January 14th, 2013

Ctrl+Alt+Del - Scott & Ted

The failure of life and life of failure; the past, the present, and some day the future

Anyone who is at all connected to the internet has probably already heard the news about the suicide of Aaron Swartz. When I first heard about it I didn't think much about it, but as I've stumbled across and glanced through more and more articles and personal remembrances my thoughts have grown and evolved.

The first news article I read made mention of how he created the first version of RSS when he was approximately 14 years old. My first feeling was of jealousy. Aaron Swartz is my age and that could have been me. Plenty of people have called me smart or intelligent and that could have been me. I didn't wish him, or any other "child prodigy", harm because they do something I could have if I had known better or applied myself more. It might not have been RSS, or anything else we know, but I could have been great, and I didn't, and I failed.

Aaron Swartz also labored under bouts of depression. I remember when I was only about 15 years old laying on the couch at my brother's place, and other times and places before, feeling depressed about all the things I would never get to do or all the things I had in front of me and how little time I had to accomplish them all. I've been there, done that, and managed to get through it. Every time I think about our political system I get discouraged and feel hopeless, even to this day. I didn't conquer my depression by going out and doing the things I wanted but by suppressing the things I wanted and not thinking about them. Instead I limited what I did and wanted to do, safely excusing the biggest things as unachievable, and in that way I failed.

Aaron Swartz was bisexual, although he refused to accept that label. His refusal to accept that label is one more way humans have failed. The fact that label means anything more than having a sexual interest in both men and women is a failure of our culture. Labels, like names, are useful in conveying concepts to others, just like saying the electricity is AC or DC or talking about programming design patterns. Saying the object is red is a label and conveys information. That we associate red with anger, passion, or energy is unrelated and a product of our culture, yet we should strive to keep it from defining our view. The label of being gay comes with plenty of assumptions and expectations. I accept the label gay, for being interested in men, but reject every other assumption and expectation anyone tries to lump on me. I ignore anyone who tries, and I dismiss anyone who can't accept that as someone I wouldn't have wanted to know anyway. The rejection of a label isn't accepting who you are, but rejecting who you are and letting others make that definition for you.

I could have done a lot of good with my life already. I could have networked with the people that could have made it happen. I could have applied myself. I could have made it happen. But I didn't, haven't, and only time will tell if I will. I will tell you this, though: I won't ever give up. I may not be on the path I wanted to be on 10 years ago, I may not be doing the things I wanted to be doing, I may never get to do some of the things I want to do, but I won't give up. I'm not in a place to make things happen right now, but some day soon I will be again and as long as I'm still alive I can try again.