Insecurity vs. Security - by Russ Murray

Insecurity vs. Security?

Today, I read a brief article posted on Medium by Elan Gale entitled, “All Hail Insecurity” which I enjoyed and agreed with overall. It’s so brief you should read it before you read my comments and ideas below–click here to read in a new tab–my comments won’t make sense unless you read Elan’s post first…

OK, you’re back! What did you think of Elan’s post? I liked it, but I should point out that he focused mostly on how “bad” people are a subset of “secure” people, which makes it seem as if he’s saying insecurity is good and secure is bad. However, I think he really meant to say that insecurity is NOT bad, NOT a flaw, and may in fact be a good thing, an asset, quite often!

Anyway, perhaps you noticed one of the many comments on Elan’s post was made by a gentleman named Jakob (most likely a very secure fellow!) who began by saying, “I respectfully disagree” and offered quite a few more choice words from his point-of-view. I found myself respectfully disagreeing with Jakob, not because what he said was wrong–he said many good things about society, fragility and mental strength–but because I did not agree with his definition of insecurity, or conversely, security. If you want to read Jakob’s comments, and did not find them already, jump back to Elan’s article and scroll down to them. Beware: you may stumble across mine first! If so, ignore them, and read them below, instead…

OK, you’re back again, or never left, and have just scrolled down to read my views on Insecurity vs. Security!  Before reading my comments below, you should know my own fundamental point-of-view–my emotional makeup–from which I make them. I count myself generally as a lifelong optimist (just ask any of my friends for confirmation). However, life and experiences have caused me to become–in the second half of my life–a more cautious, and somewhat “insecure realist” now, who is unable to do anything blindly, without considering the input and ideas of others. That said, you may read my response to Elan (the post author) and Jakob (he who commented).

. . .

My response to Elan & Jakob regarding Insecurity vs. Security, etc.

Insecurity vs. Security - by Russ MurrayI respectfully agree with Elan. No, insecurity is NOT a feeling of inferiority, and it’s NOT about measuring your self worth, accomplishments, and/or successes to/by those of others. I suppose those might be the views of someone who is secure, or otherwise unfamiliar with insecurity. And it’s not always about feeling vulnerable either — that’s more fear, anxiety, and/or paranoia — it’s really about being unsure. Insecure people are concerned about making decisions without considering the ideas, positions and results of others. Secure people tend to need less, if any, input from others.

And, as Elan tries to communicate, those who experience life through the lens of insecurity, are more inclined to create and make decisions by evaluating their position and the possible results, with empathy and concern — they are unsure, requiring more input—rather than going forward based solely on their own ideas, thoughts and goals.

Insecurity is more like a guided missile that checks constantly if it’s on the right trajectory to its target, rather than just being launched into the air trusting — boldly and blindly — that it will hit the right target when it falls to earth. Some people will be guided missiles, , while others will be bold, blind rockets launched at a worthy target, expecting to hit it all or most of the time. Insecure people need to check, consider if they can/will hit the target, before they launch; secure people are more willing to launch, and launch again if they miss the target the first time.

. . .

Those are my simplified ideas and views on the subject of Insecurity and Security. Or at least it’s what poured out of my brain onto my keyboard and into the ether today. Why did I take the time to respond, then turn it into this blog post of my own? Because I count myself generally — per my own definition — as “insecure” and thought these things needed to be said, and reach a larger audience. But of course, I count myself as “insecure” by way of empathy, input and consensus-seeking, as opposed to inferiority, vulnerability, fear, anxiety and/or paranoia.

I am a guided missile, apparently.  🙂

 – Russ Murray

P.S. the “guided missile” bit is an adaptation of something I heard John Cleese say in a keynote speech made in 2000, at a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. I’ve used it–in various forms–to parent both of my children, and often in my professional presentations. Just wanted to credit the source of the original kernel of an idea (since I adore John Cleese).

This Page Intentionally Left Blank

I have always marveled at receiving official-type snail-mail from various companies and government agencies, which contained not only the important, printed page(s) which were the reason for the piece of mail, but also one or more blank, empty, extra (usually white), envelope-filler pages with nothing on them. Even more marvelous, these printed and blank pages were accompanied by one or more pages stating, “This Page Intentionally Left Blank” to be sure I was not confused!

Of course, I was immediately and completely confused, each time I discovered one of these intentionally blank pages, with their ominous warning, which rendered each page on which it was printed, somewhat less-than-blank. But I was also amused and intrigued — I had to understand WHY these not-so-blank warning pages were printed and sent — for what intent or purpose? I began to search for answers…

Anyone who has attempted stealth by mail (innocently or otherwise) knows that plain, blank paper is not effective at masking text to ensure privacy of a message (or check) inside the envelope. Common knowledge, right? Obviously, that’s why “security” envelopes have patterns printed inside. So I asked around, but as I asked around, nobody had an answer for me, even at my bank, the most prolific sender of blank pages. However, I did get a lot of blank stares, which seemed to say,

“Is it not obvious why they exist?”

Nope, not obvious to me. But with this unspoken, zen-like question lingering in my mind, I wrote a haiku about the mysterious pages:

The page today / is left intentionally blank / a negative space.

You can see the haiku blog post with its accompanying photograph of a “blank page” at:

The concept of “negative space” comes from art class: it refers to the unused, untouched, unpainted, blank area of the canvas or paper on which you create a work of art. Logically, we can assume the area where you draw or paint can be referred to as the “positive space”, though I never heard anyone call it that. My best art teachers were consistent in telling me to consider the negative space as part of any artwork’s composition, affecting its message, meaning, and the feeling(s) provoked by the artwork. The same approach can be (and is) applied to graphic design, or a well laid-out page of correspondence.

Can we conclude that the senders of blank pages, are sending us messages in the form of negative space? Are there subliminal messages written in invisible ink? Is there some dark purpose to these unseen messages, which is entering our subconsciousness secretly, compelling us to change our behavior?

My best guess is that this blank page mystery has its roots in the printing, numbering and binding of legal and business documents, tracing back to the early days of computers. Maybe it goes further back to book-binding and layout, with chapters always beginning on the odd or even page, or on the right-hand side, leaving a blank page on the left. And, whatever the source of the “blank pages” may be, I guess the warning message “This Page Intentionally Left Blank” was spawned by the automation of printing and mailing of multi-page documents, which resulted in one or more blanks per mailing, requiring an official explanation…

So, over the years, I have watched these strange, inexplicably, partially and/or intentionally empty pages go by, and placed them in the recycling bin with a sigh…as a few more trees were killed unnecessarily, to prevent (unsuccessfully) my confusion.


I originally wrote and blog posted a while back about the “blank pages” without searching online for answers — just asking around. However, as I prepared to publish this silly, updated diatribe about them, I decided to hit the search engines with phrases like, “why the blank page” and “this page intentionally left blank” to see what is out there. I was promptly rewarded, and deeply gratified to find that I was not alone in wondering why they exist!

Here are links to some of what I found — just my three favorites — which are odd and/or amusing! I offer these links here for your enjoyment, and education, if reading this post has not already sucked up what little free time you had available today:

Wikipedia: naturally they had an article about blank pages, and it seems my best guesses were pretty much on target (there were several, similar Ask, Yahoo, and other FAQ site posts on the topic)…

Writer: this post was from an author’s perspective — a guy like me, contemplating the “blank page” and why it might be left “intentionally blank” sometimes — from writer’s block, Zen ideation, or just waste…

Organization — offering a quiet place on the web? This one had me truly laughing out loud, especially with their home page as a BLANK PAGE with the message, “This Page Intentionally Left Blank”…

I guess my quest for answers about blank pages, especially those with warnings about blankness printed on them, is somewhat of a waste-of-time, and a fool’s errand. Well, I’m apparently not the only fool who has been on this errand, with many other fools like me having written about it as well! And — admit it — you have probably wondered why blank pages exist, perhaps smirked in disbelief, or shaken your head incredulously at receiving a page with the “This Page Intentionally Left Blank” message printed on it. I guess we are not so different; we are all human, and we wonder about the strange things around us, like blank pages…

— Russ Murray

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