My Way

I am surrounded by chaos daily, often of my own creation. Certainly, in the last six months, all the contention in my life has come from me, self-creating it. That’s really not an optimal situation, when all is said and done. How, therefore, do I find a place to be myself, be true to what that actually means, without falling off the World whenever summat goes wrong?

That’s the question that’s been stalking me for decades. I realise, once the menopause stopped hormones from effectively dictating my mood once a month, that calm was possible. It became entirely feasible to spend long periods without a single depressed or angry thought. I did, for some time, sail happily through my life, until it was apparent that lots of other emotions had also… well, vanished.

Then my past decided it was time for an intervention.

Coming out of the other side of this, as is undoubtedly the case, is a little like the inner ear disorientation I get occasionally when water gets trapped in them or hay fever is particularly vicious. It’s obvious everything isn’t quite level, but it’s manageable. Only when something else comes along that eats up too much brain space does the whole thing have the propensity to collapse upon me.

That’s where I realise writing fiction filled an important hole in my subconscious, for probably two decades, without me ever grasping how important living ‘somewhere else’ had become in terms of equilibrium. It is also, and undoubtedly, the reason why escaping to places where I could better control the path of destiny became first a joy, and then a terror. All the bits fit into place. It’s slightly surreal knowing what you’ve done had a bigger point you never really grasped until… well, right now.

That means, like it or not, rediscovering myself in a way that is eerily similar to the period of my later teens and early twenties. Today’s revelation about regret comes on the back of a decent night’s sleep, and sore legs, because pushing through exercise right now is providing an incentive for so much else. I want to be fit, need to be capable of the fight that lies ahead, because it is.

I’m not surviving in a world of fear and anger if those emotions already destroy what little confidence I have already. It won’t be possible to be robust and effective as a partner and parent without finding the means to be objective over the longer term. These things will dictate the effectiveness of everything I do. Regret, therefore, has to be accepted, and lived with. It’s not ever something that mattered, until now.

Before I just pretended all the bad stuff never happened.

So, here I am. Once ‘work’ is done for the day I’ll be re-writing vanity fiction, having had a massive revelation last night over how the plot of this particular tale needs to progress. I’m genuinely looking forward to the task, if truth be told. There’s other stuff as well, but that’s for me to know and not talk about because, hey, you don’t need to know everything.

All that matters right now is enough to move this whole thing forward.

So Here We Are

Whenever two or three people I know and follow, on Twitter, get together and have a conversation, Twitter actively attempts to involve me. Even on Tweetdeck, that interaction appears unavoidable. With my tech hat on there are clearly very good reasons why doing this is a good idea for the growth of the platform overall. Talking is, after all, the point.

However, it’s a lie, clear falsehood. It’s the equivalent of what used to happen in the playground at secondary school when someone wanted gossip to make them the centre of attention. I am well aware of the level of interaction at play on any given day, and these people would not, do not include me. It is an attempt to drive passive engagement, and I detest it.

It also drags me into issues I am often already trying to avoid.

This is, I will freely admit, the reason why some people I really like are at present muted. Mutes don’t stop the direct @ when someone talks to you with your username. Crucially it doesn’t remove likes or retweets being visible on Tweetdeck, at least initially. It allows me to acknowledge those who are my more enthusiastic supporters, who refuse to engage directly (for whatever reason).

However, of late, it means that certain discussions and arguments are unavoidable, however hard I attempt to curate. Part of this journey is realising I cannot fix everything, and I would be foolish to try, because the energy expended by doing so does and has deflected me from my path. Many people have commented on the downsides. I am going to take their advice too, because they care about me personally.

I know this not through here say, but through personal interaction.

It is apparent to most now how important virtual interactions are in modern life, and being able to place a measure of control on what takes place is as important as keeping your real life manageable. Watching other people make the same mistakes you have does make you want to wade in and point out the hypocrisy. It is not worth the effort.

Asking people if they need help is a better way forward. It requires far less assumptive reasoning: if someone says they are struggling, then that’s your cue. Again, it can’t (and won’t) help you save everybody. That remains the impossibility that it takes a lifetime to shake and will, if you are that person, wrack you with guilt when it becomes apparent you missed someone else’s cry for help.

All you will ever do is your best.

What bothers me the most right now are those people who depend on the Internet for their livelihood, who know what good can (and does) happen here yet continue to malign it because it gets them attention. We all know someone like this, and I watch people do this daily, in the hope it might illicit some sympathy. That’s not how this works. We see right through you.

By far the most successful people on Twitter are ignoring the fact they’re not being successful and just doing what needs to be done. When your creativity and enthusiasm shines through, amazing things happen. I’ve only just discovered this revelation, and it is still sometimes a bit hard to balance with everything else but the results are, it must be said, transformative.

Stop talking a rubbish game, and start changing your outlook.

Stop

That, up there, is my 9th donation, which means in 16 weeks time (or thereabouts) I will have earned my first badge. That’s not why I came here, I should add, it’s only the gamer in me that craves these trinkets: a physical reminder of what has been given in return for that elusive, ephemeral piece of beauty. Potentially, that’s 30 lives saved.

That’s why we have to keep going forward.

I am tired. It is a peculiar combination of mental exhaustion from the last week, plus the fatigue hit I always get post-donation. Today, therefore, is rest, unless energy returns today for a late walk. As I sit here, attempting to find the braincells required to make it through to teatime, I realise just how little I truly know about the world.

However prepared you think you are for trauma, it’s never enough. Last night, at donation, I asked my phlebotomist when she really grasped that the World had changed: she told me about the meeting where all the staff were told that if they or any of their family had underlying health issues, it was time they went home and stayed there.

However much you think you’re ready, a part of you never is.

A lot of people this morning are waking up to the reality that their life isn’t nearly as simple as it was yesterday, last week, last month, 2019… it doesn’t matter. Knowledge is the key to all of this, like it or not. Even if you spend an entire lifetime pretending you’ve got life sussed, death will change all of that. This is the inevitability of mortality. You don’t get to win at everything.

When the people you idolised and adored let you down, and some always will, it is not your fault. You are a product of your heroes, they will all mould and shape you in different ways, and if you choose not to learn from their mistakes, that is also your choice. However, watching famous people look like idiots is the game we all play on Twitter, every day. Judgment’s almost encouraged now, because otherwise you can’t be seen to have publicly learnt the lesson they haven’t.

Kindness is easily forgotten in the clamour to stay relevant.

This is what we are now: bouncing from one moment to another, largely uncaring of the bigger consequences as long as our own outrage/sympathy/empathy is assuaged. On National Empathy Day, using Twitter as a way to elicit sympathy is not a good look. We see you, white people. Don’t do that. It was never a smart idea before.

Look to yourselves before you start criticising anybody else.

Go Up

I have always been a prolific tweeter: the platform very much gets used ‘as intended’ in that regard. As part of my ongoing process of enlightenment, there’s been some time given to what has happened to get me here. Twitter last week suggested following someone who I’d not spoken to for several years: looking back, I realised that they’d been blocked, and then needed to remind myself of why. Going down that rabbit hole was eye-opening, reminding how the platform has changed in just a couple of years.

It’s never your friends that are the villains.Β It can’t possibly be the sweet, kind individuals who very intentionally hide their true natures when online knowing full well the consequences can be devastating. The more you live a lie online, the more likely it is that someone will find you out.Β The behaviours are there for all to see: eventually, it just needs enough people to put together the pieces.

It means, over time, continually reassessing what it is I am and how it appears. All the contentious people that I’ve clashed with, over the years, fit into some fairly distinct categories. Most feel I’ve made a mistake, and they’d be right. I shouldn’t have gotten halfway through that community project and shelved it: the reason why it was never completed very simple. I lost confidence in the people I was supposed to be championing.

That was the moment reality finally broke my self-imposed fourth wall.

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Nearly all blocks imposed are the means by which I can exert control over situations that I feel threatened by. However, an increasing number are there to prevent people returning to read me, because they’re the quick and dirty means by which a feed can be instantly curated. As long as there’s gmail addresses still left to claim, it’s an academic task to set up a sock account and bypass any restriction: that act alone says far more about a person’s level of obsession than anything else. Take it from someone who knows.

The history of my past, littered with remnants of other people’s actions, nearly always paints me as the villain. I’m the one who seemingly shuts down conversations (clearly because I’ll lose) or I’m the one whose hijacking someone else’s feelings or personal sanctity. In nearly every case, there’s a realisation that the person you’re speaking to has either been dishonest, or is projecting onto you far more significance than actually exists in relation to the relationship.

That’s the killer: this other person thinks we’re friends, when we’re not.

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A lot of this comes from being burnt, an awful lot across the years, by people who decided I was their friend when it was apparent the entire relationship was convenience. It still happens: you have a historical association, clearly enough to grant rights to complain, control and ultimately dismiss one side of a story because clearly, that can’t be true.Β It’s why I refuse to Facebook, accept requests from people who I used to know on the basis you need to be able to feel comfortable with all the mistakes of your past.

I will become the shitty friend, and am more than happy to accept the mantle of arrogant, selfish, intractable. I’m the toxic element you needed to remove from your life,Β  yet so many people seem to find it really hard to let go. It’s odd, that: how many of those who complain so vociferously about being rejected will forget all that perceived mistreatment the moment they change behaviour. I know my shortcomings only too well. Learning those lessons is absolutely worth the effort.

notmeyou

There are many consequences to living life online. This week, I’m watching someone I knew very well for about a year and a bit get dragged through the media: part of a fairly high-profile, rather unpleasant court case. We met online, communicated regularly: their Christmas compilation CD has significantly shaped listening tastes. Of course, I didn’t ‘know’ them at all, just the piece of themselves they decided to share with me. That’s all online life is about, in the end.

Reality is no easier, and far messier. Maybe that’s why we’re all here to begin with.