We Used to be Friends

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. You and I need to have a conversation about what it means to be friends.

hugstoolong

There’s someone I know. Let’s call them R. I’ve tried now, ineffectively for some time, to encourage them to communicate. It works brilliantly initially, and then everything just falls down. We have not spoken for some time, and I am coming to the conclusion that a load of work prepared will simply not get used as was hoped, and will now be recycled elsewhere. My desire for a friendship has, effectively, failed to materialise. It is a salutary reminder that however hard you try, sometimes you cannot make people be friends with you.

All this time we spend online extolling the virtues of virtual friendships, how long do we take to consider the real truths behind the exchanges? Are the people you communicate truly mates, or are they simply being polite? Could you trust this person in a crisis? How much significance do you place on personal interaction, when this individual may not be as invested in the relationship as you are? The next time you’re online, ‘talking’ to someone, ask yourself the following questions:

Is this Conversation Comfortable or Not?

alone

When you’re talking to someone, does it feel like they are in the room with you, or is it more distant? How much of your apparent connection is hopeful and not distinct? Be honest with yourself too: are you subconsciously flirting with the unattainable person at the other end of the Tweet? That one’s a real toughie to admit to the room, but we all have girl crushes that nobody will ever know about and won’t ever be admitted. There’s that married guy who, perhaps if things were different… and the list goes on. Being comfortable is a world away from using Social media as a means of self-gratification, and yet it’s going on every single day.

Once you allow inappropriate emotion to cloud your thinking, nothing is correct or normal anymore. This is the quickest means by which someone who has been polite and communicative with will and can walk away. If I suspect you’re not treating me with respect, and even if I can’t be sure but your conversation makes me feel uncomfortable or awkward, I will no longer continue to communicate. If you then decide to make my decision a subject of contention, I’m going to be pretty justified in taking it. If you’re using someone for your own ends, eventually, they will work it out.

This is Supposed to Work Both Ways

makesometea.gif

I have a particular friend who I speak to, every day, via DM. Sometimes it is only a ‘hi, have a great day’ but that connection has become a very important, reciprocal connection. It began as the equivalent of the cheery wave to the guy you pass every day on the corner, or the line of conversation with a Barista… but has evolved into something far more significant. This daily poke is now backed up with joint concern for well-being, care for home life and support on tough days. It’s contact + depth + effort, and that equation is pretty potent.

If you talk every day on Social media, you’re not friends without the additional backup. It may feel like the connection is there, but it isn’t. That will only come with effort, time and joint reciprocation. Calling someone a friend when you don’t know the ins and outs of the life behind the keyboard can be a dangerous game to play. If your attachment to them is only made up of what you see, hear and read you may know a lot about them, but that does not make you their friend. If in doubt, ask. If you’re too afraid to ask, the chances are you’re not as close as you wanted.

Respect is Absolutely Vital

thefingerandtie.gif

I’m looking at the people who appear in my DM’s without a word here. I’m talking to the individuals who think the rules of polite society don’t apply to Social media when they so utterly do. If I find you’re pretending to be polite using robot following software, there will be a special curse and expose of your duplicitous lies. Respect is absolutely vital. Understanding then comes a close second. That follower I didn’t get on with for years but respected enough to live with ultimately would not do the same in return. At least she left by her own volition.

You may not like the fact that you’re asked to be a certain way with people, but that is how respect works. Telling me not to just cheer up when I am in a depressive episode, criticising my actions when you have no idea of what causes them. Making no effort to accommodate really does go both ways. I know I have work to do, and progress to make in both these areas. Can you say the same? Before you throw that first stone, have you asked the question of yourself? Of course, you haven’t because there are no consequences on Social media…

There are ALWAYS Consequences on Social Media…

everythingisonfire.gif

It’s amazing how easy some people find it to take all that love and compassion they normally exhibit and turn it into bile-fuelled, emotionally-charged hate. Don’t be that person who loves to be a total twat in their feed, when it suits, and when you call them out will simply make some delf-depreciating excuse before blaming you. If you want to spend the rest of your life living out your shortcomings online, eventually someone will put two and two together and you will be royally fucked. Don’t think anonymity really exists either, because it doesn’t if you make enough noise about how nobody cares. When people start to care, they find out stuff about you. The only way you truly remain anonymous is by saying nothing.

That’s why I write all this stuff. It is my reason for being sometimes too painfully honest. The moment you start lying, there’s no escaping the consequences. If you really want to be friends with me online, then it has to be the truth and nothing less.

And Finally…

You can forget my birthday. You can not talk to me for months but if you turn up when it matters, I’ll conveniently forget all manner of previous misdemeanours. However, there comes a point where both history and perceived commitment don’t wash. Telling me you were there for me for decades when you weren’t, remembering from time to time ‘oh yeah, I should see how Sarah is’ is friendship, yes, but not the type I crave the most. I write here every day. My future exists on this platform, and beyond, and my World, like it or not, is an indivisible part of Social media. To be a part of my life, you have to be happy existing here, and willing to do so.

As a result, I suspect there will be a search for new friends going forward. As soon as there’s an opening, I’ll let you know.

Airbag

header58

Here’s a thing: yesterday evening, I went to the chip shop, as both kids requested a takeaway. I’d already eaten my calorie limit for the day, and sat waiting whilst the smell of frying potato made me salivate. Chips are a major weakness, always have been. This I attribute to one of the earliest memories I possess: the small of frying onions from a burger van, back in the days before that item was a staple on British high streets. Long before McDonalds even arrived in the UK; on the seafront of the town which is now our home, my parents used to drive here and reminisce of their courtship. I came home with the meals, stuck them on plates, and didn’t eat anything at all.

Yesterday was a tough Gym session: lots of HIIT, not many steps, and to make up the shortfall I walked around the block a couple of times. Today, the fatigue in my entire body is more noticeable than it has been for weeks, and I know that if I go throw myself at anything high impact it will make things worse. Today is a day for a walk: to the supermarket to buy high protein items with absolutely no sugar in them at all, and to start working on building muscle mass and provide true, lasting strength. Now it is becoming obvious just how much my body relies on empty carbs to function, I need to go and rethink a lot of my principles from scratch.

losss

I suck at willpower. It is my absolute biggest failing, by a long way. I also bounce from one state to another quite fast, or at least I did, and I am beginning to grasp that hormones have been to blame for a great deal more than just lower backache and upset stomachs. As I walk away from decades of being a fucking monster for three days a month, often longer, comes the relief of being able to dictate and control exactly how I am, without being at the beck and call of a body that often felt as if it didn’t belong to me at all. In fact, with the introduction of regular exercise and a diet that appears to help and not hinder mental progress, things are most definitely looking up.

yeahkeenanandkel

I predict a lot of fish and vegetables over the Summer months, and very little potato or bread, even though I will miss my sandwiches so very much. If 11st 5lbs is achievable by August 1st on this level of input, I can re-introduce the stuff I love as treats without fear. The first part of this process however has to be getting to the point where I know what is and isn’t doable, and right now this plan is the right path to tread.

Time to suck it up and get moving.

The Last Time

The truth, such as it is, remains different for everybody, until you reach the point where grey has been completely eradicated. Then, entering the realm of the unavoidable, come the yes/no answers. Are you my father? Will this kill me? Are you an idiot? On days like today, when I’m not 100% awake and it is impossible to properly function without a drug as support (endorphins or caffeine, nothing else) that I normally end up going backwards. However, today is going to be different, because I will take Mr Ledger’s advice. Sometimes it is not about removing yourself from a difficult situation in order to function and move forward. Occasionally, staying is the only option, especially when it becomes clear that you’re not the problem.

The problem, at least for me, is that the notion of entitlement in various areas of society is now so glaringly obvious as to be funny. Indignation of the airbrushing of a Christian festival from a commercially-sponsored event, splashed over my feed, increasingly juxtaposed with real issues that should, in the mind of the poster, be taking precedent. Everybody’s ability to arbitrate and pass judgement on everything has been elevated to an art form, but with so many disparate voices, you simply stop listening. It’s like the situation that transpires every time a game I know people play introduces ANYTHING that takes more than a notional definition of ‘effort’ to complete. There’s no ‘skill’ any more, its all about gear and time. The truth, I’m beginning to grasp, doesn’t matter. The right answer becomes an irrelevance. For the sake of a quiet life and my own desires, winning fails to count as achievement. I don’t need validation any more, and the more it becomes the benchmark for perceived ability, the less I desire any part of the process.

On the days where what matters above achievement is simply progress, you won’t explain to some people that their viewpoint is actually harmful. In some cases you shouldn’t either, because that stands the chance of putting the more vulnerable back weeks, possibly further. That used to be the moment when I’d just stop checking feeds and be elsewhere, but as I discovered at the weekend, my skin is hardening in the right places, and today is the moment to make my point. A lot of the time, you’re not ever the problem. The stupid people, amazing as it might sound for many reasons, have no idea they’re causing the damage to begin with. You don’t have to measure this on a strict IQ score either: I’m watching some very smart people becomes incredibly stupid for the sake of media attention. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d say a lot of these people don’t really care about anything except a very warped notion of significance.

ali.gif

This therefore is your daily reminder that The Internet does not accurately represent reality. People who don’t look past their own perceptions are often less than reliable as objective barometers. Arguing over religion never ends well, and I maintain the people with real skill in this world are the ones who don’t complain about everything they don’t like. Today’s truth is simple: you are enough, even on days when you think that’s the biggest lie going. Looking past the crap, rhetoric and obsession is hard, but there are times when making yourself do just that are utterly worthwhile, for the larger understanding that ultimately gives.

Sometimes, a crap day is worth the effort.

Well Done

Success is an odd concept. Too often it is defined by somebody else and not you: parents, friends, colleagues. I remember as a child my main desire was to look and feel relaxed, that kid who wasn’t perennially awkward and uneasy in her own skin. I was bought a book, or maybe I bought it myself, I don’t remember: How to be Cool. It had lots of film stars on the cover, most of them in shades, because that was how you cultivated a persona that radiated confidence. In the ignorance of youth (and boy was I naive back then) all you needed was the physical tools to become famous, and that’s how it worked. Not much has changed in 40 years: all you need now is to break 1000 Followers on your online medium of choice and suddenly, BOOM, you’re the person to know. Except success shouldn’t be defined by other people’s beliefs, at least if you want to try and attain some notion of personal peace.

Only now do I begin to understand why ‘do it for yourself’ matters more than any other goal you’ll ever set.

If you don’t enjoy sport, you won’t understand why last night’s PSG v Barcelona game was such a big deal. Barcelona, effectively buried at home in the first leg of their Champion’s League tie by French opposition, did what is normally considered impossible and came back to win 6-5 away from home, with a display of determination that saw their win effectively sealed in the last five minutes of normal time plus time added on. Success sometimes means not assuming you’re beaten, that the opposition is fallible. It also helps if there’s some luck in the mix (one of Barca’s goals was the most amazing of deflections) but mostly you never give up until the game is over.

When history and your critics have condemned you to failure before the whistle is blown, there’s nothing left to lose, and here is where success is never defined by anybody else except the people playing the game. The reason I love football (and I do as a spectacle, because it is) is if a group of players believe enough in themselves and the task to be surmounted, it will happen. That was the case with Leicester City last season, and it will be again, as I’m confident that group of players will survive their relegation battle, but only now because they are fighting adversity on their terms. But I’m not here to pretend I’m a pundit, because success is knowing what you’re good at and not trying to be everything at once, and I’m straying from my own point.

meanwhile

Success is not what other people tell me it is. I define the parameters, from start to finish. That’s because, when all is said and done, I am the team here. Nobody else edits the Blogs or produces the graphics. There’s no writing team producing the words ever day. If an idea is created or developed, there will be input from other people, but the final production and ‘manufacture’ of the articles from those discussions falls into my lap. Effectively, when you are your own production company, PA and publicity teams? It makes satisfaction a lot easier to both quantify and gauge. There’s also far less stress because being beholden to other people in process can often be enough to send you batty. This means that creative freedom and inspiration don’t get stifled nearly as much as can be the case in collectives. It also allows me the opportunity to pick and choose what gets done and when.

The flip side to this of course is that there is often a temptation to do everything at once, because it is hard to work out what’s the most worthwhile idea in a pile of potentially great projects. That has been the hardest lesson of all to learn, but now I’ve cut things down to small, workable ‘blocks’ of time, it is becoming quite manageable and attainable. What that means in practical terms is as after this post is written, I’ll get a cuppa and a flapjack and spend a couple of hours setting up webpage frameworks for the back end of the Warcraft site, and looking to add a couple of new headers to the Writing one. What I’ve often overlooked is foundations in my projects, and without solid bases on which to build long term projects, things can have a habit of collapsing around me… but not any more.

guywithaplan
I am infinitely grateful for the opportunity to define my own rules going forward. It means that nothing is ever a bind, or a chore, even the stuff that seemed so before because it didn’t appear necessary. Once you realise that EVERYTHING, even the mundane shit, is a way forward, your life can shift about quite rapidly. It is, in effect, understanding that your half empty glass means you’re still not thirsty and it could be so much worse. This has taken many years to comfortably grasp, and there will still be days when I struggle to remind myself that backwards is the last resort. As long as the words keep working that’s great, but now there’s the acceptance that there needs to be more, too. That means the photography is becoming more important, alongside the exercise: a range of interests and not just an obsessive focus on one thing alone.

Fortunately for me I’ve picked a medium to work in where all my interests can effectively mesh. Now it is just up to me to make that happen.

Yeah, I can do this.

Your Game

Been a stupidly busy couple of days, all told, quite apart from the fact that I’ve had to be ridiculously grown-up since Sunday night. Yesterday was the only Christmas Party I do each year, and this time around, because I’ve lost some weight, I put on a frock. It was not totally hopeless.

There’s a lot of work to do but the fact this dress was tight when I bought it and is no longer so is a great step forward. In fact, when I got on the Gym turbo nutter bastard scales even after a three course dinner and two pints of Guinness, my weight was down :D

ideals

I’ve done a phenomenal amount of time at the Gym this year: I can register my own sessions, and apart from August (when we were away for 10 days) my attendance has been pretty consistent:

attendance

I think if I pushed for 20 days a month next year that would not be unacceptable. In fact suddenly there’s a whole new world that just opened up as potential, especially as I’ve managed ONE KM a day since Friday.

I’ll write more about that tomorrow.

 

Another Way to Die

This year may not been kind, but if I’m going to survive going forward then it is high time to be realistic. 2016, for me personally, has not been a bad year. It has, all told, been FUCKING AWESOME, and maybe I would be better served not pretending I’ve become a shadow of my former self, because that’s so utterly not true. So the meme above is actually as accurate as I think it is possible to be. I’ve gone from a fairly staid and uptight woman of the 1970’s to a pretty chill and sexually comfortable person of the early 21st Century. I look far better in the armour, I never liked the bright colours anyway, and now I can embrace all the shit that comes with my baggage?

2017 is looking pretty damn amazeballs.

yes

There will be a pre-Christmas meeting with my Trainer to establish what is required to shift the last of my extraneous fat, and so committed am I to this task that I am fully prepared to go the whole shakes and brutal exercise route to make it a reality. It’s not that I’m trying to become something I’m not any more. This is what I’ve always wanted to be deep down. I never had the confidence or belief in myself to make it a reality until now. It’s got an awful lot to do with the understanding that if you listen to your own internal voices that will convince you that failure’s just easier and less stressful, this is what happens. Inertia, inability and a lifetime of belief that you’ll never be good enough.

I am good enough. I’m better than that. I can produce an entire story from nothing, start to finish, that doesn’t only make sense but which is compelling and brilliant. I’m capable of lifting my own body weight with assistance. I’m becoming more and more adventurous with so many things that previously would have sent me away screaming in terror. Nobody made me better, I have no book to recommend or guru to thank. I did this. Little old me with the inhalers and the body confidence issues and the darkness that sometimes obscures everything around me. I found a voice, and a direction. I made things better for myself, and now I’m going to start doing it for other people too.

Gifmas.png

This weekend I’m going to spend half a day on Social media using my powers for good and hoping I can get people to donate money to a mental health charity in a period where cash for many is tighter than at any other time of the year. There are so many more worthy causes at this time of year, I know, but MIND does so much sterling work for a group of people who often cannot find a voice. I know, because I’ve been there. I’ve cancelled all plans, am getting my husband to take the kids to see Grandma this year alone so I can be here and do this, and try and make more than just a passing donation to a good cause. I need to make this matter. With all the terror and chaos currently surrounding us, at home and abroad, it might seem selfish to think of myself, but that’s what happens whenever I realise just how important charities like MIND are to those who cannot cope with what life throws at them.

That was me, not so long ago. I was there and didn’t know how to help myself and now I do, I want to make sure that awareness is raised, that others don’t have to feel alone and helpless at a time of year when often family are the most difficult group of people to talk to. This is only the first step in giving back, there will be many others, and by the time I’ve done I hope I really can make a tangible difference to people’s lives. That’s what others have done for me and I’d like to thank them all, and so I will, but not here. That’s my task to complete and I’m getting there, slowly but surely. For now, I hope I’ll see you at Midday on Saturday for 12 hours of .GIF related awesome.

dumdumduuuum

This is Mine

There’s a reason why I love this GIF as much as I undoubtedly do. I am an entertainer, like it or not. Whenever I plunge into a public space and decide to hold a specific opinion, there are undoubtedly consequences. If I make a particular decision to either embrace or ignore a particular voice? That person is going to react in a completely unpredictable fashion: I can’t see them, and only have the words they provide me as a prompt to how I in then turn again respond. So, I have to make a decision, based only on the history I have with the ‘name’ that’s attached to the Avatar. Sometimes you get it right, but sometimes you make mistakes. Often, what I see is often far more complicated and involved than the view of the person on the other side of the ‘fence’ Yesterday, the simple point that many people have tried to beat me with is that sex sells, and that’s all that matters. I know that’s only the tip of an enormous iceberg, and you can beat me with that outlook all day and night, but it will not change what I believe.

noshit

What I can’t do in 140 characters is either explanation or nuance, and yet people demand both. When they challenge me on tone and intent I’ll do the same, but ‘discussion’ on Twitter’s not unlike sex in the back of a car: it does the job, but it’s a poor substitute for somewhere with space to spread out. If people want to really understand what I am I ask them to challenge me in blogs and podcasts that most won’t read or listen to, because that’s not what matters to them. What these people crave is the moment, their terms but when they enter my space? I deliberately curate to make people work. Some might try and argue this is a sanitised space that I won’t argue in, but I know the truth is that you make conscious decisions based on the time you have available, the person you’re dealing with and you own sense of whether the interaction ultimately will have any benefit. If you consider me a pathetic fraud in a space you think I won’t visit, and then challenge me in my own that I won’t act in a fashion YOU find acceptable? I’d say you’re perhaps not coming to the table with open arms.

So, I choose to respond in long form and I say this. I’m sorry if you don’t like the fact I assumed things about you. If you think this was malicious or dismissive, it was neither. It was based on the words you used to me. Having looked at all the words you’ve used, I see no desire for a mutual discussion or appreciation, I gain only anger from the opinions you have presented. However, I harbour no ill-feeling. I’ve watched all the exchanges you’ve had with me and with all of these considered? I’m surprised you still follow me.  However, I’m not a fool. When asked ‘do you remove people who agree with you or only those that argue?’ The answer is simple: I don’t have to do either. Those who agree choose to stay, those that argue (in 95% of cases) leave of their own volition. I curate, in more than 90% of cases, those people who just don’t take part. 

itshappening

For the 5% who fight, amazingly some come back. I’ve apologised to a few too and they’ve returned as a result, because I’m not a twat and when I’m wrong, I’ll admit it. If the person apologises and I am convinced they’re still going to fight? Nope, not happening. That leaves the 10% of people who I’ll decide aren’t really contributing anything other than noise, vitriol or trying to get me to notice them. I might get some of those wrong too, because it happens. Mostly, I am comfortable my curation is effective. That’s my choice, and in the end you don’t get to control either that or me, because in the end the buck needs to stop somewhere.

Sometimes, Tweets aren’t enough. However, in a surprising number of cases, they are more than enough to understand that some people, once you interface with them, will never agree with you, however hard either of you try.