I'm ruminating on this wholly unexpected observation from Robert Eggers about his latest movie 'The Northman': "This sounds super uber-precious, but I think it's hard to do this kind of creative work [directing] in a modern secular society because it becomes all about your ego and yourself. And I am envious — this is the horrible part — I'm envious of medieval craftsmen who are doing the work for God."
For years I have tried to navigate a healthy relationship with social media, with limited success. Though I deleted Twitter from my phone and silenced my Facebook notifications, I became attached to Instagram and was still checking it (and Facebook) many times a day. That changed a week ago after I listened to a podcast on digital minimalism. The podcast didn't just bring up the usual arguments against social media. It presented an attractive vision of focused living. That combination---damning evidence and the beauty of a more fulfilled life---is what finally pushed me to go on a social media fast.
A dialogue between Madame Hohlakov and Elder Zossima in 'The Brothers Karamazov' provides a troubling yet vital portrait of what it means to love others. It is a portrait that flies in the face of the reward systems of social media.
The toxic rage over the abortion debate, where opponents are merely shouting their criticisms and assuming evil intentions without actually listening to each other, reveals a deeper social problem: A contempt for debate itself. And a contempt for debate is ultimately a recipe for the erosion of democracy. Debate is the price of our form of government. If you're not willing to pay it, then don't be surprised when you lose it.
Hundreds of years ago, the English theologian John Wesley wrote a moving commentary on the radical, self-sacrificial love commanded by Jesus Christ. It's remarkable how reading this passage today shows a stark contrast between biblical love and the type of love touted in the shallow memes of social media.
As theologian Don Carson points out, the church does not consist of natural friends; it consists of natural enemies. It is not a social club for dewy-eyed companions but a broken community of individuals who need help. There is therefore a certain sense in which one should *expect* conflict in a church---and to be extremely wary when there is none.
My experience with a recent unconscious bias training left me with a lot of questions. Here I suggest that such trainings could be improved by educating attendees on the more pernicious aspects of our deep-seated desire to belong.
"If the story confirms everything you want to believe about your enemies, pause before clicking that share or retweet button. It might be too bad to be true." This short quote from Collin Hansen of the Gospel Coalition encapsulates how Instagram news stories can prevent us from being sober enough the grim prospects of the war in Ukraine.
Design expert Donald Norman has written that when people are anxious, they narrow their thought processes. Conversely when people are happy, they become more creative and imaginative at solving problems. If this is true, it means that one of the best things a technical writer can do is create beautiful content that moves readers to a happier, more adaptive emotional state. Or so I contend.
Technical writers usually think of their job in functional terms: to help end users know or do something. Creating beautiful content is typically not seen as a core part of the equation. But what if technical writers thought of themselves as artists whose aim is to create a thing of beauty? Isn't that, in the end, what makes for a good user experience?