Hi, 2018

I never like the first week of the year. Any time January 1st falls on a weekday it feels terribly disruptive to me - instead of a last day of relaxation, it represents having one less work day to deal with the inevitable backlog coming out of the holidays. "What do you mean 'relax'? I need to start getting stuff done..."

This year has been no different, but at least I realized that I'm allowed to reschedule anything and everything that doesn't absolutely have to happen this week. This is in part inspired by my post last week about (effectively) the cumulative risks of wearing ourselves out. Self care is incredibly important for a lot of reasons, including that it keeps us capable of doing our best.

On that note, what I really need today is to hear from Fred. Hi, Fred!

Fred is Proud of You.png

Thanks, Fred. Happy New Year!

Privilege and hostility

Hats off to Jeph Jacques, writer of webcomic Questionable Content. In this strip featuring two AI characters, he calls out a critical underlying influence in our current cultural explosions. Says one AI to another: "I suspect this is the first time you have been confronted with hostility due to your privilege. It is a painful and confusing event."

Confronted with this particular kind of emotional discomfort, some turn inward, and some turn outward. Either direction can have positive or negative outcomes. Turning inward can result in honest self-reflection, or desperate self-justification. Turning outward can result in reflexive aggression against whatever sparked the discomfort, or honest inquiry and evaluation of the larger situation. In either case, prioritizing defense of the personal status quo is the equivalent of digging a hole deeper.

Dear anybody with any kind of privilege: if somebody gets mad at you because of what you have, take a deep breath and have a cup of tea and get past the emotional discomfort of somebody being mad at you because of factors that were not conscious choices on your part. Or go beat up a literal punching bag, whatever works for you. Tell yourself you can cope with somebody being mad at you, even if you think it's for "no reason." Repeat it in your head as many times as you have to until it's true. Remind yourself that you are capable of making a choice that is distinct from your gut reaction. Ever read Dune? This is a way more mild version of the Gom Jabbar. Bear the pain and be human, then take the opportunity to do something better.