The Adjustment from Logic

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

Someway along the way or from the very beginning, we choose adjustment; it is us as a form of default, or alternatively, we consciously reject adjustment. In rejecting it, we stay along a path of inner knowing.

When we choose adjustment, we choose to place higher value on the structure of the current paradigmatic thought process rather than the structure and implementation of logic.

photo by Neven Krcmarek

While paradigmatic thought and logic are not always mutually exclusive, we risk being less cognizant of logical alternatives in lieu of the easily-accessible and understood paradigm. By continuously adjusting our behaviors, thoughts, and actions towards the current paradigm, we neglect to consider logic to an absurd level. So much so, that if we become adjusted enough to the popular mode of thought, we make it a point to destroy those points of logic that don’t fit into the paradigm we have come to adopt.

Institutions, from the professional to the religious, suffer this dissociative thinking when an instance of logic occurs and is thrown aside in the face of a preferable outcome derived from paradigmatic thought. Micro-communities can also use and exploit a set paradigm to the advantage of a particular party within the community, such as the leader, or an ideal, as set forth by one or more members of the community.

photo by Jason Blackeye

We are not doing well to be adjusted to ideas that contradict logic. If we can parse out even slight logical exercises in the face of a  questionable situation, we can do much better to address the situation in reality, rather than in a constructed duplication of a reality that is muddled by overt or covert influence.

Logic is a profoundly important skill to administer daily. It awakens and beautifies the world around us, freeing us to parse out higher-level information musings. While logic is not always innately understood, it can be learned. If we choose adjustment, we will likely have easier lives, but a logical life provides a life closer to a truth-process, which is arguably closer to the fulfilling human experience.

On Stimuli

Unsatisfying stimulus, it sounds like a mouthful, and it is. It’s those bits of sound, parcels of information, and flagrant visuals that fly past us. And before we’ve had the opportunity to turn our attentions away, these morsels stick. Especially in this time of internet booming, we’re seeing a tremendous range and saturation of more stimuli, and particularly stimuli that is not satisfying to pay attention to. The whole lot of it contributes to overstimulation too, which is a topic we fail to address in human mental health.

What Makes Stimuli Satisfying

Stimuli is satisfying when it’s pleasant; but it’s also satisfying when it fills a need. A need could be a general curiosity, a requirement for a direct answer, or an emotional need like verbal reassurance, among many others. Satisfaction is different for every person and every purpose of stimuli acquisition.

Stimuli is not satisfying when it coerces the senses, emotions, and cognitive faculties. Neither is it satisfying when it’s part of a body of overstimulation. We see this overstimulation in those individuals that are able to track large amounts of data. Perusing information, especially when it’s not pertinent to the matter at hand, can be overwhelming.

photo by Ramon Solinero

The New Segmentation of Ideologies and Claims at Ignorance

The population is segmenting, not over topical things like race, gender, and others, but over ideologies. If I go to Whole Foods, I’m looking at alternative diets (vegan, paleo) magazine at the checkout stands. Alternatively, if I go to Safeway, I’m looking at gossip magazine. While one may want to make the price-driven argument, that too is choice-based. People choose their vocations and the targeting of their energies, though we are reluctant as a society to admit this. We don’t want to make those sort of admissions because it would imply free-will, which means that we would be responsible for all of our actions. It would mean that our actions would be less-so excused by situation and circumstance, which are common fall-backs. Although it is fair to claim ignorance, it cannot be a sustainable excuse for repetitive action.

Does responsibility fall on the individual to diversity his stimuli? I say yes, it is the responsibility of the individual to alternate sources and diversify his stimuli. While the individual may not be able to control the entry of unsatisfying and overwhelming stimuli, he may be able to better tailor the acquirement of his materials so as to thoroughly round himself out. For example, Westerners can pick up the Bhagavad Gita or a book on Jungian theory. Someone in a stimuli rut can also start experimenting with different types of music or different cuisines. If the cost argument comes it again, and it is very valid at the stimuli-acquirement suggestion, I would implore visiting a public library. I spent a tremendous amount of time at public libraries teaching myself to stretch my attention span and my cognitive ability. There is no cure for the man or woman who makes claims at the falsehood that he does not have time to expand his mind.

Molding Mediums

In defense of one of the most beautiful human expressions, creativity, I’ll address here the Molding Mediums, a term I’ll use to describe social media, search engine optimization systems, and blogs. These Molding Mediums are doing just that, molding the way that we interact and write. Could we be setting aside key components of creativity in shifting our creative output to appease a Medium formula?

I branched together some ideas I’ve had over the past several years having to do with the compromises we make in using specific communication mediums. The first general idea I had to work with is that social media quantitatively attempts to assign value to human experiences and more widely, human lives. The second idea is the standardization of language and content through systems of search engine optimization. Below, I go into more detail about how these Molding Mediums are effectively changing the media that we are consuming.

Molding Mediums- photo by John Towner

Social media is assigning value to humans [because we are letting it]. Social media followers and likes have foundational implications on an individual’s social network and social persona. We have people purchasing followers, we have click farms, we have “follow back” biographies on social media accounts. Over the past ten years, I have been experimenting with various social media platforms, not sticking to any one of them for very long. I noticed that during the few months spans that I had a Facebook account, I was participating in more social activities simply because those social activities became more accessible. I drew a poignant observation: people seemed to really only notice me when I was standardizing my modes of communication and adhering to the mediums. As long as I was communicating in this specific manner, I was receiving social invitations (whether they were welcome or not).

There are also limited ways in which people appear to be communicating on social media platforms. Having worked heavily in social media data to obtain evidence related to potential fraud cases, I can define several types of users who nearly render themselves into caricatures through the data that they post. You come to recognize the political rant, the complaint that life is boring, the selfie with duck lips, the perfect family, the traveler on the edge of a cliff, and so on. All of the content seems to bleed into the other, and there’s also the factor of overstimulation from the tremendous concentration of data available simply through the act of scrolling.

Molding Mediums - photo by John Towner

Search engines are standardizing our language and content. If you’ve used the Yoast SEO tool, you’ll see that the tool ranks the readability of your text. It gives you a rating, such as “needs improvement”, based on a number of set criteria. These are meant as guidelines, but they do not account for prose and poems. Given that prose and poem are not written in the same manner as an article, it is difficult to obtain a positive rating without sounding like you’re trying to please the machine. For your work to have “value” online, you are encouraged to standardize the way that you use language. If I write in a more formal way, as I tend to do, I noticed that the score is not good. If I “dumb down” my language, the readability score improves.

As for content strategy, certain topics take precedence over others; some are allowed and encouraged, others are belittled and discouraged. You’ll read endless blogs that encourage you to write specialize on one topic, and all the more bloggers calling themselves experts for the sole reason of choosing a blog focus.

Articles seem to be written for Google rather than for people. 

We’re sterilizing the potency of language when we pump articles to the brim with keywords and calls to action. We’re rendering our language materially different by customizing it for a computer algorithm. Language is fundamentally changing through these methods; what are we gaining and what is going away?

Molding Mediums are creating change; we are using online interfaces to mold the way that we interact with other people. But beyond that, we’re changing the way that our writing and our content is structured, and possibility compromising artistic license for the sake of ranking higher on the Google totem pole.

On Eccentricity

In a culture riddled with social parameters, it has become imperative to observe the environmentally defined and individual-specific codes of deviation. In this case, I’ll address the idea of eccentricity, in true and in assigned capacities. Eccentricity can be defined as those actions and words of individuals interested in acting and speaking out of the preferred social norm. This is not for the sake of provoking, but is a less labored, and more authentic expression of the self. True eccentricity does purpose itself in harm, or even the thorough consideration of effect. It is rare to find a true eccentric, particularly in a time when it is socially acceptable (and even sometimes socially encouraged) to formulate great displays of publicized opinion and other narrative (such as through social media).

by Redd Angelo

Whenever I have entered an office environment, I have noted that there are specific individuals to whom eccentricity can be a combination of the following: granted, encouraged, repressed, discouraged, unacknowledged, acknowledged, romanticized, and others. For example, you begin to note that those with titles with creative implications serve to allow the label of eccentric. This labelling allows, within the micro-environment, a loosened code of conduct, thereby investing other individuals in its repercussions. Those with more rigid or normative positions, such as those involving public relations, incur the labelling of steady and encourage the repression of socially and internally-agreed upon eccentric behaviors.

We see that on a simplistic level, individuals are categorized into: allowed eccentricity or forced normativeness. However, the labels are loosely based, and often come to be from sources that cannot fathom the incredibly intricate components that some individuals play out, whether publicly or privately.

Allowed eccentricity applies to those individuals that are generally regarded as eccentric, whether they had earned the label through repeated action or display (such as wearing a Santa hat in July), or whether they have crafted it because they noted that being labeled as such would provide them with more social liberties (such as being rude and having someone else excuse it “don’t mind her, she’s a genius”).

Forced normativeness applies to those who willingly repress their stranger behaviors (“I won’t tell my coworkers that I volunteer with cats, or they’ll call me a cat lady.”), have completely signed to a life without oddity (“That’s not how a real man/woman acts”), or to those who are asked to act a specific way, even if it contradicts their personality and their belief of ethics in authentic representation of the self (I am told to stop speaking so formally because it makes me seem unfeeling, though I feel it’s more authentic because it implies respect for the other. I conform to this).

Given the parameters of this binary thinking, we see that eccentricity has both positive and negative connotations. If one is perceived as successful and eccentric, one’s ill behaviors easily become excused. If one is seen as artistic and eccentric, one is allowed a wider range of conduct that an individual not deemed artistic would be social rejected for performing.

If the external environment would not like to acknowledge eccentricity, because it would not fit neatly into the romanticized idea of the eccentric genius/artist/successful businessman, the environment could attempt to provoke forced normativeness to induce the individual to re-fabricate him or herself for the public sphere, thereby creating potential identity dissociative-ness between the public and private life of the individual.

Here’s My Advice

We live in a culture of unsolicited advice giving. We also live the culture of acquirement of paid-for second opinions through self-help books, self-help blogs, and self-help TV.

We seek help even when and where in our lives we do not need it. This potentially stems from an insecurity of making a decision all on our own. We ask or freely receive “words of wisdom” of strangers we have never met, whose life stories we do not know, and importantly, whose success upon following their own advice we are not fully able to trace.

On the cusp on getting on my own track, it’s become more and more obvious how much unwarranted and often unwanted advice I receive on a daily basis. It’s an influx of people at work, people on the internet, and even engrained “words of wisdom” which overwhelm and make decisions all the more difficult. Now, in addition to considering the decision I have to make, I am bringing in a large variety of miscellaneous sources, some of which is not even relevant to the question at hand.

It all boils down to: Do I need to get advice on this? 

If I don’t gather the courage to make a decision all on my own, knowing that I have an internal guide that is going to point me in the right direction, I’m susceptible to an onslaught of unnecessary advice.

And I’ll make a bold statement here: All advice is naive. Why? Simply because no human outside of you can process all of the factors like you can. Only you have access to your experiences, your wisdom, and your own intuition. To accept the advice of another without totally considering its source and its limitations is to undermine your own ability to make decisions.

What’s Your Favorite?

When I was a young girl, from the age of about seven onwards, I was asked the following question seemingly endlessly by adults:

“What’s your favorite color?”

I was stumped, baffled, speechless. I thought it was such a peculiar question to ask a child. My mind mulled over the terrifying amount of implications I would be making in definitely stating what my favorite color was. Would I be restricting my wardrobe, my future artworks, my social groups? Would I be restricting myself to just having the one favorite, would I be able to change my mind, would I be defined by my choice? “Oh that’s Falon, her favorite color is pink.” Would all future gifts I received from my parents be pink? Would I be implying my gender, playing into the role of girlhood?

I’m fascinated by the questions that adults ask children; from seeing interactions between the two, I see that many of the questions are repetitive and in my thinking, restrictive. We’re asked early on to make definitive, seemingly innocent and non-implicative, choices about who we are. The way that we’ve invoked these questions into the stage of childhood plays into the linguistic rhetoric of the real-world, in the way that we use speech to limit our world views and in the way that we use favorites to distort our attentions. It can diminish our capacity to see beyond preference.