Category: Musings

Slaves of Social Media

The information revolution has marked a shift from simple static websites to Social Media sites where users generate all of the content. This change has allowed people to easier voice their opinions, share their experiences, and nurture their relationships. We all participate in the public debate, no matter if we got something to say or not. However, the opportunity to unfiltered speak our minds through all these different platforms, has given rise to more surrealistic and silly comedic spasms than Monty Python ever could have dreamed of. It’s as if social media are turning us into crackbrained idiots…

But let’s first have a look at what’s really important.

It’s a fact that the digital age has an impact on our sensibility and sensitivity. Social Media cause a reaction in our brain that is much like addiction. We live in our reality-distorting bubble of <likes> while constantly drawing attention to our supposed fabulous life. In the meantime we are often feeling lonely, useless and less than interesting, so – just like an addict – we go out for even more attention. That is why Social Media are so successful.

Some even say that Social Media are to blame for the rise in narcissism. The frequency of Narcissistic Personality Disorder in young adults is now nearly three times as high as it was fifty years ago. People who score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire, tend to have extremely more friends on Facebook, tag themselves more often in photos and update their statuses more frequently. The good news is that more therapists than ever are earning a good living trying to treat these narcissists. The bad news is that narcissists cannot be treated. There isn’t a single therapist out there talented enough to make a real human being out of an arsehole.

 

How much time do you spend daily by looking at your phone?
How much time do you spend daily by looking at your phone?

A clean house is the sign of a broken computer. At present we need an almost heroic self-control to not go after the exposure that the internet is offering. We are always connected, always encouraged to be a part of the network, always linked to humanity, or what’s left of it. We are so self-obsessed that each aspect of our everyday life has to be consistently documented and shared. We are in a constant state of self-display. We gush out the most boring details of our least significant activities, and we all expect everyone to ‘like’ them. We take pictures of literally everything around us and put them on Instagram. We get plenty of ‘hearts’ for every picture we post, as if our photographs were little works of art. It’s just so cool that our creativity is spiking! (Personally, I love sarcasm, but it’s not for everybody.)

We tweet what we believe to be authentic and valuable opinions, while they are mostly stupid ideas. Why are they stupid? Because we do not think long enough, before we post. We press <enter> more quickly than Liberty Valance could ever draw his gun. Why are we constant on the look for retweets and attention, while every 280 words tweet we read feels like a conversation we were trying to avoid? Furthermore, the tweets we so eagerly send out, only generate moronic responses that we feel compelled to reply to. Our Twitter account just needs too much attention and care, making it an enormous time-suck.

Today we spend on average about two hours a day checking three to four social media accounts. This sad state of affairs has led to a worldwide alienation. Not surprisingly the word alienation comes from the Latin word for slave, alienus. We are literally propelling ourselves into internet fame slavery.

One of the atrocities that has come out of this social media fame slavery, is the selfie. A selfie is a trite self-portrait taken by ourselves or a friend with long arms. The pics look exactly the same wherever we are and whatever we are doing, because there’s only just enough room in the frame for our silly grinning faces. Constantly taking selfies and posting them online, trying to control how the public perceives us, can make us care more about our online self than our actual self. We’re delusional if we believe that people actually care about the subtle differences between our Tuesday and Friday facial expression. And another thing: you may be good-looking, but there’s literally no one in the world that needs to see close-ups of your face from 67 different angles. Nobody cares. So – please – stop taking so many selfies.

Many of today’s people are also obsessed with fame. They often believe that they should be rich and famous, regardless if they are talented or not. They are willing to sell their soul for internet fame and have fantasies about red carpets, winning awards, appearing in television shows and being on the cover of glossy magazines. Obviously they haven’t heard about the horrors of being a celebrity. In any case, the current populace of the world has greater desires and expectations than any generation before. Too bad they probably will only make it to flipping hamburgers at McDonalds and end up living pretty anonymous lives. That will at least be one of their little fantasies ruined by real life: that you cannot obtain very much, if you are lazy and spoiled. You want to hear another hard real life fact? It’s not because you work hard, are amazingly talented, put in the time and effort, and stay focused on your goal, that you will achieve the attention you were hoping for.

We are not all happy and beautiful people, successfully pursuing our dreams and being in love with another beautiful, fit, fulfilled person. We are no Kim Kardashian or Kanye West, sitting on our Superyacht, sipping piña coladas. Why do we feel the need to project this fake celebrity-like lifestyle image? It’s as if we fear to be irrelevant and we constantly need to reassure ourselves that we exist, that we are liked and loved. That we are worthy of admiration. We’re as hungry for <likes> as lab rats who are hysterically waiting for the bell to ring.

Bloggers, Vloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, Snapchatters… have often millions subscribers and are usually just as famous as rock stars or actors. While becoming famous used to be a pretty hard thing to obtain, it has now become something very accessible for everyone who has some kind of a so-called ‘original’ idea. The funny thing is that, the more stupid your idea is, the more chance you have to become successful with it. It’s as if being stupid is the new black. That’s why you see so much of the same ridiculous crap surfacing all around. The internet encourages people to copy things that are popular, rather than to create something original and new.

We used to be thinkers, we used to have individual thoughts, while now we are too dumb to bring forth something meaningful. We believe we are some unique main character in a special story, still every Facebook page resembles the next one. Our Facebook News Feeds consist of almost identical copies of boring lives of people we hardly know, living exactly the same life as we are, if we believe the digital version of ourselves that we put on view on Social Media.

We should curb ourselves from posting so much trivial shit. Because, when you’ve seen one smiling baby photo or one cute kitten pic or one magnificent holiday snap, you’ve seen them all. We don’t need to share every sublime sunset (look at it, instead). You have a new lover? Keep it to yourself, at least until you are sure it’s going to last longer than a week. You are afflicted with a serious disease? You truly do not have to share that very personal information with the rest of the world, unless your Facebook crowd consists purely out of close friends, and even then. Just keep in mind that not everything you do must be seen as a hashtagging opportunity.

So… What’s the solution? It’s really rather simple. Don’t put too much importance on your public reputation or image. Acknowledge that it is out of your control. Remind yourself that there is not a direct connection between your image and your actual worth. You will be happier living a genuine life, like when you’re having a romantic dinner, you are not obliged to take a selfie. Remember that society’s reflection distorts like a circus mirror. And try not to gaze into that mirror of public opinion too often. Remind yourself of the value of disconnection, of silence and contemplation, of allowing deeper thoughts to emerge. Tend to your inner garden, to your hidden and better self, to talking face to face to your real life friends, even if that doesn’t get you a thousand ‘likes’ on Facebook.

DLK

© 2018 – David Lee Kollberg

Happiness is a Temporary Emotion

Permanent happiness is marketed as the most important life goal. Companies try to convince us that we can only achieve steadfast happiness if we acquire more stuff to make our lives pleasing and fun. And – as it is fairly easy to accomplish – we willingly rely on this mantra of a purchasable everlasting happiness.

Happy People

They make us believe that, in order to fight the inevitable gloom of an ordinary life, we have to work hard at our self-confidence and ambition. We need to keep our focus on a number of productive and constructive targets, that will make our lives successful and stand out from other people’s miserable existences.

It seems that, in order to be happy, we primarily need a lot of money. If we don’t have money, our biggest pursuit should be to make money. Lots of it. Enough to make all our dreams come true. Still, just as you cannot buy happiness, you cannot achieve it either. It will come to you, sooner or later, or it will never come at all. And when it comes, it never lasts.

Enjoying the simple pleasures in life, however, is not only within our grasp, it also improves our well-being and makes life more enjoyable. While the fanatical pursuit of a lifelong happiness ironically leaves us less happy, having a mindful existence brings us more joy.

Whether it is making brief eye contact with someone of the opposite sex, or we enjoy the first sip of a drink when we are thirsty, or we wake up and realize we have a lot more time to sleep, or we get an unexpected compliment from somebody that we hold dear… These are the things we actually live for. Holding hands with someone we love also ranks high on the pyramid of pleasure. The awareness of how much someone means to us can be quite overwhelming. It may seem obvious when we say it out loud, but love truly is all that matters.

So, to put it mildly, the pursuit of individual happiness by acquiring ‘more’ (as in more things, more status, more money…) is rather silly. The search for happiness is in itself a bit absurd. It is the same like the senseless desire to be taller, or smarter, or more talented. You are, or you aren’t, no matter how hard you try.

We are supposed to view a happy life as the norm, because that will make us buy more stuff and consume more, but the truth is that experiencing deep sadness should be accepted as an important part of life. Without it, true happiness is unattainable.

There is a clear link between the media-overwhelmed world we live in, and the way we perceive our personal growth. There are so many advertisers and retailers fighting for our attention, that we get showered with motivational suggestions to become more happy, and to become excellent as human beings, to make other people envious of the lives we are living.

Salespersons deliberately exploit our most primary insecurities and increase our self-loathing. They make us want to wear trendy shoes and clothes, get our hands on a fabulous car, a beautiful house, an amazing holiday destination… They aspire to make us go to beauty parlors, tanning salons, fitness clubs, and so on. They paint a picture what happiness is supposed to look like, and then they sell us the components of that picture.

And so most people have a bizarre approach towards happiness. Instead of simply accepting a happy life, and trying to make something of it through self-actualization and meaningful fulfilment, we tend to care more about giving ‘the impression to be happy’ than to actually being happy. We worry more about how our lives look on social media, than how they are in reality. That is where most of our joy in life comes from: of the idea that others are conscious of our marvelous life, no matter how fake it actually is.

By hiding our real emotions, we refuse to accept that life can be sad as well as happy, and the more we try to become more happy, the less happy we will feel, since trying to be happy increases the idea that we aren’t happy to begin with.

Wasting time dwelling on the things we don’t have is… well… a waste of time. When we appreciate what we have, we will automatically be more happy. That is why we need to try to live a life of true awareness. We should change the way we look at people, and find the good and beauty in them. We need to see the world in a totally different way, and appreciate and treasure it more, because how we perceive things, is ultimately what defines our level of happiness.

So, as Charles Bukowski’s gravestone says: “DON’T TRY”… Because if you try to do something, you’re actually not doing it…

DLK

© 2017 – David Lee Kollberg

The Flaws That Make Us Fall In Love

We are all born with the idea that our life will go a certain way and that we will be fortunate enough to find someone exceptional to love. We have an indestructible faith that we will meet someone that is our soulmate, and with whom we will spend our entire life with. Even when the odds and statistics contradict us, we keep on having that same dream.

Gradually, however, we learn that not everything lasts forever and that people might leave us, at some point. So, after some disappointments, we start to feel unsettled and insecure and – out of a need to protect ourselves – we begin to find fault in every partner and walk out on the people who come into our life, long before they have a chance to leave us.


Art by Wouter Vandevoorde

Out of the anxiety to be heartbroken another time, we subconsciously create pointless drama to push people away. While we might be under the impression that people always leave us, it is much more likely that we are self-sabotaging every relationship we take part in, simply to protect ourselves from being hurt again.

If no one is ever good enough for us, it is clear that we may have unrealistic notions about what a relationship is like, because being in a relationship is not all roses and fairy dust. We will need the courage to step out of our comfort zone, if we want to find something special and worthwhile, and not something common or boring.

Fighting with your lover is expected. You cannot avoid it. The only thing you can avoid is negative patterns with regards to arguing without a real reason. Having someone in your life who holds you accountable is fantastic. Having someone in your life who is only blaming you for things, it becomes an unbearable burden. The fights you do have, should make you come out stronger. You have to deal with what the other does or says, because you don’t want them to hide for you, and you always want to know where you stand.

If you consistently point out shortcomings in the other, and will find fault in everything they think or do, you will never be happy with that person, as you can’t feel attached to someone if you are always seeing them in a bad light. If you expect them to be perfect, the downfall of your relationship will be unavoidable, because if you look for a reason why you shouldn’t be with somebody, you will surely find one.

The lovey-dovey couples depicted in romantic novels are a figment of our imagination. In the real world we have to keep our jobs, make time for friends and family, and get through the daily grind, which doesn’t always makes us fun to be with. We are not always available for our partner, and this fact alone causes couples to break up, far more often than it should.

It is the unrealistic expectations that ruin our love life. The lesson in reality is often in finding the determination to see that our partners are not only there to please us, and that their world doesn’t revolve around us, but that they need time for themselves, for other people and things, and that this does not automatically mean that they are neglecting us.

When there isn’t enough room in a relationship to just be yourself, to have your quirks accepted, the relationship won’t stand the test of time. So, try not to go against the other for what he or she is and what he or she believes. Don’t try to change them into that perfect lover that you had in mind, as it is very unlikely that you yourself will be the perfect lover to them.

If you believe that – for some reason – someone is not made for you, eventually you are – beyond a doubt – going to end up without them, maybe end up with someone fake, and that is the opposite of what you actually want and need.

It is better to not want somebody perfect, as love isn’t perfect, and people are not perfect. It is not achievable to have a perfect love, just as it is not attainable to be a flawless person.

In a way, it is the flaws that make us fall in love.

DLK

© 2017 – David Lee Kollberg

 

 

Want to be alone? Tell people the truth.

In our hearts we all care too much about offending people. We don’t speak the truth, ever, for fear of pushing people away.

So we hide our satirical hearts under a shell of thoughtless niceness. We put up a façade and water down our sentiments, sugarcoat our ideas, and weaken our standpoints. We talk about people as if they are gifted, and witty, and lovely, in the hope that we might fit in, that people will like us, that a company will hire us and give us that big fat paycheck.

Everybody does it, by the way. Yes, you do it too. You’re not the bohemian you think you are. And, by the way, hippies do it as well. They are not better than us. Just look at Steve Jobs. He was basically an asshole who blatantly lied to us, so he could entice us into buying his fancy phones we don’t need, so we’d be seen as ‘cool’ by people we don’t even care about.

When people say they don’t lie, they are lying. We all follow our social contracts, whether we want to admit it, or not. You tell me I’m clever, I tell you you’re charming and amusing. If I secretly think you are a hypocrite, I will tell you that you are ‘diplomatic’. We develop our people pleasing talents to avoid conflict. That’s how we manage to get along. That’s how pathetic we are.

But that is not the only reason we lie. We need to deceive ourselves a little, just as much as we want to mislead others about how we truly are. We in fact want to come across as ‘nice’. We know what the alternative is, and nobody choses to openly be an asshole or a bitch.

Being impertinent could render us to become very lonely. So, we are polite to people, as that is how we secretly want them to treat us. We are wimps, and we’d better accept it. We would do everything not to be lonely. We cannot say what we think, as loneliness could be our punishment.

Think about your lies. I mean, your life. What does it amount to? Are you cautious with offending people? Have you been able to lie enough to yourself, to make yourself believe that all is going well? That you love your family, that you love your friends? That you love your job, even?

You hate your job. Admit it. You might even hate your family, albeit that this will be harder for you to admit.

We work hard to not tell the truth, or to keep our mouths shut, because we don’t want to drive away everyone who might care for us. That is because we have this delusion that there is anyone out there that truly appreciates us. It is just a survival instinct, because we can’t deal with the idea that there is nobody in the whole wide world who gives a damn about us. I will recap for the slow people: there is nobody out there that gives a shit about you. Better learn to accept it.

We want people to tell us that ‘all is going to be fine’, when things look gloomy. We actually want to be lied to, because the truth disheartens us and a lie is more comforting. These platitudes are killing us. But we want to be killed. Everything is better than being alive and knowing the truth.

That is why we rather have people say “Have a nice day!”, while they don’t actually care, than them being sincere, and look right through us.

The funny thing is that it becomes a knee-jerk reaction. As kids we often tell the truth, calling other children ugly, or stupid, or uncool. Soon we start to notice that this is not taken very well by the one that we say it to. So slowly – ever so slowly – most of us ‘adapt’ and after a while we acquire the skill to say what we want to say in a more subtle way. We fake our entire adult lives, as natural born liars.

That said, I believe we should try to find some balance in the tactfulness. In my experience people do not like it very much, when you treat them like they’re stupid. Basically that is what lying to people is; you deem the person you tell stories to, to be stupid enough to get away with whatever dishonesty you throw at them.

But how can we stop it? How are we going to put an end to this habit of politeness? It has become an inbuilt feature to lie to everyone and to invite others to lie to us. We so much hate the truth, that we have replaced harsh realities with comforting white lies.

Still, would you not expect that in a grown-up society we can be more honest to one another? That we should not need to sweet-talk people, just to get things done or to get some positive attention?

That doesn’t mean that we actively have to strive to offend people. It just means that we should be able to be sincere, to speak the truth, without having to apologize all the time.

Not trying to please everyone should not be seen as a crime against humanity. It should be seen as the greatest compliment, actually.

Because since I’m being sincere and outspoken towards you, it means I respect you and validate your intelligence.

Simple as that.

DLK

© 2017 – David Lee Kollberg

The Stupidity of a Lap Dance

I know there is randomness and chaos in the universe, but some things should be straightforward, no? Shouldn’t it be common sense to steer clear of unsatisfactory things like a lap dance?

Men only have so many erections in a lifetime. Why waste one on a lap dance? I mean; you can look, but you cannot touch? I mean; you can touch, but that’s it? How can that be satisfying? It seems to me that strippers are only there to get men all excited and then they send them home with a pocket rocket the size of an eggplant.

Okay, I know that people get what they get, they don’t get what they actually deserve or want, but a fucking lap dance? Really? Who deserves one of those?

I must admit that I have never understood the concept. You pay quite a lot of money for someone to dance half naked for you. To ride your horse. Through your pants. Not staying on the horse until you finish. But it should in some weird parallel universe be gratifying? I can tell you this. The only thing a man feels after a lap dance is utterly disappointed.

So. We had the degrading thing about ‘women being seen as an object’. How would you describe a man who pays good money to have him all aroused but not satisfied? Do you see how he is treated like an object? How he basically is emasculated commercially? Not to mention he is not getting the best deal? Why would anyone be happy with this agreement? Do you understand what it means to have blue balls and to have to walk around with them?

Maybe I won’t win the “feminist of the year” award with my remarks, but let’s be honest. A lap dance is something only idiots would agree to. And yes, the idiots are the men. So, good for you, women! You have dealt with the masculine exploitation in a very effectual way. These ‘lap danced men’ are being sent back onto the street completely unfulfilled, which of course makes this world a far safer place. Especially to women.

DLK

© 2017 – David Lee Kollberg

I’m Too Fucking Old For This…

My mind refuses to understand that I’m 50+. It will feel like it is 27 forever. Yet my body is fully aware of my age. People tend to lie to themselves and say that they are cool growing older. I’m not. It sucks to get older. My body is aching all the time.

Sparkles of Energy
Sparkles

The one good thing about getting older is that there are an increasingly number of things that I can’t bother about anymore.

Like accepting invitations to venues I don’t want to go to. Years ago I used this “convenient excuses list”, when now I just tell people flat-out that I don’t feel like going. After a while they start to admire this kind of blunt response. They realize I am getting older and grumpier every day and understand my inbuilt reluctance to come to their festivities. Often, as a sign of their deep respect for my honesty, they don’t even invite me.

Aside from my underwear, changing my clothes every day isn’t important, anymore. Shirts will be worn two days in the summer and three days in the winter, before washing them. Jeans will be okay until they start to cause a rash on the legs or it is starting to show that they are dirty. Except, jeans never really get dirty, do they? They do start to smell after a while, though, so when people start to behave as if I am dragging a dead animal around, it is usually my cue to put jeans in the laundry. Lately I tend to avoid laundry altogether by embracing a nudist lifestyle.

Life’s too short to read bad books. Sometimes it is clear from page one that a book will not be able to entice me. When a book is boring, poorly written and pretentious, it is basically not worthwhile to be read beyond page 20. Depending on the font that was used, the letter spacing and the amount of dialogue, it is downright mind-numbing to keep on reading a mediocre book past page 20. Especially when the prose is repetitive or repetitive.

As much as I hate reading bad books, I love watching killer TV shows from morning to night. To watch episode after episode of a favourite TV show makes me happy, and you won’t catch me being ashamed about it. Yes, it has happened that I have spent an entire weekend lounging naked on the couch, with Chinese take-away, bags of potato chips and a big carton of red wine, watching for the nth time all five seasons of Breaking Bad. Binge watching might be considered an asocial activity, but becoming more asocial is not a big worry of mine.

I’m no longer willing to act like someone has a valid point, just to make them feel good. Even if their point is valid, I will fire all kinds of irrelevant phrases at them, like “You are being very defensive” or “Did you get this information on Facebook?”, just to shut them up. Another technique I often use is to compare them to Hitler. When somebody is obviously right and I cannot come up with an immediate response that makes sense, I will reply with “That sounds almost like something Hitler would have said.”

My house is a mess. When you get older you are able to tolerate that not everything is squeaky clean. Since I’m not having many guests over, there’s really no need to keep my home clean and organized. Yes, I guess I’m a bit of a slob, but voluntarily wasting my precious time on cleaning the house is really not my thing. When drinking some more gin & tonics, the house looks a lot cleaner.

I’m fed up with people telling me that my ‘positive attitude’ is going to save the day. It won’t. Positive thinking had kamikaze pilots wearing helmets, while it was obvious that wearing a helmet while crashing your plane into a cast iron ship, would not be very effective. A serious illness is not going to heal by itself, just by having an optimistic stance. At the end of the day we are all floating around in this cosmic soup called life, and it won’t matter how convinced we are that things will turn out fine: they will, or they won’t.

Usually it doesn’t take me very long to realize if I like people. I used to give the insupportable people a second chance, considering that my first impression of them might have been wrong. It turned out that first impressions are seldom wrong. And even if they were, I wasn’t going to spend time finding out. Sometimes people are just assholes. Sure, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find something good in everybody. That said I have not the ambition nor the time to look for the hidden charm in people.

What are you too old for?

DLK

© 2017 – David Lee Kollberg