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Duration:03:59
Uploaded:2020-10-12
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Pizzamas week 2 begins! http://www.pizzamas.com/

I started thinking about this video in the context of Donald Trump, just trying to understand how you get to a place where you a very particular perception of strength...the hollowness of bullying people and gathering power around yourself without even any clear vision for what should or could be done with that power could be so integral to someone's self worth.

It makes sense to me now, but it is no less sad.



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Good morning, John.  So, writing fiction is hard and weird and I have found it is a very important thing to identify something about my fictional characters.  It's not their star sign, it's not whether they're an INTP, it's not really what they value, it's not really their identity, it's like a overlap between those two things.  

I have a hard time articulating it, probably because sociologists will roll their eyes at me and be like, it's way more complicated than that, Hank, but it is the overlap between the attributes that they think are positive and the attributes that they think they have.  It's the stuff about them that they think is valuable.  The reasons why they think they matter, and I've also found this to be a useful thing to understand about myself and the people who are important to me, and also like, the people who are important to my society.

So here's how I kinda feel like this works.  Society is like, here are the positive attributes.  Pick a few and have them be yours, and maybe you're lucky and a couple of those things fit like a real nice new shirt, and then you can feel like you matter.  Other times, people will find that there isn't a lot of overlap between the things that they've been told are valuable and the way that they actually are or the opportunities that they've been given, and that sucks.  It doesn't mean that you can't figure out how and why you matter, it just means that you kinda have to like, figure it out on your own.  You have to make some things up and have them not be the default things that society has presented to you.

Here are a few more things that this line of thinking has brought to me.  The traits that you believe are valuable about yourself are really important to your self-worth, and so if somebody threatens that, it can feel like an assault, and it sometimes happens with attributes that like, one person doesn't think is that big of a deal and the other person thinks is like, the only reason they matter in the world, and that can cause some tension.

Second, any given culture will have a lot of strong opinions about which traits are really valuable and it is much easier to go with your culture's beliefs than to try and define it all on your own, and third, there is good stuff about all of the traits that people value.  That's why we value them.  There are, however, also definitely some worrying things about some of them.

This has all been ridiculously abstract so far, so let's just, let's list some traits.  Beauty, intelligence, ancestry, strength, wit, care, kindness, wealth, selflessness, curiosity, loyalty, grit, independence, mastery of skill, winning, focus, how well we conform to expectations of social roles like gender, family, and career, being part of groups like teams or citizens or friend groups or political parties, and depending on how you're raised, the stories you hear, the default expectations of your culture, the attributes you end up believing in may or may not be attributes that you can actually embody, and sometimes there are things that you can only embody for a specific period of your life, and then you won't be able to do it anymore.

As humans, we need to believe we matter and so I'm hesitant to say that these things are subjective, but they are.  From my point of view, there is no mattering outside of in here.  It's just the story we find most compelling, whether it's the reckless individualism of Thomas Edison or the thoughtful kindness of a teacher or parent.  We believe in the stories we find ourselves in, but sometimes those stories make us miserable.

Sometimes we don't match them, sometimes we grow beyond them, sometimes the world changes and they become less useful and do more harm than good.  If I have any wisdom to share here, it's that these things are not carved in copper.  These things can change and they should and that should never make you feel less worthwhile.  It should make you feel human, because of all of the exceptional things about humans, the amazing traits that we have, the one that is most human is adaptability.  What matters to you, the stories you find yourself in, how you imagine your value, all of those things can change and all of them will.

John, I'll see you tomorrow.

Pizzamas fanny pack, fanny pack.  It's got a zipper in the front and a zipper in the back.  Fanny pack.  Fanny pack.  Hm.  That was a lot.