The one-eyed beast shines upon me from its perch beyond the clouds, its solitary cry ringing within my hollow cranium, the voices of a thousand wailing teenagers echoing like metal in a spinning barrel, endlessly turning and ringing and sounding out across the galaxies of forgotten times, making me crave the simple silence and a swift end.
An end to the intolerable rise of the tides within my temples when I hear the half-arsed murmur of a lacklustre human, a zombie with no will of its own but an undying hunger for pills and processed junk food. An end to the meaningless screeches of the bourgeoisie, trying to fill their fat pockets with breadcrumbs of the pigs that tower above them, resigned to their impotent destiny, powerless to change their own fates.
With a sword I shall end it all, put an end to these soulless ghouls with a satisfying stab through the midriff, muddying my blade in foul mists of coagulated humour. And not the mirthful kind.
Ever deeper I wade into the sea of rotting carcasses, bodies piling up all around me as blurred, unseen faces of ex-people pass left and right, tumble and spill beneath my blade. This never-ending torrent is but a test, a test of wit and will, for the undead can never truly harm me unless I let them, unless I let them inside my mind and let their black greed and pessimism infect my soul.
My fortitude and forebears protect me, allowing me to swing my bastard sword again and again, keeping the enemy at bay. Offense is the best defense, as is oft observed, and by defeating these beasts I am not only protecting myself, but the days of the other living.
And yet these mindless marching zombies do not appear to mean me any harm. They appear to be shambling beyond my bitter frame, despite the harm I am bestowing upon their brethren, lurching towards an unseen ledge like the lemmings of legend that rush over to their doom (it’s a myth, by the way). I begin to question my quest, my bloodthirsty hacking journey. What do they really want? Where are they marching?
Perhaps they are merely following a road laid down for them. Perhaps they are all in my mind…
Who really knows where the roads in our mind will lead us?
It is a contorted, distorted road that I walk, one with more twists and turns than life itself, this weathered imaginary flagstone path that I follow. Much like the foul beings that march all around me, I have been conditioned to follow the path, condemned to stick to the safe passage crafted by those that came before me for all eternity.
But then I realise that within my own mental realm I am free, I am imagine a road of my own, a path less travelled, or many forks snaking away into the abyss that the likes of man (and woman) knows not!
How do I access this lofty world of freedom where I can go wherever I want and be whoever I want to be? Where dreams can be dreams and be truly imaginarily explored and fulfilled?
I must escape the undead hordes, release myself from their grimy clutches, not just on my figurative physical form, but also on my mind. Their mind-numbing march is not my own, their misdirection is their own folly and I choose not to walk the murky, trodden path that their decomposing feet trample.
I must find my own freedom and break free of these ethereal shackles, fiery brands and twisted daggers scorched upon my wrinkled dome. I want to break away, I want to break free.
And I’ve realised running is the best way to free my mind, to free the spirit. Dashing out from between these sedentary lumbering corpses with their guts hanging out of their tattered apparel.
The one-eyed beast watches over me as my feet pound the pavement beneath its gentle light, beneath the towers of stone and sand built by man, beneath a steely sky that glows from within, a fire in its belly that never sleeps.
This morning I was browsing Reddit and came across this 80’s movie called They Live by John Carpenter. Although one would assume it would be a relatively dated film, it contains an age old message that is surprisingly relevant to today’s modern society.
I had never heard of the film up until today, so I suppose this was not some culturally significant or aesthetically outstanding movie, albeit with a slight cult following.
Or maybe people just don’t want to be woke.
There is a famous scene in the film where the protagonist first puts on a pair of sunglasses that allows him to see the subliminal messaging that is prevalent in all our media, with luridly straightforward messages like Obey and Reproduce!
I found it rather apt and timely considering our modern generation still has a screen addiction, albeit a slightly smaller, more compact one. We take comfort in anonymity and virtual validation, find pleasure in mind-numbing experiences through our eyes and ears in the safety of our homes.
And so we should all stay home and remain the obedient, conforming consumers, rendering our service for the good of society and reproducing to continue contributing cogs to the machine.
Do you consider yourself a consumer? A healthy, wholesome consumer?
Aren’t we all? All our lives we are taught to be jolly, obedient consumers, fulfilling our duties and our every need with the necessary stuff, the good things in life. Supporting our local companies and stimulating our national economy and making the world go round.
Well, I don’t want to be a consumer all my life.
I mean, of course part and parcel of living in a humankind society requires interactions of a fiscal nature, requires transactions above the basic social exchanges. There requires an exchange of money and goods and services. A comfy capitalism society.
But what about creating, producing, adding value?
Isn’t that what our jobs are for? Contributing and creating value for society? Let me ask you a simple question: do you feel your job directly contributes to adding value to another person’s life?
In our modern day and age, sometimes that feeling of contributing to our fellow human, to our society becomes blurred in bar charts and graphs, beautiful spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations. We see numbers instead of names, KPI and targets instead of people.
What does that have to do with being a consumer?
Well, when we’re in the mindset of the consumer, we only see what we can get out of someone or something, what’s in it for us. We focus on the boons and benefits and how does this further my goal of a lifelong dream of hedonism and pleasure?
We become laidback and languid, waiting for the world to pander to us, to provide us with sustenance and entertainment at our beck and call. All we have to do is wave our credit cards and phones, and voila – we have it all instantly! Or if it’s not instant, we get mad.
In a way, consumerism promotes self-centeredness and materialism. I mean, that much is obvious, but what about the effects of it on the rest of our outlook on life? Is it the reason we have become so entitled, so self-righteous? Because we believe the adage that the “customer is always right”? Customer, consumer – they’re basically the same thing.
I’m not saying that we should deny all forms of consumerism; I’m just saying we should create more, inject more of ourselves and our gifts and our craft into our lives and our work.
People often lament about their lack of talent or God-given gifts, but I believe that if you look long and hard you will find many things that you can do well or have a knack for, if only you gave it a good hard try. Or maybe two or three.
Deep down we all have a yearning to do something good with our lives, do something noteworthy, something memorable. We yearn to create something or contribute in a meaningful way to the people around us. And perhaps you disagree with me, but that’s alright, because at least you’re thinking. Keep it up!
Do you consider yourself a modern citizen in a modern world?
Enlightened and elevated above the base thoughts and needs of our carnal progenitors? No longer slaves to our lowly instincts and vices and shortfalls of our ancestors?
Were you brought up to believe that you could do anything, achieve anything in life, as long as you put all your heart and soul into it? You could live your childhood dreams, be whoever you choose to be, do what you love for the rest of your life?
And then you wake up twenty years later, groggy, alone, an electronic device dictating your life, your every waking and sleeping moment. Having spent the majority of your life lying on your sides or studying something you were only mildly interested in. And then your basic instincts kick in, creep into the back of your mind – you need to eat, you need to drink, you need to get laid.
Those around you do not see your plight. Day after day your parents and relatives inquire about your marital status, or if you’ve had the good fortune to shack up with someone permanently then when the 贵子 are going to arrive.
Your friends are “moving on” with their lives, most pairing up into units to continue on the evolutionary necessities and satisfy some societal requirement, signing the contract everyone craves, ticking off the big box of life, preparing to tick the next big item.
When will you tick off the big box of life?
Which one, you ask?
Are there that many to choose from?
And so we toil and slave, and if we’re lucky not so hard because our parents or predecessors saved up some for us. And we continue our hunt – our hunt for meaning, for purpose, for life.
We put our hearts and souls into our careers, into creating things of value, of meaning, into keeping our bodies healthy and fit. All by our own choice, our own cleverness, staving away the primal instincts that gnaw at our minds, either from sheer will or fear of rejection.
But at the end of it, we always come back to the same things: continuing on the family name, the bloodline, under the guise of finding happiness, achieving success.
Of course one cannot deny that happiness is intimately tied to interpersonal relationships of some spread or depth, being the deeply social creatures that we are.
But we have overcome that, have we not?
We are intelligent, able to control our urges, our innermost instincts with rational, logical reasoning!
We can overcome widescale devastation, largely initiated by our own hands, but still avert physical crises through reasoning and communication. We avoid nuclear annihilation, natural disasters, global pandemics with the power of logic and science!
And it’s true, we have adapted and conquered and overcome. And in the madness and chaos, we have sought out our clarity; in our desperate isolation, we have learned the meaning of togetherness; in the darkness we have learned to treasure the light.
And yet, as adversity unites us, as we fight illness and loss with logic, we realise that we are but base animals. When all is said and done, it is the same driving force and motivations that drove our forefathers thousands of years ago.
Are we that different from our ancestors? Have we changed?
Is it hardwired into us?
Making babies. Do people still need to do it?
I mean the process is great and all, but is it still necessary in this day and age?
Well, yes of course, otherwise who is going to take over once the elders pass? Who will care for the aging population of our broken world?
Perhaps procreating has been painted in a negative light with all the recent talk of climate change and overpopulation, of unsustainable living and dwindling resources.
While reproduction is evolutionarily obligatory, and to be fair it is the entire purpose of evolution, where exactly do we see ourselves in the evolutionary scale of things?
What is the point of continuing to spawn and evolve exactly? To populate the earth? Colonise beyond our borders, beyond our planet?
For what exactly?
Are we not akin to drops of bacteria in a petri dish full of nutrients? Akin to a virus let loose within a thriving, healthy host? The world is our oyster, and we will take all we can, multiply as far as we can reach.
Until our resources run out? Then let’s find some more!
Is there an end? Should there be an end?
Like a creeper plant stretching its limbs into the sun, across the soil, growing and growing until it reaches the boundaries? And then…going up, and up, like a beanstalk to the sky?
In the end, is it not all just a circlejerk, a fun little game to keep ourselves busy as our cells reproduce and rupture and return to dust?
So shall we get back to making babies?
So let’s talk about babies.
Say we yield to the fundamental cause of our species, of being alive, our supposed purpose and destiny – of making the babies and keeping the wheels turning. Say we decide we’re DTF and churn out a good one, we lock ourselves in with a bundle of joy with no refunds, no takebacksies.
Congratulations! Now what?
I can honestly say that evolution has not been kind to us sapiens. Seriously, how difficult can babies be?
Ask any parent – they’ll be happy to share with you their processes and their experiences of bringing up a child. Yes, I’m sure the whole thing is fun and full of fulfillment and satisfaction and new lessons in life. But it’s a fucking full time job, mate.
Evolution/intelligent design/the one true deity has not been kind to us humankind. Think about it – have you seen a new parent that is well-rested? Then they’ve clearly got lots of help.
Most new parents do not make a good case for having babies. It is a costly, cumbersome, challenging thing to bring up a baby.
From a business perspective, the ROI on these things is astoundingly low. They’re expensive, they’re time-consuming, they’re fragile, they’re high risk. They require a lot of attention, a lot of training; you don’t get to interview them beforehand, and you certainly can’t fire them from the position.
People tell you kids are an investment, a priceless asset. Well okay, what’s the appreciate rate on kids? You have to sink in at least two decades to get these starving sponges up to speed, not to mention countless dollars and sense, all while maintaining a happy facade lest the darn things develop a sour disposition or take on your bad values.
And once they’ve matured, what do you get? Some may pay you back in cash, buy you some nice things, or sometimes just in gratitude. But can they ever actually repay you for all you’ve done for them, all the sacrifices you’ve made?
Perhaps I’m missing the entire point of parenthood. Yes, parenthood is about pouring yourself into your offspring, so that they may have a better life than you ever did, so they can gain grander, greater things, surpassing all you’ve ever achieved. You shouldn’t care about getting anything in return, because the return is seeing them healthy and happy, right?
You will give your all, expend your time and energy, disburse your dividends all to them, because they deserve the very best, right?
Well what about you? Is it selfish to consider, to think about yourself for even one second? Our genes are selfish, are they not?
Oh, so our genes are alright with us giving all without any expectation for anything in return? Unconditional love, as they call it? That was a pretty clever marketing campaign. Generations of filial piety set in stone.
Well, even if our genes are gladsome and full of glee at the prospect of us popping out a few new ones, what about our logical selves? Our thoughts and feelings? Are we really alright with going through physical and social transformation and turmoil just for the privilege of hearing a little genetic mishmash of ourselves squeak out the words “mama” or “dada”?
What about spiritual children? What about having non-genetically related progeny? Pets? People love pets!
I’m not saying we should all get pets and forego having children. I’m just curious if there are people out there who have found a greater purpose in life than spawning children.
Yes, I’m sure creating pieces of art or music, or an app or software that changes our virtual landscape, or a business that benefits billions is a worthy cause, a righteous reason to fight and live on. But can it truly replace that evolutionary call, that urge deep within our souls, to replace something that we can biologically call our own?
Do I have an answer for you?
There are many, many answers out there, and in this day and age there are many voices and stories vying to be heard and adored.
All I have to offer are questions. Simple questions that you and I will have to answer for ourselves.
During this time of lockdown, I’ve come to a realisation: I like being alone.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy human interaction as much as the next person. Well…maybe not nearly as much as the next person.
Sometimes dealing with people drains you and you’d like some peace and quiet for a change, without people demanding things every other second.
The point is I like my own company and being by myself and bouncing thoughts off myself. I like operating on my own time, in my own space, in my own head.
And perhaps on some level, I can’t stand the complications of engaging and catering to the needs of other people. Some days it just feels like everyone just wants something from you. Boy, I sound like a proper sociopath, don’t I?
Does that make me damaged or deranged? Am I defective in some way?
Or am I just a true introvert?
I used to believe I was an extrovert, feeling alive and energised in the presence of others. But now, after a long day out I just feel drained and depleted like a Vespene Gas mine. Now I relish the thought of spending an evening with just me and my earphones and running shoes, my guitar, the night, the silence.
Does that mean I’ll be forever alone? Let’s not get all reductio ad absurdum now. Of course not – I imagine there will still be room for social activities. But my limit for them might be a lot lower. Perhaps there is a natural order of things that gradually reduces our need or yearning for attention and constant interaction.
Or maybe I’ll just end up a crazy cat person.
My tolerance for people’s bovine faecal matter is waning, and I realise that with age and maturity it’s not your tolerance level that grows, but rather the apathy and ability to not care about things that don’t matter. Discerning what matters.
Is there someone out there who won’t drain me and exhaust me? Someone who matches my energy levels or jives with my flow?
I imagine even in relationships, sometimes people need a hiatus from each other, no matter how brief. I was listening to a discussion recently about how sleeping separately is not necessary a bad sign, but rather a mature move by two people who care about each other enough to accept that being well-rested is more important than trying to maintain the image of traditional love and cramming into the same bed.
That concept resonates with me, the thought that being in a committed relationship doesn’t mean that you’re glued to each other at the waist. Sure, some couples can spend every waking moment staring into each other’s eyes, but realistically most people have their own jobs and activities and lives not intimately linked with their romantic relationship. Hell, it’s probably necessary to keep the relationship alive.
I feel a relationship should be two people committed to growing together, but still with room to develop individually. Perhaps the thought of your counterpart potentially changing into different characters as the days go by scares you. Maybe you cling to the relationship to save and redeem you.
But the fact of the matter is, you don’t have control over other people. Only yourself.
As much as you try to gaslight or manipulate others so they feel like they need you and you alone, your insecurities will consume yourself as well as everyone around you.
So give other people the same freedom, the same space that you would wish for yourself.
Everyone needs their own space, and I have found mine.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the inferiority complex, but have you heard of its self-proclaimed bigger brother the superiority complex?
Those familiar with Adlerian psychology will have heard of the superiority complex, but for those of you who haven’t heard I imagine you can take a guess at what the complex is about. There are numerous articles on the topic already, I’m sure.
Now the question is this: is having a superiority complex a problem?
Or is it a pre-requisite to succeed in this fast-paced, widely-connected social media era?
What Superiority Complex?
So what does a superiority complex look like in this modern day and age?
I mean, aren’t we all trying to gain the upper hand in this world one way or another? To climb the ladder of life, to scramble ever upwards in this rat race we call capitalism and the Malaysian/Singaporen/American Dream?
In that sense most of us are trying to become superior in some form, right? And is that wrong?
The superiority complex lies not in what goals we aim for and how we manage our finances; it has to do with how we regard our fellow man (and woman). Because as Adlerian psychology teaches, life is all about interpersonal relationships.
To think of it from a loftier perspective, is not our very human existence all about finding meaning and purpose? And where do we derive this meaning and purpose? Is it not from our interactions with our fellow human beings and other living and inanimate things in our world around us?
If you boil it down, even higher pursuits like religion and science are about guiding and exploring relationships between humans. It is teaching us how to experience life and togetherness and closeness with each other.
So if life is all about us interacting in harmony with one another, then the superiority complex is about regarding oneself as above our fellow man (or woman). It is the mentality that a certain trait or ability or status makes one greater than everyone else, the belief that one is better.
Basically this dude:
To be fair, he does have a good reason to believe he is superior.
Now the problem lies not just in the belief, but the actions that result from believing you are God’s gift to mankind for whatever reason.
Ironically enough, the superiority complex tends to arise as a defense mechanism to help a person cope with feelings on inferiority. And this is not something you develop overnight – it is an ingrained habit of thought. Most people don’t even realise they have it.
Those with superiority complexes aren’t that far off from narcissists, and in times of strife (like during, say a pandemic) they may struggle because they cannot do what they do best – exploit others for their own gain.
You see, those with a superiority complex gain their self-worth and esteem from external sources, relying on others to boost their frail ego. During a pandemic, with limited social contact, they’ll need more than some online affirmation to feel validated.
Oh wait, that’s what social media is for!
Do you think someone might have a superiority complex? Here are a few things to look out for:
They compare themselves to others constantly
They have a strong sense of entitlement
They don’t like it when you don’t act the way they want
They seek validation all the time
They don’t own up to their mistakes
And what does that look like on social media?
There’s a subreddit (on…Reddit) named r/IAmVerySmart where…people try very hard to look smart.
It’s a fun sub.
You’ll notice in the above excerpts there are comparisons using age: one implying that they are an underage precocious genius, and the other implying that kids are not smart.
As the saying goes:
Comparison is the thief of joy.
And yet we all still do it, because we need a benchmark or just want to feel good about ourselves. We all have insecurities, but does that mean we all suffer from a superiority complex?
Where do we draw the line? Our self-worth still has to stem from something, some belief that we are enough or we are capable. Or does it?
Is it possible to have a strong sense of self-worth while not looking down upon others? Not needing to compare and measure yourself against other people, just your past self?
It’s easy identifying this in others, but funnily enough if we have it ourselves, our superiority complexes probably wouldn’t allow us to admit that we have one.
At the end of the day, we all need some form of reassurance that we are good at something or have worth in this world. But when that title or object makes you think that you deserve better than others and that you’re better than other people, then that might be a superiority complex on your shoulders.
When you start treating others as beneath yourself due to their upbringing, race, religion or just because you’re in a better position than them, then you might have a complex.
Let’s get one thing straight: people don’t care about you.
People don’t care if you’ve lost a pint of blood or your intestines are gummed up and fried from chemo; they don’t care about how many levels of hell you’ve been through and how terrible your childhood (or lack thereof) was. They will suck every last drop from your lesioned arteries, drain you dry of your essence without a moment’s hesitation.
They only care about themselves and what’s good for them.
Even if they appear to care about you, they’re really just concerned about what’s in it for them, what they can get out of the exchange at the end of it. Like studies have shown, doing charity and being nice to others gives you a dopamine rush, so it’s win-win!
Or they’re altruistic so their clan or next of kin will benefit and have a better life; they’re thinking one step ahead.
People don’t care about you. At the end of the day, everyone just looks out for themselves, directly or indirectly.
But unfortunately, we humans need one another. We still have to kind of work together to achieve some common goal or sense of bullshit civilisation.
Well, that’s a bummer.
So yes, if you want to get anywhere, you’ve got to hear people out, make them feel like you care about them. Just so you can have your way and live a little easier.
As much as you may try to avoid all human interaction (as many are wont to do this day and age, especially with this delightful thing called the internet), at some point you still have to go collect that parcel from the delivery person or wait for the security guard to scan you in.
So what do you do in a world where no one really cares?
Should you be fake? Should you pretend to care when deep down you just wish everyone would curl up and implode in a bright red ball of chunky splatter?
They only care about themselves and what’s good for them. And so should you.
Well, yeah. Care about yourself first. This isn’t some trick question!
And then if you have the attention and the energy, you can try caring about other people and what they’re doing.
I’ve realised that trying to be super nice and bending over backwards for others doesn’t really get you anywhere. I mean, still be nice and polite by all means, but have the guts to draw the line somewhere.
Don’t be nice and polite just for the sake of being nice and polite. Get something out of the exchange! That’s the secret.
If everyone else is getting dopamine rushes except for yourself, then buddy you’re not playing the game right.
So start caring about yourself first. It’s not a selfish thing, it’s the right thing to do.
Because honestly, nobody cares about you so you might as well start caring for yourself.
I’m reminded of an Avril song. Just change the word “home” to “cares”. Still just as emo.
In this modern day and age, there is a certain phenomenon that is prevalent throughout most if not all human societies. Not that it didn’t happen before, but it feels like it is an increasingly common occurrence today. Perhaps what is concerning is the fact that is becoming more widely accepted. That phenomenon? Living at home with your parents.
First I should clarify – I don’t mean bringing your elderly parents to come and stay with you at your own home in order to provide care for them after you’ve successfully made it on your own. I mean never leaving the nest. I mean the kids who grew up and continued to live with their parents out of choice (be it theirs or the wishes of their parents).
Now perhaps you feel personally attacked. Why would I even suggest that living at home with your parents is concerning?
The trope of that guy living in his parent’s basement comes to mind. You know, the one that plays computer games all the time and has a full beard with last night’s leftovers encrusted within.
For girls living at home with parents isn’t so bad, but they tend to end up with an excessive amount of pets or teddy bears.
Society used to frown upon such things. But not anymore.
Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily.
So why would I imply that living at home with your parents is a matter of concern?
Because I feel that it heavily impedes personal growth.
Living with your parents stunts your development as an independent unit of a person.
Your maturity and emotional and mental well-being stem from your sense of self-worth and confidence in your own abilities. Living at home with your parents indicates some level of dependence, of clinging to the past.
I’m aware there are mature individuals who coexist harmoniously with their parents while developing themselves, but usually those are ones who have spent time apart and due to some circumstances have moved back in with their parents.
I mean let’s face it – to your parents you will always be that clueless, innocent little kid. And on some level, your parents will still treat you as such.
Until you extricate yourself from an environment where you are treated as a minor or an incumbent, you will never truly know if you can stand on your own feet, never know your limits and discover what you would do with your own space.
Staying at home is easy, it’s comfortable, you’re in your comfort zone. As long as you stay in your comfort zone, there is little room for growth because you are not challenging yourself.
Yes, life is already full of challenges, and trying to pay off a home loan or undertaking the stress of monthly rent may be unnecessary if you have more affordable alternatives, but at what cost?
And so we blame it on high rent and property prices, and we hide in the safety of our rooms to avoid the challenges of the world and of facing our fears and our parents. Living the comfortable life.
How long will that last?
What happens when your parents are no longer there? As much as we don’t want to think about it, that day will come.
And then what?
Who’s going to make your meals? Wash your clothes? Pay the bills? Cater to your every need?
Would you rather be forced to fend for yourself? Or would you take that step yourself and push yourself outside your comfort zone, knowing that there is a safety net if all else fails?
Life is full of challenges, so learn to start facing them today.
I empathise with Maroon Bun – it certainly doesn’t feel nice to be left out or uninvited, but perhaps there’s a reason for that?
Complaining that no one invites you to things is basically blaming others for your unpopularity or lack of visibility. If it’s always someone else’s fault, then perhaps it’s time to do some self-reflection.
If nobody invites you to things…maybe you’re just not that fun to be around?
And if you’re going to fish for invites, at least try to be tactful about it?
And heck, if no one invites you to things, then just organise your own things!
In this part of the world, there’s a popular phrase called “bojio”, which basically means “no invite?”.
Considering how viral the phrase is, I imagine a lot of people suffer from bojio syndrome and some form of FOMO.
I wonder if it’s as prevalent of an issue in other parts of the world…