Social Technology: Part 1

Can you imagine having to wait a day or more to talk to a friend or family member? It’s now easier than ever to strike up a conversation with anyone at any time thanks to modern technology. Social media and cell phones have made it possible to communicate with anyone in an instant and on the surface this seems to be nothing but a good thing, but is it possible that these advances have done more bad than good? Has growing up being constantly connected to everyone around us made us take them for granted?
imagesThe other day I was visiting some friends and during my visit, one of them was sitting down and sending out belated Christmas cards. As she was writing in the addresses for all these people, she questioned why we still write out cards every year. She was saying this sarcastically of course, but it did get me thinking of the value of a meaningful message; One that takes more than ten seconds and requires more effort than a few taps of our thumbs.
drawn_christmas_cardWe still value a nice handwritten note, and why? Because it means whoever wrote it took the time to carefully write out their thoughts the old fashioned way, slow and steady. It means they took the effort of taking their time writing, finding an envelope and stamp, and going out to mail it. To some, this is outdated and pointless, but to anyone that is the least bit sentimental, it means a hell of a lot more than a text or a Facebook message.
letter_writingSpeaking of Facebook, let’s take the focus off from snail mail and onto social media. I’m on Facebook, you’re on Facebook, our grandmothers are on Facebook..hell, more than likely your place of business is on Facebook. It’s everywhere now and it is here to stay. And what’s not to love? It’s a social hub that connects you to everyone and everything that you know and love.. but that is exactly where it is destructive. With our ability to stay in constant communication with other people, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have made us taken peoples’ availability for granted and have made conversation much less meaningful. Sometimes I find myself at a loss for words when I run into someone I haven’t seen in awhile because either A) I already know how they’ve been thanks to the internet, or B) We’ve already chatted so much online that now when conversation really matters in person, we have nothing left to say.
169502-1ozloe1387544313They say body language is something like 60-80% of conversation and that’s all lost when we talk to people solely through social media. Like all things, conversing through social media should be in moderation. Don’t forget to spend time in person with people too when you can, and try not to take anyone’s time for granted!

This is one of many segments on social technology I will be writing about this week, so stay tuned for more!

Game-Changing Opportunity

It used to be commonplace for me to get a call on my phone or a message on Facebook from a group of my friends to come over for a game night. We would play a bunch of board games, with some video games thrown in for fun. One of our favorite board games to play was Upwords, a game very similar to Scrabble. One day I laid down a 7 letter word and shouted “Gamechanger!” Ever since, that has been a common word/inside joke that we all say for small moments in our lives that bring change. Gamechangers come in all shapes and sizes, but today I wanted to focus on the major changes in your life that, once they occur, you immediately feel it inside and the choice is yours to make; Will you make a significant change/take a risk in your life and step out of your comfort zone of routine for a chance for yourself to grow?IMG_2648
We have all been in that position before: We get invited to a party with hardly anyone you know; We have the opportunity to change careers to better accommodate our passions; etc.  Some of these situations are more dire and require a faster response, but all are important to the betterment of yourself. Usually, the strongest signal of a major decision is that “gut feeling” you get in the pit of your stomach. Now, this is highly dependent on the situation, but in most cases, go with it! This is a common theme in my posts, but stepping outside your comfort zone is absolutely essential for personal growth.
Comfort-Zone
I have had a handful of opportunities like that in my past where I just instantly became uncomfortable and back then, my automatic response was to hop back in my bubble and turn down everything that came my way. I would find excuses almost as easily as I could tell truths because it was so common in my life. To me, I didn’t have the mentality I do now and I certainly was not thinking on a large-scale, self-growth perspective. It wasn’t until I turned about 19 that I decided to start saying yes and expanding my horizons beyond the small circle of people/places that were familiar to me. This was a fantastic time in my life and I experienced a lot of new things and opened my mind by starting to say yes and agreeing to opportunity.
151078_161169173920892_1569953_n
It wasn’t long after this time in my life that I stumbled upon my favorite non-relationship quote of all time by Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness; and many people need it solely on these accounts. Broad, Wholesome, Charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime” It was no coincidence that this mentality crept into my life at this turning point. The way I interpreted it, the quote works well beyond traveling the world. The people we meet, places we go, things we see, life we experience… all these things can apply to this state of mind.
97n/24/huty/7252/18
Do yourself a favor: Next time you have one of those moments, remind yourself that what you are feeling is a natural resistance to change, but change is exactly what you need to experience your dreams and for your life to fall into place exactly how you want it to. Positive thinking and a confident attitude will help you say yes and to open new doors so you will eventually expand your mind to the point where change is accepted, and let me tell you, it’s a beautiful thing.

Regrets

What’s up people? I hope everyone had a great Christmas and got to spend a lot of time with friends and family. With 2013 coming to an end, I hope everyone takes the time to identify ways to make 2014 even better. I am bound and determined to make 2014 the best year I’ve ever had. Writing is something that I’ve always loved doing and something I’ve always had a knack for so I am extremely happy I now have this as a medium to both express myself and improve on my passion. I’d also like to take this time to thank you all for taking the time out of your day to check up on my posts. I have heard a lot of positive feedback and it makes me feel fantastic to know how many people are supportive of what I am doing. Together we can ensure 2014 will make The Pursuit of Betterment explode. I’d love to see this get huge!

For the past few days, I’ve been thinking hard about what my next post was going to be about. I had a bunch of concepts floating around in my head, but only one in particular kept popping up and that was the topic of living with regret. On several occasions and among a handful of friends, the conversations we had kept ending up going towards the topic of regret. Whether or not this was a subconscious thing that I did, I’m not sure, but I do have plenty of buddies who aren’t afraid to get real.

I used to be one of those people who attempted to follow the ever popular “no regrets” lifestyle. It was very hard because, though most of my life I have done everything by the book, there have been a handful of choices I have made and actions I have taken that have proven to negatively effect both myself and others around me. Sure, there have been other not-so-bad mistakes that ultimately did not altar my timeline or hurt anyone else that is more than acceptable to shake off, but everyone has those few (or more, for some of us) mistakes that are too heavy to not regret.

Recently I came across an article (or a video, I sadly cannot remember) that very briefly mentioned regret and how you would have to be a jerk to not regret some things. I feel that is definitely true! I’ve hurt people, betrayed their trust and have lost friendships… there’s no way I’m going to just toss those decisions in the “I don’t care, it made me who I am today” bin. While I have already discussed the importance of not dwelling on the past, it’s always beneficial to remember the mistakes you made so that history does not repeat itself.

I feel like many of the people who are living the “no regrets” lifestyle are looking for an excuse for their behavior, rather than standing up, being a good person and admitting fault. It could be that they have never made a mistake of that caliber but we are all human, right? Who am I kidding, we are living in the generation of YOLO (though thankfully, that seems to be fading) where we seem to have skewed the meaning from “live life to it’s fullest” to “Let’s do dumb things because we’re young and we can, and it’s okay because Drake”

Regret is a perfectly natural response to our mistakes in life and no one is immune from it. Be a better person and admit when you do something wrong, and make your decisions wisely, with both yours and others well beings in mind. Opportunities hit you all the time in life, and some are so strong you know they’re life-altering the moment you’re faced with the choice to go through with it or not… but that is tomorrows post.

regret

The Night Before the Night Before Christmas

Hey guys, Merry Christmas Eve Eve! No article tonight, but I wrote a poem to get you thinking about the true meaning of Christmas. Enjoy :)

It was the night before the night before Christmas
And all through the stores
All the slackers were shopping
For the gifts their kids asked for
WalMart was packed
Target was a mess
Every place that they went
Gave them more and more stress
The best deals were sold out
The TV’s missing too
“Should have shopped on Black Friday”
Were the thoughts of a few
Two fathers were betting
Pitting son against son
To see who would come out
With the last Xbox One
So much hustle and bustle
Not using brains over braun
There would be far less blood
If they had just used Amazon
But maybe that’s what Christmas is about
Who cares what is “right”
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good fight

– Commercialism.

Utopia vs. Dystopia: The Choice is Yours

It used to be that people progressed with future generations in mind. In the construction of huge, intricate buildings and monuments, the foundation was laid for the children to build the walls, grandchildren to furnish, and great-grandchildren to enjoy. It seems to me that along the way we have decided that what is most important is the here and now. This huge movement of “living in the present” puts a cap on our way of thinking if you ask me. I’ve already touched upon this subject in my first post, “Forward Thinking” but we seemed to have lost the meaning behind the importance of thinking ahead. I often see “thinking ahead” criticized as not being in the here and now and not enjoying the moment. On the contrary, I believe we should always be in that frame of mind, be thinking about the consequences of our actions and especially the impact it will have on other people. In our society’s advancement, we seem to be oddly focused on ourselves. Instant gratification and commercialism are both fine examples of this. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to say that our generation is not important. I’m just pointing out that it would do us a world of good to think about future generations.
Sustainable energy is a very pressing issue right now that you rarely see the media report on. It’s common knowledge that our oil is being used up, it certainly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that fossil fuels are completely unsustainable. Our generation needs to take a more active role in ensuring that our children and our children’s children will not wind up with an energy crisis. It’s fantastic to see more and more wind power being utilized by school systems across Maine and across the entire United States for that matter, and to see people close to me actively getting educated to ensure a  sustainable future for us.  (Shout out to my buddy Keith Crogan)
I was watching the Science Channel for a good part of my morning and they were doing some sort of marathon on science-fiction authors who are now considered visionaries for their prophecies of the future. H.G. Wells, Ridley Scott and Philip Dick were among those spoken of. All of these people had the ability to look at the pressing issues and advancements in science in their time and think of ways those concepts could evolve to either potentially harm us, or do us more good. The major difference in these men were their tendencies to refer to a Utopian future or a Dystopian future.
The way I see it, the deciding factor of where our world will be 50/100/1000 years from now will always lie in the hands of the living generation. If we stick to the way of  thinking that the media wants us to think, we will without a doubt head into dystopia. There will be complete self-destruction in our society if we do not start thinking about our children. I’m 23 and single, but nearly every day I try to make progress to better myself to be able to provide for my future family. It’s a hard road in this period of time because we are already on a downward slope. What we need is to band together and empower each other to live our lives in the hopes for a better tomorrow.
As a final thought, I came across an organization called They Shall Walk in my journeys on the Science Channel today. To quote its website’s About page, “(They Shall Walk) was founded to give the gift of walking, raise awareness of paralyzed and other disabled persons, improve their quality of life through technology, provide for the needs of mobility impaired, (and to) provide educational opportunities for students, teachers, mentors and schools.) It was founded by a former military man named Monty K. Reed when he was told that he would be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life, that it was permanent, and that he should “just accept it”. Never the quitter, Monty did his research and created, no joke here, an exoskeleton lifesuit to assist him in his walking. Over a decade later, he continues his work to help the lives of others with his problem. You can view the official website here, and be sure to like their page on Facebook here. Now if that isn’t progress with others in mind, what is? :)

utopia_dystopia_by_haru204-d32psrv

Stop Barking, Start Biting!

Confession time: I absolutely cannot stand people who constantly complain! Whether it’s personal, work-related or what have you, it’s never anything that anyone wants to hear. There are two different types of complaints: Personal and Non-Personal. Personal complaints are those which you direct towards yourself, the things that, for the most part, you can change. Non-Personal complaints are those directed externally that have nothing to do with you or your well-being. You’re wasting your time complaining about anything, but some things are just pointless to worry about.
I feel like this generation has been coddled. For the most part, we have been raised to treat others the way we would like to be treated and to not hurt anyone’s feelings. While rules like these are great, I feel like we have taken them to an extreme. People are less apt to tell you the truth because they are worried about hurting your feelings, even if the truth is something you need to hear. I say this in relation to personal complaints and self-degradation. If someone comes up to me and says, “I’m so fat”, I am very likely to say something along the lines of, “Well, if you feel that way, identify areas in your daily routine that would promote weight gain and replace them with physical activity and proper diet.” Of course, I’m a much better writer than I am speaker, so that wouldn’t come out nearly as eloquently, but the point would still get across…hopefully. Does this make me a jerk? If you ask our generation of over-protected, sensitive people, yes. It seems to be no longer acceptable to offer advice, even if it is said with the best of intentions. Don’t focus on the negatives about yourself, identify your strengths and rock them. Never forget areas where you can improve, however. If you are unhappy about yourself in any way and you can change that, stop talking and start doing!
The other form of complaints as I mentioned before, are non-personal. Truthfully, these are the complaints that are most destructive to your mental health and even those around you. If you don’t like something in your life, that is your problem. That involves no one else but you and is no one else’s responsibility to change. If you do not appreciate someone else’s presence, leave if you must. There is no need to put your dislike onto anyone else and make a situation out of it. Focus less on what others should change about themselves and instead, assess your own reasoning behind your opinions and decide whether or not the problem lies within yourself because odds are it does.

If it doesn’t make you smile, there is no need to dwell on it! Put some positive action in your life.

Hiker-on-top-of-mountain

Music: The Most Powerful Form of Expression

Let’s cut to the chase. Music. You love it, I love it, everyone loves it. No matter who you are or where you come from, anyone can appreciate a tune. From listening leisurely to rekindling brain function (yes, its that powerful) music has a way of evoking emotion, bringing out long-lost memories, and even uniting us. It is passion at it’s finest. It is the most powerful form of expression.
I’ve always loved music. Some of my earliest memories are of standing in front of the TV singing along to such classics as Sesame Street’s “Rubber Ducky” and the one song that inspired me to learn the saxophone, “Put Down the Ducky“. Today, it wouldn’t be surprising to see me on Spotify or Youtube searching for new music and updating my playlists. To me, music is the fastest and most effective way to deal with stress as it helps me realize that in the end, none of the bad even matters (Sup Linkin Park?)
A great thing about music is that, across the many genres there are, you can always find at least one aspect of any genre that you can appreciate. If I had to choose a favorite genre it would have to be modern folk because of the deep meaning behind the lyrics, but I also listen to a lot of rap, rock, pop, punk and yes, even the repetitive genre of EDM. All of these genres bring so much to the table that it astounds me how many people choose one or two and hate on the rest. I mean, it’s like you’re sitting at the table on Thanksgiving and there’s a delicious pot of rap, a steaming plate of folk, aromatic punk, and sweet EDM for dessert….and you just take one! No way! To really be an audiophile, you need to indulge in everything. Stimulate your mind and embrace the meaning behind every song. Look for the good and stop hating!
Did you check out that snippet of video I linked earlier about Henry? No? Well do it. Okay, wasn’t that incredible? Sit back and think about that for a second. This elderly man who is in a very deep stage of Alzheimer’s reverses his condition in a sense and gives him the ability to once again interact with the world around him. Music, seemingly nothing more than a brief auditory experience, did more for this man than any pharmaceutical company ever could. He is once again connected to his past and with it, his memories. After watching a miracle like this, how can you not be passionate about the world’s best drug?

“It gives me the feeling of love, of romance…I feel the band of love and dreams”

Brain_Waves

Self-Importance

     A recurring topic I find bouncing around in my cold-ridden head today is self-importance. Something very admirable in people is their sense of belonging and their ability to understand and demonstrate their strengths. Too often, in my opinion, people seem to be too afraid to put their deserved value in themselves in fear of being viewed as self-righteous, or a product of low self-esteem. Everyone has so much to offer and it would be quite amazing to see everyone embrace that fact, and not see them hide away their true colors or hold back a great idea because they don’t think it’s good enough. You are your biggest critic! 
     This is a topic that hits close to home because through all of my childhood up until college, I was a very introverted guy. I struggled with self-esteem issues, as practically everyone does in that period of their lives, and I thought that I was bottom tier and that I wasn’t even good enough to identify myself as anyone who fit the standards of my high school. I was too lazy for the smart kids, too uncoordinated for the sporty kids, and too shy to do any sort of extra-curricular activities and I failed miserably at the few I tried. I felt sorry for myself for the majority of my life, up until about 2010, and that was when I realized all this time I was being selfish. One day it hit me like a ton of bricks…shyness is a form of selfishness. Think about that for a second: When you are shy you are constantly thinking about you, you, you. What will they think of me? What if I mess up? What if I’m not good enough? So you withdraw yourself from your surroundings and instead of even trying anything, you stand back and watch everything pass you by. Pulled off to the side of the road, emergency lights on, letting everyone else speed by you. Staying in the same place you have ever been and ever will be while everyone else is progressing and bettering themselves. Not giving yourself the chance to try anything new.
      I find that people wrongly accuse others of being full of themselves, when in fact many times in my experience, the accused is confident in their abilities, no matter what they may be, and willing to display that confidence. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a difference between displaying confidence and walking around with your nose in the air, snubbing everyone else. I think what it boils down to is respect. Respect for not only yourself, but for others around you as well…and that makes all the difference.
     I’m certainly not writing this in an attempt to berate introverts, it’s never my intention to bring anyone down, especially through my writing. I just feel as though many people who identify themselves as introverts are holding something back from the rest of the world and can potentially make a huge difference in many peoples lives if they open up a little more. 
     Internal strength and confidence are the most magnetic traits anyone can have in my opinion, so let loose and be yourself…because you have plenty to offer the people around you. Show your strengths, and don’t be afraid of judgement! A smile and a compliment make a lasting impression on anyones day. You can do AMAZING things once you believe you have the capability to do so.                               Image

Forward-Thinking

A friend showed me a video earlier of an interview of Childish Gambino. Several great points were brought up that had me thinking long after that replay button popped up, one of which was forward-thinking. He mentioned how everyone seems to be “afraid to move on”, and how the internet seems to be very focused on nostalgia, as opposed to new concepts and ideas.
My immediate reaction to this was quite minimal, as I viewed it as obvious. We see Buzzfeed articles all the time about how great the 90’s were, and how awesome certain things in our past were and how we should bring them back. I then got to thinking deeper about the subject and realized that if people spent their time and effort thinking about progress, rather than dwelling on the past, they would be a lot more productive and be putting their thoughts to better use. What was so great about these things from the past? List them out. Meld the greatness of the past with the potential of the future.
A common trait among talented people is foresight. These people focus on bettering themselves every day and take the knowledge of the past and apply it to current situations. They become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Like Childish was getting at in the interview, people are afraid to break out of their own norm. How do you expect to better yourself if you are too set in your own ways? Letting your fears decide your fate is putting yourself on the fast-track to failure, or at the very least, monotony.
The hardest part of any project, at least in my experience, is starting it. I have always been known to get lost in my own thoughts, and the reason for that is because I am always thinking of new ideas. It’s like I cannot shut that part of my mind off, and in situations like when I am at work, it can be destructive. I’ll write the best ideas down on a notepad and go about my day, with full intentions to get back to that idea or concept and explore it in my free time, but I never do. I end up getting caught in the day-to-day routine because it is comfortable and familiar. If I took the time to think…really think about my future, I would decide to put the monotony aside and get started on a new project.
Everyone can benefit from forward-thinking, and if we stop spending all of our time focusing on the past and redirect that energy into not only our future but the future of humanity, everyone would be much happier.
childish-gambino-thundercat-debut-shadows-on-the-arsenio-hall-show