Lonely Soul

At time of writing, that tweet’s been interacted with over 35,000 times. Of the seven people who responded (that’s a woeful ratio) over half of them turned up to be ignorant, stupid twats. I know there will people who’ll look at my sample size with disdain, but I’d say that’s a pretty good barometer for life right now. Over half the people you interact with outside your circle are out to bury you.

Life is all about balance, after all.

I spent a joyous couple of hours this week effectively halving the number of Twitter Lists I was placed on: a list does not require the person to follow you, and they are pretty useful for keeping an eye on people in a certain industry. I’ve borrowed somebody else’s Diversity list and it has lead to me following a great number of incredibly educational, decent people. However, like it or not, in a certain light it can and does look like stalking.

How is it possible to identify this more clearly? Lemme give you an example: when your Listee is the only person subscribed, and you are the only person he’s watching? Yeah, I’d say that was a red flag. Of course, there is the means by which people can make private lists and you’ll have no idea you’re on them. I know that a couple of people who seem to still labour under the apprehension we’re somehow friends have a few of those.

I still see you, and your manipulative behaviour. Fuck you.

When your Government clearly doesn’t give a fuck about the procedure, you know everybody is in the shit. I refuse to let my standards slip however. Keep curating, keep pushing and most importantly keep on top of the workload. Talking of which, think I’ll go out for a walk shortly and get my head further around the process of editing fiction for Patreon…

Tower of Strength

A bunch of ridiculously rich people worried about being ‘cancelled’ (with no grasp at all what this really means) co-signed a statement yesterday. The two most notable (at least for me) had already come together in conflict earlier in the day on something far more telling.

This is where we are now. There are no precisely drawn lines… except one. Wealth. All of those people have money, and by definition access to anything they might need to ensure their lives are lived without issue. Except, of course, as writers, they are supposed to be revered and loved for their intellectual stimulation and insight or else their reason for being does not exist.

Think it’s time to bring Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs back to the table.

All those rich people are not at the top of their pyramids right now. They might have made it to Tier Two without breaking sweat but Tier Three is the deal breaker for EVERYBODY in Lockdown: when ‘they’ say that money won’t buy you happiness, this is normally the space where the majority of that assertion lies. The shift from Safety to Belonging is fucking HUGE.

For this writer, I can absolutely attest that once you move into the Esteem stage of proceedings, an awful lot of stuff that was not previously possible becomes just that. The self-imposed obstacles that are set previously simply cease to exist. You can and do attain things that were previously impossible. It is, ultimately, all about your own personal journey into enlightenment.

Wealth then becomes far more than material fortune.

Except, for many of these writers being unchallenged on frankly vile opinions for decades is coming to an end. Having an ‘opinion’ is finally beginning to mean accountability. The more insidious upshot of this, at least for me, will always be the mental health consequences of having opinions and outbursts in a public forum, in front of a massive, often highly susceptible audience.

Never more was that apparent than when this particular piece of video appeared yesterday lunchtime.

I know this might raise some eyebrows here, but this is dangerously close to doublethink tactics. I saw the term ‘psy-ops’ used in a few places by some notable players and had to go look it up. They say every day is a school day in this parish and that it is.

First off: THESE GUYS HAVE GABRIEL AS THEIR PATRON??? Quite apart from the numerous WTAF’s that resulted from this rabbit hole, it is apparent that mental warfare is now a big deal. Undoubtedly, having looked at the tell-all book a member of the Orange Twat’s family has now been allowed to publish, it’s quite clear that childhood trauma’s got a part to play in proceeedings.

Speaking as someone already waist high in the same shit another writer’s sold for a fortune, objectivity becomes the defining feature for absolutely everything. If I was holding the keys to a massive nuclear arsenal, I’d fucking demand other people made me accountable. That’s not happening right now, and needs to change. Toxic behaviour is no longer acceptable, however fucking rich your books have made you.

It is possible to put everything in place and it still to work.

Some rich, white people will be casualties. Whether there are enough of them, and whether the right ones are quietly shifted aside remains to be seen. Psychological warfare is the tool they have used for decades to subjugate others, and if we’re being all biblical here in terms of revenge then one good tooth extraction deserves reciprocation.

Except these aren’t the white people who will turn on us and attack our friends. That’s far more likely to happen in a supermarket or a public space. It won’t just be extremism from one direction any more. It’ll be everywhere… except, of course, that’s been the case in certain places for a long time. Maybe that will be noted and dealt with.

There are more problems here currently than solutions offered.

Life is a Minestrone

Don’t worry, you didn’t wander in to the Gaming Blog by mistake. Quietly, and without fuss a while back, I shut it down. It really should have metaphorically burnt it to the ground too, but that’s a bit too drama queen for current tastes. Needless to say, this is Wordsworth. She has a lovely one bedroomed house with a basement on an island with some other people.

They’re not really her friends, if truth be told. She’s not really sure what they are right now, but they talk and exchange gifts and that’s fine because she can fish as much as she wants here and nobody gets cross at her. There’re gardens to tend and flowers to water and bugs to keep in check, and all of this is a lovely distraction from the real world on fire outside.

However, it’s not a life any more. This is just a game.

I spent time yesterday advocating to someone in a senior position inside a major organization that they are not doing enough for people who play games online. There’s a lot of other stuff we all know is patently wrong with the virtual world, but as this is the bit I personally have the most experience with, I’d like to start here.

There’s no real idea if this will come to anything, but I had to try. That’s the deal now: if there is any conceivable way of affording change, it needs to be pushed for. Interestingly, I now have an academic example of how Twitter operates in relation to mental health on a personal basis. I need to go take screenshots of the incident this morning.

People need to grasp how this medium makes people work.

We all have apocryphal Internet stories: the ones which you can prove as true are the incidents we need to start recording better. I must, for instance, go back and see if it is possible to find the DM logs of the woman I kept talking after she’d had a gun waved at her. There’s confidence I can recall time and date, now all I need is the evidence.

As someone with memory issues related to trauma it is becoming vitally important to record this stuff for posterity and so it can be accessed if required. It goes without saying right now that there are some conversations that ought to be screenshotted regardless. There are those in the world who will be quite keen to make history vanish, not realising that the Internet NEVER forgets.

Not only that, its timing remains impeccable when reminding you.

Art for Art’s Sake

Overheard on Friday night, in Westminster…

In a certain light, a lot of the indignation over the arts looks staged. I know that’s not true, but it is REALLY easy to see how the conspiracy theorists are earning crusts during the Pandemic. It won’t be enough either. It never will be enough to undo the destruction wrought during austerity. However, the arts will endure, because of exactly the reason government seems not to give a flying fuck.

In another world, there are better solutions to these problems.

Publishing is a bombsite right now: nobody is covering themselves in any glory amongst the major players. Yesterday, She Whose Name is Not Spoken decided to yet again try to explain her position as being tenable. She failed spectacularly, and I’ve lost patience with people who think it’s okay to still like her and what she does. Sorry, but that’s your lot.

Then this morning, a guy who has done blackface in living memory won’t lose his publishing contract either, but at least people are now prepared to stand up and state how fucking awful his kids books are, because they are. In both cases, publishers have said and done nothing. Why would they? These people make them squillions of pounds.

That’s part of the problem.

However, it is possible to embrace your shortcomings and move forward. L-MM is a case in point, and as the discourse over Hamilton continues to rumble on, we are all wise to start reassessing the choices made when younger in a more current light. A lot has changed in a short period of time. Some creatives are prepared to accept their shortcomings. Others are digging in their heels. I know who I think looks better at distance.

Objectivity is a big ask for those who were never flexible to begin with.

Scattered Black and Whites

After a decent night’s sleep (and proper hard pushing myself on the bike yesterday) I have woken up with the scales very much fallen from my eyes. It’s hard to describe the feeling when you know that something quite seismic’s taken place in your head, an odd combination of validation, comprehension and self-belief.

I keep coming back to The Emperor’s New Clothes as my favourite metaphor: once you see a naked, middle-aged man waving his dick in a timeline as a desperate means by which he can validate an existence, it’s pretty hard to unsee. The women who do this too are, I would posit, practising a version of the dick wave. They’re appropriating male values. Some of them then stop being women, in my head, which is significant. [*]

It is time to start seeking out the truly unique, diverse voices of truth.

Once upon a time, everything was about being right. As I have matured, and grasped the subtleties of a reasoned existence, that argument is only acceptable to a point. At this point, everything that makes me think is where interest lies: even if the responses that result aren’t those what I’ll agree with or think worthwhile of further discussion.

Once you see one person using a platform for their own agenda, it also becomes pretty impossible to ignore: more and more ‘smart’ people who do this for their own, unspecified ends, are failing to grasp the speed at which their surrounding environment is changing, and it is. All this bollocks over ‘white’ values being attacked is just that.

We’ve been hearing only white values for far too long.

I realise this approach will not be popular. However, frankly, I do not care at this stage. This is not about appeasing some random gomer who thinks suddenly they’re the answer to everything. I know just how much there is to learn right now, how values and viewpoints need to shift and alter. This isn’t a brand realignment, it’s a fundamental alteration from soul upwards.

Hang on kids, here we go.

[*] More on this in the week.

Beyond Earth

Odd day, today. I’d had a load of stuff nebulously planned and then it all went wrong midway on Thursday. Typing this is taking a level of concentration I don’t actually possess: it’s because last night’s sleep wasn’t, it was a night of being held to account by my demons. Yesterday was just horrendous. It won’t have looked like it, because I now do a fairly decent job of hiding the terror, but to say what I felt and needed to was draining.

Today, again, I write all of this down to remember the mess my head is in.

Time to bring this graphic back. For most of Lockdown we’ve not moved past Stage Two, lets be honest. The disconnect has been horrendous. Yesterday, for about an hour, I could touch the top of the pyramid. It’s been some time since Esteem was a constant, and even if I am mentally wiped by the effort, it’s there. I realise, as a result, just how lucky I am.

There will be a lot of people existing right now in the bottom two strata of this diagram. Many of them will be really grateful to be able to go to a pub or a restaurant today. Many more will be overjoyed to have a sense of connection after months of isolation. This is the psychological toll that Lockdown will have placed on all of us, but in vastly differing way.

This is the mental health emergency that nobody factored for going in.

There are so many red flags online right now it is pretty impossible to know where to start in an attempt to make a difference. Not contributing to the problem will be a start. Metering interactivity is also going to happen. I’m already off Instagram, limiting access, doing other stuff. I have to hope that taking a break from pretty much everything else will help brain to finally unwind a bit.

This is gonna be a tough next few weeks.

Just a Little

I thought for a bit about live-tweeting my Trauma episodes: however I respect you guys far too much for that. So, instead, we’re going to blog them, for no other reason than if I can forget things so comprehensively for a lifetime and then have them come back as if I’d lived them 15 minutes ago? Recording those reactions might be useful.

Let’s start with yesterday’s Instagram photo.

That’s not hyperbole either. I didn’t remember taking that photo yesterday. That’s before the kitchen was refitted, because this was the year it happened. Then, this morning, walking round my 6k ‘block’ of space in which I was supposed to be thinking about editing (which in fairness happened quite a bit) it came back to me. You needed to be accountable.

I took that picture because, for the first time, I felt capable. That confidence still comes and goes over time: right now there’s a definite effort being made in my head to separate what I think is attractive from what is real. The former’s still massively influenced by factors that aren’t healthy: weight, ability, other people. A bi-weekly Zoom meeting is beginning to help grant much needed perspective.

For long periods of my life have I refused to look at myself at all.

The last time I wore make-up was my wedding, so that will be over twenty years, and that was because the pictures were going to other people. I didn’t care what I looked like but EVERYBODY else suggested I should make the effort, so did. The idea of make-up was approached again recently. I have foundation, expensive stuff, sitting unused in a bag upstairs.

Why don’t I want to wear it? That’s easy. There is already enough hiding. The stage has been reached where people accept me like this, faults and all : I don’t need to dress up and go out to make me feel better. Fixing the basic stuff that’s broken in my head is a bigger priority. Once that’s dealt with, honestly, I cannot see me using make up ever again.

It might change, but right now that looks doubtful.

I am making myself do stuff that is uncomfortable in the coming weeks, but not that is against what I know is the true essence of myself, and makeup never really worked for me. It always felt like I was pretending to be someone else. When you can’t really and truthfully identify what you are in the first place, that causes a lot of confusion. I tend to do a lot of things because other people tell me that’s a good idea, and that has to change.

I know they want me to be happy when this is suggested, and I get the reasoning behind all the stuff that’s presented. However, what makes me happiest is often when I’m allowed just to be the person who doesn’t like what everybody else is raving about, or who isn’t immersed in the latest thing. Just a book, or a computer to work on, some food and people to talk to. All the other stuff is distraction from reality.

I think what is becoming increasingly apparent is that the world and I work slightly out of alignment. Normal is easy, what I need now is hard and difficult and it is to challenge the substance of my being to move forward in a fashion that truly represents my actuality, for the first time ever. When you’ve never really defined yourself properly, that can seem quite frightening.

The first stage of all of this is to be more confident in myself.

Believe

Oh look, July.

I’ve joined a group of people who have decided to try to do something positive on the back of the Gaming #MeToo Implosion. Their plan is to make sure that online spaces have rules that make it easier for people to know what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. It’s a brilliant idea, and I feel somewhat underqualified being involved.

My experience however spans four decades. I used to moderate back in the 1990’s, briefly voted onto a group involved in keeping UK Usenet in check… and then I resigned. I remember now the reason why, the abuse that would clog up my dial up, when the phone started ringing at home, I’d answer, then the abuser on the other end would hang up.

This shit really has been going on for two centuries.

Rules are great, and it makes it easier to effectively maintain safe spaces, but they don’t identify why it is people choose to break them. In all of these high profile cases, all the rules in the world would not have prevented predators preying. Sure it might have sent them somewhere else, but really that won’t solve the underlying issues.

Last night I got taken to task (quite rightly) for flippantly suggesting that people were stupid. Without context, yes, it is an insult. However, when you add context, stupidity is quite easy to identify and even easier to expose. The world, like it or not, will never be as black and white as so many of us wish it was. All of us have moral dilemmas to address.

What happens when your own brain can’t do that for you?

All of this, like it or not, comes back to mental health. It is the lynchpin of so many other issues, and getting people to talk about it freely has been almost impossible for decades. Slowly, surely, the stigma begins to relax, to the point where, during lockdown, I was approached and asked if I could recommend some resources on how to cope mentally with what is going on.

That’s when the daily Mental health Tweet was born.

Yesterday, for the first time, one of the organisations I reference took the time to reply to the thread with additional resources. It’s a slow, measured process of just making sure the information remains active in both my timelines. I’m not pushing into conversations and asking how people are. That’s not how the Internet works.

However, if I see someone retweet the information, or I sense by their tweets that maybe they could do with someone to talk to, I’ll ask in public. I’ll make DM’s open to them. There will be a willingness to help and support as much as I can. I know this happens on servers and in gaming guilds and clans, but it doesn’t happen enough. People need to care about others, not just themselves.

There needs to be those willing to try to spot issues before they escalate.

It’s a tough job. Over the last three and a bit decades, it has undoubtedly affected me. People have threatened to hurt my kids, attack my husband… and yeah, I get why they’d want to do that to me. I won’t give them what they want, the belief that somehow they control me. They don’t. None of them do. I am my own person, and I always will be.

Abuse comes in many forms, people. It isn’t just pictures, it isn’t just verbal. EVERYBODY needs to do better, and if that’s ever going to mean change, all the rules in the world are pointless if the people who are supposed to live by them don’t understand that sometimes, brains just break. When that happens, we ALL need to gather round and deal with the consequences.

Mental health is the conversation we ALL need to be having.

Good Souls

I had forgotten how exhausting it is when a full-on anxiety attack hits. There’s also a phenomenal amount of grief to be dealt with too: add to this a set of lungs that are undoubtedly struggling with summer pollen and this is tough. A nap is gonna happen today: mental faculties might have returned, but without the physical accompaniment, it’s all a bit pointless.

There are a lot of inescapable things too: so, the best course of action for everybody is not to be here, and to be completing them before body finally calls time on my day. Back with more length tomorrow.

Think

My brain is different today. I feel slow. Fortunately there’s a reason for this that makes sense: the menopause continues to wreak havoc on normal days. I trained the hardest last night than has been the case for three months. My voice has dropped… probably an octave because of the former, my arse is killing me due to the latter. There’s always a reason.

However, improvement is obvious. Patreon is slow, measured vindication in progress. I am altering approach, slowly but surely. The last time this kind of schism happened mentally there was too much done too soon. I’m not making that mistake again. Everything has to be manageable and sustainable right now in order to move forward.

Then, it’s all about finding the right spot to work. This morning should be e-mails, but having just read back one in draft that’s probably a task better left until I am awake. If it takes me ten minutes to work out I wanted the word ‘vindication’ in that last paragraph, we should probably not try to take on anything too stressful.

Know your limits, people.

There’s a lot changing, very fast indeed, and I’m not the only person having trouble keeping up. That’s the post here: we all gotta think faster, be smarter, look closer. If I had three words to say to myself? They wouldn’t come from a commercial standpoint. My worth entirely depends on not being beholden to other things, I cannot control. My worth comes from myself.

I am strong. I am capable. I will change. I will adapt. I know kindness. I see oppression. I will grow. I will alter. I am altering. I think deeply. I care greatly. I adapt sensibly. You are sensitive. You are strong. You’re an energy. You are unique. You are different. You are Human.

I get the point of redefining marketing. Perhaps the bigger issue is that marketing has defined us for too long.