goldkin: i has book (goldkin bookly)
Every so often, when I hit my darker moods on social media, you'll see something like this:

@Goldkin: I really wish my mind would stop feeling enshamed and self-deprecatory for my prior, years-past mistakes. It would do me lots of good.

‏@Goldkin: I fear the eternal albatross-around-the-neck. The result: I hide most information about myself, am ponderous to reply, and am less engaging.

@Goldkin: I think there's something to be said about safe harbors for promiscuous online sharing. The likes of what happens on Facebook terrifies me.

@Goldkin: ... insofar as it should be socially acceptable to share one's self without fear that it'll become a static data point. I'd like to do that.

‏@Goldkin: I see those assumptions of immutability as giving rise to resentment and bigotry, and I just feel it's too narrow a space to live within.

What this displays is a fundamental insecurity of mine that shapes many of my actions. I am extremely fretful of how my previous actions color how people see me, even if they may have no reflection on my future performance or behavior.

This is, for the most part, a product of my heritage. I grew up within a highly conservative, and for the most part judgmental, family. This same family has been known to take its facts primarily as immutable and at face value. Without wishing to do so, I internalized this view as a representation of how others would see me... and began to deeply fear resentment and bigotry as a result.

This makes me a security professional, because I've become really good at hiding and obscuring information. But this comes at a severe social cost: I don't feel comfortable sharing the details of my private life as often as I'd like to. I feel as if I am far less engaging in conversation with the people that I enjoy being around, because I fear creating poor quality, insurmountable, and immutable data. This fear actually causes me to realize exactly what I otherwise wish to avoid, because it affects my logical centers, my abilities to process information, and my abilities to speak eloquently, due to the applied, slow filter of withholding dangerous information.

This filter makes some sense to maintain, however. Almost daily, we're reminded of some "schmuck" that was too promiscuous on Facebook, Twitter, or other forms of social media. They'll have said something socially hazardous, or they'll have revealed some personal detail, that costs them a lot of credibility. And this galvanizes my fears, because I am afraid of precisely what people would think of me if I shared more of who I am.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'd like to be more open in general. This is very difficult for me, because the past few decades have taught me to be a master of protecting information. Information, I add, that I'd like people I do trust and care about to know and be able to share.

Basically, I'd like to be less envious of the people I know whom I do believe have healthy modes of communication. I'd like to transmute this into action that makes me feel supported and connected by those I care about... which is already difficult for me, given my introverted tendencies. I certainly don't aspire to be an extrovert, but for those small few I communicate with regularly, I'd like to feel as if I'm providing the best communication I can offer.

In a way, this post is sort of a form of social advertising. There's a lot that I keep trapped under the hood, and frankly, I'd like much of it to be less of a tightly-guarded secret. Because, for most of it -- my draconity and spiritual identity, my aspirations, my loves and crushes for others, my carnal desires, and my general zeal for life -- there's actually nothing to be ashamed of. It's frustrating for me to take such a Victorian stance about myself, when the specific predators I'm afraid of are no longer present. Furthermore, I find it highly cathartic to be able to get more of what makes me myself out there for inspection.

But, perhaps most importantly, being more open would alleviate the specific isolation that I've suffered from these past several decades. I certainly wouldn't like to share everything, due to the intersection of healthy secret-keeping and tl;dr. But, just being able to share more, and to establish a sort of safe clearing house for who and what I am, would do me a lot of good.

I'm not yet sure what form that will take. But, the thought of it greatly appeals to me.
goldkin: i has book (goldkin bookly)
For the past month and a half, I've been listening to lectures from The Great Courses as an experiment passed down through my family. My father is an avid customer of theirs of six or seven years now, and I only just now decided to invest in their merchandise for the first time after one of their brochures mistakenly showed up in my mailbox addressed to him.

I've really been liking the experience so far. Each lecture series is divided into a set of audio or video lectures of 30-45 minutes apiece, usually in an even number of installments priced at around $5-10 per lecture. This is, however, rarely the going rate. The Teaching Company is entirely up front about the fact that the sales price -- typically, 70% off -- is the actual price they expect customers to pay for any given lecture series. Furthermore, RetailMeNot keeps a running catalog of their additional promotions that push the price even lower. So, it's common for me to get a 24-lecture course with an anchor cost of, say, $129.95, for $19.95 after sales and additional deals.

What's notable is how much better the lectures are than what you find on iTunes U or large swathes of MIT OpenCourseWare. This isn't to say that the content or discipline areas are notably different. Rather, the attention paid to detail, teaching excellence, and production values are much higher, and the result is a much more enjoyable experience that I can absorb very quickly.

The reasons for this is are interesting. Unlike free teaching initiatives that put their course content out there for the world to see (and in many cases, as an afterthought), The Great Courses selects only for professors that have established reputations in teaching excellence instead of just strength of publications. They then invite these professors to craft courses built solely for individual learners interested in surveying the material, or for those learners whom want a deeper understanding of their desired subject areas, focusing on the lecture content instead of their courses' homework and project components. This injects an element that many of the lectures I've listened to from other sources have trouble conveying -- genuine passion and intrigue for the material -- that might otherwise get filtered out or fail to make it to students due to the rigors of repetition and research priorities.

I find that, while this isn't a replacement for the research and structured lesson plans of a good course found in Coursera, Udacity, OpenCourseWare, MITx, or any of the other initiatives to make online learning accessible, that it fills the need for the introductory stages of learning to enjoy new subjects of study. I find that to be uniquely valuable, amidst the increasing degrees of noise and uncertainty in where and how to study.

For, they're not just teaching me new information that I didn't know previously, but rather, how to value and love the study of it as well. This ensures that as a self-learner, I will be more proactive and empowered to tackle the material in deeper research, and I believe that makes all the difference.


May. 5th, 2012 09:54 am
goldkin: goldkin tranquil (goldkin tranquil)
Reflecting on my past several posts and the past several years of my life, I'm discovering that I've become alarmingly ego-centric in ways that aren't healthy.

This isn't especially surprising; business classes, social isolation, and the drama of emphasizing myself as the most correct person in the room (in many cases, this was warranted; in many more, it was not) have all led to this boorish attitude towards life that revolves around measurable personal achievement. This isn't how I want to be, and I've emotionally and spiritually exhausted myself by beating myself up over it instead of taking the right steps to fix it, because I simply don't know which those are.

Helpful in this process have been my readings of Tricycle magazine and its related paraphernalia. For example, I subscribe to their Daily Dharma feed and, surprisingly, have read it nearly every single day for two years now. It hasn't been helpful because I'm a Buddhist, mind you (my worldview is much too eclectic for that), but because it offers advice on emphasizing love and compassion, which I feel are qualities I am flatly terrible at expressing. It's also offered advice in working with de-emphasizing the ego as the sole driving force in my life.

I need help, though. Not necessarily from a psychologist (as these matters live at the level of high-functioning actualization with a large subjective and philosophical component), but from people whom understand this process at a fundamental level. I've considered taking more of my now-extremely-limited vacation time off work to visit one of the local Buddhist retreats, because I feel it would greatly help me. This isn't a be-all or an end-all, though, and more help is definitely desired.

Do any of you have experience in the area of dismantling ego-centrism that you feel might be valuable here? Crisp, specific advice with links would be the most help.

October 2015

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