easier to relax when you’re not bombarded with bad news messages at every moment of every day.

Everyone on this planet has the power to start being nicer, assuming positive intent, and trusting the people around us. We can do our best to take care of ourselves, our families, and one other person, maybe even two. Your neighbor isn’t a monster. That person at the grocery store you haven’t seen before isn’t trying to horn in on your game. He’s just a guy trying to get through this world just like you.

Maybe we can create some new “social status” cues, like being kind and generous in person instead of putting a special frame on our social media profile.

Want to read more posts about this book? Pop back to my first post, The Rational Optimist: New Read. You’ll find my first thoughts about the book and links to any follow-up posts there.

Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than A Social Media Feed

I can hear you now, “I don’t check my email. I never read newsletters.” But hear me out! Checking your email each morning and opening a couple newsletters each week, could be a far more efficient use of your time than scrolling any social media feed.

Newsletter vs Social Media Feed
Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash
Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash

If you’re an avid reader of mine, or happen to know me IRL, you know I’m an evolver. I’ve never been one to sit still long. It’s not because I’m bored and need to be entertained, like most people might think. It’s because I crave a new experience to learn from, something new to grow on. I’m a sampler of the world, a taster, not one who gorges (unless we’re talking about tacos).

I wander with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

That personality holds true to my writing and blogging, as well.

I’ve been blogging about books for over year now and that’s pretty damn consistent for me. My monthly newsletter, inspired by a book I read in January 2020, “Ten Years in the Tub” by Nick Hornby, (man…that feels like a million years ago), has been sent out a total of fourteen times.

Over the past year, I have learned a lot. I’ve become a much more predictable blogger. I’ve begun to find my voice through writing about what I read every day. This past month though, I’ve felt the pull to try something a little different, but I haven’t been sure what that is.

Right now, I’m looking at the monthly email newsletter a little differently since I listened to the Creative Nonfiction Podcast last week. At the end of an interesting interview, he mentioned that he had left social media almost completely over the past few months out of frustration mostly and was starting over in small ways. That’s where my ears perked up. I’ve been in the same boat. Once again, my thoughts and actions are not original, others are reacting to the world around us in similar ways!

And then, hours later, at lunch with a friend, she mentioned that she hadn’t seen something I posted until I messaged her directly about it. This happens often and I wish more people were aware of it. Social media feeds, specifically Facebook, aren’t timelines exactly. You don’t open it up and see what everyone you follow has posted chronologically. What you see is a curated list of what they think you want to see and what they want you to see. It’s not malicious. It’s just what it is.

While I was gone from social media, I found myself relying on email newsletters from websites, podcasts, and blogs that I follow. Now that I’m back on Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, (I’ll admit, I just want a place to share the funny things I find and get likes for my hiking pictures) I’m not “liking and following” pages anymore.

Why? Because the emails were far more reliable. Instead of getting only the posts that Facebook decides are important, along with ads for closely related items, I get the information that the poster believes are important. The weekly newsletters highlight things the specific blogger or podcaster wants me to see and when I click the links, I get to their page directly without the distractions embedded in Facebook. It takes less time and I get more of what I actually want.

Which leads me to thinking about my own newsletter. Should I change it from a monthly rundown of the books I’ve read to a weekly highlight reel straight to your email box? I think so and I’m sitting with paper and pencil (my go-to when I need to plan) attempting to create an outline this week.

I’ll be honest, a weekly newsletter seems a bit much for me. I’ve never been good at a weekly anything, just ask my kids. When the prospect of required weekly attendance came up for any of their activities…well…I broke out in a cold sweat. But this feels different.

In the past, I challenged myself to read for two hours every day and have been getting so close to that goal. I decided to write consistently about the books I’m reading; once when I start the book, quotes from the book, and a paragraph or two about it when I’m done. And then I took up the challenge of writing a newsletter once a month and did it. I think I can do this.

Why should you sign up for my newsletter, let alone any other email subscription? Well…

Here are my positives of an email newsletter. Maybe that will help you decide.

  1. It’s there when you want to read it.
  2. When you’re done reading it, or you decide you’d rather not, you can delete it and it doesn’t come back in your feed over and over again.
  3. There are no ads for related goods and services (at least not in mine). And if there are, they benefit the author of the newsletter, that person that you esteem so much that you subscribe to their news.
  4. If you open a newsletter, you stop reading at the end of it. You don’t get sucked into scroll mode!

What would my newsletter include?

  • Books, of course. Books started, books finished, links to articles about said books written by yours truly or others.
  • Podcasts! I’ve fallen in love with them, so I’ll be highlighting my favorites each week.
  • Funnies? Possibly.
  • One liners. Things I’m pondering but haven’t written whole paragraphs about.

When will this glorious piece of genius come out each week? I’m thinking Tuesdays. It’s my most productive day of the week, but I reserve the right to change that. The bottom line is that I’ll only harass you with in ONCE a week and I won’t be selling your email addresses to third party BS.

There it is! While I’ve written this, I’ve decided. I’m going to start writing a weekly newsletter instead of the monthly rundown. Will you join me?

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Do You Need a “Productive” Day of Rest?

A productive day of rest, picture of a desert picnic.

Monday is usually my most productive day of the week, but this one is different.

It’s the Monday after a glorious outdoor Sunday morning, an afternoon of rousing and hilarious games of pool and several shots of tequila, a Taco Bell dinner (because dammit the taco fries are back), and half a movie on the couch before I fell asleep.

I had planned on a productive day around the house. I had every intention of being a “productive” blogger type person today, but I’m not being lazy.

I’m thinking.

Recently, I ditched all the socials, as you might know, starting with Facebook. I didn’t miss it. Then I stopped looking at Instagram for a month. Then disabled it. But this past week, I began to miss it. Why? Is it just habit? Or something else?

You know what I think? I think, the way things are around here, I need that small connection with mostly strangers. I need a place to say, “Hey, look at this!” Or “Damn I’m happy (or sad)!”

I enjoy seeing the pictures there, the deep thoughts, the jokes (dirty or otherwise). It’s seeing other people’s view point of view, like hanging out at party or working a job with interesting people I can “turn off” if I want to. The bottom line is…I need some people.

I don’t need a lot of people. I don’t need constant contact or a boatload of friends to invite over. Maybe all I really need a small outlet, some folks to show off for. It’s the extrovert side of me, the explorer side seeking a platform to be seen and heard.

I like having the ability to share the wonder I see in the world around me. Is that so bad? I’m searching for new connections with other fascinated souls. Will I find it there? Or is there somewhere else?

But now, here I am, several hours into the day, thinking, “Did I just waste that time? Could I have been more productive with that hour?” Possibly, but then, maybe not. Maybe this is what I needed today.

Cultural Literacy is the key to Communication On the Internet

The best way to build cultural literacy is to read widely.
Last post about this gloriously written book!

Rebuilding a common cultural literacy doesn’t mean we all have to return to the same classical books as our grandparents. We don’t all need to read all the same dead western white guys to understand each other, but we probably should start reading (and watching, listening, and experiencing) a little of as many different works of art, from as many different cultures and backgrounds as possible, if we’re going to save civilization from ourselves.

“How does an audience identify an allusion? The whole system of signaling depends, quite obviously, on a high degree of cultural literacy – an easy assumption in traditional societies with fixed literary canons and a high capacity for verbatim retention of texts, but something of a problem for contemporaries, who often come to literary texts from a background of loose canons, little reading, and languid memory.”

The Pleasure of Reading in an Ideological Age by Robert Alter

That’s a lot of fancy words for we aren’t all coming from the same entertainment background. We aren’t all reading the same small collection of books these days, even more today than when he wrote this because our world has become infinitely larger and more connected virtually.

Funny story, and one you’re probably familiar with. My kids think the memes they find on social media are hilarious. Sometimes, when they show them to me, I don’t get the joke. Or the other way around. I think something is deep and wonderous and they look at me like, “Huh?”

We don’t get the allusion in each other’s media. We don’t see the signals. Once again, I’m reminded of the Star Trek TNG episode “Darmok and Jalad”

To understand each other, especially in the written word, we have to come from a similar background first of all. The more figurative the media, the more it relies on allusion, the more similar our backgrounds need to be for us to “get it.” I can’t understand why you say that the character is like Sisyphus if I haven’t heard or read that story. And you won’t understand that I “Trumped your sly comment with a better one” if you’ve never played the game.

Each nation, each culture, each generation alters its canon a little at a time. We build on the past, let some things go, and add new things, all in an effort to do what? Describe and understand the world around us? Communicate with others near and far, now and in the future? Too bad we can’t send messages back in time and warn them. “Don’t light that match mom!” or “Don’t invent that device!” But then, I’m not sure that would help us really. If we know anything from time travel movies, it’s that events are sticky. They seem to want to happen no matter what we do.

Unlike most children in the U.S., my sons grew up in close proximity to us, 24/7, not because we’re paranoid about someone taking them, or over-protective. It was because we liked them. I wanted to be around them more and figured they’d go to school later when we got tired of each other. I’ve talked about it before, but we unschooled instead of homeschooled. We lived as if school didn’t exist. I should write a new post about THAT!

The short version is that we lived and worked from home, together for 18 years. They had a very similar canon of books, tv, movies, and music as we did because that’s what we knew and shared with them. As we grew, so did they. New movies. New books. New music. Human events unfolded around us. All of it happened in light of what we already knew, our own family’s background canon.

So, when we write a story, share a joke, or make a reference, all of us almost always get the allusion. Until…cue dramatic music…they began to move in circles outside our house. Noooo!!! Once, they found social media, got jobs, friends, and then started college, it all changed. Their canon shifted from ours. And I know that shift isn’t over. Now that they have moved out on their own it will keep growing and changing as long as they live. We’ll be coming back together for holiday gatherings and sharing our worlds with each other for a long time to come.

Michelle? What they heck? What does that have to do with reading?!

It’s the same with books, not to mention articles, movies, and music. The artist creates his work from the memory of his own canon, assuming that the audience has a similar enough background to understand the allusions. If I read something by someone that is so far outside my world, it’s more difficult for me to understand the deeper meanings of the references the creator is trying to convey. That’s what happened to me when I read, “The 28 Mansion of the Moon.”

I think most of us tend to remember that when we’re reading a book but tend to forget that we need to do the same when we read or watch anything, especially on the internet. Here we are with the world at our fingertips. We can see and hear everyone all over the world, but are we communicating? Rarely. It’s not because we’re mean and evil, or less smart than we ever were. It’s simply because we are assuming that everyone we see and hear has the same canon, the same cultural background, as we do. Translation is not simple. We may even be speaking the same language but come from entirely different worlds.

It’s going to take humanity a long time to adjust to this new development. Let’s hope we don’t destroy each other in the process.

Click over to my original post, “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age” to read my initial thoughts on this book!

Find “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age” on Thriftbooks and read along with me. If you do, be sure to comment so I know you’re out there. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Will the negative effects of social media destroy civilization?

Social media quote from Ready Player Two on book cover background.
The second of only two posts on this book!

“A world where people don’t go outside and touch each other anymore? Where everyone sleeps their lives away while reality collapses all around them?
Sometimes I think my parents are better off. They don’t have to live in this utopia you’ve all created.”

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

I honestly (most of the time) don’t believe the negative effects of social media and the internet will destroy the world as we know it, but I was in a bleak mood when I wrote this, so prepare yourselves. I’m not always this pessimistic, but lately, I’ve felt overwhelmed. I try to assume positive intent. I attempt to see things from a different perspective. But man…when everywhere I look (and I’ve been off social media for over a month now, mostly just looking at the physical world around me) all I see are zombies. I want to scream…WAKE UP!

Maybe I need some new friends? A new location? One of my sons has been out in the world recently. His reports come back positive for the most part. My youngest leaves for university in a few weeks and I’m looking forward to hearing his perspective of a whole new world.

Can we overcome the negative side of social media and use it in positive ways?

I can’t think of how to put this into words. This line just killed me. In fact, the whole book was overwhelmingly sad to me and not because I’m a technology hater. I love the internet. I loved social media, until the past couple of years. I see so much potential, so much to create with it.

But it seems the Ready Player Two characters are only reliving the past through virtual reality, escaping into old movies and music, instead of using the new medium to create and collaborate. I’d hoped the second book would build on the first. I’d hoped that the first book had taught humanity a lesson and that the second would be creative in showing us how we could build on this new technology in innovative and exciting ways. I wanted to see Lazarus soar to the skies with his new wings, with the lesson learned about flying too close to the sun.

Maybe they’re right. Maybe the internet is what ends up destroying us. We just can’t have nice things.


Have you read Ready Player Tw0? Did you read Ready Player One? Or watch the movie? Comment and let me know what you think!

Read my previous post about Ready Player Two, Reality is Not the Curated Fragments of Life in the Media.

If you’re interested in my monthly reading newsletter, where I describe all my juicy immediate afterthoughts of the books I read, along with various other hilarious tidbits, subscribe by signing up for it on my Autobibliography page!

Reality is Not The Curated Fragments of Life in the Media

Curated fragments of life quote with book cover background.

“Now instead of following their favorite celebrity on social media, ONI users could become their favorite celebrity for a few minutes each day. Exist inside their skin. Live short, heavily curated fragments of far more glamourous lives.”

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Let’s put an emphasis on “heavily curated fragments” and talk about that for a few paragraphs, shall we?

In the “Earl,” that’s what they call IRL (in real life) in the book, we all project a curated image as we move through our daily lives. At work, at the grocery store, at the playground with other parents, etc., people mostly see what we want them to see. We don’t walk around with our life story on our sleeves for everyone to see.

The more time we spend with people though, the more they know us and our secrets, the things we try to keep from the public eye. We don’t hide them for nefarious reasons. We’re not hidden criminals…I hope…mostly. We all have a public and a private image.

Inevitably, those small quirks that make us unique, or those bad habits we try to hide from public view, slip out into the Earl from time to time. We react badly to an offense. Our children thrash our last nerve. A rough day at the office turns into road rage on the way home, the middle finger goes up, harsh words are spoken. It happens. But we quickly return to our persona.

At home, with our closest family and friends, we are a different person. Our guard goes down and we are more ourselves.

On the internet, social media especially? How much more so? How many different personalities do have? How many “heavily curated fragments” of ourselves do we present? It depends on the individual. Celebrities, politicians, people that depend on public favor, I’m sure have a lot of work to do maintaining an image that doesn’t do them damage.

You can’t please everyone all the time.

Humans are flawed. We make mistakes. We ruin things and create messes with people. That doesn’t make us bad people, but when you’re trying to sell an image…well…it’s best to curate one that is appetizing to as many people as possible.

But what about us “normal”? I’m not selling an image to my family and friends. Or am I? This blog is one curated image that I project to the public. It’s certainly not all of me on the page. There are other sides of me that are my private thoughts, though it may seem like you’re getting all of me.

And escaping from dull reality into fiction isn’t a new thing. We used to tell stories, then read books, listen to the radio, watch movies, and then tv.  We have always wondered what someone else’s life would be like and assumed that it would be better or more exciting than our own. It usually isn’t.

What if we could see our own lives curated in the same way? Would we be jealous of ourselves and wish to escape into that life?


Have you read Ready Player Tw0? Did you read Ready Player One? Or watch the movie? Comment and let me know what you think!

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But I’m Not Arguing That With You!

“Refusing to put your time and energy into arguing, and ignoring someone completely, could be a better use of your resources.”

13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do” by Amy Morin

This will be the last post about this book, but there is so much more in it. I’m trying to limit myself to five short posts about each book, but I just couldn’t pass up this last one.

No Need To Argue

In person and online, 99% of the time there is no real need to argue with people. We waste our time and energy, two of our most precious resources. When we argue our point with words, all we do is set people around us on the defensive and create more drama to live through.

What can we do instead? Live our own lives the way we want to and walk away from arguments.

I can hear you already…but…but…what if people are wrong?!

You’re not going to change other people’s thoughts or behavior by arguing with them.

You’re just not. I’m sorry.

People are mostly social creatures though, and if your life is peaceful and joyful, they’ll want to be around you. And subtle daily influence changes hearts and minds, not social media comments and intense words about how wrong they are over lunch.

No More Passive Invitations

“Technology has changed the way we interact with people. Social invitations are often sent over text message or social media. And rather than ask, “Do you want to go shopping with me?” many people are inclined to say something more like “I’m going shopping. Let me know if you want to go.” Wording it this way means you don’t have to face rejection.

And while it also means you don’t have to put someone on the spot, saying “You can join me if you want” is also a way to protect yourself.”

13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do by Amy Morin

Oh, boy, did it feel good to read those words in print. I’m not alone in this! It’s actually something a lot of people are doing. At first, I thought passive invitations were a great way for someone like me, extroverted but terribly shy, to carefully and tactfully extend invitations to friends. If no one responded, no harm, no foul! A few years into this new social tactic and I realized that I wasn’t doing myself any favors.

While I do enjoy being alone, quiet time to myself, and small events, I’m not an introvert. In person conversation and connection with others is what fuels me. After a few days of being alone, I start to crave social interaction to build up my creative energy. But I’m naturally shy. I don’t know why, and I’ve worked hard most of my life to overcome that tendency.

Social media gave me an escape from the rigorous practice of approaching people directly and now I’m so out of practice that the simple act of asking people out to lunch takes an incredible amount of effort. Texting or, god forbid, calling another human being (even my Dad) is making myself vulnerable, presenting myself in a way that I have the chance of being shot down. My ego has been fragile lately and I don’t know if I can survive another hit. The more time I spend away from people, the more fragile I feel and the less likely I am to present myself to others.

The more chances I get to interact with others, the thicker my skin becomes and let downs aren’t as painful. When I’m built up with yes’s, the no’s don’t hurt as much. But…opening myself up first? What if the first answer is no? Lately, I feel like I get more no’s to my attempts to connect, than yes’s. It makes me put up walls, and that just keeps the yes’s out too.

I know I need to throw out those social media, passive request crutches to socializing, but it’s so hard. Just like getting strong physically, so it goes with becoming emotionally strong, baby steps. Ask a friend out for coffee, or a walk, or anything. Getting a “no thanks” or “another time” doesn’t mean you’re a horrible person, it means they’re busy. Some days are harder than others, but the more I try, the more likely I am to find a yes, so I keep asking!

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