Soul education: How I used an unpleasant life event to become a stronger person

Soul education: How I used an unpleasant life event to become a stronger person

A few years ago, I was a victim of sexual harassment from my unofficial boss at the time. This was before I started questioning social norms, reading political opinion blogs (ah, the glory days of inner peace), and before I truly understood my own boundaries.

I was interning at a small events and media company headed by a successful bloke from West London. He offered me a weekly unpaid job and I thought job opportunities would just burst out at me after this, no doubt. I wrote up phony articles about some bars in Camden (for a website I now suspect he’d just set up to occupy my time) and was part of a team helping him to organise some skeezy luxury-themed events. He would get me in his office whenever I finished my writing and would congratulate me for my work and “confide” in me. He’d show me a terrible film he was working on and ask for my approval. It was weird, to say the least, but me, being the remarkably agreeable person that I was, I went along with it. I kind of admired him as I tend to admire those who make something of their lives, I assumed I should probably learn something from him.

Anyway, one evening he took me and a friend of his to review the opening of a new club night in central London. It was exclusive, fancy, free drinks, great fun. I interviewed some people just to impress my boss – I hung out with him and tried to ask him what elements I should review and how (this was my first reviewing gig) – most of all, I drank. His friend kept seeming to leave us alone together and bring us booze whenever we ran out. Somehow it wasn’t quite the professional visit I’d bargained for.
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O Glorious Gender

O Glorious Gender

I was a little apprehensive about writing this piece, because what authority do I have? I hold no degree in “Gender & Sexuality studies” like the writer of this drivel. Then I decided that if people can write politically acceptable articles based on nearly nothing, then I could do the same, only a bit less acceptable – ‘cause why the hell not.

That’s it.

I’m saying it.

I think traditional gender roles are beautiful.

It took a few years of consideration but the movie Deerhunter did it for me.

There is a meaning and a priceless value to intense emotions, so intense that they scar you physically as well as mentally. I personally have cherished every bursting surge of life that a rush of uncontrollable emotion brings – this is why people often take drugs if they are feeling understimulated by their day to day routine. This is why people have casual sex, or go paragliding, or get into street fights. These are all short term, life affirming moments accorded us by our fellow humans.

But there is truth in saying that ultimate transcendence, in the form bestowed upon us by Nature herself, lies in birth and death. In between those two events of a person’s life there are countless opportunities that allow us to experience these core feelings to varying degrees, such as the ones mentioned above.

I think it is fair to say that two concrete manifestations of these events are war and childbirth.
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The Glory Days of the Web

The Glory Days of the Web

You know how, as people grow older, they become more and more conservative? Ugh, I can’t believe I’m that guy, before even turning 30. This might be due to more than just bitterness and being overworked. I think a lot of it has to do with nostalgia.

Even after long years of consideration, debate, and self-doubt, I’ve realised that I simply and honestly prefer lots of things how I remember them to the way they are now. Sure, progress is a staple of humanity and it’s unstoppable. But could we not have progressed more in some other directions? Ideas: toilet paper hasn’t changed in centuries. Matches are still essentially the same, and so are calculators.

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Predictably, we too have an issue with the #metoo craze.

Predictably, we too have an issue with the #metoo craze.

“It’s time to speak out!”

That’s right, people. ‘Cause there’s a severe shortage of “speaking out” these days.

That is if you disregard the millions of moaning Michaels who find ever more creative ways to tell all their friends (without having to leave the house) every single thing that’s on their minds in bite sized portions. No, but this time we really mean it. Oh my god, we’re going to rattle the world with this hashtag, you wait!

I feel like I’m witnessing the tumorous growth of yet another virtual fad, its lifespan likely to be as short and wimpy as those that preceded it. At least the ice bucketeers actually helped raise quite a bit of money for a clearly defined cause. This, however, looks to me like a load of bored young women jumping on the bandwagon of Hollywood’s latest ladies of the hour.

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“The North Korea Problem”

“The North Korea Problem”

Here’s a thought. Imagine you’re North Korea, one of the last independent communist states standing. You’re far from perfect and you tend to abuse your citizens, but relatively to the rest of the world, you’re doing OK and you’re keeping to yourself.

Enter the USA, a hawkish state notorious for its continuous and thinly-veiled attempts to smother any ideology that does not align with its interests. They set up a military base just a stone’s throw away from your fragile country just to flex their bombastic muscles in southeast Asia’s face. Their media does all it can to get the rest of the Western world afraid of you. You are now officially evil, and the welcome support you get from Satanic overlord Putin and the borderline republic of China only makes you look worse in the eyes of our manipulative press. Your leader is also a tad on the “goofy comic book villain” side.

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#shoutyourmentalillness

#shoutyourmentalillness

The recent “epidemic” of “depression” is one of my biggest beefs with society today. People are actually gaining exposure from making whiny, longwinded articles for massive media outlets talking about their PTSD induced by overly strict parenting and schoolyard bullying. How can this be happening? When did our culture turn around and show its underbelly to the big mean world? Moaning and whimpering we flock in droves to our underpaid doctors and leech antidepressant pills out of an NHS in crisis, and then feel even more sorry for ourselves as a result because our “needs” and “desires” were not “met appropriately”.

When I myself was a moody teen, I used to wish I’d had a rougher life just so’s I could complain more legitimately. Today I see that such fantasies are no longer necessary, because now everyone’s complaint is valid and worthy not only of consideration, but thorough compensation, too. Hooray! What a shame (read: thank God) I outgrew that stage before I could exploit it.

Our middle-class first world has officially become overly comfortable. Far too full of humourless, well-off, middle-class babies are getting showered with attention for describing their “symptoms” in a semipoetic and fully public way. I think maybe this little epidemic is maybe a little touch overhyped. In fact, calling it “depression” only became fashionable about 40 years ago.

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Interlude

argument.JPGWhen you’re debating with someone about a very sensitive and/or political topic, it is good to have some factual backing for your arguments. Don’t worry, though. If you know you are right, the need for fact-based arguments diminishes considerably, and you can basically relax into dignified smugness and repetitive, evasive responses. You can reside safely in the knowledge that the other is just a victim of brainwashing, or simply a bigot (unlike yourself). Either way, clearly not someone to listen to. However, if your adversary plays by the same rules, you may have a chance of winning via cigarette break or introduction of an unrelated third party into the conversation – but there are few other options. If your opponent is quite laid-back in their bigotry, you may get a few points across, but you must keep your inner shield strong to avoid persuasion or manipulation that may sway you to regard their obviously wrong ideas as worthy of consideration.