Three weeks ago we had to watch Inside Out for our psychology class. Which I should say is the coolest homework ever, but researching it I came across this one video that makes the point of how compulsive happiness is the reason for increased anxiety and depression in this day and age. As kids we are happy for no reason but I think a part of growing up is realizing that all sorrow is followed by happiness, as the movie suggests but also vice versa. At least this is what I believe. I have developed this fear in the past couple of years that when I am happy, bad things happen. This have led me to constantly try and find a state of balance between the two emotions. When I realized how getting attention from strangers on twitter was making me happy but also a dopamine addict, I quit. I saw how my friends are living “perfect lives” on Facebook and I felt depressed as my life is nothing but a university grind, so I stopped checking my news feed. I already do not watch TV or read newspaper yet universe keeps giving me something to be sad about. Except now I have accepted a little bit of sadness as a part of my daily routine. The Germans word, Weltschmerz better describes this feeling of how the world is cruel and there in no escaping the sorrow. Shoot, this turned out to be more depressing than expected. Please tell me it’s just me.

To leave on a lighter note, I got a question on ask.fm asking if you get stuck on an island with three movie to watch for the rest of your life, which ones will they be? This was a hard one but after much thought I have made my picks:

The Social Network
Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
Captain America The Winter Soldier

State of fiction

How can you expect creative minds to emerge from a country with no science fiction or fantasy magazines, no comic books and Spider, the only IT magazines that once was, discontinued two years ago. It’s not that are no people interested in this genera, it’s just more people care about politics so that’s what they get. Not that anyone is bringing a revolution or anything, we just like cursing and blaming others to no end. People are just as politically illiterate today as they were a generation ago and an awakening doesn’t show any sign on the horizon. Few short story competitions like Desi Writers Longue’s Dastaan Award, started allowing South Asian writers because there was not enough quality or quantity for biannual competitions. Ever since it started in 2013, solely Indian writers have won all the prizes. Even if we look at our short story competitions at university level, the given topics are always about terrorism, social issues or any other depressing subject.

Lack of readership is not the problem. There is a reason new newspaper companies are opening even today. Only problem is that people are not interested in creative or imaginative thinking. Spider was not discontinued by Dawn Group for lack of readership but to be replaced with Aurora, an advertisement magazine that apparently has more demand and thus more profitable, coz ads. I have seen Cinepax Rawalpindi sold out days in advance for Fast and Furious 7 but on the premier of Star Wars The Force Awakens, it was a deserted little place. I don’t blame anyone. How can you develop creative thinking when even at university level you are taught from power point slides that you have to memorize by heart to gain marks in exams. My love for reading was only because we HAD to study classical English novels in school and submit a writing on a given creative writing topic every week. It was a slow romance and it inspired many but still there is a greater part of our class that turned out to be just another addition to the herd. The stories in our Matric and FSc English books too are highly inspiring but they again fall victim to our teacher’s teaching style. Rather than telling us to write something similar or what we think might have happen next, they just tell us the meanings of difficult words in Urdu and mark the lines that make up the answers to the exercise questions. Mr. Chips, a novel most people oppose has a greeting literary style to it but again we are only taught the passages about his wife and conflict with the new headmaster and other parts we just gloss over through. Because these are the questions that get repeated in every exam. It’s like academic and examination departments are in an agreement to make it easier for the students to pass English by consistently repeating the same questions, yet many fail in spite of it.

If we want to grow as a nation, we have to let creative minds grow. We need to develop creative thinking in our kids and for that we need a kids and young adult magazine for science fiction, fantasy and latest technology news. However small, there sure is an audience for that and it will grow if someone dares to stand for it. Laters 🙂

Understanding Fear

The only thing a man fears is not having control. In the heart of every fear, be it God, demons, supernatural entities to street dogs, heights, water or being stuck in life, the only thing humans fear is the feeling of not being in control over your own situation and/or someone else having the ability to hurt or effect you in any way and there is nothing you can do to stop him/her/them/it. This applies to every fear a human might have that I can think of at the moment, so this seems like a solid theory. If true, this says a lot about humans in general. Man wants to be god, one with all the control, except world doesn’t work that way. The only people who are afraid of what lies in their future or fear things they don’t understand are the ones who haven’t accepted their reality. On the other hand, people who have accepted their place as not the God but His creation are the ones truly fearless.

Just a random thought. Later 🙂

Trump won

For better or worse this Trump vs Hillary drama came to end with Trump winning the presidential election due to the Electoral College. Looks like Americans will be spending the next 4 years under a terrible administration; something I can relate to. From a non-American’s perspective it didn’t affect me, but it so really does. Not like in a world politics or economy way but only because this presidential campaign has been going on and on for like an year now and it was turning Twitter, YouTube and what-not into a battlegrounds for political trolls. Not that they weren’t active before but it really put the spark in them. Even the non-American trolls, well specially the non-American trolls were very actively supporting Hillary. 4 years will pass but the question arises is that will Trump be re-elected.  Americans have proven too be more racist than expected. 95% or white people both male and females have votes for Trump while the rest voted for a dead gorilla. The reason being white Americans are insecure after foreigners are filling in for ‘their jobs’. The minorities voted for Hillary but they now feel more alone than ever. 45% of the population didn’t vote. Nothing they can do now. This won’t come as a shock to anyone that white Americans are racists but the funny thing is that they are always the first to label anyone racist on a slight tint of it. Hillary won by popular vote but lost due to electoral college. A fancy term meaning votes in some white states are worth 2-3 times more than the rest. Again no surprise that such a non-democratic system exists in a country that can’t shut up on lecturing other on democracy. Anyway four years will pass but what troubles me is that a lot can go wrong in 4 years. Trust me I know.

3 game changers in human war and civilization

Here I am after almost a month when the plan was to write something every day. I can blame it on the sessional exams but that won’t be the truth. This whole month I found myself thinking and researching modern cinematic techniques and other topics which I think do not comply with the theme of this blog. Today’s topic is one of those.

I recently came across this article explaining how gun powder changed the course of human history. I disagree. I think the cannon is just a better version of the catapult. Catapults came to the battle fiend far before arsenals did but we should start at the beginning. I think in all of human history there are only three things that really changed how humans fight a war; Wall, Catapult and Atomic Bomb

The first stage was obviously the invention of weapons. Early humans fought with arrows and spears. The clan with more fighting members and better weapons mostly attacked and plundered resources from other clans.

Wall: The idea of building walls came itself from the caves and mountains that the ancient man lived in to stay safe from the wild. This lead to different families coming together to built walls to defend themselves and also their food and animals against the attackers. These walled colonies grew into fortified cities. Walls provided great protection as they were easy to defend with less army against the invades who now had to meet rain of arrows and boiling oil and burning wood at there feet. These techniques make possible only due to the existence of wall made up for lack of numbers on the defending side and the size of armies decreased. The invaders now only had one choice, bring the defending army out of their fortified walls. For this they can either besiege the city -surround the city and cut off it’s resources – waiting for them to come out but this is the most inefficient tactic as fortified cities were mostly self sustaining and could survives for years cut of from the world. A famous story is Trojan war when Achaeans (Greeks) besieged Troy for ten years and still couldn’t succeed in forcing out the Trojans. (Read more on this here.) The second way was to attack the surrounding villages that come under that city state’s influence, destroy them and enslave the people to humiliate the fortified forces into coming out and defending their honor. This was more practical and was usually the path taken but still at any sign of war the people of surrounding villages mostly fled to seek refuge in the city walls and even if the villages were destroyed the army knew it was only good defending the city than the villages. Thus the time of invaders halted and cities thrives with in the walls. This was the time of independent city states and rise of many great historic cities.

Catapult: Projectile throwing siege engines made walls useless. Now the invaders came directly for the walls and break enter the city. The rules have changed. Now the defending party’s best approach had to come out and meet the army face to face in a battle before the attackers could reach the city and destroy it. Thus the balance again shifted to numbers. More army, skilled fighters and better weapons. Gun powder weapons came later in this race for better weapons. Maintaining a large standing army for years of peace was a burden on the economy. Thus the cities formed alliances to form combined armies that will protect each in event of war. This lead to more powerful armies, but mainly nations were formed. The nations with better armies invaded and destroyed others, take them under their wing. Now independent city states could not last without pledging elegance to the strongest nation of it’s area. The era of city states is over, the age of invaders have returned. This was the time of great conquerors like Alexander the great and Mehmood the conqueror who ruled half of the world. This was the age of great empire states like the Ottoman empire and even later till the British.

WoMD: Weapons of mass destruction, mainly the atomic bomb is quiet recent in human history. It again along with the formation of UN changed the rules of war. It is said that the atomic bomb is not for war but to stop war. While this may partly be true the beginning of it was not. We only realized this after it made it’s point with a horrifying display of it’s destructive potential. But war cannot be stopped. It is a part of what humans are. It goes on while the rules change. The balance again has shifted to strong defense rather than attaching numbers. There are no more invaders. Now nations do not fight face to face in a battle. The attacker is unknown until it attacks. This type of war is the most difficult to fight as the enemy attacks from within. Be it war on terror or any other military based conflict in the world, this is modern warfare. Now countries attack others by funding terrorist groups to fight wars for them or invading others under the banners of democracy, peace and justice. There is a new form of online warfare which might be the new stage in this but that is only if there is no nuclear war. Sadly we may delay a nuclear war but it is inevitable. War is a basic human instinct and  even the existence of atomic bombs is a time bomb counting down to earth’s doom. Will there be a next stage or will the cycle start from the beginning? we can only wait and see. I see hope. Mankind will prosper. We always have. How? I don’t know.

Vloggers’ Trap

A newly wed Punjabi couple sounds so funny being all romantic talking in Urdu for at least the first few weeks of marriage. This type of romantic Urdu that sounds like Punjabi is not a dialect/accent limited to a geographical area. Rather it is a small phase many couples go through. Then there is the holding hands in public part. This is what can be called Yes we are nikah-fied, a classic sign of arranged marriage. Newly wed couples however are not the topic today.

Yesterday a weird path of Youtube algorithms lead me to binge watching Alex Wassabi vlogs. Not only most of the day was ruined but by evening I stopped halfway into a vlog and asked myself, what am I even doing? I am turning 22 in a few months and I am doing what is equivalent of 22yo girls watching celebrity wedding videos. I felt ashamed, repulsed and disgusted of my existence, almost guilty as if I just drowned a kitten.

It all started an year after Youtube got banned in Pakistan. Since it was still accessible through my phone, I decided to get the most out of it. For a long time, the only vlogger I was following was Louis Cole (FunForLouis). Then came Jesse and Jeana who were always around in Louis’ videos so it was only natural to subscribe to them too. That had it’s run for a while but didn’t end well. Meanwhile an american woman who also often appeared in Louis’ videos turned out to be his girlfriend and became a regular dull and boring part of his videos. I had to unwillingly unsub.

Which brings us to the point, why we watch vloggers? They have no creativity compared to other content creators and for that they hate vloggers. I have always tried to stay away from them but they get you somehow, starting with just a video or two. The truth is that famous vloggers have a better life than ours. They are prettier, richer and more successful than us (or there parents are). They have a perfect life, a better life with no issues like ours (at least not on camera). Any time there is an issue or disease or anything, all that fame goes out in smoke. We don’t want to see someone like us. These people also have adventure in their lives. Imagine a channel where a person films him/herself all day using laptop or playing video games or going to uni or doing chores. There are such channels out there but only as daily video diaries. They have no chance of ever being famous. People want to see what they don’t have. That is why movies and TV shows are not based on real life. I bet many would have come up with an idea like this but never got a green light. Even Seinfeld, the show that was supposed to be about nothing is about something. The comedy is relate-able but no one can ever relate to all the adventures these characters had. Which brings up the question, is human brain attracted to the feeling of being miserable and boring. Is this why Facebook is famous? to see our successful friends in the perfect version of themselves and feel bad for ourselves. Why are humans built like this?

Notice how these blogs are getting worse and pointless everyday? This is because of the daily blog schedule that I have decided to maintain and already regretting after a week. This won’t last, partially because I can never be consistent and mostly because this is just miserable. I don’t have a clue about what to write or anything fun to say and still I am writing. Later 🙂

Likability of everything

If I have to name non-A-list actors and actresses that I like the most, they will be Tom Hardy, Jake Gyllanhaal, Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Zoe Saldanna, Emma Stone, Anne Hathaway and Charlize Theron to name a few. These are easy pick because all these are talented good looking people, but there are many celebrities we all like that make no sense to why we do. For example I like Cara Delevingne although I know she is a terrible actress. Or Elijah Wood because he will always be Mr.Frudo to us. Then there are others that look good as a couple but not individually. Like Jesse and Jeana from PrankVsPrank. I mean they were among the top youtubers an year ago and now who watches their channels anymore. There are celebrities that we almost hate but they look good in small doses in some show we like. An example will be Graham Norton Show where they deliberately make a person you hate and one you like sit and laugh together and for a moment you forget that you hate one of them. How does it even work? How does likability works? To answer this we have to dive into human psychology and how it is being exploited by conventional celebrities and youtubers/social media celebrities alike.

1-Repetition: A bad song if we hear repeatedly starts to sound better. That is why actors go to morning and talk shows and do tv ads for almost nothing when their movie is about to be released. The idea is to get your face recognized and feel familiar. This is branding/ advertisement 1o1. Not only their tv ads but also a tv show sponsored by a brand makes them use their brand color as background and in dresses of main characters playing likable roles. Watch the movie Focus.

2-Self deprecation: This is what builds careers of most comedians but they are not the only ones doing it. It is the art of telling embarrassing and cringe-worthy stories that may or may not be true but are believable and relate-able. It’s about make fun of yourself so the other person do not feel bad. It also includes the art of doing stupid things like challenge videos to show that you do not take yourself too seriously. There is a fine line however between self-deprecating humor and nagging yourself or letting others laugh at you rather than with you. A fine example is Ellen Degeneres, or Jimmy Fallon or any of the many funny celebrity talk show hosts. This is called Pratfall’s effect.

3-Sympathy: The reason youtubers do draw-my-life videos or make up stories about a terrible childhood or middle school bullying. This doesn’t work if you tell others that you are in a bad place now. No body likes a cry baby. You always have to talk about your troubles in the past tense and tell everyone how perfect your life is now thanks to your fans. It makes a person feel like a better human being for being the cause of someone else’s happiness or success.

more on this later.