John Green on Vulnerability

And then he would do something absolutely extraordinary: He would roll over onto his back, and present his soft belly. I always marveled at the courage of that, his ability to be so absolutely vulnerable to us. He offered us the place ribs don’t protect, trusting that we weren’t going to bite or stab him. It’s hard to trust the world like that, to show it your belly. There’s something deep within me, something intensely fragile, that is terrified of turning itself to the world.

I’m scared to even write this down, because I worry that having confessed this fragility, you now know where to punch. I know that if I’m hit where I am earnest, I will never recover.

It can sometimes feel like loving the beauty that surrounds us is somehow disrespectful to the many horrors that also surround us. But mostly, I think I’m just scared that if I show the world my belly, it will devour me. And so I wear the armor of cynicism, and hide behind the great walls of irony, and only glimpse beauty with my back turned to it, through the Claude glass.

But I want to be earnest, even if it’s embarrassing. The photographer Alec Soth has said, “To me, the most beautiful thing is vulnerability.” I would go a step further and argue that you cannot see the beauty which is enough unless you make yourself vulnerable to it.

John Green, “Sunsets” from The Anthropocene Reviewed

Well said, sir.

More Social Media Diets

I mentioned John Green’s decision to take a year off (most) social media before. Well, he’s posted an update, a month in, and I think he sums up my own feelings pretty well:

In a similar vein, I also recently bumped into this video by the folks at Veritasium, and I think also touches on some really valid views of what’s so bad about social media as it stands:

Not going to bother adding a lot of meta-commentary, here. I think they make their points well enough on their own.

John Taking a Year Off

How various social internet sites occupy our brains has been a recurring topic on here, and I think he summarizes it all pretty well. These sites are working as intended, but I don’t like that intention, and I don’t like how they work for me, personally.

My own experiences with taking time off have had limited success. I still find myself on Facebook or Tumblr or Instagram (or… or… or…) more than I would like, though I’m interacting with it less and have less expectation of interaction on them (which I think is still a net win, but not as much as I’d like). I’m not sure I’m at the point of going cold-turkey (and what shape that would take — where do I want to spend my time?) like John, but it definitely continues to be on my mind.