What sex, cocaine & chocolate have in common with me.

Scientifically, we’re all assholes. And not just because so much of our output is crap. Neuroscience and behavioural science studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) found that when talking about ourselves, on average, we experience “increased neural activity in areas of the brain associated with motivation and reward.” Yes, when we talk about ourselves, the same part of the brain is firing as when we’re triggered by stimuli like sex, cocaine, chocolate. The best part? In these studies, it didn’t even matter if there was another conversant present. So it’s not even the “disclosure” piece of the equation that we get off on. It’s simply the personality masturbation. It’s unsurprising then that demonstrative mindfulness has become so trendy. Sure, there are a lot of other reasons – like constant notifications, high speed everything and the cornucopia of ways we can judge and be judged. But mindfulness practice, as currently advertised, is becoming a parody of itself. There’s a fine line between being in tune with your desires, concerns, patterns of thought, and being entirely self-indulgent. And honestly, I think we’re teetering on the edge.

It just seems so silly. We’re arbitrarily dumped into these body vessels, randomly assigned geographically-bound quality-of-life status, and left to develop into these self-obsessed, insecure, frantic little messes, desperately seeking continuous quality improvement (and willing to pay the price be it through self-help books, mindfulness apps, retreats, gurus, therapists, gym memberships, shaman, and so on). And all the while, we’re on the lookout for another little mess with the expectation that he/she should develop the same obsession, forgetting that he/she is likely already self-obsessed too – little room for two obsessions in one ego. No wonder there’s an increasing trend of people being more likely to get a dog than to get married.

I’m going to experiment with actively talking less about myself and my experiences this week and see if I actually notice how often I do it and whether it changes the quality of conversations.

Disclaimer: This post was inspired by wildly self-indulgent conversations (including a Tinder date) overheard at Starbucks, so there’s some bias at play. I still love the self-obsessed, insecure, frantic little messes. We’re adorable.

Great.

Ah December. The red of world AIDS day marks the start of decked halls and Christmas lights. (RED) cups and gift cards. Expensive flights and long lines. Recipe books and carol hooks. And so on. You’ll notice we neglected October and November. That’s because nothing of significance was happening in the world. The American electorate did not outdo itself. A hatred-spewing, pussy-grabbing, language-perverting bigot was not elected into office. The very fabric of liberal ideology was not ripped apart. There were no violent ripples across the world. The uprising of the far right was not given a stamp of approval, both in America and otherwise. France and Austria remain unthreatened. Monetary systems were unperturbed in every way. People fleeing from profit-driven war and devastation were not used as pawns to trigger fear-based propaganda and inward-looking protectionism. The environment that sustains us was prioritized, its value as upstanding as ever. Knowledge and thinking were celebrated, informing decisions with long lasting positive impact for all. Love won.

Right… Alt-right.

Hundreds of articles are trying to make sense of the next four years and what they’ll mean not only for America, but for the world. The contrast filters on the colours of our skin are approaching maximum levels. Right wing parties are gaining even further momentum in Europe, the repercussions of which will be deplorable given that Syria’s conflict (rather, the global conflict that Syria happens to have the abominable pleasure of hosting) shows no sign of tapering. Lives continue to be destroyed as the world locks its doors and throws away the key into the convoluted maze of referendums and parliamentary process. Trade instability is pushing foreign investment in ironic directions. The environment continues slipping down the give-a-fuck ladder (even in lala Canadaland governed by Prince Charming). And don’t worry, they’re doing their best to equally dismantle progress on other social sectors. The incoming education secretary is pegged as “Public school enemy No.1,” rolling in with her charter schools and privatized education. Health and human services will be run by a man who sees Price(s) instead of patients, hates healthy populations and belongs to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a right wing group of physicians who disavow evidence-based medicine and believe that doctors are God. No matter what.

But I don’t want to talk about any of this. What I want to talk about is more personal. The world has gone through these right/left ebbs and flows forever. It’s not that this four year presidency will dismantle everything (8 years however may). It’s that it happened in the first place – in this moment in time – that makes it hard to hold my world view up to the mirror to take a proper look. It’s not pretty. It hurts. It makes me feel insecure, disconnected, and at a loss for what to do next. You may argue that it was time for the built-in-America house of cards to come tumbling down, making a joker out of supposed racial harmony while crowning overt bigotry and chauvinism King. “The great experiment that failed. An American dream turned nightmare.” But I find that sad too. I liked having some shred of hope that humanity is capable of celebrating differences. I wanted to believe in a humanity whose main ignorance was behind Rawls’ veil. Instead I’m forced to look at the picture of Dorian Gray – the portrait we’ve all collaboratively painted using acrylic selfishness and strokes of ignorance.

It’s just Great. Again.

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