Sometimes I think I just need someone to punch me in the face and tell me to shut up
shoomness AT gmail DOT com
Technology writer. Geek. Student. Melbourne, Australia
The sick thing is that these companies are selling to those who are less fortunate. I really think that manufacturing a product that you know is killing people should be against the law and that you should prosecute those who do it. It’s murder like anything else.
Confusion and clutter are the failure of design, not the attributes of information.
Sometimes I think I just need someone to punch me in the face and tell me to shut up
Every year is a stepping stone, and we always like to think that we’ve moved up. Sometimes the steps are steep, crooked or a little unstable. Sometimes we think we’re going to fall and slip through the cracks. Of course we never do, every year we grow and learn a little more - and the sad truth is that we don’t always come out of them better people, but we always come out of them a fraction wiser. Hopefully, we take those lessons we learn to make the next year better than the last.
It never really feels like we grow though. When the year’s a rough one, all the rough patches make it feel like we’ve taken a step back - a wasted year perhaps, like it would’ve been better if we hadn’t lived it at all. It feels like we did fall through the cracks.
2013 was a bit like that for me. It’s 11pm and I’m sitting in the heart of Chinatown penning these little thoughts because I don’t want to go home. Because home is too comforting - there’s no summer nights chill, no drunken Monday night nomads and no odd flickering street lanterns to distract me from the fact that I have nothing figured out and that I’ve hardly solved any of the problems from a year ago. Maybe I’ve even given myself some new ones. No matter what I do, nothing changes the fact that I’m sitting here, alone in the middle of everything, looking back 365 days and realising that I’m no better. That I’ve moved miles in a year but remain right where I started.
But it’s shockingly ungrateful of me to treat 2013 like a waste of time. It tried so hard sometimes and many times the world was kind enough to reward it for its efforts. I played in a band, I ran a mock business, got over a girl and met a new one. 2013 had its moments and these moments alone certainly make 2013 a worthwhile year. Sadly though, I’m not immensely proud of anything achieved this year, not because I didn’t achieve anything but because I had bigger things in mind at this exact time last year. 2013, a year relegated to deserved mediocrity.
I guess that illustrates the power of the underlying economics of society, and how fairly it actually treats people. We get out what we are willing to put in. Society reward hard workers, sooner or later. Society rewards nice people, compassionate people. The year treats you well if you give it enough to work with, and demand it do something with it. Maybe the accolades don’t come immediately, but it’s a test of character as much as it is of merit. The world rewards noble pursuit as much as it rewards patience and perseverance.
That’s the biggest lesson I’ll take out of 2013. It’s a powerful one, derived from a year of jubilation, disappointment and a constant, lingering anticlimax. Hopefully it will give me the strength to become person I want to be, or at least the security to be comfortable with not being what society seems to want to mould me into, a sculpture that will never fully resemble my shape. Hopefully it gives me the resolve to fight the animals within me shackling me to the constant, mundane disappointment of my mental state. They’re getting old. Hopefully it gives me the courage to never let go of the people who matter regardless of how much of a struggle it is to hold onto them, and to let go of those who don’t. Even if the people that matter only number 3, or 2, or 1. Or even none, it’s never too late to start again.
So my New Year’s resolution isn’t really anything this year. Nothing specific, because I guess I’ve come to the realisation that the crushing ritual of New Years Eve evaluation is a poor but acceptable excuse to change and do things that we should be doing all the time.
So I don’t have one, not really. If anybody asks maybe I’ll tell them that it’s just to be a better me. Not a version of me that is easy for other people to appreciate, but one that I can love. Because there are many important people in our lives, but none more so than ourselves. For years, I’ve neglected my most important love affair. It’s battered, bruised and broken in so many ways, but I thank my lucky stars that this is one that will never leave me.
Or maybe, the goal is to create a version of me that is essentially capable of loving itself in the first place, regardless of whatever that person is. Or maybe it’s a bit of both.
But this is not a New Year’s resolution, because this journey never starts and it never ends. The perennial love story perhaps. Thank you 2013 for all that you’ve given me, all that you taught me and all that you kept from me. And 2014, I don’t know what you’re going to be like - whether you’ll be my friend or my enemy, let’s hope it’s the former - but thanks for the mad invitation anyway.
The worst kind of sadness is a remote kind - somewhere deep enough that it’s hard to acknowledge exactly what it is, yet present enough to have a very real and lasting impression. It’s there all the time, changing things, making you feel things - bad, sad and miserable things
The worst kind of sadness is like a cloud blocking the sunlight, because it is not painful in the same way that a very forceful course of action like a papercut in the webbing between your fingers or a blow to the jaw is. It is painful in the way that a thunderstorm keeps you inside, when everything beautiful you know is outside.
The worst kind of sadness isn’t an event, or a moment, it’s a state of being.
I’ve always been good at hiding my feelings. At best, I’m a glossy veneer over a brittle piece of wood, at worst I’m inconspicuous enough for people not to wonder. And for the most part, my life has been like that too, my problems hidden beneath a layer of gloss, paint and high-shine spray - just enough for me to be able to ignore them, or keep them on the very edges of my periphery where they aren’t calling me, telling me to feel upset. But what do you do when that goes away? When time wears away that fake veneer, or circumstances change and you run out of things to keep you distracted and sane.
It’s a jarring and terrible state of being, when the things you spent years relying on to distract you from everything that is wrong with you is taken away. To live in a world that hinges on distraction is dangerous, it’s unsustainable because we are bound inevitably to run out of things to keep us from feeling ourselves.
Maybe we’ll be reminded of things in the evening, after a draining day that leaves us too exhausted to think about anything else. Then we’ll try to sleep it off, a part of us hoping that we never wake up so we can avoid the reality of the evening before. But we will wake up, earlier than we want to. We’ll get up at 6 in the morning when we wanted to sleep all day and our hearts will puncture at the sight of sunrise because it’s all real, and it’s happening all over again.
I’m feeling like I’m about to go mad again, at a time when I least wanted to. Because things don’t seem so bad. Actually, for the first time in a long time things aren’t meant to be bad at all. But nothing mattres, because this is the worst kind of sadness. The kind of sad that makes the beautiful seem putrid and the putrid seem normal. Because whatever we do we can’t escape the shadow that is cast over us - too big a cloud and too small a sun. And we know there’s something wrong, when we would rather sleep, and sleep forever rather than wake up.
But I just can’t run away from it. In a world where cars are fast and planes fly high, we can still never run away from ourselves. No. This is the worst kind of sadness, and the only thing to do is to find something to distract ourselves from everything. Inside and out.
A feeling I got from working at Google was that technology could solve any problem. Yes it’s fantastic, but what I realized later was there’s technology and there’s people. Google had its list ordered: Technology. People. And I think the right order is: People. Technology. You have to think about people first and technology second. Hopefully technology gets out of the way.