“Respect your elders.” Why, exactly?

This can be considered an addendum or aside or a long postscript to my last post in which I talked (OK, ranted) about getting into trouble with authority figures. Much of that authority, I have seen, comes from people ‘pulling age’ on others: “I’m older than you, and I know better and am wiser and have more experience, etc., and so therefore I can and must tell you how you should shit.” This is not a logically rigorous argument.

I interviewed the other day in what was probably the most subjective interview I’ve ever had in my life. In about fifteen minutes of vague questions to which equally vague answers were provided, because vague questions cannot demand specific answers, the interviewer had determined with near-absolute certainty and conviction that my job of three years as a strategist for a digital media organization wasn’t as much about strategy as it was about servicing, and offered to check in that department, the servicing department, if they had openings and would I be interested in that role?

No.

So no objective test or other unambiguous methodology was used in the conclusion proffered. What got my goat, and is the subject of this post, is the fact that she went on to validate or rationalize her entirely–faulty–subjective impression by referring to her many years of experience in the field and what she is looking for and how I do not fit that particular bill. The offer of an alternate position I wouldn’t take was a poorly offered palliative. Basically what I’m trying to say is, a person’s competence can not be judged subjectively, and the current process of interviewing by the so-called quote-unquote informed opinions of one person means a lot of talent gets passed on for mediocre, but possibly more personable characters, which, great first impressions and suchlike, holds sway in interviews, as has been demonstrated by psychologists often enough to now consider like epistemological fact.

The other issue is the, also, psychological cognitive biases we are entrapped by. But they seem to get worse as we grow older, than better. Age seems to give people the warrant to be firmer and ofttimes absolute about their opinions, antonymic facts be damned. Scientists tell us that we–our minds–actively look for information that support our biases and scorn that which don’t. Which means we must be extra careful of our conclusions about everything: about the political parties we support,–I prefer to hold off judgment until positive outcomes are effected (and each outcome judged on its own merit, not a blanket “support everything this party says” ideology)–the kind of people we choose to associate–or not–with, even how we make choices about our future should be subjected to careful thinking, lest we fall into the trap of reverting to our intuition or “gut” to decide on what’s right or wrong, what’s best and what’s not. Worse, still, is foisting these views on younger people sometimes incapable of deciding what’s right, who defer to the older person’s viewpoint out of ‘respect’ for their age, or are just scared to be kicked out of their home or otherwise harshly reprimanded for ‘going against.’

Respect is also a two-way street. The opinions of someone younger are as important as those of one older. A person less knowledgeable is inviting you to lessen his ignorance, giving you the enormous responsibility of giving them the right guidance. To expect respect without giving any back is a rubbish and arrogant worldview.

Older people should consider the responsibility placed upon them: of being honest to themselves, in order to be honest to younger folks who depend on their guidance; of acknowledging the limits of their minds, so that they can better instruct their wards in the right ways of critical thinking; to be certain only within epistemic bounds, and to revise opinions when better information is available; these are traits that should be striven for and consequently handed over to the young ones. That is your heritage, is what you should leave behind. The alternative is, in today’s age of near-instant information access, your ill-informed opinions will be seen for what they are, and you will lose respect in the eyes of anyone but the most ignorant.

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Troubles With Authority Figures

I was having a random conversation with a friend and we spoke about general childhood stuff and having to deal with elders treating us like kids (because we were kids, but what kid wants to acknowledge that?), which ended up with me thinking back to all the authority figures in my life and realizing that, with few exceptions, I’ve been beaten by mostly everyone, for indiscipline, talking back to elders, or whatever else elders beat kids for. I listed out my parents, grandparents, uncles, teachers, principals, fathers and brothers (the blessed sort), boarding supervisors; pretty much anyone entrusted with my charge acknowledged that I was a snotty, disobedient, a too-smart-for-my-own-good brat, and therefore any degree of punishment wasn’t too much or too far. Still, I hold no grudges against them; I’d knock me about if I were charged with a snot like me.

These are the downsides of precociousness. Intellectual superiority (I used to believe that) to these people made me a) question their authority, and b) their consequent verbal and slash or physical assertion of that authority without any explanation or grounds or validity for being an authority figure vested with the sweeping, constitutionally (I think) illegal powers of child verbal/physical abuse. Like, let’s face it, I clearly know more than you, better than you, and I’m only expressing that fact. Your advanced age or your nominal figurehead status means nothing to me, except an annoyance maybe at your lack of comprehension of your own stupidity and pigheadedness for not acknowledging the power of my brain, one that’d figuratively run rings around your own before you’d even get off the ground (excuse the mixing of metaphors).

So, kids, take heart if you think you’re smarter than your elders; you most probably are. Age doesn’t bring wisdom or experience; that’s a myth propagated by elders to subjugate you, whack you with a fine-tuned bamboo. I say that because I’m now an “elder” and I and everyone I know has no idea what the hell we’re doing. Yes, we’re very much bullshitting as we go along.

Surveil This

obama-nsa-surveillanceThese days when I say something in confidence to anyone over the Internet adding “I hope this will stay between us” I mentally append that statement with “and Google/Facebook, the Indian government, NSA, very possibly the Chinese/Pakistani government, and assorted other smaller players in the lucrative and burgeoning ‘Invade People’s Privacy’ space.”

"I Like It In The Car" & Other Assorted Nonsense

Post

I woke this morning to find a status update on Facebook by a friend that read, “I’m going to New York for 4 months! =D”. Having seen this trend of updates for the last few days my immediate reaction was one of annoyance and then of anger towards the body of people propogating this. My issue isn’t towards the individual here, but the form of ‘Awareness’ that this sort of activity is supposed to be for and how it only ends up undermining the seriousness of the issue in question.

Here is my Facebook update, right after looking at the aforementioned status, “Chicks are posting updates about going to this or that city for x number of months. Another stupid gimmick to raise awareness (how do you raise awareness for a ‘secret’ cause?) for god only know what, harking back to the times when silly girls posted their bra colors (breast cancer awareness FAIL) or stuff like “I like it in the car” (Really?! Raising awareness for what here?). It is no secret that I’ve lost my Mother and an Uncle to Cancer and feel this sort of thing is in very poor taste. There really are better ways to raise awareness and make a real change, girls.”

Maybe I was a little harsh here but 28 people so far and counting have ‘Liked’ the status. This in no way makes what I said right but I had strong views on the subject and voiced my opinion on it.

In the comments I mentioned this, ” I just had a girl tell me she had no idea what the Bra color thing was for and believed it was all in good fun. My beef is that the message of awareness gets lost, even among the one’s spreading the awareness by these means in the first place.” and this, “Here’s what I mean: “We need something new to mess around with the boys

since they figuered out yet everything,
we need something new!
So, lets start it:
Your current status
Single = England
In Love = Germany
unhappy in love = France
in a relationship = Spain
married = Switzerland
engaged = Austria
Send this to every Girl!! of your friend list
And watch out, dont tell any boys!!!
lets see, how long they will need for this one ;;)””

My scathing criticism here isn’t directed at the individuals indulging in this silliness, but rather at the silliness itself. There’s a right way and a wrong way of using Social Media for the greater good, and this way just does not seem right to me.

The Point Is…

Internet cables have been cut in my area because the Metro is coming up right outside my place. For the last week I’ve been without internet access at home. I didn’t mind it much since I work about 12 hours at the office and I’m constantly connected to the net from my phone — 2G for now until my operator introduces 3G in Mumbai — Which may be a while off considering the paperwork and money involved for all parties. There’s nothing like rampant corruption to put a dent in progress.

This brings to mind the issue of Anna Hazare’s fast against corruption. I will not go into details here because I don’t believe any of you reading this have been living under a rock and need me to elaborate. My personal opinion on him and what he has done for this nation is one of awe and nostalgia (?), remembering the lessons I learnt in school of Gandhi and his very powerful movement of peaceful retaliation, known to us all as “Satyagraha”. Martin Luther King Jr. would have approved mightily.

Having turned 25 yesterday I feel like I’ve hit a milestone. Reflecting back on the years past, I think I’m at my most stable right now (I don’t care to define “stable” because it may mean different things to different people). This may or may not be a good thing, because stability brings with it an ample amount of stagnancy in my personal growth, which is death for my delicate soul.

Finding something to do with one’s life is so very important. A cause, a direction that is in tune with one’s core values, ethics and beliefs. I knew I’d find it, just never thought it would be something I could do for a living, seeing as how anti-establishment I am. Doing Social Media has given me that opportunity and I thank my uncle for pushing me into this field.

Brings to mind a quote by Gandhi, “Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it”.
My uncle’s loss has been a great blow to my family and I. I admit I have been a difficult person to live with during my teenage years, but over the last few I’ve been a more sober, calm person with an understanding of my eventual responsibilities. This statement in no way absolves me of my waywardness, but I bear my cross with his strength.
I think he left me with a lot of real life lessons, and I truly wish right now that I’d gotten to know him much better than I did. I regret not having taken that effort. Appreciate the people in your life daily, just for them being there.

An important lesson I’ve learnt over the last year is the value of hard work. There really is no substitute, and yes, that sounds clichéd. Regardless, I believe that working hard AND working smart gets you ahead. It’s ALL about the hustle in the end; whether you hustle or get others to hustle for you (I’d prefer the latter state of affairs, thank you very much).
There is something in setting goals. Daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, half yearly goals, yearly goals, 2 year goals, 5 year goals, 10 year goals, 15 year goals, 25 year goals. Yes. I have goals for ALL those time periods. Do you? Why not?

Make a list, even if it exists only in your head. You will have direction. Never a day will pass when you question the purpose of your existence, because you will be living with a purpose. I read “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” many years back and the one quote I remember to this day from it is “The purpose of life is a life of purpose”. I now know the truism of that statement. Read the book in its entirety to understand the profoundness of this message.

The greatest life lessons we learn are from the mistakes we make and survive. Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid of giving up.

That’s all the randomness I have for you today, folks. Stay tuned for more of it. Or not.

Resolutions For 2011

 

Now the reason people fail at resolutions, especially New Year resolutions, is because they lack a plan of action on how to go about achieving their goals. “I want to lose weight” or “I will give more time to my hobbies” are vague, uninspiring and consequently, doesn’t do much in jolting one to action and changing one’s life. “I will exercise 3 times a week with the goal of losing a kilo a month” is actionable and a real target. Not that I personally wish to lose any weight, this being just an example since at least one overweight person may read this. Anyhoo, the point is, break down all your resolutions into actionable steps and you will significantly increase your chances of success.

Now that that is out of the way, here are some (I will probably keep adding to this list) of my resolutions for this year 2011:

1) I will read a book a week. I got this idea from a blog post on how to do go about doing this and thought it interesting enough to take up. Also, I’m nearing the end of my 2nd book for the year so I have a slight head start.

2) I want to put together a list of all the books I’ve read. Ever. It’s difficult, but not impossible.

3) I want to gain 15 kilos, spread over the whole year. Achievable, if I put on 1.3 kilos a month, considering I’ve done 6 kilos in the first month and 7 in the consecutive month, once. Check out Tim Ferris’ article on the routine I used to achieve such gains.

4) I want to finally get to 100 posts on my blog, and although I wanted to get to that milestone by the end of 2010, it was not to be. In the next 2 months I will put out about 2 posts per week, making a total of 16, and getting me to that mark.

5) I will not visit Goa until I’ve made a trip to a different part of the country. There’s a lot to be seen and I’ve fallen into the habit of picking Goa as a vacation spot.

6) I will work diligently and take advantages of the opportunities that present themselves. I put this in here because I’m slow with decision-making,tending to weigh the pros and cons for way too long.

7) I will make myself more available to friends, make new ones and network for work and pleasure.

I think this does it for now.

Avatar

The movie ‘Avatar’ was described by a friend as ‘an acid trip’ Another wondered aloud if James Cameron, the director of the movie, was tripping on something. Easily one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, the visuals and plotline are incredibly bewitching and near orgasmic. Those who thought the movie was just about the special effects and lacked any depth of story have a very superficial manner of thinking. The story is about ‘connections’, the premise that we are all ‘one’, part of a greater whole, inseparable from that which is ‘without’. The ‘within’ and ‘without’ co-existing like yin-yang, not opposites or separates, but complementary elements that are each dependent on the other.

Many ages ago man lived in harmony with his environment. The Pagans had Gods for every element in nature. They worshipped the trees, the clouds that bore water, the rivers, the sun that gave light and warmth and life to the crops, even animals. They respected their surroundings and ‘Gaia’, the ancient name for mother earth. Sometime in our ‘development’ as a race we forgot the lessons of old and replaced them with ‘modern’ thoughts and ideas, with virtual boundaries that separate us on a physical and emotional level.

Avatar shows us that its beings, the Na’vi, share more than a superficial connection. They possess appendages that fuse with other beings on their planet, not just their own species. This can directly be interpreted in the context of human beings co-existing with other beings on this planet. Sharing a near spiritual, harmonious bond of co-existence. It is something we’ve forgotten to do as an ‘advanced’ race.

The message is clear. Take action NOW, to repair the damage that’s been done so far, before the little that’s left of the planets richness is robbed, not by an extraterrestrial race, but sadly by its own residents.