Otherwise occupied

Still adventuring in Eorzea, not found the time to really sit down and write. I know, already happened last week without notice or mention, but I simply do not have the energy for it at this time.

Final Fantasy XIV

Questioning conventions

There are a lot of things we as humans do, that we do out of convention or habit, because it is the "way things have always been done". These conventions tend to be rather slow to change, exactly because once they take hold they are somewhat ingrained in the way we do things, and change is always difficult, especially when a larger amount of people are involved. Change means all of them have to agree to some level on the new way of doing things, otherwise you risk any potential gain from the new and hopefully improved way of doing things being diluted by the increased difficulty in connecting with the people who prefer the old way, for one reason or another.

Because changing these conventions is so difficult once they have been established, education plays a huge part in either maintaining them, or when talking about large scale efforts to standardize on something new, changing them. If you are able to educate children in the new way of doing something, the old way will eventually die out as the practitioners of it age and die. Depending on what exactly the convention is, something like legislation may also be enough, if the official way of doing something is changed—like say, currency—people will generally adapt to the new way of doing things because of the other mostly established convention of following the law and societal rules in general.

That was all a long way of prefacing what I have been thinking about, namely currency. Or, to be more specific, the denominations of it, and more generally the way we have structured our numbers with the decimal system.

Pretty much everyone outside of the USA—who cling on to the imperial system for measurement—has become rather accustomed to viewing most things from this base 10 mindset, both when it comes to things like the metric system as well as the separation of currency into the currency itself and cents or something like it—I am sure there are other exceptions to this as always, but I'm looking at this from what I know. This is of course rather convenient, since we can apply the same type of shorthands for many different types of calculations and approximations we do, and don't have to learn different ways of thinking for something like measuring and paying, but is it really optimal?

I admit, I like it rather much and find the imperial system somewhat annoying to work with—not that I have to work with it much or at all—and find that doing things like multiplication on base 10 is much easier than with most other things, but is that merely because that's what I'm used to and have learned? Many people don't seem to have any problem working in the imperial system, and it has survived this long despite the derision it at times receives from the outside, so is there some hidden merit to it?

There was an interesting video I saw a while back about old currency, specifically in England, and one of the things pointed out in it was the to modern sentiments strange thing of being partially based on steps of 240 instead of 100, which on the surface feels a lot less convenient and confusing, yet does come with the advantage of making things like division by 3 a lot easier. Of course, for most applications, merely using a repeating three is accurate enough, so it's not really a problem necessarily, but it is still something that has caused me to question more the reason behind some of the conventions that we hold, or more so made me more aware of the potential value in having different ways of doing things available and keeping a more open mind. Because I admit, I was very much in the "the imperial system is dumb"-crowd, and now I'm not quite so sure—even if having to convert from imperial to have a better gauge of the size of something in our modern US-centric world does get rather annoying.

Misc

The seeming impossibility of mundane tasks

I sit here, reveling in the feeling of accomplishment of having once more folded and put away my laundry, and am left pondering on why these most mundane of tasks seem to take so much energy and effort to get going on. It is, once more, something I had been putting off for several days, a personal record in speed really, usually it remains undone until I have finished dirtying the pile of clean laundry again and it goes back into the washing machine—the filling of which, itself, is also a task left to the very last moment.

It is such a strange thing, feeling the overwhelming pressure of effort that is required to start such simple tasks, and then every time rediscovering the feeling of elation and accomplishment at having done the task and not being pressured by needing to complete it anymore. Even before starting, I most of the time know how minute it is and how quickly it goes, yet the feeling of impossibility remains always, preventing me from even starting.

It seems to me, this experience cannot be an universal one, for then almost nothing in this world would get done, yet looking at others it seems still to be rather widespread, which leaves me bewildered as to how the world runs as well as it does, or is it all merely a façade? Perhaps it is, as some say, a sign of some sort of neurological divergence on my part, and the masses have a easier time with it; but how am I to know, I know only my experience, my reality, and can relate to the realities of others only through this lens. Whatever someone describes to me, will be distorted by my own perspective, my own experience.

I take a sip of water, and ponder.

Is the problem perhaps even the opposite? While there is certainly a pressure to accomplish such tasks, the postponing of them also works for a rather significant while—for some definition of works—and with the distractions offered by modern life to take one away from such unpleasant pressure, there are precious few opportunities for the mind to get to the point of actually starting such tasks. Once the postponing has been started, it tends to become a self-perpetuating cycle, since one knows it is something that should already have been taken care of yet remains undone, and a certain level of shame of having put it off for so long makes starting that much more difficult.

Strangely, even now, writing this, I notice some of that very same resistance, some of that effort of forcing myself to do something, and finding it all the harder because I am for once actually writing this well ahead of time. It feels so strange, that even for things which I do enjoy doing—namely, writing—there is so much resistance to actually doing so, and my mind keeps wanting to do something lighter, easier, more distracting. Is it merely because I am struggling to find what I want to say? Another example of my mind wanting to flee adversity, instead of confronting it and dealing with it? Is this why, when wanting to write a book, I ended up stopping so soon, because it felt like this pressure was popping up all too often, and I don't know how to handle it with such frequency, and it ended up causing me to be stressed out by the whole process of writing creatively?

Perhaps, in the case of the book, I was trying to do too much. Perhaps, I need to train myself to handle such pressure better, and it was coming from too many places at once. There is no real reason for the book to be a completely lost cause, merely because I have not written anything in the last while; the foundation is there, I can pick up and continue when I am ready. Maybe being kinder to myself was the key all along, not creating a standard for myself that I cannot achieve, and accepting myself and what I can achieve as I am, being happy when I go beyond what I thought possible, and kind when I do not; nobody is at their best all of the time.

I go and put the kettle on, tea would do nicely after this excursion into my mind I think.

Mind

Social

It feels like there is a certain dichotomy in modern society of the introvert—who hates people and would prefer nothing more than live alone on the moon—and the extrovert—who can't stop talking and starts crying the moment they are left alone, which of course is a completely false construct, and people mostly fall in somewhere in between with variance through time and space as their feelings allow. I know all of this, yet I am starting to feel I, too, had fallen into the trap of identifying a bit too much with the introvert side of myself, and neglecting or not understanding my need to be social.

During my time in primary and secondary education, I was rather socially active, partially through the mere fact of seeing ones friends daily, and partially because the bonds we forged in school ended up continuing outside it. Thinking about it now, it feels even a bit odd for me to have identified as an introvert considering the reason I used to hate going to our summer place in the summer was not being able to see my friends during that time, and times being what they were availability of things like cheap telephony and Internet in remote places wasn't what it is today. Perhaps it was even a defense mechanism of sorts, trying to protect myself from the pain of separation through turning inward and creating worlds of my own to be in, occupying my mind with other things. It is a skill that to this day serves me well, and there are definitely still times when I would prefer nothing more than being left alone to do in peace whatever it is I want to do, yet in optimizing so hard for myself to be able to do whatever I want to do, I notice often a certain lack of doing things with others and communicating. Sure, there are people with whom I write a great deal, and share memes or interesting articles or the like, but the times I end up just talking to people feel all too rare.

The exception to this, still being someone who raids, are of course the raids, yet due to their scale of being 20 person challenges there is a certain lack of intimacy going into them, and being someone who now at least does not feel overly confident in large groups, there ends up being a distinct lack of discussion in them—not that there would be much time for it anyway, since the level of challenge does tend to necessitate a certain degree of focus.

Looking back, it feels like a earlier sign that there was a need that wasn't being fulfilled for me was my desire to participate more actively in social media, thinking back specifically at Mastodon, since the whole point of such media—as the name implies—is to be social. It feels like the experiment to do so has been one great failure, since while my usage has gone up, I remain more of a observer rather than an active participant. Looking at the harm social media can cause, perhaps this is a good thing, but it does mean that this need is still going unfulfilled.

I have had some more successful attempts more recently, and have taken to a bit more actively phoning friends and asking how they are doing—which to be fair, is probably the better idea anyway and more fitting for me—and perhaps the hopefully soon once again beginning rounds of Dungeons & Dragons will provide opportunities to socialize. We have the past few weeks already been playing the new release of Dark Alliance so there has been some of that going on already and it has definitely been helpful, but I am looking forward to the tabletop variant even more.

In the end, this feels like a long way of saying: be careful hiding behind a label or in a box you put yourself in, and try to examine your feelings and listening to your body for what you actually need, not what that label or box tells you is what you are supposed to be like. This, unfortunately, isn't always as easy as it sounds, because being a human is hard and confusing—heck, it took me something like 10 years to understand this—but identifying what is missing is the first step to finding it.

Mind

Language

Earlier this year I found myself looking for a new keyboard, and the difficulties I had at the time finding a keyboard that met my needs lead me to start thinking about language. The problem with finding a keyboard arose from language, since I had some rather particular wants in the new keyboard and those were in general rather hard to find, but even more so when looking at ISO keyboards, since the vast majority of the more custom market seems to focus on ANSI.

This phenomena of American and English being default and standard isn't exactly new, especially not in computing and programming—basically every programming language uses English as the base language as it were, with some rare exceptions none of which are widespread—but my problems finding a keyboard merely threw it more sharply into focus for me once more.

It frustrates me a rather great deal, because as someone for whom multiple languages have always been rather present and having been raised bilingual with English following at a rather young age, I can see the importance of language to myself rather clearly. Learning and knowing several languages has enriched my life to such an incredible degree, allowing me to express myself in new ways as well as learn to know different people and cultures to a completely different degree. Even writing this very post I find myself resorting to translating my thoughts from other languages to English—not necessarily my mothertongue, mind you—because I can simply find the perfect word for what I want to express in that language even if it might not come to me in English, allowing me that much better to express myself. I could probably achieve a similar thing by perusing a dictionary, but that would end up being so inefficient as for me to give up and not express myself fully instead of taking the time to find the exact right words for what I want to say.

Thus I find myself becoming rather frustrated at this pressure put upon us both culturally from the behemoth that is the American entertainment industry as well as well as technologically from the very machines we use to express ourselves being created in this way that is so very centered on the experience of being American and using English. The most recent frustration I had with this was Nextcloud, which even though I set my settings to use European English for the locale, defaulted to displaying dates the American way which is just yet another one of these small ways that inconvenience everybody else. Another example is the insistence of the Ghost—the software I am using to write this very post—to show the week beginning on Sunday instead of Monday, another from what I can tell American custom, with no obvious way to change that.

At the same time, I can so very well understand the appeal of being to communicate with what feels like the whole world in English, and the self-perpetuating circle this leads to—everyone knows English, so things are made in English first, which means everyone knows or learns English to use those things and so on. Even I, despite these feelings at this point in time, chose to start this blog in English instead of my mothertongue because it does allow me to communicate with so many more people and to be part of the global discussion to a completely different degree—even if what I write here mostly goes unseen by the world at large. English is, despite its silly rules around spelling at times and confusing idioms, such a very convenient language to use for pretty much everything in the digital world that I find it difficult to blame anyone for doing so—I did it myself for a long time, thinking anyone who used one of our local tongues on their machines as either cringe or old—and as my proficiency with German comes to a point where I feel there might be more harm than good done in using it as the system language due to poor or incomplete translations am considering ending my personal one woman crusade against using English everywhere, I can't help but wonder if the gains in the end outweigh the losses and how cognizant people are of the decision they are making, or if they are merely acting out of convenience.

Every single person probably has their own answer to this question, and while I might decide in the near future to give in to convenience a bit more, I think I would be very sad should the future do away with the beautiful plethora of languages we as a species have developed over time and merely defaulted to a single one out of an overwhelming need for convenience. If that day were to come, I think we would have lost more than we had gained.

Misc