lauantai 2. toukokuuta 2015

Phew. I've been reading and thinking about play, learning, school, and the goodness/badness of humans almost 24/7 for a few months now. Now that I finally wrote those thoughts down, I'll take a break from this blog. I'll write my first international bestseller, and before that's done, I won't even look at this blog. 2 October 2015 the book will hopefully be written. Before that date, I won't post anything here. See ya later.

perjantai 1. toukokuuta 2015

How adults are creating a generation of apathetic jerks

Something very absurd and dystopian is happening in America:

Children aren't allowed to be children anymore.

Scientifically, play is how humans grow up. But now play has been replaced by constant practice. As a result, the youngest generation of Americans isn't growing up the way people used to. Looking at the statistics, they seem to be the most fearful, least creative, least caring generation in recent history.

This started in America, and now there are signs of it starting to happen in some other Western countries. And in terms of the future of the world, this might be among the most dangerous phenomena in known history.

I have a lot to say about this.

So if the idea of a generation of emotionally and cognitively challenged jerks doesn't bother you, don't read this. If it does, listen.

So, what’s happened? First, take a look at these statistics:

"A recent poll conducted by Reason/Rupe said that 68 percent of Americans think there should be a law prohibiting children 9 and younger from playing in a park unsupervised; and 43 percent think the same about allowing 12-year-olds that kind of freedom."

I didn't make this up. This is actually happening. I want to throw up.


Let me explain what happened:

In the USA, and increasingly in some other parts of the world, the media isn't interested in informing people; it's interested in making money. So, in order to make money, the media has to come up with stories that sell. What kind of stories sell? Extreme, emotionally stimulating stories. Using people's fears is a good way to attract their attention. What are people afraid of? Something bad happening to their children. So, the media starts bombarding people with stories about children being kidnapped, abused, raped, murdered, etc.
--> Parents start thinking that the world is more dangerous that it used to be, and that people are more dangerous than they used to be.

--> They start thinking that they can't let their children out of the house.

--> Kids aren't allowed to go out on their own at all. So they end up spending the majority of their time indoors, staring at screens. When they do go out, their parents follow them. All play is watched and controlled by adults. Unstructured, free play can't take place. Children are not allowed to break rules or take risks. They don't get to learn social skills, as every time there is a problem or a conflict, an adult comes and solves it for them. According to some studies, children are quickly losing their natural ability to play and use their imagination.

This is extremely dangerous. Playing in the park is not. This is. This is violence. Parents are so hysterically afraid of their children getting hurt that they end up severely hurting their children.


In reality:

Since 1993
, the number of children 14 and under who were murdered is down by 36 percent. For children 14 to 17, murders are down 60 percent. Only one-hundredth of 1 percent of missing children are abducted by strangers or even slight acquaintances, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

There's less violence than ever before. No, the number of perverts and kidnappers hasn't magically exploded. The streets are safer than they used to be, and it's not like the streets were dangerous in the past. The possibility of a child getting kidnapped by a stranger is about as likely as choking on a dead mouse and dying.


What is the most important thing in terms of the mental, social and cognitive development of a human being?

The answer is simple: unstructured play. Playing freely with your peers. That's how humans learn to be humans. That's what children have always done; that's what they did just a few decades ago; that's what they do in hunter-gatherer societies.

In hunter-gatherer societies, children are not bored. They play constantly until late adolescence:

[In hunter-gatherer culture] the norm of nobody telling anybody else what to do applies as much to children as to adults. "The children are trusted … and the parents don’t feel like they need to take control or take away the willfulness of the children." Advice from adults is only offered when a child explicitly asks for it.

Toddlers are allowed to play with fire, bows and arrows, and any other real tools that are part of daily life. Do the children ever get hurt? Sure they do, but "the general belief is that it’s better to suffer a little hurt than to squash a child’s will."


What makes free play important?

When you compare a child who plays a lot (unsupervised) to a child who doesn't, you'll see that the child who plays is better at pretty much everything:

They are happier.

They are smarter.

They are calmer.

They are healthier.

They are more compassionate.

They are more creative.

They are better at concentrating. Better at reading. Generally a lot, lot better at thinking. They have better self-esteems. They have better social skills.

In short: their heads work.

Why is it important to let a child spend unsupervised time out in the world with their friends? Because that's how they learn to understand people. That's how they learn to take turns and solve conflicts. That's how they learn to deal with their emotions, and the emotions of others, and to regulate their feelings. That's how they learn that there are others in the world with them; they learn empathy.

Why is it important to let a child explore the world and take risks on their own, like they've always done? Because that's how they learn to trust themselves. They learn to know their abilities. They learn how the world works. They learn whom and what they should trust. They learn that everything is not scary. They learn what they should do and what they shouldn't do. They learn to deal with failures, and how to get up after falling.

In order to learn how friendship works, you need to experience its challenges, away from the constant supervision of adults.

It's very likely that a child who has never experienced these things will not be a mentally healthy human being. It's likely that they will have problems with cognitive skills, and that they will be severely immature and unstable emotionally and socially:

If you've never developed proper social skills, you will struggle to feel empathy for others and to build healthy, lasting relationships.

If you've spent your childhood playing Angry Birds instead of freely using your imagination, you will struggle when it comes to things like creativity and innovation. No more genius.

If you've never done things on your own and taken risks, you won't trust your abilities or have a realistic idea of what you're capable of. If your parents have simultaneously told you that you're the greatest, most special little snowflake in the whole world, your psyche will be a weird combination of "I can't do this, I need somebody to do this for me" and "I am the greatest thing in the Universe; why doesn't everybody see that?" But you'll end up realizing that the world doesn't care about your expectations. And then you'll end up realizing that your mental health is a mess.

If you teach a child to be irrationally afraid of other people and the world outside, they will have a scared, needlessly negative idea of the world and of what it's like to be human. If a person believes that being human equals being a selfish monster, they won't stop and help a lost senior citizen on the street. People who believe that the world is nothing but cold tend to have colder hearts, whereas a more positive idea of humanity tends to encourage goodness and loyalty.

Parents are doing this to their children because they're irrationally afraid of bad people and serial killers. But here’s another interesting fact: what is the one thing that nearly all serial killers have in common? That they didn't experience unstructured play when they were children:

Stuart Brown, a psychiatrist and leading investigator of play, has found that deprivation of free play in childhood is associated later in life with lack of empathy, mental rigidity, diminished curiosity, workaholism, addictions, joylessness, anxiety and “smouldering” depression. Even more alarming is his observation that a common feature of the early lives of the hundreds of serial killers and murderers he has studied was few opportunities for free play and combined sometimes with perverted and cruel forms of play.

Wonderful! The future looks bright.


Parents are treating 10-year-olds like parents used to treat 2-year-olds. If you treat a kid like he/she is a helpless baby, he/she will become a helpless baby. Naturally, children are capable of almost anything. If a parent is always there helping their child, preventing every injury and solving every problem, the child will learn to believe that they can't do anything.

Nowadays in some parts of the USA and apparently in some other countries, if a neighbour sees an 8-year-old playing or taking a walk on their own, they call the police. Yeah. They. actually. call. the. police. Mothers have literally been arrested for letting their children play outside.

It seems that collectively losing common sense is possible. It seems that it's very easy.

A child, walking. It's time to call the police.

In the past, children used to get grounded if they did bad things. Now, they are grounded 24/7/365. And their only crime is having been born.

Luckily, some educated parents are rebelling against this insanity. Their work is extremely important, and I hope that their movement grows and grows and grows. Nowadays, letting a child experience a childhood is called Free-Range Parenting. Yes, that really needs a specific word. It's such a weird thing to do nowadays. Letting a child experience a childhood.

There should be nationwide campaigns all over the USA and other Western countries, a poster at every bus stop:
Playing outside is safer than it was in your childhood. Give your child freedom.
To become a functioning and mentally healthy adult, your child needs less rules and lots of free play away from your supervision.
Find out more about the severe dangers of overprotective parenting:
letchildrenplay-or-something-like-this-you-get-the-point.com


When children can’t relax and play, free play has to be replaced with something.

So children are running from one extracurricular activity to another. Piano lessons. Dancing lessons. Swimming lessons. Little League. Guitar lessons. Football. Chess. Scouts. Basketball. Piano lessons. Dancing lessons. Swimming lessons. Little League. Guitar lessons. Football. Chess. Scouts. Basketball. The children are going crazy. The parents are going crazy.

The main reason for this is that parenting has become strangely competitive. Many parents are trying to raise super-children by making them accomplish something all the time. If you let your kid relax, you’re a “bad mother” or a “bad father”. Seeing parenting as a competition like this is very dangerous, because scientifically, letting your kid be is often the best thing you could do in terms of their development. Trying to “develop” them all the time is a horrible mistake. Development is about letting it happen. When you let them get bored, they learn to entertain themselves. They learn.

The kids are stressed-out, the parents are stressed-out, and the fact that the parents are so stressed-out makes the kids even more stressed-out. Slowing down and taking it easier would be extremely healthy, but parents are too afraid of the opinions of other parents.

Children have become important projects and status symbols. They are no longer part of the family; they are the centre of the family. Over and over again, they’re told that that they’re “special”, when in fact, the healthiest, most honest thing would be to simply tell them that you love them no matter what. Darling, you don’t always have to be “special”, and although you’re very important to me, you’re not the only person on the planet who matters.

When the parents are obsessed with their child’s achievements instead of letting their child know that he or she is loved unconditionally, it’s likely that the child will adopt very materialistic values.

And that’s what’s happening.

In the coming decades, we'll face huge problems in our societies and on the planet. If we want to overcome them, people must have heads that work, and hearts that work. A generation of Kuzcos won’t be able to solve anything.

Jesus Christ, stop doing this to your children! Stop doing this to the world.


THE RESULTS

At least in the USA, and probably elsewhere, there are already signs of a horrible change in the psychology of young people. They suffer from all kinds of emotional and cognitive problems. Teachers are reporting that many of their students are horrifyingly incapable of thinking deeply about anything, incapable of dealing with moral questions and incapable of dealing with responsibility. Too often, when a student fails at something, they (and their parents) attack the teacher. Could it be that my generation of young adults really is the least empathetic, most narcissistic generation in recent history?

Okay, one thing is for sure: older generations have a strong tendency to believe that younger generations suck. The idea that the newest generation of young people are narcissistic idiots who don’t care about anything is ancient. When people are young, they tend to be dumb and self-absorbed, and when people get older, they tend to forget that.

But this time… it seems that the older generations could be right. And they can blame themselves.

Some statistics linked to helicopter parenting:

[Kyung-Hee] Kim has analyzed results from the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking and found that American children’s scores have declined steadily across the past decade or more. The data show that children have become:
less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative and verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively and passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesizing, and less likely to see things from a different angle.
The largest drop, Kim noted, has been in the measure of “elaboration,” or the ability to take an idea and expand on it in a novel way.

Great. Kids in America are becoming zombies.

In order to become a healthy adult, you first need to experience being a child.

Just a child. That’s enough. Do children’s stuff. With other children. Away from adults. In order to learn how to function in the world of adults, you first need to experience living in the world of children. This means playing. Now it seems that children are forgetting how to play. Yes: CHILDREN are FORGETTING how to PLAY. Their lives are so busy and strictly controlled that sometimes the only form of free play that they get to experience regularly is playing games on their iPads/iPhones. The problems with this are obvious. The kids are losing their imagination, and because they are losing their imagination, many of them are severely and chronically bored whenever they’re not staring at a screen. And what do they do when they get bored? They start staring at a screen. It’s all they know.

More statistics.

It seems that as children never get to learn basic human stuff through unstructured play, and are raised to believe that the only important thing in life is to get good grades and "become successful", many children never really learn the importance of fairness, kindness, and caring about others.

Today's college students are not as empathetic as college students of the 1980s and '90s, a University of Michigan study shows.

The study, presented in Boston at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, analyzes data on empathy among almost 14,000 college students over the last 30 years.

"We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000," said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research. "College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait."

Compared to college students of the late 1970s, the study found, college students today are less likely to agree with statements such as "I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective" and "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me."

---

“Compared to Boomers, Millennials were less likely to have donated to charities, less likely to want a job worthwhile to society or that would help others, and less likely to agree they would eat differently if it meant more food for the starving,” the report concluded. Likewise, the researchers found that this generation cares significantly less about “developing a meaningful philosophy of life” or “finding meaning and purpose” in their life than previous generations have.

The study also found that the millennial generation is significantly more likely to say that being rich is important to them than previous generations. According to one report the researchers analyzed, 74.4% of first-year college students surveyed between 2000 and 2009 rated “being very well-off financially” as essential or very important. By comparison, only 44.6% of students from the boomer generation said so between 1966-1978.

So, according to these studies the young people of today are the most callous, self-centered and money-oriented generation ever. (At least in the USA.) They want to be rich, but many of them don't really give a shit about being good people. Compared to the generations that came before them, they are… well, let’s face it. Many of them are kind of sociopathic. (However, it seems that according to these studies, about 25-30% of them are still roughly as empathetic as the highly empathetic previous generations.)

Okay. I'm 100% certain that the situation is not as bad as that sounds. There are many factors that could explain these findings. However, these claims could be true, more or less. If they are true, it could be among the most disturbing problems we have ever faced as a species, as empathy is essential in nearly all aspects of human existence, society, and social progress. A person who lacks empathy lacks emotional depth, and, well, humanity. A world without empathy would be a nightmarish chaos.

Of course, statistics aren't always very good at describing the real world as it is. Humanity never changes drastically from one century to another. There’s always been jerks, and there’s always been heroes, and most people are a combination of both.

But even the smallest change can have huge consequences. Right now it seems that a huge change is taking place. In several major ways, the kids aren’t alright. We should do something about it. We could do something about it.

Unfortunately, suddenly changing the behaviour of a whole generation of parents seems virtually impossible. If we really want to save generations of people from zombiehood, there’s one very important area in their lives that can be changed relatively easily:


SCHOOL.

What is the purpose of schools? Learning.

Now, here’s the funny thing: the modern idea of a “school” doesn’t have much to do with the way human beings naturally learn.

How does learning work? Learning happens when children have fun. It happens when a person is doing something that they want to do.

The modern school systems are based on forcing people to learn. But you can’t force it. I repeat: you cannot force it. In fact, when you try to force it, you may be making an enormous mistake.

Here’s a fact: humans are naturally addicted to learning. Naturally, learning is among our greatest pleasures. Naturally, we can’t get enough of it. (That's also the reason why we're so addicted to the Internet.)

So, how on Earth is it possible that for most children, a place where learning is supposed to take place is the most painfully BORING thing they know? It doesn’t make sense. We must be doing something radically wrong.

What drives people to learn is interest. Sometimes it can take a while before interest appears, and before that you just have to relax and wait. People learn by exploring and discovering while doing things that they enjoy. Forcing groups of children to sit still in rooms for hours a day, forced to listen to an adult telling them what, when and how they should "learn" is a ridiculously bad idea. As a result, people start linking "learning" with "boredom". They become afraid of learning. To turn a human being this radically against their nature is an unbelievable achievement in itself. People lose the interest that they’d naturally have. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is true. People become dull. And when you’re dull, staring at a screen easily becomes the only thing that feels entertaining.

Peter Gray, a Boston College developmental psychologist:

"Playing with other children, away from adults, is how children learn to make their own decisions, control their emotions and impulses, see from others’ perspectives, negotiate differences with others, and make friends," says Gray, an expert on the evolution of play and its vital role in child development. "In short, play is how children learn to take control of their lives."

All children are born with an innate curiosity, playfulness, sociability and deep desire to learn, but at some point after they enter school, what was once fun and engaging begins to feel forced, he explains. And, anxiety and stress levels among youths are at an all-time high: they are bogged down with homework, over-scheduled with extracurricular activities, deprived of free play, and faced with the pressures of getting into a top college.

"How did we come to the conclusion that the best way to educate students is to force them into a setting where they are bored, unhappy and anxious?” Gray asks. “Our compulsory education system features forced lessons, standardized tests, and seems specially designed to crush a child’s innate and biological drives for learning." The traditional "coercive" school model, he adds, was originally developed to indoctrinate, not to promote intellectual growth.

So it seems that after all, the most important learning actually takes place during recess. The most stimulating kind of school day would be mostly free time and contain just some studying. For younger children, it would simply be play, play, play and play and maybe just a very minimal amount of "studying". I'd really like to see how these children would turn out compared to the ones who spend 8 hours a day unhappily staring at a teacher. If the science is correct, they should turn out to be significantly smarter, kinder and happier people.

As long as a school is a place where children feel bored all the time every day, it is not a place where learning happens.

In terms of intellectual (/emotional/social) growth, the ideal solution would probably be something like a Sudbury school:

A Sudbury school is a type of school where students have complete responsibility for their own education, and the school is run by direct democracy in which students and staff are equals. Students individually decide what to do with their time, and tend to learn as a by-product of ordinary experience rather than through coursework. There is no predetermined educational syllabus, prescriptive curriculum or standardized instruction. This is a form of democratic education.

While there is no accepted definition of a Sudbury school, the intended culture within a Sudbury school has been described with such words as freedom, trust, respect, responsibility and democracy. The Sudbury pedagogical philosophy may be summarised thus: Learning is a natural by-product of all human activity. Learning is self-initiated and self-motivated. There are many ways to learn. Learning is a process you do, not a process that is done to you; the presence and guidance of a teacher are not necessary.



These videos are amazing. The kids are so... happy and smart and incredibly creative. Full of genius. This is how all kids would be if we didn't kill them: alive. I have to use caps lock when I say that WE COULD MAKE SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPEN. WHY NOT? In terms of almost everything, it would be an amazingly good thing. Humans could be great again. We could see a much better world, in nearly every possible way. Nothing's stopping us.



Kids in Sudbury schools are not bored.

When they get bored, they quickly and easily come up with something to do. Unlike students in “normal schools” who are learning to hate learning, these kids are truly learning every moment of the day. They don’t spend all their time boredly staring at screens – they feel no need to, because they know how to entertain themselves. Unlike kids in “normal schools”, these kids know how to have fun. They play. They breathe. They are living. Learning happens through living.

These kids don’t spend their lives trapped inside classrooms listening to teachers. What’s interesting is that they don’t really seem to lack knowledge. When it comes to learning factual information about the world, it seems that kids in “normal schools” are not learning more. Probably because when you memorize something just to survive an exam, you forget the overwhelming majority of the information soon after the exam is over. Cramming is not an effective way to learn. What's essential is learning how to learn.

Kids in Sudbury schools learn to love learning, and they learn to learn, which makes them significantly better learners in later life. About 80% of them end up going to college, and what many of them report noticing is that compared to them, the kids who went to "normal schools" seem 1) rather bad at solving problems on their own, 2) uninterested and immature. The kids who went to Sudbury schools are more playful and more mature than their peers who went to "normal schools".

Kids in Sudbury schools are never "taught" to read and write. Yet every kid in Sudbury schools learns to read and write. Even the ones who never did when they were still going to a "normal school". When there's no pressure, learning just happens and you enjoy the process.


The ideal school would be something like a Sudbury school. But it could be even better. I have ideas. For instance: the great majority of each day would be spent playing freely, but every day, a "specialist" would visit the school. (Or, in some cases, two specialists; one for the younger and another one for the older students?) They would talk about their work, findings, or ambition. Kind of like a Ted talk, just to give an example:


The specialist could be a scientist (like an astronomer talking about space, or a mathematician talking about mathematics, or a psychologist talking about the common psychological mechanisms that make humans think and behave irrationally), or an artist, or an activist, or an entrepreneur, or a person belonging to a minority talking about their group's history and their life in society. They could also introduce different activities. Everybody would get to try.

The kids would be allowed to attend the "lecture", but not forced to. It's probable that every day, a large percentage of students would attend the lectures. Because attending would be voluntary, the students would have a great sense of inner motivation, they would feel that they're there because they want to be there, and because the "specialists" would talk about things they themselves are deeply interested in, the "lectures" would be as inspiring as they get. At the end of the school day, everybody would gather, and the kids who attended the lecture would get to talk about what they learned to the kids who didn't attend.

The daily learning process would be hugely exciting. Instead of learning lots of information just to forget it after an exam, the students would actually feel excited about school, science, learning, and society. They would not learn to think that everything important is "boring" and only mindless social media mush is information they're personally interested in. (There's nothing "boring" about important things; they are the most exciting things in the world as long as they're not forced down your throat.) People would actually love learning about the world, and thus remember a lot more and keep learning even after school. At the same time, they'd get to spend most of their time playing and having fun in an unstructured environment; becoming proper human beings.

___________


Of course, even smaller changes to our current school systems could make a big difference. Maybe all of us aren’t ready for a radical change. Okay then. There are smaller changes that can be done. All you have to do is listen to the science. Please, for once, let’s listen to the science.

1. During the school day, children should be able to relax and play a lot, and too much homework is a really bad idea.

2. AGE MIXING. According to several studies, regularly bringing a young baby to the classroom dramatically changes school kids and makes them more empathetic. They start showing declines in aggressive and bullying behaviours and growth in sharing, cooperative and helping behaviours. I think this must be linked to the way humans live in hunter-gatherer societies. In nature, 9-year-olds aren’t separated from 3-year-olds, and 5-year-olds aren’t separated from 18-year-olds. People take care of each other. When a bunch of 11-year-olds are forced to spend all day in the same room, they are going to compete with each other. This causes things like bullying. But if there are younger children around, older kids are going to take care of them, thus normalizing empathetic and responsible behaviour in the social environment.

3. MEDITATION. This may sound like a weird idea, but there's increasing evidence that meditation makes us better in pretty much any cognitive area. It makes us calmer, more focused and more empathetic, and therefore smarter and happier. Some schools have already tried making meditation a part of the school day. The results? "In San Francisco, schools that participated in Quiet Time, a Transcendental Meditation program, had twice as many students score proficient in English on the California Achievement Test than in similar schools where the program didn’t exist. Visitacion Valley Middle School specifically reduced suspensions by 45 percent during the program’s first year. Attendance rates climbed to 98 percent, grade point averages improved, and the school recorded the highest happiness levels in San Francisco on the annual California Healthy Kids Survey."



4. CHANGING THE WAY SCHOOLS TREAT BOOKS.

In general, I've realized that when it comes to children, adults very often have no idea what they're doing. For instance, who was the monster who decided that the best way to get people to like reading books is making it a strictly controlled and heavily forced activity? That is how you murder literature.

Like it or not, there’s a lot of evidence that playing games is a good thing. Gaming improves many cognitive abilities and this is a fact. The most important thing is that playing games is fun. Learning simply happens in the process, almost accidentally, while people are doing something that they enjoy. They are not playing games to get the benefits of playing games; they do it because they enjoy it, and the benefits follow.

Another thing that's really good for your brain: reading books. You learn to immerse yourself into texts, concepts and ideas. This is how the world of thinking deeply, understanding deeply opens, and this is essential if you don't want to be a superficial idiot. It's fair to say that reading books can change you on a profound level. The world is complicated, and if you want to really understand anything, you must learn to spend time with ideas instead of just running through them. You learn important information; you learn to deal with complex concepts; your memory improves; you get to know yourself better; you see what happens in the mind of somebody else; you feel what life's like for others; you learn psychological mechanisms; you learn empathy; you learn focus; you get the words and tools you need for expressing your thoughts and thinking deeply. These are all skills that could disappear if we don’t do something. And we simply cannot lose them, because without the words to understand itself (and the world) the human mind is mush.


In order to get these things from reading books, however, reading books must be something that you want to do. You must enjoy doing it. And learning... It just happens. Naturally. I believe that a child who just once reads the Harry Potter series simply because they feel like it has learned more about stories, words, reading, writing, language, imagination and concentration, and human psychology and friendship, than any teacher in any classroom ever could force them to learn even if the teacher tried hard for 7 years.

You see, the kid was doing something that they really wanted to do, and the learning just happened. "Grade level" meant absolutely nothing.

People don't do things just because they're "important". Someone who thinks that they should read because it's "important", instead of reading because they enjoy it, is not going to keep reading. Doing something just because it's important feels like eating food that's healthy but tastes awful.

The enormous mistake that has traumatized generations of potential readers is thinking that literature and reading need to be "taught". They don't need to, if the kids are reading for fun. The reality is that as long as kids are being forced to read, and books are something that is specifically linked to "school" in people's heads (unlike movies, games, and music), most kids are not going to be reading for fun a lot. And this is dangerous, because reading for fun is how you get the benefits of reading.


Another crazy idea is that kids must be forced to read "classics" or other books that adults consider "important". No. If kids like to read, some of them will independently move on to the classics eventually. Everybody doesn't have to read the classics, as long as some do. Isn't that infinitely better than raising a generation after generation to hate the classics? What's the point?


When it comes to learning, the most important thing is inner motivation. You must have the feeling that you're doing what you're doing because you personally want to. If you feel that you're reading because you have to read because someone else told you to and you need a good grade, it's not going to be a pleasant experience. Forcing a kid to read takes away that sense of inner motivation completely.

The truth is that there's nothing wrong with books. Books are not "boring". Reading a good book can be one of the most exciting and intense experiences a kid has ever had. The problem is forcing a kid to read. That is poison, and for the love of Western civilization, it must stop. Forcing must be replaced by letting, and this is how it could happen:
Every kid should have a device that would look something like this.

When you look at recent studies about kids and reading, the most important pieces of information to think about are these: 1. Most kids say that one of the main reasons why they don't read more is that they don't know what to read. They would read more if they knew what to read, and how to find books that would interest them. 2. 90% of kids say they are much more likely to finish a book they've personally chosen, and much less likely to finish a book someone else told them to read.

This device would only have one thing in it: books. No schoolwork, no social media, no games, there are other devices for those. This device would be only for reading for fun. First, you would give information about yourself and your interests. Then you'd get the first 4 recommendations: 3 books that you'd likely like based on the information that you gave, and 1 book "out of your comfort zone". You'd get to choose any of these books. Then you could start reading. If you didn't like the book, you could move on to something else. Nobody would force you to finish a book you didn't want to read. You'd get to rate every reading experience, and based on all this information, the device would get to know you better and better. The result would likely be that the average kid would be reading a lot more. They'd always know what to read. (Of course, you could use the device to find any book; the book wouldn't have to be specifically "recommended" for you to read it.)


The device would also have a social dimension. Everybody could recommend books to their friends, and you'd get to write comments and reviews on the book you read. There'd be no need to force people to write "book reports". When people get excited about something, they automatically want to talk and write about it. It's more than likely that this would happen.

Schools would encourage kids to use these devices, and they would let kids read during the school day, but reading would no longer be something that a teacher or anyone else forces you to do. This would be the ideal way to get kids to read more. Sure, there'd still be people who don't like to read, but there'd be significantly less of them. There'd be significantly more people that would read a lot, and the average person would read more than the average person reads now.

So.

Age mixing. Meditation. Reading for pleasure. Play. Much less work.

When it comes to essential human stuff like empathy, all of these things would make kids a lot better. It would also be very easy to give kids fun and interesting tasks where they'd get to take somebody else's perspective. To imagine and act out what life must be like for someone less fortunate than them, etc. Tasks like that change the brain very quickly. When the brain changes, so does the person. Learning empathy is very easy for human beings; our brains are naturally good at it, they just need some practice. And what if the school system actually encouraged children to help others on a regular basis? Not because they'd get some 'points' for it, but because being a good person is important in itself. After all, creating that kind of emotional intelligence is really damn easy. Really. It comes quite naturally if you just let it.


Finally

Being a parent must be hard work. Probably a lot harder than I can imagine as a 20-year-old who’s never experienced being a parent to anyone. I know that some people would consider it idiotic that someone like me is talking about parenting in the first place, but really: all this science, all these statistics exist, and we should react to them. Obviously, I didn’t write this post as a parent or a teacher, I wrote it as a 20-year-old who’s planning to continue living on this planet for many more decades to come.

Maybe all of this is (partly) nonsense. Maybe you can't destroy all the good sides of humanity this easily. Maybe I'm as silly for believing all these horror studies as the nervous parents are for listening to the kidnapping stories in the media.

The reality is that you can always find scary statistics, but the real world is never as black and white. As someone who’s spent 20 years on the planet, I can’t honestly claim that all the people of my generation (in Finland, or in America) are “apathetic jerks”. That would be absurd, as I’ve personally found hundreds of awesome people my age or younger than me. There are a lot of smart people, a lot of good people, a lot of creative people, a lot of people who want to do good things. A lot of beautiful souls.

But this should be the norm.

If all the hugely negative changes are really happening, they are relatively new. There's still plenty of hope. There's time to change. If things like empathy can be forgotten, they can be remembered. A child may forget how to play, but if you simply let them, they will learn again.

After all, this should be quite simple: don't do so much. Stop controlling everything children do. Instead, spend more time relaxing, doing other things. Simply let the children play. Open the door. Kids need to experience boredom before they can learn to play.

Parents are making mistakes that could be avoided very easily. And nothing’s stopping us from changing the school systems.

The next generation, or the generation after that, could be much better than mine.

keskiviikko 29. huhtikuuta 2015

Smarter than 99% of people

I took an IQ test. It said that my IQ is 135, which means that I'm supposed to be "smarter" than 99% of people.

I felt vaguely sceptical, so I started reading about intelligence. Well, it turns out that being smart has very little to do with IQ. People with high IQ's are not any better than other people when it comes to thinking rationally and knowing when you lack knowledge; it seems that in some ways, the average high IQ individual is even more idiotic and irrational than the average person. "Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons."

Turns out that what actually makes people smart is wisdom. And turns out that wisdom has nothing to do with IQ. Wisdom is emotional maturity, empathy, intellectual humility and having a realistic understanding of your own abilities.

My high IQ means that I'm smart in some ways. But I'm not wise, yet. (It's possible, though, that my high IQ could make me faster at becoming wise, if I consciously make it my project.)

The good news: based on this information, making the whole species less idiotic is actually very possible. And this has nothing to do with maths. Let people (especially kids, but also adults) play in an unstructured environment, a lot, every day. Less work, less studying, more play. Also: meditation.
People whose natural reaction after they've done something embarrassing is laughing loudly are very lucky. Freezing and not saying anything is a lot more tragic and intense.

tiistai 28. huhtikuuta 2015

Find your inner psychopath and become part of the 1%

I stumbled upon what is probably among the most disturbing videos I've seen in a while. And I mean, I have seen quite a few disturbing videos, everything from people committing suicide in strange ways to animals being skinned alive.


In the video a young woman apparently named Cammi Pham explains her fantastic business idea: being evil. Yay! Be evil, because that is how you can "become part of the [most successful] 1%". Being part of the 1%, naturally, is the only thing that makes life worth living. There are a few thousand people upvoting her posts on Quora.

The video in itself isn't that disturbing, but rather the things that it represents. So, don't take this post as a personal attack. I'm talking about ideologies.

There are millions of people whose idea of life really is this cold and disgusting. I used to think that only the bad guys in cartoons sincerely identified as bad guys (instead of somehow thinking of themselves as the good guys, as evil people in real life tend to do). But now it's becoming more acceptable to be openly and unapologetically evil. Too many people think that evil = successful = evil = successful.

In reality, evil = empty. It doesn't make you happy. The existence of a psychopath is essentially hollow. Humans are social, altruistic animals, and it's a scientific fact that we enjoy giving more than we enjoy getting. (Being good to others makes us feel better, so we try to be good to others; and there's nothing selfish about this: the fact that being good makes us feel good in the first place means that we are good.) A psychopath can become successful, but it's scientifically fair to say that their souls remain empty; when you're incapable of feeling love, your life is a wasted life.

In one of Pham's posts, she proudly explains that she only pretends to care about other people's problems so that they could somehow benefit her. Other people aren't important because they are human beings, but because they can help her "become successful". Okay. Knowing this, who on Earth would want to be a friend of this person? "Like I've told you, I only pretend to care about the fact that your mother died, and I'm not ashamed to admit it! Try to accept that."

Of course, this is not actually the case. I believe that Cammi is, like many others on the Internet, just trying to be edgy. There are many people like this on Quora. Quora is a place where people who think they're smart try hard to seem smart. Faux-edginess happens when a person thinks that the best way to appear smart is to have an "unconventional opinion".

So, then these people start looking for an "unconventional opinion"... and for many of them, it is "I don't give a fuck about anybody! Don't trust anybody lol, nothing matters and there's no such thing as evil, everything is subjective lol". In the end, Cammi and other individuals praising selfishness on Quora are just a slighty more sophisticated version of this kid:



Of course, some people are just genuinely bad. It's hard to know. According to Cammi, she is "of royal descent" and "grew up with the 1%" of her country. Apparently, her parents taught her that the most (possibly, the only) important thing in life is to be hugely successful (rich), so, if you don't have the ability for self-reflection to question what you've been taught from day one, what else can you do than become a bit of a psychopath? She keeps repeating the word "unlearning". Unlearning is nothing but a word if you're not doing it.

I'm afraid that people like this simply never got the chance to develop the most basic parts of human existence; things like empathy, friendship, love, loyalty, etc. Their parents failed. But the parents of their parents probably failed too. And the parents of their parents of their parents of... you get the point. 'Psychopathy' is the culture of some people. They have money. That is all they have. Maybe we should feel sorry for them, but it's kind of difficult to feel sorry for people who are bad and proud of it.

You often see clichés like this. Which is good, because they are true.

Why would anybody want to be ridiculously rich? Why would somebody who's ridiculously rich want to become even richer? Why would that be the main goal in life for anybody? It's absolutely nothing compared to living a full, wonderful, painful, sad, funny human existence as a loving, laughing, working, sleeping, shitting complete human being, someone who sees others and the world around them, loves them and feels things when others are hurting and when others are happy. I'd say that that's the point, the beauty of the whole thing.

How are you going to find meaning, how are you going to find happiness, if you spend all your life focusing on something as trivial as being part of the 1%, and trying to get there by seeing all the other monkeys around you as nothing but dead objects for you to "use"?

What's interesting here is the happiness aspect. Science has fascinating things to say about happiness, altruism and psychopathy. Firstly: the happiest people tend to be the ones who truly care about others around them; and the people who do good things for others tend to be the happiest people. Why? Because like I said, humans are social, altruistic animals. We need deep emotional connection with other humans. Giving makes us feel good for a reason; it's programmed in us. Meaningful relationships in real life, warmth, friendship, love, community, the sense that you're a part of something bigger, doing something good for others around you -> happiness.

Another quote that's surprisingly correct when it comes to the psychology of human beings

Here's the interesting thing about psychopaths. It seems that psychopaths are never truly happy. They aren't necessarily unhappy either; they simply lack the depth to feel anything as strongly as most of us; they're empty. And if you're incapable of things like happiness, you have to replace it with something.

Why do some people want to become ridiculously rich? Because they don't have anything else.

...

Rationally speaking, this person as an individual is not dangerous; the disturbing thing for me is that there are many more people like this in the world, and some of them are smart, and they are making things really shitty for the rest of us.

All the psycho stuff + "I'm going after my vision!" / "Choose your dream!" / "Choose yourself!" All of this is empty nonsense. Banalities. There's no insight. Just like the majority of all the people doing exactly what she's doing, saying exactly what she's saying, she doesn't know what she's talking about. They use cool-sounding words and ideas that some rich bimbo stole from another rich bimbo but they have no idea what these things might mean in reality, as these people have never really existed in reality. How to become rich? Eh, how could you know? You never had to do anything to become rich, you were born rich, you sillypants. Please excuse my horrendous rudeness and my common sense.

(After reading through stuff CamMi has written on her blog, I'm surprised to see that this evilness thing is clearly something she's come up with quite recently. A few years ago she actually wrote a sweet post about the importance of "random acts of kindness"; how she was lonely and bullied and then a stranger's smile gave her hope. After that something clearly happened and now this psychopathy thing is suddenly in. Why pretend to be a psychopath if you're not a psychopath? I guess she saw all the other people doing the same thing and simply didn't realize that she could do something else, something better. Something much braver.)

Anyway, there are monsters and fake monsters in this world, and I must say that my respect for dirty kids who spend a month living in a park to protest for the 99% is several billion times greater than any respect I might have for anybody who thinks that belonging in the 1% is something so great that to get there you should give up your humanity.

If you give that up... what is left? Seriously? Your shoes?

Wise clichés

Money

People who want to be rich tend to think that everybody wants to be rich. I don't want to be rich. It literally wouldn't mean anything to me. As long as you can afford food, clothes, medication, a home and other important stuff, money is pointless. Buying a boat doesn't make anyone happy. Happiness is other things. People that are sincerely interested in money are people who have nothing else.

When people start talking about money I get so bored that I fall asleep. It's as silly as talking about air and how to get more and more of it. Too much air and you're dead. The same goes for money.

sunnuntai 26. huhtikuuta 2015

A school is a place that turns everything it teaches into something that people hate.

sunnuntai 19. huhtikuuta 2015

I love you and your daughters

I love you, you, you, you, and you

I love your whole gang. Such cute, intelligent, strange people

Our gang's pretty good too

tiistai 14. huhtikuuta 2015

Feeling nervous

"Happiness" can't be the only thing that matters, other deeper things like wisdom have to matter too; because a society where everybody's feeling good but ignorant and indifferent is a society that will perish. Very quickly.

sunnuntai 12. huhtikuuta 2015

Disturbingly sexy lips

I'd already started thinking that I was unable to get what the big deal about Hemingway is, but surprisingly, A Moveable Feast is a pretty good book. The best part is where he meets F. Scott Fitzgerald for the first time. (I think that they are both hilarious, mostly unintentionally. I often find serious historical people unintentionally hilarious. They also have great names, "Hemingway" and "Fitzgerald".)

Scott has such sexy lips that Hemingway finds his company disturbing. (What?) Hemingway can't concentrate on what Fitzgerald is saying because he can't stop staring at Fitzgerald's oddly short legs. (What?) Fitzgerald drinks something and starts looking dead (what?), and later he says that it wasn't the drink that made him look dead, he just felt annoyed by some other customers (what?). I don't know, it's so absurd and nonsensical that it's good.

What's interesting is that Fitzgerald suffered from the same tragic condition that I personally know too well: the one that makes you look either super sexy or really horrible in pictures:

Well hello there handsome
Dude, what's going on with your hair?

If I taught a course on literature, it would be fucking ridiculous. But entertaining.

Why am I always commenting on America and American things and American people? I keep doing this so much that my friends think that I'm American. I don't know. Because for someone who watches television, America is everywhere? Morrissey has a song called "America is not the world". Strangely, I've listened to it only once.

lauantai 11. huhtikuuta 2015

"Just be yourself"


Suddenly, hating Nickelback became something that 'cool' people 'have' to do. Suddenly, thousands of people who previously had no particular opinion whatsoever on Nickelback 'hated' Nickelback. People who are hysterically trying to be cool or normal are scary because they are such idiots. Together they are capable of horrifying things.

I'm afraid that the great majority of humans are like this: not thinking, just imitating.

I just saw a headline The Bravest Thing You Can Do, According to Shailene Woodley (a short article about what actor Shailene Woodley said at the 'Teen Choice Awards'). If it's not "Just be yourself", then I am a walrus, I thought. I clicked on the headline. Yeah, it was "Just be yourself". I am still a walrus, though.

Just be yourself has become one of the most popular phrases in Western culture, but what the hell does it really mean? I think that the idea is beautiful in itself, when you truly and deeply understand it. But is the fact that everybody's repeating "Just be yourself" all the time making people actually "be themselves"?

How many people are capable of "being themselves", not caring at all about the opinions of other people? Maybe 2 or 3 in a thousand? The modern ideal is to be "individualistic", but how many of us actually are individualistic? 5 percent at best?

I don't know, but we are socially dependent animals and "Just be yourself!" is not going to change that. Most people saying "Just be yourself" are extremely unoriginal and insecure. They've heard "Just be yourself" thousands of times, but they haven't thought about what being yourself really means. They just think that it's something kinda good or whatever.

Modern individualism is an illusion. "Just be yourself" isn't making us more independent; for some reason it's just one of those things that sound good in a culture where narcissism has become acceptable. People post pictures saying "Just be yourself" on their Instagrams, and the next fucking picture is a picture of sushi, identical to all the pictures of sushi that their friends are posting all the time. People see other people do and say stuff, and then they repeat that same stuff almost automatically, and never ask themselves why they're doing what they're doing. If everybody's just being themselves, then everybody must be very closely related to each other.

tiistai 7. huhtikuuta 2015

Look bad, be good

When you realize that you're getting more and more ridiculous, just keep going. You're on your way to freedom.

I found two old posts that I never published. I don't even clearly remember writing them. The first one is titled "Look bad, be good" and I wrote it last year:


The only way to have a friend is to be one.
I'm tired of people talking about how inherently "evil" and "selfish" humans are. Every time I hear someone claim that humans are evil and selfish, I think, "Shut up, you don't know anything about humans." Humans are highly altruistic animals.

There's a lot of light and a lot of darkness in most people. And in the great majority of people, the light wins. Would you feel horrible if you saw someone kicking a child, or would you join in? Exactly.

I've never understood people who enjoy being better or smarter than most people. HOW is that possible? HOW can you enjoy that? I don't know anything as painful as being better or smarter than most people.

To find out whether someone is wise or not, you only have to find out whether they're capable of changing their mind when they're wrong. The ability to change your mind is an impressive sign of wisdom.

Why do I have to be an 80-year-old man from the mountains? Why do I have to be a horny 13-year-old?

Surprisingly, one doesn't have to be crazy at all to make great art. Take John Green for example. A major reason for his major success is that he's very sane.

The overwhelming majority of antifeminists have no idea what feminism means.

Marilyn Monroe was an intellectual with dyslexia.

My obsession or whatever it is with James Dean's face has been going on for nearly 4 years now. There's something about the perfection of his face that keeps fascinating me. Normally perfection is boring.


Will I be staring at photos of James Dean's face when it's 2055 and he's been dead for a century? 2055. What a soothing thought. 2055 seems like very distant future, yet in 2055 I'll be just 61. 61 is nothing. I'll still be middle-aged. Probably virile and working. Or dead.

2055 will be a new world. I certainly hope that it will be better than this one. But I know that it will be different from this one.

My father knew someone who knew Natalie Wood who knew James Dean.

It's a small world, it's a small space-time continuum.


Another post I never published:

I'm really bad at following people on social media. Currently I'm following one pig and maybe two people. 
People have really strange fetishes. Recently I stumbled upon a short story that had a protagonist that was a cat watching a guy take a shit. Yes, a cat watching a guy take a shit.

I find Taylor Swift annoying. I just do, I always have, and it doesn't really make sense. I can't rationalize it. It feels wrong, but I can't help it. I don't really understand the mechanisms of annoyingness, but I know that I have always been considered generally quite annoying. Annoyingness is interesting, I have to think about it and maybe write about it.

From the subject of Taylor Swift to other related phenomena. There's a 54-year-old dwarf terrorizing normal people in a town in England. He's shitting everywhere and sleeping without his pants on in public, etc.

What's really disturbing are the comments below the article.

People are actually saying that Hitler was right for wanting to "exterminate" "people like this".

This is clearly someone with really severe mental health problems. People don't just start doing stuff like this for no reason. This is very likely someone who has suffered tremendously. From day one.

I realize that the guy's pooping everywhere, but really, the people who wrote those comments are an infinitely worse example of humanity at its lowest.

Day after day I understand it again and again: lack of compassion is the ugliest thing in the world.

...
I'm the most rational person I know. And I am quite irrational.

There are a lot of people who identify as rational people. Not many of them are that rational in the end. For instance, people can identify as highly rational militant atheist types (I'm not commenting on militant atheism in itself) while they're actually strongly controlled by their own emotional reactions and irrationalities.

The point is that, at the end of the day, even the most rational human being on Earth is rather irrational. Admitting this makes some level of rationality possible. If you're not aware of your own irrationality, it means that you're not capable of looking critically at your own emotions, motives and actions. And that in itself means that you're not rational.

I'm the most rational person I know, yet the stories I write are mostly stories about human irrationality and absurdity. Well, you have to know something about it to write about it.

Isn't it interesting, by the way, that nearly all comedy is based on revealing the hidden immaturity of adult humans?

...


For some unknown reason I've seen Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery five or six times. Watching Austin Powers movies could be seen as extreme waste of time. Watching Austin Powers movies could even be considered the definition of 'extreme waste of time'. (I don't really care, by the way.)

...

Writing the book I'm writing has at least doubled my quality of life.

...

In 2015, believing that animals have the right to live without humans consciously harming them can be fucking harsh psychologically. I can't say I recommend it if your mind isn't strong and sane. I'm not sure if mine is, but I keep trying. The time I live in is not a time where people see animals the way I do. And I believe that the way I see animals makes quite a lot of sense scientifically and ethically. And then the question is, dear Jesus, why didn't you let me be born in 2094 where reality could be brighter? And maybe the answer is, well honey, some individuals have to see before everybody starts seeing.

I heard Aleksi Pahkala and Maria Veitola discuss veganism on the radio. They're giving veganism a try for 30 days. That's cool, but there was something disturbing about the discussion.

Maria Veitola started talking about a restaurant that used to be a regular meaty restaurant, but is now trying to be "ethical" and therefore focusing on vegetables, fish, "etc." Yeah, "etc." This is fucking depressing. I remember watching some lifestyle show some years ago where actor Riku Nieminen was being interviewed about his lifestyle; in the interview, he talked about his ethical vegetarianism... while fishing. Yes, he took the journalist fishing to have a chat about vegetarianism. I don't know what this is. Why does this keep happening? The factory farming of fish is among the worst forms of factory farming, and fish are just as complex as the land animals that people produce, but none of this matters apparently because they are so fucking ugly. We have to change this.

Of all vertebrates, fish are the group of animals that have it the worst; they have almost no legal protection, and people are ready to treat them in ways that would be considered barbaric towards any other vertebrate. This is going to be one of the great challenges for the animal rights movement in the coming decades: how to get people to care about animals that look stupid and ugly. I'll have to write about this more specifically.

How to get people to care about an animal that is not cute? Or people that are not cute?
We must find a way.

Aleksi said that veganism is good, but that in his opinion, people can do whatever they want. I always wonder why people say that. I mean, it's obviously not true. If Aleksi saw someone beating a dog on the street, he'd immediately forget the "people can do whatever they want" thing. The only reason why people say that in the first place is that they know that standing up for the most oppressed groups is sometimes socially inconvenient. But an action that has a victim is never just a personal choice. Am I extreme for saying this? Why is it 'extreme' to say this? Isn't it way more extreme that we're currently producing and killing hundreds of billions of animals a year simply because we don't want to eat something else?


Anyway, good for you, Maria and Aleksi. Thanks for trying to do a good thing. I'm just kind of serious about this animal thing.

Interesting. I haven't been thinking about fish for a while now, but I haven't forgotten them. Yesterday I woke up feeling surprisingly happy, and then I turned on the TV and saw this guy

Max Forsman

say that he wouldn't even want to know what fish "think" (because fish are ugly -> fish are stupid, you know the logic). Then I thought, thanks a lot Max, I was feeling surprisingly happy and now I'm going to have to feel irritated for at least 30 minutes. I'd love to know what fish "think". Why must I know what Max "thinks"? So then I felt irritated for at least 30 minutes or maybe more. Thanks a lot, person named Max Forsman, you dreamy teddybear.

sunnuntai 5. huhtikuuta 2015

Gryffindor

The truth is that the world of Harry Potter means so much more to me than this nightmarish hellhole, but now that I'm stuck here the only thing that makes sense is to try and help fix this place.

There's too many Dudleys, too many Malfoys. There's something wrong with this generation. Really. I'm not just saying that, there are people studying this and what they've found is frightening. Too many of us are rich, heartless bastards, or at least pretending to be rich, heartless bastards, because for some reason, that's the new ideal.

But some of us don't share that ideal. This is going to sound weird, but something that many of us have in common is that we were (are) Harry Potter fans. You should never underestimate the power of weird things. A lot of us were Harry Potter fans, and we identified with the losers and the heroes.

When you think about it... the losers were the heroes.

The losers are the heroes.

Listen, this is what the world looks like

Russia is fucked up, for instance. China is fucked up. Most of Asia is fucked up. Africa is fucked up. India is fucked up. The Arab world is fucked up. So is Israel. The Western world is quite fucked up and getting worse.

I believe in nonviolence, peace, compassion, equality, solidarity, rationality, trying to find objective truth, freedom and responsibility, human rights and animal rights, patience and self-awareness.

Maybe you do too. Now look at the world around you. Look at the history of human societies. Look at the world outside ‘the democratic, rational Western societies’. And if you live in a 'democratic, rational Western society', look at the people around you. If you believe in the same things I believe in, you are something extraordinary.

Because so far it's been about who kills faster and what this god says and what that god says. So far power has been the only thing that mattered. It’s been about hairy men telling other hairy men to kill other hairy men. Now we’re trying to let things like solidarity, equality and rationality win. We're not always good at them, but at least we see them as something worth striving for. This is something new. This is one of the most amazing steps we’ve ever taken.

Naturally, humans are highly empathetic and altruistic animals. I know that I am, and I know that I'm not a freak of nature. You can already see this in young babies; in studies, most of them prefer the good puppet to the evil puppet. So you'd think that our societies would be empathetic and altruistic too, but unfortunately, we are also capable of violence, ignorance and indifference; we're very good at rationalizing all that in our heads. Especially when we form groups and stop thinking for ourselves. We lie to ourselves to make the problem go away, and that's the reason why it's even possible for the world to be so fucked up in so many ways. "Well, God thinks that..." "Well, that's how it's always been..." "Well, people are selfish so..."

The scary thing is that ‘the democratic, rational Western society’, the whole idea is very new. The fact that people see that as something worth striving for is extraordinary. In many places, the vast majority of people simply don't get what's so special about democracy and equality in the first place. Ancient Egypt existed for 3000 years. The Western world with ideals such as human rights has really existed for about 70 years now, if that. It’s such a fragile concept that when people stop thinking, it disappears.

I don't know. Argh. Most people of my generation think they know who's "too fat" and who's "too skinny", because for some reason they think that that's their business; at the same time, they couldn't give a fuck about the world's problems, because for some reason they think that those are not their business. NOT GIVING A FUCK has become the coolest thing to do, but there's two types of not giving a fuck, and you must always know the difference:

the bad one: not giving a fuck about injustice and the pain of others.

the good one: not giving a fuck about the pressure of social norms and the looks in the eyes of idiots.


Most people of my generation know who Harry Styles is, but they don't really know what happened in the 20th century. And that's why nothing's stopping us from making the same mistakes again.

Jesus.

Jesus was eccentric and rebellious and good. Jesus was a wise man.

It would be great if people paid some attention to what he was saying.

But for some reason the people who say his name the loudest are people who are mainly obsessed with the horrors of the Old Testament. Like all that horrible stuff was more important than all the beautiful stuff.

maanantai 30. maaliskuuta 2015

Hemingway's fish

For some reason I've been making fun of Ernest Hemingway for years now (why? why? why am I always making fun of serious people?) so I thought that it might be a good idea to actually read his books (and not just excerpts and stuff like that). Unfortunately, it turns out that his books are very boring. Maybe the problem is that the only versions I could find are old Finnish translations, but... Jesus, so far they're painfully boring. It all seems so HUMOURLESS.

(But it could be that Hemingway was one of those people who seem humourless but are actually funnier than you.)

(By the way: did you know that children who hit puberty rebel against their family in order to decrease the chance of incest? Yeah, when I said "by the way" I truly meant "by the way", as this has absolutely nothing to do with anything and I'm not even sure if it's true. It makes biological sense though. Do teenagers in hunter-gatherer societies rebel against their family?)

I just can't bring myself to care about Hemingway's characters or anything happening to them. They don't feel real, and they're supposed to feel real I guess. I'll give them another chance, but. Barack Obama is my mother. There you go, I'm not making sense anymore. I love to eat trees. What's wrong with me? Yeah. So anyway. I'm also reading Ham on Rye by Bukowski again (two years ago Bukowski was so hot, you know, and I wanted to go back) and compared to that Hemingway's writing is just...so...very...uninteresting.

(I'm also reading other stuff and liking some of it and not liking some of it. I often dislike "important" books. It's like some books are important because they're boring. Like the people who decided that those books are "important" did it just to pretend that they were smart enough to like them, or something like that, it's hard to say right now because I have no idea where my feet are.)

Maybe there's some great hidden Point that you must find in order to get Hemingway. But right now it seems that Hemingway will continue to be a writer that I consider to be sort of funny and stimulating as a character but not so much as a writer. In that sense he's kind of like Miki Liukkonen. Somewhat funny and interesting as a character but rather boring as a writer. I don't know. I'm sure some people will consider me boring. I'm going to marry Richard Dawkins and he's going to live in my mouth. You see, Harry, that had absolutely nothing to do with what we're talking about here. The only reason I wrote that is that I'm a melting clock in a Salvador Dali painting.

Yeah, okay

I almost managed to read The Old Man and the Sea (because it is short) and the only thing that I found interesting about it was the fact that the old man actually sees how intelligent and beautiful the fish are and feels bad for killing them, but keeps killing them anyway. That was interesting. I was surprised to find out that apparently, Hemingway was actually able to see an ethical dilemma with the whole animal killing thing. Of course, he kept doing it anyway. Because he was poetic and true and deep and all that, and my simple mind will never get all the deepness. Sure. I love you Aladdin, just give me a bedroom door and we can leave this town behind...

lauantai 28. maaliskuuta 2015

Let me in

Davey Havok is everything I'm looking for in a man. Unfortunately it seems that I'm not looking for a man at the moment. Am I even looking for a woman? I don't know, I'll probably never have a girlfriend. Or a husband.

When it comes to this writing books thing, I don't need to (I don't want to) reach everybody. Reaching one kid in every classroom would be more than enough. Maybe you know what kind of kids I'm talking about... Sweet baby Jesus, how many classrooms are there in the world? That's a lot of classrooms. So many classrooms that I'm clearly insane, but maybe it can be done.



I'm not sure why and how it happened, but that song, Balcony doors by Jo Rose, was the most important song in my life in the summer of 2012.

I was battling hopelessness at the time and I felt painfully lonely in the world, and somehow Balcony doors and some other songs by Jo Rose... I don't know, they made me feel a little less alone. To me, they felt almost holy. The funny thing is that Jo Rose is certainly not a huge mainstream artist whom everybody knows or whom I should know about. Actually, in 2012, that little live performance with 3000 views was the only version I could find of Balcony doors. And then I YouTube-to-mp3'd it and... well. Calling this 'genius' would be an understatement, because 'genius' sounds so cold and mechanical and these things are something more than that... Ah, I don't know.

Sometimes, suddenly, very random things become very important.

Actually, when I think about it, it's nearly always the very random things that become the most important things.

torstai 26. maaliskuuta 2015

sunnuntai 22. maaliskuuta 2015

tiistai 17. maaliskuuta 2015

I don't hate Kanye West anymore

Now that I've realized that everyone hates Kanye West, I don't hate him anymore. His existence doesn't bother me at all anymore. This is what always happens. I'm a machine and this is the way I was programmed. I'm incapable of hating somebody that everybody hates. It seems meaningless. I only hate people and things that are so wrong and horrible that they should be hated by everybody but aren't. Things like fish bowls.

"What people like, I don’t like" is the best James Dean quote. I often hear that in my head when I look at the world around me. What people like, I don't like. What people hate, I don't hate. What people hate, I try to understand.

torstai 12. maaliskuuta 2015

I truly believe this is the case


Actually I remember reading that being smarter makes you happier and happier until it reaches the point that you're more intelligent than 95-98% of people. At that point intelligence starts becoming a problem. "Too intelligent" is a thing and I want to remove my head.

tumblr is a strange place and kind of cool because there things like reading are considered normal things to do.

tiistai 10. maaliskuuta 2015

torstai 5. maaliskuuta 2015

All bestsellers are long.
Many people lack imagination, and a good example of this is the fact that when people try to imagine what aliens might look like, they usually come up with creatures that look like humans or other animals.

I mean, maybe they look like slime. Maybe they look like water. Maybe they don't really "look" like anything.
Ties make no sense.


There are two kinds of people: those who understand that ties make no sense, and those who wear ties for 60 years without realizing that ties make no sense. The latter group is much larger, and quite dangerous.
It's not always easy to like the people that you love.

tiistai 3. maaliskuuta 2015

The most interesting person in Springfield is Mr. Smithers

He's good, but in love with someone who's deeply evil

maanantai 2. maaliskuuta 2015

sunnuntai 1. maaliskuuta 2015

There's nothing as painful as thinking that you're the only one who's brilliant.

There's nothing as painful as thinking that you're the only one who knows.

There's nothing as painful as thinking that you're the only one who cares.

There's nothing as painful as thinking that you're the only one who understands.

There's nothing as painful as feeling alone in the world. I'm glad I'm not alone.

lauantai 28. helmikuuta 2015

I think I believe in aristocracy.

But that's not going to happen and it wouldn't work anyway (because even the wisest humans have an unfortunate tendency to be kind of stupid), so let's work with what we've got

keskiviikko 25. helmikuuta 2015

I'm the most ambitious person I know.

Sometimes I'm also fairly interested in myself, and at times things like these make me wonder whether I'm just a typical Generation Y/Z narcissist who's pathologically obsessed with themselves and ideas of 'success'.

But then I think that well, I'm awfully altruistic and loyal and kind for a narcissist.

It's a good thing to be interested in yourself. As long as you're capable of being interested in others at the same time. People who are capable of giving a shit about only one thing at a time, people who actually have to choose, have either really small heads or really small hearts. There is room.

I've never understood the idea of ambition being reserved specifically for assholes.

tiistai 17. helmikuuta 2015

Could it ever be easy

For months my life was like this:



Now I'm aware of society again, and things are a lot more complicated and I really, really hate it.

perjantai 13. helmikuuta 2015

torstai 12. helmikuuta 2015

I'd like to personally meet a person with a Mark Twain style moustache
Many people choose to stop caring about others. They are all cowards. Walking towards pain always takes courage, and empathy means walking towards pain. But it's worth it, and it's heroic. Take the risk.

keskiviikko 11. helmikuuta 2015

sunnuntai 8. helmikuuta 2015

A poem

My family was eaten
by a woman who looked a lot like Kate Bush.
I'd love to be a policeman
but I wouldn't be able to stand the other policemen
so I guess that's never going to happen

torstai 5. helmikuuta 2015

Most people are really bad at being rude. When you do it right, it should be so brilliant and amusing that it almost feels like a compliment

sunnuntai 1. helmikuuta 2015

When it comes to every person I encounter, I'd like my philosophy to be "Give them a chance." Why is giving a chance so fucking hard?

tiistai 27. tammikuuta 2015

I saw Mommy by Xavier Dolan and I was like "What? A young storyteller who understands human psychology and can actually tell vivid stories about complex human beings? What is this?"

I wish everybody was this honest. I can see that he cares.