Category Archives: ideas

Alone and Lonely: A Few Quiet Mutterings

I have always enjoyed being by myself. But I have always used my alone time to interact with people and create. I like the validation and engagement that the internet can give, and it feels less exhausting than having to talk a lot with real people.

Being alone only became an issue for me when I began to feel lonely. This happened when I was studying my degree. I felt so different from everyone else. So out of tune with everyone there. It’s almost like people at university are vibrating more slowly – there’s no urgency, no sense of purpose or effervescence of spirit. I couldn’t connect with it. I couldn’t sink into that frequency. I was bullied a lot in school too. I was always different, but I tried very hard to fit in somewhere. As I get older, I care less and less about fitting in, but I am more lonely than ever.

I could exist quite contently with one or two rich, meaningful relationships with people. I haven’t had that in so long. I feel starved of the spirit of brilliant, interesting people, and like any starved thing, I’m becoming sluggish, malnourished, wilted.

I am clutching onto what I can to see me through, but I do sometimes feel as if a wallflower can be forgotten, and when it is, not even the rain drops that soak the bricks it clings to, will keep it from drying out.

A Perfectionists Guide on What (Not) To Do At University: 5 Things I Wish I’d Told Myself Before I Went

Hi All,

I decided to make this short guide because many of you are bright, intelligent people, who’ve had hard starts in life. As a result, you’ve struggled in the education system and it has left you with the belief that you cannot succeed in academia. This is simply untrue, and I am living proof.

I’m a third year History undergraduate who has made it to the final term of the final year (the dreaded dissertation looms) at a Russel group (Ivy League UK equivalent) university – on track for a 2:1; a pretty decent grade!

What makes this EVEN MORE REMARKABLE is that I did it all with very little support and WITHOUT MEDS.

Ok, so that’s me, but I wanted to tell you all why I think I need to give some advice on this subject. My experience, because I pushed myself so hard, was miserable. As a perfectionist (a personality trait I highly recommend NOT adopting) I worked so hard on the degree that I didn’t live. I pushed away relationships, exciting opportunities and virtually anything that made me happy in the pursuit of completing the course to a satisfactory level.

This is a TERRIBLE way to approach university as an experience, and I implore anyone thinking that they will approach it in the same way to reconsider! You are worth more than this piece of paper, and your happiness should not be bound up in something that will cost three years of your life at the expense of real human experiences.

The point I’m trying to make is this: You can go to University and be successful/ happy, but make sure you build support networks, take advantage of disability services and staff who will help you, use your family and friends to keep you accountable, and find your own methods of learning, don’t follow what you see others doing – it most likely won’t work for you!

Here are five things I’d tell myself if I was starting again from scratch (the very thought boggles the mind):

1. This degree is not a reflection of your personal abilities, rather a reflection on your ability to pass as neurotypical.

You MUST separate yourself from the idea that universities are assessing YOU. They are not. You are different and you have your own skills and abilities that often fall outside the range of assessment at educational institutions. Many of you are excellent analysts and problem solvers, some of you are excellent verbal communicators and excel in presenting information to people. Nearly all of you are exceedingly charming, a quality MORE THAN REGULARLY lacking in University environments. Your ability to read fast or spell well are not your strengths and so what? Yes, you’ll need to do both at university, but make sure you really reflect on your strengths as you go along – don’t invest your self-worth in your ability to read quickly and retain written information on demand.

2. Build a support network and make sure it is water-tight!

If you want to end up succeeding at university, you need a strong and stable support network, both in terms of your relationship to the university disability services and familial/ friend connections to lift you up emotionally when things get hard. I had a very hard time with this and if you cut people off, you’ll end up withdrawing more and more from your life and degree. So before you go, take stock – count up who it is you can count ON. Ask the university what they do for students with learning differences, ask to speak to representatives, come loaded with questions and take their responses very seriously into consideration when you choose the university degree for you. You deserve to be supported during your time at university and indeed ALWAYS.

3. Look after your BODY.

I can’t stress this enough. One of your highest priorities at university should be the regular administering of exercise, good food and even yoga/ meditation/ BOTH. We with ADHD are absolutely higher risks for illness under stress than the average person. What is more, our brains are as good as our bodies. Really, it’s true! Our ability to focus and learn is directly linked to our physicality. The more physically inactive we are, the less we can cope with the attention demands of the course. Some of my best work was done when I was in a regular gym routine, taking vitamins/ minerals and working on eating high protein, low carb meals, regularly spaced. The times when my work was worst or indeed the most stressful were those points where I relied on fast acting caffeine and high-sugar snacks to give me the energy I needed to get through the stress of impending deadlines. The more stressed I was, the less exercise I did and the more crap I ate. It’s a cycle of reinforcement that you need to keep an eye on at all times. I constantly got sick following these high stress/ poor diet/ exercise phases and that can be very demoralising over time. Don’t let it happen to you!

4. Find your own learning style.

From my own experience, underlining text, listening to lectures and passive reading of books are HORRIBLE ways for the ADHD brain to assimilate information. What worked best for me was to read and take notes as I went. Sometimes I would copy relevant passages verbatim, other times I would read a passage and summarise in my own words on paper. The important thing to remember again is the physicality. Because writing on paper involves movement, we process this information much more effectively than we do when we underline phrases or listen to lecturers – it’s even more effective than typing on a keyboard. Pen and paper is your friend and ally at university and you should also experiment with other ways that you can incorporate physicality into your degree. For History it made most sense to do as I did above, but for science degrees and more practical subjects, getting hands on as often as possible will make the information much easier to digest. Experiment, play around with it, find your own way, but NEVER rely on or expect neurotypical learning methods to serve you.

5. Find your tribe / work on your passions.

This was something I sorely missed out on at university. I never made many friends and I wish that I had. ADHD can be an extremely socially isolating condition for people and we need to acknowledge that. Nevertheless, I don’t want you to feel alone like I did, so please make the effort to put yourself out there and meet people. It might feel scary or difficult at first, but you deserve to feel connected in an environment that often feels extremely jarring for many. I personally found an outlet in drawing and writing. When I was stressed or overwhelmed I would retreat into my room and draw on my tablet for hours. I’m not brilliant at it, but it calms me down, gives me something creative to do, and builds a skill that might come in handy in the future! Find your own passions and USE THEM to escape from time to time. It is not healthy to think about university for three whole years of your life. Find your tribe, find your passions, let them consume you sometimes and forget about university at least occasionally. Your happiness and well-being is more important than the piece of paper you end up with in the end.

Afterword:

I hope some of these tips help you. I’m happy to answer other questions if they come along. The experience is a tough one and I won’t tell you that it will be easy, but part of the reason I wanted to learn in the first place is because I respect the experiences of people who came before us, and passing the baton of experience to those who are starting out feels important. I want you to have the best experience you can possibly have and avoid as many of the pitfalls that I have experienced as is humanly possible for you.

You are not defined by the establishment, so establish your own definition of education and hold onto it throughout. You’re good enough to do this, and you deserve to pursue your intellect at its fullest despite your ADHD. Look after your body, be looked after by others, learn how to learn in your own way, find your tribe, find your passion, and detach your self-worth from your academic achievements. These are pillars to live by at university, and I hope they serve to house you securely as you learn and grow as a person. Good luck. If I can do it, so can you.

Facebook – The New Opiate for the Masses That’s Making You Sick.

A week ago I announced I’d be leaving Facebook for a month to see how things changed in my life. This was after I did some research on how Facebook algorithms transform the way you behave online. Jaron Lanier’s ‘Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now’ inspired me to take the plunge. In his book, Lanier outlines that algorithms used on these platforms are constantly analysing your online behaviours, processing this information, and adapting your feed of information to maximise your engagement. Constantly evolving, these data-grabbing parasites find new ways to seize your attention and keep you locked in. It really works! And it’s especially effective against those of us who are compromised by our real life experiences. Let me illustrate by sharing a little of my own journey with the platform.

My Experience with Internet Addiction

Nearing a year prior to my decision to leave, Facebook had taken over my life. I was so invested in the platform that I spent most of my day getting attention, good and bad alike, as a mini kick to supplement my pathetic natural dopamine reserves. Thank you, brain, you’re so good to me. During this time, several significant life events had happened to me that knocked me off my feet. I had slipped a disk in the second year  of my degree which was causing a huge amount of pain and numbness in my legs. All the while I was working part time, hiding the fact from my boss and managing dicey personal relationships. I was cutting more and more real people out of my life as I slowly disconnected from reality. I had panic attacks, dissociation, health anxiety, and serious depression. I wanted to die, but I was also terrified of the idea of death. An unpleasant oscillation of negative emotions gripped me every day. As my real life started to implode inwards, my activities became deeply withdrawn and passive. I started to construct an alternative online persona, a confident, happy, egotistical version of myself that said whatever was on his mind. In short, a charming asshole. The feeling of having lost my voice in the real world translated to a booming, but meaningless online presence. I was clinging to control in the only corner of my life that I believed I had any left.

Little did I know at that time, Facebook, my little haven of safety, fantasy and control, was actually taking advantage of my vulnerability to keep me trapped in a cycle of depression, gasping for a breath of attention, but starved of real human connection. And these algorithms are designed to keep a person’s attention at the expense of the vulnerable. They learn the best ways to keep you online, and those most susceptible to addiction suffer the worst. How can we allow a platform that seems so innocuous and practically useful to systematically prey on the most compromised individuals in society? It’s simple, people just don’t know yet, and they really need to wake up from the stupor. Facebook has the chloroformed cloth to our face, and we’ve been under for long enough for us to forget who kidnapped us.

Would You Let an Organisation Build a Palace of Opiates in the Midst of Deprivation?

Do you know why a heroin addict takes heroin, even at the expense of his health, both physical and mental? He’s not lazy or a cockroach, he’s escaping his reality, and people who experience internet addiction on platforms like Facebook are doing the same. Groups and pages like ‘BPD meme Queen’ (BPD stands for Borderline Personality Disorder, a serious personality disorder that requires real world intervention) with over 120k likes, actively invites mental illness onto the platform, trapping more and more vulnerable people in the molasses of hollow experience.  Glorifying mental illness in the shape of memes and signposting it on Facebook is not healthy, yet it’s absolutely allowed on the platform.  I ask you, would you allow an organisation to hand out free opiates to vulnerable, struggling people who need help figuring out their reality? Would you let a giant corporation build a gleaming white tower in the centre of the most deprived area of a city, offering out free syringes for the people’s unbridled attention? I don’t think so. Yet we happily turn on our computers and let algorithms fuck with us all day long. Algorithms which become exponentially more effective, the more unwell we are.

The reality is this, you don’t need Facebook to stay in touch with people. Sure, it might be easier to use social media, it has all of your information in one place and it’s keeping it warm for you, but you do have a phone, you have messenger services, you can still send a text and ring people, even write letters (yes, we should do more of that especially). If we don’t put pressure on the networks to change, we’ll continue to experience all of these issues going forward. Facebook is making ill people worse over time, and in the best case, keeping people chronically not better.

Mark Zuckerberg – Building a Disease Free World on the Bodies of the Addicted

Mark Zuckerberg previously announced that, along with his partner Priscilla Chan, he would be donating 99% of Facebook’s shares to eradicate all human disease, founding the Chan Zuckerberg initiative in 2015. A lofty goal, but more importantly, one at odds with the very product used to fund this research. Addiction is a chronic brain disorder. It’s partly genetic, partly environmental, but according to the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a human disease. Many will argue that there are more serious and debilitating disorders, but that’s another debate and beyond this article. In its own right, addiction is a serious, debilitating brain disease that is being actively abused by Facebook’s algorithms, monitoring user behaviour, analysing the most visceral impulses of addiction, and using them against its users.

Addiction disconnects. Not only does Facebook help us unplug from reality, it does it under the guise of connecting the world. Why is this a problem? Facebook is funding its research against human disease with a technology that makes a serious human disease worse in the population. The very system that sells itself as making the world more social, more connected, is actually doing the opposite. Now, there are smarter people than me working at Facebook, of that I’m sure. Moreover, these people understand the technologies inside and out. So, given that the odds of Facebook engineers knowing everything I do and more, and yet not even advertising to the public better methods of networking, methods that are less manipulative and damaging to vulnerable people and the social fabric of society at large, what is the gig? Why isn’t this big news? Why isn’t this issue even on the radar at all? One can only imagine they have their very good, very legitimate reasons.

I’m sure.

Students! You are Prime Targets for Manipulation!

At this point many of you are probably wondering ‘what has this got to do with me? I’m not addicted. I’m just a student.’. And it’s a perfectly acceptable question to ask, but here’s the thing: As a student, you’re extremely vulnerable to Facebook’s manipulation. Students deal with higher levels of mental illness, depression and social anxiety, those being some of the most debilitating aspects for our social group. More than this, students are trying desperately to form social connections, especially when they first start out at university. Facebook and other social media platforms thrive on the insecurity of students trying to make their way on the social scene. We’re also chronically bored. Bored people find themselves spending inordinate amounts of time on these platforms because there’s nothing better to do. Procrastination, too, adds to student stress and burnout. Perhaps if we weren’t constantly having our essence sucked by horny virtual-dementor-algorithms, we’d have time to get some of our work done (I’m sure the least popular argument on this list). All of these factors make students prime targets for algorithms which want to keep you trapped in Zuckerberg’s Wonderland for as long as possible.

I’m not saying go cold turkey like I did but think very carefully about how you use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Communication, after all, is a two-way street. When we look out of the window, the things on the other side look back. The real question when using social media is who’s using who?

An Individualist Collective : Millennial Intent

The idea of a collective of individuals is probably a little difficult to digest, but contrasting ideas are often innovative and meaningful. Integrating and working with many different people with individual, unique backgrounds, purposes and minds is a revolutionary notion for a society which has become too samey, sluggish and boring.

Yes, we already have collectives, but they are homogenous, often espousing rigid, inflexible political mantras and violently ejecting anyone who does not agree with all of its overly simplistic, obstinate pillars of agreed wisdom. This was once religion, though now more often we see it in the far-left political sphere. More than ever, the idea of intolerance towards perceived intolerance (often just disagreement on truth), has become acceptable and even desirable on the left.

I ask, what kind of society do we want to build for our children and future generations? Is it a world filled with shame, inflexibility and intolerance to diversity of opinion (though often touting social diversity)? Or do we accept difference in human character, sexual orientation, race, religion AND thought? Nothing in nature is uniform, not even DNA, so why do we expect this to apply to ideas? The blueprint for life is built on variance, not similarity. Our thoughts, a product of our brains, and our brains – no two the same – a product of our DNA. Every biological blue print is different.

Here at Millennial Intent we appreciate variance in all forms, including the organic ideas in the organic mind. We connect, find value and meaning, through our differences. Like the magpie’s nest, we would have all the best, shiniest medallions of human thought and ingenuity, but unlike the magpie, we assort them to the benefit of humanity, building a narrative, a palace of ideas that everyone can benefit from.

We want a collective and to accommodate your ideas on our platform. We value independent thought. The kind of person who thinks about changing the world while they’re on the bus to work, or mowing the lawn on Sunday. We value active thought, inspired ideas that happen on the go. We make ideas meet, joining the dots, making the connections which make for fascinating reading world-shattering ideas.

There is no longer any diversity among the elites. The news outlets, social media platforms and Universities are against diversity, against you, the average working man or woman. Clever though you are, you are kept in check by these well established yet often difficult to see forces of negative pressure. You deserve better than this. We at Millennial Intent have started a grass roots movement for the disillusioned and depreciated. We want a platform that supports you and gives you a voice against these forces.

It comes as no surprise then that we see a lack of diversity amongst the political elites, media outlets, social media companies and Universities. All now (with but a few exceptions in news) can be described as left-wing organisations. Everywhere you see diversity crushed, a left-wing organisation harbouring virtuous slogans of social diversity has sprouted. It will be our job in this generation to pay close attention to the double standards, false virtues and evil deeds of these kinds of institutions. We have a moral duty to begin to call out these insidious tactics where we find them and replace them with honesty, integrity and cooperation.

Would a bird find its home if all the trees were the same? A flower is called a weed when it is numerous, and beautiful when it is rare. We value the summer because it only comes once a year.  Only a few have seen the Aurora Borealis in person and most say it is a singular wonder, a visual feast in the coldest regions of the world where the white snow frames its vibrancy all the better.

Be a flower amongst weeds. The first day of warmth after winter. An aurora on the edge of the world.

True diversity is rarer than you think.

Millennial Intent

Art by Zoe Outram Art

Write a letter, start a revolution.

Dear reader,

I was talking with a friend I met through a poetry group on Facebook the other day. I was deciding to leave the platform and, as always, he had a novel suggestion. I had asked for his details because I wanted to stay in touch with people off the platform. If you look at my previous post Facebook, what have you done to us?, I decided to leave Facebook for various reasons, ethical, behavioural and psychological. His idea was this: ‘Let’s write a letter to each other’.

I thought to myself how peculiar that was and was meditating on the idea a bit. Why have we stopped writing letters? Well, the clear answer is that the internet does it faster. Sure, the internet has revolutionised communication but is that a good thing?

We used to take time to think and reflect on all the amazing things that happen to us in the weeks and months. Carefully, we’d curate a picture of our lives that showed all the most meaningful experiences we’d had lately in the two-fold process of consolidating and processing it for ourselves, and sharing with others.

I thought about what it would be like to receive a letter that was not about doctors appointments or bills, written in an individual font, addressed to me, the person, not me, the body, number or consumer. I came to the conclusion that writing letters to close ones is probably the most counter cultural, revolutionary thing young people can do in an age saturated by technology, and so coked up on its own sophistication, it’s losing any meaning or value it might once have had.

So here’s my challenge to you. Write three letters this month. Really think about your life and what has happened. Share it with those you care about but don’t see often enough. Tell me in the comments below that you posted it and that you’re taking up this counter revolution against technology. We need to slow down and think at the speed of a letter.

Share this article with friends and family. We’re re-writing the future, one hand-written letter at a time.

Yours Sincerely,

MI

Contact us if you have ideas or would like to share your thoughts on society.

Facebook, what have you done to us?

Facebook has had a good, long life. It started out as a humble networking site on the campus where Mark Zuckerberg studied at Harvard, growing into the largest social media platform today. Humble beginnings perhaps, but where are we now?

Mark Zuckerberg is worth $55 billion, owns snapchat, whatsapp, instagram and various other platforms and technologies. His only remaining competition in the social media realm is Twitter, and it’s not clear how long that will remain the case.

Zuckerberg, having crowded out and monopolised on social networks, is now manipulating and controlling the information we see and the words we can use. According to Jason Lanier, a tech guru from Silicon Valley, social media platforms, by and large, harbour negative biases towards news and content. This means that the worst people and stories rise to the top more quickly than positive content. Not only this, but Facebook, more than ever, has the ability to shut down speech. Reporting content without context is rife and often vindictive. Radicalism, too, hides in shelters behind private groups where users gather to manifest their political malcontent and to be heard by those who will agree with them. Leaving them unchecked often encourages extremism over time.

On an individual and psychological level, Facebook is addictive. It gives you a quick neuro-chemical boost every time you get a like, share, or comment, and reinforces your compulsion to check, to revisit, to waste more of your time than you could ever want to waste. I want to live a life filled with books, music, people, creative design and purpose, none of which the platform can give me, all of which it can take.

Follow MI for an update in a month as to what has changed. Was it worth it to leave? How did my life improve? Can you benefit from taking a leap into the unknown which was once known to us all? Are we the same without social media? If we’re different, how and by how much?

Zuckerberg, I’m going to find out just what you’ve done to us, and how badly we need to reshape our environment outside of your image.

Logging out,

Millennial Intent

5 Takeaways from Kanye’s Visit to the Whitehouse

The internet roared in response to Kanye’s dinner with Trump yesterday. If you were on Twitter at the time, it felt as if the two meeting had the impact of comets colliding in space, or the shuddering vibrations of the Earth’s tectonic plates. Surprising really, considering the placid, amicable discussion the two had together, never really feeling heated, never having the essence of catastrophe that so many highlighted online.

This was a frank discussion about beliefs, values and political standpoints between two happy, consenting adults. Sure, Kanye runs away with himself at times, probably more to do with nerves and excitement at the opportunity to speak to someone he admires more intimately. Even so, though his speech is sometimes rapid and disorganised, there’s a degree of truth in some of the things he says, and a great deal of hypocrisy from the liberal media in response to his genuine comments.

tuckeron kanye

Tucker sees some wisdom in Kanye’s enthusiastic discussion.

So, let’s look at the 5 main takeaways from the #kanyetrump dinner:

1. Swearing is not the worst thing that’s happened in the Oval office.

So, let’s be real about this, a little swearing is probably the least awful thing that’s happened in the White House. As Ben Shapiro was quick to point out in a twitter response to Jim Acosta who himself tweeted ‘Kanye just said ‘motherf***er’ in the Oval Office. Per WH pool.’, Shapiro responds: ‘And Clinton had Oral Sex in there. So if we’re going to talk about degrading the location…’. And he’s got a point. A few expletives aimed at no one in particular are, by histories standards, nothing to write home about.

clinton shapiro tweet

Ben Shapiro reminds people, a couple of swears is not the worst thing to happen in the Oval Office.

2. Kanye is looking for a role model, something we are sorely lacking.

Kanye launched into a discussion about the MAGA hat he wore, and how it made him feel during the campaign for Donald Trump’s presidency. With bright eyes, he exclaims ‘it made me feel like superman!’ and comments that while Hilary’s campaign ‘I’m with Her’ was fine, it didn’t make him feel the same way that Trump’s campaign did. ‘As a guy that didn’t get to see my dad all the time’, Kanye explains, Trump’s campaign made him feel ‘like a guy that could play catch with his son.’. And he’s right. People are screaming for good role models, arguably men more so than any other demographic. Many rallied on this point to show their support.

3. Using someone’s mental health as a way to shut them up is not Democratic.

It’s stunning that a day after #WorldMentalHealthDay happened and with the hashtag still trending on Twitter, CNN news anchors and other left-wing media outlets immediately attacked Kanye on grounds of insanity. A white female news anchor launched into an attack on the soundness of Kanye’s mind, stating ‘I think you had there a man who’s clearly not OK and a president who’s willing to exploit that’, further dragging Trump into the firing line to make him out as some monster manipulator of the mentally ill. She then goes onto describe the dinner as a ‘circus’, having just a sentence ago voiced outrage at the lack of address of mental health issues and race relations between Kanye and Trump. Make up your mind CNN. Are you advocates for mental health or are you part of the problem?

mentalhealthhypocrisy

Just a day after #MentalHealthAwarenessDay, CNN discredits Kanye by claiming he’s ‘clearly not OK’ and describes the dinner as a ‘circus’.

4. White anchors speaking on behalf of black people seems a little racist, doesn’t it?

Many were quick to point out that a large proportion of reports in the liberal media were from white anchors speaking for black people and using racial outrage as a weapon to discredit both Kanye and Trump. Others were quick to point out that even where there were black speakers on the topic of Kanye and Trump, black people were only allowed a viewpoint if it was strictly in line with the interests of the Democratic party.

twowhitepeople

A twitter user points out the hypocrisy of white anchors discussing the opinions of Kanye, a black man.

 

heyblackpeople.png

Can you even have a right-wing view and be black? CNN says ‘no’.

5. Using someone’s dead mother as a smear doesn’t seem all that professional.

Don Lemon, speaking for CNN, later commented that ‘Kanye’s mother is rolling over in her grave’ at the opinions and views of her son. That’s a bitter Lemon indeed. Is this a game of limbo? How low can you go CNN?

thedailycallerkanye.png

Don Lemon’s comments about Kanye’s dead mother used as smear against political opinion.