오늘은 하루종일 식물 가꾸기를 해서 즐거웠습니다. 토요일에도 옛날과는 다르게 (자기격리덕분에) 혼자서 집에서 오래 보내다 보니까 새로운 취미생활들을 발견하고 있습니다. 작년에도 한번 시도하다가 제대로 안됬는데요. 새싹들이 다 죽어버리다고구요 쉽게 ㅜㅠ 지금 있는 원베드룸 아파트에서는 창문유리가 너무 두꺼워서 그런지 아주 쉽게 새싹들이 죽어버립니다. 흐물흐물 … 금년에는 그래도 배우는 차원에서 또다시 시도했더니 재미를 들여서 매일매일 귀여운 식물들 가꾸는라 시간가는 줄 모르고 있습니다.
성공이란 단어의 의미를 다시 생각해봅니다. 책에서도 썼듯이 저는 현대사회의 성공의 의미는 너무나도 어긋났다고 생각됩니다. 소셜미디어도 요즘에 보면 follower 를 더 얻으려고 특히 젊은 사람들이 난리를 칩니다. 더 influencer 가 되려고. 더 TikTok famous 되려고. 그것이 2020년의 성공의 상징입니다. 저는 그것이 잘못됬다고 봅니다.
제 자신의 과거에 대해서 반성하기도 합니다. 솔직히 인스타그램을 즐길 때가 많습니다. 친구들과 경험을 공유하는 재미가 있는 것은 사실이지만 follower count 나 like 가 신경 쓰이는 것도 인간적인 마음입니다.더 유명해지기를 원하고 더 인정받고 싶은 욕심이 있습니다. 이기적인 생각이 아닐까 합니다. 제대로 다져진 기술이나 업적도 그다지 없는 상태에서 사람들에게 관심만 받고 싶은 욕심만 있으면 그냥 아무 쓸모없는 무용지물이 되지 않을까 생각됩니다. 그리고 기술이나 재능이 있다고 해도 그것을 자기자신의 clout 만을 위해서 쓴다면 사회에 무슨 소용이 있겠습니까?
소셜 미디어의 해로운 점들이 지난 수년간 연달아 발견되어 걱정됩니다. 시기와 비교 의식을 유발하는 점, 정신건강에 나쁜 영향을 주는 점. 정보적/정치적 차원에서 신뢰감이 없고 조작하기 쉬운 점. 악의를 지닌 사람들이 아주 manipulate 하기 쉽다는 점. 그런 점들을 우리가 더 명백하게 파악해서 social media 의 새로운 moral ethical code 가 탄생됬으면 하는 바램입니다.
장래의 세대는 social media 라는 발명에 크게 실망해서 반항을 할 것이라 추측합니다. 과거의 세대가 영상대신 라디오를 듣고 TV 채널도 고정된 한두가지만 (MTV 같이) 봤을 때가 있었듯이 대중의 취향은 시간이 갈수록 진화해 나갑니다. 지금은 워낙 유행이지만 미래에는 싫증과 식상함과 거부감이 오지 않을까요? 장래의 많은 이들이 social media 라는 미디어 채널 자체를 꺼리게 되지 않을까 생각합니다 (지금도 벌써 그러시는 분들이 많습니다). 아니면 정반대로 더욱 새로운 소셜 미디어 채널들에 계속해서 빠지는 분들도 많이 있겠죠. 하지만 저의 전반적인 바램은 우리들이 직접 소셜 미디어의 “best ethics” 와 바람직한 철학을 창조해 나가는 것입니다. “이렇게 하면 안된다,” “이런 콘텐츠는 어린 세대들의 건강에 나쁘다,” 그런 식의 “매뉴얼”을.
페이스북이나 인스타그램 혹은 TikTok 을 발명한 엔지니어들은 저의 롤모델입니다. 하지만 그들도 이 발명때문에 사회에 이런 영향을 미치게 될줄은 10년전에 상상도 못했을 것이 당연합니다.
In 50 years or so (I’m guessing I won’t be alive), many children of that era may never know the taste of fresh fish or seafood. Who knows what other things will go extinct or inedible by then.
It’s not just song birds that will go extinct, I assume. The future generations will never get to hear some sounds that existed in nature. It’s being able to see those birds, hear those birds, knows them at all. Being able to just experience seeing a fish. Seeing a whale. Tasting a fresh healthy fish. Things we taste, see, hear and smell in modern life in 2020 may never exist by 2070. We really do take things for granted. We are almost depriving the experiences of future children by prioritizing our own experiences first. We’ve been doing things with no consideration of consequences for the future.
Having been a meat eater and an all-around omnivore my entire life, I never really understood the environmental impact of meat, seafood, dairy and etc. until recently. Everything came to us so easily, happily and innocuously packaged under some cheerful branding or attractive logos or another. But now that the cat’s out of the bag, it’s impossible to conceal the truth. They say ignorance is bliss. In this case, it really isn’t. We are killing the planet. Out of pure greed for “taste,” really.
It’s really the human taste bud and appetite for meat, the demand, that we must control, nothing more. As long as there is demand and a desire for meat, people will keep eating it regardless of environmental impact. It’s extremely difficult to reverse a person’s appetite or cultural affinity toward one type of food or another, I imagine. But I believe our love and dedication to protection of nature must outweigh the desire for our tongue/brain to taste something. It must. Otherwise, this immediate primal desire keeps overriding our long-term potential for survival and hurting the very house we live in.
That’s the epitome of what makes humans different from animals, after all. If we keep indulging in the desires of our primal brains, that love to engage in sensory pleasures in sight, taste, touch, smell and sound, what makes us different from other animals? Animals are already doing that, driven by lust, survival instinct and reptilian instincts. But as long as we exercise our advanced human brain to set aside our immediate desires to eat or taste meat … or indulge in this luxury or that luxury … we can exercise control + self-restraint to protect the things that really matter to us.
Suffering and sacrifice. It’s foreign words to many people. But there’s no other way. As long as the human society at large is manipulated by desires, there’s no hope. Quelling desires, keeping them under our control. That’s the goal. It’s possible, and many have already shown us that.
Just like our parents took care of us when we were little and vulnerable, and forgave us for all our mistakes and trouble-making as babies and children. It’s time for the adults of today to forgive the transgressions of past generations and to do the right work (for the environment) by ourselves.
I imagine we are all living under one roof, this house called the Earth. There’s all kinds of families living under this same roof. Yeah, we compete against each other and fight all the time like a dysfunctional family, but one thing we can’t deny is that we are all living in this one house. We better take care of it, otherwise this whole thing collapses, and we can’t live anymore. So it helps to take care of the oceans, our backyard, take care of the garbage, making sure all the rooms are clean. We can’t bring the house down just to fill our tummies and please our tongues.
Human beings were supposed to be the kind, wise kings and queens of everything on land and sea, everything in nature. We were supposed to supervise, respect the circle of life, and make sure everything runs smoothly, like Mufassa does on The Lion King. In one way or another, well in many ways to be honest, we became unfit to rule.
If we don’t want future children to not hate us any more than they already will, we better start doing some stuff now to atone for the sins of our ancestors and ourselves.
I’m taking this quarantine time to take a breath from all the busy-ness of life. I think it’s been a good opportunity to reset a little bit. When you are caught up in the machinery of every day life, it’s easy to get swept up in that momentum and spend the days without thinking or retrospective.
Nobody can say this pandemic is a “good thing.” But if I believe in the words of ancient sages, it’s the concept of “Se Wong Ji Ma.” There’s no good or bad in this world but thinking makes it so. When something like this happens, or events that give you feelings of rejection, pain, suffering, loss, etc … it’s easy to be flustered, frustrated and feel bad all the time. But from the ancient Chinese story of “old man who lost his horse” … it becomes easier for us to gain perspective. That even the events that happen to us that seem like the worst things that could have happened to us … as long as we stay composed and calm … may have a way of working out or even working its way out in our favor … in the long-term. How that will take shape in this pandemic incident is mysterious to me, and perhaps will take much more time for us to gain perspective into God’s bigger plan. But I do believe in that. All that’s gone wrong during this pandemic … God will make it alright. There must be a reason for this.
Here’s the ancient story of “Old Man who lose his horse” in case you are interested.
There once was a village that had among its people a very wise old man. The villagers trusted this man to provide them answers to their questions and concerns. One day, a farmer from the village went to the wise man and said in a frantic tone, “Wise man, help me. A horrible thing has happened. My ox has died and I have no animal to help me plow my field! Isn’t this the worst thing that could have possibly happened?” The wise man replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.” The man hurried back to the village and reported to his neighbors that the wise man had gone mad. Surely this was the worse thing that could have happened. Why couldn’t he see this?
The very next day, however, a strong, young horse was seen near the man’s farm. Because the man had no ox to rely on, he had the idea to catch the horse to replace the ox and he did. How joyful the farmer was. Plowing the field had never been easier. He went back to the wise man to apologize. “You were right, wise man. Losing my ox wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. It was a blessing in disguise! I never would have captured my new horse had that not happened.” The wise man replied once again, “Maybe so, maybe not.” Not again, thought the farmer. Surely the wise man had gone mad now.
But, once again, the farmer did not know what was to happen. A few days later the farmer’s son was riding the horse and was thrown off. He broke his leg and would not be able to help with the crop. Oh no, thought the man. Now we will starve to death. Once again, the farmer went to the wise man. This time he said, “How did you know that capturing my horse was not a good thing? You were right again. My son is injured and won’t be able to help with the crop. This time I’m sure that this is the worst thing that could have possibly happened. You must agree this time.” But, just as he had done before, the wise man calmly looked at the farmer and in a compassionate tone replied once again, “Maybe so. Maybe not.” Enraged that the wise man could be so ignorant, the farmer stormed back to the village.
The very next day, troops arrived to take every able-bodied man to the war that had just broken out. The farmer’s son was the only young man in the village who didn’t have to go. He would live, while the others would surely die.
The moral of this story provides a powerful lesson. The truth is we don’t know what’s gong to happen — we just think we do. Often we make a big deal out of something. We blow up scenarios in our minds about all the terrible things that are going to happen. Most of the time we are wrong. If we keep our cool and stay open to possibilities we can be reasonably certain that, eventually, all will be well. Remember: maybe so, maybe not.
I don’t think we are doing a good job as humans ruling over other animals, birds, fishes and plants. We were supposed to be made in God’s image living with those animals and keeping order and balance among land animals, sea animals and birds alike, as a king of the hierarchy. I don’t think we were ever supposed to abuse our power and treat them however we wish, like we are doing now. It’s coming to bite us soon enough.
Today we are overfishing, overeating, overproducing meat and driving everything to extinction … because we’ve been greedy, insatiable and gluttonous, not able to limit or restrain our appetite for meat, fish and other blessings that God gave us. To be honest, I myself don’t exactly like the “ethical” argument from vegans … that there’s something “inherently immoral or unethical” about eating meat. For thousands of years or even more than that, the human kind had to evolve and adapt to eat whatever we could find to survive. Whether it’s hunting for meat or scavenging, we had to do whatever we could. And without the knowledge of agriculture and farming, there was no way we could even disturb the planet’s ecosystem at the rate we are today. But ever since we started to mass-produce things … that’s when it started affecting everything on a mass scale. Human greed can be infinite and timeless if we let it. However, the resources of the planet and the ocean are finite.
So I think that’s what it comes down to. If we were doing a terrific job maintaining the planet, there’s no reason why many of us ever has to give up eating this or that. But because our limitless appetite for certain things has gone out-of-control, that’s why the planet and other species are suffering. And as rulers made in God’s image, we were never supposed to put other species in suffering in order to satisfy our own selfish desires (taste mainly, and fancy, satisfying dinners). If it’s for daily survival, perhaps, it’s understandable. Other than that, it’s a total luxury that we are not supposed to indulge in daily. Otherwise, the planet cannot support our lifestyle in scale.
I really think there’s no moral code that God gave us when it comes to eating meat or fish. However, God did give us the responsibility to rule over them, and that means being a good parent and shepherd for those species, not a slave-slaveowner kind of relationship where we drive everything to extinction. That’s like an employer who abuses their employees to the point where the employee dies from exhaustion or quits, and ultimately creates an empty office. Or a farmer that mistreats its animals, and all the cows and sheep dying.
The young people of current and next generation are much more aware than the past. I believe that those people, like Greta Thunberg has already done, will take up this mission and be passionate about defending the environment. I wonder if they will forgive the previous generations (including myself) for being so negligible about all this. In order to atone for my own sins and the sins of the previous generations, I feel responsible to make sacrifices as well.
I want more green plants in my room. They really brighten up any room with their energy. I feel like they are alive. Talking to me. And they love it when we sing to them apparently. Even my horrible Smule karaoke singing.
Social media is devouring the world, especially vulnerable teenagers desperate for gaining more clout (likes and followers). We may still be underestimating the harmful effects of social media apps on the young. Joe Rogan had a great YouTube episode with a professor who showed a direct correlation in the steep rise of self-harm and depression/anxiety rates among teenage girls since the boom of social media (FB +Instagram) in 2011-2012, when kids started using iPhones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI6rX96oYnY.
The reason may be that social media has brought strangers and neighbors closer together than ever before. But that heightened visibility doesn’t always equate to making more friends or feeling closer to people. Oftentimes, it breeds envy and contempt. It’s allowing yourself to be open to all kinds of content from strangers and neighbors popping up your in face all the time. And what do most people want? Attention. Likes. Approval. Fame. Success. And in the pursuit of that, the Creators might have actually lost the “needs” of its audience in mind. I wish Creators were posting content that the people NEED … instead of just posting to get attention.
The line is blurring between what it means to be a passive “Viewer/Audience” of TV/Online Media versus an active “Creator” of content, due to the explosion of channels like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and more. Back in the day, it was only those who were well-connected and handpicked by network TV execs that “made” it into the public spotlight through the power of media broadcasting. With the advancement of technology, “broadcasting,” literally the ability to broadly transmit your message, is becoming easier at an exponential rate. This is good news for some; not at all good news for others. With the power to be seen in front of thousands of people comes responsibility. The kind of responsibility rarely taught in schools or understood at all, because even adults often don’t grasp the neurological influence that visual media can have on you.
Take TikTok’s success as an example. I don’t just think of it as a fun app as they are marketing it to be. Isn’t it amazing how they are now everywhere in mainstream conversations with American teenagers? How were they so good at creating hype and gaining attention around its own creators? Perhaps the engineers designing its algorithms so that the videos that get the longest views and the highest number of views (addictive, provocative content) will get shown in front of people the most, to keep people coming back to TikTok everyday? Many teenagers, especially girls, are creating the kind of content that’s being exposed to people all over the world and actually suffering from hate comments, stalkers and more. Is that “good?” Is “TikTok Famous” a “good thing?”
In ancient East-Asian philosophy, there’s a saying that goes “a young kid who succeeds early will not die a good death.” It was known that when an extremely young person gains a prominent position in society (or perhaps in the “kingdom” at the time), that it’s very easy for them to become a target of hate, envy and detriment which derails their career later on. They end up creating enemies, making mistakes and stop growing, not fully grasping the preciousness of their success. Early success or becoming TikTok famous as a young person are seen as virtues here in the U.S, South Korea, and many other countries. There’s a problem there. Again, I hate to sound like a broken record, but the “definition of success” is being skewed because of these apps like TikTok.
I don’t think they had evil intentions in mind, whether it was Instagram, Facebook or TikTok. They were most of all engineers and tech entrepreneurs who made these apps. It’s not the fault of the “Technology Creators” that have made this possible. They are the last people who could have predicted that “bringing the world closer together” (FB’s mission) would not always be a good thing.
But the rules. The RULES and ETHICS of Responsible Media Sharing have to be rewritten and reenforced, even on social media. If you want to create on broadcasting platforms, every creator should know the responsibility to create the kind of content that people NEED … and will impact people in positive ways. And tech companies should not reward people for making addictive or shocking content just for the sake of gaining more attention or hype around it.
Because the content you share have an impact on the people around you. That’s not just for you to play with. To make yourself into a star. It means neurological impact for your audience. State of well-being. Self-talk. So We must provide the kind of story, narrative and visuals, that will improve people. Regardless of the number of likes and followers you gain from it.
People say weird things to you when you are an Asian-American. One thing I realize is that for many Korean people, I will never be a true Korean to them. And for many American people, I will never seem a true American to them. Many times in life, people have put me in a ‘box’ which made me question myself: ‘What am I?’
I’ve spent life in the States for the past 20 years. It still hasn’t made me fully American though. I never forget my Korean side. I appreciate my Korean side. Whenever people mention my Korean-ness, it’s a source of pride. Same with my American-ness. When I go to South Korea, I often stand out based on my open-mindedness, frankness and the American-ness engrained in me now. I appreciate my American upbringing as much as I appreciate my Korean upbringing. I’ve had more American mentors of multiple ethnicities than Korean mentors in my life.
The problem is, there’s many “pure” Korean people who don’t seem to get along with me very well. Granted their life arc is very different from me, based on military service, having spent their entire life in Korea and having problems confidently speaking English and so forth. I must rub them the wrong way, or maybe they have trouble relating to me. In the beginning, I felt hurt because they wouldn’t always consider me their own. Eventually I realized something. I don’t have to belong to them to be happy with myself.
On the bright side, There are Koreans who appreciate me. Not all Koreans are close-minded against Korean-Americans. For those people, I’m a unique, special blend. They don’t relate to me just because I’m Korean but because I can offer them a new possibility. By being true to me. Not having to be somebody else. It goes to show that you cannot please all people all the time. Some of the people will accept you all the time for no reason. All the people will accept you at some of the times for no particular reason. But you cannot make all the people accept you all the time.
In a way, many Korean-Americans and Asian-Americans are operating on a scale system, not a binary system. You are not just completely American or completely Korean. Oftentimes, you are an amalgamation of both to a varying degree. You might have spent 1o years of your life in Korea and then 20 years of your life in Connecticut, North Carolina and New York. So Are you Korean now? Are you a New Yorker now? I don’t know. I would say mathematically speaking, 34% Korean, 66% American. In that manner, we retain a piece of the environment around us wherever we grew up in. I know Koreans who spent most of their childhood growing up in Germany, India, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, France or the Philippines. It doesn’t make them any less lovable or less respectable. They have their own valuable identity, which is separate from the pure Korean identity. And yet, we share that commonality, as the ‘in-betweeners’ which is also important. That alone is a unique identity in its own way. Being a precious hybrid.
For those of you who might be suffering from identity issues, believe me, it’s not an easy puzzle to solve. Especially if you are half-Asian or multi-racial, I can only imagine how much tougher it is for the outside world to consider you one way and then your internal world trying to express another. In a really funny way, I suffered from color discrimination from my own people based on my unusually dark skin tone growing up in South Korea. I was made fun of, along with my mom and sister growing up.
At the end of the day, the path I believe is “self-acceptance.” Not all Koreans will accept me, and that’s okay. Not all Americans will accept me, and that’s okay. But that doesn’t make you a watered down version of a Korean or a watered down version of an American. I am both of those identities and none of those things. Some people understand this better than anybody, especially those in America who call themselves ‘mutts,’ whose identity is so mixed from several generations of ethnic intermixing. Some people just like to disregard issues surrounding race and ethnicity altogether because it’s much easier to live that way in America.
I’ve recently been reading Professor Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu’s Book “When Half is Whole” which is an amazing read written by a leading scholar on the subject of identity. It’s been one of the best recent books I’ve discovered. He mentions that the 3 steps to living with your multi-ethnic identity is 1) Knowing and feeling different from those around you often in a negative way + 2) Struggle to belong, social pressure to conform and loneliness + 3) ultimate self-acceptance through self-definition of your own identity.
The ‘tweeners are a weird, special bunch. I truly believe that.
In marine biology, there’s a term called “Biodiversity.” Researchers say the most diverse, creative forms of marine life can be seen at the point where two completely different types of ocean currents collide. In that way, multiethnic individuals are like the meeting point where those two ocean currents collide. Throughout history, it is those multiethnic individuals who have given us amazing innovation and creativity only possible through cultural fusion. Jewish-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Indian-Americans, Asian-Americans just to name a few.
We can think different from those of our origins who are set in their ways. What will you choose to create with your own fusion? The world is your oyster.
Koreans are known for being patriotic and nationalistic. I myself was a big a Red Devil myself rooting for the red uniformed South Korean soccer teams when I was a kid. Generations and history of fighting against oppression and fighting for freedom remain in my blood. I love Korean culture, the people and the amazing recent explosion of its potential. Who knew our culture and our unique fusion of fashion, music, dance and entertainment would become a global export loved by so many?
In a way, what people see in Korean fashion, music and entertainment is a delicate fusion of East and West. We’ve learned a lot from Japan’s once dominant music and entertainment industry that came long before us as well as hip-hop, R&B, rap and dance from the U.S. Fashion from Europe. Philosophy and literature from China. Food culture that’s a fusion of many neighboring Asian nations that’s also distinctively our own. I’m proud of all of that.
What I want to write about is the delicate confidence that you must have as a multi-identity individual if you are an immigrant in another country.
I’ve wondered about this for a long time. It’s rarely discussed but it’s very important. The problem is this. If you were born in another country but currently live in another, your sense of your self-identity will be challenged from different conflicts that can happen: both in yourself and with other people. And the challenge actually has more to do with other people’s acceptance and “view” of you.
For example, I traveled to Israel recently and had the opportunity to interact with Israeli locals. I actually didn’t know that K-pop was a huge hit among Israeli girls, and many locals asked me questions. But the nuisance I got from these people, when I told them that I was Korean-American, was a weird, mixed confusion. Granted, Israel itself is a country formed by the idea that all Jews share the same blood so I can understand how they will be black-and-white about having a “pure identity” but they just seemed utterly confused that a person who looks completely Asian and Korean on the outside can call himself an American instead. They started asking me factual questions like “When’s the independence day of South Korea” just to test me, which I thought was freaking stupid. I barely remember the exact day of Chinese new year. Or my mom’s birthday.
I actually think I must have been a novelty to them. That an Asian person who looks Asian on the outside can actually be different in their life experience and mentality and can speak perfect English. Outside of multiethnic countries like the U.S, Canada, Australia, and certain nations in Europe, I can see how it’s an uncommon thing.
As Korean-Americans and Asian-Americans, we are always walking a delicate balance. We want to be accepted by society but not everybody will accept us because of who we are. We can often cause confusion in other people (especially those who tout that they are valuable for being “pure” culturally or ethnically, having spent their entire lives in one country or only one culture). When I go back to Korea or interact with die-hard Koreans, some Koreans make fun of me for not being able to remember Korean words proficiently. When I live in the States, some people make fun of the Korean accent in my English. Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong anywhere. Completely non-lingual lol.
In that way, the U.S. really is a blessing despite the existence of racism. Equality not based on bloodline or ethnicity or religion but equality as a basic, god-given right for all.
Being Korean-American is actually a 3-step process. First you realize that you are Korean and will always look Korean to people no matter how much you try to fit in with American society. Second, you realize that real Koreans won’t accept you fully because you think and speak differently from them, and have totally un-relatable experiences, that you’ve actually outgrown your motherland. Last but not least, third, you come to grips with all this non-sense and accept yourself just as you are. Both the good and the bad of being Korean-American. Holding onto the positiveness that comes with being Korean AND American, and also the negativeness that comes from both as well. People will ask you about both BTS AND Miley Cyrus’s latest meltdown.
That’s why I am the most comfortable with other misfits in society. I don’t believe in being a “pure Korean” or a “pure American” or any of that nationalistic non-sense. I’m proud of all things but I also don’t like to hold on to any of those things. Being multi-ethnic is the quintessential American identity. In this country, there’s people who are 1/8 Navajo Native-American and 1/16 Irish-Italian and 1/64 Japanese. Who cares.
I no longer let anybody make me feel bad by saying I’m not Korean enough or I’m not American enough. I’m me. We are our own group. We are ethnically Korean, legally American, and the ultimate magical balance that holds both of those things in one scale. Nobody else does that balance as well as us. The identity we have to own is the Middle path. Realizing That the Middle path is just as valuable as any pure path, perhaps even 100x more difficult. Being unbiased toward either but knowing both of those worlds fully. Embracing and criticizing them at the same time. That unique perspective is the unique power that we have.
In that mindset, there is no shame. There is pride. For being the rare, unique product that we are. Don’t let anybody tell you “you are not enough.” You were born enough.
Sometimes I like to eat French Fries with a little bit of kimchi and miso soup that’s all I’m saying.