I’m not really sure what to write for this one. I’ve started a bunch of articles but they’ve fizzled out without any real conclusion, so I guess this here is just a journal, there’s no flow or overarching topic.
That’s all this site is, by the way. Any advice or opinion I share is just something dumb I thought up, and is backed with little research or education. The reason I share these things is because I think there’s someone out there who might benefit from them, and that’s enough. Sure there’s some level of narcissism I guess, but I really don’t self-aggrandize that my audience is limitless or that my impact is large. I just hope you enjoy reading this. Moreover, I hope it makes you think about things.
I don’t know who you are. Even if I’ve met you and we talk all the time, at the moment you’re reading this, I am unaware that you’re looking at it. That’s called a parasocial relationship; the one sided relationship you develop with people you’ve never met, like celebrities. The funny thing about social media is that we’re usually engaging in parasocial relationships not just as we seek community or fame, but with our own friends and families. You’ve never seen me inexplicably perusing your drunken party photos, I’m not aware of you going through my back log of twitter jokes. These are things we do anonymously.
There’s a lot evidence that anonymity lends itself to antisocial behavior. People are more likely to bully and troll if it can’t be traced back to them. I wonder if there’s a revolving door to this logic; that being anonymous makes you behave antisocially, because without any recognition you won’t be accepted into a social group and without the ability to be accepted, you behave as someone who can’t have social attachment. It’s just a form of unknown ostracism.
Social media presents a big problem with this; our entire lives are curated online. There are generations of children who will never know what it’s like to not be seen on the internet, to be followed in the virtual sphere, to have to look up something in a book. This isn’t a fuddy duddy, “things ain’t what they used to” sentiment, it’s an observation. We’ve changed, drastically and inherently, the way we communicate with one another, and it’s probably going to be awhile before we work out the kinks in the system.
For now, we’ve created new, unknown layers of attachment via anonymity not only to our favorite celebrities, but to our friends and family. We create a sense of closeness through our distance to one another.
If I haven’t met you, and you send me a message unrelated to comedy, I am most likely going to ignore it. It’s not personal, it can’t be, because I don’t know you. I don’t know what one sided relationship you have established based off of the vague approximation you have of me based off my internet presence. Just reading that sentence is complicated, now go back and think about how that exists in reality between two strangers. The online me, the Kokadrille, is a ghost, a concept that exists inside computers. The real person exists only in real time and never online, except in that I’ve wasted some of that present time there.
Your online self isn’t you, it’s your past, curated and updated to near real time. You could put every dumb extraneous thought you have on twitter as soon as you have them, but your body is still in a café, or with your friends, or watching some incendiary news story. Even if it’s to the minute up to date, it’s not really you, it’s an illustration of what you want the world to see and think of you.
I don’t know what I want the world to think of me, I haven’t figured that out. From the illustration I’ve left, it’s that I go on stage and tell jokes, and that is most definitely a part of myself. There’s also a lot of down time, a lot of things I’ve said that were just plain mean, a lot of false flattery or sincere hero-worship. I have friends that I don’t know how to handle even in our normal, ‘well, we’re here’ moments.
The distinction is what you want people to think of you and what they actually do, I guess. Ideally, you want them to be as congruent as possible, so you practice the dramaturgy of your favorite role, the comedian, the teacher, whichever word you’d like best on your gravestone.
I deal a lot in my personal life with self deprecation and criticism. I do my best not to over extend this less-than-kind over analysis to others, but it happens, and I do my best to keep it to myself or word it carefully. I come off blunt and people have told me that I’m well spoken or smart. Those last two are just byproducts of learning how to hold in a lot of horrible shit because they weren’t valuable to me or the person they were aimed at.
Right now, I’m at home, writing this because I’m determined to have my two articles written for August, as was my goal. Part of me is deciding whether producing something I think is subpar for the sake of meeting the self-imposed ‘deadlines’ is a sacrifice in quality that isn’t an indicator of my work ethic. A different part of me claims that’s a cop out. My brain is floating through all the other things I’ve written, that I want to write, my other projects and the people I’m working on them with, and deciding what is it that I want. I don’t have an answer. Some days I don’t think you get one.
So this month, I didn’t get my answer. I have been fortunate to be doing more shows than I have before, and maybe I’ll be able to post some video of them up for you soon. I’m anxious about doing that. The perfectionist in me forbids anything but the most ideal sound, video, and performance, but reality rarely agrees. I’m still learning. Anyway, having the ability to do that more frequently makes updating this site much harder. That, or maybe I don’t have as many issues to write about as I thought I did. Hell, maybe that’s personal progress.
Like I said, this is a journal. It’s not all grand ideas, philosophy and armchair sociology. Some of it’s just me, clacking on my keyboard and wishing I had a thousand monkeys along side me so we’d at least come up with something. Maybe it’s a lull in creativity. Maybe it’s just how life works. If I were to try and leave you with something to ponder, it’s that we don’t always live up to our own expectations, and whether or not that’s good or bad, it’s temporary.
Who knows, maybe my head will be clearer in September.
When you’re a kid, or at least a suburban kid with some measure of shelter, you’re often raised with such self-esteem focused values of being yourself; that you’re special, that you can be whatever you want. As a developing human, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this gentle cloud of delusion to cushion your exploration of new things. It’s what makes you try violin, karate or art classes. You think you can be whatever you want, so you try to be whatever you want.
Then at some point, which I’m arbitrarily setting at middle school, being who you want takes a bit of a back seat to being liked. You want to fit in, so in a sense, you’re still doing what you want, it’s just that what you want has shifted from being about your own taste to that of other people.
The last, third push, which is arguably some hybrid of the first two, is to be original. Not only should you be yourself in a way that people like, but you should also be original and set yourself apart from everyone else.
That got complicated quickly, didn’t it?
This could simply be a reflection of the development of your self-awareness and awareness of society. By proxy, as you develop one, you inevitably have to become more aware of the involvement with the other. While you, as an individual may not appear to add much to social change, you're upping the statistics in whatever choices you make. But it could also be representative of something deeper, something that we ingrain in our youth in order to make them conform to social pressure. Why, how is the ideal of originality an agent of social control? For one, it gives us idols. It gives us people to rise up as figureheads that others may follow. Controlling the masses isn't as easy as it seems to Bond Villians. You need people that can be identified with to become leaders. Leaders can't appear to be controlled, and by offering the opportunity of that leadership to anyone who can manage to be original, you've made a paradox that tends to make people more complacent as they focus on distinguishing themselves instead of working together.
I don’t think originality warrants the celebration it does. As apex predators, we engage in curiosity and enjoy novelty. As human beings, we have the opportunity to engage in an exchange of information with each other, and perhaps more importantly, offer higher degrees of understanding.
Maybe it's that hunger for novelty that makes us decree originality is the creative equivalent to high cheekbones. We are always looking for something new, so anyone who can offer that new idea is worth propelling forward. Which is understandable, given that novelty became the birthplace for the ideas that landed us on the moon, helped us eradicate smallpox and charmed snakes.
Unfortunately, or at least realistically, most of us aren't going to break that barrier of being original, being the first to do something, myself included. I don’t think that anything that I’ve written on this site has not been said before, at some point in time, by some person. I don’t believe that because there’s trillions of people that are alive and an insane number of people that came before, and while you could cull the numbers by experience, education, and time period, all in all, my life, at some point, has been lived before, at least in part, by someone.
That doesn’t make what I’m doing any less relevant, at least I hope it doesn’t. You didn’t meet any of those other previous incarnations of this personality, you’re not reading what they’ve written. With the internet we have access to more information than ever before, but we also have more of a possibility for information to get lost. And quite honestly, getting lost accounts for far more of the human race than being deified in history. We’re only reaching out to a limited circle, and similarly, there’s only a limited amount that are reaching back. My intent isn’t to be original or unique, because that’s a mathematically intimidating demand. What I hope to do is impart the fraction of wisdom that I’ve accumulated.
I don’t just sit down with my hand on my chin and pull this shit out of the air, either. I get my ideas from people I know, either by observation, conversation, or emulation. I am a collection of things I like about other people. I surround myself with people that I consider to be strong, intelligent, creative, interesting, passionate…and I hope that people who gravitate towards me do so because they want these characteristics for themselves. I hang out with these people because I like who they are, and I like who they make me. We’d all like to believe we’re autonomous and in control of who we are, but I don’t think in reality we can claim that in certainty. You have control over your decisions and how you handle what’s presented to you, but you can’t really claim to have control over how and what affects you, physically or psychologically.
Maybe it’s because I only identify as parts made up from other people that I have a particular resentment towards the idea of ”being yourself”, because you are not some isolated sculpture that is tarnished whenever you come in contact to some other bit of information that changes you. I know this advice is meant to instill the idea that you shouldn’t try so hard to please others, and that you should love yourself because that’s where your true sense of strength is found. Even with that knowledge, I find it hard not to perceive some kind of snobbery at the “unoriginal”, that, particularly as a writer, you should be pushing the envelope.
I can’t necessarily say I disagree with that sentiment either, but I find it flawed. Half of the point of reading other people's stories, or learning how to cover a song or draw pictures based on an artist you like is that doing these things makes you more aware of what you have to offer in contrast to the original. No, they're not original, but making these copies is part of who you are. Don't take that as a pass to plagiarize, by the way; the way things inspire you and the things you emulate are a part of who you are, but they aren't your work. What I'm talking about is you as a brain blood and bone monster, not the ether that you push into the world with your art, whatever that may be.
I think the more capable you are of going with the grain, the more unique you are. If you’re just as comfortable identifying and hanging out with the religious cheerleaders as you are to dropouts from broken families, you’re a more diverse person, which means that you’re more unique than someone who adamantly tries to defy convention by alienating everyone around them. They have one tool in their arsenal, you have an infinite amount. There’s also a somewhat unnerving fallacy that being yourself means that you should stand up for your beliefs even if there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence that you’re wrong.
Of course, this is just my perspective, and I am a malleable and flighty person. Some people could counter that it’s a strong sense of self that leads them away from bad influences and to the right path. I've met people who are pretty much identical to the way they were when I met them, now a decade or so later. I don't know if I consider them unique either; they're adhering to what works for being them, and there's nothing special about self preservation.
Being yourself is such an odd uniform to wear. I don't even know if I could define what my sense of self is. Sociologists call this constant shaping of self based on context dramaturgy. We are a different person to our mothers, loves, best friends or enemies. Is any one of those people that you are more you? Do you have to be completely original in any of those particular context?
Boy ladies and gentlemen, that went nowhere.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.