On the War in Afghanistan & Ethical, Courteous Marketing (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #22)

Children killed in war. And not just that day. But the day before and throughout the week. Such a thing should not be. I am not a Utopian but…in a world where we can do so many complex things with tiny “Smart” phones, is it not mind boggling that we cannot at least stop children from dying in war?

And are we even winning this war?

TRANSCRIPT:

Happy Memorial Day to y’all. But actually isn’t it inappropriate to say “happy Memorial day” about a day that is in fact…about something inherently sad…reflecting on our extremely courageous ladies and gentlemen who lost their lives as part of their service in our military? A very sad day it is indeed…to acknowledge that there should ever be such a thing as war…that political entities at times go so mad that the only way to address the madness is through fighting.

We are still fighting in Afghanistan- 18 years- the longest war our nation has ever fought, if we exclude our battles with Native Americans. And maybe we shouldn’t.

And how much coverage does the war in Afghanistan get in the news? How many people remember throughout each day that we are still in fact…fighting a war. I want to let that awful word sink in.

War.

Aside from ensuring quality healthcare access to all, and removing President Trump from office from his plethora of crimes and abuses of power and of the office of the presidency, should we not consider finding a proper way to end the war in Afghanistan a political priority? Why does it not get treated as such?

If it does get treated such…I must tell you, I haven’t heard of it and I need you to show me by who.

I want to spend a few minutes talking about this  out of respect to those who have fought there, who have lost their lives there, who have lost their loved ones there, who are without their loved ones today in one respect or another because of this war.

I really think it is important to remind ourselves today our nation remains in this war with insufficient talk of bringing it to an end.

I just found out today while researching a little about updates on the war that the New York Times keeps a “Afghan War Casualty Report.” I need to start reading this more. The report states that:

[on]  May 22 Ghazni Province: two security forces and two civilians killed. Two children and two members of the security forces were killed and 12 people, seven civilians and five members of the security forces, were wounded, when a Humvee laden with explosives was hit by a rocket before reaching its target in Ghazni City. Four suicide attackers inside the Humvee were also killed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.”

Children. Children killed in war. And not just that day. But the day before and throughout the week. Such a thing should not be. I am not a Utopian but…in a world where we can do so many complex things with tiny “Smart” phones, is it not mind boggling that we cannot at least stop children from dying in war?

And are we even winning this war?

There was a sobering article published last week– May 21– the headline reads: “Attacks on Girls’ Schools on the Rise.”

The article mentions how:

on two successive nights, armed men on motorcycles set fire to two girls’ schools just outside Farah city, the provincial capital. Both were badly damaged and the teaching materials inside were destroyed, ending classes indefinitely for nearly 1,700 girls.

Now, between destroyed school records and traumatized girls, their education has been severely disrupted. While some within the Taliban claim to condemn this, others don’t. And while we are in the midst of so called “peace talks” what does real peace in Afghanistan look like?

I remember Ashley and I watching an episode of Madam Secretary which depicted an agreement whereby the U.S. supported Afghan government accepted a deal with the Taliban– that the Taliban would agree to a Democracy if no women were allowed to have seats in the legislature, raising the fundamental question– is such a compromise an acceptable one? I was enraged by that episode. I understand that international politics is complex and severe in its difficulties but I don’t think democracy as such is enough of a fundamental political principle for a polity to develop itself upon. I think the Weimar Republic is astounding proof of that.

It’s really a strange time for democracy isn’t it?

How can we even pressure the Taliban to surrender to a certain kind of democracy when ours is so divided, being put to the test by President Trump and his gang of obstructionist Republicans who seem hellbent on accountability from the executive branch…who seem to have surrendered their oversight responsibilities now that Hillary Clinton isn’t being investigated for her failures in Benghazi anymore.

Not only does it sadden me to see the war in Afghanistan linger into its 18th year on this memorial day, but that our commander in chief is so fundamentally corrupt…this does not give me so much confidence in what may come of our efforts in Afghanistan.

I do however, have tremendous confidence in our ladies and gentlemen in our military and want to again reiterate my gratitude and I want to say…I can’t wait until we get you all home with your loved ones.

Something else I’ve been to other than lamenting our situation in Afghanistan this memorial day is trying to improve my marketing skills.

Article after article on marketing, YouTube vlog promotion and such insists on emailing people about your vlog.

I find this nerve racking, imagining how busy people might be, and feeling like just one small voice in the wilderness of voices competing for five minutes of your time or my time. But, like snake skin, my insecurities are shedding because I do believe sharing is paramount to worthwhile relationships.

Healthy relationships.

Telling each other “Hey!Here is what I’m up to! And what are you up to? Let’s trade stories and feedback!” I vow to no longer feel ashamed of this mentality. Afterall, attitudes should be encouraging and constructive, not discouraging and destructive, right?

Why did I feel ashamed of sharing my thoughts? As I’ve mentioned before part of it has to do with how I used to view myself as incompetent. But also, sometimes I can get these day mares of people thinking I’m a vain narcissist, thinking “Who the hell does this O’Connor Cat think he is for supposing his little contemplations are worth my time? It’s not like he’s going to make me rich, powerful or healthier. This O’Connor guy is obsessed with himself!” I don’t want to be perceived as obsessed with myself. Because I’m not.

I am obsessed with “thoughts” though and as I mentioned yesterday, preserving them, polishing them, and sharing them which someone’s got to do if we truly value them…these pieces of our “selves,” our souls…so for me to treat this as vain narcissism is…illogical…inaccurate…and so I can begin to feel more confidence about it and indulge more in the fun of it.

Of course, there is such a thing as excessive interest in the self… that would be narcissistic vanity…when you allowing it to cloud your concern for the “world around you,” like president Trump does. (Not sure how it doesn’t occur to him that when literally everything must be about him being the biggest, the greatest, the most, of this or that…I mean…it’s like this obvious con-artist formula BS thing…does he know how obvious his nonsense appears to the world? Or does he and just not care? Which is the more disturbing prospect?

Where did I develop a fear of being a narcissist?

As a kid and teen and young adult I had a dislike for cockiness in general… people who seemed only to think of themselves as infallible (again, president Trump serves as a most unfortunate example) and the only one whose endeavors are worth discussing.

As a kid also I always tried so hard to be “nice.”

One teacher joked of her shock when I talked a lot on class and called me a goody-two-shoe. I got sick at some point of thinking about myself in such terms and worried that “nice guys finish last” (to use that cliche phrase) and I grew aware of the importance of self confidence- self esteem, positive thinking.

As a result I really began forcing myself to believe I could do anything… which led to an inflated ego.

And during my Ayn Rand phase…i guess roughly 2011-2014 or so… I thought I was a genius of philosophy and that I could come up with an answer for anything and alas… I became quite the pathetic elitist.

I remember once refusing to attend a Christmas party because I was not a Christian and didn’t want to corrupt my integrity by associating with people who hold a belief I thought was so “wrong”…I didn’t want my attendance at the party to somehow suggest to them I condoned their religious beliefs. I was elitist, snobbish, pretentious, cocky, anti-social and isolationist.

I also recall the brief time Ashley and I spent in California, when I told someone I think I was going to save the world with my philosophy…I mean…as if I really did know everything about the universe somehow.

And I had this belief that we were all “Goddesses and Gods” with karmic thought powers that were responsible for the co-creation of the physical laws of the universe.

Now I don’t think that way. I still don’t subscribe to a religion but I deeply cherish the freedom to think what one wants as long as one values human life and other people’s’ freedoms to believe as they wish.

So…I really have been reading up as much as possible on marketing and self promotion lately.

Last night I was up till about 12:30 am reading– probably the latest I’ve been up since the winter when I had some time off from work the Tutoring Center. You see…I’m determined to improve my marketing skills!

I want to not just because I want my vlog to be successful, but because I really do care about my political activism as well and want to be effective on that front. Moreover, I think that marketing/self-promotion is just a reality of social life and a crucial element of self-confidence.

Not that our conversations need to be myopically fixated only on our business endeavors so to speak but I suppose one of my themes for today is–and I think this is also a continuation from yesterday’s points I made about actually enjoying commercials and ads– our businesses are so much a part of who we are–the fantasies of our minds in the process of fruition.

To that end though, I’m also determined to become knowledgeable and practiced in theory of ethical and courteous marketing and integration of business into social interactions, whether the marketed item is political, technological, artistic, academic, financial or otherwise.That is to say, I want to present myself in the most palatable but yet honest way I can. I do believe one can be both. I do not believe one has to choose between bluntness and diplomacy.

So what have I learned and employed from my research on Marketing? (Thus far, backlinko.com has been quite informative)

Well, one example would be the alteration of my YouTube layout. It comes pretty widely recommended that we make some of our playlists horizontal and others vertical as to stand out from those YouTube channels where the creator is a little less invested. I also learned to write 1-3 sentence introductions in my video summaries followed by  descriptions of my channel. Something else I read said that thumbnail text should be blue, green, orange, or yellow. So I’ve also been making new thumbnail texts to that end.

Something is going right because now when I search “vlog” and “public comment” some of my videos are showing up on the top 10 search listings.


The first time I ever found my own work on top any list of any online search. This is what I found when I searched the keyword “vlog.” Screenshot taken 5/27/19
This is what I found when I searched the keyword “public comment.” Screenshot taken 5/27/19

This is really quite shocking and unbelievable to me honestly as I feel I’ve failed so much in life, from self publishing a book to my runs for political office to my pursuit of a teaching assistantship. Anyway..that doesn’t even matter anymore. I feel so free from all of that. So beyond it…so purely and solely interested merely in….talking to you.

It really is amazing how permitting myself freedom of thought is revolutionizing my sense of self. I just can’t begin to tell you. Lately I feel so…cleaned up…so remade…so new…so fresh…so reborn…

Part of it, I imagine, no doubt, is my anti-anxiety medication but I mean…more so in the long term because even when the medication first kicked in, even as my doctors increased the dosage…this feeling I’ve had…really since I began this vlog…it’s one of the most exceptional feelings I ever had. I think only the feeling of being with my wife brings out of me a better and more purifying, clean kind of feeling.

I suppose another element is no longer having the burden of homework assignments. My mind has finally been freed up do contemplate more extensively based on its own interests as opposed to being compelled to do this and that and that and this that way and this way for professors. Not that that was a bad thing. It made me who I am now and taught me how to think critically and work harder than I ever had before. Still…it’s nice to have more time to think on my own without worrying about some assignment due in three hours. Also…to be free of whether or not some graduate school program is going to like me…I was really fixated on that. I forget if I mentioned that to you in an earlier video.

But I wasted a lot of time….a lot of mental energy, having anxiety attacks over whether or not I’d amount to something by getting a teaching assistantship at a graduate school. Now…while I have nothing but adoration for the concept of academia…I’m not sure that’s where the most constructive community is anymore. I think social media is redefining our concepts of constructive community building.

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 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