Last year, the pandemic was more ‘annoying’ to me and my family than damaging to our health or finances. So, if there’s one thing that 2020 showed me, it was my privilege.
I turned 40 in December, which means I’m now inescapably middle-aged. I’m also a straight, white, male. Thankfully, somewhat unrelated to the pandemic, I also spent 2020 learning a bunch of things about myself and how I relate to others. This happened primarily through CBT, research and learning around the Black Lives Matter movement, and doing some work around Nonviolent Communication.
My two biggest takeaways from the above were:
- I don’t need to have an opinion about everything. As Marcus Aurelius said, “We have the power to hold no opinion about a thing and to not let it upset our state of mind—for things have no natural power to shape our judgments.”
- I should stick to only discussing my own experiences and context. I have no idea of the internal world of others, and how things which seem major/minor to me might be minor/major to them.
I guess this is a lo-fi version of Hume’s fork. In other words, there are statements that can be made about ideas (which are either true or false by definition) and statements that can be made about the world (which are true or false based on experience).
Over the last six months, I feel that there’s been a shift in my writing here since starting the #100DaysToOffload challenge. This has been incredibly useful in weaning me off assertions meant to provoke a response from others towards more introspection and self-documentation.
This post is Day 80 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com.
Every December I update the Start here page on this blog with the five most popular posts from that year. In 2020, I haven’t been gathering stats as much, as part of a drive to ensure I’m my authentic self.
So what to do? Stop the tradition, which dates back to 2006? I don’t want to do that, so, instead, I’m going to share my favourite posts from this year. These are the ones that have meant to the most to me and I’ll share 10 here and to five, as usual, on my Start here page.
Without further ado…
- Letting go of my pre-pandemic self — the pandemic, coupled with the therapy I’ve undertaken, and reflections on my undergraduate Philosophy days, made me realise that I don’t need to be the same person I used to be.
- 3 advantages of consent-based decision making — Outlandish, a co-operative I worked with during the latter half of this year, use consent-based decision making. Here’s why it’s so useful.
- The auto-suggested life is not worth living — this year in particular has seen a rise in products and services prompting us with responses. As humans, we shouldn’t be aiming for full rationality.
- Remaining unmanaged — I’ve always had an anti-authoritarian streak, and that’s only increased as I’ve matured. Working with, but outside, regular organisations seems to suit me best.
- What I do when I don’t know what to do — I don’t find myself in this position often, but when I do, here’s the three steps I take to get back on track.
- Practice what you preach — this year I switched theme on this blog to one that is much lighter and less resource-intensive. The stimulus to this was a realisation that, while I personally use a bunch of browser plugins to block trackers, I’d been subjecting others to tracking via the WordPress plugins I had installed.
- Slow down or I’ll do it for you — through migraines, my body (quite rightly) protects me from my latent desire to work at 100% all of the time.
- The cash value of truth — I’m a ‘Pragmatist’ (big ‘P’). Here’s what that means, ontologically and epistemologically-speaking.
- Herd immunity for privacy — I wonder whether functional privacy is ever possible without changing the practices of those around you?
- What do we mean by ‘the economy’? — as I quote Chenjerai Kumanyika as saying, talk of ‘the economy’ is just another way of referencing the preferences of concerns of rich people.
I’ll do a separate roundup for Thought Shrapnel, but just to round things off hereI think it’s also worth pointing to three other posts I wrote elsewhere:
This post is Day 76 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com.
I downed tools on 2020 today, deciding to stop working for the last three weeks of the year so I can rest and recharge.
It’s been an incredible year in every sense of the word; there’s been the good, the bad, and the ugly. While I don’t particularly want to rake through the negatives, I thought it might be worth sharing five things I’ve learned.
1. Don’t expect things to be easy
The man who does not attempt easy tasks but wants what he attempts to be easy, is often baffled in his wishesSeneca
There’s no point in spending your life doing easy things. For me, these are things that have been done the same way before. Instead, I want to do the difficult thing and stuff that challenges me. The problem is when I’m tired I just want things to get easier for a bit. That’s not the way it works, unfortunately.
2. Money can’t buy me love
To be clever enough to get all that money, one must be stupid enough to want itG.K. Chesterton
My biggest problems this year have been caused by interactions with those who have different approaches to money than me. I see numbers on a spreadsheet as a means to an end. To others, it’s seemingly a yardstick by which they measure their self-worth.
3. Keep something in reserve
There is no need to show your ability before everyone.Baltasar Gracián
I think one of my biggest traps before starting therapy last year was the need to be seen as a ‘good’ person and talented at what I do. While I still prefer people to think well of me, I’m now very aware that I cannot control other people’s perceptions. Which is quite liberating.
4. Stand up for what I believe in
Respect is often paid in proportion as it is claimed.Dr Johnson
I’ve often said to my kids that people can only treat you the way you allow them to. I’m pleased to say that this year I’ve stood up against racism, bullying, and gaslighting. Hopefully that’s earned me some respect, but it’s generated plenty of self-respect.
5. We’re all in this together
Whatever you may be sure of, be sure of this: that you are dreadfully like other people.James Russell Lowell
It’s perhaps a funny thing for someone to write who’s approaching the midpoint of his life, but it’s only this year that I’ve really felt that I’m similar to other people. I’m not a special snowflake, other than in the sense that we all are.
I’d like to thank the good people at Outlandish for allowing me to work with then during the second half of this year. It’s been an eye-opening experience to work with a well-run tech cooperative that goes out of its way to be inclusive, transparent, and emotionally mature.
Right now, I’m not sure where 2021 will take me. I’ve got some work to dive into immediately in the new year, but beyond that I’ll follow my values and interests.
This post is Day 75 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com.