Aurynn

Aurynn is one of those people who you meet and are simply blown away by their presence, brains and all round awesomeness. She has a website, The Particular Finest where you can read more about her thoughts on life.

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Let’s start with the basics: name and what you say you do when someone asks you at the pub:
Hi, I’m Aurynn Shaw and I make The Internet. More seriously, I’m a programmer working at Catalyst, building services underneath of websites. It’s cool, esoteric stuff.

I also have opinions about databases.

You talk a lot about challenging social narratives, to you what does this mean?
I’m going to take “challenging” to mean disputing them.

Social narratives are a huge part of our everyday life; they’re the stories that we tell each other on how we ought to act and function in the world around us, but they’re also the stories that lock us into toxic behaviours and other destructive anti-patterns, like pervasive sexism and rape culture and the straightjacket of masculinity.

So to me, challenging these social narratives means that I have to look for them, look for where society is telling me that I *have* to do a thing, and questioning it. Even if I continue to do it, I have to ask myself why I’m doing it.

And this is as simple as, should I wear makeup? What are the narratives that society is trying to push on me for that? What about that I should smile, or that I shouldn’t shoot down men who are trying to hit on me?

What do you think is the biggest issue facing New Zealander’s at the moment?
The single biggest change that would help the most in tech would be if everyone learned to stop treating womens’ narratives as suspect by default. As a woman, I’m told that my opinion matters less than a mans’, that my knowledge is less important and that a man is necessary to reinforce the opinions I might have.

The fundamental narrative behind that isn’t that I’m wrong, but that everyone else is taught to assume that anything I say is suspect.

It’s a really pie in the sky goal, I know, but it’d be lovely if people could assume that I, you know, might know what I’m talking about when I talk about it. 🙂

One of the posts that I found really interesting on your website was the one about “shoulds” and how society is built up around a construct of us thinking we should behave in a certain way. On a daily basis, I imagine you deal with a lot of “shoulds”. How do you challenge them?
Should is a powerful word, and captures how we as humans approach is vs. ought. I, and everyone fights with a variety of “should” on a daily basis, from “I should wear clothes in public” to “I should be expected to go to work” and “I should feel bad if I eat this cake.”

Challenging them is harder than it might seem, as the shoulds I mentioned are peoples’ attempt to bring about a more ideal world. We should feel good in our bodies, but we’ve decided that means we should feel shame if we’re not the socially-acceptable body shape or if we eat foods that are classed as “bad”.

It’s challenging that someone else derives joy and satisfaction from being able to work – so everyone should get to experience that too! But these idealised shoulds aren’t how the world is and ignore large amounts of that world to remain simple, making challenging them much more complex.

What’s the one piece of advice you would like to give the world?
Please listen to the climate change scientists. Please. It’s already too late but we can prevent widescale starvation if we hurry. You have all the power in the world in a democracy, so use it.

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