Essayist and storyteller on life, liberty and the battle for happiness. Several million served. Words at Human Parts, Forge and PS I Love You. IG: heygorman
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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Ah, so this is dystopia. As I annually do, I’ve curated a list of my favorite pieces from the year that was, each with a small snippet of director’s commentary.

In last year’s edition, I remember saying: “I initially wanted to cut this list to a Top-10, but, sadly, dystopia has been very good for business and has given me a lot to talk about.” Well, in 2020, we reached a level of hell that depressed me past the point of wanting to say much at all.

I wrote significantly less this year than I did in either 2018 or 2019. Instead I expended most of my energy merely trying to endure the irreconcilable — a global nightmare with two rules governing my…

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Photo by Caleb Fisher on Unsplash

You know me. Always doom-and-gloom. Always Mister “But Wait, It Gets Worse.” Been that way for a decade, and for the balance of my career here in public.

For reference, here’s what I first wrote four years ago today:

The neo-feudalist economy caused by unchecked, unregulated capitalism that turned at best a winking nod to social welfare, more often a blind eye, and at worst a joyous ax, has facilitated a nationalist, authoritarian rise in pitch, and an abrupt shift right in federal ideology. Donald Trump is both the drooping wilted leaf of this societal rot, and the root.

Trump the politician, for all his bluster, is the product of fractious wealth concentration among the global elite — men very much like Trump the businessman. It is no secret that this true elite (not the intelligentsia or coastal elite, mind you, they are mere interlopers in the club and not the backroom VIP lounge entrants) have a penchant for shuffling the deck of the world order, and a potential to set fire to it, if it suits their interests. They stoke the flames of racial tension, and ostracize those already precariously perched in society’s margins. So it appears that this has become our new reality. …

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Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

If you really want to be satisfied with your life, you should really lower your expectations of it. The world’s dark. Dream through the darkness, yet be prepared to wake.

Then, become an expert at going through the motions. At doing what’s needed to keep the lights on. At committing to things and following through on them with vigor. At cultivating a compassionate and chiseled moral compass without compromise.

If you really want to be at ease, you need to take good care of you. …

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Photo by Cameron Smith on Unsplash

I’ma be honest with you: We’re probably fucked. All of us. I mean, maybe not you and I specifically, but as a society? The bread’s become toast and you know what they say when bread becomes toast. So a lot of what I’m about to say, really, is just a thought exercise that will vanish into the ether.

How much more evidence do you need? An armed coup attempt at the US Capitol, a pandemic leaving 360,000 dead, an economic depression that feels endless in its own carnage, a president who essentially abdicated his duties, and a massive network of 74 million Americans that’s sorta okay with the job he did. …

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Twitter permanently banned Trump from its platform late Friday, January 8, 2021. I’ll award their leadership one point and, if I were grading their conduct over the past decade, I would give them that one point on the standard 0–100 grading scale. You failed, Twitter. Spectacularly so. But at least you didn’t get a zero or an incomplete.

Forgive me if I’m not doing cartwheels, singing “ding dong, the witch is dead,” over Jack Dorsey’s sudden pivot toward sanity and the greater good. Yes, it’s great that the twatnozzle-in-chief finally lost his megaphone. It beats him still having it. …

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The word “we” is weird, because it’s sometimes a bit muddled as to who “we” could be. So, in this case, I’ll define it as people who voted Democrat in 2016, 2018, and 2020.

Just after Donald Trump won the election to the Presidency back in 2016, a fair bit of the center-left (aided by Twitter bot swarms) bestowed upon themselves the moniker of “The Resistance.” That’s laughable for two reasons:

  1. Many of these people were white affluent people who’ve never had to “resist” much in their lives before.
  2. Nobody likes anyone who gives themselves a nickname.

Yet I’d like to peddle another crucial argument: True resistance is what we’re working against.

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I have a Catholic bible from my first communion. I’m atheist anyway, but I still hold onto it as a keepsake. I even read it from time to time. I find the back portion of the Old Testament — Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Songs, Job and Sirach —profoundly insightful. I’m glad I have it.

That Bible is a godsend insofar as in the fine print, it talks about how some of the events that take place between the covers are allegory, parable, “inspired by” guy or — to put it in modern literary terms — “based on” events at the time. For example, on Page 24, under the heading “How Do You Know?”, …

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Photo by Alexander Possingham on Unsplash

It’s New Year’s Eve, so I will keep this brief: If I could offer you any piece of professional advice for 2021, it would be to please stop working so hard.

There just isn’t any good reason to.

Hard work doesn’t improve your quality of life.

Hard work doesn’t move you up the corporate ladder.

Hard work doesn’t correlate with dollars earned.

Hard work doesn’t make you a better person.

Hard work is not indicative of your wealth, worth, importance, impact, personhood or character. Those are lies fed to you to keep you working.

People who demand hard work at the expense of your well-being are not good people. Neither are companies who do so. …

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The propaganda began weeks ago. In a swirl of optimism, magical thinking, empty promises and dissociation. Same as it always does, but this time with added oomph. “Cheers to a better 2021.” LOL.

Advertisers, media, politicians, corporations, entertainers, self-help ‘gurus’ … they want you to forget. Forget about what you just saw. About the disease and the 1.6 million around the globe who died. The 1 in 17 Americans who were infected with COVID-19. The 60 million who filed for unemployment. The explosion and erosion of American society and, to a lesser yet still worrying extent, of the global fabric. It’s time to “move on” and “leave that energy in 2020.” C’mon, man. …

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Photo by Jonathan Rados on Unsplash

I’ve been seeing a lot of this on Instagram and LinkedIn, and so I thought I’d address it: There’s an avalanche of folks out there in the universe wrapping up their 2020s with inspirational posts about how they pivoted and persevered. How they found love. How they grew their business. How they found peace. How they and their world are better now than 12 months ago.

I want to tell you that you don’t have to be one of those people. Some of those folks are lying to you, and to themselves. Some of them are blinded by their own myriad privileges. Some of them merely can’t read the room. Some of them are trying to sell you something. Some of them are engaging in toxic positivity, spiritual bypassing and magical thinking. …

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