The Dysfunction of Infinite Feedback

In so far that we had praised the extraordinariness of the invention of the Internet and other technology that “connect” us, there is always the other side of the equation.

Beyond hacking, beyond privacy, beyond other social issues, I find there is a bigger underlying trend that needs to be look at — the amount of feedback we receive because of all these inventions.

Let’s define feedback first. Feedback is an evaluative reaction or response to an originating process or activity.

We know feedback is useful for us to improve in whatever we are doing. Complicated machinary would always have a feedback system to adjust, adapt, and correct a subsequent action from the prior one.

Individually speaking, we have parents, friends, relatives, co-workers doing that.

But we are living in a modern world of technology, and in this society through the Internet and various other technology, we can get as many different feedback as there are people out there in the entire world. Thus an enormous amount of feedback.

That causes two perceivable problems.

1st one has to do with the amount of feedback rendering all the feedback completely useless. Just remember what happens when you put a microhpone to the speaker that its sound is coming out of. You get this unbearbly sharp, squealing sound becase you have created in infinite feedback loop. Our brilliant Internet and social networks can precisely create such a loop, and having too much feedback and having too much options are the same, where one gets completely confused.

2nd problem has to do with the quality of feedback. Feedback allows us to improve in so far that it is a constructive response. When one has as many response as there is Internet users out there, the quality naturally goes down the drain. Worse yet, when one takes them seriously, one likely becomes immobile because when someone who has many judges watching his every moves and beat him with a stick when he does wrong, he simply cannot move. Or, he can only move when everyone approves and we know that’s nearly impossible.

Applying the above perceivable problems that are currently affect every facets of our modern life — the individual, social, cultural, national, and finally global level — we have a world that is mostly confused and thus chaotic, and also a human social entity that is mostly unadaptive and unable to do what it needs to do.

I mentioned the above 2 problems without mentioning a key… issue. The media companies. Wherein if you add their “selling of drama through exaggeration and twisting of the facts” — be it news or TV programs — that serves to amplify the two said problems, it is only natural that the world is as absurd as it is now.

And we cannot blame the media companies either, because they do what they do only because it DOES sells.

One last observation is how we seem to find truth in only what has feedback coming from the news/media and the majority population connected by the Internet and technology. What has little to no feedback from those places, what cannot become famous, has no meaning and is not important. Is that truth?

Here ends my rant of the day :)

This post is more or less just an observation but is very much related to three posts from the past. You read and connect the dots :P

Originally posted 2010-03-14 21:56:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

My Personal Finance Decluttering – Bye Bye Student Loan

Following my recent mortgage refinance, I also bit my teeth and paid off the student loan debt that I carried since I graduated in 2006.

I had to “bite my teeth” because of the amount of savings I’m giving up to get rid of these debt, especially on top of the chunk of saving I put away in the refinance process. My rationale…

For the longest time, because the student loan is sitting at a low 3.5% rate, I considered it as cheap money and was going to pay it down slowly over the year.

However, even as I was paying it slowly monthly, I was putting in 20-30 bucks extra each payment to help dwindle the loan amount down faster. As a result, I saw the amount sitting around $3000.

There is a story about a philosophy teacher that talks about how we can see our life as a bottle with the important things as large stone pieces we put in it and the trivial stuff as small pieces of sand.

Because the loan is sitting at just $3000, and by principle, it’s “cheap money” and money is better in your own pocket… I decided that keeping this loan is like having more pieces of sand than necessary. For my peace of mind and not having to keep track of it anymore, I made the jump to pay it off.

As a result, my only real loan left is my mortgage (because I’m paying off my credit cards monthly). Perhaps I’m simply risk-averse or financially conservative, but in this day and age where employment is not quite guaranteed and work environment unstable, it is important to reduce debt to provide yourself the flexibility and option to consider other opportunities. In short, the less fixed cost in your cash flow, the better.

Plus, the less things the mind has to keep track of, the less chance of making mistakes that may cost money. Therefore, being thoughtful in minimizing debt and reduce debt cannot be stressed enough because of how easily costs can snowball!

At any rate, I can forget making that student loan payment each month now, and that gives me more space in the mind… which by itself, is priceless.

Originally posted 2013-01-04 23:42:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Introvert living in a world of extroverts

I maybe quiet, but I may also have great ideas.

I maybe quiet, but I may also have great ideas.

We live in a very loud society. At least, it feels that way.

We either scream at the top of our lung or risk being unheard, unnoticed, unappreciated in today’s world. With the ever more stimulating media and everyone’s craving for attention, we all, in turn, need to continuously speak up, and FIGHT for attention.

More and more talking.
Less and less listening, paying attention.

No wonder people are feeling lonelier than ever.
No wonder we seem to understand so little of each other.

When do we have time for contemplation and introspection? Without which we leave little room for substance to grow, new idea to form, and creative vision to arise. Without such, the words that we keep spewing out lack what was mentioned, and they are just verbal diarrhea. That is, what we excrete out of our mouths are malformed, malnutritioned, perverted ideas that will lead us to a world that we… ultimately don’t want. All because we have to be constantly talking and constantly entertained… so it seems.

This is not to say introverts are better than extroverts. This is all about how unbalanced we have become.

We now deem extroversion as “normal.” Our world is not accepting of personalities that are of an introvert. We usually end up calling those people as boring, or inadequate, or even weird.

We are a society that suffocates those who are more introverted. We demand continuous communication even when it’s unnecessary. We ask for non-stopping display of excitement which is obnoxious to introverts.

I am an introvert. I enjoy being alone. I like having time to read at home. I love playing the piano. I find listening to music with headphones which is relaxing. I can sit somewhere and simply people watch.

I had been in management for almost a year now. It is surprising how criticism would arise mostly from a more mild demeanor that is natural for an introvert. If you don’t try to be visible, shouting words at every chance, you lack leadership and are not acting with a sense of urgency.

IntrovertImage02_2

I am analytical, I like to take in a lot of information, process, and then arrive at a conclusion. But the environment does not favor that. If I don’t immediately respond, it does not mean I do not care. Being able to be quiet and listen is also where understanding can happen, where appreciation comes from. With inadequate traits of introversion, we become mostly egomaniacs. And that’s how more than the average people would act these days (especially people in management).

That’s why I feel a sense of relief when I came across Susan Cain’s TED talk – The power of introverts:

Finally, the talk of the idea to take the time to stop, to enjoy solitude and to introspect.

Introversion is important. That is how we can understand each other. And understanding is the basis of compassion where we begin to truly care for each other.

I believe in action with grace and humility.

And someone like that can still be exciting, can still have style. Our world should not require people to call attention to ourselves in a sort of self-aggrandizing way exhibitionistic way.

From way back, my quiet and introverted style of being has always left me feeling “out of place” in this society, and it’s still does sometimes.

In conclusion, two obvious idea stand out from these discussion:

1) Our society still benefit from learning and adapting more traits of introversion, and as a result be more tolerant and able to work with introverts who may have some great ideas.

the_hulk

2) Meanwhile, introverts need to compensate, especialy if one wants to be influential, by being more studious and knowledgeable, thus more confident and assertive when the occassion arises that we need to speak up.

In other words, to all you introverts, don’t be afraid to go into hulk-mode if you feel strongly that you need to speak up or you know that you are right!

Originally posted 2013-06-03 04:12:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What is Stress, What it Does, How it Kills

After the last post, I find it fitting to talk some about stress.

What is Stress?

Taking the fifth meaning from dictionary.com, stress is the physical pressure, pull, or other force exerted on one thing by another, meaning for us, environmental stress. This is comparable to how our ancestors have to worry about having shelter, finding food, and not getting eaten.

For the heck of it, let me first make a point using a bit of video game lingo.

Video Game Hero Burst Mode

Imagine our hero in a video game who has a burst mode. This burst mode makes him a few times more powerful than usual and not get stunned… however, his hitpoints gradually decreases in this mode. So, the idea is to use the burst mode only when he fights very strong enemy and otherwise absolutely necessary to not die. Definitely not always, because he’d die.

Human Burst Mode, aka Fight or Flight

Well, we have somewhat of such a mode… it’s been identified in science as “fight or flight”.

As the words suggest, when we are in “fight or flight” mode, our body is ready to either fight or flee from danger. Intuitively then, when we are in such a mode, because the body concerns only of survival, the last thing it wants to do is digesting food properly, peeing and pooping, breathing deeply and slowly, generating energy for us in non-detrimental manner, and lastly (for some most importantly), carrying out sexual activity. LOL

(description of the science behind these is further down)

Stress in Modern Days

Back in the days when our ancestors live in the wild, such a mode is imperative for survival, to be able to hunt for food or run away from saber tooth. It’s really an intelligent design and gift of nature.

I surmise some activities above that our bodies is not inclined to do when in “fight or flight” mode, which should inevitably makes us realize how stress is one factor that lead to many other issues that modern people face.

We, or rather most of us with a few exceptions, constantly render our bodies in this “fight or flight” mode.

With saber tooth out of the picture, the “danger” we are threatened with are things that we think we must do and that which put us under stress — paying bills, feeding the family, keeping everyone happy, making deadline at work, getting the next promotion, becoming famous and successful, attaining power, retirement, eating things that hopefully won’t kill us before retirement, saving the world and blah blah blah.

Additionally, we are currently living in a society that is driven by fear. If you disagree, I politely ask you to check the news.

Our Beautiful Mind is also a Curse

Beyond the environmental stress, there is one more factor that hits it home to have stress cause us so much grief. Our mind.

For because we are humans and we are capable of thinking. This is another gift of nature that can also become a curse by misuse. We think about past and future. We think to create the perception of what is.

Things that we think we need to make us normal.
Things that we think will lead us to a “bad” future.
Things that we think as truth by expectations and conditioning.

We abuse the mind and apply thinking everywhere. Then ultimately, our attachment to these thoughts as real causes stress to multiply by ten-folds. Buddha is not lying when he said, “Attachment leads to suffering.” Well, it certainly does in how it leads to stress in our life!

Positive Stress

And let us not forget, when we seek drama, indulgence, and excitement, it is more or less the same because positive stress is stress to the body too. And there is science behind it that our bodies react similar to positive and negative stress.

Anyways, when it’s all said and done, we are constantly putting our bodies in this “fight or flight” mode. When we are not stressing out on negative things, we are seeking positive stress. In other words, stress kills is really another way of saying, we are killing ourselves, albeit slowly.

The Chemistry and the Science

I am no scientist but this is a summary of the many things I self-studied on this topic that hopefully can be easily understood.

Mainly, there are two hormones generated when we are in “fight or flight” modes — adrenaline and cortisol — both produced by the adrenal gland. Both of them are geared toward getting our body ready and have enough quick energy to fight or run away. I will only focus just these 2 and effects due to having them for prolonged period of time.

Adrenaline
Real name is Epinephrine. Adrenaline is a hormone that boosts the supply of oxygen and glucose (think of them like gas to cars) to the brain and skeletal muscles. That means if you have a lot of it in your bloodstream constantly, these are the effects:

- Not have adequate supply of oxygen and glucose to other organs in your body, which includes organs in the digestive system, parts of your nervous system (that’s why probably you are less sensitive), sexual organs (sorry, no sex when adrenalized)
- Because the oxygen and glucose supplied to the brain and muscles in mass quantity, they will be very stimulated, which will likely cause insomnia and muscle restlessness.
- Behaviorally, our ancestors work off the adrenaline in body by fighting or running away… but we modern people involve no such kind of physical exertion for that purpose. So either we leave the adrenaline in the body doing all the stuff above, or we find ourselves overeating, crazy shopping, etc.

Cortisol
Cortisol is what we call the “stress hormone”. Cortisol does many things. A few key effects are:

- Increase in Blood Sugar (hyperglycemia) — Cortisol being a counter to insulin and probably also because it increases glycogen synthesis by liver (as source of energy for muscles).
- Weaker bones — probably because cortisol induces loss of collagen (monitored in rats), which are present in the skin, bone, cartilage, tendon, and teeth.
- Long-term exposure to cortisol results in damage to cells in the hippocampus, aka, your long term memory.

Both Hormones
- Interfere with thyroid function and affect the T-cells and thus interfere with our immune system, which is why we are easier to get sick when stressed out.
- Decrease in muscle tissue because they cause our bodies to burn carbs and lean muscle (protein) in order to obtain quick energy to fight or run. Because burning fat to get calories is slower. Hence, not a good idea to exercise and weight train as a stressed person.

There you have it. A quick run through about stress. Not short, but it could have been longer!

Of course, I’m no “expert” and these are my intuition and understanding from self-study. So, do your own study. If you are really interested, besides searching for stress/adrenaline/cortisol you should also look into “parasympathetic” and “sympathetic” systems.

My thanks to these resources:

http://www.thebodysoulconnection.com/EducationCenter/fight.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epinephrine

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortisol

http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/cortisol.htm

http://www.greenerchiro.com/Stress%20&%20Cortisol.htm

Originally posted 2009-10-29 00:03:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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