Do You Love Me?

Being honest can be a dangerous move in the modern world. Most people are so tired and jaded that a compliment is largely pointless. The only time that changes is when you’re able to hit someone so far out of your follower reach that they really aren’t expecting anything positive at all. Yesterday, I managed that twice, and two people I hugely respect and enjoy following got a moment when they felt brilliant about themselves. It will have been brief, but was worth the effort.

All compliments are worth the effort if you care.

One line is all it takes. Four words, in this case, is worth more than a KoFi contribution. There are those, fortunately for me, who have been showing their care with cash, and each one will continue to be acknowledged publicly and with enthusiasm when it happens, but the fact remains most of you aren’t poetry fans. I know the short story fans on a first name basis as a result, am looking for non-fiction pathways to draw more people in. The fact remains, Social media is words and pictures, and I can do both with increasing confidence.

Now I need to get people to show me they care.

This is a tough ask for the person who gets cross when people mansplain at her when she knows they’re just trying to help. It’s difficult when it’s annoying that someone just favourites all you work and never retweets it. You can’t make people into a support network, it has to be their choice. Just randomly following people coz they ask you to is not really the answer either. So, here’s the deal. I really need people prepared to listen and respond. I’m looking for interaction, NOT followers.

More people need to want to respond, and that’s what the aim is going forward.

Yes, I need to make money. Yes, you can donate to me if you feel the urge, the details are to your left at the top of the page. More importantly however what matters more is feedback and communication, and it is time to learn how those things work again.

Nothing is ever going to get better if I don’t do the legwork.

The Revolution will Not be Televised

DAY 5: We interrupt our scheduled wibbling for the first of a series of planned observations of reality. This Saturday? It is time to remind you all about the concept of TRANSMEDIA and how, in the space of a week, that concept has utterly altered the entire course of entertainment.

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Bandersnatch is a work of undoubted genius, created by Charlie Brooker who remains right in the front carriage of the Sci-Fi Alternate Futures ARE STILL COOL EVEN IF THEY’RE FUCKING SCARY Hype Train. However, let’s be clear, other people have been doing this shit for years: ‘choice’ in fiction has existed in video games, books, even films for quite some time, well before this Netflix original came along. Working across platforms isn’t new either…

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So, why is everybody so excited? In the simplest terms, Brooker’s the first person to shove on a particular set of wheels and throw engine into the chassis that’s been crying out to be redesigned since it became apparent what computer code can do if you tell a story with it. Here is the fuel of pretty much every Sci-Fi future: one screen provides all. The thing that presents both news and offers entertainment also grants possibility to alter and shape reality as you see fit. Given the building blocks of a story, each individual gets to decide both victor and reward, with thousands of possible variant versions.

Television ascends again as the ultimate serotonin delivery device.

The bigger irony right now, of course, is that if you try and access Bandersnatch through the smartest of smart TV’s, you’re met with a compilation of Black Mirror protagonists from series past apologising that ‘sorry, you can’t watch this episode on this device.’ If you want true interactivity, go watch TV on a Tablet, phone, PC, Laptop or Games console instead. The one TV ‘drama’ that will redefine storytelling going forward cannot be viewed on a dumb, flat screen.

Overnight, everybody’s non-code operated gogglebox got rendered totally and completely obsolete.

Gil Scott-Heron was a visionary, and non net-savvy TV companies might have a bit of a problem going forward. Well, not a problem per se, but organisations such as Sky will be looking long and hard at their set-top boxes, realising that catch-up TV is great and all that but they are yet again behind the curve. The day Netflix launch their fully interactive rival in collaboration with Disney and UEFA all bets are off as to what you’ll want linked up to the ‘TV’.

The future is no longer sending signals to a screen and expecting that to be enough.

Suddenly, TV has the opportunity to combine everything in the one place you want it. No more PC’s in the corner of a room: run it from the widescreen HD central screen, transfer it to a tablet before taking it everywhere. One core processor unit oversees and dictates every form of interactivity in your house. That same Home Entertainment Unit is Alexa’s search facilities and Siri’s voice combined with choose your own drama shows, themostatic controls plus lighting dimmer switches, with the kids homework and your favourite FPS, all voice activated.

Esports will vie for prominence with real sports, but not watching teams of young people competing via controllers. Live sports provide an unexpected new industry : all computer sports games will sign deals with broadcasters to provide means by which players can allow their favourite team to win both Cup and League. Interspersing historical footage with computer generated graphics so real, you’ll never notice the difference and suddenly, choose your own outcome versions of every sporting event in history becomes possible.

There will be a backlash, of course: Traditionalists will shun all new style visual media and return to VHS, Laserdiscs and DVD’s as the only version of entertainment that matters. Books will become their own unique currency, with people hand-producing their own versions of great historical novels with unique, personal twists. Then, there are those who’ll have original TV signals directed directly into their optic nerves, eventually choosing to spend the rest of their existence

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As a writer, it’s fun to consider the consequences of things such as Bandersnatch in a wider context. Undoubtedly, the effect of social media on news and entertainment is beginning to alter how the collective consciousness absorbs information. With such new possibilities on the horizon, conventional TV will have to undergo some fairly significant changes in order to embrace such technologies, but if there’s enough demand, it will happen.

Old style TV units and broadcasting mediums are on notice. Aerials on houses will become a thing of the past. Everything is heading towards a future where ‘smart’ and ‘interactive’ beat everything: whether that’s through a fibre connection or via satellite is yet to be decided. The next year also gives Netflix, Amazon and the digitally native platforms a massive advantage over traditional TV. If I were Disney, for instance, I’d DEFINITELY be looking at launching my own dedicated streaming service to take advantage…

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Expect a Disney ‘make your own TV show’ very soon indeed, and once they start it, we’re all doomed.

Everything Connected

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The List is written and I’m off, knowing EXACTLY what has to be finished by midnight tonight. Deadlines used to scare me (or piss me off when there was no ability to write) but the ex-paid gig is to thank for instilling the sense of ‘look, this has to happen or you don’t get to do nice stuff.’ Today, therefore, is a reminder that getting pissed off that other people seem to be having a far better time of it than you are is the Number 1 Road to ruin. So, let me tell you a story about that.

For a long time, I blamed a particular person for my lack of success. The reasons for this were fairly simple, but the rationale was ultimately flawed. Ironically, it appears that my opinion of this person was pretty much their opinion of me in return, so it transpires that both of us were dumb as rocks. When it became apparent that it didn’t matter about my writing, and it was personality that had stopped progression in a particular direction, suddenly none of it was really that important. Yet, here I am, still being affected by the same malaise.

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Jealousy is a real productivity killer, a great means of triggering Imposter Syndrome, and normally those who instil it in others have little or no idea that’s happening. That’s the  key, I now grasp, to beating this issue: those whom champion their success in such a way as to prompt such responses aren’t talking to me anyway. Yes, I am listening, but those messages are not directed AT me. It’s the whole Social media disconnect thing, where ‘friends’ only matter to a point.

There are means to verify whether this is true or not. Watching other people’s conversations might be a bit voyeuristic, but Twitter seems to think I’d like to know what two people in my timeline are saying to each other when not even involved. That’s how I’ve begun to realise that for some, it isn’t about anything except being happy for themselves, and then there being a need to show everybody else how happy they are. It’s not malicious, anything but.

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When that freedom makes you jealous, then it is time for reassessment.

Right now, mutes are useful to stop brain being derailed by its own shortcomings, plus mindfulness techniques to prevent those feelings becoming overwhelming. Occasionally it’s also sensible to stop preaching, because even if you’re not intending that, it is what ends up happening. Mostly, I’d love less knee-jerk and anger, but that’s unlikely under current circumstances. Today therefore this reminder is more for me.

Make your own history, and stop letting others dictate your own.

Down, Down

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I’ve spoken before about my obsession with weight, for that is what this remains. I think, after 436 attempts to move past five pounds lost, it is probably the moment to accept some shortcomings. I’m dreadful with discipline and patience. It is easier not to think healthily when stressed. Given the chance, eating is the answer to depression, anxiety and anger. Except, as of today, it isn’t anymore. None of these things remains acceptable as a path forward.

How do you realistically alter the habits of a lifetime?

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Instead of obsessing about this to a large audience, it is time to go small. It is incredibly simple to alter long-term habits. You just do it. Inevitably, there will be fuck ups along the way, and then these occur the solution is not to go back to the old ways. However, four hundred and thirty-five times, I’ve not made it past the first hurdle. That alone should be shame-inducing enough to alter course if it is admitted publicly. The bigger issue, however, is the obsession, and that’s something I watch other people do online every day.

That seems to break down into two categories: the people who grasp they are, and those with no idea it is happening. I don’t want to be the person other people laugh at or point towards because there is a fixation with the same subjects, time and again. This should not about making shortcomings public property… except, to shame me sufficiently into alteration, that’s the path that will now be taken. I can’t be back here in a month with a deeper furrow trodden. I am no longer enough. Please take away your motivational posters, and let me accept the failure for what it is.

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The only person this matters to, in the end, is me. However, so much does hang around this goal, and has done historically for years. The tools are now available to complete the task, and yet it remains undone… and there’s understanding now as to why because once this is fixed, there are bigger demons to face. No matter. Getting nowhere is no longer an option. Wasting time on things and people who do not care is also part of the past. The future is written on my terms.

The next time we talk about this, I’ll have my 10 pounds lost badge.

Wide Open Space

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You ever had a day when you realised the fundamental problem in everything was you?

Once upon a time, when this used to happen (and it did quite often, coinciding with hormonal change before or during menstruation) I’d just go backwards. There’d be rows, recrimination and ultimately tears: yesterday all of those happened, but not in the way they had before. In fact, on reflection, Thursday ended up the best day of the week. Even with five hours sleep I know that yesterday was incredibly important. I’ll write about the literary consequences in the appropriate place but psychologically, we are breaking new ground. I’m pretty confident the meditation is what is helping (and I’ll be doing a practice later) but there are other, more subtle factors at play.

I find looking at myself intimidating, and yet next month am planning to start a video diary, mostly because of just that. Laying yourself bare is not an issue a lot of the current generation have, because they have grown up with the visual very much front and centre. For me, it is the last bastion of uncertainty. Now I am pretty comfortable with what I am, that there doesn’t need to be makeup or a particular type of ‘look’ to merit comfort, the time has come to start playing about with visuals. I’m also considering doing audio only readings of poetry with musical accompaniment for Patreon, so everything is coming together quite nicely.

What is at the core of all of this, inevitably, is familiarity with myself, which hasn’t happened for quite some years. This is due to a very particular set of circumstances which, one day, I will pluck up courage to share with the World. For now, the people who do know have been hugely supportive and understanding, and that’s probably all that is required as a result. I’ve also had enough of those people who come to read my stuff and are arrogant and self-centred enough to believe I’m talking about them. For the record, if you piss me off in the future, I’ll use names and make sure EVERYBODY knows what fucking tools you people are.

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The main reason I know things are getting better is because I’m still working on a domestic project I began on Sunday. I didn’t get bored, or lose interest, or think the whole thing wasn’t worthwhile. I’m still going, and today (after a second scheduled PT for the week) I’ll be carrying on. My personal sanity now depends not simply on internal factors, but the external too. If I can improve everything around me, not simply myself, the benefits are becoming immediately obvious.

The key here is to keep moving forward.

Enough is Enough

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This morning, I woke up itchy. I have 12 insect bites on the go currently, and my body is less than happy about the entire state of affairs. In fact, I’m nauseous, irritable and ready to sort the World out.

Frankly, I’ve had enough of those people whose sole purpose on Twitter is to say they’re successful when all they’re doing is using robots and ‘social engagement’ tools such as Crowdfire to build a perception of popularity. With the spectre of robot algorithms already dominating large portions of my daily life, I don’t need real people pretending they’re successful when really, its all cheating. I spent an hour flushing out everyone who isn’t participating, and once I can confirm the validity of these accounts they’ll either stay or go.

In case you’re wondering, I poke all new followers for real. The last time it happened and a human response came back, the guy running the ‘social media content’ account tried really hard in an attempt to get me to repost his stuff. I had to give him credit, news was targetted at me and showed he understood my interests. The fact remains however that his noise was just that: reposted articles, carefully curated with only one aim in mind, to further his follower numbers, building only a notional sense of reality. Social media is supposed to be personal as well as informative, after all.

It is no wonder many people are genuinely concerned at what AI is capable of doing, when it already allows a section of the population to pretend they are some kind of deity on the back of the most basic of use. I’ve decided that if you want me to consider a follow going forward, unless you’re willing to demonstrate your account’s as genuine as mine, I’m having nothing to do with you.

It might seem an irrelevant line in the sand to you, but for me this stuff matters.

Night Boat to Cairo

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It is almost August. How did that happen?

I am now down to my outstanding Patreon list fitting on a Post It note. This means that I’ll be up to date August 1st, when the process has to start again: however, I have adapted a very great deal in the last four weeks. It is a learning process that has thrown up more than a few surprises, and an understanding that, with thought and effort, anything really is possible. That is the biggest takeout: these tasks are no less relevant or significant than  anything else done before. The fact people now give me money to ‘work’ is just the way it always is in the early days of establishing a business. The difference here is that I’m just coming to the whole experience later than maybe would be normal. That’s great however because it allows an awful lot more experience to accompany me to the table.

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However what is most satisfying right now is the understanding that what is written doesn’t matter as much as what that allows other people to get from the experience. This appears to be the case with the growing use of Twitter Polls in my feed as a writing tool: I make no bones about using the service primarily as a basis to spark unprompted conversation. When opinion is not the reason why something happens, just facts reduced to a simple choice, it allows people the ability to discuss and explain their own feelings and experience. Currently, the Internet is mostly opinions clashing, points of view in dissonance. Sharing a common ground yet allowing diversity to thrive within is, in my mind at least, a far better way of promoting discussion.

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There’s also been communication in a manner I’ve not seen since I began this journey. People are spontaneously (and unprompted) suggesting new topics, and thanking me for the discourse. Normally, when I start a conversation on the Internet like this, it has ended in tears. However, I realise that a lot of that historical trauma was as much about how I dealt with the responses than anything else. Also, my ‘don’t tweet to anyone for the first hour of the day or until you are fully awake’ rule really is beginning to make a tangible difference in how contention pans out. It is the understanding that yeah, I have my part to play in all this, but only to a point. That whole ‘two people to argue’ thing is absolutely true. If someone ignores you, there’s normally a lesson to be learnt.

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However, the Internet doesn’t change. The dicksplashes remain, because their own Community ‘bubble’ allows that toxicity to continue unchallenged. Very few people are either willing or bothered to vilify such behaviour, because in most cases these people are normally functioning members of society. In fact, as long as the current President of the United States can utilise Twitter as a policy tool to push forward intentionally divisive and damaging administrative choices, nothing will change. Legions of white men will be encouraged to be utter morons and treat everybody else who disagrees with them like dirt, women to assert only the impression of independence guided by often fundamentally floored visual prompts which further act as restriction. If you don’t fit those two gender groups or their traditional notions of sexuality? You’re on your own.

So, how do you ever make progress?

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However many times I tell my daughter I love her regardless of what she wears, the spots on her face or the thickness of her thighs, it’s never 100% certain she understands or believes me. That’s the benchmark, in my mind: you do it one person at a time. Start with yourself, and then try and make other people understand what you’re trying to say. Make sure that, when you do, it is accompanied by an openness and honesty that allows you to be clear and concise. Effectively, it means opening yourself to ridicule and scorn, and for those of us who are sensitive to personal attack, that can be a tough ask. However, to survive in the Real World, that’s what it takes. If you decide to put yourself out there, the consequences are just this. You want to make a difference? You will get hurt. Then you have to decide if that’s worth the effort or not.

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If there is one consistent takeaway from all of this, it is that you can forgive others if you wish. However, there are situations and relationships where it is absolutely, positively the best thing for both parties that you never see each other again. Blocks are what they are, court orders and everything else exist because one day, you will encounter the person for whom reason, common sense and decency simply do not exist. There are all the shades in between, but just because your mate’s now great friends with their ex does not mean you are the same. Life works for everyone in a different way, and the trick it seems to me is how you manage to accommodate everything, rather than excluding all the stuff you hate.

I doubt I’ll ever work it out, either.