Valentine

Cricket continues to accept it has a lot to do in tacking racism, and it will further the cause a great deal that ex-cricketers are prepared to open themselves on camera to exposure. The stories that ultimately drive change are those which show our humanity in different light, either good or bad. The common denominator in so many of these situations, ultimately, is white people as the bad guys, which like it or not we are.

Stories like this will not just show how to empower yourself, but will demonstrate that actions that remain inherently sexist or racist, or simply involve one person wanting power and control over others, retain the potential to empower everybody. What white people are fantastic at doing is attacking others for inertia, whilst not doing a fucking thing for themselves.

You see it every day on social media: hell, I watched it yesterday taking place in a video game. Let’s make some cheap jokes about gender reassignment because, to us, the white boys and girls who only see two genders, it’s easy low-hanging fruit. I can look funny and smart without even having to get out of my gaming chair. Newsflash, Trash: this is not the world you went into Lockdown in.

An awful lot has changed without you even realising.

I’ll grant you, it will take time for the validation models to alter across all areas of society. Some will undoubtedly remain ridiculously intractable for all eternity, but if we look at what history has forgotten in the last hundred years, we can but home some of this inactivity will be irrelevant anyway. The fact remains, it is time to look long and hard at your role models.

If your idea of change is pretending nothing is going on before sticking both fingers in your ears? It’s a great look. You keep doing you. It’s your feed, say whatever you want… except, increasingly, do not expect other people to listen if those opinions are unpalatable. Please, DO use your feed to start asking questions, or sharing the knowledge you discover for yourself.

Never forget, every day is a school day.

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.

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.

The Departure

Modern life right now is pretty hard work. It is easy to see why so many people really can’t be bothered, would rather be out shopping, pooping on a beach or getting off their faces with their mates. It’s easier than dealing with the consequences of what is going to destroy us all in the end: ourselves. After months of being forced to confront our demons, everybody just wants to run away.

It’s not just race either, a lot of subjects that weren’t really up for discussion before Lockdown are now on the table. Attitudes are shifting faster than most extremists can keep up with. Being tech-savvy has never been more important: could YOU tell a real tweet from a fake…? Oh, and truth. Yeah, the reality of modern life is coming at some people extremely fast indeed.

Knowing you are part of the problem, that you have contributed to it before, but will never do so again is an extremely significant step forward in my life. I don’t recall at any point ever being this comfortable with a process, either: I have to change. This isn’t up for discussion or negotiation either. The ONLY way the world alters is when I am there, making sure it does.

I know where to go to do this too, that was previously not immediately clear to me. The paths which before were unmarked and overgrown are amazingly beginning to beckon me, in directions that would not previously have been considered. Next week will be a watershed. I have an important email to write tomorrow, with my big business trousers on.

You are the arbiter of the journey. Nobody else. Just you.

Intellectual superiority is an insidious, disturbing thing. It extends into so much of my life that to point out when people are being self-absorbed, arrogant wankers has, in the last couple of weeks, pretty much become a full-time job. Exposing smart people who think they are somehow above all of this, or better, is beginning to reap some tangible alteration on a wider stage.

It also shows, as bunches of right wing activists take their narrow-mindedness off to Parler that many won’t ever listen. That’s fine, because if they carry on sacrificing themselves to the Twitter Gods, it proves they really don’t understand the wider changes at play. The future is not your white bread, class-based ecosystem. A Revolution really is on its way.

The Planet itself has decided we don’t get to dictate terms any more.