Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.

– Henry David Thoreau

It does not matter if nobody reads your writing. The point of writing is self-expression — gathering an audience should be secondary. You cannot connect to other people without connecting first to yourself.

Why, then, is the dream of spontaneity so attractive? It is perhaps because most of our lives are so corralled and timetabled, and our workdays increasingly subject to silent, automated time-and-motion studies conducted by data-harvesting computers for the purpose of what is euphemised as “workforce science”, that we dream all the more of being able to be spontaneous – at least in our free time. Our “free” time, of course, as Guy Debord noted, is just that time which is left to us after the violent expropriation of most of it. And so the idea of spontaneity is a dream of liberty.

Balance is an invitation to failure. In my experience, not only is balance hard to achieve but it is also the least likely to satisfy anyone. Does your child with the 103-degree fever want you to be 50 per cent there? How about work, the week that you’re closing a $33-million deal? Fifty per cent won’t cut it there, either. Instead of balance, strive for the right fit. Determine what mix of work, family, play and giving back optimizes your talents and happiness, and set your own formula for success. Think more like the tower-of-blocks game Jenga than a scale; it may not be pretty, but it’s grounded in reality and more likely to work.

Middle-class kids spend billions to project street cred; supermodels weigh as little as famine victims; designers channel the swagger of nomadic tribesmen; convicts set the standards for body art; the guerilla uniform of aviators, camouflage, and a knitted cap is a perennial favorite for celebrities incognito. Thus do the least oppressed citizens of the world express their imagined solidarity—expensively, in one respect; cheaply, in another—with the most marginal. You invert an hourglass when the sand runs out, and the fashion world inverts the social hierarchy when the trappings of privilege lose their glamour. But it’s also a conceit that we owe to the Romantics: in a civilized milieu, ferocity confers cachet. The upshot is a pair of jeans, pummelled by a bored animal—a slave laborer, you might say—with a four-digit price tag.

But just because Mass Indie is pro-diversity, doesn’t mean it’s post-scarcity. There’s a limited amount of difference in the world, and the mainstreaming of its pursuit has only made difference all the scarcer. The anxiety that there is no new terrain is always a catalyst for change.

The photographer knows well that after taking many pictures one develops “the camera eye”: vision becomes like the viewfinder, always perceiving the world through the logic of the camera mechanism via framing, lighting, depth of field, focus, movement and so on. Even without the camera in hand the world becomes transformed into the status of the potential-photograph.

Today, we are in danger of developing a “Facebook Eye”: our brains always looking for moments where the ephemeral blur of lived experience might best be translated into a Facebook post; one that will draw the most comments and “likes.”