The World is Not Enough

The news today is full of BritBox: the collaboration between BBC and ITV which will undoubtedly see a ton of shows quietly withdrawn via other streaming platforms as the memo is read that TV’s future no longer lives in that box in the corner of your living room. Sure it’s the TV with Victoria’s face on it that dominates their splash screen currently, but acknowledging that phones, PC’s and tablets even exist as entertainment delivery devices is a massive, humongous step forward for terrestrial TV.

The world is changing too fast for these companies to ignore: if the customer surveys I increasingly get sent by Sky TV are any indicator, they absolutely see Amazon and Netflix as the only competition going forward. It’s not just TV either: behold the advert for a new team kit and ‘brand’ from, of all people, a county cricket team most people won’t even rate as decent. In fact, they got relegated to Division 2 of the County Championship last year, which presumably prompted this fairly radical change. Bricks as wickets, indeed.

Advertising is changing too. Once upon a time this would have been a poster or an advert in a newspaper, but nobody does that any more. It has to exist on a phone, in your hand on a train, and that means digital media. The choice of location for the ad is, I assume, Oxford, and could very well have been made using an iPhone: there is no need to employ sophisticated video editing like the Durham boys did. Anybody can be a star, and lots of people are. This is the future, where all that is needed to jump on a bandwagon is software and imagination.

It’s an amazing time for somebody like me, whose only restriction is the time available to make things come alive. It gives considerable pause for thought too: what might be possible on these platforms, what could be achieved with only the minimum amount of outlay. Undoubtedly the future is image as well as words, so how do you make the optimum use of both and still find the means to make a living…

Watch this Space…

The Name of the Game

[Sensitive men may wish to look away now.]

The menopause has effectively redefined who I am over the last couple of years. Sure, the same basic person remains that started the journey from periods that would effectively keep me housebound in the last months before they stopped, so much blood loss that I’d occasionally faint. Now, there’s a lot of things that are different, and a fair few things that are missed. One thing most definitely isn’t.

Anger was, for me, very much hormonally-based. Having lost most, if not all of that white hot reaction is really a bonus for everybody concerned. Sure, I’ll still let stuff get to me but now, it is far less incendiary. What does remain is a remarkable amount of sorrow: tears are a problem, and can often happen with complete unexpectedness. However, that too is beginning to be tempered. Tiredness is the key: making sure I’m getting enough hours rest every night has become an overriding priority.

sleeping.gif

If I sleep well, the World pretty much resets to normal around that. Protracted periods of exhaustion mean memory issues, irritation and an inability to effectively communicate. This is normal for most of the world regardless, I just turned up at this point late to the party and am beginning to grasp what a more mellow, laid back version of reality can mean for existence. Becoming hormone free is, in that regard, the best thing that’s happened for decades. I am dictated to by my body no longer.

What this does force however is a different way of thinking about the business of everyday life. Some skills are needing to be re-learnt from scratch. The benefit of routine and goal-setting have become more significant than ever before, because it is this that allows me to maintain sanctity of both body and mind. Starting my exercise programme when I did, in that regard, may end up the most important gift that was ever self- given.

cycling_lady

Exercise is the drug that nobody can prescribe that means the withdrawal from hormone dependency is minimised. It’s also impetus and focus all rolled into one. I have goals and objectives that are set and defined purely on my terms that are not dependant on winning a contest or being popular in a peer group. It is the personal nirvana that defines increasing areas of existence. I don’t need group events to show my ability or skill, just myself. I am the arbiter of this destiny alone.

However, some days it is a wade through neck-high treacle. Yesterday was one of those. Today, with a decent night’s kip and revelation over an injury, everything is indeed considerably brighter than it was. Sure, the rejection and occasional inertia will get me down, because if it didn’t I wouldn’t be me. Today, however, they don’t matter.

All that is of consequence is the motion forward.

You’re So Vain

Starting tomorrow, for a whole week, I’m going to bore you shitless about what happens in my head. My problem with all the times this happens with other people (normally sponsored by the charities who all need to promote that message or newspapers trying to cash in on Time to Talk Day) is the inevitably sanitised version of events that is presented, because you don’t want to scare normal people into being too frightened to help.

Throughout my entire life I have experienced first hand what happens when ‘normal’ gets involved in the equation, and honestly it’s like living the same day, over and again, before everybody else forgets how horrible everything was except you. You are trapped in your own Groundhog Day, except there’s no cute large ground squirrel for company or the opportunity to fall in love with Andie MacDowell.

fuckthisshit2.gif

The choices presented therefore are often difficult, painful and ultimately hurtful. If I had to sum up the overriding emotion felt right now, undoubtedly is is sadness. Trying to get other people to understand when the world generally right now does not have a fucking clue what’s going on, mired in uncertainty and often anger. With so many other things taking up the precious free time others possess, why bother helping other people?

Mindfulness has, at least for me, opened a door to better mental places, spaces that only I inhabit away from the noise and fuss of the rest of reality’s demands, which allows the opportunity to deal with sadness, anger and resentment quite effectively. It gives the means by which obstacles can be circumnavigated, and wisdom slowly distilled from the journey thus far. What have I learnt, in all of this? Fear is what underpins everything.

monkey2

We’re not talking being afraid of spiders, or not succeeding in my new career path, because both of those are now happily rationalised. We need to treat all the world’s creatures far better than is currently the case, and I have already succeeded, and will continue to do so going forward, because these paths are not hampered by my own inability. Sure, there are days when mentally below par that they become problematic, because nobody is perfect every day. You do what you can to survive.

Fear stops my brain from pushing my body, or at least it used to. Yesterday, in the gym, all those people who can just run without the nagging fear they’ll run out of breath, that their legs will stop working, that the treadmill will dump them face first on the floor in a comedy moment. Each one of those fears has been removed, rationalised and dismissed. Yesterday, I just ran. The most difficult thing ever became the most normal thing. That’s my brain at work, and why everything makes me so fucking tired.

neverlistentoreason

In the end, of course, those people who stop listening to other people’s issues are often those with their own demons to face, with no desire or ability to start that process. Reaching into computers to tell them this is, I realised quite early on, a mug’s game. Many are here to play the martyr because it suits their agenda. If you have spent a lifetime without the means to deal with the world around you, the Internet’s a perfect platform to find like minded souls who do the same and HEY then you’re not alone any more.

Except it’s all a big, fat lie. Dealing with your issues will vastly improve quality of life not just for you, but those around you. That’s the key: this isn’t just about taking care of yourself. It is the benefits your new outlook will grant in the wider world of work, social interaction and all places in between. Most crucially, at least for me, it grants you the means to communicate to others like yourself that yes, this is worth the pain.

shock1

Trying to work out who is listening can be a fairly hit or miss affair, of course, and wading into people’s lives as some kind of white knight bringing salvation is not the kind of thing to be recommended, especially in the current political climate. So, start small. Cake .GIFs, the occasional hug. Ask a question in your timeline that might promote some discussion, but don’t think that because nobody answers, this doesn’t work. Helping people is not a means by which you gain followers or increase reach.

Genuinely helping others is not a clever Tweet with an inspirational photo sent at 5pm because that’s when the most people will see it. That’s opportunism, appealing to the widest audience and although it might work for some, its now unlikely to be even noticed by the people who need it most. True support is learning to listen, understanding the land and then presenting people with the tools they need to grow, encouraging whilst they do so. The true heroes are the ones who never get the accolades.

You have to ask for help and mean it to move forward, staring past the rhetoric of others and the belief that nobody understands except you.

Amazingly, you really are not alone.

No Scrubs

Everything is late, one thing is at least a day behind, but this is surprisingly good progress, all told. There’s a reason, and it is worryingly grown up.

Both son and daughter have a cashew nut allergy. The specialist this morning almost gleefully informed me this is almost a bigger problem than peanuts, that they sneak into a remarkable amount of processed food plus the prevalance of ‘healthy’ snacking has highlighted the issue even further. Daughter is now set for a raft of tests, will be issued with an adrenaline delivery device, and then begins a lifetime of being careful what she eats.

There is guilt manifesting in two ways: my genetics are partly at fault (asthmatic amongst other issues) plus really, truthfully, we should have had this confirmed as soon as it was apparent her brother was allergic. It is also not great that this happens in the period where obtaining medicines is becoming increasingly problematic.

I have not been a great parent: today all that came home to roost.

The Next Chapter Bar

A lot of things appear to be going backwards, or not happening at all. However, small victories are beginning to emerge. A historic back problem is finally beginning to settle down, strength is being gained in my legs, whilst sleep quality has definitely improved. The second bag of Huel is about to run out and so, this week, I’ll do a review, because honestly this is probably the most significant change in my life over the last month and honestly, it’s huge.

For now, however, all I want to do is sleep.

Future Boy

Day 1: Start again: in Good News PT is back today. YAY.

The Next Chapter Bar

Today I am here to remind you that the Future is not as forgiving and understanding as some of you seem to believe.

In the last week, a significant number of people in my timeline have seen some form of bank fraud happen in their accounts. Is it a coincidence that the biggest breach of data ever took place shortly before this? I dunno, but it’s a sage reminder to check your online accounts, making sure you don’t hold excess cash in your main account. Any excess (if you are that lucky) should be stuffed elsewhere, regardless of whether it gets saved or not. Also? Two factor authentication as standard on any app handing your money.

I digress however, but only slightly. It’s time to reference the fact that tons of privately marked tweets were, it transpires, easily accessible to anyone on an Android phone. This isn’t really news at all, because the idea of Private Messaging and Encrypted apps should be ridiculous to anyone who still holds onto any belief that the Internet is some kind of mysterious place like it was back in the 1990’s, where Government never listens and big business cannot capitalise.

Privacy, in a public space, is the biggest issue everybody should be talking about.

When you step back and consider facts, a lot of stuff is pretty well looked after. There are some basic mistakes that shouldn’t be made as consumers: online banking passwords really ought not be the same as the ones you use for porn site access. ANYTHING with a nominal value to your existence on the Internet should have a secondary form of authentication, preferably NOT tied to a mobile device.

However, what is abundantly apparent in recent years is that certain companies don’t really care about the privacy of the data you share. When you forget that Big Brother doesn’t need to watch you if you are dumb enough to use services without thinking through the consequences, the police and other organisations won’t even need a warrant to hack your Facebook account if every message you spew forth is tinged with hate. It’s just there, shouting into the void.

Just because nobody replies to you, does not mean there’s nobody listening.

The most amazing thing of all, of course, is that all this data combined adds up to an amazing way to unconsciously propel lots of industries forward. Targeting the right people online; not smart enough to grasp their news is fabricated but capable of casting votes, is one high profile example of using freely available data to influence all our futures. Yet people complain their privacy has been invaded, despite the unavoidable truth that this is not totally the fault of those doing the exploiting.

Let’s take an example: let’s say you wanted to train a camera to more accurately distinguish how faces age over time, as part of wanting to employ face recognition software for law enforcement. Picking the same person with… a ten year age gap between two pictures would be a decent starting point, wouldn’t it…?

[FX: Removes Tinfoil Hat] Okay, so maybe not everything is a government conspiracy, but on the other hand if you people could just stop sharing every single thing about yourselves 24/7 then the AI would have a far harder time deciding what you really like, before serving it up to you on a lovely, buy now and save 21% platter. I know that’s not going to happen, and a lot of people are betting on the same being true, or else I wouldn’t have a ton of people trying to invite me to a bazillion new ‘gamer only’ or ‘writer only’ social networks, or using my ratings to condemn delivery drivers and private cabs to personal hell if they don’t turn up on time.

‘Leave a review’ they say. Response to my blog posts is largely non-existent. What future is there in the writing world if you’re required to have a 3.6 star rating or above on your Blog before anybody will even retweet you? Has anybody thought through these systems properly, or are we condemned to a future where a Black Mirror episode looks more like a documentary of how life in the future was perfectly represented from a fictional past?

When I was a kid, the Future was shiny suits and flying cars. Now it’s all data and peer pressure and living a life online that should never be there in the first place. If your privacy really matters, stop doing shit online. It is terribly easy, and takes no effort at all to achieve: get your dick picks out of my DM’s, stop posting your cleavage in order to make you feel good about yourself. It isn’t difficult. You are the arbiter of your own destiny.

The only person making you share everything is yourself.

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Day 2: I need to make a phone call. I don’t wanna look too keen. Gonna write this first and then do it, yeah, that’s a good plan.

Today, we explain the difficulties with relationships via the medium of Hairdressing.

The Next Chapter Bar

A woman’s relationship with her hairdresser is both complex and incredibly subtle. You trust a (reasonably) total stranger to make you look fabulous, and not to destroy self confidence in the process. That whole thing with Samson and his locks equalling strength? Utterly spot on. When stuff does go wrong, it often means the end of your relationship. The chances you’ll hand over cash again to someone who turned your hair purple when you wanted blonde? Fairly slim.

I’d been with the same salon for a LONG time. I’d gone there before my son was born, cycled through two stylists, and the day I came home with purple hair having not asked for it was significant. When younger a lot of hairstyles happened, a few colours, but the desire to go 100% mermaid has never stuck. It isn’t me, and to have it imposed accidentally was not really as shocking as might have been the case. It made a tough decision a lot easier: it was time to leave.

When your stylist can’t get your name right… absolutely the right moment to move on.

fabulous4

So, I’ve bounced between a few places in the intervening period, finding empathy in a couple of stylists, but never the desire to stay, until I took my daughter for a trim at the local hairdressers and found a young lady who is, quite frankly, welcome breath of fresh air. She’s professional and thorough but what I get most from her is the fact that there are no pretensions of anything. She is what she is, and that is what matters. For too long I was simply anonymous. Now, I feel genuinely wanted.

That’s the key in all relationships, I realise. To be a part of something where you don’t feel as if you’re doing all the work, or that you’ve been included because that’s what you think other people would do to look relevant. You shouldn’t be friends with someone  because of who they know, or what that relationship could provide. It just happens. Clicking a button then contributing no effort is not friendship. Reading about another person’s life and adding nothing of value to it is not friendship.

Just because you follow someone does not entitle you to part of their existence.

followback

Actual copy from a Robot-based ‘we increase your following for you’ website.

Robots continue to create an illusion of care and interest that, in many cases, will never exist. It is all about the business of ‘appearing’ popular and successful, without the genitalia-achingly tough task of talking to every person, establishing trust and belief, before moving on. Truly popular people end up that way because they focus on their desires 24/7, and keep on giving, in a way that cannot be faked or indeed replicated. Looking at my Twitter feed, more and more the genuine hard workers are abundantly apparent, putting lesser mortals in the shade.

It is a fine destination to aim for, continuing to be reassuringly inspirational.

shitsreallyonfireyo

Not everything online has to be drama, but amazingly that doesn’t stop a lot of people aspiring towards just that. It’s not like there’s no other stress in the World right now either. I get that some of you want online to be your own safe, secure little Utopia of Calm. The reality of existence is that if you wilfully ignore one thing, it’ll happen with others, and that’s never a state of affairs that will ever end well. That lesson has been learnt the hard way. Friendship isn’t just turning up for the good stuff and ignoring the bad. That’s not how this works.

If this matters enough to you, make the effort.

Randy Scouse Git

DAY 3: No exercise, wood cooked pizza, video games. How was your Friday night?

The Next Chapter Bar

Happiness is an odd thing. You can be down and annoyed at one thing and then, suddenly BANG you’re on Cloud 9, giddy with possibilities that never even existed a moment previously. That, I realise, is why coping with success must be quite tough for those whose emotions don’t normally work this way. I’ve spent a lifetime swinging crazily from one extreme to another, often without warning. Only now come the realisation how useful this is going to be moving forward.

No word on what happened yet, but there will be, you can bet many things on that. What yesterday has done in my brain is dislodge a lot of concern over Stuff in the Past where, it is likely, brain was far too harsh on self’s ability and capability to produce what was needed. There’s also a realisation that, quite probably, that not gaining opportunities that were craved so badly in the past have nothing to do with my ability, but people not liking what I was.

I was the toxic person others wanted out of their lives. I was the one who caused trouble and instability by calling a spade a fucking digging implement. You didn’t diss the hand that fed you, certainly never capitalising from it. Looking back on the last ten years,  the irony that this was ahead of my time makes me laugh.  Crucially a living was never made a from the very thing so many people accused me of being. I cut my teeth writing honest, loving and often really difficult pieces that I’m still immensely proud of, ultimately fuelling hope.

amazingright

The people who attacked me and made drama with me at its core did so for their ends and nothing else. The straw that broke everything was so fucking petty and trivial that even now it makes me laugh out loud: after that point, however, the lesson was learnt. If people are so lost in their own worlds that they only ever see themselves in what you write? You don’t get it, do you? We’re all the same. Everybody is human. 

When I wrote that thing in my timeline to remind myself that not everything needs to be shared, you assumed it was about you… every time, for years on end, it was the same, sad realisation that how I speak is interpreted however the fuck everybody else wants and there’s not a damn thing that will change that. However clear and basic a point that is made, somebody will decide you’re attacking them, or using them to fuel your own delusions of grandeur.

resistenceisfutile

Strong people scare everybody. Not because they’re destroying your lives or taking your jobs, but because they could, unless you stop them first. Notice the lack of personal pronouns here too. I don’t need to wave any sexual cards around this argument, this is not pronouncement at a section of society. This is EVERYBODY. Those of you who don’t like the potential that anyone could turn up and ruin the lovely Utopia you created to protect you from the horrible people in the world who want to change things and move evolution onwards… I see you. Welcome to Armageddon.

People use sexuality as a means by which pronouncement is made, battle lines are drawn. It’s why girls can’t play video games. It’s why girls can’t do most things, and we know how THAT is currently working out in society right now… but there’s more insidious things that make me realise that many people just don’t want anything to change ever. Defining your own gender is wrong, attacking those that do the only sensible way to keep humanity pure.

These are the desperate thoughts of individuals who can never look forward.

shoudlnthavesaidthat

As my audience widens, and it is, someone will undoubtedly come back to these blogs and comb through them, trying to find a sense of what I really am. When you get to this one, you can draw a line. BEFORE this, and that post in the week about finally being able to define myself with words, everything else was leading up to this point now. HERE is where the game really changed, and a new direction was forged. This is the culmination of all the work over a decade to finally release myself from Depression.

Here is where everything moves forward.