Arts and Minds

Unfortunately for myself, and everyone else, I’ve found myself involved in various disputes online for the last two decades (or more, but who’s counting). Over the years, I’d get in arguments about almost anything: technology, the news, religion, politics, the economy, art, you name it. I’ve spent a good portion of my time online throughout my life debating with a wide array of people. I’ve been in countless online arguments. This is not a good thing. This is not something to brag about, and frankly I’m embarrassed by it on some level. But to be honest, I love arguing. This is because I’m a selfish and arrogant person who thinks people need to hear my point of view because I’m right and they aren’t. This is a character defect, and I readily admit that. No, I’m probably not willing to change. But sometimes, I try to do better. Like in college where I monetized it and had a scholarship for participating on the Debate team. The activities listed above has mostly been an exercise in futility. Not because I lost arguments and looked stupid (I did). More because even when I won or ended arguments, I still failed to convince my counterpart of anything. I can’t recall many arguments where the person at any point said “You know what, your argument really convinced me, and I’m changing my mind.” I’m sure I did win someone over at some point, but I don’t remember that happening. Which makes my efforts appear even more absurd. Arguing with someone, beating them over the head with facts and logic, it just hasn’t been productive for me. Maybe arguments not being effective is somewhat unique to American society, as we have a strong tradition of anti-intellectualism. Whoops, there’s that arrogance again… But in any case for me arguing hasn’t worked very well. Maybe the cable news channels have effective arguments, but I’m just not seeing it. I think they are simply catering to the belief system their audiences were indoctrinated in. At the end of the day, arguing doesn’t change hearts and minds. Or if it does, it doesn’t do it well, or often.

What does change hearts and minds? In my own experience, the initial motivator for change has usually been pain and suffering. Nothing else has been nearly as effective. And I want to be clear, I don’t mean pain inflicted by an argumentative stranger on the internet. I mean life pain. I mean falling flat on your face pain. I mean losing your job, or your relationship, or worse. Life hit me with a truckload of that stuff, and sure enough, I responded. Because I didn’t like what was happening, I didn’t like how it felt, and I didn’t like being completely powerless. That kind of experience forces self-reflection on a person, and it can also motivate action. Of course, there are those reasonable people out there who when faced with a problem can change course. Sidebar: [ This is not a scientific essay, by the way. These are anecdotal, social observations based on my life experience] But even that change is still often motivated by pain or at least discomfort. A reasonable person facing a mild issue of some kind is much more likely to hear what another person has to say. They are also much more likely to take that advice and run with it.

What’s the takeaway here? Treat others with empathy and lead by example – be the change you want to see in the world. That will motivate others seeking change more than scolding them or attempting to argue them into a corner on the internet.



I guess I started this blog because I need to write. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I’ve been writing in one form or another for a few decades now, and I rely on it as an intellectual and emotional outlet. What that implies about my life may be interesting, but mostly only to me.

I’ve been blogging since way before it was cool, on Geocities and Tripod in the late 90s, and then on my own domain, with blogger, and then later WordPress and a few different social community forum things.  I can’t remember all the different sites and publishing methods I’ve used.

I’ve been using the internet in one form or another since probably 91/92 or so, as a young child. I’ve grown up with the internet as the technology itself has matured. For that reason it is where  I feel most comfortable in different phases of my life. I crave all the forms of communication the internet makes possible, with the exception of video, which I feel is somehow restrictive.

Many, if not most of the platforms and technology I’ve used are long since defunct.  This has made me somewhat jaded, and especially purchase phobic when it comes to choosing technology platforms on which to rely for a long period of time.  It has also however made me very optimistic, as I have been able to witness first hand the rapid ascent of the computer age over the last 25 years. It has really been a glorious thing to behold.  The internet has opened new avenues of communication to people all over the world, for the first time in history people across the world can cheaply and easily communicate with each other. The impact of this revolution is still yet to be fully felt, even as it continues to transform the way the world works. So there is hope as technology continues its now seemingly inexorable advance.

In a way all of the topics of this blog will be somehow related to that, as this revolution has informed my life and the way I think about the world.

It’s been too long since I’ve last blogged on a regular basis, hence the name of this here site.  The idea is to write once a day, at least. Let’s see how we do.