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My Stupid Ego.

14 November 2014

Wow. Yesterday evening, a couple of major traffic-movers on twitter tweeted my blog post about “That Shirt”, and I ended up getting thousands and thousands of hits. Far more than anything this blog has ever seen before. It was exciting. I watched my stats move and kept up with my twitter stream, and was very excited about all these people reading my writing.

I started to have stupid fantasies of being asked to write books and stuff. It is very gratifying to have people read my writing. It was especially gratifying to have people tweeting that it was good and right and appropriate and essentially agreeing with me. There was almost no negative blowback. And on twitter, everything gets negative blowback.

But a careful examination of my stats shows that the interest in the piece relevant to the issue of the day had almost no translation into people going on and reading other things I wrote. People were interesting in the topic. I happened to write something of general interest to the topic. Almost no one ended up reading anything else.

But the truth is, that’s just as well. Ego is not good for me. I suffer from extremes of ego, swinging between thinking I’m the very best or the very worst of whatever. I have been, these last several years, attempting to navigate a path in the center, a more measured tone, and a more gentle treatment of myself. When centered, I am far from harm. Excesses of ego, high or low, lead to disruption, to feelings of worthlessness or invulnerability. Either of those is probably three steps closer to a drink than I ever want to be.

It was nice that a whole lot of people thought I wrote something valuable on a topic of relevance this November. Now, I have a simulation to write and a paper to revise. I’m not special. And as much as I sometimes want to be special, being special isn’t good for me. The reason I write here is to try to connect, and I’m glad I did that on this occasion. Maybe someone who needs it will discover that I write about alcoholism, and I’ll be able to help them. That would be nice.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 November 2014 09:27

    Dear Infactorium,

    Please don’t say stupid ego? What about ‘active ego’? Ego is there for a reason, it helps us to push ourselves forwards in this world. It would not be here it if had no function… Ego is good in itself. It’s just that ‘this world’ brings us op believing that there is nothing else; it is al about winning or losing and real life experience does not count. We cannot all win and by focussing only on winning we exclude 98% of us.

    People that are of have been addicted seem to have extreme emotions. Well, I worked that out after 40 years of rollercoaster emotions but ‘Addictive personality’ by Craig Nakken is a nice read when it comes to ego, power and extremes. I notice the same mood swings that you have here: extreme high and succesful and then the low and kill and attack mode. I worked out for me that I have difficulty staying in the moment en staying with the feeling that is actually going on. I can’t deal with feeling a bit out so I convert it into depression. I can’t deal with just a bit succesful so I convert it into being over the moon. Tiresom, all of it, but learning, learning. πŸ™‚

    However: congrats on your shirt post! πŸ™‚ I had my own ego thing going on there with having written a comment to your post and then deleting it thinking ‘Pffff, who am I, who cares?’ Ego, all around. πŸ™‚

  2. 14 November 2014 09:34

    I read the shirt article and this one too. I might even read the next one!
    I think we all have our egos run away with us when people start paying us their limited attention; I think that’s an expected reaction for social apes like us. It triggers all the right psychological and emotional switches, after all.

    What a clever ape does, what you do, is quickly recognize the gulf between ego and reality and gets the former under control (since it’s out of the question to ever control the latter).

    I think you’re going too far in saying “I’m not special.” I agree that thinking yourself special isn’t good for you (I don’t think it’s good for anyone) but your writing of the shirt post was quite good, clever, perhaps even special, and that comes from a quite good, clever and perhaps, poisonously, even a special mind. Your blog didn’t make the rounds by accident. Nobody retweeted (or whatever) it without being impressed.

    So, you might not be special, but at least settle on clever. In the age of 3 minute YouTube videos and in the time of nuance in opinion, the sort I saw in your shirt post, is a rareified commodity, your post the other day getting that kind of attention should not be discounted in a day.

    Hold on to the “I’M SPECIAL~! MOM WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG~!!” high for at least another twelve hours or so. It doesn’t get that kind of direct correlative evidence all that often, after all. Let the ego go on a bender for the weekend, he needs to party sometimes.

    And, you should know, @drugmonkeyblog shared this post too, so there might even be something, brace yourself and get the leash ready, special about this post too.
    Or at the very least clever or useful in some way.

    Really just being “of use” is special enough in this time of our lives.

  3. 14 November 2014 21:33

    I read the shirt post, but I was already following you appreciatively for writing about illness.

    As for the shirt episode, to be honest I wish that the world’s surplus anger hadn’t descended on this topic, this shirt, this guy in the way that it did. We seem to live in a news cycle of shame and blame at the moment. So now that guy is stuck with a whole lot of toxic new best friends, as is the woman who made him the shirt as a gift. And the circus has already left town.

    Your post spoke much more widely to me about what we give up just in order to function as communities rather than circuses.

    So I’m glad truly glad people found your writing through it, because then with luck they’ll read this, which really is about a big thing: how to live well in the attention economy with all its volatility.

  4. 15 November 2014 10:52

    Check again. I found you for That Shirt Post, which really hit me like a huge relief. I had been really frustrated with the online hubbub on the topic and I felt like you really hit ye olde nail on the proverbial head. Then, intrigued by several of your post headings in the sidebar, I checked out several more posts and finally became your latest email subscriber. I’m inspired by your candor and I definitely feel like I can connect with that.

  5. 16 November 2014 18:20

    FWIW, I have been reading for a while (don’t think I commented) and your blog stands out for its honesty and introspection. I am not even on twitter. Keep up the good work!

  6. 17 November 2014 15:21

    I like your writing. I think we are in the age of anxiety. Or always are and always will be. ☯

  7. supermedievalmom permalink
    17 November 2014 19:43

    I was having a debate about the topic, and came across your “that Shirt” blog. I want you to know, I am now reading the rest of your topics, and will probably follow it from now on. I appreciate your understanding of yourself and cutting through the ego πŸ™‚

  8. Syd permalink
    17 November 2014 21:56

    I haven’t been reading blogs and am trying to catch up. Glad that you are still here. Ego seems to be everywhere these days and not in a good way. I remind myself that humility is a good thing to have because my ego can run amuck easily. Now to go read your Shirt post.

  9. 18 November 2014 23:15

    I’m another that was linked to your shirt post, but have since started reading your other posts and am enjoying them. Don’t be so hard on yourself – there may eventually be a book deal for you! But even if not, you never know when something you write might help someone who is struggling, and that has to be worth a lot. πŸ™‚

  10. Shads permalink
    23 November 2014 14:54

    Well, I did find your blog thanks to “that shirt”, but the other articles you’ve written is what led me to bookmark you πŸ™‚

  11. swampscottsoxfan permalink
    27 November 2014 21:16

    I came here to ‘That Shirt’ post because of Phil Plait having Tweeted the URL.

    I was interested in the topic for several reasons, both relating to my personal history as well as my career and where I work. Also, because a lot of the (polarized) opinions I was seeing were very different to mine, as I tend to be an “out of the box” thinking kind of guy.

    In general I find that bloggers have an overly inflated sense of self-importance. (Not saying you do – just my observation from reading various blogs over the years.)

    Blogging about things and having lots of readers doesn’t make you important – doing things in the real world is important. I will never respect a ‘blogger’ anywhere near the way I respect Elon Musk, for example.

    I disagreed with your views on That Shirt and probably won’t be back, unless you write about something else I am interested in and a search or a Tweet happens to bring up a URL to this page again. Not saying that to be a jerk – that’s pretty much how I am about most things. I suspect a lot of people who live outside the blogging world are the same way. You just stumble upon stuff in whatever way it happens and you follow your nose.

    I’ve been the same way about, say, finding a solution for a Linux problem I’ve run into. I find a blog where there’s a post about it and how to solve it, maybe I’ll leave a comment if it’s a recent post and I’m grateful for the answer. But I usually don’t start scanning the blog’s other posts. It’s nothing personal.

    Honesty and introspection is great – but so is being humble. Being ego-less is a good thing and I applaud you for the introspection.

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