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 Globalism & a Cosmopolitan, Secular, One State Solution for Israel & Palestine (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #15)

TRANSCRIPT:

So, yesterday the New York Times reported that the Trump administration announced they’re going to hold an “economic workshop” in Bahrain hoping that their contribution to an improved Palestinian economy will lead to a friendlier approach to Israel. Meanwhile, the Trump administration appears to lean towards a pro-Israel one-state solution, as President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is on record saying “let’s just not say” ‘two states’ (God forbid– and no pun intended)

This unreasonableness here, and the bias is blatant.  Not that I’m in love with a so called “two state solution.” I have many reservations about this. But my opposition to a “two state solution” is of the unconventional sort.

I do understand a case for cynicism that Israel and the Palestinians could ever live in a secular and cosmopolitan democracy. The recent violence in Gaza– the worst breakout of violence in 5 years, as has been widely reported– is ample proof that both sides of this conflict are deep in the thickness of zealous, indignant nationalism.

But that is the root of the problem– nationalism! Thus, a two state solution is at best a temporary band aid– a cheap one, ready to fall off the first time you wash your hands at that–  since it does not address this notion that the Israelis and Palestinians simply can’t co-exist as people beyond ethnicity, beyond “nation,” beyond race, and beyond religion, in a spirit of tolerance and real representative democracy.

Still, that being said, if there is to be a “Jewish” Israeli state, I think it would only be fair that there be a Palestinian state. But I must reiterate, logically, this is not a good long term plan!

And frankly, this whole “nationalism” thing is becoming a real serious global problem which the Trump administration is only adding to. I believe we need to start re-examining a cosmopolitan and globalist philosophy.

Just like states in a union can be “laboratories for democracy” as the expression goes– why can’t countries be seen as such ultimately? We’re all humans and our anxieties over resources will only get more complicated.

And what does that look like?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the media industry, and even education and academia, and what the internet means for it in the longer term as things have been evolving over the last decade or so. For example, what does it mean now that podcasts and smaller internet media organizations, whether through social media or cheap apps are emerging? With the means for them to develop getting cheaper and their willingness to produce without making much money persisting, more and more people are gaining access to information for free.

There are a lot of benefits to this—more people are self actualizing, expressing themselves, developing the sophistication of their productivity, but media and academia as we know it are also, it seems, hemorrhaging.

No, I’m not worried about Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Comcast, NBC, or Netflix overall. But there is a massive economic shakeup going on. And it’s not just the way information and technology are shaking up academia and the media.

And how does China’s Huawei innovation of a 5G network play into this? Frankly, considering how we know they don’t believe in free speech, and imprison millions of Uighurs in the North Western Province of China— Xinjiang for being Muslims … as they buy more cellphone parts from US companies — could they manage to shake up so called American values in such a way that those benefiting from Chinese subsidized technology ultimately choose to preserve their way of life — I mean their money and business regardless of  any bad intentions China might have with the use of its marvelous technology? Don’t doubt it…we’ve seen how money and power corrupted a nationalistic Trump coalition GOP.

What’s my point? Wouldn’t Chinese influence over a nationalistic U.S. agenda lead to more globalism? Would it? Or could it lead to complex cyber conflicts playing on our economic anxieties, and vulnerabilities exacerbated by competing nationalistic drives?  

It’s one thing to talk about nationalism versus globalism in the abstract. That will only get us so far. We need to be more assertive and start talking about anti-nationalistic policies, like calling for more aggressive cooperation between the Palestinians and the Israelis with the end game ultimately being a secular, cosmopolitan one state solution.

On marketing (part 1: anxiety), free thought (part 2), and free trade

Listen to the podcast

or watch the video

My incompetence thus far in self marketing, the development of my understanding in the value of free thought, and a look at the debate over free trade and protectionism in the realm of trade policy.

IN THIS EPISODE:

When it comes to self marketing (as opposed to political marketing, or marketing for an employer), anxiety and a complicated array of thoughts, at times, stifle me.

I have a fear of annoying people with my requests for their time, feedback, money and/or endorsement, most of all because I understand many of us are quite busy and bombarded with other people asking for our time, feedback, money and endorsements.

Also, I often think of how money can corrupt.

Money doesn’t talk, it swears

obscenity, who really cares?

Propaganda, all is phony…

-Bob Dylan

I wonder: am I corrupted, in my self-marketing by an unreasonable desire for money, attention, praise, undeserved self advancement, narcissism, et cetera? (I certainly believe in my early twenties I suffered from slight narcissistic tendencies, though as a defense mechanism since I suffered from severe anxiety, depression, and self esteem challenges. That is to say, I desired undeserved praise, attention, and introspected just for the sake of gaining awareness of my own thoughts as existing things, not for the sake of understanding and vetting them!).

I also think of other examples where money seems to blatantly corrupt individuals, companies, corporations, politicians, et cetera—(Weapon producers/dealers, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, oil/energy companies).

Those insecurities aside, obviously we need resources to live and also it is reasonable to stand up for the products/services we believe in, whether we are advocate consumers, or involved in the product(s)/service(s) ourselves. After all, why should something one offers, when it is of value, linger in vain?

That, I believe, would be unethical.

So I tie my sense of self marketing to the moral convictions motivating those aspects of myself I “market.”

So what do I say then, is the moral marketability of my shared “free thoughts?”

Frankly, I question how much genuinely “free” thought is truly “out there” when you consider not just profit concerns/ popularity concerns and how that could inject bias into shared thoughts but also how people (I have done it myself. Example: when I was obsessed with Ayn Rand) can slip into dogmas. Even postmodernism can become a dogmatic blinder, as opposed to mere healthy skepticism and independence.

On a separate note, I want to initiate a conversation about trade policy.

There are two articles I recommend. One by the Economist and one by Foreign Policy. The latter addresses the politics versus the economics of free trade, as well as policy options with respect to how we might want to deal with the inevitable harm to certain job holders that free trade results in: Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) which serves like compensation specifically for those adversely affected.

Tell me what you think. Email me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter at
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment

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

#4 Balance in Life; Globalism; Economic Anxiety

Greetings! Today, I look beyond politics (though not quite away from it… [can I ever, really?])… to speak with you as honestly and intimately as I can about what it means to me to find a balance between practicality/responsibility and also seeking self-fulfillment/self actualization. In other words, I am thinking a lot about what my “sense of purpose” is…how to be the “change [I ]want to see in the world.

My mother has liked to say in the past that she believes I have the “gift of gab.” I like to talk. That is the whole reason behind why I write in fact. Though one frustration I find with my writing is, as a result severe perfectionism, it takes me a long time to finish writing projects, so extemporaneous speaking enables me to try and balance a sense of trying to speak constructively without spending many, many months just to say one thing.

Also in this blog, I talk about immigration, the violence between Hamas and Israel, globalism versus nationalism, and I reflect on our changing economy.