Socrates: Internet Hypno-Surgeon

Opinion and argument populate the interwebs like fish populate the sea. Unfortunately, unlike the oceans the stronger argument doesn’t always eat the weaker one. More often, the argument that splashes around the most wins.

You may be a good person with a good heart and are firmly positioned on the side of a debate that you feel is just, but if your argument isn’t sound enough or your mettle isn’t strong enough, a more prepared opponent may gnash and bite your face off. As frustrating as this can be, it’s your own fault. You lost because you weren’t ready to play their game.

In a straight up fact war, a shootout where bits of information and propaganda are the bullets, the quicker draw wins. That’s the game these über aggressive internet types play. Now you’ve got three choices if you find someone opposite you in a dusty, tumbleweed laden comment section on (fill in the blank) website. You can try your luck, draw your facts, and start shooting. You can choose not to engage, leaving the stranger in the tobacco stained shirt and dirty black hat to wreak havoc. Your final option is more simple than you think. Change the game.

Why bother playing a game outlined by someone else if you aren’t forced to do so? Why get in an opinion war when you could instead wield the most powerful argument tools in existence? Facts are blunt instruments. Opinions are sticky swamps. Pick up the scalpels that are question and logic and change that shootout into brain surgery. You’re opponent becomes your patient and they’re going to operate on themselves. Continue reading

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Resolutions and the Blues Brothers

It’s the start of a new year which means it’s resolution time! Time for new projects and goals. Time to set out to make lasting changes to our lives. Unfortunately, these lasting changes usually last anywhere from a few hours to a few months. All in all, our shiny new resolutions tend to succeed only at disappointing ourselves.

Now, before you preemptively take a swan dive into that old familiar pit of despair I ask you to, as Bill Nye would say, “consider the following.”

Pretend, if you will, that you are riding along with Jake and Elwood Blues in their retired cop car, the bluesmobile. As you careen toward the state line (your goal) you must dodge the Nazis and the cops (distractions and temptations) at every turn or risk a trip back to Joliet Penitentiary (failure).

On your journey you’ve managed to snake your way through Illinois (your project/resolution) performing your way past dangers, distractions and even Aretha Franklin. Despite all that, up ahead, there’s something in the road. Elwood spots it first but you recognize it instantly. The bridge is out. You can’t keep going. You’ve failed.

For some, failure is a road block. It acts as a termination point. The end of your project. A signal to start all over again.

It need not be so.

For all of you wondering why I’ve gone with a Blues Brothers analogy, here it is. I say this year, we make like Elwood and Jake and use that road block as a launching pad. We accept our failures and use them as motivation. I say we floor it and send our projects sailing over our failure in a hail of glory.

Failure doesn’t have to mean starting over from the beginning. It can mean starting again from where ever you are when you fail. It means suiting up for the next game, even if you lost the last. It means baking more cookies even if the last batch tasted like clay. It means continuing deeper into the cave even if you peed yourself because the bats were too scary.

If you drop ten of the thirty pounds you resolved to lose then go on a burger bender, it doesn’t mean you need to give up and gain it all back. Keep going from where you are. If you plan to write a novel this year and you fail, don’t give up. Don’t ditch your project. Keep writing. Finish what you started.

Will I succeed at all of my resolutions this year? Probably not but I’m going to try to be like Elwood and Jake when those failures come. I’m going to make my bluesmobile fly.

A NaNoWriMo Conspiracy Theory

Shhhh! Hey, whoa, wait just a second. Put the tin foil hat back on. THEY might be able to read our thoughts.

No, Stop. Too much eye contact with your screen. I need you to read this but not actually look like you’re reading this. THEY might see you.

Who’s THEY? Are you kidding? Only the most powerful group in the entire writing world during the month of November.

Ugh, do I have to spell it out for you? Fine, I’m talking about the Sacred Order of NaNoWriMo.

Shhh! Do not repeat that name.

 

What? Yeah, sure, I hear you. “But NaNoWriMo is a great thing,” you say. “It gets people everywhere to give their stories to the world. It helps new writers get serious and finally produce that novel they’ve been dying to write.”

Does it? Does it really?

 

Let’s look at the facts.

Fact: NaNoWriMo demands that its participants complete a 50,000 word manuscript in one months time.

Fact: 50,000 words is a barely passable word count for YA novels. It’s not even in the ball park for adult fiction unless the book is absolutely brilliant. (Your’s is most likely not.)

 

Don’t you see? NaNoWriMo is a global conspiracy to flood the literary world with short, unsellable novels in an attempt to stifle competition. This ensures that their own efforts will stand out as superior and will garner all sales. THEY need you out of the way so THEY can maintain their domination over all things ink and paper. Even E Ink!

What? What’s that you say? “NaNoWriMo doesn’t state that 50,000 words is the limit. It’s actually just the minimum. You can make your book as long as you like. It’s also just a rough draft which is sure to grow and change.”

No, but THEY…What about… Fine don’t believe me.

Where’s my foil hat.

 

{Disclaimer: This is of course a work of fiction and I would never seriously imply that my statements are at all true. THEY absolutely did not threaten to erase all of my manuscripts and control my mind if I didn’t add this disclaimer. Nope, THEY never said that.}