Sheeple.

Maybe some people have noticed (or likely nobody noticed) that I’ve been writing very, very, very little lately! There are quite a few things I’ve wanted to write about but I never feel like I have the time to dedicate to writing something that does them any service. Taking Adderall is a roadblock as well because it gives me so much social energy that I rarely want to sit in front of my computer and write.

I’ve also gone through a sort of metamorphosis intellectually over the last couple of months so I don’t want to pour my soul out about the things that I’ve been thinking about until I’m sure of what my actual opinions are. I’ve definitely noticed, though, that all of my life I’ve allowed myself to be bullied and manipulated into saying that I agree with certain viewpoints and ideologies when down to my core I don’t at all. It’s hard to think for yourself, legitimately. There are a lot of biological and neurological processes that make being agreeable preferable. Everyone loves to believe that they’re “free thinkers” who form their own opinions but the overwhelming majority of people are always looking around to make sure it’s okay for them to believe what they believe. A big part of me is really over that game and I’ve been getting a lot of push-back because of it but that’s why independence is so uncomfortable and rare. Even science is just a politically correct mess these days. I don’t think we’re in a good place.

Soliloquy

Although it’s been quite some time (relatively speaking) since my last post, I have been writing. When looking over what I’ve written from an objective perspective, it’s been lacking and I’ve routinely decided to keep it in the draft bin until edits can be made. Part of the problem is that I’m expressing strong opinions in them and want to make sure I’m accurate and have done my homework. In doing so I’ve found that in some cases I didn’t really know what I was talking about. In other cases I believe that I have a strong argument but I know they’re sensitive topics and need to be broached with caution.

In an effort to “get something posted” I’m writing this aimless entry; perhaps a personal update is in order. Although I don’t believe in such a thing as “rock bottom”, I could say that I’d hit that point this week. Much of my time has been wasted on useless activities and my school work as a whole has suffered over the course of Lockdown. I’m still an “A” student because this is not a difficult college by any means, but I’m not personally proud of the work that I’ve done and I don’t feel I’ve learned anything in the past few courses.

My current course will provide an opportunity for redemption. It involves much more writing and analytical thinking than my previous three courses which were just practice labs and multiple choice quizzes with fairly obvious answers. Further, this course is the first in a while in which I genuinely am not familiar with the content so not only will I be writing but I’ll have to also research my subject while writing… a skill which is handy here as well.

I’ve decided to begin reading again and to take more notes. I’ve purchased a planner so that I can begin organizing my days and sticking to a schedule again. The timing isn’t a coincidence, work is beginning to ramp back up and for the most part my state’s shelter in place order is being lifted. It’d be unrealistic to think that life is going to return to the way it was but at least I’ll be able to get a haircut.

Two Years

Yesterday was 2 years sober for me. I didn’t notice because of the bizarre passage of time we’re all experiencing in lockdown mode. Better late than never though. I don’t have anything profound to say about it other than my life is better now than I could have ever hoped for and it continues to get better. I’ve already written tons of posts on sobriety and addiction in the past so there’s no need for me to rehash any of that.

I guess the one insight I could give is that sobriety doesn’t mean anything is fixed on its own. I’m still antisocial, afraid of the world, and a hardcore procrastinator. But sober I have a chance to beat those things and some days I do. It’s not a battle where one day you win and you’re done… it’s a daily series of choices. Some days I have the energy to make the right choice and some days I don’t.

It was worth it.

My First Week as a Vulcan:

A friend of mine, one of the few whom I’ve discussed my possibly ridiculous experiment with, is a Trekkie and replied “so you’re trying to be a Vulcan?” I’d be lying if I said that hadn’t occurred to me during the initial phase of my project but it’s not my intent, mainly because Vulcans are poorly-designed fictional aliens from a franchise that puts the “fiction” in science fiction.

More Logic Isn’t the Goal or a Result So Far

Logic isn’t the opposite of emotion; controlling emotion doesn’t inversely cause one to be more logical and rational. Logic is a skill whereas emotion is a chemical response. I suppose one way in which they may be opposites is that logic requires practice and critical thinking whereas emotion, in its reactionary form, is the lack of critical thinking and focused practice.

Therefor I haven’t found that I’ve been more logical than I ordinarily am. I believe I’m already a logical person compared to most of the people I’ve met, so I haven’t noticed an increase in that faculty. What I’ve noticed is an ability to convey that logic more effectively because I’m not responding to people out of a desire to prove myself, debase them, or gain something. This has made conversation challenging as prior to this experiment I already knew that these are the primary reasons all people communicate; overwhelmingly the first one: proving themselves.

We Can’t Exist Without Emotion

Learning how to respond to people who are addicted to affirmation is an ongoing obstruction. Although I am attempting to eliminate my emotional responses, I can’t eliminate emotion entirely. I’m sure you can imagine how awkward it feels to have people tell you banal, codependent jokes all day and uncomfortably stare at you when you neither fake a chuckle or smile. This week I realized how often I fake laughter to make people feel comfortable with their own insufficient personalities.

Gratitude can be felt for the opportunity to practice, though. Several dozen times a day, I am given the opportunity to challenge myself to not pretend to find someone funny. It should be a given that this is only a problem because of my own character flaw which made me feel it was necessary to respond in an expected way to emotional manipulation. If I’d never given people what they wanted in the first place, this wouldn’t be an issue, and upon reflection I’d probably have had fewer toxic friends over the years.

Not giving in to expectation is the true test of emotional restraint. Analyze everything you do for a week and I promise you’ll come to a similar conclusion: many things we do are to appease other people. Society wouldn’t have formed the way it did without that provision but that doesn’t mean all of us have to give in to this animalistic need.

More on Emotion Being the Lack of Mental Activity

I’ve failed many times this week, yesterday in particular. Failure has given me insight into what causes emotional outbursts and I’d like to study this more. It wasn’t by accident that I chose to combine emotional control with asceticism and the times at which I gave in to impulsive hedonism were not coincidentally the times that I was almost completely out of control emotionally.

We are drawn to things that make us feel and not specifically to things that make us feel well. When I gave into desires such as eating fast food, playing games, watching valueless YouTube videos, and so on, these were the times I was at my most unstable. I’d vacillate wildly between joy, depression, and outright rage in mere minutes. These feelings then caused me to react to people as if they were the cause.

It’s worth mentioning that I have an unhealthy relationship with my mother and the mere sound of her voice throws me into a murderous rage at times so I can’t put all the blame on fast food and video games.

Humor Persists

You might not expect a sense of humor to prevail through an emotionless state but as I said previously, we can’t truly eliminate our emotions. Emotions aren’t an intangible concept that can be switched on or off at will, they are very real chemicals. Even medications that seek to mediate these chemicals don’t deaden our emotions, they merely mute some which makes the others seem amplified.

I’ve still been able to share my sense of humor with people. I also feel it’s been augmented during the times I’ve been more in control. Rather than fill the void with every stupid thought that enters my head, I carefully select appropriate and clever times to interject. Timing is everything, as the saying goes.

My writing may seem more dry than usual and that’s not a result of emotional control, it’s part of my “brutalist” asceticism idea: I’m trying to be more concise and to the point. I’m playing with that idea not just in writing but also in music and conversation as well. It’ll evolve over time and I’ll get better at making my writing interesting while refraining from rants and colorful language.

What Sort of Posts Do You Enjoy Reading?

I’ve never thought about what draws me into reading a post until recently. I read between ten and forty WordPress posts a day between all of the different authors I follow but I will admit that some are more cursory readings than others. Over the past week I’ve made a list of the posts that arrested my full attention and made me want to contribute to the discussion. I’ve collected some of the types of posts I’ve read recently and casually run through them below. If you find that you’re an author who frequently writes the kind of posts that I don’t particularly like, no offense! I’m just one reader and generally those sort of posts don’t even apply to me.

Factual Stories

It’s not a secret that narrative is enticing. We’ve all surely read that opening your post with an anecdote or peppering personal happenstance throughout your page is the easiest way to make something more interesting. Posts which began to tell a story that alluded to a question that I wanted to know the answer to overwhelmingly drew me in. I’m not talking about obvious questions like “how to change a tire” but vague, unwritten questions like “I wonder how this author’s husband is doing now after this situation?”

Lists

Lists are tricky. In order for me to care about a list, I found that I had to already trust the author. People I’ve followed recently who I don’t have much of a history with, I might casually glance at their lists but don’t really care about their opinion yet. Lists are often very personal as they represent the author’s opinion. If I’m not familiar with the author’s personality and background, I’m not going to trust their opinion.

That said, I like lists from familiar authors. They’re concise, easy to peruse because if you don’t care about one of the items in the list you can just move to the next one, and they usually fall into a central theme so I know going into it how much I want to invest into reading it. My advice based on my notes would be that if you like writing lists, don’t only write lists. Give your audience some meat occasionally so that they can get to know you.

Blogs on Blogging

To be blunt, I don’t care about these posts in the slightest. Some of my followers (and some of the people I follow) primarily write in this area so once again please don’t take offense, I’m not trying to say your blog is worthless! In my experience, these posts are a penny a dozen and the vast majority of them are completely unoriginal and recycle content that has already been written a thousand times by other authors. It makes sense, too… how much advice can one truly give on writing a blog? There are some tried and true methods to success and while there’s some leeway in their implementation, for the most part the formula never changes.

However, if you have a unique voice and work in some of the first method (telling a story) you can still have an interesting blog. Look I get that some of us are here to make money or demonstrate our skills so that we can land a job in writing some day but the obviously SEO oriented post titles and formatting kill me. You might steer some Google traffic your way but human beings don’t enjoy reading something that was written for an algorithm. Be original, please.

Inspirational Posts

When written well, I love inspirational stories. Some of them have genuinely changed the course of my day and week in the past. There’s a lot of negativity and toxicity on our dear Information Superhighway (this blog is the source of some of it, I will admit) and it’s always great to see someone doing the opposite. I have noticed that some of these blogs don’t get the attention of other blogs because people like reading about drama and crisis more than something nice, but I see you.

Even if I am a notorious shitposting troll.

HEAVY Religion

For the most part, religious posts could fall under a couple of the above categories but there is one type that stands out above the others for me. When someone launches into an almost word-for-word copy of Bible passages and, let’s not mince words, schizophrenic interpretations of their meaning, I navigate away immediately. Religion doesn’t offend me and I’m not a torch bearing atheist who thinks that we should take Nietzsche’s advice regarding God. We have to all admit, though, that the supernatural nature of religion does draw an inordinate amount of paranoid schizophrenics. Combined with the reinforcing nature of the WordPress platform… there’s a pretty crazy corner of the web on here. You’re not doing them any favors by giving them praise in their comment sections or even by questioning them.

Pictures

If your entire blog consists of posts that are simply one photograph without a caption or background story… you might do better on Instagram.

Woah, Step Back!

I had to slow my roll this weekend… I started finding WordPress to be a place of stress rather than the community I had enjoyed for the last few years. No fault of anyone else’s, it’s something I put on myself in truth. I started feeling an obligation to keep up with everyone’s blogs and to be completely honest that just isn’t possible!

Life has really taken the wheel recently and I don’t have that routine I had when I was working full time in which I check WordPress every morning at 7:30. Now, days go by between my visits and some of you have posted four or five times by then (props to you, I can’t do it). This made me feel guilty for some reason; as if I had a responsibility to read everything that was posted. I get that way… WordPress is far from the first network in which I’ve had that impulse.

So I had to just take a minute and acknowledge what I was feeling and tell myself it’s not a big deal. Ever do that? It actually does work, sometimes.

I’m still very tired all of the time. I do start writing a blog post almost every day but can very rarely bring myself to finish it. The more serious and passionate I am about the topic, the less likely I am to finish it, coincidentally. I get halfway through and this feeling of all the life being sucked out of me creeps over my body, I tell myself nothing I’ve written appropriately captures what I want to say, and I erase it. That’s a good way to visualize a feeling I get quite frequently, actually. Like my body is a thermometer and my willpower is the mercury inside that almost instantly drains from my head right out of my feet… whenever I’m in the middle of something I truly care about. It’s been a real hurdle throughout my life.

Sometimes I win that fight though. Like tonight. I really wanted to stop writing half way through the last paragraph, lol. I’ll finish though… and publish this.

Tiny victories.

Plague Masquerade

My mother lovingly crafted the most hideous masks for our family out of flannel and cotton. They’re surely about as effective a disease resistance tool as wrapping a shirt around your head, but it’s really just to keep her calm. I took it out for its first spin today to get some grocery essentials.

I was a little anxious to wear something so laughably pointless but was reassured as I pulled into the (packed) parking lot of the supermarket and saw that I actually possessed one of the better crafted masks. Thanks, Mom!

Surely most people are only wearing masks for show. We know that dust masks don’t do anything against a virus but if it makes people around us feel safe, it’s not a huge concession.

There were a few people there who obstinately refused to wear a mask and they fit the stereotype you surely have in your head: fat, old white men with American flag shirts and dirt-caked jeans. Every crisis the country faces pulls us further and further from that idealistic belief that there’s no such thing as white trash and poor folk are just as intelligent and streetwise as the rest of us. Utter bullshit. (I should clarify that what I mean by “poor folk” doesn’t necessarily mean people living in poverty. It’s more of a lifestyle and mindset than an economic status in my lexicon. There are poor people who simply haven’t found the means to move up in life yet but eventually will)

I was even checked out by a few attractive women while there. Well, at least their eyes and figures were attractive, I couldn’t see the rest. Same goes for me though. Maybe I should conceal half my face more often! The poor access to food combined with loss of appetite from Adderall has given me quite an athletic figure, myself. Haha.

I took my brother with me because he’s been itching to get out of the house. He can’t drive as he lost his license due to his DUI’s. I knew that he’d be buying liquor before we even left but it still saddened me to see. He’s gone weeks without it during lockdown so far. That just goes to show you though… when an alcoholic can’t drink, it doesn’t mean they’re recovering. Nobody has a problem quitting when they don’t have access to alcohol. I never did. Once I got money again or got back from vacation… whatever the reason… I went straight to the liquor store.

Not my business, though. The early-recovery me who was passionate about addiction and sobriety is long gone. I only care about myself as far as that is concerned. I’ve been let down too many times by people I had tried to help and I don’t mean for that to sound dramatic or melancholic… I simply don’t care anymore. It doesn’t even really bug me when they die.

Anyway that was a bit off topic. Was there a topic? I don’t know. Masks I guess. Wear masks, God dammit. If only to make people feel safe.

Why Everyone Should Avoid Social Media

What was once lauded as a way to connect to new friends all over the planet has become an inescapable scourge that is actually destroying mankind.

Many of us here on the Internet are older; we remember fondly the delucive techno gold rush of the late nineties and early twenty-first century. When everybody under thirty had their own website, or at the very least a Livejournal or Geocities landing page. Many of us made lifelong friends on the information superhighway. To this day, I’ve never met many of my oldest friends face-to-face and yet they know more about me than anyone I know on the physical plane.

Change is inevitable and all promising developments are eventually tainted by greed, unchecked ambition, and the general stupidity of the masses. These days the Internet is a useless churn of advertisements, moronic egotism, and bald faced lies. We’ve been headed in this direction for a decade but until recently I was able to trumpet the unoriginal “but at its core, the Internet is still useful” mantra spread by my deluded futurist compatriots. Every year it gets more difficult to repeat that line with a straight face, at least not without feeling a little sick to my stomach.

As an information technology professional, I’m torn. I can obviously still see the promise of long-range, unbridled communication, but I feel that in my middle-age, I know too much of the world to believe that anything positive can come out of it. I’m not an anti-Capitalist and I don’t begrudge people their expensive toys but it’s disheartening that for all of humanity’s progress and innovation, all we have to show for it is six new models of cellphone a year, endless subscription services for things that used to be free, and an ever-growing tidal wave of social anxiety and depression. Eventually this monstrous wave of illness and hatred will crash against the shore. You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to know how catastrophic it will be.

I firmly believe that social networks are the rotten core at the heart of our disease. We went from a civilization in which most people focused on their day to day lives, cared for their families, and did their job to one in which even the most vapid ignoramus believes that their opinion is not only valid and true, but needs to be known by every man, woman, and child in the world.

I understand the irony in writing that sentence on a social network.

When society course-corrects in order to solve a systemic problem, it often overcompensates in a big way. We have countless examples from history of this happening. Fascism, communism… even democracy is an imperfect, hastily thrown together reaction to constitutional monarchy. We humans aren’t known for our logical reactions. My fear is that in responding to what I essentially call toxic freedom (I will write more on this in the future though I imagine it will offend many of my more progressive readers), we will plunge ourselves into the worst tyranny any of us has ever heard of.

So what can be done? Well, if history is any indication, nothing. Most of us are simply too stupid and too lazy to be relied on to do the right thing when it counts. My instinctual reaction is always to murder anybody who vehemently disagrees with me but that’s hardly rational or measured. When the whole world is sick all we can really do is ensure that we are better than the chaff. Educate yourself, keep reaching for positions of prestige and responsibility so that you can distance yourself from the writhing mess of gnashing teeth below.

One thing is for certain: none of the world’s most respected people give a shit about Facebook.

4th Iteration of My Home Studio is Finished!

Finally! After weeks of my gear being on backorder and a few days of FedEx “misplacing” my packages, everything is here and set up. I spent the afternoon troubleshooting some issues such as having a crappy 2nd hand desk on which there is no place to clamp my microphone boom (figured out a workaround and I will be building my own desk in the near future) but now I am ready to start recording! That’ll be tomorrow’s project and I’m not sure how long it’ll take but I hope to have something to show for it by the weekend.

Microphone Shipped Today

so I should have it by Friday, hopefully. Finalizing the first draft of my script today and I’ll start recording over the weekend! I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to edit together but since I’m pretty familiar with audio engineering already it shouldn’t be a stressful process.

I’ll be trying to make two edits; one with music and one without. Just in case.

While doing research on my initial episode, I was blown away by how useless the internet has become over the years! When I first began studying music in my early 20s, it seemed like every single band and genre in existence had a dozen fan sites with mountains of even the most minute information. Now, most artists get a paragraph in a Wikipedia entry. I’m sure there are still fan sites out there but since scummy marketing sites and foreign botnets manipulate SEO so well, you’ll never see them.

There’s always Reddit, I guess.