Shots

Since America is the center of the solar system, it is impossible to not know that everyone and their mother’s, best friend’s dog’s litter’s owner’s cousin’s uncle’s extended family is caught up in the spectacle of the fact that – you paid for the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge – we’ve had yet another moment of gun violence.

This will, of course, be met with several things:

Some people will say that this could be avoided if there was someone else with a gun to gun down the gunman so that the gun violence could be neutralized like a gun vaccine. I can’t completely ignore the logic that states “If someone has the capacity to neutralize your violence with some of their own – it does – ipso facto – reduce said violence. This, of course, lending strange credence to the notion that fighting fire with fire does not – as one would assume – create a bigger fire.

Or does it?

Don’t worry. This isn’t about to devolve into a philosophical viewpoint of “Well…I mean…maybe that really is the best solution…” Because my viewpoint on this is as abstracted and convoluted as I am, and you all love me for being. And I’ll get to what that viewpoint is…

Later…

Others will, of course, say that the answer to gun violence is more laws to eliminate guns so that fewer people can have guns and fewer people with fewer guns is less gun violence. And, from a very static, mathematical point of view – this holds true. But then…it doesn’t.

Or does it?

Don’t worry. This isn’t about to devolve into a political moment proclaiming that “We need to remove as many guns as we can from as many people as we can so that more people without guns can be safe from the fewer people who have guns.” Because my viewpoint doesn’t support that rationale, because it’s faulty in a way that I find to be eye-rollingly absurd. I’ll expand on that…

Later…

Others will, of course, point out that we have a president that perpetuates violence and racism. And others will bring up evidence that he doesn’t. And some will say that, even if he does, blaming one man for the stupidity of others is, in and of itself, stupid in so many ways that they will not dignify such absurdity with a response.

Some will say that more religion is the answer. That we have strayed too far from the holy teachings of <insert holy teachings here>, because if we all <insert religious thing here> at the altar of <insert religious construct here> we would all be <insert better world metaphor here>.

Others will point out that there are cultures that are far more secular than America and have less violence and that there are cultures that are far more religious than America and that they’re far more violent.

Others will point out that there are cultures that are far more religious than America and have less violence and that there are cultures that are far more secular than America and that they’re far more violent. <- I don’t know that this is actually a thing – if I’m being honest. I haven’t found any stats to support this notion…but I digress…someone will still say it.

So…

We’re here now…

We’re at “later…”

I’m an atheist who does not agree with anything that precedes this sentence.

Religion doesn’t make people good or bad. Good people are good people and they help to inspire other people to be good. Bad people are bad people and they help to inspire other people to be bad. We can get into the whole world of nature/nurture. We can get into the whole, sordid idea of psychology, sociology, religion, philosophy, etc…

But I’m not going to…

And here’s why…

Too many answers hinge on a binary solution to a real number problem.

If you read that and understood what I meant – good for you. Give yourself a gold star, a pat on the back, and understand that I respect you more than you deserve.

If you don’t understand that line, then I’ll explain.

Binary is very basic. It is a system of one and zero. It is true and false. It is off and on. And it doesn’t compute for humanity.

The solution for alcohol in America was to ban alcohol – because saying “Hey, you can’t do that!” makes problems go away.

But it doesn’t.

It. Doesn’t.

Saying alcohol is illegal doesn’t stop people from drinking – it makes drinking a criminal enterprise. It is owned and operated by criminals. Its patrons are criminals. Saying drugs are illegal doesn’t stop people from doing drugs – it makes it a criminal enterprise. It is owned and operated by criminals. Its patrons are criminals.

Saying that guns are now illegal – in any capacity – will make it more of a criminal enterprise than it already is. It will have a greater share of ownership and operational oversight by criminals. More of their patrons will be criminals.

If you think this is somehow flawed – news flash. There are things that are illegal and people still get them. They buy them. They pay cash.

I recently watched a guy buy anabolic steroids.

Online.

With his credit card.

But they’re illegal – except where they’re not. And that place gets to make the rules they want because they don’t have to be concerned with what you want. Or if you got ripped off. Or if it’s safe. Because what are you going to do?

Call the cops?

So, if you believe that the answer to guns is “Well…simple…no guns…” Then you’ve learned far too little about that wonderfully terrible thing called history.

Humans know that things exist. They want those things. Telling them no doesn’t stop them.

Except for when it does, right?

Sure…except for when it does. Because some people won’t cross those lines. Some people are either legal hardliners or else they just fear being caught.

But it says nothing of the ones who cross lines. Who don’t care. Who don’t know anything beyond “I want this. I will find a way to have this. You cannot stop me.”

This extends all the way back to the moment not so long ago when I said that too many answers try to look at a binary solution for a real number problem.

Take every sentence between when I first said that and when I said it again. Apply it to everything that people bicker over from a legal standpoint.

You can’t flip a zero to a one and solve the problem. You can’t turn false to true and make things go away.

It doesn’t work that way, and if you don’t know that by now, then I’m sorry to be the one to break the news to you.

Fact is – you already know this. You support this same logic…when it suits you.

Don’t agree with abortion? Ban it. Problem solved…except that it isn’t. Not really. It just becomes a criminal enterprise. Ran by criminals who cater to criminals. But hey…at least <insert happy ending platitude here>.

And yet, you will see an attack on what you believe in. You will see a problem that others approach with the solution of “Just ban it…” and you will go, “No! It doesn’t work that way! It just becomes a criminal enterprise and anyone who uses their services becomes a criminal as well!”

Correct.

A+

But people love to believe that their position is unique and beautiful. Their fight is the good fight. Their war is the righteous one.

But you are fighting real numbers with binary solutions.

Real-life has complicated numbers. Decimals. Integers. Positives and negatives.

Binary is simple.

Binary is clean.

I love binary. I really do. But if you think you can apply it to humanity as a whole, then you – again – have a weak grasp of the last many years of human history.

You really do.

It’s all there.

We’ve been writing it down.

If you choose to ignore that, it doesn’t make you wise – it makes you ignorant. And if you think that your personal binary solution is the silver bullet for the werewolf of American gun violence, then you’re living in a land of beautiful delusion.

Side note: please share whatever you’re taking. I’d like to try some.

So later after later is here now.

All my rambling condensed to an actual point.

And you might be thinking, “You know, it sounds to me like you’re saying that you don’t have a point.”

Well…yes and no.

My point is that there is no easy solution. But, by that same standard, I’m prepared to tell you a wonderful fact about humanity that holds true on a very firm statistical basis.

1.) The more educated people are, the less prone to senseless acts of violence they generally are.

-> Someone will now point out someone who is wicked smart AND a lunatic/criminal/serial killer/assassin. And I’m sorry, but that’s called implying the exception is the rule. If you think that makes sense, then please brush up on your understanding of statics, bell curves, and outliers. If you think you get to call a mulligan on this because you can think of a handful of cases leveraged against the population of the world then math was clearly not your strong suit.

2.) The more financially stable people are, the less prone to senseless acts of violence they generally are.

-> Same thing as above. Someone is going to find the anti-Bruce Wayne and go “Oh yeah?! What about <insert name here>!” Please spare us your inability to grasp how numbers work.

And that’s it.

Seriously.

If you look at the world and you go, “What makes a place safe?” there are two things.

TWO

CONSISTENT

THINGS

And they keep showing up.

Educated people who are not impoverished tend to do a better job of “playing well with others.”

And why is that?

Well, it’s actually very simple. So simple that it’s almost binary – except for that whole…implementation…thing.

Smarter people tend to think about what they’re doing and what it means and who it affects and why they should and shouldn’t do what they’re doing…more.

And people who have something to lose are less likely to risk losing it.

People who are uneducated are less likely to have – what I call – mechanical empathy.

Empathy – of course – is our ability to put ourselves in the shoes of another. For people who are very emotional, this is just “a thing that happens because it’s who they are”. But for people who are not as emotional, (yup…I’m one of those people…) there is (what I call) mechanical empathy. I don’t feel for you. I don’t care about you. You’re some person who works job A to pay bills B, C, D, E, and F and you live in location G and came from location H and whatever else..

And I don’t care.

But I understand that you suffering isn’t good.

And that more people suffering is bad.

And that I don’t want to be the cause of that.

And that when I fuck up and people suffer, I understand the consequences of that and what they mean, and why. And it’s not emotional. It’s mechanical. Numbers adding up and I can go “This isn’t good…”

And when I fuck up – because I do…because I’m human…I learn from that. And I do better next time. And even better after that.

Additionally, those with nothing to lose…well…they

HAVE

NOTHING

TO

LOSE

When you cross-pollinate those terrible flowers…that’s bad for everyone.

Now…if you’re thinking, “Oh…okay…so…you have some liberal concept of…”

Let me stop you there.

I don’t care about your politics.

I don’t care about your religion.

I have friends that I don’t agree with politically and I have friends who I don’t agree with in regards to religion. And I would never try to “pull them over to my side” because they’re still good people.

And that’s what’s strange to me – the fact that I – even now – can honestly say that, yes, people are…believe it or not…inherently good.

And if you want a binary decision to help guide yourself…or an entire country…on their way to a place where pulling a trigger isn’t a solution to every situation under the sky, how about we start right there:

People are inherently good, and maybe we should treat them accordingly.

People believe different things, but that’s okay because we’re all – inherently – on the same side.

People are different and that’s an absolutely wonderful thing and people don’t get told that often enough.

Because if I had to really sharpen this whole narrative into some kind of an actual point, then it’s this: the world suffers when we stop treating people like people, and when we feel like we have nothing that matters, then we act accordingly.

If that thing is god or your favorite red pen, I don’t care.

If that thing is your best friend or the flying spaghetti monster, I don’t care.

Because shit like this is a real number problem.

It’s complicated.

And it’s weird.

And we can’t just flip a switch and make it go away.

It doesn’t work that way. And if you still don’t get that, then you need to work on your understanding of world history, basic human psychology, mathematics, and statistics.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll become more educated and push us all closer to a world that’s less violent in those educational pursuits.

<insert witty closing line here>

 

Advertisements

Acclimation

I surrounded myself with the center of the bell curve.

I sometimes think of this line as I look back. Or look around. Or just look.

Center of the center. The end result of when an outlier finds its way into a place where it doesn’t belong.

I suppose that there’s a power to it. A sense of prestige. A world that is all wrapped in the warm comfort of ignorant happiness. A world where mediocrity reigns. A world that is numerically oblivious. A world that can be more easily quantified and, more to point, made more astounding by one who is willing to quantify it.

This is not to say that I feel that I am part of some amazingly rare element of the statistical make-up of the world. I do not place gold stars upon my metaphorical papers. I do not showcase the moments that others might find victorious. I do not laud accomplishments nor offer negativity when others accomplish little and less.

And yet…

I wonder, at times, if I have not found myself so warmly embraced by the realm of simplicity because it is a realm that seems more easily navigated. A realm where some are more easily impressed. Where hundred dollar words are appraised at twice their price and even the slightest modicum of eloquence seems a world away from the doldrums that often supersede all those dawdling moments that span the near and far like oceans lapping at the distant shores of possibility.

Perhaps that’s the allure, though. The feeling of being the equivalent value of a knight in a world of pawns. Not so much better as different. Not moving unhindered, but moving in a way that seems more freeing…if only because the constraints are different.

I wonder what a world where the curve has shifted will be like.

Where my equals might be equals.

Where that which so many find exceptional is a thing that is basic and obvious. Where the variegations shrink. Where many and more have set foot upon distant lands and now look upon the oceans…lamenting…wondering why so many can’t seem to swim, or sail, or fly.

But as much as there is comradery in those thin slivers of disparity – those little islands where those of similar ilk would congregate – there is also that stagnant feeling of similarity.

That place where suddenly the sky is seen the same by all.

Where the moon is not so wondrous a thing.

Where the probabilities all mesh and merge and the separation of distinction shrink to grains in a world where once they seemed boulders.

But here I find myself eschewing the middle warmth and facing the outer rim. That place where unique means something different. Where strange means what so many called normal in a world where once I seemed so strange. Where for the first time in such a long time, I wonder if I will look around – if only for a moment – and realize that my banner is not so bright and not held so high.

Where measurable distances are harder to measure.

Where distances are less distinct.

Where the new middle is not so warm and I find myself wondering…

Was it cowardice that kept me where I was or is it hubris that leads me to where I now go?

Feel

So there it is.

Or, rather, I suppose, there it was…?

End of a road, as it were.

I sent out messages. Four total. The people I talk to most. Two of them, I’ve never seen in person. One still hasn’t seen the message. They may never.

It’s complicated.

I knew the replies before I ever got them back.

I try to wrap myself in the happy words. The words of praise. In messages written in caps and decorated with too many exclamations points.

I try to feel what they’re feeling. Part of me wants to. Perhaps if I see the words, I can see the same point of view. Maybe I’ll feel, at least for a moment, like they feel.

“So how do you feel?”

I feel…

It’s a curious question.

I have a complicated relationship with that question.

I often reply to the question of “How’s it going?” and “How’s your day?” and “Hey, how are you?” by stating the day of the week.

“It’s a Wednesday.”

I’ve told someone before that when they ask me how I feel, it feels like my brain is trying to divide by zero. It’s not an exaggeration.

Some might ask, “Are you happy?”, or “Are you relieved?”

I would say no. I would say that I’m glad, to a degree.

And perhaps some might say, “But that’s sort of the same thing, right?”

And to that, I’d say no.

But words are a complicated subject with me. I love words, but not always for the right reasons, even when I use them for the reasons I write.

I have hidden a million yesses behind words that I knew would be interpreted as no. And vice versa.

I have said before that, “Having a response is not the same as giving an answer.”

So it matters, at least to me, that when I reference myself, I apply the same rules that I apply when I speak to others.

So, no. I am not happy. I am not relieved. I’m glad, to a degree.

I am reminded of that concept of a dog chasing a car and people saying, “Why do they do that?” and “What would he do if he actually caught it?”

I believe there was even a Far Side comic where it showed a dog dreaming (or imagining? I can’t remember) that he had successfully caught a car. It was upside down, the dog was on top. A stance of victory.

I imagine that if you asked the dog how he felt in that moment, he might say (if dogs could speak in a way that we understand), that he felt triumphant. Successful. Happy, perhaps.

But I also think about that episode of Family Guy where they did a cutaway where the coyote caught the roadrunner.

“So how do you feel?”

I feel…

A therapist once told me – or maybe she just implied – that I have an unhealthy view of success. I already knew that, but she was having a moment where she felt like she’d figured out something important. I didn’t think it necessary to take that from her.

She wasn’t very good at her job, but I digress.

I enjoy the concept of progress, but progress and success are fleeting. They are these short, ephemeral things.

Inches past the finish line, and it becomes something you’ve done. It is no longer a goal. It is no longer even a success. It was a success. But now that’s your new normal.

I tend to not know how to enjoy my finish lines.

It takes mere moments before they become the equivalent of the preschool drawing that parents hang on a refrigerator. They become the metrics by which I compare what I do next. They become the starting squares for the next finish line.

But I suppose that this is different.

There wasn’t a moment where my arms raised high. I didn’t let out the words “Yesss!” as I saw the end become a thing that was now securely behind my most recent step.

“So how did it feel?”

I felt…

It felt like Wednesday.

Culling

It would be a lie if I tried to say that I write “only for myself”.

In fact, I dare say that most people who write and share their writing on some level do not write exclusively “for themselves”.

Perhaps you, my dear reader, are someone who shall now attest that you do, in fact, write only for yourself and to hell with likes, shares, follows, and views. And if you are truly honest in this proclamation, then congratulations. You are an anomaly. You are unique. You are rare. You are a unicorn.

For most, however, there is some intrinsic desire to see numbers increase, to feel as though more people are reading what we write, and that they do so because they legitimately enjoy what we’re writing about…or at least the way in which we write about those things.

That being said, it is difficult to honestly gauge our reach, our level of connection. It’s difficult to tell who reads what, for what reason they read, and to what degree they like, or even if they actually care. We are given crude numbers that end up being this mercurial element which is tangent to all the numbers we’re given.

The actual connection between these numbers, however, is vague and the truth of those values debateable.

This leads us to the actual point of this post. Culling.

As of today, I’ve done two cullings of my followers.

The way I do this is as follows: I go through the last 10 posts or 10 days (whichever is longer) and I record the name of every like I got. I then go through my list of followers and redact anyone who hasn’t liked anything I wrote over that given span of posts or time.

First time, I went from approximately 430+ followers down to 48.

Think about that.

430 people were supposedly following me, but of them, less than 50 had made even the most tenuous of interactions with my posts. That’s a little over 11%.

Now, some people might say, “But perhaps a lot of them were reading, but they just don’t click like.”

This is true. But the problem with that logic is that, when I removed the better part of 400 followers, my stats didn’t change enough to substantiate the claim that almost any of them were just “passive viewers”.

Today, I completed my second culling. I went from 283 down to 105, and I suspect I will see the same overall effect. I suspect I will get the same sort of views and likes because, generally speaking, the same core group of people like what I post. Other people like and follow, and then disappear. More to point, it gives me a more accurate depiction of how many people might actually be looking at what I post rather than just giving me the total number of people who clicked on the “follow” button.

So, how about the rest of you?

Do you sometimes trim your following?

Do you let the idle followers stay on board for the sake of “well, they’re not hurting anything…”?

Feel free to share your thoughts. I always like talking numbers, percentages, and statistics. 🤓

Mulling

Maybe it’s because I seem to see so many people on route to do some form of published something-or-other, but I find myself thinking about following suit. This is, of course, a complicated concept in my mind.

First, I don’t think poetry is really such a big deal to most people that it’s exactly marketable. So I have to think, “What exactly is the purpose of pursuing such an avenue?” I mean, I write poetry, and even I don’t actually buy books of poetry. It makes it all the harder to reconcile the idea of putting out a book of poetry because I find myself thinking, “If I write poetry but feel largely disinclined to actually purchase the poetry of others, then what are the chances that others would be inclined to purchase what I write?”

Secondly, I tend to have a strange disconnect between my writing and the idea of money. I can circumvent some of that by thinking, “They’re really paying for the process behind the scenes and not actually paying for what I’m writing.” Even then, some part of me looks at the arrangement and knows that I’m charging money for words. I generally give words away for free. I don’t consider my words valuable enough to charge people so that they can see them. I don’t mean that as a statement of self-deprecation, by the by, I just mean that I don’t look at my writing and see something that should be monetized.

Additionally, I have a lot of poetry on here. It ranges in quality, and I’m certainly not objective enough to read my own work and determine what qualifies as being “some of my best work” vs. “things that I’ve also written…” I’m currently at 700+ posts, and most of that is poetry. Part of me is inclined to go, “Hell, just take all of them, alphabetize them, arrange them to maximize words per page and call it good…” But there again…some of those poems could probably be left out.

There are other elements to my thought process, of course, but most of them are elements of tangency. I know what I would title the book…so…I mean…there’s that.

Anywho…I’m just thinking out loud (or quietly on a keyboard, actually).

Anyone have any insights into this? I mean, even as it relates to you? Any of you also thought about publishing, or actively working on something to publish? What’s your two cents? 🤔

Codes

I am a person who has a fascination with code.

There is a logic to that logic. There is a certainty in specificity.

Even when things seem illogical, there is is a logic to the lack of logic.

I bring this up, I suppose, because it’s a handy segue that I can connect to later because I tend to write in loops.

Perhaps you’ve noticed.

I find myself at a crossroads of sorts.

But no. Not a crossroad. That alludes to the concept of multiple paths that branch from the direction that I now find myself. This implies that I’m at (0,-1) and am facing the choice to pursue (0,1), (1,0), or (-1,0).

This is inaccurate and I tend to strive for accuracy. Accuracy matters. Precision, however, matters more. Accuracy is the ability to hit the bull’s eye. Precision is the ability to keep hitting it.

Precision is repeatability.

Don’t worry, I’ll tie into that as well. Circles within circles within circles.

You know the drill.

I find myself at a division in the road. As though I’m at (0,-1) and I’m looking at (-1,1) or (1,1).

One path will lead me somewhere that I would like to go. I’m allowed to go there. But I should not go there because, in so doing, I feel that I would cause discomfort to another. I do not like being the cause of discomfort.

This is not to say I’ve never been the cause of discomfort, only that I find no joy, solace, or catharsis in doing so.

This brings to mind a few logical questions. Basic if/thens, if you will. Basic if/thens even if you won’t.

The most flawed, however, begins with, “What would they…”

The end of the statement is irrelevant. It is not a question that can be answered without some degree of assumption. It is not a question that can be answered with specificity. It is, most importantly, not a question that matters.

It doesn’t matter because path (-1,1) violates my code.

Not my code – 01010010110101001 – code.

It violates my Code.

This is not to say I’ve never violated my own Code. We all have Codes. We all violate our Codes. To see a failure of our own algorithms and remain pursuant of further failures, one must find themselves asking, “Is this really my Code, or do I simply claim it? If it’s the latter, then what is my Code?”

A person should know their Code.

A person should know their code – 001010110100110110 – code – to the best of their ability.

We can’t ever really know the bits and bytes of ourselves, but we are not ignorant of all the values – hexadecimal or otherwise.

To strive to pursue our Code is accuracy.

To continue pursuing it with consistency…that is precision.

Precision is important.

By my Code, I have a directive that was imparted at a time prior. A time that was not recent. In the time between, there have been other directives. There have been variables that have adjusted various elements that are tangent to that aforementioned directive.

There has not been a removal of said directive.

I find myself bound by my Code while simultaneously threatening to break it.

Not a real threat.

I don’t make real threats.

I abhor violence in all its forms.

This is not to say that I’ve never been part of an algorithm whose end value was violence – direct or otherwise. But this does not preclude a desire to insert myself into such algorithms and go seeking those end results.

To do so is a violation of my Code, even if it does not violate my code.

I find myself, however, with those divergent paths. Paths that tell me that to pursue (-1,1) would be to break my Code. But then, so too does (1,1). It is a different facet of the same Code. A different code within my code.

That breach, however, would cause me discomfort.

I don’t particularly care for discomfort. I do not pursue it.

This is not to say that I’ve never pursued it – indirectly or otherwise – but I do not seek ways to insert myself into that construct intentionally.

In all my failings, I do not abide the notion of “Since I slipped, I might as well fall.”

To do so would be a violation of my Code, and if I start seeking breaches to my own logic, then I must ask myself, “Is this really my Code, or is this simply what I tell myself?”

The end determination, of course, is simple. It is precise. It is very specific.

Specificity matters.

One path would seem to cause discomfort in another, the other would cause discomfort in myself. Both could potentially hold any number of other end results. But one does not account for unknowns when one does not know the unknowns that one is not accounting for.

If I must choose between my own discomfort and another’s, I cannot choose theirs. It would be inconsiderate.

This is not to say that I’ve never been inconsiderate. We all have been. We all are, from time to time. But when one says that they do not play with matches, they must be aware that others might. We cannot logically say that we can still play with matches merely because we have witnessed another doing so.

In short – the sins of another do not validate or defend my own.

Granted – I do not believe in sins, but the sentiment holds true. If I allow myself to circumvent my own logic because another has circumvented their own logic – then I must ask myself: Do I have a Code, or do I operate on a system of strong suggestions?

So I find myself looking at the slow-motion approach of (-1,1) and (1,1) and I do not need to ask myself, “What is my Code?” because I know what my Code is, even if I don’t fully understand what my code is.

My Code does not seek to cause discomfort in others unnecessarily, and I do not believe there is ever a necessity to cause discomfort. And while I certainly have caused discomfort, in both myself and others, I do not seek this end result. When facing new iterations of that same algorithm, I like to believe that I do not pursue duplicate paths that lead to duplicate values that I did not desire when they first appeared.

If I did not do better than I did before, I would be in violation of my Code…and my code. And I know what my Code is.

A person should know what their Code is.

Psychology

I haven’t had a “thinking out loud” post in a while. The ones I had before are gone now – I generally delete them after a time.

This just isn’t that type of blog.

Nonetheless, I find psychology a strange thing. I find my own psychology a strange thing.

In that regard, I can’t honestly tell you who or what I am – how I’m classified…how I’m not. I can’t tell you that I fall into this particular psychological subset or that one. I don’t know where I am on any neurological bell curve.

I’m also prone to the belief that I know that I don’t know. I don’t take information as concrete when there are reasons – real or imagined – to give doubt to that particular assessment.

I know that every time I take the MBTI, I register as INTJ. If asked, I would tell someone that, when I take the test, it says I’m an INTJ. I don’t know, however, that I’m an INTJ because there are elements about those tests that are hard to quantify. My values have shifted as I’ve taken the MBTI – I’ve gotten dangerously close to NOT being INTJ – something that has occurred when I’ve taken the test several times over a relatively short period.

I blame this on the concept of introspection, analysis, and subjective doubt.

“I’m someone who <insert quantifying element here>”

Answer that question the first time, and maybe I definitely agree, but if I take the test again, and again, and again…it becomes an endeavor of progressive second-guessing. It’s like someone asking you where you put your keys the previous evening.

“I put them on the counter.” <the immediacy of certainty>

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah…I…” <the insertion of doubt> “I…yeah…yeah, I’m sure I did”

This begins to taper answers from “I definitely agree” to “I agree”
It changes the concepts of “I always do” to “I usually do”

Every time I take the MBTI, it says I’m INTJ. Statistically speaking, it seems to imply that I’m INTJ. Am I an INTJ, or do I simply answer the same way reflexively?

I know someone who swore they were an INTJ – they got it every time they took the test. I disagreed with them. I didn’t think they fit the profile. I told them to take it…just one more time…and to do it as fast as possible. To not stop and think about anything. Read and click.

They got a different result – one letter changed – it was a completely different profile.

I don’t know what they really are, psychologically speaking – I just knew that we weren’t the same.

I’ve had people tell me that I have traits of “high functioning autism” or even “just a touch of autism”.

A psychiatrist once told me that “I think you might be somewhere on the spectrum, if only barely.”

They later told me, “I don’t know if it’s autism…it’s almost like you almost border on sociopathy.”

I’ve been told that I might suffer from depression.

OCD.

I’ve taken several tests that imply “High Machiavellianism”

I might have narcissistic personality disorder.

Never histrionic, though. Never had that one show up.

Someone asked me once if I’d ever been formally assessed. They mentioned that some things are hard to properly diagnose the older you get. Apparently, we learn to adapt to what makes us odd – we hide our symptoms and create new coping mechanisms which throws off a lot of tests and assessments.

I told them that I’d never been formally tested for anything and I had no idea if I was any type of anything.

They took a moment to ensure that “a diagnosis doesn’t have to define you,” because their theory was that I didn’t want to be diagnosed with anything in the realm of the psychological/neurological because once you get that diagnosis – that’s where you are now.

You have a label.

It defines you.

They didn’t understand me – which is hardly surprising.

I tried to explain to them that I didn’t care about a label. I’d never been assessed or diagnosed because I didn’t care about the end result. I didn’t care what the final word would be.

They took this as a defeatist point of view, as though what I was saying was, “It won’t matter because there’s nothing that can be done.” Like I was afraid of being diagnosed with stage four brain cancer – the diagnosis would, at best, give me information that I couldn’t change and an end result that would seal my future and all the prospects that it might have held. They heard, “What good will it do? It can’t be fixed.”

They didn’t understand me – which is hardly surprising. I’m used to people not understanding me.

I don’t see it as a defeatist mindset. I don’t view it as “if they tell me I’m a <label> then all they’ve done is given me a diagnosis of ‘broken – can’t be fixed’.”

I don’t care what the label is.

I don’t care if it can be fixed.

I don’t care.

It’s a persistent trait of mine. It’s not a healthy one. It’s something that’s endemic to plenty of psychological structures. Apathy. Lack of empathy. Lack of social connections. Avoidance of others. Seclusion. Etc…etc…etc…

I shrug about too much too often. I find it hard to care about most things. I’m almost annoyingly indifferent in the eyes of most. I’m pessimistic and cynical.

I’m detached and unemotional…until I’m attached and very emotional.

I’m also a dreamer.

I think that anything is possible. I think that the world is shit, but I think we can fix it. I think that we’re inevitably doomed – and I see that as the most wonderful catalyst for progress and growth that I can imagine. I think that nothing matters, but I see it as logical to fight for it anyway.

I’m a nihilist – and I believe in nothing.

Nothing at all.

People sometimes struggle with my philosophical view of the world.

“How can you believe in nothing?”

It’s simple – it’s the only belief that has no loopholes. All other forms of belief are philosophically hypocritical. You probably don’t believe me, but it’s true.

If you believe in a religion, you’re saying that your religious beliefs are true even though when they’re weighed against any other, they both have the same points in the proof and evidence column. You are saying that lack of evidence precludes the reality of your belief while simultaneously disproving another.

You cannot disprove Odin – yet you know he can’t exist. I cannot disprove god, but I know he cannot exist. By your own logic, I have just disproven your own religion. If you disagree, then you have proven the existence of Odin. Try to wrap your mind around that.

This is philosophical hypocrisy.

I believe in nothing.

You cannot disprove it. You might say, “But neither can you prove it.”

And yet, there is no hypocrisy in my belief.

Can you prove god? No. I do not believe in god.

Can you prove Odin? No. I do not believe in Odin.

If you cannot prove a concept or offer strong evidence that has no equal contrapositive, then I do not believe it. This doesn’t waver. It doesn’t change. There are no loopholes. There is no philosophical hypocrisy if everything is held to the same set of rules.

Unfortunately, this turns problematic for more mundane things.

What makes you happy?

What do you do for fun?

Define happy. Define fun.

Most will define these statements subjectively – which is inherently flawed. People identify happiness most frequently with their own interpretation of it. “Like when you <insert personal experience>”

But if this is not an experience that resonates with me, then it does not quantify happiness.

Perhaps this is why negative descriptors are so ubiquitous.

We can rarely put our finger on the pulse of joy and happiness – on elation and love. They are these vague, indeterminate things that we try to put into words and yet we either lack the language or the ability to adequately assess the concept to logically articulate.

Comparatively, we can easily find common ground in sadness. In depression. In fear. In hopelessness. We need no individual constructs to paint those pictures. No one needs to give you an example of what sadness feels like. You’ve felt it. You don’t need to say, “It’s like when you <insert personal experience>.” The terminology is understood and we connect our own individual experiences to the word – not the other way around.

It reminds me something I’ve always found strange – the number of adjectives for negative words often exceeds those for positive ones. We seem oddly capable of defining what’s wrong, and yet seldom know how to define what is right.

Side note: Fiction is a type of writing. Non-fiction is a type of writing. Do you not find it odd that “things that aren’t true” have a genre type, and the only way we can assess that converse of that form of writing is to say, “uh…NOT that” – I’ve always found that strange – our inability to give an honest identity to certain concepts and our willingness to submit to litotes.

Perhaps this is why I find it hard to answer questions about feelings.

How do you feel?

What makes you happy?

I never know how to answer these things, yet I know how not to. I know what I’m not feeling, and can offer an assessment by reduction. I defer to litotes. I end up deferring to what could be termed a “diagnosis of exclusion”.

Perhaps these are elements of being an INTJ. Or a sociopath. Or a barely on the autism spectrum. Or maybe these are the end results of the myriad of years from youth til now and the compounding variables that have accumulated within my own neural pathways.

Nature vs nurture and all that jazz.

But really…I don’t care. The diagnosis is irrelevant. It’s gravity. It’s something that’s happening and I’m not particularly concerned with the particulars. Not because I don’t believe it can be changed. I believe in change.

I believe that anything is possible.

I just…don’t care.