Greg Thinks Things #22

• 6 min read

No sooner had I finished my plans for 2021 the COVID-19 pandemic took another twist, and we ended up locked down again.

Greg Thinks Things #22

Hello Friends,

No sooner had I finished my plans for 2021 the COVID-19 pandemic took another twist, and we ended up locked down again. From here it's pretty easy to start going down hill. Wishing things were different, but that doesn't change anything. Being stuck at home can quickly become being safe at home with a little shift in perspective, and I am as guilty of being pessimistic as anyone.

Homeschooling one child, whilst looking after another disabled one ,all whilst both my wife and I are trying to work is going to be a nightmare of epic proportions. However, we are all in the safest possible place and blessed to be able to keep working when loads of others can’t. We have already settled into a really good routine and although stressful its great to get some strutcture into our days.

It's framing like this that helps to always lift me up, but I occasionally have to be reminded once in a while. Communication for me is key. I have a group of great friends around me and that I am not afraid to reach out to for a little support. I don't have many “real life friends” as my wife would say, but I have many people that I talk to online through spending years on social media and interacting with awesome people.

Meditation Has A PR Problem

Whenever I introduce someone new to mediation, they always look at me a bit quizzically. Not sure if I am being serious or wondering how I have hidden my woo-woo tendencies so well. Expecting me to suggest they go and sit in a cave for a week or buy some new orange robes.

You see, the vast majority of people seem to think that meditation involves sitting crossed legged on the floor, humming to yourself, or other such tropes seem to be very widespread. When in fact it is the simplest, humblest practice you can do, just sitting and paying attention to only your breath.

It seems bizarre the first time you try out a guided mediation, and you can’t concentrate on your breathing for more than a few moments. Utterly humbling, a bit of a shock, and I wonder how many people will give up here because they think this is failing. However, that is part of the process of mediation — a bicep curl for the mind.

There is no woo-woo, no magic and no new technology involved. One of the oldest and simplest practices in the world will teach you more about yourself than anything else, and it requires absolutely no outlay.

What Is Suffering

I have been transfixed with one of the best podcasts I have ever listened to. Yuval Noah Harari spoke to Tim Ferris for a little under two hours and left me with so much more to think about now regarding knowing suffering and also knowing yourself.

It is easy to find out what makes us happy, and what brightens our mood because it's instant and identifiable. But what even is suffering and what it is doing to us is a much harder thing to pin down and solve. Pain is suffering, we can understand and highlight the issue and at least try and solve the issue.

We don't have enough money perhaps is causing us misery, so the easy solution is to try and get more money. However, is the money really the problem, or is it the illusion we need more money, or the things we buy that causing us to be miserable. As Yuval talks about there as much deeper mechanisms at play in our lives and without understanding them and ourselves we could be trying to solve proximal issues and not the real root causes.

Perhaps this links back to mindfulness and meditation above, but so many people I know are completely uncomfortable being alone with their own thoughts to a stage that they are constantly distracted from themselves. Knowing yourself and being aware of what is going on inside you is one of the most important things you can do to improve so many things in your life.

A Better Web

But the internet is not Facebook or Twitter, and it shouldn’t be. Fifteen years ago, the major social-media platforms barely existed. Was the internet better or worse? The online public square, now dominated by Twitter, was then constituted of independent blogs aggregated by user-curated feeds. Bloggers are publishers, legally responsible for their posts, but the blogosphere was not noted for its blandness. White-hot critique was common, but defamation and abuse were not. — Silas House

I love the web. It is my favourite place to be when it's functioning well and the people are nice. However, more and more tending to the social media garden is required to make these platforms a nice place to be. I am glad to say I have suffered very little abuse, but not zero, my main issue is the tendency of false and at a time frankly ridiculous information to come up in my feed.

There are numerous users that seem to think the internet gives them the right to publish absolutely anything they like and not ever be held accountable. Platforms have almost zero motivation to clamp down on those harassing and abusing individuals. because it maximises engagement. With even less attention payed to controlling the information placed on them.

I am firmly of the belief that Social Media platforms should be held accountable for the information published to it by their users. With the ability to remove, and punish anybody found to be abusing their ability to post to the web. The right of free speech does not mean every user has the right to an open platform.

There is an ongoing push by a section of the US to remove section 230 that protects internet giants from this. Although this is for completely different reasons, I think that by changing the protection it holds will lead to a much better internet and one that flourishes with independent thought published by individuals. The public square of the internet needs to be decentralised and moved back to a time when everyone had their say but was also accountable for everything they chose to publish.

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Deciphering the most beloved, most reviled children’s-book author in history.

Before I Go

Newsletters are a strange thing, as much as everyone seems to have one they can be hugely varied affairs. I have tried as much as possible to keep this a little more personal and include some smaller thoughts on things that are on my mind.

The points I include are things that I could expend into a blog post but perhaps would lose a more short and sweet message, or sometimes I just want them to be in your inbox and not on the web.

I hope this direction is pleasing, as the readers keep growing after every edition, and enjoyable. However, I would really love to build up my interaction on topics, you can always reply to this email or get me on Twitter. My DMs are always open and have grown to become a great communication tool.

I wish you all the very best, take care of yourselves my friends.

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