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On Bullshit

If you've been reading for a while, you may have noticed that I almost never swear. I tend to think that there's a more accurate way than swearing to express anything, but today I couldn't think of a more fitting word.

What is bullshit? Well, it's watching TV. It's browsing the internet mindlessly. It's partying. It's doing busy work. It's hanging out with people not so much because you like them, but because you don't want to be alone. It's eating for the sake of filling time.

Now, none of these things are pure evil. That's what makes this tricky. You can watch TV and learn something interesting, or enjoy the relaxation it brings. You can stumble upon cool sites that you wouldn't have found if it weren't for mindless browsing. You can meet new people while partying. Busy work leads to a paycheck sometimes. Occasionally those random low-key hangouts whose primary purpose is to avoid loneliness elevate into great conversations. And hey, you've got to eat sometime-- why not now?

These silver linings are blessings and curses. They embed some merit into otherwise bullshit activities, but at the same time that merit gets over-inflated and allows us to engage in these sorts of things without the mental repercussions that may come from something like, say, smoking crack. Even now, I imagine that your brain is objecting by saying, "Well, I met ____ when I was partying, so he's wrong about that one. And the other day on Reddit I learned about ______, so that sort of browsing is fine."

Internal Scorecard #16: Overland, Over Sea, and Over Fear

On SEBASTIAN MARSHALL

"I feel stronger." Years later, the line still randomly comes to me, unbeckoned.

It was from one of the most odd and intriguing video games ever made -- Planescape: Torment. You woke up in the morgue as a scarred and battered man who didn't know his name. When you got killed, you would… wake up back in the morgue. You were immortal. You couldn't die. Your goal was to figure out how this happened, who you are, and what you should do about it.

It was beautiful, well-written, and immersive. But the point that still stands out to me is that line.

"I feel stronger."

It happened when you leveled up. The levels up weren't something you chose; they just happened when you accumulated enough experience. It's an interesting metaphor -- you wake completely ignorant, but as you accumulate experiences, you feel stronger. Not "I am stronger." I feel stronger.

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