I’ve had a blast makingads for ATLOSCon 2012′s Facebook page based on popular internet memes. As I’ve said before, I think it’s time that Objectivists start marketing in new ways beyond the classroom. We had a great response to the ads and got a lot more traffic on our FB page. Here are some of my favorite ads:
I’m making headway on setting up Awesome Sauce and have decided to start it as a group blog (thanks Rory for the suggestion!) and am working on building up a good base of posts to get the ball rolling with a steady pace. I certainly don’t have the time to write them all myself, so I’m opening it up to my readers to submit guest posts. I’m looking for posts on the following topics:
- Life lessons
- Everyday ethics
- College/Post-grad life
- Running a book/campus club
- Anecdotes related to any of the above
- Something I forgot to write on this list but you think would fit with the general idea of Awesome Sauce
As a guest writer I will include a biography/introduction to you and your blog as well as much linkage to your website/blog. You can submit an old post from your blog or write a brand new one! I would also much appreciate it if you would link back to Awesome Sauce on your own blog.
To submit any posts, please email me at mirandabarzey(at) gmail (dot) com.
And please please please spread the word as much as you can. Write up a quick post on your blog. Mention in on Facebook/Twitter/Google Plus/Whatever. Email your campus/community club. Talk it up to friends, especially those who are in our target audience (young adults interested in rational ideas). I want to make a lot of noise about this project and I’ll greatly appreciate any and all help given.
As I consider trying to expand my social circle outside the Atlanta Objectivists, I’ve been thinking lately about how to explain Objectivism to people who have never heard of Ayn Rand. How do I briefly summarize an entire philosophy? How do I give it full justice and not care people away with words like “selfish” and “egoistic” which carry lots of negative connotation?
Ayn Rand was once asked to explain her philosophy while standing on one foot. She gave the following:
- Metaphysics Objective Reality
- Epistemology Reason
- Ethics Self-interest
- Politics Capitalism
Clear. Concise. She goes on to say a bit more, which was helpful.
How do you approach it? What do you say to people about Objectivism when they have no knowledge of Ayn Rand or her ideas?
So I’ve been kicking this idea around in my head for a while. As I’ve said before, I see a major gap in activism geared towards young people. There are tons of efforts geared towards reaching high school and college kids through academics (essay contests, free books to teachers, intellectual journals), but almost nothing out side of that. There’s few outlets to talk about rational ways to approach relationships, entertainment, and everyday ethics. Essentially there is no Objectivist youth culture.
I’d like to change that.
I want to start a magazine. An e-zine for now, but perhaps it can grow into more. I want to relate to young adults interested in rational ideas outside the classroom. I want to talk to them about books, movies, sex, art, college, parties, fashion, hobbies, music, jobs, practical ethics, and so on. I want to appeal to both newbies and those familiar with the philosophy. Basically I want to make Objectivist equivalent of Seventeen. (But accessible to guys too!) Here’s just a few article topics I have in mind:
- How to expand your social network
- Family relationships: Does the “blood is thicker than water” adage hold true?
- Benevolent vs Malevolent universe premise info graphic
- The value of personal style
- How to interact with the police
- College myths debunked: what to really expect at school
- Adult Points column: How to’s about getting a credit card, finding an apartment, setting up utilities, car maintenance, talking to customer service, etc
- Apply concepts from The Not So Big House series to your apartment/dorm room
- How to eat paleo in a cafeteria
- How to throw an awesome themed party
I’m very very excited about this project, but I can’t do it alone. What I really need to get this going is A) Objectivists willing to write content in exchange for credit and visibility and B) money donations to spend on stock photos, design elements, and maybe printing costs someday. If you are interested in getting involved with the project, please email me at email@example.com.
I’ll also need subscribers. Stay tuned for updates on the project and spread the word!
I’ve never really considered myself an activist. I’ve always thought of activists as people who make videos on YouTube, stop folks in the street to speak about issues, and go to protests with a megaphone and a stack of pamphlets. They frequently get into debates and use every opportunity to talk about their causes. They are salesmen of ideas.
I hate selling. I hate debating. I hate going up to random strangers to try to get them to do something. It makes me feel all icky. And I’m a fairly sociable person.
But lately I’ve come to realize those are just a few methods out of a whole spectrum of actions to promote ideas in a culture. It dawned on me that things I do everyday- blogging, designing flyers and t-shirts, moderating a reading group, mentioning ATLOS on social media- are all forms of activism. Suddenly activism didn’t sound so icky. Hooray for options!
Here are some ideas for shyness friendly activism:
- Write! A blog, a letter to the editor, an article for The Undercurrent, a letter to your government representatives, a comment on an article, or even a Facebook status update.
- Link! If you find a video or article that really speaks to your values, share it online!
- Subscribe! Follow blogs and Twitter feeds of people you support. Get a subscription to newspapers, journals, and magazines that promote your values.
- Donate! Consider funding organizations related to your causes.
- Dress up! Get yourself some t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, posters, or coffee mugs with messages that relate to your cause.
- Volunteer! Do some work for organizations that you support. Tape up flyers, balance the books, order supplies, run the website, design materials, check facts, make signs, proofread, organize papers, whatever.
- Post! Pin up posters, flyers, and business cards onto public bulletin boards. Leave pamphlets and other informational materials in strategic places like coffee shop tables, communal book shelves (some cafes and restaurants have them), and office waiting rooms.
- Like! Like/vote up articles and videos on Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon and reetweet on Twitter.
- Request books! Ask your local libraries and bookstores to stock books on subjects you promote.
Wow. ATLOSCon is over. It feels really weird given that the conference has been on my mind for the past several months. It was a great conference and I had a wonderful time meeting new people, leading classes, and attending social events. Here’s a rather lengthy recap to gather my thoughts.
Oh my was I busy this time around. I volunteered free babysitting and photography for the silent auction, designed the t-shirt and flyers, held a packet stuffing party at my apartment, and prepped to teach 3 classes, one of which I picked up at the last minute. That week before the conference was frantic trying to finish all my work for the conference, wrap up all day job projects and clean the apartment for Dad’s arrival. I’m super lucky to have had Reid on hand to run to the grocery store and cook otherwise I probably would not have eaten at all. But I got it all done in time for the meet and greet Thursday night and I was able to enjoy the conference without worrying about work.
This year I taught 3, count em, 3 classes! Growing Up Objectivist with Dad, How to Improve Your Photography, and a last minute edition, Creating a Value Dense Home: Concepts from The Not So Big House Series. I was super duper nervous before my value dense home class. I had only read a few of Sarah Susanka’s books and had about a week and a half to prep. But it went great! There was lots of audience participation, I didn’t sound like a bumbling dork too much, and some people walked out with real solutions to their home organization issues. My class with Dad was awesome (as I expected). It would be really cool if other regional conferences would pick it up. Then Dad and I could travel and got to more Objectivist conferences! My photography class was so-so. It was the last class and I was just wiped out. I feel like I wasn’t as dynamic and engaging as I could have been. But the people who took it said it was good, so I’m glad they got something out of it.
As for the other classes, I enjoyed them, but I realized I was taking a lot of classes that a) I already knew the subject matter or b) I had taken a similar class last year. It wasn’t until afterwards that I wished I had taken Paul’s activism class and Aaron’s free market solutions discussion. But Yippee Mistakes! Now I know better for next year to explore more unknown areas.
The social events were by far my favorite part of the conference, especially the parties and dancing. I think last year I was focused on meeting all the Atlanta folks since I would be moving here, but this year I met more out-of-towners. I had several long conversations with people I had only known online, mostly other twenty-something women. It made me wish there were more young, single Objectivist girls in my social circle. I love all my friends here, but most of them are married with kids. It was refreshing to connect with people my own age who are in similar life situations. I also got to introduce my dad to all my new friends and contacts in Atlanta and I got to make some new friends. I really enjoyed everyone meeting (and loving!) him and showing him what I’ve accomplished in the past 9 months or so.
I had a great time at Luc’s art tour/guided visit to the High Museum. I’ve read his book and understand his method, but often I fast forward through it. I’ll look at a piece, figure out what’s happenings and the emotions felt by the characters, then move on. Going through the process with Luc and other ATLOSCon attendees forced me to slow down and really savor a work of art. In turn I had a much deeper connection with the pieces than I would have gotten on my own. It was a nice reminder to sloooowwwww dooowwwwwnnn.
The Fattest Baby I Have Ever Seen
Another event of note, I met Faye and Tim for the first time ever (I didn’t even know them on the internets before!) and I about died when I saw their son Henry. He is the fattest, chubbiest little baby I have ever seen in my entire life. I was so excited to hold him and marvel at his delicious little rolls. Made me super excited for my nannying gig coming up.
After ATLOSCon was over I felt sad and a bit lost for what to do with myself. For a long time ATLOSCon has occupied my thoughts and actions. For a few days I felt like I had zero purpose or productive aim. I finally sat down and wrote out a list (as I am wont to do) of my next projects. Turns out I have a whole bunch.
- Dragon*Con costumes
- Research and plan for ASL and photography curriculums for homeschool co-op
- Start knitting Christmas gifts
- ATLOS website
- Spruce up the apartment
- Improve graphic design skills and knowledge
- Reread Harry Potter series (gotta be on my A-game for D*Con)
- Atlas Shrugged trivia night
Oh yeah. I did do other things before ATLOSCon and I can again. I felt much better having a concrete list of goals to work towards and I’m happily back to normal life.
How was your ATLOSCon experience?
P.S. Check out photos from the con here.
There are a bazillion reviews out there for Atlas Shrugged Part 1, so here’s a short review:
Book vs. Movie
Ayn Rand fans, you are not the first people to have loved a book and thought the movie didn’t do it justice. No movie ever will. Books can go into way more detail that a two and a half hour movie can. Take the movie for what it is, be glad Ayn Rand’s name was on the silver screen across the nation, and suck it up.
- The casting for Hank was spot on
- Same for Lillian
- Francisco was smoking. Yes, he was shabby and not like the clean cut Francisco of the book, but playboys of the 50s looked much different than they do now. The modernization of him was done well.
- There were some good zingers: “Oh, you’re done?”
- The running of the John Galt Line
- Setting up the story for modern circumstances: trains are relevant because airplanes can’t afford gas at $40 a gallon
- Ellis Wyatt is so damn lovable
- The very last scene with the burning Wyatt fields and the sign
- There’s finally a movie about this. There’s been talk of it for decades.
- The theater was packed
- The random freeze frames that typed out the info of the missing heros looked they were spliced from a bad spy movie
- The utter cheesiness of John Galt when talking to people
- John Galt should have been more of a mystery
- All of Hank’s personal issues were left out, so no dramatic clash between Dagny and Lillian over the bracelet, guilt about wanting Dagny, or the speech after sex
- The sex scene was way too sweet for people who had the hots for each other for years. The sex scene from The Notebook would have been more appropriate.
- Hugh Akston and Stadler were all wrong
- Where’s Cherryl?!
- Dagny was softened up too much
- The villains were much to direct about their real intentions
It was an decent movie, but not a great one. I think they were limited by a low budget and time constraints. The dialogue was pretty stale. But they did get the ideas right and I think it will do a good deal to promote Ayn Rand in the culture. I just hope the second and third movies will get produced. When we were leaving the theater, I heard a kid behind me say, “That was kind of cool.” His grandmother said, “Yep. When you get older you can read the book.”
The Ayn Rand Institute has made it it’s goal to change the culture. They specifically have chosen young people (high school through college aged) as their main target for spreading Objectivism, as these are the years when people form their belief systems. It’s much easier to try to convince a 19-year-old of new modes of thinking than a middle-aged person set in their ways. I think ARI is right to do this.
To reach young people ARI offers essay and video contests, supports campus clubs, has a summer internship, finances books for teachers, runs the Objectivist Academic Center, and supports the Clemson summer conference on Atlas Shrugged. I might be missing some others, but it’s clear that the ARI does put a lot of time, effort, and money into spreading Ayn Rand’s ideas to young people. Without those efforts I’m sure thousands of kids never would have read Ayn Rand.
It’s certainly nothing to sneeze at. But I don’t think it’s all that can be done.
Since ARI goes through teachers and academic clubs to promote Ayn Rand, most of their materials center around academic subjects: philosophy, economics, science, history, and politics. There are countless pamphlets about environmentalism, government policies, socialism, economics, etc. And that’s great!
But where are the pamphlets about getting a girlfriend? Where are the guides to choosing a major? What about all the other things in our life that go on outside the classroom: art, parties, relationships, movies, sex, hobbies, shopping, parenting, and so on? If Objectivism is a philosophy for living, shouldn’t there be pamphlets for all aspects of our lives, not just the political side of things?
Even non-ARI Objectivist sources such as The Objective Standard or The Undercurrent (which is specifically for college students) focus mainly on those topics. There’s definitely a wider breadth on Objectivist blogs. Diana’s weekly practical ethics webcast and the advent of mini-conferences across the country is certainly changing the tide as well, but it still only represents a small amount.
I’m not saying that what ARI, The Objective Standard, and The Undercurrent are doing is wrong. I’m glad they exist and the should keep on keeping on. I just think there should be other sources to balance them out, especially if we want more young people.
I think that if you want to get the message out to a group, you need to speak their language. Today’s generation speaks in tweets, Faceook updates, YouTube videos, magazine articles, and blogs. I think the best way to spread Objectivism is to make a lot of noise on these platforms. And not just noise, interesting noise!
I think that we need to put forth answers to young people’s questions from an Objectivist point of view. We need blogs, magazines, and YouTube channels giving advice on everyday problems with school, parents, sex, time management, and friends. There should be a magazine for young Objectivists with reviews of good books, movies, and music.
I think we need to intrigue young people. We need more art based in rational values. We need teen novels with selfish characters, movies that have romantic plots, and music with a good sense of life. I think the Atlas Shrugged movie might be a step in that direction, but I’m not sure.
I think Ayn Rand should pop up on social networking. We need an Objectivist video to go viral. Atlas Shrugged needs to be common among people’s favorite books on Facebook. #OCON should be a trending topic. Dominique needs a Sassy Gay Friend. Can you imagine how many people would read Rand if there was a meme about it?
Objectivism needs to look good. We should have kick ass clothes. Not just lengthy quotes screen-printed on t-shirts, but clever and cute designs that even people who haven’t read the books would like and wear. (And Rearden Metal bracelets!) Our websites should be dynamic and easy to navigate. There should be a photo calendar of hot, selfish boys with their shirts off on dorm room walls.
I think most importantly Objectivism needs to be fun. We’re happy people, right? We should be inviting college kids to our interesting and fun conferences. We should have lots socials that bring rational people together for brunches and karaoke and laser tag. There should be laughter and dancing!
I think if we are truly going to change the culture, Objectivism needs to be in more than just classrooms, academic journals, and John Stossel. It needs to be in all areas of life, on platforms that a majority of normal people access. After all, it is a philosophy for life!
I’m not suggesting that ARI or other Objectivist institutions change their ways. I think it would be disastrous if ARI tried to to start an internet meme or The Objective Standard had a “Dear Abby”-esque column. That’s not their function and they should stick to the academic stuff. What I’m suggesting is that other Objectivists step up and fill the gap. I see it already with Jenn and Kelly in regards to parenting, ATLOS in regards to socializing, and Diana Hsieh in regards to doling out practical advice. Some of the Atlas Shrugged video contest entries were fresh and interesting calls to activism that truly speak to young people. I try fill the gap with my own blog by presenting instructional, funny, inspiring, and benevolent content. I try to do it in my work with ATLOS. It’s what I hope to do in the future through whatever work I do, whether it be design, photography, or nude modeling.
What are you going to do?
You might have gotten a link to this article on Salon.com titled “How Ayn Rand ruined my childhood.” I suggest taking a minute to read it.
First off, I think how the author’s father acted was abominable. Forcing his child to take classes at ARI and asking her to suddenly become financially independent is just awful. I can understand how she would link those bad experiences to Objectivism and Ayn Rand and denounce it all. But this is by no means an accurate description of how Objectivism should be applied. Not one bit.
My father was an Objectivist and by no means did he try to force it upon me. Nor did he mindlessly quote Rand instead of helping my siblings and I negotiate problems. I plan to give a talk about my experiences growing up with him at ATLOSCon. A webcast will be offered later for those who cannot attend.
I think the author’s father treated Objectivism as religious dogma rather than a philosophy to interpret and apply to your life. I’ve seem similar gaps in theory and application in other “Objectivists”, but you can’t look at the actions of one individual and judge an entire philosophy based on it. There are wackos in every belief system. To balance out the wild stories, here are some real life Objectivists who are not crazy.
To the author of the article, I am so sorry for the horrible things you went through. I wish you could have had better experiences growing up. But I hope you don’t write off Objectivism as a whole because of your father’s misinterpretations.
I have a dirty little secret. It’s not what a good Objectivist girl should be into, but I love it anyway.
I love hobos.
I’m not talking about roadside bums with cardboard signs or beggars on the corner. I’m talking about Great Depression era gentlemen of the railroads. I’m talking about the traveling workers who criss-crossed the country selling their skills, meeting new people, and romping around with little else than the clothes on their backs. It’s a fascinating sub-culture.
I love the secret hobo code that popped up on fence posts.
I love hobo slang.
I loved this movie that featured hobos.
I love hobo stew.
And I love this poem about a traveling hobo.
Perhaps I’m more in love with the idea of hobos that how they actually were. Stealing train rides and living in near poverty is not all that awesome, I know. But I love the idea of the proud, friendly hobo from the poem that never begs, borrows, or steals and relies on his knowledge to get the things he wants. I like the idea of gathering around a fire, sharing food, music, and stories. I find it romantic in a way. I suppose it appeals to my unfulfilled need to travel and experiences trying to make it on my own.
I have now learned there is a Hobo Museum and festival in Britt, Iowa. I wanna go.