Who am I?
I’m Harsh Shukla, an Information Technology graduate from Rutgers University living in New Jersey, USA. I like to consider myself a kid in my mid-20s with many questions and interests that span many fields — namely Technology, Philosophy, Physics & other sciences, Education, etc.
I also minored in Anthropology because I wanted to learn more about what makes us human from a cultural perspective. I began Philosophy minor to study more about the big questions that we often ask ourselves – who are we? Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? I hope to look at some of these issues in future blog entries.
More here: About Me
Why do I blog?
My goal is to inspire people and express my thoughts on life’s many wonders to hopefully make people think about the big questions/issues that we face as humanity. The things I wish to explore are those that help define character, grow intellectually as an individual, dream, and ask questions about the world through the eyes of a child searching for answers. These are often life-long journeys of inspiration that I wish to explore.
How did I end up starting this blog?
I believe the most critical & fundamental thing any human being does is think. I like to consider myself a ‘thinker.’ I will blog more on this in the future, but I process information best over time (and when my mind is least occupied). For example, if I have a conversation with somebody, I reflect on that later long after the conversation is over. I spend lots of time thinking, perhaps too much for my own good. It’s a neverending endeavor. I might reflect upon everything I did that day, or I may be thinking about some philosophical issue (or any other issue) while reading some article.
I spend lots of time lost in thought, and I often write down my thoughts. By now, I have several word documents filled with random thoughts (many of them get lost because I can’t write them down in the middle of the night). I used to post some of them on Facebook, but I realized there is more to gain by blogging about it. There is only so much I can put into 300+ characters. This is a short answer to why I blog – more on it in a future blog entry.
Why use ‘harshmode’ as name of blog?
There was a football player named Marshawn Lynch some years ago, and his nickname was ‘beastmode.’ He was given that due to his ability (and personality) to break through stacked defenses and tackles. I have seen 3-4 opposing players jump on top of him to bring him down, but he would lift them all on his shoulders & push through the defensive line for extra yards against all odds. I found that truly remarkable, and I would yell “BEASTMODE” after seeing plays like that.
That’s when I decided to personalize that with my name to ‘harshmode,’ which I used for years as an alias in online videogames. I look up to Beastmode pushing through the defensive line as me pushing through the hardships of life & finding ways to overcome anything and everything. Bring it on and pile on the obstacles, the pain, anything! I have a physical disability, but it will never stop me. The fight must never stop. I believe life is all about inspiring others and yourself to be more. BEASTMODEEEEEEEEEE! HARSHMODEEEEEEEEEEE!
What will I blog about?
The conventional wisdom for blogs is to keep the topic within a small niche. I realize that many different issues would have to be looked at to ask big questions about the world and the things that impact humanity. I believe there are times in life when you have to do things that go against conventional thinking. So I will focus not on one single topic but a plethora of topics.
I decided to start with general topics — Science, Technology, Philosophy & General depending on what is running through my mind that week. In general, I will occasionally do a few blogs about character, knowledge, sports, some movie/book reviews and mix it up to not get burned out. My personal goal is to focus on things that inspire & think. Perhaps over time, I will make “inspire people” my central target for the overall blog.
Also, I think it is essential to state the philosophical style I will be using for these blog entries. The focus will be on questioning things at the core. Almost nothing would be off the table from being asked (or ‘to doubt’ as philosopher Rene Descartes would say). I believe the most powerful beliefs/ideas/concepts can withstand not only the test of time but also withstand rigorous questions that could very well unravel those ideas. Every entry will be thorough – I do not like to cut my thoughts short and divide them to get stuff out there quickly because I feel it would be incomplete and of low quality. My focus is on the quality of few posts rather than the quantity of many posts. I hope I don’t get burned out.
What will I not blog about?
I am very open when it comes to topics I discuss or think about, but on the other hand, I realize there are some topics to stay away from. Those topics mainly include religion & politics. I recognize both broad topics can fall under the umbrella topic of philosophy, and I could blog about many sub-topics that I have spent a lot of time thinking/writing about over the years. In the past, I used to freely discuss my political/religious views with no regard for anything, but it got me into trouble a few times as I tend to not take sides without a thorough discussion, and I openly question/argue things. I may be comfortable with that, but most people out there are not comfortable having a serious religious/political discussion for whatever reason. I believe it has to do with emotions clouding their judgment. In my journey, I noticed that every religion/political system of belief (and religious texts across the board) exploits people’s emotions. You learn in psychology that when emotions are involved in any kind of belief, it will significantly influence a person’s thought process.
Even if I stay completely neutral in my own stance, topics within religious & political spectrum could alienate people. I feel uncomfortable alienating people by questioning what may be their deepest beliefs. As I mentioned above, arguments/beliefs of any kind have to withstand rigorous questions. I cannot talk about a view without questioning the intricacies that make up that argument. Unless I talk about these ideas in broad terms, I have no way of breaking down these questions/issues/etc. Occasionally, I will mention general things if I ever do a blog entry about science, climate change, or philosophy. Still, note I will not dwell deep into it. It will always be from a neutral, distant perspective.
As far as politics is concerned, that follows a similar line of thought. People often believe very strongly about their own political views. When strong emotions are mixed into that, people tend to become alienated from each other. Politics becomes challenging to discuss once people, who have already taken sides firmly, come together. At extreme levels, it is polarized to the point where there are only two sides and lots of anger – i.e., US politics in the current state). Unfortunately, almost everything seems to be politicized nowadays, so I will just dance around without getting too detailed for highly politicized topics. It is best to not enter the religious and political spectrum of discussion.
How often will I blog?
My goal is to blog once a week. There will sometimes be weeks with no blog entry because I don’t like to release incomplete blog entries. They will either be complete or not released at all. I am trying hard to keep them at or under 2,000 words apiece, so it takes time to get my ideas down & research together. I spend 2 days per week on blog writing, so I will sometimes push things back, especially if it is a topic that requires lots of thinking. Some weeks, I simply lack the inspiration to write. Sometimes, I go weeks without writing because I’m busy with something else or simply lack motivation.
What is my most important message to take away?
1) At the end of the day, the most important thing I wish to emphasize is to believe in what is important to you, but be open & willing to challenge your own beliefs. The most dangerous belief is one that is not open to any kind of change, even if the knowledge, evidence, and analysis all point to an entirely different conclusion.
Let’s say you are a detective investigating a murder. You can have your beliefs, suspicions, biases going into solving that mystery. You are expected to have those as a human being. Still, you are also expected to consider every piece of evidence you collect along the way, from a drop of blood to a strand of hair. You are expected to be thorough in putting the right criminal behind bars. A couple eyewitnesses may tell you they saw person X run up a dark alley chasing after the victim with a knife near the location of the crime scene. Still, you must do your due diligence before reaching a conclusion. The justice system’s job does not end there as it goes through the courts where new questions arise.
This is also how I see life itself – the quest of finding answers never ends even if you think you already have the answers. This is also one of the central cruces to science. Science is nothing more than a methodological technique to investigate something observed in nature (or questioned about). In the most basic terms, the basis of science comes down to asking questions and finding answers with evidence to explain a phenomenon. The job is never finished because ten more questions are waiting to be asked for every conclusion you reach.
2) One of the main goals of this blog is to get people to think. Socrates used to say, “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.” Thoughts alone may not change the world, but they do count for something. Never stop thinking about things that are important to you & the world at large. Remember one important thing before everything else – YOU are the master of YOUR destiny. You have control and choices over the life that you lead. The things I value may not be what you value, so never be reluctant to say you disagree or have something to say. If we stay completely silent about things that matter to us, the things we value slowly stop counting.
3) Live and enjoy life, my friend, for it is today that you live & die for. Hope, Inspire, Dream, Live.
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- Tesla: The Man Who Changed the World, Part 1 - October 13, 2016