Podcast Ep. 8 now released

In this episode, Matthew has fun dissecting the lyrics of a 2003 Ben Folds song, highlighting the wisdom within related to comparison culture. He discusses the repulsive nature of envy and bullying, and the futility of measuring one’s worth in relation to other people. See what messages you read in the sage words of Ben Folds. What’s your take?

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“I Got My Philosophy.” Have you?

Estimated reading time 11 mins.

I previously posted an article presenting a Ben Folds song, describing in detail what the lyrics meant to me, as in them contained a lesson I wanted to articulate for myself and any readers. It was born out of an idea to present the song to my Korean university students in our English conversation class as a fun way to introduce a theme for discussion, one which I also thought very relevant to their lives.

In my previous article, I wrote: There is a phenomenon familiar to most, I’m sure, that books, songs, or movies we love become more or less meaningful as we get older and revise our own worldviews. I have often found that a single line speaks more strikingly to me as, over time, applications of the lesson held in it have demonstrated its truth in real-life situations again and again. This is also true of whole themes of books, movies, and songs, as well as in essays and non-fiction works I’ve loved. I live, I experience people and events, and I see more deeply and clearly what the authors were talking about. It then becomes my own first-hand knowledge, making it more powerful when applied in my own life. It’s very satisfying when things you’ve loved are proved through experience to be truer and thus become even more meaningful.

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There’s always someone cooler than you

Estimated reading time 16 mins.

The title may be familiar to some as the 2003 Ben Folds song it is. As a new experiment in my English conversation class this upcoming semester, I’m going to have students discuss these lyrics, while of course highlighting the lessons I take from it myself. As in many Ben Folds songs, the lyrics colorfully present a strong message, and I thought it would be a fun way to introduce a theme for discussion I think will prove relevant to them.

While comparing against others is a personal and social problem in Western countries, expressed (in one aspect) in the idiom “Keeping up with the Joneses,” Korea has its own distinct comparison culture. Korea is a hyper-modern economy that moves at warp speed. The uber-competitive education system centers all around scores and rankings based thereupon. And when they’re done with that, most feel enormous pressure at “getting a good job,” which means—if not a “doctor, lawyer, or judge”—at one of the bigger companies (e.g. Samsung, LG, Hyundai, etc.). Anyone can do the math to see that achieving this measure of “success” is not going to be a reality for almost everyone, so the stress is tremendous.

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