Categories
Life

Here’s Why I Write Satire

It would be an understatement to say that I love reading, and that I also love writing. This post is about why I write satire and also why satire is important in a free and democratic setting. To put it succinctly, if there’s one regret I have in life is that there’s just not enough time to read all the great books that are out there in the world.

Francis drops this

There’s just one book I have given up on reading and that was 13 Reasons Why. I felt guilty doing so since it would be a waste not to read. It was a good call, though. (Francis Bacon would nod in agreement.) That book is a waste of pages. I realized that it’s better to give up reading a book if you don’t connect with it since you’re just wasting precious time.

But, Why Satire?

Like I said I love writing, and that alone should offer you an indication as to why I write satire. There’s this excellent article I read called 30 Year Thinking by Nat Eliason. It’s a great article about investing time and effort into skills that you know you’d never give up on, and what you’d like doing for the vast majority of your life. Writing and reading are free, and have a great deal of benefits, which go beyond cognitive and artistic benefits.

Growing up, I recall how writing along with art was, at one time, regarded as a dead-end job. Science was regarded highly. It’s great to see that this perspective has changed. I never chose writing as a profession because it would be lucrative, but, in this era, it has become exactly that. Just like anything in life, you need to practice and practice away at your craft, so that you’re good at it.

George Orwell uses satire to address the subject of the Russian revolution

So, why satire? Well, because it just goes beyond the creative aspect of writing. Satire is used to point at the stupidity of the world. It is a tool to help the reader analyse their own human nature and know where they have erred.

The novel Gulliver’s Travels written by Jonathan Swift was a satirical piece aimed at tackling the nature of humans. One of the most famous scenes in the story is when the main character interacts with the tiny people of Lilliput, satire is used here in the height of the heels worn by the men as a way to mock the Whigs and Tories of the British government.

Jonathan Swift uses satire to take about the nature of humans

In Animal Farm written by George Orwell, satire is used as a way of addressing the subject of the Russian revolution, this is perhaps one of the most famous examples of satirical literature in the world. In Catch 22 written by Joseph Heller, there are plenty of examples of satire throughout the piece. One of the most notable is the general ideal of the Catch 22, which the writer uses as a way to talk about the lack of logic often seen in bureaucracy.

Enter The Sunday Morning

I spent a great many years working at some of the top advertising agencies in Sri Lanka. It was a great time, and I managed to work with some excellent brands. But, in terms of having a rewarding experience I would think that it was working as a feature journalist and editor at a lifestyle magazine that made me most content. Covid-19 did away with the publishing industry, and I transitioned into the tech industry.

Feminism is not a man-hating hobby

The tech industry is proving to be a completely different ball game altogether; however, it is something that I’m enthusiastic about when it comes to learning. Life is short, and learning transcends the excitement that power and money can extend to you. That said I missed creative writing, which is why I was excited when I was invited to have my own column at one of Sri Lanka’s best newspapers.

Satire on the privilege of the patriarchy and the archaic roles that women have to adhere to

I may have started out as a creative writer, but I wanted to move onto other types of writing as well. I’ve done business writing and technical writing. I just want to have the bragging rights knowing that I can do it all. Writing is an experience, and it’s important to me that I can experience it all.

Satire on elitism, the rich and the new rich

This was why I jumped at the invitation to have my own column on The Sunday Morning called Colombo Confessions. It’s a column that has a light-hearted and satirical view of Colombo and it’s denizens. I admit that at times, it does take on a very caustic viewpoint, but then the subject matter happens to be rather heavy, too. How else is one supposed to talk about sexual harassment, elitism and sexual intrigue?

Satire on how a privileged few with their toxic masculinity use both men and women as objects of sexual gratification

Satire, I’ll admit, is not everyone’s cup of tea, but what a brew it is, and that alone is a good enough reason to write satire. Call it a curse or a blessing, but the fact is that writers are empathetic creatures. We observe and we feel. And most of the time, we feel too much. This desire to feel and extend our feelings onto paper is like consuming alcohol. There is that initial high which segues into a feeling of satiation that lulls you into a sense of bliss. This is another reason why I write satire. I’ve never done drugs (except for alcohol, which technically, is a drug) and never will, but, I guess, there is a thrill in chasing that high quite like chasing the dragon.

Satire Is Necessary

Remember that in a world where there is not much choice, to even think beyond the cookie-cutter norms that have been set up by the status quo is an act of revolution per se. Your voice matters as do your own individuality. This is why it is important to express generously. In what is supposedly regarded as a free and democratic world, our way of expressing is the ultimate challenge of the status quo.

Why I write satire is because satire is great in the sense that it has a complete lack of boring and reasonable moderation, and with the subject matter that is addressed, there is no other option either. As an empathetic writer who does possess a certain degree of sensitivity, the pen is that almighty tool used to create awareness of issues and disparities in society. Satirical literature calls attention to these issues and can make readers aware of something they had not been previously considered or understood.

Categories
Tech

Life With A Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite

As per biologist E. O. Wilson: In ancient history and prehistory, tribes gained visceral comfort and pride from familiar fellowship, and a way to defend the group enthusiastically against rival groups. It gave people a name in addition to their own and social meaning in a chaotic world. It made the environment less disorienting and dangerous.

These prehistoric proclivities have migrated onto modern life, and now, it does more harm than good. Let’s discuss lies, and how they are related to the forever argument of whether Android or iOS is better.

Lie Number 1: Apple/iOS is the best.

Lie Number 2: Samsung/Android is the best.

Your purchase depends on the narrative that you choose to believe, you see. Sadly, in society you need to subscribe to one or the other. Like most things that make up society whether it be religion, food or a university/school, you are compelled to choose. Or, your circle of influence (think parents, friends, religious leaders et al.) will embrace you into their fold and hammer their beliefs into you.

But, it is all a lie. Anyone who has read Sapiens will know that we choose the narrative we want to believe based on the stories around it. That sense of community created by brands (because, they all are brands, aren’t they?) is the glue that builds camaraderie.

Android and iOS both fulfill a function, but most audiences prefer to snuggle in a rabbit hole of arguments and dysfunction. Rather see a product for what it is, which is to cater to a requirement, and make whatever inconveniences redundant. The problem with any circle of influence is the set of beliefs they instill in you.

Thus begins my justification of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite — (sometimes) referred to as Lite hereonafter. Whatever you assimilate today make sure you ponder the contents of this article before you make a purchase decision. Full disclaimer: I’m comparing the Lite to an iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus running on iOS 14.

Productivity and Word Consumption is Better on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite

The stylus on this Lite for some strange reason helps the sinuosity of my sentences. Maybe because it is a novel experience or maybe because the user experience is conducive to creativity. Either way this is a great addition and it makes the Lite a fantastic smartphone.

The stylus on the Note was a game changer and continues to be one

Since I’m a writer by profession, the varying keyboards that you can draw up are helpful. I usually shift between the Samsung Keyboard, Gboard and the Microsoft SwiftKey Keyboard. The whole experience of collating, curating and fleshing out data is a joy on this device.

Who needs a laptop?

Although I want to try Stencil as a design tool, I have decided to stick with Canva since I have a Pro Version of it, and working on it via the Lite is an absolute breeze. Collaborating via the Google Workspace and using apps like Ahrefs is convenient.

Ted Chiang is an inspiration

The Kindle app works great on the Lite, and reading is a rewarding journey on this device. Of course, there’s nothing like a book as far as the writer in me is concerned. But this works well and the reading experience is fantastic.

Samsung Health is Better than Apple Health

My weight loss journey is documented on this blog, and I used Apple Health to document the distance of my daily walks. I knew that there is assured to be some disparity with regard to the accuracy of the distance covered. But what I realized is that some measure was better than nothing.

Apple Health was generous with clocking in the distance on the 20th of October

Enter the Lite. I was curious to see what was actually better when comparing Samsung Health vs. Apple Health, and so decided to do my morning walk with both devices.

On the 20th of October, Samsung Health said I’ve walked less compared to Apple Health

The Lite said that I’ve done less when it came to the distance covered. And based on the app reviews present, I think I will believe the data generated by Samsung Health simply because there is proof.

Netflix and Apple Music is Better on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite

Who would have thought that Apple apps work better on an Android? Without diving into the whole mechanics of what is under the hood, it makes sense to remember that it is the experience that matters. The Note 2 that I had promised a lot in the way of specifications but ANY iPhone would have put it to shame.

This is my jam and Doja Cat is the bomb

And then there’s Netflix on Android, which offers a fantastic viewing experience, too. This is largely thanks to a 6.7 inch screen that is Super AMOLED. Running on Android 10 with One UI 2.5 the user experience on this Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite is far better that iOS 14 and that truly is just my opinion.

Deadly Class is a great watch on Netflix and I really think that Tarantino actually made this

Let’s also consider sound when it comes to the listening experience. The Lite features a 3.5mm audio jack and Dolby Atmos surround sound technology. The sound experience on this device offers one eargasm after the next.

Dolby Atmos on and Dark Mode off

I use JBL earphones when walking and the Samsung earphones when listening to media. Both are great, but, as you would expect, the JBL noisemakers are better.

Battery Life is Seriously Good on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite

Everything works seamlessly in one cohesive team powered with a 4500 mAh battery pack. The Lite has lasted more than 1.5 days on a full charge.

4500 mAh worth of power

This efficiency will reduce as time goes on. But with 4 months on the clock, there’s no visible sign of the battery losing its glimmer. The Lite has a Snapdragon 855 processor, which is a flagship phone processor, and that’s quite a good reason to go for it. The processor is one generation old compared to what is powering the Note 20, but the Lite is great as it is.

What Should You Buy?

It’s a good rule of thumb to skip the first generation of any product since there will be teething issues. This is why I researched thoroughly before deciding on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite.

Additionally the whole concept of marketing is done in such a way that you would always opt for the flashiest and newest iteration of whatever product. And, this is a surefire way to ensure that you end up burning a hole in your pocket.

Rather choose a product based on your requirement; this video shows why a Samsung Note 10 Lite is enough compared to a Samsung Note 20.

Categories
Life

Why Are We Addicted?

Jake:
If it’s poison, why do you drink it?

Charlie:
Because there are things inside of me I need to kill.

Why do we drink alcohol? Why are we addicted? The above conversation piece from Two And A Half Men gives an insightful answer as to why. You see, there are demons in our subconscious that lie and lie silent. Lucky for you if you don’t meet them, but most of us do.

I was an alcoholic, and now I’m not. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy a drink. I choose gin since it’s keto-friendly.

So, this thing with Addiction — is it something that is predisposed or a choice? It’s neither. It’s the result of our environments. Consider the issue of PTSD afflicting soldiers who survive war.

Addiction, you see, is an attempt at a solution; it is not a problem by itself. As per Gabor Maté, most of our trauma can be rooted in childhood. The subject on this is huge, but a child that is emotionally abused will overcompensate by being overly nice even if they don’t want to.

A child’s brain circuitry is developed while in the mother’s stomach. A stressed out mother leads to a stressed out child. Children when growing up are narcissistic by nature, and believe that they are the center of their own universe. When they don’t get the love and attention they crave from their parents, they carry such dysfunction into their adult lives.

This is the reason why stressed out parents bring up children who are stressed out. This is why children are more prone to autoimmune disorders like Multiple Sclerosis and even Cancer.

So, does the fault lie with parents? Somewhat, but the majority of this fault lies with the social, economic and political issues that we have faced throughout the years. For instance, both parents, in recent times, have had to work to bring in the finances thereby leading to their children being neglected with no mother at home. We know that our emotions and physiology cannot be divorced from each other. When one suffers, so does the other.

We are social creatures, and human connections are intrinsic, and looking for comfort in electric connections just won’t do. In fact, it would only lead to those who are vulnerable to resort to a variety of addictions.

Why We Are Addicted

“Nothing records the effects of a sad life as graphically as the human body.” – Naguib Mahfouz.

Most addicts aren’t afraid of dying. They are afraid of living. What does alcohol, drugs, food and shopping in excess have in common — they cure pain. The question shouldn’t be — Why is there addiction? The question should be — Why is there pain? Keith Richards in his biography talks of how he sought oblivion through his addictions. Why? Because he was not comfortable being in his own skin.

A truth bomb.

We are addicted because whatever we are addicted to offers respite from the pain that we are feeling or because it gives us pleasure that’s available to us.

Let’s first define this whole concept of Addiction — it is any behavior that gives you temporary relief or pleasure, but in the long term causes harm, and you can’t give it up despite the negative consequences.

Drugs per se aren’t addictive. Many people choose their addiction, and it is all to do with Dopamine and Endorphins. As many addicts claim, the stimulus they are addicted to offers them warmth and comfort and a space that is non-judgemental. This is all an attempt at trying to fill in the void that exists within us. It all goes back to what we didn’t get when we were small.

The Meaning to Life

I wonder at times if addiction can be cured through science. The meaning of life is to distract ourselves from the
meaninglessness of life. Love is the highest meaning of
life. We pervert it and fail it a billion times over. It doesn’t pay the bills, but it satiates the spirit like nothing else.

Professor X is kind to those who are flawed

It takes courage and responsibility to be kind to flawed humans as Professor X has shown us. But it’s our highest calling. It elevates everything we do. Any sense
of value or meaning in an
objectively meaningless universe can only be the result of whatever sense of value we subconsciously project onto the world and some of the experiences within it, or in turn, whatever meaning we perceive when we look out into the world.

The very fact that people say — Find your meaning — means there’s no meaning to life. Rather we need to find our own individual purpose, and finding it means there’s a thin line between sanity and insanity.

Leave Well Alone

Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within. Buddha said be a lamp unto thyself. The choice we have to make is to heal and be kinder to ourselves. The majority of us are damaged in one way or the other. Yet the only solution, as per Jordan Peterson, is to be strong.

And, if we do choose to move away from the hurt and grief we feel, we’ll realize that we made those first steps towards healing. In the grand scheme of things, you’ll realize that choosing contentment is possibly the only way forward. Once we do heal, the Faroese word — nøgdsemi — gives an indication of how we should live. Nøgdsemi means Life Is Good The Way It Is and it offers a way to accept life just the way it is.

Categories
Tech

The Social Dilemma Is Why I Left Social Media

Do you know why this post has a title that states — The Social Dilemma is Why I Left Social Media? Read on to understand why. Whether it’s eloquently stated by Tristan Harris, Yuval Noah Harari or Cal Newport, the evils of social media are well-documented. It’s true online toxicity is real, and so too is suicide. Ironic then how I went from being a Social Media Manager at a Digital Marketing Company in Sri Lanka to someone who left social media twice. That said I will state that social media has its place in any content strategy, but that is a different topic for a different day.

Have you noticed the lack of civil discourse, the misinformation present, fake news, and the division within relationships present on social media? The Social Dilemma attempts to raise awareness around important issues like design ethics and data privacy (like the Cambridge Analytica data breach), and succeeds.

Tristan Harris reminds us that — If the product is free, you’re the product. That realization never dawned on me until much later. The first time I left social media was in 2014 when the whole process of posting how fantastic life was just plain tiresome.

This will be the best documentary that you’ll watch this year

The second time was in 2020, and the social media landscape seemed more dysfunctional than the first time. Tristan Harris speaks of how Facebook is a social persuasion machine and is excellent at monetizing your attention. And with all the brands I handled working for the above-mentioned digital agency that was exactly what I was doing.

We hear of how social media companies use attention engineers to make these social media entities as addictive as possible. Profit can be maximised thanks to you giving attention and handing your data over. The University of Stanford talks of the Magic of Maybe, where we really do care about what others think of us — think Likes, Comments and Reactions. This is all a reference to the shot of dopamine you get. Some sources say that this shot of dopamine is equivalent to the levels experienced when consuming cocaine. Additionally there are ethical implications of data extraction even with the new products of Facebook.

Social Comparison Theory

Facebook Depression is a thing

Showiness is often mistaken for reality. What you can gather from this is that more often than not, social media perpetuates that endless cycle of being fake. And I’m not talking about political fake news. Social Comparison Theory is something that is pertinent at this juncture. We have a proclivity to compare ourselves to people who have similar characteristics to us. This can boost or destroy our confidence.

Leon Festinger has a theory, which suggests that there are two types of social comparison — Upwards and Downwards. Upwards is where we compare ourselves to someone who is less than or inferior to ourselves. Downwards is where we compare ourselves to someone who is superior or better than us.

The theory basically states that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others they perceive as somehow faring better or worse. No surprise then that so many suffer from what is known as Facebook Depression, which leads to less life satisfaction and more sadness.

The Antidote To Social Media Is Deep Work

A truth bomb

Seth Godin makes a mention of how — one should not become a wandering generality, be a meaningful specific. That’s a pertinent thought for any individual or company. Social media is a waste of time, unless you’re a brand. It does have its place in crafting out a brand’s journey. And if you’re career-minded, it can assist unless you commit yourself to that heinous dopamine-driven feedback loop, which affects your cognitive function.

Cal Newport mentions how our attention is being fragmented to such an extent we cannot concentrate. The solution is deep work that’ll help you focus on rewarding work minus the distractions. We are all part of the attention economy, and social media companies are competing for your attention. But with social media morphing into more of a business than just a social interaction tool, it became an entity that could be best described as being nefarious.

Unsubscribe

All the moral panics are real. The Trauma Floor showcases the issues faced by Facebook moderators, and it is harrowing. More so are the issues with your supply of attention, which focus on your short to midterm goals being decimated. Chamath Pahaliyapitiya said it best — If you feed the beast, it will destroy you. And so, this is my conclusion, especially if social media doesn’t benefit you in a way that’ll help you becoming a meaningful specific (like an author): Unsubscribe.