Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

What I'm Not Writing About

For the past several months (or has it been over a year?) I've been trying to orient myself in which cultures I value, which political theories I most endorse, and teaching myself truths that were once known generally but are now known to just a few.

And what I've found is at such odds with the public opinion that I don't want to write about it publicly. At least, not at length. And a lot of it I'm still shaky on. So much relies on a careful examination of history, which I have to do completely on my own, as no secondary educational institution (and probably very few if any post-secondary institutions) adequately prepares one for the task. The knowledge of history I gained growing up is completely suspect, and for the past year I've slowly been fixing that. One day when I have ample historical knowledge to have strong evidential arguments, not just strong arguments from logic, I may write about the things I'm currently thinking about.

It's interesting to find something that's very at odds with public opinion. I've also realized that "internet culture" (mainly that which exists on reddit, youtube, 4chan, tumblr, facebook, and twitter), while not equivalent to the larger offline culture, is nevertheless big enough that it counts as public opinion. Even though the internet culture is sometimes at odds with the offline culture, there are certain things the two agree on that if you disagree with can result in a bad time for you. And if the two disagree, you can still lead a happy existence. Anarchy's not so cool offline, but online anarchists are all over the place. Same with atheists. Same with furries. Criticizing the military is A-OK. What's not cool online or offline? The stuff I'm thinking about.

Talking about that stuff costs people their jobs, sometimes their careers. Nobody expects the Progressive Inquisition! Seeing it happen to someone new in real-time has convinced me that my old idea of a reputation tracker in an anarchical system would be both more effective at producing conformity and more terrible than any top-down totalitarian government decree. It can't come to pass.

I've even reconsidered my stance on defamation laws. Before I thought them only as a blemish on free speech. I still think that, but I also see that they can be useful as the only defensive weapon a victim of the inquisition may have. To take an extreme example and something I've not been thinking about, consider a situation where someone made a joke about eating babies, and other people thought he was serious, and accused him of advocating baby-eating and got him fired from his job and unable to find new work in his field. Can't defamation laws save him? He's not advocating baby-eating, it was just a joke, and anyone who calls him a baby-eater is tarnishing his reputation. He might add to his resume "by the way if you google me you'll find a bunch of stuff on how I eat babies, it's all a lie" in an effort to make sure the people that matter know the truth, but at that point a company will look at him and just say "whether it's a lie or not, this person will cause us trouble". With defamation laws, maybe he'll still be in this crappy situation, but at least perhaps he can extract a livable wage from the sum of all the people who have made it impossible for him to get one otherwise.

There are people braver than I who speak out. One day I may join them. Right now, I just want to get through the section of my life I'm going through and stabilize a bit. Right now, I feel at the mercy of certain elements of society. I feel that if I piss off the wrong people in the wrong way, my future could indeed be bleak. When I no longer feel threatened financially by society, online or offline, I may again write publicly about whatever I'm thinking. Of course, it's not too hard to guess what I'm thinking about, and I do discuss things in less-public, less-permanently-archived places, but at least on my blog I have some plausible deniability in case the inquisition comes knocking.

I have been thinking about other things, of course, but I've lacked the motivation to write about them. I have been motivated to write about personal topics, but again I have anxieties about what it might do to my immediate future should such information be so easily accessible. (Very little of my entire being is in hiding, but a lot of it is only loosely connected and so to the casual observer I can be boring, either of the plain or mysterious variety -- which is what I want, because it is the casual observers whom I have most reason to fear. They do not read, they do not think, they take pleasure from destruction. I'm forced to interact with them for now, but I want the contact to be as minimal as possible.) I suspect in a year or two I will feel a lot more financially secure, and I can again return to writing about whatever. Over the next few months I'll try to write about programming-related things because I think those will maximize the outcomes of my immediate future. Will I follow-through? Maybe, maybe not. I've not been feeling too excited about programming lately, and shoveling pig shit at a farm commune sounds less offensive than it used to...

What have I been up to recently? School, mostly. The workload isn't too bad, but it's sucking away all my creative energy. This whole year has been kind of bad for me, creatively. But as I wrote about recently, it's almost over...

Posted on 2013-10-26 by Jach

Tags: personal, philosophy


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