On Social Media

I was reading a Wired article today about Instagram, specifically about how the advertising is so different on there because of the nature of the app/website/whatever fits. It basically talked about how on Instagram, you get this feeling of people who have a blissful life and how scrolling on Instagram gives you this sense of mindless complacence. Which is pretty fair, as anyone who is on it knows that it’s the ultimate time filler for when you have nothing to do or, let’s be honest, when you DO have something to do but don’t want to do it.

But that’s not really the point of this at all. Among those my age, (and more often the parents of those kids), a really big debate is ‘what are the pros and cons of social media, and is it worth it?’ By high school and college, most everyone has social media, but it’s a pretty big topic as to when you get it.

I love Instagram, because I can see gorgeous pictured AND get my fill of posts and memes from my favorite fandoms. The problem with it is that it’s so nice, it’s a really big temptation. Part of that is because the icon is too pretty and candy-colored on my phone for me not to click.

On the other hand, I disagree with people who do not let their kids get social media at all until they’re sophomores. Mostly because by then, everyone they know will be on it and it’s a medium for communication, so they’ll probably feel left out. More importantly, this is not the hill parents should die on. Because if kids feel left out, they’l probably try to relate to their peers in other, not so good ways. Social media is relatively harmless, and if parents let their kids have some freedom, then those kids will probably be more willing to compromise.

Finally, it’s a question of responsibility. Because it does take a measure of responsibility to be safe, especially on the internet. But protecting kids from stuff doesn’t help them when it comes time to make their own decisions. So, in my opinion, parents should choose when their kids are ready, but not be oppressive about it.

And that’s that on that. Now, back to my mindless Instagram browsing.

 

The lost gear!

There was a young lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.

-William Cosmo Monkhouse

As I read this poem, I can’t help but think that the author must have been thinking of an air cooled porsche (maybe, even a pre-964 Turbo). For like the lady’s tiger, they have been known to have quite the appetite for the unwitting driver.

There are many things I love doing. Nothing, however, beats driving my air cooled wonder of the 80s, as St. Louis slumbers, in the Sunday morning chill. Of course, as anyone who is wont to ride on moody tigers will tell you, taking it slow in the begining, has its just rewards. While normally afflicted by pedestrians, bicycle people, dog people and their dogs, as well as people who, evidently, learned driving online, the streets of Clayton at daybreak are bereft of hurdles, as the engine warms up, and thus lubricates the gearbox. Unlike the rapid shifting of more modern cars, barely sneaking above the idle at 1600 rpm, this sleepy tigress needs to be kept in the revs to avoid lugging the engine.


When I first started driving air cooled rear engine cars, I drove them like modern cars. Moving quickly through the gears till I was in the highest achievable gear at the lowest rpm. Turns out, not such a good thing for oil cooled cars. Why, you ask? Well, it has to do with the fact that the engines revs circulate the oil. So, low revs mean low oil circulation, which in turn is bad for your engine.


Which is all very well, but what does that have to do with the “lost gear”?
I’m coming to that. I often wondered why Porsche stuck with 4 gears on the 930 for a long time. When you drive a five speed, you figure out exactly why. While first gear is punishing, and should NEVER be downshifted into, second and third gears are great to wind up the engine. But my favorite gear of all is: fourth. It is amazingly tractable and on the expressway, is all you will ever need.


To anyone who has not driven a rear engined air cooled car without modern accoutrements, this may not make sense. But, having power to the rear wheels, is paradoxically more reassuring than slowing down. Staying in the band between 4250 and 5250 rpm in 4th, feels like the car is being stuck to the road under the burden of Mjolnir’s fearsome force. In the few instances, where I have had to take it beyond the 5300 mark (to avoid idiots), I did not feel a lack of grip, but I fear my 35 year old brakes and 45 year old reflexes on skinny tires may be overmatched.


Which brings me to 5th. Why does it even exist?


When I took delivery of this beast, I drove it as I did my previous cars and frequently drove in 5th. Did not really enjoy it, and did not realize what I was missing by quickshifting through 4th. Speaking to the engine’s tuner, I realized the error of my ways, and haven’t looked back.


Today morning’s saunter in the wild, I strayed into fifth again. This time I could objectively feel the car feel light and jitttery, like a debutante at her first dance, despite running between 3500 and 4500 rpm. Downshifting back to 4, brought back the character, the firmness and reassurance. The tires seemed to cling harder as the cars claws seemed to reemerge.


To those of you, in 4 speed air cooled cars, lusting for the magic of overdrive, I would like to reassure you that it is completely overrated and unnecessary. It’s fine for a sedan or a daily driver. Not, these tigers.

Where you are, is where you are supposed to be!

Everyone wonders: where am I? How did I get here? Why am I here? Where am I going?

I may not have the answers that you are looking for, but these thoughts often give me peace.

You are exactly where you are supposed to be. You are precisely as rich, as intelligent, as up-to-date, as lost, as located, as peaceful, as healthy and as well fed as you are supposed to be.

Not one iota more, or less.

In this finite universe, paradoxically populated by infinite possibility, we often really faced by simple choices.

Or are we?

Every choice that we face, no matter how trivial or life-altering, often reduces to a decision.

But ask yourself: are you really deciding?

Because each “decision”, each “choice made freely”, each “personal preference”, is really driven by the larger context that we DO NOT CONTROL.

Think of any decision you made. Ask yourself, if there were other things that you could have done. The answer is obvious: you did what you had to based on circumstances prevailing at the time of that decision. Even the decisions that turned out badly.

Which really means that the Universe deciding the context, drove your decision.

Which really means that the Universe made the decision.

Which is really great, because then we can stop berating ourselves over our “bad choices” and just focus on reveling on the ones’ that came through. There is NO absolute right or wrong. These are judgements created by the consequences of an action, not by the action itself. And as I showed you, we neither control the action, nor the consequences.

Because, you are exactly where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you are suppose to be doing.

The only choice or decision that we get to control is: whether or not we will accept this in our minds, and focus on being happy with whatever happens and liking who we are and what we become.

I choose happy. I choose content. This way, where ever the Universe takes me, I am going to enjoy the journey.

On satisfaction.

Like any typical mid 40s person, I am often filled with self-doubt. Have I lived up to my potential? Am I doing enough? What can I do better? These, and other questions, are often the focus of my mind. But today was a good day.

As part of something at work, I was redo-ing my CV. Normally, it is a mechanical act – just busywork. Today was different. I actually looked at the CV itself. It looked good. I am sure there are better. But to me, each of those lines on my CV represented a memory, an action, a thought, an idea come to fruition. Each position over the years, a picturebook of memories; of friends near and far, of places and homes, of trials and victories.

Most importantly, it took me back to the time when the CV was yet blank. A time, when I stood at the threshold wondering where life was going to take me.

Could I have done more? Maybe.

But it is more than I ever hoped for. It is everything I dreamed of, and then some.

It reminded my that in our darkest hours when we brood on our failures, it is so important to remember the journey that has got us here to this point. And then, you realise that, this and other failures, are, were and will be, the stepping stones to a radiant future that I cannot even imagine.