Category Archives: Society Sucks

Quiet Introspection is Awesome

This week I’ve been in a strange mood. The total emotional vomit of the weekend has been replaced by a hollow yet comforting feeling. It feels like I’m myself in my most fundamental way, not trying to search for anything or trying to discover anything, only existing. This is me: nothing.

I don’t recall the last time I’ve really closed up, introspected, kept busy, and was dead to the outside world. It’s strange too, because I’m a huge fan of closing myself away and existing. Maybe that’s part of myself I’d lost in the past few years? My tendency towards “growth” usually forces me outside of my comfort zone into socializing, being open, etc. and maybe this isn’t how I really am. Under the guise of “growth” and “challenging myself” I can ignore the fact that maybe I’m just trying to be something that I am fundamentally not. I’m a quiet, unsociable hermit, so why am I trying to be anything else?

Or maybe it’s just depression. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I think my realization on Sunday might’ve spooked me or something. My tendency to rely on others, constantly seek social approval, and wanting to be ‘special’ or ‘part of the in-crowd’ might be another way for myself to play right into my own insecurities. To recap slightly: my mom wasn’t very loving so I think I carried that right into adulthood as insecurity, self-loathing, and a lack of self-esteem. My thinking goes like this; do I feel pressured to socialize to feel accepted? Just in a general way? Even if I don’t want to interact, do I force myself to (once again under the guise of “self-improvement” or “putting myself out there”) be someone disingenuous because of my insecurities?

I don’t know, but I’ve been embracing a “minimalistic” approach to myself lately. I feel naked as a person, totally exposed, to where I don’t even know who I really am as a person. Am I the person who makes silly jokes at work? Am I the person that is quiet and sulks? Am I a reclusive writer? And I bipolar who is very sociable/quiet depending on my mood? Who am I really? I don’t know and I’ve gotten to the point of exhaustion even caring about it. I am who I am. I show up to work and fucking sit in silence. I don’t ignore people — that would be forcing myself in another disingenuous needlessly hostile direction — I just don’t try to force anything. If I have a question, I’ll ask and if someone asks me a question, I’ll answer. No elaborate replies, not big complex stories, no obvious fake smiles or anything. Just me. Or the most basic and genuine me that I can find, whoever that even is.

We have plenty of downtime at my job. Yesterday we had a three hour break. Yes. I sat in our crew van — a normal 15-passenger Chevy Van — and listened to music. Most people were off socializing or sitting in their own tugs (tiny little tractors we use to pull shit around), and I was able to listen to four full albums. Dead Kennedys Frankenchrist, and Radiohead’s In Rainbows, OK Computer, and Moon Shaped Pool.

As a side note, I’ve really been embracing punk music in my current state. There is something so visceral, cold, and fun about punk music, especially the Dead Kennedys. Jello Biafra’s lyrics are always cynical, sarcastic, and political. What better way to give up introspection than to blast heavy, fast, loud, violent music with lyrics that don’t give a shit about anything emotional? They contrast wonderfully with all the introspective, emotional, and difficult to listen to music I’ve been playing lately. It’s a form of beautiful escapism and I’ll always have a place in my heart for the Dead Kennedys because of this.

Even after we start loading our airplane we have at least a half-hour of downtime. What do you do with all this time stuck in an airplane? Most people talk — people seem to not be able to escape the need to fucking talk to each other, even if the topics are about the boringest, blandest, most unfulfilling shit possible — and obviously I had zero patience or need for it this week. So I sat cross legged in the airplane and stared at whatever object I could find to stare at. Kinda like a loose form of meditation, just accepting that this is me and this is who I am for the next 30 minutes and there was no escape or even purpose to escape. This is Water, I thought.

People on my crew (in general?) can’t seem to stand still or to not talk. One girl walks to the rear of the plane and back, over and over, getting her “daily steps” in or some shit. She’s kinda a health nut so I understand. Another two people can’t seem to stand still — even if they’re not “getting their steps in” they’re still nervously pacing around the plane for some unknown reason. Another few people feel the need to socially interact every moment of their lives. Their conversations are always about the, once again, most boringest, blandest, most unfulfilling shit possible; usually the unholy trifecta which is work, weather, and sports. These people constantly roam around going from person to person or group to group trying to find someone, anyone to talk listen to them ramble. And a few people I consider friends stand and talk in a small group of two to four people about whatever topic they’re talking about at the time. No judgement to them because you can tell they’re having a fun, laid-back, mutual discussion about whatever they’re talking about. There isn’t any twisted social reasoning for their talking; they’re just talking like normal healthy human beings do.

And I sit there and stare not wanting to be apart of anything. I don’t have the urge to. It’s not me being anti-social or depressed, I just don’t want to talk. Or to force myself to talk. Or to force myself to be apart of something. I’m aware of my insecurities and don’t want to play into them or worry about them. So I’ll just sit, thank you, and exist as I am for a half hour. I make a point to not appear too sulky or depressive or happy or introspective. Keeping as blank of a stare as possible is part of the loose meditation. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone, even with a facial expression.

Sometimes I am curious how this appears to others. “Jeremy this week seems a lot more quiet and reserved than he usually is,” maybe some think, but most likely no one notices or cares; this is how people are. That’s freeing in and of itself. I don’t feel any social stigma for sitting and being withdrawn. I’m doing my own thing and fuck anyone for thinking of it strange or weird, and if it makes me more unique by being totally accepting of myself and my actions, isn’t that what I’ve been after this whole time? The ability to embrace myself, without worry or care, and be appreciated as the naked and raw person that I am deep within?

I’m sure this phase won’t last long. Sunday was me realizing something about myself and wondering what the hell I even do with the realization. A half-week later I’m already embracing myself and reflecting on it all. And I’m sure in a week I’ll be back to socializing for some fucking unknown reason. Sometimes I hate everything being in flux; I kinda like to exist in my current mood for the rest of my life, but that won’t happen. Moods always change into other moods and if there is one thing that is true about life is there is nothing for you to hold onto. You can’t grasp happiness and hold it forever, and as comforting as depression sometimes is, you can’t grasp that either. Something about learning how to surf the waves, “go with the flow,” or some other trite bullshit you’ve heard countless times.

Facebook Still Sucks, but Instagram is Strangely Satisfying

Note: Appreciate the amount of links I have in this mess of a post. It was a ton of work. Oh, and the struggle to italicize company names.

I don’t know whether I should bitch about Facebook or praise Instagram, so I’ll probably do both. One social media perspective isn’t complete without another contrasting perspective. My hatred for Facebook translates into a love of Instagram, and my love of Instagram only makes me hate Facebook even more than usual.

One thing should be mentioned: they’re the same fucking thing, and I don’t mean that because they’re both social media. Facebook literally owns Instagram, not in any metaphorical sense either, they actually own Instagram. I don’t know if this is popular knowledge or not; I myself am only aware of this fact because I used to trade stocks and options. One of the main talking points of bullish Facebook investors (besides the company raking in buckets of advertising money) is the fact that they own Instagram. Apparently Instagram is really popular and the irony of people leaving Facebook for Instagram is hilarious. Those hip people who are fed up with the utter trash that is Facebook can happily migrate to Instagram totally unaware of the fact that they haven’t moved anywhere new. It’s like moving from a third story apartment to a second story one in the same building. Moving up in the world, right?!

But Facebook is shit, let’s make that abundantly clear. I love to shit all over the company/site and even published my first ebook by doing so. I had a ton of posts bitching about Facebook and social media in general, wrapped a big bow tie around them, and published them in a compilation. I thought my days of bitching about Facebook were over — move on to bigger and better writing projects — but apparently not. Let’s rip on Facebook again, but in a different way.

It’s taken over by old people.

I don’t think I mean old people in a strictly age way, just the site seems rather stale. While it isn’t overran by old-people and their posts, it is overran by old-people-eque posts. There seems to be nothing of value left. Instead of creating/sharing interesting pics and posts about life, you have people sharing the dumbest, stupidest memes, social justice signaling all over the place, while the literal old people share the “liberals find the flag offensive, let’s show them!” American flag posts along with any other fake news/dietary cancer cures that they come across. Sure there are young people on Facebook (thanks for all the signaling; it sure is interesting that you’re posting sharing deep, meaningful posts to make yourself appear deeper than you are) but the older community is killing the place. I really don’t give a shit about a police dog that is laying on a grave or whatever, and I don’t care to pray for some random person with cancer who probably died four years ago while everyone is unaware of the fact. It’s just a mess and the mess overrides any joy I get out of the place. Facebook for me is a place to mindlessly scroll at 2 a.m. when I want to feel a little more cynical about everything.

The only person to share shit like this is someone who has just went through a shitty relationship and is trying to tell themself that they’re really fine and all of that shit. Signaling. Denial. Etc.

It’s also complicated to use. Not really, but it isn’t simple either; there are options everywhere. Every little thing is a button that does something unique. Tagging, captioning, privacy settings, sharing, sharing to news feed, sharing to story, pic uploading, video uploading, galleries, notifications, email and text notifications, react emojis, .gifs, personal information (music, movies, work, sports teams, etc.), phone numbers, ‘like’ or ‘follow’?, featured photos, and the list surely goes on. That’s only involving personal pages too; the Facebook ecosystem goes deeper. Much deeper. There’s a messenger and all the social anxiety that comes with messaging a person on Facebook because you don’t have their actual number and is that, like, a weird thing to do socially or is it okay? Then there’s Messenger Stories: what are you supposed to use that for? There’s a marketplace, business pages, groups, games, and so on. Oh, and you can make your own Facebook pages too if you’re a big fat-cat entrepreneur like myself. (Gimme a ‘like’ and ‘follow’ guys!) These pages are their own can of worms to deal with as I’m sure you can imagine. Luckily I don’t know of many other things because fuck that, I’m not trying to do everything Facebook has to offer. For me it’s mostly a place to spam links to blogs/writings.

Which leads me in a roundabout way to Instagram; it’s another market to get my writings out there. I don’t even know how you market a blog/story/author on Instagram (it’s all pictures, right? How do you market writing with pictures?) but figured I’d give it a shot. Ya know, take a shitty and abstract picture and plop some deep, insightful text on it and, bam, done. Sounds easy enough to YOLO an Instagram account.

I also have a few friends who are on there. One guy is a big inspiration; he makes an artform out of Instagram and I’ve been blatantly copying his technique. He’s a master at taking these awful, shitty, low-quality pictures, filtering the shit out of them, and writing what is basically poetry for captions. And they’re great! It’s a raw, no-bullshit form of art that is genius even given the derivativeness that is inherently Instagram. Just for the hell of it, I’ll toss a link to him. I think it’d be hilarious if he ends up with a bunch of followers because of this stupid blog post. And I’m not going to say a word to him about it either. So please follow leftclickmicrocosm_ on Instagram. Please make this happen.

I finally made an account and started my own version of posting low-quality bullshit with deep captions. A pic of a vape cloud along with a caption about two souls dancing. A blurry 757 flying at night. Corporate artwork with a cold and cruel caption. I’ll link a few below.

Wow, Instagram pics look amazing on a blog!

What’s strange is how weary I was to getting into another social media sphere to market my writings. It’s exhausting. Was I really going to write a shitty blog post in 50 minutes and then spend just as long marketing it on social media? Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Wattpad, and Instagram? That’s a lot of work. And I was terrified that I’d be sucked in by Instagram the same way Facebook and heroin are known to do. The constant chase of social popularity and approval, farming for ‘likes’ and whatnot. I didn’t want any part of it.

There is something refreshing about starting anew and Instagram is no different. You get a blank slate. You get to learn. You get to experiment. Since you’re starting from nothing, you also have nothing to prove. It’s been great! I’ve been posting these shitty, heavily filtered and ‘artistic’ images just for the fun of it. I don’t care if something doesn’t get as much feedback as other more popular pics; it’s enjoyable enough just to spam total bullshit without catering to some overarching goal. In this aspect I’ve failed; I haven’t marketed my writings at all on Instagram, totally missing the point of what I was intending to do in the first place. But it’s okay.

I also love how Insta‘s UI seems ‘simpler’ than Facebook‘s. The menu (if you can call it a menu) isn’t littered with total trash. The app is very minimalistic with only a few buttons to actually click. The filter/editing part is simply clicking buttons and moving sliders until you find the look you want. You slide things around until your picture looks delightfully artistic with a quality similar to an indie, low-fi garage album. Feedback and static in visual form. Slap on a flowery caption and you’re good to go.

Contrived deepness!

I know the site is kinda trash with influencers and people taking selfie after selfie in exotic locations, totally gaming the system trying to make their lives look idyllic. In some ways I think this is the surface-level Instagram sort of how bullshit news stories and stupid memes are the surface-level of Facebook. But there is potential for artistic expression if you allow it; if you stop trying to play the game that everyone else is playing. Because it’s Instagram and it’s what you do. Throughout my Instagram ‘career’ I’m going to attempt to hold onto this mindset and only do whatever random shit I want to do (while lovingly stealing others’ good ideas obviously) and not worrying too much about playing the social media game. But a week into it? I love it. It stomps the fuck out of Facebook. It’s easy, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I find myself not taking it — or myself — too seriously either.

In case all that shit above wasn’t enough, here’s a proper link. Follow me for my silly art pictures!

Waiting on Life Sucks

Sometimes I’m surprised at how the puzzle pieces of life and meaning somehow come together when you least expect them to. You’ll find yourself in a period of total chaos and depression only to come out into a field of meaning where the chaos and depression somehow seem to make sense, like it was all planned out in a way, like it was something you had to go through. Like there is some masterful person or entity behind the scenes controlling everything. I don’t know if I buy into the idea of “fate,” at least a strong version of it, but sometimes I catch myself wondering. I somehow stumble into the just the right music or song, find myself reading the perfect book, or talking to just the right person I need to be talking to. And I find myself wondering if this is all due to pure chance — am I just really lucky? — or if it all means something.

I’ve heard about David Foster Wallace’s speech “This is Water” a long time ago. I was reading Infinite Jest years ago consuming all sorts of things about Wallace on the internet. I knew about “This is Water,” but whatever, I didn’t pay much attention to it because it was a speech, a commencement speech from 2005, and I didn’t give a damn to check it out. How impactful can a speech be even if it is sometimes noted as one of the best speeches given in recent memory? I never got around to it. Until last week that is. The universe aligns and I hear the perfect thing I need to hear as I always somehow do.

Here’s a link to it. It’s about 22 minutes long, not a quick little video, but seriously, it hits hard the entire way through. It’s a perfect mixture of being completely soul-crushingly depressing but somehow uplifting. Give it a watch; I highly recommend it. I’ve watched it three or four times in the past week; it almost has a religious importance and truthfulness to it, at least in my opinion.

It’s classic David Foster Wallace. I’m always stressing the importance of main themes in artists’ work (because you get a glimpse into their soul), and Wallace’s work is no different. I already went on quite a bit about being bored at work reading The Pale King and there certainly are themes embedded in both. Wallace is obsessed with boredom and depression. (It is notable that he talks about suicide and how “most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger”: he ended his life three years after he made this speech. Themes in his art aren’t just words or oblique ideas; he’s personally struggling with all of these topics.) The total pointlessness that is everyday life. The fact that life isn’t especially bad for most of us and boredom is seen as a nuisance instead of the Real Problem; surviving the boredom is maybe the primary challenge in life. Learning to live with boredom, uselessness, and pointlessness day in and day out for most of your life. Sitting through the hours and days of nothingness somehow keeping your soul intact despite the banality of everyday life.

Wallace does pull himself back from the brink of making the speech utterly depressing by noting that we all have the option to control what we think about. Even if life is soul-crushingly terrifyingly boring and pointless, we can control our thoughts. We can learn to deal with it. I think that’s what made this so profound to me: it’s not me being bored and too lazy to do anything — countless other people feel the same way — it’s up to me (and everyone) to control how I view and process the boring meaningless world I find myself in. It almost has an underlying current of Buddhism to it, this focus on the problem maybe being in your head and not with everyone else. The world is fucked up, but you can’t do much to change that fact. You get stuck in traffic and what do you do? Get pissed at everyone else or learn to process this totally stupid problem to where it doesn’t bother you so much? The choice is clear. You are the only one in control of you.

I didn’t want to go on endlessly about the speech and only wanted it as an introduction to this post, but it’s a really long introduction apparently. As I said, everything links together in some utterly complex puzzle where one idea bleeds into the other. I’m bored right now, I feel like I’m waiting on life itself, and I couldn’t help but link my mood to the speech I listened to last week.

I’m always amazed at how life, when you look back at the past, you only see a tiny handful of notable events to define the years. I remember graduating college, high school, and getting a my pilot’s licenses. I think of a handful of notable times with friends that seem to define everything even if they are just memories of a few hours. This is how it is with everything. I remember starting my job, and transferring to a new shift, and a few other “big memories” but other than that it’s all I have memory-wise to account for 14 years working UPS. It seems my entire 33-year-long life is defined by a tiny amount of memories. What happened to everything else? Was it all so pointless as to not be remembered?

The natural question to ask is “why?” And I don’t know the answer to it. Life is lived moment by moment but we don’t remember a damn thing about the day-to-day struggles we all go through. I won’t remember typing this. I won’t remember the hours I’ve slaved away trying to write my books. If one of them does somehow “make it” by selling thousands and millions of copies, I’ll only remember that one final event with everything else being a blur. I’ll remember “the success” part. This already happened with my Options Trading Book even if it isn’t successful at all. I don’t remember writing a damn bit of it; all I have are vague and miserable memories of trying to edit the damn thing. But I do clearly remember hitting the “Publish” button (or whatever it’s officially called on Amazon) and knowing that I finally finished it.

It always feels like I’m waiting around for one of these singular, life-defining moments to happen, being trapped in a banal purgatory in the meantime until something does occur. Thursday seems to be especially bad for this. Trying to have patience with the process that is life. Forcing out another blog post like it’s one boring stride in a long marathon. Pissing away the next three hours until I have to go to work. Pissing time away at work trying desperately to pass time until the next notable thing happens. Waiting for a paycheck. Waiting for the next therapy appointment. Always waiting.

I was complaining to a friend about how much I FUCKING HATE WRITING and she said something like “appreciate the process.” It’s hard to do though, but I have been trying to do just that, not only in regards to writing but with life in general. Trying to think that every day isn’t really pointless because it all leads somewhere. You need to take the thousands of boring, unanalyzed, mindless steps in a marathon to actually get somewhere. This blog post is just like that, a step in a process, and I’m really trying to love the process that I’m in. This is life. I’m sitting here typing, listening to music, and after that’s done I’ll wander off and do the next thing I need to do. This is the power that David Foster Wallace found so integral to surviving life in our current age in “This is Water.” The power to choose what you think and how you think. Is life just passing time until the next “big thing” happens? No. Is everyday life boring and stupid and torturous most of the time? Yes. But here I am, typing because there really is no choice. Learn to love the process. Learn to love and appreciate the day-to-day struggles everyone goes through chasing their goals or simply living their lives to the best of the their abilities.

Planting Grass on Graduation Day and "What do I want to do in life?" Sucks

I planted grass the day I graduated high school. This isn’t metaphorical wordplay either: I literally planted grass. No grand statement about sowing seeds for the future or dreams of a career in horticulture or anything. Just planting grass for the sake of planting grass.

My grandfather passed away about a year and a half earlier and he was an avid gardener. He planted about five acres of land by hand as a hobby and sold the produce at his roadside vegetable stand. He then took the money from that and funded next years crops. He’d work at least 12 hours a day during the spring, summer, and fall. I didn’t know it at the time but he was a fucking madman.

One little area he planted was right next to their house, just a tiny 20-by-15 foot rectangle that he sometimes let me plant things in. There’d usually be sunflowers, tomatoes, and strawberries, and I don’t recall what else was usually grown there. Anyways, he passed away and his tiny garden turned to grass and weeds, still mowable because it was such a small area, but the rectangle looked awful in the rest of yard. Wild grasses and weeds growing in a box in the middle of grass (he rented the rest of the fields so those growing up in weeds didn’t matter). This is why I planted grass that day. I was doing my grandma a favor by making that hideous rectangular section of yard actually look nice.

I only mention this story because it seems like the perfect example for my indecision and indifference to my future. I was equally skeptical of the “importance” of graduation because, after all, it was just another day, right? Graduating high school wasn’t that big of a deal to me. I did my school work, got decent grades, and then I graduated. It’s almost like it was an accident, not my personal achievement but something that happened to me (yes, I’ve been reading up on Imposter Syndrome). But I also realized the importance of the day. We go to school nearly every day for most of our formative years. People usually don’t remember their lives before school, so school is just the thing we do for our entire lives growing up. It’s always there. And standing there planting grass I couldn’t help but realize that I was done. There was no more school. The past 14 years of nearly nonstop schooling was finished. 14 years?! I was now an adult, a real adult that wasn’t in school anymore. My life was in front of me. What would I do? What adventures would I go on? What greatness would I achieve?

Planting grass was the ellipsis at the end of my life story so far. ‘Jeremy graduated high school today and then…‘ And ‘then what?’ indeed. Looking back it seems like such a strange but totally obvious thing I’d do as the conflicted individual that I was and still am. No party? No celebration? No deep reflecting? No college apps? No job hunting? No. Plant grass. This was/is my post-high school life: doing random shit with no overarching goal.

I never knew what I wanted to do with my life as a teenager. I assumed time would clear up my indifference and indecision. One idea I toyed with was to become an aerospace engineer; I could design airplane stuff and it seemed challenging enough but I wasn’t set on it as a career yet. I wasn’t set on anything. I had floated through life up until graduation and I’d float through life just a little longer until I found something I was passionate about. Until I found my calling.

Then off to community college which I dropped after three semesters. I was too drunk, high, and riddled with substance/relationship-induced depression that I couldn’t drag myself through school anymore. I didn’t care. Once again, I was sure time would remove the fog, but just a little longer of indecision was perfectly fine, thank you.

About five fucking years later (or so) I stumbled back into college to finally knock out the Associate’s degree that I was about halfway through. A few years later: mission accomplished. A job well done. And now that I had a nearly-useless Associate’s degree the same question came up as it always does: now what? I still didn’t have any plan for what I actually wanted to do. By this time I was 28 or 29 and the ‘just a little more time until I figure things out’ idea was starting to freak me out. Ten years after high school and I was still as indifferent as I was when I was planting grass. So when was time going to clear things up for me?

I’m 33 and still have no idea what I want to do. I’ve basically given up hope that time will clear things up for me because it sure hasn’t even though I’m nearly double the age I was when I graduated. Maybe this is what they call ‘wisdom’? If it is it sure doesn’t seem very useful.

Stuck in my head like I always am, I assumed nearly everyone felt this indecision in life. No, not everyone it seems. A friend at work has recently started taking classes to major in biodegradable plastics. Fuck. That is so stupidly specific I’m assuming she knows exactly how passionate she is about it and went all in. There’s another girl that is taking a two year course to be a respiratory care nurse or something; once again she has all the confidence in the world and is fully committed to her plan. Sleepless nights, endless homework, no free time, and she loves the struggle of it all. Part of me wonders if they’re really that committed to their plans or if there is some denial about how quickly someone can change their minds or find it unfulfilling. I don’t know. And another friend recently obtained a Master’s degree in business and is now questioning everything about his life and the choices he’s made. He’s in his mid-thirties currently struggling through a blatant mid-life crisis where nothing is certain to him anymore. Years ago he was the most confident and driven person that I ever knew and admired his dedicated drive. How can anyone be this certain about what they want to do? I’d ask myself. But even people who seem self-confident in their goals can fall from grace given the bullshit that is life and the human mind. Is this terrifying or comforting? Probably a little bit of both.

Luckily I know of a few people just as lost and as clueless as I am. One friend is nearly in the same position I was in a few years ago, although much younger. She’s on the verge of getting an associates degree at the same community college I attended and also has zero idea of what she wants to do afterwards. I really hope she figures it out because I think it really helps a person achieve their potential if they have a clear direction to move towards, but it’s also comforting to know that I’m not alone with my struggles. I’m constantly trying to stress that I used to see time as a cure-all for indecision, and that I pissed away too much of it by doing so. That you might never know what you “really want to do” but time keeps ticking so you can’t sit around forever waiting. You have to make progress and do something, anything. Just trying to make my mistakes clear to others so they at least have the ability to learn if they feel the urge to do so.

This indecisiveness isn’t a thing that time clears up, that is certain. In fact it seems to be an individual trait and not some universal thing we all constantly share, although I’m positive most people feel hints of it here or there and simply deal with doubt better than I do. That’s just who I am: indifferent and too terrified to pick a singular thing and run with it. And fuck am I envious of those confident people that somehow know exactly what their calling in life is. Those that can sit down, get to work, and make progress towards their dreams while disregarding all the distractions on the journey. And even if you do feel like a lost, hopeless, and confused human being, others certainly feel the same way you do. We’re never alone, we just need to find others that share our flaws.

Facebook Advertising Sucks: Feeling Like a Sellout

I feel dirty. I feel manipulative. I feel like I’m part of the problem. I feel like I am capitalism incarnate. I feel like a sell-out.

But not really when I actually force myself to think about it.

I wrote a post last year about how Facebook advertising sucks. My main issue with it was that based on your metrics, you find yourself targeting people that are your core audience. To use a political example: if you write some liberalesque blog posts and set up ads targeted towards conservatives (in an attempt to not be biased and to get people to see another opinion outside of their comfort zones) you’ll either be ignored or totally shit upon. Since money is at stake with advertisements, the natural tendency for yourself is to market only to like-minded people so you’ll minimize your cost per reach metric. It makes sense and this is how capitalism works. No one spends money on shit that is pointless. You find yourself narrowing in on the demographic that already agrees/cares about what you’re writing and contributes to echo-chambers online.

(Big Note About Facebook and Self-Promotion: I took all my rambly Facebook-inspired posts and glued them together into an ebook. If you want to read it here’s the link.)

This post, while sort of similar, is complaining about a different aspect of advertising. I want to write about how advertising makes me feel morally corrupt for some reason even though I know it’s perfectly justifiable. It’s one of those deep-seated personality traits I have that I can’t seem to shake. If I advertise or try to sell anything — even if what I’m advertising is totally legit and real — I feel awful about it.

I’ve been dabbling in Facebook advertising for a few years now, but have never seriously been involved with it. I’d “boost a post” here and there, and back when my sister and I were trying to sell shirts I’d toss some money towards ads. It was never that much, perhaps $25 or $50 here or there, and we never found much success with doing so. I advertised my two ebooks on Facebook and Reddit and once again didn’t find much success with it. Yesterday I decided to give it another shot. I started another ad for my personal authors page on Facebook (gimme a ‘like’ if you’re feeling like it) yesterday and have been suffering all over again with it. The moral dilemma that always comes up. Is this really the way to success? Paying Facebook money to market my page?

It works though. Back in October I advertised for the page and actually hit some success with it. In a week my page’s ‘likes’ went from about 20 or so (all close friends and supporters) to over 100: people actually liked my page after seeing it forced upon them. I’m always curious about who actually likes advertised pages because they stick out like a sore thumb to me. But I’m glad some people don’t notice, don’t care, or are actually impressed by what they see. I think this cost me $50 or so. Then peak season began at work and I didn’t worry about marketing myself. I’d worry about it later, like maybe around January 10th.

We live in strange times. The internet has changed what is possible in the past few decades. It’s strange to think back to times before the internet existed. I think of how “easy” it is to do your own think with the internet; anyone can set up an Etsy shop, self-publish on Amazon, have a blog, sell artwork, make fanfiction stories…anything. Your talents can now be visible to the entire world. Wow. I think we’re literally in a golden age of creativity thanks to the internet. I think of what people did to be authors or writers before 2000. Think of physically printing and sending manuscripts to publishers week after week in an attempt to actually make a name for yourself. We don’t need to worry about that. Anyone can make an account somewhere and start writing, painting, etc. Anyone can be creative and get themselves out into the world, and isn’t that what we all want to do? Express our souls and have people notice what we’re saying?

The problem with the openness of the internet is that everyone else is also trying to do their own things. You get lost in the fray of the millions of people trying to make content. Us WordPress bloggers know what the fight means; out of millions of blogs how do you make your site something unique and worth reading? Let alone the question of monetizing and making a job out of it. We’re all tiny bits in some massive machine and how do you get anyone to notice you? You usually don’t. That’s what the struggle is. It isn’t creating or being consistent, it’s being noticed. You could have the best blog/story/music/paintings/poem in the world, but if no one knows about it, who cares?

Sure there is “organic growth” but that is tedious as fuck. As someone who feels like their life is on a timer tickinging down until you either burn out or die, waiting on “organic growth” feels terrible. What if I write some masterpiece when I’m 60 and about to die and no one even hears about it? What if I’m lost in the crowd, out-viewed by people slightly more talented or better at marketing themselves than I am? It’s a scary thought. Being a successful creative person seems to entail being able to market yourself successfully. Hell, even untalented people can market themselves and sell stuff. Think of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Think of Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

This is why I decided to toss some money into Facebook advertising again. I feel like I’m hitting my stride, actually making some small but consistent progress towards my goals, and who is there to take notice? Just a few hundred subscribers and people close friends who ‘like’ my Facebook page. It’s a strange place for me to be in. I’ve struggled with self-esteem recently and still do, but I feel like I’m past it in a way. I don’t feel like the main challenge is being good anymore — this is just hard work, consistency, and stubbornness; a blind eye towards failure — I feel like my main challenge is being noticed. This is the main struggle for us creative types in 2020. It doesn’t seem so much as being good but being noticed in the crowd of millions of people trying to do their own thing.

I feel terrible for advertising though. Once again, logically, I know it doesn’t make sense. I wrote this whole post complaining about “people finding you” and how else do people “find you” besides paying money to make yourself appear on their Facebook feeds? I think of the horror stories on Twitter where people simply buy followers and at least I’m not doing that, right? The people that see my shitty and contrived ads don’t have to ‘like’ or ‘follow’, but some of them do. Am I selling out to capitalism and the tempation of being famous or am I just wanting people to find something that they might enjoy to read? I really think it’s the latter, but my gut still tells me I’m a sellout. I think I naturally want to slave away in total obscurity and never do anything notable and it seems like a conscious effort to sabotage myself in that way. Yes, I feel bad for advertising, but I know I shouldn’t feel this way. I’m not gaming the system. I’m not “cheating.” I’m not cooking books or making shady contracts. I’m just trying to get people to notice the stuff I’m creating which I’m actually proud of even if I don’t like to admit it. And in the writing/blogging/self-publishing market, isn’t this what the big challenge actually is?

Even after writing this I still don’t feel good about it.

War Sucks

Well, we’re in the eighth day of 2020 — and the new decade — and it already seems the world is spiraling into chaos. That didn’t take very long, now did it?

I’m sure everyone is aware, even vaguely, of what has been going on in the Middle East lately, specifically Iran. To recap if you’ve totally been under a rock: the US Trump (we/us because I’m a proud ‘Merican.) decided to kill/murder/assassinate a big, important Iranian general. Making this action even more terrifying was that fact that he was killed in Iraq; he was in an allied country! Right away you should realize that bombing a target at an international airport of one of our allies is a bad idea. Iran was pissed and threatened us, and Trump, our wonderful commander-in-chief, taunted the shit out of Iran on Twitter. Yes this is how the world works now.

I was hopeful this would be the pinnacle of the entire crisis. Like Trump and Iran would swing their metaphorical dicks around trying to show the other up, and then we’d all forget about it after a few weeks. Nope. I was at work a few hours ago when I heard the newest news: Iran had attacked some of our airbases with missles! Oh. Shit. What would our Dear Leader Donald J. Trump do now? I’m almost certain a retaliatory attack is inevitable, and I’m haunted by the possibility that Trump tosses a few nukes towards Iran just because. I have the sinking feeling that this might be the brink our country is about to go careening off of and my anxiety skyrocketed. I’m on edge. I’m terrified. What if today is the September 10th or the December 6th — the taken-for-granted calm right before the world inevitably changes? I hope this post ages terribly and I can look back in a month and say, “Well, I was worried about nothing!” But until then…

One of my resolutions this year is to only drink on Sunday and I nearly failed today. War? Were we really on the brink of an actual war? For what? What’s the reason? It feels like dominoes falling where we just push the reason back to the last cause, and so on, until nothing makes sense anymore. Iran attacked our bases. But they did that because we killed their general. But we did that because he was a bad guy or something. But he was probably a bad guy because Trump sanctioned Iran and withdrew from the nuclear deal that was in place. And he did that because Obama negotiated the treaty and he attempts to undo anything related to Obama. And so on. Nothing here seems to call for an all-out fucking war though. It’s like a bunch of kids fighting: “I didn’t start the fight, MOM! HE HIT ME FIIIRRRRRSSSTTTT!

I wouldn’t call myself a pacifist because some wars do seem like noble causes and inevitable. The last war in my opinion that was “worth fighting” was World War 2. If we never became involved in WW2 the world might be a very different, darker, and scarier place. We were attacked by an actual country, not a few random ragtag terrorist working on their own, and they had an agenda to wreck the shit out of our navy to dominate the Pacific and protect their empire. It wasn’t a NATO action or anything: Japan attacked and we did what we had to do. The attack on Pearl Harbor also got us involved in kicking Hitler’s ass, which was good for everyone. The war made sense mostly: there were Good Guys (us and our allies) and the Bad Guys (in WW2 there was also THE REALLY BAD GUYS). And before that? The Civil War. It was unfortunate but our nation’s history up to that point almost made it inevitable. Once again it’s an example of a massively important war that shaped our country’s history afterwards. We got rid of slavery. We kept the country united. While war is never a wanted thing, sometimes it almost seems required where there simply is no choice besides standing by and watching the world descend into chaos and evil.

What about Vietnam or Korea? Bullshit, relatively pointless wars with us getting involved via NATO. The Bad Guys here didn’t seem that bad: they wanted to unite their countries but were communists instead of capitalists. I don’t understand why thousands of soldiers had to die for that bullshit. What about Afghanistan and Iraq part 2? There were no Good or Bad Guys there; sure the terrorists were bad, but they’re not an actual country or a well-equipped military. They’re hidden and nebulous. This still didn’t stop us from getting thousands of our own people and civilians killed. About 3,000 people died on the September 11th terrorist attacks; more of our people died avenging the attacks in endless years of war than died in the attacks themselves. Something seems wrong there, doesn’t it?

This possible war seems like one of those latter examples, and even an extreme example of it. If this does turn into a full-fledged war, what will the narrative of it be twenty years from now? What was the grand plan and evil that we had to fight against? Islam? “Terror?” There is nothing. It’s pointless. It’s a war myself — and I’m assuming the majority of Americans — are against.

I think of the average Iranian citizen and how I feel about them. If I seen an Iranian in public, would I harm them? Would I kill them? No. What would I do? I’d probably ignore them because I’m socially inept, but I’m sure I’d smile and maybe say “hi.” I have nothing against them as a people, because they’re just like me. They wake up, go to work, feed their families, and they want the same thing that I do: to simply be able to live their life the best they can. I bet there are thousands of Iranians sitting at their computers trying to type bullshit blog posts, just like I’m doing. I think of how these random, average Iranian citizens must feel about the possibility of a bomb plummeting into their house at night and killing their family. Is this what we’re trying to do here? Mohammed in Iran just wants to write his blog, eat some tasty food, and relax. But somehow when we start talking about “terrorism” and “evil” and “retaliation” we forget about the average person — in the US or Iran — that simply doesn’t fucking want a war. There is no grand sacrifice when your life is lost in a pointless war.

Update a-half day later: This was a post that I churned out at 11 p.m. when the world was still on edge. I decided to post it at 10 a.m. in the morning to actually get some readers, but this was almost the time Trumpy decided to actually address the nation. It seems I was wrong, and as much as I’m a person that likes to be right, this is not one of those times. I’m so happy that maybe this post was a bit anxious and fearful and that it turned out to be unnecessary. Either way I got to vent and felt better about it. I also don’t think we’re out of the woods yet: Trump could get restless in the next month and do some more dangerous shit. But for today? Things seem to be much better than they were 15 hours ago.

My Cynical New Year Sucked

“Hey, there’s my cynicism and negativity! I was wondering where it went. After being moderately positive the past few days I was worried I was going through legitimate changes. Good to know it’s still there.”

I live in the central time zone and this means we’re one hour behind New York’s time, it being in the Eastern US. This usually leads to the TV on New Year’s being changed to watch their New Year’s celebration because it’s kinda like the actual celebration for the entire US. I wonder how West Coast people feel about this, seeing New York do their thing three hours before their New Year, but maybe West Coasters don’t give a shit about New York and what they do.

I think we turned it to Dick Clark’s New Year’s 2020 (apparently the real title of this bullshit is Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020) immediately after the ball dropped. I noted this was on ABC because I immediately started to wonder what shitty network was covering the New York celebration. ABC. Those were the assholes.

The first thing to kill my mood was the total mass of people in Times Square. Probably tens or hundreds-of-thousands of people all huddled around for who knows how long. This always reminds of a Reddit thread I seen a long time ago where someone pointed out that people in Times Square are usually tourists; no real New Yorker would subject themselves to the unique hell that is the Time’s Square New Year’s Ball Dropping shit. Even stranger is that to actually be there you apparently need to show up like a half a day early. These people had been standing here waiting for 12:00 a.m. January, 1 2020 for over six hours, maybe more. And making this even worse is most wear diapers. If you leave to take a piss/shit you lose your spot. And it’s so cool to be there that you can’t do that! So in this crowd of maybe a few hundred thousand people I imagine them all with adult diapers filled with piss and perhaps shit and the torture of standing in a single area for a quarter of a day. How can you be happy with a filled diaper? Were these people really happy? Or were they miserable and just wanted those sweet social media likes and to maybe end up on TV?

After the actual ball dropped, the crowd seemed to thin quickly. But there were still the lingerers laying down in confetti with their significant others taking selfies. You know, for that sweet social media credit. Selfies everywhere. I get it — capture the moment — but shit. It reminds me of the St. Vincent lyric from the song “Digital Witness”: If I can’t show it, you can’t see me. The only reason to do anything in life is to take pictures of it and show others on social media. If social media never sees it, does it really happen? I was in New York! I was in Times Square! I wore goddamn diapers full of piss to do so! My life is so much more adventurous than everyone else’s!

Then there’s the jackass who proposed to his fiance on national TV. Oh boy. Let’s be as contrived as possible. At first I thought they were going to interview some random guy asking the usual bullshit questions. “How does it feel to be here? What’s it like?” I mean they sorta did this but the guy looked awkward like he had another purpose for being important enough to be interviewed, turned to his fiance, and did the whole typical proposal deal. “There’s no one else I’d rather spend this moment with,” he bends down on one knee and get’s a box out — here we go — “would you marry me?!” She cries, nods yes, and the crowd goes wild.

This was all about 12:10 a.m. New York time — 11:10 p.m. central time — and my mood was already spiraling down the drain.

Ryan Seacrest was hosting along with some lady (apparently Lucy Hale? Okay.) and when I turned to the channel there was like six Asian people joining him. I don’t know who the hell they were, maybe a k-pop group? And then there was some asshole dressed in a shiny purple outfit with tattoos on his face. Who the fuck was this? Some part of my mind that holds information I didn’t even know thought, “Is that Post Malone?” How the fuck do I know what Post Malone looks like? My mom is all about that dipshit and goes on and on about how good he his. “He can make a rock or a metal album because he’s that versatile,” she has said before. I still didn’t think I knew what he looked like. I don’t really listen to his music or care, but goddamn he was dressed like a douche.

I was thinking of posting a picture but, naw, fuck it. Google it if you really want to see him.

He was also drinking what I’m assuming was alcohol out of what looked like a red Solo cup. Part of me wondered what it would be like drinking alcohol on national TV. Did he have his cup and asked the producers if he could drink it on the stage? How would you feel drinking on national TV? Somehow I don’t think any of these thoughts occured to Mr. Malone dressed as awfully as he was.

Then we were gifted with a segment about the Powerball lottery or something. It was a drawing of a possible number between one and five. And whoever of the five people won would get a million dollars. Obviously this wasn’t a real lottery because what lottery has a one-in-five chance of winning a million dollars? It was a promo stunt. A way to ring in the New Year by telling people to play the fucking Powerball lottery. Fuck all to all those people who have gambling problems and made a resolution to change that awful addiction. Play the goddamn Powerball lottery everyday in 2020! Especially cringy was when the host asked the typical question to the new winner: “So how do you feel right now?!”

Then the Jonas Brothers. Once again I don’t really know their music and don’t give two fucks about them and don’t hate them, but it was strange to see them live. They’re a “boy band” apparently just like N’Sync and The Backstreet Boys were back in the 90s, and mostly the three stood on stage and sang songs while a band played all the actual music behind them. One of them played a shitty three cords for an entire song with a single barred finger on the fretboard. That was it? Why the fuck haven’t I record any music yet? I’m not an amazing musician but I can plop a song together with more than three bar chords. Fuck. I can even use a delay pedal!

Luckily the next song had a bit more going on where they actually played some music of consequence. Still, the backing band did most of the actual work. The crowd went wild, and wow, wouldn’t it just be cool to be there? What would it feel like to actually be there?!

That’s about it for the national TV bullshit. I migrated into another room and watched a Scott Manley video about the most important achievements in space in the past decade. Ya know, actual informative, interesting, and non-corporate-sponsored-fun-and-partying enjoyment. But what does it feel like to be part of the crowd?! Doesn’t that matter?!

It wasn’t finished yet though. A certain segment of my family used to love calling us at midnight to scream “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” and fuck dealing with that. Many years ago I just stopped answering my phone, sometimes even turning the damn thing off. It would happen every year like clockwork because it basically was clockwork.

It’s been a bit different the past few years with the advent of fancy social media sites like Facebook. No calling is required now; all you need to do is find some gaudy, low-quality .jpg or .gif and spam it to your entire friend list on Facebook Messenger. Obviously it contains the cancer-causing and virulent phrase along the lines of “send this to all of your friends!” which apparently people actually follow. Maybe I should send images with my bank account number saying, “Send $100 to this account and God will bless you!” I’d probably be rich.

Since this family segment is also their own little family, I got the same image from four fucking people. Aunt, uncle, cousin, and somehow my dad. My dad went even more drastic with this image by posting it to his Facebook Messenger story. He has never posted a single thing to his story so I was actually surprised. “Dad updated his story? What? Why? Really?” I opened it up and it was the same fucking image flashing away, tempting my mind to finally have a seizure.

As much as this makes me physically ill to see again, I feel I need to post it. I’m sure you guys know exactly what I’m talking about but here it is anyways:

Let’s see if we can keep this moving to friends and family. (The double space is intentional between “this” and “moving”)

As much as the first hour prior and after the actual New Year sucked, my mental state is still pretty positive. It weathered the storm of my cynicism. I mean I’m still cynical as fuck, but everything else is positive. I think about the people I actually care about — not those insane fuckers in New York or those in Miami watching The Jonas Brothers — and hope they had a good night and will have a good 2020. I hope everyone achieves their potentials this year. Despite the cynicism, I’m trying to see today as a fresh start and will try to do my best in 2020 even if I am terribly flawed just as everyone else is flawed. 15 hours in and the New Year is pretty good so far.