What I Wish I had Known Before Going to College

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If I can offer a word of caution for those of you who are thinking about going back to school, it is to be deliberate in the school you choose, if you choose to go at all.  While it may be the case for most public high schools, not all universities are created equal.  Is going to college really the best choice for everyone?  Not necessarily.

What Everyone Else is Doing

When I graduated high school in 2004, a college degree still meant something.  However, I was never taught anything about the intricacies of choosing a major, a career, or even just getting to know what I wanted.  When it came to school, I was a naive teenager.  I mindlessly enrolled at university because I thought that was just the next step in life, and I wanted to continue to be with my high school friends in college.  I chose computer science as my major because I thought I liked computers.

The liberating feeling of being an independent adult eventually consumed me.  I wasn’t going into debt, but I was still quite reckless when it came to spending money.  I had a part-time job making $6.00 per hour, and often found my bank account hovering near zero.  That’s when I began to think, “If I just keep going to school, I will eventually get a better job that pays a lot more.”  That’s what we are socialized to believe, right?  Those with a college degree, statistically speaking, generally are more financially successful.  But should we trust those statistics?  Let’s take a deeper look at that statement.

When politicians and social scientists tell everyone that having a degree correlates with making more money, it does not mean that having a degree automatically guarantees you a good, high-paying job.  Nor does it make you more likely to even get a better job, or so much as earn you any more respect than not having the degree. In the past, people who made more money generally did have a bachelor’s degree or higher.  However, their degree did not earn them more money; they did.  You see, it is not about the degree you have.  It is about your personality traits, your tendencies, and what you know.  30 years ago, if a person was ambitious enough to get a bachelors degree, then they were probably also ambitious enough to be successful in the corporate world.  They already had the personality traits and the mental skills to succeed before they even went to college.  Back in that day, it was considered impressive to have a bachelor’s degree because very few people actually got one.  Now, the bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma; it seems like almost everyone has one, and it’s simply regarded as unimpressive.

33% of American adults now have a bachelor’s degree, and the percentage is rising.  Why is that?  It’s not because tuition has become more affordable.  In fact, tuition is much higher now than it ever has been, and there is also more student debt than ever before.  The biggest contributing factor is the market crash that happened in 2008, otherwise known as “The Great Recession.”

The Focus on Getting a Job

Most adults were taught from when they were children that going to college would make them have a better life, and that it would allow them to get a better “job.”  Historically, having a job was a luxury, but not a necessity.  People lived off of the land.  In more recent history, aside from college being too expensive for most, it was fairly easy in a city to get a decent job without going to college, so most people didn’t.  That’s the problem: the focus on getting a job, or being someone else’s employee.  Not only have we been socialized to believe that going to college will get us a better job, but we have also been socialized to believe that we should be seeking out a job in the first place.  So what happens when the market crashes and thousands of people are laid off when they hold such a strong value in having a job?  They look to be an employee elsewhere.  What happens when they cannot find a job elsewhere?  They go back to that belief that if they had a college degree, they would get a better job.  Naturally, college enrollment has increased exponentially since the market crash because of this belief.

I quit going to school after about a year because I wised up and realized that I needed to save money, but also to figure out what I wanted out of life.  This was before the market crash.  I still had that mindset that I needed to be employed to be happy, and I still had that mindset that I needed to eventually go back to school to be decently-employed.  After the market crash and having had such a hard time getting a decent job, I went back to school.  I still didn’t know what I was doing, other than increasing my chances of better employment (or so I thought).  This time, I had changed my major to Pre-law.  I was tired of being poor and tired of being treated poorly as a lowly hireling and chose to become an attorney because everyone says that attorneys make a lot of money and get respect, right?

I regret to admit that I really got stuck in the mindset of “going to college means getting a better job.”  I eagerly-anticipated getting my Associate’s Degree, soon to find that the Associate’s Degree is like an invisible degree; generally speaking, you do a lot of work, spend a lot of money, and it doesn’t help you at all.  So naturally, I thought that getting a Bachelor’s degree was the answer.  It wasn’t.  My major changed from Computer Science to Pre-Law to Sociology.  I never really knew what I was doing.  I just knew that getting a degree (seemingly any degree, from any school) was the key to success.

Thinking About Who I Am

Perhaps studying Sociology was a good move, at least in a sense, because there is a strong focus on critical thinking and research which would allow me to expand my mind and give me more perspective on life.  During my Senior year at university, I was involved in a few extra-curriculars, and I pondered a lot on life and what was important to me.  I realized that what was important to me was autonomy or self-reliance, simplicity, creativity, family, spirituality, and health.  I realized that I was going to college for the wrong reasons.  I also realized that even though Sociology was a great major for a deep-thinker like myself, it wasn’t lucrative at all.  Even though I knew it already, I ignored that thought and tried to convince myself that I’d get a better job when I graduated.

As a Sociology major and a Business minor, I began to analyze the way universities operated.  I noticed that they are very much like corporations, and I started to get the feeling that they regarded me as just a paying customer rather than a student, per se.  Not only this, but in my social statistics class, I learned that statistics are generally flawed and open to interpretation.  This translates to grades and GPA as well.  I realized that despite my strong, earnest effort in some classes, I would still get a “B,” whereas in other classes I would barely do anything and I would earn an “A.”  I learned that the grade a student earns is largely up to the professor’s perspective of that student.  I drew the conclusion that grades are not an accurate representation of a person’s knowledge, effort, or diligence.  While that conclusion made me feel better in a way, I realized that traditional school was really not as great as they say, so I resolved to seeking out experiential learning.

Seeking Alternatives

While still a student, I began researching alternative schools that I could attend after graduating.  I wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t a traditional institution, didn’t operate like a corporation, didn’t assign grades (or loopholed statistics), and focused more on experiential learning and critical thinking rather than memorization and regurgitated knowledge.  I had learned that entrepreneurial values are what makes any person stand out these days, and I knew that seeking out a school with these values would benefit me 10 times more than simply getting a degree.  While I did find a few private organizations that I wanted to be part of, most of them had a corporate orientation that I didn’t like, so I kept the idea for alternative education in the back of my mind while I finished school (it was my last semester, so it would have been stupid to drop out).

When graduation came, I learned that I was one out of roughly 5,000 undergraduate students graduating that semester (just at that university!).  This upset me and made me feel as though I had wasted a lot of time and money at a traditional institution just to be mediocre.  This reinforced the feeling of being regarded as nothing more than a paying customer rather than a student.  This also reinforced my knowledge of the market being over-saturated with college graduates.

I went back to the job market and was offered a position that didn’t require a college degree.  In other words, I would be under-employed.  I tentatively accepted this offer out of financial need while I continued to look for a better opportunity.  I didn’t find anything.  I kept this job for a year, feeling under-valued and over-qualified (both in education and prior work experience) the entire time.

Here’s what I wish I had known before ever venturing into the college trap:

  1. The most important thing to do is to first figure out what you want out of life.  Many people find out who they are while in college.  But this isn’t to say that you have to go to college to find yourself.  Take risks, go travel, try new hobbies, volunteer, take personality tests, get to know people from different backgrounds and cultures, and do what you can to figure yourself out.  Once that is done, you can make better decisions for your education, or perhaps you will decide that formal education is not right for you at all.
  2. Going to a traditional school isn’t always the best choice.  If you are pursuing a career that absolutely requires a specific degree (such as a doctor, lawyer, or teacher), then go for it.  Otherwise, there are amazing opportunities for self-learning online and plenty of lower-cost alternatives to learning what you want to do.  I personally feel like I’ve learned a lot more just by doing independent research than I did as a student.  Some people criticize information on the internet and dismiss it as being untrustworthy, but just use your intuition and make sure you are finding good sources.  Even scholarly articles have their flaws.  If you’d prefer experiential learning, sign up for a few workshops with small, private schools instead (such as this one)!  You’ll save a lot of time and money avoiding college if you don’t actually need to go there.
  3. You’ll learn a lot in college, but most of what you will learn is outside of the classroom.  In other words, it’s all about life experience.  If you decide to go to school, you will get more life experience if you choose a school where you have to move away, be on your own, and make new friends and develop new interests.  Traveling domestically and abroad has also really helped some people gain life experience, as well as volunteering, or simply getting diverse work experience.
  4. Not all institutions are created equal.  I went to four different institutions as an undergraduate, and I really noticed a difference between each one of them.  Some offer programs that others don’t, some feel more like high school rather than a place for intellectualism, some are open-enrollment, some have a school-wide focus (such as social justice, the arts, sustainability, etc.), and some are just diploma factories (easy A’s).  Don’t just pick the most convenient school to attend.  If you do, you won’t get much out of it.  Do your research and find which schools align with your personal values, which ones offer the programs that you are interested in, have a good reputation for your chosen field, are in a location where you wouldn’t mind living, and those that fit within your budget.
  5. Due to the market crash, college degrees don’t mean much anymore.  Lots of people have them.  Don’t just mindlessly go to school for the sake of getting a degree (like I did).  If you really don’t have a good reason to get a degree, don’t waste your time or money getting one.  Just “getting a job” isn’t a good reason.
  6. Our society has evolved back to entrepreneurial values.  The United States of America was founded on entrepreneurial values.  It’s all about independence, self-reliance, and freedom of speech and thought.  We shouldn’t have to rely on our employers or any government system for our livelihood.  Even Thomas Jefferson feared that putting too much focus on getting a job would make people too dependent on their employers and they would lose their freedom as a result.  I personally feel that when I have a job, I’ve lost my freedom.  Instead, Jefferson supported entrepreneurship, or even just living off of the land independent of other institutions.  Mike Glauser mentions in his book, Main Street Entrepreneur, that being self-employed is quickly becoming even more secure than having a job.  He predicts that most work will soon evolve into being contracted work.  So make an effort to become independent; learn a trade, start a business, etc.
  7.  Statistics are fallible, and most often have loopholes.  There comes a certain point where you will inevitably have to reference statistics of some kind, but don’t base your decisions entirely off of statistics (or even scholarly articles, which also often have loopholes).  Statistics say that having a degree (any degree, from any school) largely increases your chances of making more money, but they ignore the fact that people who don’t have a degree can still make a lot of money, and a lot of people who do have a degree still don’t make very much.  As humans, we have a strange desire to quantify everything (even things that can’t really be quantified).  As mentioned above, even school grades and GPAs aren’t an accurate representation of anything.  Use statistics as a tool to increase your perspective, but don’t always take them to be absolute truth.
  8. Happiness has nothing to do with money.  Money is simply another statistic.  It is our way of attempting to quantify the value of something.  But really, the best work you can do is something that you find to be personally meaningful.  Seek out a career that provides a direct benefit to you other than in terms of dollars.  Most people find that this means serving other people.  Sure, we need a little money to survive in this urbanized world, but that should never be our priority.  If you spend your life chasing money, you will never be truly happy.  What most of us want is not actually money, it is simply to feel secure and loved (unfortunately, most of us confuse love and security with the accumulation of material possessions).  Whatever you end up doing will most likely make you some money, and often it is enough to be secure, so long as you are financially responsible.
  9. Knowledge is power!  Admittedly, I watched Schoolhouse Rock and I knew this long before I went to college.  However, you don’t need to go to a formal institution to get knowledge.  It used to be that you had to either go to school or read a lot of books to gain knowledge.  Thanks to the internet, gaining knowledge is now fairly easy and very accessible.  Keep in mind that knowledge isn’t the same as wisdom.   That’s why experiential learning is so important; it bridges the gap between knowledge and wisdom.

My whole purpose in writing this is to get the word out that university degrees are usually only helpful if you really need a specific one for a specific career.  I want to stop people from going to college who don’t really know why they are going.  I spent ten years and tens of thousands of dollars getting a bachelor’s degree only to find out that it wasn’t at all what I was told by so many others.  The idea that getting a degree (any degree, from any school) to get a better job is completely antiquated.  Especially since the market crash, we have seen a major shift from the value in having credentials (such as formal education) to the value in having experience (marketable skills).  Overall, learning a trade, living off of the land, and being self-employed are the most secure options for our ever-changing society.  All of those can be learned independently of formal education, either through self-learning or through apprenticeship.  What matters most is that you are being true to yourself and that you are feeling secure.  Don’t just do something because it’s what everyone else is doing.  Be deliberate in your decisions, be mindful in your growth, then you will rise above the rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sustainable Development: Why We Should Pay Attention

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Most would agree that federal governments around the world should be doing something about the global crises at hand. Perhaps many of us think that the governments should be doing something about it, but we do not realize that we have a say in this, too.

The United Nations implemented what they call “Global Goals” in 2015. These global goals consist of 17 aspirations to make the world a better place. The idea is that by 2030 we will alleviate things that are significantly reducing global well being.

These things affect you directly. There is a chance that you might be suffering from hunger, health issues, social inequality, are a victim of mindless consumerism, and the list goes on and on.

The first step in helping to make the world a better place is awareness. Do not become complacent in going to work every day, earning a paycheck that you spend in its entirety each month, and buying things that you do not need, just to throw more things away. Become mindful of your impact through your habits, your lifestyle, and your choices.

There are still many who mindlessly go to Walmart on a regular basis, load up on bottled water, microwave dinners and other packaged foods, plastic toys, and low-quality clothing.

What they do not realize is that all of these things are unsustainable. For instance, that bottled water is usually just bottled tap water, packaged in plastic, which takes a lot of energy to produce, contains toxins that leach into your water/food and makes your body sick, and can take a very long time to decompose. Unfortunately even if you recycle these bottles, most of them end up in the oceans or simply in landfills because of a lack of resources for recycling. Consider how this equates to other products as well and the people who are mistreated in the production, use, and disposal of these items.

There is a lot of social inequality in the world. Developed countries consume more unsustainable goods than anyone else. These products are manufactured overseas, whose materials are produced using harmful chemicals (which disrupts the ecosystem and our health), by people who make less than $1 per day, which are then packaged in plastic and shipped to developed countries where we do not care about where it came from or how it was made as long as it makes our lives more convenient.

We see social inequality in gender roles in varying cultures. We see it in the workplace, in terms of income, material possessions, and finally, in opportunities such as scholarships, promotions, and discounts.

Every purchase is a vote. Are you mindfully voting for sustainable products and services, or are you voting for social inequality, a broken ecosystem, and poor health? Become aware of these issues, get familiar with the global goals and share them with the people you care about. Our future depends on it.

Live Your Life on Purpose, as the Only Fish who “Go With the Flow” are the Dead Ones

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If you are the type who is self-aware, independent, strives for self-sufficiency, an individualist, or the like, you may want to consider what I have to say.  Perhaps you are already past this point, or perhaps you are wondering where to go next to make your life better.  Either way, this could be a great reminder or an “a-ha!” article for you.

How do you define your passions?  I think most of society is unaware of the concept that they are an individual.  When I say this, I mean that they don’t stop and think about the fact that they have power to do what they want.  In fact, in the United States, we are socialized to be conformists.  From the time we are born, we are taught to respect figures of authority (some to the extent that they fear authority).  We are taught to be submissive, seeking permission to go on a break at work, seeking permission to start a new project, or…unfortunately some just sit and wait to be told what to do.

Is this what we’ve come to?  Is it reasonable to believe that society has cornered us into submission and that we should wait for everyone else to tell us how to live our lives?  You might disagree with me, but I personally know that we have been given the gift of agency.  We have been given the gift to choose who we want to be and how we conduct our lives.

Stephen Covey wrote about something similar in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  He mentioned that many people are “friend-centered,” meaning that their perceived identity revolves around their social life.  Their friends and acquaintances have a very strong influence on their lives.  These people are most often teenagers and young adults.  Most people get married and have a family after those years, so this friend-centeredness wears off.  Yes, it’s important to have friends and to feel appreciated by others, but we can be unique and take control of our lives and still achieve that.

Chris Sauve gave a TEDx talk about being boring.  While that doesn’t seem like a very appealing topic, he had some great points.  He spoke about some major principles to keep from being boring, or in the context of this article, mediocre:

Principle 1:  “Think.  What is important to you?  Why are you here?”

This, in my experience, is one of the most common fallacies that we possess as a society; we don’t think for ourselves (of course, I’m referring to society as a whole; this may or may not directly apply to you as an individual).  We coast through life and do what is expected of us, that is: go to school, wear what’s in style (or what other people think is “cool”), graduate from college, and get hired at a good company.  There’s a reason I italicized the word “hired.”  That word very strongly implies that we are and should be followers.  It implies that we should continue the mindset of asking for permission and fearing authority with everything we do.  If we want to go a more pessimistic route, we can even say that that word implies that we are inadequate or incapable of taking care of ourselves.

Is this making you think?  If so, good!  Chances are, you are much more capable of being self-sufficient than you are led to believe.  This country (The United States of America) was built with an entrepreneurial mindset.  Our founders were innovators, idea-generators, leaders, and if they needed something, they created it rather than expecting someone to give it to them.  This post-consumerist society that we find ourselves in in 2015 is discouraging this way of thinking.

Think.  Who are you?  What are you passionate about?  If you don’t know, you are likely one of many who has fallen victim to conformism.  Look back at your past and assess why you are here.  What led you to doing what you do right now?  Is it because you were expected to, or is it because you are following your passion(s)?  Hopefully it’s the latter.  If not, I hope I’m opening your mind a little bit to the fact that you can think for yourself and you don’t have to try so hard to fit in.  What is socially acceptable is not always the best thing for us.  I’m not telling you to break laws by any means, but simply to acknowledge that you can do something different than what is expected of you and still be okay.  Live your life on purpose, as the only fish who “go with the flow” are the dead ones.

Principle 2: “Get rid of What You Don’t Love.  Automate the In-between”

This is sort of a minimalist concept, and you can really incorporate minimalism into this.  Get rid of all of that junk that you don’t use or need.  If you haven’t used it in over a year, chances are, you don’t need it.  Simply keeping these things around has been proven to cause us unnecessary stress.  I personally used to have 5 times as much stuff as I do now.  I’ve sold a lot of it on eBay, and donated or thrown out the rest.  It does wonders, I tell you!  It’s liberating to not have to worry so much about organizing all the time or keeping so many things cleaned or maintained.  Also, if you move a lot, it’s really nice to not have those extra things you have to pack that you don’t even need.

Although it’s great to de-junk physical possessions, I think Mr. Sauve presents this concept more with tasks and activities in mind.  There is more on time management in the next section.  There are many things we do that bog us down.  Like our bodies, our minds actually have a limited amount of energy.  When we get caught up doing chores and things we don’t enjoy, our mental energy is drained, leaving us too exhausted to do what we actually want to do.  I think it’s simple enough: get rid of what you don’t love. 

There are other things that we simply have to do, like paying bills, doing dishes, mowing the lawn, etc.  The trick is to automate these things.  Technology allows us to automate in many different ways (smartphone apps, motors, etc.).  I have found automatic bill pay programs to be incredibly relieving.  I greatly dislike spending money, so I procrastinate paying bills, and then I worry about it until they are paid.  Technology keeps me from worrying, but I do have to make sure to check my eStatements that they are accurate.  What else can you do to automate the things you have to do but don’t love doing?

Principle 3: “Plan, Organize, and Do the Things You Love”

How are you doing at pursuing your passions?  If you are like most of us, you probably have one or two things in the back of your mind that you want to do but either don’t realize it, or you are making excuses for not being able to do them.  Some of you may not even know what you are passionate about.  If that’s the case, think about this: What do you think about when you don’t have to think about it?  Someone (unfortunately, I don’t remember who) presented that concept to me years ago when I was struggling to pick an undergraduate major.  I finally realized that I think about people and relationships and their interactions.  I think about why people do what they do and how they are affected by others.  This led me to studying sociology, which is one of my several passions.

I have found that another common fallacy in our collective, post-consumerist mindset is that we are really bad at time management.  In my own experience, I have had many friends and acquaintances complain about being too busy, when all they do is work 40 hours per week.  If you do the math, you’ll realize how ridiculous that is.  There are 168 hours in a week, people!  A full time job that demands 40 hours of your time still leaves you with 128 hours of free time per week.  Add about 8 hours per night for sleep, and you still have 72 hours of extra time that you can move around as you please.  Granted, some of us have family obligations, which is a really great thing, but there’s probably still some free time you can work in somewhere.

The 72 hours I mentioned above will most likely include meal times and other necessary things for life.  The duration of these activities vary depending on who you are, so I’ll let you do your own calculations from here, but keep in mind that some of these things don’t have to be as long as we think they do (i.e. dinner doesn’t have to take 3 hours of your day).

Do the things you love!  I realize it takes self-discipline to manage your time effectively.  You can do it with practice, but once you master planning and following a schedule, you’ll realize you have more time, you’ll feel more accomplished, and most importantly, you’ll be able to pursue your passions.

In closing, let me remind you that you are unique.  Don’t fall into submission or peer pressure.  Define your passions, your dreams, and your goals, and go get them, regardless of whether or not that’s what everybody else is doing!

Are You Victimized by Labels?

Chances are, you clicked on this article because you or someone you know is afflicted by a label that you are not sure is accurate.  What gets me is the fact that each label means something different to everybody; for instance, we all have our own definition of what it means to be depressed.  So who’s to say that just because one doctor classifies a person as such that all doctors will do the same?  It’s not likely, and you know it.

In my personal experience as well as in observations of others, I have learned one very important truth about labels.  This will blow your mind if you don’t already have this realization: a negative label or diagnosis only makes the symptoms worse.  Sure, doctors might know a thing or two, but it seems that when it comes to emotional and mental issues, professionals are merely guessing at what can help a person (honestly, it’s like that for physical problems too, but I won’t get into that here).  They give it a label in order to write it off and ease their own internal nagging of not being able to fix the problem the right way, and write you a prescription of some sort to shut you up and make you feel like your time and money are being spent wisely (or realistically, to make a commission from a pharmaceutical company).  It really doesn’t matter if this is a psychiatrist or psychologist or even just a best friend, we as humans tend to use labels as a means of fixing what we can’t actually understand or explain more fully.

You might be wondering how the symptoms get worse by simply having a label.  Well, in sociology and criminology, there are theories such as “labelling theory” and the “pygmalion effect” and other self-fulfilling prophecies.  For instance, when a person is labelled “deviant” or a “criminal,” studies have shown that they are far more likely to engage in deviant behavior than they were before they were given this label in the first place.  You can imagine why this is, but basically it’s because the person victimized by such words has a subconscious that naturally tries to accommodate what the conscious mind is thinking.  What is the conscious mind thinking? It’s thinking what it’s being told to think: that the labels might be true.  Over time, the subconscious creates habitual thoughts that lead to habitual tendencies of deviance, and thus self-fulfilling that prophecy, even if it wasn’t true before all of this started.  It’s really a mental spiral that pretty much all of us have been a slave to at one time or another.

The pygmalion effect is very commonly seen in the workplace.  You can read more about it on other webpages, but basically it’s just another self-fulfilling prophecy that says that a person is going to behave the way you influence them to behave.  For instance, if a manager sees an employee as worthless and lazy, that manager will treat the employee accordingly, regardless of whether the employee is actually worthless and lazy or not.  Over time, that employee having received such negative energy and non-verbal accusation will behave in the way that the manager expected them to, becoming their version of “worthless” and “lazy,” and they don’t even do it on purpose!  I have been in this situation time, and time again, in familial relations, as well as professional ones.

The same can be said for diagnoses, especially mental and emotional disorders.  It seems that depression is the most common.  If a person is diagnosed by a professional or even merely labelled “depressed” by a friend or family member, they will, in time, become depressed.  The constant reminder from loved ones that they are depressed only reaffirms the once-false accusation and actually encourages it to get worse.  

Really, denial can actually work to your advantage in this case.  Don’t be puffed up with pride about it by any means, but do show yourself respect and see your worth, and humbly say, “I am worth it, and I see my potential to be great!”

So what if you are the unfortunate receiver of such labelling?  Be patient; you are wonderful.  You are strong.  You are worth it.

Now, didn’t that feel great to be told that?  Let yourself believe it and become it!  Don’t let other people give you negative labels.  While it’s important to acknowledge your weaknesses, don’t focus on them as if they are permanent.  It’s a temporary state that can be changed.  As Thomas S. Monson said, “See [others] not as they are at present, but as they may become.”  Not only does this apply to treating others with respect for their potential, but it also applies to treating yourself and acknowledging your own potential.  Be honest with yourself.  See your own potential as well as that of others; it’s more than you think!

Now is your time to look in the mirror.  Looking past the shallow and misinformed labels you’ve been given (including some you’ve given yourself), your heart has a true label.  Be honest with yourself; what does it say?  Embrace it.

Fear Is Here: Is Technology to Blame?

Have you noticed that people are more skittish in the last several years?  We’ve found ourselves in quite the social spiral.  I’m sure some of us can even count the past decade, century, or even all of mankind as an overall spiral.  For those of us who have been around for a few decades or more, we’ve noticed.

Let’s say a friend of yours stops by your house unannounced just for a short, friendly visit.  Would this bother you?  How about a stranger on the sidewalk giving you a compliment on the way you dress as you pass by them?

I think in most cases, a lot of us would be bothered by this behavior these days.  Perhaps this is because we think we are too busy (more on that in a later article), or perhaps we are paranoid, have trust issues, self-conscious, or many other reasons.  What if we considered the fact that 20 years ago, this behavior was considered normal?  I’m not even that old myself, and I remember neighbors and friends coming over and knocking on our front door without calling first and that was perfectly acceptable.  Now, we are quick to get upset, paranoid, and even throw around the overused word, “creepy” if this happens.  Why?  Are human beings not social beings? What is causing us to close off and distance ourselves from real, genuine relationships?  Cell phones? The Internet?  Social Media?  Or is the world perhaps really that untrustworthy now and everyone really has ulterior motives?

Cell Phones: A Means to an end of Your Relationships

Here we are in 2014, where iPhones and Android-based smartphones rule the market.  It is not uncommon for a person to send a text message right as they wake up, send a couple Snapchats throughout the day, and constantly monitor their Facebook account, scrutinizing every little thing that may come up on their news feed authored by so-called “friends.”  In fact, most conversation occurs using electronic means.  This removes face-to-face interaction, body language, tone of voice, real laughter, and a lot of feeling.  Sure, we can make a phone call to someone, but honestly, who does that on a regular basis now, besides in business situations or only with the people we are closest to?  Why are we so scared to make a phone call to ask someone out on a date?  Why are we scared to call a new acquaintance to hang out?  We are desensitized to reality.

Social Media: Not so Social, After All

We’ve found ourselves in a society that expects us to have a profile on social media.  If we are not on Facebook, we are an outcast of sorts.  Unfortunately, this also means the marketing gurus have hounded Facebook and there are advertisements galore.  Marketing targets what’s popular, after all, otherwise it would be unsuccessful.

Advertisements are intrusive to our free mind, our creative side, our individuality, and our true self because it is the commercial world telling us who to be, what to wear, and how to think.  Along those lines, we subconsciously take posts from “friends” the same way.  You might even consider this very article as an example.  Studies have shown that Facebook and other social media actually lessens people’s happiness.  Why? Simply because we are seeing a superficial portrayal of how others are living and we compare our own lives to it.  Keep in mind, most people don’t post negative truths on social pages; they only post what they are most proud of.  So when we see nothing but happy moments from our friends and we compare it to our unhappy, realistic lives, we are undoubtedly going to feel unhappy with that.  What we find on social media is not reality, but we have come to believe that it is, thus creating a fear of what is real.

The Unknown: The Basis of all Fear

Obviously in this post, the general theme is the fear of others, the fear of genuineness, authenticity, affection, etc.  With technology constantly giving us a false sense of reality, it’s no wonder that we are afraid of real people, the way they really behave in person, the way they interact, and the way they love.  Our minds are smothered with lies that other people are perfect and that we are not good enough.  When we see an instance of human frailty in a real-life encounter, we don’t know how to handle it anymore.  We are quick to give the person labels to make ourselves feel more secure, such as “creepy,” “depressed,” “crazy,” “freak,” etc.

If you think about the origin of all fear, what could it be?  It is simply the unknown.  In this case, we don’t know people.  We don’t know the true desires of the hearts of others, and this scares us.  We judge everyone based off of false stereotypes and it makes us even more nervous.  We jump to conclusions about people’s motives, usually in a negative way.  More often than not, people are good.  People deserve a chance that we simply won’t give them.

So is technology to blame for society being so fearful?  You decide.  Comment below.

Introduction to Pondiferous

Alright, so I’ve been contemplating keeping a blog for several years, and most of my reason for not actually getting into it until now is simply the question of how to organize it.  My problem is that I have some scattered interests/passions.  I realize I can have separate blogs for each of them, but then I fear I will only update one of them most of the time and the others only occasionally.

I’ve decided that I will simply just start writing and see how it evolves.  Please, if there is anyone who wants to provide constructive feedback, do so as I would appreciate it.  Most of my articles will likely consist of sociological theory, both of my own conceiving and also theory that has already been established by others.  I’m also looking at the law of attraction and its various effects on society, nutrition and how it plays a role in our overall well-being, and I may or may not throw some content in here on the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, as I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I am not ashamed of it.  In the grand scheme of things, all of these topics do, in fact, tie together somehow (trust me).  My main intention is simply to enlighten the minds of others and to inspire overall improvement.

Let’s see how it goes, shall we?