On money & value (Vlog #53)

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It’s embarrassing to discuss my struggles with money. For me at least, it’s harder to talk about money than sex, religion, or politics because it forces me to address my deep insecurity regarding how I might be perceived based on my “economic status.” Maybe some think I’m audacious for trying to make a living as a vlogger but I’ve got to stand up for my desire because I want to live in the kind of world where people can make money fulfilling their dreams.

***THE NOTES***

*Only death & illness are harder for me to discuss

*I’m not “good at” money & I fight with my self-esteem when contemplating my financial life

*What it means to love one’s job

*Free talking…upfront….sharing thoughts

*The temptation to envy those who earn more money

*My financial difficulties are, to a tremendous degree, my fault…I take responsibility for it

*I like being upfront about things that matter to me

*If there are people out there getting paid for things they want to get paid for then why shouldn’t I try to get paid for what I want to get paid for?

*Talking about money makes me so nervous I trip over my words

*Remember when we had to pay much more for video content?

*You must stand up for your values

*To me vlogging is art (& so is talking)

*Being an “outside-the-box” person

*One reason why I love politics is because moving policy forward can move humanity forward ethically

*Would you overlook your ethics if someone offered you the money to do so? (figurative prostitution, “Selling your soul to the Devil,”)

*Sometimes I get overwhelmed with this feeling that everyone wants my money

*I don’t want to be a f**** up when it comes to money

*I fear how many can corrupt relationships

*I’d like more time to read, watch vlogs, socialize on social media, be a philanthropist…

*Opening up about this is so embarassing

*I hate complaining that my work doesn’t get properly compensated but don’t so many of us feel that way sometimes?

*I tell myself that if I like my vlog then maybe someone else will too

***IF YOU APPRECIATED THIS VLOG PLEASE CLICK “LIKE,” SHARE, & SUBSCRIBE 🙂

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On the People Beyond the Sales Pitches (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary Vlog– Episode #21)

As global/international society sophisticates and deepens its connection through communication technologies and improved alliances I think we ought to reexamine what we mean when we identify with and distinguish ourselves nationally….and beyond the context of laws we are subject to…beyond the jurisdictional context, that is to say.

TRANSCRIPT

I want to talk more about my notion of vlogging and my fascination with the medium.

Like I said yesterday, I care very deeply about preserving records of personal contemplations as a way to better understand the self in relation to society, environment, and time, for both contemporary-social purposes and journalistic-historical purposes.

What does it really mean to know somebody? I mean the person beyond the sales pitch– though not necessarily excluding it for we are, in part, the work we are so passionate about.

Some people can’t relate to my love for commercials and ads. Really, I do enjoy them in many respects. I don’t mind that someone would like my money. I only mind if that’s all someone cares about in his or her interaction with me. So the commercials and ads for those products which are of high quality…I actually find inspiration in that…a find a sense of culture, society, and one where conditions are improving.

Still, there is much to be troubled about with respect to how we approach our productivity, consumerism, materialism, commercialism, capitalism, et cetera.

Think for example of what goes on behind the production of our electrionics. It is not just, for example, Apple, where worker suicide in China has been widely reported over the last decade–  that abuses and exploits its workers. So does Samsung.

From a recent USA Today piece written by  Pham Thi Minh Hang and Joseph DiGangi,

Our organizations explored this hidden story by conducting in-depth, open-ended, confidential interviews with 45 women who work on the assembly lines at two Samsung factories in Vietnam. What we found was shocking.

All the workers we interviewed reported that they experienced episodes of dizziness or fainting at work. High noise levels violated legal limits. After standing at work for 70 to 80 hours a week, they reported pain in their bones, joints, and legs. Not a single worker we interviewed received a copy of her work contract (a violation of Vietnamese labor law).

(And Huawei…well that company is deeply embedded in and subsidized by a totalitarian communist regime in China. So the three titans of the smart phones– they really give us this amazing technology at the expense of extremely unethical practices. )

Bringing this back to knowing a person though…I wonder if there is a relationship between the degree of permissiveness humanity on a global level possesses with respect to the exploitation and harm behind the production of its most cherished technology and possessions, and perhaps the degree to which we really hold back from understanding our humanness, our souls, our senses of self.  

I must report to you, I felt …. Really for the first time since I began this vlog just short of 3 weeks ago,  a bit of insecurity this morning trying to wrap my mind around the sense of my “purpose” in some kind of marketable expression about it. “What the hell am I really doing and why am I doing it?” I wondered. And I worried if I came across to you as either too professional or too unprofessional. Then I though of a vlog I recently watched by a gentleman who goes by the name Daniel DC Becker.

He began a vlog to document his experience with colon cancer. In his vlog about anxiety he opens up about his temptation to delete the vlog he’s making or at least not to share it, bu then he stops himself.

He says “I don’t want to hide this aspect of myself” he says that “feels like giving up. So I’m gonna put this out there. This is me. For better or worse”

I can relate to that. I don’t want to hide my thoughts.

I mean, I don’t feel a need to tell you EVERYTHING. So how does one decide that which one should share? Afterall, privacy too, is a wonderful value– I believe privacy is part of one’s sense of self, that and the choice of keeping this or that private.

But how then do I decide what goes into the private category and what gets placed into the share with humanity category? This of course addresses a wider issue, does it not? That issue of those aspects of ourselves we keep to ourselves. (Some people perhaps could focus on sharing less and can overwhelm us…inundate us with more of themselves than we might want to know but the question of what about others we are curious about I think is another issue)

From my point of view, as of now, I like to share thoughts I believe I have vetted meaningfully…thoughts I feel a degree of confidence about…or rather…opinions I have confidence in…

Maybe judicious sharing of the self as a root in the realm of opinion. That is to say, we have put enough thought in some aspects of ourselves to have some degree of logically, factually supported opinion on it. That;s my theory as of now on the matter. I think it may make some sense and may connect to the social media concept.

Like I said yesterday, vlogging in particular offers a fascinating counter-balance to tweeting (and I should add also, Instagram too). Where vlogging offers more deeply contemplated, thorough, longer winded thought (in theory), the tweet is limited to 280 characters (unless you go live) and on Instagram too.  

So my love for vlogging is necessarily a love more broadly speaking of social media and did I mention earlier to you the irony considering how shy I’ve been for most of life?

Social media speaks as of late to a major frustration in life I’ve only recently discovered an outlet for: a feeling of an immense weight consisting of an abundance of contemplations that felt “off the record” which I wanted on the record. Social media puts it on the record for as long as the social media sites care to preserve that which we publish on their sites.

I also wanted to discuss with you the European Union Parliamentary Elections that conclude today.  Europe is a place I wish I paid more attention to. A place I hope to one day visit. As you may discover is widely reported, key issues relevant to these elections include mass immigration, Islamization, nationalism and populism versus centralized European control (quite like our states rights versus federalism debate).

To me, and you might have noted this from previous vlogs, the stand out issue of interest is the question of nationalism versus centralization…and even more widely, nationalism versus globalism.

A question which has long been on my mind: what is the moral basis for the special distinction of country…of fragmented political entities, regions, et cetera? To be clear, I am not asking what the purpose of GOVERNMENT as such is. That’s an entirely different question.

From an evolutionary perspective, of course, “country” or ‘nation” makes sense. Humanity spread itself out and the question of order and resources loomed.   

But as global/international society sophisticates and deepens its connection through communication technologies and improved alliances I think we ought to reexamine what we mean when we identify with and distinguish ourselves nationally….and beyond the context of laws we are subject to…beyond the jurisdictional context, that is to say.

Ideology and philosophy of course are key as much as economic integration is. Alliances and “unions” like the United States or the European Union speak to certain constitutional and fundamental values and principles that in theory or legal practice are supposed to be shared.

Postmodernism has complicated this. Even if not in fact the actual intention of postmodern philosophers, I think notions of extreme relativism are severely prone to fragmentation and nationalism. Ironically even extreme individualism.

I say this as an individualist myself.

The point is, I believe there is a sort of global philosophical pressure in the realm of identity– the protection of individual autonomy and reconciling that with universal interests.

What compels us to say— this land must be American land…or French, or Chinese, or Kenyan, or Russian, et cetera? And what justifies it? How much less compelled would people be to lean towards nationalism if economic anxiety were no longer an issue? How much of nationalism is directly fueled by economic anxiety and assuaged by tribalism?

I really can’t speak to many of the factors specifically pertaining to Europe because I’m not currently educated in the realm of contemporary European affairs so much. But with Brexit in recent memory it is obvious how much economic anxiety and trade frustrations and the impact mass immigration on available resources is shaking things up in Europe causing more nationalism.

I wonder if…to look at this all as universally as I can…and I think my wife was saying something to this effect to me yesterday upon reflecting on a book she is reading— Blaming the Victim– by William Ryan. She mentioned, when discussing the book… thinking about isolated issues as things which could happen to any of us and so trying to examine things in a universal way and what if then…as we look at the issues that economic anxiety is causing in the world…all of this nationalism and such…we have more conversation about how to fight poverty in general? It is a loaded issue, but…I can tie this all back to what I said at the beginning of this vlog— thinking about people as people as opposed to robots we are detached from who are producing the lovely things we buy in life-crushing, undignified conditions, all for an unfair price. I’ll rest my case for the day.

Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 


On Finding My Dream Job Because YOLO (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #16)

How does one determine one’s dream job and why does it matter?

TRANSCRIPT:

Good day, folks! (Yes, I’m playing with my opening line today. Usually it’s just “greetings ladies and gentlemen!” but I want to embrace experimentation)

But moving on: What do you want to be when you grow up?

This question, and my variety of answers through the years (I’m 33 years old now…does that count as “grown up?” Sometimes I think not working one’s “dream job,” or not earning a desirable wage are things that can make one feel less “grown up,” “adult,” “empowered to practice responsible adulthood,” et cetera, as the “grown ups” talk about property taxes they pay on the homes they own, the expenses related to bringing up their children, et cetera. This is all worked in to my confused notion of equating landing your dream job with growing up).

One of the privileges that I believe Americans and other Western countries, along with the wealthier factions of other nations, get to enjoy is aiming for that  “dream job”— conceptualizing such a thing—what is my dream job?

As the strangeness of our still relatively new internet economy continues to shake up the old order of things, that seemed to endure… approximately from after  World War 2, and into the early part of the first decade of the 2000’s, and as a millennial in this changing marketplace, the notion of a job worth putting all of my effort towards capturing has boggled my mind a bit.

For example, intellectually speaking, since I tend to think about and approach questions in what I think is an academic way, I thought seeking a job in academia was entirely logical for me.

With over two years of experience as a writing tutor “under my belt” (as they say) and a lovely 3.98 GPA, graduate academia seemed like simply a natural progression of what I’ve already been doing.

But academia’s prospects, as I’ve scoured Indeed.com and Glassdoor.com, and as I’ve heard insiders speak out on the budgetary bleakness of prospects even for those armed with a PhD under their belts, and as the revolutionary abundance of information and resources for digital productivity available on the internet seem only on the uptick, I’m not sure, as a long term investment, that the depths of academia seem so wise—at least, not for me.

I’ve been troubled over the question of where I’m supposed to look for a “job,” how exactly I’m supposed to look, et cetera.

Obviously, I could render my college education, which I poured my very life and soul into – perhaps to excess?—utterly useless and just dive back into some easy retail position where I won’t make so much money, unless I rise on up into management, but that simply doesn’t interest me.

Ha!

This reminds me of something someone recently said to me: “you young people” he said, “have to be happy” — as opposed to just finding work.

But why not?

YOLO, as they say.

(Do they still say that?)

I do not want to waste my life negating and denying the depths of my soul engaged in activities that mean only a simple means to an end.

If there is a God, which I speculate there is, what an insult to IT, (I don’t call God a he or a she as I think God is neither quite a person or an advocate of sexism) to simply ignore one’s potential, one’s soul, one’s dreams!

Okay then, so what the hell do I want to do with myself?

Perhaps you’ve heard this story of mine. By the time I was 10 years old I thought I wanted to be an actor, screenwriter, movie producer. In the years that followed I idolized Meryl Streep, John  Travolta and Tom Hanks—among other actors. When I was about 13, In the depths of my John Travolta craze ,I fell in love with the unique and romantic style of their Bee Gees and the music they produced for Saturday Night Fever.

(I asked a handful of my coworkers if they had seen it. Most had not. It reminded me of middle school days and how I felt very, very alone in my love for the Bee Gees. Everyone else was into Brittney Spears and Eminem. I could not relate to either. )

But I wanted to do what the Bee Gees did: write songs.

That became my new dream. Of course, I could not sing or play a musical instrument, so I’d just have to be a poet.

Upon my entrance to college, I juggled desires to write novels and poems, and in a fit of cockiness and naivete I dropped out, thinking some how I could “make it” as a poet. And then I wanted to be a philosopher (though  not one who got a university degree). And then I wanted to be a politician. And then I wanted to be a documentarian. And then I wanted to be a political commentator. And then I wanted to do this. And then I wanted to do that.

My point is this: I’ve contemplated so many possible jobs and through the years, struggled to “stick to one.”

Of course…some of you might be able to relate as we now live in what is for some considered a “gig economy.”

Unless you’re relatively young and have a job in the STEM fields, you may likely be forced to learn how to juggle and integrate a number of jobs just to pay your bills. In this context, the swirl of job prospect confusion worth injecting a deep personal investment in seems understandable.

Anyway, so goes the story and context of my contemplations regarding “dream job” over the last few decades.

What about now? Now I have a bachelor’s degree. What do I do? What do I want to do? What do I really want? (And what SHOULD I do?)

Do you think I am a narcissist if I say THIS, HERE, is what I want to do? (Well, people buy Charles Bukowski books…he wrote this way, but he glamorized his misogyny and alcoholism, so I have to believe this could be [ or ought to be] more marketable than that, as I strive to project a more constructive world view…Identifying what I think, and sharing it all in that context?

Talking to you about my thoughts.

I realize not everyone can be what some call a “YouTube Star.”

I’ve plunged myself into research on the question of how vlogs and blogs manage to become widely shared. Some tips WordPress rather ambiguously suggests: be “interesting, important and/or funny.”

Of course what does that mean?

By the way…I’m not funny.

I cannot be funny. I don’t know how.

I may have told you this before but it seems to be a genetic defect. Anytime I make someone laugh it seems to have been pure accident. Moreover, and perhaps this explains it…I don’t really enjoy trying to be funny. Not that I don’t enjoy those who do. It’s a pleasure working with, and socializing with such people. But it’s simply not me.

I have a “serious” disposition. (Maybe we can blame my father? He used to say, when he took my picture, “don’t smile” in a dark, quiet, ominous voice.).

To be clear, it is not as though I’m depressed or depressing or melancholy or incapable of smiling. In fact, I tend to be in a good mood most of the time.

So what do I mean by “serious” anyway? Less so than serious, I suppose, overall I simply just tend not to joke a lot.  More so then…a lack of joking than extreme impersonal “seriousness.” That, and I always tend to be in the depths of my psychological and philosophical evaluations of things—do I agree with workplace policy? If not, that tends to annoy me and I try and conceptualize a better policy.

For example, at the community college where I work: how do they decide how newly admitted students will be placed into their first English or Math classes or if such coursework ought to be required? This is a loaded discussion in itself so I won’t digress, but I have my opinions, and my opinions seize me like air seizes my lungs. (Or should I say, like my lungs seize air).

So perhaps more so than serious, I am extremely “opinionated” and passionate about my opinions. (The opinion page is my favorite page in the newspaper, and for awhile I was an opinion page editor for the College VOICE, so I suppose that much adds up).

Then with respect to the question of what job out there I desire…first and foremost, I want a job where my opinions count.

One of the most miserable aspects of working retail is that my opinions counted for nothing. (In fact I felt as if I counted for nothing since I was paid severely little…I think a whole 10.50 an hour in my prime with a random and inconsistent number of hours per week?)

For example, the customer, they tell you, is always right.

That is far from true. Sometimes the customer is right and sometimes the customer is wrong.

Not that I fail, by the way, to appreciate doing all one can to make one’s customer happy. I do believe in exceptional customer service.

But not at the expense of being insulted, being treated as a robot, not being worth a “hello, how are you” and just turning into a receptacle for the customer’s anxiety to get out of the store as quick as possible and lodge their sometimes irrational complaints at you, maybe because a coupon was expired for example, but they demanded it to be honored anyway.

Meanwhile…they’re on their cellphones treating you as if indeed, you are literally just a transactional machine. I tried to articulate my beliefs in a set up where cashiers could preserve a bit more dignity but…I will give you a perfect example of how little management cared.

A man who used to work for this one place I cashiered, his name was Bob— may he rest in peace now— he was an older man, I think close to his eighties if not already in his eighties, and had given decades of his life to this grocery store company and Bob had some ideas on how the store might improve its operations.

So he wrote it all out in an 8 page letter—that is what he told me—and gave it to the man who owned the stores. The man never so much as acknowledged reading it or even receiving it.

If at all possible, I do not EVER want to work for such an arrogant, disinterested company ever again.

Opinions, if they are backed by facts and logic, ought to at least count for something such as basic respect.

I’m not saying I’d rather be on the streets. We do what we must in this life. But to the degree which we can identify and strive for what we most deeply want— I’m stating as much for the record!

The WordPress article also says to be “important.”

I’m not sure I know how to be important— at least not in your eyes, though I do know at least what’s “important” to me, and in fact, I try to treat that which I view as important with “the utmost importance.” (I’ll give forms of that word a rest now. Ha ha. As I try to be slightly funny. I didn’t say I would succeed but I give myself credit for trying)

That’s why I try to read and take notes on the news every morning. What, of consequence, is occurring in the world? Even when things don’t appear to affect me directly—take the abortion question for example, as I am not a woman and thank God and knock on wood but my wife and I don’t appear to be embedded in a scenario right now where we have to address the question—it affects the society I live in, and I believe the well-being of society impacts the well-being of the individual, even if it is beyond the scope of his or her recognition…unless you choose to be totally oblivious…which by the way… I’ve done before…

I don’t mean to suggest that not having an x amount of knowledge on the news necessarily means someone is oblivious.

That would be unreasonably and rudely presumptuous. Though I would say, getting back to this YOLO issue….

If you only live once, will you make the most of your look at the world…at the universe…will you see it with as much depth and understanding as you can, or will you…cheapen your experience?

Thus, you see, I find a relationship between importance and richness of life experience even if I have not quite figured out how to make myself important and enriching to others, or how to show that I could.