Georgia De Jesus <>

Good evening Prof. Reagle,

Attached is the link to my document and my fourth reading response of this set!

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The idea of Stoicism is one that has stuck with me ever since I first formally learned about it in last week’s reading. It never occurred to me that so many of the life concepts I had previously been toying with all fell under the notion of Stoicism and the idea of keeping my control, and “experimenting with hardship” (Reagle, p.189, 2019) to see if it was as bad as I had previously thought. Because I do experience a lot of anxiety before public speaking, presentations, or just being in any kind of spotlight in general - I have turned to a lot of self-help articles and videos that always taught me to keep my composure, do the “superman” pose, and always remember that all the things I was fearing were not going to happen. Looking back, this methodology and line of thinking goes hand in hand with the notion of Stoicism, and without even realizing it, I lived by these standards.

Life-hackers have constantly tried to dig deep and find the meaning of life, through ideas and experimentation and different routes of getting to the same destination, which almost always falls under “comfort, health, and connection” (Reagle, p.187, 2019). It is not difficult to appeal to the most commonly sought-after emotions and feelings that everyone seems to want to attain, and most self-help authors and gurus know this. What’s the point of anything if it doesn’t seem to help you reach your goal, and move closer to finding the “meaning” of life? It’s definitely difficult to fiddle with the notion that hackers seem to think they can “hack” the meaning of life with a few tips and tricks that are commonly well known and already practiced by large groups of people - the only difference is, life hackers trademark these tips and tricks and make them their own, add a pneumonic or a memorable name to keep them in people’s brains, such as the “Meditation Algorithm”, or “SMAART goals”. These things all allow us to feel a sense of control over our lives because of how they dissect human behaviors into bite sized pieces and construct a more comprehensive guide that helps individuals seek a more fulfilling lifestyle.

Zeena Shehadeh <shehadeh.ze>


Hacking Meaning

While Stoicism can be seen from an analytical perspective, as Tim Ferris and others do, I think that is where the issues surrounding it come up. While looking at things from a practical standpoint is beneficial in some instances, turning meaning into an analytical process and calling it ‘Stoicism’ is not the way to find meaning in life. In my opinion, the way Ferris approaches Stoicism, by using it to avoid emotion and view things as solely analytical, is defeating the purpose of the movement. Stoicism does not have to be so “skewed towards the elite,” just as mindfulness does not have to be. Many of these life hackers have taken a lot of these ideas out of context and applied them to the elite, making much of it seem inaccessible to the public. However, a lot of these ideas, such as meditation or rational thinking, can be applied to anyone anywhere.

Life Hackers and Self-Help Gurus have turned many of these concepts, like stoicism and mindfulness, into seemingly inaccessible ways of life. By preaching that in order to practice stoicism you must create a three part “fear list” and that in order to be mindful you must follow Taft’s Meditation Algorithm, you are taking away from the simplicity and beauty of a lot of these practices. Mindfulness and Stoicism are not inherently made for the elite and are not inherently difficult to achieve, they are simply ways of thinking that if approached properly and with an open mind, are accessible to anyone.

Matthew Stefanowicz <stefanowicz.m>

Hacking Life: Chapter 8

Like any newly booming market, meditation, which has seen a huge resurgence in popularity in the West, has been distilled into our daily lives through apps and other easily accessible methods. While it’s an objective good to make mindfulness something that more people have access to and hear about, it is also representative of our tendency to monetize things that could benefit one’s well-being. Headspace, the most popular among mindfulness applications, requires a subscription for full access to all of its features. Unfortunately, it is those who may require access to such programs the most that often do not maintain the means to afford them. There is also a danger in framing mindfulness apps as a cure-all.

During my time working for Starbucks, all partners were given a Headspace subscription after countless had spoken up about the necessity of mental health programs to deal with the stress that arises from such a job, specifically during the pandemic. Rather than provide counseling or work to change policies and work culture that can make working there such a miserable experience, corporate responded to these concerns with the Headspace subscription. While many partners were grateful to have free access to an otherwise pricey service, many perceived it as a slap in the face to have corporate acknowledge their complaints and respond in such a lackluster manner. In monetizing mental health services such as meditation, we risk placing intrinsic value into something that may not have any for many individuals.

Matthew Stefanowicz College of Arts, Media, & Design Candidate for BA Communication Studies Northeastern University c: (609) 707-8086 |