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I Love It (I Don’t Care)

Quite early in my Warcraft blogging career, I wrote a post in total ignorance about the stupidity of Devs naming in-game armour and trinkets after seemingly ridiculous and nonsensical items. What I didn’t know at that point was the name I’d innocently abused belonged to a real life Warcraft player, who was ‘influential’ in the part of the Community I’d pitched up in at the time. Once this was pointed out to me I was mortified, and immediately apologised, but it didn’t matter. The damage was done, and subsequently a load of people I really liked and considered as friends dropped me and my blog like it was lined with asbestos. Yesterday this moment resurfaced when someone linked me a Tweet from an account that has me blocked, I’m fairly confident as an upshot from this same incident. It appears that there are still those that consider me a toxic influence, despite years of trying to demonstrate that I am anything but. 

Even when you strive to change and improve, others will not care, and that’s fine.

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The assumption of some people when being on the Internet is simple: you’re out to attack me, aren’t you? Then there are the others who’ll lament that nobody cares what I say or write… and the list goes on, countless ways of having your online ego matter far more than anyone else, in a place where it isn’t about being correct or shouting loudest, but being allowed a right to a voice, whatever it has to say. These people continually fail to grasp how selfish ego pushes the promotion of self above all else. It is not about being the centre of all if you’re here to vocalise opinion without prejudice. I’ll freely admit, it took me a while to learn that lesson, and there are still days when I wish that my needs could be instantly assuaged by declarations of brilliance. Then I remember the harsh and horrible lessons learned by living online for several decades, that genuine compliments are never asked for and rarely earned, and how when you’re inescapably under attack every word that’s meant to be praise ends up as poison.

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This ‘place’ we all inhabit is not won or lost by the number of followers you possess or the hits on your Blog, and yet there is this constant complaint and background noise that somehow this remains the only way to be considered ‘successful.’ In fact, those who consider success as something another person gives you are the ones really not understanding the bigger picture. I’m watching various arguments happen right now about places that pull in more cash than I’ll make in my lifetime being failures and how this isn’t fair when put beside the obvious hard work that’s been placed into them. Well, I hate to break this to you, but that’s how life works. Stuff becomes popular, then it doesn’t. If you’re smart you’ll reinvent yourself and move on… but if you remain unmoving, there will be consequences. The other point that needs to be made here is very simple: this isn’t about people. If you make company ‘drama’ over specific individuals and their own desires, it will never, ever be a situation that successfully resolves, with one key exception. If your website fails, and it’s just you writing, then the blame is in your lap. If you’re run by a massive corporation and it all goes tits up? The buck could stop anywhere, roll your D20 to decide.

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That’s why I don’t need to succeed any more being a Warcraft blogger. I’ll grant you, there was an 18 month period a while back where I entertained the possibility, but then I remembered that naming incident and looked at the environment around me and grasped an important truth: if all you are concerned about is your own existence, that’s living life wrong. I’ll grant that there are a percentage of the player base who are decent, thoughtful and considerate, but of the people who I exist alongside on social media, there’s an awful lot who aren’t. That’s why I now run a very strongly and fiercely curated Twitter list, and I’m quite proud of the fact I no longer just roll my eyes at the collective stupid that abounds but attempt to confront it head on. The truly arrogant people, of course, read my thoughts and either assume it’s obviously directed at them and not general advice or attack me for opening my mouth to begin with.

At least I know then they possess the ability to listen, and possibly change.

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Everybody fucks up, just a fact of life, but if your response when someone makes a genuine mistake is to ostracise them? More fool you. On more than one occasion I’ve been this stupid and done just that, and going back to apologise will not show you as either weak or stupid. In fact, it should confirm your status as human along with the rest of us, and will earn you snacks and respect for at least grasping there was fault on all sides. There are still those who’ll only see Twitter as their soapbox, or Twitch as their theatre, and I doubt that will change as long as there’s a fan base to agree and Drama to generate. Oh, and to those who might then argue I’ve turned my back on them for an honest mistake, I’d ask you to take a long, hard look at yourself. Was it just me you had an issue with? Have you overreacted consistently on social media? Can you honestly say you care about the thoughts and feelings of other people? If you feel genuinely aggrieved feel free to come find me and ask for that block to be reconsidered. However, if your sole aim was to get what YOU wanted?

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There are those people who tell me that posts like this aren’t helpful, that stirring muddy waters only results in more drama. Well, I’m past that stage and on the other side of the river. Looking back at yet another bridge burnt, I know full well that the people who won’t be stopped by a loss of access will simply move downstream to find a safer way to cross. Maybe they are brave enough to swim across at the point where river meets the sea, pushing against the tides of expectation. If they don’t care and there’s a boat to protect them, perhaps that will be enough for now, but maybe not in the future. Ultimately, your own soul is the arbiter of truth, and mine tells me this way is my true means forward. Those who accept this truth make their own decisions, following and leaving in often equal measure, and long may this be the way this journey continues to happen.

Sometimes, it isn’t about being the same thing, all the time.

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Round and Round

I had such lofty plans today, and thanks to seven hours sleep and the fact today’s post draft sucked monkeyballs, I’ve thrown everything away. Tomorrow I will try again to be an adult with words, but right now all I’m capable of is small sentences and barely restrained anger. The problem isn’t my planning or the world around me, not today. Body, like it or not, is refusing to what is being asked: hot flashes have returned, temper is as short as a Gnome. My mind, for large portions of yesterday and today, simply refused to do what I asked of it. I will admit to worrying as to the reason behind this but in truth I am well aware that this is the coda of full menopause that I’d been warned about. In two weeks, it will be a full year since I bled ‘properly’ for the last time.

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I could have a decade of this to look forward to. The ‘symptoms’ of fertility shutting down vary wildly from woman to woman. I really don’t want to spend ten years yelling at clouds but that is a possibility I must plan for. That meant today’s primary objective was to exercise as much as possible in the time I was awake to try and exhaust myself to get past waking up at 3am in a hot sweat. This was the best way across last summer to ensure that sleep happened, and certainly helped when I was in New York. Then it is all about eating well and trying to grab kip when I can during the day. I’m considering looking at natural remedies to help, but I certainly don’t want to go back to hormones unless there is no other way. Right now I think this is copable with alone, but six months non-stop might change my mind. We will see what happens.

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If you see me quieter or crankier than normal in the next couple of weeks, this will be the reason. Try and understand, and maybe cut me a break, but it is okay if you don’t.

I understand if you’re not that kind of person.

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Moving On Up

This week, as you will know if paying attention, is the first in which I’ve started doing the writing gig ‘properly’ and by that I mean I’ve shifted my focus towards stuff that is a wee bit more adult. As a result, I went and bought a larger, more flexible monthly planner, and instead of using pencil (which has been my go to medium for a couple of years) I’ve forced myself into writing with a pen: the Uni-Ball Gel Impact (1mm) as it happens, because I’m beginning to grasp there’s a whole cottage industry around people writing stuff on pages and then taking pictures whilst not typing at all. Therefore, today is Day Two of Planning Like a Grown-Up.

#365photochallenge #blogger #smm Small steps into a larger Universe ✅

A post shared by AltChat (@alternativechat) on

Going from pencil to pen is, I realise now, a signal of intent. I can’t rub out mistakes, so everything stays visible. Old ideas don’t vanish but remain to inspire further thought going forwards. There’s the need to stick to plans to allow other things to come to pass. It is a step up from weeks of planning and organising that was focused in one direction, and now I have shifted that to what matters most to me, brain has become considerably lighter. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact gaming is still part of the landscape, but now it is accepted that isn’t where things need to travel long term.

The new direction is far larger and more interesting.

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This does also mean that Drama has the potential to be far more significant, but I think several years in the cesspit of the Internet before Normal People discovered how horrible and unpleasant it is, will be good endurance training going forward. This has been several years in the planning and making, but I only had the confidence last week to push myself past the step where it was all thought and no direction. Now that balance is readjusted, there is only one way, and that’s forward. Whatever happens now, I’m just going to go for it.

I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

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Picture This

As I’m planning to spend more time writing here as time goes on, it occurred to me that I ought to start tacking more meaty subjects than my own exercise failings and stupidity online. The problem is, right now, there’s so much of the latter taking place on a daily basis that I could probably make a full time living doing just that. So to begin your week with a stop and think moment, let’s give a lesson in a subject I am learning more about with each passing day. It’s the game your entire Followers List can play: Objectification for Fun and Profit.

It began with this floating into my timeline: woman of colour Serena Williams has done a photo shoot (for Sports Illustrated) not wearing very much, and a white woman has seen this before getting the right hump. More importantly, it is a woman who is not of colour throwing someone who is a ton of shade for deciding she can do whatever the fuck she likes because she’s successful. I’d love to say that women should stick together, and that you’d not see this happening anywhere else, but that’s just not true either. Let’s roll in the other tweet that made it to my timeline yesterday to prove that sometimes, complaining you don’t like something when being paid to write about it is the worst thing you can ever do:

Not only is it bad to show off your body when a woman of colour and pregnant, or when successful, it is also terrible to celebrate story lines that involve women of colour, despite the fact that movie’s more than likely to win the Best Picture Oscar. It won’t win it because the Oscars committee got grief that there wasn’t enough diversity, for the record, but because it’s a fucking brilliant piece of cinema according to all the sensible, rational people I believe who have seen it. No, I haven’t, but in this case even if I had I’d still take Camilla Long to task, or indeed any of these journalists who think that this is either a way to make money or a fair representation of actual truth. That’s the unexpected advantage of writing fluff pieces for newspapers: it is your opinion, freedom of speech gives you that right yet however wank that is, you’ll still get paid regardless.

Those of us who do this for love think a bit harder about what gets used as subject matter.

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Image #7 when I type ‘cosplay’ into Google ^^

I use Tweetdeck for Twitter reading for one reason: it allows me to mute people and phrases when the traditional means of silencing stupid on that platform won’t work. It means therefore that if you put the word ‘cosplay’ in a Tweet I won’t see it either, and I’d like to explain why as an example of how objectification has NOTHING to do with the people being photographed and EVERYTHING around who looks at and then shares those pictures. I enjoy looking at both men and women’s naked bodies, but in my own time and certainly not on social media, and that means I make a conscious choice to remove all references to scantily clad females that other people choose to share online. It is, effectively, people deciding that X has great tits and that everyone should share. That’s objectification, and because I want no part of it, I remove it from my timeline. I’ve also started doing this with shirtless pictures of men, I won’t lie, as I realise that it is just as objectifying as the lovely lady above being waved in my face.

The fact she chose to have this picture taken is NOT her objectifying herself. Sure, it might appear to have that effect, but if you make a conscious decision to allow your life to be public property, that is a consequence everyone takes, from the 40′ waisted pole dancer to the intersex model. Size, shape, colour or sexual preference are irrelevant. An object (and no, I’m not dissing anyone by being this literal) by definition has stuff directed at it, and is not the thing doing the objectification:

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I’ll freely admit that this is a concept I’m coming to quite late, that staring at desirable things is always something that’s been done without really grasping the significance or consequence of the action. After all, if you go to a museum and stare at a naked statue, which presumably is only an interpretation of a real person, what’s the difference between that and the nice young lady pretending to be a representation of a dragon with 44 DD breasts? Of course, with Serena Williams and Beyoncé there is an issue of race that really shouldn’t even exist in 21st Century thinking, where movies like ‘Moonlight’ should just be considered as the norm and not an exception. Objectification happens in too many places, and with not enough consideration for a global stage. It doesn’t help that fascism and introversion are now turning back efforts to expand people’s minds, and that ‘fake news’ makes this the new reality.

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It makes me sad that people won’t get along. It’s even more depressing that, faced with choice, it is a natural reaction for most of us to assume we’re right and everybody else is wrong. There’s an awful lot of space on this planet for everybody to work together and get along, yet easier to divide and conquer people and ideas to keep what are considered as ‘unruly’ people in line. I’d like to think that if I was ever paid to write this kind of crap for a living I’d make better choices, and wouldn’t think about dissing people or picking targets without understanding what it was I was doing in the first place. Mostly, it seems to me that writing is becoming a lost art: easier to throw a metaphorical plant at someone and forget about finesse. If that’s the case, honestly, these people should be out of a job. This isn’t news, and neither is it opinion I have any interest in, yet undoubtedly outrage causes clicks and makes money.

That’s probably the larger issue that could do with addressing.

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Up and Down

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the wonderful world of unplanned Interval Training.

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I didn’t go out this morning to do anything other than an hour on the Treadmill, let’s be honest. Normally that involves some brisk walking and a bit of running, but today I decided after a 5 minute warm-up to change things up a bit. I have a Cardio exercise that happens on a Weights day that mixes 300m of running with a 100m ‘rest’ but that’s not stop then start, it remains walking pace, and a brisk one at that. It’s what pro trainers will refer to as active recovery: a way to help you increase stamina during what would effectively be a rest day from intense physical activity. Today however I decided that I’d push myself into something more than just making a token effort. That meant 500m at 6kph and 500m at 8kph, which is less than my new ‘maximum’ speed and has effectively replaced the ‘jog’ I would do when learning how to run correctly.

The first 500m was horrible, as is always the case, and the second (as my heart rate attests) was harder and then on 2500-3000m? It got easier: I hit a Runner’s High and suddenly, amazingly, I was in a place I’ve not managed to reach since the high impact journey began. As I came down to relax I didn’t, as (again) the heart rate demonstrates, because what I could easily have done is do a full mile without stopping. That was a surprise, and the next two 500m bursts were similarly simple, and I pushed hard on both… and then, unsurprisingly, I just ran out of fuel completely. The last plateau is a period of incline just to keep my heart up, whilst my lungs recovered… and then my hour was up.

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It must have been effective because I was dripping with sweat once I’d done, and was asked by a member of staff if I was okay. I don’t look good after exercise: my face, chest and back were still bright red for an hour after I’d done. In terms of active recovery that was probably too much work, but as an exercise in interval training it was a standard I can see myself now working towards every Sunday. My normal Monday PT has been scheduled to Friday next week, to accommodate the first of my son’s GCSE assessments. That gives me a Push day tomorrow and a Pull on Wednesday, but the need to look at active recovery in between. I won’t do this again any more than weekly, but it does now make me consider what can be done in the days in between.

When you go into situations not expecting anything at all, it is often the moment to surprise yourself. I know today an important line was crossed, if only because I stopped worrying about anything except running, and on reflection I didn’t do much of that to begin with. It just happened: I did the miles and nothing was a problem. I didn’t feel out of breath, or uncomfortable. For a moment, I was like everybody else exercising and able to hold my own without my brain scuppering the entire endeavour. Lungs and body combined to produce the best session of off-day exercise I’ve probably managed since I started this journey nearly a year ago. The next step, is to keep doing the same until it becomes habit, and then move on.

You know, I think I might be capable of pulling this off.

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Size of a Cow

This is the story of how I FINALLY lost 10 pounds and moved my exercise journey forwards.

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This week, the scales shifted down for the first time in quite some weeks. Fitbit has only recently started registering and tracking weight loss, it never existed when I first signed up. However now, I can see how much has vanished since the new software kicked in. There’s a sad truth behind this 10 pounds that made me stop in my tracks. I didn’t grasp just how many times it has taken to get this far. The problem with apps is that they rarely lie, and that means that, at least for me, five pounds has been a millstone for quite a while.

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I was shocked at this statistic, and went to look at my weight measurements for confirmation. I’ve been trying to lose the same five pounds for close to a year.

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This belittles the work I’ve done to get this far as well, because it doesn’t show the level of effort or that muscle and fat have been swapped with a quite definite regularity. If all you see are the numbers and not physical change, the potential to go backwards is, I know, a fair deal stronger than it would be if all I had was weight loss as my objective. This journey’s become therefore a lot more about self-education: yes, I can read all the gumph in the world about eating to lose weight and what exercises work the best, but none of that is necessarily going to work for me. That’s the problem with the Internet: everybody is out there trying to sell you the best way to do things like they’re a) the only person doing so and b) their way is the optimal path for you, and that’s a bunch of wobbly dumdums. What is best for ME is when I understand WHY things are happening, and I can grasp the relationship between what I eat, how I exercise and how that affects my progress.

This is the new world I now find myself in, and it is amazing.

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I can tell you the key changes that have been made to improve my ability to lose weight: they include stopping with the Special Fried Rice on takeaway night, removing myself from temptation when hungry and not lying to my PT when she asks me if I did all my exercise promised from the week before. However, I hate to break it to you guys, but the #1 overriding reason why I’ve succeeded in losing weight is that I’ve worked myself into the fucking ground. That meant that yesterday, on the back of five hours sleep, I dragged myself out the door, walked to the Gym, ran for nearly an hour and did 30 minutes of weights, before walking home and promptly falling asleep. Yes, exercise is meant to give you energy and vitality, but in a menopausal 50-summat it was enough to destroy me yesterday almost completely.

That’s normally when you want to give up.

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When I look back at myself in pictures, from when I started the serious part of this journey, there’s now an inescapable difference between then and now. Once upon a time I couldn’t see it, and had I allowed myself to be swayed by the fact that nothing (apparently) was changing in my mind at the time, I’d be no further forward. All those years of trying and failing to lose weight had nothing whatsoever to do with how I did it or with whom. The biggest single issue, ultimately, was myself. That’s easier to write now than it has been at any other point in the past too, that there’s come the final grasping of a truth that underpins everything else that I do. When jokingly I’ll mention that ‘people are stupid’ to someone in conversation, I’m talking about myself. This inability to want to grasp the failings and shortcomings that have hindered progress for decades makes the current revelations all the more bittersweet.

This could easily have happened a long time ago, but never did, because until fear was addressed and faced, everything was impossible. Shame and embarrassment are potent shackles in a mind that believes that what matters more than being free and happy is conforming to norms that were never placed on you to begin with, but end up being applied by everybody else. Once there’s the ability to look beyond the constraints of what the rest of humanity tells you is possible or acceptable? The only thing stopping progress, ultimately, is death. I write this sentence for a friend of mine who, right now, is going through the most difficult of circumstances as a reminder: every day is special, each moment to be appreciated and treasured as if it were the last, because that might well be the case. A life not lived well is not really a life at all.

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Now I’ve lost 10 pounds, the next goal is 15. These are hardly real world issues for you or anyone else but for me, this is a journey I am determined to complete. It has become a metaphor for an ability to do what is needed, to allow honestly to underpin everything, and to not be a lie. It is in effect, not clean living but honest living. I don’t need funky foods and stupid fads to be better, just myself and common sense. This then becomes a measure of how the two combine with current circumstances.

I believe I am capable of anything I now want to do.

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Bad to the Bone

People don’t like being told they’re wrong. Speaking as ‘people’ as my own example, I’m terrible when I make mistakes. Traditionally my brain and mouth run at differing speeds when flustered or frustrated, and so typing gives me the vital time required to think before I ‘speak’ and that’s probably why I prefer this medium now to communicate over everything else. It is my own self-woven safety net. I’ve learnt a lesson this week in how not only I use the words but on directing intent, and grasped that sometimes, like it or not, you’re just better off not talking to some people at all. You’d think I’d learn after each time I interact with certain individuals, they treat me like the shit they just scraped off their shoe. You hope that maybe it’s a bad day and perhaps they’ll be nicer, but nope, still a total twatcanoe. Then, I end up asking the same question.

Is it me that’s the problem here, or is it you?

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The reality, of course, is that it’s a bit of both, and unless parties involved are prepared to reconsider terms and engagement, it will always be this way. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and eventually a point is reached where if it matters enough to everyone involved, you will find a way. That’s the key: however, the reality is more often that one party’s completely unaware of what a twat they are until someone informs them of this whom they trust. Again, this is personal experience speaking, and I can be completely clueless sometimes. I’m therefore extremely grateful for everybody I know who chips in or points out I might have made a misstep along the way. Nobody said that communication was ever going to be simple or without potential misinterpretation.

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I’ll make an effort with difficult people, but there comes a point where I just stop listening. This isn’t because I’m unwilling to communicate, anything but. It is inevitably because I feel that, like it or not, what I’m saying isn’t being given the respect I’m being careful to demonstrate with the other person. After a while you shouldn’t need to be formal, it should just be a relaxed and comfortable relationship where dispute or conflict is dealt with sympathetically. However, if the other person refuses to allow you that intimate access (and I mean that in terms of emotional trust, not physical closeness) there will never be the opportunity to forge a real and meaningful relationship. Ironically I’ve seen people claim that I’ve done this with them, that by the action of simply talking to them we are somehow fast friends. That’s not how this works, guys.

It takes two people to build a friendship, especially on the Internet.

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As I become more political and less personable on Twitter, I have noticed people drifting away with whom I had decent bouts of communication in the past. These people showed me respect and understanding, but when it becomes apparent that my reaction to the Real World events at present is… well, volatile, they choose to step away, and I find myself amazed that this is a surprise. If you claim to know me as well as I suspect you believed was the case, this should not come as unexpected… yet it does, and ironically that lack of tolerance is the problem more people are having with social media. The ultimate tool to bring people together is in danger of disintegration because individuals are now realising that maybe they don’t want the whole World in their inbox. Many can’t form meaningful relationships in real life, and ultimately that matters far more than your virtual accomplishments.

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I’m not alone in thinking this either: Mark Zuckerberg spoke to the BBC yesterday and vocalised many of the concerns that the more open-minded of us hold that creating a global community is being threatened by xenophobia, fear and distrust of our fellow man:

There are people around the world that feel left behind by globalisation and the rapid changes that have happened, and there are movements as a result to withdraw from some of that global connection.

Getting high profile personalities to mention specifics is, of course, never going to happen because the moment you do, that’s all that anybody else talks about for months (you just need to look at the US President for ample demonstration of that.) When Zuckerberg refers to ‘movements’ I find myself thinking about the F-word. That’s fascism, people, but by thinking thus I also excludes a whole spectrum of other extremist viewpoints, which are just as dangerous and exist on the far left of a political spectrum that doesn’t currently know it’s arse from a hole in the ground. Wherever you pitch your tent, these are difficult times we live in, and being able to communicate successfully is absolutely crucial going forward. Pretending all this isn’t happening is a coping strategy, I’ll grant you, but not the one I’m going to work with.

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What bothers me most of all, at the end of all this, is people being honest. Not with me, although I’d love you to possess the balls to admit you left because I make too much noise, or that you don’t care, or that you think I’m wrong. That at least gives me an opportunity to say thank you, or argue to keep you around, or express disappointment that yet again, when presented with two options, you took the easy way. With the chaos around us all, and considering this is only the Internet, I don’t blame you for making a run for it, on reflection. The arsebiscuits have a reason for believing everybody is out to get them too, because in certain cases that’s spot on. If it’s easier to deflect attention away from yourself by being rude, but you don’t want to rock the boat or cause too much trouble because you’ll be labelled difficult? Newsflash, you’ll get caught out eventually. When you do, it might be time to ask the question: is it always other people who are the problem, or am I contributing?

Admitting you’re wrong is often the first step towards redemption.