A Time to Speak, a Time to Pause


I’ve seen bloodthirsty demands that “public voices” must speak on every social issue.

There’s a harsh condemnation on the silence of celebrities, clergy, artists, authors, and your average blogger—as if that silence was the same as the injustice itself.

I absolutely agree we must speak up. Silence perpetuates the status quo. I believe in the the gritty necessity of protest and picket signs. We cannot sit idly by in the isolated concerns of our own four walls. Silence is the accomplice to injustice, and I expect better from those who have the golden reach of influence. Our platforms have a responsibility.

I also wonder about the hasty speed we comment on issues which are still unfolding. I wonder how many half-informed people are writing too quickly to get clicks and views and attention and to catch the viral heat of the moment. I wonder if we can both raise our voices while listening across the widening divide. I wonder how we can slow down in crisis to engage with the hurting rather than brew up a think-piece for yet another grand, eloquent, self-promoting manifesto. (I know, I’m guilty of doing the same thing here.)

And I wonder why we demand so much from public voices, as if we are waiting to be told what to think. Or worse, to validate a preprogrammed opinion. Maybe those voices indeed have the power to change things—but we do too, starting with ourselves and the people in the room. We don’t need to know everything first. We can start with the stories across from us.

It‘s physically impossible to care about everything all the time. We can choose to be passionate for just a few crucial things in our very short time on earth. It can’t be done with a flashy, trashy headline that’ll be forgotten in a week, but by the accumulative power of listening to other voices as we find our own. I cannot speak for you, but with you. And if you and I are to be a voice for the voiceless, maybe that means stepping off the stage and passing the microphone to the unheard. I want to hear you.
— J.S.


https://instagram.com/jspark3000

Self-Affirming Blog Bias: The Danger of Reinforcing Misinformation & Inaction from Isolated Viral Awareness

One of the problems with circular echo chambers like Tumblr, Facebook, WordPress, or Twitter is that we mostly follow the voices that confirm our own preconceived beliefs while shutting down the evidence that runs counter to our bias. We’ve locked ourselves up in self-preaching choirs and impregnable ivory towers. Our life philosophy is then reinforced by the buzzwords and bloggers we want to hear, and we demonize a phantom enemy that isn’t anything close to a real person or idea, neglecting to engage with the real world and the very real issues at hand.

On a long enough timeline, you and I become radicalized into a new kind of fanaticism, devoted to our out-of-touch, fact-devoid, isolated cages. With so many actual injustices abounding that need solutions, our faceless debating hijacks the limelight and resources from the deficit of the people we claim to be rooting for.

This is a vicious cycle that continually perpetuates misinformation disguised in pieces of truth. Some of these truths are necessary, which is all the more reason it’s a travesty that they’re buried under a blind clicking frenzy. We buy into an aggregated “fringe platform” of like-minded ideologies that only feeds itself, like the mythical dragon ouroboros that chokes on its own tail, which only attracts people who already agree and don’t want to be challenged. This common delusion appeals to our basest urge for socialization and vicariously victimizing ourselves on behalf of someone else’s “inspirational tragedy.” Never mind that it’s the other person’s everyday life and only your two second click of a like button.

It gives us a self-righteous tingle to think, “I have the insider knowledge and you don’t.” It’s a shiny trophy of “online education” that will swell your ego and high-five the hive-mind, but it does nothing and goes nowhere and has no real chance of dialogue.

If this makes you mad, then it might be too late for you. I understand though: we hate the possibility of being on the “wrong side” and “losing face.” Being rejected by your group of yes-men or criticized by the opposite side feels like death, and we either self-destruct or destroy others. And to actually work to understand the issue? It’s too hard. We’re in love with trying to change the world by looking like we’re trying to change it, with pretty text on a screen.

Continue reading “Self-Affirming Blog Bias: The Danger of Reinforcing Misinformation & Inaction from Isolated Viral Awareness”

Who We Really Are Behind the Screen of Who We Want to Be

Photo from Sarah Kim


There’s something you need to know.

The people you follow online are not everything they present themselves to be. Including me. We don’t have it together, and the more it seems like we do, the less likely it’s true.

I’ve met bloggers in real life who are nothing like the idealized hologram that they vicariously present in pretty quotes and shiny pictures and inspirational passive-aggressive monologues. Some are cranky jerks. Some are just surviving. Some do it for the likes. Some are still in middle school. Some do it because they can’t do anything else, and they’re telling others to do what they only dream of doing.

I have nothing against them. I’m them. I only wish they were honest about their emptiness and their heartache. I wish they would say how they actually feel instead of preaching the ideal. I wish they wouldn’t talk from a pedestal. I wish the same for me, too.

This is the space where I want to be, where I tell you I’m not any better than you and I’m still learning, and it’s not to look humble in reverse or to find some easy excuse, but because we’re both in this fight together, and we’re seeing only a few feet ahead of us at a time, like halfway headlights in a harsh fog, just like everyone else. I’m putting away my soap-box. I’m rolling up me sleeves and getting knee-deep in the trenches. I’m eye to eye, side by side. I’m with you, and I’m for you. I hope you’re for me, too.

— J.S.

A Confession: I Once Wrote A Song About Killing My Ex-Gf — Actually, Twice

About social media, moralistic meme cultures, digging the dirt of our past, and a transparent future without privacy — and why this can all be a good thing.


I once wrote two different songs about killing two different ex-girlfriends.

In my college years I used to rap and freestyle, and using what lyrical skills I had, I recorded a song over Eminem’s “Stan” about killing my ex-girlfriend. A few years later, I did the same thing with Common’s “Retrospect For Life” about killing another ex-girlfriend and eating her baby.

These were sick, horrible, disgusting things that constitute assault and battery — and they make me want to throw up at myself. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

If you search for these songs online, you can probably find them on an old music site under my name. I say this to my own shame and horror, and I’m not proud of this in the least at all. I’m now publicly outing myself — not out of some patronizing “reverse humility” or a victim-card, but because I deserve any repercussions that come my way.

If one day I go public somewhere: I want to have outed myself already. I’m tired of keeping this regret a secret. And it’s okay if you’re disappointed or you dismiss me. At least I can finally breathe, unburdened.

Continue reading “A Confession: I Once Wrote A Song About Killing My Ex-Gf — Actually, Twice”