The Most Interesting Thing Project (Blog + Talk Show)

logo3 drop shadow copyHello dear readers, I have some exciting news! I have wanted to bring this site back in some capacity for a while, but it didn’t really make sense to keep doing it in the original format.

However, I have started a new project and part of they way I conceive of it unfolding includes a reader/viewer submitted portion.

Originally I was just going to interview people and put the videos up (possibly also with an accompanying podcast version), but  I realized – it doesn’t have to stop there.

So, here’s what’s happening:

I’m interviewing people again, but not quite the same as on the podcast I used to do. This is basically a short (10-15 minute) talk show (hosted on YouTube) where the guest will choose from a handful of topics from the Most Interesting Thing Blog to learn and talk about, and then the guest will present a fact, story, or experience of their own.

As I said, there is a blog portion (which you can find at www.mostinterestingproject.net), where once a week (at minimum), I will be writing a post covering new things I learned that week. If you recall the old “Curiosity Recap” posts from this site (like this one), the idea is basically that. Instead of individual posts, I’ll do a roundup of at least 3 new topics weekly. You can find all these weekly posts here.

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And even better – you the reader (or viewer) can participate/contribute! If you learned something really interesting to you, you can send it in to mostinterestingproject@gmail.com and it may get included on the blog! (a bit of fact checking/re-writing might be necessary).

I also plan to accept viewer video submissions that may get featured on the YouTube channel as well. So whether you want to write it, or say it into the camera, tell me what is the most interesting thing that you have learned or experienced recently!

Also, as this is just getting started and I am one person managing it, please allow some time for review. I may not be able to reply to everyone who submits, but if I plan to feature your submission i’ll let you know.

The great thing about this project is that I realize that different things are interesting to different people, so obviously I’m more inclined to share what speaks to me, but I will likely consult with friends and peers on the stuff that’s not in my wheelhouse so I give it a fair shot.

The goal is again to ultimately share good information, introduce interesting people, and create a collective space of insights, connection, and inspiration. Everyone is interesting in some way, I want to see how they each shine!

Also, follow the project on Twitter and Facebook as well!

ADHD and Advice

I recently stumbled upon a YouTube channel called “How to ADHD” while doing work for one of my jobs (Squag). It has only been within the last year that I’ve started to think about ADD in regards to myself.

Despite making the discovery of the “Scanner Personality” a few years back (which now seems so obvious in this context), I had specifically thought “I can’t have ADD because I can actually focus REALLY well when I want to” (which I attributed to my ASD). I get obsessed with things and can very easily ignore everything that isn’t that thing (including friends and family, much to my shame). But as I’ve now learned, people with ADD can in fact “hyper focus” on things.

I’ve figured out that “popular media portrayals” of things like Autism and ADD tend to only show the extreme forms, leading many people to believe that that is what those things are. We don’t see “mild” cases, and if we do, they’re labeled as “eccentric” or “quirky”, rather than actually neurodivergent. I still struggle with a sort of imposter syndrome with my ASD in part because of this, but it’s helping that I am meeting (or becoming aware of) more and more fellow ASD adults who “don’t seem autistic”.

Remember kids, it’s a spectrum, and every individual presents a bit differently.

Anyways, and one particular video on this How To ADHD channel really hit me:

In fact, it spoke to me so much that I took the time to write out a transcript of (most of) the video, to share with friends, family, and even people I’d recently dated.

Here’s the transcript:

There’s a far more damaging aspect to the way that ADHD affects relationships and I don’t see it talked about very often. It’s not a very popular subject.

What is it?

Inattention, as in……. getting bored.

I’m going to open up about my own personal experiences and what I’ve found that helps. But first to help us understand WHY we get bored of what used to be the only thing we could think about – cool science stuff!

It’s not true that people with ADHD can’t focus. It’s that we have trouble sustaining our attention on things that don’t reward our brains for focusing on them. What’s behind most ADHD symptoms – and this one is no different – is trouble with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s part of the reward system in our brain. We do a thing, we get a hit of dopamine, we feel good.

The problem is in ADHD brains, there aren’t as many dopamine receptors as there are in the average brain. We kind of have to flood our brain with dopamine to feel the effects. You’re heard of heat seeking missiles? Well we are dopamine seeking missiles. The ADHD brain is *great* at focusing on four things. No big surprise – these things fire up the dopamine.

  1. Things that are of personal interest
    2. Things that are challenging
    3. Things that are new or novel
    4. Things that are under a crazy deadline

At the beginning of a relationship, at least the first 3 of those things are all in play. Which is why at the beginning of a relationship most of us can barely think of anything else. All of our time and energy and attention is lavished on this other person. But as a relationship continues, it’s not as stimulating anymore and our focus shifts to other ways to increase our dopamine.

This can be damaging to relationships in a couple ways.

The non-ADHD partner gets used to the attention, and it doesn’t feel good when you pull away. It can feel personal, it can feel like you don’t love them anymore. Or you get used to the high levels of dopamine and you kinda get hooked.

It’s fairly common for those of us with ADHD to *use* relationships as a dopamine boost. We start doing whatever we can to create or preserve that dopamine high, including:

  1. getting involved with the nearest available human of the desired gender because they’re there and you’re bored (pretty sure that’s how tinder works)
  2. going from relationship to relationship
  3. pretending things are perfect in your relationship, long after it’s clear they’re not
  4. criticizing or wanting to change the other person in order to make the relationship “perfect”
  5. cheating, because you’re bored, but you don’t want to hurt them/end the relationship
  6. lying to them
  7. going too fast – when you find a relationship that you like, pushing everything to the next level as quickly as possible just to feel that thrill of new

If you’re stuck in this vicious cycle, I would like to present to you option “h” – honesty.

Be honest with yourself about what you want, who you are, what you need. Be honest with yourself about who your partner is, and if they’re right for you. Be honest about your deal breakers. Be honest about where you are in the relationship. If you’re only two weeks in, know that you probably don’t have enough information yet to know if this is the person you might want to marry, and if you’re 2 years in, know that it’s not going to be as crazy wild and euphoric as it was at first and thank goodness because nobody can sustain that.

Stop pretending this is the perfect relationship if it’s not and you’re just with this person to feel good. Because eventually it doesn’t.

If you’re in the relationship for the dopamine high and not the person, understand that the dopamine high *will* end, and then you’ll still be stuck with the person. Or have to leave and watch them cry.

I’ll be honest, being honest doesn’t solve everything. You might fight more, you might have more first dates that don’t turn into second dates, when you look in tinder, you might not find a good match 2 blocks away. But i’ll tell you what *does* happen.

  1. It gets interesting – you never know what to expect because now you’re two human beings interacting, not people playing roles. Roles get boring. Any relationship that you bring your real self into is always going to be interesting. And if you’re really being honest with yourself, you’re only going to get involved with people who actually interest you.
  2. It gets challenging – you’ll actually have to work out solutions. to actual problems.
  3. It becomes new – you’ll constantly be reinventing yourselves, each other, the relationship. You can affect your partner, they can affect you. And it will get deeper and more beautiful and more exciting than you could have ever imagined.

And then something incredible happens, you can stop worrying about finding or saving or creating or ending a relationship, and go find other things that are exciting to you. Make a video game, start a youtube channel. Projects! Travel! TED Talks!

And if you’re honest with your partner, they’ll know to enjoy the times when you hyper focus on them, and understand that when your attention is on a project that you’re working on, it’s not that you don’t love them.

And you can remind each other, because we *will* forget, that this is a normal part of having ADHD.

Does that resonate with you? It really resonated with me.

I know I am personally “guilty” of choosing far more often than not to devote myself to projects, hobbies, interests, curiosities, than to people. I find dating incredibly difficult and stressful for a variety of reasons, and when pit against the certainty and emotional/intellectual payoff of working on (and finishing!) a creative project, the uncertainty and emotional anxiety of dating often discourages me. And when I do choose to go on dates, if the first date isn’t really good, it feels like “what’s the point?”

I’ve definitely been guilty of not having enough patience to see where something might go (or when I do think I see potential, maybe the other person doesn’t).

Now, it’s not necessarily “wrong” to choose hobbies and interests over dating or other social interactions, but it’s not the most healthy to always make that decision.

But now that I’m aware of this I can do a better job of taking action to address it. Before realizing what was actually behind my experiences being they way they have, I felt more personally responsible, like I was just a broken person who couldn’t figure it out. Now i’ve gotten a clue to help solve the puzzle.

So, if that did resonate with you, check out the Adult ADHD Test page as well for more info.

Mid 2016 Update + Patreon!

Hello dear reader. Adam here again with a quick update.

Even though this site has been on hiatus for a while, it’s still getting a surprising amount of traffic (which I guess speaks to the quality of the content the blog contains), so I’m happy to pop back in periodically and let you know that the same writer/curator of that content is still writing and curating new stuff, just not at this location anymore (at least, for now).

I have been thinking about maybe trying to reboot this in some form, but certain circumstances must exist again for that to happen. What I’ve realized lately is that I am in fact addicted to learning and to personal growth, which was the guiding force of this site in the first place. I’m never going to stop wanting to learn and grow, and share what I learn and how I’ve grown.

I’ve done that sharing in various forms – writing, podcasting (interviews), public speaking, and more. I like all these things and want to keep “doing all the things” and so I have finally whipped myself into shape and created a Patreon page – www.patreon.com/AdamEmanon. So please, if you value the work I do, consider tossing a couple bucks my way to allow me to do more of it.

(for the time being, all my previously produced/freely released material will remain that way)

In the meantime, here are the latest three pieces I have written:

> The Art of Hockey – A Fandom in Four Parts
> Work Ethic and Relationships — Wisdom From Taylor Swift’s Former Manager
> Why Do You Only Love Them If They Can Dance?

And my latest 3 ebooks:

> The Curiosity Guide to Distinctions
> The Curiosity Guide to Restore Your Faith in Good People
> The Curiosity Resource Guide to Job Hunting the Smart Way

Thanks for reading and sharing, and stay tuned for more curated learning from Adam Emanon!

2015 retrospective and new project “Creativity Crossroads”

Curiosity Crossroads has been on “indefinite hiatus” for quite some time as you may know. In 2015, I switched my focus to compiling curated ebooks on a variety of topics with the goal being to help teach people and share valuable information in a more substantial form.

This series of “learning guides” I dubbed “The Curiosity Guide To” series.
In 2015, I completed the following:
Guide to Computer Programming for Beginners
Guide to Japanese for Beginners
Guide to English for native Spanish speakers
Guide to Superstition, Phobia, Luck, and Fear
Guide to Logical Fallacies
Guide to Educational Podcasts and YouTube channels
Guide to Heavy Metal music with clean singing
Guide of Curated Quotes on Life, Love, Leadership, Happiness, and More

Two more published in January:

Guide to Personal Identity Concepts
Guide to Negative, Manipulative, Toxic and Abusive People

Published in February:

Guide to Restore Your Faith In Good People

Creative Lapse

However, 2015 was not the most creative year for me, I sort of sacrificed that in large part to make headway on research/writing. But! It is a new year, new circumstances, and I decided it was time to tap back into my creativity. So I started a new project which I dubbed “Creativity Crossroads”. It’s a simpler blog, meant to showcase the various different things I create (whether music, poetry, photos, art, or designs).

Noise in my Head (again)

This morning I also sent out a batch of initial emails to people who I want to interview for a reboot of my old podcast. I don’t know yet what will happen with that, but it’s something I’d like to do again, even if not as regularly as before.

There are also a few other ideas I’m kicking around in my head, so keep your eyes peeled on Creativity Crossroads and AdamEmanon.com for new developments!

The Curiosity List – Issue #1 (Aug 2015)

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Hi everyone! I really appreciate you subscribing to this new endeavor I’m starting and showing your support for my ongoing curiosity (which I really hope benefits you!)

I haven’t got the format entirely locked in yet, but I’m sure I’ll get there soon. For this round I have picked out a selection of articles that I want to highlight, covering a range of topics. A reminder, this newsletter will be similar to the old “Curiosity Recap” posts I used to do on here, but covering fewer articles, and striving to present the key highlight from each.

You may have already come across some of these, but hopefully there are some new nuggets for you.

Brain Maintenance

The first one that I came across that I knew “this is definitely going in the newsletter!” was a post from Reddit’s “Explain like I’m 5” section. The post is titled “What exactly happens to your brain when you feel mentally exhausted?” Considering how much curation/research I do, this is a state of mind I’m definitely familiar with, so I read the post with eagerness. Here was one of the most upvoted explanations:

Your brain cells (neurons), just like any other cells in your body, excrete metabolic wastes. During the day (or night) when you are active and awake, the brain is slightly swollen relative to when you are sleeping and this shrinks the amount of space between the gyri and sulci (mountains and valleys) of the brain. The less space, the less efficiently the cerebrospinal fluid is circulated and cleaned. With this stagnating CSF, the metabolites being released by brain cells just hang around the cells in the brain and this affects the metabolic functions of said cells. All of this occurs until we go to sleep, where the brain shrinks and more room is made for the CSF to be circulated and the metabolites to be cleared. The more tired you are, the more poop your brain is swimming in.

So, sleeping allows the cleaning crew of your brain to get out onto the decks and hose it down. Perhaps a bit squicky but interesting (to me!).

Health Matters

Also on a health related note, I recently saw an article about typical everyday painkillers (Tylenol, Aspirin). From Vox.com comes the article “Should you take Tylenol, Advil, or aspirin for pain? Here’s what the evidence says.”

What’s the difference between Tylenol, Advil, and aspirin? Which is the best to take for pain?

I was surprised when I found out there’s a huge gap between how pain researchers think about this drug and how the public does. More specifically, every researcher I contacted for this piece said some variation of what Andrew Moore, a pain researcher at Oxford University, told me: Tylenol doesn’t actually work that well for pain. To be more exact, “I can’t imagine why anybody would take acetaminophen [Tylenol],” he said.

Moore has done a number of systematic reviews on over-the-counter pain medications, looking at all the available evidence to figure out which ones work best for various problems. I asked him to describe the overall success rates for the most common three: acetaminophen (like Tylenol), ibuprofen (like Advil), and aspirin.

It’s a very interesting and informative article which obviously I recommend you give a read, and perhaps forward along to friends and loved ones.

Tech Know

Next up on the subject of technology, you know how we are told we should “safely remove hardware” before unplugging our USB thumb drives, yet most people pretty much never do? We think it’s harmless (and certainly after doing so hundreds if not thousands of times myself I was of that mindset) but is it? Well, yes and no. From the gozmodo article “Does Safely Ejecting From a USB Port Actually Do Anything?”:

If a file is open, a program reading the file expects to be able to return to it and continue reading. Similarly, write commands may be dispatched to a writing subroutine and forgotten by the main program. If a drive disappears between the time the subroutine is called and the data is written to disk, that data is lost forever.

You can remove a disk at any time, but you are at the mercy of how well programs using the disk cope with the sudden disappearance of that disk.

In the modern computer, many steps have been taken to defend against the capricious and careless removal of media. For example, Windows even introduced a feature called “Optimize for Quick Removal” that makes sure data is written quickly instead of batched up and written efficiently. It is very hard to get people to change habits. If you are doing exclusively reads on a media, safe removal is probably not needed. If you are doing writes, you are probably OK to skip safe removal if you haven’t written recently and you aren’t doing something silly like indexing that disk.

So there you have it, question answered!

Also on the subject of security, now might be a good time to review the post on here about password security myths. It’s very easy to make your password very secure, and the most common ways we’re told to do this actually aren’t that effective.

Culture Clarity

I Don’t Think It Means What You Think It Means

You may have heard both the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” before, and if you have, you probably heard them used interchangeably. But as it turns out (and I just learned this myself), they are NOT the same thing, and while it is possible to be both, some people are only one or the other. This comic explains. It boils down to:

Latino — A term that is telling you about geography.
Latino means from Latin America.
Hispanic — A term that is telling you about language.
Hispanic means from a country whose primary language is Spanish.

Maybe you’re not the type of person to correct people when they get stuff like that wrong, but we should try and make the effort now that we know better, to help correct and educate those around us to be more respectful and use cultural identifiers properly.

Admitting Faults

Speaking of which, here is an image that I found through social media that I really wish we saw more of. Namely, a corporation honestly addressing something and taking a good stance on instead of the usual PR treatment.

warner bros disclaimer

This is definitely a step in the right direction, and I think if we saw more of this as a society it would encourage everyone to be more open and proactive about admitting past transgressions and seeking a way to make amends now.

Did You Know?

You are probably pretty used to the idea of boys wearing blue and girls wearing pink, right? You might be surprised to find out that it wasn’t always this way. But if you had to guess, how long do you think that has been “the norm”?

Would you believe less than 100 years? That’s right. As recently as 1918, magazine ads were saying pink for boys and blue for girls. How did it all change? Well, marketing can be a very powerful force!

This video from The Checkout explains “Gendered Marketing,” and I typed out a transcript to the video.

“Pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl”
-Earnshaw Infant’s Department, June 1918

By the early 1970s, the split between girl’s toys and boy’s toys seemed to be eroding. Today, that’s all changed.

They worked out that by segmented the market into narrow demographic groups, they can sell more versions of the same toy.

So the next time one of your friends says “pink is a girl’s colour!” you can show them this video.

Ask a Scientist

This is a cross-section article (health and culture). GMOs are a controversial topic, and perhaps they shouldn’t be as controversial as they are.

I will say that up until last year I was definitely in the anti-GMO camp, until I heard a passionate explanation by science communicator Cara Santa Maria as to why the panic over GMOs is misdirected. She pointed out that yes, Monsanto as a corporation has issues that we need to be aware of (and hold them accountable for), but evil corporation does not necessarily mean evil product/technology (don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, in other words).

Then earlier this year, Bill Nye, another well known and respected scientist and science educator, paid a visit to Monsanto (“Proof he’s the ‘Science Guy’, Bill Nye is changing his mind about GMOs”) to talk to their team of scientists, and he changed his mind:

Nye has actually angered many scientists. Over the years, including in a chapter in his 2014 book “Undeniable,” Nye has suggested that there’s something fundamentally problematic with foods containing GMO crops. He has argued that GMOs may carry environmental risks that we can never rule out with certainty.

Now, Nye seems to have changed his mind. Backstage after an appearance on Bill Maher’s “Real Time,” Nye said an upcoming revision to his book would contain a rewritten chapter on GMOs. “I went to Monsanto,” Nye said, “and I spent a lot of time with the scientists there, and I have revised my outlook, and I’m very excited about telling the world.”

I feel very strongly that it’s important to be able to admit when you were wrong about something, and once you “know better” it is your responsibility to tell people, so I’m glad Bill is doing that, and setting a great example.

Useful Tool

No matter what you’re doing (or trying to do), you will run into snags. You will get stuck and hung up temporarily. There are multiple ways to deal with it when it happens, and different ways work for different people. Recently a friend told me about a new tool called Unstuck for when you’re having a “stuck moment.”

stuck moment

It asks you a series of questions to try and figure out what kind of stuck moment you’re having and then gives you a bunch of suggestions to try to get yourself unstuck. I just gave it a try and actually am very impressed as my result was bang on as far as figuring out why I feel stuck.

I think this can be a very useful tool as the different types of questions it asks gets you to take stock of your situation from multiple angles which can lead you to self-insights or revelations that help give you a new idea for action or direction (even before you get your result). So I recommend giving it a try, it’s free!

Video of the Month

I’m subscribed to a few dozen YouTube channels, and most of them are science/education focused (I like to learn!). One of these channels is Smarter Every Day, and one of the more recent (as of this writing) videos on the channel is “The Backwards Brain Bicycle”.

This video pertains to neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to rewire itself to do things it couldn’t do before. In the video, Destin of Smarter Every Day learns to ride a bike with opposite steering (when you turn the handlebars one way, the wheel turns the other way), and finds it much harder than expected (but does eventually become able to do it).

There are lots of insights in the video so it’s definitely worth watching to make you think!

I can actually relate to his experience because 5 years ago I taught myself to use a computer mouse with my non-dominant hand (because my dominant wrist was seemingly showing signs of carpal tunnel syndrome). The first few months were really slow and clumsy and agonizing because a part of my body just would not do what I wanted to, as quickly and precisely as I wanted. But after a few months it got easier, and faster, and more precise, and I’ve been “left-handing” it ever since. Unlike with the bike, going back to my natural dominant hand isn’t hard, it’s just I no longer have the stamina to do it for long without my wrist getting sore again.

Podcasts

I want to recommend a “Podcast of the Month”, but I realize that I won’t be able to do so for very long because I don’t get into new podcasts very often (for various reasons). As with my YouTube consumption habits, I tend to favor more educational media and I know there are lots of podcasts out there but wading through them to find what I’ll like is a slog.

So I think for now I’ll just mention a few that I rather enjoy and see what you can suggest that are like them. A few current faves — Probably Science (sometimes NSFW), NPR Planet Money, Lexicon Valley, and Common Sense with Dan Carlin (yes I also listen to his other show).

Wrapping Up

I hope you enjoyed the first edition of The Curiosity List! If you did (and even if you didn’t), you can send me feedback. Was it too long? Were certain parts uninteresting? (why?), Did I get a fact wrong? What would you like to see more of? Let me know! And if you have read/watched/heard anything recently that you think would have made a great addition to this, feel free to send it in and tell me why. And you can subscribe here.

I will leave you with a quote that always makes me laugh to myself and remember not to get too caught up in (or dwell on) things for too long:

“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth”
(sadly I haven’t been able to find a source for this)

Stay curious!
Adam Emanon
www.adamemanon.com

The Curiosity Guide To Series, and The Curiosity List

Hello dear reader! I know it has been a while since I’ve updated this site, but I have news!

As you will learn if you read the “about” section, I started this blog as a way to publicly curate information and resources that I thought were important, useful, and interesting. I ran the blog for a year and then a hacker took it offline. Several months later, I uploaded the last site backup to leave it as a museum of sorts, and to my surprise, people are still finding it.

But this post is to update where I’m at and what I’m doing now. I’m still curating, I’m still writing, but doing so in blog form was very time consuming and scattered. In looking back through many of the posts I’ve done on here, I noticed several common threads, and decided to redirect my curation efforts towards ebooks.

The Curiosity Guide To Series

As you may know, I previously compiled and released two “learning guides” – a guide to computer programming, and a guide to Japanese. More recently I released a short new one about superstitions and phobias. Well, I’m officially working on a series of other guides and may be releasing new ones monthly if things go well.

The Curiosity List

While I was reviewing old posts from this blog, and reviewing the “Curiosity Recap” posts, it reminded me that I had been thinking about starting a mailing list in tandem with the blog (so you could choose to get a weekly/monthly “best of” email instead of checking the blog every day), but when the hacker shut me down, I took a break from the whole idea. Now I’m revisiting it, because I’ve gotten some really positive feedback about this site and while I don’t plan to start posting here again, I do want to build a community around positive curiosity. So I’m starting that mailing list, and if you’re interested, you can subscribe.

And of course, i’ll still be publishing new articles on Medium here and there. My latest piece is “Toughness vs Strength”, and continues my trend of writing about empathy.

With that said, enjoy the rest of this blog and stay tuned for my next curiosity guide!

Master Curiosity Recap Post Roundup

Regular readers of this blog know that every 2-4 weeks I would do a post roundup, a master list of all the things I posted about over that time at a glance. Now that the project is done, here is a master list of the master lists. Each roundup typically has around 20-30 links/posts each (tells you how much I posted about).

I will soon be launching an email newsletter which will be a more focused, refined version of what this blog started as. Stay tuned!

Recaps:
Sept 28, 2014
Aug 17, 2014
July 20, 2014
June 22, 2014
May 25, 2014
May 4, 2014
Apr 20, 2014
Apr 6, 2014
Mar 23, 2014
Mar 9, 2014
Jan 5, 2014
Dec 29, 2013
Dec 15, 2013
Dec 1, 2013
Nov 24, 2013
Nov 10, 2013
Nov 3, 2013
Oct 26, 2013
Oct 18, 2013
Each post has relevant/related posts linked at the bottom, so feel free to explore!

Curiosity Recap: Monthly Post Review (Sept 28, 2014)

It’s that time again!

recapsmallAre blue eyes and red hair going extinct? Learn a little bit about genetics
The cure for boredom… I like where this is going – A quote graphic that is right at home here
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: why it really matters – Things get real for a moment, because reality is often better than sensationalism
Watsi: crowdfunding health – A website founded so that you can make donation towards life-saving surgeries, kind of like Kiva for life instead of small businesses
Motion vs Action aka Planning vs Progress on Goals – An article that is a friendly reminder to not fool yourself, planning is good and important, but without action, plans are just plans
How well would your bike lock hold up to a grinder? An article that gives some unfortunate truth about bike safety
Haircuts for the homeless – One man gives back to his community in an admirable way
“Hey, I’m just being honest. That’s how I am!” – If you’ve ever said this to someone, you might want to read this comic
Life without a cell phone – One man goes traveling for 18 months during which he does not have or use a cell phone. These are his insights
Sadness and the Bottle Analogy – Something written by a friend of mine in light of Robin Williams and Depression, that I thought was so well said I had to feature it
One big hockey puck molecule – Science can be very surprising sometimes
In Istanbul you can help feed stray animals with plastic bottles – An ingenius vending machine type device in Istanbul that encourages recycling, and compassion
Creative system for letting your neighbours know what they can borrow – A simple sticker based project from Switzerland that might be helpful to you
Two cool videos of animals being animals – One of the world (sort of) through a dog’s eyes, the other of an animal you don’t see every day
New restaurant staffed exclusively by deaf waiters – Go check out “Signs”, and learn some sign language
Password Myths: your password might not be as secure as you think – Your average 6-8 character password will likely take just a few minutes to crack. Want one that will take over a million years?
Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet – Another quote graphic that resonated so I featured it
More insight for introverts: stimulation – There’s (still) a lot of confusion out there about introverts, here’s a bit more info to help you understand
Repair cafe: community based skills lending – Need something fixed? Want to learn how to do it yourself? This is the place to go (once a month)
Science basics quiz – Wonder how much you remember about science from what you studied in school? Find out
Washoe the Chimp gives us more to think about as humans – Really amazing story of animal intelligence, empathy, and sign language
Insightful quote of the day – Attempting to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth
A science and safety lessons re: microwaves – Why can’t you put metal in a microwave? find out
Heterochromia Iridum aka multicoloured eyes – Ever seen an animal (or person) with two different coloured eyes? Come learn what that’s all about
Want to get more cuddles? There’s an app for that – New app lets you find platonic cuddle partners in your area, since we literally need physical touch as beings and often don’t get it outside of relationships
Political perspective: Liberals and Conservatives really ARE different (but maybe not how you thought) – It comes down to principles and policy
Can’t get no (lasting) satisfaction? Here’s why – Psychology today explains why we always need a goal to work towards
What’s the deal with blood types? If you’ve ever wondered, here’s the answer
Hold your new shiny social network horses – Before you jump on the Ello hype train, this is worth reading
The next evolution of feminism? Taking aim at the Kyriarchy – Oppression is complicated, there are a lot of interlinked, moving parts

Last recap: Aug 17th, 2014

The next evolution of Feminism? Taking aim at the Kyriarchy

Today a friend of mine made the comment (one that I would have very much agreed with him on a year ago) that he doesn’t like feminists/the term “feminism”, because it implies that one side is more important, or should be better off than the other, it doesn’t speak to equality. I wasn’t in a position to easily correct him, but I have since told him I don’t agree.

Last year I felt the same way, mostly because anti-feminists have been so successful at bastardizing and vilifying the term and making feminists out to be raging, hairy, fat, man-hating people. Perhaps it’s a bit similar to how in America, the media has made efforts to vilify the term “liberal”, as out-of-touch hippies who want to give everyone participation medals and welfare for nothing. But I’ve realized that feminism is very important, and it is important to wear the label proudly and defend it whenever and however necessary against these malicious naysayers.

Feminism is definitely misunderstood, something it took me a while to figure out and understand what is really going on. I won’t get into it here (I already dealt with this on my podcast), but I did come across an article a couple of days ago that I do want to highlight and share because I think it will better help make the distinction between what feminism is fighting for and striving to accomplish, vs what the naysayers think/claim it is.

From Everyday Feminism, “Kyriarchy 101: We’re Not Just Fighting the Patriarchy Anymore”:

If you’re familiar with feminism, you’ll have heard of the term patriarchy – the social order that privileges men and oppresses women. It’s a useful term as it gives a name to the institutionalisation of male privilege.

But feminism has moved on from being purely concerned with male privilege.

Intersectional feminism tells us that oppression comes in many different forms. Someone is not simply oppressed or privileged: we can be simultaneously privileged and oppressed by different aspects of our identities.

For example, somebody can be privileged by the fact that they are cisgender, thin, and white, while being oppressed by the fact that they are queer, disabled, and female.

Because of this, we need a word to describe the complex social order that keeps these intersecting oppressions in place.

Kyriarchy is an excellent word for this concept – it is more in line with intersectional feminism, and is not as problematic as the word patriarchy can be.

Kyriarchy 101

The term kyriarchy was coined by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza in her 2001 book, Wisdom Ways: Introducing Feminist Biblical Interpretation. In the glossary, she defines kyriarchy as:

a neologism…derived from the Greek words for “lord” or “master” (kyrios) and “to rule or dominate” (archein) which seeks to redefine the analytic category of patriarchy in terms of multiplicative intersecting structures of domination… Kyriarchy is best theorized as a complex pyramidal system of intersecting multiplicative social structures of superordination and subordination, of ruling and oppression.

In other words, the kyriarchy is the social system that keeps all intersecting oppressions in place.

Many anti-feminists argue (and complain) that feminism is wrong because it only fights to help women and ignores other problems in society, but they make this claim based on incomplete information and improper understanding. Feminism started as a women’s movement, but once they started fighting social injustices that affected them, surprise surprise, they noticed other social injustices that affected others as well, and since they were already fighting the system, they just expanded that fight. (Note, this is not to say I am a scholar on feminism, but I know a few people who pretty much study this stuff constantly because they live it, often being part of several oppressed groups simultaneously, and I listen to what they have to say, and read the articles they share)

An example:

To extend this example, let’s imagine two people: one is a white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied woman. Another is a black, transgender, pansexual, disabled man. According to the theory of patriarchy, the woman would be oppressed and the man would be privileged.

Sure – the woman will experience oppression as a woman, and the man might experience forms of male privilege. But it’s a whole lot more complicated than that.

In this situation, the man would not have control (or economic, social, and political privilege) over the woman. To merely call the man dominant and the woman oppressed without taking any other factors into account would be to erase all the other aspects of their identities.

This is not to say that male privilege can be totally erased because of certain factors. Rather, it means that the way someone experiences male privilege is dynamic and dependent on other identities.

These complexities are something I wasn’t able to see right away, it has taken years of reading, listening, pondering, starting to have the blinders come off slowly but surely to start actually being able to see and recognize this for myself. I had a pretty big personal epiphany about a year ago, that I wrote about because it hit me so hard when it slammed into my awareness. It’s complicated, and that’s why a lot of people have a hard time ‘getting it’.

Oppression is not simply about discrimination. It is about being institutionally and systemically repressed.

Gender-based oppression, for example, is not just about someone making a joke about women belonging only in the kitchen. It’s about women being denied equal access to education, the job market, equal pay, reproductive health services, and legislative equality for centuries.

It’s about women being presented as weak, overemotional, lacking sexual desire, irrational, and superficial by institutions such as the media, education system, politicians, legislation, and commercial groups.

It’s about socializing people to believe one gender is superior while the others are inferior. It’s about the social, political, and economic repression of women.

Oppression is not about isolated incidents. It’s about a number of incidents, habits, culture, and tradition enforcing the domination of one group over another.

Effective anti-oppression movements will view oppression as systemic. These movements take into account the fact that oppression can only be eradicated through radical, holistic change.

We therefore need a name for the institutionalisation of oppression. Feminists often call the institutionalisation of sexism “the patriarchy.”

Mainstream feminism has been traditionally concerned with gender inequality. Intersectional feminism, however, is concerned with all types of inequality. The term kyriarchy is useful as it is therefore more in line with intersectional feminism.

The tricky thing here is that some people will say (and honestly believe) that this isn’t true, because they don’t think anyone is inferior just because they’ve been told so, but it’s not nearly that obvious. There are a lot of subconscious biases that form, and are reinforced over the years, to the point that for many of us (yes, I include myself since I am still working on weeding these biases out), we act on them even if we don’t actually want to, or know we’re doing it. I know I’m particular bad with this when it comes to people who are overweight. The media would have me believe that anyone who is “fat” is lazy, unhealthy, and not a valuable human being. That’s the message I’ve been given my whole life (and it doesn’t help that I’ve had family members who reinforce the validity of that idea). The right thing to do is assess each and every person on an individual basis, but that’s very time consuming and energy intensive, so a lot of us don’t bother. And since many of us have been socially programmed in very similar ways (if we grew up in the same culture), if we get lazy, and fat shame, it’s very unlikely that someone is going to speak up and tell us we’re being inconsiderate.

Anyway, getting back to the article, what does this new term help with?

1. It acknowledges that gender-based oppression is not the only type of oppression that exists.

2. It acknowledges that one can both benefit from and be oppressed by the system.

3. It could suggest why so many oppressed people are complicit in their own oppression.

4. It does not erase people who do not identify as men or women.

5. It acknowledges that oppressions are interlinked.

I remember being dumbfounded earlier this year, when just before the annual Toronto Pride Parade, news broke that festival organizers were giving transgender groups grief and wanted them to have their own separate celebration. Yes, that’s right, the gay community felt it was separate from, and arguably more important than the trans community. Both groups are oppressed, and one is acting to further oppress the others. Similarly, as the fight for gay marriage and rights has raged on in the US, I’ve seen people remark at how the black community hasn’t come more to their aid, since the black community knows what it’s like to be held back by the system.

I happen to be “lucky” (if you want to call it that) that I was born a white male, thin (easy to get and stay “in shape”, though I have been thin-shamed many times), able-bodied, though not completely cisgender (at least not anymore), so I benefit from a lot of privilege. But I’ve always had a social justice spark in me, it has only grown much stronger as I’ve learned about feminism and the various isms of oppression (sexism, ableism, classism, ageism, etc). It has been my goal to learn and to know better, and to try to contribute as minimally as possible to existing systemic oppressions. It’s definitely not easy, especially when a lot of my peers (other white, thin, hetero, cis, middle-class, able-bodied people) haven’t learned to see or understand this stuff, and thus when I raise issue, they react to me as if I’m either “being too sensitive” or worse, “out of my mind”. I’ve had people unfriend me on facebook (at least one anyway) for posting too much about this stuff, and I’ve toned it down, but I can’t be silent. I’m just trying to find better ways to express these ideas and be less militant and radical. Really, it’s just about trying to be a better, more kind human being, and it’s bizarre that some people view efforts to do so, as going unnecessarily out of their way for something they don’t think matters. But it does.

I’ve still got a lot of work to do for myself, but the more I learn, the harder it gets to be complacent. The more I learn to see the ever subtle forms this oppression takes, the more it pains me to be in the minority of people even coming close to acting to stop it. That’s part of why I share these articles on here as well, because I want to pass on the wisdom that helps me know better, so maybe you can too.

One last quote from the article:

It also reminds us that since different oppressions exist, we can fight one form of oppression while perpetuating others.

So, I hope you consider this. Take aim at the Kyriarchy and fight to help everyone. We’re all in this together.

Hold your new shiny social network horses

Over the last few days, my social feeds have exploded with talk of a new social media network “to replace facebook”, called Ello. There have been some concerns with the site’s privacy and other things, but I also read that invites (the site is currently invite only) are being sold on Ebay for up to $500, so this is “hot stuff”.

I’m not here to comment on Ello, since I haven’t used it yet, and am not sure if I actually will. It’s a catch 22, I would actually like to NOT be on Social Media, but have properties to promote, something I don’t do enough of anyway, because I’d rather be producing things than promoting them (and can’t afford a publicist). I am here to share an article I read related to Ello.

A thoughtful gent known to me only as “Mathew” has written “No, I am not interested in joining your proprietary social network”, which I will quote a section of now.

I don’t care if it has a strong privacy policy, I don’t care if it has good security, I don’t care if it has no advertising, I don’t care if it will let you remain pseudonymous, I don’t care if the people who own it are really cool. All of those things are worthless if the site is controlled by a single organization, because they can all be changed on a whim.

Remember, Facebook used to be ad-free, somewhat closed, had no data mining, and didn’t force you to sign up with your real name. Then they decided they had to make money, and their only resource was a captive user base.

Twitter used to be ad-free with no data mining, and it used to be open so anyone could write clients for it. Then they decided they had to make money, and that meant making sure clients showed ads properly, and that meant locking out your favorite Twitter client and showing you posts that nobody had retweeted.

Go back even further into the past, and LiveJournal used to be run by a small team of people who were directly engaged with their user base. Then they sold out to a company who didn’t care, who sold out to a Russian company who were in it for the money.

Make no mistake, this cycle will repeat itself with ello and all the other closed-off single-provider social networks. Servers cost significant time and money to run — I know because I run some. Unless you have an eccentric millionaire or a trust fund to pay for the hosting, as the site grows, sooner or later someone’s going to decide that it needs to pay for itself. In fact, even if you have funding from an eccentric millionaire, you’re still reliant on their whims to keep the privacy and advertising policies you like.

Venture capitalists are not philanthropists. They didn’t lend ello half a million dollars so that it could be run on donations as a not-for-profit, no matter what the founder may say about having unconstrained choices. The fact that ello aren’t upfront about their funding is very telling.

I have received an invite from a friend, and yes, like a good little sheeple in the initial rush of excitement, I did request it, but I have not used it yet. And from the sounds of the people I know who have joined, it’s nothing special yet anyway. Often I jump on these platforms early just to lock down my username so no one grabs it and tries to defame me by posting crap I would never post, but I think you need to be a lot more “famous” than I am, to have to worry about that. At this point, I’m doubtful I will join. Like I said, I just don’t have time for more distractions.

The article goes on to talk about an alternative called Diaspora, which I remember years ago was kind of a big deal (though never seemed to get mainstream attention), and is open source.

It’s called Diaspora. You may have heard of it. It was big for a while, but then people were disappointed with the initial code, and tragically one of the lead developers committed suicide.

Diaspora isn’t as pretty as other social networks. It doesn’t have signup pages making elaborate feel-good promises. It isn’t popular with celebrities. But it works, and you can sign up for it right now, and because it’s open source it isn’t going to be ripped away from you or turned into the next privacy-destroying corporate panopticon. Want to give it a try? Tutorials are available, you can pick from dozens of service providers, and my profile’s public.

I remember the beta taking a really long time to get off the ground, and I think the buzz had long since faded, and the idea of having to create your own server (potentially) to join turned a lot of casual users off (despite the caveat that then yes, you absolutely DO own your own data and call the shots with it).

I did sign up for Diaspora at one point, a long time ago, while they were working on the beta, and yes, it was incomplete, and at the time, kinda boring, because the web wasn’t as rich and content driven as it has become, the people I connected to didn’t post a lot (neither did I), and eventually I just stopped logging back in (according to my email history, January 30, 2012 was the last notification I received from them, so nearly 3 years ago). But maybe it’s time to reconsider.

Anyways, I am posting this mainly because I want people to know that this potential “next big thing” may just be Facebook all over again. It was hot and cool and exciting at first, but then years later, it’s a much different beast that everyone complains about and wishes there was something better. Unfortunately Mathew is right, something I’m being forced more and more to accept – it’s really hard to run a thing – a website or a business – without a profit motive. Running a non-profit as I understand it, is also not for the faint of heart. Maybe if you’re lucky you can find an investor who is truly socialist, but you can’t count on that.

If you’re like me, and you’ve been around the social media block for a while, you may feel similarly. Is it really worth it? Is it just replacing one distracting addiction with another one that seems slightly less lame? Diaspora might not be the perfect solution/alternative, but as I said, it’s worth considering. I have no idea what it’s like now, but I may check back in.