Civilization

One of the great advantages of sticking with Social media whilst many people simply won’t take part is the continual reassessment of ground rules. Those people who are so far above the petty and incestuous self-consumption that seems quite rife of late are undoubtedly the winners: you don’t let the bastards get you down, the entitled whiners are effectively tuned out and the conspiracy theorists… well, they’re never gonna stop regardless of what anybody says.

Ploughing your own furrow is undoubtedly the way forward.

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Except, along the way, there’s a very real chance your real self can get lost.¬†I’ve watched it with a few people whose ‘career’ has effectively been launched via this platform. It becomes impossible to keep everybody happy and eventually, you become a mirror of yourself, almost identical copy except… everybody is held at a distance. Sure, you’ll have conversations with others and happily contribute to dialogue but something has changed. The rants are a bit more rantier. Your obsessions become more pronounced and often quite repetitive.

You have become a stylised version of the person who began here.

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Of course, for many people this is an ideal state of affairs, because that allows Twitter to maintain the illusion of actual conversation and community whilst giving you a way to detach from all that bad shit that makes the entire process so much more difficult. Except, as we discussed yesterday, this is a fallacy. However great it is to have everybody liking you, and for that state to be maintained as long as possible, there will come a point where it all falls down. When that happens, you need to be ready.

Building mental strength in all areas of existence is vitally important. If you take the time and force yourself to look back on what is said and done online, there is an awful lot that can be taken from the experience. I know some people who do this with every Tweet they write, whose stuff can often vanish without warning or seeming justification because, undoubtedly, they’re doing that job too well.¬†You can overthink everything too, or needlessly obsess over details nobody else considers as significant. That used to be my hill, but now I choose to die over far worthier causes.

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The point today, as we start a new week, is simple. Even the smart people are stupid sometimes. Everybody fucks up, however hard we try… and over-trying is a fantastic way to make a bad situation worse. Listening to how you deal with other people in virtual environments has a massive amount of benefit long-term. It’s a great way to assess and address issues that probably also present themselves in the Real World but without having to deal with the (far messier) real life emotions that present. Looking at your output, and simply deleting what you don’t like won’t address the bigger issues either.

What you write in immediacy and passion is simply a mirror of your true self. You might not like that person very much in the cold light of day, but they can teach a great deal about what you really are. Plus, if your employer gets a tip off over that anonymous account, or a lover discovers your secret double life… Nothing is hidden on the Internet. It remembers everything, and can be brutally unforgiving as a result. If you really want to improve your quality of life everywhere?

Start by listening to yourself in here.

Don’t Call Me Baby

We did Friendship on Wednesday. Today is Honesty. Some of you guys don’t like this as a concept on the Internet, that much is abundantly obvious. You’d rather maintain that air of mystery that helps make you look and feel like some kind of better, more worthwhile¬†person. I’ll be over here, calling bullshit, and sticking you on mute. For everybody else, there’s a rule-set established in lots of other places apart from here. The basics bear repeating.

Put the fake disbelief away before you begin.

You’re a Brand, Charlie Brown.

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Please, enough with the indignation already. EVERYBODY on Social media who are using the platform to promote themselves COUNTS AS A BRAND.¬†By far the fastest way to make yourself look like a total tool is to start a fight over ‘brand loyalty,’ and yet I watch people do it almost daily. Bait is surprisingly easy to spot once you’ve been here long enough… and the ‘well it’s my feed, I can post what I want’ excuse only works to a point. Learning your lessons on Social media means understanding when you stop selling, or start listening.

Most importantly, if you start a conversation with only one thing in mind and then get upset that your intent isn’t grasped? You weren’t clear¬†enough, it’s your¬†problem to solve.¬†If someone else decides to hijack you and it all goes horribly Pete¬†Tong? Mute + block if it gets messy, and just mark it down to experience. Or, you might get lucky and your nemesis vanishes because they finally got a life away from the Internet. Anything is possible.

Talking of bait…

Asking for Trouble has Consequences.

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I see you, dangling your controversial shit in my timeline.¬†Yes, I’m pretty certain this is 100% brutal honesty here, but this is the moment to remind the room we don’t think alike, you and I. In fact, no two people do cognitive awareness in quite the same fashion. You may see that guy as a political extremist, I consider this the efforts of an attention-seeking twenty-summat desperate to be liked. Until they actually post summat I consider flagrant or fucking stupid, they can stay.¬†The key here is to have people on your feed you don’t agree with. It makes stuff interesting.

There’s a point of course where honesty is fine until you decide to challenge it.¬†Twice now in recent memory, someone’s made a comment about what I’ve posted and my response alone has been enough to trigger an unfollow. No, I will not do what you tell me to do. No, I’m not going to play along with games. I’m not a big fan of people making it about them when all I did was post what I felt, and yet it will keep happening because of those people’s perceptions of their feed. Every single thing I post is there for a reason.¬†If I’m self-deprecating, there’s a reason too.

The ‘All About Me’ Party is No Fun.

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Twitter is not where you should do therapy, I have decided. This in itself is a fairly controversial opinion, for a generation who feel the desire to share everything both pictorially and aurally. I do realise that for some people Social media has become their escape and often the alternate reality required to survive the real world they are uncomfortable and nervous within. The fact remains, however, that to remain a functional member of society, solving all your problems via anonymity will only work to a point.

I have accounts that are periodically muted for this reason, but I don’t unfollow, and here is why.¬†I have my own, complex issues, which on some days I struggle to deal with. When there’s enough strength to feel I could be helpful to others like me, I listen to everyone. When the days are darker or there’s a struggle, these people are quietly moved away from. It doesn’t mean I care any less, I’m just a shit listener and don’t feel I have anything helpful or useful to add. History has shown I’ve done the most damage previously when I don’t curate noise out.

I think some of you shouldn’t say half the stuff you do in public.


My honesty continues to get me into trouble. I doubt that will ever change: that’s best for everybody, even when the whole thing falls down on me with a thump.¬†Now you know this is a brand, and this content is all part of a process of awareness not simply for peace of mind, we can all just carry on.

Sunrise

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Stuff has changed. You’ve not seen all of it yet, but trust me when I say to you that it has. The depth of that shift will slowly begin to show.

Let’s begin.


There’s been much excitement in this house over Christmas thanks to Netflix, and the Amazon Fire stick we’ve had for a year and hardly ever used. I have a fair amount of Netflix content I wanna work through (and I will) but for now, you need to have the Amazon service enabled to truly appreciate the horror I am about to share. Well, that’s not strictly fair, because… well, you’ll see.

Welcome, one and all, to Kitten TV.

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If you are familiar with the movie Scrooged, you’ll know there’s a point where rodents appear in Bill Murray’s seasonal adaptation of Dickens’ TV adaptation in attempt to get dogs and cats to engage. Well, this series of six shows does the about face, using kittens as a means to hook a generation of people (presumably) addicted to cute kitten videos and GIFs via the Internets. The concept’s ridiculously simple: build a set with a perspex fourth wall, drop a load of kittens into it, comedy ensues. There’s a Minecraft set, and an entire episode dedicated to cats in hats. I kid you not.

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Back in the 1990’s, in the early years of satellite TV in the UK, there was a TV channel up in the 300’s that showed nothing but a roaring fire overnight. There was another channel that just showed beaches and boardwalks. This is no different, in effect, to the years when TV didn’t happen 24/7 and there’d be Public Information films to fill the gaps. Back when BBC2 tested colour movies, I can remember watching slices of history that are now so jaded and bizarre they feel like a dream, or part of the past that simply never existed. Fortunately, the Internet’s beginning to fill in these gaps, and the movies of my past can still be a part of the present.

Having found a list of the BBC2 colour test movies, I’ll be spending the next month sharing with you guys (via the @internetofWords Twitter feed) the joy of a world I was shown on screen during my formative years. Like my 12 year old daughter will undoubtedly remember the happy evening she spent watching kittens get bored and roam Godzilla-like across cheap cardboard sets, these memories are an essential part of the process of learning and understanding. Yes, kittens are relevant.

TV does not just have to be about the depressing things in life.

Run for Home

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There has been experimentation over the last couple of weeks with the best food for me to scoff the night before I exercise, and the pasta and meatballs for dinner yesterday may be the sweet spot hit for optimal energy and stamina. I have also gone back to protein bars after some time in the snack wilderness, because a girl has to obtain some enjoyment on days when brain and body are struggling. Once we get into December there needs to be more making of healthy snackage and less reliance on the pre-packaged, because really I don’t need to pay somebody else to do this for me.

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I’m starting to run more. Today, even with legs complaining after Monday’s PT (was having trouble walking yesterday which is how bad it was) I am feeling as if doing more miles is attainable. I’m starting small: running 1km blocks with rests in between, which I’ll then knit together as my stamina improves. I don’t run very fast: that’s the goal after the distance is surmounted. As an asthmatic it has always been the lungs that have held me back: however, this is no longer an issue and my breathing works better than it ever has. As with everything else, you just have to learn what works best for you, stop worrying about it and do the thing.

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This is all great training for bike events like Eroica next year, but a fantastic way to get my body progressively leaner. I’ve not weighed myself at all for a while, because the scales became a bit of an addiction that needed sorting. This is part of the process of knowing that what matters more is how I feel. Monday’s pain comes from having to readjust my squat position slightly as entire body is now shifting in stance and gait. That comes from the hernia repair, that after twelve years plus of not having strength in my stomach everything isn’t just properly connected but is functioning as it should. It also helps greatly that a combination of massage and upper body strength means the aches and pains that were occasionally blighting me are largely gone (which is also in part thanks to gallbladder removal.)

The only remaining niggles are around elbows and knees, but the ‘new’ squat will address one and I have physio exercises to help deal with the other.

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It’s been six months since I had surgery, and this is the start of a seriously awesome part of my life. I fully intend to make as much use as possible of the time I have available, to continue this process of evolution on a personal scale.

Life on Mars

I have a confession to make: I watch perilously little TV these days. Normally there is just not the time to do so: there tends instead to be vicarious consumption via Social media. However, as of right now I have two regular shows which aren’t missed: Quacks on BBC2 (you can iPlayer the whole thing if you choose, I prefer to do it old school) and, on the same channel Astronauts: Do You Have What it Takes? They are about as far apart as you can get in terms of subject matter, but I have interests in both.

The former is interesting for the subject matter (Victorian medicine but done for laughs) except I don’t find it that funny. In fact, I’m slightly concerned when I’ve heard other people consider it just that when I really don’t laugh that much at all. However, Rory Kinnear can do no wrong in my mind (you’ll know him as Bill Tanner from the Bond movies) and everybody else seems to be having a whale of a time so you know, it’s a win regardless. The Astronaut thing is as cerebral as reality TV shows can probably get at current levels: you ‘prize’ should you ‘win’ is a recommendation from former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield to get you into the Space Programme.

After that, there are a bazillion things I probably should watch but simply haven’t gotten around to doing, thanks to the levels of work at present. This includes The Handmaid’s Tale, Twin Peaks, anything on Netflix or Amazon Prime and pretty much every point in between. In good news none of this stuff is going anywhere, the nights are getting longer and I could conceivably do this whilst cycling in the shed. I’d have to make a priority list but it might be a plan for getting through until next year, assuming nuclear war doesn’t break out in the meantime.

Today however is Back to School day for everybody, and when you read this I expect to be celebrating with a cuppa and quite possibly a book before I get on with the rest of my plans for the week. There’s a poetry submission for the 8th but as I have to pay for it I’m still not sure it is summat worth doing. I’ll sleep on it tonight and consider the possibilities on Wednesday.

Airbag

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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.

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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.

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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.

Design for Life

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Yesterday, I went out with husband and daughter for my first meal post-operation. I played it safe: nothing overly fatty, healthy choice, and only a single beer, and woke up at 5am with a hunger I can’t recall for quite some time. Yesterday’s PT was all that was hoped for too: weights were utilised, exercises suggested that put no pressure on my healing umbilical hernia, and once my daughter’s packed off for a sleepover with a friend, I’ll go and do 5 miles on the Octane. When I do that tomorrow it will be with press ups, TRX rows and single arm rows as accompaniment. This is maintenance mode for two weeks, so that the hernia gets a full month to heal. Then, we’ll go back to where we were.

I’ve put on half a kilo at weigh in time, which could be as much about the Gym clothes I was wearing or the fact I didn’t use the loo before I stood on the monitor. What matters below the weight, as I have discovered in the last few months, are the important details such as the percentage of my body that is fat, and how exercise translates to general body health. In that regard, owning the body of a 40 year old is something to be pleased about, and having lost 4% body fat thanks to the operation? Yeah, let’s take that as a win. The trick now, of course, is to make sure it stays that way. Doing the work has never been a problem. My PT yesterday made the point that she wasn’t surprised I was back in and exercising less than a fortnight after the operation, that was ‘just the way you are.’

You bet I’m going to take that as a compliment.

Poppies Wave

We also went as a family to see the installation of poppies that has been adapted from the original art at the Tower of London. Hopefully I’ve done the magic with the URL from my Flickr account to link that here so you can take a look. It’s on land that the MoD sold to developers about a decade ago, and the original Barracks were converted into housing. Needless to say, it was a lovely evening and very moving when, at 7pm, a lone bugler came and played the Last Post by the wave of poppies.

Without further ado, let us get on with the day.