Random Thoughts, December 2019

My mind is buzzing today. Trying to focus on one topic is impossible. Thankfully, I’ve built this escape hatch that lets me get away with being scattered once a month.

One of the ironies of what I do now with pornography addiction awareness and education is that I have to keep up-to-date with changing technology and how people are utilizing their porn and how porn is essentially sold online – all while not using it myself.

The situation makes sense when you think about it. I couldn’t lecture about the evils of video game addiction, telling young people what playing too much Pac-Man on Atari or Legend of Zelda on Super Nintendo will do to their brains. I have a feeling with our current crop of young pornography addicts, Playboy sounds more like an antique than a source to get your fix.

I was kind of reminded this when I had a conversation with a couple of people in their 20s who know what’s going on and laughed when I asked if people were still hooking up over Skype. Apparently that’s like asking if they still post to Facebook. I was just showing my age.

Thankfully I have a daughter who knows what’s going on. I’m 99.99% sure that she doesn’t engage in any of these activities, but she’s able to keep me abreast of how the young people are making their own porn and how camgirls now mostly use Snapchat and cut out the third-party cam sites so they can keep all the money themselves, minus  the small percentage they kick back to Venmo.

I don’t quite understand Snapchat because I’ve never used it, but the entrepreneurial side of me says good for you getting more of the money. The anti-porn side of me screams that you’re selling your body for what an appetizer at Buffalo Wild Wings costs. This is why parents need to start talking to their kids early about pornography. You don’t want it seeming like a viable option as a part-time job.

 

I haven’t asked anybody on here to buy my book in the last week. One of you has an extra $20 in your pocket and appreciates what I do on here, right? Be a pal and go support me. The first 10 or 11 days went well, but it’s leveling out and I need to keep showing my publisher it’s a viable entity to put their marketing resources behind. If nobody knows about the book, it was a pointless exercise in writing it because it helped nobody. And I know you may only think you’re one person and one book doesn’t make a difference but with this genre (sexual health recovery) it really does make a difference to the bean counters. As I mentioned before, if you don’t need the book, donate it to your local library, women’s charity or church. Doesn’t donating stuff at the holiday season warm your heart? Follow the link… https://amzn.to/2qvxVbm

 

In a couple of weeks, PornHub releases its annual statistics report to show how pornography viewing trends have changed in the last year. I was surprised to find out as of November 1, PornHub has actually fallen to the third most popular pornography website after years of being on top. It’s ranked as the 10th most popular website on Earth. The other sites are No. 7 and No. 9, but since they don’t hand out analytics, I’m not going to mention them. When you realize that these three websites get more individual traffic than Yahoo, Amazon, Netflix and Reddit do, it shows you just how silently the world is using pornography. There are also porn sites at No. 21 and No. 48.

 

Screen Shot 2019-12-12 at 8.06.05 AMThis has nothing to do with pornography addiction or prevention, but it does speak to a tone-deaf response to addiction in general. On my massive road trip through America earlier this year, my favorite state was South Dakota for a bunch of reasons. One is not their ability to clearly get an idea across. The state, which has a massive meth problem, launched an advertising campaign last month designed to get the average citizen to start caring about the problem and start doing something about it. You know how when somebody asks you to do a task and instead of saying “Ok,” you say, “I’m on it.” Yeah, well, for the nice people of South Dakota who are going to tackle the meth problem, they’re on it. That’s like a state deciding they’re going to tackle porn addiction and using the slogan, “Let’s examine pornography” or sex addiction and saying, “Sex Addiction, let’s do it.”

 

It often flies under the radar, but I added an amazing link to pornography addiction resources for both the addict and the partner on the Resources page on this site. I hope if you get a chance, after purchasing my book, you check it out. I feel like I’ll never have to update that page again, it’s so comprehensive. https://amzn.to/2qvxVbm

 

I was watching a documentary last night and I felt tears welling up in my eyes. It dawned on me that it was the first time I was getting emotional about something in a long, long time. I know that I had my recent bout of mild mania that I think has settled, but it made me realize that before I got into recovery, and even through the first couple years of recovery, while I was waiting to find out my legal fate, I got emotional very easily. I think this shows some level of getting better, but crying is a fantastic way to get stuff out of my system. I’ll have to engage it more often. The only sure-fire way I know of making myself cry is listening to this song: Click Here I’m not even going to tell you it’s cultural significance and thankfully, if you’re under 40 you probably have no idea. If you like it, that’s the standard version…here’s one that really gets me: Click Here

 

My website numbers are off the charts lately. I don’t know if posting daily has made that much of a difference or if there are now more bots visiting or if it’s just a series of a lot of little things happening, but 9 of the top 10 days for views and 10 of the top 10 days for visitors have happened in the last 45 days. Thank you all for sticking with me. Now go buy my book…please. https://amzn.to/2qvxVbm

 

 

Dear The Other Joshua Shea, Life is Sometimes Funny This Way

I guess the good news is that when it comes to stature, I’m one of the two most famous people named Joshua Shea in the world.

The other is a 15-year-old actor who was in one of those Fantastic Beasts movies. He still gets more listings in the first few pages of Google than I do, but he hasn’t followed up with anything and my new book and podcast appearances are claiming more entries toward the front.

But like a set of twins at a family reunion, nobody can tell us apart, even Uncle Google.

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I’m prolific, but dang….even I couldn’t grow a beard that sweet at 15 years old.

Part of me is surprised I’ve never heard from anybody representing him. I think their smart move would to be to buy the rights to the name from me. I’ll totally become Irving Shea or Joshua Kardashian for $35,000.

And if not interested, then the one thing I can offer you, Josh, is your perfect excuse if anybody accuses of watching too much porn. Just say you’re the other guy. I know when people say I’m not acting my age, I just claim to really be 15 and tell people to Google it.

The Grateful Eight, December 2019

Generally, I don’t like these entries that mimic what other bloggers do. I have no problem with anybody else doing them, but I’m not into awards or challenges or any of that stuff. However, since I am a hypocrite at heart, I’m going to continue with an idea I found on another site and began last month.

The Grateful Eight is a chance on the eighth of every month to pause and mention eight things you are grateful for. They can be serious, funny, whatever. I enjoyed writing last month’s entry and I think since being grateful is such an important part of recovery, I need to display it openly a little bit more on this award-winning blog.

In no particular order, this month’s Grateful Eight:

BooksInHand1) My Book Finally Coming Out – I’m sure the regulars are already way sick of hearing about it, but apparently in its first week it has surpassed the publisher’s expectations and we are now moving up the Kindle release to much earlier in 2020 than first planned, and we’re having a conversation about producing a hardcover version for libraries. Even with all of my ghostwriting, I’ve never had a hardcover book before.

2) Podcasts – For the last several weeks, I’ve been a guest on 3-5 podcasts per week and I continue to get requests to book spots, now into February. If not for them, the only way I’d be able to spread my story is the occasional radio interview and this blog. Yes, I tell a lot of the same stories over and over, but to someone out there, they are always new. In my post-recovery world, it’s also connected me with some terrific people I’m still talking with to this day who aren’t into judgment. I still need that. I probably always will.

E5380CCF-602F-4F33-9069-5BC0CD70324D3) The movie Midsommer – I saw it at the movie theater twice this summer and while I know it’s not going to be 80% of people’s cup of tea, I was so moved that I got a tattoo based on the film when on my trip this past summer. Then I didn’t see the movie again for nearly six months. I watched it the other day now that it’s on demand and any fear I had of regretting that tattoo is gone. Again, I warn you that it’s a pretty intense movie. Nobody who is easily triggered by anything should watch it, ever.

4) My Son Being a Fool Like Me – On the way to school in the morning on Friday, I had the satellite radio on the Christmas classics channel. Elvis Presley’s Blue Christmas came on. At the exact same moment that I launched into my over-the-top hack Elvis impression, he started an over-the-top hack version of the back-up melody. It was just like the end of the evening at a bad office Christmas party that employees were forced to go to that only had karaoke for entertainment. I couldn’t have been prouder.

5) The Me Who Once Was Up for Anything – When we’re young, we don’t think of consequences and are willing to take more risks based on blind optimism and the kind of naïve understanding of what could go wrong that only comes with youth. Toss two heaping cups of mania on top of that and I really had some amazing adventures when I was younger. Sure, there was plenty of recklessness and bad decision making, but I saw the world, met amazing people, pursued whatever my dreams were at the moment and didn’t let anything stand in my way. My life was the Laverne and Shirley theme song. I’ve been told more than once I’ve lived enough for three lifetimes already and while I’m very different now, I can appreciate who I was back in the day, despite any other issues I may have had.

6) The Moment I Grew Up – Yes, I can point to the moment that any thoughts of bungee jumping, becoming a race car driver, randomly moving to Jamaica and a whole lot of other stupid shit was erased from my bucket list. It was the day I volunteered to be tasered by the police department where I was a newspaper editor. I thought it would make a funny story for a column I wrote. It did, but it was a miscalculation of how far to go for a story on my part. Basically, it turned out to be the electroshock treatment I needed to cross the threshold into adult…at around 32. And yes, it’s all on film. Enjoy:

7) Frank Sinatra’s Music – Sure, he dealt with some questionable people as the Chairman of the Board and stories of not being the best father or husband exist (not to Bing Crosby-level genocide, however) but man, that cat could swing.

8) This Decade Coming to a Close – If you told me on January 1, 2010 — just as my magazine was starting to really gain local attention — what was going to happen to me this decade, I would have said you were crazy. Actually, that downplays it. The first five years and the last five years are the most Jekyll and Hyde span of my life, or just about anybody I know. Oh well, I’ve always been into extremes. Here’s to a less dramatic Roaring ’20s.

So, what are you grateful for? None of that typical family or health stuff…I want the trivia.

Guest Post: Meet Tony Overbay, My Co-Author of ‘He’s a Porn Addict, Now What?’

Note from Josh: I’ve talked a lot about the new book I’ve co-written, but not too much about my fellow author, Tony Overbay, LMFT. He’s a great guy who is hilarious, and as we’ve built our friendship, has made himself very vulnerable over the foreign process of writing a book. While this is only the second book I’ve written that has my real name on it, I’ve either written nearly 20 books under pseudonyms or ghostwritten them for other people, so I forget what a scary experience it can be for a rookie. Tony’s got a great personal story and earlier this week wrote this entry on his Facebook page. I think if you read it, you’ll see why I wanted to work with him. Also, we recorded a new episode of his podcast on Thursday that will debut on Monday and I will post it to this site.

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Over 15 years ago I started thinking about changing careers. I was writing a humor column for my local newspaper and many of my articles had to do with becoming a new father. I loved being a father and that was when I first felt the “call” to want to help other men become good fathers as well. I wrote more about being a new father and eventually I put together enough chapters that I thought I could turn it into a book. That was one of the first times I also felt the pangs of “Impostor Syndrome,” meaning I couldn’t get past “why would anyone want to listen to me, who am I to write a book? I don’t have any credentials.”

I eventually headed back to school in the evenings, with four small kids, a day job and an incredibly supportive wife. I wanted to study counseling, but initially, I thought having a master’s degree in counseling would be enough, and I would write, and help men become better husbands and fathers. I didn’t anticipate seeing clients.

During the course of getting my masters in counseling, I had to do a practicum, aka fieldwork. I had to start seeing clients at a non-profit clinic. That was when I first realized that this career was more than just wanting letters behind my name in hopes of selling a funny book or two, it was truly about following a call, it was about helping others. I had found my passion, my purpose, and my desire to help grew.

When I first started seeing clients out of school, I learned that men weren’t typically seeking therapy, so I found myself working with a population that was coming in to see me because they were in danger of losing their marriages, or careers, to addiction, in particular men who were struggling with compulsive sexual behavior, typically acted out through repeated, and continual viewing of pornography, even when they had tried to stop many, many times.

I learned so much about addiction, compulsive behaviors, and I knew many of the ways to truly help with both the behavioral and the mental (cognitive) aspects of turning to pornography as a coping mechanism or acting out sexually to fill a void. That work led me to the creation of The Path Back, an online pornography recovery program that has helped many, many people break free from the chains of compulsive sexual behavior.

I started The Virtual Couch podcast a couple of years ago as a way to share a lot of what I was learning as a therapist, but also as a way to promote The Path Back recovery program, and the podcast began to grow like nothing I ever anticipated. That growth led me to the opportunity to interview more and more interesting people who had overcome a lot in their lives. One of those interviews was with a former politician, magazine editor and film festival organizer, and pornography addict, Joshua Shea. You can hear Josh’s story in his episode on The Virtual Couch, but after doing 70 or more podcasts and radio interviews for his first book The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About, Josh approached me with the concept of another book, “He’s a Porn Addict…Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions” (Click Here to See the Amazon page for the book) and I was immediately honored, and I was in! We would answer questions from real people about pornography addiction, and we would both answer them without knowing what the other had written. What we now have is a book that is receiving incredibly positive reviews from the professional community, a community that can be quite harsh with concepts or ideas that don’t bear fruit. It is overwhelming, humbling and motivating all at once.

I now have the letters after my name, and over a decade now of one-on-one experience with over 1,000 men and women who have struggled to overcome turning to pornography or other compulsive sexual behaviors as a coping mechanism. I know it can be done, but I also know it takes time to believe that it can be done. I am confident that this book will help expedite this process significantly, whether you are the addict, the betrayed or someone who loves, counsels or works with someone struggling with this challenge.

So while this isn’t the humorous first-time dad book that talks about blowing out diapers in public or having to give up Oreo shakes for a year thanks to my wife getting sick on them during pregnancy, I am extremely proud of this book and I hope that it can positively change lives. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I changed careers when I did, I still don’t see myself as “that guy,” but I now can’t imagine what my life would be like had I not followed a bit of a calling, and truly decided that I needed to love what I did, and do something that hopefully can and will impact lives for the better.

Plotting a Revolution: Leenaarts’ New Book Brings Unique Twist to Introspection

A personal note before I get to the main body of this book review:

They say when it rains it pours and I guess when it comes to my life and books, this is the week of the Noah’s Ark-like storm. Obviously, I was thrilled and excited with the fact that my new book was released earlier in the week, but I’m also excited to share with you a book project that I played 0.0002% in.

Jason Leenaarts, who I met through his podcast when I was guest last year, has just released a fantastic daily devotional-like book for those who want to spend the next year focusing on their health, both inside and outside. I am so proud to contribute two quotes to the book (June 21 and August 7, if you’re scoring at home).

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because I highlighted his website when I wrote the very popular 10 Blogs I Love That You Should Follow, But Probably Don’t Know About

Anyway, here is my more formal review of a book I hope you’ll consider picking up:

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Before I appeared on my first podcast in late 2017, I had never listened to any and now that my job title could be “professional podcast guest” I hate to admit that there are very few I continue to listen to after my one-and-done. As a guest who speaks about a delicate subject – pornography addiction – I make it a point to listen to pieces of at least a couple of episodes before I ever appear on somebody’s podcast. Jason Leenaarts’ Revolutionary You! was no different.

I loved what I heard. It wasn’t going to be another dreary appearance on a strictly-addiction show. I listened to a guy who lost 200 pounds and another who had to deal with the unique situation of physically training celebrities. Jason did such a great job being present in the moment, talking to the guest like they were the most important person in the world. So, I went for it and there I was, front and center, sharing my story with a unique audience on Episode 156.

Appearing on Revolutionary You! gave me the confidence to know I could appear on non-addiction shows and share the greater themes and lessons of my experience. Jason and I kept in casual touch, and I remained a regular listener because he continued with fascinating guests and great conversation.

Jason contacted me earlier this year with a bit of a random request. He wanted to know if he could use two quotes from my episode for a book he was working on. I said sure and aside from the occasional update, never thought much about it until he sent me a copy, which is now available on Amazon.

I was absolutely floored at the creative presentation of A Revolution A Day: Daily Musings and Motivations for The Health Enthusiast. Jason combed through hundreds of hours of archives from his podcast and pulled his favorite quotes from around 200 episodes.

Set up like a daily devotional, each day begins with the quote from a guest and the episode they appeared on. This is nice because you can always go to the Internet and listen to that episode if a quote is of particular interest. The quote may be about diet, exercise, mindfulness, society, science, self-improvement, general lifestyle, or in my two contributions, addiction. While the quote may have some specificity to it, Jason write a paragraph under the quote giving it a broader meaning and making it relevant to every reader.

Then, Jason asks the reader to reflect on the quote and his expansion of the idea with two or three follow-up questions and enough room to write a decent answer. Not only does the reader get a fantastic quote, an interpretation and introspective questions, but also a space to actually become part of the book itself.

For instance, my June 21 quote is: “I’ve got a lot of different coping mechanisms and one of the best ones is to get up and leave the situation.” In context, I was talking about triggers that come with early recovery. Jason expands the idea, talking about all temptation and the need to change one’s scenery to disrupt ingrained patterns of behavior. He then asks: “What needs to change in your environment? Where do you feel the most pressure to succumb to your areas of weakness? How can you change that?”

Those are great questions I want to answer in regard to my professional life and not always carrying my fair share of the load at home. With the way Jason expands the concept, it really isn’t about addiction triggers – unless you want it to be.

A Revolution A Day is really about the revolution always going on inside of you and pausing to recognize it. I don’t know if Jason thinks there’s a best time of day for the reader to enter their thoughts, but I plan on making my daily entry in the late afternoon or early evening, when I transition from my professional endeavors to my home life. That’s one of my more chaotic times of mindset shift and I think this book will help ease from one life focus into the other.

I’ve looked ahead in the book and can’t wait to put my thoughts down on some of the topics, but I wonder if come next November I’ll feel the same way on things. I think that’s part of the revolution aspect to the book; you’re not the same person from day-to-day.

Let me make it clear I don’t get a dime whether Jason sells 5 books or 5 million, nor do I have any affiliate links, but I think this might be the perfect kind of book for someone who wants to journal or keep a diary, but just doesn’t know where to start. If I was this kind of person, I might pick up several copies. I think comparing the you from 2020 to the you in 2023 would be fascinating and the format of this book makes it easy.

If you happen to be reading this review just after I wrote it, this book is a perfect holiday gift, but I think it would also be a wonderful present for birthdays and other life transitions like becoming a new parent or a graduation. It screams “thoughtful” and for those of us who head straight to the customer service counter for a gift card, this book will score some points – even if the gift is to yourself.

If you’d like to see the book on Amazon, click Here
If you’d like to hear my appearance on Revolutionary You! click Here

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Is it More Important to Be Popular or Taken Seriously?

I’ve operated this site now for 27 months and despite times of lengthy posting droughts, like earlier this year, or times of daily updates, I’ve managed to produce 225 entries. I think with this experience behind me, I can start to develop trends on what works or doesn’t work when it comes to people reading my articles.

From a statistical point of view, the entries from the first few months are both at an advantage and a disadvantage. They have lived on this site the longest, and have been searchable through Google for the most amount of time and the SEO clock has been ticking the longest. However, when they were posted, there were far less regular followers, which still makes up the core of views. This site gets a decent amount of hits based on what I’ve read for traffic numbers of many bloggers. The place that you don’t see great numbers is often in follows, likes and comments. Without having done any real surveys, I believe this is simply because the website has the words “porn” and “addict” in the title. I think a lot of people would be hesitant to publicly follow a site called “Child Molesters are Bad” despite the fact that we can all agree with that sentiment.

I further believe this phenomenon to be proven when you look at what the most popular postings in two metrics. First, there are the ones that are the popular articles based on “likes”. If you want to see a list of these, just head to the homepage and you’ll find them on the right side of the screen. You should actually do that to understand the rest of this article better.

The other metric to view to determine the most popular articles is based on “hits” which isn’t a public display option on WordPress, yet is the actual number of times an article has been read.

By number of hits, these are the top 10 entries in the history of this site:

  1. The Bond Between Sex Addicts and Those With Eating Disorders
  2. Spotting the Signs of Pornography Addiction
  3. The Day I Went to Jail
  4. Facing Triggers Makes You Stronger
  5. Statistics on and The Definition of Pornography
  6. Q&A: PMO and NoFap as Addiction Cures
  7. Q&A: What Does ‘Gaslighting’ mean?
  8. Practicing Empathy Has Been Huge to Recovery
  9. Mental Health Education, Not Gun Laws, Will Reduce Violence in Our Schools
  10. Q&A: Does Hiding a Porn Addiction Mean He Hid Affairs?

Of these top 10 most-viewed entries, only one, The Day I Went to Jail, makes it onto both most hits and most liked Top 10 lists.

So, considering that any entry has to be in the Top 4% of what I’ve written to make either list, which I think is a large enough sample size, what conclusions can be drawn?

First, I think people do want to read about the ins-and-outs of pornography addiction and want real information. Looking at the hits list, only the jail entry is an experiential piece and only the mental health education one is mainly opinion.

When I look at the most liked list, it’s much different. The top two liked articles both have the words “mental health” in the title and they are both experiential pieces talking about my life. In fact, 8 of the Top 10 most liked articles have the words “Me,” “My,” or “I” in the title. You can even make an argument that the other two are experiential mixed with opinion.

There are certainly other variables. Seven of the top 10 most liked articles have been written in the last three months, and liked by mostly the same people. This could suggest that I just have a following that is more apt to hit the like button at the moment.

Perhaps I’ve also consciously or subconsciously got better at writing click-bait like headlines. I look at the Top 10 most liked articles vs. those that are sitting in the 190s and there’s a big difference in the quality and excitement of headlines. Funny, sensational, cliffhanger-like headlines draw people in. It’s why the news media does it all the time. I mean, let’s be honest, when you read the headline and saw the photo for this post, did you think it was going to be about website data analysis? No, but it got you this far.

I think among those posts that are liked the most, there’s also a level of relatability. Tales of mental health issues, visiting other blogs, frustration with Facebook or loving my dogs are things that you don’t have to be a porn addict to relate with. When readers see themselves in the entries they may be more apt to like them.

I think that a similar correlation can be drawn on the most viewed articles. Clicking that you like those articles may “out” yourself as a porn addict, sex addict, someone with an eating disorder, a partner of a porn addict or somebody else you’re not ready to identify as publicly just yet.

I think another year or two of entries will help to establish whether my hypotheses are correct or if I need to rethink how people approach this website.

This is probably all “inside baseball” to those who don’t have a blog or website, but I’d love to hear from those people who have been blogging for a while. Do you find that there is a wide gulf between the entries that are most read and most liked, or is my experience an outlier?

So…one final experiment I want to try. I need you to “Like” this article. In a month, when views will slow down to a trickle (assuming it’s not one of the most “hit” articles), I can compare how many hits the article got to how many people liked it. In liking it, it shows that you are both supportive of my little experiment and read this far. The difference in # of people who “hit” this entry vs. “like” it should give the number of people who never got this far in the article.

Also, while I have you here, there’s a cool book I want to tell you about… https://amzn.to/2qvxVbm

The banana book is winning again. Help a guy out….

You Don’t Have to Be An Angry, Resentful Person Just Because Everyone Else Is

I don’t think this entry needs a trigger warning in the traditional sense, but perhaps a “take offense” warning is necessary. I’m not attacking or critiquing any specific individual with this entry, although if you take offense, maybe you should stop for a second and figure out why.

One of the biggest parts of my recovery journey is the conscious attempt to be a better human being. I actively work on skills like empathy, inclusiveness and compassion. While I still certainly have a long way to go before I’m the person I’d like to become, I feel that while my life is swinging in one direction, the attitude of the population in general is swinging the other way.

It could be the 24-hour news cycle, more social media than we know what to do with or some other factor, but people seem to have no problem putting their lack of compassion and empathy on full display. Instead, those traits have been replaced with resentment and anger.

I’m not going to get into politics, religion, science, patriotism, parenting or any of the other areas that seem to set people off. I’m far less interested in the specifics of peoples’ opinions than I am in the way that many people present those opinions these days.

I think there are reasons that people become addicts, but there are only excuses why they don’t seek help, especially after learning why they have the problem. I also believe there are reasons that people turn into who they are with the belief system that they have, but only excuses why that belief system allows them to present themselves as boorish oafs.

I’ve been trying to figure out the cause of what feels like this massive pendulum swing in the attitudes of our society. I know it can’t just be the fact that I’m actively trying to become a better person. I’ve come up with a few theories:

The world is moving too fast. While older generations always make the argument their experience and wisdom trumps youth and inexperience, our older generations have seen exponentially more change than those before them. I think this is also filtering down into middle-aged generations. Technology moves at such speed that it seems like only 17-year-olds can keep up with it because the rest of us don’t have the extra time to learn. With all of the new media we have, getting glimpses into the past is easier than ever. I’m sure because of television and the Internet, I understand the culture of 1955 far more than the people of 1955 understood the culture of 1895. I believe this causes a bit of romanticism of the past, forgetting the negative and remembering only positive. The feeling you’re being left behind doesn’t feel good.

People are smarter than you. This has always been the case, but with the Internet and 500 TV channels, we’re constantly exposed to people who are more intelligent, deeper thinkers and understand things many of us could never grasp. I think we also are aware that most smart people recognize their intelligence and far too many of us make the leap that they therefore believe they are better than us when that has never been established. There is deep resentment in this world toward people who act like they are better than someone else, but we seem to be at a point where we invent the idea that others believe they are better without them doing anything to suggest it.

There’s more diversity than ever. I’m sure there have been studies done and I’ve just never had enough incentive to look them up, but I’d like to know when it comes to fear of people who are different how much is nurture and how much is nature. Somewhere, there is somebody out there who has 100% the opposite views as you when it comes to politics, culture, entertainment, etc. They are the bizzaro, anti-you. And guess what? They’re not a crazy psychopath either. It’s not just diverse ideas, it’s also basic demographics. Communities are not as homogenous as they once were. Different languages are being spoken, even in small towns and people who don’t look like previous generations now live there. This is scary to many people.

The recognition you were wrong. I think at one time or another we’ve all recognized we were incorrect about something and instead of correcting course, we doubled-down, despite being wrong. I believe this also extends to those around you who you discover were wrong. Many people directly get their beliefs from their parents and others they knew when they were young, but how many of those beliefs ever get questioned? Something isn’t OK just because mommy or daddy acted like it was. Your friends may all think one way, but that doesn’t mean it’s the correct thing. When recognition that those around you made poor decisions, it’s often hard to stand up to them and blaze your own path.

Simply because you can’t relate to someone does not make them a bad person. Moreover, simply because you can’t relate to them does not mean that you have to present an argument why they are not a good person.

A changing world does not mean it is changing for the worse. Yes, new things – including attitudes and societal norms – take adjusting, but that does not mean they are bad. Despite what people who eschew change believe, most change is designed to make the world a better, inclusive place. Yes, it takes getting used to new ideas, concepts and technology. Changing who you are does not mean you are any less or more of a person before and after that change.

I think most people today are of a mindset of looking for what makes them different than the next guy, and whatever that difference is, it becomes the weakness of the other person, ripe for attack. This is also true with thoughts. The general rules seem to be that if two people think differently, one must be wrong, and it’s always the other guy. In most cases, neither – or both – are wrong.

We live in a world full of angry, sad, resentful, non-compassionate, close-minded people. Standing behind the fact you have the God-given or governmental-given right to be that way doesn’t make it OK. Feeling emboldened by like-minded people to share your negativity doesn’t make it OK.

There is someone, probably more than just one, who is reading this feeling attacked. I’ve shared no actual specific opinions here. I’ve isolated no specific group or type of person. If you’re feeling attacked, I hope you’ll take a few minutes and figure out why.

 

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