Seeking Authenticity

Animated gif of woman and dog at a park in winter

In the past week, I’ve seen several friends mention that they miss seeing/sharing raw moments of life. It’s no secret that many of us seek authenticity in our lives. But it seems more and more of us (average web users, influencers, and business owners) are serving content displaying our best selves. We’re using our (limited) knowledge of how Facebook’s algorithms work to create content which will receive more engagement. We’re selecting from an album of curated images. We’re hopping on the daily/weekly trends of Throwback Thursdays and Manic Mondays. We’re signing off our YouTube videos with “See you in the next one. Peace.”

We are becoming data-driven robots which feed AI that will take over all our current jobs and actions. We need to return to the days of being unique. Instead of trying to imitate someone successful — including their catchphrases — why not put your own unique style on it. Or reach for the stars and be VERY WEIRD. If you have dreams, desires, or odd quirks, then embrace them. Share them with others in your life. Share them in your online feeds if you’re comfortable with a larger audience.

Pasquale on not being a bot:

Businesses and Influencers may be able to mould their content to suit ever-smarter algorithms and sell enough products to be profitable. Being a content creator or influencer is just like any job: it can be exhausting and often overlap into your personal life… into your family time. It’s tough to keep a work-life balance when your life — whether tailored for the algorithms or not — is your job. However, I’m seeing many friends and peers deactivating Facebook for long periods, realising there’s more to life than being in front of a screen, and — as a person — it’s exhausting being an algorithm-tailored brand.

As a creative person, it can be tempting to make a polished vlog or Instagram Story, but we have to know our limits. Does our career require any published content to be “perfect”, or does our family need our attention outside of work hours? Each person reading this will have a different answer. I have piles of great content online. I also have many old photos and videos online which are much more amateur than my skills now. I’m proud of all of them though. I’ve worked until sunrise through countless days in my twenties; I’ve travelled near and far for conferences, weddings, and other work events; and I’ve neglected my health and friendships in the pursuit of another dollar. It’s been very challenging and I’m grateful for all of it.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m re-discovering who I am and what’s important to me. I seek unattainable perfection in my work less and less, and focus my attention on getting a job completed so that I can spend more time with my new family. It’s still hard to avoid getting roped into social media feeds, but a conscious effort can be a tremendous help. #nofilter on personal content creation can help move your life story along with more consistency than a #perfectpost.

What are your quests for authenticity looking like these days?

Further reading

Thank you, Life

I wrote this on/around the 30th of May, 2014. Like many of my blog posts, I keep them in draft state for years. Now, I’m choosing to publish them.

May I thank someone? I’d like to thank someone. Perhaps it’s science. Perhaps it’s my parents.

I’d like to thank the universe for my life being so grand. (Okay, I know many people are living a tough life in many places. I’m not discounting that by stating ‘My life is so great… la dee dah.’. I just want to acknowledge everyone and everything in my life.) In the past few years I’ve spent my day-to-day somewhat on autopilot. I soak up as much as I can, but there’s the mindless automation of commuting, working (I’m great at what I do, so sometimes I don’t even need to think to interact with and be kind to customers), and creating art. You know, the stuff that comes naturally. Maybe it isn’t autopilot… it just feels like it a little. Too few new experiences?!

I don’t want to dwell on my greatness nor the misfortunes — read: different lifestyles(?) — of others. However, I notice when others are affected by something I’m not. Poor eyesight; driving and operating a car; only being able to afford fast food; missing limbs; fame; poor education (in a field I’m familiar with); lack of travel; applying makeup in order to go outside; a woman’s menstrual cycle; medication; disease. Diseases. What the heck is up with them?! I’ve been sick. Mostly when I was younger. Thankfully, those illnesses were nothing that didn’t fix itself or just required a week of antibiotics.

I’m so proud of the people I see living their lives with a brave face or a pair of glasses. If I had to take daily medication(s), then I’d probably be dead. (Although, I do pretty well with routine(s). You know, getting dressed and the like.) Lately, I’ve been almost forgetting to grab my helmet before biking to work. That scares me. ‘Oh, Derek. C’mon. Splitting your head open on the side of the road is hardly something you should be scared of.’, you might be thinking. Well, that’s why I’m being thankful for my life.

No, my life isn’t perfect. Do I have ailments? Not really. I dislike the fact that my body sleeps so deeply (I’ve started to hypothesise that this is because I’m thinking about many things; this can turn in to a dream or just be strong brain activity) that it can be a struggle to wake every morning — even when I sleep on my bed of choice (a rug on the floor). Once or twice a year, I have a conscious fainting event. If anyone ever asked me the question ‘Have you fainted before?’, then I would likely not consider those “events” as fainting. Although, the more I think about it, the more it seems like I do have experience with fainting. It usually occurs if I’ve been sitting in the same position (perhaps sitting on my legs; blocking blood flow) for a long time. I have spent a good portion of the last decade sitting for an extended period of time. I usually don’t see any affects from that since I’m fairly active (biking and frolicking, mostly).

There are these rare times where I stand up and I can feel myself beginning to blackout. My first one or two experiences of this were luckily near soft objects, so I feel — still conscious — without hurting myself. There have been times when I’ve tried to catch myself from falling but bumped my head on a table or a wall. There’s never any pain. It’s weird. I’m weird. I’ve learned to understand the blackout/fainting is coming and I hold on to something stable as my legs begin to give out and I gracefully fall to the ground. Once there, it only takes 3-10 seconds before my body sorts things out and I can stand up again.

That’s me. I’m thankful to be who I am, and for everyone who has had a positive (read: everything is positive) impact on my life. I’m also thankful for everyone who suffers from ailments or stresses and chooses to live on. There’s lots of cake to be eaten, frolicking to be endured, and yoga to be enjoyed, so don’t give up until we’re able to do all those things on Mars.

This post was inspired by a video about Lyme Disease, “Under Our Skin.

Katy Perry’s Firework inspired this

Katy Perry recently launched the music video for her single “Firework”. I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of Katy Perry, but Rachel sure is. I don’t know Katy Perry; I don’t know much about her; I don’t know how much of her music is her work; or how much is the work of the music label(s) and other money-making producers. What I do know is that the message behind/in this video is powerful.

“Firework” is probably one of the most important songs compared to Katy’s other music/videos. I mean, “I Kissed A Girl” is a fairly pointless song. Albeit, popular because it was catchy in 2008. When it was popular, I remember hearing girls as young as 5 singing along to it. That appalled me. Not because it was about two girls kissing (children should learn about as much of the world and various cultures as soon as they can), but because they had listened to the song enough times to know the lyrics — at least the chorus, anyway. Exposing children to top 40 music is a story for another day though…

I’ve always been considered ‘different’. Throughout all levels of education I’ve had little quirks which made me different:

  • In primary school I tried to convince my classmates I was from a different planet. I also enjoyed exploring the school grounds rather than playing sports or other games kids play.
  • In high school I carried around a camera to parties rather than a case of beer. I have far too much footage of intoxicated teens.
  • In college I fit in pretty great because everyone in my course enjoyed what they were doing — Digital Media. However, most of them chose to hang out at bars or clubs (places I had lost interest in) on the weekends.

I’m not gay; I don’t have any physical or mental ailments; I’m not a nudist. But I am different. I don’t drink alcoholic beverages and I don’t take non-prescription drugs. (Heck, I don’t take prescription drugs unless it’s absolutely vital to my well-being.) Also, a lot of my beliefs and actions in life are fundamentally different to those of my peers.

I like to make a fool of myself. I like to go on adventures. I like to play in childrens’ playgrounds.

My differences are extremely minor compared to the differences that many other people (like those portrayed in “Firework”) in the world deal with on a daily basis, but I still feel I know how those people feel (to some extent). It’s hard. It’s a constant struggle to not conform with mainstream actions and beliefs. Even with such struggles, I wouldn’t want to live any other way.

It’s easy to live under mainstream principles. It’s easy to pick on those that are different. It’s easy to hurt someone’s feelings and make them feel all alone.

I know I picked on people in primary school and high school. I was nothing like the traditional “bully” you see portrayed on television, but I know I’ve directly bullied one or two people in my life. It wasn’t through violence, but it was bullying.

I’ve been bullied too. Far more than I realised — now that I think about it. Physically, emotionally, mentally. I guess I’ve purged most of it from my mind, but I’m sure such experiences helped me grow as a person. Though, I wouldn’t wish some of the experiences on anyone.

In addition to Katy’s “Firework”, another example of mainstream media displaying young people with immense courage is “Glee”. In Season 2 the character Shannon/Coach Beiste (a.k.a. “Beast”) was introduced. To explain this in the best way possible, I’m going to hand you over to Wikipedia for a moment:

In “Never Been Kissed“, the boys (and Tina) from the glee club use mental images of Beiste in a compromising position to “cool themselves off” when it gets too hot and heavy with their girlfriends. Beiste finds out and decides to quit. Will talks to her and learns that Beiste has never been kissed, which leads to him giving her a first kiss.

Bullying of a teacher has occurred in front of my eyes, yet I didn’t do anything to stop it. That’s not the kind of situation anyone (teacher or student) should be, but I hope a human being in 2010 would  have the willpower to put it to a stop. If we want to advance the world to a future of greatness, then we need to put our petty differences aside and work together.

I’ve embedded Katy Perry’s “Firework” music video below, as well as a 6-minute ‘making of’ video, followed by a 20-minute ‘making of’ video.

Katy Perry – Firework / 3:54

The making of Firework / 6:18

The making of Firework / 21:02
Mostly different footage than what’s in the shorter version.

Are you inspired now? Are you going to stand up for yourself and be proud to be different? Tell me your stories in the comments.

Today (15th) was Awesome!

Today, September 15th, 2010, was so awesome! So, so awesome! I would like to tell you why.

In the extremely early hours of the day (i.e., just past midnight) I had some awesome discussions with Leah over IM. We don’t always get to talk as much as we would like, but when we do it’s great. These days it appears to be tough to find good, loyal, understanding, and loving friends. Leah is definitely one of mine!

I woke up early. For some people out there 0830 hours might not be early, but I went to sleep about six hours before that, so I would consider that an optimal period of sleep. Note: I hate oversleeping. It makes me feel crappy and generally ruins my day.

As soon as I woke up I hugged and kissed Rachel. She’s a good hugger and it makes me happy to wake up to her beauty in the morning.

Crushing a whole bunch of work always makes me feel fantastic! Getting up early aids this because I have more waking ours to crush more work. Even though I don’t work in the same physical location as my co-workers, I must say they can be darn hilarious over our various forms of contact (IM/e-mail/ I love my job!

I came across the song “Electric Twist” by A Fine Frenzy (video embedded below). I’m not sure why I hadn’t heard this before, but it’s just my style (I rarely like music; let alone popular music). Plus… PLUS, the singer is a red head and the video was creatively made; both of things had me swooning as I listened to the song on repeat.

I managed to get outside in the sun to make some vitamin D in my body. Sometimes I don’t venture outside for a few days, but recently I’ve been making a conscious effort to get fresh air and sun daily. Okay, at least bi-daily.

Part of my job description is to watch videos. I know, I know, it’s pretty darn tough; clicking play and everything. Anywho, one of my co-workers, Billy, created an awesome video describing all of Viddler’s major features within a two-minute eye-catching video. It made me darn giddy!

Update (29th Sept., 2010): Billy’s video is now live at Viddler’s Learn More page.

I also happened to come across Chase Jarvis’ short film — Benevolent Mischief — created with the new Nikon D7000. The behind the scenes video is what interested me most. Another giddy watch of the day!

I have also been trying to take a siesta (20-minute nap) in the afternoon because I’m trying to follow Dustin Curtis’ brain hack idea on sleep. It’s sometimes quite difficult to fit a nap in when there’s so much awesomeness going on in the world, but today I managed to do it. While I was drifting into REM I was thinking about how awesome my day was going and how I would write this blog post. I pondered if it could get even more awesome. After my siesta I felt even more full of energy.

One of the things I pondered about during my siesta was cake. We didn’t have any cake mixes in the apartment and — unless Rachel was going to randomly come home with a cake — I wasn’t expecting to fulfill that daydream. Alas, when Rachel came home from work we all decided that it was time to go grocery shopping. Long-story-short, we got cake mix and I made a blueberry white cake for us to consume after dinner. I put mine with cookies and cream ice cream and it was awesome!

Cookies & Cream ice cream and Blueberry White CakeMacro: Bb WC WC

Today was awesome!

I love you, and good night!

Living off the land

I saw this video today when Christie linked it on Twitter. Watch it.

I often think about the future and how I’d like to impact the world in a positive way. Everything starts small. The small contributions I make now (picking up other people’s litter, planting trees, saving water/electricity, recycling, giving blood, etc) will one day blossom into large ones.

The family documented in the video above is exactly (well, 99%) how I’d like to live out my life. I believe it’s how everyone should live. Nay, how everyone will live. It’s how people used to live before events like the Industrial Revolution — that occurred less than 100 years ago. For centuries humans have lived off the land. It’s amazing how quickly that changed.

Of course, I realise the repercussions of everyone switching back to sustainable lifestyles: mass-produced agriculture would slow to a trickle, millions would be without jobs (though, if you were hands-on in anything, then you’d now be able to do that on a smaller scale at home), selling ‘homegrown’ products would be more difficult because it wouldn’t be unique.

I’d like more people to get talking about this kind of lifestyle. Once more people know about it, then perhaps more people might consider it a viable life choice.

What are your thoughts?

List of Links: 001 – Human-powered Dogma

What are all these links for? Find out here.

Top 10 Ways Your Brain Is Sabotaging You (and How to Beat It) by Lifehacker
This is a great overall post for anybody. It takes many aspects of daily human (middle class) life and explains how our brain is attempting to sabotage potential good decisions. Most of the brief ten steps contain links which explain the step in more detail. If you ever wanted to take more control of your actions, then this is a good place to start thinking about it.

The video below is in step 4 of the above link, but I figure I can tempt you to go to that link by letting you watch it here:

Products and People Over Process and Dogma by Photofocus
If you’re an experienced photographer, then you know photography isn’t about what camera/lens you have or whether or not you edit your photographs — it’s about you (the photographer). This post will be helpful for photographers to ‘get over themselves’ — or, rather, their equipment. Scott Bourne explains why the end product — the photograph — is all most people care about. Even if you’re not a photographer you might enjoy the humbleness of this post.

British Man Walks Entire Amazon River In 2 Years by NPR
The title of this post is very self-explanatory. A British man and his friend left on a quest to walk the entire Amazon River over two-and-a-half years ago. Along the way they experienced all kinds of interesting people and hardships. I think this story is interesting because it inspires me to go on a similar adventure (and get away from computers). Similar stories of people climbing Mount Everest also inspire me.

‘Human-Electric’ Hybrid Car Goes 30 MPH Uphill by Discovery News
When we think of alternative forms of energy we generally think of solar, wind, and hydro. There’s one we forget about: Human power. Sure, the whole reason cars and other technologies are invented are to make a human’s life easier and more efficient.

We all need to exercise regularly to stay healthy. We usually do so by riding a bike, running around the block, or using the Stair Master at the local gym. Personally, I think gyms are a huge waste of money considering you can do 80% of the same exercise in your own home or neighbourhood.

A human-powered car would be more efficient than anything we’ve seen before because we exercise our muscles to use it and it will still be able to do many of the functions of a regular car sans drifting.
Moreover, don’t laugh when you read this article. It could be more realistic of an idea than you think!

6 Steps to Organizing Your Digital Photos by The Nest
This could fit into the uncluttering section of my first link in this post. While digital clutter isn’t as visible as physical (real life) clutter it can still have the same stressful and overwhelming effects as the latter. Photos (and videos) are usually ranked number one or two in the most important things people own in their home (the things you grab if there’s a fire or a flood).

Now that the majority of our photos are on our computers it is important that we store and label them logically so we can find them in a hurry. Once that is done you need to backup, backup, backup. This article will share six easy (if you stick to them) ways to keep your photos organised.

Location-based check-in data on its way to becoming a commodity by Pelago
It’s no secret that we’re just starting to see the potential of location-based applications in our everyday lives. First, they were just a bit of fun, but now apps like Whrrl and Foursquare can recommend ideas to us when we arrive at a particular place. This is only the beginning!

Jeff Holden, cofounder and CEO of Pelago (creator of Whrrl), gives his insights into the future of geolocation as a commodity — not just fun.

Were you utterly enthralled by this list of links I curated? Well, then I’m sure you’d enjoy subscribing (in your chosen feed reader) to my List of Links category on this blog.

Or, perhaps, this wasn’t enough and you’d like to know everything I read. Well, never fear, my Delicious bookmarks will assist you with that.

Broken link? If you ever read one of my List of Links posts and a link doesn’t work, then I’d really appreciate it if you e-mail me and tell me which link in which post (put ‘Broken link in LoL [###]’ in the Subject).

Stop worrying about the length of my hair

A few members of my friends and family have been giving me the occasional nudge to get a haircut. This has been happening since around 2008.

I’ll get you up to speed: When I was a young boy I had medium length hair (some may have considered this a mullet at certain times).

When I was in high school I had short, spiked hair for 98% of my school attendance; the other 2% would be when I let it get a little long and only spiked the front (seen here) or when I was on a school camp and did not spike my hair. Yeah, I know, that’s a lot of gel over the course of six years. Lots of hair cuts to keep it short, too. Towards grade 12 I decided I didn’t want to pay for hair cuts anymore, so I just had my mom or sister cut my hair. If they weren’t around I’d cut it myself; it isn’t hard.

After high school I let me hair grow out a bit longer (seen here). Nothing hippy, but long enough to have to swing my head to the side several times a day to keep it out of my face. This ‘medium-long’ length can be quite annoying because it’s no long enough to put my fringe (USA readers understand this as ‘bangs’) behind my ears, and it’s not sure enough to easily spike.

Since my trip to the USA in 2008 I’ve let my hair get longer and longer (seen here). Hippyish, if you will. I enjoy it, and it’s long enough to have some weight to it, so I can tell/teach it where to sit. At the length it’s at now I have noticed that I find A LOT of long, brown hair everywhere, and every time I wash my hair many many strands are detached from my head and wrapped around my fingers. It gets quite annoying. I’m sure the same amount of hair was detached from my head in my short-hair days, but I probably just didn’t notice it because the hairs were so short.

That’s the story of my hair up to now.

Why on Earth should you care about this? You shouldn’t. Far too many people are superficial noseys that feel people should look a certain way, and those noseys will go out of their way to tell people how to look. Yeah. Lame.

I’m not saying I want to go ‘against the grain’. I just want to live the way I want to. My hair is not a hazard to myself or anyone else. If it was a metre long, then it might start causing problems, but for now it isn’t.

One day (in the next few years) I will shave my hair completely off so that I am bald. I have been planning on that for about 7 years now. Not for any particular reason; I just want to say that I’ve shaved my head before. Perhaps farther down the track I’ll have dreadlocks. Who knows…

For now, I’d just like people to stop focusing on their looks or other peoples’ appearances, and start helping the world become a better place for everyone.