Why I Love Blogs (But Not Really)

Back when blogs was new, it seemed revolutionary for the ease of producing and consuming content. Anyone could start a blog and share a perspective.

Now we have platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook dominating the social media landscape. Blogs have hung around, in part because they provide the space to deep-dive into a topic, while maintaining sovereignty of that content with the creator.

We don’t necessarily need blogs, per se. We need tools to allow people to share their ideas and express themselves without interference. My favorite blogs are by authors who post regularly and whose writing makes me think. If something else comes along that does that better, I’m on board.

Many thanks to the writers that inspired me to start my own blog.

No Way to Lose

It’s easy to be a naysayer. To criticize and complain, and perceive the worse in any given situation.

But isn’t always seeing the silver lining essentially the same amount of effort?

The notable difference is the impact. The glass half-empty lens makes us feel worse. The glass half-full makes us feel better.

If we get to decide, why not make the more beneficial choice?

The 100% Positive Feedback Approach

One of my favorite stories about encouragement comes from Scott Adams (yes, the Dilbert cartoonist). He recounted the time he took a Dale Carnegie course on public speaking, and what happened to one extremely nervous participant:

The first day was grim. One woman stood frozen in front of the group, unable to generate an intelligible word. Beads of sweat literally dripped off her chin. It was horrible to watch. She choked out a few words and returned to her seat, defeated. Our instructor came to the front of the room and said, “Wow. That was really brave.”

What an amazing response. Given how badly things went, everyone expected the focus to be on her shortcomings. But the Dale Carnegie course approach is to compliment the speaker on what she does well, and not mention the flaws.

And according to Adams, recognizing her bravery had a dramatic effect.

We all knew it was true. This woman had put her head in the lion’s mouth. Suddenly we all realized we had witnessed something important. We applauded. And it changed her. Each week, she managed a little bit more. And each week the instructor and the class recognized her achievement. By the end of the course, everyone in the class was an exceptional speaker, and we all looked forward to our few minutes in front of the class. It was like witnessing a frickin’ miracle.

We all know that criticism tends to divert our energies into defending our positions and protecting our egos. But even less harsh commentary on what went wrong focuses our attention on the negative. Positive feedback keeps enthusiasm and motivation high. Perhaps taking that to an extreme creates even greater impact than we can hope.

Regrettable Discourse

I almost always feel bad after an argument, and I finally understood why.

It’s because I don’t like losing my cool.

Maybe everyone feels that way. I have no idea. But this realization is a big deal for me.

How many problems can I avoid by not becoming aggravated when discussing a hot-button topic?

The Danger of Bad Calls

Pretty much all sports fans know the feeling of being jobbed by a refereeing official.

It’s something to talk (or complain) about. Dwelling on the unfairness of a ruling is fine if you’re a spectator.

Not so much if you’re a direct participant of the sport in question, especially if the game is still in progress.

There will always be variables we have little control over. If we have a job to do, our focus and resources are needed in the next play, not the last call that went against us.

Re-Evaluating Results

Our culture has a heavy-biased towards the bottom line. What actually happened. The score of the game, the company’s profits, the grades from class.

And when the end-results turn out bad? We start blaming those involved.

Yes, we should hold people accountable. But blanket disapproval is pretty harsh. Intentional acts of good can go unrewarded. Unintentional acts that end badly may need forgiving.

It’s a good day when we’re better about giving credit that’s due.

Real-Life Superpowers

I grew up with comics, so I like the idea of superpowers.

But what is a superpower, really? Is it something you can do than no one else can? Is it an ability that triggers awe and respect? Does it have to be destructive?

These days, I prefer to look at superpowers in another way: Not as something that could be done that’s fantastic, but fantastic because what was actually done.

Being kind, even though it’s not warranted.

Helping a stranger in need.

A willingness to do more than required, just to make things better.

People who choose to activate their generosity superpower are true heroes.

The End of Repetitive Strain Injuries from Computer Work?

Laptops are terrible for the body. It’s impossible to get your neck, back, and hands in a neutral position all at the same time.

An ergonomic desk setup is better, but it doesn’t address the damage done by staying in a static position for long periods of time.

Will voice recognition software save our bodies? The idea that we can replicate anything we can type by what we say is compelling. The main limitation seems to be improving the recognition of our voice commands through software. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before technology increases the accuracy to near 100%.

Can’t happen soon enough.

Limiting Labels

A long time ago, I was talking with a fellow parent who made an interesting point that stuck with me since.

When talking about her daughter’s tendencies to avoid talking to people, she would not use the word “shy” — especially in the child’s presence. The reason? Labeling, in this case, carried a narrative that wasn’t beneficial to anyone. The mother decided to focus on specific behaviors and address them directly, instead of putting the youngster in a category that would perhaps lead to a self-fulfilling path of being shy.

Just recently, I thought about limiting labels in the context of U.S. politics.

Specifically: self-identifying yourself as a Democrat or a Republican immediately triggers assumptions by others of how you view various topics. And how it seems if two people are aligned with different political parties they’ll automatically believe there’s very little common ground.

The steadfast allegiance to a particular group bothers me. I do wonder how much labels in politics is blocking progress.