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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Is it normal to think...?

Originally written for Quora as the answer to:


You are entitled to think whatever you want.


Challenge yourself to imagine something absolutely repulsive, the worst perversion possible - now keep such pictures pending in your mind and wait for the police.
Nobody came. How strange, isn't it? Your neighbor still says hello seeing you on the street, mothers do not protect their children in your proximity, and your friends do not hang up on you, ending dramatically mutual relationship.
Why is that?
Because nobody can peek inside your head to judge or blame you. And while you keep your thoughts private, meaning not taking actions towards 17 years old or younger girls, you are free to imagine them under any circumstances you find appealing.
To digress, how often have you heard someone expressing his wish to kill pedantic boss, idiotic politician, or hysteric wife? Saying so, he did not only show intent to commit a crime, he even didn't hesitate to announce such atrocity being amongst other people - yet hearing that, bystanders never bother to call police, sometimes even nodding in approval of such socially unacceptable behavior.
For some reason, your co-workers would not mind you murdering annoying boss in hypothetical scenario, thus, not harming him at all. On the other hand, you hardly receive encouraging responses if you describe explicitly sexual fantasies about cute teen daughter of the very same boss, especially if other women were present.
To cut it off short, sexual fantasies about under-aged girls are more taboo than violent dreams about rightful punishment of obnoxious manager. In the end, no harm is done. Unless, of course, you believe in Hollywood movies in which suppressed sexual desires, expressed in naughty drawing or talking, creates mere foreplay for becoming serial rapist.
In real world, however, inner and outer realms of our existence influence each other rather indirectly. Understand, mental scenes with beautiful girls forced into submission rarely push men into realization of these. Twenty years ago, men has been crafting models of trains or airplanes to release their accumulated erotic pressure. Today is more common to watch a porn.
Keep thinking whatever you want.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

I feel that I don't have any emotions. What should I do?


Originally written for Quora.

Just learn to fake them like the others do.
I am not aware of any research implying that all human beings possess the same disposition to feel emotions equally. Quite the opposite, considering the fact how different are people physically, I would conclude their internal level of hormones influencing their current mood must vary significantly.
With that in mind, I doubt one can adjust one’s feeling accordingly to fit every social norm, adopted by the given community. What is fun for Americans may render completely different results for Chinese.
Common sense cues us to pretend sorrow seeing a funeral or when encountering tragedy with many deaths involved.
On the other hand, should we mourn all people dying we would probably turn into dehydrated mummies as the enormous amount of shed tears would kill us in similar manner as we would be killed from scorching sun of dessert.
Furthermore, we are required to exercise appropriate hypocrisy; for instance, by absolute criterion, the death of fellow human is perceived as superior to death of one’s favorite pet
Just imagine how little sympathy would receive a fellow who says in all honesty: “I really don't care for the jerk Johny being run over by car yesterday. My cat accompanied me for twenty years passed away last week and you know it hurts much more.”
Compared to ancient Egyptians who knew how to bury cats with all deserved honors, we just dismiss pet’s departure as a natural occurrence, offering in the same time insincere tributes to poor Johny whose death might have been the best thing he could manage in his entire life.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Mysterious Suzi Meyerson

May I ask you a simple question? Why would you publish a book?
My personal reasons were spreading my work and being able to earn some money. With preposterous naivety of youth, I was convinced that quality of my novel automatically guarantees me both.
As I have already explained here, my journey ended immediately after I had found a publisher and presented my novel to public audience. To put it simply, nobody cared. Not that critics reviewed my book inhospitably; in the first case, nobody even knew there was some novel, waiting impatiently to be discovered and appreciated. 

For a while, let’s pretend I can give few pieces of advice to my younger self…

Dear Pavel,
I know you believe in your talent but for God’s sake, trust me if I tell you that no matter how talented you might be (if at all), there is no easy way to win money by writing. Unless, of course, you don’t intend to commit some vicious act which makes you famous. If you do, then, please try to keep some dignity and do not attempt to sing or dance.
What? No, I don’t think that killing someone is more proper way for Slavic gentleman to raise his name to fame. Just hear me out calmly and stop interrupting. Let me ask you what do you do to become a writer? You keep writing? And..?
There is no further ado, you say? Thus, be so kind and enlighten me whom you intend to sell your book to? Readers, right? Which readers, by the way? The people who read books? Someone like you, I guess? Would you mind to describe the process of how your book reach their attention? Oh, I see. The enormous quality of your storytelling, that will undoubtedly cause a sensation, will convey the message to broader audience, won’t it?
Before I run out of my patience, could you provide me any real-world examples? J.K. Rowling?  This is the first good argument we can agree on. The next ones? Stephanie Meyer? E.L. James? Do you really consider both of them being tremendously talented?  Did Fifty shades of Grey turn viral thanks to its literal proficiency? What is your honest opinion? Oh crap, you say? Don’t cry, you little baby, your older self comes to the rescue…

And while poor delusional version of me is disappearing in the mist of time, allow me to emphasize the fact that quality rarely corresponds with popularity. Countless authors did their very best to prove my point. Beside Ms. Meyers and Ms. James, one should avoid certain E. Cline and his Armada, certain A. S. Greer and his Less (great example of how Pulitzer award guarantees nothing) and many, many others.
With optimistic conclusion that even the worst piece of garbage may become international bestseller or get Pulitzer award, let’s dissect method of how to achieve such tremendous success. We have already learned that my younger me would suggest to publish a book waiting for a miracle. On the other hand, my current me would recommend to stop publishing books at all.
OK, I’ll wait until you collect your dropped jaws from the floor. Ready for the next? Be so kind and don’t panic! Nobody demands you to stop writing books, just stop publishing them. Honestly, there is no good reason to do so anymore.
The writers had been printing their novels in a slight hope they will earn money. Is it correct? Or do they just intend to kill a tree because they like to pat their previous brainchild, wrapped in some tasteless cover, or watch it standing in a bookcase? Or perhaps they enjoy approaching complete strangers in a local library while nonchalantly uttering that those volumes over there had been written by them.
If a smell of money doesn’t deter you, I would like to reveal a little secret of how the time has changed. To get as low as possible, let’s introduce girl in her late teens who picked up a pen name Suzi Meyerson and started her fresh online novel called Pink twilight, which is spin-off of certain popular vampire series. 


Quite understandably, her work, full of errors and plot holes,  would never meet standards of literary critic; but, you know, the tolerant teenagers, probably sick of those classics they are supposed to read, discover our heroin, sharing her content on social networks  with devastating effect: over the night, certain Suzi Meyerson is becoming celebrity with tens of thousands of dedicated fans.
Oh, I am aware of fact that such situation would be more than overstretched, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s agree on this. When compared to classic scenario in which an author writes his/her whole work privately, public posting offers three crucial advantages: feedback, support and fanbase.
With feedback, our Suzi is able to improve her work gradually, meanwhile experiencing the harsh criticism, inevitable lesson for everyone who tries to survive in unprotected public environment. To endure so-called haters, she needs support that motivates her to continue. The fanbase, translated to dry business speech, consists of her potential customers, had she ever intended to monetize her effort.
Admittedly, after having substantial quantity of followers, she would be in no need of looking for publishers herself. The hard work is already done, so I doubt I’d encounter an ordinary editor refusing Suzi’s novel, based on such trivial reasons such as lacking grammar or story-telling. The smartest ones would probably mark such monstrosity as masterpiece of modernism (or what not) and publish it as it is, saving so money for proofreader. What a brilliant move! Let me have a patent.

One more time, I would like to stress out that wide audience is of crucial importance for modern writer. The other aspects, emphasized by the community or professional lectors, such as grammar, spelling, story-building, and so on – at the end, all of them are mere topics of fruitless discussion. The ordinary reader is  one-bit automata: he either like your work or he doesn’t. 
Fortunately, or unfortunately, no law forbids you to deliver crappy content. From cynical point of view, thousands of paying customers are better than ten satisfied critics. Just remember that the superiority or inferiority of given product is solely in your hand. Make it the best.
 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Why to avoid Quora?

From all social platforms, I like Quora the most.
To go briefly through social media, I would call
  • twitter a shouting forest,
  • facebook a juvenile jungle,
  • linkedin a pompous desert,
  • reddit an uncomfortable dale,
  • pinterest picturesque subtropics,
  • and youtube eye-sore mountains.
Quora suits me the best because of its two-way communication which enables me to write and to read in the same time. You may probably disagree with me as all mentioned platforms allow meaningful interactions as well.
Nevertheless, beside pinterest and youtube with their specific format of sharing images and videos, all of the rest fail to work for my needs. Over the years I lost my interest in meaningless (the modern word would be toxic) discussions, loads of memes and funny pictures, or browsing through endless tons of similar articles.

Quora, on the other side, offers the opportunity to write lengthy text with minimal distraction. Compared to personal blogs, it neatly aggregates chosen topics to your feed, ensuring so that one doesn’t need to worry about staying with nothing to read. Thanks to rather strict policy, the presented answers do not suffer from mediocrity as much as on the other platforms.
Personally, I have joined Quora for several reasons; the most significant one turned to be the improvement of my English. Even with no intention to become a TopWriter, I realized gradually that my writings do not match the reason of why the Quora was allegedly founded. Surely, sharing my personal expertise, experiences and skills (be them from plastics, ecology, programming, or life) might meet Quora’s targets, but honestly, dry and elaborate putting facts on the table repels me.
I like to get playful with topic while being sarcastic; I am a horrible abuser of irony (and English for that matter) and what is the worst I tend to be biased. Furthermore, with the honor of meeting exceptional Quorans, I start wondering why so many excellent people sacrifice considerable amount of their time by supplying so-called content writers for free; not to mention how Quora added insult to injury when they start paying their partners to ask questions instead of rewarding outstanding Quorans.

Although I am certainly not one of these (Quora owes me nothing in that regard), it is still hard to chew considering the sad fact of how quickly the remarkable content disappears under ballast of insignificant answers; being therefore lost forever as Quora search engine is notorious in providing irrelevant results. I am not even able to find my own stuff there, for God’s sake.
I know, I know, Quora pretends to have noble objectives but my previous paragraph denies them. If Quora have ever intended to promote correct and elaborate answers, their creators would have put harder effort not only in the searching, but in the way how they fill our main feed; they would prefer high quality over freshness. In reality, the Quora just mask its commercial nature by refined words, while exploiting its poor content writers (sorry, users) with no intention to reward them somehow. Well, unless you count obtaining the title of TopWriter as a cheap, yet satisfying reward.
Saying all of that, my goal is not to make anyone stop using Quora. Just be careful with putting your content there. After years of effort, you may realize there is a way how to monetize your writing, for instance, by blogging on platform that even encourage you to win money. 

Surely enough, your work still belongs to you, but what you lose is the history of building your own site which is the most crucial issue in internet world - at least in terms of visibility for search engines such as Google or Bing.

Conclusion

Create and use your own platform for online publishing. You can share your posts on Quora if they answer Quora's questions accordingly. I believe this is the only win-win strategy for both sides.



Note

If you like my work, please, do not forget to share this post and follow me on your favorite social platform.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Are video games better than reality?

If we do not want  to miss an occasion to learn, we should not exclude video games from our educational process. Playing games is enjoyable endeavor followed by guilty impression of wasted time. Strangely enough, people do not mind wasting their precious time by attending “working” meetings or by visiting “social” events; they appear even fulfilled when casually mentioning what they had to suffer there, resembling so abducted victims with Stockholm syndrome.




Trust me if I tell you that having enough opportunities of being present at both of them (understand the working meetings and social events), I hardly remember any beneficial outcome from them. Well, perhaps with exception to latter ones where we had an opening to get ourselves drunk; maybe a valuable lesson but quite repetitive in time.
Honestly, had I spent hours playing games instead of being seated in room crowded by coworkers and discussing serious business, the final result would be not only the same but even more favorable as I would probably enjoy myself, acquiring some new skills.
Which ones you ask? Recently, I paid tribute to Overlord, the ultimate piece of isekai fantasy. In his light novels,
Maruyama Kugane exploited the tiniest bits of his vast lore about Dungeon & Dragons rules, creating unique and overwhelming world, based on something he learned from playing MMO games.
In my opinion such approach (i.e. writing about things one is familiar with) trumps the usual “I actually don’t what I am writing about but who cares”. Or do you reckon that authors, describing the upper-class people, easy-to-get-laid beautiful women, or dangerous mob bosses, really experienced firsthand such situations?
Hardly! Had they put on the paper their real lives, the result would have been annoying and dull. Just imagine trope like this: I met a girl, she was ordinary, we had few dates, we had sexual intercourse, afterward she married me and now I am the most unexceptional father you can ever imagine. Would you care to read such biography?
I certainly wouldn’t. This is where the MMO games come to help. Don’t get me wrong. I do not encourage you to mimic their tropes or terribly written dialogs. On contrary, avoid just everything what you have learned from their screenwriters because those guys suck.
Your true story begins from interaction with other players and real humans of your life. Your mom is not satisfied with you playing all the time. Just transform her into monstrous queen who tries to affect not-so-great prince, looking his path in the kingdom, doomed to fail eventually - or whatnot.
(Actually, be thankful to your mother while she cares for you. This is not what you can learn from video game. The yelling is the way how mothers use to express their tender feelings towards you. But this is another story to tell…)
But back on the track, as a modern human, imprisoned in digital world, you probably got the impression of being good-for-nothing lot just because your social interactions consist of hitting the keyboard and chatting with distant friends, situated all over the globe. The relatives keep telling you to abandon comfortable lair and engage real people physically.
Let’s leave the discussion whether being shut-in is or is not the proper way how to waste the existence and let’s dissect the lessons obtained under new-era circumstances. Are players’ emotions or knowledge actually faker or less worthy compared to those we got from living our lives?
Unfortunately, they are. Video games might teach you how to make correct and optimized decisions, but they fail to deliver the touch of reality which is the dealing with uncertainty. If builder in game is told to build the building, the player knows how much it will cost and when it will be ready. In real life, the mileage may vary from almost in time to never, according to given circumstances.
Okay, I hear you crying in despair. What about emotions, then? You said that emotions coming from interacting with real people, even if they originating from flat screen, are genuine, didn’t you?
I lied. From the beginning I intended to provide cozy reassurance for serial players, something you can show your mum and say: “Hey, one great anonymous guy, in his forties and father, recommend playing games because it makes me smarter.” Unfortunately, with afterthoughts, I realized that digital relationships are flawed, despite the same chemicals flowing inside your body, no matter if you laugh or cry inside digital or physical world.
Would you guess what is the main disadvantage? Sense of touch? Better resolution? No! The true culprit is filtering capability of your favorite device or platform. Social interactions of real world do not offer possibility to avoid contact with people you don’t like. There is no block or mute; sometimes just option of turning volume off would help us to keep our sanity, but sadly, the evolution failed to provide us with these.

In conclusion, playing video games, no matter how you look at it, is just advanced simulation that can help us to achieve better grasp of real world. However, with all its advantages, the gap between virtual and material domain stay wide, even though it is closing with every emerging technology. In the future, we might be not able to distinguish between them. In that case, the question remains why we should bother at all as we have been already experiencing the real world for thousands of years. 

What do I mean?
We consider games inferior just because they do not reflect faithfully our surroundings, which we are rather unsatisfied with. We seek an escape route to the worlds that differ completely from ours, yet in the same time we perform our best to improve these worlds  to such extent there will be no difference in near future. 

What is the point, then?  Share your thought in comments.