Do algorithms cause insanity?

Spoiler alert: Yes.

This weekend I caught myself in a depressing feedback loop. It was the typical stinging self-abusive talk of “You’ll never be good enough” “Why are you so lazy” and so on. Eventually I snapped myself out with a proverbial “Knock it off!” Hopefully I’m not the only who argues with themselves… Anyways once my mental battleground cleared an interesting thought swooped in:

Is insanity really doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? OR is insanity really thinking the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

In the second question the word “doing” is replaced with “thinking”. This a small albeit important distinction. Our actions are preceded by our thoughts. Following this logic different thinking should lead to different actions. Hence an insane person is incapable of thinking anything new. That explanation may be over kill, but I want to be really clear before moving on.

What does an overdone cliché and thinking have to do with algorithms?

A lot actually.

Algorithms are codes designed to follow a set of rules. Programmers deploy software algorithms virtually everywhere to simplify our lives. Here I’m using the word “algorithm” to describe predictive software commonly used by social media. For example, one day you randomly watch a bunch of Fly Fishing videos and now Facebook Ads starts displaying Discount Fly Fishing rods. Facebook uses techno-wizardry along with algorithms to snoop on you. This information is then used to curate content to your personal preferences. For those well informed internet dwellers this isn’t new information. The media has been blaring the alarm on how these technologies will led to the “ruin of society” since 2016.

Put the apocalyptic/dystopia hyperbole aside for moment. Consider the following: If algorithms guarantee you are only exposed to the same ideas, doesn’t that make you insane by default? Do you want to live a limited life? Life’s highest pleasures are often found in discovery. Discovery is not possible within the familiar. New ideas expand the breadth of our personal universe.

Fight the algorithms. Don’t be insane – Barry


Does anything we do matter?

How can anyone with a basic working knowledge of astrophysics say yes? In the cosmic perspective of events us humans are tiny creatures toiling around on a tiny rock in the Milky Way. It’s strange.

I gobbled up Neil deGrasse Tyson’s book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry last week and now I suffer the consequences. Toward the conclusion of the book Tyson encourages readers to adopt the “cosmic perspective.” Basically, when we measure our personal problems against the cosmic drama of the universe they become insignificant. Less than insignificant.


Dwelling on this fact can easily deteriorate into a full blown existential crisis. On the other end of the spectrum the cosmic perspective is incredibly liberating. Even if I don’t actuate my dreams the world will carry on. As humans we get to play a supporting role on the grand stage of the universe.

In that I find something beautiful. – Barry


I am used to rejection. Especially in the dating arena. Growing up people thought I was weird (I was). Kid Me enjoyed talking to myself out loud and indulging in beautiful fantasies. A solid 15% of my attention span continues to fuel these vivid daydreams. It’s strange, but I can semi-honestly say that rejection feels comfortable at this point. Semi-honestly because that teeny stinging pinprick of pain still snips at me. It goes away pretty fast though.

My rejection immunity serves a powerful function in my identity. I love to see myself in the image of an Outlier. Over maybe a Visionary? Actually, Titan may be more accurate. My young psyche fully latched onto the idea society’s most admired people often started as rejects. Maybe one day I would be fortunate to join their ranks. The thought of being mentioned in the same breath as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla, President Lincoln, Elon Musk or any other celebrity electrified my soul.

Over time Conformity began her steady courtship of my heart. The first visit was Freshman year of college. She came bearing gifts of love, acceptance, and romance. I brushed off her advances, but she was ever persistent. I didn’t welcome Conformity into my life until she showed me the False Mirror. The False Mirror showed me all the ways in which my life was wrong. The dirty reflections revealed a deeply inadequate individual. Next, she weighted me on The Invisible Scale. She placed the burden of society’s expectations on the left plate and my fragile dreams on the right one. The results were obvious: I didn’t measure up.

That person accepted Conformity with open arms, never questioning the validity of the tests given, or asking why the test mattered in the first place. That person was not me. I am the Outlier. Reflecting on that period of insincerity scares the shit out of me. I started asking uncomfortable questions:

When did I decide to betray a crucial part of identity?

Why was it so easy abandon my true self?

Who am I now?

20/20 hindsight shows all the tiny allowances that lead me down that road. Growth, and subsequently, change are huge factors to living fully. Try something new, date outside your “type”, learn new skills! It’s fine if you do not aspire to be an Outlier, Visionary or Titan. BUT occasionally it might be a good idea to stop and ask,

Is this really me? – Barry

Mentors in Hiding

There is immense value in having a mentor. A mentor serves as a coach, friend, teacher and motivator. Recently someone asked, “Hey Barry who is your mentor?” I looked at the questioner with a wide stupefied gaze. Mentor? I don’t have a mentor. So I told them I was temporarily without a mentor. Days after the conversation the question lingered. Where can I find a mentor?

Well I have fantastic news! Are you excited?! There are mentors everywhere. Right now the smartass reading this and looking underneath his sofa is thinking,


“I don’t see a mentor here Barry…”

Okay so maybe not literally everywhere, but all around us. A mentor doesn’t not have to be constrained a living breathing human. We can find mentorship in books, movies, videogames, art, and sometimes even ourselves. Here’s a great example:

In 9th grade I stumbled upon an anime called Fairy Tail. This cartoon is basically about a group of misfit magic users who come together and form a family like bond. To this day my favorite character in the show is Gajeel. No more what challenge Fairy Tail faced you could rely on Gajeel since he is a tough, no-bs guy that NEVER backed down even when obviously outmatched by an enemy. Watching Gajeel’s boldness at a time where felt pathetic and wimpy empowered me to copy find those traits in myself. Years later while in college I got the same tattoo as Gajeel has in the show for self-reinforcement.


Of course, the 9th grade kid me didn’t realize this. I just wanted to watch an awesome show. The lesson is if you’re willing look past the surface of entertainment you can find real insight. This not me encouraging you to binge watch 12 hours of TV. Instead of blindly consuming ask yourself, “what about this character resonates with me?”

Is it Superman’s pledge to uphold truth, justice, and the American way?

Is it Jon Snow’s commitment to his cause despite constant resistance?

Is it Kermit the Frog’s ability to be in dank memes?


“I take mentoring very seriously”

Diversifying your portfolio of mentors is important too. Fantasy/fiction teaches great lessons through metaphor and biographies/non-fiction show how people overcame real life challenges. Earlier I wrote that sometimes mentors can come from within. What I mean is leveraging the power of questions to push yourself in a positive direction. For me this is asking,

“What would the absolute best version of myself do about this?”

If you’re totally honest, this usually produces a good answer. Go fourth and scour the planet in search of a mentor.

May the force be with you – Barry


Give your ideas an expiration date

It was the wildest thing I could do in that moment. While staring at the dozens of notebook papers scrawled with blog ideas taped to my fridge I suddenly decided “To Hell with it all!” For the next 3 minutes I furiously crumpled and dumped every single idea. The good ones, the okay ones, the bad ones, and even the absolutely amazing ideas.

Every writer/blogger suffering from Writer’s Block reading this probably wants to curb stomp me. “Barry! Why in the world would you throw away good ideas?!”

Rest easy. There is a method to my madness.

We all know how valuable a good idea can be. A good idea put to work possesses amazing transformative power. Look at Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling etc. Many of us see ideas as mental objects to be stored and sheltered. It’s this line of thinking that leads us to stockpile ideas in our secluded mental basement. I take issue with this. Consider this for a moment: What use is a great idea hidden away?

Ideas are a biological form of currency. They hold extraordinary potential, but only when used in a certain amount of time. Otherwise they ripen and die. Fresh ideas taste much better than rotten ones every day of the week.

So, am I insane for trashing all my old ideas?


A little bit of insanity often leads to the best ideas – Barry

Smiles away

Everyone carries a tiny match. We can this little thing a smile. It only takes a second to light someone up. A simple smile can defrost the chilliest exterior. It can illuminate those trapped in darkness. It can be a present gifted to friends. It can bridge the gulf between total strangers. Someone, somewhere needs your warmth. Smiles and smiles away. – Barry

Now you see me

My approach to social media differs from most people. To start all my cellphone notifications remain silenced except for calls. Social media apps are banished on my device. This forces me to browse Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. periodically on my laptop. Lastly, I arranged my phone home screen with my most used apps and eliminating the ability to swipe through multiple pages.

Why go through all the trouble?

Raw human connection is a beautiful thing. I love that feeling of shared vulnerability as two people shed their masks leading to a moment of a collective “Now you see me.” Getting to that level of intimacy requires both time and attention. The 90% of people addicted to their smartphone create an artificial barrier to raw connection. Every beep, boop, whistle, ring and ding summons our attention to a glowing palm without hesitation. It rips us from the present and tosses us into a digital vacuum.

Don’t mistake my observations for an anti-smartphone stance. I love technology. I do not love the way it is used. A serious danger occurs when we mistaken social media for raw human connection. The colorfully filtered photos generate a reality distortion field. A screen is not a substitute. If real human connection is “Now you see me” social media is “… Now you don’t.” It is a digital mask free of nuance and sincerity – an illusion passing for reality. Always remember this.

Go out into the world and truly “See” someone for the first time. – Barry

Distance and Expectations

While reading Essays from Ralph Waldo Emerson I stumbled upon an interesting quote:

“Things are always more beautiful at a distance. The mountain a far is more beautiful than the one near.”

Emerson used this line in his discussion about nature. When I thought it about more this quote is a great life analogy. This simple concept reveals an important insight about human nature. Getting too close to something ruins the beauty of the thing. Our imagination idealizes what we covet which skyrockets our expectations out of control. Humans are intuitively aware of this. We express it in sayings/clichés like:

“The grass is always greener on the other side.”

“Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.”

Present day Minimalism gains momentum as our heavily consumerist world begins to gain sobriety from our expectations about “things”. This idea transcends our feelings about ownership of personal possessions. Have you ever had a crush on someone, but once you got to know them found them repulsive? Ever dream of traveling and when you arrive it’s not quite what was expected? See an amazing movie trailer only to sit through a subpar film?

Everyone can relate to similar or equivalent experiences. My goal is not to convince people away from their desires. Wanting more out of life allows us to aim higher. It is the first step of growth. We can be smarter about our wants and chase the things that will truly fulfill us.

The mountain a far is beautiful, but nothing beats the view from the top of the mountain. – Barry

Maybe I’m Insane

Maybe I’m insane, but the past does not matter. It is literally insignificant to now.

Today is the eleventh day of the new year. I need you to stop focusing on the trivial things. Take your eyes of the rear-view mirror. Pull your mind of the gutter, soak it in success then rinse and repeat. Your dream is asking you to take a single step. Move an inch. Turn the dial ever so slightly.

Stop looking for approval. Instead look for opportunities. Or better still:

“Don’t justify your dreams, execute them.” Gary Vaynerchuk

What step will you take today? – Barry

San Diego Seven

Sitting on the five-hour plane ride from Charlotte to San Diego with a screaming baby adjacent to my destroyed eardrums all I could think was, “Is this worth it?”

Yes. Yes, it was.

My week in San Diego, California was incredible. Even in January the weather remained perfect. For most of my visit the temperature stayed around 65 – 70 degrees F and sunny. It was even sweeter when juxtaposed against the snow storms that hit the East coast.


The first destination on my adventure was Balboa Park. This is a huge park dotted with a variety museums and the San Diego Zoo! To see everything Balboa Park has to offer requires multiple days so I spent most of my time in the zoo. Animal lovers this is the place for you! On the zoo bus tour I saw animals like flamingos, giraffes, zebras, and even polar bears! Yes, polar bears!


Day two I spent immersed in the beautiful cliffs and beaches at La Jolla. Be prepared to walk a bunch if you visit this area. There is so much to see and the undulating waves gracefully hypnotize ocean watchers. I even luck enough to saw seals napping on the beach! Shout out to the Lyft driver who suggested I stay until sunset. Words cannot do it justice.

On the third day, I made a trip across the Mexican border only to realize I forgot my US passport back at the hotel. Yeah not good. After having a mini stroke, I immediately to crossed back into US where I was crossed examined thoroughly by border patrol security. They seemed hesitant, but they eventually allowed me back in. You never realize how much you love a place until there’s a slight chance you may not be allowed back in. Moral of the story: ALWAYS double check for your passport before leaving the country.


Travel across the Coronado Bridge you can see the San Diego skyline from Centennial Park. Another popular spot in the city is the historic Hotel Del Coronado. This massive resort is a preserved hotel located right on the beach. I suggest walking through the city of Coronado too just to get a glimpse of the beautiful luxury homes in the neighborhood.

My final trip landed me at Pacific Beach (PB) for a morning stroll near the shore. In the evening visitors can check out the amusement rides in Belmont Park. Admittedly, the foggy weather discouraged from walking much that day.

Things to know

  • The trip is expensive. To get around this I limited myself to one major activity per day.
  • The amount of homeless people wandering the streets took me off guard. They are literally everywhere.
  • Food is good. Sooooo good! Especially in Little Italy.
  • Using Uber and Lyft to get around is inexpensive and a great opportunity to ask locals questions.
  • The people are super friendly.

If you want to see pictures from my trip check out my Instagram: bluebarry42 – Barry


Define what you want to be this year. The 2018 canvas is blank so grab a brush. Now is the time to divorce yourself from your past. We can all create the person we want to be. Among other things, personal development lends us the tools to develop our selves. Starting can be the most overwhelming part of any journey. Below I’ve listed the self-improvement resources for those unsure of where to begin.


Self-Improvement Books

  • The Slight Edge – Jeff Olson
  • The 5 Second Rule – Mel Robbins
  • The Art of War – Sun Tzu
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  • How to Stop Worrying and Start Living – Dale Carnegie
  • The Power of Positivity – Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
  • The Richest Man in Babylon – George S. Clason
  • Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
  • The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
  • The Science of Getting Rich – Wallace Wattles
  • The Art of Extrme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time – Cheryl Richardson



  • The Minimalists
  • Secret to Success with CJ & Eric Thomas
  • Quote of the Day Show
  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin
  • Tony Robbins Podcast
  • Sean Croxton Sessions
  • School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
  • Art of Charm
  • Daily Boost
  • The Tim Ferriss Show
  • The GaryVee Audio Experience

Personal Development Leaders/Authors

  • Earl Nightingale
  • Napoleon Hill
  • Jim Rohn
  • Zig Ziglar
  • John Maxwell
  • Stephen Covey
  • Lewis Howes
  • Eric Thomas (ET the hiphop preacher)
  • Les Brown
  • Inky Johnson
  • Darren Hardy
  • Bob Proctor
  • Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Lisa Nichols
  • Mel Robbins
  • Gretchen Rubin
  • Jack Canfield
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Simon Sinek

YouTube Channels

  • Fearless Motivation
  • TED
  • etthehiphoppreacher
  • Big Think
  • Be Inspired

Hope this list is useful! Leave a comment below if you have more suggestions! – Barry

Are You from Tennessee?

Today I returned from a four-day spontaneous road trip from Memphis, Tennessee. Driving all the way from my neck of Pennsylvania takes roughly 18 – 19 hours one way. I don’t take long trips often, my longest drive before this was a six-hour weekend visit to Rhode Island.

So the big question: Why Memphis? Many years ago when I was a teeny wittle Barry I remember seeing a image of a blue pyramid on Food Network. My young impressionable mind clung to that image immediately. The thing is kinda bizarre. I never understood why someone randomly builds a pyramid in a major city that isn’t Egypt.


Wow! A pyramid! And it’s blue!

Throughout the years that image stayed nestled somewhere in my subconscious. I always wanted to visit someday. I imagined how tall the building was, guessed what the interior looked like, but never made the trip. Then last week my SUV needed to be towed away from repairs. Without transportation readily available I found myself thinking, “This sucks. Now I REALLY can’t go to Memphis even if I wanted to.”  It was frustrating to think that I may have missed my opportunity to go. Continue reading



Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

Ask before you accuse. Reality is not a cohesively shared experience. Our past experiences, traumas, fears, wins and gains tailor our perceptions. When we assume, we project our way of thinking onto another person. We stain their actions with meaning to fit into our puzzle.

The best way to get an answer is to ask a question.

So, ask before you accuse. Let go of what you know. Or more accurately what you think you know. Guessing, hypothesizing, ruminating all lead to the same place: nowhere. Certainty comes from knowing and you can’t know unless you ask.

People lie. I get that.

You know what? Ask before you accuse. No lie can be discovered without asking questions first. Questions hold power. Silence keeps the door locked. We lie to avoid truth. To avoid inflicting pain. To avoid been discovered for who we really are. Lying is a warm shelter with a rocky foundation. Eventually it will crumble.

Mel Robbins said it best:

 “The shortest distance between any two people is the truth. Silence creates distance.” – Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule

Ask. – Barry

The Best Advice of 2017


Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

During the summer, I took a deep dive into the world of self-help/personal development. I read a ton of biographies, listened to hours of podcasts, and watched a bunch of Ted Talks. After immersing myself in the wisdom of the most talented and successful people on the planet I gained ONE major take away. I know, Just one? Yes, just one piece of crucial advice. Here it is:

Start small, be consistent.

At first glance, this advice seems… underwhelming. And yeah, it may not be as sexy as “follow your dreams” or “never give up.” That’s exactly why it is the best advice of 2017. Let me explain. Back in May I just finished reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. While searching for a new book a buddy recommended The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. The whole premise of the book is mastering consistency. My favorite line in the book is, “Learn how to do the small things well and eventually you will be trusted to do the big things.”  The Slight Edge helped me realize you cannot achieve success with mastering consistency first. Small wins help us build momentum that propel us to go even further.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, master it – Barry

2017’s Greatest Hits


Photo by Mark Solarski on Unsplash

November creeps to an end as December looms over the wintry horizon. In a little over a month, 2017 while be another year in the history books. Now is the perfect time to look back before moving forward. Below is a list of positive things I experienced this year. Listing only positive things was difficult because bad memories stick more. Luckily, life is not a series of unfortunate events. Search hard enough you can find something to be glad for. While making this list I surprised myself with the number of great things that happened this year I forgot about!

Graduated College

Started Grad School

New Tattoo

Road Trip to Rhode Island

Road Trip to Long Island

Service Key Award

Made Raspberry Pi Console

New Car

New Name

New Blog Name

Read 26 Books

Went to March for Science

Relay for Life

Meet the new University President

Hired as a Grad Assistant

Baby sister was born

Moved into a new apartment

Adopted Minimalism

Wrote a post a day for an entire month straight

New blog logos

Donated most of my clothes to charity

Interviewed for a podcast

Started recording audio

Shared great stories

Coffee and Code meetup

Listened to new podcasts

Reconnected with old friends

Made new friends

Learned new skills

Connected with other bloggers

Started exercising regularly

Voluntarily watched a horror movie

Joined BayArt

If you decide to make a 2017’s Great Hits list please link it to this post! I would love to read what others have to be grateful for this year! – Barry