The Easy Road to Cynicism, and the Perilous Expedition Getting Back

“The adventure begins,” I thought to myself while sitting on the couch after working hard to get my apartment furnished and in order. One would think I was referring to the idea of being an adult, independent, beginning a new life of being self-supportive. However, in this case, my thoughts were of something else entirely. The adventure was of me completely abandoning my pessimistic ways and completing my metamorphosis into a real idealist. I honestly didn’t think it was possible.

There is a running joke between myself and my fiancee where I, in a self-deprecating manner, call out my own 17-year-old identity whenever he bubbles to the surface. This age was peak cynic for me. Matt the Detractor, Matt the Skeptic, Matt the Pessimist, Matt the True Hipster, Matt the Overthinker.

Matt the Confused.

This is not self-loathing. On the contrary, I understand now that this was an important step in my journey towards being the better person that my creator wants of me, but it doesn’t mean I like myself when my brain goes into fact-checking mode. It is a sign of insecurity in yourself when all you can do is try to prove others wrong using facts and statistics, however true they may be. To do so expresses a kind of high arrogance, an assumption that your methodological way of viewing the world is the only correct one. The surface of rationale, argumentation, and dialectic, however, is cold and hard, and the consequences of such paradigm are two-fold.

First, you’ll find yourself without friends, speaking a language unintelligible by common folk. Or, at least, you hope that to be true, but in the recesses of your mind there exists one other alternative: that all you claim to be is just a collection of fancy words and mindless trivia, and that everyone else is just as smart as you. Second, you’ll find yourself adopting a view of the world that significantly darker than those around you. You’ll begin to pedestalize your own intelligence while reducing the value of the opinions of those around you. Soon, nobody’s discussions about anything seem to make any sense, despite them having existed in the world for as long as you have.

Here you are, you can put it on the map. When you assume that everyone else is either uninformed or stupid, you have arrived safely at Cynicism. There are no humans in Cynicism, only lonely individuals pretending to be gods without actually having the power to back it up. They dole out judgments where none are needed nor appreciated.

Getting to Cynicism is an easy drive on a Sunday afternoon with little traffic to get in the way. The journey back from Cynicism, however, is far more dangerous than that. It’s more like a hike through hot swampland with alligators and venomous snakes. My trip took at least five years, and featured a detour through chronic lower-back nerve pain, a case of Meniere’s  Disease, and experiencing a setback in my dream to teach college.

There on the couch I realized, I’m no longer that person. I have his memories, yes, and the skill of skepticism sure comes in handy while doing academic research, but I’ve been transformed somehow. God, with his actual power, has turned me into a better version of myself.

I suppose I made it official when I changed my name on Facebook from Matt to Matthew. Matthew the Idealist, Matthew the Dreamer, Matthew the Pollyanna, Matthew the Sociable, Matthew the Optimist. I’m glad my dangerous journey has ended, and I’m excited to start my new adventure of actually being human.

So, I must ask. Have you made the same journey I have? Have you been wooed by the lights of Cynicism, only to realize that once there, it was a very dark place? How did you escape? Did you escape? Are you still escaping, or are you headed down the road to Cynicism right now?


Makeup Vs. No Makeup


This is going to be a short blog.

So which one is better? When girls wear makeup, or when girls don’t wear makeup? 

No makeup, all the way. End of blog. 

Oh, you’re feeling a bit ripped off? You think all blogs should be at the very least 200 words? Oh, all right. 

I like people. I’m a big fan of them, and am quite glad that I interact with people on a daily basis. I prefer talking to people’s faces, not their makeup encrusted husks that exist where a woman’s face should be. 

I’m going to say it like it is. Makeup doesn’t make you look more beautiful. Makeup makes you look more unnatural. It’s a safe bet that if you exist, you’re a beautiful person. And while you may not look like collective sum of the ever changing American impression of beauty, you look just fine in your natural state.

I want you to be yourself in every way. But all too often we’re victims of everyone else, just wanting to be like the shallowness that’s considered the best of all us. Yeah, you can see it in kids with iPhones, but you can also see it in girls who wants to look more like a supermodel.

I don’t want you to be a supermodel. Let me give you a secret. Supermodels are not that beautiful. They are the shallow end of a pool, with nothing to explore beyond what you can see on the surface. You have the potential to be a coral reef, not a kiddie pool, and it starts by not being a slave to makeup. Don’t be a slave to other people’s idea of beauty. 

Makeup has it’s place, I guess. But when I see a person so obviously obsessed with makeup that they loose their own body, that’s tragic. To me, there is no such thing as ugly. True beauty is found in a genuine smile or a warm heart.

Not to mention all that trash has to be bad for your face.

In short, I’d be perfectly okay with aliens coming and taking all of the makeup in the word. Then maybe we’d all find out who’s sincere and who isn’t.

[Thanks to Carter Singleton for suggesting this topic!]



So Your Blog Needs a Name?

Names. They stop us from every creative work under the sun. I’ll bet that more than once you’ve been stopped from writing that short story, song, or poem because you simply couldn’t come up with a solid name. I know I have. And while a good workaround for everything mentioned earlier is to simply name your work last, a blog doesn’t work that way. You need to have a name for the blog from the very beginning in order to establish its identity.

So you need a good blog name? Here’s how you do it in five not quite so easy steps.


1. Consider your blog’s theme.

So you’ve gone and set yourself up a Tumblr or a Blogspot or a WordPress (WordPress is the best. I would know, as I’m using it now). That’s great but… what do you want to write about?

Is your blog related to a specific topic, like computers or photography? Or does your blog cover multiple topics, like mine?

Is your blog serious, with little to no joking? Or is it full of jokes, references, and humor in an attempt to build a laid-back community?

The answers to these questions will not only help you focus your writings, but will also help you come up with solid titles.
2. Consider your blog’s audience.

Who is going to be reading your blog? Is it a personal blog, meant for friends and family? Or do you intend to “try to go mainstream with it”?

If it’s a personal blog, you can inject it with all of the “inside-jokes” you want. Seriously, go nuts building a framework of life experiences that only your friends will get.

But if you want a wide readership, you are unfortunately going to want to at least slightly conform to cultural norms. You want something either really catchy or really serious, depending on your theme.

If it’s a religious blog, you may want to consider taking a phrase from your religious text. If it’s a tech how-to-guide, you can’t go wrong including a name of a component or a procedure. Either way, make sure it’s something your audience will recognize before ever coming to your blog.
3. Make it short and simple.

Brevity is not a requirement in a blog post, but it absolutely a requirement in naming your blog. Keep it 5 words or less. In fact my blog name, A Link to the Matt, may run a little long. It also contains two articles and one infinitive. The only reason I’m using it is because it is awesome, of course, and it references something equally awesome.

Your title needs to be memorable. It needs to roll of the tongue with ease, and contain ZERO complicated words. Have you ever seen a tech blog called Servomechanism Alley? I didn’t think so. And yet Servo Alley sounds a heck of a lot better. And yes, the first one to actually make a blog by that name can use it. You’re welcome.
4. Inject your personality.

Next is integrating personality, and that is where I feel my blog title really shines. Yes, A Link to the Matt is a reference to A Link to the Past, a SNES Zelda game. And it’s even more than that.

On the internet, how you get from one place to the other is a link. A link to the Matt. As in me. Also, it rolls off the tongue. There is no word over 4 characters.

But enough about my blog. What should you do? Consider yourself. What are some of your favorite things? What’s one of your favorite words? Who it one of your favorite people? Don’t be scared to mix and match words until you find something you can repeat over and over again. When you find something you enjoy each time you say it, you’ve got a winner.
5. Come up with multiple titles.

Don’t stop at one title. Follow steps 1-4 until you run completely out of good titles. Scratch the names you like the least off of your list, and then get your friends to vote on which one they like the most. Don’t just do this with one group, as they may be too similar. Let friends of every race, religion, and status vote. Get their feedback, and then carefully pick out the winner.

And there you have it. A winner! Just be sure to Google your blog’s name (in quotes) so that you can be sure it’s unique.