Twitter Isn’t All Bad, It’s Just Mostly Bad

I still (mostly) enjoy Twitter. There are definitely times when I actively hate it, others when I feel like being on Twitter is watching the trainwreck of civilization in real time, and still more times when it just reinforces whatever negative spiral I’m in. To be entirely fair to Twitter, though, there are more times I actively hate existence itself (or maybe Humanity as a whole), even more times where I feel like merely paying attention to the world around me is like watching a more confusing version of the civilization trainwreck, and I am perfectly capable of reinforcing my own negative spirals, thank-you-very-much. Twitter is a slightly better version than all of the non-Twitter versions because it has cute pet pictures, neat art, and Conan The Salaryman. The world physically around me has none of those things.

Sure, I can go almost anywhere on the internet for pictures of animals being cute (that’s maybe fourty percent of the internet, let’s be real), but they’re hand-delivered to me by accounts I trust to ethically source and share their cute animal pictures. No content mills for me. It’s all shelters, animal rescues, and people who are single-handedly skewing the average pet-per-household numbers with a dozen cats, five dogs, an ever-changing number of rats, one to six snakes, and maybe an awkward bird wearing a sweater because it has anxiety that makes it pluck at its feathers. Also Jorts the Cat, who is an endless source of cute cat pictures, worker solidarity, and commentary geared toward furthering equality. This way, you not only get to enjoy pictures of animals, but you can do so with confidence knowing that no animals are being exploited for clicks, that no one’s content is being stolen, and that you have ready access to causes worth supporting.

Another twenty or thirty percent of the internet is various art-hosting sites, many of which are better suited to viewing art along specific themes. I like twitter, though, because I don’t care about themes or what specific fandom is being represented. I am not terribly interesting in browsing galleries of fanart from a specific TV show or of being guided through a series of artists who all draw sci-fi landscapes. I enjoy those things, but I like having a greater variety in my browsing, which means I prefer the slow aggregation that happens on my Twitter feed or the single-artist deep dive that occurs when I enter the media section of one of my favorite artists. Most of the artists I follow do a mix of fanart, original art, journal comics, and more. I like a good variety, you know? I don’t even have specific style preferences. I just want to see different stuff and I’m too lazy to be constantly searching the internet for it. I want to click a button and have it occasionally delivered to me via the “latest tweets” version of the Twitter app.

As a side note, did you know that if you browse via the app using only the latest tweets timeline, you don’t see the random shit that accounts you follow like (as of writing this, anyway. They recently added promoted tweets between the original poster’s tweets and the replies, so who know what other new bullshit is next)? It is the only way I’ve found to actually limit my Twitter feed to the stuff I’ve chosen to fill it. Sure, I get a bunch of retweets from streamers, artists, and authors I follow, but I tend to only follow people whose taste I trust enough to know that retweeting the actual tweet of some asshole only gives the asshole more of what they want (attention). I am incredibly selective of which accounts I follow and will not hesitate to unfollow someone who is bringing my timeline down.

Which brings me to Conan The Salaryman. Now, novelty accounts are nothing new. There’s all kinds of niche interest accounts that tweet about whatever random interest you’ve selected. Everything from the same gif every thursday to stories told in a single tweet to descriptions of feasts from Redwall books is available on Twitter if you take a little time to look for it. Technically, most of these are still content mills, generating tweets for likes and attention, but they go from being kind of dystopian to just entertaining when they don’t try to sell you anything. Like Conan The Salaryman. In all my time following the account, it has never asked me for money while keeping me entertained with one or two tweets a day written in the style of the Conan The Barbarian books but about Conan being an office worker in a giant corporation. It has tweeted in support of some good causes, but the account isn’t trying to generate money or sell advertisements. I’ve seen such changes happen in the past, for a variety of reasons (some of which I’ve supported and some of which I’ve disagreed with), but the power of Twitter is that you can just unfollow an account if it changes in a direction you don’t like. Worst comes to worst, you can just close the app. Or delete your account and start over. It’s free.

The last tool I use to ensure I have a good time on Twitter is blocking accounts. I get such an immense degree of satisfaction from watching Twitter struggle to put ads in front of me now that I’ve blocked most major advertisement accounts. Some of them are starting to get around my past blocks by making side accounts for specific purposes and advertising those tweets, but I genuinely enjoy those moments. I get to think “Not today, brand!” as I click “block” on this account and move on with my day. And that’s not even mentioning how nice it feels to block an asshole. I’ve had a few people get on my case during my time on twitter, and it’s just so fun to block them and never think about them again. I’d love to provide a specific example, but the whole “forgetting about them” thing means I only remember they happened at all, not who or why. It’s so simple. Can’t get outraged by whatever made-up bullshit is happening if you can’t see it.

Except, you know, for a few times. Like the recent celebrity trial. Given that it involved domestic abuse and a bunch of celebrities whose lives have no impact on mine, I decided I was going to do my best to ignore in pursuit of my own day-to-day peace of mind (it’s not like my feelings or opinions matter in regards to said trial), and put up my best defenses, but Twitter itself sidestepped those to keep throwing it in my face. And every so often people forget to not retweet assholes and I have to spend some time considering if this disruption to my generally enjoyable Twitter feed is counteracted by the enjoyment that account brings to my timeline. Usually the answer doesn’t result in an unfollow, but sometimes it does. I’d love to follow ever creator, writer, and artist whose products I enjoy, but I need to protect my mental health first and foremost. There’s room for reminders of how terrible the world is in something that’s supposed to be enjoyable, but if they take over and become the only thing left, it will quickly taint any chance you had of enjoying your experience. Which is why I left Facebook. And because the most fun I ever had with Facebook was that day in 2021 when it was down for a few hours, and I didn’t even have to break my streak of days not logging into Facebook to enjoy it. It was a true win-win for me (though I do understand that Facebook being down was troubling for a great number of poeple who rely on it for communication and access to anything not immediately near them in the physical world).

Social media objectively sucks. There’s no denying it. Many of the ills of modern society can be linked to how rampart use of online spaces has only strengthened that which divides us, but there are examples of how those spaces can still do good in the world and in the life of an individual. Like my Twitter feed, for one thing. And the Nerdfighter communities, that are still probably the only positive online community I’ve been a apart of that has surived popularity and expansion beyond a few hundred people. It just takes a LOT of work to make those spaces positive, healthy, and safe. It’s work worth doing, in my opinion, but it is definitely work.

Being Human

I’ve been avoiding doing a journal-ish post on here for a bit since I’ve felt pretty crummy due to a recurring health issue. I wrote about it as the focus of my last journal post and since then I’ve tried to focus on more positive things like video games and music and stuff that brings me joy (or at least gives me something to think and talk about in the case of Baldur’s Gate 3). I’ve done so because, honestly, this whole eye thing on top of everything else makes me feel pretty miserable and I feel like writing posts about myself at times like this is just endless, fruitless whining.

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I Am Exhausted, But It Feels Great. Time To Celerbate!

There is a particular mental state that I rarely experience, that I don’t enjoy experiencing as much as I appreciate being in a situation where it happens. Specifically, it is when I am so unfocused that I wind up adding more media or minorly active tasks until I am literally incapable of interacting with anything additional. For instance, last night, I found myself watching Critical Role, playing Pokemon SoulSilver, and swapping between Twitter and Imgur on my phone, all while singing a song to myself that had been stuck in my head all day.

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On Top Of The Waves

What a week. Started off kinda crappy with some on-going trouble falling asleep, which tends to cast a pall over everything else since, you know, being tired constantly sucks. But Monday started off strong with a Spotify Discover Weekly playlist that was nearly perfect. There were a few terrible misses, but it’s probably the best Discover Weekly I’ve had since before the summer. Just a bunch of absolute bops with a pile of songs to add to my upbeat and cheerful playlists, and it starts with a great sequence of eight songs before the first song I had to remove.

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Saturday Afternoon Musing

Today, I’m helping my family out by spending twenty-four hours with my youngest sister so she’s got someone around while my parents go on a trip. Thankfully, I didn’t feel too ill to drive down to Chicago, though I’ll admit I kinda fell into a bit of a zone as I drove. I’ve made the drive so many times at this point that I’m almost on autopilot when I do it now. Same turns, same exits, same traffic. The only thing that changes is where the construction is along the route. Or how much construction there is. This time, it felt like it was all construction.

Otherwise, the drive was nice and relaxing. I enjoy the sensation of being in motion and having the time to just relax and think while staying engaged in an activity. That being said, things started to feel a little weird when I started to get near where I grew up. I’m used to the feeling of things being or seeming different when I go to my old haunts, but this was a different. Instead of the buildings looking smaller or everything looking shabbier than I remembered (which is what usually happens when you go back to someplace after you’ve grown up of changed), everything looked shorter. It has been a while since I’ve been back here in the summer, but It feels like I remember there being more trees and less sky. It’s pretty clear that some of the trees are taller, but it just feels like I really saw the sky more than I’m used to around here. It’s a weird thing to focus on, but I’ve gotten used to always looking for sky since I live right on the edge of a forest, on a street surrounded by trees, and in a neighborhood that I can only get to by going through a small forest.

I know people’s perspective tends to change as they grow and as they reflect on their life, but I’m really not sure what this sudden focus on the sky means. Or if it even means anything at all. It could just be one of those things you notice that leaves you wondering if it’s been that way all along or if something changed that caught your attention. I know some things around here are looking a little more broken down than I remember from Christmas and a few of the houses around here have had some major work done on then, but none of those things would draw my attention to the sky. The weather isn’t particularly gorgeous nor particularly bad, so none of my usual reasons for extensively looking at the sky apply, but something definitely changed or disappeared.

Or maybe my focus just has. I’ve lately been making more mental effort to look up when my mind is wandering. Looking down is great and all, but I feel like the simple act of looking up instead of down has a positive impact on my mood. A minor one, to be sure, but still noticeably positive. To me, it’s the focus on looking at things a different way or paying attention to things a lot of people don’t think about. I mean, there’s a whole trope in stories that you can hide from anyone by hanging from the ceiling. It’s funny because the only thing the guard or whatever would need to do is look up, but they don’t. They look down the hallway or around the corners. The same is true of most people.

We have this little game we play at work. Someone once brought a pink stuffed flamingo into work and hid it someone’s office. Now, whoever finds it in their office has to go hide it in someone else’s office. This has been going on for several months now, but I hold the record for the longest hide because I always put it someplace you’d only see if you looked up. It helps that I’m taller than most of the people on my team, but I never put it out of reach for anyone. I’ve even told people my whole strategy revolves around the fact that people never look up and the pink flamingo is currently on its fifth week of being “hidden” on the underside of my coworker’s umbrella. I’ve pointed it out to two people and yet, despite the fact that it is easily visible to anyone who takes the time to tilt their head upward, no one else has spotted it yet.

I don’t think I’m special for doing something other people don’t do, I just like paying attention to everything, to all the details of my life and the world around me. Since I’ve started focusing my attention upward when I can spare it, I feel like I’ve noticed a lot more of the world around me than I used to when I’d let my attention drift downward. Plus, I’ve always had an affinity for the sky or stars and looking up is a constant reminder that they’re out there, even if I can’t see them.

So maybe it isn’t so weird that I feel like the sky is super big now. A bunch of trees got planted around here when I was in high school and now they’re all at the stage of growth where they’re filling out and getting noticeably taller every year. The skyline I grew up seeing has changed a lot since the last time I was here and spared the attention to look at it instead of trying to avoid sliding in the snow or had to watch out for other people visiting family during the holidays. Maybe there’s a tree missing somewhere or maybe the telephone poles got replaced lately. Heck, maybe it’s a combination of being a bit tired from a long drive and still feeling a little fuzzy from being sick yesterday. I’ll reflect on it and take some time to check out the skyline a bit more thoroughly this weekend, but there may not be an answer.

Sometimes you just notice something for the first time in a long time and it kinda sticks with you. Sometimes things are just different and you can never really nail down why or how. Whatever it is, at least it’s got me thinking about the sky rather than focused on how it always feels different to be visiting my parents’ house now, as an adult.

Saturday Morning Musing

It is always good to believe in yourself. When it comes down to it, nothing but believing in yourself is going to keep you working on something difficult when you continuously encounter setbacks and challenges that make you wonder if you should just give up. No amount of other people believing in you is going to be able to answer the question of “should I keep doing this.”

It does make it a lot easier, though. If someone else believes in you, it makes it a lot easier to believe in yourself. I used to sort of believe in myself. I would always say I did and I possessed enough blind determination to just keep working regardless of whether or not I believed in myself, but it took an endorsement from one of my favorite teachers in college to actually do it.

I wrote in high school because I wanted to escape. I kept writing because other people enjoyed my escapes as much as I did and because some part of me recognized that writing gave me the ability to work through some of the problems I had faced without having to confront them directly. Looking back, it is painfully clear how much each story I worked on was some part of my attempting to reconcile how the world was with how I had been taught (and how I believed) it should be. How my life was versus how I thought it should be.

In college, as I focused on learning about writing and stories and literature, I started to grasp more consciously what I had subconsciously known and my writing improved. I could now do on purpose what I’d only been doing by accident before. I improved my technical writing skills and kept improving my storytelling skills. I read a bunch of experimented with formats and styles. I grew a lot, but I still didn’t believe in myself.

At the end of my junior year of college, I was awarded a scholarship for excellence in writing. The award was validating, of course. It felt great to see that my professors believed in me and that my work at building a community amongst the other writing students was being recognized. Still, what meant more to me was the speech my creative writing professor gave as she introduced the award and hinted at who had won it.

Hearing what she said, the way she said, and how excited she was to see where I might one day wind up was huge. Everything she said then and the things she said afterwards gave me the confidence I needed to really commit to believing in myself. What had once been a sort of general belief that I’d be able to land on my feet (or get back on them) no matter what happened focused into a sincere belief that I’d be able to achieve my writing goals of helping people with my stories.

It changed the course of my next few years and enabled me to keep writing despite how hard my life eventually became. Eventually, though, even that wore down. A single endorsement, even if I still have the speech my professor wrote, will eventually crumble due to the passage of time and all that I had left was my belief in myself. That helped for a while, but it eventually was riddled with doubt.

Eventually, though, that ended. It was a small thing, at least it probably seems like that to a lot of people, but it was huge to me. A birthday card from a friend. A simple message of a few sentences full of heartfelt words and the same strength of belief that my professor had years before. It helped me answer the doubts I felt and gave me the boost I needed to push from doubts to writing again. My belief came back, strong as ever, and I started working on writing projects I hadn’t touched in months and eventually decided updating my blog every day was a good idea.

When I get exhausted or start to wonder if updating this thing every day for a year is actually worth it, I just look at that card again and am reminded that I’m not doing this for views or for fame or for anything external reason. I’m doing this for me. I’m proving a point to myself that I can do this and that nothing is ever going to stop me from being a writer but my own decisions to give up.

I’m about a third of the way through my thirteen month challenge and I’m getting to the point where I can make room to work on non-blog stuff. At this point, nothing can stop me. I’ve felt burned out for three years now, thanks to the job that brought me to my current city, but I don’t need to feel a certain way to write. If I ever recover fully, from the mental and emotional exhaustion that job inflicted on me, I’ll be more productive than I ever imagined I could be. Right now, I’m constantly exhausted, battling depression, and struggling to make it through each week without letting my mental illnesses swamp me, and I’m more productive than I’ve ever been.

I knocked on wood as soon as I finished writing that paragraph because I’m not so naive as to believe things can’t get worse, but I still don’t think they will. There will be bad days and there will be bad weeks, but I think I’ve got it in me to make sure I’m still having good months.

Tending a Garden

I have planted countless thoughts in my garden.
Though many took root on their own,
Unminded and without attention,
More still are those I set in place
With all the tenderness of a mother
Caring for her first-born child.

I have tread the paths of my garden without end,
Watching the ideas shoot through the ground
Even as I continue to sow more.
Some shoots are plucked quickly,
“For the sake of the others” I explain,
And the remainder now flourish

Mighty now are the results of my labor,
Dappled shadow and bursts of color
Leave me in awe even as I know
That they will become greater still.
My life and path lie in their shadow
As I wait to see what they will become.

Saturday Morning Musing

For a long time this year, I wasn’t writing or updating this blog very much. I’ll admit part of that was by choice (at least for the blog since I felt like I didn’t have anything to say) and part of that was because I just couldn’t make myself string the words together unless I was super moved by an idea. I was pretty busy most days and that meant I didn’t have much energy for working on my books, much less my blog. A lot of my time was filled with trying to manage my depression and a related self project: trying to avoid making myself depressed or anxious for no reason at all.

Honestly, that was probably the most successful “project” I worked on up until National Novel Writing Month and this daily update thing. It worked pretty well for the most part and only didn’t work when I had fairly legitimate reasons to feel depressed or anxious about something. During those times, my pinpoint focus on not making things worse for myself helped me avoid spiraling into a fugue or going back to my bad habits of closing off and hiding away from everything but my minimum work requirements and meals.

It was exhausting, though, because I needed to be constantly aware of what I’m thinking and focused on jerking my mind away from depressing thought spirals and needless anxieties. My OCD neither helped nor hindered, thankfully. My tendency to obsess over depressing subjects was effectively cancelled by my tendency to sort of automate small mental activities, like emptying my mind or tracking patterns in the world around me–which are only “small” activities because I’ve been working at doing those things for over a decade now. Making a habit of forcibly jerking your mind away from its habit of obsessing over negative thoughts and ideas is basically a wash.

I’ve been doing it for long enough at this point that its become a solid habit, even outside of my OCD. I catch myself more frequently than I used to, even though the spirals are a bit stronger than before. There’s nothing like a new relationship to lend strength of some negative thought spirals. At the same time, one of my major sources of stress is gone and I’ve got a significant source of positive emotion. No longer living with my frustrating roommate and having a girlfriend have definitely had a positive overall impact on my life even if I still occasionally have moments of intense anxiety. I don’t know if I’ll ever be entirely rid of those thought spirals or, as I refer to them in my head, thought tornadoes (because only the incredibly powerful ones are a problem and there’s no reasoning with them because they just carry you along with them), but I can definitely appreciate the fact that they’re the only major problem I’ve got right now.

I really wanted to write a post about how awful my roommate was, as a form of catharsis for myself and in order to start a conversation about how painful it can be to try to live with someone who doesn’t respect you despite the fact that you get along great as friends. I wound up sitting on the idea for a couple of months, which was probably wise, because I feel like I’m in a better place to actually think about it and respond rather than simply vent about it. Which is to say that I think the thing that stressed me out wasn’t so much his behavior, but his refusal to actually take steps to work on it despite constantly acknowledging it. So many times, I would sit down to discuss something with him and he’d cut me off by proving he already knew what I was going to bring up. It felt awful to be living with someone who knew what they were doing was wrong but continued to do it anyway because they didn’t care enough to change.

I worry that he’s going to see this, or that one of our mutual friends is going to see this and then share it with him, but that might be for the best. He obviously didn’t hear what I was saying to him during the 21 months we lived together, but maybe reading it will help it click. It’s worked before, with my original blog. Maybe it’ll work here as well.

I’m not going to hold my breath, though. After successfully reducing the amount of self-inflicted pain and stress I encounter on a weekly basis and spending an entire month writing up a storm, I think I’m ready to return my attention to what is most important to me. That, and the most common issue I face when I’m working on my creative projects. I will take breaks to rest up and recharge, but I never seem to be able to get the recharging part working properly. I can rest, feel ready to push again, but I haven’t managed to recharged myself past the low-levels I’ve been feeling for three years at this point. I don’t need to get out of low-power mode in order to write, but I feel like it’d be a lot easier if I could.

Of course, its been so long that I’m not sure if I can actually get recharged or if I’m making the entire thing up as an excuse to stop when things get difficult. Time will tell, I suppose. It usually does.

This Sounds Kind of similar to Feng Shui, but it’s Really Basic Psychology

What do you need to create a positive environment? I’m being specifically general here. Positive work environment at whatever job you hold, positive home environment, positive creative environment, etc. Seriously, Its super open-ended.

Mine tend to shift depending on which ones. For my creative environments, I like low light, no glare, some kind of music playing softly (though the music changes depending on what I’m doing), and something to drink. Usually water or tea are my beverages of choice, but I’ll drink anything but alcohol. Alcohol and I have some significant creative differences. I also need someplace away from movement and activity since I’m constantly distracted by anything moving. Like all the dogs from Up. Its horrible.

At work, my positive environment has a lot less to do with what’s around me and a lot more with what I’m doing. Sitting still too long bums me out, so I take walks around my building and drop by my coworkers’ offices to give them candy. I am known, and worshiped, as the Candy God by my peers. Mostly I like making people happy and you’d be surprised how much positive effect a bite-size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup can have on Twenty-Somethings. Other than that, I like to change my office around fairly often, do lots of different work tasks, and get heard when I’ve got something to say.

Positive environments are important to me because I have a tendency toward dour outlooks, depression, and jaded negativity as a result of, well, mostly student debt. That’s the biggest cause. For pretty much everything that isn’t just super awesome in my life. Honestly, aside from that and its side effects, my life is pretty awesome. This is a rare moment of real appreciate, brought to you by the power of a positive environment and two hours of ass-kicking exercise.

Literally ass-kicking. Someone snuck up behind me at my foam fighting practice and was going to nudge me in the butt except I started backpedaling right into their foot. It was a cat-ASS-trophe.

This sort of environment something I’ve spent a lot of time and effort into learning to create. And to do without. As a writer who has a full-time job to pay my bills, I can’t really afford to spend all my time in this perfect little world. I can’t create this kind of environment on business trips. Hotels generally frown on burning candles and I’d hate to have to buy matches at every destination. I also tend to work late so I can’t always get my writing time in at home, sometimes its done sitting on one of the couches in a lounge somewhere or on a bit of shady grass.

That being said, it’s always so much easier to work when I’m at home. I’m more relaxed, better able to focus, and a lot more creative. I do my best work at home.

I think a lot of people underestimate the value of a positive environment. A lot of introverts have it pretty well-figured out since we need this sort of thing to really relax at all, but every can benefit from knowing what you need in order to do you best. Maybe its collaboration with a group of peers or the quiet of an office by yourself with signs warning people away. Maybe you need complete silence or maybe something rhythmic to keep your mind focused and sharp.

There’s nothing wrong with needing a specific setup to work. Knowing how you work best and doing what you can to create that sort of environment can not only help you excel, but it can help those around you and your relationships with them. The more relaxed you are, the easier it’ll be to interact with them. A lot of workplaces do studies on exactly this sort of thing, which is how we’ve gone from cubicles to the “open office” concept that removes privacy and gives everyone access to you at all times (can you tell I’m not a fan? Thank god I’ve got an office…).

What do you need? I’d love to hear about it.