We Used to be Friends

This discussion is of interest to me right now for a couple of reasons. The main one, undoubtedly, revolves around how change can happen in communities that, on a whole, really don’t care about doing anything except maintaining the status quo. The only example I have of this is how other people have gained notoriety or followers in my own sphere. If you want to be successful in my major Twitter habitat, here’s how you do it:

  1. Art,
  2. Streaming games,
  3. Social justice,
  4. Memes,
  5. Attacking other people,
  6. Becoming a ‘personality’.

Unsurprisingly, intelligent discussion features nowhere on that list: neither does poetry or writing generally. This was my first indicator that if I wanted to succeed at these things, I was in the wrong virtual space to capitalise. As I change tack and begin the process of building a new following, skills learnt are beginning to grant egress. Where you make your contacts matters.

Then we need to talk about what people don’t do, and how you define ‘friends’ on the Internet.

One of my biggest problems using this platform, without doubt, is the ridiculously high level of expectation I pin on other people. If a relationship really matters, you put in the effort. I try to do this with RL friends too, which used to be really tough (for reasons that may eventually be discussed in public) but now, undoubtedly, has become considerably easier because of my attitude to how life works.

The fact remains: if someone doesn’t want to put in the effort, or you’re not important enough to them, all the pushing in the World isn’t going to change their outlook. My mental issues have driven wedges into RL friendships and, in a number of cases, broken them beyond repair. It is what it is. Now, looking for people who understand what any relationship comes with as baggage is quite important.

That’s where the first major caveat comes into play.

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Understanding when to walk away is tough online, but with practice and consideration it becomes quite easy to know when you’re in the wrong space. I’ve had someone I enjoyed listening to this week make her quiet, drama-free exit from my feed: it’s only right therefore that her Instagram is unfollowed as acknowledgement we are no longer part of each others’ lives. On reflection, its no surprise.

None of the people who have me blocked are a surprise: I’m noisy, post often and often overlook proper filters. If you fuck me off, I’ll tell you so, that’s the joyous advantage of my mental situation. Except, of late it has become apparent that this often makes bad situations worse, and if you respect other people’s opinions and sanctity all that does is make you look like drama’s acceptable, when everybody really wants a bit of peace.

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The second caveat flips the picture. When I do make the effort, and attempt to leverage some enlightenment into someone’s frame of reference… do they care? Well, often that’s a job worth doing, there’s the signs of a point being made… but unless the person is open and sympathetic to constructive criticism, that is also often the point where any fledgling relationship ends. I didn’t come on the Internet for people to tell me I’m wrong, I’m here to escape from people doing that to me IRL…

It all depends, it appears, on why you’re here to begin with. If fame is the goal, the last thing that’s required is dissent over any game plan. You can tell the serial goal-setters a mile away, and that’s when a choice has to be made. Does this person listen, or are they simply appeasing you in front of an audience to prove how fair and equitable they can be? Will they in turn seek your feed out, read what you have to say, or are they only interested in the mention you gave them to begin with?

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Then its all down to the Curation Game: mute for a bit (is the feed better or worse without them, is there even a noticeable difference) then unfollow or, if the need is there block and move on. The smart people should know when the nuclear button is pressed why you’re suddenly no longer accessible, and there’s a good chance that if the point wasn’t made before, it is now: you did a bad thing, and we’re no longer going to talk to each other.

If the friendship really matters to the other person and you block them, it’s not like they suddenly became inaccessible. An email was sent once to someone asking them why a block was enforced, and their reply was a salutatory warning: I didn’t know this individual at all. The ‘person’ they were online was nothing like their reality, my kind of disruption or controversy was simply not warranted in their lives any more. These situations are the ones that need to be learnt from, as a warning going forward.

Redefining friendship parameters on a daily basis should be a part of a self-care routine.

Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)

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Sure Signs I am Run Down include acne breakouts, general aches and pains, increased sensitivity and the total inability to take a joke. This was me, yesterday, and that’s why going to bed at 10pm was the answer. It became abundantly clear I’d left the room when I sat through an hour of Ocean’s 8 which neither empowered me or left brain with a sense of being somehow enriched by a movie where women were the leads. If the script blows, you could cast shop mannequins and get the exact same result, which would have been more entertaining, to be honest.

Hollywood has a lot to learn about how the real world works.

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Talking of which, it is Oscars night, and never has there been less interest in what America thinks is a good movie or not than there is now. Once upon a time I’d have genuinely cared about the outcomes, but now the relevance of such institutions is fraught at best. In a world where criticism has been weaponised, it is no longer wise or indeed sensible to cherish opinions in public. Down this path only anger and sock puppets lie.

It’s why there’s a sad inward breath whenever someone on Social media decides to do the 1 like = 1 fact about me meme. It’s like covering yourself in feathers during Duck Shooting season and standing where all the hunters can see you. Someone will undoubtedly mistake poor disguise as prey, even though you resemble nothing of the sort. Having a point of view has never been so dangerous or destructive. Some days the only safe course of action appears to be selling other people and not you.

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For me, however, this is the moment to stand up and be myself, properly, for the first time in a decade. Undoubtedly part of the modern-day survival gear for any erstwhile blogger is a thick skin, plus the desire to find a hill to die on where as many personal principles as possible can be conveniently located. Don’t need adverts, don’t want a partner or a ‘collaborative opportunity’ as one potential advertiser tried to lead with recently.

Following me on Instagram because my hair looks good might work for some brands, but really I can see right through you. I only really believe friends who tell me I’m beautiful, but to everybody else there’s now proper understanding of politeness and acceptance. I can enjoy your opinion, whilst respecting it, yet still not ascribe to it. This might come as a surprise to some of you, but I’m only now beginning to grasp some of the finer nuances of communication. It has been a very long time in the dark.

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Some days, there’ll be editing of posts if there’s a desire to do so, pulling out an excess of personal pronouns, but today is most definitely an ‘I’ day: waiting for a Sunday delivery then it’s a walk to the Gym, where I have permission to muck about for an extended period before having to be home for domestic duties. There’s stuff that should be done but it is far more likely that Sunday becomes a planning day. Short stories, poetry, proposals… and the list goes on.

Hollywood seems to think that aspiration for women like me is female superheroes and women in remakes of all male movies. This is not my idea of progress or enlightenment, although to dismiss them is dangerous, for other women are not driven as I am. Aspiration for me is respect, debate, understanding and the chance to bring difference to a world which, at least from here, appears worryingly conventional. I get that I’m not reinventing the wheel, but this wagon has merit.

I just gotta make sure the wheels don’t fall off when it matters.

Not a Job

Day 7: Seriously, it’s only been a WEEK???

Giving blood feels like several months ago, not gonna lie, only a faint scar reminds yup, still recovering. Cycling has been a horrible, stressful bag of emotional stress as a result and today, after five hours kip (see the writing blog) there is no energy for anything except what’s on the Urgent List. Yes, one of those exists. I will knock off all outstanding gubbins, then throw myself on the sofa because if dinner is gonna be cooked from scratch, there needs to be more active consciousness than currently exists.

Time to go for simple.

All the decorations are still in the front room too, and one thing that should be done is to get them across the road to the garage so the front room is clear for YOGA. Gonna try at least once a week, maybe more, starting with my old MTV Yoga DVD before quite possibly finding summat better on YouTube. That’s what it’s there for, right?

Once there’s been a decent night’s kip we’ll get back on TOP QUALITY CONTENT.

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

I shifted my blog ‘life’ away from Google a while ago, deciding to come to WordPress where there was more of an opportunity to flex my creative muscles. Having now felt as if I’ve settled in, comes the realisation that for a number of years Blogger helped me live a lie. Though I know I did have a decent audience at the height of my gaming interest, a fair proportion of that did not exist. A lot of my traffic was using my sites as stop points on other journeys, or to inflate the worth of other sites and not mine. I had hoped that by shifting everything to WordPress I could finally say goodbye to the automated response, but now realise I’ve simply swapped one form of robot for another.

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Normally, 10 people liking your post would be a cause of celebration. However, all of these people did so in under a minute of the post going live. I don’t know a single one of them either, which means one of two things: they all happened upon my site simultaneously at the exact same moment my post was published and have all become overnight devotees… or, it was a robot. I know which version of reality I’m going to ascribe to here, and what it makes me question is why this kind of behaviour is considered acceptable. It distorts accurate statistics, feeds the fire of ‘all automation is bad’ and makes certain people believe their own worth far more than will ever be healthy to begin with.

However, I’m beginning to uncouple from an interest in metrics, as it becomes apparent their relevance is fast becoming pointless, at least for me.

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Yesterday I wrote two blog posts and placed them on different websites. I know they were both of interest to my core audience: one was promoted by me throughout the day, the other was not. By the time I’d gone to bed they were both equally read, and the promoted one continued to gain a steady stream of views whilst I was in bed, from a regular audience who turn up to my site regardless of what gets advertised. The fact I could probably name about 80% of these people is neither here nor there, my audience is now a fixed percentage of the people I interact with daily. Everybody else might take an interest from time to time but in essence, I do more business using Social media than I do via blogging.

It’s the future: people don’t have time for all that commitment shit any more.

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There’s also an emergent trend of people I know not using social media as much as they used to, that I’m seeing people forcing themselves away (as I have) to exercise and reconnect with reality. Those who remain strictly wedded to their platforms are becoming more apparent too, and I find myself thinking that if I’m honest, I’d rather pitch content to someone who can show that their existence isn’t just logging in the moment they wake up and not moving from the virtual unless pushed. It is a really delicate balancing act too for someone who’s now attempting to create a presence for themselves online. How much is too much or not enough?

At what point does one accept that the only true progress comes via hard work and consistency? For me, that point has been reached this month with more cash in the bank than I managed when using a custom-built crowdfunding platform. I now have a new stream of content, and assuming I can keep it all going for another couple of months, there will then be the opportunity to turn to people and point, before declaring ‘this is what you get from me, if you pay me we can make it better.‘ It seems a decent way forward, and the exchange of effort for cash then has some actual meaning, because I’m not asking people to fund controversial opinions they disagree with. This is art. You either like it, or you don’t, and if that’s the case then you don’t pay for it.

It’s really very simple, and needs no robots involved at all.

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I’m coming up for 200k Tweets quite soon, and although I might celebrate the passing, it will be with a sense of some irony involved. A vast number of those message have been GIF-based, and it is beginning to make me realise just how important that side of proceedings has become. As I’ll talk about on the Writing site today, the biggest revelation in the last 10 days has been my comic strip, and how art has subverted itself in my mind to a very specific and quite vital opening movement of what is clear will be a path I’ll never stop travelling on.

The robots don’t (and won’t) fool me any more. When success does happen, it will also make detection far easier.

Even in the Quietest Moments

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I can now Tweet up to 280 characters. I don’t intend to do that with the majority of my output, and here’s why.

Watching the annoyance and frustration last night as the feature rolled out in parts of my social sphere and not others, it was almost funny to think that this change was, for so many, being considered as some badge of honour. The sole reason this change has been instigated is to help advertisers use space to sell more shit and make Twitter more money. This isn’t some great championing for more speech and understanding we’re talking about. For someone like me, it is a curse as well as a blessing. The biggest upshot is, undoubtedly, that people will just stop reading.

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The major winner for me will be poetry and short stories: I can now create longer works to post… but as some people mute the stuff I posted in 140 characters, to begin with, length will simply make those posts less appealing and not more. That means I’ll need to work harder on visuals and clever use of space in posts, that it isn’t about filling every character and ‘optimising’ the output. Undoubtedly the format can be finagled, but to do so requires a willing audience, and watching the annoyance last night as people simply posted 280 characters of ANYTHING to see if they had the new limit…

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Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should has become the phrase that really matters. 280 characters in a Twitter fight are just as useless as 140 if you’re unable to make the point without resorting to abuse and anger. Proving a point succinctly and well, without ambiguity is still something many people could do with learning. Word economy is useful: more significant still is an understanding of when a word dump is appropriate. That’s something I’m still learning after 51 years.

The moral of yesterday’s rollout is that sometimes, being first is all that matters to many. That stuff about the other person’s social media feed always being more interesting is all in the eye of the beholder, you know. I’m not special, you’re not lacking, it’s just tech, and what will matter more long-term are the people who use the system to their advantage by embracing the positives and eliminating the negatives. No, I’m not going to be clever with the format until I am TOTALLY confident it can be pulled off successfully.

Time to watch other people and learn.

Change

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Right then.

Yesterday was, without doubt, one of the best I’ve had for organisation for some time. It helps that the back of work was broken on Sunday, and now I’m left with the process of scheduling (which will happen after this.) Then it’s all about finishing off outstanding stuff, and starting the next batch of Things to Do. After three months, there’s a schedule that works. 

Next up, it is time to make some important changes to Social media.

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I now have a ‘Professional’ Twitter AND Instagram, and having worked out how to use the app in Windows (how smart is that?) I can prep all my artwork beforehand and still schedule it. This is unbelievably useful, and will encourage me to further organise my sorry arse better. Then there are the changes to how social media is consumed:

  • No social media before bed, or before I sit down at the PC first thing in the morning
  • ABSOLUTELY NO starting discussions without being 100% awake and attentive
  • No social media when bored ^^
  • Complete removal of Twitter (and all online media) from places where I relax or sleep
  • Regulated use of social media when I’m supposed to be sociable
  • Making time for ‘silence’ and times when electronic interaction does not happen

This is a lot but really, it all matters. If I look at the instances when I have gotten myself into trouble, 90% of them are due to engaging with people at the start and end of days, plus when I shouldn’t be using Social media at all. So, maybe if I can keep at this for a month it’ll become habit too. The lack of a tablet at bedtime for two nights running has made for some quality sleep, I hope this isn’t just a blip.

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The plan here is to try and be less reactionary and more reflective. This is fairly atypical of my life up to this point, but I’d like to believe that even at this age I can change and become more mellow. Sure, there are still going to be days when the table gets flipped, but at least now I’ll be better prepared to clear up the mess made afterwards, rather than just stomp off in a teenage huff and leave it to somebody else.

If I can get at least a part of all this to stick, it will totally be taken it as progress.

Where’s Your Head At?

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A lot has happened in the last week. The second of the IoW essay’s has gone up, there’s a workable short story on the table for beta reading and honestly, things are far better than expected. Forget for a moment that, personally speaking, the previous five days are a personal bomb crater: I’ve managed to get the routine cracked, and genuinely believe the long term future of the project’s getting increasingly viable with each passing day.  I’ve replaced what used to be my MMO Games Wednesday post with something I can dictate in both content and direction: most importantly, it has absolutely nothing to do with Warcraft. In that regard, I’m not going to lie: I don’t miss that work, but remain grateful for the lessons taught during my time as a columnist.

I’ve seen the very worst of humanity thanks to Azeroth, as well as the best. The decent people I have met and call friends will always outweigh the petty, angry minority: to succeed at what I desire means leaving these destructive people in my wake. I am continually reminded that some individuals will take your words and twist them for their own ends, often with little thought of both consequence and casualty. As a result of someone else’s stupidity I lost the trust of someone whose honesty and brilliance will be greatly missed. In the end, however, the most damage was all my own doing, providing salutary reminder that 140 characters is the harshest of mistresses when you want to make a point.

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Inevitably, when someone decides that your work is an attack on them, there is the panic that whatever you write will now be interpreted in the same way. I can remember the last time this happened, and the time before that… and the list goes on, because when you hold a mirror up to yourself as I do with regularity, it is inevitable that others see their reflection and not yours. Of course, I can invoke Occam’s Razor at this point, and decide that really the problem is with me. Perhaps if I stopped pointing out this stuff, I could have a quiet life and everybody would be happy… except that’s no longer the case. Being like this is what makes me happy. Discussing my thoughts, considering the shortcomings I posses… without this vital release, I’d not feel strong and confident enough to begin a Patreon, and here’s where we came in.

If you want to truly know what I am, it is all here, hidden between the lines. There is no secret plan to destroy other people’s lives: what I do, on any given day, is simply shine a light on what I see reflected back at me, that has to be dealt with by all of us eventually, in one way or another. I am saddened greatly when someone ends up being hurt where there was never, ever that intent, but in all honesty life is full of these moments, and it is how we deal with them as human beings that defines not simply our place in the world, but how the World reacts to us. Each time it happens the lesson is learnt: think when you use certain words, make sure if the person matters you apologise in person. However, I won’t take the words back if I know they were never written maliciously to begin with. I have admitted culpability when I knew I was wrong in the past. When I know I’m right, I stand by my assertions.

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Once upon a time, of course, I was too afraid to do this: easily bullied by others who felt that my opinion and voice was irrelevant. The only way you ever get stronger is to believe your own conscience, and after sixteen years of working with my demons, there is at least some peace for me. I abhor those people who think they can manipulate and twist outcomes to suit their own ends, and so many of these people care not one iota for those that they hurt along the way. If I was one of those people, yesterday I would have blocked several people and simply continued on with my life, but as I’m not? I choose to deal with the inevitable (and very personal) mental fallout the only way I know how. When I look back on this week, however many months it is from now, I’ll know I was given a lesson to learn.

Like it or not, you will encounter conflict in your life. It is inevitable and often unavoidable, and when it does happen the true measure of your own humanity is how you choose to stand and fall. I do my best to repair damage when it occurs, because it matters. There’s a choice to be made, in every situation, and if a particular flashpoint is irretrievable, I will still make sure I tried my best. Mistakes will be marked down on the list of ‘People I upset by not thinking’ and that is never just because of a blog post I wrote. All those failures come from the precarious fragility of automatic response via Social media.

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If this stuff didn’t matter I’d not get so wound up in the business of putting stuff right. I’d not go and ask people why they left, or try and repair bridges that are often nothing more than sticks in the water. Once upon a time I’d lie and pretend I didn’t care either, and that’s never gonna wash with my current path. This GIF that I love so much, Daniel Radcliffe at his cheeky British best, almost sums it up: it ought to say ‘I tried, and everybody can and will criticise me regardless.’ Realizing you are wrong is a big ask sometimes. Saying you fucked up in public, and I have several times in the last few weeks, is an admission far more people should make.

That’s something I’m perfectly capable of doing for myself.