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Death has been very much on my mind recently.  I almost lost my father in a very bad motorcycle accident last year, and am lucky to have a father today.  I also purchased a motorcycle last year, prior to his accident.  It has been in storage for the winter.  The thoughts of death, time, and purpose have not.

I lie awake at night, losing sleeping, contemplating the eternal void waiting for me at any moment.  I’m an atheist, I don’t believe there is an afterlife waiting for us when our time ends.  In fact, I think that merely believing in an afterlife fundamentally devalues the time we have alive.  After all, how precious can our time among the living really be, if our death results in more life.  This life, this time, is all we have.  It is all we are.  It is the most precious thing in the world.

I’ve been lying awake contemplating the risks I take riding my motorcycle.  The effect I could have on the people in my life for what is effectively an adrenaline boost, an intangible “feeling” of freedom.  I would be lying to say that riding a motorcycle does not fundamentally scare me, even though I have chosen to mount the bike time and time again.  In fact, it is exactly that respect for the risk that makes the ride so much more personally rewarding.  But is it worth the risk?  Does riding mean so much to me that it trumps the feeling of responsibility I have for the people I care about?

I watched my family wonder whether my father would come out of his next operation alive.  Whether he’d wake up.  Whether he’d lose his leg or not.  Whether he’d have brain damage.  We all had our moments of grief.  What really slapped me across the face was the reality of how temporary life truly is.  There was a sudden influx of guilt for wasting time, and a resurgence of a crushing lack of “purpose” or “place” in the world.

I feel, at some level, that I have an internal drive to serve, if not the world, my community.  That I have some duty to the people who have gone before me to see that the next generation has it better.  Which is almost nonsensical, because I lack all feeling of community.  I have isolated myself for as long as I can remember.

I have never truly felt as if I belonged somewhere – never in school, never in the navy, never among the artistic types.  I hesitate to say I feel nomadic, but it is at least mildly accurate.  The one exception is family.  It frustrates me that I’ve been separated from my family for nearly 10 years.  Even in my personal relationships, isolation has been a theme.  I have been separated from my fiancee for the past 4 years, simply because we’ve decided my degree is that important.  The feeling of time lost, of time that could have been spent building a life with the person I love, instead of getting a piece of paper society has decided is required… it rings in my head, and it’s deafening.

I feel as if I’ve been off chasing some goal I’m not sure really exists, wasting time I could be spending developing a sense of community, serving the people I care about, and bettering the lives of others.  I have often warned people that doing things just because “that’s how it’s done” is a bullshit reason to do them, but here I am realizing I’ve only been saying “do as i say, not as i do” yet again.

Why did I join the navy?  Why am I bothering with my degree?  Why do I work for who I work for, why do I do what I do?  What should I do with my life?  Who is really part of my life?  Why does any of this matter, if it only matters to me?  Have I forsaken what community I do feel I belong to in exchange for money and personal freedom?  Is that bad?  Does good or bad even matter in this conversation?  Do these questions even have answers other than “I dunno, I just bumbled along and here I am”?

Maybe it’s the feeling that, as I approach my 30’s, that I’ve wasted nearly a 1/3 of my precious time on this planet.  But that’s not true, what experiences I have had, I’ve enjoyed.  I feel, generally speaking, “fulfilled”.  I’ve carved out success in my career, and am reasonably well educated.  I have more resources to me than a majority of people on earth.  No, not just a majority, more than 99% of people on earth.  Just in terms of money, I could be considered in the top .2% of the entire world.

It would be insulting to billions of people to suggest my privileged, successful life has somehow been a waste.  It hasn’t.  Every moment of it has been a privilege.  A privilege I still don’t fully grasp.

I was recently lucky enough to attend an acting class with a coach I had worked with years prior (I stopped attending because I moved away).  This sudden wave of belonging came over me.  It may have been a moment of nostalgia, of longing for a time when I was so busy, and so full of myself – but, I don’t think so.  In discussing, critiquing, and asking questions about the scenes presented, there was a moment of community I only experience when I’m with my fiancee, or my family.

I never particularly cared to work in the industry.  What I loved was this collective creation of not just art, but actors.  It was the experience of watching people, over the course of years, become fuller – myself included.  Why should I not throw all my time at that?  Why not fly towards a place I feel I belong?

Life’s never really that simple, though, is it.  Family is on the east coast, and Ohana on the west.  Money may not buy happiness, but it sure as shit buys comfort.  Life rushes in, reality takes over.  Giving up a cushy, well-paying job to spend more time acting feels as foolish as riding a motorcycle despite the dangers.

But Death doesn’t care, and he’s inching his way closer with every tick of the clock.  What’s really important?

How do I spend my precious time?  Which opportunities do I take at the expense of others?  Which communities do I forsake to be with others?

Tick tock tick tock.  Make a decision and live with it.

I’m a little torn by this.

The only problem i have with this, on its face, is that it smells a little too much like a anti-tech solution, where someone would be teaching kids that technology is bad/worse than doing something “in real life”. That type of attitude will ultimately hurt a kid just as much, because you’re not exposing them to, essentially, a serious reality of society: Much of the work we do now is computer based.

Something like programming is a wonderful skill to have, and it’s applications lend itself perfectly to teaching a topic like math and even story telling (at the same time!). It shouldn’t be seen as a black-magic activity, when you can teach kids to create something like a game (which needs a story, artwork, and programming).

I mostly agree that there’s no reason for kids to have iphones, ipads, or completely unfettered internet access. If they’re using it to actually *do* something, then fine, but dicking around on the computer for hours on end reading reddit is worthless (I say this having spent most of my free time online in high school).

But, all that said, I also think there’s a major generational gap here. I grew up talking to and conversing with people on the internet. Actively participating in forums (which are more like facebook comment streams than email) is a wonderful way to express your own opinions, become exposed to the opinions of others, and have the freedom to explore and develop a curiosity for many things.

I spent countless hours writing stories, drawing art, developing games, playing games with other people, learning about how economies work in online games, learning to write programs and solve problems. Shit, i learned more about economics from a video game than I ever did in school (SAD). None of this was limited by my parents, and they would probably have been terrified to know I was actively working with other people online (we’ll call it “Everyone online is actually a 40 year old dude who wants to rape you” syndrome).

But, the fact of the matter is, while I was hurt by it in some regard (social development), it also allowed me to flourish and develop my own form of creativity. It provided me a safe haven from being a social outcast/bullying, and when all you have on the internet to look at is words you really start to understand how equal everyone really is.

I think there’s something to this, but it casts technology in a somewhat evil light, which I find to be silly. Every child’s needs are different, and every child’s interests are going to be different. For some kids waldorf may be excellent. For others, maybe not.

If a kid immediately takes to computers, and has a passion for it, and you take that away saying it’s bad… how is that any different than recognizing your child has an innate passion for music and taking away their flute?

In 2008, a pair of internet journalists had an interesting disagreement about how the internet has changed the way our minds work. In “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, Nicholas Carr suggests that an over-abundance of information is transforming our society into a cohort of shallow information skimmers. In a rebuttal titled “Why Abundance is Good: A Reply to Nick Carr”, Clay Shirky disagrees, discrediting Carr by pointing out his nostalgia and Luddism. As a recovering internet addict myself, I take exception with Carr’s characterization of the problem. While I identify with Shirky’s overall stance, I believe he didn’t say what needed to be said: Carr sounds like an alcoholic blaming the drink for his problems.

Carr tries to frame his loss of concentration as a symptom of extensive net usage, blaming the medium for turning him into a husk of the reader he once was. He laments his new inability to sit and read long articles and books, even saddened by missing out on the infamous War and Peace. He recalls colleagues telling him of changed reading habits, and even quotes Plato’s argument against the use of written word. Despite blaming the internet for this change in brain mechanics, the only clear fact he presents is a longing for the “good ol’ days” of reading, and Shirkey takes exception to this.

Shirkey, however, spends a majority of his article criticizing Carr’s opinion personally, stopping just shy of calling him a grumpy old man telling kids how it was “in my day…”. He does take a moment to say, on the more progressive side of the issue, he rejects the idea that the medium itself is at fault. He rebukes Carr’s usage of War and Peace as an example of the public’s inability to ingest long texts by claiming “the reading public has increasingly decided… [it] isn’t actually worth the time it takes to read”. He closes by saying the internet (as a medium) needs time to show us its true genius, in much the same way the printing press changed the world over the course of decades and centuries.

Shirkey, apparently too offended by Carr’s condescension to fully articulate what he believes, suggests we simply have to learn to use it better. He notes the difficulty of the issue because the medium has yet to reach maturity. Building on Shirkey’s opinion, I suggest that society has failed to assess itself and teach appropriate net usage. Hindering Carr’s ability to concentrate is a symptom, but Carr is ultimately responsible for no longer being able to read his beloved War and Peace.

Carr certainly has a point in suggesting the structure of online text affects the way we ingest information, but he misappropriates blame onto the medium itself. He claims hyperlinks, placed mid-article, propel readers toward other sources. In doing so, he says, they also rob the subject of their concentration. Consequently, this line of reasoning also absolves the reader of any responsibility for their own habits (which is clearly Carr’s way of saying “it’s not my fault!”).

It’s easy to suggest that the net itself is reshaping the way we think and read; everything we do changes us. Carr points out a study by British Library1 that shows internet readers have a tendency to exhibit skimming-like behaviors. Still undecided, however, is what the overall cause is, or what we can do to counteract that tendency and teach ourselves how to harness such a powerful corpus. To clarify this, let’s explore the problem within a new context: alcohol use and alcoholism.

As we all know, alcoholism is a real problem with a long, long list of causes, problems, and potential treatments. One thing we’re sure of is that prevention is infinitely more effective than treatment at improving any given person’s life. If we prevent an alcohol user from crossing the line into a problem, then we never have to treat anything. To frame how this relates to our conversation about net usage, we only have to ask one simple question: if Carr’s symptoms are indicative of irresponsible internet use, then is the solution to treat people who have the problem or to educate society before it becomes pandemic? (Trick question, we should do both!)

To elaborate, as research has shown2, educating children about the consequences (symptoms) of alcohol abuse at an age when they are at highest risk has proven effective in preventing abuse from occurring later in life (to some extent). Likewise, educating recovering alcoholics on the signs of relapse can help prevent a relapse. In both cases, success hinges on how well we can teach these people to self-assess their situation and how well they can make changes to correct it. If we, as a society, can recognize that abundant net usage has negative consequences, as Carr suggests, then the solution is education, not abstinence (or worse, prohibition).

Howard Rheingold suggests just that in his book Net Smart, asserting that doing something as simple as introducing a modicum of mindfulness into our net-use habits can go a long way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Rheingold spends nearly a fifth of his book talking about attention and how the net (and always-on media) has changed our daily lives. He recalls an interaction with his daughter, wherein she hardly looks away from her phone to greet him as he picked her up at the airport. In this case he points out how our focus of attention has changed dramatically, but he also asserts that our browsing habits also have an effect on how well we can formulate deep meaningful thought. He, like Shirkey, also believes it is not the medium itself that has forced this change upon us, but our own self-indulgence that has created an atmosphere of acceptable shallowness.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “If this is so prevalent, why do I feel relatively unaffected by this so-called pandemic?” Well, it very likely differs depending on what generation you belong to. To put it simply, the average 15-27 year old has nothing to compare their behavior to. Unlike those born before the age of the all-powerful internet, always-on media has always been there. For the generations before us, it’s probably surprising to find research online turned into an everyman-everyday activity. Interestingly, however, the symptoms of over-exposure to the net are relatively similar regardless of generation.

I can relate to Carr, I’m the shining example of a recovering net-addict. Since the peak of my “Internetism”, how I interact with the net has changed drastically over the past half-decade. At 20 years old, I was about as motivated to read a book as a 13 year old boy being told to read A Tale of Two Cities while staring at an XBOX (actually that’s not too far off). I would agree with Carr, asserting the problem was caused by over-exposure to internet media, online forums, and attention grabbers like facebook. My habits began to turn around while studying at an acting studio. Scott Rogers3, my coach, suggested a simple attention adjustment exercise: no TV for one month. During that month (unsurprisingly), my concentration, attention to detail, and all-around personal accomplishment skyrocketed. Since that exercise, I have cut cable service, started reading books regularly, and most importantly started metering how (and how much) I use the internet. I’m unsure that it’s purely a result of less net usage, but it was certainly part of my solution.

If the “No TV” approach sounds drastic to you, there are small steps you can take right now to adjust your concentration. When facing an article filled with mid-text URLs (usually citations), open the URL in a separate tab and return to it after reading the article. Two things might surprise you. First, authors often take the time to summarize the article anyway, and you will (usually) decide not to read it. Secondly, you will have obtained a better grasp of the author’s opinion, and potentially formulated an opinion or your own, prior to reading further. That’s what Carr suggests is disappearing.

Although I easily identify with Carr’s experience, it’s likely that Shirkey’s analysis of the overall situation is correct. I was able to reverse the process of diminished attention through years of study in areas that require ingesting long texts, analyzing complex information, and formulating opinions through sustained deep thought. These are all abilities Carr laments losing. If it was simply exposure to the medium itself that caused issues, I would still be an addict.

Varying types and severities of net-addiction have cultivated Carr’s society of skimmers. This isn’t the internet’s fault for merely existing. This doesn’t mean the internet is bad for us, or that being on the computer 8 hours a day is a problem. If we teach our society responsible net usage, maybe we’ll see less “Internetism” in the future. At the very least we’ll be a little more conscientious of our use.


I don’t have a date for these entries, but I remember doing all the prep and imagination work about a full year and a half before I ever did the scene.  Things fell through will my partner and I never got to do it originally.  It resurfaced a year later when I wanted to do a scene with Julia Levanne.  She was magnificent in it, and we had quite a blast.  If I remember correctly, the only note Scott gave me was “I wish you would have just sat down and stayed there”.

Background:  Chris Keller returns from World War II (after seeing some real shit, let me tell you), and calls for his (dead) brother Larry’s girlfriend to the house to ask for her hand in marriage.  Long story short: it’s been years since Larry died, Ann moved on, fell for Chris.  In this specific scene, Chris finally grows a pair an kisses Ann, but not before recalling a particularly sad story about the men he served with.

For my imagination work, I wrote up a bunch of backstories to the people he served with, and a short passage regarding how the firefight started.  I’ll probably post them (with revisions) over the course of the next few weeks or so.


Private Martin

I took my family for granted.  They were as much my brothers as they were soldiers.  They sacrificed everything for me.  ME.  Now I’m here, living, reaping the benefits, living a day to day life earning a paycheck.  That paycheck is nothing but blood money to me.  I’d give it all back for any one of them.

Martin gave me his last pair of dry socks.  The skies had been drenching us for the past 72 hours, at least, and there wasn’t a patch of solid earth around us.  Our tents offered little protection, every morning we dug them 3 inches out of the mud.  Somehow this Private managed to keep a single pair of socks dry.  This 18 year old kid from Boston, never camped a day in his life, had given me a god-sent relief to what was quickly becoming trench foot.  

Happiness is a dry pair of socks.

I was always partial to Martin.  Maybe it was because he tried to suck up to me, or maybe it was that he was the little brother I never had.  Having been in Larry’s shadow most of my life, I saw myself in Martin.  People picked on him, played pranks, and he usually just kept quiet and took it.  He never started trouble.

That day, as I ran back to camp, he ran toward me.  Hellfire raining around him, he called for doc.  He was more worried about my hand than shooting back.  We hadn’t made it more than 6 steps back into camp before his neck exploded, spraying my face with blood.  He collapsed to the ground in a heap, nothing but terror and pain on his face.

I picked him up, bleeding everywhere, and rushed him 15 paces further to where doc had bunkered down.  I had to slap him and point at Martin, yelling at him to stop worrying about my hand and fix him.  He stared me dead in the eye and shook his head.

I looked down at Martin, as he gasped for air over and over, each time weaker than the last.  With his last words he said “tell her…”, as he handed me a necklace.  Her name was on the back.  I knew who she was.

We all knew who she was.

I see this argument often.  I hear “adults” (whatever that means) lament at how impersonal we are becoming as humans.  We spend more time watching videos on the internet, blogging, and not actively engaging each other face to face.  Even this very blog post, which i’m unsure even has a single reader would be proof that we are beginning to become a loner species.

There’s something a little strange I’ve noticed about the people who have asserted this however.  I’m always skeptical of how involved they are with communities on the internet.  Their descriptions make sense when looked at with the idea of our new tendency to “be alone” if you assume that our stake in online communities are ephemeral and unimportant.

Well, then why have I been a member of LUElinks (now known as for nearly a decade?  For people completely unaware of what this website is/was, it began as a spin-off from a GameFAQs message board called “Life, The Universe, and Everything”, and contained links to content that was against the GameFAQs terms of service.

When megaupload was destroyed by the US Government in an attempt to enforce archaic copyright laws, the “links” portion of LUElinks was destroyed.  The database itself was erased, and no longer existed.  The owner of the website made a public statement that the original intention of LUElinks was never to support piracy in the first place, and that by the time the community had built itself around it, he felt unable to change the direction without destroying the culture that had emerged.  This is also why the site was renamed, because we had outgrown our relation to GameFAQs, and had created a culture that extended beyond simply Terms of Service rebellion.

Now, I want you to think about what I just said.  An internet forum of approximately 10,000-15,000 active users was described by the creator as having a CULTURE The members of ETI, myself included, feel that this community should continue to thrive.  We care.  It is personal to us.

There is no better example I can give to prove how personal it has become than suicide attempts by members of the community.  On multiple occasions, members posted on the board suggesting they were going to end their lives.  They have done so anonymously, or freely attaching their username.  Some simply joked about it, never intending to do it, but displaying clear suicidal tendencies.  Some actually succeeded in ending their lives.  Whatever the case may be, these people thought themselves alone, and one of their last acts of self preservation was to reach out, and tell the only people they believed would listen to them, what they had planned.

In every case, there is overwhelming community response to even suggesting one might commit suicide.  The internet detectives pull out their magnifying glasses, moderators utilize ip logging tools to identify locale, and whatever information is available via the internet (apparently there is alot) is used to notify authorities in the area, and send help as soon as possible.  These people, as vitriolic as they may be with each other when arguing over politics, care.

I have had the pleasure of meeting around 50-70 members of the community in person, and have at times forged quite strong relationships with some.  I have also had severe falling outs with these same people.

But the question stands, is it impersonal even though I have spent so much time on the community?  I read so many of their opinions, and gloss over their names, not really caring who they are when discussing the important matters at hand (like the hilarity/non-hilarity of ).

I can only answer that with another question, unfortunately.  How is that different from our daily discussions and interactions with people in “real life”? (By the way, last time I checked, the internet is part of reality, and is therefore part of “real life”).

Really though, how we handle interpersonal communication with each other on a face to face basis is vastly different than reading, considering, and formulating a written response.  Or is it?

In some cases we find ourselves misinterpreting the written message of someone, opening the quick response prompt, and take a warm shit on the page with sarcasm and dismissal.

This sounds eerily similar to friends bantering with one another.

The question remains, still, how much do we CARE about these people.  What level of influence do we allow them in our lives?  How much do we value their input?  Can we call them “friends”, or are they simply no more than colleagues and acquaintances?  These are all very valid questions.

They are all very valid questions we ask ourselves about people in our own lives.  At least we should ask these questions of everyone in our lives.  To put it bluntly, we always consider “is this person worth my time?” when deciding whether or not to invest ourselves in someone.

So the answer to the question remains… how is it different than having a large social circle in which you know little about a lot of people, and a lot about a few?

Having “grown up” on the internet, being part of these communities since the ripe old age of 10… there is no difference.

What sparked this post was a reaction to a recent video response I made on youtube to a video Veritasium posted.  I was responding to a science experiment, predicting what i believed was causing the reactions.  In the follow up video revealing the solution, Derek made note of how many video responses he received and seemed genuinely elated as what he saw as people taking his channel and actively applying themselves to science.  That was his goal to begin with.

Then I remembered the book Alone Together, which talks somewhat about what i discussed above.  I recalled conversations I’ve had with my parents, and how surprised they were to know some of my good friends were people I had originally met on the internet.  And here was an interaction between people on the internet via video that had generated an emotional response in someone… I can’t help but call bullshit on something somewhere suggesting we are LESS personal when on the internet we are MORE FREE to discuss our true thoughts.  It’s so much more personal.

What makes lying so easy is that a majority of people want to believe whatever you’re saying. Life is easier if everyone is telling you the truth.

How can it be
it’s not like me
it’s the way i think
thinking i can see
what others don’t
and that i need
to help lead
them to the light
where i feel right
but i can’t understand
in this far off land
where all the strife
is only in my head

I wish they were a book
I could sit down and read
but the words don’t matter
when you look at me
in the eye
sayin’ you don’t lie
but now you’ve gone to cry
cause you can’t see me

i’m leading to the light
where it’s alright
and i can understand
my right hand man
as he does to me
what i so need
to feel inside
that i can hide
from nothing

I sprint through life cuffing
my emotions
keeping them at bay
otherwise some day
flyin’ around
above you all
i’ll be bitter
for the things we said
and all i really want from you
is to remember me
as the guy who tried to lead

the perfect life
doing what he thinks is right
but didn’t understand
in this far off land
that everyone can see
he tries too hard
and isn’t happy
but there he stays
trying to lead
and the world doesn’t care
and life ain’t fair

So if the world don’t care
why do you
walking around
trying to be cool
looking like a fool
but all they say
is you’re not there
but maybe some day
you’ll understand
that life ain’t fair
and no one’s innocent.

Learning to understand people and rationalize their decisions as if you were them will not only help you become a better actor, it will motivate you to do what’s right in your every day life.

Or it might make you really cynical.  Depends on the company you keep.

Here I stand, at the brink of destruction. Chest out and proudly leering into the face of god, opening my mouth only to announce my presence.

The glaring eye of the ever watchful, ever vigilant, is a fear inducing source of inspiration.  The decision whether or not to rebel molds your characters as time goes by.

Make your name not out of conformity or rebellion, but the beliefs you hold dearest to your heart.

Life is an unbroken flow of emotions.  Even when we believe we are feeling nothing, we are simply detached from ourselves.  It is then important to recognize these moments and delve inward to discover and understand the person within.

The secret behind the fantasy of TV, Movie, and Video Games is to provide the people with believable life, no matter how improbable or extraordinary.  This is the reason WoW and FFXI continue to draw large crowds.  It provides people an escape to a world of complete freedom and control, despite the notable lack of these 2 key components in their real life.

A world of fantasy will always be more enticing than selling burgers at a McDonald’s.

The observation of life provides external stimulus for us to change ourselves.

When it comes to the imagination, nothing you imagine is ever wrong.

Get into the head of someone who doesn’t need control.

Try everything once.


Now, this is an interesting entry.  At first, it says a whole lot of nothing.  As an acting note, knowing life is an unbroken flow of emotions is important, because at no point on stage should you ever not feel something.  Then I tried to be profound and explain how feeling nothing is just some strange existential experience.  Huh.

The interesting thing here is the very accurate description of what makes media so enticing.  I would have known though, because at this point I had been playing Final Fantasy XI for nearly 7-8 years, and had spent a majority of my life parked in front of a computer/tv consuming massive amounts of media.  I believe I unhooked my TV from cable shortly after this.  I haven’t hooked it back up since.

Cutting the cord is highly recommended.