Monday, November 25, 2013

6 Things To Do When You Are Stuck In The Elevator With A Girl

For the introverts

1. Check your smartphone. See if someone has left you a message. If not, play "Temple Run 5" or "Angry Birds Lift". Act, the same way you would when you are confronted with someone you hate, like there is something really interesting happening on your 4 inch display and keep stroking it with your fingers.

2. Stare at the floor count. See if there's any change in the speed at which the numbers change. Think of what you will do if the elevator fails and shoots to the ground.

3. Think hard, or act like you are doing so. Assign yourself the task of saving the world from alien invasion or climate change. And rake your brains for a solution. If you are a dumb medical student, scratch your head and twirl your beard, as if you are answering an essay question.

For the extroverts

4. Talk to the girl stuck with you. If you don't know her, ask her what she is or where she is going. See if you can make her smile. If you do know her, just shut the fuck up and start talking to her already.

5. Flirt with the girl. There is nothing as boring as a casual conversation.
"Hi" "Hey!" "What do you do?" "I work in the grocery store, what about you?" "Oh, I work in the other department" Weird silence. Trnim... (Announcement) "Ground floor"
If you are good at it, flirt with the girl and make her eyes twinkle.

For the drunk horny extroverts who are single, or who don't mind getting their marriage broken

6. Hit on the girl. Compliment her and make her aroused. Make sure she is single and is up for a game. Exchange phone numbers. Make her feel comfortable and while parting maybe gently touch her on the shoulders and say "see you soon". Then follow that up with as much romantic foreplay as you can, and try to get laid soon.

But never ever go faster than how fast the girl wants you to go. This is what Tarun Tejpal and all other idiots get wrong. If she doesn't want to talk with you, stop talking. If she doesn't respond to your flirting, shut up. If she feels uncomfortable, stop the lift at the next floor and get out of it. Do not ever fuck things up by making any unexpected advance, because even if you do not end up in trouble you will ruin the chances of your entire gender on being comfortable around a lady.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On Facebook

Facebook is an excellent social networking tool. It has features that makes reconnecting with old friends nostalgic, sharing photos beautiful and staying connected seamless.

And that's where it ends. Facebook is not the best content discovery tool. It can show you news from only those people you know or follow. Technically it can show news from world over, but it doesn't by default. That immediately restricts the sample size of links you chance upon.

You can actually change the defaults and use Facebook like a feed reader, by liking pages of a good content creator or a good content curator. And then going through a myriad of settings to make all of their posts visible to you.

But Facebook defaults to "suckery". In an effort to make page owners pay for advertisements, Facebook buries page posts deep inside news feed.

And then, Facebook, by default, gives the microphones to all your crappy friends and turns the volume up on all of them, simultaneously!

Even if you quit reading twilight after the first few chapters, you can relate yourself on Facebook to Edward Cullen in classroom. You get to read everyone's mind, without even listening. Unlike Cullen here, you have to turn off each single person who litters.

And in such a system, diversity dies off. You post about what your friends post about which is what their friends post about which is what their friends post about which is what you post about. It's like inbreeding depression. And this leads to the same stories recurring on your wall day after day walling (pardon the pun) you from all the different, never-thought-about things that actually happen on the internet. You will be stuck with Modi's comment on Rahul and Rahul's comment on Modi and Modi's comment on Rahul's comment on Modi and Sachin Tendulkar's comment on Bharath Ratna, and Bharath Ratna's comment on Sachin Tendulkar, and your neighbour's comment on Sachin Tendulkar and your friend's comment on your neighbour's comment on Sachin Tendulkar and then Modi's comment on that. And to vie for your attention, each news source will add more masala, more drama to each story they post. While the internet goes forward with splendid things.

Click here to deactivate your Facebook account now.

And then, decide on one standard news site, one standard niche site and one standard content discovery tool, and live a beautiful life.

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Assorted List of Things 20-Something Should Know

This post on Making254movies: 26 Things Every 20-something Should Wish to Know

It needs a little restructuring so that we can actually remember it and apply to our lives. First, go read the post. Then, revise it below.

To begin with:
2. Invest in yourself.
23. Habits now, will stick till the end.
25. Don't worry about things that aren't good about you, spend time on the good ones.

7. Get educated formally.
22. College won't take you everywhere. Educate yourself.
10. Keep a personal library.
26. Learn the art of rhetoric.

9. Take care of your body before it's too late.

12. Have a budget.
24. Save money.

1. Don't feel urged to go behind a girl.
4. Don't cohabit outside marriage.

General social life:
6. People let you down. Expect it and learn from it.
20. Be charming, help others.
8. Put people together. 
19. Stop trying to save everybody.
13. Don't compare yourself with others, say on social media.

General life:
5. Don't necessarily go with hype.
11. College -> Confusion -> Real life. That's the order it comes in.

3. Take jobs that need travel.
15. Take values out of crappy jobs. 
17. Be passionate, be willing to fail.
16. Accept failures, move on.
14. Keep changing your plans, as needed.
21. But don't listen to unimportant people.
18. Explore.

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On Disposing Garbage From My Reading List

Up until two months ago, I would have been heading to if I ended up in a long queue for chappati at the mess. No, I wouldn't waste a lot of time reading worthless status updates. I'd only click on external links and read articles (which feigned importance).

And then, I deactivated my facebook account (as I've described here on quora).

I started reading more of, and my textbooks.

And that's when I realized that there's a difference between articles that you land up on after surfing social media, and articles from high quality news sources like The Hindu.

For example, till a friend told me about how sad it is that naive criticism is floating over the web and social media about Sachin receiving Bharath Ratna, I didn't know that people could even think of blaming Sachin for being conferred a prize.

But did I miss anything by not reading such hate-posts? No. There will be thousands of opinions about every event that occurs. Not all matters. A vast majority of opinions are fit for not even the trash can. Unfortunately, we meddle ourselves in all that rubbish, all day.

If I go to Google News, it's again those articles which are "hot" that is displayed more prominently. And those are most often not the ones that are comprehensive accounts of reality. People tend to click on eye-grabbing headlines. And sites like NDTV capitalize on that by publishing "news" that sounds more like gossip.

A comparison
Hindu article:
Heading: C.N.R. Rao bemoans lack of funding for science
Relevant section:
For a brief moment, Professor Rao lost his cool and criticised politicians for having given "so little." "But for the money that science receives, India, I suppose, is doing well," he said.
NDTV article:
Heading: Bharat Ratna CNR Rao calls politicians 'idiots'
The same section:
Venting out the dissatisfaction in the scientific community over "inadequate" funding, Bharat Ratna awardee and eminent scientist Professor CNR Rao today had an angry outburst as he called politicians "idiots" for giving them "so little".
"....why the hell these idiots, these politicians have given so little for us. Inspite of that, we scientists have done something," Prof. Rao said, losing his cool.

This, as I come to know from wikipedia is called sensationalism.

Which of the two articles above are people more likely to share on facebook or google or twitter? We don't have to speculate. The answers are on those links for everyone to see. At the time of writing, there's 155 fb shares, 5 tweets and 3 google+ shares for one. And 1.3k fb shares, 200 tweets and 137 +1s for the other. Which's which is anybody's guess.

It's natural for any business to try and maximize their revenue. And we can't actually blame them for trying to entice us into reading their articles. We should blame ourselves for continuing to promote such valueless journalism. We should stop reading them.

I'm not here to blame media barracks for sensationalism. I'm here to help you out of it. Human beings are naturally curious. But we don't want anyone to exploit our curiosity for their ulterior motives. Let's preserve our curiosity and apply them to find solutions for problems that genuinely need our attention.

To Do
There's only one thing to do. Mercilessly prune your reading list. Whenever you find a sensational article, remember how the author of that article must have been forced to write insensible incredulities to vie for your attention. Then, simply ignore it. Ignore your urge to open and criticize and comment and share. Ignore it and keep your mind fresh; to read a beautifully written, thought provoking, inspiring, educating article. Like, this.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why Bother Writing?

Thoughts are vague. No matter how clear a thought is to you, it would not be fully formed. That is, till you decide to write it down.
When you write down anything, you assign an (imaginary) audience to it. And you start explaining your idea. Any explanation has to go down logically. Every digression will have to be thought through to its completion. But this is lacking in "just thinking" about it. Your brain deceives you into believing that everything is logical and that branches of thoughts are self explanatory or irrelevant, or somehow not any which require that it be pursued.

Thinking gives a false impression of completeness. Writing makes a thought concrete.

It is like a construction. You can plan everything down to its last detail. But it is only when you start building it that you realize which structures are vulnerable and what modifications are necessary in order to make the building stronger.

And that makes writing difficult.

So difficult that when people actually sit down and try to write, they give up, and worse, they think of writing as a futile exercise because they have "already thought everything about it".

You get my point. If you are thinking that you have thought everything about something, you should be able to write about it without any difficulty. If you find writing about it even slightly difficult, it means that you have missed out some critical piece of thought in your mind tree. It's only when you're forced to write, that it becomes complete.

So, write.


PS: Writing this made me consider another related process - "talking". Wouldn't talking also force us to solidify thoughts? I think the answer is "Yes, but...".
Pros of writing:
  • A written document can be read by anyone, any time.
Cons of talking:
  • Conversation gets very messy if you try to go back and delete a wrong word from one of your previous statements, and come back and continue the sentence and then change another word in the previous statement, and so on. There is absolutely no way to delete a paragraph.
Okay, from the above point onwards, I'm considering only digital writing. And I seriously don't think anyone will be writing with pen on paper any more.

Perceived pros of talking that is levelled by internet:
  • In a conversation with an interested soul, you might get help from the conversational partner to finish your thought. Blogs with commenting system set up lets anyone else forge a new direction from your idea.

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